Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six 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, January 29, 2010

A Mouse in the House

Ok, this happened about a year and a half ago, just a day or so after I returned from my Epic Journey. Many of you heard me mention it on the radio this morning. I never did blog about it, because Dean was acting a little funny about me telling people we had a mouse in the house. (actually, we'd had a HUGE problem which has since been taken care of!!!)

I was home alone, and when I'm home alone I don't cook, I just eat cereal, or toast, or something equally simple. We usually buy those Malt-O-Meal cereals in the bag. I pulled out the Captain Crunch-like stuff, and noticed it was almost gone, so I poured the last of it in my bowl. This made for a HEAPING bowl of cereal!!!1

You know how cereal floats when you pour the milk in? Prepared for this to happen I put my hand over the heaping mound of cereal as I poured the milk so it wouldn't fall all over the counter. Picture my fingers, spread wide across the top of the bowl. Yeah, that's when the cereal started to MOVE BENEATH MY HAND!!!!! Suddenly, from between my splayed fingers, CRAWLS A MOUSE OUT OF THE CEREAL AND OVER MY FINGER, COMING TO REST ON THE SIDE OF THE BOWL!!!!!

Go ahead, squirm if you need to. I am.

You can imagine the scream heard by every neighbor on the BLOCK!

But then, the mouse just SAT THERE!!! He was trying to catch his breath, since a giant hand had just held him under a bowl-full of milk and he was nearly drowned. Poor thing sat there "gasp....gasp...cough...gasp."

Then it occurred to me, "Wow, good blogging moment!" I went to grab my camera only to remember I'd wrecked it the week before on my motorcycle trip, so I grabbed my cell phone instead. Sadly, this was a 2007 cell phone, so the pictures aren't the best.

So here he is, still trying to catch his breath. Can you see him on the left side of the bowl? (I think you can click on the picture to make it bigger.)

I didn't know what to do next, and I kept vacillating between total fascination and the heebie geebies. I can't touch the creepy thing, but it's DYING there, trying to breathe and stuff. I did what any brave soul would do, and put a bucket down on the floor directly beneath the bowl, grabbed the broom, stood as far away as I could and used the broom to push the bowl off the counter so it would fall into the bucket. Can you see him in there?

So, now I have a mouse in a bucket! And a bowl. What does a person do with that??? I took him out to the woods by the side of our house, to the cliff, and tossed the contents. The cereal, milk and bowl flew over the cliff, but the mouse landed about 3 feet from me....and just SAT THERE! The thing was huffing and puffing, still suffering the effects of his lungs being filled with milk. Oh oh...blogging moment. I took a picture of that too! Poor thing. Look at him, all soaked with milk and stuff.

I kept an eye on him for about an hour before he disappeared...into the belly of the resident snake who discovered an easy snack. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Movie Review: Iron Jawed Angels

Tonight in my Gender Communications class we watched the movie "Iron Jawed Angels". This is a GREAT movie!!!

It's the true story of Alice Paul (played by Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns (Frances O'Connor) and the suffrage movement in the 1920's, and the campaign to secure the 19th amendment. Ladies, don't take your right to vote for granted! What these women went through to guarantee YOU the right to cast your vote was something I was never aware of before. When the movie was done, I left class in awe of these women who suffered for what they believed in so you and I wouldn't have to.

This movie is not rated. Although the cover of this movie shows a woman's bare back, there is one small scene with nudity in it. Its a prison scene, and you see a group of women from behind who are lined up naked in front of the warden. All you see is bare backsides for a few seconds. There is one scene of implied sex. (really, they could have done without this scene in the movie.) It's pretty heavy for an IMPLIED scene. I don't think most 10 year olds would know what was going on and you could get away with it. But any older than that and you're either going to get questions, or your teenage boy might just disappear for awhile. LOL

But the rest of the movie is FANTASTIC! I immediately came home to see if it's on Netflix, and it is. I think everyone, particularly young ladies nearing voting age, should watch it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Remember the essay?

