Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beth's First Days At Work - Her Job Coach's Perspective

I emailed Beth's job coach and this is her response:

Hi Cindy,
Beth did amazing! She learned the tasks very quickly and is incredibly thorough. She even talked to the manager on Saturday! (It required prompting, but she spoke at a level that he could hear, so I am very proud) She seems to really like her job- she was smiling at the end of both shifts. Her manager is very glad to have her and has been great.

Woohoo!! We are so absolutely excited about this!

Monday, April 29, 2013


Beth's usual response to our questions is, "Uh, good." As in, "Beth, how was bowling today?" "Uh, good." She's busy now 6 days a week so we hear this a lot.

On Friday though, when she got home from her first day at work, we asked her how it went and she said, "Awesome!"

I haven't heard from her job coach (grrr!) but Beth has told us that she showed her how to fold boxes. And that folding boxes is hard.

She said she washed some dishes. When I asked her if she put them in the dishwasher or washed them by hand, she thought about if for a minute and said, "By hand."

She told us that she has to 'clock in' every day. And that they wrote her code down for her.

(You know, as I'm writing this I'm realizing... that first night she told me she had to put in her zip code. I thought that was interesting because more than one employee may have the same zip code. But Beth knows ours so I wasn't concerned. On day two, she showed us the code they had written down for her. It wasn't our zip code. So when they told her to enter a code, I wonder if she entered our zip?) Hmm.

So she's clocking in, folding boxes and washing dishes. I haven't heard much more than that. She goes back this Friday so I'll let you know if anything else happens!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Her First Day

Beth wore all black today. It's her uniform for her new job! I'm SO excited about this job but I also have reservations.

Her job coach was developing this job for a different client and at the last minute, the client changed her / his mind about it. So last week we got a call asking if Beth would like the job. It's a paid position, just a few hours a day, two days a week. Sounds perfect!!

So we said yes.

Then we learned it's in a city about an hour from our house. And the traffic between here and there is notorious for being stop and go the. whole. way.  Which translates into a 2 hour commute.

But it's a paying job. And at Little Caesars Pizza! Beth has wanted to work at a place that people recognize.

So we still said yes.

Our family drove to it last night after dinner, just to check it out and so Beth would at least recognize it when her bus dropped her off this evening. Oh yea, did I mention she's working evenings? More reservations.

But she's working!! She has a job and she is beyond excited!! (I haven't shared any of our reservations with her. There's no need to worry her if none of our fears come true.) She was ready early today. And she was nervous. I re-assured her that she could do it. That's she going to be great and make friends and do the job well. Then, just before her bus arrived, I prayed for her. I laid hands on her and prayed for peace of mind and for her to have confidence.

Allie came over to play today and she wanted in on the picture too!
Beth was more than happy to oblige.

Waiting for Beth's bus.

It's here! 
"Bye Aunt Beth! Have a good day at work!"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

KP Duty

Beth loves to cook and I'm trying to let her help more often. The other night we had mashed potatoes with our pork chops. I peeled them and she cut them. They were delicious!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Looking Back

Beth likes to know what's coming. She wants time to prepare for the transition to the next thing. You can't really 'spring something on her'. She gets flustered and ends up moving incredibly slow. Why, I'm not sure. Maybe so that whatever is coming, won't come until she's ready.

This is something we learned too late in Beth's life. Too many 'next things' without enough preparation. Too many transitions without enough explanations. Looking back now I wonder how we never noticed it. One of those things that make you wonder what kind of parent you really are. What kind of parent wouldn't notice that their child freaks out when such and such happens??

But we can't keep kicking ourselves. At some point you have to get back up, dust yourself off, ask for forgiveness from your child and from the Lord, and then move forward.

That's where I am. Trying to move forward. Trying to right some of the wrongs. Not that the wrongs were anything CPS would be interested in, but just parenting fails. Yelled when you should have hugged. Hurried when you should have been more patient. Ignored when you should have invested more time.

But it's never too late to move forward. Never too late to right the wrongs. I'm trying. As I continue to parent my 28 year old, I'm still learning from the past. Still learning from my mistakes. And I'm moving forward.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Every Job Needs One

I was out working in the yard this morning and my supervisor made sure I did a good job!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Wish We Could Be There To See Their Faces!

