Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random Questions, Fall 08: 4

Fall 08, #4: Halloween

The Random Questions process
~Choose one or all of the questions to answer.
~Either respond with a comment to this post with your answer or put up a post on your own blog for a full response.
~Don't forget to include any funny or interesting story to illustrate your answer in action.
~Be sure to leave a comment on this post to let us know where to find your post so we can come check it out!

1. When it comes to Halloween, which are you? 1) All about it. 2) Don't really care. 3) Avoid it.

2. What's your favorite element of the Halloween season? Candy, pumpkins, costumes, or kids knocking on your door?

3. Which candy is the one you always hoped you'd get lots of when you did your trick-or-treating?

4. What's your favorite costume that you had, either long ago or recently?

5. If you've got kids who are dressing up, what are they gonna be this year?


As for my answers... I'm not into Halloween. I'd fit in the "don't care" category. I love fall, and it was always fun to dress up as a kid and go around the neighborhood and such, but besides the candy, I could miss it and not be a bit sad. I tend to be a Halloween scrooge, lights off, going out to dinner or something during trick-or-treat hours. I'm just not a fan to opening the door to strangers over and over and over. Silly, maybe. But it's the truth.

My candy preferences were always Reece's cups and Twix! Still love them. In fact, I picked them out of Braska's take from Saturday's Trunk-or-Treat event. If she'd eat them, I would have shared!

My favorite costume was probably when I wore my mom's college cheerleading uniform. It was pretty big, as I was like in 5th grade, but it was fun. I don't know that any pics exist or I might consider sharing them. I remember being an indian princess once, I'm sure I was a panda at one time or another, and I think I remember a Cinderella type princess once too. I'd say the last time I dressed up was probably a little over 20 years ago.

Braska is a little duck this year. She had her first event last Saturday, in case you missed it. Tomorrow she's going to make a surprise appearance somewhere, and maybe we'll go to our church's fall festival tomorrow night...we'll see.

Be safe, people.... and don't make yourselves sick on all that candy!!

I'm glad we got that straight

I found this and was so surprised. Not at the content, but because I've conducted some of the same kind of surveys with people here and there, just in conversation, and found it so amusing. I didn't know someone had taken it to the next level and aired them. It's short and entertaining, so take a listen. (Don't be startled by the picture or's not foul or anything.)

I'll grant you this, it may be the case for both sides...but in my personal and unscientific experiments, I've found that there are far more on one side who are "riding the wave" you might say without knowing what's in the water beneath them. That's dangerous surfing, you know.

Get informed. Vote. Good things. Just know what you're voting for.

(Thanks, MH!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thank goodness for ABC?

I'm thankful for many things every day. Today, a highlight is cable television , and surprisingly enough, ABC tv! I'd have never thought ABC would be high on my list, but tonight, thank goodness. And luckily, Pushing Daisies is on at 7pm.

At least no one is wasting huge amounts of money or anything in this time of financial crisis. Holy Cow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Intervention insight

I watch the show Intervention on A&E here and there. I've honestly learned alot about addictive personalities and how to deal with them, and that's been helpful in many ways actually. It's a disturbing show, I admit, and often times hard to watch people and their families endure addictions, but the intervention events are amazing. They don't always bring the outcome the family wants, but often they are successful.

This week, there was an episode that I found interesting. But one line caught my attention in a very sharp way. Jeff, the interventionist, asked the family this, as they were preparing for what their daughter's response might be...

Are you willing to have her hate you for the rest of her life as long as she gets better? If it's neat, great. If it's messy, fine. But we're going to do what we have to help her get better. Even if it hurts to walk away.

I used the rewind on my DVR about 3 times to listen to this again. What an amazing choice for parents, sisters, grandparents, and friends! Can you do what's best for her in the end, even if it means that she may hate you for doing it?

It might mean cutting her off. It might mean not responding to her calls when she is desperate. It might mean not bailing her out of really unpleasant situations. All horrible options, but in these situations, it's often necessary to get the addict to address their problem head-on.

This doesn't just apply to addicts. Addiction is most often due to an inability to cope with difficult situations or old wounds unhealed. Those circumstances can manifest in alot of ways prior to addiction, or at least an *obvious* addiction.

I have had to make a couple of horribly tough decisions like this, though not for quite the same reasons as on the show. It hurts, like no other hurt, but in my case, it was necessary and thankfully successful.

Sometimes we have to be tough to help. It's not fair, but it's true. Consider it once more...
Are you willing to have her hate you for the rest of her life as long as she gets better? If it's neat, great. If it's messy, fine. But we're going to do what we have to help her get better. Even if it hurts to walk away.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

31 for 21: Distraction dancer

Sunday mornings at church are Braska's special time with Daddy. She sits with him, he holds her during the music and she dances like a crazy girl when the band gets going and claps right along with everyone else. She always attracts attention from those around, and sometimes I feel like she's gonna burst with excitement. Speaking of which, we could use a bit more of that at church, couldn't we?!

