Fall 2012

Fall 2012
[learning to live a perfectly imperfect life]

And That's The Ballgame!


It was family fun at the softball diamonds this summer... getting dirty, chasing after the kids  eating sunflower seeds and popcorn, chasing after the kids   and cheering on Jordyn and her teammates on "The Brandon Crush."




The two shortest members of her fan club were decked out in shirts I made... okay, well I didn't actually make the shirts.  (I'm lucky to get a button sewn back on a shirt.)  But I sure can press an iron down over iron-on numbers and letters and count to 10.  (Gifted in so many areas, I tell ya.)  Rylee wore #8, which is Jordyn's number, and Carter's #13 was for Jordyn's best friend Emme. 

Here they are, watching Jordyn bat and snacking away on the ever-popular ball field snack of Cheddar Bunnies and Raisins.  (Peanuts and Cracker Jacks are so overrated...)



Jordyn always smiled when she heard the kids cheering for her during the games, and took time to accept hugs from the kids between innings.




The kids also loved cheering for Jordyn's friends.  Layne (center) and Emme (right) were favorites because they have stayed at our house many times.  Whenever we'd talk about going to a softball game, we would ask the kids who we would see.  Carter always rattled off the list... "Door-dee (Jordyn), Yay-n (Layne), Ah-meeee (Emme)..."




During the state tournament, the team played some of their best games, and Jordyn even pitched a no-hitter.  They wound up being eliminated in the Quarter Finals... placing 5th overall.  There were some great plays and exciting moments -- it was a great ending to a great season.





No matter what the score of the game was, we always left the ball fields dirty, tired, and proud of our family athlete!


Congrats on a great season, Jordyn!!

We Need A New Vacuum


Remember Rylee's very first tooth she lost several months ago?  Sure you do.  It's the tooth that was loose and we kept checking it and suddenly one day it was gone?

Well, you won't believe this.  Just guess what happened.  


Did you guess that we actually found the tooth?  Even though it's been several months?

Yes, the tooth was found.  Guess who found it.

No, really.  I'm not telling until you've guessed at least once.



I am totally, not even kidding you.



Jeremy heard Zoe chewing on something one evening in the living room.   Thinking   Knowing it was something she probably couldn't have, he called her over to see what it was.  After a minute of digging into her mouth, he pulled out something small.  And hard.  And white.  

There is no doubt that it is her tooth. 

I'm not sure what amazes me more... that Zoe actually found this tooth, or that I have vacuumed the carpets in our house at least 3 times a week since that darn tooth came out, and it didn't pick it up!  Don't get me wrong -- I'm thankful to have the tooth, but geesh!  Don't you think a vacuum is supposed to pick up things like this?  Uggg... I don't even want to think what else is in our carpets that our vacuum has selectively chosen to leave there.

Apparently, we need a new vacuum.  Any suggestions?


Bits and Pieces


Rylee had an appointment with her ENT a few weeks ago... it was her follow-up from her tonsillectomy.  He said that her tonsils... well, the spot where her tonsils used to be anyway... looks good.  He did say they were scabbing over (sorry, hope you didn't just have something to eat) but were healing well.  

Her doctor did ask how we thought she was sleeping since her surgery.  

Lately Rylee's had a tendency to request either Jeremy or I come sleep with her in the early hours of the morning.  Okay, to put that more bluntly -- she hollers from her bedroom door until one of us comes quickly down the hallway so she doesn't wake up Carter!  

So, because of that tendency, we know how she's sleeping -- and it's much better!  She still snores a little, but we don't hear any pauses in breathing, and we know she sleeps more soundly.  (We can sometimes sneak back out of her bed after she falls asleep -- before surgery, she would wake right up and be sure we weren't going anywhere!)  She's not complaining of being tired during the day, either.

So, I'd say SUCCESS!

Her doctor didn't mention anything about a follow-up... um... you know.  The "double s" experience. (Remember, the poor girl has already had two of them -- if you'd like to re-live it, here's one and two.)  I, on the other hand, prefer not to relive it.  As you can see, I can't even get myself to say the phrase.  Needless to say, I didn't ask her ENT about it, and I don't plan on it.

I just don't think either of us could handle another one.  And besides.  Rylee's a Kindergartner. And Kindergartners are just much to old for that kind of stuff.

