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!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What I did today

This has been a really...and I mean really....long day. Since January 1st, it's very rare that I've made it to bed before 2:30-3:00 a.m. And then I'm up for the day somewhere between 7-8:00 a.m. Really. I hope you're doing the math!!! Because yes, that's an average of 4-5 1/2 hrs of sleep every night. Those who know me well understand why I can't remember anything anymore!

Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 9:00, and at 10:00 moved myself to the bedroom, determined to get up early and work on my algebra homework. I have a lot to do before I leave for my trip. I wanted to get it all done before I go, but that's not going to happen. I'll have to teach myself two chapters while I'm gone. (this needs a lot of prayer!!!)

Here's what today was like:

4:15 a.m: Woke up. Not sure why, but once I was awake I was aware of a young lady talking at the top of her lungs in the basement bedroom. Went down at told her to go back to sleep.

4:20: Sat down at the table and opened up my math work.

4:30: Let the barking dogs in. Apparently there were scary critters in the woods, but we don't need the dogs waking up all the neighbors.

5:00: Said goodbye to Dean as he headed to work.

5:30: Gave up on my math, deciding instead to visit the tutor after I drop Angela off at school.

5:35: Back in bed and instantly asleep.

7:50: Angela woke me up frustrated that she couldn't get the TV turned on. (this system is far too complicated for her! It would help if everyone would turn stuff off the same way every time!)

7:55: Dogs back outside.

8:00: Got myself in the shower. (aka my decompression chamber.)

8:15: Dogs back in.

8:30: Angela teeth and hair done, meds given. Got my stuff together for the day.

8:45: Out the door

9:00: Dropped Angela off at school. Remembered softball practice started today, and realized she's going to miss a lot while I'm out of town. Wondered if this is going to be an issue. Stopped for a starbucks because I haven't had one in forever and I wanted on B.A.D!

9:20: Arrive at tutor and struggle through the chapter.

12:00 MATH CLASS

1:45: Back to the tutor to finish the chapter

3:10: Later than normal, but I have more time today because Angela has softball practice. Pack up books and head for home. (if you're counting, that's 6 hours I spent on math, and I'm still not done. AND I have three times that left to do either before Monday or while I'm on the trip!)

3:25: Arrive home to find behavior specialist walking down the driveway. And Angela isn't home because...you know...she has softball practice. Glad Dean is home because the B.S. (ha!) was able to meet with him, which he probably needs more than I do at the moment. Not that I don't need help figuring out Angela, but I've had 13 years of knowing her, and Dean is still learning the ropes. AND...he's going to have her part of the time I'm out of town. Spent 25 minutes chatting with B.S. through the car window.

4:00 in the house, books open to start on research paper.

5:30: Angela home from softball practice. She was obviously tired, and sat down with a toy catalog to circle stuff that her invisible friends want.

5:40: Phone call from doctor's office. Umm....I don't remember what it was about. Oh yeah...her annual thyroid results (normal) and seizure med levels (also normal)

6:00: Dean too Angela to the car wash while I kept working.

6:15: put a pizza in the oven for a nutritious, well-balanced meal.

6:30: Dean and Angela home to eat, I'm still working on paper.

7:30: Angela and Dean watching TV together while I stay in the recliner working on paper. Once in awhile I grab a piece of pizza to eat while I work.

8:15: Time to tuck Angela into bed and read a book. Hopefully tonight she'll sleep better!

8:30: Back to work on paper

1:o0 a.m. I can't believe I finished my research paper! This is a MAJOR piece of work no longer on my shoulders while I'm gone! Tomorrow I'll ask my professor to clarify a couple things about APA style, then make corrections and turn it in on Friday. (it's not due until the 15th, but I'll still be out of town.)

I have lost count how many hours I spent on homework today. I think it's somewhere around 14. UGH!

