Tuesday, October 30, 2012


1. We're having mixed results with the marbles so far. The incentive seems to be smoothing the way for some of the little things the kids fight me on for the sake of it, but won't budge them on the big stuff.

2. I have offered a marble in exchange for trying a new food. Although I am very comfortable in the way I manage the kids' eating, I do need a little incentive myself to keep offering new foods. I just feel so discouraged when I make something that they refuse to even taste. Anyway, Pacey tried peas the first night but neither could bring themselves to try a slice of cucumber last night. The important thing (to me) is that I feel like I'm DOING something about it without succumbing to the temptation to get embroiled in futile food battles.

3. Pacey is turning six next week!! We're having a birthday party for him on Sunday and I'm really proud of myself for putting my own desires for the "perfect party" aside and just planning something I know he will love. I had a tough experience with him at a birthday party for a classmate last weekend and it just solidified my resolve to do what is right for HIM, especially at his own party.

4. My beautiful, wonderful, imaginative daughter continues to drive me to the brink on a daily basis. Her need to constantly interact is such a mismatch for my desire for intervals of quiet. I confess I really, really miss the days of quiet time in the car, when I could listen to music and organize my thoughts. Now, it is a constant stream of chatter from the back seat and if I don't respond quickly enough, B will prompt me with a script of what I'm supposed to be saying (yes, it is as annoying as it sounds).

5. We had a new babysitter last week when I took Chris out for his birthday. The kids had a great time with her, but apparently didn't live up to my promise that they go to bed easily. When we got home they were both asleep snuggled up together in Brighton's bed. So cute, but clearly they didn't get enough sleep and the next morning was ROUGH.

6. I have to decide whether we will attend a Halloween party this evening with my MOMS Club. I don't want Pacey to skip speech therapy so we'd be going directly from there to the party. Past experience tells me this is not the event for us; late afternoon can be unpredictable as far as behavior goes and it would throw off our evening routine. I'm leaning towards just skipping it in the knowledge that they will have plenty of celebration tomorrow, but I do feel like a killjoy.

7. I have Pacey's school conference on Friday morning. Although I have no reason to expect bad news, I can't help but dread it. I'm in constant contact with his teachers and other staff so there should not be any surprises but it never gets any easier to hear about the areas that really challenge him. I'm going in with a positive attitude though, and I am confident I can help problem-solve where necessary.

8. I survived one of the most irrational meltdowns of all time when we were leaving the gym yesterday at 4:45 (see: earlier comment about late afternoon behavior). Do you know how many people are arriving at the gym at 4:45? Plenty when you're hauling a thrashing, screaming three-year-old out the opposite way. I wouldn't have been surprised if someone had accused me of trying to kidnap her (to which I'd have responded with uncontrollable laughter).

9. I plan to swipe about 80% of the kids' Halloween candy off the tops of their buckets. Totally hypocritical given my own love of candy as a kid. I'm a mean mom that doles it out a couple of pieces at a time and it will get really annoying in a couple of weeks. I don't even think I'll eat much of it. That particular chocolate/grape flavor of candy that's been all mixed together just doesn't appeal any more. My former self is disgusted.

10. I have a really sensitive sense of smell. We've been cooking a lot recently and our kitchen is adjacent to the mudroom where we keep our coats. Do you know how awful it is to put on a coat that smells of soup at 8:00 in the morning? If I do nothing else this afternoon, I'll be going to Target for a bottle of Febreze.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Incentives (Bribes)

In the course of our bedtime story reading the other night, we came upon the word "rewards" and Brighton wanted to know what it meant. We had a little discussion about earning rewards and I decided to take the opportunity to introduce the concept of Marble Jars. This was the incentive method my own mom used with us; we each had a little glass jar and could earn marbles for various tasks. Once the jar was full, you got to pick a small prize. (side note: my two siblings and I each had the same kind of jar, which were once used to hold marinated artichoke hearts. I had to ask my mom recently why on earth she had so many of those particular jars and she couldn't remember...WE certainly weren't eating them!!)

I've been thinking for awhile about ways to decrease the habitual tension that surrounds the everyday tasks that have to get accomplished but no one wants to do. Getting out of the house on the mornings Brighton has school is awful and there's nothing worse than starting the day with shouting and tears. I'm resigned to the fact that a 3- and 5-year-old just aren't going to do what they need to do without being harangued, so I need a positive spin.

