Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fun Things

My original intention in writing this was to share fun and new things we are doing around here. I am always encouraged and inspired when I hear of other moms' fun activities and often try to recreate them at our house.

This week my eldest and baby are both sick. Not too conducive to fun activities, but we did our best!

This week was the week of experiments for D. He was so interested when his big sister came home from school with a snow globe (made of an old baby food jar, glitter, beads, etc.) He begged me to recycle some of C's baby food jars for his own creation. And we did it! A little food coloring, an old bead bracelet that I took scissors to, an old wooden doll of my husbands, and a hot glue gun. 20 minutes later he had a beautiful (subjectively) snow globe of his own.

We also did a lot of ice/water experiments since it was nice outside. We used an old tuna can and filled it with water and placed it outside of our door. Every hour we would go check it to see how much ice had formed. We also brought a big baby food jar full of snow inside the house. D watched it melt and wondered why there was so little water when we put so much snow inside. I LOVE those little teaching moments with kids!

We also did painting. I started by having the kids paint paper bags. These bags are going to be their reusable grocery bags to help me at the grocery store. While D was finishing his, I went upstairs to put K down for a nap. I came down and found this:
What an artist. He's actually nude in this photo (before I cropped it) and yes, everything was painted. Even his toenails. His response when I walked downstairs?  "What mom? Are you mad? Maybe you should go back upstairs and have some alone time with C"     It was precious.

We also started a chore chart this week. What an amazing concept for me! Doing chores WITH the kids. I am not kidding, this was an enlightening week for me. Instead of fighting them, I included them. They loved it! K helped me: mop floors, wash tables, feed the dog, wash potatoes, and do the dishes.  D also did his fair share of chores.

Each time they do their chores for the day without my reminders, they earn a star. Then the stars end up earning them little "treats".  We practice counting every day (without any prompting from me) because they love counting their stars. They are engaged, and have a much healthier appreciation for my chore list. D just asked me this morning how I can have any energy after doing so many chores. Hah!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Perspective

Ah perspective. The ever-elusive unattainable goal. This is true for me anyways.

One minute I am sitting on the rug, feeling blessed for the opportunity to stay home playing with three adorable kids, and the next minute I'm stuck in the house with three screaming toddlers with no life. What changed? Just my perspective!

And yet, I get sucked in to the moment. I start feeling sorry for myself, I think what a nice life the women have who work outside of the home, with some measuring stick of their success. With consistent life form contact. With a break from the screaming, yelling, pushing, complaining, whining....

Of course my mood seeps into the children. And then, Murphy's Law....they actually start yelling, pushing, complaining, whining.  Occasionally (I don't want to overstate this, if I say 50% I am probably exaggerating) I am able to break the cycle. I take a moment. I open my bible. I pray. I calm down. I open my eyes, and like magic (or like the miracle that I know it to be)  my kids are back to the cute three faces I remember.

I don't know how to break this cycle on a permanent basis. Some weeks are better than others. When I have more fellowship, more time in God's Word, more communication with my husband, I am usually able to stay calm in the testing moments at home and ride out their mood. But other weeks, Gibbs comes home and plays Russian Roulette with my mood of the day.

But (and yes, I know the rule of grammar that you don't start a sentence, much less a paragraph, with a but....but, oh well.)  at night, when I lay quietly after spending some quiet time reflecting, I am always grateful that I can stay home, raising the kids and playing a supporting role to my husband. God gives me the grace I need to see them as He sees them, and shows me His perspective on raising kids.

The day to day work can be so tedious, exhausting, sometimes boring and yet unexplainably difficult, often thankless......  it's hard to remember that God values them. The investments I'm making in them might not be high return, short term investments. They're more like investing in bonds I guess. Slow....steady... I'm trying to learn not to obsess over checking my portfolio every day, it'll just be discouraging. But over a longer period of time, I can see glimpses of what they are going to become. I can see how the time and energy I am investing is growing in them.  God is faithful to change my perspective a little more each day

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A "Treatment" For Down Syndrome

Relatively new on my radar is a claimed "treatment" for Down Syndrome.  There's a non profit organization that promotes use of a combination of medicine and vitamins that..for lack of a better way of saying it....'reduces' the effect of DS on a child.  One of these medications is (gasp) prozac ( a very low dose of it)

There is some research that backs this up (on mice)  and the medical protocol is supposed to improve long term memory and learning. It's kind of expensive, but the testimonials are hard to ignore. Families from all over the country that have started their young children, and school age children, on this string of medications swear by this treatment. I'm not going into all the details here, but if you want to check out some of the more technical info on this you can see their website http://www.changingmindsfoundation.org/home.html

This really elicits a lot of conflicting feelings for me. There are no studies showing long term effects of this medication, doctors don't have a lot of feedback for me, since it's such a new idea. My pediatrician recommended that I go see a child psychiatrist who would have a better knowledge of prozac and K's specific behavioral issues that we've encountered.

