You know, I read a lot of other people's blogs. For a while I didn't leave comments (even though I wanted to) because I felt like I was out of the loop, and that no one would know who I was. Well my darling Lisa gave me the confidence to start commenting. In fact she basically told me, " If you want people to comment on your blog you have to comment on theirs."
That was a light bulb moment for me.
So now I comment like crazy, well maybe just mildly deranged. I just read my cousin -in- law Debie Spurgeon's blog, talking about how much she enjoys blogging. I left her a nice hefty comment (of course).
And then I started thinking.
I love blogging! I never realized that I had so many thoughts and ideas inside of me that were just looking for an outlet
I loved writing about each of my children. And sometimes, writing even more about each of my children.
I love that there was an editorial in the paper yesterday about the fish and chip stand on George Washington way in Richland, and that I saw it and could think to myself "yep, I blogged about that already."
I love that I am getting in touch with family members that I usually only see at the yearly family Christmas party, or when I'm at Walmart.
I loved reading about Tami and her two little grandsons (the Ruby Street Gang) having to take care of a poor crazy robin since Leon has become such a pacifist.
I love finding out how much my cousin Marilyn loves music and listening to some songs I've never heard before by artists I've never heard of.
I loved reading that my cousin Amy J, loves books as much as I do and loves to shop for them at goodwill like I do and never liked her middle name growing up.
I love finding out that my cousin Mitch loves Halloween so much and seeing the hilarious pictures of him in his incredible costumes.
I love that I am kind of getting to know people like Jan. Someone I'm not related to but who knows several of my cousins much better than I do. And finding out that she hated High School and reading her fun happy blogs.
And one of the things that really chokes me up is how many people have taken an interest in my sweet little Elisabeth Elva.
It's really nice that people that haven't really known our family very well have taken this little angel into their hearts the way they have. I know it means so much to Donald and Lisa.
I love that my little brother Mike writes such a great blog and that he and I are communicating more than we have in years.
I have gotten adventurous and even left comments on one of Donald's guy friends blogs and one on a girl he went to school with because her dear little daughter had such sweet little thoughts about Elisabeth.
It's funny that I am doing something like a blog because I am not very tech savvy. If you have noticed that I never have pictures, it's because I don't know how to do them. Donald and Lisa both assure me that it is the easiest thing in the world to do. And one of these days when they aren't busy going on vacation to California or taking Elisabeth to the neurologist in Spokane, I'm sure they will show me how to do it. And then watch out. I will have pictures galore. Also if you notice I never have links, well same thing.
I don't know how.
I am really intrigued that people have give-a ways. How cool. I wouldn't have any idea how to do something that complicated, but I am a pretty fast learner.
So maybe someday.
Another thing that Debie pointed out on her blog and that I have seen mentioned on various others is the idea of binding all of your blogs into a hard covered book. I think that is such a great idea. I immediately thought about if my Grandma Brinkerhoff or Grandma Mathews had something like that. Or even cooler, (since I knew both of my grandmas very well) To have one from my Great Grandmas.
Well I guess I have waxed poetic on the wonders of blogs long enough. Thanks Debie for making me think about it. And for giving such a great topic for a post. And she is such a generous and kind person that I know she won't even think, Hello Plagiarism.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
You know, I read a lot of other people's blogs. For a while I didn't leave comments (even though I wanted to) because I felt like I was out of the loop, and that no one would know who I was. Well my darling Lisa gave me the confidence to start commenting. In fact she basically told me, " If you want people to comment on your blog you have to comment on theirs."
Posted by SuzanSayz at 4:13 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Whew. I feel almost like I am done with school. I thoroughly enjoyed writing my posts on each of my children, and according to my comments my small, little group of readers have enjoyed them too. But it almost felt like school assignments I had to get finished before I could do anything else. I have had so many things I have thought about writing about for the last two weeks. And now that I can, I am having, not exactly writers block, but it's hard to get into a different frame of mind.
Well, one of the things I have been interested in lately are the many observations I have made at the Tri-City Court club since Shawn (and every once in a while Courtney) and I have been going to exercise in the mornings.
We go to their Club Max.
This is a big room with circuit training machines that is meant for people, just beginning, or who just want a more relaxed atmosphere, without all the hard bodies in their tight revealing clothes making the rest of us feel inferior.
Yes, that about sums up Club Max.
Now about five years ago we had a membership to the Court Club and I first discovered Club Max then. I let the membership lapse because even though for about seven months I went pretty faithfully, I started letting things stop me and before you knew it I was down to going once a week and then, sadly once every two weeks. I would pick things up for a week or two but then I'd be right back to not going. After three months of not going at all, I gave up and didn't renew the membership.
Yes, I was a quitter.
Well fast forward to now. We get, through the Division of Disabilities, what are called "family support funds" for Shawn. Usually a couple thousand dollars a year to spend on Shawncentric activities. That is what pays for his Partners and Pals summer camp every year. Now to make a long story short, we don't ever use it all up because the guidelines are kind of tricky for what they will and won't pay for. However they have recently made nice with the Court Club (they had a contact with them before but there were, um, difficulties) So now we have a family membership at the Court Club paid for by Shawn's support funds.
