Monday, May 30, 2011

Greeted with Open Arms

Beth, Diana and I were walking through the mall last night when Diana pointed out a tiny bundle of energy walking, running and dancing in front of us. "Mom, she has Down Syndrome!"

As we got closer I saw her run back to her dad and stand in front of him. She hugged his legs and that's when I tapped him on the shoulder. I asked if she was his daughter and as he looked up at me and Beth, his eyes lit up and a huge smile spread across his face!

"Yes! She my daughter! Oooh! Hi!"

He was staring at Beth. They were East Indian and spoke in broken English. I asked him what his daughters name was and it was something like Ackleesia. He asked me what Beth's name was (I find it interesting that people always ask us, not Beth. We then look at Beth and wait for her to answer. Maybe they don't expect her to be able to talk? I don't know. I just find interesting. And now I've learned to always ask the child. I ask them their name. Ask them how old they are. Include them in the conversation. The parent knows if they can speak and will answer for them if necessary. And then you can guage who you should ask from that point.)

Beth answered "Elizabeth." And again his face brightened.

"My wife! Elizabeth!"

He pointed over to a lady standing with a stroller. She put her hand on her chest and said, "Elizabeth". I pointed to Beth, "My daughter's name is Elizabeth too!"

You'd think they had just found long lost family members! It's really kind of cool because in a way, they had. Don't you feel such a connection to other families who have children with Ds? We bonded instantly. Mom brought over the stoller, which was filled with a new baby girl, maybe 6-7 months old. Then the oldest sister, who had been trying to corral Ackleesia as they walked through the mall (maybe around 7?) also came over and stood by her dad. They asked if Beth was "Smallest? Baby?" I said no, she was my oldest. They looked a little surprised. I told them Beth was 26, then another daughter was 24 and our baby (I pointed to Diana) is 20.

"Oh!! Three girls?! We 3 girls too!"

Dad picked up Ackleesia and said she would be 2 next month. He leaned her toward Beth and asked her to give Beth a kiss, but she changed her mind at the last second. Bent herself back into dads arms and we all laughed.

Thinking about it now, maybe I should have gotten a phone number or email or something that would have allowed me to keep in touch. Who knows how many people they know in the area. How long they've lived here. What kind of support Ackleesia receives. I'll just need to pray that we bump into them again soon!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Almost Turned Around and Came Home!

Diana has spent the last 10 days traveling in Paris and England. She's been planning this since last year and has been so excited about it! She's been to London once before, plus Australia. Did I mention she goes by herself? Doesn't meet anyone there, doesn't travel with a group. Completely alone. As you can imagine, I don't sleep well while she's gone. We wait anxiously for texts and emails and try not to panic when we don't hear from her. :)

The last two trips were fun and basically stress free. This one, not so much. Let me just give you lighlights, then I'll add some pictures.

  • Flew out of Seatac Airport, 4 hour layover in Philadelphia
  • After 3 1/2 hours, told there was mechanical problems. More waiting
  • Once in the air, passenger had medical emergency
  • Landed on tarmac, took a bus to the terminal
  • Security in Germany, taken aside and questioned about curling iron
  • Taken to a separate room, had to demonstrate use of curling iron
  • Doesn't speak German
  • Loses drivers license in airport.
  • Arrive in Paris late, hotel says sorry, now they are full
  • Found different hotel. Missed Cannes Film Festival
  • Phone stops receiving texts. No internet service
  • Disneyland Paris - hit head on restraint on Space Mountain
  • Spends rest of day with ringing in ears, not able to hear
  • Finally arrive in London. Loves hotel and city!
  • Volcano erupts
  • Flight delayed. For hours.
  • Lands in North Carolina
  • Has one hour to get through customs and catch connecting flight 
  • Gets to counter. Told she is booked for following day
  • Almost bursts into tears
  • Attendant gets her on plane.... and upgrades her to first class!
And now for the pictures!

Her hotel room in Paris.

Her view.

Disneyland Paris
You enter the park through the Disneyland Hotel

She said the park seemed to be geared toward the architecture and restaurants, more than the rides.

It's a Small World
Their image of the good 'ol USA

Notre Dame

Buckingham Palace
She was in London at the same time as President Obama

And what is a trip to London without a picture of Big Ben!
She said it was 9:00 and the clock was chiming!

What an adventure! SO glad she's home!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

She Did It!!

Beth sang with the youth choir for the first time on Sunday! We arrived a few minutes early for rehearsal to make sure she would be okay on the platform. (She's afraid of heights.) I took pics during rehearsal but didn't use flash. Didn't want to disrupt anything. So there are assistants and other non choir members in the pictures.

They end rehearsal a few minutes before service begins so they can go downstairs and lock up their purses and stuff. I sat down in the Sanctuary and the choir began to file in. (They come in from behind the choir loft.) I'm watching them all, knowing that Beth's position on the platform means she is the very last one to enter. The last girl comes in and there's no Beth. Even the two girls that stand next to her are looking around the corner wondering where she is. No Beth.

