Monday, October 31, 2011

31 for 21, Bonus Photo of the New Normal

31 for 21, Acceptance

This post is for the mother of a child with Down syndrome...maybe you just got your child's diagnosis.  Maybe you got it a while ago and are just now ready to search the internet for more information.  

I just want you to know that I felt like you do once.

Like a billion years ago (or was that just 4?) I thought life would never be the same.  And I was right.  It hasn't been the same.

But who wants life to stay the same?  Staying the same means you're not growing.  Life isn't about never changing.  Right after Chase was born, if someone had told me that, I would have said, "!*&**! you and your  growing- I like the same, the usual, the boring.

I just didn't know how good different could be.

I searched the internet to find moms with blogs about life with Down syndrome.  How different is it?  What can I expect?  What am I in for?

So, if you are searching, and you find this:  It's okay.  It's gonna be ok.  It's gonna be great, in fact.  You'll see.

Happy 31 for 21 :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 for 21, Halloween Preview

Went to our first Trunk-or-Treat (at Elevation) ever tonight.  The kids did really really well, even though it was pretty crowded.
...a "kick" line...HA!
 Our family + a random church member wearing a soccer ball mask :)
 Zeke was losing steam about halfway through- so he got a ride :)
 I love his smile.
 Guy was so excited to say Trick or Treat...and the costumes and the crazy trunks didn't phase him a bit.  In fact, one car had a giant spider on top of it, and we had to go visit it twice for him.
 The goods!
 I didn't have to call any fouls.
 Thank you, 4 years of playing soccer for the costumes this year :)
 Tired boys ready for bed.  Oh, and candy.  Ready for candy and bed.  

Everyone decorated their trunks with different themes- there was a Dr. Suess one with Thing One and Thing Two, a couple pirate ones, a CSI SUV, a hippie van, and like 60 others.  One of our babysitters did his up as a giant mouth with big teeth and dry ice breath coming out :) So fun!

Kinda strange note:  Someone had 2 firepits going, and for some reason that freaked Zeke out.  He kept pointing to the smoke and whimpering.  Weird.

31 for 21, Jack-O-Lantern

Ian carved our pumpkin this year.  The others missed out, and I feel bad about that.  Except that they would have liked it for 30 seconds before moving on to another activity.  We did it at nap time today, so Ian got to take his time and have our undivided attention.  That's nice, too.

 He made me take this photo, and then told me, "Type next to it: This is when he got slime on his hands."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 for 21, Puzzles

Sorry, 31 for 21.  I've been busy doing this stuff when I'm home now, and slacking on the blog.

It's worth it :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 for 21, General

General goings-on:
  • Working and being a mom is HARD.  Especially when you're a teacher and don't clock out and leave everything behind at your job.  The last time I worked, I had one very tiny kid, and even that was only for a month before I gave up.  I'm trying really really really hard to find a balance.  So far I've tried staying up late and getting up early.  I'm very very tired.  
  • Zeke has been sick this week, and on a ton of meds.  Some for his poop cooties (thank you, Ukrainian orphanage) and some for an ear infection and croup.  The poop cootie meds are especially disgusting, and I think that they are not only causing him to completely clean out his whole system, but also make his throat sore.  Last day for meds is on Saturday, so that will be a real treat to not have to make him hate us 3x a day.
  • Chase is so freaking cute.  AND I know where both pairs of his glasses are.
  • Speaking of glasses, I have to order some for Zeke.  I'm thinking about going with Zenni, but am not sure about using them for his first pair because of fitting and such.  Although, they have this pair that I am completely in love with.
  • Gavin is doing really well in his preschool.  His favorite part of the day is when he gets to wash his hands in the little sink.  He tells me about it every day.  It's our think.  "Guy- what did you do at school today?"  "I washa my hands inda sink." (I don't know where he picked up his Old World Italian accent.)
  • Ian reads everything everywhere now.  I love it.  I especially love that he'll help read stories to the littles  at night.  He's so fun right now.  My favorite time with him is staying up past his bedtime doing Highlights together, or playing games...or shopping.  One on one time with him is awesome.
  • Not that one on one time with any other kid isn't just as just honestly doesn't happen so much with anyone else.  I think about ways to change that, but cannot begin to do anything but survival right now.  I dream of someday doing a "date night" once a week with a different kid each week.  
  • How is it almost 10pm again??!?  Frack. 