Anyway, the kids were really enthusiastic about the idea of Marble Jars so I picked up some suitable containers today, personalized them with stickers and had the kids help me write a list of ways they could earn marbles. Per advice I've gotten, there are a certain number of "gimmes" on there: things they are pretty good about doing anyway and will make them feel immediately successful and whet their appetites for more. Pacey seemed to grasp the idea right away and his contribution to the list was "put on jammies." Hmmm, not a bad one. Brighton, on the other hand, suggested that they might earn marbles for "going to the treehouse" (their favorite indoor play destination). Nice try kiddo, nice try. Unsurprisingly, however, she has already chosen what her first prize will be, "a purple pony with a purple brush."

They are currently out on the porch composing their own list of ways to earn marbles. I hear lots of mutterings about the treehouse so I don't think that negotiation is dead...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Circling the Wagons

Even almost six years into this journey with Pacey, there are still days that are hard. Sometimes I feel so exhausted thinking about all the years ahead to navigate, striving to find a balance between trying to help Pacey fit in with his peers and trying to help his peers accept him for who he is. Selfishly, I think mostly about how hard it is on my sensitive soul; my skin has thickened considerably but sometimes I feel like nothing less than a suit of armor will be required.

It's on days like this that I am most grateful for my family and friends. I know it's necessary to push Pacey out in the world and help him be part of his social group, try new things and learn coping skills. But there is nothing better than being with the people that know and love Pacey for who he is. No apologies or explanations necessary. No clearly false attempts to interact with the kid with special needs, just genuine kindness and affection for him.

No point to this really, just reflecting today on how many good people we've been able to surround ourselves with.

(And a few pictures to lighten the mood)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Exceeds Expectations

Awhile back I got a notice home from Pacey's school that they'd be participating in a Square 1 art fundraiser. Basically the kids are given a specific-sized piece of card to draw a picture on and it can then be turned into various items (similar to items made with photographs). The notice mentioned that the kids would have some time at school to complete their picture but that they could bring it home if they wanted to work on it some more.

Honestly? I totally dismissed the whole concept. Drawing is NOT Pacey's favorite activity and he still has kind of a hard time holding writing implements. No one likes spending a lot of time doing activities they don't enjoy, so I was expecting a scribble at best.

Imagine, then, my surprise when this came home:

He didn't write the names in, but the rest is unmistakably his work. This makes me so happy for so many reasons. He chose to draw our family. The drawings are recognizable. And clearly he was given enough time and support to produce this, despite the fact it wasn't an academic assignment.

The thing I worry about the most with Pacey is that the current pace of life doesn't always allow him to express himself fully. Given enough time to process and piece together his responses, he has really great stuff to contribute to the world. This is a really good reminder to me to continue working hard to help him unlock that stuff and let it show.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


So Brighton has a Blankie. She attached to this particular blanket (actually a gift given to me for Pacey by my former boss) when she was about 6 months old. It's sort of crocheted and she likes to poke her fingers in the holes for comfort. We've gone through phases of being more and less attached to Blankie...currently, he (because he's a boy) comes almost everywhere with us.

Now, I GET the Blankie thing. I had one, called Kiki, that I was very VERY attached to. It may or may not have come to college with me, and my sister may or may not have delivered it to the recovery room after my emergency C-section with Pacey. I no longer sleep with it, but did for a really long time.

The problem is this: Blankie has been loved HARD and is starting to show it. He's about 2/3 the volume he started out as and is fairly constantly losing bits that B begs me to re-attach. As it accompanies her pretty much everywhere it's not exactly pristine at this point and could do with a wash (I have to sneak it in the washing machine every so often, which she hates). I'm worried at this point that Blankie is actually going to fall apart before she's done needing him.

Photographic evidence:

B would like you to know that Blankie smiled for this

This is as much as I could stretch it out...it's all sort of
knotted up together.

So I'm not sure what to do at this point. Give up on washing it or risk it disintegrating in the machine? Try to get her to attach to another blankie? I have searched the entire internet and there is not another blanket like it to be found. I know that I personally had two blankies but one was FAR superior to the other and the lesser one would not have been a true replacement. I've tried to persuade her to leave him at home but she really seems to need him right now and I am not one to come between a girl and her Blankie.

