Saturday, May 23, 2015

I Know They're Out There, So Where Are They?

Beth, Diana and I went to the grocery store recently and there were so many people that looked at Beth. As I'm walking toward them, I can see their eyes are on her. 'They probably haven't seen anyone with Down Syndrome in a while, if ever,' I thought to myself.

Then I realized I hadn't seen anyone with Down Syndrome in a while either. In fact, I hadn't seen anyone else with Down Syndrome in months! Well, that's not entirely true.

There's one man who works at our grocery store and he and Beth know each other from back in high school. He and I will sometimes talk when I'm there, just about work and his love for music.

When we were out to dinner for Mother's Day, a gentleman came up to our table and waved at Beth. She shyly waved back and I asked her if she knew him and she said, "Not really." He had Ds and looked like he was maybe 40 or even older. He told us that he recognized Beth from Special Olympics. We think he said 'Special Olympics swimming' but Beth was only 9 when she swam in SO, so we're not sure. We talked with him for a minute and then he went back to sit with his family.

So that makes... two. Two people with Down Syndrome in the last, how many months?

I tried looking up the population stats of people with Ds in WA State but couldn't find any data. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation website states, "Surprisingly, the population of people in the United States with Down Syndrome is currently unknown."

I know they're out there. There are a few adults in the All Aboard program, but not a lot. So where are they? How do they spend their days? I'm curious about where they're hiding. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mom's Always The Last To Know

Beth's social group All Aboard recently moved to a bigger facility. They've been painting and getting things ready for the kids this week and have been posting pictures on facebook. Since Beth doesn't have a fb page I asked her if she wanted to come take a look at all the photos.

We spent about 10 minutes in front of the computer looking at all the pictures and she pointed out all her friends.

She then heads back downstairs and Diana comes home from work. I start dinner and Diana's checkin' her phone when she yells, "Chickenbutt?!?" (That's the pet name her and Beth have for each other. It really is a term of endearment for them!) Diana runs downstairs and I can hear her and Beth talking for a few minutes.

Diana comes back upstairs and kind of whispers to me, "Did you know Beth has a boyfriend?"

What?!?

"Yea. She was just telling me about him. N sits next to her while they're at All Aboard."

Really?!

"And he holds her hand."

Seriously?!?

"And according to her text, he's kissed her on her head."

Her and I sat up here looking at pictures of all her friends and she never once mentioned him!!

Diana says, "Of course not. You're the mom!"

Beth sent me a text today telling me her score and how she did at bowling. I texted her back and told her that Diana had told me about N and I asked her if he was there today and she wrote back, "Yes crazy mothera!" That was all she wrote!

I came home from work today, she never said a word about him.

We went grocery shopping, still nothing!!

Beth has always wanted a boyfriend and now that she 'might' have one, I don't get to know about him?? Ugh, she's killin' me!! :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Hard Stuff About Having Down Syndrome

This blog was started as a way to share what we've learned about Down Syndrome and I know I haven't been writing too much about it lately. But that's because our lives are just... our lives. Down Syndrome isn't always the focus anymore because I realize we're the ones with the issues, not Beth.

There was one day recently where the speed at which Beth lives was really frustrating me. We were at the grocery store and I told her I had a lot to buy and only a short time to buy it so we were gonna have to hustle. She got her cart and I got mine. As we're shopping I'm thinking about everything I need to buy and crossing things off my list... We get to the cashier and she begins 'helping' me pull my stuff out of the cart, one by one by one. I took a deep breath and realized she really was moving as fast as she could. Faster than her normal speed. So I thanked her and moved up to pay the cashier. After I paid I moved out to the aisle to give her room at the cashier. She hollered at me, "Hey!" really loud and it made the cashier and bagger laugh. I told her I wasn't leaving yet and that's when she asked if she could get some cash back. I helped her through the process and then we left.

As we're headed to the car she tells me, "I really hustled, huh?" She was so proud of herself and yet I had been so focused on getting everything done that I hadn't really noticed. But she really DID move fast in that store. We left the house, bought a lot of groceries and were on our way home again in just under an hour. I put my arm around her and told her that I was proud of her. That she did great!

So, I'm finding that a lot of the stuff that makes having Down Syndrome hard, isn't always because of Beth. Too often it's because of me. I'm the one that makes it hard.

I'm impatient. I'm frustrated. I have a short temper. My expectations are wrong.

Beth lives her life happily, going about her day to day activities with a smile on her face knowing it's gonna be a good day.

I go about my life angry that someone cut me off on the freeway. Frustrated that the computer is too slow. Worried about tomorrow.

Beth has her routine and is happy to have it. She doesn't have any enemies. No regrets. She's content with her life and the people and things in it.

