Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Yesterday afternoon I settled Brighton in her room after we dropped Pacey off at school, hoping it would be one of the increasingly infrequent days she would actually nap. I heard her puttering around for awhile and then it got quiet, so I was pretty sure she was asleep.

An hour or so later, I went up to begin waking her up so we could go get Pacey. I stepped into her room to see this:

An empty bed. Well, sometimes she has fallen asleep curled up in the recliner we still keep in her room:

Nope, no Brighton. This was reminding me of the time Pacey "disappeared" inside his bedroom and I finally found him curled up inside his toy box. I turned around and, AHA! A clue:

Upon further inspection I confirmed that she had fallen fast asleep on the floor inside her closet. Looks comfy, no?

Silly girl.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekend Hangover

Ok, not technically a hangover, but definitely feeling the effects of a very busy weekend with several late bedtimes and not enough down time! What a wonderful weekend it was though.

We took our first boat trip out into Lake Minnetonka on Saturday morning. It was a pontoon boat with plenty of room and we did a little fishing, a little floating and a little exploring the lake. It was very quiet which was nice, although there was a fair old wind and the kids and I got absolutely SOAKED when a wave came over the front of the boat. They loved it otherwise though, and it was an unexpectedly successful first trip out. Now I am really excited for a summer of being out on the water.

Chris kindly purchased me my own fishing rod following this trip (much
as I liked using the Cars one)

Pretty stoked to discover the radio on board so she could
show off her moves

Maxing and relaxing...this kid was made for boating

I could spend the whole day just puttering around and looking at the
amazing houses surrounding the lake

But mom, WHY can't I pet the goose? 

The next part of our day involved a 5K "race" to raise money for a local chapter of Gigi's Playhouse. You can learn more about it here, basically they are organizations dedicated to raising awareness about Down syndrome, providing accurate information to the public and probably most significantly, providing educational support and various social opportunities to people with Ds and their families. My friend S has been involved with the fundraising to get a location opened in the Twin Cities and it's looking pretty good. The turnout for each of the fundraising events has FAR exceeded expectation which is really cool.

I was really excited to support this effort, but also to have the opportunity to connect with more families who are touched by Down syndrome in some way. I was a little disappointed at the beginning of the event not to see very many people with Ds...but then I realized that it meant there were a bunch of people out there interested in supporting this effort who may not have an immediate family member with Ds. That makes me feel good. Later on in the day there were many more families that brought children with Ds (no adults that I saw) including some absolutely adorable infants. I met a lot of really nice people and enjoyed the day from start to finish. If I had to guess, I'd say they raised a LOT of money too.

This might be the first photo of the two of us together in...years?

Boyz...Pacey and our favorite little A

It's a good thing she loved this paint job as much as she did. We were in
line fooooorrrrrreeeeevvvveeeerrrrrrrrrr
One of my favorite parts of the day was seeing a boy, maybe 10 or 11, walking around with a mohawk hairstyle and diamond stud earrings, clearly believing he was the business. I inwardly rolled my eyes a little, but then noticed that he was unusually friendly to the kids with Down syndrome, interacting with them, helping the little ones play games and asking their names. I had a chance to talk to him while we waited (and waited and waited) in line for face painting and it turns out that he has an older brother with Down syndrome. It was so awesome to see him at that event, comfortable in our community and going out of his way to connect. His brother is 21 and living on his own, another very cool thing to hear.

Anyway, awesome day, awesome weekend and as you might expect I am being punished mightily today for all that fun followed by a boring Monday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Some brief highlights from the last week or so...

1. Brighton's Birthday

What a wonderful day. She was so very excited. It was one of those awesome years where her birthday fell on a Saturday and she got to have her party on her actual special day. We had a swim party at our local fitness center and it went beautifully. We had friends from all different 'segments' of our lives and the kids all got along so well and everyone had fun. I had Brighton very quickly open her gifts at the end of the party (I dither on whether to do this or not but I think the kids are getting to an age where they want to see their gift opened) and every time she opened a gift she exclaimed, "It's MINE!" She didn't much mind what the gift actually contained, she was just thrilled it belonged to her. I was reassured when we opened her family gifts later in the day and she was more gracious, saying, "Oh, sank you, sank you!" with each new gift revealed. An utterly fabulous day all around and so gratifying to see your kid so happy.

2. Boats

We joined a boat club! My husband really (really really) wants us to become Boat People. He's been doing a lot of research into buying a boat, new vs. used, dock space vs. pulling it in and out of the water, etc. We revisited something he'd looked into a few months ago though, and decided to join a boat club for the year. You sign up, pay an exorbitant fee, and have unlimited use of a number of boats on different lakes around the state. Staff prepare the boat for you and take care of maintenance after your trip, so it's really just a matter of showing up and getting onboard. We'll have a chance to take out several different types of boats and see which one (if any) will be right for our family. First trip out is this Sunday morning!

