Thursday, March 29, 2007

Its National "Visit-A-Blog" Day!!!

Well, not really, but I'm declaring it!!

I've added a whole bunch of new blogs in my links section - go and visit one of my friends, and tell 'em I sent you - you're sure to find something interesting to read!

Leave me a note and tell me who's blog you visited.

And remember - no matter where you are, what you are doing, or who you are talking to, most likely someone, somewhere is going to blog about it! :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Paige and her friend, Emma, celebrated their birthdays last week. They are 4 years and one day apart. So, they partied together! They took their classmates from their Living and Learning Class to Dairy Queen for lunch, and then they went Bowling, and then back to school for cake.

See how much fun was had by all!

Emma's Mom, Camille, made the cake, but Emma made sure to supervise. She tasted it just to make sure!

Macky, Damien and Brooke waiting patiently for lunch to arrive.

Go, Damien, Go!
I scored! I scored!

Now its Brooke's turn! Throw the ball!

It's gone!

I can't even look! Did I win?!?!

The Birthday Girls

Emma shoots!


Not everyone can look this cute in bowling shoes!
All I can do is hope...
Or maybe one tiny prayer...

The Masterpiece! The Hickory Dickory Dock Clock -
set at 10 and 6, for Paige and Emma!

Emma, you blow out the candles while I chew on my thumb!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dear Dad,

Today marks the 9th Anniversary of your death. Last year, I wrote this in your memory.

This week is a very sentimental week for me. Ten years ago today, I was heading to the hospital to have Paige, not knowing if she would survive or not. Nine years ago today, I was preparing to come and see you one last time, to attend your funeral.

So, this week holds a lot of emotions, as you can imagine. But, it hasn't been a sad week for me.

It has been a glorious week, Dad. Because this year, I knew that I would mark the anniversary of your death by telling you that I am honoring your memory in the way you would want me to. My thoughts of you this week have been happy ones - hundreds of good memories of your life, and how very lucky I was to have you for my dad.

I'm living a good life, you know? I am so incredibly blessed with such a good family, and every day gives me a new appreciation for having this life to live. I have a wonderful obligation to live joyously, and I am doing really well at it. You would be proud of me.

I don't take anything for granted, and I do my best to embrace my blessings.

Its been a good year - the kids have done well, everyone has been healthy and tomorrow little "Paigey" will be ten big years old! You would just love her, Dad -- she has such a funny belly laugh, and you would love her hugs and snuggles. She has long, long blonde hair that looks so cute in braids; I remember how you loved my long hair when I was her age.

She has your crystal blue eyes, only with an extra little starburst in them -- I'm sure its your soul sparkling when I look into them.

She walks "the loop" -- round and round our house, just like you would go when you were sick -- round and round in the wheelchair, to get some "exercise". When she does that, we all say she is "channeling Grandpa."

And Dakotah...oh would be shocked. She went from 11 to 17 in a year's time! She is tall and beautiful, and such a good kid. She has a big mop of curly curly hair that she thinks she should color every three weeks. She is a good student, and adores Paige. She has a lot of interests, and is active and healthy. She is really good with Paige too; they are the best of friends.

This year we got a new puppy! You would love him - he's your kind of dog - a big, goofy, lovable dog who likes to velcro himself to your feet when you are sitting down. His name is Kirby and he is part Newfie/part Lab.

Its a rainy day here, and his Newfie instincts have kicked in, because this dog can find a mud puddle from a mile away!

And your great-grandchild count is now up to five - with two little boys, Cameron and Owen, being born this year. Craig has a son, dad! Imagine that! He is so, so cute, and in the tradition that you had of giving Craig the name "Mike" when his mom was pregnant with him, Dakotah dubbed Cameron as "Baby Will" before he was born, and well...Baby Will it is!!!

Thank you for so many things, much of who I am is because of who you were. I promise to live a good life for you...

With all my heart,


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Today is World Down Syndrome Day!

