Blogging about life and raising our five kids with Down syndrome.

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

31 for 21

                                                Grab This Button

It's that time of year again! October is Down syndrome awareness month, and that means it's time once again for the 31 for 21 challenge! You know, where I'm supposed to blog every day in the month of October! I think last year I skipped two days. The two years prior I not only made it, but posted extra! LOL This year will be a challenge for sure! With several blogs going, and most of my blogging attention going to my adoption blog, it's hard to find time for blogging everywhere so my Garden has been neglected lately. Well...that and life off the computer has a way of happening too! So I've made my commitment, and that's the best I can do!

So...here goes! Also, if DS is not something you're familiar with, please ask questions! If you'd like to join the challenge, grab the button and follow the link!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The meaning of "transfer"

(cross post from my other blog for those who read both.)

What does it  mean when us adoption bloggers refer to a child who is "in danger of being transferred"? It countries in Eastern Europe, that usually means that the child is going to be transferred to a mental institution, and most of the time they are  not able to be adopted out of those institutions.

The facilities in Eastern Europe are divided by age groups, and they vary a bit depending up what country and region they're in, but for the most part, they are birth-4 or 6 years old. Whatever the top age is, that is the "transfer" age.

In most facilities, birthdays aren't "celebrated",  especially transfer birthdays. If it is a transfer to an institution where they cannot be adopted out of, for those with disabilities that is no different than a death sentence. The child, along with his file, is loaded into a car (often for the first time ever in his entire life!) and driven to the next facility. Sometimes the difference in the level of care in the new place is so dramatic the child looses the will to live within days or weeks.

I want you to do me a favor. Take just a few minutes and read this post. It is not going to be easy to read. If you're like me, you're going to need tissues to read it. You may need to walk away from it for a minute, (As I thought of George, I had to walk away because I was physically ill.) but please come back and finish reading it.  Please...for them...come back and finish reading.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Can you hear the echo?

It's been pretty darn quiet around here! Not only have we been insanely busy, but to put it quite bluntly, I've been angry, and I've found it best to not blog when I'm angry. My posts tend to cross the line into "over-sharing", and with familial over-sharing, not only are feelings going to get hurt, but it's going to come back to bite me in the butt!

So the business...

I've been busy gathering the last couple of documents, and filling out the last forms for the adoption. I think we're all done with that now! (Do I hear cheers from the sidelines????) We're just waiting for a draft of our homestudy report to review, and then it can all get sent off to USCIS for approval! For those who are not familiar with the international adoption process, that means that our part of the job is done.

Dean is really enjoying his new job, and went from "new hire" to "top sales person" on his first day on the job! To say he raised the bar would be a gross understatement! He's also enjoying some of the perks his new job affords him, and so am I. ;-)

Angela auditioned for the school play a couple weeks ago, and I am so proud to say she got a part! She's a "conventioneer" in a play about aliens. She has her second practice tonight, and so far she is loving it! What's not to love when it's all about pretending to be someone else? That is what she spends most of her free time doing anyway! LOL

Our puppies are 4 weeks old today, and we have three sold with checks in hand, and another couple of families visiting this weekend so hopefully by Monday I'll be able to report back and say they're all sold. The funds from the puppies is a significant chunk of our adoption money, so we're thrilled that they're selling! Thank you God! Now we just need to keep them healthy and happy another 4 more weeks until they go to their new homes.

And, to leave you with a bit of cuteness to make you smile today, here are puppy pictures from last week. I'll have to take new ones again this weekend!






Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Tomorrow (which is really today since it's after midnight) is the funeral for Angela's grandma. Angela's dad and I divorced 9 years ago, and since her dad played gatekeeper, my contact with his mom was limited. When we divorced, I missed Pat terribly.

I adored his mom...she was a wonderful person with a heart of gold. Mostly, she loved Angela and all of our boys. But with Angela, she truly ACCEPTED her, with all of her differences. She never questioned our decisions, she only loved Angela for who she is.