*****

I was getting a cart at the grocery store.  I stood patiently waiting for Carter, who was eyeing the stuffed animals in one of those grabber machines they put in the front of the store to tempt you into spending your money -- which, if you give in and give your child money, actually becomes a lesson in accepting disappointment for your child, since that grabber claw gets really close to grabbing a chubby little arm or leg of a not-so-cute  stuffed animal but then drops it at the last minute.

So, I was feeling a little impatient.  (I had about 14 errands to run and only 2 hours to run them.)

Me: "Carter, come please.  You need to be my helper since Rylee is at school."

Carter: "Umm... I'm busy."

Okay then.  Sorry to have bothered you.  I didn't realize Carter had his own agenda that morning.

Little bugger.



*****



Several years ago, a book called Gifts was published.  This book is a compilation of stories by Moms, reflecting on how their children with Down syndrome have enriched their lives. Unfortunately, I didn't hear about this project until after the submission deadline.  (I would have loved to have written about Rylee for this book.)  Though Rylee's story is not included, there are 63 other amazing children's stories, and it's heartwarming to read -- whether you have a child with Down syndrome or not.



When I heard about submissions being accepted for a follow-up book, Gifts 2, I was thrilled! "Stories about individuals with Down syndrome, written by a wide variety of individuals, including parents, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, teachers..."  Yay!  "Parents!"  Here was my chance!  Oh, wait.  "The stories in the 1st volume of Gifts are written by mothers.... the primary purpose of Gifts 2 is to feature stories that offer other perspectives and experiences."  Oh rats.

"... Parents..."  Though Jeremy has many abilities, he doesn't consider himself to be much of a writer.  So, there went that option.

"...Grandparents..." Hmmm... this might be just the thing!!
  
My mom wrote a story about her experience when Rylee entered our lives, called "Making the Best of Us." I am so proud that it will be included in Gifts 2.  The editor asked that photos be included of the author of the story and the individual with Down syndrome.  Being the self-less person she is, my Mom wrote very kind words about me and asked that the picture include me. So, these three smiling faces will peer out from a page in the book.



Gifts 2 is now available for pre-order (through the publisher Woodbine House and also through Amazon) and is expected to be released in September, just in time for Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October.  So, go out and order yourself one.... or three.

I think you'll find on page 109, there's an inspirational story about a remarkable little girl named Rylee, written by her extraordinary Grandma Cindy.

Ready or Not...


Rylee is officially a Kindergartner!! (We have a special bear certificate from her teacher that proves it!)  It was a big day for me  her, and it went well!

Getting ready to head to school:

"Here Mom... I will not only smile for you, but I will get down here and pose beside my backpack, like this!"



"Now I will hold my backpack up really high for you, so you can be sure to get it in the picture."


I was glad to have scheduled in plenty of time for pictures before heading off to school -- we got our typical "With Dad" and "With Mom" pictures... 



... and my attempt at a "Brother/Sister" picture resulted in this.

It isn't the "put your arms around each other, look at the camera and smile" photo.

It's better.


At school, Rylee spent a little time outside on the "Kindergarten Playground," the playground that we visited many times this summer so she would be familiar with it.  She ran up the steps and slid down the slide, climbed through the tunnels, and swung on the swings just like she'd designed the playground herself!  

When the bell rang, she darted for the door... the EA (Educational Assistant) who was out there to guide her, did just that!  (Sheri, who was an EA in Early Childhood at the school Rylee attended for preschool, is now an EA at this elementary school, and we couldn't be happier!)   Sheri took Rylee's hand and got in line with her.  As I was snapping pictures and blinking away tears  watching her line up, she began to cry.  Oh crap.  Is this when I can melt down, too?  Oh, no wait.  I've gotta be the strong one.  (Thank goodness I'm wearing sunglasses.)  I walked up to her, gave her a hug, and gave the "oh-you-are-going-to-Kindergarten-and-going-to-have-so-much-fun-and-I-will-see-you-in-a-bit" pep talk.  She perked up, and within seconds, the kids were walking into the school.  



So, with Rylee in the school, I did what every parent does after dropping his/her child off at the first day of Kindergarten.   I walked to my car and drove home.    I snuck into the school and peered into the classroom through the window on the door.  And by the way, the person who put small, skinny windows on classroom doors was never a parent trying to peek in on his/her child.  And especially not a parent trying to take pictures through the window.  But, I managed.

