Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's coming...


October starts the annual 31 for 21 challenge!  I will be blogging every day in October for Down syndrome awareness.  You could, too!  Just click the link to sign up and blog away.

Pssst- you don't even have to have your own munchkin with Ds to do it...you know Chase, and that's enough reason to give out your own heaping dose of awareness, right?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Chase School Update Post

When Chase was born, I admit to being super defensive about anyone who looked at him.  Were they staring?  What were they thinking?  Do they see the Ds?  Are they pitying me?  Do they think he is cute?  Are they wondering if I knew about it before he was born?  Do they know someone with Ds?  Are they wondering what is different about him?

But now it is completely different.   I don't know exactly when it happened, but somewhere between the "Why me" stage and not long after the "We can do this" stage we came to the "Look at my awesome kid" stage.  Sure he's a handful (he's not named Chase for nothin'!) but he totally charms everyone he meets.  Like, really really.

Last night we went to their curriculum night at school, and I took all the boys while Bryan stayed home with a sinus infection (poor Daddy!).  I kept the boys pretty busy for a while in the stroller while the teachers made their presentation, thanks to my awesome parenting skills (I packed Dum-dums for all 3 of them), and Ian and Chase drew pictures with the stray pens and pencils in my purse. Gavin drew pictures with the sticky end of his sucker on my arm and shirt.

They got a little antsy during the second part of the meeting, so I let Chase wander around a little (we sat in back, of course).  He totally paraded around that cafeteria like he owned the place.  Actually, he was doing this funky Tyrannasaurus Rex arm thing and toured the room, tapping every chair he could get to, and also may have tapped a couple peoples' backsides, as well... Feeding his ego were the several parents and aids who kept calling him over by name for hugs and high fives...and they weren't even his classroom people!  

Then, as he was sneaking into the lunch line area, running in circles in and out through the food service line while giggling fiendishly as I tried to catch him and slow him down just a bit, Ian's teacher came over and started chatting with me.  She gave me some fun reports about Ian, and then began talking about Chase.  She said that she has talked with Chase's teacher (Mrs. Z) and that she hears that they LOVE him at school, that he is such a sweetie...and then her face did that look that you make when you are sharing a juicy secret...and she says, "But she tells me that he's a bad boy...he's a little stinker, isn't he?!"  Apparently it didn't take long for his true colors to show.  Later, in taking to Mrs. Z, she said that he will blatantly do something he knows not to do, smirk while he is doing it, and then go in for a big hug and a kiss to ask forgiveness afterwards.  Yeah.  I get that.

We went to Chase's room afterwards for their presentation, and all of the preschool staff was there.  After they were done talking, one of the aids in the other classroom exclaimed, "YOU'RE Chase's mom?!?  I'm so glad to meet you!  I LOVE Chase!  I tell him I love him EVERY DAY and he gives me a BIG hug!  He is SUCH a DOLL!"  I was a little scared at first because she was so loud and attacked me with a hug, but at least now I know that if he ever doesn't show up in the car line, it is because this woman kidnapped him and they are halfway to Mexico.

In his room, Chase showed me the cars, the blocks, and the kitchen (yes, he took everything out as he went along), and then pointed to pictures of his classmates and named them all.  His teachers told me about how he spends his days and his little quirks (his unusual love of cucumbers, the food swiping off the table when he is done, the way he folds his arms behind his head at rest time, how he adores his friends Lyda and Jack, how they have to keep an eye on him on the playground because he is constantly climbing to the top of the structures and hanging by his fingers until he drops, how he loves to sweep the floors and wipe the tables, and how they are happy with how he is using new words all the time).

I feel so good about where he is...and am so proud that he is such a super star.  I love that Ian and the Larsen girls argue over who gets to hold his hand on the way into school, and that Andey doesn't deny it when a teacher assumes they are siblings.  I love that kids from other grades give him high fives and call, "Bye, Chase!" to him on his way to the car in the afternoons.  I love that the loud aid wants to take him home.  I love that he is spunky and full of piss and vinegar sometimes (remind me about that next time he is giving me a hard time)...I love that he is out there, engaging everyone, changing stereotypes, making friends, and showing everyone that life with an extra chromosome is just that: life...he is just better at enjoying it than we are sometimes, I think.

