Blogging about life and raising our five kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bittersweet

Four and a half years ago Dean and I re-landscaped the back yard. His twin brother wanted to get married here, and we looked around and decided it needed to get done! There is one area that is heavily shaded and NOTHING grows there except moss, so I designed an area with walkways and lots of hostas. It's a pretty area that we never ever ever use. We intended to put a water feature w/bench in one corner, but it just never happened.

Fast forward to yesterday, and the arrival of Angela's new swing set/climber thingy. We measured out the space we needed (37 x 22 1/2!!!!) in a couple different areas, but they all interfere with our view from the house to the pond. (you know, the pond I hate but is still here!) Dean wasn't happy with that AT ALL!

And then I turned and saw this beautiful area. This picture was taken in the early spring when the hastas are just starting to come up, so they're still small in the picture. Really though, these pictures don't do it justice.
Early spring

Oh, edited to add: Here's the same area later in the summer. Look how SMALL Angela was!!!
Mid summer

This area just happens to be JUST the right size! Not only that, but for my kid who has Anhidrosis (inability to sweat) the fact that it's in full shade ALL DAY LONG means she can play and play without overheating like she would in the full sun in another part of the yard.

Anyway, yesterday I stared the arduous task of ripping it all up. My heart is crying tears, because I love this spot so much. It's lush, and green, and very quiet. As I was removing plants, hoping I wasn't doing the wrong thing, I realized that most of the hastas were ready to be divided, and were becoming unhealthy because they hadn't been yet. I also noticed that one of the varieties really wasn't doing all that well there, compared the same ones planted in a different area of the yard. There are also ferns, which I had transplanted from the woods. Previous years they've been lush and beautiful, but this year they've been trampled by the dogs and are suffering. I think they're going to like their new home better.

I have already removed all of the rock borders, and I have about 1/2 the plants removed, and placed in the location of their new homes. (though they still need to be divided and actually planted.) which I think will look really nice when it's done. It will also (hopefully) deter the dogs from digging under the fence. They're not doing it yet, but they're certainly interested in that area right now! Their noses are constantly under the fence by the woods! I still have to remove all pea rock, and the fabric underlayment, and THEN I have to find someone with a bobcat to come level the area. When all that is done, then we can start building the climber.

Yesterday Angela very eagerly helped remove rocks....for about 10 minutes...That's when she realized, "Oh no! My hands are dirty! LOOK MOM! My hands are DIRTY! I'm going to go wash my hands!!!" (this from the kid who I'm constantly fighting with to get her to wash her hands! LOL)

Well, that's enough of a break for now. Time to get back to digging hastas!

McCain Chooses Palin as VP pick


Well, this is kind of excited. First, she's a woman, and secondly, last spring she and her husband had a baby with Down Syndrome last spring.

Now, I usually stay away from politics. Many years ago, when I was in my early 20's (wow, that WAS "many years ago", wasn't it? LOL) I was very involved in politics, and even spoke in the Rotunda at the MN State Capital on two different occasions. But since then I've stayed out of the mayhem. I also like to keep my views to myself. It's not a debate in which I choose to participate, because I'm not going to be changing anyone's minds about which candidate they do/don't support. Besides, I'm not even sure I like EITHER candidate running in this campaign. I know I prefer one only slightly over the other, but actually prefer the write in Ron Paul over both of them. I was really tempted to not even vote at all this year, but then I wouldn't have the right to complain about who does get voted in if I don't like him. ;-)

So, why am I posting this then? Because if McCain gets voted in, that little guy with DS is going to be at the podium with the rest of his family, and for the next four years the United States is going watch this little guy with DS grow up and be just like every other 4 year old. THAT, my friends, is very exciting to me!

And no, I'm not going to vote based on who has what kids. Or vote for a candidate just because his VP pick has a child with DS. I'm not THAT shallow! There are a lot of issues involved in this race, as there are with every race. I just think that for those who have been on the fence, this could make things quite interesting.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's here! It's here!

The new playground thingy is here! I can't believe this thing fits in FIVE boxes. (ok, they're big boxes, but still.) On the outside of one of the boxes it says, "Actual swing set dimentions" and gives those, then it has "Safe play area dimensions 37' X 22.6"" Dean saw that and....well....the look on his face was priceless. :-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

GASP

Found this on another blog today. Can you say, "OUCH!" (click on the picture to make it bigger so you can read it. AND, don't read with a kid over your shoulder.)

Because I'm supposed to be working

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back Yard Fun

Ohhhh I can hardly stand it!

Our yard is very boring for Angela. Other than a lovely fence we put in this spring to keep her in it, there's nothing for her to do. We had a cheapo swingset that was flat out dangerous, and a pond she gets into trouble with by throwing non-pond items into. Other than that...NOTHING! I've been looking all over for a back yard climber thing that not only is big enough for a "big kid" (who's small for her age. LOL) but is also something we can afford. There was a Rainbow System that would have been perfect, and she could have played on it till she's 25....IF I wanted to spend $4,000 on it!

