Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A confession

I began this blog thinking I would help others. That my experiences of raising Beth would be a huge benefit to those following in my footsteps. I've been through potty training, puberty, and have acquired vast amounts of knowledge in the area of childraising. :)

Honestly, I was a little pompous in my idea that I had reached the finish line. Beth was 25 and I was basically done! Woo hoo!! Let me impart my wisdom on you! Yea, now it's time for me to eat some humble pie.

I have been reading your blogs and am humbled at your lives. You are experiencing moments with your children that leave me breathless. The various diagnosis you've received fill my eyes with tears and my heart with pain. Some of you hear it from the doctors year after year! Yet you wake up the next day and you keep going.

You are an inspiration to me!! Your determination to live life despite your circumstances has given me hope and reminded me to always look for the good in life. I tend to be a pessimist but your blogs are changing me! Keep writing! You are making a difference in the lives of others!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas
and a new year filled with the joy and peace of the Lord!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And the part of baby Jesus will be played by....

When Beth was just two months old, she was the baby Jesus in a live nativity at our church in San Diego. It was such an honor and a lot of fun too!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Look what Beth won!

Remember the pictures at the fair, for which she won blue ribbons? This week she received $10 as an additional prize for them! You can tell by the smile on her face how happy she is!

Monday, December 7, 2009

More Auntie Elizabeth pictures!

Ryan and Sharaya brought Allison over last night and Beth was willing to hold her. These pictures make Allison look very yellow, but she's fine. She almost looks like a porcelin doll!
I loved the way Beth was so gentle with her. She is so proud of her and talks about her a lot.
She'll really have fun as Allison grows up. Can't you just see them playing Barbies together, and coloring? :) I know Beth is going to be a wonderful Aunt!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baby Allison is here!!

Allison Lucy Ehlert was born on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 10:38 PM. She weighed 7.12 pounds and was 20.5 inches long. A beautiful baby - she looks like Daddy!
Mom, Dad and Allison are all doing well.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Soon to be... Auntie Elizabeth!

Beth's sister Sharaya and her husband Ryan, are due to have their baby any day now! They are having a girl, Allison Lucy. We are so anxious to meet her and to see who she looks like! The hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving is over and now we are just waiting for baby Allison. She is actually 11 days late... and counting! Sharaya will see her doctor tomorrow and there is a good possibility they will induce her then.
Allison is our first grandchild and we can hardly breathe!! The thought of holding our daughter's baby, is just beyond words. My mom passed away a few years ago and I so wish I could talk to her about all this! Did she feel this much excitement when I was pregnant? Did she create a space at home to care for the kids when they came over? Did she want to yell it from the rooftops, "I'm gonna be a Grandma!!" Or in my case, Nana!
I was recently asked, "Aren't you Sharaya's mom?" For a split second, Sharaya was back in 3rd grade and I was standing on the elementry school playground. And now, forever more, people will be asking her, "Aren't you Allison's mom?" It causes me to look at my daughter with new eyes. To see her not as my little girl, but as 'Allison's mom'.
And Beth wants to be called Auntie Elizabeth. I know she is up to the task and will shine with pride as Allison's Aunt.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

At the dentist

Raise your hand if you like to go to the dentist. Yea, my hand isn't raised either. :)
Most of us don't like to go to the dentist, but they do help us keep our teeth clean and healthy. Beth went to the dentist this week. She had to have two fillings. I've actually fainted at the dentist, but Beth does so well.

She gets nervous when they lay the chair back and raise it up, but she doesn't cry or anything! She holds onto the arm rests and sometimes she shakes a little. But she is amazing! When the dentist is finished, she sits up and says she's ready to go! I wish I was as brave as her!

She's my hero!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Game Night!

Monday nights after dinner, we have game night! We clear off the kitchen table, fix some hot tea and pull out the games. Some of our favorites are Sorry and Uno!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Brother Tom

We have learned that Brother Tom, the pastor that dedicated Beth to the Lord, has recently passed away. Twenty five years later, Beth is still walking with God. Tom and Kathy Nutt were amazing leaders, soft spoken, yet fierce for God. Brother Tom will be missed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Vacation Pictures

We arrived home last week and have enjoyed looking at our pictures! Now we want to share them with you!