What a great way to live.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

We Didn't Expect To Find THIS in Her Couch!

Things have been so busy for me the last few weeks. I'm usually really good at guarding my time and making sure I don't overdo it but that hasn't been the case lately.

We have an odd shaped closet with a very long rod. There is only one bracket holding the rod and it tends to bend between the one bracket and the walls. So we bought two more brackets and Chuck and I pulled all the clothes out of the closet and finally hung them. I know it's a small thing, but what a difference it makes!

Over the weekend Beth and I helped a friend set up for an event she was having. Centerpieces, place settings, wall hangings. There was a lot to do and Beth really hustled! I was surprised at how much she enjoyed doing it and how well she did it! There were a couple tables already set up so we were able to just copy the placement of everything. It was really fun!

 
 
 
Beth, Allie and I went shopping last night. What an adventure taking the two of them out together! They wrestled and played in the car, (even though Beth was in the front seat and Allie in the middle seat!) they played in the store, SO much energy from those two!
 
 
 
 
The biggest thing we did in the last week, in my opinion anyway, was move Beth's couch. She's had a small couch in her room that she didn't want anymore and I wanted to move it to our classroom. It was a matter of getting it around the corner, up the stairs, through the living room, out the door and into the van. THEN we had to get it into the church, down the elevator... you can see why we kept putting it off. :) But it's finally done. And it looks amazing in the room!! I forgot to take a picture but I'll get one next week. The most surprising thing about it all was when we tilted the couch up to get it up the stairs, SO MUCH STUFF rattled around and slid from one end to the other, INSIDE the couch!! Chuck and I got it upstairs and began pulling stuff out. He would push down hard on the seat and I'd squeeze my arm in. We pulled out a very large book, her MP3 that she 'lost' a few months ago, plenty of headbands, dog nail clippers, a stapler! Yep, a stapler! How on earth?! That book?!? Seriously?! Anyway, it took us a few minutes but we finally got everything out and called Beth up to put everything away. You should have seen her face! Every few seconds, "I was looking for this!" :)
 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Viewy Stuey

Allie was watching Doc McStuffins last weekend and they had a character on named Viewy Stuey. 'He' was a viewfinder. Remember those?

I went downstairs and pulled down a small plastic bucket from the closet shelf. I brought it up and showed it to Allie, "WE have a Viewy Stuey!" I wish I had caught the look on her face! Her eyes got wide and her mouth popped open. Absolute amazement!!

She spent the next 20 minutes or so clicking through the various discs. I showed her how the pictures look better when you look toward a door or window so she kept going to the sliding door to view them. SO fun to share a classic toy with the next generation!


 
 
 
Chuck loves his new job driving a city bus. He's even been interviewed by a local radio station on what it's like to go through the Metro training classes. A couple weekends ago he asked if I wanted to check out his route so we took off in our car and he drove me through city streets showing me all the stops and turns. He also drives through the University of Washington. That is such a gorgeous campus! Then he told me about a bridge he drives over and he's always been curious about what's under it. A street? River? So we parked the car and found out. It's a park! It's pretty big, covering a couple city blocks. There's lots of trees and hiking trails. There was a big playground. But we were interested in the bridge. The bridge itself was beautiful but I never did get any pictures of it. We were able to go under it and in fact, a running trail goes under it. We ended up not following it to the other side, but it was sure peaceful to sit underneath.
 

 
 
Chuck and I are trying to spend more time together, going out and doing things and just being together. I do love that man. After more than 32 years, I'm still in love with him.
 

This is our attempt at a selfie! :)
 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Into The Woods. Not the Movie, We Really Did Go Into The Woods!

Diana wants to go walking or hiking every Monday and she asked me to come with her this week. There is a park near our house that we drive by all the time, but have never gone walking there.

Some good friends of ours nicknamed them The Woods Between the Worlds from Chronicles of Narnia. You drive through a residential area and then all of the sudden, you're right in the middle of the forest! It's truly beautiful, especially in the Spring when all the trees are getting new leaves. So on Monday we parked the car and walked along the trail.

It was so pretty. And quiet.

At one point, a smaller trail veered off the main path so we ended up following it to see if we could get to the river that we could hear. There's a creek or something at the bottom. It seemed SO close but the trail sort of ended. Well, it actually just dropped off and Diana started down but began to slide and we weren't sure where it would take us... and neither of us were really dressed for that kind of hike.

One of Diana's friends told her later that there is a rope swing at the bottom! Now we're determined to go back and make it down that hill!



Saturday, April 18, 2015

What We've Done... Or Haven't Done

I'm trying to remember what we've done since Easter.