Anyway, I've spent all summer digging around online, and finally ran accross WillyGoat Inc. What a great site! They have lots of very affordable options, most of which come with the lumber pre-cut, pre-drilled and treated. We ordered a set for Angela today, and it should be here in time for us to spend Labor Day weekend putting it together. LOL Here's a picture of the set we ordered. Dean is going to hate love me. To put it into perspective, the slide is 10 feet long. Dave, if you're reading this...don't tell Dean how big it is yet! We'll just let him learn about that as we go, shall we? LOL (hey! It had to be big enough for a big kid, remember?)


Those of you who know Angela know she's been DYING for a "playhouse" that she can fit inside of and use as a hiding spot, and play with her real AND pretend friends. In fact, it was the #2 item on her Make A Wish list when the interviewed her. Her specifications were, "It has to be HIGH, have a slide, and swings, and be red." Well, this one just about fits. I'm not painting it red though!

Reaching Goals

Some of you may remember that I was accepted into a study of weight loss programs. The specific study I'm in is for Jenny Craig. JC PAYS for the study, but they don't conduct it. It's actually being conducted by 4 universities nation wide, one of them being the University of Minnesota.

Anyway, I started the second week of January, and had lost about 8 lbs when I shattered my wrist which sent me back on a downward spiral. Since then I have stopped and started JC several times, the last time in June. So, I've been two straight months off JC and just feeling crappy about. Talk about feeling like a failure.

I do have my excuses though, and one of them is Dean. It's really hard to sit and eat my little tiny dessert when Dean is sitting next to me eating this mountain high bowl of my favorite chocolate cereal! UGH! Or ice cream...or...or....or. Chai Lattes don't exactly help out either! (add the vinte size and 2 extra pumps! LOL)

Well, 6 months ago Dean quit smoking. I'm so proud of him. What a HUGE feat! For 35 years he's been a 2 pack a day smoker. He used Chantix for the first month, and then just quit. He's just now starting to feel better, but as happens to many smokers, he immediately put on weight. In fact, 25 pounds of weight. He was overweight to begin with, but this really put him over the edge emotionally.

Finally it was decided...we'd do JC together. He got a spouse discount which helps some. It's still expensive, but I believe well worth it. We started last week, and I must say, I'm a bit jealous! Men loose weight much faster than women! Holy cow! The Wii scale seems to be pretty accurate, and since my very expensive scale was mysteriously broken while we were out of town, we've been weighing on the Wii instead. However, tomorrow is our first official JC weigh in together. Dean has lost DOUBLE what I have. According to the Wii, he's down close to 10 lbs, and I'm down 5. Tomorrow I'll post our official weights. Well, mine anyway. I'll have to ask Dean if it's ok to post his.

Jenny Craig is an interesting program. I had done Nutri System before, and...OMG...their food is HORRIBLE! I don't know how people eat it, because it is just plain nasty! The frozen Jenny Craig food is very much like Lean Cuisine. They have some that are not frozen but I can't bring myself to eat them, as it reminds me too much of Nutri System stuff. You don't have to get them though, instead choosing foods from their menu, then adding in your own fresh fruits and veggies. The biggest thing about JC is making you aware of appropriate portion sizes. Once you're half way to your goal weight they start weaning you off their program and start you doing more of your own cooking. It's stuff we all know, but sometimes you need to be accountable to someone other than yourself to get you to your goal.

We're very happy with our choice to do JC, and to do it together. As part of the study, once every 6 months I have to go back to the U of M for a check-up. They do weight, blood work, a physical fitness test, and then several questionares about how things are going. When I went for my June check-up, my coordinator was telling me about another woman in the study who's husband and daughter decided to join as well. Between the three of them, in the first 6 months they'd lost over 100 lbs. WOW!!! That is just awesome! Dean and I have about that much to loose between the two of us.

And, one more thing about this goal of mine. Angela was delivered by emergency c-section. Sometimes, when the procedure is done in a hurry, it's not done quite the same way as if it was planned ahead of time. In my case, Angela was nearly dead in utero and they were really in a hurry to get her out. The way the scar formed, and how I was put back together didn't work so well, so my belly is a mess. Dean told me the other day that when I reach 160, he will pay for me to get my belly fixed!!! (aka, a tummy tuck) I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I'd love to do this before Christmas, but that might be pushing it since we should have a litter of puppies here at that time. Maybe right after Christmas so it's done and I'm back to myself before we leave for Arizona in March? That means I have 25 pounds to get to my tummy tuck goal. My ultimate weight goal is 155, but I'll loose about 5 lbs with a tummy tuck. :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How others see me

Ok...so I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes, and a little bit...well...I don't know what, really.

