Blogging about life in Minnesota, 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!"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Helping to help in Hungary

Please go visit my friend Hevel's blog and find out how you can help someone become a full-time angel to kids with Down syndrome in Hungary!

When you get to the link you'll see a tutorial in another language (Hungarian I presume?) but don't worry, Hevel will walk you through!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Birthmother's Day

The English translation is at the bottom of this post. This was written for Birthmother's day, which is the Saturday before Mother's Day.
..................................

Ko je rođena majka? Ona je ta koja je nosila dete u svom stomaku devet meseci, vezana je sa njim na način koji mi necemo nikada spoznati. Na kraju, ona je ta koja je dala zivot detetu i koja ga je drzla u narucju dok je uzimalo prvi dah.  U jednom trenutku ona je morala da odluči  ili je neko odlucio umesto nje, da dozvoli da neko drugi odgaja to dete. U nekom trenutku ona je morala da se okrene i ode.
 U Americi subota pred Materice je dan Rođene Majke. Ja to ne bih nazvala danom proslave. To zvuci pomalo grubo, zar ne? Mozemo li slaviti cinjenicu da je rođena majka napustila dete? Mislim da je Dan Priznanja, dosta prikladnije ime. Na taj nacin odajemo priznanje rođenim majkama, bez kojih ne bismo imali nase sinove.
U slučaju međunarodnog usvajanja, velika je retkost da se ostane u kontaktu sa rođenom majkom, a jos veca da se upozna sa njom. To nije nešto što svako može da podnese, emotivno ili fizički. Zahvalna sam Bogu svaki dan sto mi je dopostio da upoznam Akselovu porodicu.

Za S…
Danas ste u mojim mislima dok Aksel-Đorđe ulazi u kuhinju na doručak. " Dobro Jutro mama". on pokušava reci, najbolje moguce uz pomoc znakova. Reč " mama " me podseća da postojimo nas dve mame. Da nije bilo vas, ne bih imala ovog predivnog dečaka koji danas sedi tu pored mene. Vaša žrtva je bila moja nagrada. Često se pitam, Boze zašto ih stavi u tako nezahvalnu poziciju u kojoj su se našli? Ne znam da li bih ja sama ikada bila dovoljno jaka da podnesem takvu žrtvu. Vi ste mnogo jača osoba od mene. Mesecima ste ga presvlačili, hranili, kupali, učili najbolje što možete. Vodili ste ga kod doktora i ostalih koji su vam rekli da je situacija beznadežna. Plakali ste dan i noc, pitajući se kako ce te živeti sa sobom ako ostavite dete.
Meni je Bog podario lak posao. Trebalo je samo da se pojavim u pravo vreme, i da nastavim putem koji mi je već bio poznat-podizanje deteta sa Dounovim Sindromom.
Obećavam:
necu olako shvatiti ovaj zadatak, Bog mi je poverio sina koga cemo zauvek deliti.
Obećavam:
vi ćete uvek biti prisutni u njegovom životu.
Obećavam:
odgajaću ga da veruje u Boga, da bude hrabar i iskren mladić.
Obećavam:
da nikada nece misliti da ste ga napustili.
Obećavam:
poljubicu ga za vas svaki dan.
Obećavam: .
da ćete opet zagrliti svoga sina.



What is a birthmother? She is the person who carried a child in her womb for nine months, bonding with that child in ways we will never know and eventually giving birth to that child. She may or may not have held that child while he took his first breaths. At some point in time she decided, or the decision was made for her, to allow someone else to parent that child. At some point, she had to turn and walk away.

The saturday before Mother's Day is Birthmother's day. I wouldn't call it a day of "celebration". That seems a bit harsh, doesn't it? To "celebrate" the fact a birthmother had to walk away? I think a day of "recognition" is more appropriate. To pay homage to the fact were it not for a birthmother, I would not have my boys.

In the case of international adoption, it is rare to have contact with, much less meet your adopted child's birthmother. It is not something everyone is able to do emotionally or physically. I thank God every day for allowing me to meet Axel's birthmother (and father and brother too!)

