Friday, December 24, 2010

A very Merry Christmas Eve

It’s been a good day, though long.

We had a family Christmas today, just the 4 of us. Maybe I’ll get around to posting about that soon. ( I do miss the blogging thing, I don’t mind saying. )

It’s really pretty tonight, as we go to sleep.  It snowed all day today and left a beautiful blanket on things.  Not too much to deal with, but enough to be fun to watch fall and nice to see around.

These are pics of my front yard and my back, right now, 11:43 pm. No flash or added light than what you see.  And no, I don’t live in Alaska.  But I do live in the city, and though it rarely gets really dark, it’s generally not quite like this.  City lights plus snow equals pretty amazing night views.

We head a bit south tomorrow morning bright and early. Christmas at the in-laws’. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Free is good

(We’re still in the midst of the station break. But I must fulfill my duty to Shutterfly. They gave me free cards, after all.)


There it is, your sneak peek at our Christmas cards.  For those of you privileged enough to receive one to actually hold in your hands and enjoy, you’ll see that there is also more of the cute and clever inside.

Now don’t you wish you’d have joined us for the Happy Bloggy Holiday card exchange??

Thanks, Shutterfly, for the great bloggers promotion!

Friday, November 26, 2010

We now pause for a station break...

I keep thinking I'll catch up. I keep thinking I'll somehow get time to sit down and write about some of the things I want to document or think about "outloud."

But it's not happening. I'm not managing everything like I need to. So for now, we're gonna give Just RK a break.

I am going to step away from my computer and the addiction that has apparently absorbed too much of my days. I'm not going to chuck my laptop or anything, but I have to get out of the "I must blog about that" mindset that is always in the front of my mind.

I'm also going to clean out my Google Reader subscriptions. I'm going to have to make some tough choices there. I'll not be removing everyone, of course, and those of you who have become more than just a random blog somebody-out-there will not be lost, don't worry. But the choosing...That will be PAINFUL because I kind of have a thing about keeping up on everybody all the time. But it's not possible. And most of the people I have been following for years don't even do much blogging anymore, so I don't think many blogs will notice that I'm not around very much.

And no, I'm not on Facebook. The point is LESS time online, not more.

So I'll check in here or there, and I will post when I can, but it may be a while. I will try to keep up Braska's blog, and I promise to get to her IEP stuff, which several of you have asked about.

To make it easy, make sure you are over there in the "Followers" bunch or sign up for email subscriptions so that you don't have to check in and be disappointed when there aren't new posts, but you'll know when there is something new to read.

Have a great holiday season, friends.

(The Happy Bloggy Holiday card exchange will still happen, so if you are interested, you can still sign up. We have a few on the list.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Elmo loves cupcakes

My someday-she-will-be-a-sister-in-law Cheryl has found quite a fun new hobby/side job in cake decorating. She makes some pretty neat things, as shown on her cake blog. When it came time to do Braska’s birthday cake, I thought it would be fun for Braska and I to go to Cheryl’s place and do something fun with all her tools and tricks. (Check out Braska’s narrative of her part of the day.)

I decided on Elmo largely because he is still one of Braska’s favorites, and I figured it would be pretty easy. Cheryl found some neat pics online and we collaborated a bit to come up with our final design. We went with a cupcake cake plan, and I think it was the right choice.

First, it should be noted that I was supposed to bake the cupcakes and take them with me when I went down. I also picked up some items at Hobby Lobby to help the process be a bit easier…especially with the dark icing coloring. And I found come cute Elmo paper cupcake cups. But I found that I didn’t have proper cupcake tins. So I was going to borrow them from Cheryl. Thursday evening we were at Cheryl and Ethon’s for Thursday Night Football and I took the stuff for today so I wouldn’t forget. I’ve been VERY forgetful lately. She laid out the cupcake tins for me to take home. After I got home late that night, I realized something.

I forgot the tins at her house.

So last night I decided I’d just use my disposable-type muffin tins and do a few batches of baking to get the needed amount. But as I opened the cake mix box, I realized something.

I forgot the Elmo cupcake papers at her house, too.

Not sure why I took them in with the other items, but I did. And I left them there. And she lives 30 minutes away.

So she generously offered to do the cupcake baking portion of the task last night as well. She rocks.

Unfortunately, getting Elmo-red icing is tough. We knew this. I thought I was prepared. I was wrong. So I had to make a run out to Michael’s to get some prepared red icing to help our batch of homemade. I left Braska with Cheryl and ran just a short way to nearby shopping and Michael’s. As I pulled in to the space in front of the store, I realized something.

I forgot to grab my purse. I had no wallet or means with which to pay for my purchases.

I turned around and went back to Cheryl’s, ran in and got my purse, and returned to Michael’s to get what I needed.

This is getting ridiculous!

In the end, we made it through. We brainstormed a little of this and that, and the end result is great!

Here’s a few views in different lighting and such. My only contribution is the letter cupcakes, and I just did the white and the red lettering. I found out I am VERY rusty in my cake decorating skills. Cheryl did the little color sparkles, though they were just about my best idea of the day, I think. They made a huge difference, we agreed!

Way to go, us! (But mostly Cheryl!!)

Tomorrow’s the big day!!!

40 years

Happy Anniversary to my parents. 

40 years!

Congrats Mom and Dad!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fastest week. Maybe.

This was a crazy busy week. The good part is that it seems to have flown by. The bad part is that it seems to have flown by!  I wonder why….


My sister and her husband moved into a new house last Sunday.

As they both have very busy jobs, and I’m largely more flexible (as long as I can juggle the girls) I have been helping with unpacking and receiving deliveries (though not with 100% success…thanks Home Depot).  I managed to get the kitchen somewhat usable and looking like it should, which is important, I think, because they are doing renovations in much of the rest of the house.  So chaos is king over there.  I thought if the kitchen felt a little more like a home, it might be nice.  Of course, they’re going to be ripping out the whole kitchen and re-doing it next year, but for now, it’s doing it’s job.

I’m glad they got to enjoy the Bears win last night in some semblance of comfort, even lit their first fire.  (The living room is almost done.)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping and doing little jobs for them this week.  It’s one of the few ways I can return all the generosity that they have shown us.  And I like home stuff!  (Though I admit I’ll be excited when it’s all done so we can once and FOR ALL get the new floors clean and free of sawing and drywall dust!)

They are hosting Thanksgiving next week. Brave ones!


As you may have seen in the previous post, my brother Jody and his wife had a tiny little girl this week.  She was expected to not show up for a little while longer, so that was a surprise situation that she made her entrance a little early.  She’s doing well, and I’m guessing they’re going home today if all is on schedule.  My girls have loved looking at their new baby cousin, Arden Mae.  Braska was even sittting down to go tinkle before her nap a while ago and was chanting to herself, “Baby Ardie Mae, Baby Ardie Mae” over and over.  Kinlee told me at lunch, “I have new baby cousin. She’s Arrrrdie Mae. (sounded like a pirate when she said it.)”  Then she quickly said, “Other cousin is Xander Boo.”  (Which is the ONLY way she refers to her cousin on the other side…Grandma C’s pet name has stuck!)  I reminded her she had one more. She thought for a moment and said, “Yeah!  Shay!”  That girl has quite a memory, and ability to call it up when needed.


Julie has been home this week, waiting out the 10-day waiting period here instead of in Dashlyn’s country.  She and Madelyn, her teen daughter, are heading out this Saturday to return to get Dashlyn. (Wonder what my girls will re-name her?!)  It’s been totally divinely planned that the timing was just perfect for her to be here this week.  She was able to back me up more than a couple times with school pick up and such, and that freed me up to be at Rach’s when I needed to be. 

I have to do a better job of not taking her for granted!!   It is SO nice to have her and her bunch so close and always available and WILLING to cover my mini munchkins so often.

