Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Seattle Trip

We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn. Two bedroom suite with a kitchen we perfect for a family of six. It came with breakfast, too, and it was close to the trolley. Unfortunately, the pool was out of order. That was a huge drawback. The hotel told us we had permission to use another Marriott's pool. It wasn't worth driving over for that. The kids were so disappointed. It was the only downer of our stay there.

The Love Magnet Loved the trolley.

Navigating the streets of Seattle from the Trolley to Pike's Placde Market.

The only way to keep track of the Love Magnet was to put her where she couldn't run.

The guys that throw fish. They kept reminding the gawking crowd that they actually sell fish, too. We had no way to store it so we didn't buy. Can you see the ugly monkfish hanging over the edge?

Thirdborn got quite adept at handling chopsticks. We were so proud of him for trying everything in his bento lunch.

Pike's Place Market

Mr. Wonderful got to meet two of my Cookies and The Scotsman. I wish I would have taped Firstborn giving his rendition of the Scotsman helping his daughter tell the story of the Three Little Pigs. He nailed The Scotsman accent perfectly.

Dinner with Cookies. Yes, those are two real, talking Cookies with me. And daughters, whom we like to refer to as Cookies-In-Training. Dinner was at Ray's Boathouse. Amazing food!

Riding the Ducks on a cold and rainy day. The younger kids had a great time. Remind me to never do this again.

We stopped at Snoqualmie Falls on the way home. Taller than Niagra Falls? Hard to tell.....

Mostly togetherness at Snoqualmie Falls. Firstborn stayed in the car. He sprained his ankle in Seattle. Walked all over downtown. Hobbled up and down hills. He had it with walking.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Road Trip

Road Trip with the entire family. I love road trips. I love seeing new places. I love looking at small towns, passing farmland, driving over bridges.
My kids think I'm crazy. They do not like road trips. We don't have a DVD player in our van. They have to resort to such old fashioned thing as books on CD, iPods, and silly car games.

At one town, we forgot to gas up the car. I was worried that we would get stuck in the middle of nowhere, with Mr. Wonderful hiking off to find a gas station.

Good thing we found civilization before that happened.

We traveled through gorgeous mountains.

We traveled through snow. Snow?! In March?!

Finally making it to a place of beautiful water and sky.

We met up with friends from The Flat Love Magnet Blog. Remember the Alice In Wonderland uberfan? We think she is uber cool.

And my BFF from BYU? Yeah, she is and always will be a kindred spirit, queen of all things trivia, supergeek of everything books, and forever known as The Pirate King aka The Laundry Faerie.

Along with Captain Midnight, we thoroughly enjoyed a massive feast, including the wearing of feast bibs. Except for Firstborn, who was too cool to wear a feast bib.

The Love Magnet took advantage of the good nature of The Laundry Faerie and stole from her plate.

After a long day of travel, and a very good dinner, the Love Magnet settled down in a strange bed and refused to sleep.
Firstborn and Secondborn gave visual proof that they could actually get along (when there was no one else to play with).

In a magical city with an odd homage to aliens..........
to be continued........

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Make your life better

Tammy and Parker at Praying For Parker asked everyone to share a list of ways they make their life better. Find their list here.

Here's mine:

Teach your kids how to cook.

Read your kid's favorite book and have a book discussion.

Crochet or knit an afghan big enough for two.

Take a batch of Pepparkakor and Warm Cinnamon Milk Mix to your neighbors. I know it's a Christmas recipe, but I like it all the time.

Plant a garden. Let your kids choose a veggie seed packet they want to try.

Volunteer for Special Olympics local to you area.

Date night with your spouse every week. Even if it is just sending the kids to bed so the two of you can watch a movie or going for a walk.

Turn off the radio in your car and listen to the peace and quiet.

Set your table with cloth napkins and place mats.

Set aside one night a week for family night. Turn off the TV. Play games. Discuss matters important to your family. Do not answer your cell phone.

So......what is your list?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Evening at the Park

It's not often that The Love Magnet and I go to the park without her brothers. They were busy doing boy things with their friends and did not want TLM to join in. She felt frustrated and unloved. So off we went to the park for some girl time.

I love her her hair picks up static on the slides. When she's done her hair stands straight up.

Of course, she has to test out all of the slides. Multiple times.

A new skill this year - learning how to pump on the swings. Usually she likes to ride on her stomach like Supergirl, but I wanted her to try it this way. She thought it was just okay.

