Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Those who know me in real life think I'm always seem to have everything under control. That I roll with the punches and move on. There are only three people who ever see me get truly upset: Dean, my sister and my mom. I don't want to say I handle stresses "better" than other people, I just handle them "differently". Yes, I have probably learned some really good coping skills over the years.

I've lived through a lot of stuff, and as a person with control issues I can tell you it is the number one lesson God keeps putting before me. I KNOW…I KNOW God has this. I know he has known I would have cancer since before I even existed, and that he knows my final outcome. He knows when, where and how I will take my last breath. No matter what I do, that story cannot be re-written because it is already written in His breath. And so, when something like "You have cancer" happens, I freak out for a minute but quickly gather my wits and move on. I remind myself,  "He already knows. This is not a surprise to Him, I just need to suck it up and deal with it."

When I get really stressed, my instinct is to sleep for days until the problem goes away. Some people would call this depression. I call it "If I can just sleep until the day of the event, I don't have to spend days worrying about it." Since sleeping all day, every day isn't really an option for me, I instead become very distracted. Nothing keeps my attention longer than a few minutes and I tend to be impulsive. Sometimes I don't realize this is happening until after the fact.

Tomorrow I will be meeting with my oncologist. Together we'll be coming up with my treatment plan that should start in the next week or so. Needless to say my anxiety level has been running very high. Most nights I've gone to bed early to read, the next thing I know my alarm is going off eight hours later. Occasionally I have a night where the anxiety wakes me up and my mind starts spinning with things that need to get done, only I can't do them in the middle of the night. The next morning I'm exhausted and can't get any of those things done!  I keep telling myself, "Just deal with it and move on." Only sometimes I don't know what, exactly, I'm dealing with. I get crabby with myself for being a weenie. God has never stepped away from me, and He certainly isn't going to now, so why the anxiety?

Today a t-shirt appeared in my path. I knew right away I needed it. I'm going to wear it tomorrow to meet with my doctor, to remind myself what I need to do.

Potty Talk

If you don't want to read about potty training, please X out now.

 For whatever reason the institutions in Serbia believe it is easier to keep a kid in diapers indefinitely than to potty train them. Think how expensive it is to put diapers on teens and adults!

When Asher came home at age 7, we had to wait a couple of months before working on potty training because he needed some reconstructive work done first. Once we started, and he peed in the toilet once, he was like "Oh THAT is what that toilet thing is for???" and potty training was complete.

Abel came to us at 10 years old. The caregivers in the institution told us he was afraid of the bathroom and toilets. Indeed, while we were still in Serbia he absolutely freaked out if we tried to get him to enter the bathroom. My guess is he wasn't afraid of the room, he was afraid of what had happened to him in a bathroom. Knowing how  he was treated there conjures up all kinds of images. But for Abel the lure of chocolate was far bigger than his fear of that room. We had him using the toilet within a couple of days, but didn't really plan on truly training him until we got him home. We arrived home on April 29th, and the last day he wore diapers was May 8th. Like Asher, he only needed to be shown what to do.

I didn't work any miracles, believe me. These were kids who should have been trained YEARS earlier but weren't given the opportunity. I just remove their pants for a day, give them a ton of liquids to drink, let them dribble on their own feet a couple of times, show them where the pee is supposed to go, and VOILA! Potty training is done. I will not ever profess to say this method will work with every child. It worked for *my* boys who, like I said above, should have been trained years earlier.

And now we have Audrey. She is 9 1/2 years old. She is six weeks older than Asher. She catches onto things very quickly and I have no doubt she should have been trained years ago. However, one of our biggest hurdles with Audrey is she does not drink enough liquids. Getting her to drink is extremely difficult. Because of this she hardly pees all day long! I change her at certain times of the day because I should, not because her diapers are necessarily super wet.

At this point in life I have very few days in which Audrey and I are home all day long and can dedicate those days to learning about using the potty. Yesterday we had a half day so off came the pants. Four hours and this child never peed. Not a drop. It is hard to teach a child where to deposit the pee if the child doesn't pee. I knew that as soon as I put a diaper on so we could leave the house she would pee, and that is exactly what she did.

Today we had only a couple of errands first thing in the morning and then we'd have several hours home, so off came the pants again. We are on hour  4 1/2 and she still has not peed. Not even a tiny drop. However, as I wrote that last sentence, she just sat herself on her potty seat and is giving me funny looks, so I'm hopeful. This potty seat plays music if she produces so I'm hoping to hear some music really soon!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Easter 2014

Finally some pictures from Easter Sunday. We kept things pretty low key around here, since that is about all a couple of the kids can handle. We had a good time, and it was fun watching Audrey and Abel discover the fun of hunting for Easter eggs.

The buckets were waiting for their owners.

Abel wanted to know why this funny colored stuff was in his bucket.

Asher was just very thankful the Easter Bunny put dangly stuff in his. 

A couple attempts at a group picture...

but Audrey wasn't really in the mood. 

One more attempt to get everyone looking at me. 

Mom, look at all the pretty eggs I found!

I hope you all had as much fun on Easter as we did!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Best Buddies Prom 2014

Preparations started a week in advance with the hunt for just the right dress. I showed Angela several dresses. She chose this one because it was "wine" colored. "Wine" being the important word. They had to shorten it by about 18 inches.

She got her nails done the night before.

A couple hours before prom she got her hair done at the salon. 

FINALLY the time came to get dressed for Prom!!

And then her date, Andy, arrived.