I guess the only thing I can do is let her love him to pieces and hope that he lasts as long as he needs to.

In other, unrelated news, despite my bias I am pretty sure this kid is going to be the cutest Captain America in the whole world next Wednesday. If you have your own Captain America, you have my permission to believe otherwise :)

Awww, baby's first polyester suit with padded muscles

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hijack of the Blog by a (friendly) pirate....


I am the C that my wife so often refers to.

Nearly 10 years ago this foolish woman agreed to marry me on a day that became the most important day that I will likely ever have.

Without making the readers of this cringe too much I will just publicly say that Jaida has (and continues to be) my perfect counter weight.

They say opposites attract and in our case it was true. I would say that it is also interesting that we have both moved closer to the center point. I was once the person that needed to be around people, the center of the action, while Jaida would rather run than have to be in the spot light.

Now I choose the chaos and love of my family over the rest of the world while Jaida has become the President of the Minnetonka chapter of MOMS.

Tomorrow (or today if you are reading from my homeland) I will be 37 years old.

I am not sure where I stand against the expectations of everyone that has known and cared for me through my life.

Have I over achieved or not achieved what I could....

Have I been the man that people expected me to be....

I remain restless to provide for my family and reach my goals, both for them and for me.

I know this though. I have in every way and beyond my expectations "over delivered" on finding my person.

If I do nothing else in the next 37 years I have added to the Harris/Fleming legacy in a positive by finding J.

(Now you all get to guess how long before she deletes this post)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Raking with Kids

1. Feel stir crazy at 4:00 pm. Realize that 62 degrees is likely the warmest it will be for the next five months and round up the troops to go outside.

Never happier than when running. Preferably away from
me and towards a busy road.

2. Ponder when the last time dog poop was picked up. It's been...awhile.

3. Admonish children to stay in upper yard and play on swingset while poop is removed. Quickly realize they are not interested in avoiding the poop in the slightest. Start game called Poop Sleuth in which they help you search among the leaves for piles of poop.

4. Think about how dog poop in California probably never gets fuzzy with mold. Ahem.

5. Watch son step in at least three piles of poop and make a mental note to burn bleach his Crocs.

6. Finally start raking. Listen in amusement as kids pretend pile of leaves is first a giant nest and then a spaceship.

7. Hold breath when daughter gleefully pulls something from the middle of the pile and sings, "I have a present for you Mom!"

8. Breathe sigh of relief when said present turns out to be a small pebble.

9. Rake.

10. Rake.

11. Rake.

12. Realize that given the right-sized tools, kids can actually be genuinely helpful (thanks for the wheelbarrow Dad!)

13. Rake.

14. Rake.

15. Rake.

16. Feel intensely grateful for the amount of tree cutting back/down we did this spring. Briefly consider just...cutting the rest down.

17. Realize it's dinner time and we've been working for two hours.

18. Go inside with lovely feeling of satisfaction, having made a real, material impact with our efforts.

19. Look down at lawn from upper deck, realize we picked up approximately 1/1,000,000th of the leaves.

20. Give up.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Few Things I'm Proud Of

It's really easy for me - well, all of us - to focus on all the things we feel like we could be doing better. I do that all the time. Sometimes I feel like I should keep a list of all the little things I get accomplished during the week so that on Fridays, when the funk descends and all I can see are the UNDONE things, I could look at the list and feel better about myself. Anyway, it's only Monday today but I'm getting a jump on Friday by putting down a few things I'm proud of myself for doing recently.

1. Going to that grueling workout class. Trying new things is not something I usually enjoy, and there are always many ready excuses for skipping it until "next week." Especially when it is something that solely benefits me, like exercising. It was intimidating to go that first time, but I'm really proud that I did it and did not actually die during. Bonus points if I go back again this week.

2. Telling a new-ish friend that it's not ok with me to use the word "retarded" as a synonym for stupid. I hope I explained it in a way that will help her understand why it's hurtful. I hope even more that maybe it'll prevent her from teaching her kids (by example) that it's an ok word to use that way. [Edited to add: Since I started this post, she responded in the best possible way]

3. Putting a lot (A LOT) of thought into my husband's birthday this week and coming up with some ideas that I'm excited about and I think will make him feel special.