Angela is going to miss Grandma Spring so much. She (Angela) has had a cold the last few days. She was much better today so I'm praying tomorrow she's over the worst of it so she can attend the funeral. Her dad doesn't want her to go at all, which is causing all kinds of tension and heated phone calls, for which I have zero patience. She's asking a million questions, I do NOT want to have to be the one to tell her she can't say goodbye to Grandma tomorrow.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Explaining Loss

Angela sees her Grandma Spring every weekend that she's with her dad. They usually have dinner with her on Sunday nights before he brings her home. Grandma Spring was a kindergarten teacher for many years, and is always excellent at coming up with things for the kids to do when they come visit.

A few months ago, Grandma Spring had pneumonia she couldn't get rid of. Being a heavy smoker for many years, everyone was sure she had lung cancer. As it turned out, the cancer was in her back, behind her lungs, making it difficult for her to breath.

Angela has come home from her visits with Grandma Spring commenting that Grandma is "really tired", and "needs a rest." When I saw her 3 or 4 weeks ago it was clear she wouldn't be around much longer. I started to talk to Angela about what was coming...

We've been talking a lot about the the circle of life stuff. The everything living is born, and everything dies. Even people. We talked about heaven, and how we get there, how loving Jesus ensures us a place there. We talked about Grandpa Spring (Grandma's husband) who died a few years ago, and how we don't see him anymore. But we have pictures, and Angela does love those pictures. We talked about how she gets to see Grandma on the weekends, and how special that is to get to spend time with her. That one day, Grandma's body will be tired of fighting cancer, and she will die too. That there won't be dinners at Grandma's anymore, but she'll have great memories, and there are lots of pictures of her with Grandma and some of the special times they had.

In the last week, Grandma Spring to a quick turn for the worse, and on Tuesday was moved into hospice care. She passed away this morning, on her 79th birthday.

When Angela got up this morning, while I was doing her hair for school, I told her that it was Grandma's birthday today. But that it was an extra special birthday. "Grandma got the best birthday present of all. For her birthday, she got healed from Cancer. Now she gets to be with Jesus every day! She doesn't have any more pain, and she's not sick anymore. Grandma died this morning, on her birthday."

Angela was quiet a few minutes as I braided her hair.

"Does Grandma have tears?"

"Well, I don't think Grandma wanted to say goodbye to any of us, but she was ready to be done. No, grandma doesn't have tears. When she died she was not crying."

"I have tears."

"It's ok if you have tears and feel like crying. It's hard to say goodbye, and it's hard to know you won't ever see Grandma again. Daddy will have tears, because he his mommy isn't here anymore. And Auntie Liz and Maggie will have tears because they don't have their mommy here anymore. And you don't have your Grandma Spring anymore. At the funeral, there will be a lot of people are crying, because it's hard to say goodbye. But they're happy for Grandma because she's not sick anymore."

I gave Angela the choice if she wanted to stay home with me for awhile or go to school. She chose to go to school, and seemed fine by the time I dropped her off. Next week I'll take her to the funeral, and she'll sit up front by her dad. I was around the same age when the only grandparent I'd ever known passed away. I have wonderful memories of her. I hope Angela can carry hers with her as well.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

shhhhhhh

A few weeks ago Angela fell asleep at the dining room table. I couldn't resist trying to wake her up, mean mom that I am.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Preschool Flashmob

Look, flashmobs happen EVERYWHERE!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where were you? Have you changed?

I was on my way to work.

I had to drop Angela off at my friend Joanie's daycare first. It was just five minutes from home, and on the way the people on the morning radio show I listen to were talking all confused about a plane and a building, and I couldn't put it together. I got to Joanie's and told her to turn on the TV, where we saw the first building in flames.

We stood there...speechless....

Then there came the second plane....

and we screamed in horror.....

How could this be? How could this possibly be?

At some point I said. "Is that building leaning? Doesn't it look like that building is leaning? Those buildings can't fall down can they? I mean, they're too BIG to fall down! Can you imagine how horrible it would be if that building fell down? If one fell down, would it make the other one fall down? Please Lord, don't let those buildings fall down!"