31 for 21, Belated post about the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad EC Meeting

This is a belated Tuesday post.

I went to a meeting for parents of children in the EC program with the county last night.  I went last year, it was pretty informative.  They had some good speakers, and I was able to talk with some therapists and get general information stuff.

This year there was supposed to be a parent speaking, but there was some issue and he didn't make it.  So they filled in his time slot with the "Transitions Coordinator" and her presentation about what to think about when your child is ready to transition from the school system to the real world.

Now, I don't know if I am the only one living in a bubble here...but I am not ready to think about that yet.  I don't want to look at a grocery bagger and say to myself, "Gee, I think my kids should do that when they grow up."  I don't want to hear that Quincy's is a business that welcomes people with disabilities as workers.  At this point, I don't want to imagine a fulfilling life as a busboy.

It may be reality someday, but right now I want to pretend that there is something more out there.  Maybe like that man who helps in the genetics counseling practice, or maybe they'll write a book.  Maybe they will be artists or musicians or speakers...I don't know.  I guess I just don't want specifics, or limits.  Or reality.

Anyhoo.  It seemed like I wasn't the only one who didn't want reality highlighted that evening.  There were at least 5 other parents in tears during the meeting.

I'm happy I wasn't one of them.  I save my tears for dinners out with my Ds Mommies.  That's the proper time.  Meetings like that are good for checking emails and downloading new apps on my phone.

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 for 21, Missing

Sometimes I kinda hate the whole language-delay part of Ds.  Okay, a lot of times it is less than convenient.

Like today, when I took off Chase's high top Converse (that he can't take off by himself) before bath time, and found out that his left sock was missing.

Who loses a sock without taking off his shoes?  What the hell happened there?!?

I'll never know.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 for 21, Late

Here I am, again, an hour past my hopeful-bedtime.

I have GOT to get this under control.

PS- No, I did not get anything done on my DownsEd list of things to do.  Not a one.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

31 for 21, DownsEd

I attended the 3rd day of the DownsEd conference here in Charlotte today.  I gotta tell you, between the reading trainer at school all week and the deluge of information there today, I am a bit overloaded.

But, there was a ton really fantastic information available- things that I can use with the boys and things that I can use for teaching my struggling readers at school.

I have a list of things that I need to do:
1. Work on having higher expectations behaviorally for all the boys.  That's on me.  They can do more.  They can be held accountable for following routines, and held to a higher level of functioning- as far as contributing to the household work and behaving in public.

2.  Get organized for literacy and numeracy activities at home.

3.  Follow up with school activities at home.

4.  Add 6-8 more hours to every day for sleep.

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 for 21, Movie Night

*I've never seen Guy sit like this before!  How funny is the leg crossing?  He looks like a real southern lady!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 for 21: Ianisms- Girls

Ian:  Mom.  Guess what?  Sophia has a crush on both Ians in our class.  Me AND Ian S.

Me:  So, what do you do about that?

Ian:  Well, mostly I just make her run away saying, "Ewwwww!"

Me:  How do you make her say, "Ew?"

Ian:  I make a noise like this: (insert gross boy noise).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 for 21, Zeke Update

What a charmer this guy is!  Everyone who meets him leaves with a smile.  Even the audiologist who had to wait an extra long time  for us because Z decided that 1 minute before his hearing test, he had to use the rest room.

So, in addition to running around like a lunatic with this new job, I've been taking care of Z-man's medical appointments and preschool intake stuff.

In a nutshell (Look!  It's me!  I'm in a nut shell!"):

Medical stuff:  hypothyroidism confirmed.  Scheduling an appointment with the cardiologist to check everything, but he should be fine.  AAI neck xray clear.  Poop cooties detected and meds picked up today (that was a fun one.  I don't believe there was mention of collecting stool samples anywhere in our adoption paperwork!).

Ophthalmologist:  Far-sighted.  Glasses need to be ordered ASAP.  (By the way, has anybody seen Chase's Walmart glasses?  Still lost...)

Audiologist: Some hearing deficiencies, but could be due to fluid or blockage in the ear.  Appointment with ENT soon to roto-rooter his ear canals soon.

