Monday, November 30, 2009

Parenting is just a Picnic in the Park

We had a nice, long, mostly relaxing weekend in town for Thanksgiving. It was so nice to get to go over to my in-law's house for meals and just chill out! We had some great food and fun times with the kids and relatives.

Our official Thanksgiving Dinner at the Town Club photo.

Some chilling in the loft time.

Even the weather was warm enough to allow a little picnic in the park.

Sometimes most of the time, I have a hard time just sitting and relaxing. I always see contentedness as an opportunity to get up and get something done. You know, "hey the baby's napping. Cool, now I can fold laundry." Or "the kids are playing nicely! I should get the dishes done." Even my nursing breaks are used to read online instead of just resting. I think that's why knitting is going to be good for me. It's relaxing, requires sitting, and doesn't allow much multi-tasking. I have several projects on needles, but some are gifts so I can't show them yet. Hopefully I can keep finding these little windows to work on them.

This morning it was a frosty 29 degrees outside, so I feel Old Man Winter approaching. It's making me have ambitious thoughts about Christmas decorating and stirring my interest in holiday shopping. December always goes by so darn fast!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Low Water Immersion Dye Project

I've been eyeing these uber cute dyed dresses for months and decided to try my hand at making one for Eleanor. I purchased a simple 100% cotton light pink play dress from Basic Brilliance. I picked up a packet of Flamingo Pink Dylon dye from Hobby Lobby. I followed these directions for Low Water Immersion Dying. Within a couple of hours, I had a fun new dress for brightening up cold winter days!

Ella found her new dress so snuggy that she curled up by the heater and tucked herself in for a nap this morning. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Daddy to the Rescue!

For Aidan's seventh birthday, he had one toy stuck in his head that he wanted more than anything. We know it was stuck there, because he's been asking for it for the past two years (for birthdays and Christmases each year.) Doug and I kept telling him no, we didn't think he was old enough to be responsible for such a toy.

The object of his desire?

Not a Red Ryder BB Gun.

Rather, a remote control helicopter. "Not a PLANE, Mom, a HELICOPTER. Like the Army guys fly. And you can fly it in the house, Mom! It is SO COOL!!!!"

On his birthday weekend, he invited a group of friends to go swimming at the Y with him that Friday. Doug ended up running the party because Sean and Ella had fevers and I had to stay home with them. He opened presents from his friends at the party, but not from us. Doug's parents & brother, my parents, sister and nephews also gave him gifts that day. No helicopter, but lots of other fun wonderful toys and gifts.

Sunday morning, which was his actual birthday, we made orange rolls for breakfast (his favorite) and gave him his one gift from us. The helicopter. He was leaping with joy and could.not.wait. to give it a go. Only we had to charge it up first.

Doug set it up to charge and I ran around getting clothes ready to dress the kids and grab a shower. As I was coming downstairs, I heard the guys try to fly the plane but they kept running it into the ceiling. Doug told them they could all go outside and try to fly it. I was trying to get down to stop them because 1. it was cold outside and they were in jammies still. 2. the box said "for indoor flying." I wasn't sure it was supposed to fly outside.

By the time I caught up with them, they were already outside and Adam, our nephew, had accidentally flown the copter onto the first floor roof above our family room. Sigh.

Doug got our 6 foot ladder out of the garage and climbed up to the roof to try to get the copter. He said it was out of his reach, so he tried to use the remote to fly it off the roof. Only instead it flew up higher. This time onto the second story roof!

Doug was very unhappy with himself.

He borrowed the neighbor's 30 ft extension ladder, but it was no where near tall enough to reach the roof. We called several friends to see if anyone had a tall ladder or ideas to help get it down. It was getting colder, sleeting and snow was predicted. We wanted to try to get it before it got damaged in the rain.

I rushed everyone in to get them dressed while I thought Doug was putting up the neighbor's ladder. He didn't, he moved it over to the first floor roof and was trying to climb up it to walk across the roof then climb up to the second floor roof. Only the deck was slippery and shot the ladder out from under him! I looked from the kitchen and saw him laying flat on his back. I screamed for someone to run out and check on him while I pulled the kids out of the way. Luckily he was fine, a bit bruised but okay.

I told him to forget it, we'd replace the copter. I'd rather have a healthy husband than that toy!

Over the next week, Aidan asked every day to go get his new copter. The store we got it at was sold out so we were trying to track one down. Doug's dad was coming into town so Doug suggested that he have his dad help him try to get it one more time the following weekend, when they could rent a bigger ladder and use the truck to get it to our house.

