Sunday, February 27, 2011

Big Changes on the Way!

No, no I'm not pregnant. My kids are having kids. I'm a Nana, remember? :)

There are some big changes on the way for Beth.

Diana has recently lost about 30 pounds and is getting the rest of us excited about changing our food and exercising more. She bought Beth a food journal and she's writing in it every day. She's going on the treadmill a few times a week, she's sleeping in her bed again; she's starting to make good choices about her life.

The youth choir is singing in our Sunday services next week so Beth will start rehearsing the following week. You have to rehearse for a few weeks before you're able to sing on a Sunday. Too many people only want to sing in front of the congregation without putting in the work. She was a little disappointed that she couldn't practice with them tonight, but she understood. Her first rehearsal will be on March 6.

I called yesterday to sign Beth up for Special Olympics Athletics (Track). She says she wants to run and do the shot put. I'm afraid her weight will keep her from doing well in the relays, but if she wants to try, we'll definitely let her. So on March 12 she starts Athletics!

With her new diet and all the extra exercise I know we're gonna see a huge change in her. We're planning a trip to Colorado and California in September to visit family and I can't for them to see her! I know she's gonna feel better, her clothes will fit better and she'll have more energy. I'm hoping too that it'll get her out of her shell. She's so shy, maybe all the extra activity will make her talk more and she'll have more friends.

I am so absolutely excited about what this year is gonna hold for her!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funny Mirror Friends

Sharaya came over yesterday and we just hung out. We were supposed to get a lot of snow but only got about a half inch at our house. Other places got close to a foot but we are in what they called a snow shadow. The Olympic Mountain range blocked a lot of the snow and it fell to the North and the South but not here. We're very bummed.

But Sharaya hung out, then Ryan came later. After work, he had band practice and youth group. Sharaya and I had fun with Allison. I have a picture of Sharaya at about one year old standing on the bathroom counter... why don't I just show you?

Anyway, we decided to get some pictures like this with Allison. We didn't get any that were identical, but it sure was fun watching her play with that other kid in the mirror!

Then after dinner we had smore's. Got some candles and some forks, set up the coffee table and  munched on chocolaty, marshmellowy goodness! A great way to end the day!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

She's Baaa-aaack!!

I saw 'Miss Terri' getting into the elevator yesterday and told her I wanted to talk with her about the possibility of Beth joining the youth choir again. She said we didn't have to talk, Beth could join. We would need to talk about the details, but Beth could definitely join.

I wanted to jump in the air and do a backflip but considering I'm pushing 50 and not very athletic, I settled on a big "Thank you!"

Our song bird is back. Beth loves to sing. L~O~V~E~S to sing. When I told her she could join again, she didn't say anything. She was speechless. But she's already asking about talking to Miss Terri.

I love to see my kids happy. L~O~.... well anyway. We plan to go to rehearsal this Sunday. I'll keep ya posted!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stretchin' Out With Nick

A couple weeks ago Chuck and I were talking about Beth's sleeping situation. The fact that she has a bedroom that she never uses. She has slept on the couch downtairs (it's more the size of a love seat so she isn't able to stretch out on it) for almost a year. She eats, sleeps and hangs out in the livingroom / kitchenette area of her apartment. And there is an entire room not being used.

So we talked to Beth about moving her bed into her livingroom. We could make it more of a studio apartment by moving the loveseat and TV and making room for her bed and nightstand. She said yes. And she loves it! She has slept in her bed every night since. Oh hallelujah!

Plus, we made the extra room into an exercise, sitting, craft room! Woo hoo!! Can this GET any better! We now have a room where we can go to get quiet, to read, do crafts, run on the treadmill.... it's something we've been wanting for a long time.

By the way, this is the way Beth decorated one of her walls. She loves her Nick!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun Photo Friday - Dramamine Anyone?