Do you remember my post a couple weeks ago about my Composition class, and the excessively long essay I wrote IN CLASS? Well, my professor finally gave it back to me yesterday. We were given 1/2 hr to write about a topic she chose for us. We were told this was to get an idea where we are at with grammar and structure, so I expected that when I got it back there would be some notes on it or something. Nope! Nothing! Not one pen mark from her. Anyway, here's what I wrote; no edits. So basically it's a first draft of something that I would normally re-write 75 times before turning it in! LOL

The Best Day of My Life

The best day of my life was one of those bitter-sweet moments. It was a moment that others may have cried about while those in my family celebrated.

In February 2008, my then 11 year old daughter was granted a Make A Wish trip. A lot of people have the mistaken understanding that a Wish is only for children who are dying, when really they are for children who are terminally ill or who have battled life threatening medical problems.

I wasn't aware that my daughter's doctor had submitted her name to the Make A Wish Foundation of Minnesota; until I received a letter from the foundation stating Angela was eligible for a Wish. As I stood at the mailbox looking at the return address on the envelope, tears began to run down my cheeks. I opened envelope and read, "We are pleased to inform you your child has been chose to make a wish..."

"Pleased"? How could they be "pleased" by that? I was not "pleased" one little bit!

I called our doctor, angry that she hadn't told me she'd contacted the. I was also angry that she hadn't told me my child was dying.

"Leah," she said, "Angela isn't dying. This wish isn't being granted because her fight is over! It's being granted because she has survived! This is a celebration of her life, and that she's still here with you."

A few weeks later, after Angela had chosen her wish, and all the arrangements had been made, we were left to spend weeks anticipating her big day. On the day of our departure to Angela's wish destination, a black stretch limousine arrived in our driveway. Angela had always dreamed of riding in a limo! We'd kept her busy in the basement when we knew it was due to arrive, and when the driver knocked on the door we had her answer it. As she opened the door and said hello to the driver, she noticed the limo behind him. Across her face appeared the biggest smile I've ever seen!

It was at that very moment, watching her eyes sparkle with excitement and wonder, that I realized this was, indeed, a celebration of life; a testament to my child's strong will and determination! All the years of fighting her medical battles, and our family's struggle to manage the unimaginable stress. I thought of all the times we were told she had "taken a turn for the worse", a yet here she stood, glowing on the doorstep.

Yes, that day will forever be the best day of my life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Please VOTE for me!

No, I'm not running for president. (aren't you lucky!) No, even better than that! Dean entered me in a "Worst Cooks" contest. And, seriously, I am really bad! I even messed up "Let's Dish!"

Anyway, the picture of my orange rolls doesn't look that bad. Aaaahhhh but looks can be deceiving! When you get to the link, at the bottom of the entry click on "info/recipe" button, which will tell you WHY they were so horrible!

Then, if you would please post the link on your blogs or wherever, and ask your friends to vote, Dean would REALLLY appreciate it. The winner gets cooking lessons, and he really wants me to cook! LOL

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What can you do?

Today I looked at the calendar. In just a very few short weeks, Shelley and I will be leaving for Bulgaria. We'll be picking up her new son Kullen, and spending the week with the parents of Bulgaria.

What will we have for them?

We have six HUGE suitcases. We hope to bring them filled to capacity. Looking at our wish list, and then at the empty suitcases, this seems like a daunting task.

Can we do it? Shelley and I cannot do it. We are only two people, and this is bigger than us.

Then I look around me, at the DS community. I think of the young girl a few weeks ago who, in one week, was able to raise $20,000 so her parents could save an orphan with DS. One week, that's all it took! How did she do it? She asked everyone to post on their blogs. She asked everyone in the DS community, or who read about it somewhere, to give just one time. That's ALL IT TOOK!!!!

If every family in the DS community purchased ONE item off our wish list, or donated $10.00, we would be able to serve not only those families in Bulgaria, but across Eastern Europe! Think of the amazing changes that would happen in society there! Children with DS playing in the local parks, just like here in the US. Children with DS going to school with their peers, getting the services they deserve.



And it's easy! Go to the website and click on the "donate" button. Or, go to the Wish List and purchase just ONE item from the list. You can even have it shipped directly to the address on the website so you don't have to mess with it. It's THAT EASY!