On the way home she stopped to smell the flowers. She wanted to smell the flowers in every single yard. I got her to settle on smelling the flowers in just a few yards.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Down Syndrome isn't all of who she is. But it is a very big part of her. It has become an incredible part of our family.
She has taught us how to forgive others by her own example. She holds no grudges.
She hugs everyone.
She says thank you for everything - her gratitude is immense.
She constantly says "I Love You". Those words never grow meaningless.
She finds joy in the simplest thing on a daily basis.
When she is angry, she doesn't hold onto it for long.
She doesn't care what your ability or disability is.
God blessed us the day The Love Magnet came into our lives.
Happy World Down Syndrome Day. Celebrate by eliminating the 'R' word from your vocabulary. And hug a person with Down Syndrome this week.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sweet Saturday

$240 worth of cereal. I paid $59. Love couponing on a Saturday morning. This will hopefully last us 6 months (remember I have 2 teen boys. Hmmmm, maybe three months.)

Discovering the bulbs I planted last fall are blooming. I love Saturdays when I have time to do something besides studystudystudy.

Discovering that someone has been messing with my camera. Makes me laugh on a Saturday.

Watching the inaugural launch of Thirdborn's go-kart. He made some great memories with his daddy this Saturday.

Why the salute. I have no idea. Just my kids being goofy on a Saturday evening.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Something you don't often hear about in connection with Down syndrome - alopecia.

The Love Magnet is losing her hair again. When she was 3, she looked like a little Japanese warrior with a top knot and not much else. The children's hospital had us start applying Men's Rogaine (the women's formula isn't strong enough, we were told.) They also showed us the research on alopecia. 1/3 of the population will have their hair grow back with no help, 1/3 will have it grow back with the help of treatments like Rogaine, and 1/3 will never have it grow back. Doctors do not know what causes it. Just tag it as one of the many side effects of having Down Syndrome.

The Love Magnet's hair grew back after many long agonizing months.

I can remember thinking "Good grief. She has Down Syndrome. Does she have to have another whammy on top of that?" (No, I was not saying this to God. Just to myself. Just a little pity-party. I don't think I would have thought much of it if she had been a boy. But girls.......well, you understand, right?)

A few months ago I started noticing that it is happening again. My daughter is losing her hair at the hairline. Rather odd, as alopecia usually starts with dime sized spots on different parts of the head. TLM's hairline just recedes. It makes it hard to use hair-pretties like barrettes. I wish I could keep hairbands on her head, but it is so odd shaped, and the ears are set so low, that I've never found headbands that stay on her head.

So I bought another supply of Men's Rogaine. She faithfully reminds me she needs her hair meds just like she remembers every morning to take her "neck" meds (for her thyroid, actually). I try to curl her hair, or do girly things with it. Can't braid it or pull it back - it makes the hair loss too obvious. It's bad enough on one side now that bangs don't hide at all.

At least she is healthy. Maybe I should try hats? I wonder if she would keep hats on for more than a few minutes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Those Leprechauns will NOT get away this year!

Mr. Wonderful helped The Love Magnet build a leprechaun trap this year.

The only working leprechaun trap in the 1st grade. Follow this demonstration: the leprechaun wanders along........sees the gold.....gets excited.......runs to the gold......runs into the nearly-invisible trip wire....and.........

Down comes the trap!

After we patent this trap, we'll start selling it on Etsy so you, too, can trap pesky leprechauns.

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Randomness

The Love Magnet has drawn with a black marker all over Secondborn's calendar, yearbook, bed sheets, wall, shelves, and carpet. This was beyond Picasso moments. This was full out vandalism. I guess I should be proud that she wrote her first and last name over everything? The school psychologist told me that I should be thrilled that TLM was studying "cause and effect" - that the same marker would draw with the same consistency over all those different surfaces.

