Saturday, September 13, 2014

Trying to Navigate Change with Someone Who Thrives on Consistancy

I've been looking at this blank page for a few minutes, knowing I need to write something but honestly, I got nothin'. Let me go back to the beginning of the week and see if anything develops. :)

Beth and I did our usual grocery shopping. I don't know if I've ever told you what she buys. It's usually the same thing each week. Two frozen dinners, (she has certain days of the week that she eats these for lunch) fat free fig newtons, raisins, syrup, one lunchable and a Sprite (for Wednesdays when she's gone all day) the chips... that's new. I really didn't notice them when I took the picture. Hmm. I wonder why she bought those?

There is a rhyme and reason for everything in Beth's life. When she was born, they told us that we'd need to be consistent with our teaching and discipline but they never said anything about the rituals and patterns she would create over time. Course, 30 years ago they didn't know nearly the amount they know now about people with Down Syndrome. It amazes me the advances they've made.
(Beth just came upstairs so I asked her why she bought the chips. "My sister. They're her favorite." Now, Beth hasn't had these before that I'm aware of and she said she hasn't tried them yet, but that would explain it. Diana must have told her as they walked past them in the store one day. Beth rarely changes her routine. There really is reason for everything.)
Her weekly schedule is what it is and should remain that way forever. If Beth has her way, that is. But we all know life doesn't stay the same. Changes come, we adapt, okay sometimes we rebel, but we try to adapt because change is a part of life. Trying to navigate that change with someone who doesn't adapt is very tricky. It takes planning and patience. Have you ever tried to plan for change before it happens? Usually all we can do is reassure her and list the steps of events about to happen.
I don't know how many of you watch Dora the Explorer but that program presents a challenge "We must get the baby bird back to it's mother!" then lists the steps to achieve that goal: "We have to go over the bridge, through the forest and across the river! Bridge, forest, river! Bridge, forest, river!" Can I just say, this works brilliantly for my adult daughter who has Down Syndrome! The simple steps, the rhythm of repetition and the glorious goal at the end!  
A problem arises when you come out of the other end of the forest and there is a huge mountain between you and the river. A mountain that clearly wasn't on the map! When was this map made anyway? There's no mountain here! And good luck trying to get that thing folded back up again... stupid map.
Okay, where was I? Oh yea, the mountain. The rhythm has been thrown off and panic begins to set in. That's when, as a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, you have to gently add a new step, create a new rhythm and make THAT the new normal. Over and over and over.
Thankfully the only change that has occurred for her lately is the play she'll be in next week, Grease Lightening. She decided she didn't want to add Special Olympics bowling on top of that so we didn't go to the first practice. Her coach called though and said she they can use her average from last year for the couple of weeks she'll miss, so she decided to be in Grease next week, and then to go Special Olympics bowling after that.
So... Grease, bowling, gold medal! Grease, bowling, gold medal!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Overwhelmed... and Trying to Remember to Breathe

I've been thinking about this blog for the last week. I know I've needed to write and I've wondered about what to write. I started this blog as a way to help parents of kids who have Down Syndrome. My daughter is grown and...

See, even that, I just want to erase it. My mind has been jumbled lately and I've had a hard time focusing. I wrote a great post in my head the other day, while laying in bed. Then I fell asleep for the night and when I woke up... it was gone. It was relevant, current, exactly what many moms and dads are going through right now... and at the time I remember thinking it was the perfect post but do you think I can remember now, what it was about? Not even a little.

Chuck is losing his job in a few weeks. The company he's been with for 19 years is closing his department and he'll be out of work by the end of the month. He's been applying for jobs and going on interviews but hasn't received any offers yet. I know this hasn't taken God by surprise. Every day of our lives have been written by the Lord, but it took us by surprise and it's been hard not to freak out. When I let myself really think about it, I start to panic so I have to always keep in mind that God is in control and He has a plan for us.

Part of my job is event planning for our business meetings. These events are full time in themselves but I still have to make time to do my regular job. Today was our business meeting (we have 3 a year) and this week has been so stressful for me. Our linen order was never delivered so I went in on my day off and spent a couple of hours on the phone with the linen service company. Come to find out, we did put in an order, but their rep is on an extended leave and never told us, so our order has been sitting in her inbox. Thankfully the linens arrived in time. Plus the attendance exploded this time and instead of setting the room for 85, we had to prepare for 190. Just a little stressful to say the least.

Our Special Connections ministry hasn't been going as I hoped. The Lord is showing me things I need to be doing differently and I've been in a lot of prayer over that. So many additional things that I really don't think I can do. But He reminds me that it's not me doing it, it's Him working through me. We are His hands and feet and if I truly believe that, I have to let Him do His work, using me where He needs me. He will sustain me and strengthen me when I need it.