To S....

Today you are on my mind as Axel Djordje walks into the kitchen for breakfast. "Morning Mom." he tries his best to say along with the signs. The word "mom" reminds me there are two of us. If it were not for you, I would not have this amazing boy sitting at my table. Your sacrifice was my gain. I often ask God why you were put into the position you were, and would I ever be strong enough to make such a sacrifice? You are a much stronger woman than I. All those months you changed him, fed him, bathed him, taught him the best you could. You took him to doctors and others who told you the situation in Serbia was hopeless. You cried yourself to sleep wondering how you would be able to live with yourself if you walked away.

God gave me the easy job. I just had to show up and walk a path I'm already familiar with: raising a child with Down syndrome.

But I promise you...
I will never take my job lightly. God has entrusted me with a son you and I will share for all eternity.

I promise you...
he will know you exist.

I promise you...
I will raise up this son to be a God loving, caring, courageous and honest young man.

I promise you...
he will never think you abandoned him.

I promise you...
I will give him a kiss from you every day.

I promise you...
one day you will hug your son again.

I promise you.

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

To V...

7 years, 6 months and 4 days ago, you gave birth to a beautiful little boy. It was a traumatic day for you, being told your son had Down syndrome. In a country where little help exists and jobs are scarce, you knew right then raising him was beyond your means. You sacrificed your heart.

I know you loved him because you visited him often. I can only imagine that day in October when you were with him, celebrating his 7th birthday. You left after giving him many hugs and kisses, only to be told a few hours later I was coming for him. The anguish...When I was told this I could feel your pain in the depth of my soul.

It was your voice he heard all those months in your womb. You were there for his first breath. He looked into your eyes before anyone else. Moments you, and you alone, shared with him.

I pray that someone has told you how well he's doing in our family. How quickly he's growing. How fast he is learning. How much he is loved.

I know that someday, in God's perfect timing, we will meet. Someday, a boy named Asher Lazar will say hello to you...

and you will hold him again.

He is not gone from you forever.

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



Are You Following Me?

When I first started blogging way back in 2005 I was just looking for a place to write. Like many bloggers, I started writing here as a way to keep our extended family and friends up to date on life in our house. I remember telling someone about my blog and they looked at me like I was speaking martian speak. Nobody knew what the word  "blog" meant. At that time I don't think there was any such thing as "followers" on blogs. If there were, I didn't know how to do it. LOL

Then, very slowly, I started noticing new faces in my comments and the list of visible followers started going up.  It's been so fun to virtually meet some of you. I know there are a lot of people lurking too. (Hi lurking people!) and I'm always thrilled when someone says, "I've been reading here for years but have never commented." It reminds me of radio talk shows, "I always listen but have never called." (I call all the time, by the way.)

I've decided when I reach 300 followers I want to do something really crazy. Not dangerous, just crazy. And the fun part? I'm going to leave it up to you, my dear and faithful readers, to decide what I'll be doing. So start gathering your friends and adding your suggestions here. Remember nothing illegal or dangerous, and no I won't eat bugs. Also I am afraid of water so don't go there. And heights a little bit. Don't get too crazy though, because I might need to do this again when I reach 500!



Monday, May 28, 2012

Venus Giveaway!

If you haven't already, don't forget to enter the Venus $50 giveaway on my blog!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Transition Planning for Teens with Disabilities

Are you the parent of a high school aged student with a disability? Do you wonder what is all the talk about "transition" or are you a parent who has a clue what is going on? I am here to tell you I am not. I have a kid turning 16 in a couple of weeks and I'm already feeling behind in the game. Having Angela as my oldest child with Down syndrome is a lot like doing the "oldest child" thing all over again. This is far different than graduating a typical learner! Friends often call me looking for input about issues they're having with school and I can usually send them in the right direction. Unfortunately when it comes to transition planning I don't have a any idea at all who to call, when to call them, or what to ask when I do!