Shawn is my new secret weapon to staying the course.
That would be my new exercising course. He has really taken to this working out thing, and in so doing has given me motivation to stick with it. Hello, guilt trip, if I don't get up and take him in the mornings.
Now about Club Max (from here on known as CM). The majority of the people that frequent CM are old people. They are for the most part friendly, diligent, pleasant people.
I have noticed several things about them though that I find somewhat amusing.
Now when you first start at CM, you meet with one of the CM trainers. There are probably five women who work up there as trainers, and they are all really great. They are very knowledgeable and helpful, friendly and quite competent in what they do.
When you go through your orientation with one of these trainers, they show you how to use each machine. They give you a big green card with a numbered picture of each of the machines on it. On this card they write down, your own personal settings, for each machine. This is so you can remember where you need to set it at so it will fit you best. They have clothespins with a little magnet on the back to use, so that you can bring your card along with you, by attaching it to whatever machine you are using.
I admit I am somewhat of a Maverick. I only used my green card for my first two times through the circuit. I mean, how hard can it be to remember what number to put the seat at on the leg lift machine.
Well most of these dear people (who have been going here for years, for some, for many months for others) apparently feel naked without their big green cards. They get them as soon as they walk in and carry them around the whole time they are there. I kept expecting them to stop getting their cards after a while, but no, they seem to have developed some kind of emotional attachment to them.
Now you may be thinking, oh, big deal, so they find security in a piece of green paper. Well let me tell you why it has started to irritate, no, that's too harsh, shall we say, interest me.
This is how the circuit works.
First of all you should do five to ten minutes of warming up on one of the aerobic type machines. I always use the recumbent bike because it is the only one that I can do with my bad knees.
Shawn likes the treadmill or the elliptical. In a tight spot (that means that these are both in use.) he will do the stair-stepper.
After a hearty warm-up you go to machine number one, which is the foot and leg pushy thing. (Sorry, I have no idea what any of these machines are actually called.)
Now I should mention that there are flashing lights. The green light flashes for 37 seconds. This is when you should be on the machine itself. Then the red light flashes for 27 seconds.
This is where we can run into problems.
You see in between machines, for 27 seconds, you are supposed to do aerobic activities. Riding the stationary bike, the rowing machine, you get the idea. The most common exercise that most people do is, step. That is because there is a step platform by each of the machines. Shawn does the step. I just walk in place (very quick walking of course, maybe even almost a jog). Of course no one really follows the flashing green and red lights. We are talking mostly old people here after all. But what is annoying is when one of them will put their green card on the next machine and then go off to do their aerobics. I should really say "aerobics", because more often than not, at least some of that time is spent visiting with the other old people.
Now please realize that I do not have a problem with old people visiting. But when they think that their green card is somehow supposed to save their place for four or five minutes, while they visit then I get a little bugged. I really don't have a problem with getting on a green carded machine if the owner of the green card has obviously no intention of using it any time soon. Shawn however, my boy, who somehow has decided that the green card is sacred, will not touch a machine if someones green card is attached to it. I try to tell him "Shawn, it's okay sweetie, you don't have to worry about it, just get on and use it." Most the time Shawn will just look at me like I have worms crawling out of my ears. Gee mom, don't you recognize the sanctity of the GREEN CARD? Well no I don't, actually, but my sweet little guy does.
Here is another thing I find amusing. Just amusing, not annoying this time.
Now keep in mind we are talking about old men here. Old men that were brought up in a time that didn't really appreciate women as authority figures. The trainers at CM are all women. Like I said, they are very useful in teaching you how to do the machines correctly.
One of the biggest rules of all the machines is to use slowish, steady movements.
You would never know that by watching the majority of the old men here. They seem to think they are in a race to see how many repetitions of each exercise they can do. On one of the leg machines for example, where the goal is to slowly pull the bar down as far as you can with your legs and even hold it for just a bit before slowly bringing it back up. You will see a man pumping as fast as he can. It's this way for every machine. It frustrates me to see these dear old men (and most of them really are dear old men) putting in so much effort and not realizing that they are not getting much out of it.
I have a theory on why this is.
First of all, I think they feel more manly doing it this way. Second though, is what I really think the problem is.
Old men don't like to be told what to do by younger women.
I realize that might sound controversial or age-est, and I realize this might apply just to the old men that happen to frequent Tri-City Court Club.
But here is what I think and why.
When these guys come in for the first time to CM, they of course go through an orientation.
This orientation is conducted by a woman.
For an hour these guys are being told and shown what to do by this woman. She writes all their settings on their green card. (That was one thing that even bothered me, not getting to write on my green card myself. I don't like middlemen.) I think, that for a certain generation of men, this must be just a little bit demoralizing. Their only way to fight back is to do the machines their own way.
The Macho Way.
I have proof, of course, to support my theory.
Now if I, or any of the women (young or old) or the few younger guys (Shawn for instance) are blatantly doing a machine wrong, one of the trainers will quickly try to make their way over to us to show us our mistake.