Beth is still enjoying her new job. Well, same job, different location.

We bought a second car from some old friends. When I say old, I mean a couple in their 90s. V can't drive anymore and her van has just been sitting in the driveway for over a year. V's husband (also V) knew we were looking for a car (I've been sometimes walking back and forth to work lately - about a mile each way - if I wasn't able to get rides from Diana or co-workers) so Chuck and I bought their van. It's a 1993 and not much to look at but it gets me back and forth to work! I thank the Lord every time I drive it!

So in the last couple months we've gone from a 3 driver / one car family to a 3 driver / 3 car family. It's made a huge difference in our freedoms around here! :)

No new pictures to show you. We haven't really done much in the last couple of weeks. The weather has been gorgeous lately so we're trying to get outside more. Working in the yard, taking walks. I have Allie today so maybe we'll go do something outside... and I'll try to remember to take some pictures!

Friday, April 10, 2015

More Than Just Window Shopping

Beth and I spent a lot of time shopping over Easter. She wanted a new dress and needed new shoes so we went to JC Penny's and Target and Payless...

She found the dress right away. I was looking in one area and turned around to see her holding it up. I told her it was really cute and she said she wanted to try it on.

The first one... and it fit her really well! Too often it's too big in the chest or the sleeves are too long or it drags on the ground... it's really hard to get clothes to fit her. But this fit AND looked so cute on her! She was thrilled! In the dressing room she'll get this look on her face where she scrunches up her shoulders and turns her head and gets a big smile on her face, you know that's when she likes it!

 
 
 

 
 
Sharaya and Allie came over for dinner on Sunday, we played some board games and just hung out together. We really had a great Easter.
 
By the way, Beth is enjoying her new job! She had been at the old place for over two years and was able to work without her job coach C, but because this was a new location, C made sure she was there the entire first night. About 1 hour into Beth's shift, I got a text from C, "Beth is doing amazing and she's ready for me to go home." She really did adjust quickly and was actually home last week at 7:30 PM! Almost 3 hours earlier than normal! Woohoo!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's Becoming a Tradition

We went to the tulip fields last weekend. It was cool and very windy in some spots but it wasn't raining and the flowers were beautiful!

I think it was a little early cause the main field was still daffodils and the tulip fields were further back. Sharaya, Diana and Allie took the walk back there, but Chuck, Beth and I stayed in the garden areas where it wasn't so windy.

It's sorta becoming a tradition for us and I love it when we do things together. The whole family doesn't get out very often, but when it do, it's always so much fun!


Sharaya took these two on their walk out to the tulip fields.

 
A re-creation from a couple years ago.
Allie was not liking the wind this year.
 
 
 
 
On their way back from the tulip fields.
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
Beth took this one of us. 

 
 
 
 
Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

She Might Cry Tonight But The Change Will Be Good

Beth works at Little Caesars two evenings a week. She folds boxes, sometimes 300-400 in a three hour span. She loves her job and the people she works with. The problem though, is that her job is about 45 minutes from our house. And that's on a good day.

There is usually SO much traffic, it's known as a bottleneck here in Seattle. When people hear you have to take that route to get somewhere, you'll hear moans and groans. It's a long, grueling trip and no one likes it.

Well, Beth has been taking that trip (riding the DART bus each way) for more than 2 years. Sometimes she's on the bus for 2 and a half hours each way which means she's gone from the house for sometimes 8 hours... for a 3 hour shift.

And the poor DART drivers! One night they dropped her off at home at 10:20! I asked the driver if he was headed home and he still had one more person to drop off! It makes for a long day for everyone.

Beth's job coach has been searching for a store closer to our home that would hire her to do the same job. Some stores are franchises and they don't have a position of 'box folder'; others don't have the hours to spare.

But today she found a store willing and able to take Beth! The same woman owns both stores, the one Beth is at now and the one she'll be going to and she was willing to hire her at this new place! She heard how beneficial Beth was and what great job she did, so she was willing to let her switch!

And... the new store is only about 15 minutes from our house. I'm so relieved.

I told Beth about it this morning over breakfast and she was sad at first. I could see her starting to tear up, but the more we talked about it, the more excited she got! She met this new manager a few weeks ago and when I told her K would be her new boss, she smiled and her eyes lit up.

She ended up making a card for everyone at the store tonight, then I printed off a picture of her in her uniform and we put it on the front. She wrote a beautiful sentiment inside and I expect she might cry as she leaves work for the last time.

But I know she's gonna love this new place. We plan to take her by the store tomorrow so she can see where it is and it won't be a big shock to her come next weekend. It's such a relief knowing she won't be so far away and she won't have to spend 6 hours on the bus!