You've been reading about my epic journey, and I'm sure you're probably tired of it by now. (though I'm not done with it! Just taking a thinking break! LOL)

Most bikers name their bike, and their bikes are either male or female. No...really...this is how it works. You just have a "feel" for the gender of your bike. I knew my bike was male, but I was still working on his name. Nothing was feeling right. I'd been calling him "Red" because...well he IS red. But I knew that wasn't his forever name. And then I added the sidecar which needs it's own name, complicating things since the names have to somehow go together. And, the sidecar is definitely female.

While on the Epic Journey the discussion of bike names came up. (as I'm writing this, I see it I'm getting off on a totally different subject than the title of the post.) As we spent the trip laughing, joking and getting to know each other, we also learned the personalities of each bike. We even PRAYED for a name for my bike. No...really.

Finally it came to us. I think it came to Tink, but I really don't remember. We named him "Nooner", and sometime over the winter I'll have his name emblazoned somewhere on his body. Nooner for the quick rides I can take when I need to. (both in the literal and figurative sense.)

But I still needed to name the sidecar. Bev and I left the others in Sault Ste. Marie, MI and headed south west to home. Somewhere along the way, little tubby's name popped into my head as I rounded a particularly beautiful corner. "Spank". Spank is the little sidekick. A companion when I need one. Secure in herself to keep my little rider safe.

Nooner and Spank....my ride...That's how I see my bike.

But how do others see me? (Ha! You thought I'd have trouble getting back to the title, didn't you?) Do you ever wonder that? How others see you? Well, this morning my friend Tink added another blog entry about the Epic Journey. (she's a brand new blogger and it took awhile to convince her she could do this, so she's a bit behind.) Today's entry is about us...the women who went on the epic journey with her. For some reason her entry about me made me cry. It's taken me a few minutes to figure out why, but I have. First of all, she GETS me! There are very few people on the world who totally understand me. I'm not even completely sure my own mother understands me, but Tink does. That's because Tink is me with a (much) smaller body, longer hair, living on the east coast instead of Minnesota. Secondly...she totally hit the nail on the head. If you know me in person, you'll see she's right on. If you've never met me before, you can now know exactly who I am.

Bussing

You may remember this post where I had to choose what type of bussing angela would recieve this year, and this post where I was stressing about the regular ed pick-up spot. Well, yesterday I received Angela's bus card in the mail, and she'll be picked up right at the end of our driveway, just like she has been for the past 3 school years. Oh man, I'm so relieved!

Open House Update

We walked in the door, and into a crowd of about 1,000 excited 6th graders and their confused parents. We were handed a pack of forms (that actually came in the mail a couple weeks ago too) and we sat down at tables to fill them out. As soon as I sat down there was this ear piercing shrieking noise and alot of movement behind me. It was Angela's classmates from last year coming to say hello to her, and drag her away to meet more screeching friends and new teachers. It left a big smile on my face!

We dropped off the forms at the appropriate tables. Wrote out checks for lunch money, year book, signed up from some stuff I don't even remember, got nabbed by those at the volunteer table and signed my life away, and took school pictures (yet another check. LOL)

While in line for pictures Angela was talking to someone behind me. When I finally paid attention it was my new friend Jennifer. She had contacted me from one of the DS sites last year, and they were thinking about moving to the area, wanted to know about school districts and stuff. Then last spring when they came house hunting we got together for breakfast. Here they were, getting her older son set up for school. Her little guy with DS is a 1st grader and going to the elementary school Angela was at. It was nice to see them, and you might be seeing her here!

Then we hooked up with the lead special ed teacher who will also be Angela's speech teacher. So far I really like her. She didn't talk to me, she mostly talked to Angela in 'big kid talk". I asked her about swim team and she said they have to be in 7th grade, so one more year to work on strokes and stuff. She told me about the adaptive rec program which I didn't even know existed! Sounds like fun. Floor hockey, soccer, softball, etc. all right there after school. Cool! Angela will really enjoy this!

Update on the choppers

Angela had her twice yearly dentist visit today. Here's the run-down.

Right side, top of the mouth:
Where Angela recently lost a tooth, and there's no new one visible behind it, there IS on xray, but it's very high up and only the very tip is visible on xray. The dentist said it looks malformed and will likely have to be pulled based on the way it's coming it. However, it's so high up it's going to be a long time before/if it ever comes in.

Right side bottom:
She has one baby molar she hasn't lost yet that does have a new one right behind it. He's surprised it's not loose yet, and that one may have to be pulled so the new one comes in straight.

She has one 12 year molar just coming in, but there isn't any room for it.

Left side top:
Everything looks great! One molar with no adult tooth behind it, but baby tooth is still good and firm.

Left side bottom:
no 12 year molar visible or on xray.
Two baby molars with no adult teeth behind them. So that's 3 teeth together with no baby teeth behind them. They're not very stable, which is probably why she doesn't chew on that side. He said once those teeth become loose we'll put implants in to prevent her bone from breaking down.