Going on this trip while being a full-time student is very stressful! This weekend, not only did I work on math, but I also packed up a gazzillion soaker pads that sold on my sale last week, sorted and packed the stuff flying with me to Serbia/Bulgaria. Packed up 3 boxes to be shipped to Bulgaria tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning will be much like today. I'll be back at the tutor as soon as I drop Angela off at school, and will be there most of the day. Take a break when she gets home from softball until her bedtime, then back at it until who knows when. Weds and Thurs repeat. Friday there's no school, but I have PLENTY TO DO before I leave on Monday morning!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Surgery and time

I had surgery this morning to have ear tubes placed. Normally for an adult this is something that can be done in the office. Unfortunately, because I have Menieres Disease, the local anesthetic affects the middle ear as well, which would have my laying flat on the floor very quickly with the world spinning around me. So, instead I did it with the little kids. LOL

Ok, my ears are KILLING ME tonight! I still have that "underwater" sound, and was told I would for a week or so. And, to top it off, I'm very dizzy. Really-- I don't have TIME for dizzy! I'm leaving for Serbia and Bulgaria on the 5th, and there is A LOT to do! I have about 90 pounds of toys and supplies to pack, three chapters of Algebra to do, a research paper, and three essays to write! All by Friday. Really...I don't have time.

BUT--I won't be in excruciating pain when I fly, which is why I had it done! And that makes it all worth it right there.

Q & A time

It's that time again! A chance for you to ask questions, and maybe get some answers! I had a Q & A on my other blog, and only one person asked a question, so either I'm an open book and say FAR too much here, or everybody is flat out shy! Feel free to ask Angela questions too, and I'll get video of her answering them!

Surgery tomorrow

You may remember in my previous post that I'd scheduled an appointment with the ENT to see about having tubes put in my ears. I have horrible Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, which makes flying a miserable experience. Let me rephrase that: It makes the DESCENT a miserable experience! Imagine someone standing behind you, stabbing ice picks into your ears, and that is *almost* the amount of pain I feel during the descent. Not only that, but I can tell you the plane is starting it's downward slope long before you can feel it.

Anyway, I was supposed to see the doctor yesterday (Weds), but--again from my previous post--I've been having a major small problem with short-term memory. It doesn't really matter if you, or Santa Clause is on my calendar. It doesn't even matter if I remember you NOW, because if my appointment with you is 3 hours from now, it's very possible I've already forgotten. I hear this happens when you have too many things going on at once, or when you have early onset Alzheimer's.

Fortunately I was able to get rescheduled for the last visit of the day today. The ENT agreed tubes were the way to go. Adults can usually have this done right in the exam room with a drop of local anesthetic to numb the ear drum. Yeah, that's great...unless you have Meneir's Disease! In that case, the numbing agent, which can cause the middle ear to become numb as well, can bring on a Meneir's episode. That would be bad!

Instead I was scheduled for surgery TOMORROW morning. Glancing at the clock, I see that's really "today". And, since it's after midnight and I can't eat anything now, I'm hungry. Perfect timing.

I left the ENT's office at 4:30, as the nurse said to me, you need to have a pre-op exam done before your surgery.

Are you KIDDING ME? Somewhere between now and 8:00 tomorrow morning I need to have a physical done? I went out into the hall to call my regular clinic to see if they could squeeze me in, but wasn't successful. I went back into the ENT's office to let them know I'd need to reschedule surgery. The doctor came out the waiting room saying, "C'mon, I'll do it right now and fax it over to the surgery center."

Have I mentioned I love this doctor? Have I also mentioned that I've been taking my kids to him for 23 years? SCARY! I told him that once during one of his recent visits with Angela. He looked at me, blinked hard and said, "I've only been in practice for 24 years!" So, we are officially his longest lasting patients! Great title to have, I know.

So back to surgery. It's on the OTHER side of the city. Beggars can't be choosers, right? Well, one small problem. Because I can't have a local anesthetic, I have to go under general anesthetic, which means I'm have to bring a driver with me. The ENT did say I *should* be fine, but they require a "responsible adult" to come along. Are you kidding me? I don't even know if I qualify under that category. LOL

Dean isn't able to get off work, so he and I spent all evening thinking of who I could call. Finally we got hold of his brother Dave who lives on that side of town. He'll meet me there and....oh yeah...Angela doesn't have school! So, he'll meet me there and hang out with Angela while I go take a quick nap. The ENT said, because I don't have fluid in my ears, just a stuck drum, that I shouldn't be asleep more than 10 minutes, so in theory I should be fine to drive home after I hang out in the recovery room for a bit.

Oh yeah...I was planning on going from there to school. HA! We'll see if that happens. If anything I can show my groggy face then go home and take a nap. Gotta love my very realistic expectations. After all, they're what keep me going!

