TWO HUNDRED FORTY NINE…narrowly escaping a craptastic day part 4

I’ve had enough distance from last Tuesday to laugh about our morning disaster. It was almost a full-blown craptastic day. I am in fact due for one.

I define “craptastic days” as an unbelievable series of events which come together to break down the individual’s psyche. On those days, I am hanging on by the thinnest thread until mentally, I am on a cold cement floor curled into the fetal position. The moment right before the thread completely unravels, something resembling redemption happens. A kid comes to me, gives me kisses, a picture they drew for me, a hug or just randomly tells me they love me and it makes the whole day worth while.

The song ‘Don’t really know me’ by Snowden plays silently in my head the entire day. I knew I was in for it when 10 minutes before Cecilia and I had to leave the house for her therapy sessions, Abby and Phoebe begged to come with me so we could “do school” while in the waiting room. Right. They NEVER want to do school…especially in the waiting room of Cecilia’s therapy.

As Cecilia made a B-line for the upstairs to get her coveted mini mouse doll for the umpteenth time that morning, the two older sisters casually informed me, they, “didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast and…can we stop by the grocery store to pick up some pop-tarts.”

There it was.

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Despite my constant nagging reminding them about pop-tart’s complete lack of nutrients, high sugar content, and their general inability to satiate them…I acquiesced to their tactics.

“Let’s remain calm and maintain some sense of sanity…while minimizing eminent disaster” is the mantra I kept repeating to myself.

I managed to get everyone out the door. Acknowledging the speed limit, we quickly made it down our street. Two stop lights later, I am pulling into the un-named grocery store’s parking lot.

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Knowing I’m on a tight timeline, I am going over in my head the series of events which need to take place

1. I have to QUICKLY run in and grab some generic box of pop-tarts

2. Make it to therapy without going over the speed limit.

Therapy is a 5 minute drive from my house. The grocery store is two minutes away. Ah the benefits of living in the city. So if I have 10 minutes, I should be able to get there within the narrow time frame. Really, how hard can that be?

FLW (famous last words) folks, FLW.

Steps away from the automatic front door, I realize I don’t have my “special” grocery store card. Who cares, right? Just buy the damn thing. I don’t need a discount on $2.99.

So when I answer the cashiers, “Ma’am, do you have your members card” with my, “Oh darn I forgot it” she was scrambling to find a piece of paper and pen to scribble my number down. I repeatedly told her, “It’s ok I don’t need a card for the pop tarts…I’m running late, I have an appointment in like 8 minutes”.  Before I can finish, she seized my computer screen and ran to customer service to “LOOK UP” my phone number while yelling “it’s ok Ma’am, it will just take a second”.

I stood there, red-faced, furious, sweating of course and pissed that we are going to be late for Cecilia’s appointment. Amazingly enough she made it back pretty quickly from the grocery store’s hidden archaic machine just in time to type my ten digit pass code into the computer….and wouldn’t you know it, those pop tarts didn’t qualify for any kind of discount what-so-ever. She looked at me and had the nerve to seize my computer again only to suggest I go and pick out another box of pop tarts that were on sale.

In a rare moment of personal strength, I just looked at her and let my furrowed brow give her the answer she was refusing to hear.

SIDE NOTE: When I was in my undergrad at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, we studied the Alexander vocal technique. As a freshman we were encouraged to carry around famed vocal coach Patsy Rodenburg’s ‘The Need for Words’. It was an integral part of our curriculum and considered to be “the bible” of protecting your voice.

Contrary to my studies at UNCSA, there was no need for words in that moment. Turns out, sometimes a simple blank face will communicate exactly what your inner dialogue is. She nervously smiled and said, “No you probably don’t want to go get another box do you…that’s right…you did say you were in a hurry.”

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Once again, as I’m checking out, the screen flashed its big bold-faced word in size 20.5 font  “COUPONS” with a big green Yes button and an even bigger red NO button. I gently and somewhat sarcastically extended my forefinger on my right hand and pushed the giant “NO” with its  19.5 font.

Of course, you could probably guess what happened next. If your thinking “Oh no, did the printer run out of paper?” You’d be correct.

I mean come on…when my luck goes down hill it plummets into the black abyss. There is no piece of toilet paper gently swaying side to side on an imaginary pillow lined staircase with blue skies in the background. Nope. My toilet paper spontaneously combusts into an enormous fireball and hurdles itself into the cavity of despair.