A couple weeks ago I was invited by PACER (Parent Advocacy Center for Educational Rights) to sit on a parent panel before the State Department of Education to discuss issues related to transition planning.

When I got the email, I laughed out loud. Did you see my first paragraph where I said I don't have a clue what is going on? I replied that I didn't think I was the right person to sit on this panel. People who sit on this panel should have some idea of how the transition process goes.

"No, actually you're exactly who we want on the panel. You know how to advocate for your kids and yet you don't feel prepared for this time in your child's life. There are many other parents out there in just the same boat and you can help us understand why."

Ummm....ok. I think.

So Monday was the day. It was a very small group: Myself, three other parents, a representative from the Dept. of Ed. and a representative from PACER.

I thought it was interesting that the other three parents have kids who are on the autism spectrum. I was the only parent  representing the "other" students. Those who have cognitive impairments due to diagnosis of Down syndrome or other syndromes that affect development.

Here are some questions that were asked. I won't tell you my answers, because these are questions you need to ask yourself about your own child's IEP and transition planning meetings.


1.       What is your greatest dream for your child as they transition into adult living in the community?

2.      What is your greatest fear when you think about your child living as an adult in the community?

3.      Name your child’s greatest strength?

4.      Thinking about your child’s IEP, are there goals that address postsecondary education of training?

5.      Thinking about your child’s IEP, are there goals that address preparing for employment?

6.      Please name the outside agencies or services that have been involved in your child’s transition planning. Have they attended the IEP meetings?

7.      As a parent, do you feel like you are a valued member of the IEP team?

8.      Is your child involved in the transition planning process?

9.      Any other thoughts you would like to share about your child’s transition planning?


The discussion was very interesting, and I will say I learned some things. We also discussed things like what kind of job training is in place for our students. Interestingly all the parents stated everything seems to be centered around factory work or food service. The other parents - who's kids are older than mine - all agreed there seems to be a problem with job training in high school being individualized, with all the kids getting the same training as if ALL the students will be working at McDonalds or on an assembly line.

With three years left until Angela graduates I feel like I already feel like we're running out of time to get the necessary steps completed. I want Angela to have a job she ENJOYS, and to be living as independently as she possibly can. Angela has made it very clear she does not want to live at home, but on her own with her friends. It's my job to see to it these things happen for her.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ride for Wishes 2012


Eighth Annual Ride for Wishes

Motorcycle ride to benefit Make A Wish of Minnesota

As you know, Angela was a wish recipient several years ago and we are forever grateful to MAWMN for making that time very special for our family.

Oh I'm so excited!!!  Now if only Nooner would cooperate. (he seems to have a bit of a gastrointestinal upset, the same way he started out last season!) The parade is AWESOME to watch if you have a son or daughter who just loves the motorcycles! Seriously, this is one of the most well organized rides we attend every year, and it's for an AWESOME CAUSE!


Ride Details:

Bike run to be led by Brian Zepp from KQRS
Registration begins 8:00 a.m.
Fury Motorcycle
740 N. Concord
South St. Paul, MN
Run leaves 10:00 AM sharp
Parade leaves 4:30 PM sharp
from Tavern on the Avenue
825 Jefferson Ave.
St. Paul, MN
Parade arrives at South St. Paul VFW at approximately 5:00 PM


Street Dance Details:

Begins 3:00 p.m.

South St. Paul VFW
Gallagher-Hansen Post 295
111 Concord Exchange
S South Saint Paul, MN 55075
(For the Ride for Wishes mailing address - see "Contact Us" link)

Music, Food, Silent Auction, Raffles and More!!
Entry fee: $10.00
- 6 years old and under free.
- Bike run participants free.



Confirmed Bands:

Confirmed Bands
Chain Lightning
www.chainlightningband.com
Killer Hayseeds
www.killerhayseeds.com
Pork Chop
www.porkchopband.com
Retro Rockers
www.retrorockersband.com
The Big Twang
www.bigtwangband.com
No Existense
www.noexistense.com

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kindergarten Field Day

When we remodeled our kitchen I managed to loose the battery for my good camera. I found it 10 minutes before I had to leave for Asher's first ever field day. 10 minutes was just enough charging time to allow me to capture some shots from the day. (and when I came home I discovered I've forgotten how to work my camera! UGH!)

