Friday, October 31, 2014

31 for 21: Imagination

I think I've posted about this before, but as we reach the end of our month I think it deserves repeating.  Every now and then, the interwebs are good for my imagination.  And that is why I joined in to the 31 for 21 challenge this year.

I haven't spent as much time reading blogs about Down syndrome lately as I did that first year.  But I've tried to make the rounds through the 31 for 21 participants this month.  As before, it is fun to just see the variety of families represented.  Some feel like kindred spirits, others I probably wouldn't have read if it weren't for the Ds connection.  Seeing so many options of what families with special needs children can look like keeps me from settling in to one idea of what Down syndrome will look like in our life.  Peeking at other families keeps my imagination healthy.  Sometimes I'm inspired, and take away an idea or a hope of "Yes! I can do that!"  But most of the time I don't really want to copy what anyone else is doing.  I'm just happy know that our family fits in to the mosaic, one of many.  We're just figuring out one way of the many, many ways to walk this path.

I write because I have fun writing, and I have fun sharing about my family.  But I also write to give back to the internet community a bit.  For all the ways other blogs have expanded my imagination, I offer a picture of our life in hopes of returning the favor.

So for the past month I tried to take on the challenge of sharing us consistently -- the worries, the achievements, the celebrations, the everyday.  I don't think there's anything unusual or interesting or inspiring about our family.  But we are one of many, and so we are a part of something special.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 for 21: And Again

Another skipped day yesterday.  Oh well, my track record has been pretty good this year.  Again, I blame it on the Royals.  I really hoped to post a "yay Royals" post after the game last night.  But then, they lost, and I just didn't have the energy to bother with it.  After staying up late for the game we are all a bit low on energy this morning.  Thank goodness that I took way too many cute photos at the pumpkin patch this weekend.  I'm getting a lot of mileage out of them.

If I can pull myself together I'll try to make a real post, with real opinions & stuff, for the final day of October.

I might be tired & a bit sad for my Royals today, but it was totally worth it to see them in the World Series.  I'm already looking forward to 2043 when they can do it again!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 for 21: I Almost Forgot

But I didn't.  So here's my post.

Yes, you know it's the end of the month when this sort of slack counts as a post.  But whatever.

If you need me, I'll be watching baseball.  Go Royals!

Monday, October 27, 2014

31 for 21: Following

Keeping a closer eye on the internet's Down syndrome community this month means that I've caught a few references to an article written by a mother of a 50-year old with Ds.  According to the headline, even today, she thinks abortion would have been an easier road than raising her son.

I haven't clicked that link.  Maybe because the sensational headline feels like click-bait.  Maybe because I'm not sure what there is for me to learn from someone harboring that sort of regret.  Maybe because the whole issue is so seeped in politics that I don't trust the internet to contain such sadness.  Maybe because I don't want to revel in self-righteousness after reading a short statement out of a life I have not lived.

But I did click on this link, this response.  And I'm glad I did.  It's an incredibly well-written reminder of how difficult it is to walk in another mother's shoes.  And it's a reminder to all of us touched by disability to remember the debt we owe to previous generations.

I'm thankful for those who went before us.  Who made it possible for me to bring my son home, who opened the doors of our neighborhood school, who insisted that he has a place as an adult in our community.  They didn't always know they were pioneers at the time.  Like most of us, they were just stumbling along trying to do the best they could for their kids.  Often while the world around them was telling them that their kid didn't deserve the best.

Someday, perhaps, I will be more open myself to hearing the stories of the parents who sent their children away.  For now, I am thankful for the parents -- sometimes flawed and all-too-human -- who made my son's road, and by extension my road, a bit wider.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 for 21: Google GIFs

More fall fun this weekend, more photo ops:

I don't think I'll ever get tired of google turning my photo shoots into gifs:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 for 21: Oops

Oops!  I finally missed a day.  Just plum forgot about it.  Funny, I remembered to post when we were sick, but I forgot on a lazy Friday evening.

My only excuse is that I was watching the Royals instead.  After TV fails and radio fails and sleep fails, this was the first post-season game I was able to watch.  Go Royals!

As penance, I give you the obligatory fall raking photo:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 for 21: Papa

Whew.  Okay, I think we are all through with that particular wave of illness.  Here's hoping for a few days of respite before the next one hits.