This is the cool one:
Preschool Intake: Even though the wait to get all the evaluations and eligibility done for the county could take up to 3 months, we were able to get Zeke into his future class as a "Peer Pal"- usually reserved for typically developing children without IEPs.  I don't know what more to say about that, except that I'm so glad that I've been blogging about our journey, and that people who care enough to make a difference and make the transition for Zeke as easy as possible have been reading it.

So, today (the day after our very first meeting with the county EC team), Zeke had his first day at preschool in Waxhaw with Chase and did very, very well.  His teacher complimented him on his manners :)  In fact, it was Mr. Chase that had a hard time sharing the lovely Ms. Santana in class.

And I think that's it for now.  I think sometime in the near future we won't have a zillion places to be, and life will slow down to it's normal frantic pace.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 for 21, New Job Update

Here's the low down on my awesome new job.

I wrestled with the idea of going back to work a LOT.  I do absolutely love being at home, but as bills changed and we added more kids, etc, etc, it ended up that I couldn't just stay at home with my own kids, but I had to take daycare kids in as well to make ends meet.  So, now, even though I got to be at home, I wasn't so much spending a ton of quality time with Gavin while I was at home, but trying to juggle the needs of the other kids, the parents' schedules, the pick ups and drop offs for school (no busing for us because of our transfer), and also odd  freelance writing jobs.

Ideally, yeah, I'd LOVE to be the mom who has the luxury of staying at home, going on all the school field trips, volunteering in the classes, and taking the little ones to the zoo and the park and the children's museum.  But that's not how things work out here and that's ok.

Anyway, it's just time for a change, and time for me to get a J-O-B, especially when 3/4 of the boys have to be in full time school anyways.  And Gavin?  I'm not gonna lie, I miss him like crazy...but he is BUSY.  Honestly, if I can't be one on one with him and run him all around the city to awesome little-kid play things, then it is very very hard to keep him occupied.  He's ready to be busy with 9 of his closest friends and 3 teachers to assist with the learn how to sit in a circle and listen to a teacher, and soak up all kinds of new learning :)

So that's that.

Now onto my flipping awesome job:

I really like teaching, I do.  But I really LOVE teaching reading and writing.  Like, I-want-to-marry-it LOVE it.  So, this position that I have as a literacy resource teacher, is the best ever.

I have a little office that I share with five other lit. resource teachers, with my own desk and rolling chair.  I have about a half hour of planning time in there in the mornings, and then I am off.  And by off, I mean I load up my little file-cart-on-wheels with everything that I need for the day, and I go to one classroom in each grade level and assist in their literacy block.  And then I leave.  And I don't worry about walking kids to specials, or lunch...or bathroom makes me want to do a little song and dance right now.

I have about an hour in each class, and I work with the same teachers every day.  I teach kids in small groups and individually, I help assess kids in reading, and I plan with the teachers new strategies to grow their students' reading abilities.

Also, the school that I am at was showing some pretty terrible testing scores.  That isn't really my selling point- but what makes that awesome is that they have a wonderful with-it, proven principal in there this year,  a team of really excellent teachers and curriculum support people, and some amazing opportunities for professional growth- all which will *hopefully* make a big difference in the students' gains this year.

It's just a truly awesome place.  This, combined with the boys' school situations and Mary Poppins, I'm feeling like I made the right decision.

PS- Zeke is doing fantastic in school already :)  

Monday, October 17, 2011

31 for 21, Brownie Points

Going back to work is awesome, but really difficult right now.  Well, I guess not impossible difficult, just different difficult.  

Like last night and this morning- I was like a tornado trying to get everything done and everyone ready...and I have to hand it to Bryan, he is jumping in wherever he is needed.

*He admitted that he should have gotten up at least 10 minutes earlier.
*He takes all 4 boys to school on his way to work, even walking the littles into preschool and washing their hands and taking them to the bathroom.
*He is reluctantly going to start driving the swagger wagon because fitting 4 car seats into the Santa Fe is a bit tight.
*He is a really good order-taker.  I can ask him to do anything in the morning or the evening, and he is on top of it.  Brushing the kids' teeth, putting on shoes, folding laundry, packing lunches.  Sometime I am going to sneak in "Get me a glass of wine" or "massage my feet" and see if he notices.
*He's put the boys to bed by himself 2 nights in a row while I've run off to get some errands done after dinner.

I probably don't say it enough, but he is super-awesome and I'm so happy to have him by my side :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

31 for 21, New Job Eve

This 31 for 21 thing is hard this year.  I'm running out of time in the days.  Even right now, I should definitely be in bed, but I have a thousand things to do on my New Job Eve.