I go out to the foyer to see her entering the door where her regular seat is! I took her down the back hallway, realizing that no one has shown her this area. We went up the stairs, back behind the baptistry and I pointed her out to the platform. Heading back to my seat, I see Miss Wendy (all the leaders have titles so the kids learn respect) coming down the hallway. She said she didn't see Beth on the platform and came out to find her. I was thankful she did. It was good to know that they'll watch out for her in times like this. Now I need to remember to let her go and let them go look for her. :)

She did SO great for her first time!! She knew most of the words to the songs - she's been singing along with her CD for weeks - she usually clapped on beat, she smiled.... what a joy to see her up there again. So many people stopped her in the foyer afterward to tell her how great she did. She was beaming!!

Beth stands on the far right side (sopranos) in the front.
There are about 75 kids in the choir.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fun Photo Friday - Splish Splash

Our neighbor called us the other day, "Come see what's in our pond!"

A Mama duck and her chicks found their way into our neighbors yard and were bathing in their pond! We live between two busy streets so we don't know how they got there or how they knew there was a pond back there! They only put the pond in a few months ago. They were so cute! We could have watched 'em all day!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mystery of the Red Bucket

I got an email from Beth's job coach saying she couldn't go to work until we met with the owner. Beth works for a local group home, doing their laundry twice a week. She likes it okay, she's been there for 3 years and the other employees don't talk to her or include her in anything. And lately they've been accusing Beth of some interesting behavoir. The latest incident has to do with a red bucket.

The acting supervisor at the group home said that an unwashed sheet with blood on it was found in with the folded laundry. The other employees have all denied having anything to do with it so they concluded it was Beth. This sheet was in a plastic bag, in a red bucket in a different room of the home. They are saying Beth went into this other room, opened the plastic bag, pulled out the sheet, folded it and put it with her clean laundry. Beth's job coach was there for part of the day and watched Beth fold a huge mound of laundry but never saw a sheet. How would Beth have even known the bucket was in the other room? And how would she have known there was a sheet... inside a plastic bag? It just doesn't make sense.

Beth and I met with her job coach today and the job coaches supervisor. They feel it's time for Beth to leave that job and look for something else. I've felt that for a few months. There have just been too many red flags the last few weeks. The bucket being the final straw. Her job coach will write up her resignation and have Beth sign it. She offically no longer works there. It's kind of sad but at the same time I'm excited to see Beth get into something that doesn't require TB tests and N1H1 shots.

For now Beth will attend a job class. A group of young adults meet once a week to talk about etiquete on the job, how to dress, they practice filling out job applications, etc. Plus, she'll meet one on one with her job coach to look for a new job. So, another chapter begins!

We may never know the truth behind that red bucket.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Main Floor

When we got home from the baby shower, Beth told us that Miss Terri put her on the main floor! Instead of starting the choir on the first step, the first row of choir members will just stand on the floor of the platform! Woohoo thank you Jesus! When we asked Beth how she did she said, "really great!" Now I'm so excited to see her sing next week! I've printed out the words to some of the songs and she has been practicing a lot!

Diana won't be there to see her sing because she leaves tomorrow for Europe. Her first stop is the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France. Then she's headed to Disneyland Paris. Then spending a few days in London before heading home. This is her third solo trip and I don't know how she does it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Big Rehearsal

The youth choir sings next Sunday, May 22. Tomorrow they are rehearsing in the sanctuary, but unfortunately we won't be there to see it. Chuck and I will be at a baby shower for the daughter of some close friends of ours.

I was hoping to be at the rehearsal because Beth is afraid of heights. Even sitting up in the stands at the Special Olympics tournament a couple weeks ago proved to be too much. After about a half hour I noticed her leaning back on one elbow with her head behind my back. I kept asking her if everything was okay and she'd asnswer yes. It finally dawned on me and I asked her if she wanted to go down to the track and she said yes. We spent the rest of the day down there.

So tomorrow she'll need to be up 2 to 4 steps to get to her spot. I don't know what would be better, having her on the second step with no one in front of her, or being higher with someone in front. Hopfully I'll get a chance to talk to her choir director before we leave!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Want to do More

I want to do more. More for children and adults with special needs and more for their parents. This is something that has been on my heart more and more the last couple of years. The Lord has brought people across my path, given me a vision for Special Connections (our Sunday school class, but I see so much more) and lit a fire in my heart for it, but fear is keeping me from doing anything.

I need to call a mom who has a child with Down Syndrome, but I don't think I can really help her. She lives almost 30 minutes away. I don't have extra cash to share with her. I can't shuttle her son to activities. Not that she's asked for anything, I'm just afraid to call because I have nothing to offer. But in my heart I know she could use a friend. Even someone to just listen.