I like this and consider it quite helpful.
If, or I should say, when, an older man is messing up, do the trainers rush over and correct them? No, they do NOT! They ignore it completely. I think these are pretty smart women and they know that there is only so much the fragile (older) male ego can take. I think this is really quite decent of them. And if the old men aren't really getting the best work-out they can get, well at least they are being physically active.
And that beats the rocking chair on the porch any day.
Posted by SuzanSayz at 12:15 PM
Friday, May 23, 2008
Well, here I am, to my sweet, loving, child number five. Courtney is my baby, and second daughter. I truly did not plan to have another baby after Shawn. She was a complete accident. Actually both my girls were accidents, only the boys were planned. Although both times I was so thrilled to get a girl.
Anyway, Courtney was born November 30th 1987. That was seventeen months (give or take a few weeks) after Shawn joined us. I fell in love with her immediately. She was such a beautiful baby girl and I had so much fun sewing for her and dressing her in darling little girl clothes. She and Shawn quickly became "The Babies". That was really what we called them. Where are "the Babies"? Can you go check on "the Babies"? Let's bring "the Babies" with us it will be easier.
You get the point.
Finally one day when she was probably almost three and Shawn must have been four, it suddenly occurred to me that they were no longer babies. It took us a while to get use to their new grown up status but we managed.
Courtney was the best thing to happen to Shawn. In fact after a few years I realized that they really were a set. Thanks to Courtney, Shawn was able to become as much as possible a normal kid. Since retarded and also autistic children mimic and follow the example of their peers, (which is why the school authorities suddenly got smart and started integrating them in with regular kids) Shawn did everything Courtney did and learned normalcy in a most loving and efficient way.
One of my favorite snips of our home videos, is Courtney running around the yard, with Shawn laughing his little machine gun laugh, following right behind her and Courtney saying (in her sweet little two year old voice) "Follow me Shawn, follow me." They were just such cute little companions, it was a joy to see them together.
Courtney was such an easy child. She was extremely shy. I never had to worry about losing her in a crowd because she was always glued to my side and was always willing to hold my hand.
One night, Don and I went to Shopko with Shawn and Courtney. Don had Shawn in his shopping cart and I had Courtney. She just wanted to sit in the bottom of the cart not in the seat and that night it became clear why.
We saw a couple from our ward there, whom we really liked. We started visiting with them and Neil, the husband, started laughing suddenly. It turns out that the minute Courtney saw him she threw herself down flat, face first into the bottom of the cart. She would not lift her head or make a sound until we were away from them.
A funny little tidbit, the wife, Laura, ended up being Courtney's third grade teacher, and they just loved each other, but Courtney was still always scared of her husband Neil.
Courtney was so afraid of large and or noisy men that one day we had a cable TV repairman come to the house to fix a problem with our cable. He was a really big guy but I could tell from the start that he was also a big, gentle, teddy bear of a guy. Unfortunately she didn't see it that way.
The second she saw him she screamed and ran from the room.
The poor guy was so embarrassed. I think he thought I would be upset with him for scaring my daughter. I really had to assure him that, that was just my little girl and that he had done nothing and not to worry about her. Of course it took a while after he was gone for me to convince her it was safe to come out from her room.
Another problem for my shy little Courtney, was the fact that she was such a beautiful little girl. People would always stop me and tell me how pretty or darling or cute or whatever she was. I know that most little girls would love this kind of attention. But for Courtney it was next to torture. I had to really work with her to try to be, if at least, not friendly, to at least not force her face into whatever part of me she was closest to.
She still isn't really comfortable with people gushing over her. She is still so little and cute that it still happens quite often.
One of the highlights of Courtney's young life was coloring contests. She love them and would enter every one of them she could. When she was in third grade, for Halloween, after Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" had come out. I made her the most darling Esmeralda costume. She was so darn cute in it. That year she entered and won the Red Apple Supermarket coloring contest.
She won five dollars.
We took her in to get her picture taken for being the winner, and they were so thrilled to see her in her costume. After Halloween, they let her keep the picture she had colored as well as the photograph of her in her costume. She took it to school, and her teacher, (Our ward friend Laura like I mentioned earlier) thought it was so wonderful that she put Courtney's winning picture and the photo of her up on the classroom bulletin board.
My shy little daughter was actually very proud of that.
Courtney is and always has been such a sweet girl. She went through a period of being semi-goth. She wore mostly black and liked all things dark and gloomy. She still likes, shall we say, slightly off kilter "stuff".
But then so do I.
She loves the movie "Nightmare before Christmas" and has quite a good collection of paraphernalia from that movie. Actually everyone in our family likes that movie except for Don. (He never goes for the dark stuff like the rest of us do.) But Courtney loves it a lot and when she was young she even had a little crush on Jack Skellington. She loves Hello Kitty and has lots of her merchandise too. Lately though she has decided to shelve some of these things in favor of more adult and sophisticated apparel and decor.
I want to talk a little bit about what a kind, caring , person Courtney is.