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“I don’t need my receipt” I gently inform her and wouldn’t you know she comes back with, “Are you sure, It won’t take long I promise”.  “No that’s ok…have a great day!” I yell. Before she can complete her, “Thank you for visiting with us today” I was out the door and waiving like the true derelict I am.

I clumsily shoved myself in the car and chucked the pop tarts in Abby’s general direction.

As I was responsibly pushing 3 miles beyond the city speed limit, I nervously acknowledged the police officers passing me in the opposite lane.

We were in fact 5 minutes late. I was able to sign in, but there was a long line of parents in front of me so I waited for the 15 minutes it took for the line to dissipate. As I approached the desk, the receptionist who jokes with me every single week about how, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…this new system we are learning is so complicated” picked up the ringing phone and was once again distracted.

I sat back down and waited another 5 minutes. By this time I was completely pissed. Twenty minutes have come and gone and Cecilia is still in the middle of the room dancing to the music in the current commercial on the waiting room tv.

Finally the anger propels me out of my seat and I approach the receptionist who had finally gotten off the phone, and I said, “We were 5 minutes late, I acknowledge that but it has been 20 minutes now and I personally don’t feel we should have to pay for the 30 minutes she didn’t have therapy.”

Bracing herself for battle, she squinted her eyes and said, “Oh no, I think we forgot to call you last week to let you know your OT was on vacation this week.” I calmly smiled and verbally affirmed her goof with a, “Yep, you forgot to call me.” To which she made that face where you stretch your mouth in a downward frown and attempted to offer a sincere apology.

Since CC’s next appointment was in 5 minutes I just decided to continue to wait. We made a trip to the bathroom, washed her hands, and by the time we returned to the waiting room, it was time to send her off to her session. With 30 minutes to spare and KNOWING it always takes a full 15 minutes to pay the bill, I just requested to go ahead and pay for her session at that moment.

Of course the receptionist delivered her usual, “Oh this new system we are implementing is so confusing…I guess you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks can you?” In my head I answer with a confident, “No, you really can’t.” But in reality, I just smile like I usually do and signed the little receipt and calmly set the pen down on the ledge and returned to my seat with the explosion in my brain on standby.

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Obviously we didn’t get any school work completed in the waiting room. By the time I finished paying the bill, Cecilia was five minutes from finishing her session. Luckily, the rest of the day carried on without any major upsets. I almost reached the mental fetal position, but looking back, it didn’t fully qualify for a “craptastic” day. When we arrived home for lunchtime, Phoebe June came to me with a hug and kiss to let me know how much she loves me. Abby voluntarily completed her school work and Cecilia played quietly in her kitchen for a whole hour.

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And just like that, the stress flew out of my body. I narrowly avoided a full-blown craptastic day.

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TWO HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN…the trenches of parenthood

