Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The sound of silence

The end of summer. Ryan, Hadley and Jack went back to school yesterday. They were so excited -- they got their backpacks and school supplies all ready the night before and laid out their school clothes for the morning. Everyone woke up right on time. Got a nice breakfast. Pictures. Then off to school. I went with them to their classrooms to see their rooms, teachers and friends. They were all soooooo excited to be back! I came home and felt a little sad to have them gone and even missed having them here. That was until nap time. I actually had 2 hours of complete silence while Morgan, Griffin and Mia all took a nap. I had forgotten how good it is to just have some quiet time each day. I really love the structure that comes with school.

Hadley -- 2nd Grade

Ryan -- 4th Grade

Jack -- 6th Grade
(I can't believe Jack is old enough to be in 6th grade already!)

Morgan will start Kindergarten next week. We had her Kindergarten testing/evaluation yesterday at her new Elementary school. And she did so well. The teacher was amazed that she knew all of her letters (upper and lower) , sounds, shapes, colors, numbers, etc. She said they would start working on reading right away with her. She will have Kindergarten in the mornings so I am hoping that will give me some time to play with Griffin and do some fun activities together -- Kindermusik, reading books, doing puzzles and playing at the park. His speech is still slow but it seems like he is not screaming 90% of the day like he was before. A speech therapist came to the house today and gave me some good ideas to help him start talking more. She said the best thing for speech development is reading books together and labeling the objects in the books. He doesn't have a very long attention span but hopefully he will enjoy our one on one time (during Mia's morning nap) and reading together.

A true American

I have been trying to potty train Morgan this past month. Three in diapers was just way too much for me to deal with and remember--who was changed last? Who's due for a diaper change? Who's got the stinky bum?, etc. That doesn't even take into consideration all the money spent on diapers and wipes each month. Since I finally realized Morgan wasn't ever going to just tell me she was ready to get rid of diapers and try underwear, I decided to finally bite the bullet and deal with a few accidents and lots of time. Some days are better than others but she is making progress at staying dry for a longer time. She is still only mommy-trained and doesn't show any excitement about going to the bathroom on her own. But today as she was sitting on the toilet something inspired her to put her right hand over her heart and say the Pledge of Allegiance. At first I didn't realize what she was doing. I have NEVER heard her say the Pledge of Allegiance, never practiced it with her and she has been out of school for three months! But she said the whole thing word for word. Maybe she realizes that Kindergarten starts next week and figured the toilet was a great place to get prepared.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Arrow of Light

Jack advanced (officially, since he has been going to Boy Scouts since May) from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts tonight and received his Webelos badge, Faith in God religious square knot, and Arrow of Light award. The Cub scout Master said some very nice things about Jack (a positive attitude, always in uniform, a good boy, courteous and kind, always smiling, and that he would genuinely miss having him in cub scouts) before he gave him his Arrow of Light. Then he asked Jack what his favorite part of scouts was and Jack commented, "Coming into scouts as a wolf and now leaving". So I thought he might need some help remembering all the good times and memories, especially his first year as a Wolf with me as his den mom! :)

Field trip to the fire station with his wolf den

Blue and Gold Banquet

Family hike to Ensign Peak with Bear den

First Pinewood Derby (Bear)

Outdoor pack meeting in the canyons (Webelo)

Pinewood Derby as a Webelo (Block of wood)

Thumbs up!

We had a fun day today boating with grandpa and some of the cousins.

Don't be fooled by the cute smile on Morgan. She may be a cutie, but she is also very mischievous! We'd been on the water for about 2 minutes when we discovered that Cassidy's shorts were missing and that Morgan had thrown them overboard. Then about half way through the day she started pointing at the water and acting very nervous. I was trying to figure out what she was saying, "Water?", "Waves?", "Spraying?" Finally she started to rub her face and said something that sounded like sunscreen. I finally guessed "Sunscreen?" And then looked at the water behind us and there it was, the sunscreen bottle off in the distance. Not really sure what else was thrown overboard during the trip, but apparently she just can't resist the urge to throw stuff over even if it drives her crazy afterwards .

Gavin and his new 'boating hat'

Hadley and Grandpa

Ryan, Jack and Cassidy having the time of their lives
Cassidy even did some 360s her first time on the knee board!