About a year and a half ago I had a Dr appointment in Richland with a diabetes specialist. Courtney wanted to go with me because there were a couple places out there she had been wanting to go. Since I always love hanging out with her I was happy to bring her along. When we entered the doctor's office there in the middle of his waiting room was a poor bedraggled looking elderly woman that dial a ride had just delivered. She was so sad and lonely looking that it was a little uncomfortable for me. Well I was called in to the doctor and I was in there for probably 25 minutes or so. When I came out and told Courtney "lets go" she started to follow me. As we walked past the old woman, who was still there, I saw her reach out and take Courtney's hand and pat it and give her a shaky smile. Now what is up with that I wondered? And of course as soon as we got out to the parking lot I asked Courtney what that was about.
Apparently this poor old woman had thrown up shortly after I had gone in to see the doctor. She very quietly and hesitatingly started asking the women at the desk if they could help her. Courtney told me that they just ignored the woman and acted like they hadn't noticed anything. After a few seconds of this Courtney realized that no one was going to respond to this woman. She got up and went over to the old woman and rubbed her back and told her that she would be right back. Then she went into the bathroom and got a big wad of paper towels and got them wet and came out to help clean this dear lady. She had to go back a few times to get more paper towels and even once asked the women at the desk if they could help her.
These women pretty much ignored her and didn't offer any help at all.
The old woman told Courtney very quietly that she was so embarrassed. Courtney stood there by her side for most of the rest of the time that I was in the doctor's office rubbing her back and trying her best to comfort her.
When she told me this story and said that at first she didn't know what to do but then she said she realized that no one else was going to help so she knew what she had to do. I was so proud of her and so humbled thinking about the attitude I had, had when I first saw this lady. I honestly don't know if I would have done what my daughter had done. Or at least so quickly and unselfconsciously.
Courtney is just that kind of person.
She and her big sister Heidi make me so proud by the sweet, unselfish, service they give, without any thought for what's in it for them.
I think Courtney learned this kind of love from the beginning, by being such a good "big" sister to Shawn. She has always looked out for him and shown him the way. The funny thing is, she told me, a few years ago, that she never knew that there was ever anything wrong with Shawn. She just naturally loved him and was always so good and patient with him.
My mom has been one of the beneficiaries of Courtney's sweet nature. Courtney goes out of her way to remember my mom. She loves to bring her flowers. Whenever she comes with me to take my mom out ,Courtney always is the one to help her get to the car and put her walker away for her. She does so many kind, considerate, little things for my mom that mom loves to brag about her, and tell every one, what a sweet girl her granddaughter is.
Courtney's first job was at Nothing but Noodles. She really liked it there for a long time. That is also where she met her current boyfriend Nathan. He is a really good guy who treats her wonderfully, which is good because she has had some really loser boyfriends that I never thought were worthy of her. Well she was a model employee at Noodles. They relied on her so much that it turned into a situation where they started taking advantage of her. Many of the customers there loved Courtney and always asked for her when they came in. She was close to becoming a manager there but they passed her over for a guy ,that had worked there longer but had a terrible approach to customer service. He didn't really even want to be a manager (or at least that's what he told Courtney.) That was pretty much the last straw for her and she quit Noodles.
She pretty quickly got a job at Target. She has been there since I think the middle of October. She was hired as Holiday help but they liked her so much that they let her know after a month that she would be permanent. She loves Target and she really loves it when her favorite customers from Noodles discover she works there and are so thrilled to see her again.
Courtney has had problems with depression since she was thirteen or so. At one point she was diagnosed as bi-polar. I never thought that was accurate, but I wasn't any kind of expert so I figured, what do I know? She has recently been going to a wonderful counselor name Marcia. She is benefiting a lot from this and is starting to feel better about her life.
Courtney decided several years ago that she does not want to be a member of the Church. It has been hard for us to accept, especially for Don, but I love her and accept her for whaatever she believes. She is such a sweet, giving, generous and caring person who always tries to think of other people's feelings that I think she is perfect as is. If she ever seems a little standoffish when I run into friends and family when she is with me, it's not that she is unfriendly. She just isn't comfortable around church members, she is afraid of being judged. I know that one day she will be able to come to terms with the things that make her feel uncomfortable and everyone will be able to see her for the incredible compassionate person that she is.
I love this little daughter of mine and I am so proud to be her mom.
Posted by SuzanSayz at 1:38 PM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
There is so much Shawn info to share that it will be hard to pare it down to a manageable amount, but I will try. I mentioned the word autism in my last post and then forgot to explain further. Shawn is autistic as well as mentally retarded. His autism has really faded as he has gotten older. He has never been autistic in the way that makes him uncommunicative or socially stunted. His has always been more of a severe sensitivity to his surroundings and senses. When he was little he was terrified of many things but especially any thing LOUD. Whenever we would go anywhere he would always have his hands over his ears. Parking lots were the worst. He was scared to pieces of trucks or any loud vehicle.
Another problem was sleeping.Or should I say lack of sleeping. That little guy just did not seem to need sleep. He was probably five or six before I ever got a decent night sleep.