No cavities, but serious risk of gum disease because her brushing isn't very good. (thanks to those pesky poor fine motor skills.) Dentist told her "You can brush in the morning, but Mom gets to brush at night." Then he put her on a trickle file where about once a month he'll call and leave a message for her stating the same. Wink

THANK YOU!

I've had a couple new donations to Angela's Angels this week. Thanks to my cousin Brandon and his new bride Heather. And congratulations on your new life together!!!!

Thank you, also, to the APC company for your generous donation!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tomorrow (Angela's Thoughts)

*note* Angela wrote this in a word doc. with some help with punctuation, and spelling because she wanted me to spell everything for her. I have to remind her to add words like "is" and "the" and "and".

Tomorrow is school. Not really school. Tomorrow is open house. I'm in 6th grade. It's open house.

I will bring my school supplies to school. Get my new locker. Meet my teachers. I will see all my friends. Monica and Drew and Julia. Tomorrow is open house.

First, I have a dentist appointment. I have to hold very still for the dentist. He will clean my teeth. Then its time for open house. No swimming tomorrow. No diving for me. Nope. Straight to open house. Not Tyler. Not Aaron. Not Noah. Just me at open house.

No pulling girls hair. No pushing those boys. Not nice. Nope. Only touch nice. Don't touching girls braids. Remember words please move away. Hands in my pockets is safe hands.

I'm not sleep tonight. Nope. No sleeping for me. 6th grade. Tomorrow is open house.

No boys allowed! (except Grampa!)

First of all, have I mentioned I'm dying without a camera? It's been a MONTH since I've been able to put new pictures on my site and it's really starting to get to me!

Ok, onto the blog....

My parents 50th anniversary was in July, but we're having the big party next month. I've been put in charge of doing a photo montage, so have spent several months collecting pictures of the last 50 years. This was NO easy task! My parents have moved/combined/divided houses 3 times in the last 6 years, so most things were in storage, only nobody knew exactly where! I'm still missing some critical pictures of my brother growing up. I keep thinking there is no way I'm going to get this done, while at the same time having NO CLUE what order I want to put these pictures in. Do I want to do it chronologically, or by event, or what? I know this is one of those God inspired projects and that in the end it will be exactly what he intended, but still....

Anyway, in my quest for more pictures I decided Angela and I needed a girls only trip away. My parents live 4 hours away (if you don't stop) and the weather was beautiful so we decided to take the sidecar up. Angela LOVES her sidecar! She is a great traveler in it, but on a long trip like this it does require more stopping! I try to divide the food and gas stops so there are more opportunities for her to move around.

Because we got a late start (had to have some friends over to play Wii, right Kathy?) we didn't get to Mom and Dad's until 9:00. Dad is alone for a few weeks since mom is in Ireland, so we broke up his bachelor time a bit. We spent Thursday evening chatting with Grandpa, and Angela gave him lots of love'in that she doesn't get many opportunities to do!

Friday morning was spent in the "shed" digging through boxes. While I was doing that Angela found a wagon and had a blast pulling her imaginary friends over my parent's place.

I also took the memory card out of my mom's camera and uploaded it to her computer because there were family pics on there I needed. (before she left she told me I could do this, I promise!) and burned those to a disk. AND, I stumbled on a box that has one of my favorite pictures of Angela in it! It's a favorite because I only have a couple of pictures with her with her favorite uncle, my brother Lynn.

For a year or so after our divorce, my brother lived with Angela's dad, so she became VERY close to him, but for the past 5 years he's lived up north near my parents. Her dad does take her fishing up there once in awhile so she gets to see him more than her other aunts/uncles. When she was little she couldn't say his name, so she called him Uncle Dee, which she sometimes still uses. Uncle Dee is pretty rough around the edges, and is one of those men who frighten small children with his laugh. But, if you remember from my biker posts, Angela likes the scary looking guys! LOL

Anyway, the photo hunt was a partial success. Then Angela and I headed home by noon on Friday (yep, a short trip) and met her dad on the way so she could spend the weekend with him, and I could come home and help prepare for Aaron's graduation party. Again...NO CAMERA! UGH!

Here's the picture of Angela and her Uncle Dee taken a couple years ago. (this is his cleaned-up look. We must have had a recent wedding or something! LOL)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

WE'RE IN! (the video, that is)

I received an email this morning saying that Angela's picture was chosen for the New York Buddy Walk video, to be shown in Times Square! WHOO HOO!!!! Now, I just need to raise the funds to get Angela and I to New York so we can see it!

The video will be shown on the Astro Vision in the middle of Times Square. Imagine, seeing your kids face up there!!! WOW!

I've always wanted to go to New York, and I can't think of a better reason to go! You may notice that I still have my First Giving button up. A special thank you to those of you who felt led to contribute. There is still time, so if you can spare $5, $10, $20...whatever you think you can, we would sure appreciate it. These funds are NOT for Angela and I, but for the National Down Syndrome Society, who helps new and existing families who have members blessed with DS.