I want everyone to see him.  I want them to stare.  I want them to recognize what a truly awesome gift he is to our family...I love standing out...and I love that every single one of us* is a better person because of him.

*Sidenote:  One of my daycare kids asked why Chase didn't talk very much or something having to do with why he was a 'baby' or something...and my sweet Ian, he looked him straight in the eye and said with a matter of fact tone, "Chase has Down syndrome, so he needs more time to learn things.  And that's it."  Love.That.Boy.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ianisms- the Kindergarten edition, with Bonus Art Work

Ian is such a cool kid.  Here are some random things he's said in the last couple days:
  • He told his teacher the story about how his second Blue Dog got "swallowed up in the black hole."
  • Said with a smirk: "That's Regan.  She has a crush on Logan.  She always says that he is soooo hot!" (giggles!)
  • "When I get my real wand for Christmas, I am going to make a robot, and you can use it to get Guy Guy's monkey off the floor of the van while you are driving."   To which I reply, "Oh, cool!  A monkey-picker-upper-robot!" and he says, rolling his eyes, "No, Mom.  It won't just be for picking up monkeys.  Real robots do more than that."
  • "OR I could just use my real wand to turn the robot that I already have into a real robot...only I will make sure to set it to GOOD before I make him real."
  • He decided he no longer wants a Mustang when he starts to drive, but instead he would like a "cool Scooby Doo monster truck like the Mystery Machine."
  • "No, I don't have to go potty.  Sometimes it just gets sticky right there and I need to move it around."
  • After he told me he wanted to be an artist when he grows up, I said that he would have to practice drawing or painting a LOT if he wanted to do it for his job.  He told me that he doesn't really have to practice any more because he is already "very very good."  Dang.  We went a little heavy on the self esteem, apparently.
*See example of professional quality artwork below.  Myself, I plan to frame it and put it on the living room wall, but I am also his mom...:)
This is a picture of Ian and his 2 Blue Dogs before one got swallowed by the black hole.  Notice the labels- he did those himself (even the mirror image one of DOG on the left side- without any hesitation!  It was the weirdest thing I've ever seen...).  He did this while we listened to the teachers' presentation at curriculum night this evening.  More on that later :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Totally Refreshed

Bryan and I headed to Daytona for a quick weekend getaway, and to watch some good friends get married (grats, Pete and Lauren!!).  Gaga and Papa graciously watched the boys for us, and only looked a little haggard when we arrived home last night (they were mumbling something about coffee and bed, possibly something about diapers and pancakes...it was hard to decipher).

We spent time sleeping in (until EIGHT THIRTY, BABY!), reading on the beach, body surfing some awesome waves, and eating meals without wiping anyone's faces.  We also watched with amused interest as other people chased after their own children, and I sat on the beach in my chair only watching Bryan's head bob amongst the waves every once in a while, wondering briefly if he was going to be able to make it back to shore or not.  This must be how the other half lives.

But I did miss my little booger faces.  Those little ankle biters have a way of worming themselves into your heart.  A couple times my mom tried to guilt me into coming back early gave my worried-mommy mind a rest by putting them on the phone.  Ian told us about how he played his football game, but he didn't really want to talk to us because he was "busy eating pretzels and watching Magic Schoolbus."  And I got the sweetest "Ma-ma...?" and "Buh-bye" from Gavin and Chase, respectively.  It was so good to get home to them and kiss each of their sleeping heads before collapsing in bed with the unadulterated joy that only a 9 hour car ride will give you.

I am totally not ashamed to need a break every 18 months or so from the kids.  I LOVE that my parents are willing and able to stick it out for a couple days at our house to juggle them for us.  It was so nice to let down our guard and take time to enjoy each other for a bit and remember why we built this family, but it was also such a welcome feeling to be back home and back to real life.

