Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Casual Day?

This morning Sharaya and Diana boarded a plane for Los Angeles. Anaheim, to be more exact. They're spending today, Wednesday, January 30th at Disneyland!!

And tomorrow they will be home and back at work.

Years ago, my friends and I would would plan one day trips to Disneyland. We'd get a group together and early on a Saturday morning, we'd climb into someones car and drive the 90 minutes to Anaheim and spend the day at Disneyland. Then we'd drive back home that evening.  In school, Disneyland was a yearly field trip. It was just a casual destination. Something to do on the weekend.

But that was when we lived in San Diego and ticket prices were only $20. That was when you'd have to buy 'C' tickets and 'E' tickets to be able to actually ride the rides. You could get in to Disneyland and just walk around, but the rides were extra. I wish I had saved some of those old tickets!

 (Thanks Google!)

When we moved to Seattle, we thought it was so odd to see commercials advertising for Disneyland. They have to advertise here? Then we began to meet people who had never been there. That really surprised us. We began to miss the sounds of the brakes on the roller coasters. The Kshhhhhhhh as you pull back into the station. The Clack, clack, clack as the coaster heads up the hill just before the big drop.

We've been to Disneyland quite a few times since moving to Seattle, but it does cost a bit more now. Diana works 3 jobs, saves her money, then travels. She's been to London, Paris, Ireland, Australia. But she's been to Disneyland the most. Anaheim, Orlando, even Disneyland Paris.  She's gone alone, she's taken Beth, she went once to meet my sister there and she's gone with the family.

So a month or so ago she asked Sharaya if she wanted to go. They began saving their money, booked a flight and off they went! Spending a casual day at Disneyland.

 My sister and her grandkids

Saturday, January 26, 2013

One Purple Marker

Do other kids with Down Syndrome show tendencies toward OCD?

A few years ago Beth was collecting hoarding water bottles. Back when plastic water bottles were popular we'd buy them by the case at Costco. Beth would never throw them away. They'd be half full, partially full, empty and she'd put them around her room, on her bed, on the floor. She'd have dozens of them and no matter how often I'd go in to throw them away, she'd get more. It bothered her when they weren't there.

Then, without warning she stopped collecting water bottles and started on batteries. Those scared me. If a battery leaks, that acid is dangerous. She'd have so many batteries all over her room! In baggies, in drawers. She was always buying them and when we told her she couldn't she'd get so mad.

Eventually the battery thing ended and now... it's markers. Although I must say, she's not collecting them, she's just very... obsessed with them. She has to have a certain brand and style of marker. Even if one begins to dry slightly, she buys a whole new package and throws the old package away. Even if all the other markers work fine! She spends SO much money on markers!

Today she brought up her jar of coins and said she wanted to count them so she could walk to Bartells and buy new markers. Considering she just bought new markers last week, I went downstairs and she showed me one purple marker. She took the tip off in her hand and said, "It's broken." I was able to put the tip back in and pressed hard on it. It stayed fine. I tried it a few times and it worked perfectly.

I tried all the other markers and they were fine. I told her she was gonna have to use those markers because she doesn't get paid until next week. I put all the markers back in the box and explained that because she didn't have a job, she was gonna have to make these work. I told her that my hours have been cut at work and I'm not making as much money either so dad and I are having to cut back on things too. That's what you have to do when you're not working.

I don't think she was listening though because she had taken the markers back out of the box and was putting them back in the right way. The black one first, then the red....  

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Face of a Winner

We've had a casual Monday afternoon. Beth was downstairs watching TV and I was upstairs doing laundry so I asked her if she wanted to play a game. "Yes! Mexican Train!"

Focused, so concentrated, we placed each tile so it matched the previous. She won some rounds and I won a few. She's really good at this game!


 And then... the final tile was placed...
 and the scores were totaled...


Yep, this kid beats me almost every time!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Not a Kid Anymore

Beth volunteered in the office this week. It's been so cold here lately, temps in the 20's and freezing fog that she stayed inside at the elementary school on Monday. I'm guessing the kids played in the gym instead of going outside as well. When she was leaving the house that morning I told her goodbye and said, "Have a great day!" She mumbled something then slammed the door. Okaaay.

Tuesday she went bowling. There are so many people on this league that the bowling alley has told them that they plan to turn over the entire place to them! They have well over 40 lanes!! That's a lot of bowlers! That afternoon we went to the mall and when we stopped at Auntie Anne's Pretzels I was able to ask her why she slammed the door. She gave me her 'go to' response that she always gives when she doesn't want to answer, a shrug of the shoulders and "I dunno." Then I gave her my 'go to' response to that and said, "Yes you do. Just tell me." She finally told me that she doesn't want me talking to her in the morning. She couldn't tell me why though. But okay. I can live with that. For now. For now I will think about this and see if I can figure out why she doesn't want me talking to her.