By the way, speaking of math class, tomorrow I'll try to get THE MOST amazing math story posted! You won't believe your eyes! (my math professor sure didn't!)


Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh...My...GOSH!

So, as you can see, this weekend when I was supposed to be working on algebra I was messing with my blog instead. It was fun. And now there are plenty of adjustments to be made. But, now I don't have time.

Why? Because last week I was getting straight A's in math, and as of today I am officially l.0.s.t.!

So I put off my weekend math homework until this morning. Mostly because there wasn't very much, and I would have several hours this morning to get it done.

Only I forgot Angela doesn't have school this week. Doing homework while keeping Angela occupied is a bit..um...interesting, and involves her watching FAR too much TV for any one person.

So I get her set up with the Ipod and her favorite album, and she shuts herself in the bathroom so she can sing and dance in from of the mirror. I know that album lasts exactly 73 minutes.

I sit down with my work, and with the very first problem I knew I was in trouble. The second problem was no better. 3..4...5....6...panic. Complete and utter panic! I got through #6 and Angela's music is already done. OMG! I try to find a movie for her, but all she wants is some on-demand shows, which are only like 17 minutes long. So here I am, about every 2 problems or so having to get another one going for her. This was NOT a good combination. I still had 3 pages of work to do, when I looked at the clock and realized I had to be IN CLASS in 20 minutes, yet here I was still in my pajamas and my hair unbrushed.

And Angela was home.

And I had to go to school.

Do you see a problem with this picture?

We have started leaving her home alone for 1/2 hr or so. Even an hour once (but we called every 15 minutes!) when she was totally engrossed in a new movie. But TWO HOURS? No, this was not good.

As I raced around getting dressed, my books in my bag, I called Dean to see how far away he was. He thought about 2 hours. No, this was not good. He said he'd call her every few minutes, and get home as fast as he could. I told him, "Just an FYI, I absolutely ***MUST*** get to the math tutor today! MUST!"

As I'm talking to him I realize it's 11:45 and Angela hasn't even eaten yet. This is a common problem right now. With her med change in December she has lost 12 pounds (which she needed to use) and she just isn't hungry in the morning. She does know how to make toast so I told her she could make that if she got hungry before Dean came home.

I raced to class.

I walked in just as we were getting started. The first page we corrected I had more than 1/2 wrong. The second page was a lot of the same. I didn't want to turn to the next page, because that was about as far as I got. HA!!! We didn't have to DO The next page! Part of the reason I didn't understand that was because we hadn't gone over it yet. SCORE!

We start going over the new stuff, and I'm not getting it. Not only am I not getting it, but my professor is asking me questions that I can't answer and I can feel my eyes burning with tears that are threatening to spill out of my eyes! OMG! Why do I have to have this badder eye disease!? Do you know what that is? It's where my bladder is directly connected to my eyes, so I cry very easily.

And it's possible I'm slightly hormonal.

It must have shown on my face that I was lost. (my sister will testify to the fact I'm a horrible liar!) because after one problem on the board my Prof asked, "How ya do'in Leah?"

"Pretty sucky!" I said.

"But do you see how I got from here (pointing to part of the problem) to here (another step in the problem."

"Um...sorta yeah." (swallowing hard with eyes burning...clenching my jaw to maintain composure.)

"Then you're not really sucky anymore. Now you're POST sucky. You're P.S." (joking around)

"Yeah, well that's a little close to some OTHER P.S. and it's possible I'm THAT too, because I think after today I'm going to have PTSS!!" (all the while wondering how I could bail from class BEFORE there were tears actually streaming down my face, but I know if I move a muscle they will start.)

45 minutes into class my phone vibrates. It's Dean, and he's home. Insert HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF here! 50 pounds was just lifted off one shoulder.

And all I could think about was the fact I'm going to miss TWO WEEKS of this class, and come back just in time for finals.

Dean home, and my class done, I headed for the math tutor. I got there at 1:20. All the while I was working, all I could think about was the fact I'm going to be gone two weeks and have NO IDEA how to do this work, PLUS what I'm going to miss, AND be ready for the final exam when I come back!

Somewhere around 4:45 I heard my phone vibrate, but I was in the middle of a problem, yet another that I didn't really understand. Finally done I picked up my phone and saw a missed call from...from my PCA!!! OMG!!! We had executive suite tickets for the Timberwolves, and I was supposed to leave my house in FIFTEEN MINUTES!