And the sleeping in was nice, too.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  You are the BEST!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No one said it was going to be easy...

...but did they ever tell you it was going to be this funny?!

For a whirlwind of reasons, Bryan ended up physically at the DSAC board meeting and I joined in via conference call, which doesn't sound all that difficult until you factor these variables into the equation:

  • it is football night
  • all three boys were filthy from said practice
  • 2 boys need to be clean enough for school at 6:45 AM
  • all boys should be in bed by 7:30
  • Gavin and Chase think dumping water is fun
  • my phone was out of batteries
So, what should have been me speaking coherently on the phone to a group of people while the boys quietly played together ended up like this:

6 minutes home from practice, 2 boys in the tub, 1 boy in the shower, me plugged into the wall in my room, occasionally popping my head around the corner into the bathroom to make sure that all 3 boys were still alive, plugging one ear with my finger, face scrunched in concentration desperately trying to make sense of what the other parties are asking me.

About midway through, I notice that Chase and Gavin are BOTH cheerfully dumping 20 oz cups of water out of the tub.  Well, Gavin was dumping.  Chase was flinging.  There was an inch of water covering the entire floor of the bathroom.  And they were both laughing hysterically.

And I couldn't yell because I was talking, and I couldn't even redirect, because it was too loud in there to actually go into the bathroom, not to mention that I was still plugged into the wall, so I couldn't anyway without pausing my call.  So I did what any other clear thinking adult would do.  I started throwing towels into the bathroom from the clean laundry basket that was at the foot of my bed, hoping that I could launch them high enough into the air through the doorway so that when they came down on the floor, they would cover the maximum square footage of waterlogged linoleum as possible.

And after I threw about 10 towels in there, and the boys didn't seem like they were slowing down, I unplugged, cradled the phone between my ear and my shoulder, and ran in like I was entering a war zone in a rescue mission and plucked Guy out of the tub.  Of course, by now there were no dry towels to use, so I just left him standing there, naked and drip drying, as I went back for my second in-and-out mission.  I sprinted in for Chase, lifting him out of the water, dripping wet again in the bedroom, then booked it back to the wall to charge up.

Both boys, then, with the freedom to do as they pleased with me tethered to the wall and preoccupied, took their little naked soaking selves and grappled up onto my bed, where they commenced a wrestling/undercover diving session, which effectively left them dry and my sheets damp.  

It was during this time that Ian got out of the shower (I asked him later if he had washed anything, and he assured me he had, but after a quick check in the shower, the soap and shampoo appear to be untouched, although Bryan's cologne had been liberally used) and joined the littles on the bed.  There was much giggling and laughing, and one child (Guy) fell off the bed.  I am surprised that it was only one, and relieved that it did not result in crying.

There was a bout of crying from Chase, for an unknown reason.  I had to stop the conversation to take care of that one.  Awesome.

Small miracles:  no one peed on the bed (that I know of right now).  I got off the phone, diapered, dressed and put everyone to bed...and have a load of towels and bath mats in the wash now.

This was one of those moments when I wonder if God is tuning in for a laugh because He had a rough day.  Adam Sandler couldn't have written anything more comic genius than what went on in my master suite this evening.  

Ian Art



Me, Andey, and Kenna jumping on the trampoline.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chase and the Marble Run

Another consignment sale find:  this awesome marble run.  We had one before, but there were some complicated parts, and this one is much easier for Ian to build by himself.

We built this giant run together, and then Chase, by some miracle, chose not to destroy it, but to play with it.  He laughed hysterically every time he sent a marble down, and I managed to catch him a couple times before the novelty wore off.

Note:  you must either turn your computer screen on its side or lay down to watch this video.  Sorry!

This was totally worth $2.

I bought this toy at the consignment sale this weekend...it is definitely used, and I had some questions on whether or not it actually worked...but for two bucks I figured I could risk it.

Best investment I've made in my life.  This video of Guy is priceless.


Friday, September 10, 2010

NDSC Fame!