Karsyn, Hadley and Rilee on the tube. Karsyn was all about 'thumbs down' on the tube. Apparently this gymnast daredevil does not enjoy fast speeds (or any movement, for that matter) on the tube

Jack, Morgan and Hadley

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just another day at the office

Jack and Ryan got to hang out with dad while they cruised around town in the Allstate Hummer visiting different apartment complexes for work and marketing. The highlight for my boys? Taking candy from the lobby of the apartment buildings. (And no--this isn't our Hummer!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lagoon . . . It's what FUN is!

Here are some pictures from our annual trip to Lagoon. We go every August on 'Down syndrome Day' (Buy 1 get 1 free deal) with all my family, even the Rushings (they are in town every year at the same time for Education Week at BYU). I didn't see much of Jack, Ryan and Hadley now that they are old enough to go with all the big cousins and do all the bigger, scary rides. But Morgan and Griffin had a great time in Kiddieland with their FAVORITE being the green swings! Gavin and I both got to go on four rides (in between pushing the two strollers and hanging out with Mia) but two of them were in the kiddieland so I'm not sure if they counted as real rides!

Griffin and Hadley

Morgan, Hadley and Jack with their cousins after Rattlesnake Rapids

The boys -- all wet from the rapids
Sarah and Griffin
Morgan on the boats
Abi and Mia
Karsyn and Hadley

Layton, Hadley, Karsyn, Ryan, Jack, Cassidy and Will

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's for dinner?

Dinner last night was yummy Hamburger Helper. Griffin helped me say the prayer by repeating what I said. "Thank thee for the food ... (tank ooo pour da poop) . Please bless the food ... (pease bess da poop.) "

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's all about Hadley!

We took a four day vacation last week to Newport Beach in California with Hadley and Mia. We figured it was Hadley's turn to have her own trip with us (and Mia) since both Jack and Ryan got to go on a trip with Gavin all by themselves a few years ago. She had a GREAT time with us but I think she had even a better time with the Ware's girls that were also on the trip!

We spent the first day at Fashion Island -- a fun shopping area with restaurants, shops, fountains, ponds, etc. We got lunch, did some shopping, Hadley made a purple, sparkly bear at Build-A-Bear, rode the carousel, and had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.

Hadley and Mia outside the Koi pond

Hadley holding her new bear, "Sparkle"

After dinner at Fashion Island
The next day was Hadley's favorite! We rented a car and drove to LA so that we could go to the American Girl Place. This store is a little crazy! They have stylists that fix the dolls hair in little salon doll chairs and charge $20 for braids. Luckily Hadley didn't think her doll needed her hair done (not that we would have let her!) and wanted to spend most of her time shopping and finding a new doll. She quickly jumped from Elizabeth to Kirsten to Ivy to Ruthie. And then there was no question about it-- Ruthie was the doll she wanted. We then had a 4 course lunch in the American Girl Cafe. Hadley was able to have both her dolls dine right next to her in their high chairs.

Ellie, Hadley, Addison and Emma on their way to the store

All of us in front of the store

Hadley standing in front of Kit's and Ruthie's tree house

Getting ready for lunch with Mia and Ruthie

The next day we took the ferry over to Balboa Beach and spent the day on the beach --well Hadley, Mia and I spent it on the beach. Gavin, Chad and Adam were in the ocean the entire time, body surfing. We were in a spot with HUGE waves and I think they had more fun than any of the kids. We all left with a little sunburn --even Mia got a little red on her face, hat on and all.

Hadley, Addison, Emma and Ellie on the ferry ride to Balboa

Playing on the beach and finding seashell treasures

Mia, me and Hadley on the beach

Cute little Mia

Gavin and Chad waiting for the next big wave

We spent the last day doing a little more shopping and just relaxing. In the end--it was a trip all about Hadley (and Mia)!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The "R" word

I was reading a blog that got me thinking about my feelings regarding the "R" word. I know there are strong advocates out there that are on a mission to teach the world about the cruelty of this word but I have not been one of them. It is a sensitive issue for most people but it can be extremely hurtful for those of us that have a child with Down syndrome. I feel like most people don't intentionally use that word to be hurtful, but rather use it in ignorance and thoughtlessness. But it still hurts when I hear others say it. In fact, I used to enjoy reading a blog that I thought was pretty funny until she decided to write a post about "The other sister" and jokingly used the word throughout the post. I now feel differently about that person and I haven't even ever met her. Even though I am sure she didn't mean to hurt anyone. It just happens. It isn't a nice word and no one ever uses it in their vocabulary in a positive, kind way.