Anyway, this week, like most others, she was having a ball. One lady directly behind us played with her, waved at her, and when we sat down for the sermon, she played little games with her. She'd put her hand on the back on the chair, and Braska would push it away and smile. Over and over. (I hope she is a multitasker, because it was a really great message, so I'd hate for her to have missed anything.) Braska usually falls asleep for part of the quieter parts, and then wakes at the end to dance a little more before we go. I haven't figured out a way to discreetly video this fun...but I sure want to. It's the most animated she gets, and it's no wonder people are drawn to the giggles, wiggles, and smiles. Each week after church, as we leave, we always have at least 3 or 4 people come over to mention that they were watching her and just loved seeing her dance and cuddle with Daddy. I see it as a nice way that she makes people smile on a Sunday morning.

To hold you's this Sunday's fashion pic before church. It's one of my favorite new outfit combinations. Ralph Lauren and BabyLegs with a side of Old Navy and Gymboree shoes. Can't beat it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

31 for 21: Ain't it kinda funny?

We're all wanting to be good little advocates, and it is a priority of mine to put a good and real perspective of life with Down syndrome "in the house." But we're all so busy just living life with our little ones that we're too busy to talk about how we're doing it. Funny.

And I guess, as many have said better than I, that's the point. Yes, we were shocked. Yes, I thought life was (cue the dramatic movie music) *forever changed.* And yes, there have been some things to figure out, to say the least. But the beauty is, you don't have to figure it all out at once. You get to wake up just one day at a time, like everyone else. And ya know what's crazy?? Life goes on. We do what we do, and we find it to be so much beyond more enjoyable than what we thought. PLUS, we have these ridiculously cute kids to play with in the meantime!

Just wish I could bottle this and share it with all those who are a few paces behind and still freaking out. It sure would've done me some good a couple years ago.

Friday, October 24, 2008

31 for 21: Practice quack

We did a dress rehearsal today of an event tomorrow. Braska will have pics to show I'm sure. And it's likely to have excessive kid cuteness involved. Just thought it was fair to tell you in advance.

And yes, this makes me THAT mom. We don't take chances with serious things like opportunities for excessive cuteness. We take the time to get it right. Practice makes perfect.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Money saving tip swap

Gas is $2.33/gal today! I am liking this extra money that we're saving on gas.

So everyone is talking about how to save a buck here or there... be it because of the financial crisis that is upsetting so many or the simple nature of life at this juncture for some of us. We might as well share what's working, I figure. So do tell! What's REALLY working, or at least what are you really trying to do?

What are you doing that's different than your "norm" to save money right now? Eating out less, shopping more frugally, selling a car, or selling a kidney (ha!)?

What are some ways your holiday will be different this year than last due to the financial stuff? Not traveling, buying less gifts, going for the generic turkey over the Butterball?

For us, it's been about the income-cut-in-half thing over the last few months since I'm not working anymore. I grant you this, we've made some major changes that many might not have chosen, but it's been great all around so far. Different yes, but we're not suffering at all, thank goodness. We've definitely learned that we don't HAVE to have everything we thought we did before.
~We moved to a new state to be close to family and hospitals/doctors, to avoid the long and frequent trips in the car.
~We sold our house to buy a smaller, older, and much cheaper one. It's an adjustment, but it's working pretty well, and the much lower payment is SO nice!
~We're eating out much less overall, although we still do here and there. There's no Toro here, so we're not tempted to visit 3 or 4 times a week.
~I'm shopping at Aldi, which I've resisted for so long, as I can't stand going to more than one place for groceries. I'm a one-stop shopper. LOVE the Wal-Mart Supercenter!! Unfortunately, we went from having 3 within 5 miles of our house in C-U to having the closest one be 20 miles away, so that's out. Since I was making a change anyway, I took the time to figure out how to utilize Aldi for whatever I can get there. And it's alot, I'm surprised! We're saving almost 60% a month on groceries with Aldi in the mix, and buying what's on sale at the other store when I must go. Maybe this seems obvious to you guys, but I never knew what milk or a pound of hamburger cost. I didn't care, just went and got what we wanted... then I paid the bill. Now I have taken a little time to check out what's better where, and it's making a BIG difference.
~We're driving M's car more when it's all of us. It gets better gas mileage, and since our trips are less than an hour now, it's totally doable in the space. (It's smaller than mine and a little less comfy...but newer, and spunky!)
~Movies are a big deal to M, and we used to watch alot of them. They're so expensive lately that we haven't been going as much. Now we live 3 very small blocks from a $1 theater! How handy is that! So we have just been waiting to see stuff till it comes there, unless we REALLY want to see something right away, like Fireproof last month.

Please don't take this as expert advice! I'm not saying these are gonna change the world for anyone but us, but they have sure helped us to get by on a whole bunch less than we thought was possible. This is NOT a "pat me on the back" kind of thing. But I'm a big proponent of dealing with what life hands you without complaints, even when it means making uncomfortable changes. So I'm just trying to walk the talk, I guess.

So share....what are YOU doing??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

31 for 21: So much and yet nothing

It's 11:35pm. I should be in bed. Long ago in bed. But it's not been working that way.

And I have alot I want to get in before the end of the month, blog-wise. I want to talk a little about discipline and what we do with Braska. (Yes, even our perfect little compliant child occasionally pulls a naughty one on us...and she does get in trouble when that happens.) Part of me wants to talk about politics, but I can't formulate like I want when I'm this tired by the time I get to blogging. And I'm guessing I wouldn't successfully change many, if any, minds. (If you're undecided and just want some interesting perspective to consider, send me an email if you want.) I want to talk about the great things we've learned in these 23 months of being in this club that is living with DS.