Jack will be joining us again for school days starting Monday. My girls will be VERY excited about that.

I CANNOT WAIT to meet the precious Dashlyn!! She will be home in less than 2 weeks if all goes well!  Hooray!!!


Braska’s going to be 4 on Sunday.  I’ve once again completely slacked on the birthday situation.  I started a post over 2 weeks ago that was supposed to be a 2 or 3 part update, but it still sits.  I can’t make my brain work properly to organize all the thoughts to do a thorough job.  I need to get on that, though.

She and I are going to Cheryl’s house tomorrow to do some fun cupcake cake decorating to prep for her family (one side, anyway) party on Sunday afternoon. (Check out Cheryl’s cake blog here… some neat stuff!)


Now it’s time to stop putting off the catch-up that needs to be done around here since I’ve been working elsewhere all week.  The girls are sleeping, which is what I’d like to be doing as well, so I best take advantage of the time and at least get the kitchen back to ship shape!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Welcome, Arden Mae!

My brother Jody and his wife Skye had a lovely little girl this morning. Arden Mae. 5 lb 14 oz.

It's surreal seeing my (younger) siblings get to be adults. Means I must be one too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas card exchange??

Do you do Christmas cards? How many do you send, if you do? Can I be on your list? Smile

Anyone interested in doing a Christmas card exchange? I’d be happy to organize a list of addresses to share. How fun would it be to get bunches of cards next month to have a physical piece of each of our blog buddies in our homes for the holidays?!? Spread the word…invite your friends. The more the Merry(er) Christmas! (You do NOT have to have a blog to participate.)

Copy and paste the code below to post this button on your blog!

Leave a comment on this post if you’d like to be included and CLICK HERE to send an email with your snail mail address!

Leave your blog link here so we can see who is participating!


Can it actually BE that time already??

I don’t know why I’m surprised every year by the first Christmas decorations that show up in the stores. It all sneaks up on me.

My anniversary. Braska’s birthday. Thanksgiving. Christmas.

Four of my favorite dates, all in the last 8 weeks of the year.

Because I’m caught off guard every year, I have fallen out of the habit of doing Christmas cards. I want them to be a regular thing. I want to send them and I want to receive them. It’s a huge part of the tradition of the season to me.

So what better way to be prompted into acting early than to be offered 50 free cards from Shutterfly? Why would I be gifted this lovely opportunity? Just because I’m a blogger. So if you blog, you can get hooked up, too! I know many of you already have, because I’ve seen your posts.

I’m debating which direction to go with the plan. Should I go simple and just use a family picture?

Should I do a family shot with some fun pics of the girls, separate and together?

Or I could go with one photo and a little message, all bundled in a nice flat card… no unnecessary opening and closing.

So many options (and there are TONS more, of course). If I don’t get my rear in gear, I might have to resort to doing the growing-in-popularity New Year’s cards.

(I have to admit… I really like the pic-a-month deal, though!)

Shutterfly has ranked high on my list since a couple years ago when M did a photo book from there for Valentine’s Day. It’s still one of my very favorite gifts.

So I’ve got to get going and choose my design of Christmas cards. Then to decide on the pictures. From literally thousands taken in the last year. Oh dear.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The teens

As I was looking through pictures of our wedding the other day, I found one that kind of tickled me.  It seems like it was so much more than 10 years ago, and yet—like everyone says—it somehow seems like only a few months ago that they were this age.

Randa's Wedding13 (2)

I’m the oldest of 6 kids. These are my two youngest siblings, Ryan and Julia, at my wedding, waiting in the back of the church before they walked down the aisle as ring bearer and flower girl. 

Pretty snazzy little ones, don’t you think?

But look at them now… still best buds.


Ryan’s 19 and a sophomore in college in Oklahoma. Julia turned 15 on Thursday and is already picturing life “on the outside” after she graduates.

Both of them were born after I’d left home, Ryan during my freshman year of college and Julia after I’d graduated from college.  So I haven’t really been around for their growing up as much.  Maybe that’s why it just amazed me to look at the picture from the wedding and realize it was just 10 short years ago.  “Short years” to me, almost half a lifetime to them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

If you have a cute baby…

I just saw an internet ad for a baby photo contest.  The last line read…

“If you have a cute baby enter now!”

Here’s the thing about that: I’ve seen plenty of babies and kids in my time who were, in the words of a friend of mine, “unfortunate looking.” But there’s not one of their parents that doesn’t think they are “so cute!” 

Isn’t that the way we’re set up?  We’re built to think our kids are adorable because they are OUR kids.  Makes sense to me. 

But it makes me wonder if photo contests shouldn’t be designed for non-parents to submit cute kids.  That might narrow the field quite a bit, make life easier for those who are making the first round cuts.

Sorry, my brain just thinks like this sometimes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One Decade. Check. Bring on the next one.

It was 10 years ago.  The day we walked down the aisle in Salem, Missouri.  The day we committed to spending our lives together. 

Randa's Wedding5-edit-couple

We promised each other we’d be around for better or for worse.  And we’ve had both.

We promised each other we’d be around for richer or for poorer.  And we’ve had both.

We promised each other we’d be around in sickness and in health.  And we’ve had both.

We made promises that day that have taken every ounce of determination and sheer stubbornness not to give up on.

But we made it. 

And I can say without a doubt that I’m better now than I was then.  Than I’ve ever been, actually. I’m a better person. I’m a better wife. I’m learning how to be a better mother each day. 

Heck, I think we’re even better looking than ever, too!


For all the doubt and the challenges that these 10 years have brought, I hold no resentment. I refuse to be bitter. I refuse to let the enemy have one ounce of control in this area.  We fought hard, with each other, with ourselves, and with mountains that stood in our way.

Because if I had not traveled the path I have, I would not have this testimony to share. 

Thus far, the Lord has brought me.  I am where He has placed me, and I can know that for certain. Life does not have to be fair, it does not have to be all light, music, and fluffy clouds.  It rarely is.  But I know that my God has never left me. He has never failed me. And though I do not know where my next steps will take me, I know this.  If my steps are on HIS path, I need not worry about what is to the left or to the right. I need only keep my eyes on HIM.

So this anniversary holds special meaning for me.  It celebrates 10 years of marriage, but more importantly, it celebrates 10 years of watching God work miracles, provide for my every need, carry me when I couldn’t walk, and bless me over and over and over.

And what’s most wonderful is this…

We are on the brink of so much more.  The Lord is setting up the prime situation to show HIS Glory once again.

The future is exciting to me.  I have moments of trepidation, for I do not know what it will bring.  But I have learned a great deal about trusting God lately. I’ve come to understand more about what it means to believe God.  Really believe Him.  And I believe with all my being that He has my best interest at heart always, that He can see then end of the story and knows that it’s GREAT, and that He delights in me, whether I walk, crawl, or stumble on my journey.

So happy anniversary to us…and celebrate with me as I look to what awesome blessings the next 10 will bring our way.

Thanks for 10 years, M. Stick with me, babe, and we’ll accomplish great things!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I won a new kitchen!

Ok, that might be a fib… but wouldn’t that be SO nice?!?

I do kind of FEEL like I have a new kitchen, because my “eat in” kitchen that has never been used that way because we’ve not had a functional arrangement that included a table and chairs for more than a year, almost 2 actually, has the ability to host a family of 4 for dinner.  How novel!
downsize (24)

This was my goal to get done while M was out of town for a couple of days. The girls like it, they like to be able to climb into the chairs, and we did a test run of coloring to initiate the table back to real use.

There are pictures of what the kitchen/”waiting room” used to look like in this post.

This table has been with us for over 10 years.  And it was purchased for $10. With the chairs.  Not a bad deal at all.

Granted, there are a few extra screws in the chairs to hold them together and keep them more reliably stable.  It’s not really all that appealing to look at, but it holds items and four people, and that’s all I’m really in need of.