These photographs were taken aboard Misener Steamships MV Selkirk Settler as she crossed Lake Superior in typical November weather. The first picture is in calm weather. Obviously.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sometimes I Can be Such a Dork

We had a guy from Sears come out yesterday and work on our stove. Nothing major, but the handle fell off. So we called and they sent out a repairman.

He happened to be an old Chinese man. He bowed really low before entering; didn't speak much English. I just kept smiling. He was so funny and carefree. When I think of an older Chinese man, I think of the stoic, serious guys I see on TV or in the news. Very traditional.

This guy spoke very loud and was so funny! He told me, "Yes. Screws too short. We knew. We carry long screws."

I had jerry rigged the door with string to keep it from laying open. He pointed to it, "Oh! Very good! You smart! Other lady use tape. No good. No tape!" (He was yelling this, in his broken English. And he'd laauugh! He was such a fun guy!)

After he was done he said, "You good. We good." and he held up his hand, "Give me number 5!" I gave him a high 5 and thought how cute it was that he wanted to be a part of American culture but didn't really know how to say it. I kept smiling as we went to the door.

On the porch again he held up his hand, "Give me number 5!" So I smiled again and gave him another high 5. As he turned to leave he said, "On the computer. Give me 5 score."


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Great Road Trip, Despite the Smell

Chuck and I were on vacation last week. Didn't go anywhere really, just stayed around the house, slept in, did projects. It was nice! We usually take a trip, go somewhere that requires packing, planning, lodging, etc. But this time we just stayed home. Well except for Friday. I mean we couldn't be on vacation without taking some type of road trip!! Come on, this is us we're talkin' about!! :)

So on Friday we drove over to Ellensburg to see Chuck's sister. I say 'over' because we drove over the Cascade Mountain Range, through Snoqualmie Pass to get to Eastern Washington. The weather was beautiful and the roads were clear, thank goodness. They're actually saying we could get snow here, in our own backyards this weekend!! Woohoo!! Being born and raised in San Diego, I love it when we get snow!

We stopped at an outlet mall in North Bend to do a little shopping before heading over the mountains. Beth got some new black tennis shoes. Allison ran around for a while; we were trying to tire her out so she'd sleep the rest of the way. It worked. :)

This lake, I can't remember the name of it, Kasesh or something like that, was partially frozen over. The mountains and scenery were breathtaking!

Chuck's sister Becky lives just one block from Central Washington University. I didn't realize she was that close to the school. She said a lot of the people in her complex are students.

She's had a lot of physical struggles and is a cancer survivor. She fought leukemia for a few years. It was so scary. But now she's in remission and doing much better.

We went to lunch and took her to the grocery store before dropping her back at home. She only lives a couple hours away; we really need to do this more often.

Becky, Chuck, Allison, Sharaya, Beth, Diana

Me, Becky and Chuck

Had to pull over on the side of the road on our way home. The smell was horrible! Sharaya pulled off the diaper and....

Nothin'!! Boy can this baby fart!!

The ride home was just as beautiful. We avoided the snow that was forecast for the mountains, thank goodness. It was getting just dark enough to see the lights on the ski slopes. Such a fun day. We do love a good road trip!

Almost asleep......

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rocket Science

Do you ever watch your kids, when they don't know they're being watched? I love doing that. Even as adults, I love to watch my kids interact with others, when they're on the job, doesn't matter. I love it when they don't know I'm watching.

Beth lives dowstairs in our basement apartment so she comes upstairs to wait for her bus every day. She usually likes to watch TV while she waits. Her favorite shows at that time are Dora the Explorer and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I didn't used to let her watch 'em. They're for preschoolers. Way too young for her.

But then one day I was sitting at the kitchen table watching her. Dora would ask what shape the bush was, (then ya have that akward silence when they're all looking at YOU wating for you to answer. I always feel so self consious!) :) Well I'd hear Beth say, 'circle' and Dora would yell, "That's right!" and Beth would smile.

I began to think about this.