But I'm exhausted. My kitchen is so darn messy. I need to get off this computer. So for now, these things will wait. And hey, who says I can't talk about them in November anyway, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

31 for 21: 20 Baby Galleries!!

Back in September, we were happy to find out that Braska had been included in the 3rd gallery of the A Special Joy: Babies with Down Syndrome. There are now 20 galleries! 20!! How great is that!?! And we know so many of those cuties...that's pretty cool, I think!

Check out all 20 from here.

Can I just ask a favor of those of you who don't have kids with DS but have blogs? As October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, would you be willing to post a little something with the link to the gallery page? It's kind of to be expected that those of us "in the club" would be all over it, but I think it would be a neat extension of the awareness aspect if we could spread the word via non-DS related blogs as well. We like to show off our kids, sure. But it would mean alot to have those who have been impacted by our kids to put in a plug for them as well.

Thanks, really.

(Side note: The Gallery page is down for a bit this afternoon, but it should be back shortly.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

31 for 21: Political traffic

Holy vote begging, Batman! Missouri is being sought after by both the big guys in this crazy a BIG way. For example, lets consider who was in my little corner of the state this weekend. (All this in the St. Louis metro area)

Saturday Obama was smiling and schmoozing on the Arch grounds. I didn't even know this til today, which is fine, but it's interesting because I drove right past the Arch twice on Saturday, once in the AM and once in the PM, and must have missed everything. Thank goodness I didn't get caught in that traffic!

Then today... this is just nuts!
~McCain was about 2 miles from my house here in St. Charles early this morning.
~Bill Clinton was at a rally in Kirkwood tonight.
~Dick Cheney was at a luncheon in Clayton today.
~Mike Huckabee was at a benefit dinner tonight here in St. Charles.

I'm surprised anyone could get anywhere today with all those motorcades roaming the streets.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

31 for 21: Are you a Modern Mama?

Today I received info about this new business. The owner is a very cool young mom (and most DEFINITELY a "modern mama") who has a really adorable little girl, Karly, who is not quite a year old if I remember correctly. Little Karly has had problems with reflux for alot of her young life, and LeAnn has done a great job at finding ways to help by providing nutritious, homemade baby foods.

As of tomorrow, she's rolling it out to the masses. At least to the masses in the St. Louis metro area. Complete with 24-hour turnaround with delivery to your door! I know most of you aren't in our immediate area, but I also know that there are several who are... so check out her site, and you could always send her a note to see if she'll ship to you elsewhere, right?

I think it's cool when a mom sees a problem and really does her homework to find answers for herself and shares them with others. And LeAnn is a super nice person too, so I hope things go very well! If Braska would eat, I'd be all over it!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

31 for 21: Shower overload

Today I (with Braska in tow) drove 50 minutes to a baby shower for a friend I haven't seen in years. The guest of honor (and her mom) were the only people there I knew out of a large crowd at her church. Made for a kind of awkward time, but it was nice to see them for a quick minute in the midst of things.

Tomorrow the tiny one and I drive 90 minutes to a baby shower for a friend I haven't seen in years. The guest of honor, and maybe a sister or relative that might be there, will be the only ones I know at what will probably be a large group at her church. I have a feeling this will be a bit less awkward maybe. This new mommy used to be my roomie when we were young, single, and living large.

These girls are worth it, but they better appreciate this! I didn't even look forward to my own baby showers! :o)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Birthday #35

It was a nice day. Quite nice. And it wasn't hardly painful at all, who knew?

(BTW, I've been a bit post heavy today, so scroll down if you're a direct blog-checker so you don't miss something.)

First, I got a card from Mrs. N. She was in my dad's church from way back when he was in college, a young preacher boy. She has sent me a card all 35 years of my life, I think. My parents would have to verify the first few, but I can tell you that the last 30 at least I've received a card from her. Always with a letter. Used to be with a dollar inside, but I understandably outgrew that.

I looked forward to her cards, and now, in an age of few pieces of REAL snail mail, hers has more than once been the *only* birthday card I've received in a given year. It might be a small thing, but it's big to me. I appreciate it, and I'd miss it if it weren't there. This spring I saw Mr. and Mrs. N at my grandfather's funeral, and the older three of us F siblings all referenced her birthday card consistency as we introduced our "others" to them. What a neat legacy with a seemingly simple yearly remembrance.

Braska and I went to Wal-Mart right before lunch. A much needed trip. When we got home, M had already arrived home for lunch. As I walked in to the living room, look what greeted me!

Isn't that gorgeous?! I love fall colors, and flowers in them, what's not to love?? They are much more beautiful in person, of course. Really a nice surprise! Thanks, M. Well done, dearest.

Tonight we went to the Olive Garden. It's our celebration place. Birthdays, anniversaries, whatever. We like it alot. And it's tradition to have a picture from each birthday or anniversary dinner there.

M isn't a fan of restaurants in general, so it's nice that there are a few places he's comfortable in. My brother Jody and his wife Skye came along after a last minute invite, and we had a very nice dinner. Everyone had yummy meals, Braska enjoyed some marinara sauce, some of my apricot sauce from my chicken meal, and a tad of raspberry tea. Sure it's only a teaspoon or two of sauce, and some sips of tea, but it's something, and we're glad! We finished the night with some SUPER yummy pumpkin cheesecake.