You know, I started out the day with a horrible migraine. I was anxious to get the kids off to school so I could crawl back to bed, in the darkness, for a couple of hours before I'd be forced to function again. But as I put Asher on the bus I remembered it was Asher's field day. His first ever! He would never have another kindergarten field day. (ok, I forgot that yes he will because he's doing kindy again next year. LOL) The mom guilt got to me and I pulled myself together.


I'm so glad I didn't miss this day. When I thought back to meeting Asher that first time just 6 months ago, it was hard not to tear up. The other parents were cheering Asher on, and there were times I didn't think I'd be able to contain my tears. At the end of the day popsicles were distributed to all the kids. I said something about, "I don't think he's ever had one before. I know he hasn't with us." Of course the other parents wanted to know how he could be 7 years old yet never had a popsicle before? This lead to my telling his story. One of the moms asked me, "Doesn't that make you so sad to know his past?" 

"You know, we always keep in mind where certain behaviors come from, or that there are certain things he's never seen or done, but we're not 'sad'. We live in the here and now. Asher and Axel both need to move forward, and if we spent our lives being sad for them, none of us would move forward in helping them get their lives back."

I have a thing about not posting pictures of kids who don't belong to me, so all of the "fun" pictures are not portable on the blog. 


Hanging out, wonder why in the world we're sitting outside...on the g.r.a.s.s. (not something he's fond of.)

Clapping for himself after throwing the frisbee.

 Running the 50 yard dash...or in Asher's case the 25.

This is the face he makes when he's not happy that I've shown up at school. When Mom's at school you just can't get away with the same stuff!

Horse races! Asher loved this. This is his best friend at school. 


"Jumping" hurdles. He was laughing hysterically!




Thursday, May 24, 2012

Poop Patrol


We started out with just one dog. Ruby. She was great, and rarely, if ever, left our yard. She usually did  her business in one of two specific areas in the yard. Then came her son Dudley who also stayed in the yard, but just might go out in the street to greet someone walking by. He was slightly less discriminate about keeping the yard clean.

Then along came Zurri who was too into chasing rabbits to care about stupid boundaries. We put in an invisible fence which worked great for all the dogs but her. She was quick to decide the possibility of catching one of those frolicking rabbits was totally worth the zap she'd get as she bolted through the invisible line. She also could care less where she deposited her daily duty.

It got to the point where one area of our yard, on the boulevard right in front of our neighbor's front window, became the favorite place for all the dogs. Spring time clean up was often done earlier than usual because, as the snow melted, I felt horrible there was pile after pile being exposed for the neighbor's viewing pleasure. We put in a solid fence to not only contain the dogs, but to contain their deposits in one area of the yard.

Roman was the last to join us. He manages to dig his way out fall out of the yard a couple times per week but other than that isn't much of a problem. His deposits are tootsie roll sized so not a big deal, and if he does deposit anything outside of the fenced area, he usually does so in the woods while hunting for rabbits.

Imagine my surprise when, a couple years ago, I started finding dog poop in an area where our dogs have no access. It started happening on a regular basis so I started paying attention. Twice have caught the same neighbor walking her dogs straight to that section of our property and letting them poop there. Really????? Really!!

Now, I know who the pooping culprit is in my neighborhood, but imagine owning an apartment or townhouse complex with multiple dogs. Imagine some of those tenants not being very responsible with their dog poop. I think it's very important to remember that you should not be annoyed with the dogs who are only doing their business where their owners tell them. After all, they're dogs. But you have every right be be very annoyed with the tenant who is a human being and supposedly capable of following rules!