For 2 years now, Chuck has been working two jobs so I'm doing 99% of the work around the house. Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, yard work... it's become so exhausting. Day in and day out. And Chuck, some days he leaves here at 6 AM and doesn't get home until midnight. Only to be up and gone the next morning at 6:00. This last stint, he worked 13 days straight. (In fact, he's at work right now, while I type this!) So by the time he does get an evening off, he's thoroughly worn out. His second job is very part time and even if he goes to work there full time, it won't even begin to make up for the money he makes at his main job. And because he is working part time there, we're not sure he can get unemployment.

I'm trying to be careful and not get so busy that I burn out. I know too many people that can't say no and it really begins to change them. You can become bitter and angry by always saying yes so I'm truly cautious of that. I've never been one to over do it, but lately we seem to be getting so busy. Some days it seems the stress level is through the roof.

I'm trying to remember to breathe. And to stop and smell the flowers. To really take the time to enjoy what the Lord has given us. Our home, our family and friends. We really are blessed. When I think of what others are going through, single moms, women whose husbands are gone weeks at a time, kids in and out of the hospital, I know my life isn't that difficult.

But sometimes we get so caught up in our circumstances, it's hard to see the blessings.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"I Can't Believe It"

This girl...

is going to be 30 next month!
Where did the time go?!?
Even she's walking around the house saying, "I can't believe it. Ina be 30."

Friday, August 29, 2014

San Diego in the Back Yard

They repaved the street in front of our house. It's been interesting to watch cause they rip up the street like a cheese slicer. This yellow machine goes right over the top and a whole layer is gone. The dust was horrible for a couple weeks but now that they're done we can barely hear the cars going by! They used some kind of different blacktop/tar stuff and oh my word, it really cuts down the noise under your tires. It's so quiet now! For 12 years we've had traffic noise, but not anymore! It's so nice!

Beth had a doctor's appointment last week and had to go to the lab for a blood draw. This was our regular family doctor so she was used to the lab. And wouldn't you know it, the day after the appointment the issue she was having, stopped. It was gone. Of course! But we're keeping an eye on it just to be sure. :)
We have a palm tree. Did I ever tell you that? Random, I know! There just hasn't been a lot to write about. :) Chuck got it for me for Mother's Day one year. It was only about 2 feet high when he bought it and we weren't sure it would even grow. The guy at the nursery assured him it would... and it has! I love having a little part of San Diego in my back yard.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It Produces Such Emotion

Last weekend I went down to the beach to take part in a Moonlight Beach Adventure put on by our city. We are the kind of family that sits in front of the TV most evenings but since our vacation, I've been trying to get out more. Even if it's just sitting in the backyard, I want to live like I'm on vacation all the time.

At home we're busy all day, then we eat dinner in front of the TV (we only have a small breakfast nook and we all don't fit around it very comfortably) and we don't move again for the rest of the night.

When we're on vacation though, we visit people, we go to the beach, we see places we don't normally go to... I know we can't do that every night of the week when we're home, but I'm just trying to change my mindset to get out and enjoy this great city and our surroundings.

So... :)

About 7:00 one night I drove down to the beach. It's about 5 minutes from our house. Yea, you'd think I'd be there more often. There weren't too many people when I got there but it sure filled up fast! There was a diver that went down about 25 feet and collected sea life for us to look at and they put them in small pools they had on the shore.

There were docents at each pool to talk to us about the sea life. They believe this Flounder was blind because of it's blue eyes. Also, did you know that when they swim on their sides, one eye moves so both eyes are on top? I thought that was so interesting!
Then as the sun began to set, I planted myself at the water's edge and snapped picture after picture. There's just something about capturing God's creation through a camera lens that produces such emotion in me.


If I could do anything with my life, I'd be a Landscape Photographer. Sometimes I just crave the outdoors, the various landscapes, the colors.  I don't think I could ever take black and white photos because for me, it's all about the contrast in the colors.
It was almost 9:00 when I turned and headed back to my car. A spectacular night, spent outdoors doing what I absolutely love to do.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We Surprised Her Again and She Really IS a Ninja!

On the spur of the moment last week we stopped in at Little Caesars to see Beth at work. She was really busy! These stacks are wrapped in plastic and there are 50 boxes in each stack.

Here she is putting the glue on top of the box.

Then she sticks the coupons on...
And folds the top back to reveal the next one.
Once she gets all the coupons on, she then folds each box.
Behind her are the stacks that she's done in previous weeks.
After we got home, I received this text from her job coach:
"Beth did SIX stacks tonight. Wahoo!! I am so PROUD of her. She is AMAZING!"
I know I've been posting about her at work a lot lately, but she's doing such a fantastic job!
We're so proud of her!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sideways Quarters

Beth spent just about all of her money on our vacation last month and then didn't get a paycheck because she was gone... so we had to get out the change jar!