When we got back home after dinner, I got today's mail and had another card! From the lovely Jen. I affectionately call her one of my "flaming liberal" friends, so it's only right she'd send me this kind of card. Jen, this is the only piece of mail with those faces on it allowed in my house for longer than a minute. Only for you..... :o)

I did also get a couple e-cards from Dad and Rach, and a couple phone calls too. It's so nice to be thought of.

So all in all, a pretty enjoyable birthday. I cannot complain one bit. Thanks so much for all the well wishes! So far, 35 is not so bad.

31 for 21: True Royalty times 6!!

There were some great stories this past week about some wonderful teens with DS making news during homecoming season. It is so amazing to see how well these kids have made friends and made a difference in those friends' lives. The friends will be better people forever just for knowing these super cool kids.

There may even be more, but these are the ones I've heard about. (Thanks to all who sent these to me or posted about them!!)
A Queen (video here)
A Queen
A Queen
A Queen
and a KING
and another KING!

Debate for six pres wanna-be's

In case some of you want more debating... my inside political contacts have shared this bit of info with me. I know some of you are yet to be completely sick of this stuff, so here ya go.

Personally, I'd be happy to have all the candidates of all kinds stop ALL their ads and give the money (ridiculous millions!!!) to all these people who are apparently in need of the "wealth spreading" that seems to be so darn popular. Just a thought... talk amongst yourselves.

The Free and Equal Elections Coalition (FREE) and the Columbia Political Union are pleased to announce that a Presidential debate will be held this coming Sunday, October 19th, 2008, on the campus of Columbia University. ALL SIX of the Presidential candidates who appear on enough state ballots to acquire the 270 Electoral Votes needed to become President are invited.

They are as follows (listed in alphabetical order by affiliation):
Constitution Party Candidate: Chuck Baldwin
Democratic Party Candidate: Barack Obama
Green Party Candidate: Cynthia McKinney
Independent Candidate: Ralph Nader
Libertarian Party Candidate: Bob Barr
Republican Party Candidate: John McCain

The Columbia Political Union will present the debate from 8:00pm to 10:00pm EST in the Altschul Auditorium, located at 417 International Affairs Building. The debate will be moderated by Pacifica Radio's Amy Goodman, the host of "Democracy Now!".

CSPAN will cover the debate, and live radio broadcasts are expected. "The Columbia Political Union is committed to energizing political discourse on Columbia's campus," said Allon Brann, Columbia Political Union Publisher. "As a non-partisan organization, we work to provide students with opportunities to encounter and engage with political ideas across a wide ideological spectrum, and on a wide range of issues."

"It is with these goals in mind that we have organized this Presidential Debate: to give all candidates-- either within or outside of the political "mainstream"-- the opportunity to speak directly to students about their goals on the issues they deem critical for this country." "We have invited all eligible candidates, and it is our sincere hope that all will participate, to ensure the substance and rigor of the dialogue which we believe is crucial at this time."

Certified letters officially inviting each candidate have been sent to the respective campaigns. The Free and Equal Elections Coalition and the Columbia Political Union await the response from the candidates. All candidates' supporters are encouraged to contact the Presidential campaigns and urge them to attend.

The Columbia Political Union seeks to enhance involvement in the political process, domestic and international, and draw every member of the campus community into an ongoing discussion of political ideas. FREE is a coalition of political parties, independent citizens and civic organizations formed to promote free and equal elections in the United States.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

31 for 21: Countdown to Thirty-fi (cough, hack, choke)

90 minutes. That's all that's left. (Ok technically, a few more after that, I wasn't born at midnight, but come on, that's not how it works.) I didn't think it would be as big a deal to me as it is. I didn't really have trouble with 30, and 32 struck me mildly uncomfortable, as I thought that was the age of "real" adults. When people would ask a kid on the street how old their mom was, they'd say 32, and that was just weird. 33 and 34 just came and went, no biggie.

So what's the big deal? Who knows. Maybe it's having my second kid, maybe it's not. It doesn't really matter. I'm not depressed or anything. I just don't generally even notice birthdays that much. They weren't a big part of things growing up. Not that we didn't have a party here or there, but it just wasn't a big deal, and that's fine. The fact that this one has kind of snuck up on me and has been on my mind this week... that's different. So I'm pondering... because I can.

Tomorrow will be a normal day. That's not a bad thing. I'm sure we'll have a nice day and that it won't feel any different. And after the last few years, "normal" and "nice" are welcome.

Those of you who have been invited to the big surprise party, get your party hats ready!! (Ok, I know, but I can always wish, right??) Happy Day to you all!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Introducing....(drum roll please)

Yep, she's a girl...

(For those that have issues seeing ultrasound images....She's on her back here, head in the center facing up, cute little nose and lips. See it now?)

And her name is...

myspace graphic

It's not like we could go with anything normal, I mean, come on! We're a house full of weird names. The name is a combination of some family names. Lee is for Auntie Rachel's middle name, Car is for Grandma C, Carole, and the ene is for Grammy's middle name, Irene. And it's kind of just coincidental that the Kin is what's left...get it? Like kin=family.