“Good morning sweet pea…I love you too! No you cannot have the Ipad. Please go peepee on the potty…yes I want you to go peepee on the potty…should mommy put you back to bed, cause you aren’t being a good listener right now…very good…thank you for listening…big girls go peepee on the potty…are you a big girl…yes you ARE mommies big girl. Yes I am getting ready to make your cinnamon raisin bagel, just like we do every morning. Cecilia, please be patient…I can’t do everything at once…I am making your bagel, and can you say that magical word that makes mommy happy…oh good girl…yes we say please don’t we? No Daddy went to work remember? Yes daddy works in our basement…yes daddy is downstairs…yes daddy loves you. Here’s your bagel…yes I’m getting your water, please be patient and say that magical word that mommy loves…very good… Thank you. Yes, I will let you have the Ipad, if you’ll let mommy watch some news…thank you. CC, can you please turn it down, it hurts my ears, it’s too loud…yes it’s too loud. No Cecilia, you cannot go upstairs to wake your sisters up…Cecilia, I said NO…No CC!…ok now your sitting in time-out…yes I see that your crying….your in time-out because you didn’t listen to mommy, remember…that’s right, you weren’t listening, you need to listen, mommy and daddy are trying to keep you safe and happy. Yes daddy is downstairs…yes Abby is still sleeping…yes she is upstairs…Yep, Phoebe’s up there too…oh you love Abby…you love Phoebe too don’t you….Of course you do…you can’t forget about Phoebe…do you know who mommy loves….that’s right, Daddy, Abby, Phoebe and CC….no, you cannot go upstairs to wake up your sisters…Cecilia, what did I say. Okay, do you think you’re ready to listen…you can come out of time out now….but only if your going to be a big girl and listen…are you going to listen…I hope so…big girls listen Please turn the Ipad down….turn it down or I will take it away…Excellent, yes, thank you for listening. No Busha is at her house…she is at her house with Grandpa…No Busha isn’t sleeping here, remember, she’s at Grandpa’s house…yes we will got to see Busha and Grandpa very soon. Of course mommy loves Nana…Nana is mommy’s mommy…that’s right she is mommy’s mommy…yes you love Nana too. Yes mommy and daddy love Busha and Grandpa…you cannot have both the ipad and the t.v….no that’s not fair…yes mommy is drinking coffee…hey CC, can you go get a new pair of underpants and put them on without waking your sisters up, please, and thank you…no this is mommy’s coffee…I love you too CC…are you mommy’s girl…yes daddy is downstairs…no, we aren’t taking a bath this morning, you took a bath at Nana’s yesterday remember…no CC, it’s too early for crackers and you just had a bagel. Cecilia, you turned your Ipad up again…Please turn it down…yes, turn it down or mommy gets to take it away…no, it’s too early for crackers remember. Yes I know Uncle JB…What did you say…oh, wow yes, Scout is a sweet dog…I can’t believe you remembered her name…good job…No, remember, this is mommies coffee…Yes, where is Nana…that’s right….Where’s Busha…and Daddy…what about Abby and Phoebe…your so smart…what about Mommy…where is Mommy? Uh Oh, I see a little girl who needs to be TICKELED…tickle tickle tickle…yes yes yes…tickle tickle…ok I’ll stop…uh oh, tickle tickle tickle…oh don’t cry, mommy was just playing…oh the couch hurt your leg, you mean couch, don’t you hurt my big girl CC…mean couch”…

I recorded our dialogue for 45 minutes this morning. It is roughly the same every single day.

Just a glimpse at the first 45 minutes of every morning of my life. Because I know you are just DYING to know.

Sometimes, I can’t believe I am the same person who was once planning on a career in theatre. I don’t know what happened, but I just didn’t want to hear myself talk anymore.

And here I am…talking..talking…talking….ALL THE TIME. It never ends. I mean, this is just a guess, but maybe this repetitive conversation has something to do with the reason I turn my brain off around that 6:30 witching hour. Oh that’s funny, did I write 6:30? Of course I meant 5:30.

Fast forward to this afternoon when I treated the girls to a Wednesday matinee. As usual we were waiting in line and I put Abby in charge of CC. As Abby chased her around the theatre lobby trying to make her listen and stand still, I felt so warm down in my body. All this running around after her takes away from spending time with Abby and Phoebe. Is it too much to ask to be able to go out to a public place and just enjoy being with one another?

I feel like it is sometimes.

Fast forward and somehow, amazingly enough, we made it through the movie. As we are leaving the theater, the shit hits the fan and all cecilia wants to do is run away from Abby and myself, scream when we come near her, hit us, and stiffen her body so I can’t possibly pick her up.

I’m getting all these stares from other families, and the “pouty” lip from adults who clearly pitty us. I don’t want people to see her like this. She’s such a smart little girl but when she acts this way, no one sees that.

I was so deflated and disappointed. I just came home, locked my bedroom door, sat on the edge of my bed and cried. I needed to release that pent-up energy and frustration. As always, after a good honest cry, I felt ready to try again.

I was thinking about how to convey my two conflicting emotions; complete adoration and unconditional love along with frustration and of course anxiety sprinkled in there for extra measure.

My sister-in-law once asked me if it was difficult raising a child with special needs…Cecilia at the time was a mere 3 years old.

She was so tiny, so sweet, funny, still wanted to be carried everywhere…wanted to please me and her daddy…wasn’t really into voicing her own opinion and her protestations manifested themselves in the form of the cutest pouty lip I’ve ever seen.

So, at the time, I answered as honestly as I possibly could, “It’s just like raising any other child…I am not doing anything for her, that I woudn’t do for my other kids.”