3. Mother's Day

I had a really nice day. Chris had presented me with a beautiful ring - well, actually, Pacey presented it to me - earlier in the week and I had the usual collection of gifts made by the kids at school. Lest it sound like I was too spoiled, I was woken for the day at 6:45 by my little sidekick, and the only time I really got to myself was 45 minutes while I mowed the lawn :) Couldn't have asked for a nicer day to celebrate my position in my wonderful little family.

4. School Stuff

I had the final few meetings in preparation for Pacey's transition into kindergarten. I'm still processing some of it and will likely write in more detail later. Once again, I feel fortunate that I have a really supportive team working with us and I feel like we're all really working together to make sure Pacey has as successful a year as possible. The final meeting was a transition conference at the elementary school with the preschool and kindergarten teams present to discuss the IEP we're crafting now that will take him through the end of the next school year. I didn't really think much about it ahead of time and was a bit taken aback to enter a room of 10 professionals, including teachers, therapists, case managers, special education coordinators and the school principal. No time to be nervous though, and I was really proud of the way I advocated for the things I think are most important for him. I still find the process intimidating and largely look to his teachers for guidance as far as setting his IEP goals, but I am VERY confident in my role as Expert on Pacey Graham Harris. It's a good feeling.

5. Summer Plans

We have a lot coming up in the summer months! The kids will both be going to summer preschool for the month of June, three mornings a week. That means...time on my own!! I am hoping to be able to use that time to get chores and errands done so that we have our afternoons free for park adventures and Mondays and Fridays free to go further afield. There are a ton of things to do here in the summer and we'll have no trouble filling time. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law are coming from England the first two weeks of June and haven't seen the kids in two years (or ever been to Minnesota). I'm really excited for the kids to get to know them and to introduce them to our new home state. We'll have a month at home and then are headed over to Northern California to see my sister and her family. Can't wait to get the kiddos together with their cousin, D.

6. Books Galore

C has been really into the show Heroes (on Netflix) and I wasn't super gripped by it so I've been spending a lot of time reading while he watches. I am plowing through book after book - some crap, some not - and should have a good list of recommendations here soon. Some evenings I have actually finished a book and immediately picked up another. Bliss! I am proud to report I have only purchased two books for myself all year and the rest have been library reads. Amazing how a little forward planning makes it possible. I did, however, fail to get to my last book club selection (State of Wonder by Ann Patchett), though I do still want to read it.

Visiting Daddy at work for lunch and doing what we've all dreamed
about...laying down on the office floor for a quick post-lunch nap!

Cinderella in the park

Watching geese

Sporting fresh haircuts for summer

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Three Today





Thoughts to come tomorrow. There is no doubt in my mind that this girl had a wonderful, wonderful day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Choosing the Happy

I was going to write about the many (MANY) irritating behaviors currently being displayed by my two small ones, but I thought I'd try something else instead and focus on the good. Perhaps not as immediately satisfying as a good vent, but better to look back at someday!

5 Things I am Loving About Pacey

1. His voice. It's a little raspy, a little gravelly and he has the slightest little lisp. He's talking more and more, which is wonderful in itself and he produces the absolute sweetest rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Seriously, the best.

2. He loves toddlers. He likes all kids, really, but for some reason he will make a beeline for kids between 12 and 18 months. He gives the gentlest little hugs and can be sort of protective of them.

3. His attachment to his daddy. Lately Brighton has been opening his door in the morning to get him up and he comes charging down the stairs, into our room and heads straight for Chris. "Dada, Dada, Dada, Dada!" It's really sweet and I know it means a lot to C.

4. His appetite. He has always been a decent eater anyway, but he will now try a lot more new foods and I can actually count on him to eat when he's hungry. I still have to limit the less healthy foods (he would honestly probably eat 10 chicken nuggets if I'd let him), but in general he's getting pretty good about regulating his own intake.

5. His ability to lighten the mood in a room. If he can sense tension or realizes that he's crossed the line in terms of naughty behavior, he'll often get a cheeky look on his face and give you a good tickle. It works every time too. He reminds me of C when he does that; my husband is very good at defusing unnecessary tension with humor.

5 Things I am Loving About Brighton

1. Her imagination. It's running wild right now and it is so entertaining to hear the stories she comes up with. It's a style of play that I have not had much chance to observe firsthand and I just love watching and listening to her.

2. Her language. She is in this funny place between adopting much more mature vocabulary, using some pretty advanced adjectives and stuff, but also adorably mispronouncing things. My favorite of her baby words is "whack-a-moni cheese" for macaroni cheese and I will be so sad when she stops saying it. She loves watching Peppa Pig and Charlie and Lola, two British television shows for kids and so she will sometimes affect an accent and uses words you don't hear so often from American children. The other day she was hot and told me she was "absolutely BOILING."

3. How excited she is for her birthday. She adores going to other kids' birthday parties and is very, very good about allowing the birthday child center stage (not easy for someone with her personality). She is so incredibly excited about her own special day and I just can't wait to see her sparkle.