During today's IEP eval, I found out that one of the goals for my daughter is to reduce the number of call out's to 4 per hour.
"What is a call-out?" I was clueless. I had to ask.
Apparently, every time someone comes into the classroom, The Love Magnet has to make a big deal, call out their name and welcome them to class. She also calls out to her classmates across the room. When she is told to whisper, she can't manage anything less than a stage whisper.
And this happens MORE than 4 times per hour?!
Yes. Apparently much more. The classmates take it in stride but it really is disruptive. My daughter, the social butterfly, refuses to let anyone go unnoticed.
God bless her teacher for her patience.
Secondborn is getting very excited for his first JV basketball game. Unfortunately it starts while I am still in class. I wonder if I can sneak out of class? Just 15 minutes early? As a proud mom, I cannot miss the debut of my son's basketball greatness.
I had to head to the high school last week to pay $187 for Firstborn's two upcoming AP tests. I also brought him a Subway Chicken and Bacon sub with Chipotle sauce. How does my child repay me for this kindness? He tried to leave with his lunch and no gratitude for me. So I held out my arms, quite obvious with my intention that he needed to hug his mom. He didn't hug me. He leaned. As in "I don't want to hug you, Mom, my friends might be watching".
Next time he had better hug me. Or no Subway.
Thirdborn attended his first Monster Truck Rally. It's something we would never take him to. But a friend had a birthday party and Thirdborn was invited.
Thirdborn came home with a checkered flag signed by all of the drivers. He had trucks in his eyes, toy trucks in his hands, and nonstop narration of every single agonizing second of that truck rally.
What does he now want to be when he grows up?
A scientist who will invent personal hover cars that everyone can afford. Oh, and to cure Down Syndrome, Mom.
Whew! I was worried there for a moment.
My parents left this morning for Uganda. Please keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Gratitudes

This past week, as I participated in clinic observations, I got to see a session involving voice/fluency problems. Patients needing this service usually have overworked, hoarse voices and need help with relaxing, healing, and learning how to use their voices more effectively. I was completely enamored. Other than the 20 minutes of a yoga relaxation exercise, the session included exercises I taught my voice students for 10 years: how to relax the vocal folds, throat, and jaw.

I came home incredibly excited about this new part of an SLP's practice that I had never considered before. Also, I felt pulled in two directions. For the past 6 years that I knew I wanted to be an SLP, I also knew that I wanted to work with people who have intellectual disabilities. Now I had found a desire to work with clients who have voice/fluency issues.

As I talked (and talked and talked....) to Mr. Wonderful about this incredible session I was so excited about, I also admitted my frustrations in the questions that kept buzzing around my head. Should I specialize? Which one? What about grad school, is there somewhere else I should go besides where I am currently studying? As usual, I really wanted Heavenly Father to tell me His plan for me and whether or not it included my studies towards SLP certification.

Mr. Wonderful listened patiently and waited for me to wind down (and that takes a lot of patience. He's done it for almost 19 years. I keep telling you, that man is incredible!) Then he pointed out, why not specialize in both? Decisions did not need to be made RIGHT NOW (obviously, I have no patience. It will take me a lifetime to learn.) I can still gather information and ask questions (a professor, whom I haven't met yet, just returned from a conference which subject was voice/fluency problems and corrections), and then get another blessing to help us (note that he didn't say me, but pointedly said us), before we make any decisions. And wasn't it wonderful that I had found a profession that I was so passionate about.

Then during datenight last night, he listened again, as I went on and on about the possibilities of what voice/fluency is and the knowledge I already had stored for that, while I tried to converse without being so rude as to point my chopsticks or flip sushi in his lap. (I wish I could be that attentive when he talks about engineering or physics. I try, I really do.)

So, gratitudes for such a wonderful, patient, and attentive husband. Gratitudes that I found a new part of my SLP program that I am so excited to learn more about. Gratitudes that we can afford tuition and books (and tuition will be going up next semester, ugh.) And gratitudes for decisions that do not have to be made right now.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Letter To You

My sis-in-love asked for some information for a lesson she was giving to the Young Women in her Ward. I ended up writing a letter to them and to all of you. Please feel free to pass it along.

Dear Kimberly, Young Women, and Blog Readers,

I have an incredible 7 year old daughter. She is smart, funny, and a wicked Wii player. She loves to read, talk on the phone with her friends, and host parties. She loves to dance. Oh, how she loves to dance!
Does she sound like you?

She also has Down syndrome.
The week she was born was one of the most spiritual of my life. It was like have 7 days of temple experiences. I can't share all that happened - it's too sacred and close to my heart. But I can share this: through priesthood blessings given to my daughter and myself, we know that my daughter has been sent here on a mission. Her calling is to be a teacher to every person with whom she comes in contact. She teaches patience, understanding, how to slow down and find joy for simple things, and unconditional love. We also know that she was sent to our family, not because we are an amazing family (we definitely are not), but because we needed her.