Here is a brief description of how his nights would go.
He would go to bed alright that wasn't usually a problem. Oh one thing to explain this a little better. Shawn loved TV. I mean he, LOVED TV. Dr Stowens, the Doctor that diagnosed him as autistic when Shawn was five, told us to let him watch TV and not worry about it because Shawn never ever sat there passively watching TV. He would interact with what ever was happening on the screen. He would be all over the room running and jumping and doing whatever was happening on whatever show he happened to be watching. This made Shawn very unpopular with his siblings when they were trying to watch something. Oh, another part of his autism is that, this kid remembers every show he has ever seen. All he needs is to see a movie once and it is hardwired into his brain. When he is stressed or overloaded he will start doing movie monologues. He pretty much checks out of what we would consider reality and he is in whatever movie he is doing. It can be really difficult to get his attention when he is doing this, but we don't usually try anyway. I figure it's just his way of calming down, kind of like his security blanket. Okay now you have all this information to help you understand Shawn's sleep problems.
Apparently all his waking hours of watching TV was just not enough for my little guy. Several times a week I would wake up and hear from downstairs Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh!!! That in case you need it translated was my Shawn's way of laughing. He had the most adorable little laugh. I called it his machine gun laugh because that was what it sounded like. Well I would hear him laughing and then I would hear him talking to the TV, that's when I knew that it would be a no-sleep night for me. I couldn't leave him downstairs unattended because he would get into every thing and there was too great a chance that he would hurt himself, or, who knows, burn the house down? So I would get up take my pillow downstairs and lay down on the couch with him. There was no point in trying to put him back to bed. He would not go and if I tried to force the issue he would just get upset and then it would be much, much worse. I would rather have a non-sleeping- machine gun-laughing-TV talking Shawn than a non-sleeping-screaming and crying Shawn.
Usually after 2 or 3 hours I could get him to go back to bed.
So for about six years, those were my nights with Shawn. Every once in a while when I was just too exhausted, Don would get up with him but I tried to save this for times when I really needed it because he had to get up so early for work.
Another thing that was really hard with Shawn was traveling. Oh that could be torture. He would be happy in his car seat for maybe 45 minutes on a good trip. Then he would decide enough was enough. Sometimes he would just sing the same song over and over (this was fine with me) or he would start talking movie talk (also fine with me) But more often he would start straining to get out of his car seat and kicking and screaming. Now my kids would get annoyed with his singing and movie talking and I would tell them to leave him alone. I don't know why they didn't get that, because when they tried to shush him, was when he would start screaming and kicking and crying. Then they had the nerve to be upset with him. So many times I would try to get them to just let him make his happy little noises but oh no they would not be happy until they had him upset and then it was
MOM ! ! ! DO SOMETHING ABOUT HIM! ! !
I won't be surprised if said kids ,leave comments saying, "We didn't do that". Well trust me I was there I was the adult it DID happen.
One trip to Seattle was pure agony I was even ready to yell at him. Then I had a wonderful idea of what to do. I really think this idea came to me straight from Heaven. Shawn LOVED Game shows. He especially loved the Price Is Right. Well suddenly I got this sanity saving idea. Shawn, I said to him (actually I had to say it calmly a few times before I got his attention). Shawn, apple or cherry? He looked at me for a few seconds and then said, cherry. DING DING DING DING DING. Was my answer.
We were suddenly playing Game Show.
Pencil or crayon, cow or dog, house or tree, lemon or grape. It went on and on about every fourth time would be EEENNGGHHH sorry Shawn, wrong answer. He LOVED this game! We could play this forever with him and he never got tired of it. Donald and Heidi would sometimes step in with their own choices for him when I needed a break. So with the life saving invention of APPLE or CHERRY traveling with Shawn was no longer the hell on four wheels it used to be.
There is one other traveling with Shawn story that is such a family legend that I know my kids will never forgive me if I don't include it.
Okay he was probably five or six. We had been at Seattle and we were going home. I wanted to stop at Mervyn's for something, so we did. Now Shawn LOVED escalators. It was a huge treat for him to go up and down escalators. ( He also loved elevators but we'll get to that later). Well as soon as he saw the escalator in Mervyn's he pulled away from me and ran for it. Man that kid was fast. I was totally freaked out thinking of how badly he would hurt himself on that escalator without me holding his hand and helping him. I caught him just in the nick of time and gave him a swat on the bum. Then to really make an impression I would not let him ride the escalator and we quickly left the store.
He kicked and screamed all the way to the car. Only Don could handle him and get him in the car and into his car seat. He never stopped screaming. For over an hour we were subjected to his screaming. "Go Back Go Back I want to ride the escabater (that is not a spelling error that is how he pronounced it). Well he basically put this protest on continuous loop. For at least an hour and a half this is what we had to listen too. I'm sure you can imagine the mood in our van that day.
It was not pretty.