Lunches to pack, outfits to try on (GAH!  Why did I eat all that chocolate in Ukraine?!?!), kitchen to clean, long detailed instructions for Miss Bert (our new nanny, or, as I like to call her, Mary Poppins), and kids that took late naps who don't want to go to bed tonight (ahem, Chase.)

Oh, plus that boatload of professional reading to do.  I still have like 9 hours left before I have to leave for work.  I should be able to cover 3 books on literacy, right?

Plus, my master plan was to take a shower tonight so that all I had to do was straighten my hair in the morning to look presentable. 

I am already missing my yoga pants and ponytail...

But I am also looking forward to looking like a human being again.

Oh, and a paycheck.  I am looking forward to a paycheck.  So are my bills.  And so is Bryan.

The kids are gonna be fine tomorrow.  Just fine.  Perfectly fine.  And so am I.  I'll be fine.  Fine, fine, fine, fine fine.  We'll all be fine.

Just. Fine.

Friday, October 14, 2011

31 for 21, Zumbo: A Chase Story

Stop me if I've told you this one before:

Last year, Chase's preschool teacher was Mrs. Zumbo.  We loved her.  She was really good, but didn't let Chase get away with anything.  Mrs. Zumbo's assistant was Mrs. Hewitt.  Chase adores her.  He calls her HEWITT.

So, all year long, Chase refused to say Mrs. Zumbo's name.  Conversations would go like this:
Me: Chase, do you want to go see Mrs. Zumbo at school today?
Chase: No, HEWITT.

Me: Chase, did Mrs. Zumbo read you a story today?
Chase: No, HEWITT.

Mrs. Zumbo:  Chase, say Zumbo.
Chase:  No, HEWITT!

What a little turkey, no?

But here's the hysterical part:

This year, he's in a different class, but he still sees Mrs. Zumbo in the hall all the time.  Mrs. Zumbo recently messaged me to tell me that every time he sees her since school began this year, he runs up to her for a hug, yelling, "ZUMBO!!!"

I wonder how long he was planning that joke?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 for 21, Cop Out

I promise more pictures tomorrow.  Crazy day running around, ending with girls' night with some of my favorite Ds mommies.

No motivation to type tonight :)

PS- Once, in my paranoid-delusions after Chase was born, I thought that I wouldn't have friends anymore because of him.  Seriously.  How stupid was that?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

31 for 21, Glamorous Again

I'm reveling in my motherhood moments again.  Well, maybe not reveling.  Not really basking, either.  I mean, I'm happy I'm here, and everything.  I really am.  And I'd rather be here doing this stuff than in Ukraine away from everyone not doing this stuff.

All I'm saying is that I deserve an award of some epic motherhood proportions for today.

Ian came into our bed this morning at 3am with a bad dream, which means I spent the next 2.5 hours sleeping on a five inch strip of mattress.

Normal whirlwind of before-school preparations.

To the pediatrician's for Zeke's big once-over appointment...that lasted nearly 3 hours, and consisted of things like holding him down for vaccines and 3 attempts to draw blood, 3 trips to the bathroom to 'pee-pee in a cup', and leaving the office with a "Stool Sample Collection Kit."

When we got home I used said kit...and there is now a 'sample' in my refrigerator.  They don't tell you these things in Parenting 101.


Then I picked up the kids from school (minus Gavin, because Gaga was here to be his servant caretaker today while we were running around) and took them on a field trip to the endocrinologist, where I had to hold Chase down for his bloodwork...where he decided that none of us were his friends any more, and he refused to walk out of the office.  Actually, he went boneless...which any parent will tell you adds 150% more body weight to a child.

Dinner=easy because a Meal Fairy left a casserole in my freezer.  Thank you for the kindness of others!  It is appreciated!

Bedtime- a breeze because of my fab husband.

But here's the grand finale:  digging through 3 days worth of kitchen trash because tomorrow is trash day and I have a fear that Chase's good glasses are somewhere in one of those bags.  Saving grace:  there were latex gloves included in the "Stool Sample Collection Kit" that I used so I didn't actually have to touch anything gross in the garbage.

It's good to be home.  Real life, people.