In Beth's world, everything is Rocket Science. Most TV shows, Sunday school classes, dinner table conversations. Unless it's geared specifically for her level, it's over her head, or just too fast for her to keep up. What would that be like for me? What if everything in my life was too hard? If it was calculus or something. What if day after day I had a hard time keeping up? I don't know about you but I'm the kind of person that I'd eventually give up. 'What's the point of trying, I know I'm not gonna get it.'

Have ya ever been watching Jeopardy and the topics are ones you don't know the answers to? Then all of the sudden, a topic comes up that you know?! You get the first answer right, then the next and at the end you realize ya did it! You think to yourself, 'that was a no brainer'.

I think Dora and Mickey are no brainers for Beth. She knows her shapes and colors, she realizes this is young for her but it's a no brainer. How often does she get those in life? To really know the answers? I imagine how it must make her feel inside. Makes me smile just thinkin' about it. :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Down Syndrome Then and Now

When I read some of your blogs, I've noticed there are some things that I do that might not be appropriate now. Please know my heart in this - the printed word can be written in humility, but can be read with anger or discust. I don't want to hurt or offend anyone and I'm afraid I might with my 'old fashioned' ways. So before I put my foot in my mouth, (if I haven't already,) I'd like to ask a couple of questions.

When Beth was born, the term Downs was often used and widely accepted. I still use it today, but it seems like it's not appropriate anymore. Why is it offensive?

The word retarded. When Beth was little, my mom rented a room to a mentally handicapped woman. She would often hang out with friends and one day her friend came over in tears. She said someone had called her retarded. The girl (early 20s) told her matter of factly, "I hear the word retard a hundred times a day. It doesn't mean anything to me because it's not true," and out the door she went.
I definitely understand not calling someone retard just like you wouldn't call them idiot or stupid but I'm not sure I understand the deep hurt that some seem to feel with that word.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

She Was Just One of the Kids

I have been hesistant to write this post. I don't want to scare you or make you depressed. I've been rolling this post around in my head for months and finally decided that the world is going to be a different place when your kids become adults. Even if it's not, you'll be prepared and maybe you can make changes that will give your kids a different outcome. Well, here goes....

When Beth was little, she was just one of the kids. At home, at church. She played with them, hung out with them, went horseback riding, did crafts. (I was the over-protective crazy mom. When her Missionette group went horseback riding, I didn't know if she could do it so I ran along side. The entire mile trail. Jumping over bushes... SO embarrassing when I think about it now.) But Beth was just a regular kid.

(Beth is in red, sitting on the couch)

When all of these friends reached Jr High, things began to change. At school, the teachers wanted to keep Beth in Grade school one more year. As hard as I fought, I knew they were probably right. She wasn't ready for Jr. High. At church, their Sunday school class was getting into topics that were over her head. So we took her out of class and had her sit with us in church. A decision I regret now. Even if she didn't understand the discussion, maybe she would have gotten more out of it then we thought. And keeping her out caused her to grow away from her friends. The better way to say that is that her friends grew away from her. They were the ones changing. As they should. Beth was still only around 6 or 7 mentally.

I showed Beth how to shave her underarms and her legs, but she wasn't interested. (The ironic thing is, today her arms and legs do not have any hair!! I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had never started shaving...) Well anyway, I showed Beth how to put on make up too, but she didn't care about that either. Meanwhile her friends were all entering high school and Beth was not keeping up. I really began to see the differences between her and her peers. For me, that's when her having Down Syndrome really became difficult. I would see her friends learning to drive, going out to the movies, just hanging out and Beth wasn't a part of that anymore.

Beth has one seat that she sits in at church. We've attended there since she was 4 and for years, her seat is in the 'youth section' (it's not an official section, it's just where the youth always sit) second row, on the right end. She goes in early, puts her coat over the back, her bag on the floor, then goes to the coffee stand to get a strawberry banana smoothy. She knows she can't take the drink into the Sanctuary so she leaves it at the main information booth. All the ladies there know Beth will be back for it! I will never forget one Sunday, Beth was coming back into the Sanctuary to sit down. An old friend (one of the kids in one of the above photos) was sitting in the seat next to Beths. She sat down, got all settled and this 'friend' after watching Beth, picked up their stuff and moved to another seat. I sat there with my mouth hanging open. I couldn't believe it!!! Beth of course, didn't even notice, but I was stunned. (Well, at least I think Beth didn't notice. This was years ago and she never said anything. Gosh, one more thing to worry about!)