What makes you proud of yourself?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Teacher and Student

I started teaching Brighton to peel vegetables the other day. Although she needs a little practice, I am optimistic that in the near future I'll be able to delegate peeling responsibilities entirely.

Other things I am looking forward to making the kids do lovingly teaching self-sufficiency in:

Emptying the dishwasher
Emptying the trash
Cleaning toilets
Picking up dog poop
Raking leaves
Washing dishes
Folding laundry


One day this past week I went looking for B, who'd been uncharacteristically quiet and absent from my side. I found her in my bathroom, looking exceedingly guilty, and a bit like Bozo the Clown. She'd gotten into my lipstick and, it appeared, applied it in the general region of her mouth and then used my powder brush (!!!) to smear it over the bottom half of her face. I think I have some other teaching to do...

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Few Books to Keep Me Busy

I've written before about the system I developed for best using the library and decreasing the amount I spend on books. Basically, when I see a book I want to read, I add it to my Amazon wishlist and then every so often I go and put a bunch of the titles onto the library Request List. Newer titles often have a long wait, which is fine, but it means I tend to keep 25-30 titles on request so I'm never out of reading material.

Well, that plan kind of backfired on me:

That's the stack of books I picked up on Tuesday. Then I had notification that two more had come in. That's a total of eight books, plus the two I am currently reading.

There's nothing more luxurious than having enough books to last you the rest of the year, but even with the option of renewing these a couple of times, I have a LOT of reading to do. Anyone want to come take care of two adorable small children so I actually have time to do it??

(On the plus side, I have already comfortably met my reading-related resolution for the year!)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Through a Different Lens

My friend Steph has a nice camera and an interest in photography, so she offered to take photos of anyone who wanted to come by this beautiful little park in town. It worked out perfectly for us to attend and was a criminally gorgeous fall day. It was so fun to see how she captured my kids and I love that she got a few rare shots of me with them. Here's a few of my favorite shots - in case you're wondering why there are about four million of Brighton and maybe three of Pacey, it's because she looooooooves the camera and he does NOT.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dexter's Trick

So, I mentioned that we're on kind of a health kick around here and as part of that, I've been trying to exercise more regularly. I've actually managed 4-5 times a week lately (a giant improvement over, say, zero times a week) and have been feeling pretty good about myself. My workout du jour right now is to use the elliptical and do some light weights. Nothing extreme, but I'd been patting myself on the back.

Today I decided that I was going to try a fitness class at my gym. The one that worked in the time slot I had was a cardio/strength class called Dexter's Treat. Now, the average person utilizing my gym is quite a few years older than I am, so I was anticipating sort of breezing through this class. Things looked promising when everyone was discussing how many people had been turned away from Monday's class because it was too full. Good, I chose well!

Ha. HA. HA. OMG. It was supposed to be a 50-minute class, actually lasted 60 minutes and by 15 minutes in I thought I was dying. I worked muscles I don't think have gotten any attention since...huh, well a long time ago. If ever. The instructor was an unintentionally hilarious guy who kept telling stories about his kids but then losing track of what his point was. He also said lots of completely confusing/idiotic things like, "I'm not asking you to do something impossible, I'm asking YOU, AS A PERSON, to do the impossible." Huh? It did distract me from the pain for a few minutes while I tried to work out what he actually meant to say.

So, moral(s) of the story. Just because you're thin (I inherited good genes and a petite stature) does NOT mean you're fit. And don't underestimate the fitness classes at the old people's gym. I'm pretty sure not a single person from Monday's overpopulated class was back for more today...hard to get to the gym when you can't WALK.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Few Things, In No Particular Order

* I've been sitting here trying to write a post for about 20 minutes now, but my beautiful, adorable, wonderful daughter will NOT STOP TALKING TO ME. She is actually engaged in a snack-and-chat session with two imaginary friends (Handy Manny and Martian Mickey) but for some reason my commentary is also required. She's currently discussing Simon and the fact that he died. Yes, she's still talking about it. She and her friend C actually bonded over it the other day; C also had a dog die and the two girls talked seriously about it. It was really sweet, but it blows me away that she's already having discussions like this with her girlfriends.