We had this table and chairs in our dining room in C-U for years.  Yes, we had a full dining room back in the day. Separate from the kitchen.  Officially a place to eat.  And it was quite large, in reality.  But did we use it?  Nope.  I think we may have eaten in that dining room 5 or 6 times in the 6 years we lived in that house.  Amazing. 

At one point, the dining room became my office when I still was working and running a business from home.  Then  it was the gym for a while, with the treadmill and weight bench in it.  Because really, we might as well use it for *something,* right?

So today, I reclaimed this table that had been in the basement for 2 years since we moved here. 

The plan had been to use it downstairs as a game table, but that never really happened.  And I had planned to buy a new table and chairs for the kitchen area when we bought this house, but the MUCH smaller kitchen than I was used to made it harder than I expected to find something that would work.  When all else fails, go with free.  So I brought up the table, and there ya go.  It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than not having anything at all!

Now…will we USE it?  Stay tuned…

Friday, November 5, 2010

Speaking for their little sister and so many more

These two very neat videos were done for a PTA project by a 9-year-old and a 2nd grader who have a 2-month-old sister with DS. I’ve recently come to know of this family through one of the forums I frequent. I think the fact that they wanted to do this for their project is wonderful, and I’m happy to share them for you to enjoy as well.

(Two embedded videos below.)

Kinlee-isms #2

Braska started crawling down the hall following a ball she had kicked. (Side note…she is supposed to be crawling some for core strength per her PT. She still walks, don’t worry.)  Kinlee said, “Braska’s kicking the ball. She’s crawling!”

Our fave lately…After we left our Fall Festival at church on Sunday night, Kinlee was chattering in her car seat about this and that. She stopped for a moment. Then said simply, “I need chocolate.”  M and I started to giggle but before we could reply she said, in the same calm, matter-of-fact tone. “I need veggies.”

With Jack here, Kinlee’s got another party to announce play-by-play for their actions.  I walked into Braska’s room for a diaper change for all three, and Kinlee said, “Mommy!  Jack’s jumping on Braska’s bed!” 

There are three car seats in the van since Jack is with us when we’re out going to school and such while his parents are away getting to know Dashlyn.  They’re all the same but two are pink and one is blue. When it’s just Kinlee and I, while the kids are at school, she always climbs in the van and says, “I sit in Jack’s blue seat.”  I tell her that’s fine, but she can’t sit in his seat when he gets out of school.  She says, “Ok. I sit in this pink seat.” (motioning to the seat next to Jack’s)  “Braska in this pink seat.” (motioning to the seat by itself.) “Jack sit in blue seat.  And Mommy drive a car.” 

Kinlee peeks out of the playroom and says, “Hi Mommy!”  Then Braska shuts the playroom door and leaves her sister in the hall.  Kinlee looks down the hall at me and says, “Braska shut this door!”

I don’t think I’ll have much trouble knowing what’s happening and who is doing what with Miss Play By Play around.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fun at the tire store

Kinlee and I are at the amusement park that is Dobbs Tire and Auto. She has a couple of toys, including her web ball, and the rows of stacks of tires are great for running around. Thankfully the only other person waitng is a grandpa who is amused by her.

I had our regular state inspection on Monday and they mentioned the tires were in bad shape. And since I am carrying three tots (counting our favorite tagalong Jack) several times a day, it is not something to put off. We knew they were due but hadn't kept a close eye on them.

I am choosing to be thankful for this downtime instead of upset about the unplanned expense and schedule change.

I am thankful that there is a tire store with a great deal going. And I am thankful that it is right next door to the school. And I am thankful that even with all the car buying and selling and expensive repairs we have had to do to cars we no longer own that we still have funds to pay for needs like this without incurring debt.

Be thankful!

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Apria Schmapria

I'm not one to publicly rant on a particular company, as a rule. And I won't go quite to that extreme here, but come on... Apria drives me NUTS! I try to be polite, and I am never rude, though I can be a bit firm after talking to the 7th person on that one phone call, saying the same thing every time...but I always acknowledge the person I'm talking to and understand they are not solely to blame for the problems. I go in hopeful each time... Today I'll get someone nice, and knowledgeable, I'm sure of it.

We have gotten our NG tubes, extension sets, syringes, g-buttons, etc, etc, etc, from them for years. They were the only option we had on our insurance. But I can NOT tell you how many times the bills have been wrong. (Well, I can, actually...EVERY time. Literally. I have them if you want to see.) Duplicates get sent that weren't ordered, then I have to battle to get them to accept them back or write off the charges. I call them regularly to tell them HOW to rebill and fix what they've done, and yet it's continually wrong.

How can a company who is supposed to be a pro at this stuff be SO unable to efficiently and correctly manage simple orders and insurance billing?!? And how many families are paying bills that they THINK they owe, because Apria (or any other provider) is billing them for things that are just plain done wrong?!?

I have a background, a decade of experience, with insurance billing, coding, medical processes and requirements for authorizations and precerts. I get it. I know it's confusing, but I'm tired of doing THEIR job for them.

How do parents do this that don't know the ropes? I feel so sad for them, the frustration that they must deal with when they get EOBs and communications that make no sense.

Ok, so this kind of turned into a rant, but seriously... get a clue. Ramp up the quality. And provide someone on the other end of the phone who has the slightest idea of what you do as a company in the first place.

My favorite interaction today...

Him: Can you tell me the po box number for the insurance company?

Me: blah blah blah with the address...Salt Lake City, Utah.

Him: Ok..(repeats the po box) Lock Lake City, Utah.

Me: No. Salt. S.A.L.T Lake City.

Him: Oh, Salt Lake City, Utah. Hmmm.

As I said to my husband earlier...

If you don't know what Salt Lake City is when you hear three words before Utah, you have no business being in a position to receive address data.

Maybe that's harsh, but that's after a phone call that took 15 minutes (with no hold time in there) just to give my new insurance info. And I have a VERY common insurance plan. I repeated everything about 5 times. There was definitely a language barrier, and I don't think the person on the other end of the phone was in my time zone. I can have great service with both of those circumstances from other places, don't get me wrong. Just not this time.

So yes, today I have officially changed DME/home infusion providers. Thank goodness for
that chance with our new insurance. And get this... my pediatrician's office is faxing our info to them at their intake office. When I called, a person picked up the phone. And the fax number is LOCAL because their intake office is here in the StL metro! As is the distribution center. Gasp! Here's hoping it's MUCH better.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Slowest blog day of the year

Apparently everyone keels over after 31 for 21 and can't post another single solitary word! November 1 has to be the slowest blog day on the calendar, at least if you're in my Google Reader. I've been amazed all day at the peeks onto my iGoogle Homepage with my handy-dandy Google Reader widget (no, I am not getting compensation for this commercial) bringing no new posts from anyone.

Sure, there have been one or two. But after getting hit with like 80 items in the Reader every time I checked, over 300 a day, it seemed sad today to have a lull. Not that I had time to really read, but still. It's comforting. I admit my addiction.

For me the day was about "the trio," safety and emissions inspection, need for 4 new tires, diapers x3, naps x3, and lunch x3. Throw in phone calls regarding an update on the recent IEP, scheduling the yearly review from the regional center, setting up an interview for a part-time job I haven't even been looking for but that found me (we'll see what God has in store with that...), the eye doctor calling back to say that we are, in fact, probably looking at eye surgery for Braska (more on that later, when I know a bit more...and it's still a "probably"), and attempts at dinner and pathetically minimal household straightening. It was quite a day.

But we made it. It's just after 9pm and I want to crash. But I'm going to go put on my Joy FM 99.1 (again, not a paid endorsement, just a friendly recommendation for good input) and clean my kitchen with at least a respectable effort. Then I still need to do my Beth Moore study homework and at least sort the laundry so it's ready for tomorrow.