Enter PooPrints Dog DNA services. When a tenant moves in with a dog, just collect a cheek swab from the dog and submit to PooPrints to enter on their DNA registry. (at a cost of $30, billed to the tenant, of course.) Then later, when a stray pile is found on the grounds, a sample can be collected and submitted to PooPrints for identification, telling you which tenant is the culprit. ($50 again, billed to the tenant)

When Minnesota's Roseville Estates decided to implement the program, they noticed an immediate change in the cleanliness of their property.

Property owners and managers who use the PooPrints services are noticing a reduction in offenses anywhere from 75-100%. Somehow that whole threat of being found out is enough to cause a tenant to not only carry a bag with them, but to put it to use when the time comes!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where's the Button?

How many of you have done this? You've gone to the greeting card isle in your local store and found a really cute musical card. "Perfect for every age!" says the advertisement. You get one for your 5 year old (or 10, 12, or 20 year old) and it ends up in the hands of a toddler. What they don't say is buried in the card are button cell batteries.


Now we all know the cards have to have batteries in order to produce the music, but how many of you THINK about how easy those batteries are to get out of the card, and what can happen to them once they've been removed? When a 3 volt 20mm battery is swallowed, it creates a micro-current inside the body. In as little as two hours it can begin to erode through tissue, sometimes with no symptoms at all. My good friend Renee found out exactly what can happen! A few weeks ago her daughter Kellsey unknowingly swallowed two batteries. What is believed to be several days after the batteries were swallowed, erosion of her esophagus caused her aorta, the major blood vessel in the body, to be at risk of rupturing. Had that happened she would have died within a matter of minutes.

Did you know that every three hours a child in the US enters the emergency room after swallowing button cell batteries? Incidents due to swallowing button batteries counts for 85% of batter related ER visits! Clearly they're too accessible to our kids!

So how can you prevent this from happening to your own child?

NEVER allow your child under age 5 to play with an electronic toy if the batteries are not protected by a cover attached by a screw. If you have younger children in your house, don't allow toys without screwed on covers into your house at all.

Keep remotes, car keys and and other objects with button batteries out of your child's reach.

If there is ever a question that your child swallowed a battery, do NOT wait around to "see what happens" because by the time you notice a symptom. By the time there is a symptom, it could be too late.



Monday, May 21, 2012

When the Girl is Growing Up


As most of you know, Angela is my only daughter among 7 boys.

Needless to say, I know a lot about raising boys but not so much about raising girls!

Yeah, I'm a girl, but not a "girly girl". Most who know me personally will say I tend toward the tomboy end of the spectrum. That's probably why I have a hard time knowing the best way to teach Angela some of the things that come along with being a young lady.
A couple years ago another blog friend of mine posted about teaching her girls to shave their legs when they turn 13. Angela was also 13 at the time, and honestly, my mom mind hadn't even gone there yet! 

That night when Angela got home from school I inspected her legs. Mmmm...nope! She hardly had any hair on her legs yet, but that's when I became aware of all the other girls Angela's age. Most (all?) were already shaving! Ugh, where had I been?

Fast forward and Angela is turning 16 in just a few weeks. She's in high school. HIGH SCHOOL! We went to the YMCA over the weekend, and there was a small group of high school girls in the locker room getting ready to run the track together. They made me realize summer - which includes shorts and swimsuits - is fast approaching. It's time for Angela to learn to shave. I already knew that Angela would not tolerate the vibration of an electric razor, so a standard razor it would be. Lord help me.