We poured out a bunch of change and separated it all. I showed her how to count and stack the coins so they would match each roll: groups of 4 quarters, 10 dimes, etc.

At first she tried to roll the pennies but couldn't get her fingers all the way in the tube. So we did quarters instead. Much better. :)

The hardest part was trying to get the quarters flat once they were in the tube. You know how they'll slip and end up on their edge, then she couldn't figure out how to get it flat again with her finger still in the tube... but she kept trying!

She stuffed them, folded over the tops and then we took them to the bank.
This girl loves her cash! One time when she was little, my mom had taken her and her sisters to the mall. My mom gave them each a nickel or dime or something to throw into the fountain. Both Diana and Sharaya threw theirs in right away but Beth looked at hers and stuck it in her pocket! :)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Resigned to the Fact That It Really Is Over

Remember the hydrangea bush I posted about a while ago? Some of you asked to see a picture of it in full bloom so here it is! I think next year I need to prune it more because the flowers are too heavy for the branches. I have been cutting them and bringing inside to fill my vases. I love fresh flowers!

Beth is still doing okay after her fall down the stairs. No bumps or bruises, thank goodness.
Here she is jumping waves at La Jolla, California.
Gosh we had such a great time in San Diego. I don't know if you're like me, but once we get home, I tend to constantly think about the trip, go over and over the pictures and just try to remember every moment! After a few weeks, I finally resign to the fact that it really IS over and it's time to get back to daily life. We just really like to travel. :)
Allison enjoying the shade.
And a bag of Cheez-its.
My dad eating a cupcake with 7 of his 11 great-grandkids.
This is Beth after she got out of the pool at the condo. Silly goose!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Long Walk

We usually buy Beth's bus pass on-line but because we were on vacation last month we completely forgot until it was too late. So we had to go get it in person.

I knew the building was at the park and ride, but I didn't know where at the park and ride. We drove around one whole lot but didn't find one open parking space. So we headed down a different lot. A very large lot.

We found a spot to park and after walking quite a ways I found a small coffee shop and the gentleman pointed me in the direction of the Rideshare store. I didn't realize there was a parking lot right next to it!

Oh well. We bought her pass and began the long walk back to the car.
Across the Bus Only entrance
Past one large lot and into our lot
Then all the way down to our car. (We were at the far end of this row.)
But she got her bus pass! One happy camper!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

She Scared Us!

Beth fell down the stairs last night.

Her apartment is in our day light basement and she had come up to get dinner. She was taking her plate back downstairs when I heard a loud grunt. Then I heard her fall, the plate flying against the wall, her thumping down the stairs... oh my gosh my heart is beating faster even now, just remembering that sound!!

By the time I got to the stairs, she was sort of sitting on the landing and both feet were up on the bottom stair, she was holding her head and sobbing.

Chuck and I flew down the stairs asking if she was okay and she just cried. She did managed to say, "I hurt my head!" The whole time I'm whispering, "Jesus! Jesus!" I was SO scared! I asked her if she hurt anywhere and she shook her head no. I slowly moved her legs down off the bottom stair so her whole body was on the landing. She was shaking and crying like I've never seen before!

I checked her arms and legs and she seemed okay so I had her stand up and we took her into her room and had her sit in her chair. Still holding her head, still crying, I wrapped my arms around her and began to pray.

She cried and cried.

I asked her to move her feet, her hands, her neck. Everything worked fine and she said nothing hurt, except the one spot on her head where she hit the wall. After she began to calm down I asked her if she had fallen part way down the stairs, or all the way... she said she couldn't remember. I asked her if she fell down on her front or if she did a summersault but she couldn't remember.

Chuck cleaned up her dinner (thank goodness the plate was Corell and didn't break!) and I went up to get her more pancakes. When I came back down, she was still crying and upset. I could tell this really scared her. She usually bounces right back from stuff like this and can often be heard yelling, "I'm okay!!" if she bumps her arm or hits her leg on something. Last night she cried for a long time.

I sent my sister a text (she's a nurse) and asked her if there was anything I should watch for as far as a head injury. Her pupils were normal, so she suggested I wake her once or twice during the night and if she didn't wake up easily, then we should take her to the ER. I did that, but she always woke up normally. In fact, one time she got angry at me, rolled over and pulled the covers up over her head!

Thursdays she usually takes a shower while I'm at work but today I told her she needed to wait until I got home. She took it while I was home for lunch and did fine. There isn't even a bump on her head tonight. That was so scary! I don't think I'll ever forget the sound of her falling.

Tonight when she came up to get dinner, she held the handrail on the way back down.