I had to leave for work. Oh, how I didn't want to peel myself away from that TV!!!! Joanie didn't want to turn it off, but she didn't want her daycare kids watching either. I don't know what she did. I just know I had to leave, and face a building of 500 kindergarten students, me working in a class of 25.

Some of our kids didn't come to school. Their parents kept them home. We're in Minnesota but everyone was afraid. Some of kids had parents who were in New York. Some  had parents who were flight attendants. One had a father who was on one of the planes. Many of the parents were just plane scared and wanted all of their babies home in the nest. I wanted to be home in my nest, with my babies, in front of the T.V.

All day our building principal sent emails every 15 minutes, keeping us updated on the latest news. He told us when the buildings collapsed. Our building went silent. All the staff with those 500 kindergarten students had such a hard time trying to keep our composure, we felt a sense of panic for something we couldn't see.

When school was done that day, I couldn't get home fast enough. It was an hour drive, but by the time I got there I had a  horrible migraine. I listened to the president address the country on TV through the fog of Tylenol PM, and I remember feeling comforted by his words. I felt like somehow we would be ok, but how I grieved for those families. For those lost in the towers, in the planes, in the pentagon, on the ground.....for those who never got the gift of one last cell phone call of "I love you...."

September 11th, 2001 changed our country forever. We will never be the same. Our children will never know what our country was like before those towers came down. I hardly remember it myself some days. The little things we took for granted that are already ingrained into us, some of them a very sad reminder of what we have become, others a bond that brought us closer.

What are some ways you can think of that we have changed since the towers came down?  I can think of many!  Some are very obvious, and some are more subtle. Some are good, and some are not. I think it's important for our children to hear about them. I'd love to hear your observations!

Meet Me in the Stairwell

You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001. Neither will I.


I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say "Goodbye." I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, "Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK ... I am ready to go." I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn't coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help. "I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!" I said. "Of course I will show you the way home - only believe in Me now."

I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered.

I was with the Firefighters, the Police Officers, the Emergency Workers. I was there, watching each brave step they took.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.

I was in Texas, Kansas, London. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all know Me. Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor. Some sought Me with their last breath. Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; "Come to Me...this way...take My hand." Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do. However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?

September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you. But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well.

Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are "ready to go." I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

~~~ God ~~~

Written by: Stacey Randall

Friday, September 10, 2010

What does it take?

What does it take to get rid of a teacher who only wants perfect students in her classroom? Apparently it takes A LOT in Florida! In 2008, teacher Wendy Portillo was suspended for teaching for one year after after allowing her kindergarten students to vote a student with autism out of the class...survivor style!

Well, Wendy Portillo, along with a couple other teachers in her school are at it again. This time refusing to wear an FM system used by a student with a hearing impairment. This is the same type of system worn by my daughter Angela, and that I have used while working with MANY students over the years. They are EASY to use! They take 5 minutes to train the teachers to use. (Check the batteries in the morning before school starts. Turn it on, turn it off, clip the microphone here. That's about it!)

When did it become acceptable for teachers to ridicule students; to model that behavior to other students? How are we, as parents of disabled or non-disabled kids, supposed to feel o.k. sending our kids to school every day, trusting that our children aren't being taught this way?

When my boys were in high school a few years ago, Tyler came home from school one day fuming mad. Apparently one of his teachers liked to use the r-word quite a bit, and when Tyler asked him to stop the teacher laughed at him for being so sensitive about it.

I remember an incident while working as an interpreter for a deaf student, who happened to be African American. It was an art class, and a lot of the artwork this student chose to do was related to famous musicians. The teacher would joke with the student inappropriately about the musicians, but because the student was deaf, and English humor isn't always funny in American Sign Language, this student didn't realize this teacher's "jokes" were derogatory racial slurs, and very insulting. They were things this teacher never would have said to an adult. He actually said things like, "I suppose, since you're black, you can really move like the rest of your people huh?"

Back to Portillo...I don't understand how Portillo can still have her teaching credentials. She has no heart for teaching. She has no heart for children! She has no compassion! She seems like one of those teachers who has her few "pets", but is otherwise evil hiding behind the desk of a teacher.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

School started and I Was Late

So today was the first day of school. Because I'm a fantastic mom, I got Angela to school 5 minutes late on the very first day. In my defense, we were running late because one of her ear molds for her hearing aids fell out, and those rubbery little things bounce like super balls! I couldn't find it anywhere, and since we just got them fixed not FOUR DAYS AGO, I wad NOT going to leave until we found it! So here I am crawling around on the kitchen floor, putting my eye at floor level cuz you can see things better that way, when my eye sees Roman (Miniature Poodle) laying, looking at me with it in his mouth like, "You looking for this?"  Good boy Romie!

Not only that, but I didn't even get a "first day of school" picture because it was so windy here that I figured Angela's face wouldn't be visible anyway because all you'd see is her arms trying to keep her hair out of her face. Seriously, I think there was a hurricane mistakenly stuck over the state of Minnesota today, because that's almost the kind of winds we had. It was that bad. No really.

So what did I do with my first day off?

Nothing.

Well, not REALLY nothing, but nothing that you can SEE, so it seems like I did nothing, and I hate that. No, I spent the entire morning on the phone making adoption related phone calls, trying to track down documents that haven't arrived to their assigned destinations at their approximated times, etc. Then I returned a couple puppy related phone calls. Oh, and I hunted for a car online, because as of this morning I still didn't have one, and did I mention I was driving Angela to school in my father-in-law's van and they needed it back tonight and how was I gonna get Angela to school  tomorrow???? Oh yeah, I could take her on my motorcycle (she rides in my sidecar) but that doesn't work so well when rain is in the forecast. And,  lets not forget the fact I haven't ridden it for a month because it needs a break job and (my friends will gasp at this) I put the adoption before my motorcycle (insert gasp here) and since my bike needs a break job I have parked it until probably next season when I am not shelling out money every time I blink. So, that is why I when I wasn't on the phone (and sometimes when I was) I spent part of my first day of school car shopping online.

So by the time Angela came in the door at 3:15, and here I was with the phone still on my ear, I was kinda in shock. I mean, I had grand plans for today. Like, I was gonna go get coffee with someone today, maybe. Or, now that Dean is back to work (he lost his job on July 4th) I was gonna go to the "Y" and get my membership re-established and start working out again. I did none of those things. What I DID do was important, they just weren't visible in the house.

Shortly after Angela got home, so did Dean, and the three of us loaded in the car to visit our favorite car dealer to find a car for me. We've been there three times in the last two weeks. (long story) and not found what we wanted that fit our price range. Finally, 10 minutes before they closed, we found a car, bought it and were out the door and happily eating dinner in a nearby cafe not 15 minutes later.

When we got home at 8:30 we still had to turn around and bring the van back to Dean's dad's. Poor Angela was exhausted but running on overdrive so was really wound up. She is very annoying to be in the car with when she's like this! Lucky for me Dean wanted to drive the new car and I got to drive in the van...all.by.myself!

Except that on the way home I remembered that I never made it to the drug store to pick up Angela's medication refills, and without her seizure meds, NONE of us were going to be sleeping tonight, so we had to make that stop too.............sigh..........

