Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Gratitudes

Today is dedicated to one incredible gratitude. Something that you, dear reader, might just take for granted. One simple gratitude that has had me teary all afternoon.

Today in church, as soon as Sacrament Meeting was over, a girl in The Love Magnet's class came over and announced that she would take TLM to Primary. My daughter has never gone to Primary without adult supervision. We just can't trust that she will get there without wandering off. I was surprised at first when the request was made. I asked the girl "Do you understand that you can't leave her alone and have to stay with her until her teacher comes to sit by her?" Sweet Miss R looked at me and replied "She's in my class. I'm not going to leave her alone!"

My daughter was so excited to go. Her mantra for over a year now has been "I do it myself!" Off they went, holding hands. I let them get a distance away and started to follow. (I'm a mom. Of course I'm going to follow.)

They made it down the hallway, still holding hands, The Love Magnet grinning from ear to ear.

In the Primary room The Love Magnet was greeted by another girl who took her other hand. Sweet Miss R and Sweet Miss L sat down on either side of her and the three were talking animatedly about the Primary activity the day before. (FYI: We learned by accident at the activity yesterday that fog machines will set off the church smoke alarms which brings the fire department. We also learned how to herd over 100 children out of the building without a mishap. It made for a very memorable Primary Activity Day.) Two of the boys seated in front of the three girls turned around in their seats and joined in the conversation. The Love Magnet took part in all off it, asking and answering questions and laughing at descriptions of the fire truck.

I was trying to peek unobtrusively through the back door of the Primary room, tears in my eyes.

My daughter was a part of the group. Not a project. She was just another child having a great time with her friends. These children saw my daughter, not her disability.

I can't even write this without dissolving in tears!

To watch my daughter participate in a typical, simple interaction is such a milestone to me. I am so grateful to these families who teach their children kindness. I'm thankful that I would witness such an event and understand it as one of our Heavenly Father's tender mercies. It was a blessing, a simple assurance in my heart that our Heavenly Father is very aware of each of us and watches over us. Nothing is too small for Him. He was very aware of of my emotions and knew how thrilled and thankful I was. He understood. I truly felt His love.

Next week when sweet Miss R comes to walk with The Love Magnet to Primary, I won't follow. I do, however, reserve the right to peek through the window of the Primary room. I want to see it happen again.

And again.

And again.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

She takes after her mom

The Love Magnet just singing her heart out. Made her mom so proud! Reminds me of another 1st grader making her mom so proud while singing her heart out to the tune of Dixie 33 years ago. Remember, Mom?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mama's In The Kitchen

Dressed Up Salmon Cakes Over Field Greens
Main Dish – Fish
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook
Servings: 6
Posted by Scarehaircare
May 30, 2009

Notes: Very tasty. It made more than six servings but I didn’t adjust the nutritionals to reflect that. Mr. Wonderful suggested to add horseradish to the herbed mayo to give it a bit of kick. I would also sub plain fat free yogurt for half of the mayo next time. Original recipe called for twice the amount of ingredients I listed for the herbed mayo. It didn't take much to top each cake so I cut that ingredient list by half. Be sure to pass around wedges of fresh lemon or lime to squeeze over the salmon cakes.

2 1/2 Cups red potatoes, chopped
1 Cup onion, finely chopped
1 Cup baby carrots, chopped
1 1/2 pounds salmon, skinned and cut into 1" pieces
1 whole egg
1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, tarragon, or majoram
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 Cup bread crumbs
12 cups lettuce or spring greens mix
olive oil spray

Herbed Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or dill
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 Cup light mayonnaise
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice

1. Place potatoes, carrots, and onions in a large covered saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until veggies are tender. Place salmon on top of veggies, return to a simmer, and cook for about 7 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Drain in a colander.

2. In a large bowl, mash the drained veggies and fish with a potato masher until thoroughly mixed. Add the egg, mayo, mustard, and fresh lemon juice, zest, herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and 1/4 Cup of bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly.

3. Spray grill pan with olive oil spray. Heat pan oven medium heat. Shapes fish mixture in to 6 cakes. As you finish each one, sprinkle with bread crumbs on both sides and carefully place in pan.

4. Fry the cakes about 4 minutes on first side until golden and crisp. Flip the cakes and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the ½ Cup mayo, chopped herbs, and lemon juice. Set aside for topping salmon cakes when they are done.