Oh darn it... I just remembered I didn't finish the license plate renewal. Already a day late. Guess I'll start with that. Thank goodness for online options.

I hope everyone else's bloggy breaks are allowing for more relaxation!

Naptime 11 . 01 . 2010

Usually “Naptime” posts are just pictures, but I’m loving this too much not to share the backstory.

Today is the first day of the “trio” days. Jack is here with us from before school to after naptime. The girls are LOVING it, let me just say. Jack is having fun, but the poor guy is just about henpecked already. I tried to be a bit of a buffer, but he is quite enough boy to take care of himself, too.

School drop off and pick up went well. I didn’t rush, just let it go as it went. (That’s new for me…I’m learning!) Lunch went well, and the kids played some before nap. Jack was VERY excited to get to Skype with his mommy and daddy before nap, though it would have been more fun for him if I had my webcam so he could SEE them. But he chatted and smiled a lot.

And can I just say, I’m still pretty impressed with the tech availability in the world. It’s neat that I can just push a button, “call” Julie over there in Far Away Land, and we chit chat like normal. (Except Allan was listening, so I didn’t talk about him like I usually do. tee hee. Hi Allan!!) And they are in the future! (7 hours worth anyway)

The kids went down very well, KiKi first, then Jack and then Braska. Jack decided he’d try out Braska’s bed, so I’m staying close to make sure he doesn’t flop out or something. But he snuggled up with Elmo and his blankie and snoozin’ came easy. (He gets TWO pics because his mommy needs as many as she can get to hold her over…)



Now, for goodness sake… I need to take advantage of the quiet and get something done!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

31 for 21: The bigger bugs


The girls are way more what you want to see….trust me.  Click over here to see the rest of our day.

And Happy Birthday to the best mother-in-law I’ve got!

(I kid!!!  She’s good.  I’ll keep her.  And she knows I love her even when I tease.)

And congrats to all of you who hung in for 31 for 21 for the whole month!!  Continue the awareness, people!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

31 for 21: A bit more about feeding Braska

There are a couple more things I wanted to touch on, and I thought that Cate’s question regarding this post was an excellent place to start…

I totally hear you on patience. It's hard to go at someone else's pace. Do you have something to do while she's eating? I read your post thinking that it would be good knitting time. That's my choice for something that makes me feel like I'm not just waiting, but I'm still engaged and paying attention. (Thanks for the input and the question, Cate!)

One of the most difficult parts for me right now IS the waiting, but it’s a different waiting. Braska can feed herself with a spoon, but it’s very slow and she will only do one or two (rarely) bites at a time. And remember, we’re talking purees here… yogurt, mashed potatoes, blended meals…things that fall off the little spoon easily.

So there is a lot of guiding, assisting with proper hand position so she doesn’t drop the spoon, helping her get the spoon back IN the little bowl, etc.

One more clarification… at this stage, I do NOT blame the DS for her feeding issues. I don’t consider this a “DS thing.” She is so far past even the delays that can be typical-to-extreme for DS that I now don’t even give DS the credit for her issues. Yes, it was initially the heart defect that interrupted feeding progress, and yes, her very low tone plays a significant part, but I believe, and some of her caregivers agree, that at this stage, she is dealing with a combination of issues that outweigh the “kids with DS have feeding issues sometimes” philosophy.

Working with Braska on feeding is a very active task, yet with a lot of breaks, though they are short.

For instance…if she starts out with a blended meal of meat and veggies, she will usually—when prompted a couple of times—pick up the spoon and put it to her mouth. She doesn’t always get it in her mouth fully, but she’s getting better. But because her fine motor/hand strength is SO lacking, she has trouble even managing the spoon correctly and then moving her wrist around to get it in the right place. This is really work for her.

So after one bite, she will leave the spoon in the bowl. If it were up to her, she’d sit there for hours before she’d attempt another bite. Hungry or not… and she really doesn’t even register hunger in a realistic manner anyway. So I can prompt her to try again, “scoop and bite” as we call it, and SOMETIMES she will do it again. Mostly she will just look away and ignore me.

I generally will take over for a bit, feeding her, and she accepts the food relatively well. We wait several seconds, if not 25 or 30 sometimes, between bites. I reload the spoon right away and hold it out in front of her, ready for her to move toward it and open her mouth. But there’s still the waiting. She needs the time to clear her mouth and be ready for the next one. I offer the next bite, and she will either take it or she will say, “Nofankyou” in her oh-so-polite-but-not-budging manner. Then we either try another something, like offer a bite of yogurt instead of her “entree” food, OR we attempt a drink.

Drinking is a more difficult situation. She does not like to take sips. And when she does drink, that’s all it is. It’s very much an art to getting the cup held/tipped in just the right manner so the milk is at the rim of the cup, because when she opens, you have about 0.0003 seconds to get something in there before she closes again. Occasionally she will be more willing to accept a little, but mostly she prefers not to mess with a drink at all.

And yes, we’ve tried every cup, bottle, straw contraption, and other possibility out there… I’ve got boxes of barely-used items to show for it.

Once she tires and won’t cooperate to assist with the meal any longer, I take over and feed her the rest. This doesn’t mean that she’s suddenly happy, like she got her way not having to feed herself, she STILL doesn’t want to eat. But she is getting much better about accepting food by mouth when I feed her, and her pace is picking up.

So you can get a picture of how it goes. It’s not really feasible to DO anything in the midst of the process because I’m always doing something even if there are little tiny pauses. She is not in a place where I can be near but not involved.

Very rarely, in the morning, when she’s eating yogurt—her favorite thing, if there is such a thing—she will feed herself 6 or 7 bites over several minutes while I’m preparing Kinlee’s breakfast. But it will always come to the point where she just won’t/can’t continue, so I help her finish.

Now let me be clear about something important… This process I describe is frustrating and hard, it’s taxing on her and on me, but we are FAR ahead of where we started, and though the going is slow—VERY slow—we ARE…SHE is… making progress, and I’m very glad about that.

But I hope this helps you get a picture…where she is on the spectrum of “feeding issues.” Many kids have problems with feeding, and the issues vary greatly, but when someone says to me, “Oh, I get it, feeding is hard. My kid will only eat grilled cheese, spaghetti, fruit, or crackers, and just drinks milk all the time,” I understand the frustration, but I have to chuckle a little inside, because we are still YEARS from that level. She still does not know how to chew. Period.

Each challenge for each kid is real, it’s a hill to overcome. In this particular area, our hill is just really long and steep.

But she’ll get there… if I can just hang on for the ride.

Friday, October 29, 2010

31 for 21: Kinlee-isms #1

Kinlee is a talker. If you’ve spent much time around her at all, you’ve gathered this. At 20 months, she is continually surprising us with her conceptual understanding and use of her language. I don’t want to forget where she is at each stage, so I thought I’d jot some down for documentation purposes.

These are things she has said in the last couple of days… no words added. No word tense changed. Phonetics used when she has her own little pronunciation.

  • I want to eat cereal.
  • Mommy’s eating turkey.
  • My foot hurts on temp-a-chure. (She had stuck the digital thermometer down her pajama leg, and she was stepping on it.)
  • My daddy go to work.
  • Braska’s diaper 4. KiKi’s diaper 3. (Diaper sizes, with the number on the front.)
  • I running around, Mommy.
  • Purple octopus in da book.
  • I ready get in the bed. Bunny, blanket, bink, please.
  • Mommy cook some noodles please.
  • My yogurt suh-tack-uh-ler! Thank you Mommy! (Spectacular is a fave lately. Thanks to Sesame Street’s Word on the Street.
  • Go to park wif Daddy? (I responded that we would have to see what Daddy said when he got home from work.) She replied: Ok, I ask him. (And then repeated that constantly for the next 20 minutes…) I ask him. Ask Daddy go to park. I ask him.
  • I found it! I found my cup.
  • I see da white airplane! (Pointing out the car window at a plane.) It’s right dair Mommy! Look a sky!
  • Mommy change a diaper. (With sz 3 diaper in hand.)
  • Mommy I hungry for some peanut butter jelly.
  • I want chicken rice lunch. I cook it too.
  • And her most regular request: I want to go to Jack’s house!