Beth and Diana had a great time at Disneyland. One of their favorite rides was Splash Mountain. You sit in a boat that looks like a log and as you go over the waterfall, you get your picture taken! They decided not to buy it because they both were screaming, they ducked down and couldn't be seen in the photo! Beth got to talk to C3PO when they went on Star Tours! She told him that she'd seen him on TV! She was so exhausted by the end of the day, she fell asleep in the car on the way back to San Diego. Awe! Isn't she cute?!

The day we left San Diego, we drove up to Fresno, then went to Yosemite the following day. We'd never been there and were overwhelmed at Gods creation! The waterfalls and rock formations were just breathtaking. We had lunch at Yosemite Village and bought a few gifts for Ryan and Sharaya before heading to our hotel for the night. It was an amazing vacation but we were all glad to get back home and sleep in our own beds!
I found that if I kept Beth informed of every plan, she was willing to join in. I hadn't done that in the past, and it really made a difference in her attitude. When we told her that we'd be going to Aunt Debbies house, then out to dinner with Grandpa, she was more content and joined in the conversations. We told her this was only for a few days and that she'd be home, in her own bedroom on Friday. She was more willing to try new things and venture to new places. I wish I had realized this years ago.

We took a 3 1/2 week vacation to the East Coast back in 2004 and she had such a terrible attitude! We'd be walking the streets of New York and she would just fold her arms and sit down on the side walk! She wouldn't talk to us or tell us what was wrong! We were so frustrated! Then further into the trip she began talking about 'our old, brown house'. It took us a few days to realize she thought this was our life now. The 'old brown house' was our home here in Washington and she thought we were never coming back. I try to imagine her confusion and sadness as she tried to come to terms with the idea she had given up all of her toys and books and her bed and dresser... brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it! From that day on, we began to explain each days activities and count down to when we'd be going home.
We had never taught her the definition of vacation and just expected her to join us, happily and without complaining. What a shock it was to see 'vacation' through her eyes!

Monday, October 26, 2009

San Diego vacation!

We are on vacation in San Diego and having a great time! These are pictures of Beth in her room in our condo; at the beach at La Jolla, it was very warm and so beautiful!
The first night here, we had a family reunion! Everyone was there except Beth's sister Sharaya and her husband Ryan. Sharaya is going to have a baby in a few weeks and was unable to come down with us. Maybe we'll photoshop them in! :)
Right now Beth is at Disneyland with Diana! I'm sure they're having a lot of fun and will bring back lots of pictures!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A brief update

This has been a month full of parties! Sharaya and Beth both had birthdays and on Sunday we gave Sharaya a baby shower! Lots of friends, presents and a beautiful cake from Miss Patti! (We love her Patti cakes!)

Beth helped us set up for the shower, moving tables, arranging chairs and just helping where needed. She worked so hard she actually fell asleep in the middle of all the excitement! Pictures to come later. :)

Tomorrow we leave for vacation! We are driving to San Diego to visit family and friends and for my high school reunion. We haven't been on a road trip in more than two years and are definitely looking forward to this! Our kids have grown up taking road trips and I believe this will be number 35 for us.

I always make a packing list with 6 columns: one for the actual list, then 5 more with each of our names at the top. Beth took a giant suitcase into her room along with the list and began filling it up! When she put in some shirts, she'd put a check mark in the column with her name at the top. Then her pants, check. Shoes, check. She loves this! I let her do her own packing, but always double check it before we leave.

And speaking of packing, I need to go fill my suitcase! Clothes, check. Vitamins, check. Camera, check.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beth is 25!

Beth is 25! Twenty Five years is a long time. Think about where you were and what you were doing 25 years ago. Go ahead, think about it. I'll wait. :)
On Wednesday, I took some cupcakes to her friends at All Aboard.
This is Beth happily eating her cupcake!

This is some of her friends at All Aboard getting their cupcakes. Everybody loved them!
Beth was a star!

We asked her what she wanted to do on her actual birthday, October 10 and of course she said bowling! So the whole family drove to Spin Alley and bowled two games. We cheated a little by using bumpers, but you've never seen Beth's sad face when she gets a gutter ball! :(

We didn't want that to happen..... on her birthday!

See, I told you the whole family went! Didn't Diana do a great job getting us all in the photo?!

The next stop was Red Robin. I don't think she liked having the balloons around her neck.

She finally got to eat her ice cream and felt better after that!