There is one more way you can help. Post about Connecting the Rainbow on your blogs and on your Facebook page, and in the online communities you frequent. Don't forget to ask everyone who reads it to post it on their blogs too! Its going to take ALL OF US! Yes, supporting those who are adopting is a wonderful thing. We also need to think of the bigger picture....Preventing children with DS from needing new families in the first place.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Connecting the Rainbow!!!!

ANNOUNCING the unveiling of "Connecting the Rainbow".

I'm so incredibly excited to be partnering with Shelley Bedford, and spearheading the latest efforts of Reece's Rainbow! Together we have formed "Connecting the Rainbow".

While adopting international children with Down syndrome is wonderful, supporting parents who've chosen to keep their children is even better!!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Do you remember this post from last week? I'm kind of excited about this class! Why? Because we get to write different types of papers, including a Narrative and a Persuasive research paper.

We're working on our Narrative paper first. I'm thinking of taking one of my previous blog posts and tweaking it to fit the class. Of all the stories I've told on this blog over the past 5 years, which was your favorite? (Ummm...did I just say I've been blogging for FIVE years? Wow! I can't believe it!)

I've already chosen two options for my Persuasive research paper. Can you guess the topics?

There are other opportunities in the works that have nothing to do with school, and I can't wait to unveil them! I'll tell you that it involves Bulgaria, and a partnership with Reece's Rainbow! (and no, we're not adopting.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wow, I've fallen behind!

Let me just tell you, life is crazy right now!!

School started again for both Angela and I, which means homework, homework, and more homework.

Math has my head absolutely spinning! I doubt I've ever mentioned it on here, but I have dyscalculia, which basically means math concepts make NO sense to me. NONE! I have to take college algebra, but since I tested so low in math, I have to first take review I and II. And, since I'm one to just jump in with both feet, I'm taking BOTH classes in one semester! Normally each class is a full semester (or 15 weeks) long, but I'm doing the accelerated classes. The same material, but crammed into 7 1/2 weeks.

Last night I spent six hours on my math homework. Yes...six hours...on math! On Friday I opened my book and found I didn't remember most of what my professor had taught us in class that day. In fact, I didn't remember ANY of it. I emailed school to see if there was a tutor in the lab Saturday but never heard back. Finally Saturday night I gave up, realizing I was just going to have to figure it out.

I did what every good internet user would do, and googled "math tutor", where I found a website that brought me step by step through the material I needed to know. I did a whole bunch of practice problem in each category I needed, then went to work. Fortunately I was able to check my work with the calculator, and found I'd done most of them right! I was totally shocked!!! The few I'd done wrong, I was easily able to figure out where I'd gone wrong.

My biggest fear is that come Wednesday, I will have forgotten how to do the various types of problems. I guess I'll be doing some more math on Monday and Tuesday to keep it all straight in my head!

I have read a couple chapters in my book for Tuesday's composition class, and write a journal entry about Martin Luther King day for Wednesday's class on Gender Communication. It's a good thing we had a long weekend!

And with all of that, there is a new project in the works related to my upcoming trip to Bulgaria. I'm anxious to unveil it, and will hopefully be able to do so on Tuesday. I don't know how I'm going to fit all of this in, but God stuck me here, so I guess I'll find a way!

Wow, 2:00 a.m. Time for me to get to bed!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dear Composition professor....

To my Composition professor:

Please accept my apologies in advance for being a long-winded writer. I can't help it. It's a disorder I was born with (and I'm pretty sure it's genetic.) I will try my best to abbreviate my writing in an attempt to not cause the look of dread when I hand you a stack of papers.

Today was the first day of my Composition class. I guess it's pretty obvious by the name that this class is going to require a lot of writing. I'm just hoping I can handle the topics.

In order to know what our class needs to work on, and where to focus the lessons, our professor first needs to know where we're at with our use of grammar, punctuation, and ability to put our thoughts on paper. To answer that question she gave us the last half hour of class to write an essay on "The Best Day of My Life". Someone asked her how long it should be and her reply was, "Just write for the entire half hour."

The moment she announced the topic, thoughts of the day we left for Angela's Make A Wish trip filled my mind.