Of course she also spends a lot of time singing “Twinkle Twinkle” and her ABCs. She knows all her letters (upper and lower case), her numbers 0-10, her colors, shapes, and animals/sounds. She’s a big fan of her bath squirters, and she asks for her “animals” when she is “going tinkle” on the toilet. She counts them all out in my hands, naming each one… whale, dolphin, walrus, stingray, crab, shark, and seahorse.

She also can recite the entire book of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? And Braska can too. They take turns with each page. It's great.

I need to get some video…she’s just crazy funny with her vocab right now.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

31 for 21: Education without alienation

I have had the privilege of getting to know some super nifty blogger buddies “in real life” (IRL if you’re a fan of the acronyms, which I am) versus just communicating through blogs and comments shared.  I could list a whole bunch of them, but for today’s purposes, I’ll highlight one of my faves.

Most of you are very familiar with Courtney, Justin, LC, and Jace and their ever-entertaining stories written in the dry, witty style that Courtney employs with ease. (And for what it’s worth, it’s not a show for the blog. That’s how she talks. It’s great.)

I’ve been blessed to be able to get to know them better since they come over here to St. Louis Children’s for a chunk of specialists for the squibs.  We’ve done dinners out, visits at our house, and I’ve been able to provide some tiny distraction from the fun of hospital stays when they’ve been here for a few days at a time.  Trust me, I am always the one who walks away more excited and blessed by the interaction. 

I’m still a tad starstruck, I admit it.  These two and their tots are really just a tad more snappy than most people, and the niceness is icing on the cake.

Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be all about my gushing affection for “ch” and her gang.  It’s about a conversation that we had last time I visited in the hospital, last month.  Most of the conversation was of a personal nature, and as usual, Courtney offered superb perspective and some good food for thought.  But the other part of the conversation was about a topic we all discuss occasionally, it seems.

When do we correct people for referring to  our “Down’s babies” or “Down syndrome kids”?  Or do we? 

There’s lots of talk about person-first language, and I’m good with that.  (I blogged a bit about it here.)I’m not opposed to speaking in a respectful manner, of course, but sometimes pushing the point can alienate those who are just trying to interact with us or our kids.  And alienating them does NOT provide opportunities for education about why you might feel it’s important to phrase things a certain way.

Courtney has done a great blog post that encompasses much of what we discussed that evening at the hospital.  She had great things to say then, and she’s sharing them here.  (Because I know a few of you read with your school-age kids, there is one PG-13 word used in a reference example. But don’t skip the article for that. It’s very worth the easy mini-edit.)

My favorite section is this…

And, in stopping you and correcting you I've established that you have to tiptoe in your references to my children.  I've implied that speaking of my children requires delicacy and careful treading.  I've implied that my children are different than most children you could easily and naturally speak about.

The bottom line is this for me…I’m not going to demand that strangers get educated and know the current PC way to say things JUST to interact with me or my children.  I am happy to be part of that education, but it takes a warm response and welcoming attitude to allow that to happen.   And as for caregivers and medical people, yes, they should know what’s considered “acceptable” but I’m still not going to pull an attitude that MY kid has to be treated with special (ahem) care in how you just talk about them in regular conversation.  If the opportunity to educate in a nice manner presents itself, then sure, I share the info with them.  But I am not going to walk around with what amounts to a chip on my shoulder just waiting for someone to have the gall to speak to or about my child and use their words in the wrong order.

As Courtney says, it’s gray and sticky territory.  I will probably always be in the minority on this in the DS community. (OR is it “community of those who have or love someone with Down syndrome.” Seriously?)  That’s ok with me. I’m fine with being on the fringe.

I just really feel like we have to watch our interactions with people and make sure that the education is happening WITHOUT the alienation taking place first and voiding the educating possibilities.

The grouchy kid.
The sick kid.
The pretty girl.
The rowdy boy.
The silly girl.
The hyper child.
The smart kid.
The happy baby.
The colicky baby.
The picky eater.
The whiny kid.
The helpful child.
The birthday girl.
The football guys.
The ballet girls.

It’s a natural part of our language to have the descriptor in front of the noun.  It doesn’t mean that what we have used to describe them is the ONLY element of their being. It’s just what pertains at that moment. I don’t think it’s fair to expect people who do not have the perspective we do to *just know* that in our particular situation it’s “not ok” to use the order they are used to.

Yes, it’s ok to educate, just don’t alienate and further isolate our community in doing so.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

31 for 21: 2 meals 1 day. Very good.

Braska took two of her meals today orally. 

What’s up? You’re just sitting there looking at the screen like nothing’s happening here.  Let’s try this again…


Braska took two of her meals today orally!  Do you get that??

She consumed, by spoon and via her mouth, enough food to count for a meal. Twice. In one day.

This is HUGE!

Has she done it before? Yes.
Can she do it regularly? Probably. If Mommy will get in gear and do it right.
Is this a normal occurrence? Nope. Not at all.

Braska CAN eat enough calories to be “a meal” if given the right combination of circumstances.  The elements are not often aligned to make that happen. Liquids are another story, but she did take almost an ounce over about 25 minutes of feeding time and 12 to 15 sips.

The news is big. But it’s really largely because Mommy set aside made the time to do it.  That’s big.

I rely on the tube because it’s no hassle, no mess, super fast, and it gets the job done.  Those are all things I like in just about every part of life.  But I know that we have to make room in the schedule to help her get used to taking in real (though pureed) food and drink.  A meal in this scenario takes about 40 to 50 minutes total.  That’s a lot of time to set aside and be available to sit and wait. Assist here and there.  Feed manually for a while.  Allow breaks to happen. And go again when she gives the cue. 

I have to reign in my disciplinarian self when she pushes the food away. I have to give her time after she refuses to take a drink for the 8th time.  I have to try NOT to speak too firmly to her when she swings at the spoon as it comes. I’m learning from the pros that this isn’t the time for confrontation.  I need to make it a good experience.  So much thought. Just to eat. (And we’re not even CHEWING yet!)

All that to consume about 6 ounces of pureed food. Tonight it was pork roast with veggies. She really likes that one.  Followed with a chaser of yogurt, always a hit.

I need to get this. I need to make this a priority. I need to slow down, even more than the “slow down” I’ve done in the past few weeks schedule-wise, and really give her the opportunity to do it.

But goodness… If you ever need to be shown just how impatient you are, and I am in no way delusional about my impatience, just try to feed a severely averse child who could NOT care less about food.

We’ll get there.  But I may not make it with my sanity intact.  Lord willing, I can hang on!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

31 for 21: Better vision

Just a quick one… Braska’s not crossing as much with her new lenses. I’m hoping she’s adjusting. She hasn’t been taking them off, either, but she is still not sitting back from her shows as much as she used to. Maybe it’s just habit at this point. We’ll be doing some unscientific testing.

But the eye center never called back. That doesn’t make me pleased. I’ll be calling them tomorrow to follow up. I’m pleased she’s doing better, but they don’t know that. And they still need to respond to calls. Simple courtesy. This isn’t like them, so I’ll check in again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

31 for 21: Trying to focus

Braska’s got glasses. We’re all aware of this, I think.

On 10/11, we went in for a visit and got a new prescription.  I was hopeful that this would help her out, since Dr. S said that it was a pretty significant change.

We ordered the new lenses to be put into her most recent frames, and they were ready for us this past Thursday.  We picked them up, and she promptly began taking them off.

