Saturday, August 30, 2008
L'il Squirt has a heart condition known as complete AVSD and we're learning SO about cardiovascular make up, open heart surgery, Down syndrome infants and the interstate adoption process. I still can't change the freaking ink cartridge in the computer, but if you want to know about cardiac valves, heart chambers, congenital heart disease or pulmonary hypertension--I could talk for hours. (Not intelligently, mind you. But, boy, could i talk!)
We're lucky to have some nurses in the family who have been so great about giving support and ideas of things to consider in the upcoming weeks and there are DS moms out there who have saved my sanity and sleep countless times. (One of my favorites is Jane. I knew she was an angel sent from God when she used an expletive within the first two minutes of our phone conversation. Trust me, folks. I firmly believe in faith and the power of prayer, but there are also aspects of all of this that deserve a loud and healthy "Holy S***". I knew I was in good hands when she delivered each of hers passionately and perfectly on cue.)
We'll keep you posted as things progress but these posts may, indeed, be on their way to becoming quite a bit more colorful...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
School has started. Oh, you devil that haunts me throughout the months of June and July. (As we go back on August 4th, I really don't feel able to include that in the mix anymore).
I thought I LIKED 2nd grade. I remember thinking they were funny...and enthusiastic...and quirky...and even cute once in awhile. But last year was the last I spent with a group I'd had for two grades. And I should have known better. Oh, they were beautifully trained and I loved each one to what may have been an unprofessional degree. I honestly looked forward to seeing them every day. I knew they were money from the start. I said good bye to my well trained 10 year old fourth graders and have been delivered back to a room full of 7 year old monkeys. Chatter monkeys. Flatulent chatter monkeys. Are...You...Kidding...Me???
I may be too old for this. Or simply too tired. I've lost my Romper Room voice and patience with random anecdotes. I no longer contain my sarcasm like I used to. My personality elastic band has worn out. "David, unless you've got a diamond wedged somewhere in your sinus cavity you have two seconds to stop the nose spelunking and slap some hand sanitizer on that finger." I am not sunshine-y. I am the dark nemesis of Mary Poppins. They have worn...me...out.
On the plus side, I've started writing an educational resource for elementary parents, called "When the teachers tells you _____________, what she really means is ____________"
I truly believe it's going to save lives. "Teacher says: Melissa struggles to maintain attention during instructional time. Teacher means: The only struggle going on is inside the teacher who is doing her best not to reach out and snatch the face off of Melissa who has somehow once again managed to find herself upside down and under the desk during explanation time." Boy, oh boy. We wouldn't need 12 hours of parent teacher conference time. It could start a revolution.
Monday, August 4, 2008
As usual, we start with a trip to the gas station for fuel and the sweet nectar of life (aka "Diet Pepsi)... Captain Nutrition is meeting his daily fruit allowance via fried pie as I snack on almonds...encased in chocolate and a colorful candy M shell...
Roobie despises the car and refuses all eye contact or interaction as she prays her way out of the backseat...
Approximately 20 miles into the trip I have finally adjusted all temperature control settings, Sirius radio stations and seat positions to meet my liking. We're driving my car, as it gets better gas mileage and driving a Matrix with two fluffy little dogs keeps my husband's testosterone levels in check.
I decide to offer up some engaging conversational topics.
"You know, Justin, this is a manual SIX-speed...I'd have it in highway gear by now."
"You know, Courtney, that is a RECLINING seat...I'd have you asleep in it by now."
The remaining photographs will be taken from the backseat. Barney has happily agreed to swap seats in order to take full advantage of his beloved cold wind machine.
Nutritional supplements to sustain me for the duration of the trip...
More musical chairs...Roobie has also relocated to the front, but I'm not taking it personally. She's antsy in the car and it comforts her to be able to stare up at her beloved, Justin.
Barney's comfy bottom also serves as a source of support...
Supper on the road...the only thing Barney feels is worth waking up for...this photograph was taken prior to his self-invitation to join me for a happy meal picnic...
Update: Safely home with three snoozing family members and one mad typist trying to wear off the hyperactivity directly related to the constant sugar intake of the last 6 hours...
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I should preface this entry with a disclaimer:
I am a coward. I am genuinely and deeply afraid of any animal larger than a labrador. (I am also deeply and passionately terrified by anything closely resembling a rodent--squirrels and chipmunks included--but this confession does not apply to this post.)