As I put to ink the emotions of that day, tears threatened to flow down my cheeks. Oh good grief! It was the first day of class, and I was writing a simple essay, and I was flipping CRYING! But I wasn't about to let a few tears stop me. Besides, I figured if I caused my professor to cry while reading my essay then I'd achieved my goal, which is to cause my reader to feel what I'm trying to convey. (and, maybe make it hard to see my grammatical errors through her own tears.)

I finished my essay with just a few minutes to spare. When class was over, we gathered our things, and everyone began dropping their papers on the professor's desk on their way out the door. I noticed that the other students were handing in SINGLE sheets of paper. Some were written on the front and back, while others were just single sided. I looked down at the paperS in my hand, and suddenly felt very self conscious.

When I got to the desk, I asked, "Do you have a stapler?"

"Oh, just make sure your name is on both papers so I know who they belong to."

I looked down at my papers again, then back at the professor. "I'll check my bag to see if I have a stapler."

"How many do you have?" she asked.

"Ummm....let me count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...umm...6."

What the heck? I reminded myself that I'd had the same half hour that everyone else had. I can't help it that I had a really good pen that I love to write with, and that I thought of something right away. I'm sure some of the other students had to think a little bit before they came up with something. I just got lucky this time, and had a thought right away.

Still, even though I didn't really want to make eye contact with her again, I forced myself to look back at the professor, only to find she was staring at me with huge eyes....and blinking kind of a lot.

"I'm sorry. I know. It's a problem I have." And I set the papers on her desk and walked out of the room.

So ends my first day in Composition.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Stating my opinion

After speaking with an attorney about the definitions of Libel and Slander, I'm now comfortable stating my opinion about the assault that happened against Angela in November, 2007.

After a police investigation conducted by the Eagan Police Department, and an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education, it was found that Lynn Marie Boker Schultz, while working as a substitute paraprofessional for district ***, committed an act of malicious Maltreatment against my daughter.

It is my opinion, that Lynn Marie Boker Schultz has no business working with students or vulnerable individuals in ANY capacity. She has demonstrated that she does not have the self control necessary needed to work with individuals who can often be unpredictable, and who are often not able to speak up for themselves to report that something might have happened to them, and who cannot physically defend themselves. It is my opinion, that if Lynn Marie Boker Schultz will assault a child in front of a classroom full of students, she has no self control. It is also my opinion that putting a student who cannot speak for themselves, behind closed doors, in the care of Lynn Marie Boker Schultz is putting the vulnerable individual at great risk of harm.

Student Assault in MN

If you're in MN, and saw the WCCO news last night, I'm sure you were as appalled as I was! If you didn't see it, go here, and find the video that says, "Family of Abused Special Needs Child Wants Answers. Then come back here and read some more.....

If you're a long time reader, you may remember these posts I made, when Angela was assaulted at school by a substitute classroom aid.

Because of the attitude of Dakota County Attorney on the case at the time, (and, quite frankly, she was a bully!) I eventually let the case drop. I wasn't even allowed to have a copy of the police report, where it's stated that the staff person admitted to the assault. Believe me, I was fuming!

Because I couldn't (was basically threatened by the county attorney that if I did, the case would turn against Angela) that staff person is able to work in any other school district in the state, and nothing will show up on a background check. Because she's not lisenced staff, when records are check at the State Department of Education, nothing will show up there either. It doesn't even matter that the investigation done by the State. Dept. of Ed found the staff person did indeed commit malicious maltreatment against Angela.

Finally, I just put it all behind us....

Fast forward to last night's news report about little Kyle. It only took me a few minutes to find his mom online, and to email the news reporter who did the report. I heard back from them this morning. The news investigator wanted more information about our case, which I gave her. She also wanted the name of the person who assaulted Angela.

Way back 2 years ago, I had to beg and plead to get the name of the person who hurt my child. School couldn't give it to me. The police department couldn't give it to me, but said it was included in the police report, but the county attorney (you know, the bully?) needed to approve my access to the police report. Finally, I called the county attorney's office one day about a question I had. The person I needed to talk to was on her lunch break, and there was someone else watching the desk. From the brief moment I talked to her, she didn't sound like she knew procedures very well, so I asked her, "I need the name off the case #...file#....My daughter (insert Angela's full name) is the child in the case." She put me on hold and a minute later came back and gave me the name of the woman! HA!