5. Dress salad greens with a couple of sprays of your favorite salad dressing. Top with salmon cake and a spoonful of herbed mayo. Serve immediately

Cal: 346, Fat 10g, Sodium 760 mg, Fiber 3g, Protein 28 g,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

So many things to think about...

My mind has been running full steam lately which tends to make me forgetful of other things. I apologize for forgetting my Sunday Gratitudes list. I spent the weekend wishing I was in Utah so I could help my mom decorate family graves. Memorial Day was spent planting a garden (and wishing I had inherited Grandma's green thumb) followed by a barbecue with some wonderful friends we've made here.

As for what is occupying my mind (beyond housework and homework) has been my kids. I've been jumping through the hoops require to get The Love Magnet registered for Medicaid so we can get extra therapies this summer. Since it won't be ready by the end of school, I had to ask for her to be included in the school's summer program. Last year's experience with the school summer program was not a good experience. She ran away multiple times a day and they never read her file to know that she is a wanderer. Not once did she come home with papers proving she did something constructive that day. And she lost a lot of her skills. Once Medicaid is approved, I hope she'll be attending a local learning center for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. It just seems like a better fit for the summer.

(Oh for the days of innocence when I never gave a thought to Medicaid applications, insurance, my homework, the kid's homework, getting dinner on the table, keeping the laundry somewhat in check, when I had no more responsibility than to keep my room clean and be sure to come home when my mom told me to. .................. Never mind. Mr. Wonderful is too wonderful to miss the days before him. And my kids warm my heart.)

I've also been gathering paperwork and filling out forms for a learning center to help with Thirdborn's learning disability. He has done so well this past school year and I really want him to build on that rather than losing skills overs the summer. The center for him is insanely expensive. The tuition will be paid out of our family vacation fund so this year's vacay will be somewhere within driving distance or else canceled. The learning center will be worth every single penny and more if it helps my child.

On a much brighter note, everyone is healthy here. We still have a job in this economy. Food on our table. Clothes on our backs. Clean water. Dependable electricity. Good neighbors. One mortgage. Learning programs available for my children. The opportunity to go back to school.

So many things for which to be grateful.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Field Trip

Hey Love Magnet, wake up! It's field trip day. Time to get dressed, brush teeth, comb hair, eat breakfast and....

Ummm, Love Magnet....?

We made it just in time for the bus. Off to the Botanical Gardens. What a gorgeous, sun-shiney day! Apparently too bright to open your eyes....

The Love Magnet tried to listen to the science lecture about roots and stems and leaves and fruit and flowers. Then her attention wandered off.... the mention of flowers. These purple ones were right over her head.

Back to the science lecture. It was getting too long for her when they started talking about seeds. Good thing they brought out exploded seeds to eat (popcorn).

Everyone was getting wiggly by then.

Some of the garden tour was about flowers and native plants.

Then we were given the chance to look for toads.
Found the eggs! It looks like a necklace.

Found the toad! Can you see it?

After the toads it was time for the science hunt. The Love Magnet loved having her very own magnifying glass.

Looking for seeds, flowers, bugs, rocks.....

....and sticks.

Holding worms was fun....until it started to squirm around. That was just too much. To her credit, the Love Magnet did not scream and throw her worm the way other kids did.

She just let her other friends hold the worm for her so she could keep looking.

Riding home, The Love Magnet did not want to sit by her mom or her aide. She is much too cool for that. It was hard to get her to stay in one seat as everyone wanted her to sit by them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Products I Love -

Children who have Down syndrome often have a hard time understanding social behavior. They do not do well in reading body cues and often need extra practice is basic social skills. Elizabeth Verdick has a wonderful series of books called Best Behavior Series that we checked out of the library. Among the series are the books: Words Are Not For Hurting and Feet Are Not For Kicking. The books have a section at the end for parents, caregivers, and teachers to help them approach the subjects in a fun manner.

Theses books are not meant solely for kids with disabilities but as a help for all kids who are learning the ropes of proper behavior. The drawings are simple and it is easy to judge the feelings of the children in the book by their facial expressions.

My daughter has had problems this past year with saying bad words to teachers and classmates, kicking, pushing, and otherwise doing things that first graders are supposed to know are not acceptable. It has been hard to know if she understands that the behavior is wrong and why there are consequences. I was really worried that we weren't getting through to her until we found Ms. Verdeck's series and started to read them every night before bed. It made a difference. The Love Magnet has had great success with these book and now often tells her own friends "Words are not for hurting!" when she hears them yell words that are not appropriate. That shows her progress right there. We're taking the books back to the library and purchasing our own copies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009



Just had word that our Utah house sale has finally funded and we are no longer land barons. No more paying for two mortgages. We are now the proud owners of one house!