I believe horses are agents of death and are secretly plotting to turn against the humans who have bound them for ages. I appreciate that they are beautiful and majestic animals, but these virtues are overshadowed by their alarming speed, strength, and incredibly pointy hooves.
I fear them. I stand in frozen panic when I find myself in their presence.
I had no business going to a rodeo and am, therefore, unable to objectively reflect upon my experiences there.
BUT COME ON!!!!!!!! Seriously??? Seriously?? How far is this from those gladiator battles in ancient Rome or wherever? Except that the cowboy volunteered to be in there....I am absolutely sure that I have paid $10.00 to watch a man's skull be shattered in my presence. I am FAR too emotionally unstable to have been required to sit through that 3 hour stress test. To be fair, my husband was also traumatized by my attendance and the social dignity it cost him.
It appears I have some sort of Tourette's syndrome triggered by rodeo-related violence. Open the chute and watch me go. I begin shrieking like a banshee, "GET OFF! GET OFF!" and then madly slapping the back of my spectating husband, as if this cowboy's bloody death via stomping is Justin's personal responsibility. Although he REPEATEDLY encouraged me to shut my eyes until the 8 second buzzer sounded, I felt a responsibility to serve as personal witness to the end of each contestant. Half way through the night my nerves were so shot even barrel racing threatened to incite hyperventilation, so I spent the rest of the evening at the refreshment stand. (I say "at the refreshment stand" because I did not consume products SOLD by the refreshment stand during my tenure there. How you can stand mere feet from large pens of bulls and their related aroma and munch upon cheeseburgers and hot dogs is far beyond me. This rodeo culture has been highly overlooked by modern day anthropology).
I did manage to lure a handsome cowboy over as I waited for the merciful end of Kansas' Biggest Rodeo. His name was Jack and the top of his stetson hit me about mid-thigh. He told me he liked my shiny belt and would I open his Coke for him. So I took care of 3-year-old Jack's beverage requests and helped his tiny pal, Ellie, out with her soda, too. What can I say? They're my demographic. Like moths to a flame, they know who to come to...
Of course there's always the possibility that their mothers sent them to cheer up the grown woman shaking from a nervous fit under the next picnic table, but I like to think it was my charisma that drew them over...
The good news is the human survival rate was 100% (minus some wrists and an ankle) and I overheard Justin say, "We can go ahead and buy reserved seats next year. We can use the money we save from buying one less ticket..." so I'm apparently excused from any future Wrangler-related torture events.
Geez. Perhaps I should have posted this one first. My introduction seems completely void of the usual sarcasm I employ...I worry it may have given a false impression.
Like my blog title photo? How is THAT for a photogenic pair? Obviously, those charmers are NOT products of my own gene pool. Those are my good pals, W and L and I spend my summers with them. They truly are as silly and fun as they look. I've been their summer nanny for 3 years now and it's been quite an adventure, to say the least.
Most of this summer has been spent pleading to a four-year-old perched on his porcelain throne, bartering fish crackers, Toy Story movie time and other toddler luxuries in exchange for some serious toilet action and stain-free underwear. I'm thirty years old, college-educated and the majority of my daily conversation includes the phrases, "Oh, the dog can't WAIT to see your poopies." "Let's count. Let's count and push those super poopies right OUT. 1...2...3...PUSH!" I'm not proud. I've set aside all dignity and commitment to educational stimulation and nutritional guidelines. Oh, sure, I dedicate structured time to counting to five and sorting various objects. We do specific exercises to strengthen fine motor skills and insist on spending 20 minutes every morning dressing to practice his occupational strategies. But I will happily cast aside the morning's schedule of fundamental learning and let that kid eat bags of fish-shaped cheese crackers and watch cartoon movies until his eyes glaze over if he will just crap in the pot instead of the fresh "Thomas the Train" drawers I've already washed three times this week.
He's usually a sport about the whole thing and works to negotiate his way out of it...
"Idea...'kay?" He interrupts my last request to FINISH THE JOB...
"Okay, W...what's your good idea?"
"YOU...(points dramatically and with emphasis at my forehead from his toilet perch)...go HOME...doggies....nap...."
"Well, W I would actually love to go home and take a nap with my dogs right now, but we have a bowel movement in progress here. C'mon. Just toot."