I would probably have a different answer today.

In so many ways, it does get easier. For example, she is now all about dressing herself, going number 1 on the potty all on her own, she can now nap without a diaper, she goes to the grocery store with me and pushes her own little tiny cart, randomly tells me she loves me, gives me kisses of her own free will.

She is able to communicate her needs, she can turn on her own music and dance and sing whenever the moment strikes her, as long as it’s within reason, although we frequently discuss how, “early morning is not a good time to blast Joan Jet’s ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me There’ on your iPad” especially at it’s highest decibel and by the way anything at it’s highest decibel is never a good idea…unless of course, it’s mommy’s music, and when I tell her this she makes the correct adjustment per my request.

She can brush her teeth by herself and frequently chooses to do so at various times of the day.

She loves to help with laundry, dishes, and cooking. She loves to help me put the clothes into the wash, dryer and then the clean basket. With the dishes, (because we don’t have a dishwasher) I’ll dry the silverware and she puts them away.

And cooking pancakes is her most favorite Saturday activity.

Her maturity has really allowed her communication and therefore her independence to reach another level. And she likes to talk. A LOT. I love getting to know who she is and how she sees herself fitting into our crazy family dynamic.

There are so many more positives I am confident I am forgetting…but sometimes all the wonderful little nuances to her little being, become overshadowed by the things she still struggles with…

Like playing independantly for more than 10 minutes. Let me restate that, she has trouble playing independantly in a NON-DESTRUCTIVE way for more than 10 minutes. I know why, but it makes it hard when I have two other kids who also want to talk to me about… e v e r y t h i n g.

When we are in the grocery store and she is pushing her own cart, she is awesome for about 15 minutes…and then she begins acting out; running away from me, running into the shelves or other people with her little cart, randomly walking off, not listening when I demand she put ALL of the items back on the shelf after she has either pushed them off or put them all in her cart.

AND of course, and this is a big one, taking advantage of me when I cannot devote all of my attention to her. The word D E S T R U C T I V E just doesn’t seem to cover it. And it’s not always convenient or realistic for me to adjust my time or schedule based on her 15 minute time period.

I feel like I have to keep going about my daily life and she has to learn to adapt or the consequences are a stressful parent/child relationship.

Who wants that?

As soon as she hits a mile stone, we check off a goal on her list and replace it with another one.

So, in a lot of ways, as she gets older it does get easier. And in other ways, it also gets a little more difficult.

Ebb and Flow.

Here is my hope, and I am only basing this on the fact that I have experience with two other children who are becoming mature. I know she has special needs and though it may take her a little bit more time, She will always be able to scaffold her knowledge…and her opportunity for growth is far reaching.

Like every parent, I want what’s best for all of our kids. But more than that, I want a true relationship with her. I don’t need to be her “best friend” but I do hope they all confide in me.

I want to get to a point where we can walk the isles of the grocery store together. Enjoy a movie and popcorn with each other. Walk calmly, side by side in a store. Walk into her therapy waiting room and be able to sit with one another, while waiting for her sessions to begin. I would probably pass out if she actually walked side by side with me in a parking lot, but I would love to do it just the same.

I know one day I will look back and read this post and think to myself, “I should have just relaxed, not been so stressed out, put my trust in time and faith, enjoyed every minute, kissed her little chubby cheeks, scratched her back more, and recognized these moments for what they are…fleeting.” It seems I have to constantly re-learn the lesson that time really will bring answers to my questions and also peace.

I’m working on that.

It’s just hard right now because I’m in what I like to call the “Mattel and Fisher Price Trenches”. I’m right smack in the middle of just trying to make it from one day to the next in a healthy, productive way. One day it will get better. I know it will. I’m just in the middle of the parenting trenches.