Symbolic of Trisomy 21, today, 3/21 is World Down Syndrome Day! The theme for this year's WDSD is "Celebrating Diversity," so it was very appropriate for us that Paige's school celebrated the First Day of Spring with "rainbow day" - each class wore a color of the rainbow, and they had a little assembly at school to celebrate the coming of Spring and the diversity of the students at the school.

There are two little girls with Down syndrome in Paige's school - Paige, and Emma - and this was read for the girls at the assembly:

oday is World Down Syndrome Day - the date, 3/21, is symbolic of the extra 21st chromosome that children with Down syndrome are born with.

Please take a moment to remember two very special young ladies who have Down
syndrome at St. *** - Paige and Emma.

God calls us to celebrate one another, and like all of you, Paige and Emma are wonderfully made in His image.

God wants us to recognize that its o.k. to be a little different sometimes. He is happy when we are kind and patient with people who sometimes need a little extra time to learn new things.

All of us are different from one another, and that's what makes us such a beautiful rainbow of souls like we see here in our school today.

As we celebrate this first day of Spring, let us be thankful to God for the
gift of people with Down syndrome.


Also a a cute story to share...this morning, I say to Dakotah - "Hey, today is World Down Syndrome if you know someone with Down syndrome, stop and celebrate them." Her eyes light up, and she goes, "Yeah, there's that woman that walks by our house every morning."

LOL! I say, " couldn't think of anyone else by chance, could you?"

She goes, "Oh, yeah, sorry Paige! I forgot you had Down syndrome!"

Too funny!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Not a creature was stirring...

I come from a long line of sleep talkers and sleep walkers. When I was in my early 20's or so, I thought I had this dream that I had driven to the house where I grew up, and had, for some reason, gotten out of my car and walked around.

At the time, I owned a restaurant with my sister, and that morning, a man that used to live near us stopped by and said, "What in the world were you doing in the middle of the road at 3:00 this morning?"

Apparently, in my sleep, I had gotten fully dressed, and driven about 4 miles, where I stood in the middle of the 4-corners of the street that met in front of our house, spread my arms out, and twirled and twirled.

I had woken my neighbors dogs up, and he came out to see if I was o.k. When he spoke to me, I simply got back in my car and went back home.

When I woke up in the morning, I was back in my pj's, but my clothes were in a heap beside my bed.

Had I done this before or have I done it since, I'm not sure.

I can't tell you how much I talk in my sleep, as it would take something equivalent to a sonic boom and an atomic bomb going off right near his head to ever wake Wayne up in the middle of the night. I do know that there are a few times I've woken myself up and literally heard myself say something silly like, "I have to put the pie back on the shelf," and have no idea why I said it.

My sister's son, Colin, was a big sleep walker when he was younger, and everyone got very used to just putting him back to bed. Doors had to be locked from the outside of his room because he would just wander away. But, he was very functional, like I am, in my sleep.

I can wake at the sound of a pin dropping three rooms away. My body can rush adrenaline so fast that by the time my feet hit the floor, I'm alert, and ready to spring into action.

My mother is a sleep talker too, and it was a fantastic tool to use as a teenager. Just wait it out...once she drifts off to sleep, she will agree to anything!

So, its no surprise that our house is seldom quiet. Dakotah blabbers all night long. She is very lucid, and I can hear her having actual conversations with her friends in her sleep. She is also easily roused and will talk with me for 10 or 15 minutes and not remember a thing the next morning. Its very strange to hear her have different emotions that must match what she is dreaming about.

And strangely enough, because she isn't even a daytime talker, lol, Paige is a sleep talker too. Often, I will hear her on the monitor, saying her favorite words "Dee-Dog" "Bud-dah" "Nee-nah" "Doo-wah" "Toe-by-a" "Ninga ning" "Nay Nay" "Mem"

I don't know what most of these words mean in her sleep any more than I know what they mean in her waking times, but its so sweet and funny to hear her jabbering away -- surely the words have great meaning to her.

And they have great meaning to me. I always joke that Paige is 51% me, and 50% daddy -- that's what makes her so darn cute and lovable. So its pretty funny that she would be so genetically wired to pick up this strange family habit from us, so ingrained in her little being that she is doing with it without even really being able to do it.