Here's some math for you. I'm 8 minutes from home. Have not yet showered today (and if you want to know the truth, I got dressed so fast I was missing four key pieces of clothing that nobody could see!) and had to drop Angela off with the PCA, then drive to my sister in law's house which is 12 minutes the OTHER direction. The answer to that problem? Like -30 minutes or something like that.

I pulled in the driveway and Dean was outside chatting with the PCA. Thank GOD she had been running early so she came over to pick up Angela, eliminating one step for me. I ran into the house to get showered, get Angela's meds ready and give the PCA instructions for the evening. (fortunately she knows Angela well so there's not too much to tell!) And Dean tells me that his sister is going to come pick us up. THANK YOU GOD! One more step eliminated.

Got my hair dried and make-up on, shoes on, when Dean says, "Thanks for letting me know Jennie was coming today."

GOOD LORD can I just crawl into a hole NOW???? Jennie is our behavior specialist, and apparently today was here day to come, only I had, yet again, neglected to get that on the calendar. (not that it would have helped much since yesterday I had the DSAM dance on there and I forgot about THAT!)

We finally made it to the game (on time!) and now I'm home. I realize what I've been feeling all day is panic. I have a research paper to write (which shouldn't take me too long) a project for another class, and my Algebra work. Have to arrange for Angela and the dogs for a few days when Dean isn't able to manage either while I'm gone.

Angela is out of school all week, and Dean is "not around" for two of the days when I have class. (fortunately my class is only a couple hours each day.) I CANNOT miss class, AND I need to be with the tutor every day or I'm screwed for algebra class.

There are still things to buy for the Serbia/Bulgaria trip, and I'm starting to feel panicky about money. Its THERE, but I still feel panicked. Probably because I had to put $600 into my car last week that I was planning on for my trip. It was actually my new camera money. You know, the camera I'm supposed to be using to take new pictures of some of the kids in the Serbian orphanage who need updated pictures to help them find families! Yes, a windfall of about $1000 would be nice right about now.

Today Shelley emailed to let me know there is 80 pounds worth of boxes on their way here, to be packed in my uber-huge suitcases this weekend.

And I have soaker pads that need to get shipped. Maybe I'll get a ton of soaker pad orders in this week? That COULD bring in the money I need.

Lord? You have absolutely BLESSED me with the soaker bad business! It has raised all my Bulgaria money plus. It's been VERY slow the last month or so Lord. Please help me reach my $1000 goal this week. Thank you for your amazing blessings with this trip, and to the families of Bulgaria, and the children of Serbia. You are an awesome god! AMEN!

Oh, and did I mention on Weds I have an appointment to get tubes in my ears? I better not forget THAT!!!!!!

My heart is racing now. Is yours?

Celebrate

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Review


Absolutely LOVE this luggage!

By Leah at CTR from Eagan MN on 3/21/2010

 

5out of 5

Pros: Durable, Looks great, Roomy

Cons: Haven't Found Any Yet

It's hard to buy luggage online, because you just don't know for sure how much space it really has, etc. I have to say, I LOVE this stuff! It is extremely durable, and has just the space I need! I also bought two bigger pieces from the same line (rolling duffles) and they are AWESOME! And, I have to say, I love the color too. I bought the Apple Green, because I wanted to be able to easily pick out my luggage on the carrousel. These are great, without being gaudy, and I have yet to see another like them at the airport!

(legalese)

Today is

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Social Stories for Itouch

Hey, check this out! Mi Stories

Social stories can be very helpful for situations your child has trouble handling. For a child with Autism, or other sensory processing problems, or Down syndrome, social stories make new situations predictable, or give an opportunity to discuss expected behavior during known problem times.

Enter Mi Stories! Developed by a Speech-Language Pathologist, these can be downloaded onto your computer or Ipod! Check out Mi Stories!

I've checked it out, and these stories are great, and I love the scripts. "When I get in the car I buckle my seat belt. If I need help, it's no big deal. I can calmly ask for help." or "If I realize I've forgotten something, it's no big deal. I can let someone know." I love the "It's no big deal." part, because we say that to Angela all the time!

Friday, March 19, 2010

BLESSED!

HOLY COW!