Melanie from the Baeten Family brought this to my attention today:



Chase is FAMOUS!

There is a photo of him on the cover of the National Down Syndrome Congress newsletter this month- how awesome is that?!

Make-Ahead Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

I am always looking for quick breakfast ideas because we are never on time anywhere and end up eating in the car I like to plan ahead. I tried these today and they turned out d-lish.

Make-Ahead Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

I did not use quick oats (I used Old Fashioned) and I did not toast the wheat germ. I also used 1/2 regular unbleached flour and 1/2 whole wheat. I dropped them using a small scoop on the cookie sheets instead of making the monster cookies the recipe suggested, and baked them for about 10 minutes.

Yum. I plan on freezing these babies and putting them on rotation with my cereal bran muffins.

Team Shirts!!

GREAT NEWS!!

If you LOVE our team shirts this year, but can't get yourself to Charlotte on October 9th for the actual walk, you can be a VIRTUAL WALKER!  Always Happy Life is making Chaser's Racers team shirts available on their website, and you can buy your very own, knowing that it will still raise funds for Chase's Buddy Walk team!





Some ideas for using the shirt:

Wear it to the grocery store!
Wear it to school!
Wear it to work on casual Fridays!
Use it as a cover up for the beach!
Use it as a hanky, or a large pocket square!
Cover your infant with it as a light-weight blanket!
Create an apron out of it!
Hang it outside your door on a flag pole!
*Stage your own Buddy Walk in your neighborhood!  Give a prize for the best team t-shirt design!

Remember, they come in both adult and youth sizes!


Always happy. Never satisfied.™
Also, if you want to be an actual REAL LIFE walker with us, and have just forgotten to join our team (we know you are busy!), then please click here to sign up.  Remember, your $10 donation gets you:
  •  2 shirts (DSAC and Chaser's Racer Team Shirt!) 
  • lunch
  • Rita's Italian ice
  • unlimited bouce house time
  • the opportunity to meet Charlotte's finest mascots
  • a possible Dora the Explorer sighting
  • face painting
  • arts and crafts
  • homemade goodies at our team tent
  • and a very real possibility of big hugs from Chase (or at least a high five)!!  

How can you say no to that?

Thanks for your support!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cooties

Ian and I were laying on his bed, heads close together, finished with his bedtime story, just chatting about his day.  Moments like this are rare...he has been so busy lately with friends (which is great, really, I love that he spends so much time with buddies) and I have been busy keeping daycare kids much later than I ever have before, that we just don't have alone time all that much.  

That, and at five years old, he is already almost too cool to have a conversation with me about how he spent his day.

Anyway.  He was chatting about computer class today, about how they play Word Blaster, but not Rockets, because Rockets is a grown up game.  Then we talked about how Miss Brown saw someone cutting their lawn before the sun was even up today ("And that's against the law, Mom!").  Also, a boy named John is going to go on a date with a girl named Piper.  

Then he told me about his friend, Seth, who sits with him at his table.  Tre apparently was moved, and now (Ian giggled as he told me this) it is two boys at his table, and one different girl every day!  The girl that sat with them today looked like Piper (...and Mom?  Isn't that a funny name for a girl?  Because it is like a plumber or something? But she is still cute, though.) but her name is Sophia.  And she kept taking things away from Ian- he said his pencil, the crayon, his paper...every time he finished a project, BAM!  There she was, he says.

I told him that maybe she liked him.  And his face got all scrunchy.  And then he told me that THAT was why he wasn't playing with any girls on the playground, not talking to them, not even saying hi, because he is afraid that if he starts being friends with them, then they won't leave him alone and he won't have time to play with his friends that are boys.

Gosh it starts early, huh?  Those girls just don't understand about space

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How did you spend your Labor Day?

Check out Tiff's post here about our day...bunch o'fun.  Life is good :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lunch Box Update

I unloaded Ian's lunch box yesterday to find his star shaped cheese left, greasy and neglected, inside!  I asked him why he didn't eat it, and he replied, "Well, I bit into one little corner and I was like, Ew!  Yuck!  That is NOT GOOD!  And so I left it in there.  I really only like string cheese, Mom."