In the meantime, my mom was able to buy the last one at another store near her and planned on giving it to Aidan when we met for my dad's birthday this past weekend.

The rescue attempt, take 4.

Hooray! It is intact and still works! Aidan has literally played with it all day since. He flies it, waits for it to charge back up, the flies it again. He's getting really good at flying it and has mastered the art of flying it IN THE HOUSE. :)

My mom has plans for a certain favorite cousin to get the other copter instead.

P.S. I forgot to add that Doug said that ladder was shaking so much as climbed up there that he is NEVER going to roof this house or hang Christmas lights that high.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2009 TECH Fundraiser Wassail Party

What a victorious night! Every winter, the Early Education Center graduating students sing Christmas songs at the annual TECH Fundraiser Wassail Party. Sean has been practicing at school every day for two weeks and we've been working on them at home also. I must admit, I had major butterflies for him. I thought he'd get stage fright in front of the 200+ crowd and cover his ears, screaming "No! No! No!" when they clapped.

Well... my boy is a PERFORMER!!!!! He ATE it up! The photos and video show what a superstar he was tonight. We are so proud of him!

The only complaint he had was the sweater I put on him- he hated the zipper collar and kept tugging at it. Oh well, he looked handsome as can be.

This child is so full of surprises!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy: a Mantra for IEPs, Kindergarten Transition, and IQ Testing

I've been doing a lot of reading, thinking, and talking to others about Sean's big transition to Kindergarten next year. I mean, jeez, it is only nine months away. :/

I'm trying to get myself in a head space where I'm not stressed about it any more than I was when Aidan started grade school, but it is hard. There's so much information out there about getting your child in the best environment for these early learning years. We all want our kids in the least restrictive environment so that they can learn along side their peers. We are all afraid of our kids being shut away in a room without windows, stimulation or teachers eager to help our child achieve at the best of his or her ability. We worry about abuse and neglect of our our sweet kids that can't defend themselves or verbalize the accounts of the day. So many of those fears seem valid and important to look out for.

This past week, the big news in the Down syndrome world was a report on possibly reversing the cognitive affects of Down syndrome. Research with lab mice have shown that the therapy plan may help our children with Ds if started at a very early age. Interesting possibility. Obviously one that needs a great deal of research regarding long term outcomes before it is applied in humans. I'm happy to hear that there is research that focuses on improving the LIFE of a person with Ds, rather than focusing on eliminating the existence of Ds. Should it prove to be effective and safe for humans, I think I'd be willing to try it. It doesn't change the make up of the person, it just helps boost the brain's ability to learn and retain information. However, I don't see that it has said if it would work on older children or if there's a window where it is only useful. Definitely research worth following.

So that leads me to this.... what do I want Sean to achieve in kindergarten? I guess I want him to have the best opportunity to learn that he can. I want him to speak clearly in full sentences that others understand as well as family. I want him to read and write. I want him to carrying on conversations that are not just repeating statements or yes/no answers. I want him to understand basic math skills. I want him to learn to button his shirts, zip his coat and tie his shoes. I want him to eat what his peers eat, and eat it willingly and independently. I want him to play with other children and be welcomed in their activities.

Do I think all of those goals are attainable? Yes. I do. I don't know if Sean will achieve all of those goals by the end of kindergarten. Some I expect will be more challenging and take longer. I don't know if this means he's in the "regular" classroom 100% or 80% or 50% of the day. I see no benefit to him being in a classroom if the pace is too fast for him and he isn't adequately supported to adapt to the activities. I don't want his time wasted at school because he is overwhelmed and shuts down. I'm willing to keep an open mind about where he is as long as he is learning where he is at.

Yesterday, Doug, Ella and I went to Aidan's Thanksgiving Feast. This is the school we intend on Sean going to. As I was clearing my tray and leaving the cafeteria, I saw the resource room kids clearing their trays and lining up for recess. I admit to staring at the three kids with Down syndrome. Watching as they independently sorted their trash and trays. They looked happy, the boys were laughing and tickling each other in line. The little girl was intent on scrapping her food into the can. But where were their parents? None of the kids in the class had parents that came to eat with them. Why? The school sent notes to us, so we knew when to go. Of the other classes, it looked like about 40% had parents or grandparents eating with them. Yet none of the kids in the resource class had a parent there.

Panic. Maybe the Special Ed teacher didn't send the invite home with her students.

Worry. Is this an example of how communication is lacking here?

Reality. Maybe they just have to work or have other kids at home and can't come. It's probably a coincidence.

Jennifer at Three's a Charm shared this post this week and I am trying to keep my mindset here instead of in a state of stress. I think I will just read it every time I start to worry. You know, this should be my new mantra, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

Monday, November 16, 2009

"When it's Time to Change..."