Raising girls: I'm so lost!

Ok you moms of teens. When did your girls start shaving their legs? I've noticed that Angela's legs are VERY hairy. She has my German blood, after all! Lots of thick, coarse, dark hair! It may not be noticeable to others, but I've noticed the change, for sure. So has she, as she's now comparing her legs to mine. (she comes out better since I have old lady legs. LOL)

Are there any REALLY good electric razors? And her armpits are *just* starting to get hairy, but I've found a razor for that. She's not using it yet though.

The other day she came out of the bathroom reeking of...well...hhmm...she smelled a lot like Dean! Almost like cologne, but not. Hmmm....ahhh yes, it was Dean's deodorant. She does have her own, but doesn't really want anything to do with it. Apparently she saw Deans and decided his was more worth the effort.

Do middle school aged girls like all those locker do-dads for school? Are they into a quick brush of the hair when they make a stop at their locker?

Once in awhile, on the very rare occasion that I put on make-up, I'll put some eye shadow or something on her that's fun. However, she's not allowed to leave the house with it on. It's "just for at home", until she's 13 at which time she can wear lip gloss or something like that to school. Anyway, a couple weeks ago she came out of the bathroom all shimmery. It looked familiar, like my very expensive mineral make-up. Sure enough, my bathroom was COVERED! That stuff is so fine it blows around everywhere. But she didn't stop there. No, because those fancy dancy (read expensive) brushes looked like too much fun, AND they looked a lot like paint brushes! Yep, she got all of them wet and was painting my bathroom with my mineral make-up. Did I mention it's expensive? I think the fact some made it to her face was purely an accident that happened before she got distracted by the painting.

Now, I wish we could find a way to deal with this not wanting to shower business. It's really quite annoying. She IS in the pool several days per week, and I figure chlorine is an all-purpose cleaner so what the heck. But the other days? The kid has to shower! If I could just find the one motivator. I'm thinking I'm going to put together a caddy full of "Angela's stuff" for in the bathroom. Or maybe clean out that one bathroom drawer that just holds stuff nobody uses anymore, and call it hers. Then I'll show her all the really cool stuff, and make a point of telling her "this is the stuff we use after we take showers. So, when you take your showers, you can use all this stuff by yourself." She's very into doing everything by herself, so maybe it'll work. I'll let you know!

You may have read my posts recently, and wonder why I have so many girl questions. Well, you see, I raised a house full of BOYS and they are VERY different. Several years ago my kids and my sisters kids all went to the same school. One year, the night before school pictures, I called my sisters house and could hear her 5 girls bickering in the background. I asked what they were going on about, and my sister said, "Ummm, don't you know, it's school picture day tomorrow? They're fighting over who's wearing what, and how to do their hair."

Wow, I was dumbfounded. I looked at the 4 boys, sitting blank-faced in front of the TV, unaffected by what the next day would hold. I knew that when I got off the phone I would go into their rooms, hand them each what I wanted them to wear for pictures, and that would be the end of it. They could care less. They didn't really start caring about stuff like that until they were in high school, and even then I think only two of them did.

As for me, I have two very distinct memories from middle school, and they involve other kids, not me. I don't remember caring about clothes or how I looked. I probably did, I just don't remember it. I don't remember learning to shave my legs, but I DO remember teaching my neighbor how to do hers when she was in 5th grade, so I'm pretty sure it was right around that time and I felt the need to show off my newfound skills.

Oh well...so that's my list of questions for the day about raising girls.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You Gotta Be Kidding Me!

I think I'm going to have Thursdays be "You Gotta Be Kidding Me!" days on my blog. They seem to come up a lot! LOL

Today my friend Shelley posted an article that appeared today in the Washington Times. Apparently going off to war isn't enough. Now American Airlines is charging soldiers and extra fee for their bags. You know, those bags that carry things like their bullet proof vests, and other life-saving equipment.

American Airlines is of the opinion that "Hey, you can get it back from the military." Here's a link to the article, so you can read it for yourself. Don't forget to read Shelley's post about HER perspective, as a wife of a U.S. soldier.

This isn't meant to be a debate about the war. If you want to comment about the war save it for another time, thanks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Send 'em back!

For those who are intersted, there is a group of us who are sending any Ben Stiller movies we own BACK to Ben Stiller. Let him dispose of his own trash. I will not support this man, will not give him one single dollar of mine so that he can spew his garbage to the rest of the world. I'm thrilled that I only own ONE Of his movies, as I've never been thrilled with his humor, but I think most households probably own a movie or two of his.

Here's the list of movies:

Night at the Museum
Madagascar
Meet The Fockers
Meet The Parents
Dodgeball
Anchorman
Along Came Polly
Zoolander
Something About Mary

He also produced "The Ringer" (the only movie of his that I own) which was endorsed and supported by the National Special Olympics organization. I'm still debating about sending this one back.