The instant she was born, I lost my immunity to the 'R' word. I"m sure you've heard the 'R' word used as a substitute for the word 'stupid'. As in "Oh, that was so retarded! I can't believe you did that." "This class is so retarded" "Don't be such a retard". "I'm so retarded sometimes." It was a word I knew was wrong and was never in my vocabulary. But I didn't really hear when others used it. I was immune. Yet, when my daughter came into my family, the 'R' word became offensive and I heard it everywhere. the word retarded means slower, to delay, or impeded or delayed progression. Not stupid. Yet that word is used in place of stupid, and it is a an insult to my daughter and ever other child of God who has an intellectual or developmental disability. It has become so offensive that there is a grass-roots campaign to remove it even from medical texts. If you say the 'R' word in my presence I will ask you to change your vocabulary. Many times, the person saying it doesn't realize how offensive it is to many people. My daughter is not stupid, yet that word perpetuates the idea that retarded and stupidity are synonymous. They are not. If you say the 'R' word, please, please, PLEASE stop. Better yet, pledge to stop and spread the pledge to others. You can find the pledge here: http://www.r-word.org/.
People like my daughter are referred to as a person with a disability. She is not the Downs kid. She is a 'girl who has an intellectual disability'. Referring to the person first and disability second is called People First Language. My daughter's disability is only part of who she is.

I want for my daughter the same things you want for yourselves. I want her to associate with friends and have all the experiences typical girls have. But that is hard. She has only once been invited to a birthday party outside of family and our Down syndrome community (she loves birthday parties as much as she loves dancing). Rarely is she invited to hang out with other girls her age. People just don't think to include her. I worry about when she becomes a teenager. She'll want to go to the movies with friends. Will anyone think to embrace her in their group? She'll want to date and go to school dances. Will anyone ask her out? She already wants to do what she sees her friends do. Everyone sees her disability and not the person she truly is. Or they might be intimidated by her looks, the way she speaks, or her mannerisms. They are missing out on getting to know an incredible person. Her spirit will astound you, but you can't see it if you don't gather up your courage and get to know her.
Don't know what to do or say? not sure how to handle a situation with her ( or any other person who has a disability? Ask! Please ask your questions. If you are afraid of offending me with a questions, go ahead and tell me you worry about offending me and ask the question anyway. Most parents will agree with me here. We know some things will just sound awkward. It's okay. I want you to feel comfortable around people who have disabilities. All of your questions will help you to grow closer to my daughter.
My daughter's nickname is The Love Magnet. She will hug you. She will cheer when you win a Wii game, even if she has lost. She will notice when you are sad. She also has feelings of sadness, frustration, and inadequacy. She knows when she is being snubbed although she doesn't understand why. She knows when people are teasing her and she will tell them "That's not nice!"
The Love Magnet is the bravest person I know. She has been in and out of hospitals and doctor's offices. She has never cried over having a shot or bloodwork - she will hug the doctor or nurse and tell them not to feel bad. She has endured open heart surgery. She shows new doctors where to put the stethoscope and even warms it up for them before they use it. She knows what to do with blood-pressure cuffs, otoscopes, and oximeters. She endures therapies. She is on a first name basis with pediatricians, cardiologists, rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and developmental therapists. She gets tired of all the "-ists" the way you get tired of homework overload. See? Yet another something-in-common you have with my daughter.

Someday my daughter might be......anything. I wouldn't dare put a limit on the potential of a daughter of God. Heavenly Father has constantly reminded me that his plan is the best plan. this plan involves putting teachers among us. People whom we normally wouldn't listen to because they don't look, act, or think like our expectations of what a teacher should be.
Teachers like my daughter.

God bless you all,

Mom to The Love Magnet

Sunday Gratitudes on a Monday

My family. This past weekend we were together for one last time before my parents head off to Uganda. Imagine all fo us singing a special musical number in Sacrament Meeting. In four-part harmony. Singing a song that was the theme song of my granddaddy. I found out this past weekend that my Granddaddy L used to sing "Have I Done Any Good" to wake up his children.

Big Sunday Gratitude to my family. Another gratitude to my parents for teaching us how to sing (and entering us in all those ward talent shows, even if we didn't want to).

It was really hard to drive home last night. I didn't want to leave.