Do you see that picture, right there? ---------------------------->

Do you know what it is? It used to be called a Haberman Feeder, but the name has been changed to "Special Needs Feeder". These special bottles were designed for babies with cleft lips and palates, or who have low stamina for sucking due to a heart defect, or, like babies with Down syndrome, maybe have limited strength.

These little bottles are quite expensive! But, if you had a baby with Down syndrome or some other health condition and used one of these, you know just how helpful they are. They weren't developed until after Angela was born, but I think I would have done back flips to get my hands on one if they had been around.

The are produced by the Madela company, and it is a generous one! The have donated 72 feeders to Connecting the Rainbow! What a blessing these will be to families with new babies! We'll also be brining some to the orphanage in Serbia, AND save some for our first Ukraine trip coming later this year!

Thank you so much to the Madela company!

PICTURES

No, I don't have any, but I owe you a TON! I have them! Actually I have several very funny posts sitting in my draft file, all of which include pictures, but I am behind, and getting even further behind. I'm kind of hoping I'll get caught up on the plane with wifi. LOL

In the meantime, I'm going to give you some links to old posts to make you smile.

There was the case of the extremely permissive parent who let her child wear some questionable attire to school. Seriously, who would DO this?

Then there was the post about gun control laws, and the zero tolerance policy most schools have put into place. Seriously, I think they're taking things a bit too far. (when you get to this post, it will look A LOT like the one about the extremely permissive parent, just keep reading and you'll understand why.)

This one isn't funny as it is fun. How can you not smile at this?

How about the post where the parent tortured her teens complete with evil laughter? Seriously who could make this stuff up?

This post is every parent's nightmare. It's called "Teaching your child to drive".

Want to be inspired to step out of your comfort zone? This might do it for you!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hello? Hello??? Anyone here?

Wow, it's been quiet around here! Is anyone still reading? Just check'in, cuz my footsteps are echoing!

So, it's official! For real!

Monday the 5th, bright and early, I'll be hopping on a plane to Chicago, then DC, where I'll meet up with Shelley. Rumor has it we'll have a several hour layover, and so we'll have the chance to meet up with Andrea, founder of Reece's Rainbow. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to meet her. I'm also incredibly excited to meet Shelley! (which is another post all together.)

From there we'll fly to Frankfurt where it appears we will spend several hours sleeping in the airport?????? (Ummm....Shelley???)

Airports should rent sleeping rooms. Seriously. You know, a square windowless room with a hospital mattress or something. Pay for 4 hours at a time or something, huh? Yeah, I know the possibilities are wonderful and horrifying all at the same time. Scratch that idea. The images floating around in my mind are not good!

From Frankfurt we'll move on to Belgrade, Serbia. Shelley has found us a very cool place for the few days we'll be there. And, it's right in the heart of FUN STUFF so we should have some awesome pictures to post as well! I'll post more about the details of the Serbia visit later. Suffice it to say, this portion of the trip will require a lot of prayer from all my warriors here!

On Friday the 9th we'll head to Sofia, Bulgaria. I'm thinking this evening will involve a lot of sleeping, and possibly some homework for me! I know I'll have a couple of writing assignments to do, not to mention m.a.t.h.

On Sunday the 11th I'll have the honor of photographing the reunion of Shelley and her newest son Kullen! I'm sure I'll be a blubbering mess! I bet Shelley will hold it all together just fine, right Shelley?

Sometime of the course of the next week we'll be meeting with the families of Bulgaria who have chosen to keep their children with Down syndrome. Have I mentioned there are now TWENTY FOUR families???? I'm so excited to see their faces when we show them the generosity of all of YOU! I'm sure I will be a puddle of tears. I can't wait to share the experience with you.

We are scheduled to head home on Friday the 16 th, however it's very possible I'll be coming home alone. Our tickets are scheduled for the same time, but there is a possibility Shelley and Kullen will run into a glitch with the issuing of his new passport. Bulgaria has chosen this particular week to begin the process of changing their passports to digital photographs. So, just in case, Shelley made sure the tickets for her and Kullen are changeable. Mine are NOT! As you may recall, I'll be coming home to finals week and really only have one afternoon for error!