Monday, October 10, 2011

31 for 21, Attention Teachers

I'm taking a break from telling you about how awesome it is to be home right now (even though it is, and I just got home from spending an hour with my bestie next door catching up- eeee!)

I'm catching up on some professional reading before I go back to work, you know, so I can talk intelligently about something that is not a.) poop, b.) laundry, or c.) how cute my kids are.

So, I'm probably totally out of the loop, and maybe the last reading educator who has read this book, but The Cafe Book; engaging all students in daily literacy assessment and instruction, by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser is AWESOME.

I feel like these ladies could have been my sisters.  I was one who was always trying to find the perfect system to group and assess my kids, to motivate them, and to find the time to meet all their individual needs.  I love, love LURVE their answers to these issues, and I cannot wait to work it all into the classroom.

What's even better is that in my role, I'll be supporting classroom teachers during their literacy blocks, and they are already on board with the Cafe in theory, we will all be working towards the same goal with the same methods and understandings.  

The reading teacher in me is so excited that she could just die.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

31 for 21, Differences

Since we've been home, Bryan and I keep noting the differences between Zeke and Chase.  We of course knew that like all of our boys, they'd have different personalities, different abilities, different preferences...but in the interest of the stereotype that lumps all people with Down syndrome into the same cookie cutter, I like seeing all the details up close and personal and pointing them out.

For example:  
Chase is delicate, with a little peanut head that can still miraculously fit into the newborn hat that Guy wore home from the hospital (albeit a little stretched out).  He has very slim arms and legs, and absolutely no booty.  He has lower muscle tone, but high strength when he chooses to use it.

Zeke is stocky, in actuality only 5 pounds heavier than Chase, but he feels about 20 pounds heavier because I think his muscle tone is better than Chase's.  

Zeke verbalizes a LOT.  He's always got that little motor mouth running.  We're not entirely sure what he's saying, but he has a lot on his mind and he wants to share.  He's also really good (most of the time) following directions- take that to the garbage, clear your plate to the sink, put your shoes on, go inside the house...etc).

Chase is quieter, saving his words for when he really needs them, like when Gavin is trying to take a toy away from him.  You'll hear that across the neighborhood.  And he can hear all the directions that we give to him.  He just chooses to ignore the ones he doesn't like.

Chase is sure on his feet- he has MAD PT skills.  Yesterday at the park, he'd hang from the monkey bars for 10+ seconds, and then drop to the ground and land on his feet.  He runs pretty quickly (although still has those funky Phoebe arms waving all over the place- lol).  He goes up and down stairs foot over foot while holding onto a railing, and will step up and meet his feet on the stairs without holding on to anything.

Zeke is still honing his gross motor skills.  He's got the basics, walking, running, climbing...but he's definitely not as comfortable with any of that as Chase is.  He has the funniest little run/walk thing going on- he pumps his arms from side to side- I'll have to catch it on video sometime.  He looks like a little old man power walking.  He tried the monkey bar trick today, and could barely hold on for a second before dropping to the ground and collapsing.  He just couldn't seem to get his legs placed underneath him.  

Zeke has awesome fine motor skills.  He grips his crayon/pencil almost perfectly.  He loves to color, and could sit for a half hour with crayons and paper and be content.

Chase still has the whole hand grip going on, and lacks the attention span to color anything for more than 3 strokes of a crayon.  If you sit with him, you can convince him to try it longer, but he really just doesn't care a whole lot about it.

Both can be stubborn as ALL GET OUT, but Chase definitely wins the prize for obstinence.  If he does't want to do what's on your agenda, he just will not.  Will not.  Not ever.  And if you force him, then he will be very, very, very sad for a very, very long time.  Zeke wants to do things his way, but he's learned the magic of counting, and when Bryan and I hit number three, he is ready to comply (most of the time...the rest of the time is when we learned that 5 pounds more actually feels like 20 pounds more).

Both of them are silly, funny, and mischievous.  Just in their own ways.  Both have a look that says, "I'm gonna go do this thing you care?  By the way, it's not allowed."  Both are very loving- Chase is more apt to go in for a cuddle, and Zeke goes in for a kiss on both cheeks (and forehead, and chin, and nose, and lips, and arms, and knees...)  

NEITHER are happy all the time.  If you ever, ever hear anyone spout off that myth, feel free to refer them to me :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

31 for 21, jobs

Bryan and I are doing GREAT with this whole "parenting 4 boys" thing.  No, really, it's awesome.  I mean, we're a little tired sometimes, but we've had good playtime, and meal times, picnics in the park, walks around the neighborhood...we all even ran errands together!