This weekend we took part in a volunteer effort to clean up a local middle school. It was the school that Diana attended and in recent years has lost a lot of funding - like most schools I think - and one thing they've cut back on is landscaping. The principal said that when it comes time to make cuts, the last thing to go is the teachers. So the place doesn't look that great, but no one has lost their job. And I agree with her completely. People should always come first.

So 5 churches in the area got together and went to work. We pulled weeds, trimmed bushes, raked leaves, swept sidewalks and scattered bark. They said there were over 200 people that showed up. The principal told me that she hadn't told the students OR the teachers that we were coming and she couldn't wait to see the looks on their faces come Monday morning!



It rained for a little while but it didn't stop us for long!



This was taken at the end, after most of the people had gone home.
It was such an amazing day!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Not A Morning Person

Ryan has been doing really well lately, but he recently ran out of medicine and can't get more until he sees a doctor. They haven't had the money for the doctor's visit so... I have Allie today. They all came over for dinner last night and after we ate, he laid on the couch, put his head on Sharaya's leg and pulled his hoodie up over his head.

I so wish I could make it better. Just snap my fingers (or cross my arms, nod my head and blink! Anyone else remember I Dream of Jeanie?!) and destroy depression forever. It's a horrible disease.

Allie arrived at 7:00 this morning. Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person? It's one thing to wake up early and sit quietly at the kitchen table sipping a cup of hot tea, but waking up early to hang out with a 3 year old?! Needless to say, I'm typing this while trying to keep my eyes open.

We had breakfast, colored in our coloring books, watched Dora...


Danced to some 80's Psalty the Singing Songbook ablums...


Played with bubbles, ate lunch, read books... and now she's asleep in our room. Whew!

About the time I was putting her down, Beth came home from job class. It's a class she goes to every week because she's unemployed. Going on three years now. As soon as they (the vocation service) find her a job, she won't have to go to job class anymore!

She has a questionnaire from bowling that we needed to fill out. They ask the kids all about themselves, favorite holiday, favorite pet, if you were the president of the U.S. what would you do? If you had all the money in the world, how would you spend it? That sort of thing. Then each week they write about one bowler in their newsletter. They get their picture taken, it's really a big thing and the kids love it. The president question? Beth wrote, 'I'd help people find a job.'


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When The World Ended

This is a post Sharaya wrote on Sunday. She has given me permission to share it with you. It will give you a glimpse into what has been happening in our family the last few months.


when the world ended

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.” Psalm 71:20-21

Yesterday we went to the memorial service for one of my closest friends.  Needless to say, it was a long day. In fact, the past month has seemed to be a complete nightmare without an end. And I don't mean to sound like a teenage drama queen when I say that.

For the past couple of years, Ryan and I have been in and out of hospitals, learning to deal with his disease which doctors have diagnosed as severe depression. This is something we're just now starting to share with those around us because it's something that's always been so misunderstood. Depression is an illness that takes over the entire household and can swallow up everything and anyone inside it. And unlike popular belief, this ain't no case of the grumpies. It can't be solved with a passer-by giving us some worthwhile advice like, "suck it up" or "just get over it." It's a neurological, all-encompassing disease that interferes and disrupts every aspect of your life. In fact, each and every one of the doctors we've seen have said it's the most severe case they've ever encountered. Yaaay.

On March 4th, I came home from work and walked in on my husband trying to end his life. That was a very scary experience. But with all my heart, I wish I could say it was the first time. And making an extremely long story short, he admitted himself into a clinic where he got some help, was released shortly after and we've been continually learning to live with this thing ever since.

But then on March 18th, while I was at work, I got the call that one of our closest friends had died in his sleep the night before. I completely fell apart.

I'll start out by stating the obvious. I loved Alex. I love Alex. He was like a brother to me and an uncle to Allie. The day right before he passed, I had actually been thinking about some things I wanted to get him for his birthday, even though it was 4 months down the road. He was the sweetest person with the biggest heart anyone could have. I was so looking forward to seeing him get married and be a dad. He would have been such an amazing dad. He had such a special relationship with Allison. But it actually didn't start out that hot...
When Allie was first born, she was terrified of Alex. He didn't even have to be in her eye sight. All she had to do was feel his presence in the room and she would start crying like crazy. Eventually, we figured out that it was because of his facial hair. He had so much of it at the time that I guess it freaked her out. So one day, he showed up to our house with a completely clean shaven face. He said he did it for Allie. He wanted her to like him. And that's what I'll remember most about him. The fact that pleasing others, pleased him. He had such a servants heart and I'll never forget that. He even helped Ryan through some of his darker times this past month and I'll appreciate everything he was to our family.