* The same girl, C, tends to prefer the company of girls. Her mom says the boys they see regularly tend to be sort of loud and aggressive so she keeps her distance. Apparently, the only boy that she likes is Pacey. At a recent playdate the girls dressed up in fancy dresses and shared Pacey as their handsome Prince Charming (this kid is remarkably tolerant). After awhile he disappeared under a desk with a Leapster and I didn't really blame him. 

* Pacey was tired last night and was reaching epic levels of naughtiness. I was truly exasperated by the time I was helping him put his pajamas on and asked, "WHY are you being so naughty, Bud?" He dropped his head and covered his eyes with his hands. He didn't say anything but we had a hug and then he cleaned up his toys without being asked. I hate times like this...his language has come along so much but it's mostly still pretty concrete stuff. He does occasionally tell me "Pacey happy" which is about the best thing ever, but it must be so frustrating to not be able to explain yourself. 

* I've been seriously over-committing myself lately. I actually had to diagram out this coming week to keep track of everything I have planned to do. It's fine, I like being busy and it makes me really happy to do things for other people, but I'm not leaving much time to be by myself. I find myself enjoying the various social interactions in my week very much, but they are still a drain on my energy resources. I get all my best thinking done when I have at least 60 consecutive minutes to myself, and I haven't been allowing that lately. It's really contributed to a foggy feeling I don't like. 

* I'm reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and am finding it fascinating. I go back and forth between really identifying with the author and finding her incredibly annoying, but nonetheless it's an interesting concept and it's given me a LOT of food for thought (see previous statement about not allowing enough time to just think). We'll be discussing it later this month in my book club and I think it'll be a really great discussion. 

* Time to take B to her swimming lessons. I'm really, really glad she loves them so much because I find it a complete drag (5:00 on a Sunday evening!). But if you're going to live in a place with 10,000 lakes, you really gotta know how to swim. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Friday Funk

When I was working, Fridays were awesome. Now that I stay home with the kids, I am very susceptible to what I call the Friday Funk. Weekends can be kind of hard...unstructured and more people home to make messes. I'm so spoiled by having the opportunity to run errands and do activities during the week, it's hard to feel like joining the weekend masses to do anything.

So anyway, yesterday I'd had a string of little frustrations all day, was tired from having been up in the night YET AGAIN with my daughter, couldn't get warm all day and basically indulged in a huge pity party for one.

It turned out ok in the end. We went out to dinner (no cooking or clean up!), got the kids in bed relatively early and spent the evening cozied up watching movies (Chris) and catching up on TV shows   (me). Anyway, just wanted to document why I didn't post yesterday. Although I love the 31 for 21 challenge and what it stands for, at the end of the day I'm not going to kill myself to put something inane up just for the sake of it. I'd rather have something worth reading (uh, not like this post).

In other exciting news, FIVE new babies have been born to my family and friends in the past two weeks. Two friends here in MN have beautiful new baby girls, two of my cousins added to their families and perhaps most exciting, I have a brand new nephew. Baby Austin was born to my brother and his partner Amber on 10/11/12 in Alaska. I can't wait to hear more about the little guy and see some more pictures. It sucks being so far away.

Now if I could just kick this annoying cold, I'd have so many new baby heads to sniff!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

School of Thought

I keep waiting for my thoughts to organize themselves enough about school - now that we're six weeks or so into the school year - to write a profound post about my thoughts/feelings. For now, though, it's all still too new and changeable. I come away from drop-off in the mornings feeling elated some days and other days? I wish I could home school. Or, you know, hire a private tutor because there is NO WAY I WOULD EVER HOMESCHOOL. No offense to anyone who does, I just don't have the skills necessary.

Anyway, I have distilled a few coherent thoughts from the muddle so here they are:

* Kindergarten is not just drawing and painting and singing. They are learning hardcore concepts at this age. There are lots of options here in Minnesota to make sure that as many kids as possible are able to attend preschool, but I know there are kids who don't. I can't imagine coming into the kindergarten classroom as the first experience of school. Talk about intense.