Box 'em up and mail them to

Ben Stiller, Writer/Director/Producer
Read Hour Films, 629 N. La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036

If you love my kid, you won't go!

I bet you've seen the trailers for the new movie opening this week "Tropic Thunder", the new Ben Stiller movie. I'll bet you thought the trailers were hilarious. I'll bet you DON'T know what's really in this movie!

Ben Stiller and his team put a lot of thought into this movie, trying to be very careful to not cross the lines on racial humor. They wouldn't want to offend anyone of color or other nationalities in fear of loosing a lot of money in the movie.

But people who are intellectually disabled are fair game in the world of Hollywood. The word "retard" is the whole sub-plot for the movie. The term "Going full retard" has been coined and it's been announced there will soon be a line of t-shirts appearing in your local stores with the term plastered across the front. If you take every time the word "retard" is used in the movie and replace it with the "n" word, or any other racial slur, the movie would be banned in the U.S!

And that, my friends and family, is what Angela has to look forward to when school starts. (Last year it was Napolean Dynamite pens that talked, with one the phrases being "you retard!" which, after complaints, were quickly pulled off the shelves and banned by schools across the country.)

Yes, the movie is rated R, so young kids shouldn't be seeing it. But they will. And their teen siblings and parents who DO see it will be coming home repeating what they think is a funny phrase, and kids will be coming to school with it. They'll love the t-shirts as well.

I don't understand how in the world it's ok to to belittle this population of people, but if they were using the "N" word, or any other racial slur, it would be all over the news! Our countries schools have a zero tolerance policy against racial harassment, and you won't hear certain words thrown around the hallways of your child's school. But you WILL hear "retard" on a regular basis.

I know there are plenty of you who feel I'm overreacting. Well, apparently I'm with the 3 million other families in the country who are FURIOUS this film has been allowed to be produced the way it has. You can expect to see national and local protests about this film, as those of us who are overreacting demand that our children, brothers, sisters, cousins, and loved ones get the same respect that everyone else in the country gets, including illegal immigrants. That they aren't set up for yet MORE harassment by teens who think it's funny to mock our children because Hollywood has encouraged them to do so.

I hear the word by friends and family members all the time. I hear the "short bus" jokes. Most of the time I'll call someone on the carpet about it, but sometimes I won't. Sometimes I just get tired of constantly having to defend my child against the people who are supposed to care. Their lame responses of "I wasn't meaning HER, it was just a joke!" Well, HELLO!!! Who do you MEAN then? Who are you comparing yourself or others to when you toss those words around? And my personal favorite "It just slipped out". Funny...words that aren't part of my every day vocabulary don't "just slip out"!

My child, and millions like her, are intellectually disabled (that's the proper term, by the way..."retarded" is going out the window because it's become such a hateful slang term. School districts aren't even putting it on their paperwork anymore!) Just as people of color don't have a choice of what color skin they were born with, children with intellectual disabilities don't have a choice but to ride "the short bus", and so they become the brunt of your jokes. I've watched people who's own children ride "the short bus" make the same jokes, without even realizing (or caring) that it's at the expense of his/her own children. "Oh, but they think it's funny too!" Do they really? Or are they laughing along while inside they squirm with discomfort?

These people don't have a choice to have the medical term "Mental retardation" plastered all over their medical records. Those with syndromes such as Down Syndrome can't even hide behind a "normal" appearance. It's plastered on their face, leaving them open to hateful ridicule by their peers, and yes, even their family members.

So, if you've seen the trailers, and thought, "That looks like a fun movie to see!" Please don't. My child...your grandchild, your niece, your cousin, your friend.... and those like her, deserve the respect more then Ben Stiller and his team deserve a few bucks!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Giving up control in 2000 miles or less

For those who know me, you know that while I'm not a neat freak, and as far away from being a "Type A" as is humanly possible, I *DO* have control issues. They mostly come into play about planning events in my life. I like to know what's coming, and don't really care for surprises.

Last month I went on a trip with a group of women I'd never met. This was the first time I'd gone on a trip that I had NO input into the planning. All I had to do was keep up to the pack. I did mostly ok. No... really...I did.

Dean and I have been planning since January to have the whole first week of August (really the 1st - 10th!) off for a motorcycle vacation. The hitch? This is DEANS vacation. Since I already had MY vacation, this one we go where HE wants.

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Well, the entire month of July I've been asking him, "Where are we G-O-I-N-G?" to which he would reply, "I haven't decided yet."

Have decided yet? Ever heard of the word "reservations"?

One week to go and I start feeding him ideas. "Gee, everyone we know is going to Sturgis. Wanna go to Sturgis?" No, he wasn't interested in doing Sturgis this year. Been there/Done that.

"Wanna go to New Jersey? It's a three day ride, then a few days out there, then 3 days back." No, he didn't want to "spend the whole trip on the bikes. I wanna DO stuff, and fish, and stuff like that."