"You've got to re-arrange..."

Sean is sounding much much better today, but I'm going to keep him home one more day to rest. So, I'm thinking about using my extra time at home to update my blog with a new background. Hope I find something new I love! It is a chilly winter-feeling morning outside, I feel a change coming on!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Mommy, do I have Down syndrome?"

Aidan and I were out running errands one day, just the two of us. I love having little solo outings with each of the kids. On this particular one, Aidan suddenly asked me, "Mommy, does Ella have Down syndrome?"

"No, she doesn't."

"Mommy, do I have Down syndrome?"

"No, Aidan, you don't. Just Sean has Down syndrome."

"Well, if i don't have Down syndrome then what do I have that makes me special?"

Oh, Aidan, my sweet son! There are so many things about you that make you special! On this day, seven years ago, you made me a mother for the first time. I was so excited to become a mother, but so nervous as well. I waited for you and wanted you in my life so much. Every day that you grew in my tummy was a blessing and I prayed for you. Your daddy and I couldn't wait to meet you. We had no idea how much you would change our lives and give it new meaning.

When you were born, we both cried tears of joy when we saw you! So beautiful and precious. We felt like you were a missing piece of our hearts that we found. You brought us together as a family.

As we watched you grow in your baby months, we got to know you and your showed us so much of your personality as you grew. Your sense of humor was obvious from an early age, the way you laugh at our silliness. Your determination was strong, the way you worked so hard to learn new things. Your strong love and attachment to us was amazing and so powerful.

In your toddler years, you continued to make us laugh, make us proud, and fill us with love as you explored your world. We loved sharing new experiences with you and seeing things through your eyes. We got to see you form a bond with your baby brother.

As a preschooler, you amazed us with the new things you learned and details you paid attention to. You made your own friends, showed us how independent you were becoming. You have so much joy in sharing things with your brother.

Now you are a big kid, going to school all day, creating a life away from us. We worry about you and pray for your happiness. We are so proud of all that you can do and the sweet person that you are. You are such a great big brother to Sean and Ella. You have so much patience for them and include them in what you like to do. We love watching you teach them new things: songs you learn at school, games you like to play. We are so excited to see you reading and love to listen to you as you read to your siblings.

Aidan, you are so special to us because you are YOU!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sean has Bronchitis with a side of Croup!

Yesterday, Sean woke up from an afternoon nap with a raging fever (102.8) and labored breathing. At 4:30. On a Friday. I called his Pediatrician and quickly said, "My son is Dr. U's patient, he has Down syndrome, a fever of 102.8 and is having difficulty breathing. Can Dr. U see him today?"

Within a couple of minutes, Dr. U was on the phone and asking me a couple questions, then asked me to hold the phone up to Sean so he can listen to him breathe. I got back on the phone and he said, "I'll stop by after I leave the office and look at him." Total benefits of living right next to your Ped!

Dr. U came over around 7 pm and was surprised to hear that it came on so sudden. He said he sounded like he was a week and half into bronchitis. He suggested we give him Motrin/Tyenol for the fever and Robitussin for the cough to try to loosen up and make it easier for his lungs to expel. He gave us his cell phone number to call if he got worse.

At 3:30 am, he woke up struggling to breathe. We gave him more Robitussin, Motrin, and then did an albuterol treatment with the nebulizer. He fought the meds and that made his breathing even worse. Of course all this woke up the other kids (oh, and did I mention that my sister and her 2 sons are visiting this weekend for Aidan's bday? Um, yeah, they woke up too.) Anyway, we got it done, settled everyone back down to bed and tried to get some sleep. Only Sean didn't improve. So at 4 am we decided to take him to the ER. Mind you, he wants MOMMY. Oh, and DADDY. And Ella is still running a fever and nursing and not about to sleep at home without me. So the four of us went to the ER.

Sean had a chest xray done, lab work drawn, was given an epi shot and breathing treatment, and was started on an antibiotic. Bronchitis, with a side of Croup for one, please.

We got back home around 6:30 am and got a couple hours of sleep. Sean still sounds rough, but at least we have a treatment plan in place. I hope the meds make him feel better soon. Thank God my family is here this weekend to help with the other two! Aidan slept fine the rest of the night with his cousins and they've been great at keeping the healthy ones busy while Sean gets his snuggles. My sister made a great breakfast for us, so I'm going to grab a bite. Soon Nana and Papa will be here, too. Just hope no one goes home with a bug!

*P.S. Dr. U took a look at Ella and she sounds clear and her ears are clear, so hopefully she doesn't get this too.