Rylee is settled at her table, coloring a picture.  A Kindergarten picture.  In her Kindergarten classroom.  *sniff*



I saw Rylee ask Sheri something about "Mom."  I assume that she was asking where I was, but maybe I'm flattering myself.  She could very well have been saying something like, "Aren't you glad my mom left so now we can have some Kindergarten fun?"  (Well, Rylee doesn't talk in big long sentences quite like that, but she definitely could've said something eluding to that.)



So, I left.  I really did.  I went home.

Now, it isn't like this is all new to me.  Rylee has attended 1/2 day Early Childhood (preschool) since she was 3 years old  (so if you think I am anxious sending her off to school at 5 years old, just imagine what I was like when she was 3!)  Her 1st 2 years she went in the mornings, and last year she went in the afternoons.  It isn't like it was the first time she had been gone.  But, it just felt different.  I mean, seriously, people.  It's Kindergarten.  They wouldn't name this grade such a long name for little kids if it weren't super-important.  I used to teach this grade before I had Rylee.  And now, she's just that.  A Kindergartner.  

A half-hour before I really needed to be there When it was time for school to be over, Carter and I went to the school to wait for Rylee.  Normally, she will be riding school transportation home each day... 6 kiddos will get rides home in a Suburban with a super-nice driver named Pat.  But, for today, we had to go to the school, be completely disruptive in the poor teacher's attempt at establishing a routine, and get pictures of her coming out of school.

And being completely disruptive was totally worth it... this is the picture I got when she saw Carter and me.



Carter even got a hug, and the two of them had a mini-conversation about the morning while I took a few pictures and talked to Sheri.


When I told Rylee that she would be riding home with Pat, her eyes lit up.  Pat drove Rylee to Early Childhood last year, and I don't need to tell you how much Rylee liked Pat.  These pictures say it all.
 


We got a good report from school: Rylee did a great job sitting for their story and with Sheri's help, made an art project.  Walking to music was tricky (transitions are always a bit challenging for Rylee) but she enjoyed playing drums in music class.  Sheri said Rylee asked for "Mom" quite frequently, but with a little reassurance from her, Rylee was fine.  All in all, a good day.

The rest of our day was typical.  A little lunch, some whining, short naps, time outside playing, a bee sting (yes, Carter's okay) and supper... you know the routine.

But it's different.

We'll get up tomorrow and do this all again (minus the obsessive picture-taking) so I suppose I will get used to it all. But it will still be different.

I wasn't sure if I was ready for all of this.  But ready or not... 

Rylee is a Kindergartner!

Ready?


You buy a cute new backpack...


some fun Kindergarten school supplies, 


and colorful shoes you know won't be this white for long


but are you really ready?

*****

You walk into the school on Open House evening,


even throwing a little bounce into your step, 


excited about meeting your teacher and seeing your classroom,

but are you really ready?

*****

You peek through those glass school doors,


pull hard on that big heavy door,


and walk right in, excited about what's to come,


but are you really ready?

*****

You walk down the hallway,


peer into the classroom,


and stop for one final smile as a preschooler,


but are you really ready?

*****

You hang up your backpack,


meet your super-nice teacher,

(insert adorable picture of Rylee and her teacher here
that I didn't get taken because it was too hectic!)

and wander around the Kindergarten room, filled with toys and pictures and words and fun,

but are you really ready?

*****

Rylee is, but I'm sure not.

I Think It's Safe To Assume...


Rylee and Carter are not the greatest kids at entertaining themselves.  (Now don't read that wrong... they are GREAT kids!)  But, even with 4 billion fun and exciting toys, I find them at my knees every 4 minutes -- waiting for me to entertain.

You would think that they would entertain each other, but it doesn't happen -- at least not for longer periods of time. I'm not sure what I've done (or haven't done) to create kids like this... maybe it's just that their mom is so darn fun they want to play with HER all the time.

However, yesterday morning, they DID do a pretty good job of entertaining themselves!  I was pleasantly surprised, and quickly took advantage of the time I had -- paid some bills, sent some emails, did some laundry, and gabbed with my sister on the phone.

When it was time to clean up for lunch, I stumbled across this...



Hmmm.... I wonder who entertained themselves with the container of baby wipes?
(And on that note, should I be upset someone played with the wipes, or pleased that they attempted to shove them all back in the container when they were done?)

After lunch, I decided to take a peek at the pictures on my camera... that is, my small "point-and-shoot" camera that I had let Rylee take pictures with that morning (the reason she was so-well entertained for awhile.)

I found this picture on the camera.




Okay. So there I have it.

I think it's safe to assume it was Carter.

Wordless Wednesday