I see Special Connections Youth, with activities for the young adults at our church. Inclusion of course, assisting them in the youth choir or taking them to Sunday Night Live, an evening worship service geared to our youth. I knew of one other guy with special needs, but DART stopped their bus service on Sundays and they no longer come. Maybe I should call his mom and offer to come get him? But his mom is so needy and I know she'll count on me for rides to church in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, grocery shopping. How do I limit my time with them? But ya know, so what?? Isn't that what the body of Christ is for? My life is not my own and maybe I should be willing to give up MY time. MY day off. MY weekend. Give it up for HIS day. HIS weekend. HIS life, lived through me.

I want to expand our classroom, increase our sensory toys, our square footage but that's out of my hands. It may happen this year, maybe in the fall. Maybe. In the mean time I try to work with what we have. The kids seem bored on Sundays.

Have you ever been called to do something, but felt so inadequate you don't do anything at all?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sleeping, Sweating and Selling

Saturday was very busy for us. We usually try to keep our Saturdays stress free and quiet, but sometimes ya just can't help it!

I went downstairs to wake Beth up and I even turned on my camera before I got there so it wouldn't wake her. But she heard me anyway and put her pillow over her head! The turkey.

We had breakfast, then it was time for Athletics. The coach had called us the night before to tell us that Beth didn't make it to State. In the past, any athlete who got a gold or silver medal, went on to the State Tournament. We don't know if it's due to a lack of volunteers or budget cuts or what, but a lot of kids don't get to go this year. It's kind of sad and some of the coaches are going to complain. One of our coaches had to tell his daughter that for the first time in 7 years, even though she got a silver medal, she couldn't go. This is Beth's first year in Athletics so she doesn't know what she's missing. We'll keep taking her to practice so hopefully next year she'll make it to State.

I keep forgetting to put Beth's location on the photos.
In this one she's near the center of the picture, in the pink hoodie, purple sweat pants and the teal headband.

After Athletics practice, we headed home for lunch. I had promised her youth choir director that we would take a turn manning the flower sale. For a fundraiser, some of the youth sold flowers for Mother's Day and people could pick up their flowers on Saturday or Sunday. Most people opted for Sunday; can't say I blame them. But that sure made for a pretty boring Saturday afternoon!

When someone came for a plant, we'd put their receipt into the envelope, then put the envelope into the folder.

The long list of plants and all the people who bought them.

Just some of the plants waiting to be picked up.

We left the church and went to the grocery store. Came home, put away all the groceries, then fixed dinner. It was a long, fun day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"I Have to Wake Up."

Beth's alarm went off at 8:30 this morning. Considering she was still awake listening to music at 3 AM, she was a tad sleepy. I peeked into her room to find her sitting on the edge of the bed. Her head was down and her eyes were closed but she kept saying, "I have to wake up. It's 8:33. I HAVE  to wake up."

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Today was the Track and Field Special Olympics tournament in Marysville, Washington. About 30 minutes from our house in Edmonds. Opening ceremonies was at 8:30 so we ended up leaving our house this morning at 7:30. Which means Beth was up between 6:00 and 6:30. Have I ever told you that she is not a morning person?

The opening ceremony was two Native American Dancers. We wondered about them and found out later we were right. It was a dad and his son who happened to have special needs. They did an awesome job. Sorry the picture isn't the greatest. I didn't want to use flash on them, and... they were dancing.

Afterward we all headed outside and Beth and I went to get her number or 'bib' as they called it. Chuck and Diana found our seats and set up the blankets. Beth's team is called the Edmonds Independents.

When their race is called over the loud speaker, all the athletes go down to the check in area. There's a 'first call', 'second call' and 'final call' for each race. All the volunteers seemed to have a clipboard and they'd check and double check to make sure the athletes were in the right place, with the correct team, waiting for the correct competition. The athletes then hang out in the tent area until it's their turn to compete.

When it's their turn, they all line up to go out onto the field. Beth's first competition was the softball throw. Just one step below the shot put. Here she's loosening her hand to get ready to throw. Each athlete got three chances to throw the ball. I'm not sure how they get the final score, if they average the totals or choose the best throw. As soon as your event is over, you go right to the awards area and the medal ceremony.

In the softball throw Beth won silver!!

Between events there was a lot of waiting.

She found a shady spot to sit and wait.

A LOT of waiting.

There were so many great athletes. And so many different colored jerseys! Relays and long jumps, high fives, smiles and joy! As the athletes finished their competetions, they'd walk by the bleachers on their way to the medal ceremonies and everyone in the stands, didn't matter what team you were on, everyone clapped and cheered for the athletes. Many times the emotions would well up and I'd be in tears. We watched one race where one boy kept looking back at his opponent, sort of waiting for him to catch up so they could run together. So amazing! Such big hearts in these kids!

This was the 200 meter walk and unfortunately Beth was walking too fast and was on the verge of running. They disqualified her and she ended up with a 'Participation' ribbon.

(She doesn't yet know she was disqualified. She's just tuckered.)

The 50 meter dash.

Waiting for another medal ceremony.

She got 4th in the 50 meter dash.

Headed home with all of her winnings! Two ribbons and a silver medal!