Braska doesn’t generally take her glasses off unless she bumps them and can’t get them back in a comfy position or if they are really dirty and smeared.  She’s been great since day one in leaving them on.  But not this time.  It was like she couldn’t see and kept taking them off to remedy the problem. 

When she is not wearing her glasses, her eyes turn inward quite significantly, though just one at a time.  One of her issues is that her eyes don’t seem to work together as well as they should…partially due to muscular weakness.  We’re used to seeing the crossing when her glasses aren’t on, but with the new lenses, she was still crossing with the glasses on.  That’s not good.  The glasses are supposed to make it easier for her to focus so that she doesn’t have to strain to do so. It’s the straining that causes the crossing, they tell me.

So we went back to her old pair of glasses for much of the weekend because at least she would leave them on, and though they weren’t giving her the best vision, it seemed better than nothing.

This morning I called Dr. S and left a message about the situation with the front desk.  I asked that he call me back.  He didn’t today, so I’m hoping to hear back early tomorrow, or I’ll be making another call.  I’m wondering if he feels that there will be a period of adjustment as she learns to see with the new prescription. 

I asked her teachers to watch her today and see if they noticed.  She wore her new glasses to school and seemed to do ok.  They said they didn’t notice any problem.  And when she got home, I noticed the crossing was somewhat less frequent, so maybe it is just an adjustment thing.  We’ll see…

But I have to say, nothing frustrates me quite like seeing her try to look at something and have her eyes go all strange.  How confusing must that be for her?!  Vision is something so precious, and so important, and yet so fragile in a way.  It bothers me to see her try so hard just to see something the way I already see it naturally.

Then again, that’s kind of the story of her life. And she takes it all in stride.  Crazy little tough girl.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

31 for 21: Cooking for the crowd

If you’ve been around long, you know that after church on Sundays, we drive down to the in-laws’ place to watch Bears football during the NFL season.  It’s a family event, with most of the family there each week.  We take turns doing lunch for everyone, and this week it was my turn again.

I don’t mind doing it, especially since for the next few weeks afterward, I don’t have to worry about Sunday meals. 

Today we had tacos. Always a hit with M, and since he’s the pickiest one in the bunch, it works well for everyone else, too.  I enjoyed my big taco salad.  Now if only I could learn to stay away from the cute orange and blue candies that are out and available…

Don’t miss Braska’s super adorable football day picture on her blog… and I thought that kid would not be able to join in family events.  Wow. I have sure been wrong A LOT when it comes to what I thought those first few weeks…  Go Braska!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

31 for 21: Speaking for awareness

Thursday I had the privilege of speaking for the O’Fallon Kiwanis Club at their lunch meeting.  I was asked to speak to them about what our county’s community group (StC) of our metro DS association (DSAGSL) does, as well as sharing our family story. It was great timing with DS Awareness Month upon us, of course.

I was honored to be asked, even though the president of the club—who did the inviting—happens to be a certain female sibling of mine.  And it doesn’t hurt that I have a brother in the club as well.  This kind of nepotism can be a good thing.


So I prepared a speech, made up a collage (above) VERY quickly in the middle of the night before (because apparently I didn’t plan to do a handout until the last minute), and after beefing up my confidence with an amazing Bible study lesson Thursday morning, Braska and I headed to the restaurant.  '

Yes, I took my own personal visual aid.

I had also asked the interim executive director of the DSAGSL to come, to give some credence to the presentation and to class up the whole thing.  I’d not had the pleasure of meeting Amy prior to this, but I’d heard great things from several people.  And for her to take on this transition time that’s happening lately, that is not for the faint of heart.  She did not disappoint!  I’m definitely a fan.

The presentation went well, the Kiwanis asked good questions and were wonderfully gracious and friendly.  I was a little nervous at the beginning, but I felt comfortable as I got into my little speech.

Of course I went the route of writing my entire little speech out instead of just doing outline, so as not to let myself start rambling and get distracted from what I wanted to say. 

Overall, I was pleased, especially since it was the first such speaking situation in quite a few years for me.  But it was a great one to encourage me to get back into practice.  I enjoyed the whole meeting quite a bit.  And afterward, Amy and I were able to chat a while, which was really nice. 

Braska was a champ, napping for a bit on her auntie and then her uncle, but she charmed just as I knew she would.  She even shook hands with a few people, saying, “Nice to meet you.”  I knew that fun little nicety that we taught her would come in handy.

Here’s a few snippets from my part of the presentation…

  • There were a lot of difficult periods during those first few weeks. I had a hard time dealing with the combination of postpartum issues, emotional stress that comes with having a new baby in the hospital long term, and trying to learn this new way of life that goes with a diagnosis of Down syndrome and heart defects. There were some supports in place in the hospital as well as in the local Down Syndrome Network of Champaign, which is very active and an excellent resource to parents there. But this journey is one that each family has to figure out and adjust to in their own way.
  • But don’t think that I’m complaining. Let me tell you a little about my daughter... She has been the easiest child to raise thus far, though I admit just recently she’s decided to have a bit of an independent streak that’s been a little challenging.  But that’s actually good to see in her development. Braska is a very sweet, generally happy, little girl who loves her Mommy and Daddy, USUALLY her little sister, and even her dog. She has friends that she loves to play with and asks regularly to go to “Jack’s house” to see her best friend, Jackson. She has the best giggle, and can hug the stress out of me like no one else.
  • She can walk, talk, play, laugh, color, and say all her numbers as well as count to 20. She can identify all the letters in the alphabet, both in order and randomly by sight or by sign. She has been signing since she was about 9 months old and knows well over 100 signs for words. She knows her shapes, colors, and animals, as well.
  • Some of the activities that the StC group is hosting in the next few months include a trip to the pumpkin patch for the whole family this coming weekend, our 2nd annual Mom’s Night Out event at the Painted Pot next month, playgroup dates—both on weekdays and on weekends—for birth through preschool and for ages 5-12. We will be having a family event at Jump 4 Fun, as well as a seminar on how to set up a special needs trust and a workshop on school transitioning, from preschool to kindergarten or elementary to middle school. This is just a sample of what the StC group organizes during the school year.
  • Integrating into a community of new people while dealing with the changes to our life plan that can happen following a diagnosis of DS can be very overwhelming.
  • The StC group is truly a blessing. The needs that are met through the DSAGSL and specifically our local StC group are varied, but they are all important.
  • My passion at this point in my life is to help others through some of the more difficult times of this journey. If I can reassure someone that it’s not as scary as it seems to get this diagnosis, or if I can help a new mother connect with others who know exactly what she’s going through, it is very rewarding. These are some of the goals of our StC group and of the DSA.

Thanks to the Kiwanis for having us.  It was a pleasure to get to meet you all and to share our mission with you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comments: #1

I’ve thought for a long time that there is alot of good in the comments we leave on each other’s blogs. And sometimes I have bits of something that I leave on someone’s blog and I think that I should share it with others, because it’s likely to apply to more than one person. 

So I’m going to be starting a series that shares my comments.  Maybe that’s thinking too much of my own thoughts or cheating as far as blog content goes, but I think it might be interesting.  Feel free to join me in sharing your comments on your own blogs… I know many of you have left notes for me that held a lot of wisdom!

Here we go…..

Responding to this post, regarding my good friend Jen’s dream that she was offering up for analysis…

Well, dear, you know me well enough to not be surprised at this...and I'm no dream analyzer pro or anything... but if nothing else,  I'd go with the one question.  Are you ready?  If not, get that way. :o)  Then you're good to go whenever and wherever. Be ready to go, and be ready to stay. Bases covered!

As for me, I don't want to miss out on anything, I don't want my girls to miss me, but am I ready?  Yep.  100% ready. Happy to go home as soon as my HOME is ready for me. Happy to stay here with my bunch for as long as I'm needed.  Win-win!