Weds before we're supposed to leave he tells me, "We're going up to my brothers for the weekend, and we can fish and stuff, and then Sunday we'll head up to your parents and maybe ride with them for a bit. After that, I don't know yet. Whichever way the wind takes us I guess."

WHICHEVER WAY THE WIND TAKES US? He has been watching too much of the travel channel or something.

I wish I could give you a picture of our bikes before we left. Dean's included a tackle box and two fishing poles hanging off the back of the bike. We got off to a slow start though. Just minutes down the road I had to pull over to adjust a bungie cord that wasn't tight enough. About 1/2 hour later Dean was ahead of me, and I noticed one of the poles had slipped and was just inches from dragging it's way down the road. I signaled to Dean to pull over, and kind of gave him a teasingly hard time about how thrown together his packing looked. Well, another 20 minutes later and I notices there is something fluttering behind him, but I only see it sometimes so can't tell what it is. That is, until we come to a light and I realize there's 20 feet of fishing line floating behind him. LOL Finally, I think we're done making stops (I hate when we constantly stop, I just want to get OUT of town!) when Dean makes a sudden turn into a motorcycle dealership. "Didn't you want to get some of that special cleaner?" Ummm yeah, but NOW? Good grief. Oh well, he remembered something I wanted so I bought it. LOL

We do, indeed, go to the brothers near Itasca State Park in Northern MN and have a really nice weekend with them. We did some fishing, did some Karaoke, (ok, I did the karaoke, they watched and kept asking if I was almost done. LOL) and just had a relaxing time.

Sunday we make the short 1/2 hr ride to my parents who were anxiously waiting for us. It's the first time Mom has seen my on a bike. I'll save THAT story for another post though. My parents still have a beautiful bike. My mom used to ride her own, but since her Meneirs progressed it's just not possible anymore, so she rides behind Dad now. My parents are 70 years old and still very active!!! That afternoon we all rode together to visit my brother Lynn at his new place. (oops, forgot to call. Sorry big brother!)

Tuesday we again rode with Mom and Dad down to Itasca State Park, but this time we got to ride all through the park. It was a beautiful ride, and we'd love to take Angela back in the fall when the colors are at their peak. I think she'll love it there. Really as long as she's in the sidecar, she's happy!

Tuesday we packed up and left Mom and Dad's. But to where? Your guess is as good as mine! LOL Dean said, "Lets head over to Duluth, and we'll decide from there." Oohhh Duluth! I love Duluth, and didn't get to do enough when I was there last month. But Dean had other plans. 1/2 way there we stop at an intersection and he says, "If we can get to New Jersey by tomorrow night, let's go!"

WHAT??? Ohmigosh. My mind was gong 100 miles a second. I was so excited about the prospect of seeing my twin/friend Tink. We stopped at a cafe to get things figured out. I called her and she was just as giddy. "ARE YOU NUTS?? I'm so EXCITED!!!!"

The first thing to figure out was the exact mileage, and how much could we safely cover in a day? It was remotely possible we could do it in 24 hours, but really would probably need one more day. That's ok...it was doable. A hard ride, but it was doable. "No stopping but for gas" Dean reminded me. Just the thought of that made me have to pee every 20 minutes.

So that day we rode from Walker MN to Escanaba Michigan. We were trying for the Mackinaw bridge, but it was already dark and there are A LOT of deer up there that are drawn to motorcycles in the dark. Well, those and suicidal bats. After a quick stop in Walmart we got into our room at 10:30 pm.

The next morning we were on our bikes at 7:30 a.m, headed for the Mighty Mack. That's the local name for the Mackinaw bridge. That, too, is another post. Dean was to the point of measuring everything by how many tanks of gas it would take us to get there. Our goal for the day was Detroit, which would be a 5 tank ride. We continued on down to Saginaw MI, when it hit us. The fatigue and exhuastion. 250 miles a day on a motorcycle is a good ride. 300 miles is an ok ride. 350 miles is a little rough, and 400 miles is the max for most people. We'd just put in two 500 mile days. We called Tink who was manning the computers, "How much further? How many more tanks of gas?" I wanted to cry when she said another 750 miles to get to her.

We sat in that Wendy's 5 minutes too long. Had we left sooner, we'd still be in NJ. Instead, the fatigue overtook us and we decided to throw in the towel and head west. This allowed us to stop in Flint and Lansing MI where we stayed for the night. This is where God shows you things happen for a reason. At 3:30 in the morning we got an emergency phone call from son Noah, about Tyler. (another post, of course, but please say a prayer for him.)

Just a few miles down the road in Kalamazoo we had to put new rear tires on each of our bikes. (a totally unexpected expense!) Experienced interstate 94, through the heart of Chicago, at peak rush hour. (Where stop-n-go traffic means "stop" is stopped and "go" is 90 miles per hour! NO EXAGGERATING! And every other vehicle is a semi and we were often between two of them, and it's normal to go from the far left lane to the far right lane in the blink of an eye. It was a white knuckle ride to say the least.)