Grades are out and I earned an A- in Stats. That puts my GPA at a 3.8. Does an A- still count for straight A's? The person with the highest grades in the family gets to pick/plan the family vacay. Secondborn won last year with straight A's. I told him to watch out this semester. Excuse me while I do a happy dance......

Thirdborn - future pilot soon to be flying your plane.

Sunday Gratitudes (on a Monday)

I'm grateful for airplanes that save me from a 16 hour car ride with 4 impatient children. I can handle 4 impatient children for three hours in a plane. My apologies for those who had to ride with us.

I'm thankful that my nephew was married in the San Diego Temple. That place is absolutely beautiful. The sealer who presided over the ordinance was a joy to listen to. He sounded (and looked) like a Hawaiian version of Colonel Sanders from KFC. He also knew many of the same people Mr. Wonderful knew in Hawaii.

I arranged to meet one of my Cookies while at the temple. Barbara took time out of her busy schedule to meet me on the grounds while the picture-taking was going on. It was so fun to see her. I'm grateful that Mr. Wonderful and the kids were able to meet her, too. I wish we had the entire day to talk rather than the half hour or so.

My kids had a great time in San Diego. There wasn't any time to do Disneyland, Sea World, or even Legoland. But they did get to play with friends, swim in pools and the ocean, see seals at the ocean,and collect shells. I'm grateful that they were able to spend the time doing this with Mr. Wonderful and his parents.

According to Thirdborn, the best part of the trip was the very last second. He wants to be a pilot. When this was discovered by the airplane crew, they escorted him into the cockpit at the end of the trip to show him all the gadgets and gizmos and let him be the one to switch the plane off. Thirdborn was beside himself with joy. I'm grateful that this crew would take the time to do all of this. Thirdborn refuses to take his wings off that he was given by the copilot.

I'm grateful to come home to my own kitchen. Get ready to cook. Tonight I'm making a southern banana pudding for a belated Family Home Evening.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Documentary: UP SYNDROME

These are two parts of the same documentary called Up Syndrome. You can find it on You Tube or at Trisomy Films. Please take a look. You will love Rene. One of these days I would love to meet Duane Graves and Rene Moreno and thank them for such a positive piece of work. Oh, and please make more. I want the world to see the Up in Down syndrome.

Before you watch the excerpts, please be sure to turn off the soundtrack I have. Just scroll to near the bottom. You'll find it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Gratitudes

Thanks, Mom, for loving me even though I was a blue-and-hairy-rhesus-monkey-looking-baby. I'm sorry for the grief I caused for being three months premature. It wasn't entirely my fault, though. My twin sis is partly to blame.

Thanks, Mom, for being so proud during my first and completely unintentional solo in 1st grade (Tommy was supposed to sing with me but got stage fright and stood there with his mouth hanging open and no sound coming out). I can remember you being proud of me and making me believe that I could do anything.

Thanks, Mom, for being enthusiastic when I wanted to make Stone Soup, start a St. Lucia tradition in our family, learn the art of dancing with poi balls, and all the other fun things I brought home from Miss Morgan's 2nd grade class. You encouraged my enthusiasm every time I learned something new.

Thanks, Mom, for helping out with election posters when I ran for class officer in 8th grade. You had great ideas and I felt like I had the best posters.

Thanks, Mom, for getting after me about bad grades and bad boyfriends. You were right. Enough said about that.

Thanks, Mom, for attending every single performance of my senior musical, all of my choir concerts, and my senior plays. While I'm at it, thanks for the help on the very best hats and costumes. Thanks for making sure I didn't get sick before performances.

Thanks, Mom, for giving me a should to cry on through frustrations, disappointments, confusion and the toughest time of my life. I know you didn't understand. That is okay, I didn't understand either. But I made it through.

Thanks, Mom, for making my wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, helping to pick out cake and refreshments, stringing who-knows-how-many white Christmas lights on trees, and making my wedding wonderful. I hope you can forget any attitude I gave.

Thanks, Mom, for being there when I needed help doing laundry, scrubbing floors, and catching up on the dishes. Thanks for not judging me when you saw that my bedroom was full of laundry waiting to be folded, the kitchen floor hadn't been mopped in weeks, and that my kitchen table had oatmeal cemented on it from who-knows-when. You did not say one word of "I taught you better than that."