Hugs, girlie!

Go by Jen’s blog and check out the dream and offer your own thoughts!

31 for 21: IEP 2010, Part 1

Today was IEP day.  (Individualized Education Plan—All students involved in special education have one of these.)  We moved Braska’s up a little earlier than her birthday in late November because I like it a little closer to the beginning of the school year.  It just makes more sense to me to be done with the new team soon after school starts.  So this year we’re in late October, next year maybe we’ll hit late September.  That’s probably a good time… about 6 weeks into the school year.

Anyway, after a busy day yesterday, which I’ll have to tell you about another day, I tackled the important parts of IEP prep last night.

The baking.

Yes, that’s a very high priority on my list of IEP must-haves.  In my opinion, no parent should EVER go to an IEP meeting empty-handed.  Taking goodies, be it  pastries,  muffins, or coffee cake for a morning meeting or M&M’s, cookies, or popcorn for an afternoon meeting, it’s a huge tool in making the meeting less intimidating for all involved.  It seems to allow people to let down their guard and work more as a team, as it should be.

I remember last year, when we did our first IEP process at Braska’s 3-year-old transition time, I was shocked to find that we (both Julie and I) were the first to bring food to an IEP meeting at our school.  And this is a developmental preschool… with more than half of the students having IEPs!!  I couldn’t believe it!   In all the talk on forums and blogs and DS message boards, taking brownies or goodies to IEP meetings seemed like the norm.  Everyone always said, “Don’t forget the brownies!” when the were discussing someone’s first IEP experience. 

So when I entered last year, in our first of two meetings—we did the EDM (eligibility determination meeting) and IEP meetings separately per my request—with my coffee cake, pumpkin bread, orange juice and milk, they were stunned.  I cannot tell you how excited these ladies were. It was so funny to see them talking about how they needed to find a reason to have IEP meetings each month for Braska.  Julie got a similar response when she had her meetings, just a few weeks before mine.  For my second meeting, a couple weeks after the first, I took more baked yummies and also took little bow-tied bundles of cookies for each person to take and enjoy later.

For MONTHS, and that’s not exaggerating, we would see people in the hall one or two times a week who were NOT at our IEP meetings but would say, “I hear you guys do some great baking!”  or “Can I be on your IEP team next year?  You bring food!”  It continues to amaze us how big a deal this was to our therapists, coordinators, and teachers.

I do it because it helps the meeting feel more informal.  But I also do it, and I tell them when I’m there, because I appreciate what they are doing for my daughter, that they give their best to teaching and treating her.  It’s my way of thanking them, and showing them a small little bit of pampering for a couple hours once a year.  That’s doable!  And the response is so fun, too.  How can you not want to do something nice for people that they tell others about and keep smiling about for months?!?  And it takes very little time, effort, or money.  Win-Win!

So this morning, I gathered up my muffins—chocolate chip, banana nut, and blueberry—and dropped the girls (and a few muffins, of course) off at Julie’s before the meeting.  Truthfully, I practically threw the girls into her house because I was running late!  Then I headed to QT to pick up a few donuts, for variety and color, and I also got 4 cups of 3 different kinds of cappuccino to take as well. (Caramel macchiato, French vanilla, and pumpkin spice)

I had the drinks in a cardboard drink holder, but as I turned into the school parking lot, I changed direction too quickly, and the drink holder went right over, with all 4 cups of hot drink.  I thought I was going to lose it…but I said—out LOUD, mind you—“This will NOT get to me today!”  I parked, picked up the cups, which had about half their contents left in them, and left the rest of the mess in the floor board of the van. 

As I walked into the school with my binder under the container of muffins, the donuts on top of the muffins and the drinks on top of the donut box, I passed a school staff member I don’t know.  She looked at me and said, “You’re the one!  You’re the one who brings food!  I heard today was your IEP!”  This cracked me up.  Before I even got there, members of my team were talking about how they were anticipating what I’d bring.  Awesome.

The team was very excited to see all the goodies.  The cappuccinos were a HUGE hit, even though there was less than originally planned, and everyone had plenty of yummies while we talked about Braska and her progress.

As I left, there were a few muffins and donuts left over.  I went to the classroom of Braska’s teacher last year, Miss N, and dropped off the donut holes and a couple muffins.  She’s pregnant, so she needs plenty of things to keep her day happy and her tummy full! (I took her leftover birthday cake last week, since I didn’t trust myself if I kept it at home.)  Then I went to the front office and left a couple muffins in the mailbox for our speech therapist from last year.  Both these ladies have now become friends, girls I just adore, and it’s fun to leave them a treat since they’re not officially on our team anymore.

So take the time, think ahead just a tad, and take something nice to share with your gang next time you have an IEP.  It makes a great impression, and how can helping your child’s caregivers feel appreciated be a bad thing??

Coming soon… the details about the IEP meeting.  Amazing!

(Oh, and if you have any questions about any of this IEP stuff, don’t hesitate to ask…)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

31 for 21: Anyone like Chevy’s?

If you’re anywhere near St. Charles, Missouri… OR if you’re willing to COME to St. Charles, there’s a great reason to eat at Chevy’s this coming Saturday, October 23. 


There will be a fundraiser for Dashlyn’s adoption fund at Chevy’s on Saturday, October 23, ALL DAY! 

What do you need to do? 

Just come and eat at Chevy’s!  That’s it! They will donate 20% of your bill to Dashlyn’s fund.  YAY!

This is valid at the St. Charles location on Veteran’s Memorial Parkway, near Zumbehl and I-70.

(And you need a little mini-flyer thing to give them for verification…click here to be able to print one. Don’t forget to take it with you!)  If you have any trouble, drop me an email and I’ll send the document to you.  It can take a few seconds to open the file from the link.

Julie and Allan have been given their SDA appointment in Dashlyn’s country, and they’ll be leaving to go meet their girl on 10/30.  So soon!  Woo hoo!!!!  Dashlyn will be home soon, so come on out and pre-celebrate with us and share a donation by eating yummy food on Saturday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

31 for 21: Beautiful Baby Braska Part 2

Here’s a few more of the finds from years ago…

Spring 2008. Pretty little bear… this one is interesting because she so rarely does the slack jaw thing. Especially at this stage of her life she was 100% opposed to things in her mouth, so she generally kept it clamped shut!

These were taken the same time… I posted the one below here with some thoughts that really are cool to look back on. Now the little girl I thought would be so neat is here, and she IS pretty great.

And the famous announcement shirt… the way her daddy found out about little sister… this was June 2008. She was 18 months old. Just scrumptious!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Birthday 'Observed'

I was picked up and swept away by my friend tonight. So I am enjoying Macaroni Grill with two lovely friends and loving the corvina. YUM!!

31 for 21: Birthday roses

My flowers are opening up, and I do love neat pictures of flowers.  Handy, huh?

Monday, October 18, 2010

31 for 21: Beautiful Baby Braska Part 1

Yesterday I was looking for some pictures on my mother-in-law’s computer, and as I was perusing her uniquely organized files, I came across some great ones. These are all pics that probably were posted long ago on Braska’s blog, but they’re definitely all worth bringing to the front again.  I smiled at each and marveled at what a pretty little one she was.  That she IS, of course. But her little round baby face was just too cute…

So enjoy this little walk down memory lane.

From the summer 2007, one of my all time faves. Hanging by the pool with Grandma C.
Nebraska grandman1

Also from summer 2007, with Uncle Levi. Notice the marks on the side of her face.  That was one of our worst experiences with NG tape… she still has a scar from that one.  (I wish we’d have ditched that NG a long time before we did!)

From Christmas Day 2007. Just so cuddly, isn’t she?  This was the DAY AFTER she got her glasses, and she was LOVING life.  She came alive in a whole new way. (Don’t miss the yummy little curvy pinky finger, one of my favorite little traits of hers.)