I feel like I have always had a strong acceptance for others with disabilities (long before Morgan came into my life)--my best friend in 6th grade was deaf and I never thought about her being different. I just felt fortunate to have a friend that was teaching me ASL and that we were able to communicate without others understanding us. So I would never intentionally use a word that I knew was hurtful to so many. And I probably would have never realized I used that word until after Morgan was born.
A few weeks after Morgan was born, I was taking a picture of all my kids together and my oldest (then 5 years old) kept crossing his eyes to be funny. I was tired of trying to get a good family picture and having him do that every time. I quickly said, "Jack quit crossing your eyes in the picture. You look retarded!" That is when I looked at my new, little baby daughter, innocent and beautiful. And realized I had just used a term that didn't fit her at all and knew that I NEVER wanted to use that word again and didn't even know why I had said it in the first place.

People just don't know. It starts with educating those around you but also choosing to ignore the comment and understanding that they do not mean harm. I have a good friend that frequently uses that word in place of 'stupid'. I have made several comments to her as have my children to her kids when they say it around them but it is obvious that that word is a habit for everyone in their family. Just a few nights ago her husband said to me, "I swear my kids are retarded. Do you ever feel that way?" To which I responded, "Yes, I do, Morgan has Down syndrome." He quickly said, "No, that's not what I meant...that is just sweetness." But see Morgan does have mental retardation but I haven't ever seen her hit her hand repetitively against her chest like a Love and Logic teacher did when describing how "retarded" something was that she had done. Nor would I describe Morgan as stupid. She is one smart cookie -- she just needs more repetition and time than 'typical' kids to learn new things. She knows her letters, numbers, sounds, and is getting ready to start reading just like her peers that are also starting kindergarten.

But I also have friends that have noticed my sensitivity to the term and have had FHE lessons on disabilities and the "R" word and why it is derogatory and not interchangeable for 'stupid'. My children's friends frequently explain to me all the things they know about Morgan (so cute!) when they are over at my house which makes it obvious that their family has discussed Down syndrome and Morgan with them. One of the most recent things one little girl said was, "Did you know that Morgan proved herself in heaven because her spirit is so strong and she will automatically live with Jesus Christ again, but even though she isn't being tested, she might test others around her?" I LOVED the last part because Morgan definitely does test those around her! She is here to teach me more patience and understanding. Which is what we all need to do with those around us that just don't understand the hurt that word causes us. But in the meantime, if you are reading this post and never really thought about the "R" word, take this opportunity to educate yourself and expand your vocabulary with a different word that really means what you are trying to say! Thanks! I will now get off my soapbox! :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

That's gonna hurt!

We had a relaxing Sunday yesterday with an early morning baby blessing of my niece Abi. Brunch at the Prudens. Board games in the afternoon with the kids. And a long walk to the park in the evening. The park is about 2 miles away and pretty much all uphill to get there. Gavin doubted we would be able to make it. But we all proved him wrong. Ryan rode his ripstick--poor kid his calves were working hard to get him up to the park on that thing. Jack rode a scooter. Hadley rode her bike. Gavin pushed Morgan and Griffin in the jogger stroller and I pushed Mia in her stroller. Whoa was I ever sweating! Anyone who knows me, knows that I have never, no never, really worked out. Sure I went a few times to aerobics at Spa Fitness with Karol in high school; I did step aerobics with my nanny friend, Collette, a few times; I ran a few miles with Kerry in college; I jump roped a few times on my mission (when I needed it the most! :) with Kristie but mostly I just watched her exercise during our designated exercise time; I went to bodypump 3 times with Annette 3 years ago. Basically if we are friends I am sure I tried to start a work out program with you at sometime, but never stuck with it more than a few times. So that really has been the extent of my cardio workouts. But I am determined to have that change now that I am no longer pregnant and hopefully getting Mia to sleep through the night. I want to start doing something as soon as school starts again (does that sound like a new year's resolution that will never happen?). I told Gavin after we got to the park that I would definitely feel that one tomorrow. I was wrong. It started to hurt just a few hours after we got home! So sad!

Mia's first time in the swing