*P.P.S. Some may remember me waffling about our first pediatrician we had here. She moved her practice this past summer and I made the decision to split with her and go to Dr. U instead. SUCH A GOOD CHOICE! Couldn't be happier with his service and personality.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sympathy Smoking, aka Fun with a Nebulizer

Aidan's had a wet cough this week so we've been giving him breathing treatments to help his lungs. He isn't really sick enough to miss school (eats fine, no fever, no achy feelings, no congestion) but since he has Reactive Airway Disease we keep an eye on his breathing should it turn to something worse. He is such a trooper about getting his breathing treatments because he knows how much better he feels after wards.

When Aidan was 2, he was sick with what I thought was just a chest cold. I noticed he was wheezing so I decided I'd better take him to the doctor. Our regular doctor was out of town, so he saw one I'd never met. He didn't even need to listen with a stethoscope, he saw Aidan's chest retracting and clearly heard the wheezing. Our doctor's clinic was connected to the hospital, so I again had the experience of a doctor scooping up my sick child and carrying him to the emergency room to be admitted. He was hospitalized for several days with severe bronchitis and on breathing treatments every 2 hrs around the clock, plus steroids and antibiotics. Sean was just a few months old at the time, and our heads were pretty foggy still, so it was a shock to be in the hospital with our "healthy" child.

I stayed with Aidan, pumping milk to send home with Doug for Sean, and fought tears while I tried to get Aidan to do the breathing treatments. He was terrified of the noise the machine made, and the mask, and of being restrained for 30 mins each time while taking the medication. I had respiratory therapist try to show me ways to tightly pin him in my arms so he wouldn't pull the mask off. It was so exhausting and painful. When he was well enough to go home, we had to continue breathing treatments with a portable nebulizer 4x a day. Luckily, it wasn't as loud as the hospital one. We managed to slowly get Aidan more comfortable with the treatments by using those times as our TV times. One Bob the Builder episode was long enough for one treatment. When we had to do them at night, I'd hold him and tell him a story to pass the time. He loved for us to tell him stories, real and make-believe, and it would distract him from the treatment because he couldn't hear my story if he was crying and fighting me. He decided to call it "getting special smoke" when he was a toddler and we still call it that.

So here we are, five years later, and he does them without a problem. He even asks for them when he is feeling bad. Our biggest struggle now is keeping his siblings from unhooking the tubing! As you can see, they decided this morning to play with the spare equipment and keep Aidan company during his treatment.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Boy Howdy! What a surprise! Today the kids were out enjoying the gorgeous weather and playing in the backyard. Our next door neighbors were picking up branches in their yard and unearthed Woody No Boots! Sean was a bit stunned to see his old friend, but happy to have him back. I bet if they dig around a little more they might find New Woody that went AOL last summer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Halloween KISS

We started our celebration with pumpkin carving. Usually, this means mommy does the cutting and tries to get the boys to help scoop out pumpkin seeds. This year, Doug did one and I did one. The boys messed around with the pumpkin seeds a bit, but then decided it was entirely too gross. :P

Finally, it was time to get everyone dressed to trick-or-treat. The costumes I spent the week making turned out great, I think. :) I had guidance from my KISS fan husband and the KISS costume fan site. Aidan's Gene Simmons'costume is circa 1974 and Sean's Ace Frehley costume is circa 1975. The important part was that the boys LOVED them and had so much fun wearing them. Doug did the make up, while I dressed them and did the wig hairstyles.

When I took Aidan with me to buy his boots (which I found in the girls' clothing department) he had a moment of doubt. He loved the rock boots, but asked me why they were in a box with a girl on it and why they had hearts on the soles. My answer, "Because these boots mean you love to ROCK!" When we went through the check out, the mother-teen daughter behind us said, "those are cool boots!" I replied, "thanks, they're his" pointing to Aidan. They said, "Really?" He proudly told them, "Yep, I'm going to be Gene Simmons for Halloween!" LOL

Ella dressed as a little Pumpkin' Rocker and looked cute as can be. Unfortunately, she decided to take a dive off the front steps seconds after I took her photo and ended up with a big scrape on her face. I told Doug she got rough in the mosh pit. Poor sweetie!

Our first stop trick-or-treating was a church Trunk-or-Treat, where people had no idea what the costumes were. We got several, "You are scary little girls!" Oh boy!

I threw together a Groupie costume to wear with them and Doug carried the camera around as our paparazzi. Ella and I went along for a few stops, then stayed home to hand out candy. Sean lasted till about 7:15, Aidan and Doug finally came home at 9.