The ultrasound looked great. Very detailed level II (which I learned is just a regular ultrasound with alot more measurements and specific things evaluated). As of now, things look good.

So there you have it. Happy now??? :o)

Monday, October 13, 2008

31 for 21: Contagious!?!

Newsflash: DS is contagious!! Keep reading!!

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by a triplication of the genetic material on the 21st chromosome. This trisomy occurs with the first division of the developing zygote, as a result there is extra genetic material present in every cell of the individual. Recently, science has discovered that this cellular abnormality is highly contagious. As result, family members (and even friends) of individuals with Down syndrome often find themselves exhibiting dramatic changes due to this "something extra" permeating their bodies at the cellular level. These changes manifest themselves in a number of ways. Something extra in the visual cortex results in parents who view the world differently. In addition to seeing things in an entirely new light, these parents also report having an increased ability to focus on what is important. Spontaneous appearance of tears of joy have also been confirmed. The section of the brain used in logical thought undergoes dramatic changes.

Parents suddenly find themselves able to comprehend and discuss complex medical procedures. The ability to decipher long strings of acronyms appears almost immediately and it is not uncommon for affected parents of newborns to be able to differentiate between ASD, VSD and PDA. Familiarity with G-tubes, picc lines and the NICU is another side effect.

Over time, the entire nervous system is transformed, enabling parents to perform tasks previously thought impossible. These changes result in individuals finding the nerve to advocate before large crowds, speak to classrooms of medical students and educate the population at large about issues they are passionate about. These changes are closely tied in to dysfunctions in the verbal abilities, which makes it virtually impossible for parents to bite their tongue. Often, individuals who previously considered themselves reserved will find themselves outspoken and effective communicators.

The pulmonary system is altered to a dramatic extent. Parents report having their breath taken away at the slightest prompting. The cardiovascular system develops similar vulnerabilities and reports of hearts pounding loudly and swelling unexpectedly are not uncommon. One mother reported that her heart skipped a beat when her son smiled at her for the first time. The extremities are also altered. Arms reach out to strangers for support, and in turn, hands comfort and nurture those in need. Legs strengthen and balance improves, allowing parents to stand firm in their convictions and walk without faltering, even when shouldering a heavy load. Scientists are baffled by the widespread scope of these symptoms. Equally perplexing is the response of those afflicted. Parents readily acknowledge fundamental changes in their being, however, almost universally declare a preference for their new, altered level of functioning. "I wouldn't change a thing" is a common refrain. Apparently, the presence of a little "something extra" enhances the lives of individuals fortunate enough to be infected.

Wendy Holden

(Thanks to our great CL, Missy, at the iVillage DS board for posting this. I think it's pretty nifty!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

31 for 21: Pink and minty

I love peppermint ice cream. It's only around for the holiday season usually, so I enjoy when it shows up in the stores. Tonight I snagged some and learned a little something.

Braska loves it!

That's my girl. She ate more than 1/4 cup of the stuff, and in our world of no food orally, that's HUGE!!!! Now understand that she has these moments. She does something then won't repeat it afterwards, so we're cautious, but we're still excited. She just kept asking for more, so I kept giving it to her. We don't care much what she eats if she will eat by mouth. For now, anything is a win.

Like I say often... celebrate the little things!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

31 for 21: Heartbreaker

Tonight we went to dinner with some friends. As we were waiting for them to arrive, one of the waitresses passing through the entry area stopped and talked to Braska, going on about how pretty she is (to which Braska signed "pretty" of course, compounding her cuteness). Then a few minutes later, she came back, this time with another waitress, to show her "just how pretty" this little girl was. She kind of patted her and acted like she just wanted to cuddle her, and she said, "She's sure going to be a heartbreaker one day." We agreed with her as we smiled.

Earlier this week, a woman came across the parking lot at Aldi while I was putting things in the trunk and talked to her, saying she'd seen her in the store but hadn't been able to catch up with us. She walked over a full aisle out of the way to her car to come say hello, ask her age, and comment on how well behaved she was in the store line. I thought that was nice.

We have been so fortunate in that people have always been so wonderful when we're in public. There are stories of those who have just plain ridiculous and rude things said to them about their children with DS. I always wonder what I'd say in similar situations, and who knows how it would go. But I am grateful that to this point, we've had only good experiences. People come up to use in every place we go. It's become a game to guess and then count how many people will approach us at Wal-Mart or the grocery store. All ages, men and women, lots of kids. I'm often amazed at how bold they can be. Not inappropriately, in my book, just seemingly enamored by this little girl with pigtails and glasses. She's generally kicking and dancing in the shopping cart, because she just LOVES being in one. I can see how she would garner some attention. I'm just glad that those who would say dumb or unpleasant things have not done so within earshot.

As far as I can remember right now, only one of these encounters has been with someone who had a child or relative with DS. The rest were just people commenting on her glasses or being cute or behaving in various situations. (She is really unbelievably good in public situations. We're blessed!!) I realize it may not always be this way, but for now, we are so grateful to be able to make alot of people smile. And I have found that I enjoy mentioning, when it comes up, that she has Down syndrome. At that point, no one has said, "I'm sorry." No one has put on a sad face. They just smile and say, "Really??" with surprise. I love to see a new bit of perspective come to so many faces. Like their 3 minutes of waving and talking to Braska has somehow imprinted a new realization or possibility in their minds. And THAT is worth everything.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Quick list: Props and perspective

I really SO need to be doing other things than sitting here on the computer. So I'll be succinct...