Awesome.  Cheese painstakingly cut out into cute little shapes:  FAIL.

Also, he begged me to let him buy lunch today.  I told him he could pick one day each week to buy.  He was beside himself with anticipation this morning over the thought, going so far as to holler it to the world outside at 6:45am this morning while doing a little jig in his high tops.

I guess healthy, adorable lunches made with love are no match for cheese pizza and tater tots on a foam tray at school.  Bah.

*This does not, however, mean that I am giving up the battle.  Oh no.  Because I am ordering one of these, and I need to use it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Toy Story Morning

This morning (Chase's first school morning this year) he was sitting at the breakfast table with Ian.  He was drinking his milk, looking at the wipes container that sits on the table.

All of a sudden, I hear him start to chatter.  I listen closely and hear, "Hi...Buzz.  Hi...Woody."  **edited to add, the wipes container has a picture of all the characters from Toy Story on it.  That is pertinent to this story, and I neglected to add that.  It's early, people.  What do you want from me?**

Also cute is how Ian gets everybody's JuicePlus+ out in the morning, and how he and Chase talk to each other during their dark breakfast (it is EARLY here at 6:30am!).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Intervention

I don't know how long I will be able to keep this up, but right now I will fully admit to having WAY too much fun with packing lunches for Ian and Chase.

It may possibly be because I don't have any other giant projects going on right now (except for labeling 5-7 boxes of clothing/toys/baby paraphernalia for the consignment sale that is um, next weekend...) or because it is really nice to work quietly at night in accomplishing a mission, or maybe I am deferring how generally worried I am about Chase starting in a new school tomorrow, especially after being out of any kind of school program for the last 3 months.  Oy.

Whatever the reason, I have spent hours planning and packing these little faux-bento containers and stuffing them with the boys' favorites, then stuffing the favorites into their litttle lunch bags.  Chase bought his lunch when he went to school at the end of last year, but I thought I would try packing it this year to see how he eats...but Oh!  I had no idea what kind of monster I was unleashing.
Piles o'storage containers:

The innards:

Chase's breakfast and lunch on the left:  cucumbers (his new favorite- "Mo...mumbers?"), Nutella on wheat, crackers and star shaped cheese (yes, I used a cookie cutter on the cheese!  Seriously, have I no shame?!), kiwi and grapes, and breakfast- a banana and a Raisin Bran muffin.

Ian's on the right: grapes, kiwi, and clementine sections, homemade granola, Nutella on wheat, cheese and crackers.

I know.  It is a problem.

Also, I made the boys' teachers little first day gift bags.

I filled them with Tootsie Rolls, Wint-o-Green life savers, and a big pretty apple.  I attached a note to the front of each one thanking them for preparing for Chase and wishing them a good year.

I am quite proud of my effort, but equally afraid that I have just set the standard impossibly high...will they expect gifts for all major and minor holidays now?  Will they make fun of me if I send in a Lunchable?  What have I started!?!

School Daze

Dude.  I have a Kindergartener!

Ian had his assessment day on Monday, for which he chose this outfit from the assortment of 5 outfits that I gave him (call me a control freak, but it matters what you wear, people!).



On the way to school in the car, Kenna asked him if he had butterflies in his tummy.  He had NO idea what that meant, and after she explained it to him, he said he wasn't nervous, just excited :)  It was a full day, and he reported back that he loved it, but it was HOT.  Apparently there has been some issue with the AC there, and it was about 2 degrees past melting in the school.  He also said that when the teacher asked him his letters, he got a check next to EVERY one.  My boy :)

Tuesday evening was the open house, which I believed to be an actual open house, where you wander in and meet the teacher sometime within the hour that it was scheduled.  Unfortunately, it was the kind of open house where everyone is supposed to get there at 5:30 and sit and listen to a presentation by the teacher for the entire hour.  Oops.  Good thing I had planned to be there on time, which means we were only 20 minutes late and only made a slight scene when we brought the circus with us into the already crowded room.