4. How much she still loves to snuggle me. When she comes down in the morning she loves to fold herself up next to me in bed and will often press her cheek against mine and just lay there. Being able to provide such a basic comfort is one of the best feelings in the world. She will sometimes open the freezer and stand in front of it for a minute and then come ask me to warm her up with a hug.

5. Her enthusiasm and zest for life. She gets So! Excited! about so many things. She chirps more than talks and loves to recount things in great detail for you. The other day we took the kids to an arcade and they exchanged their tickets for Ring Pops. Brighton started eating hers and said, "Mom, this is SO cool! And sooooo good. And soooo tasty!" It's really hard not to spoil your kids when they get such absolute joy out of the things you give them.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Book and a Conversation

My all-time favorite book to give a new mom (and by that I mean a mom with a new baby, doesn't matter what number it is) is this one: On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. A friend of my mom's, who I also know, sent it to Pacey when he was born. It is a gorgeous story to read to a little one about how happy the world was when his/her little unique self was born. It was one of the most meaningful gifts I received after Pacey's birth and it still tugs my heart whenever I read it.

I was really excited, therefore, to find another of Ms. Tillman's books at the library: Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You. It is written in a similar style to the previous one and is a lovely variation on the theme of a parent's neverending and unconditional love. I am not sure why this author's books touch me so much but I just adore them. The illustrations are wonderful too, and help keep really little ones engaged in a story that might be a tad schmoopy to hold their interest ;) They combine intricate "real" detail (like a very modern pair of sneakers on the child) with whimsical appearances of animals in otherwise mundane scenes, like the child sitting on a park bench with two pandas.

Anyway, I really can't recommend these two books highly enough.


A conversation exchange that happened in the car the other day:

Brighton: I really, really want some apple juice!

Me: Ok, you can have some with your lunch. Do you want a quesadilla today? (her favorite)

Brighton: Nooooooo, I don't liiiiiiiiike quesadillas!! I just want orange juice!

Me: *clamping lips shut as there is no good response to this preschool illogic*

Brighton (in a sad, pathetic voice): I just really wanted a quesadilla.

We're still a week away from the official start, but I think age three might be a year to Just Get Through.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Midwest Morning

Living somewhere with a real winter has made me much more appreciative of spring. Especially this year, after such a mild winter we had an early start to spring with warm weather in March. Looking at some picture comparisons, our crabapple tree in front flowered a full six weeks earlier this year than last.

Anyway, the downside to spring here (besides being a bit of a tease at times) is the storms. Now, I love a good, loud thunderstorm as much as the next person, especially when I don't have to leave the house. But tornadoes? Scare the shit out of me. I'm sure it's similar to how one feels when they haven't grown up in a place that experiences earthquakes (which I did) and then moves to a city near a fault line. Tornadoes specifically in our area are pretty rare, but last spring one afternoon the sirens went off. I didn't even know for sure that that was what they were, but being a dork I Googled what to do in a tornado, retrieved the kids from their naps (in their rooms on the top level of our house) and we hung out in the basement for awhile. I felt kind of silly, but it turned out that a tornado had actually touched down not far from here and caused some damage. Since then I've been a little paranoid about watching the weather alerts for any tornado watches in our area. This morning I was driving to uptown Minneapolis with Pacey when a pretty severe storm hit. The sky turned that sickly greenish color and there was near-continuous lightning for about 15 minutes. I found my paranoid self constantly scanning the horizon for any ominous looking clouds and wondering what, exactly, I would do if I saw a tornado. Guess I have some more Googling to do. I think anyone who grew up here is probably laughing uncontrollably at me right now.


Before we headed to uptown, I stopped in for gas at a small gas station near Brighton's school. I pulled up to the pump and got out to swipe my card, but couldn't find a card reader. I headed into the small building adjacent to pay and discovered it was also a feed store. The guy in front of me in line ushered me ahead of him and I asked if I could prepay for pump #2. The cashier gave me a funny look and another older man jumped in, "You can just go ahead and get as much gas as you want and then come back in. In fact, let me go out and do it for you, you can just wait in here." I let him know that I had Pacey in the car waiting for him, so he insisted on coming out with me and pumping my gas while I sat in the car. He then took my card in for me and brought the receipt back out to sign. He was so nice and so friendly and the gas wasn't any more expensive than the Holiday down the street from me. I told him before I left that he could tell his brother (who apparently owns the store), that he earned him a repeat customer!


And finally, the reason we were in uptown: Pacey got new glasses!

Super cool sporty orange glasses that automatically turn into sunglasses
when he goes outside

More studious School Glasses

School glasses are fun too

And because she is so (so, so, soooooo) jealous that Pacey gets glasses and she doesn't, I let Brighton try them on. Brighton of the Future Who Almost Certainly Has to Wear Glasses and Hates It, look how excited you once were about them...