~Thanks for the comments to the economy post. That's why I asked. I didn't mean to sound smug, I just really don't have a personal connection to this crisis that they keep talking about. As I mentioned in a follow-up comment, my family is a bunch of preachers, on both sides, and there's not alot of retirement accounts and 401Ks or 403Bs to be had in the small town church budgets, so it's more a work-and-earn situation, and they will all be working til they die, probably. Therefore, I haven't thought much about the repercussions of those elements. So thanks to you guys who shared. I'm still not panicking, but I see why there's concern.

~On a nice note--Gas is under $3/gal today here!! Woo hoo again!

~For the props... in my post on laundry, I mentioned that I do all the laundry, etc, etc. And that has generally been true. BUT I want to be fair and say that M has been SUPER helpful this past week in managing the laundry downstairs, washer, dryer, hanging, even folding!! Yay!! This is no small thing, and it deserves mentioning. Thanks, babe!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This economy stuff, are you really afraid?

This is not an attempt to be political at all... that's not my point here. I'm curious though, so here's the question.

Are you personally afraid of anything in the here and now with relation to this dropping Dow and our "failing economy"??

I hear alot about how bad things are, and I'm not saying everything's perfect, but I am just not scared one single bit. I got my quarterly statements yesterday for our investments, and sure, they're down. But I'm not concerned in the least. I won't be using them for a long time to come, it's not money that's in the accessible part of our budget, so it's like it's not even there. The markets will recover, it's what they do.

Maybe it's because I'm an optimist. Maybe it's because I was fortunate enough to be taught well about money and wise spending and saving and so on from a very early age. Maybe it's because in the last few months we've lost more than 50% of our income as a family (by our choice) and we're making adjustments to compensate. And we're living comfortably at what's considered "poverty level" for our size family.

I believe we live in a great country, and though I think there's always room for improvement, I feel like we forget about that far too easily. Would I like to have more moo-lah? Sure thing! Would I like my investments to be growing every single day? Sure. But am I afraid? Nope. Not at all. Will things get tight in our house with a new baby in a few months? Sure, but we'll make it work. That's what we do.

We're VERY blessed, and I'm not making light of that at all. I'm very grateful. I spend an actual part of my day EVERY day thanking God specifically for a whole list of things we have. From our cars to our house to our clothing to food to cable TV to computers and the internet to the ability to eat out occasionally and especially our ability to live within our means. (We had help with our house down payment, admittedly...and we're VERY grateful for that.) And I'm thankful that gas here is 3.18/gal this morning!! Woo Hoo! I like to celebrate the little things!

So I just got to wondering this morning, are people really afraid, or are they just scared because they're told they should be? What do you think?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

31 for 21: Freebirthing???

I've never heard of this thing until tonight on Discovery Health. And I can only say this from the commercial I saw... Are you nuts?!?!? Ewwwwwww!

For the record, in case I'm out of it when it comes time to deliver this kid that's baking. (And yes, the husband is VERY aware of these things.)

1. Every drug possible as soon as possible and as long as possible.
2. No mirror and no I won't reach down and help deliver my kid!
3. No baby on the chest until it's cleaned and wrapped and not sticky.

M has a few of his own...I'll let him share if he wants.

Maybe it's "in" to do the natural thing, but I don't want anyone thinking I'm in the "in crowd" if that's the case!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Random Questions, Fall 08: 3

The Random Questions process
~Choose one or all of the questions to answer.
~Either respond with a comment to this post with your answer or put up a post on your own blog for a full response.
~Don't forget to include any funny or interesting story to illustrate your answer in action.
~Be sure to leave a comment on this post to let us know where to find your post so we can come check it out!

Fall 08, #3: Blogging

1. Why did you start to blog (either your own or reading mine!)?

2. How many hits do you get in a day, if you have a blog and a SiteMeter or something like that?

3. If you lost your ability to read blogs or post on you blog today, what would you miss most?

4. What is something you've learned from another blog that you'll always remember?

My answers to come along soon!

Monday, October 6, 2008

31 for 21: Why EVERY life matters

Karen K sent me a link to a blog today. I get links to blogs from friends alot. Blogs that are funny. Cute kid blogs. DS blogs. Blogs with good music. Lots of blogs. Many of them, though, are stories of amazing families who are making the most of a difficult situation.

This blog Karen sent today is much the same as some others. The tragic story, some might say, and the strong people who are living through it. Tomorrow, this very young couple is going to meet the son they've been waiting for and loving intensely for a long time. But it will be bittersweet as they know his time with them will be most painfully short.

But here's what struck me... This story reminded me of why every single life matters. Even though this little boy will have such a short time on earth when he is visible and touchable and breathing air, he has made a difference that will NEVER be undone or forgotten in hundreds of lives. His parents' decision to grant their son life for as far as they can control it has impacted SO many people, even the doctors, nurses, and staff that have walked with them through this journey. We will likely never know how far the ripples of their decision and committment to their son will go, but people who are changed tend to promote change in those around them, and it continues, and the world is changed in the process.