ONE HUNDRED NINETY NINE…our very own Wilford Brimly

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taking a drive down Memory Lane with Wilford Brimly. Such a lovely street. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX…warm breezy beach or cool snowy mountain

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108 days on the road and there’s so much more to see. Feeling the love today folks. I am in love with our life choice. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR…seeking stability within mobility

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being mobile full-time makes me realize how much I love and value my family and friends. There are some definite cons for travelling full-time. But you won’t ever hear me complain about the 3 hour time difference! At least not while I am in Pacific Standard time! Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY SEVEN…shoes are NOT optional

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“get dressed girls” in 6 and 9 year-old girl world means, “put our clothes on and our dolls clothes on we’re going somewhere. But she didn’t say shoes, so we probably don’t need them.” Do they have a lingo book for 6 & 9 year olds somewhere? Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY SIX…really real dreams

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I have always had the most vivid dreams. When I was a little girl, I had a dream that George Washington lifted a 5lb barbell above his head. That was the gist of the dream. He just lifted it up. Didn’t throw it, or begin a heavy weight training routine. He just lifted it up. It held some kind of significance for me because I remembered it as a nightmare. I am 39 now. Not a whole lot has changed. My dreams at 39 are just as vivid and vague as they were when I was 6. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE…vermont

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Vermont is such a magical place for our family. The outside activities, the walking and biking paths all throughout the cities, and the scenery make me want to linger a bit longer. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY FOUR…a Sci Fi comedy kind of field trip day

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despite the strain and sometimes unbearable behaviors, I hope I always remember taking time to make memories is what the “effort” is all about. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE…damn rookies

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Who would be naive enough to drive 750 miles to a destination without having secured a place to stay? Only a rookie would have that kind of oversight. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO…we can do this

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letting go of something or somethings (plural) is often more difficult than the actuality of living without it. I think for me, it’s the incontrovertible process of having to say goodbye. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY ONE…WE DID IT!!!

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We never really know the impetus or the catalyst behind some of our personal choices. We can speculate, presume, and try to make sense, where there is no sense to be made. Sometimes, you just have to follow your dreams. And that’s what we’re doing… Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED ELEVEN…3 is a good number

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My baby girl turned 3 at the end of July. I had this *brilliant* idea that I would go through each and every picture file on my folder and pull out my favorite pictures of Cecilia over the past 3 … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHT…worth celebrating

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All week long I have been waiting for Friday.  I wanted to remember the special day in March. I forgot it last year until the very last minute, which made me feel like the WORST mom on the planet. Friday … Continue reading

NINETY-NINE…next stop – normal

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Sometimes I forget that plateaus lead to progress. I felt as if we had been on a plateau for so long. I thought the plateau was something to do with me. There is one theme which continues to remain prevalent … Continue reading

NINETY-EIGHT…and we’re back

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I have a love/hate relationship with this face… I love that lip. It’s so adorable. But seeing her upset hurts my heart. But that lip!!!! MAKE IT STOP!!! Cecilia is still screaming…and working on getting on to her knees and … Continue reading

EIGHTY-FIVE…holiday ramblings

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I don’t know exactly what it is about this little girl, maybe it’s her chubby cheeks, her adorable little nose, those amazingly bright eyes or that incredible emerging personality or the way she rocks her sassy stance when I am … Continue reading

EIGHTY-TWO…it’s all good

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When Abby was born, Greg and I had the brand new tv monitors. We placed it in her crib angling it perfectly so it would look right into that amazing little face. By the third night, we had to unplug … Continue reading

EIGHTY…DOWN RIGHT AWESOME!!!

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Today might have been the ‘BEST DAY EVER’ We started the weekend off with a good old-fashioned Buddy Walk… I must admit, since it was my first time attending this major Down syndrome event, I was not exactly sure what … Continue reading

SEVENTY-NINE…sometimes there are no words

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Siblings… When I went to my first Down Syndrome Awareness Group meeting I met a mother who spoke about her sons’ older sister. When her son was younger, in elementary school, his older sister (who was only 9 or 10) … Continue reading

SEVENTY-SIX…sweetness times 10

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Today,Instead of cleaning house or doing laundry…which sadly, is very much-needed… Cecilia and I got dressed up in our fancy picture clothes… retrieved our fancy multi-colored beach blanket, and headed out to a nearby park where mommy could focus on … Continue reading

SIXTY-FIVE…pump the breaks father time

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11 months the countdown begins 25 more days and this little girl is going to be 1-year-old That seems soon I of course am remembering the great parts of the year…the birth (looking back it was beautiful, just as they … Continue reading

SIXTY-THREE…the certainties of life are comforting

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Like always, the past week has been crazy The ear infection is on its way OUT!!! Doing a mini-victory dance…those things hurt, and can turn you into a scary version of Marlon Brando…and really, who wants that??? Laura, Ruby and … Continue reading