However, Bryan goes back to work in 2 days.  TWO DAYS, PEOPLE.

And I start my new job (for the first time in 6 years) a week from Monday.

Holy hell.

I was really really really hoping that we'd be able to ease into this a little more.  Bryan had planned to have a couple weeks at home, I had planned to have almost a month before my start date.  But, you know.  Because of crazy Ukraine and all...we don't.

Oh, and because we got back later than planned, the center where they do the intake evaluations and will write Zeke's IEP so he can start school is CLOSED right now until the 17th (if you don't have a calendar handy, that is the day I am supposed to start my job.)  Sooooo.  That means that we have to find a private school so that he can start preschool before the county can take him.

Where's my paper bag?

No really.  It's going to be fine.  I think.  I am totally grateful that we have our jobs.  Bryan's employer has been MORE than understanding with his time off.  My new job is dreamy (K-5 literacy specialist!) and my principal has also been incredibly flexible with this nonsense.

And yesterday we visited the cutest, coziest, happiest, most down-to-earth preschool that I have ever seen.  It's the kind of center that I could see myself running some day.  They happen to have openings for both Guy and Zeke, even though they are just shy of max capacity.

Today, I think that we found the final puzzle piece to the kids' care while I work- we interviewed a nanny who will pick the boys up from their respective schools, then bring them home and get them started with snacks and homework.  She reminds me of my mom, with a little more energy (sorry, Mom).  She's zippy, happy, and handles things in the "pick your battle" kind of way that I do.  I love her.  And did I mention that she's willing to start dinner and do laundry???

Laundry, people.


So, anyhoo.  That's where I am right now.  Trying to balance the fun stuff with the detail stuff...trying to take life a day at a time, but also not letting the future come up and kick us in the hieney.

Friday, October 7, 2011

31 for 21, eh.

2nd full day home.  Trying to catch up on a ton of stuff while simultaneously spending 24/7 with the kiddos.

I'm kind of exhausted tonight.  Luckily this feeling doesn't set in until after the kids are in bed.

I can only ignore the house and the pile of mail and the laundry and the unpacking and the looming threat of going back to work in 9 days and trying to find reliable and affordable daycare and contacting and paying a stupid attorney to take care of my dumb speeding ticket from earlier this summer for so long.

It all catches up with you sometime.

On the plus side, I had a conference with Ian's teacher today.  All good stuff- math, reading, science.  He's a good kid, really.  An awesome one.  And like last year's teacher, his new one mentioned Ian's compassionate heart.  I love that this is a constant in his personality- that wherever he is, he demonstrates understanding and tact.  Well, you know, aside from the occasional bouts of pure BOY that he has...

But I am so, so proud of him.  And I wonder if he is like this by nature, or if he was an only child, would he still be the same boy?  Did Chase gift him with empathy?  I don't know.

I do believe, though, that it absolutely takes a special brother to forgive another certain brother (whose name rhymes with leek) for biting him so hard that he drew blood today while they were playing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

31 for 21, What I Know About

I feel like I can't adequately comment on life with 4 boys right now, because we're still in that weird getting-back-to-real-life stage.

What I can tell you is this:

1- Zeke is adjusting remarkably well.  Like so well that I am getting paranoid about when the complete meltdown is coming.

2- Bryan and I met the kids' teachers at school for the first time today.

3- I tried to drop Guy off for his morning preschool today.  He was all about going to school until we got there and he realized that I wasn't staying with him.  So I caved and brought him back home.  Bryan laughed at me for this.

4- I got my hair did.  Finally.  Next time I leave the country for 2 months, I'm bringing my hairdresser with me (thanks, Mandi!!)

5- Chase is so much daintier than Zeke!

6- Gaining 7 hours crossing time zones is a LOT easier to deal  with than losing 7 hours.  Jet lag has been minimal- most excellent, because we don't have time for naps here!

7- I'm gonna need a full day by myself in the house to reorganize everything here.

8- Chase was sad that it was time to eat dinner this evening, so he defiantly ate a flower petal from one of the beautiful arrangements that friends left at the house for us.  So there!