It occurred to me that I might not have given Christer full credit in Tuesday's post for all he does to help mitigate the worry -- both in his care of Max and in his care of me.  And if you noticed that he was absent this round of sick-baby-care and subsequent worry, you would be right.  That is because he was busy having dinner with this guy:

Um, yeah, I was not going to call him in the middle of meeting Neil DeGrass Tyson to say, "Your baby is sick, come home."

(Okay, maybe I did text him the first part, because I needed some sympathy, but I can totally handle a few hours of puke while Christer's off having an experience.  Really.)

Truth is, the last couple of times Max was sick, Christer stepped up and dealt with most of the unpleasantness.  Because I was too busy working myself into a worried tizzy to be much use.  And when I do worry about the Big Future Worries, my fastest relief comes from the thought that I've got this guy with me every step of the way.  Some days we have no idea where we're going, but at least we're in it together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 for 21: Worry

Max has a stomach bug this evening -- the kind that will probably interrupt my writing several times, the kind that all kids get.  With it comes the parenting hassles -- the clean up, the likely sleepless night, the mental rescheduling of tomorrow's commitments.  But with Max, there also comes the worry.

It's hard to ever look at an illness as just an illness.  There are always a list of maybe-worries behind it, risk factors that come along with Down syndrome.

It's hard to know what to blame on the third 21st chromosome, and what to just chalk up to childhood.  I've known plenty of kids who have dealt with ongoing minor illnesses, and I've watched their parents worry about them.  I'm not sure how, or if, this is any different.  I just know that it's hard.

This summer Max hit a growth spurt, grew two inches, and lost a pound.  He also had a short string of stomach troubles.  Not good, but not terribly unusual for an ever-more-active toddler.  But our doctor was on top of things, and there were blood draws and changes in diet and extra weigh-ins (he's gaining again now, by the way).  Thyroid?  Celiac?  Leukemia?  Yes, I know that an upset stomach isn't a sign of leukemia, but shoot if that word doesn't pop into my mind every single time Max is sick.  I worry that the whole family will get the bug, and then I turn around and worry that if we don't it might mean that something is wrong with Max.  I worry with him that I am missing something, that if I could just put the pieces together his pain would go away.

On these worrying nights, it also hits me that it is likely Max will always have a guardian of some kind.  Most days I can't wrap my mind around being responsible for two human beings until they turn 18.  It is so hard, oh so hard, to make decisions for a baby and a child who can't explain their bodies in words.  Is Toby sick enough to keep home from school?  Is Max up again at night because of teething, or a sore throat, or a grumbling belly?  How long will Christer and I be the ones making decisions for Max, and how many times will we make the wrong call.

So I write, and then I run back upstairs to cuddle and comfort.  And I remember that worries are always worst in the dark.

Sleep well, little Max.  Here's hoping that we're both feeling a little better come morning.

Monday, October 20, 2014

31 for 21: Worth A Listen

Last year, Christer & I had the chance to see Temple Grandin speak.  The University's auditorium was packed, and it was a diverse audience.  The usual crowd of college faculty & students were there (including more than a few students in the line to prove their attendance).  Then there were people on the autism spectrum there, and their families.  There were special education teachers and other professionals that work in the disability community.  And then there was a whole separate set of folks who knew of Grandin from her work -- folks interested in animal behavior and agriculture.  And then there were the animal activist types, curious about this woman who's work has led to more humane treatment of animals on their way to be slaughtered.

Temple Grandin owned that audience.  Her presentation was unlike any other lecture I have ever attended.  It was obvious that she is not a linear thinker -- I had to work hard to keep up with her tangents and loops.  She was straightforward when describing the importance of her work, abrupt in answering questions, and blunt when scolding the tech booth for messing up her slides.  And the audience was with her through it all -- sometimes in quiet concentration, sometimes in slightly uneasy laughter, sometimes with enthusiastic applause.

The audience was excited to see Temple Grandin, and was willing to enter her space in order to hear what she had to say.  We were rewarded by seeing the topics of her talk through her eyes for a few moments.  We were rewarded by seeing both the scientific accomplishments she has made, and the ways that her autism gave her a view of the world that made those accomplishments possible.

This is what I want for Max.  Not from a packed auditorium, necessarily, but from his friends, and coworkers, and from the teller at the bank.  I want people to be so genuinely interested in him that they are willing to take a step into his space in order to really hear what he has to say.