After Red Robin, we came home and she opened all her presents!! She got movies and music and games and even a beautiful pink scarf from Sharaya and Ryan! What a fun day!

Happy, Happy Birthday Beth!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beth's Beginning Part Two

We called each of our family members and asked them to come to the hospital. We were holding Beth as we explained the limits and uncertainty of Down Syndrome. Beth was passed from one set of waiting arms to the next. They cried, they held her close and we knew, they were going to love her too.

The next couple of days brought an endless stream of visitors. Friends, extended family, doctors, specialists, therapists. During the few moments we had alone with Beth, we tried to familiarize ourselves with all the things that come with having a new baby. Never mind the Down Syndrome, how do you clean the belly button?! What about bath time, do I even dare touch the soft spot?! It was for this reason we decided to take the 'first time parents' class the hospital was offering.

The day for the class arrived and the hall was soon filled with slow moving moms. We all settled into the rocking chairs that had been placed in a circle around the room. As soon as the nurse began, she was interrupted. Another nurse looked right at me, "Cindy, your husband has been in an auto accident and is downstairs in emergency." I stood up, completely in shock and followed the nurse out of the room. Chuck is a large man and I knew he wouldn't be brought to the ER if it wasn't serious. I was unable to see him due to the sterile conditions downstairs and had to be content to just talk with him on the phone. I felt a little better after hearing his voice, but still called my mom and asked her to come. It took 5 hours for them to clean him up enough to release him. He came upstairs and told us his story.

He was leaving work to come to the hospital and slammed into the back of a flat bed pick up truck. He never saw the truck and so was going the full speed of 45 miles per hour. As he tells it, "I heard crunching so I closed my eyes and slammed on the brakes. When everything was quiet, I opened my eyes and the corner of the flat bed was 6 inches from my face."

The Lord had been with him in that truck. We later learned that an Elder in our church had a dream that Chuck, me and our baby were all killed in an auto accident. He got together with the other Elders and they prayed for Gods protection around all of us. Chuck came away from that accident with only scratches and bruises. Not even one broken bone!!

So with no car, Chuck out of work for a while and me recovering from emergency surgery, we began the life of a family with a special needs child. Social workers stopped by our house; physical therapists came to work with Beth; we joined support groups. Looking back now, I don't know how on earth we survived. But I do know that God has met our needs time and time again. He has walked this path with us, lighting the way when we didn't know where to turn. He has used our family and friends to give us hope when we thought hope was gone.

Beth turns 25 on Saturday, Oct 10 and we can't imagine our lives without her! She is the puzzle piece that completes our family! It has been a journey we didn't expect, but one we wouldn't trade for anything in the world!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beth's Beginning

"It's a girl! You've got a girl!" The doctors words still sometimes ring in the back of my head. It's been many years since that first day of my daughters life and yet it seems just like yesterday. The Tigers had beaten the Padres in the first game of the World Series. Living in San Diego we were devoted Padre fans and our TV was tuned in to game 2 when I felt my water break. I quickly checked my already packed suitcase and with great anticipation, we headed to the hospital.

Doctor Maloney was a fantastic doctor, a grandfatherly type with a great bedside manner. He made you feel like a member of his family, rather than a patient. He told us that my water had actually ruptured the day before and our baby was at risk. He wanted to perform an emergency c-section.

After all these years, I can still remember the rhythm of those ceiling lights as they wheeled me down the hall and into the operating room. I was so relieved to see Chuck walk into that room, but noticed the small green hat barely covered his thinning blonde hair! We listened to the doctors talk about their vacations and their families, then a baby cried. "It's a girl!" Our baby girl!

Elizabeth Meigan! We had picked out the name months before. They wrapped her in a blanket and handed her to Chuck. He held her out for me to see; she was the most beautiful child ever born! As the anesthetic took over my senses and I drifted off to sleep, Chuck took Beth to the nursery to be weighed and measured. The pediatrician on call looked at Chuck, "Did you know your baby has Down Syndrome?"

Chuck went out to tell the family that Beth and I were both doing well, but didn't mention anything about this stunning news. The nurses put Beth in the nursery window and our family gathered around to get a good look. They commented about her perfect, little round head, they hugged each other; but no one noticed what the doctors had discovered just moments before.