I don't know why he was taken and I may never know. But you don't always know how much a person means to you until they're gone. After they are, the things they taught you seem monumental. You realize you've learned so much from them and you're a better person because they had been in your life.

But to be honest, I'd rather have him here and still be a complete idiot. :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

He was only 24

Today was Alex's memorial.
He was only 24.

I was the Childcare Coordinator at our church and used to take a lot of pictures of the kids.
Alex is in the green shirt.

Alex was always such a happy kid

 This was taken at Ryan and Sharaya's wedding

The church was packed today. 
He really touched a lot of lives.
He will be missed.

Friday, April 5, 2013

She Said No

When our kids leave the school system (at age 21 here in WA) they start getting funds from the state and one thing those funds pay for is a vocational service. They provide Beth with a job coach who helps her look for a job, goes with her to the interview and supports her while she learns the job. Once she learns the job well enough to do it on her own, the coach just checks in occasionally.

Beth has been with Washington Vocational Services for seven years and they have recently moved into a new building. Last night they had a open house and Chuck, Beth and I went. (Diana was home sick with a 102 temp! She's better today and even back at work.) The new building is very nice and close to the street, where the other one was much older, tucked way back behind other businesses that it made it hard to get to and left little parking.

I actually remembered to take my camera and asked Beth if I could take her picture with some of the staff but she said no. :(

But she did let me take one as we were leaving. Okay! I'll take what I can get. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013


Beth has been spending a lot of time with us lately. Usually, she's downstairs watching TV or writing or singing or doing all three at once. :) We would often go many hours without seeing her.

Lately though she's been hanging out upstairs. She'll eat breakfast at the kitchen table, then sit and talk with us. Asking questions, telling us about her plans for the day.

(For those that might not know, our house has a daylight basement and Beth's 'apartment' is down there. Her bedroom, living room and tiny kitchen [microwave, etc.])

Having Beth interacting with us so much has reminded me how severe her disability really is. Please bear with me as I share my heart. I can already feel the tears welling up and I haven't even written it yet.

Earlier today, I was getting ready to do the dishes and Beth came up to sit at the table. Well our conversation actually started hours earlier when she called me at work. "Mom? I don't understand." (I was thrilled that she had called me to tell me! Five years ago she would have hung her head, sat on the floor and cried!) So I tried to explain that she was to take her medicine, then set the timer for one hour before she could eat. I had written this on her note and she didn't understand my instructions. So I told her that if she wanted to, she could eat first, set the timer for an hour and then take her medicine.

She still didn't understand. I told her not to worry about it and that we would talk about it when I got home. So as I'm starting to do the dishes I asked her if she had taken her medicine yet. She said yes. Oh? I asked her if she had set the timer and she said no.

"I ate my breakfast."
 "Right after you took your medicine?"
"Beth, you're supposed to wait an hour. So you took your medicine first, then ate?"
"So you ate breakfast, waited a while, then took your medicine?"


This went on for 10 minutes. Maybe it was me. Maybe I just wasn't being clear enough. This conversation shouldn't have been this hard! Beth is smart enough to get this, why isn't she understanding?! I was reminded - again - how different she is from her sisters.

As I'm washing dishes and trying to hold back the tears she says,

"I took my medicine."

"I did the..." (Puts her hand on her temple to think, then pointed to the oven timer.)

"You set the timer?"

"I did the timer. I did my chores. Then I eat."

"Okay, so you did wait..."

"I stay in my pajamas."

"What? What does that have to do with your medicine?"

"I stay in my pajamas while I take my medicine."

Oh. Okaaay. By now I'm exhausted.

Her speech is so hard to understand. I have to look at her when she talks. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, I have to be able to look at her when she talks. She interrupts with things that don't make sense. I guess they probably make sense to her, with the speed at which she thinks. But I don't think that way. It's draining. It makes me sad to know that we're living in two different worlds. I desperately want her to be normal in mine. Sometimes I think she almost is. But sometimes the differences are so vast I just sit and cry.

Sometimes I hate Down Syndrome.