* Our school district offers free breakfast to all kids before school starts. For kindergarteners, they have the food in the classroom and they can eat for the first 10 minutes or so of class. I LOVE that they have this option, as I know there are many kids who don't get to eat breakfast at home. However, our school starts at 9:33 and that's really late for breakfast time, at least where my kids are concerned. I don't have it in me to tell Pacey he CAN'T eat, because he won't understand why the other kids are and he can't. On the other hand, I can't tell him he cannot eat breakfast at home with B, he wouldn't get that either. So, two breakfasts. This isn't a huge deal and he's definitely trying a lot of healthy foods he'd never touch at home. My only complaint is that it kind of derails the start to his day a little bit. I feel like he gets to school really ready to dive into the structure and breakfast is sort of chaotic and can trigger a stubborn meltdown/refusal scenario when there are too many instructions and variables at once. Although it's a pilot program this year I imagine they will continue it so better he get used to the drill now, but it's a little frustrating.

* There are a lot of really nice kids at Pacey's school. I walk him into his class in the morning, but I let him get a lead up so he's sort of independent. It's fun to see the other kids commenting how cute he is, or admonishing each other to watch out for the little ones. His classmates always seem excited to see him and they ask about him when he's out for some reason. I like that he's truly a part of their community.

* It's really easy to get ahead of myself. I don't have to figure out next year, or the year after that until it's actually time. I have to remind myself to focus on this year, and making sure that he's getting what he needs to be successful. I have said it before, but it feels like a long road ahead of us.

* It is a true privilege to have the flexibility to spend time in and around Pacey's classroom that being a stay-at-home mom affords me. I am establishing a good rapport with his teacher and other staff and it is so helpful for me to be able to really observe the class routine and what they're learning. It helps a lot with my ability to problem-solve if need be if I can actually see what's challenging for him. I think his teacher appreciates it as well, and to have daily communication with her is invaluable.

* I'll never get through school with either of my kids if I can't learn to separate their achievements or difficulties in school from my effectiveness as a parent. I can prepare them and support the learning process the best I can, but at the end of the day THEY have to do the work and when they inevitably have their mistakes and failures, I will have to work not to take it personally. Easier said than done for this mama.

* I really liked school, but I am so, so, so glad I don't have to go anymore.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Today's cop-out post:

Pacey's school picture this year. Chris and I both rated it a B-. Not terrible, but nowhere near his real, cheek-cracking smile. Still makes me want to give him a bear hug though.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three Recipes You Should Try

Forgive me, I'm not really feeling the blog today. I'm still sick and my head is foggy. Here are three recipes I've been making lately that are absolutely worth a shot.

1. Spiced Double Chocolate Chip Cake (with Brown Sugar Glaze)

This cake is absolutely amazing. I find homemade cake recipes to be VERY hit or miss and I made this on a whim for a meeting I was hosting. Just a hint of fall spices, not too sweet and a tiny kick from cayenne. I don't even know if it needs the glaze, but it was definitely yummy.

2. Jamie's Minestrone Soup

We have been on a bit of a health kick around our house and so have been focusing on lots of fruits and veggies. This soup has a good amount of veggies in it but is still rich and filling. I make a pot at the beginning of the week and eat it for several meals. Even my husband, carnivore that he is, loves it. I think I follow the recipe pretty closely except I use dried Italian Seasoning for the herbs and added some red pepper flakes for a little pizazz.

3. Multigrain Sandwich Bread

I'll be honest and say, I was not at all convinced by this recipe. You basically take this 10-grain hot cereal (the recipe actually calls for 7-grain but all I could find was 10-grain...even better right?) and make it with boiling water; the resulting porridge-like mixture is the base for your bread. It wasn't overly complicated, and all the kneading was done in my KitchenAid. It turned out absolutely amazing. I loved it, the kids loved it and our dog apparently loved it, seeing as he stole the second half of the loaf off the counter and devoured it. I halved the recipe since I was just experimenting, but I'll definitely make both loaves next time. Seriously delicious.

Anyone have a recipe they are loving lately? Especially vegetarian or dessert-like?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Care and Keeping

One of the things I worried most about when I was still getting used to Pacey's diagnosis of Down syndrome was how many things I thought I'd have to do differently. We were offered respite care at various times (in this context it meant a trained caregiver to come and give us some time "off") so I sort of assumed that it was going to take something beyond a typical caregiver to watch my child.