You know when I said that Serbia part of the trip needed prayer? Who was I kidding? The entire TRIP needs prayer. There are things that can go wrong throughout the journey, or it can all be perfect. If this was a vacation, it would need prayer to go smoothly. But it's not a vacation. There will be no such thing as "rest" on this trip. This trip is all about making a better life for the children of Easter Europe who have been tossed aside in a society that doesn't believe they should exist, but have been saved by their families who have taken a leap of faith and KEPT them. This trip is about lifting THEM up, letting them see the possibilities, and leaving them with hope. That doesn't just need prayer, it needs something much bigger than that. It needs an army.


No, I haven't heard anything

Just for the record, no, I haven't heard anything about the issue with Angela's class trip planned for next fall. I'm trying to be very patient. Fortunately I'm crazy busy right now so I'm not having a problem with that! LOL

Ear tubes

I've been trying to get into the ENT to get tubes in my ears before we leave. I have a terrible time with my ears when flying. First of all, the descent is excruciating. The only thing I can compare it to is someone sticking ice picks in my ears, and I can tell you when the plane starts descending before YOU can feel it. That happens with EVERY flight.

Then there is my hearing. Because my ear drums get vacuum sucked into my years, my hearing is significantly affecting. Usually it returns to normal in a few hours, but when we went to Boston in December, for some reason it took 6 weeks for my Eustachian tubes to open up again, allowing my ear drums to return to normal.

Before you get all silly on me with suggestions of chewing gum, swallowing hard, drinking something, and plugging my nose in an attempt to pop my ear drums, SAVE YOUR BREATH! I have severe Eustachian dysfunction, and those things don't work. Even if they did, I'm not able to pop my ear drums without falling to the floor because the world is spinning, thanks in part to Meniere's Disease.

I've known for a long time I should get tubes in my ears, but I don't fly very often so I figure I'll live without them. But this trip? NO WAY! Too many flights close together!

So...anyway...I was supposed to have an appointment with the ENT on Friday, but I found out today that I don't. So please join my in prayer that tomorrow I can get an appointment AND tubes in place in time for the trip. Otherwise, for the last 40 minutes of ever flight, Shelley is going to be miserable. ~wink~

Living out of an overnight bag

I have two HUGE suitcases that I'm getting ready to ship to Shelley. Once she has them they will be STUFFED FULL of wonderful things, donated by many very generous people here in the US for the families in Bulgaria!

We'll be lugging SEVERAL HUGE SUITCASES between us...I mean like 4-6 HUGE things... (and Shelley promises me once out of the US we won't have to walk with these things!) That means for actually living out of, we're going to be using carry-on bags.

Yep...FOR REAL.

For two weeks.

I'll be posting our dates soon. I can't wait. Well, I CAN, because it means I have to get a lot of work done for school BEFORE I leave, and I have one professor who is NOT happy that I'll be missing two weeks of classes. Granted, he has no idea what I'm doing or why I'm going. For all he knows it's a "vacation". Yep, just gonna plop myself in Serbia for a couple of days, just for fun, and maybe rub elbows with adoption officials there. Then hop on plane to Bulgaria to see the sites. Oh, and...you know...pick up Shelley's new son out of the institution he's been living in, and meet with a group of families who've been told their child has no value and should be in the same institution Shelley's son is coming out of. And...you know...delivering all these HUGE SUITCASES FULL OF STUFF to them, and showing them what in the world to do with it all! And all of that crammed into a few very short days, with lights of flights in between!

Yep...sounds restful.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We're going!

As I type, flights are being booked for Bulgaria and Serbia! More later when I'm coherent.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Protecting yourself: Watermarking photos

Last week, after the mess that happened with the NDSC poster contest, lots of people have wondered what they can do to protect themselves from cyber creeps like those who stole the pictures off the NDSC website.

I wrote a tutorial on my favorite forum about watermarking, and am posting it here as well.

..........................................

Other than NOT posting pictures, the only way to protect your pictures from crap like this is to make sure you have them watermarked! HOWEVER, DO NOT put your watermark down in a corner, or any other place that it can be cropped out. You need to put it right smack dab across the middle of your picture. Then, once you have your watermark on there, make sure you EMBED it into the picture!

So, your picture would now look something like this:



Normally I make my watermarks semi-transparent, like the one in the top picture. You can also do it a very basic one like the second picture.