Wednesday was karaoke and art. She forgot to set her alarm and I woke her up about 20 minutes before she was to walk out the door. But she made it!! As she came upstairs I went back to the office. I stood there while she put on her jacket and headed for the door. Diana was talking with her and told her goodbye and she seemed okay with that.

I'm not sure what this is all about. I think maybe she feels like a little kid when I tell her goodbye. I've told her goodbye since she was little so maybe she's still feeling little when she hears it? Maybe? Sometimes so much of this life is a guessing game.

We all tell each other goodbye though; I try not to let anyone leave the house without saying goodbye. Chuck and I always kiss - always - so I'll need to tell her I say goodbye because I love her. Not because she's a little kid, but because it's what families do, because I love her. And we'll see if that helps!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rewind Wednesday - Our Big Girl Helper

This is an excerpt from the journal I kept for Beth when she was growing up. 
She was just over 4 years old.

January 18, 1988

Hi Beth,
     I wanted to write and let you know about your accomplishments. You have finally learned to step down without holding onto someone's hand! I'm so proud of you!
     And your speech! You are saying so many words now: Car, Beth, Raya, Tree, Drink, Shoe, Baby, Mommy, Apple. I am truly amazed at your progress.
     You're changing from a toddler to a little girl. You want to help more, you would rather do things yourself than have them done for you.
     As far as your play time, you're into jewelry, dusting, playing house. You put on your purse, pick up your baby and tell me, "Bye!" like you're going somewhere.
     You're very concerned about Raya. What she's doing, if she needs help. You're growing up to be a sweet, kind little girl.
     I love you very much! 

This was taken when Beth was about 5 1/2.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Beth Tells You About Our Day and A Little About Christmas






Saturday, January 12, 2013

Not Much

There hasn't been too much happening around here this week.

Diana and Sharaya are planning a one day trip to Disneyland at the end of this month.

The Seattle Seahawks are in the playoffs and everyone is excited about the big game tomorrow against Atlanta.

My hours have been cut at work, from 31 down to 20. So we're looking for ways to cut costs. I would really like to just be home 4 days a week; work on projects, hang out with Beth more, but in all reality I may have to find another part time job.

Now that Beth is volunteering at the school on Mondays, she'll be busy 4 days a week. And she told me tonight, "I want to eat healthy from now on." Yea Beth!

We've had freezing weather this week. Temps in the teens and 20s! Twice now I've gone out in the morning and couldn't get the car doors open! At first the key wouldn't turn, and once it did, I couldn't pull the door open! A friend at work who was born and raised in Canada said the next time, I need to light a match and warm the car key with that. Another friend said she poured warm water around the door frame. But when she went back out at lunch, all that water had frozen!

It reminded me of something I read in Readers Digest:
On a cold, winter morning a wife sent a text to her husband, "Windows frozen!"
He sent back a text, "Try pouring warm water over it."
A few minutes later she responded, "Computer really messed up now."

Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Adults Are Never Too Old For Baby Steps

Beth did a great job today. She started with some shredding in the office, then went out to play with the kids at the first and second grade recess. This will be her plan for volunteering, helping in the office then going out to help at recess. She was pretty shy and quiet but it was a completely new environment, so I'm hoping she will warm up after a few weeks.

This was the email I received from Beth's job coach on Tuesday. Beth told us that she 'worked in the office, then went  out with the kids to make sure they didn't play on the grass.' I'm guessing the grass was wet. This is Seattle after all. :)

So, she's not a teacher's assistant just yet, but baby steps are okay too! Isn't it funny how your family members approach life differently?

In our house, Sharaya was a 'cannonball into the deep end' kind of kid. The highest and fastest roller coaster. The most daring activity she could find. Diana would watch her and once she saw Sharaya was okay, she'd jump in too. Or climb aboard the coaster.

Beth however, would gingerly walk over to the stairs of the pool and stand on the first step until her feet got used to the water. She'd hold their drinks while they went on the roller coaster. She just lives life using baby steps. I do too. I'd be standing next to her, holding their purses.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dreams Coming True?

On my side bar, I have a picture of Beth and a short description. The last sentence says, 'her dream job is to be a preschool teacher.'

At all of Beth's vocational planning meetings, they ask her what she would like to do if she could do anything in the world. Her answer is always, 'be a teacher'. 

Tomorrow she begins a volunteer position at a local elementary school. For now she will be a playground attendant, hanging out with the kids and playing games with them. Her job coach said the volunteer coordinator at the school was very excited about getting Beth in a classroom as an assistant. We're hoping it becomes a paid position but with the economy the way it is and how hard it is for schools to get additional funding, we have to leave that in the Lord's hands.

But, her dreams are coming true!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

In The Mix But Not Forgotten

The last 6 weeks of the year are a whirlwind for us. We have Thanksgiving, Christmas and two birthdays.