Chuck drove home that night, keeping this shattering news to himself. He prayed and asked the Lord if there was anything he could have done to prevent this. John 9:1-3 came to his mind, when the disciples ask Jesus who is to blame for the man born blind. Jesus tells them that no one is to blame, but that this happened so the work of God would be revealed in his life. Chuck crawled into bed and closed his eyes, but unlike most nights, it took him a long time to fall asleep.

As Chuck was hearing those mind-numbing words the night before, I was being wheeled into recovery, then to my room where I slept hard all night. The next morning my pediatrician came in and sat on the edge of the bed. He told me that Beth was showing signs of Down Syndrome. He talked about chromosome tests, specialists, therapy... his words drifted off into the air. I remember something about chromosomes from Biology class. Why didn't I notice last night? Does Chuck know?? As the doctors words filled my mind again, I found myself crying uncontrollably. My phone call woke Chuck. He could tell by my tears that I knew. He came to the hospital and pulled a chair up beside the bed. He took my hands and through his tears he asked, "We can still love her, can't we?"

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Beth is on the Mukilteo Pin Busters bowling team with Special Olympics. They bowl once a week, then the tournament begins in November. This is Beth last year, with her longest and dearest friend, Miranda. They've known each other for about 20 years! GO Pin Busters!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beth is....

Beth is... shy.
Beth is... usually content.
Beth is... funny. We were at a restuarant when another family was ushered by our table on the way to their own. The daughter was wearing a short blouse which showed her belly button ring. After they passed, Beth looked at us and exclaimed, "THAT'S gotta hurt!"
Beth preferes to drink with a straw.
Beth's favorite activity is bowling.
Beth drinks approximately 1/2 gallon of milk a day.
Beth does not like chocolate milk.
Beth loves to sing. Especially musicals.
Beth has 4 Special Olympic medals; 2 Bronze, 1 Silver and 1 Gold.
Beth refers to any buffet restaurant as Pass The Plate.
Beth's favorite Jonahs Brother is Nick and she literally sobs when she sees him on TV with another girl. :(
Beth has driven a car... once, about 30 yards in an empty parkinglot.
Beth always gets the #11 meal at McDonalds.
Beth's favorite ice cream is Mint Chocolate Chip.
Beth calls her dad Dude. He calls her Dudette.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Plan B

Our 'Lights Out' plan didn't work. Beth continued to stay up late and refused to wake up each morning. Diana took this picture of Beth at about 8 PM on Sunday night. She is sound asleep! She woke up while I was cleaning off her bed. She sat up just long enough to put on her pajamas, which she did very slowly and literally with her eyes shut. :) Within a few minutes she was under the covers. I set her alarm for work the next day; it was set for 10:30 but I expected she would be awake long before that. I was wrong. She was still asleep when I got home for lunch at 11:30!! She had slept for more than 15 hours!
That night we made a new rule: TV off at 10:00. Music and lights off at 11:00. So far it's working well.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Big Yellow Bus

The dress Beth wore at her second birthday party was only a size 18 months. That made it all the more difficult to send her off to school just a few weeks later. She was so small compared to that big, yellow school bus! That first morning was harder than we expected. I dressed her in a pale pink dress and she 'helped' us fill her bag with all the things she might need away from home; change of clothes, a snack. As we stood at the curb, Chuck and I watched this tiny person as she nervously waited for the bus. I was picking her up to get one more hug when that bus came around the corner. I could barely hold her as she wiggled with excitement! When those double doors popped open, I put her on the top step and the bus driver helped her into the big, leather seat. Her face barely showed over the bottom of the window and we could tell she was straining her neck to see us as the bus pulled away. We smiled bravely! And we waved! And the tears began to flow.... and all too soon, the bus was out of sight.

Beth started riding the bus to school when she was only two years old. She had been working with a physical therapist in our home almost from birth. When she turned two they knew she would receive more stimulation in a classroom setting. In the world of special needs, you attend the school where the special ed teachers are. So every morning, Beth climbed aboard a school bus that took her to Sevick School a few miles from our home. Throughout her academic career, she attended more than 8 different schools.

We were so grateful that she attended Edmonds-Woodway her last three years of high school and got to graduate with her class, the Class of 2004. She told us that the best part was wearing her cap and gown! Just as they had 21 years earlier, the tears stung my face but this time with memories and joy I couldn't possibly describe!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Prize Photos at the Fair

Beth participates in All Aboard. They are a group of young adults, all with special needs, who get together each week to bowl, sing and just hang out. I'll give more details about All Aboard in another post.