The good news is that his teacher, Miss Brown, seems totally awesome.  She has been teaching for 17 years, 4 at his school, and is National Board Certified, and is coincidentally from the same area of NY that I grew up in- she's my people!  Her room is also the only K room with this cool tech set-up with the Prometheon board (did I spell that right?)- the other 3 rooms share a mobile unit.  Also noteworthy:  Mrs Lawrence, the principal, remembered both Ian and Chase's names in the hallway from when we met her earlier this summer (good thing or bad thing, I don't know!) and Miss Brown told me that when Ian was there for his assessment, she called him the Eddie Bauer boy, and she was so excited that she got him in her class :)

Here he is this morning, before getting in the car with Bryan to go.  I was a little sad- Bryan is taking the kids to school on his way to work, so I missed the walk to the classroom with him, although that means that Bryan got that honor, and having that moment as his own is cool for him.

We chose the rock-n-roll look today.
It's always nice to have a friend with you on your first day of school...I am so happy that the Larsen girls are there with him...even if Andelyn didn't make it there today.  Tomorrow is a new day!

The Big Guy Guy Haircut

I took Guy to the salon this weekend...it is time to trim him up.  My hairdresser, Mandi, almost wouldn't do it.  But I convinced her to trim a leetle bit off his curls.

He sat up on the chair all by himself, and only messed with his little drapey thing initially.  Every once in a while he would turn around and look at Mandi and give her a big grin.  So cute.  He had everyone in that place taking peeks at him.

Here are the befores:







The during:



And the after (he wasn't much into mugging for the camera- too many cool things happening around him- like those awesome rollers that he held on to the entire time):

It has since really bounced back- all his on top curls came back and he looks like a little mop again, although less ragamuffiny.

I'm not Lyon!

Aunt Barb and Uncle Bill and my cousins Frank and Grant came to visit last week on their way down to the beach.

It was a quick visit, but enough time for a big kid trip to the gold mine (they all found gold!  No pics, tho..), a visit to Deb and Tom's cabin for the littles (no pics again) and a picnic dinner at our house (no pics), some MarioKart Wii (guess what?  No pics) and some fun on the trampoline...Yes!  Pics!!  Well, of Ian and Frank...Grant ran away before I could catch him on film.


Trampoline photos are fun, aren't they?!

This was a momentous visit, because Ian was big enough to play with the boys without being annoying.  I think the last time they saw each other, Ian was maybe 3 and just followed them around everywhere until they couldn't stand it anymore :)

Pancake Breakfast

Last Saturday, Bryan rightfully used his Father's Day "sleep in/breakfast in bed" coupon, so I was up with the boys early making pancakes.  I documented with photos because we had SUCH an awesome time.  I had the music turned up (Travis Tritt's Great Day- such a good morning song!), the kids and I were dancing, and I didn't even burn the pancakes.  Sure, Bryan's were a tad bit underdone, but only because he doesn't like them to look like they have even been cooked, lest they have some sort of almost brown color on them.  

I just want to make sure I remember moments like these vividly- happy kids, happy mommy, sunshine outside, mouths almost too full to giggle.  I love this life.  I love this family.  (And yes, we did convince Bryan to come down and enjoy it, too!)

Guy was the first one up.  We chatted over coffee.

Chase and Eenie...smiling because no one is hitting each other and/or taking one another's food.

Silly faces!

Ian wanted to be the photographer.  Happy morning face, to you, too!

Last bits and pieces of summer

We spent the last official evening of summer staying up late with the Larsens next door, for a bit of trampolining and firefly catching.  I love that we can start to feel Fall in the evenings and mornings, which makes going back to school feel just right.

It was only Ian outside with his buddies...Chase and Gavin hit the hay early, as they both decided that day that napping was for losers.
Ian gets firefly catching lessons from Bryan:
Tiffers even came out with Weston to join the fun.
Trying to get 4 kids to look at a camera whilst on a trampoline is near impossible.
But we have seen miracles happen before :)