I think I've mentioned a little about our Thanksgiving: we volunteer at our church where we serve (well we, means us and 500 others!) dinner for about 1300 people. I lead the Condiment team, about 15 amazing people who prepare olives, pickles, cranberry sauce and rolls. Then they open, score, cut, plate, tray and serve 1300 pieces of pie! It's exhausting work and takes weeks of planning.

A week later is Allison's birthday. (I realized just a  few minutes ago I never posted about her birthday. Ugh.)

Of course by now we're already full swing into shopping, baking, Christmas parties, tree buying and decorating, planning, wrapping... then the big day comes and it's fun and busy and exciting!

I've been blessed lately to have the day after Christmas off. We usually sleep in and move slowly most of the day.

The next day? December 27? Is Diana's birthday.

Beth and Sharaya were both c-sections so when I got pregnant with Diana we were able to schedule her birth. The doctor gave us a choice of about 2 weeks, December 19 through January 3. Any one of those days we could choose as Diana's birthday. Chuck's mom was turning 60 on December 27 and we thought it would be a great tribute to her to have her grandchild born on her birthday.

What we didn't do, but we should have done, was ask around first. There was no Facebook at that time, no email but there were plenty of people we could have asked about having a birthday so close to Christmas. Even Mary Ann (Chuck's mom) had told us stories of how hard it was, but we didn't consider that when choosing Diana's birth date.

We know Diana has felt forgotten at times. Felt like she wasn't very special or that we didn't care. But those feelings couldn't be farther from the truth. It's been hard, I won't lie to you. We try, but often fall short.

We adore this girl SO much! She makes us laugh, she brightens our days! She's always looking toward the future and her outlook on life inspires us.

We love you Diana! We know some of your birthdays have been less than thrilling, but know that you are loved and appreciated all year! Not just on December 27.

I remembered to take pictures after the gifts and cheesecake!
(FYI, she's holding Sharaya's puppy in her lap)




Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Not True Anymore

Beth doesn't really talk, did I tell you that?

Well, I guess the best way to describe it is she doesn't often engage in conversation. She doesn't walk in the door and talk about her day. She will answer questions, the same questions that have become part of her routine.

On Tuesdays she's on a bowling league. She'll come in after it's over, put her score sheet and newsletter on the counter and go downstairs. We usually try to catch her, "Beth, did you have fun?"


Looking at her scores for the day I see she bowled a personal best of 129!! Four spares and two strikes!! "Wow Beth, this is awesome! Congratul..." She's already downstairs with the door shut.

I wrote this post about 4-5 months ago and saved it as a draft. The only time I've ever saved a draft. I was going to title it Anderson Detective Agency. We had to constantly ask questions, inquire about everything and basically beg Beth to talk to us. She just didn't say much.

But that has all changed the last few months. Now, we can't get her to stop talking. :)

I'm not sure what made the difference but she started greeting at our church about 8 months ago. Every other Sunday morning she stands at one of the doors and shakes hands with everyone who comes in. She looks at them and says, "Welcome" or "Good morning." That's the only thing I can think of that would have helped bring her out of her shell.

Her job coach told us the other day (we had our annual meeting with the state) that Beth is interacting with her more and participating more in job class.

In fact, she's talking so much I gently told her the other day that it's okay to be quiet sometimes. We were in the car (it's hard to understand her unless I look at her and read her lips when she's talking) and I was having to ask her to repeat everything. We had gone out shopping (5 1/2 hours!) and I was drained. She had literally talked the. entire. time. I don't mean a few sentences here and there. I mean absolutely, non stop talking. I'm surprised she didn't get a sore throat.

We were standing in line at the bathroom and the handicap stall became available. As she was going into it she turned to me, "Mom it's big enough. You can come too."

At a shoe store, she sat down on a little bench to try on shoes and said, "Man I love shopping!"

Went went to get her hair cut and as the hairdresser was showing her to the chair, Beth said, "I like your music." Beth spoke to her first, that was huge! They continued to talk the whole time.

While we were sitting in the food court eating our Auntie Anne's Pretzels she told me about her bowling teammates; her volunteer position at the elementary school, then she jumped up from the table. "Beth where are you going?" She pointed to a table behind us. "My friends!" And she went over to their table and talked to them. Actually started the conversation with them. I was just stunned.

She's also learned to text. Oh my has she learned to text! So much so that we had to change our plans to 'unlimited' because I was going over my limit receiving and answering all her texts! Diana has unlimited but Chuck, Beth and I didn't text that much. Until now.

These changes have been such a breath of fresh air. Beth is spending so much time upstairs, eating breakfast with us, talking with us, engaging in life with us. I don't honestly know what's caused this change but we love it!! This has been one of the biggest changes and one of the highlights of 2012 for me.

I am excited to see what 2013 has in store!