Beth takes an art class with them and each year Gene, the founder and director, enters their work in the Evergreen State Fair! We visited there today and found Beth's two art projects. She earned a 'Special Recognition' blue ribbon sticker for both! It was exciting to see her pictures among all those entered at the fair.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

We're getting there!

Monday night did not go well. She was still awake at midnight but that might have been my fault for not being more specific. See, she was in bed and the lights were out, but she was sitting up with headphones on, listening to music. Tuesday morning she turned off her alarm and went back to sleep!

Tuesday night was better. She got ready for bed at a more reasonable hour, but was not a happy camper when I took away her CD player. However, Wednesday morning she turned off her alarm and started getting ready for her day!! Woo hoo!

Again last night she didn't want to go to sleep. However, this morning when that alarm began to buzz, she got up on her own, and immediately got ready for work! Success!!

Tomorrow is her day off and I've told her she can stay up as late as she wants, so I fully expect to do this routine again Sunday night. But for now, I think we're breaking this late night habit!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Lights Out

Beth does not like change. Any changes we make to her routine need to be done gradually. She is also a night owl. It is not unusual for her to still be awake at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Lately however, she has been turning off her alarm and going back to sleep. Go figure. :)

On one such morning recently, after I prodded and pushed her to get up, get dressed and get ready for her bus, she stormed out of the house, yelled, "Stupid family!" and slammed the front door. *Sigh.* When she got home that afternoon, in a good mood I might add (she seldom stays mad for long) I talked to her about her attitude that morning. I told her that starting next week, she was going to have to go to bed earlier. Not wanting to give her a 'bedtime' (afterall, she IS almost 25) I told her there would be a 'lights out'. No TV, no music and no singing after a certain time. She was very accepting and agreed to the new rule. That was last week.

The new rule starts tonight. I reminded her again today and she nodded her head like, "Yea, yea, I know." I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Our Family

Diana and Beth in the van on our way back from Hurricane Ridge earlier this month. Sisters having fun! You should have heard the laughter! :)

Diana, Elizabeth, Sharaya and Ryan. This was taken at Ryan and Sharaya's apartment in the fall of 08.

Diana, Cindy and Beth at Seaside, Oregon. We went on a mini road trip in May 2009 and drove out to Seaside for the afternoon. We stopped to take this picture before we headed to the water! The ocean was beautiful!

Diana, Cindy, Ryan, Sharaya, Beth and Chuck at Ryan and Sharaya's wedding in July of 2008.

Elizabeth Meigan Anderson. This was one of many pictures put in a frame and given to me for Christmas. This is one of my all time favorite photos of Beth!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

If People with Down Syndrome Ran the World

I got this off the internet some time ago. I'm sorry, I don't know who the author is, but I can tell you it's all true! :)

People with Down Syndrome have a reputation for having two speeds, slow and slower. Therefore, if people with Down Syndrome ran the world:
Last minute changes would be strongly discouraged (if not considered rude and offensive.)
There would be more tolerance for repeating the same phrase or question.
Stopping to smell the roses would not be just a cliche'.
Art and music appreciation would be BIG.
Acting and theatrical arts would be encouraged for all.
The President's commission on physical fitness would probably recommend dancing.
Music of the 60's, 70's and 80's would be BIG.
Musicals would be very, very, very big, such as Grease and Sound of Music.
John Travolta would be the biggest star. (For Beth, it's Donny Osmond.) :]
There would be fewer movies, but they would be played over and over.
Movie theatres would allow people to talk out loud to tell what happens next.
Work time would be work time and vacation would be vacation.
They are visual learners so all instruction would include pictures.
People would not hurt the feelings of others.
People would be expected to keep their promises.

As I get ready to post this, I can hear Beth in her bedroom singing at the top of her lungs, "We'll always be together! Always, be together!" Can you see Danny and Sandy 'flying' above the group in their car...??

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This is Ryan, Sharaya, Beth and Diana. Ryan and Sharaya were married July 26, 2008. Beth was a bridesmaid! She loved dressing up but her new shoes hurt her feet. By the time we got to the reception, she was barefoot!
This picture was taken in December 2008.