When BlogHer asked me to participate in this review it was perfect timing. I gathered all the necessary supplies:
I was glad it was a Venus Embrace for a couple of reasons. First of all, it has a soft-grip handle for great control. It also has 5 very tiny blades, giving a very close, comfortable shave and figured a close shave means more time between shaves! Another feature is a ribbon of moisture for a smooth glide. Angela needs as little friction as possible because her legs are extremely sensitive. Also, like the the other Venus razors I use myself, the Venus Embrace has interchangeable razor blade refill cartridges.
The Satin Care Passionista Fruit Satin Care shave gel has a great sparkling, fruity scent that is very girly and seems like something teen girls would really like.
So I had the stuff.† Now how to approach this with her? Is this the right time? Can she handle it? Can I??? I called her into the bathroom . . .
"Angela, come here I want to show you something."
She came into the bathroom annoyed with me because usually if I want to "show her something" it means fix whatever mess she made earlier. LOL 
"What?" she said, with a classic teenage tone.
"What's coming up in June? I keep forgetting," I said, feigning forgetfulness.
"My BIRTHDAY! 16! YAY! I want a dance party!"
"Oh that's right! Do you know that at 16, you're really not a little girl anymore. A lot of girls, when they turn 16, get to start shaving their legs."
"What?" she asked, thinking I was nuts. "Like moms? Girls 16 shave their legs like moms?"
"Yes, just like moms. Now, this is only for the most grown-up, mature girls. Shaving your legs is something you have to be very careful doing. That's why it's important for me to show you how to do it and not one of your friends. Do you think you'd like to give it a try?"
She put on her most serious face for me. "I try it!"
I handed her the Passionista Fruit Satin Care shave gel.


"Do you know what this is? This is called shave gel. What does it say on the bottle?"
She started reading without her usual complaining that I'm making her read! "It says 'Great shave gel for new shavers." She turned it over, and in my radio voice I helped her read the back. "Passionista Fruit Satin Care is the secret to silky smooth legs."

I explained to her: You get to put the shave gel on your legs, and it will do three things. First you'll be able to see where you've already shaved, and it will also make you smell great and give you smooth legs. How cool is that?"

"I want some on my hand. Please?"

She spread it around like lotion. "Mmmm smells nice!"

"Ok, now onto the serious part. Do you know what this is?" I carefully set the Venus Embrace in her hand, showing her where to put her fingers so she'd have control of it.


"It's a shaver thing," she answered.


"That's right. It's called a razor." I turned it over so she could see the underside. "Do you see these? Those are the blades. The sharp part. You don't ever want to touch those with your fingers because they can cut you. But I'm going to show you the right way to hold it so that doesn't happen. You've seen me shave my legs, and it doesn't hurt. I don't get cut. It's very important that you only shave your legs with mom around so I can help make sure you stay safe, ok?"

We got onto the business of actually shaving her legs. Angela loved how smooth and silky the Passionista Fruit Satin Care felt on her legs. I did the first couple of swipes with the Venus Embrace razor so she could get used to how it felt. She didn't really want to do it herself so we did it hand-over-hand. Angela loved how her legs felt afterward and couldn't wait to go show Dean her silky smooth legs!
If you have a first-time shaver in your home, you should check out some of these great tips.
I know Angela is starting to pay more attention to her appearance and I want to make sure she's getting the right information from me. What are some ways you tackle conversations like shaving (or other tough†"firsts") with your daughter? Venus Brand is having a sweepstakes. Leave me a comment answering that question to be entered for a chance to†win a $50 Visa gift card!
Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 5/21 - 6/30

Be sure to visit the Venus Brand feature page on†BlogHer.com†where you can read other bloggersí reviews and find more chances to win!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Special Olympics Area meet 2012

Yesterday I shed a few tears as I watched Angela and Axel participate in the 2012 Special Olympics area meet. It was a super busy day making sure the kids were in the right place for their events, helping other athletes get to theirs, and making sure field events were taken care of as well. Our team has some awesome coaches! We have over 200 athletes on our team (though not all participate in every sport) and 67 athletes who compete in the summer games! That is a lot of athletes to keep organized, making sure they all get to practice all of their events, not to mention keeping the meets organized! I would not like the job, but I'm happy to help out wherever I can.

So, onto the games. Here is just part of the team who participated in the grand march. Many of the athletes who have events later in the day hadn't arrived yet.



The first event for us was Axel's 50 meter run. What is important to know is exactly one year ago, on May 16th 2011, this was Axel, just after he came out of an 8 hour surgery, laying in the Intensive Care Unit at Shriner's Hospital in Philadelphia:

When we got him he didn't know how to run. It was kind of a fast walk instead. Then he had his surgery and COULDN'T run. When he got his halo off in August, all the new motor skills he'd just learned he had to learn all over again. Running was one of them.