Just after Christmas 2007, with Uncle Ethon. Those blue eyes of hers are no longer as blue, since they’ve changed a bit over the years. But I love that little face… 

More to come in a couple days… 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

31 for 21: Hope for the best yet

We’re hanging at the in-laws’ place, as usual, watching the Bears beat the Seahawks. (Wishful thinking…they’re currently behind by 10.) I’ve received some pretty cool birthday cards, some homemade, all very thoughtful. One even had a panda mermaid hand-drawn by Shay.

Did YOU get a panda mermaid on YOUR birthday card? I didn’t think so!

I received a generous gift card that I promised I’d spend on myself…the inability to generally do so is apparently a flaw of mine.

And one-of-these-days-sister-in-law Cheryl made me a lovely carrot cake with some scrumptious frosting! I’ve been back on the super strict diet for a few days, with success, but it’s my birthday, for heaven’s sake, so I had cake!

(See what the cake says? Happy Birthday RK. And some of you think I'm just being coy online by using initials... )

Here’s to another year, hopefully my best yet!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

31 for 21: It’s not my birthday

Not for another 6 1/2 hours, that is. But today has felt like a birthday in a few ways.

We went down to Clayton for a grand opening of a new universal design/adaptive playground. The girls had a blast, we got some yummy and healthy lunch as a perk, and it is a Beeeeea-UUtiful day outside. Plus M got to schmooze with a few co-workers in a non-work environment. Always a good thing to show off your cute kids, I say. Thanks, M, it was a very nice outing!

This afternoon the girls and I did some shopping at Costco, and they were so good. Both in the cart without melting down. And with Kinlee on very little nap energy. I count that a win.

Then this afternoon my lovely sister Rachel came by to drop off my birthday present…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A dozen gorgeous white roses, and two tickets…for the two of us…to go see Michael W. Smith with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for his Christmas concert in December.


My favorite Christmas album ever is Michael W. Smith’s Christmas. (Sadly, I don’t own it anymore. Boo.) They don’t come any better… I cannot wait. (Though I know he’s had a few Christmas albums since, so it won’t be ALL that one, but that’s ok!) I knew about this concert, but I also knew it was out of our reach since M took me to see SCC a couple weeks ago for my birthday. So this is a super treat!! We’ll have a sisterly night out, dinner and a show. And Rach knows how to do a night out, let me tell ya. It’ll be wonderful, no doubt!

Thanks Rach!!

Tomorrow’s the day, and I’m already celebrating. Not a bad way to do it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

31 for 21: Mom’s Car Exchange

I love cars.  They’ve been a hobby of mine since before I could drive.  Not like I work on them, but I like the pretty ones, I like the powerful ones, and I like to drive GOOD cars.  I really enjoy driving just for the experience when it’s a well-handling machine with spunky engine.

But I’m practical, too.  And especially in the last 2 years, I’m also painfully frugal, out of necessity, mostly.  This creates a problem…

Last year we opted/needed to get out of debt, and the only debt we had besides our house was the cars.  Two nice cars. Cars we loved.  I mean, we REALLY liked our cars. We were thankful for them, liked driving them, knew they were going to start when we turned the key and would get us where we were going in comfort and style.  They were “middle of the road” type cars in reality, but to us, they were perfect and we seriously loved our cars, though we NEVER forgot to be thankful for them every day.

Used to be mine…
fullcar1 interiorpassfrnt
Used to be M’s…
3side 3interiorfrontdriv
In June of 2009, we sold my Altima.  We’d listed both cars, and it sold first.  It returned to Champaign, which was fitting I thought, since that had been it’s home.  We got by with one car for a while, with lots of help from friends who picked M up for work when I didn’t take him.  It worked, and it was fine. 

At the end of August, we were very blessed to be gifted a Toyota Sienna that my parents had just replaced.  It was well used but in good shape, and we were more than happy with it.  I was excited to try out this “minivan life” that so many raved about.  (And yeah, I’m a fan!)  200,000+ miles on it when we got it, and it runs like it’s only half way done.

But the truth was that we still needed to get rid of the other payment.  We couldn’t afford it any longer, and we needed to let the debt go.  We advertised the Mazda for quite a while with no real hits.  Finally in December, we found a buyer, a dad who bought it for his teenage daughter who had wrecked her car the week before.  (That kind of thing STILL amazes me, how parents can just buy kids cars…and spend serious money doing it!)

Once again we returned to being a one-car family for a few months.  M’s job was only a couple miles from home, and the friends were willing to help with the commute to work.  But in May, he changed jobs, and his commute became significantly longer.  So we needed a second car and quickly.

As the cars are my responsibility in our family system, I set out to find one.  And I found a great deal on a really nice car!  So exciting!
Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very expensive lesson.  We spent more on repairs in the first couple of weeks than we paid for the car.  And that was all just to get it to pass inspection!  *sigh*

Important lesson:  If you live in a state that requires vehicle inspection, GET THE INSPECTION BEFORE you purchase a used car from an individual.

Though I still kick myself for that situation and missing clues, the car served us for 3 months and got M to work and back. That was it’s job. That was the need we had. The need was met. So we’re still thankful for that.  In the end, we couldn’t afford to do further work that it needed, so we sold it in September for 25% of what we had in it.  Ouch.  But we were relieved to get anything, quite honestly.  And darn it, it was so pretty.  I fell for the beauty and the “good deal” instead of the reliability.

Even before we sold the Volvo, I had been looking for another car to replace it.  We wanted something very small, very cheap, and a car that passed inspections and needed no repairs.  Cosmetic issues were no concern, but it needed to be mechanically sound.  After several calls, investigating several cars, even going through a few test drives and inspections (which saved us!  The cars did NOT pass. Whew!) we opted for an Astro that was owned by someone in my parents’ church.  It was NOT what we had in mind, but it became the best choice. 

Not a bad looking, almost-16-year-old van. The interior was in phenomenal shape. (But RED!) So clean. Not worn and torn. Pretty amazing.  And a REALLY generous price for us. It drove like a small truck, and M didn’t care for that, so I took over this and M drove the Sienna.  We knew it would be a temporary situation.

The Astro has done it’s job.  It drove me a little nutty with the need to manually lock and unlock all the doors, and I missed my dual sliding doors A LOT!  But the girls and I survived, and it wasn’t that painful.  The hardest part was filling this van, as it was NOT fuel efficient at all. And it was rear wheel drive, so we didn’t want to have to deal with winter weather.

SO….. a week ago today, I test drove a car I didn’t ever think I’d be considering.  I had it inspected and it passed.  The deal was pretty good, the gas mileage was what I wanted, the seller was nice and very patient with my process, so there we were.

M’s “new” car… a 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse RS.  It’s been in the garage for a week, waiting for us to sell the van to transfer plates and get the credit on the sales tax. So today, M took his new commuter vehicle to work.

Other than evidence that the previous owner, a young lady, was not well liked by at least one person carved into the driver’s side, it’s not a bad looking car.  It’s not perfect, but it’s great for it’s purpose.  All at way less than $3K.

Once again, we’ve been provided for. Our need has been met.  We were able to do all this with cash and still have some savings left…though not as much as we’d like after all that the Volvo consumed.  

Who knows what the future will hold.  We hope and pray that the Sienna, which just rolled over 220,000, will go for a good long time. It drives really nice, and I’m SO glad to have it back today!  We hope that the Eclipse will do us well for at least a year, if not two.  We will be grateful for what we have every day.  The girls and I thank God for our cars (no matter which ones are “ours” at the time) every night in our prayers. Literally.  I’m thankful for what we have, though many would not consider these to be desirable. I think they are pretty darn great.

But for the record. I am DONE buying and selling cars.  Mom’s Car Exchange is CLOSED.