After about an hour and a half I was actually able to calm him down enough to tell him that if he didn't stop screaming he wasn't going to get to do anything. Well he considered this. After that we were subjected to another hour and a half of, "Okay okay, I'm calm, I'm calm. . . . NOW TURN THIS CAR AROUND AND TAKE ME BACK TO THAT ESCABATER!!!!!!
Yep, for another hour and a half. Well I knew when I was defeated. We all needed a break from this torment so when we got to Yakima we went straight to the Mervyn's there and I took a subdued, somewhat humbled little Shawn for a three minute ride, up and down the escalators. Ah yes, the joys of traveling with Shawn. How I wish we had, had portable DVD players back then. We got two of them shortly after they appeared in the stores and traveling with Shawn is now a walk in the park.
All right I said I would tell about Shawn and the elevator and this is it. Shawn loved staying at hotels. He still likes hotels but he was fanatical about it when he was little. He also loved elevators so I always booked us on an upper floor so we could use the elevator. One time when we were in Portland we were staying at a pretty nice hotel on, like ,the third floor. One afternoon when we were coming back to our room, that naughty little Shawn broke away from me ( I always held his hand. Honest.) so he breaks away from me and dashes down the hall to the elevator. Well he must of been at one with the elevator gods because circumstances made it open just at the time he got to it.
This time we didn't catch him in time.
He was on that elevator all by himself and I am sure he was just pushing buttons at a furious pace.The funny thing is, we could hear him going up and down on that elevator. I'm sure that must have been one of the most sublime moments in all of his short little life. We could hear his little machine gun laugh all the way up and down five floors. He was saying "Momma, Momma, look. I go up. Oh, now I go down." Over and over he was doing this. In the meanwhile Don and Donald were on the neighboring elevator trying to catch him. I could not believe how long it was taking to catch him and get him off that stupid elevator. We finally had me and Courtney and Kelly on the ground floor waiting for him and Don, Donald and Heidi stationed on the other floors. It took probably about ten minutes for us to finally coordinate our efforts and a few more minutes to catch him. When we had him I am ashamed to say I gave him one of probably three real spankings he ever had.
It's funny how much we all laugh about these stories now.
Most autistic children develop sometimes strange fascinations with certain objects. For some it will be doorknobs for some vacuum cleaners for Shawn it is guns. Not my first choice that's' for sure. If I had known that the first time I let him get a toy gun at the dollar store what a monster I was unleashing I would have steered him to the bouncy balls. Shawn has probably the most vast collection of toy guns of, anyone in the western hemisphere. He loves these guns. He actually has lost a little bit of his fervor for them now but it has been his obsession for years. What was funny was how well he knew each gun. He would sometimes have three or more of the same one and he could tell each one apart. And if he lost or misplaced one? Not a happy situation. I swear there are guns he lost and three or four years later he still remembered them.
This stock hold of weaponry made Shawn very popular with all the little boys in the neighborhood.
They would come over to ask if Shawn could bring out his guns and play. He had so much fun playing guns with all the little boys in the neighborhood. Even in to his teenage years he would go out and play with them. And the funny thing is, I don't think they ever thought of him as any older than themselves.
Now Shawn was autistic and also mentally retarded, and that makes what I am going to write about next almost unbelievable.
Shawn came knowing how to read!
One day when he was three, my brother Mike had brought over one of those movie players that used what looked like a big record. Of course Shawn was front and center. Well eventually everyone had left the room but me and Shawn. The movie ended and the word STOP started flashing on the screen. Out of the blue Shawn starts saying STOP! STOP! At first it didn't register what was happening but I soon realized that he was reading the word off the screen.
I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT! !
Here was my little three year old boy that could barely master half of the things most eighteen month olds, could do with ease, and he was READING!!! At first I thought it was just a fluke and that maybe he had heard someone else say stop. After all he was such a little mimic. But over the next few days I would write down simple words on a pad and show them to him and he could read ,every one of them! Of course no one believed me at first. He was like that singing frog in the Warner Brother's cartoon. He would only do it for me. Eventually I got him to read for Don and then other people. It was funny because when Courtney, who is seventeen months younger than Shawn, was learning to read, if she didn't know a word, she would ask Shawn and he would read it for her. To this day he can read most common words. He has never really developed into an actual, "read a whole book" kind of reader. His teachers and I always had great hopes for him but he just doesn't have good retention or comprehension. But I've always thought it was cool that Heavenly Father gave him that one little gift.
There has only been one time when someone has said something mean to be about Shawn, and believe it or not she was my visiting teacher. She was a very backwards uneducated woman. Her children were the terror of the Primary and she didn't have many friends but I always tried to be nice to her. Well one day when she and her partner were at my house visiting, and I had been telling them how I was so tired because of Shawn's nighttime adventures. She looked at me and said,
"I've always wanted to ask you, how do you put up with a child like him. Don't you have a hard time even loving him?"