9- Has anyone seen Chase's glasses?  We are MIA for one, and the second fell apart today while he was on the trampoline.  Do I really need to have a back up for the back up pair?? How about I just get a back up to the back up to the back up just in case.  How early is too early for lasic?

10- Last year must have been a hard year for pants.  Almost every pair of 4T jeans that I got out of storage today has a giant rip in the knee.

11- Guy is so freaking funny.  I told him to come sit on the bed for stories, and he yells down the hall, "No way!!"  in the sweetest little voice ever, then comes happy feet dancing down the hallway with Llama Llama Misses Mama and his pillow.

12- Ian is the coolest big brother ever.  I'm totally not saying that because I have to.  Love that kid.  He has been so gentle and so understanding to ALL his brothers.  I'm so proud of his compassion.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bonus Photo: First Family Dinner at Home

Although the service on Air France was fab...this is what I've been waiting for :)
PS- Ian doesn't EVER drink Coke, except that Bryan brought him a special bottle from our layover in Atlanta.  I promise!

31 for 21, Together


Still having spontaneous tears at every passing thought about being home and being ONE family again.  Love. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 for 21, photo

I wonder if it was a bad idea to leave the boys in the car while we've been gone...?

Monday, October 3, 2011

31 for 21, a Chase story

Excellent indirect Chase story:

When Chase was little, one of my fears was that he might not have friends, or that other people, even adults, might be uncomfortable around him, might be afraid of Down syndrome.

I don't have that doubt so much anymore.  He has friends all over the place now, he's a little rock star.  But you know, you always have, is this an act?  Is there something there that is superficial, like he's getting special attention now because he has Down syndrome? 

I guess it's a classic example of "yeah, but do they really like me" doubts, with a T21 twist.

But a couple weeks ago, I got a message from a college student who works with Chase's age group with the children's program at church.  G told that he was leaving to start another campus, and "Chase is like my favorite little kid" and he will miss him.

How sweet is that?  To have this guy (who we talk to frequently in person) go out of his way to tell us that Chase is cool?  And how reassuring that even when no one is looking, even when it doesn't count, even when it doesn't really matter...he sees Chase as a little kid.  Not a little kid that they are nice to because he has Down syndrome...but a favorite because he's Chase, no matter what the chromosome count.

There are going to be people who judge my kids for what they look like, or what they can't do...but there are SO many more out there who will look at Chase (and Zeke!) and love them completely for who they are...and that, friends, is awesome.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 for 21, Two Options

Ok, I'm kind of copping out on today's post. My excuse is that Bryan and I are sharing a laptop right now, and he gets really grumpy when he's away from it for too long (although I feel compelled to note that I have been on it for the last almost-two-hours, so he is entitled to it). So, I'm leaving you with two choices (think of it like those Choose Your Own Adventure books you read in middle school):

1.Read about our day in Kiev today.


2.Read about how the Fabulous Tiffany Larsen took my three boys to the Charlotte Buddy Walk yesterday and totally represented the Madd House, even though we couldn't make it.

If you choose option 2, please pay special attention to the picture of Gavin picking his nose.

If you choose option 1, please note that the boxer shorts on the floor are indeed, clean.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

31 for 21...Year FIVE!

Grab This Button

It's that time of year again- October is Down syndrome Awareness Month. And how acutely aware of Ds we are this year, because we are STILL in Ukraine at this very moment, finishing up our adoption of Zeke, who happens to have Ds.

In that line...let's talk about the culture here towards disabilities- because it's very much in our face right now. Keeping a child with Down syndrome here just isn't done. It's not accepted. There are no programs, no schools, no inclusion programs...there's no state programs to assist with PT, OT, or Speech Therapy. There isn't a More Alike Than Different campaign taking place.

I can't tell you how grateful I am to live in a place that this attitude isn't the norm. No, my life isn't easier with Chase (and now Zeke!) and their extra chromosomes...but it's GOOD. And their lives are GOOD. And they are happy, silly, smart, and amazing little could they not matter in some peoples' eyes?

We're missing our Buddy Walk in Charlotte today. But we're doing our own walk through the streets of Kiev. Ok, well, Bryan and I are walking, and Zeke rotates between chasing the pigeons, riding on Bryan's shoulders, walking nicely between us, and sitting down in the middle of the sidewalk when he feels like it. :)

We'll see you back here for 30 more days of continuous blogging. Feel free to comment with questions- I'll try to answer them all in the next month.