And, if I'm honest, this is also what I hope for myself.  Look, it's tough really listening to people.  I have hard enough time staying present with the folks closest to me in my life.  When someone comes along who is challenging (a bully in the workplace, an over-dramatic friend, a five year old child living in my house...) it is easier to shut down, to walk away, to disengage.  It's tempting, when someone doesn't act the way I would like them to, to ascribe my own reasons for their behavior instead of paying attention long enough to understand where they are coming from.

I'm going to mess this up along the way.  I'm going to miss out on things that Max is trying to tell me.  Heck, I've missed out on few key messages from both of my children already.  But months after Temple Grandin's speech, the whole experience -- hearing her, watching the audience, and being a part of the audience -- it all sticks with me.  There are models out there for how to connect across differences.  There will be places where Max is appreciated and understood.  And, if I'm lucky, I'll get to step inside his space, too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 for 21: More Halloween

 I think this might be the money shot -- both boys, in costume, smiling:

Toby wanted to be Pikachu, so we made Max a little jacket and hat so he could be Ash (pikachu's human handler).  Pikachu got lots of love, especially from excited teenagers.  I'm not sure anyone recognized Ash, though.

And after all the photos I forced on the boys, Toby was pleased to get a chance to take this one of the grown-ups.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 for 21: Dance

I tried to stand Max on the dance floor.  He isn't standing on his own yet, but he's usually happy to put some weight on his feet if you'll keep him balanced.  But not tonight.  I'd put him down, and he'd swing his legs up to his ears.  I tried several times, and then gave up and plopped him sitting on the floor.  As soon as I let go, he started busting a move--and the telltale giggles of half a dozen onlookers let me know that the whole scene had an audience.

Max loves dancing right now.  Toes thumping, arms waving, head bobbing, he's got his own set of moves.  So we sat in the corner of the dance floor at the community's Halloween dance tonight.  (His brother was on the other side of the room mixing up a batch of "zombie snot" courtesy of the science museum.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

31 for 21: Fall Break

After a dreary, wet week, we finally got some sunshine, and I finally got some new photos for the blog!  Yay!

Today was Toby's one-day Fall Break.  We celebrated with a pajama morning.  Kindergarten has taken a big bite out of the time spent in pajamas around here.  The whole transition to Kindergarten is taking a bit longer than I'd anticipated.  Two months into the school year, it still seems like a very long time for our 5-year-old to keep focused, get along with his friends & teachers, and generally behave himself.  He comes home tired, and ready to have some time to himself without anyone telling him what to do.

So we spent the morning in pajamas, and the boys spent most of the morning in a big pile of pillows and blankets.

When we did get outside, we were greeted with one of the last short-sleeve days of the year.  We found Christer at work for lunch, played with the ice cream machine in the cafeteria, and checked out the toys in the Physics supply closet.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the park, and brought home two tired boys.  It was nice to have a slow day today before jumping into a busy weekend.  Tomorrow the Halloween festivities begin!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 for 21: Down Syndrome Awareness Month

I figure that at least once this month I should post a link to the 15 minute video "Just Like You."  It's the best intro-to-Down-syndrome I've found for kids (I'm guessing it would play well with elementary through high school aged students).  Three sets of teens, answering basic questions about Down syndrome, asking the silly questions so that you don't have to.  So if you haven't seen it already, go, take a look.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 for 21: Wednesdays

Wednesdays are our busiest day right now.  A busy morning with Max, a busy afternoon of after-school activities for Toby, and then an evening at church.  Wednesday dinner at church just might be my favorite part of the week.  It's a crazy bustling scene--catching up with friends, herding kids, checking in with my Sunday school teachers, getting different family members to their separate nursery/choir/bible studies.  Getting everyone where they need to be a bit late because we spent too much time chatting around the table.

Which means that by the time I get home and get the kids to bed, I don't have much left to say. So please enjoy this photo of a baby making faces with his spoon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 for 21: A Toddler

This fall, we've moved from having a baby to having a toddler.

I think it started at the beginning of the school year, when I decided it was time to take him to Toddler Storytime at the library instead of Baby Storytime.  It just seemed like he was the biggest kid in the class, and it was time.  And he loved it.  He loved the energy of all the toddlers running around and making lots of noise.  

Then there's been the trouble with his appetite.  Our little baby Max once gobbled up every spoonful that came his way.  Many days we were certain he was eating more than Toby.  And then it stopped.  Along with his pincer grasp came the ability to carefully pick up food from his tray and drop it onto the ground.  Not surprisingly, this change was accompanied by a drop in weight, so now we are reduced to begging him to eat.  I might have spent tonight's dinner singing, because the only time he would open his mouth was on the "wash" part of "wash the spider down."