And now look at him today! Our boy, waving to his adoring fans. LOVE THIS BOY!!!!


Next up was Angela's 50 meter run. She ran as hard as she could! (Watch her at the finish line. She's always been her own best cheerleader! LOL)


Next up was Axel's 100 meter run. Sorry for the bouncing, I was walking along behind him.


There was softball throwing....


And standing long jumping...


There were ribbons awarded....




Friends to hang out with....


and hands held along the way.

And just for kicks, here's a video of Angela in 2006 when she was 10.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What I Wish You Knew

You. Yeah, you in the store check out line. Not him, you. I'd love to talk to you right now. I can see by your long stares you have questions. You're trying to figure us out. I wish we could stop life right here so I could tell you our story.

I want to tell you that you don't need to feel sorry for me. Our children are beautiful and we love every single extra chromosome that resides in every cell of their body. I know it's hard for you to believe, but some of them were chosen because of it.

Our life is not hard. Really, it's not. And to be honest, if you asked me which of the kids is the most challenging to raise, I would say the biological one. And no, I won't tell you which one that is. (Look close, you can probably figure it out!)

No, we are not saints. We aren't miracle workers either. I just walked into a building one day and we both knew right then we had to do something.

Why do we do it? I can probably give you 100 reasons. Instead I prefer to ask "Why wouldn't we?" You'll have trouble coming up with any, and the ones you do come up with might fit YOUR family, but they won't fit mine. "The benefits outweigh the risks" applies to us.

Hey you. Yes you...I saw you watching us. I saw you do a double take. I even saw you peer around the end of the isle at us. I recognized your looks. I used to do it too! When my oldest with Down syndrome was a baby, if I saw a family who had a child with DS I would stalk follow them.  But Angela didn't look like she had DS, or if she wasn't with me, it was hard to know how to start a conversation. But yes, I saw you. And yes, I recognized your attempt to go unnoticed. I want to tell you, you're gonna be ok! Your baby is just that...just a baby. Love that baby because before you know it you'll be me, walking through Target discussing boyfriends with your teenager. And yes, you'll get there. You'll survive this time in your life.

Our house is no different than anyone else's. If we need more of anything it's a better sense of humor than most parents because you have to be able to laugh (sometimes only in your head) at some of the things that are said and done around here. Who else has rules like, "No invisible people allowed upstairs." or "No dangling in the living room." And I really don't know anyone else who says, "Tongue in." as much as I do on any given day.

I wish you could join us at our house. You just might leave realizing your life priorities have changed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kid or Cat?

Shortly after Asher arrived here from Serbia, we noticed he would often find patches of sunlight shining on the floor. When he found them he'd do all he could to get his entire body into the patch on the floor. If it was only a small patch he'd put his hand in it, wiggling his fingers in the warmth.

Now that it's (slowly) been getting nice outside, he craves being out in the sunlight. He's very quick to race you to the door if he knows you're going out. This morning Dean was watering the plants he gave me for Mother's Day. He went back inside to refill the pitcher and returned to find this:


Hopefully now that we can be outside much of the day his Vitamin D levels will start coming up!

School Lunch

Asher is in Kindergarten. He is in a regular classroom and is just one of the regular kids. Today, to get a "taste" of 1st grade, the kindergarteners are eating lunch at school. I've been really tempted to just keep him home. He's so NOT ready to be eating at school yet. We're working hard to get rid of his very bad oral motor habits. Him feeding himself is a horribly messy scenario and I don't want him stigmatized at school for the way he eats. I'm so tempted to keep him home. He's not going to first grade next year anyway. Hmmmmm Decisions. Decisions.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

5 months home

Asher has been home 5 months now. Five very amazing months. There has been a lot to learn about this world crammed into these first months home. Watching all the "firsts" of life is a most wonderful thing for a parent to witness!