FORTY-THREE…let those eyes sparkle and shine

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Our sweet baby Cecilia Rae is 6 months now  I remember putting lotion on her little body, putting her little newborn diapers on her little 6 pound 8 ounce frame, holding her little bottom in the palm of my hand … Continue reading

THIRTY-NINE…it’s deeper than you think

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I know I said I would ’embrace the cold as long as snow wasn’t too far behind’ but after the beauty that was today, I am afraid I have to change my mind… Oh I am lovin the sun and … Continue reading

THIRTY-EIGHT…a much-needed get-away

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Banner Elk, North Carolina… We were able to get away this weekend…I packed up the kids on Friday and we fled 115 miles north-east to Beach Mt., North Carolina, nestled atop Banner Elk. We were hoping to do a little … Continue reading

THIRTY-SIX…super tuesday’s

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Super Tuesday’s  our Tuesday’s are spent with our beloved OT and PT, Beth and Beth. Two equally beautiful, energetic, positive and gentle individuals, whose names are both Beth…obviously! In the above picture OT Beth is using the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol … Continue reading

TWENTY-SEVEN…here’s something strange

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Allow me to preface this post with my current life soundtrack, ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ by Penguin Cafe Orchestra. If you get the chance, please listen to it, it is exquisite. Every once in a while I will teach a course for … Continue reading

TWENTY-SIX…the big wind-down

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This week has been filled with appointments, therapies, grocery runs for last-minute forgotten items and more appointments as well as more therapies. And one very important unannounced visitor…eheem Uncle Rusty. I really must say with our growing list of doctors … Continue reading

TWENTY-FOUR…strange week

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YEAH…Hello Weekend…Goodbye crummy week! Good riddance! Be off with you… What a strange week The highlights go something like this… 1. Cecilia had her OT appointment and rocked the house. We met her OT, Beth in the lobby of Cecilia’s … Continue reading

TWENTY-THREE…proud mamma

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My baby girl finally turned over today from her back to her front! I was beside myself with excitement! Of course she decides to make her triumphant debut right as I put my camera down. I was watching her as she … Continue reading

TWENTY-Two…ugh

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Today was definitely a Monday! And we were not here… To my dear friend Lisa, if you are reading this blog, I am sorry I didn’t get back with you…time got away from me!!! I broke my phone on Monday … Continue reading

TWENTY…seriously

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I have one word to sum up where I am in my life at this very moment in time…that word is, yup, that’s right…seriously? I have a gazillion pictures of the beach…of which I am never going to do anything … Continue reading

SEVENTEEN…this holiday season

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Every once in a while I will have a moment with my family where I am teleported from my body to somewhere else in the room. I can see the girls chasing each other and giggling, Greg is preparing dinner … Continue reading

SIXTEEN…I want my own personal life soundtrack

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Vampire Weekend…another righteous band! I was driving to Knoxville with Miss Cecilia the other day and Vampire Weekend came on….I went from an, ‘I’m barely awake moment’ to an, ‘I want to dance out of my skin moment’. I get … Continue reading

NINE…yummy goodness

I was so excited when Miss Cecilia woke up at 5 am this morning! I ran up stairs, got her out of her crib, changed her little diaper, pulled down the covers on the spare bed and we climbed on in! We snuggled up so tight to one another. I thought I was going to try and go back to sleep, but she is so cute I just wanted to watch her. She is doing so many new things right now; she has been cooing and ahhing a lot lately…we are having our own private ooh and aah conversation

she has been bringing her hand up to her head – when she does this it looks as if she is carrying the weight of the world on her little 2.5 month old shoulders

she is locking eyes with me…so we are really ‘gazing’ into one another’s eyes right now, and she is beginning the belly laugh stage…so I find myself doing the strangest things in order to make her giggle.

Baby love.

I am knee deep in it folks!

So in love with Miss Cecilia!

She is YUMMY GOODNESS!!!

FIVE…it’s friday!!!!

AUGH we made it through the week! Abby loves her boots and so do I! Great purchase!!!