And in the last few weeks, we've seen the attitude.  Screeching when he's bored.  Yanking toys away from other toddlers.  Refusing to give away contraband cords, legos and lint without a fight.  Bursting into tears when he hears the word "no."  Pivoting around so that his back is facing his therapists when he's done playing their games, and doing so with a big grin on his face.  He is still a remarkably easygoing little boy -- but he's getting opinions.

So I've been calling him a toddler lately, mostly without apology.  Actual toddling will come when it will, we have a toddler in the house.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

31 for 21: Financial Fast

Today our family completed a three-week financial "fast."  We've done these from time to time over the past several years, and I considered blogging about it these past weeks.  But really, this time around, it didn't seem that extreme, and I didn't really have much to say about it.

The idea is simple -- no spending for three weeks.  Necessities are exempt (groceries, gas, continuing to pay the mortgage) as are reoccurring expenses that can't easily be shut off for a few weeks (internet, Y membership).

And that's part of why it wasn't much of a thing -- so many of our expenses are prepaid.  Can't go out to see a movie during the fast, but we can watch something on Netflix.  Our membership cards to the zoo still work.  Not going out to eat was our biggest hardship.  (And, to be fair, we each cheated to go out to eat with friends once -- getting social time away from the family is a rare thing.)

Still, although the impact was small, there was something freeing about walking into Target to buy some supplies for work, and knowing that I would not buy any extra Halloween clutter while I was there.

I described the process to some friends as a "reset," and as such it did it's job.  I'm back in the habit of packing snacks for the kids and bringing along my own coffee mug.  We invited friends over for dinner instead of going out.  We took advantage of the last weeks of mild weather and got outside.

And tonight, we celebrated the end of our fast with sushi -- oddly enough it's the favorite of 3 out of 4 in this household (Christer likes it, too, he just wouldn't call it a favorite).  The gift-giving holidays are arriving (including birthdays for the boys), and I'll start placing those orders within the next few weeks.  I need to pick up some underwear for one boy and pjs for the other.  The buying & spending of running a household is inescapable -- which is why doing this sort of fast, slight as it is, is always as much a retreat as a challenge.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

31 for 21: Frivolity

I am no food blogger, but I am trying to fill 31 days, and these cheese crackers are just about as exciting as anything else I could write about.

Did you know that crackers are basically just a flavored pie crust?

I start with this recipe here.  Then I remember that I don't have any basil, and that I don't want to put a $5 chunk of Parmesan all into one recipe.  So I leave those out.  And add a little dried oregano or a pinch of hot pepper.  Whatever.  Really the important thing is the butter.

I am not in the habit of making crackers.  There is no shame in feeding my kids packaged snacks.  But when I do get time to make these, they are so good.  This weekend they were worthy to take to a potluck.  And if you want to eat the leftovers for lunch, I suggest dipping them in peanut butter.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 for 21: Telling the Older Sibling

After we learned about Max's Down syndrome, we fretted a lot about how to tell Toby.  And we screwed up.

We wanted to be honest with him, so we told him as soon as we knew.  Poor kid, he didn't have any preconceived notions about Down syndrome.  He just knew that his brother was in the NICU, and he couldn't visit, and he was scared.  He decided that Down syndrome was the reason for Max's hospitalization, and he cried when he learned that Down syndrome doesn't go away.  It took a long time to untangle the permanent Down syndrome from the temporary hospitalization.

But it did untangle, eventually, and we figured out new ways to screw things up.  Like when a lady at the grocery was harassing me about "Isn't he walking yet?" and Toby very slowly explained to her, "He has Down syndrome.  That means that he learns things more slowly than some babies."  Yeah, schooled her.  But he noticed my smirk at his answer, and knew he'd done something clever, and so he started telling EVERYONE that Max had Down syndrome.  People in line at the post office, moms at the park, strangers on the sidewalk.  How do you stop that without making it sound like Down syndrome is a bad thing?  (Hint: we told him that Down syndrome isn't the most important thing about Max, and challenged him to list other things he could tell people about Max.)

So, now that we have established that I am in no way a trusted authority on the matter, here are my top five tips for telling your older kids that their sibling has Down syndrome:

1) You're going to screw this up.  And that's okay.

2)  This isn't a one-time talk, it's a talk that comes along in bits and pieces.  Sometimes you'll need to initiate some new piece of information, but often the questions come up in conversation.