There are a couple different ways watermark your picture. Some photo editing programs have a "watermark" action. If yours doesn't, or if you're not sure where to find it, follow these steps for an alternative:

1) Make a text box, place it where you want on the picture

2) Highlight the text, and set the translucency level to your liking.

3) Now "Save as" and rename the picture.

4) Embed the text into the picture. This means you're making the text box and the picture into all one item. If you forget to "save as", you will forever have this text box on your picture, so if this is your only copy of the picture, you've just wrecked it! Doing a "save as"means you're creating a new version of the original.

All programs are a little different. If you can't find where to perform a certain action, use your program's "help" index to find it.

Bethany has another tutorial on her blog, and has links to a couple online photo editing sites if you don't have one on your own computer.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Serbia: This is why we're going

It has only been a couple of years that Serbia has allowed children with Down syndrome to be adopted internationally. In fact, UNICEF states "Following a pilot project in 2002, the Serbian government has been engaged in a programme designed to transform residential institutions for children and youth with the support of UNICEF and the Norwegian government. A major goal of the programme is to carry out an assessment of each of the children in five different institutions spread throughout Serbia and to develop an individualized plan for their future care....By the end of April 2006, 1700 children had been assessed, plans for the transformation of 19 institutions were developed..."

UNICEF has come the the rescue! Or have they?

Conditions in the institutions haven' t changed all that much. In fact, this video was aired on Dateline NBC on August 29, 2008.



That's just a part of it. Go here to read the FULL article, including Ann Curry's conversations with parents of children who have disabilities.

How is it that the Serbian government has studied pilot projects, and in 2006 started assessing orphans, yet in this video, one of the Governement ministers in charge of institutions, Rasim Ljajic, had no idea what the conditions were like in the institutions? He said he was "new to the job" and "Hadn't yet visited the institutions."

UNICEF has gotten involved. It sounds good, doesn't it? When it comes to Down syndrome, it will take a VERY LONG TIME to change the attitudes of medical professionals and birth parents of children who have Down syndrome or other more significant disabilities. While the ultimate goal of Connecting the Rainbow is to work with the families who have chosen to keep their children, those who have already been abandoned, or who will be in the next couple of years while the process of social change happens, will all sit....waiting...there will still be many in orphanages and institutions....dying.

Thankfully organizations like Comber have sprung up in Romania. Perhaps someday Comber and CTR can work together for the families of Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries? In just a few short weeks Shelley and I will be in Serbia, meeting with people there who have the ability to improve the situation for orphans with Down syndrome and other disabilities until they can find a forever home.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Finals, airline tickets, international travel....oh my!

It's finally becoming a reality. Shelley's court date for her adoption is next week on the 16th. As soon as court is done and we're given the OK, we can book our flights!

The dates we're looking at now will having me missing 2 weeks of classes, and get me home just in time for finals week. (while recovering from jet lag!) For one class, I will only miss 2 sessions. So far that professor seems fine about me going (maybe even a little excited for me?) But we have a group project going on. I don't know what we'll have to be doing for our final, but I'm hoping my part involves a lot of writing because I can do that while in Bulgaria, and if need be I can email it to one of my group members.

Another class is all writing. I have 3 papers due, plus a research paper as my final. I'm going to try to have all of them done before I leave. I *should* be able to do this if I manage my time well!

Today I started a new class, and THAT professor is not happy that I'll be gone. His first argument was that it was going to mess up my financial aid, so I checked in with student services and they said no, it wouldn't. If I was dropping the class completely it would, but just being gone would not be a problem. I ran back down to the professor and let him know, who responded with, "What's the deadline to drop the class?" In other words, "Drop the class because I don't want to deal with it." There will be two chapters covered while I'm gone, which I could work on while I'm in Bulgaria (Sorry Shelley, but I'll be having the lights on till all hours of the night!) Then the final as soon as I get back. (have I mentioned I'll be suffering from jet lag while taking finals???) This situation needs a lot prayer. I don't have a problem missing the class, and I'm confident in my ability to keep up during those two weeks. My professor, on the other hand, isn't so happy. I need prayer about how to deal with him. Don't get me wrong, he seems like a really nice guy, and is very pleasant, but he has his limits.