Thanks, Mom for helping me to figure out how to mother a of a baby/toddler/child/preteen. You were very wise. Of course you were, you practiced with 7 kids.

Thanks, Mom, for being there when I had to go through an emergency C-section. I know that Heavenly Father sent you to my hospital room the next morning to be there when the pediatrician announced that The Love Magnet had Down syndrome. Thank you for asking the questions I didn't know to ask. I'm so very grateful that you were there and that I didn't have to face that information alone.

Thanks, Mom, for being willing to serve a mission in a place you never expected to serve. I lived vicariously through you as you experienced Africa. I have since learned a new a deep gratitude for the simple things: clean water, a warm home, public schools, decent medical care, honest police, and a steady income.

Thanks, Mom for always being there for me. I hope I do just as well with my own children.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

It happened! It really happened!

Remember this?

The Love Magnet has been hoping to lose a tooth. Begging people to pull a tooth out so she could be like all the other kids in her class.
You can read about it here.

Last night when I came home from school, my daughter told me she had a loose tooth. I had heard it so many times before that I didn't believe her. Finally I reached in her mouth to show her that there were no loose teeth.......and there is was. On the bottom front, a very wiggly tooth. I was afraid that she would swallow it when it fell out. What if it fell out at school and she didn't know it? She would be so disappointed. I never thought this would happen so soon. Kids with Down syndrome get their teeth in late and out of order. I thought she would be in 3rd grade before she ever lost a tooth.

Fast forward to this morning. I was helping her brush her teeth (Be careful, Mom, it's a sore loose tooth. Be soft, Mom!") when......




The Love Magnet had a shocked look on her face. She didn't know what to think about the blood and the empty feeling in her teeth. (Hence the "I'm not sure about this" look.) I got her cleaned up and had her look in the mirror. Thirdborn came into the bathroom to see what the excitement was about. We started cheering for her. We danced around. We high-fived. We tried to call Mr. Wonderful, but he wasn't answering his phone (he was in a meeting). So we called Uncle Teeth (who was our dentist in Utah) and he made all the appropriate "That's great!" and "Way to go!" The Love Magnet started to get excited.

The Love Magnet was so excited to go to school and tell everyone about losing a tooth. She told her aide, all of the other aides, the lunch lady,the music teacher, her teacher, and her classmates. They all nodded and smiled polite smiles. No one believed her. After all, she had been telling her classmates and teachers about this all school year. Finally one girl looked in her mouth...
"Hey!" This time she really did lose a tooth!"
All the kids were excited and had to look. The Love Magnet loved the attention. Everyone gathered around after the bell rang to sing the Tooth song to my daughter while I took pictures. She had waited all year for this big moment.

For some reason, she was shy.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunday Gratitudes

I am grateful for the rain and all the spring flowers. These are growing in my front yard. I have no idea what they are but I think they are beautiful. I am grateful for simple beauty in my own yard.

Aaron Barker Photography you can see his work here

18 years ago today I entered the Salt Lake Temple for the first time to receive my own endowments. I made promises to my Heavenly Father to be the best person I could be. That day was such a beautiful day. My twin sis helped me all through the endowment along with my mom and Grandma S. Afterwards, Mr. Wonderful took me on a quiet drive to talk about the covenants I made and what our future would be. (Our wedding date was set for the following week.) Now, whenever I go to the temple, I renew those covenants. I feel incredibly blessed and thankful for that opportunity.

On May 1, 2008, The Love Magnet had open heart surgery to repair her mitral valve. Last Friday we celebrated Happy Heart Day. I didn't make it a very big celebration, but is was big in my own heart. I am so grateful that she is healthy and that the surgery was successful. I'm grateful for that scar she has on her chest. I'm thankful that her doctors had the knowledge to perform the surgery successfully. Most of all, I am grateful for the strength that Heavenly Father gave my family, and for the love and kindness and prayers from our extended families, our ward families, our friends, our T-21 buddies and their families, my Cookies, and my Internet kindred spirits whom I haven't yet met. I felt all your prayers.

On a less serious note: Firstborn had his first date this past weekend. All of his friends canceled on him, including the guy who was going to drive. Poor Firstborn, he had to endure his mom driving him and his date to the movie theater. He didn't talk the entire drive. When I asked them if they were being so silent because I was there, he remarked "yeah, and this is the most awkward drive in my life." But he survived the humiliation and even had fun. And his date was darling. My gratitude here? He was chivalrous and remembered everything I taught him about treating girls.