3)  You're going to mess up about half of those little talks, too.  And that's okay.

4)  How you answer your kid when they ask about differences outside your family also shapes the way they'll see the disability inside your family.  Remember that when the awkward questions come:  Why is he wearing that?  Why does she walk that way?  Why does one kid in my class have an aide?  Why does one kid in my class get in trouble all the time?  (Hint: My new favorite answer to questions that are inappropriate in public is "I don't know, we'll have to look that up on the computer when we get home.)

5)  It's going to turn out okay.  I've known a few siblings of people with Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities.  And you know what?  Without exception, they are the most understanding, accepting, honest & caring folks I ever talk disability with.  They get it, better than parents, better than clinicians or teachers, they really get what it means to include someone with a disability--warts and all.  Whatever rock we hit along this road, I have faith that Toby's always going to know a little bit more about what it's like to be Max than I ever will.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

31 for 21: Higher!

We are still all about the stacking around here.  Throw in more and more copying of sounds and some scooting that looks suspiciously like crawling.  It's one of those weeks where everything is changing at once.

Now if he could just figure out the sleeping at night thing, I would be one proud mama.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

31 for 21: How We're Learning

(Another photo from my brother's wedding a few weeks ago.  The rain keeps falling here, and the light is terrible in every picture I've tried to take for the past week.)
Watching babies learn is fascinating.

And watching my two boys learn and grow, and observing some of the differences between them, keeps me entertained and awed.

Toby has always been all or nothing with his interests and his skills.  Two years ago he refused to hold a pair of scissors--for me, for his preschool teachers, for anyone.  He was convinced that he could not cut, and the "can cut a straight line" box (along with a few others) remained unchecked on the preschool skill sheet.  Then, over the summer, there were photocopies of Piggy (from the Elephant and Piggy books) puppets at the library--and before I knew what was happening Toby had chopped his way around the round puppet, ears and all.

Toby refused any sort of sign language until about 15 or 16 months.  Then, in an ah-ha moment, he figured out "more".  And within a week he had a dozen other signs.  At two years he still wasn't stringing two words together.  But 6 months later his preschool teacher remarked that he never stopped talking.

With Toby, it was always easy to remember the "firsts" and to know which day to mark them on a calendar.

Max goes about things differently.  He's got about a dozen gestures right now--that may or may not mean anything.  Sometimes he'll do them when asked, sometimes he won't.  Sometimes he seems to be practicing, and sometimes he seems like he's just waving his arms around and any resemblance to a sign is coincidental.  He babbles mamamama constantly, but sometimes he looks right at me when he says it and seems to be using it to get my attention.

Max loves the attention he gets from copying his therapists.  So he'll play along with their games.  And then he'll clap for himself and wait for everyone else to join in.  And then he won't try the skill again for weeks.  He's been "army crawling" for months now, but rarely for more than a scoot or two.  Skills that seem like they're moving forward will stop abruptly and regress a bit.  And then, after some time, he'll figure them out again.  Max seems much more comfortable showing us his attempts, but some days the process seems one-step-forward-two-steps-back.

Siblings do things differently, I get that.  But throw the Down syndrome into the mix and it gets dicey.  Do I want to acknowledge that some of Max's learning style comes from that extra 21st?  Am I falling into stereotypes by noticing how he wants to please people, how he uses his smile to get what he wants, how he seems to practice and practice and practice before he masters a new skill?  Shoot, is it fair to make any sort of conclusions about the learning style of such a little guy?

I just know that I enjoy Max's learning the most when I sit back and watch, and don't get too caught up in what he's doing when.  Regardless of how he gets there, he's a toddler, figuring out the world for the first time.  It's an honor to sit by and watch his world unfold.

Monday, October 6, 2014

31 for 21: My Way

Sometimes I wonder, with our parade of therapists always guiding Max toward the next milestone, if our little guy will ever get to have an independent thought.  And then this happens.

That would be a box, a stacking cup, a stacking ring, and another stacking cup.  I'm pretty sure this isn't the way our OT demonstrated stacking.

And because we are all about that stacking today, let's add another.

No, it didn't stick.  But he did keep trying to stack random toys for a good 45 minutes today.  So I'll call it a win.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

31 for 21: Where We Are Today, Part II

From time to time, folks do ask me what it means, day-to-day, to have a toddler with Down syndrome.  I did this last year, so here's an updated version.