We stopped at my sister's in Waconda, ILL and had a nice dinner with her family. It was great to see everyone, especially my nieces/nephew, and their babies!

Friday morning we headed home. In a car this is a 6 hour drive. On bike, with two exhuasted bodies hurting from too many long days on the road, it was closer to 10. At our last fill-up Dean said, "This is it honey. No more stops, we're going to push for home. We should just be able to make it on this tank."

My fingers were numb (carpel tunnel) and I could no longer feel my brake lever. I had a really bad sunburn across my back from the day before so I had the chills really bad. That means even in the 80 degree weather I was shivering and wearing ALL of my leather. Shivering caused me to tense up, which caused my hips to keep cramping in charlie horse fashion. 45 minutes from home I HAD to pull over just so I could stand up for a minute. Did I mention I also had a migraine the entire day, and I was tired? Yep...as much as I tried to control them, I just couldn't and the tears started to flow. There on the side of an exit ramp in rural Wisconsin Dean gave me a helmet-to-helmet hug. "45 more minutes honey, and we're home."

What's really sad about this trip is Dean was the one who didn't want to spend his entire vacation on the bikes, yet we barely made it off the interstate. (the most borningest place to ride a motorcycle!) And yet, we so enjoyed each other's company. But our next trip? Yep, I'm planning it!

Snowpants

Last night, in the middle of the night, I woke up having a panic attack about snowpants. No...really....

You may remember my post about Angela taking the regular ed. bus to middle school this year. Now, Angela would have ALWAYS been able to take the reg. ed. bus, but we've never lived in the boundaries of her school, so she's always been on the special ed. bus. But, THIS year, we finally live within the boundaries, so she can take the reg. ed bus in the morning. Because she will still be on a short day this year due to her health issues (she'll be coming home at 12:00) she'll be riding the special ed bus home.

So...in the middle of the night I got to thinking about her riding that bus. I wonder where it will pick her up? There aren't any other middle school students within 2 blocks of us, and we're right on the corner where they pull into our neighborhood, so I'm hoping she'll be one of the lucky few that get picked up at her driveway.

Then I got to thinking about the cold. Angela gets VERY cold, and HELLO! It's Minnesota!! She usually goes to the bus stop with hat, mittens, scarf, boots, the whole shebang. And yes, snowpants. Sometimes she's standing down there for 5 minutes, and sometimes for 15, in the wind and cold, waiting for the bus to come.

But middle school kids don't WEAR snowpants. Or boots. And you're lucky to get a hat and gloves on them. She is going to FREEZE at the bus stop, and that's if it's at our driveway! What if she has to go down the street to catch it? That would be two blocks, and I don't trust her to walk that. I'd have to go with her, which I will, but...you know what I mean. How can I work on this whole independence thing when I'm walking her to the bus?

Ok, I have a whole month to worry about flippin snowpants.

Monday, August 04, 2008

popping in: what did I miss?

So Dean and I have made a short escape. A little time to reconnect while Angela has the time of her life riding horses and stuff. LOL

My twitter isn't always going through since my phone has intermittent service at best in the sticks. I posted a prayer for my first ex (Noah and Tyler's dad). Back when we first got married, at the age of 24 he had a brain anyerism. (sp) He survived the surgery, but not without significant neurological damage, the worst of which is a severe seizure disorder caused by the buildup of scar tissue. For those familiar with seizures, his are status seizures. For those not familiar, that means his seizures don't stop without medical intervention, and he often stops breathing during them. Up until a couple years ago I was still his emergency contact person and the hospital would call me when he was brought in. He has seized as long as 3 hours before someone has found him. Fortunately he only siezed once a year or so. Sadly, over the last couple of years this has gotten much worse, and he's now seizing several times per week. He has lost contact with the boys and finally contacted a mutual friend to contact them for him. Tyler has been living with Dean and I, and Friday was the first we've heard about this! Anyway, It's my understandint that Kevin will be going through neurosurgery again later this week. Tyler was with him yesterday and was very upset when he called me. He worries about the mental state of his dad, along with the medical issues. Kevin stated several times that "I'm done" and that he wants to "get my house in order, because I'm pulling in both oars and giving up." At 47 years old he is 6'3 and weighs 130 lbs at best. He is a walking skeleton, and his skin is grey. Please, if you can, say a prayer for him. He's very tired.

I also went to check on some kids on a certain site I frequent, and was promptly booted off. I'm hoping this is due to a technical issue and not something more. The people there are family to me....you know who you are...and I'm trying really hard to just wait till I get back to my own computer to find out what's going on!

Well, gotta run. It's been a long day of motorcycling with my parents through Itaska state park, standing in the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Leave 'in, on a jet plane

Well, not really. Leaving on the bikes, which is way better.