This is one reason why I am heartbroken when I hear of someone receiving a prenatal diagnosis of any number of types and choosing to abort "for the sake of the baby." That life has a purpose. It belongs to a child whose existence is no accident. There is a specific reason why that baby is given, though we may struggle hard with the details of the "why" sometimes. This family was talked to about "terminating," but they knew they could not. The end result may be the same, but this child will rest in loving arms as his parents are able to cuddle him for the short time he has. His parents know this will be horribly painful, but they are doing what parents should do at every opportunity, putting the best interest of their child ahead of their own comfort or convenience.

I want to say so much more, but it's getting jumbled and poor, so I will simply say this...we may never know how our faithfulness in difficult situations affects others, but it is clear that it does. This family does not know me at all, but simply spending a couple of hours learning about their family and the struggle for their son's life has made an impression on me that will remain. Now I'm telling you, and hopefully you will find the same. Baby Isaac has made a difference, and he is just tomorrow getting to be held by his parents for the first time. His life matters.

The blog is He Will Carry Me and it is worth the time to read their story and their phenomenal example of truly trusting God with their most precious one. Many of you will identify with different parts of their story. A most touching aspect is the Dear Isaac compilation of letters to the boy from his mother. Even in a sad time, there is encouragment and hope. Real hope. I don't find this depressing at all. It is sad, absolutely. But it's that HOPE and trust that makes the difference.

Please join me in praying for this family as they take these next steps through tomorrow and whatever it may hold for them. I believe that we are shown things when we need to see them... there is a reason Karen sent this to me, and there is a reason I felt so compelled to share it with you. Don't miss out on the blessing this could be for you, now or down the road.

And hug your little ones an extra time today. Or two.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

31 for 21: Taking notice

Just another word about last night's dinner. When we were leaving the restaurant, there were alot of people waiting by the door to be seated. Over to the left was a young lady who I only caught a glance of as we passed by and dodged other people. M asked to me as we turned the corner into the airlock/entryway, "Did you see her?" I knew what he meant and said I did. I asked if she'd reacted to Braska, and he stepped back to a window between the airlock and the waiting area to try to wave with Braska, but there were too many people between.

Big deal? Yeah, maybe. But I've found it quite interesting that adults with DS, especially when with their parents, are so happy to see Braska (and us too) and they love to say hello. I am not bothered by it at all. We've had no odd situations, just really great people who have wanted to meet our little princess or simply connect with someone under that invisible umbrella that is DS. I'm always a bit amazed that they can pick her out of a crowd. Granted, I don't see the DS anymore. I mean, sometimes it's clearer than others in her face, but most of the time, I look at her and just can't find it, even when I try. I think the glasses help alot, just kind of a distraction of sorts for people. We've found that to be true, but it's not at all that we're trying to hide her. It's just always neat to me that from across a crowded room, this young lady spotted Braska and just beamed while she watched us walk by. There were a couple other kids around, but she was totally zoned in on Braska.

I wish we'd have had the chance to go back and say hello or something. I don't know how that would have gone exactly, but had I noticed her sooner, and the crowded thing not have been a problem, I would have stopped for Braska to wave, for sure. I actually had to ask M if he was sure that the young lady had DS. He said yes, but he had to look twice too. That's cool, I think. Not that we wonder, but that previous to having Braska, I wouldn't have believed that I'd ever *not* notice someone with DS, that they would seem "normal" enough to blend in. We've come a long way, and I'm enjoying the journey.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Neat new buddies

I'm wiped out, but here's the summary. Our first "blind date" for friends went well. We think they're pretty cool. Braska will tell you more. Hopefully we weren't too scary. Now I must sleep.

31 for 21: Middle of a long day

It's 3:45p, we've been home about 35 minutes. My feet hurt and I'm sore in unfortunate and inconvenient places. BUT the garage sale went pretty well, as they go.

Oh yeah, before I forget ... 11 years ago today, my husband (then someone I'd never met and only had talked to online for 6 days) drove over 28 hours from Montana to Missouri because he "just had" to meet me... time flies. Here's the rest of the story if you missed it last year.

We ended up with a TON of stuff... big stuff, little stuff, junk, real finds, and alot of it sold. Overall, the sale brought in close to $2000 total, most of that going to the brother-in-law who had the furniture and bigger ticket items, but the parents-in-law did awful darn good with their ridiculous tons of DVDs that were a big hit. Me and M did ok, as things go. I think we came home with just shy of $100, plus a car seat for Braska to use for the next 2 years (at least) in Daddy's car as a back-up and the toy that she has been loving that we've borrowed from the PT. I walked up the driveway this morning at 6:30am and couldn't believe it was sitting there. So I snagged it up quickly. Both of these were Trevor's, a friend from the in-laws' church. She and one of her friends had a sale last week, and I got a crazy good bargain on a double stroller. (I've been in denial about needing one... but I dealt with it, and now we have one.)

We had alot of traffic through there, especially for a sale this late in the year. I think it was a success. And not as unpleasant as I thought it might be. It makes a HUGE difference when most of what is there is GOOD stuff, and not just the junk we don't want. Whoda thunk it??

Now I'm trying to rest my feet for a moment, but soon it's shower time for the second time today as we get ready to head to dinner with a couple we've never met. Should be fun. M met him online at a tech-guy kind of web forum... they decided to let the wives come along too. Then, it will be BEDTIME!!! Can't wait...