I had an experience that seemed to corroborate this assumption. I'd had Baby Boy Harris on the waiting list at Fancy Pants Daycare for months by the time he was born (we joked that in SoCal you better put your kid on the waiting list before you start trying to conceive). When he was a couple of months old and I was trying to figure out how and where we were going to transition him into daycare, I called the director of Fancy Pants Daycare. I don't recall all the details of the conversation, but she made it quite clear - in ways that would prevent them from being sued - that they weren't prepared to have him at their facility. I can't even describe how that felt...a mixture of humiliation and disappointment. I also felt really alone at that point, like I was going to spend my life trying to figure out where he would be accepted.

As it turned out, we were on a waiting list at another daycare that was more than happy to have Pacey. In fact, when he turned 18 months we found out that they were actually a contracted provider of early intervention services for the state of California and he was able to have therapies provide on site. The speech therapist there actually requested permission to work with him more than he was technically eligible for. She had students working with her and Pacey was so great to work with that they all wanted to spend more time with him. It ended up being the perfect place for him but I never really got over the sting of that first exclusion.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this today because I went to the gym this afternoon with the kids. I checked the kids in, reminded them both where the bathroom was, chatted to the woman in charge and left. No need for discussion of Ds, no additional instructions required, just a kid hanging out while his mom attempted to stave off the effects of a metabolism slowing down.

I thought about it earlier this week too, chatting to a friend about finding and hiring babysitters. She has a littler guy with Ds, and she was asking me whether I say up front that Pacey has Down syndrome or not. I don't, actually. I posted a job listing this last time just indicating that I had two children and their ages. I always request to interview a new babysitter before I leave them with the kids and I make sure that they get to meet Pacey at that time. I usually reference the fact that he has Ds and ask whether the sitter has any experience with it. I like to point out that he doesn't require any different care than other kids and I think it's a great way to show people that don't have experience that he's not all that different. As I told my friend, if someone is going to be uncomfortable with it, firstly they probably wouldn't ever accept a sitting job, but more importantly you probably don't want to hire them anyway. I've never had a babysitter meet Pacey and then decide not to sit for us.

There is plenty that is still challenging about having a kid with special needs, but sometimes it's nice to take a moment and acknowledge the things that AREN'T as hard/different as I feared they might be.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Word From Our Sister

I think I'll try to do this once a year...it'll be interesting to see how Brighton's thoughts about her brother and knowledge/understanding of Down syndrome develop over time.

I used to think and worry a lot about when and what to tell B about her brother, but I actually feel really confident now that I'll be able to follow her lead and will know when the time is right. For now, her brother is just her brother and I love that.

(the intro was her idea)

Saturday, October 6, 2012


* It snowed this morning. Only for about a minute, and it didn't stick, but it SNOWED. That's all I'm saying about that.

* Pacey came to me yesterday and said, "Cake, Mama. Eat cake." Guess what I made for him today? (why yes, my children are over-indulged at times).

* I chatted briefly to the mother of a sixth-grader at Pacey's school that also has Down syndrome. She commented that Pacey talks really well. That has happened to me exactly zero times in his life. Speech has been such a challenge for him and progress feels so incredibly slow at times. But WOW has he made progress this last year. I owe a lot to his speech therapist. It was good to have that perspective.

* I'm already struggling with the daylight hours decreasing. I keep thinking about getting one of those alarm clocks that slowly lights up to wake you. Anyone have any experience with them? The last few mornings Brighton has come down to my bedroom and I've been convinced it's the middle of the night until I check my watch and realize it's 6:00 am.

* The Precipitation-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named did spur me into action on the task of reorganizing my mudroom closet. It was a big project that involved moving shelving between three different rooms in the house. I wish I had a "before" picture to post here because the result is making me pathetically happy and I'd love to share. Sadly, I have replaced the bug spray and sunscreen in my pocket organizer with hats, gloves and hand warmers.

* This post is so boring I can't even bring myself to continue it (you're welcome). Weekends are definitely harder from a posting perspective.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kids with Ds

(I did a post like this last year too)

Play tee ball

Go bowling

Have friends

Ride the ferris wheel

Catch fish

Jump on trampolines

Use computers

Cheer at football games

Brush their own teeth

Build sandcastles

Pick raspberries

Cut paper into millions of tiny, annoying pieces

Pose like supermodels

Drive boats


High five their cousins

Lay down in protest of...I don't even know what

Play at splash parks

Love dinosaurs 

Splash in creeks

Frost birthday cakes for their moms

Hike through the woods