A mix of low muscle tone and delays in cognition mean that Max is noticeably behind other 20 month olds in his skills.  Where others are running, he isn't crawling yet.  Where most have a few words, he doesn't, and he's still unsure about how to use the signs he knows.  He knows how to "army crawl" across the floor, but he'll only do it when he really wants something.

He's been expressing frustration more frequently, lately, and he's also getting more mobile, bit by bit.  Although I certainly want him to grow in his communication & motor skills, I'm pretty sure my life is going to get more difficult as these two skills, in particular, develop.

Max gets an hour each of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy every week.  On non-therapy days Max & I attend Toddler Storytime at our library and a Parent/Child tumbling class.  He's got a different set of skills than the other kids his age at these programs, but he holds his own.  He loves the one on one attention of the therapists and the energy of the group classes.  Max is the first to clap for his own accomplishments, he knows when he's done good and he wants everyone else to acknowledge it, too.

Max's health is pretty good -- but he knows how to keep me worried.  He spent several nights in the hospital last spring when he had croup, and he's had some ongoing digestive issues.  He's had a bit of trouble putting on weight, so we're now pretty aggressive about feeding him.  Over the summer he got tubes for his ears and braces for his ankles.  These are all small things, none of them exactly caused by his extra chromosome, but all of them complicated a bit by it.  The combination of it all, however, sometimes weighs on me.  I worry about this little guy, and there are days that keeping on top of his health is tiring.

I don't mind getting questions about Max's development -- mostly because I love bragging about him.  He might be chugging along on his own schedule, but I still love talking about how he surprised his therapist by stacking blocks or how hard he's been working to push up into crawling position.  So for those who weren't sure how to ask, this is where we are today.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

31 for 21: Buddy Walk

Our Buddy Walk was today -- and it was cold!  I had to skip because of a commitment at work, but the guys went, and brought along one of Toby's friends.

I'm usually the photographer in our family, and so I was glad that Christer remembered to take one photo of our little group of walkers.  I was even happier to see how great that one photo turned out.  Look at Max's smile!

Next year I'm hoping for a clearer schedule, and warmer weather.  Because it was only 40 degrees at noon today, and that made it very hard for me to feel bad about missing the walk.

Friday, October 3, 2014

31 for 21: The Specials

When the doctor said the words "Down Syndrome," my first thought was, "Now my son can never be a reality TV star."

Okay, maybe that's not exactly how it happened.

With the abundance of reality programming available, I didn't jump to watch The Specials--a show about five young adults with intellectual disabilities living in a house in the UK--when I first heard about it.  But with the second wave of publicity as it's second season hit Oprah's network, my curiosity got the better of me.  And at less than 15 minutes an episode, it's hardly a commitment.

At first I was looking for more substance in The Specials.  Who exactly lives in the house with the cast?  How much support do these folks need?  How much independence do they have at work and at school?  Who handles the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, or balancing the checkbook?

And then I realized, The Specials intentionally ignores all of that.

The Specials isn't about the caretakers.  It isn't about the testing or the IQs or the life skills.  It isn't about inspiring anyone or proving the achievements of people with intellectual disabilities.

It is about friendships and love and having a fun night singing karaoke with your friends.  It is about taking your bestie surfing after his heart is broken, and supporting your friend as she learns her parents are getting divorced.

Like any good reality show, sometimes it's about making a fool out of yourself for love.  Or for lust.  At 19, what's the difference, really?

It's about making this one anxious mama relax and giggle while she takes her afternoon-naptime break.

So kudos to the producers of The Specials for practicing the sort of inclusion we all preach--frivolity and all.  Season One is available to watch online here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

31 for 21: That Other October Celebration

It's only day two, and I'm already posting at night, too tired to think of much inspired to say.  I had a good, long day of working on Halloween costumes for the boys.  Once upon a time I sewed quite a bit, and now Halloween is the only time I really get out the machine.  I know I could buy or scrounge costumes, but making them each year is a little treat to me.  And the treat is so much better when I get some time to work on them early on, instead of at the last minute.

But, after a day of fiddling and problem solving and sewing, I am not much good to talk about anything else.  And so I give you this preview, and a promise of more photos once the costumed festivities (events! parties! even a costumed wedding!) begin later in the month.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

31 for 21: Why not?

Why not jump in on 31 for 21 again?  I'm not writing much, here or elsewhere, lately, and I miss it.

So, in honor of this goofy little guy, let's see if I can remember to stop by this space every day this month.  More or less.  Here goes!