Friday, October 3, 2008

31 for 21:Blank on Day 3?

I had good intentions of making good use of my 31 posts for this month, like talking about DS in an educational way, informing and helping the uninformed understand, but it's not looking promising for the next few days at least. I hope the whole month isn't going to be this crazy.

Today we spent most of the day getting ready for a big family garage sale tomorrow. Let me just state that I *hate* garage sales. I don't like to have them, and I don't like to go to them. Some seem to really have a knack for these things, but it's not me. But since we have a dear couple members of our family who really need to get rid of some big items and some who need some cash instead of junk, I thought I'd throw my stuff in, thinking it would be better to have a more substantial sale. Granted, the stuff I'm contributing is straight up junk in my opinion, for the most part. I'd have thrown it all away if I'd had my way, but my mother, queen of garage sales, decided it was worth storing it all and doing a sale. So she moved it all down to my in-laws place last weekend so we could get things ready today.

We've got alot of stuff, much of it good stuff, on the whole. But I'm not sure we'll see the traffic necessary to get rid of our things. I hope so. I'd like to see it all go. My stuff is priced DIRT cheap. I'm not in it for the money, just to get rid of things. Nothing is coming home with me. Period. If it's not sold, I'll have one of these places come get it who will sell it for their organization. I'm not loading it up and moving it again. There's even a FREE box, and it will probably be refilled throughout the morning.

So tomorrow morning, we head to South County for the fun to begin. I'm not sure how getting Braska up at 5:30 am is going to work, but we'll see. Hopefully she'll go right back to sleep, but I kinda doubt it. I hope it goes well. It's going to be a long day. But I hope it turns out that those who need to make some dough are pleased with the sale. If you're in the area and wanna come say hi.... 270 and Tesson.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Let's try this again

No nap was had by me today, so now it's time to get this kid fed and try to get a peaceful night of sleep. She's had a good day since this morning's unfortunate start. I think it's teething, it seems as we've moved through the day. We'll give her some pain meds with this last feeding and hope for rest. She did have one good nap, but I had too much work to get done to take advantage of it. Never fails...

If she gets up tonight, Daddy's on duty. She could kick him and jump on him all night and he'd still sleep.

31 for 21: Off to a great start

Braska was up at 3am in the oh-so-frustrating way she does on rare occasions, sitting up and crying in her crib. After a few tries of rocking til she was asleep and then putting her back in bed, only for her to pop up right away saying "up! up!", she went back to bed with me. As I've mentioned before, I'm not at ALL a fan of kids sleeping in the parents' bed. But when the two options are for me to sit and rock her while she sleeps or to lie down and at least rest while she sleeps, I go for the horizontal position.

She wasn't snoring, so that was an improvement over the congestion issues of a few weeks ago, but I still can't sleep at all when she's right there. I hear every sound, feel every quiver or kick, and it means no sleep for as long as she's there. I managed to get comfortable for a while, but it was short lived as I was on about 10 inches at the edge of our lovely king-sized bed. In my state of aches and pains, with Pepino constantly telling me that she is not happy with my position, this was not a most pleasant few hours, to say the least. But we made it until about 7:20am when M got up for work. Of course, Miss Slept Well While Mommy Didn't was happy, giggling, and ready to play, while I was a tad on the grouchy side.

We got up about 7:45am when her pleas to "get up" were finally heeded, and we started the day. Now it's 9:30 am, and I've changed her twice for massive puking episodes (we call them full-feed, because it's soon after her feeding and it sure looks like the whole 6 oz.), once for excessive diaper mess, and changed me once for her wetting on me while I was trying to whisk her to the tub. There are 6 wet spots on the carpet from puke/spit-up and the carpet cleaner that was added to try to help. We have two therapies scheduled today, ST this morning, and PT this afternoon. Napping is tricky on Thursdays with that schedule, so I've cancelled them for today due to her iffy situation and my lack of sleep and impatience with generally everything.

I'm sure it's just a fluke. She's not really acting sick. I think she might be working on another tooth or two. Whatever it is, it's not the way I like to start a day.

To end on a good's so nice and cool outside, that's nice.

Darn, she just melted into a crying puddle again. For a girl who doesn't cry more than a couple times a month, normally, this is disturbing..... Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

31 for 21: When did October get here?!?

Ok, I get Right. It's the 1st. But still. How did that happen?!?

Maybe it's because the last 5 months have been just about the busiest of my life so far, but this summer just plain flew. But it's ok. Fall is my favorite. I love the cool weather, the faint smell of fireplaces starting to float through the air, the changing colors (which we'll get to see more of here in MO than back in IL), and the comfy clothes that allow for hiding things. Bring it on!

What does October have in store? Of course, it's Down Syndrome Awareness Month, don't forget. Hmmmmm...what else? Well, we'll celebrate the 11th anniversary of my meeting M and being swept off my feet (give or take a trip and fall here and there...ha!), a family yard sale, there's my brother's 32nd birthday, the (hopefully) confirmation of Pepino's gender, my 35th birthday (what??????), Braska's last month-birthday before she's 2, and my mother-in-law's birthday. Oh, and Halloween. Then there's 2 doctor appointments for me, 2 for Braska, and 17 therapy appointments. I'm sure there are a bunch more fun events....we'll see as we go.

Welcome October!