"HEY!" he interrupts me with a finger to my lips...the finger that has been ceaselessly occupying itself in areas that inspire my screeches of "Hands DOWN, W."...Can Purell be used as an antibacterial lip balm?)
"HEY...boogers and size."
Now he's appealing to my appetite...
"Ooooooo....good idea, W! We could have some burger and fries! We could go to SONIC! That is the happiest place in the world! Good, good, good idea! .....just as soon as you drop your load. Now PUSH."
This conversation could continue for hours if I let it. We have had some successful drop offs at the pool lately, though, so maybe those cracker bribes are going to pay off after all...
If this is our first introduction, I hope you enjoy your time spent with us. If you're one of the many family and friends encouraging us outside the scope of the internet, we're so delighted you're still checking in to see how things are and where we're at in this crazy process...
Justin and I have been married for three years, but I've been chasing him for much longer. We live in a Kansas City suburb with our neurotic dogs and any other homeless animal I can manage to sneak into the house when Justin's still at work. (To date, that's: two dogs, one tarantula, two rabbits and a turtle.)
I'm an elementary teacher and Justin is a creative wizard who works as an interior architect during the day. I put his talents to GOOD USE, my friends, and can safely say I have some of the most stunning bulletin boards this side of the Mississippi. We both rely pretty heavily on our senses of humor (anyone living with me full time would have to) and we both love to laugh and find fun wherever we can.
Justin has found himself in a unique marriage to a 30 year old woman with a 7 year old's personality. Every Saturday morning I can be found eating a bowl of Lucky Charms marshmallows and watching Veggie Tales. (I save the cereal bits for Justin. I tell myself it's what any caring wife does when she wants to ensure her husband consumes as much whole grain as possible). I'd rather have a new pack of Sharpie colored markers than a manicure and I only willingly go to movies that are animated features. My favorite breakfast is peanut butter M & M's and Justin learned a long time ago that flowers don't phase me, but I am completely swept off my feet by pink polka-dotted high heels.
Justin is meticulous to my maniacal and detailed to my disorganized. I catch and "set free" the spiders he'd rather kill and he cuts the grass while I bake the cookies. We're a good balance, really, and I can't think of a better person to be on this adventure with. I sometimes feel like I'm running at full speed tied to a Justin boulder, but he's also the reason I don't completely fall down the cliffs I accidentally leap off of. Since we began our relationship, I've turned his predictable life on its head and he's taken mine and steadily set it right.
I grew up with a Great Uncle (my grandpa's older brother) who had Down syndrome and I have always lived in a culture that celebrated these quirky, stubborn, lovely, stumbling, angelic stubborn people. In high school and college I babysat for children with DS and then spent an amazing summer as an academic advisor at a summer camp exclusively for campers with DS and other genetic conditions in Pennsylvania. I've always known that I had a soft and specific place in my heart for individuals with DS, but only recently considered the possibility of parenting a child with DS when I visited the Reece's Rainbow website. Since then, I've drug Justin through a baptism of fire in adoption and Down Syndrome education and he's valiantly wrapped his bewildered brain around as much information as he can as we go along. Luckily, his heart is bigger than mine and his patience shames me. I've been awestruck countless times as he's stepped up to defend an adoption he would have never considered 10 months ago.
We have spent months pursuing a domestic situation and have been so surprised at the education it has provided and the shortcomings of our national adoption system. I stopped counting the number of agencies who responded to our inquiries with "Please contact us when you are interested in adopting a healthy child" or the states that explained they would place a child in their state's foster system before allowing an out-of-state resident to adopt them.
We have also been blown away by the amazing people we have come in contact with. While private and public agencies have left me pulling my hair out, I have had so many individuals personally touched by DS stepping in to encourage us when I've just about given up. Their stories and suggestions have carried us farther I'd ever have imagined a few sentences could. It's been strange relying on strangers to prove that we're not as invisible as we often feel, but they have always come through...and with flying colors.
We've started to consider the option of adopting internationally. While I have no doubt there are situations to be found within the United States, I can't help but be affected by the bombardment of children currently confirmed as needing homes in other parts of the world. I'm sorry our own government hasn't worked to unite resources and information to provide immediate intervention for children in need of specifically passionate adoptive parents, but I know there are profoundly eloquent, intelligent and dedicated individuals currently working to change that scenario. I'm anxious to count myself as one of them...