I was so shocked that she would say something so horrible that I don't even really remember what I told her. I know I made sure though to tell her that Shawn was one of the greatest blessings I had ever been given. Now wouldn't you think this would maybe shame her and shut her up? Nope. This idiot just wouldn't let it go. She started to say that if she had a child like Shawn she knew she would not want him and other really hideous things. Her partner and I just sat there staring at each other. We could not believe her. All I could think of were her awful nasty children whom she had no control over and she had the nerve to sit there in my house and say those vile things to me. Well I got rid of her as quick as I could and then called my Relief Society President and told her I never wanted this woman to come to my house again. Apparently her partner was of the same opinion because she was back the next month with a new sister as her partner.
It really breaks my heart to think of all the disabled children born who are not wanted. I wrote a blog about that very thing a couple weeks ago actually. I love my Shawn more than almost anything. We all do in our family. One of our favorite things to say is that, everyone should have a Shawn of their own. I honestly don't know why Heavenly Father decided that we got to be the lucky ones but I will be eternally grateful that I was chosen to be Shawn's Mom.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Wow, I can't believe I am already to child number four. That would be my sweet little Shawn. There is so much to say about Shawn that this will either be really long or maybe a two parter. Like I mentioned in my last post about Kelly, at the time he was born we had decided that we were done. I thought that three was a good number of kids and that he would be our last. Well this was the way I felt for almost four years.
Then I just started to feel incomplete.
I actually didn't even tell Don that I wanted another baby. I just stopped taking my BC pills. I got pregnant right away (as usual) and I felt really good about the whole thing. Unfortunately my body wasn't so thrilled. About five months in, my blood pressure started getting high and I had protein in my urine samples. This means Pre-eclampsia. A nasty little condition that pregnant women get that can cause death to both mother and child. By the next month I also had gestational diabetes.
Yes folks, things were looking bad.
I suddenly found myself in the category of "High Risk Pregnancy". Not fun, not fun. I was expected to stay off my feet as much as possible. Now those young mothers out there with three young children probably know how impossible that is. I did the best I could and things kind of evened out. At least for the next two months or so. By the time I was seven and a half to eight months I was needing to seriously slow things down. My dear beloved Aunt Doris, pretty much took on the responsibility of keeping an eye on me, and the Relief Society started bringing in dinners.
This helped for a few weeks.
My big problem was that Kelly was four and still my baby and he was use to me being his buddy and constant companion and doing everything for him. Now it wasn't his fault I had just really babied him thinking that he would be my last.
One day Doris came over to check on me and I was in pretty bad shape. She called Dr. Fox and told him that she felt he needed to see me right away. He agreed. She took me in to his office and after checking my vitals he sent me straight to KGH. I didn't know it at the time but I would be there until the baby was born.
It was ten days until Shawn was born.
We were so relieved to have him born and for the pre-eclampsia to go away. He was my smallest baby and I fell in love with him instantly. Almost from the start things seemed a little different with him. He was really quiet. He didn't cry very often. But he was so sweet and this time I was sure that he would be my last so I enjoyed every minute with him.
By the time Shawn was about a year old we could tell that he wasn't developing as quickly as he should have been. He eventually hit most of the expected baby milestones, just a little bit slower. I don't remember exactly when we started to expect that there might be something wrong with him. Probably by the time he was a year and a half. Fortunately Kelly had gone to the Benton Franklin Developmental Center for his speech. I think that must have been a blessing in disguise because we were very familiar with them and the help they provided so I contacted them and in no time Shawn was going there every day.Now I am a really impatient person and I wanted a diagnoses almost immediately.
They won't do that.
I was just starting to hear about something called autism. But I also thought that Shawn might be mentally retarded. I wasn't bothered by this. But people that work with developmentally challenged children quite often feel like they are walking on eggshells with the parents of the kids they work with. Many of these parents don't want to admit that there is anything wrong with their child no matter how glaring it is. I never felt that way at all. There was nothing that would make me not adore my little boy. And I have always felt that facts are facts. If Shawn was retarded he was retarded it didn't change anything for Don and I. I could understand the skittishness these teachers felt though. I had by this point been at a few parent meetings and seen several parents throwing fits at even the suggestion that their little Johnny wasn't perfect and even gifted in every way.
What a job for these wonderful blessed educators.
Right from the start Shawn had a very definite charisma. No matter what program he has ever been in he always ends up being every one's favorite. He is so happy and smiley and so sweet and cute that people just love him. The teachers also always knew that I really appreciated every thing they were doing for him. A lot of the parents would do nothing but complain and find fault. I have never understood this feeling of entitlement they had. I have always just been so grateful for all the programs and resources that have been available. It's been really wonderful to see Lisa getting the same help and having the same good attitude about it all. I have even been able to steer her to some helps that I never knew about until much later.
Well Shawn was at the Developmental Center until he was old enough for Kindergarten. Kennewick has been such a forward thinking school district. In fact the whole Tri-cities has been. I was really nervous about Shawn and public school. When I was a kid there was the RETARD school.
It actually makes me physically sick to think that it was thought of that way at one time.
I remembered how those children were treated by the normal kids and I didn't think I could bear to see my precious boy treated like that. I was introduced to the new way of thinking, where kids were placed in regular classes with a one on one Aid to help them. This way children are taught from Kindergarten that these specially challenged kids are more like them than not. They grow up being friends with these kids and understanding them instead of fearing them.And face it, that is what it mostly is, fear of someone different.