But, the absolute, most amazing part that makes my heart sing in the quiet of the night in my house, that makes me smile a huge smile and roll over and hug my pillow and say, "Thank you" to God just one more time is this...

Sometimes, Paige will be sleeping, I will her the rhythmic sound of her breathing; all is quiet in our house, and our world is calm and peaceful and then...

Paige will burst out laughing so hard that I'm sure there must be an angel tickling her belly, over and over again. And then, as suddenly as it started, I will hear the quiet breathing again.

There is nothing, nothing...more wonderful than knowing your child is so happy and loved in her world that her dreams are filled with great laughter.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I've Been Tagged

Nic has tagged me! This is a tough one! I have to list my 5 favorite things about feminism.

Here goes in no particular order.

1) I can use my maiden name and married name interchangeably and it doesn't matter.
2) Women can be tradesmen (or tradeswomen!!) - I think I would have liked to be a carpenter.
3) I would never think twice about accepting a job that pays more than my husband's does if it were a job I really wanted.
4) I don't feel guilty when Wayne does housework.Nor do I feel guilty about not laying out his clothes, fixing him breakfast, making his lunch, or any of the other bazillion things that I don't do that make my mother recoil in horror when she visits,lol.
5) Women have a voice now - our opinions are listened to and respected - we can talk politics, religion, etc. with the best of them.

That was tough! In many ways, we are still a pretty traditional household - certainly more traditional that I would have ever guessed it would be when I was 21!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What I Love About Down syndrome

Ok, so maybe not all of these have anything to do with Down syndrome, but this is just a light-hearted post about celebrating that little extra...

The Top Ten Things I Love About Paige Having Down Syndrome

10) That "laugh with wild abandonment" giggle.
9) Flexibility, baby.
8) Chromosomes that look like caterpillars (Thanks, Becky!)
7) We celebrate milestones, not race through them
6) Those beautiful, soulful, almond-shaped eyes
5) Her tiny little hands
4) Those cute little toes that we saw on the ultrasound still look the same, ten years later.
3) The way she screams "Dee-Dog" with excitement every day when she gets home from school and sees Kirby.
2) Low muscle tone that lets her sink right into me when she is snuggling - I loved it when she was a tiny baby, and love it even more now.
1)Brushfield spots

So....what's your favorite part of Down syndrome?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

More Than Words

Its funny how things go in life - how so many of the things that happen in our lives go full circle and how sometimes it takes us so very long to realize it.

Saturday, I was waiting to get my haircut, and there was a man there with his little girl. She was a sweet little thing, very tiny, and very well behaved. I could tell it was his only child, because I so recognized myself in him as he spoke to her.

He was just conversational with her - he was playing word games to keep her entertained - "What comes after "F", What comes before "P", "What is after Monday?" "What color are your shoes?" "What does a dog say?" "Can you count in French? English? Spanish?"

And she was answering those questions left and right -- faster than I could, because I had to back up a few letters of the alphabet to figure out "what comes before."

Her name was Julia and she spelled it when he asked her to.

She was all of 22 months old, and everyone was very impressed by how very smart she was.

Dakotah was like that as a baby too, and I doted on her like this little girl's Daddy did. Although she didn't walk until she was 14 months old, Dakotah literally started speaking in full sentences when she started talking. We have a video of her first birthday where she is opening gifts, saying, "Oh, wow! I like that!" She potty-trained herself at 18 months, simply announcing that she would no longer be needing diapers.

By three, she was reading and when she started writing, she could write either the "right" way or upside-down and backwards - mirror image - with the same speed.

She was curious and very precocious. My mother-in-law said that she had never seen a mother talk so much to her child as I did. As she should have been, she was my world.

Dakotah would talk about ANYTHING -- she would talk to the silverware as she set the table, she would sing to herself as she peed. She could take any two songs, and sing the words to one, with the music of the other - try to do that -- sing "Wheels On The Bus" to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Its not all that easy!