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We all ventured out to show our support for Phoebe. She needed a flu shot. It has been a while since she has had a shot. I was a little worried. She had her temperature taken and the nurse was ready right when we arrived with the shot…she stuck the needle in Phoebe’s leg and I am looking at her waiting for her to object and …nothing. No whimper, no tears, no anything. She really took me by surprise. She did give the nurse a look that kind of made me laugh…it reminded me of my brother JB, he has this priceless look he gives when he thinks you’ve said something absurd. It’s almost like he’s getting ready to smile – pulling up one corner of his mouth and crinkling his brow…that’s the look my little girl gave this nurse today! It was almost as if she was saying to the nurse, “that’s all you got?” OR “WTH? I thought we were pals?”…the look could have gone either way. Whatever she was thinking…she was pretty darn cute! I have to say AGAIN, I did not expect her to be so freakin cool about it. She’s such a rock star!

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I have been cleaning, laundering and packing today…we are headed up to Michigan for some R&R with Greg’s family and friends! It’s always fun to visit the people you love and don’t get to see very often. Greg’s brother’s family hasn’t met Cecilia yet. I am excited for her to meet her Aunt, Uncle and cousins.

I am always worried about the kids sleeping patterns when we go somewhere. It can never be ‘easy’. We are never able to carry over our good sleeping habits when we go away from home, for whatever reason. I tend to think it’s because we aren’t in our natural environment…the sounds in another home are different and probably my worrying about it only makes it worse.

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I am excited about the 12 hours in the car…knitting projects, eek!!! So I am taking along a lot of yarns I think Miss Cecilia would look good in…she needs a nice fall hat.

I am loving this fall weather and I am chomping at the bit to take my camera up north!!! I know their colors have got to be insane right now!!!

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AND on a more serious note, sometimes I think about the right way to introduce Cecilia to other people…I know what others will say…’there is no right way’ or ‘how ever you want to do it will be the ‘right’ way’.

But it has been on my mind a lot.

On the one hand, I am so proud of her that in the beginning I would just blurt it out, as sort of ‘by the way’ kind of thing. I quickly found out that approach really made people feel uncomfortable. AND by ‘uncomfortable’ I mean they weren’t exactly sure how to respond…I am sure it seemed like I was ‘in denial’ by the way I simply stated it as fact with a smile on my face.

I know ‘who cares what other people think’ but if I don’t mention it, does it mean I am hiding it or embarrassed by her?

I prepped my dentist the other day by saying ‘we are so happy and proud and I don’t want to make you feel awkward, but sweet Cecilia has Down syndrome’.

Some people I just want to tell because I hope 1. they will say something inspiring and insightful and potentially life altering and 2. they will say, congratulations, she is beautiful and she will bring many gifts to your family’. Luckily my dentist proved to be one of those inspiring and insightful people…as did my hairdresser.

Who knew? But I think I have decided, at least for now, not to tell people…just for a little while. Writing that just now, made me feel like I was ‘coping out’ or lying or…I don’t know. It felt dishonest and I don’t want to be dishonest. I think if I am with the other person, in the middle of a conversation and I want or feel let sharing with the other person, then I will.

I have read some horror stories about newbies (new parents) breaking the news about their baby and having to deal with off the wall comments some individuals make. I don’t think I can handle something like that right now. If it happens to me, I hope I can be the kind of parent who will educate and have sensitivity about the issue, be mature – at least for my children.

I feel on the one hand, If I get upset in front of Abby and Phoebe, it will be a source of tension and embarrassment in our household…and I definitely don’t want to send that message.

BUT if I show tolerance and patience and work to educate people, hopefully Abby and Phoebe will see that and try to emulate that in their own lives as they grow.

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Sweet sweet girl. so sleepy! When I look at her all she wants is to be held, changed, cuddled, fed, kissed and talked to. So simple. So complex. So beautiful, sweet and powerful.

Wow, for a Friday this post really became HEAVY!!! Happy weekend!!

 

 

One…us

I met my husband Gregory Kenneth in 2003 in northeastern Tennessee. We were both working for a small private college. He was a Professor in Computer Science and I was an Assistant Director for an Arts Outreach Program. We were the only two SINGLE people younger than 30 in the small rural bible belt town.

Luckily we hit it off and ended up glued at the hip, despite our default status.

Our first date was pretty amazing…I convinced him to ride along in my jeep Cherokee for 45 minutes of real mountain driving, otherwise known as BACKROADS!