At the time, I was leery about posting the name on my blog, because I was waiting for the report from the Department of Education. By the time that came (2 months later) I just wanted to be done with everything.

So today, when the news investigator asked me for it, I couldn't remember it! The woman had a hyphenated name, and school knew her by one name, and her friends by another, which I thought was strange! I could remember part of it, but not the whole thing. I sent all the information I had, and told her I'd get back to her with the staff person's name.

I went into my office, the one I haven't used in over a year, and stared at my desk. I could picture a TINY piece of paper with the name and a couple other things scratched on it. Looking at my desk, I knew my chanced of finding it were slim to none. I opened a couple drawers, and shuffled some things around, and then I remembered, about a year ago, contemplating throwing it away because I didn't really need it anymore. So I sat on my office chair, closed my eyes, and prayed: "Lord, I wanted to let this go. And yet, this person is still working with these kids, in a position where someone could really get hurt. Please Lord, if I NEED this information now, help me find it."

I opened my eyes, opened the drawer in front of me, and there was the TINY scrap of paper, right ON TOP! It had the person's name, and all the case and file numbers I needed to re-access all the information. I was quick to send the information to the reporter, and then questions started to fill my head....

I have the person's name. During the police investigation, after MUCH questioning and lying, she finally admitted to hurting Angela. She was found to have maltreated Angela in the investigation conducted by the State Department of Education. While she will never work in OUR district again, I have been told by someone who knows her that she IS working in another district in the area, in the same capacity.

I have had a lot of parents contact me in the past 24 hrs, worried that she is working with their kids. I don't blame them. I'd want to know too. So, watch for an upcoming post!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Recovering from Bloggers Block

Wow, I've been speechless for days. Highly unusual for me! I have pictures in my camera, and stories to tell, just not sure where to start. Maybe I should practice those "free writing" skills I've learned?

Angela is doing much better since her surgery. She seems mostly back to herself. I say "mostly" because she's still not eating well. I'm pretty sure it's due to her new seizure meds, as she seems to be swallowing ok. A sputter here and there, but otherwise all seems good! Anyway, she has lost 6 pounds since we got back from Boston. Since she was carrying around a little extra, she can loose another 5 and still be in good shape. Right now, on the DS growth chart, she's at the 50th % for height, and just under the 75th % for weight. She does have a little more muscle (particularly in her shoulders from all that swimming) than some kids with DS. I do have to say though, it's nice to see her pot belly disappearing a little bit.

Angela also started floor hockey right before the holidays. She's LOVING IT!!!! She doesn't talk about school anymore, just floor hockey. LOL She practices every day after school and doesn't get home until 5:00, which makes for a very long day for her, but so far she seems to be handling it well! Her first game is next week, and she can hardly wait. I have to be honest, neither can I! Her excitement is contagious.

Before the holidays I found out that my school schedule was going to interfere with going to Angela's floor hockey games. Then, at the last second, I (thought) was able to change my schedule, only to find out on that the change didn't go through because the class I wanted was full. I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Until 2:00 this morning! I was on my school website looking for something, and on a whim decided to check the school schedule again, and there was a class I'd never seen before. The same one I need, but different times. It's a consolidated class, so a semester covered in 7 weeks, and then the next class in the series takes the second 1/2 of the semester in the same time slot! I called right away this morning, and was told they'd *just* added those classes to the schedule last night! I'm so excited!!!! Not only does this mean I can (once again) make Angela's games, but I'm getting two classes completed in one semester instead of two! WHOO HOO! (please, when I'm freaking out about assignment deadlines, remind me how excited I was to cram all these classes into one semester. LOL ) So, 12 credits for this semester. Should be a piece of cake, huh?

Alright, time for me to close up shop here. Zurri (the standard poodle) is trying to take all of Angela's zhu zhu hamsters in hopes of disemboweling them!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my bloggy friends, and my real life friends, and my family, and anybody else I might have forgotten! Love you all!