Beth joined the youth choir at church but after a year was asked to leave. They brought me in for a meeting and explained that Beth just wasn't able to keep up. They were right. When she got tired, she would sit down, right there on the platform in the middle of a song. She just couldn't keep the pace that was needed. So we pulled her out. I want to try her again, but I honestly don't know if she has the stamina.

Today all those friends that Beth grew up with are getting married. They're moving away and having children. Beth.... sits downstairs watching TV. I still check her toenails once a month. I still help her with the laundry. I take her grocery shopping. A big day for her is when we go out to eat. I don't think it's just us. This is the very reason Gene developed All Aboard. His son grew up as just another kid. He had a lot of friends, then he graduated from high school, his friends got married and moved away and Mike sat in his room. The All Aboard bowling event started with just 5-10 kids. The latest newsletter stated they now have over 100 bowlers each week! Adults with special needs have a difficult time fitting in. 

It's not hard to jump on a trampoline or throw water balloons. But getting married? Driving cars? Having your own apartment? Those are huge. I'm not saying our kids will never do those things. I am saying you will see the differences in your child and their peers at that point in their lives. I find those differences the most difficult. It's been harder for me to accept Beth having Down Syndrome as an adult than it was when she was a kid. For kids, (any kid, every kid) most things are physical; crawling, walking, learning to tie shoes, running, etc. But as they become older, life becomes a mental game; teenagers lying, trying to get away with things, geometry, college applications, etc.

And it's Beth's mental abilities that we're so unsure of.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Summer Exercise Program?

Ryan and Sharaya recently moved and they now live about a block from where Beth works. On Thursday, Sharaya and Allie walked to Smithwright and Beth walked back home with 'em. We're hoping she'll be able to do this during the summer, when the weather is better. She'll get some exercise and get to spend some time with her sister!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Okay, so this isn't as dramatic as Mel Gibson yelling it as William Wallace in Braveheart, but it is. somewhat. exciting. I am on day three of a two week vacation! We're not going anywhere so there are no suitcases to pack, no airlines to catch, no shuttles to take. The only thing I plan to do in the next two weeks is sleep in, read books, watch movies, play on the computer.

But day three.... and I'm sick. Very stuffy nose, puffy eyes, headache, sneezing. Yuck.

I guess I should be grateful -

I don't have toddlers to chase
I'm not losing pay over this
I'm not leaving my co-workers stranded
My kids are old enough to care for themselves
We have nice weather this week

So... yay me!
Thank you for allowing me this pity party. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mexican Train - Have You Heard of it?

Monday night is Game Night at our house. Just before Christmas, Ryan and Sharaya taught us the game Mexican Train. I'd never heard of it before but now we're hooked!

At first we played in teams, cause we weren't sure if it would be too hard for Beth to learn. (I know, I don't give Beth enough credit. It's hard because I don't want her to constantly feel like a failure or to feel bad that she can't do it, but I know I have to let her try more things. How else will she learn what she can and can't do? It's just harder done than said. I'm workin' on it.) Probably about the 4th time we were gonna play, Beth actually set it up for us and she set it up for individuals. Chuck asked her if she wanted to play teams and she said no.

We still helped her that game, but now she plays by herself and even though she hasn't won yet, she comes close! It's played with dominos. You match them, making a 'train' and the first one to get rid of their dominos wins the match. You mix up all the dominos, then everyone picks 15 to start with. In the first match you start making your train with the Double 12, then the Double 11 and so on. Beth does great in every area except.... counting all those pesky dots at the end of the match!

The one with the smallest score wins!