This is such a long hard road to walk. For three months, we've been fighting with insurance companies who don't cover "mental retardation" for psychiatric appointments, fighting with psychiatrists who tell me they won't accept her as a patient because she's too young in one case, too old in another doctor's case, and doesn't have the right insurance for the third doctor we tried.

All I want to do is get more information from someone who understands the implications of this type of medicine more than I do, but it is proving to be very difficult.

And the hope and fear I feel is even more conflicting. Part of me is ashamed to even try to find a treatment for DS. It's like admitting there's something wrong with my daughter, when the community as a whole promotes the idea that there's nothing wrong with children who have down syndrome. Having DS doesn't define K, I do believe that. But it is, at least in part, defining our family. It defines our relationships with each other, relationships we have with teachers, relationships we have with other families in the community, doctors..etc.

The hope is that maybe, just maybe, it will help. Maybe it could help her function better in school, have healthier relationships, be able to be more productive in her adult life, function as part of our family a little easier without constantly testing the limits, endangering herself with various poisons, grandma's truck, lamps, or stoves....

The fear of course is that I'm trading short term gain for long term loss. Maybe it could improve life for the short run, but causes some unknown problem in the future. The trade off is impossible to determine because the studies are so limited, and my access to knowledgeable doctors is non existent.

Yes I know there is another option. I could wait until more studies are done, until somehow the DS organization gets the attention of the media/drug companies that would be willing to fund more experimental treatments. The likelihood of this happening while K is young enough to still benefit from this treatment is pretty negligible.

I pray the next generation has it figured out better than I do!  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Routine Days

Things are getting back to normal around here. K started her afternoon preschool class on Tuesday and seems to be adjusting really well. D loves having some "alone time" to play with mom, and C seems much happier to be on a normal schedule too.

I don't know how I turned into a routine schedule person, but I have. Probably K has helped me with this more than anything.

As Gibbs and I talked about how our days went this evening, I found myself really grateful for such a happy family life. The little things seem so much more meaningful when I'm in a routine. I suspect this is what kids love about consistency too.

Knowing what our day will look like ahead of time gives me the opportunity to enjoy the conversations with D at bedtime more, instead of stressing about when I'm going to have time to finish the dishes. My improptu "airplane ride" with K, flying to Grandma's (of course) seemed more exciting than it would have if I was worried about the bills that I hadn't gotten around to opening yet. C's new babbling took on greater importance, and I had the time to notice it. I wasn't busy trying to catch up, or run errands, because that was planned for later in the day. And when it came time to catch up on bills, wash the floor, get the dishes done, that was ok too. I knew it was coming, the kids received a coveted TV show that they had been denied all day and they enjoyed the down time. In fact, K even helped me mop.

School has changed K and I's relationship. The routine is definitely part of it, which gives her more confidence in herself, but also the opportunity to miss me and her brothers arises when she's gone for a few hours. I'm always surprised when she goes back to school so effortlessly after a break. She never cries about having to go, but she's always ecstatic to come home.

Life is good

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Big Trip

It's tough to put into words how I feel/felt about this vacation.
I have been going to Hawai'i fairly frequently, considering it's halfway across the world, since I was 14. I had built up a romantic trip like this in my head with that "special someone" before a husband was ever seriously considered. Sunset sails, walks on the beach, stolen kisses underwater. I'm not kidding. I had created a vacation in my head full of excitement, love, adventure, relaxation....  So, Gibbs, loving me as he does, finally agreed to take me there. Even though we really couldn't afford it, even though C was really too young for us to leave for a week....
Any of you reading this know my husband? I'm sure you are laughing to yourself if you do. Excitement? Adventure? Love? My husband is the most solid, hard working, responsible man I know. He loves me undoubtedly...but our ideas/ideals differ just a bit. And also, I would literally kill him if I tried to kiss him underwater.  I'm not joking, he would drown.