I am a shoulder hugger which doesn’t sit well with middle-of-the-road drivers like Gregory Kenneth. I wanted to take him to the Smokey Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Driving in a car for 45 minutes with someone you have never spoken with could have been nerve-racking. But from the moment he opened the car door, I felt completely at ease. We didn’t stop talking until he was safely returned to his Jeep 4.5 hours later. We had beer and apps, we listened to some great music, walked along the streets in downtown Gatlinburg, and stopped at an arcade so I could ‘school’ him on a civil game of air hockey.

I WON of course!

He doesn’t remember it that way, but when it comes to air hockey, I always win!

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A year and a half later we eloped on April 1, 2004 in the oldest courthouse in Tennessee. Afterwards we ate crab cakes, fried green tomatoes and sipped on cold chardonnay in a quaint little restaurant.  Greg paid the bill and we were on our way. Until the nice waitress ran after us to hand me the marriage certificate I had forgotten at the table. …and I headed back to my part-time job as a front desk clerk in a hotel.

Thus began the quirky story of our little family. After a year of marriage, we decided we were ready to grow our little family. A dog was the perfect addition to our family and would allow us to practice our parenting skills. We decided on a Golden Retriever puppy and chose the name Bear (due to the abnormally large size of his butt in comparison with the rest of his tiny furry body).

In 2004, I began a Master’s program for Early Childhood Education at ETSU. I was two classes shy of my degree when my husband applied and received a position at a state college in northwestern Nebraska. Yet another small rural town.

What is it about us and small rural towns?

We were interested in an adventure, so we packed up and moved across the country. IMG_0041

He was loving life in his new position and after a semester of teaching Kindergarten, I found a job that suited my degree and goals a little bit better…a Director of an Early Childhood Program.

We were fitting in so well into our new surroundings, getting to know everyone in our small town, visiting the park 2 blocks from our house and our New Year tradition of visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

It was in this rural northwestern Nebraska town that we welcomed our first daughter Abigail Leigh on November 6, 2006. We were smitten, nervous, anxious, protective and overwhelmed with love right from the start.

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After Abby was born I had a strong desire to stay home with her. So, Greg went into the computer industry…which meant he was going to travel, sometimes for weeks at a time.

For a year, our little one car Subaru Forester, family drove together to take daddy to the airport sending him off to the big world only to pick him up a week later. It was an hour and a half trip one way. We wanted another child and were quickly growing out of our 950 square foot home as well as my coveted Subaru Forester.

We ditched the cool urban car and went for the mini-van. We searched the area for new homes, but decided with the amount of travel Greg was committed to, we would move closer to my family until we could find out ‘where’ we wanted to live.

Our first rental in TN was in a growing city in northeastern TN. The neighborhood was a little scary and the house was ok. Not completely desirable, but it was a step in a direction. 2 months after moving, I was pregnant with our second child…another girl.

On November 5, 2009 we welcomed our second baby girl, Phoebe June Spranger.

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Our little family was getting a little bit bigger and I was hormonal and growing impatient with our living situation.

My mother had a condo in a neighboring town that was rather large and currently unoccupied, so I persuaded her to let us rent it for a small fee and promised I would make small repairs on the home so she might have better luck selling in the future.

I think now might be a good time to mention I grew up in this condo…all the way from 5th grade to senior year in High School. Here we are, my husband, dog and two daughters living in the home I grew up in.

Low and behold, 8 months after moving in I found I was pregnant yet again.

On July 29th, 2011 Greg, Abby, Phoebe and I ….and Bear, welcomed Cecilia Rae Spranger into the world. Our third girl. I had always hoped for 3 girls…and now my dream was complete…IMG_0316or so I thought.

6 hours after Cecilia Rae was born we were told the on site pediatrician who was observing her suspected she might have Down syndrome.

My body felt like a furnace that had just been lit. Heat began to rise in my body from my feet all the way to the top of my head.

In the hours/days that followed I came to know what the definition of ‘marriage’ meant to me.

The pediatricians suspicions were correct, she did have Down syndrome. I have shared her birth story in another post, but for now…2 months 1 week and 5 days later I am completely consumed with love for this beautiful little girl who continues to surprise us with her development and her emerging personality everyday.

We are SLOWLY getting into our groove as a family of three beautiful, happy and healthy little girls.