I smiled at little Julia and remembered those special days I had with my first child. But I wanted to tell the dad that I was now 14 years in - and, well, once they start talking, they never really stop!

I still hear from her teachers, from other adults, etc, that she is very shy and very polite, and very quiet. That's very hard to believe. We still have that bond we formed so many years ago - and Dakotah still talks to me 24/7.

She is now 13.5 and jabbers at me from the moment her eyes open until they close at night. And she can still talk to the silverware as she is setting the table, lol. The other morning, I had to drive her about a half hour away to a basketball tournament - I swear,she went from topic to topic to topic without ever taking a breath.

If its in her head, and I'm near, its out of her mouth. Friends tell me I'm very lucky to have a teenager who is so open to me, but I have to admit, its sometimes very exhausting having a teenager who has an opinion on every single thing - who feels as if she is grown up enough to be a part of every conversation between Wayne and I. Sometimes, I am so talked out...yet I do know and understand that I have to keep the lines of communication open in the coming years, and I do my best to allow her to get out all she has to say.


Reflecting on little Julia, I was surprised that I compared her to Dakotah and not Paige. Gone forever are those wistful days that I would look at another little one for a moment and just wish - just for a second - that Paige would hit the milestone I was witnessing in someone else's child. I couldn't even muster up a "what if" scenario in my head for Paige.

Because, as that circle of life envelopes us, we learn that we are given what we need in this life, and if we listen very carefully, what we are given is usually very much what we want as well.

God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me Dakotah - my challenging little prodigy that will either be something spectacular in her life, or a very, very good used car salesman, lol. He stretched the limits of my patience with her curiosity, and her chattiness, and her constant bargaining with me. He gave me a daughter who I can see becoming one of my very best friends as she enters adulthood.

And then...He gave me Paige. A quiet little girl who is content to observe. Paige's world must be brought to her, and patience is required to show her all that there is in this great big world for her.

He gave me a little girl who has basically lost the little speech she had as a three-year old. And He forced me to learn to communicate in a much different way. Paige's soul speaks to me directly - I do not need words from her to know how she is feeling or what she is thinking - its as if when the cord was cut, only our physical bodies became separated - we are, in a sense, "conjoined souls."

I don't mourn what Paige isn't any more than I mourn what Dakotah isn't - they are both just as they are intended to be.

In her own way, Paige fills my days with communication as well. I miss her presence just as I miss Dakotah's. I chatter away to Paige as I did to Dakotah when she was younger.

I always have to pause when I'm asked what methods we use to communicate with Paige - I have to remind myself that some people see her as non-verbal, therefore, non-communicative. Although we work hard to help Paige speak, I don't even really miss speech with her - I forget that she doesn't talk with words, as her soul is so apparent to me.


Saying I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
Its not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
Cos Id already know

What would you do if my heart was torn in two
More than words to show you feel
That your love for me is real
What would you say if I took those words away
Then you couldn't make things new
Just by saying I love you

More than words

Now Ive tried to talk to you and make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands and touch me
Hold me close don't ever let me go
More than words is all I ever needed you to show
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
Cos Id already know

What would you do if my heart was torn in two
More than words to show you feel
That your love for me is real
What would you say if I took those words away
Then you couldn't make things new
Just by saying I love you

More than words


"More Than Words" was the song Wayne and I danced to at our wedding. We loved this song so much, and talked about the meaning of it - how some people said I love you all the time, but never showed it. In our vows, we promised to show each other how much we loved one another. We promised that it would never become "just words," and we talked about that line, "What would you say if I took those words away..."

We were committed to remembering to show our love for one another, not just profess it. Across a room from one another, we always wanted the other to know how much they were loved.

When we were dancing, when the line, "Hold me close, don't e-vah let me go," came on, Wayne sang it in my ear, and I could have floated away on a cloud, I was so in love.

"More than Words" -- our motto as we began our lives together as husband and wife.

The song hit the Billboard Top 100 for the first time on March 23, 1991. Six years later to the day, our daughter would be born who would once again remind us of that promise we made to one another.