Does anyone know where this is going yet? The vacation could never live up to what I needed from it. Yes, it was beautiful, and I do love spending time with my hubbie. But I came home with a list of lessons learned. Ironically, I have a tattoo that says Live and Learn, and the first "learned" lesson from my list is inspired because of the thousands of tattoos I saw being needled into young dumb girls on vacation:

1. Don't get tattoos.

2. Never leave a 9 month old for a vacation. It's so selfish. No excuses for the timing on my part. I was being selfish and I regret the timing a lot.

3. Choose your "vacation" (insert: car, house, toys, etc) based on what you can afford. If you can't afford it, it doesn't matter if you think you "need" it, or that it's a good "deal"....  Obviously you don't, otherwise God would have provided you with an opportunity that didn't require financial stress and burden.
4. Feelings are much better controlled by attittude than circumstance. Examples: romance, relaxation, love.
        I had previously thought that walking on the beach would be romantic, but really a walk on the beach is no different than a walk down my road.  Another example: a sunset cruise. oh jeez, this one had attained near divine status. And it was beautiful (we actually did this in Hawaii together) and "romantic" but what is the difference between a ride on a Hawaiian boat for an astronomical price and a ride on our own boat, for free.... answer: nothing. really.

5. I love my husband for who he is. and my children for who they are.  They are not perfect, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out a way to "change" the kids, "change" my husband ...in other words of course (who would ever try to "change" their husband? or admit to it anyways)  But I can't. Gibbs is who he is. The kids...I can try to alter/direct some of their behaviors, but I am not going to change that K has down syndrome, or that D is scared of the dark and hates sleeping alone, or that C is growing up, despite my desire that he doesn't.

I'm lucky to have been able to go on a trip like this. Otherwise, how could I have learned that I don't need trips like this to be happy, or to relax, or to have romance with my husband....  Ahh...lessons.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Milestones

My favorite long distance friend and I discussed a topic I thought I would share today. Age. It's not something I've given much thought to up to this point of my life, since I'm all of 26 years old.

Someone told me I was young today and, for the first time, it sounded like a compliment! Young? I have three children. Not laid back, quiet, easy going children either. Three children who spend the majority of their day describing their wants and needs in great detail to me. Asking why to every direction I give them...well two of them do this anyways :) but I am sure the third is going to be following soon!

What's next? We're married, we have children, we're home buyers (and home sellers) we've graduated college, we've gotten our first jobs (well....Gibbs has anyways) 

I'm just curious if this is the beginning of living through your children. I'm sure you know the type. Pushing them towards academic excellence, sports achievement, more piano lessons, tennis lessons etc....so that they can relive some glory days.....or live it for the first time if their childhood was underrated...

I've always said I wouldn't be one of those parents, but now I'm not so sure. I am so quick to point out my child's first "step", my child's first "word", their first sentence (at least for the first two kids)....I think I've already started down the path of living through their accomplishments.

 Is this God's way of making the next generation stronger than the last? Or is it an attempt to recreate our own youth, fix the mistakes we made....? Feel free to leave me your thoughts.

I promise this will be one of my few moments of blogging about philosophical things, the rest of my postings will be much more update"ish" and more practical. I am a mom after all....I rarely have time for these thoughts :-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm a blogger, now what?

I wrestled with the decision as to whether or not I really wanted to become a "blogger" for weeks...
Do I really want people to be able to judge my writing style, my grammar, more importantly, my thoughts, my feelings, my beliefs? It's a tough question. I give a lot of credit to those who share uninhibitedly (of course, there SHOULD be limits, personal limits set on what areas you are willing to share on...)

So, here it goes! But now, there are titles, pictures, settings to choose from. If you knew me in college...well, you know that CSE101 didn't go too well for me (MSU's beginner computer course...)

My title.....Adrift: aimless, without an anchor. I'm blessed to have an anchor in my life. Christ. And more physically present there are several anchors here at home.
K- my 4 1/2 year old only daughter, who is stubborn, difficult, sweet, cuddly, smart, resilient, and has Down Syndrome
D- my 3 year old braniac who is just like my husband, has been known to throw a few tantrums but is the most loving boy I know
C- my youngest little baby. Sweet, cuddly, easy going, and attached to his mama.

And of course, there is my loving hubbie. We'll call him Gibbs. He'll like that.

I hope to use this blog to encourage others who have children at home, who have children with disabilities, and just as a tool for people to see the fun things we are doing with our lives!