Serbia: Have I mentioned that Shelley and I will be making a little stop in Serbia? Yeah, just a little one! LOL You know...hop on over to Serbia for a couple days of R & R ! HA!!! More details on that soon. Lets just say I'm also praying I can get my new camera before I go, cuz I'm gonna NEED IT!!!!!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

WE HAVE A DATE! sort of

For those who don't follow Shelley's blog, she was notified yesterday that her court date in Bulgaria is MARCH 16TH! Those who are familiar with Eastern European adoptions know that adoptive parents usually arrive in country to attend that court date.

Unless you're adopting from Bulgaria! LOL In Bulgaria you don't arrive in country until approximately 2 weeks LATER, when the birth certificate is supposed to be completed. So, it looks like we'll be traveling sometime around April 5th.

Oh..umm...have I mentioned we're also making a stop in Serbia? Just a little side trip to discuss adoption related issues there. More on that later.

Now, to figure out how to get me from Minnesota, Shelley from Alabama, and all the donated stuff (which is both in MN and AL!) to Bulgaria all.at.the.same.time!!! I think that might be the most difficult part of the entire trip! LOL

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Insurance Woes?

You hear it all the time in the Down syndrome community; medical services such as PT, OT, or ST, and medical equipment such as walkers are being denied by health insurance companies.

Enter Joyce.

Joyce, who is a frequent commenter here, and her husband own a medical billing company, and they know the tricks of the trade! She has posted some really important tips if you've been having trouble getting some services covered. I know many of you will find this helpful! But if things are all good in your neck of the woods, maybe you know someone else who is struggling to get through the scrub brush!

So, hope on over to Joyce's blog and have an enlightening course in Medical Billing 101! Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the post!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Spread the Word to End the Word

Today is national Spread the Word to End the Word day. Will you take the pledge?

My name is Leah, and I'm a blog slacker

I don't even have any good reason to be slacking. I don't have much in the way of homework for school (well, I haven't had anyway, that's starting to turn! LOL) Angela has been busy with floor hockey, and has needed to have someone go hang out with her there so she remembers to keep her hands to herself (!) but I've only gone a couple of times. Otherwise Dean or our behavior specialist goes. What a blessing she has been!!! Ok, both her and Dean! the last person Angela wants at practice is her Mooooooom, but Dean and J. are cool. LOL

I've raised all the money I need for my Bulgaria trip, and we're just waiting for a travel date. We're really hoping to have it by the end of the week! Please join my in prayer that we are traveling the last week of March. That is about the only week that won't seriously affect school! Then, once we get the date, please pray that getting arrangements for Angela figured out doesn't turn into some kind of problem! I'm going to have to coordinate schedules between Dean and Angela's dad, which could be interesting!

I have a few really cute pictures on my camera. Unfortunately my camera decided to die! This is one of those good/bad things. It's bad, because...well..my camera died! But I bought it for $100 on craigslist over a year ago, and it served me well. But it's never been what I WANTED. And I have to be honest, usually once I decide I WANT something, I usually find a way to get it somehow! So, at the moment I'm trying to decide if I have enough money to get the camera I WANT, and maybe take a quick class before going to Bulgaria so I know what to do with it, like TURN IT ON! LOL

Speaking of school, it's going well! Remember that math class I was scared to death about? So far I have an A! Finals are on Friday, so please join me in prayer that I will maintain my GPA! Then, in 2 weeks I need to re-take a placement test to see if I move to the top of the waiting list for the program I wanted to get into in the first place.

This week I'm working on my thesis and outline for a persuasive research paper. Yuck. I thought I knew what I was doing it on, but I'm not quite feeling it yet. I really need to feel it to make it a good paper. I also have to do an argumentative paper due next week. Considering I usually avoid confrontations (no...really!) I'm having trouble with the topic.

Angela's school issue is not yet resolved, which reminds me I need to call the attorney tomorrow morning to find out where we're ate.

OH, and I also need to call the ENT and see if I can get tubes in my ears before the Bulgaria trip! When Angela and I went to Boston in December, it took 6 weeks for my hearing to return to normal because my Eustachian tubes were such a mess from flying. Flying several international flights over the course of a few days would be beyond miserable! (the decent of the plain causes a feeling like icepicks being jabbed into my ears, and my hearing nearly disappears!) I saw the ENT shortly after we returned from Boston and he said tubes would take care of the problem. So...tomorrow I need to rememeber to call!

I think that's about it. What a boring post without pictures!!!!!