By the time we got home it was 10:00. Miss Priss is going to be tired in the morning!

I promise to get her to school on time tomorrow! Alarms are set, dogs have been fed, and "last outs" are done. I'm ready for bed myself, except that tonight I know I won't be sleeping much. If you haven't visited my adoption blog today, there is a very big meeting happening tonight which is already tomorrow in Ianna's country.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Special Olympics Update

Well, there were 40-some athletes who applied for just 8 spots on the Minnesota team. Angela made the first cut, so it was between her and about 18 other athletes! She was interviewed without me present, and she did well in the interview.

Finally all the names of the finalists were put in a hat, but sadly Angela's name was not one of the names drawn, so she will not be going to Greece for the 2011 games.

We are very proud of her though! Angela was the youngest athlete to apply, and she still made it all the way to her name getting put in the hat. That speaks volumes for how far she has come in the past year! She has worked so hard, and overcome so much.

Angela will continue working hard, and perhaps in 2015 she will qualify again. In the meantime, we will be cheering on those athletes who will be representing the US Special Olympics, and all differently abled atletes at the World Games in Athens Greece in 2011!

Tattlers

I was recently reading a friend's blog and she mentioned her tattler tally sheet. Hmmmm...that brought back memories of "That Tattler".

Do you have tattlers????

With my four boys, I had ONE tattler. It was very strange, we did not have a tattling problem until the youngest became old enough to tattle, and and when he did, we went from zero to 60. OMG..it was horrid. That one child caused the disease to spread through my house to epidemic proportions in a matter of months. It was like my other kids realized this magic little skill and went, "Wow...watch how we can make moms head spin when we do THIS!"

I could hear him coming, and could tell by the way his feet touched the 100 year old steps in of the staircase in our old victorian that he was coming to tattle. Maybe the stairs, with their years of experience with tattling children, were tattling in their own way? When only he would be coming.....then a few seconds later I would hear the other kids come running behind him because they realized "The Tattler" was on his way to tell mom something and they'd better hurry to defend themselves, so they'd be tripping over each other to catch up to him....I knew what was coming. 

Finally I could take it no more. The whole, "Are you bleeding? Is anyone bleeding? Is everyone breathing? Does anything require a bandaid or ambulance?" thing just got old.

Operation discipline the tattler went into effect. 

I called a family meeting. I had discovered that I needed to tell everyone ahead of time, BEFORE an incident happened, that I was changing the rules. This is only fair rules of engagement, after all! 

The family meeting began:

"From now on there is a new rule in the house. It is called The Tattler's Rule. This means that the person who caused the problem will get into disciplined, but the person who tattled will get the same discipline! It is wrong for a brother to take a toy, and it is wrong to tattle. BOTH things are wrong. Lets practice what this will look like if we do this the wrong way. (this is where Daddy and I would role play the hitting or toy stealing, and the subsequent tattling and disciplining of BOTH children. Then we role played it the other way around with the toy taking, talking to the brother amongst themselves, and the fun play goes on!

It took about 3 days and several follow-throughs on my part before The Tattlers Rule rule really sunk in, but it DID, and tattling became a thing of the past in our house! I'm frequently reminded of it when I visit the homes of friends and they have a houseful of kids tattling non-stop. I'm not used to it anymore, since I have just one kid at home. I'm sure I'll have to start all over when Ianna comes home and Angela has to learn that sharing thing all over again...at 14!!!!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Convicted

I'm feeling convicted about comments. I've not been very good about keeping a running conversation with my commentors, have I? I'm sorry. I will try to be better about that. I really love reading other people's blogs, including the comments and the conversation that continues there, so I'm going to try to do a better job about replying to the comments on my blog, so check back, ok?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Dogs

I am up to my armpits in dogs at the moment. Between that and adoption related stuff, I feel like I'm right on the edge of sanity. Oh yeah, and I haven't taken Angela school shopping yet, but I have two very good reasons for that.

The first one is because I don't have a car. I'm getting a new one though. I thought I would have it by now but apparently I misunderstood the conversation I was only 1/2 paying attention to because it was between Dean and some guy on the phone.

My other good reason is because I lost the supply list sent by Angela's teacher a month ago. Ok...well...that's probably not REALLY a good reason, but it's the only one I have.

Tonight I also missed soccer sign up for Angela. I don't have a good reason for that either. Dean was home, so I could have used his car. What really happened was I forgot about it and dozed off on the couch. Then at 6:45 I realized I hadn't even THOUGHT about making dinner yet so got in Dean's car to run to the store where I wandered the isles hoping something would jump out at me. I was looking at a box of Mac and Cheese with a picture of soccer ball on it when it hit me....soccer.meeting.missed.

I suck as a mom sometimes. Today is one of those times.

But the puppies are happy and healthy. And I brought home German chocolate cake so Dean and Angela (and I) are happy. And dinner...I brought home dinner too! And tomorrow is a new day, right? Now, I just need to find that I600A form and figure out what I'm supposed to do with it so I can do that tomorrow, so that one of these days we can bring a beautiful little girl home, because really, most of the time, I'm an ok mom.