Shawn went to Edison Elementary for Kindergarten. He wasn't as included as I had hoped he would be but the kids were never mean to him. Then his program changed a little and for first grade I had the choice to send him to Amistad or Southgate.
I chose Southgate.
This began Shawn's wonderful journey through the Kennewick School system. I think it might have been that it was a higher income group of kids with better educated parents but I don't know for sure, but these kids LOVED Shawn ! He was like every ones favorite little brother. The girls especially felt that they should have exclusive rights to Shawn at recess. That caused hurt feelings with the boys so the girls ended up having to share Shawn.
To this day Shawn still is putty in a cute girls hands.
These kids ended up a lot of the time being able to teach Shawn better than his teachers or Aids. He sometimes could be a little stubborn or naughty for the teachers, but if one of the kids asked him to count out ten pencils, boy would he do it. So needless to say Shawn absolutely blossomed at Southgate.
Shawn was at Southgate for, I think, six years. Since special ed kids can go to school until they age out at twenty one they keep at each school for a few extra years.
After Southgate Shawn attended Horse Heaven Hills.I was just a little nervous about Shawn and middle school.
Shawn was treated so well that you would have thought he was a little celebrity. He was by now in a classroom for most of the day with the other special needs kids. He had P.E. and all of his electives with the regular kids. He may not have been in many classes with the regular kids but somehow they all knew him and loved him. He had a wonderful teacher through all his years at HHH and it was hard to say goodbye to her when it was time for High school.
Kennewick High was the first time Shawn went to the same school that his siblings had gone to. High school was just the same for Shawn. Everyone loved him and they were so good to him. The ARC of the Tri-Cities started a program Shawn's freshman year called The Buddy Club. Regular kids at the school are matched up with the special needs kids and they have several activities through the year such as, Dances, Bowling parties, Buddy Lunches and other fun events.
Shawn loved socializing so much that his big treat was to stand out in the hallway outside his room for the first few minutes of class changes and say hi to all the kids that went by his room. This was such a big deal for him that it was most often the privilege withheld if he broke rules and needed a consequence.
Boy that was a killer for him to not get his hall time.
Shawn was so friendly and so many kids liked him that whenever he would go anywhere with Jeff and Heidi or Donald and Lisa they would always come back and tell me that Shawn must know every person that lives in Kennewick because so many people would stop and say Hi to him.
Well the sad day finally arrived.
Shawn came to his last year of school. He graduated last summer 2007. He has been pretty bored since no school, but every year in the summer he has Partners and Pals. This is another wonderful ARC program for regular kids to come and mingle with special needs kids in a fun summer day camp. Shawn missed out on the first few years he was old enough for P&P, because I didn't know about it. Thank goodness for my cousins, Rachel and Nathan Henry. They were both counselors for P&P and they asked my Mom one day why Shawn didn't go to it. Well I was so excited when I heard about this program that the next year I had him signed up and he has attended ever since. Sadly last summer was his last, because again 21 is the cut off age. But this year Shawn gets to go as a volunteer, and he gets to wear THE GREEN SHIRT. The counselors all wear the RED SHIRT, but the "volunteers" wear green, and Shawn couldn't be more proud or excited.
Well this has turned into a really LOOOONG post. There is still so much more to tell about Shawn that I will do a part two on him next. Thanks for staying with me and I'll see ya next time for "LIFE WITH SHAWN".
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I don't know why, but things that come easy to me, such as sewing, cooking, and now writing blogs, suddenly become a chore when I have to do them. What I mean at this particular time, is that I promised to write a blog about each of my children. I know I have a very small audience, but there are people that are asking for my next post. This would be for child number three.
My son Kelly.
Kelly is probably my most complex child. I often think of him as my dark child. I do not mean that in a bad way at all. Kelly is kind of the tortured artist type. He is extremely smart and creative. He has written lots, and I do mean lots, of songs. He also writes stories. He would like to write an actual book but he hasn't quite developed the discipline to accomplish that yet.
Now there is something really ironic here about me saying that Kelly is my dark child because of all my children he is the only one who is a
BLONDE ! ! !
It never occurred to me I could have a blonde child. I have darker hair and brown eyes. Both sides of my family, the Brinkerhoffs and the Mathews are dark people. And my husband Don has almost black hair. But here comes along this beautiful little blonde boy into our family.
Kelly is also the classic middle child. I had Donald and Heidi within a year of each other. Then we determined to wait a few years for our next child. So Donald was, four and a half and Heidi was, three and a half, when Kelly was born. Kelly was going to be my last baby and I enjoyed him so much knowing he would be my last.
Then Shawn came along when Kelly was four and a half.
That's how Kelly became a true middle child. Courtney was born when he was six, so it's like we had the two older kids, the two babies, and Kelly smack in the middle. It was really hard for poor little Kelly to give up his role as the baby of the family. And for some reason when Shawn was born he was very upset to have a brother instead of a sister.
When Don brought my three older children to see me in the hospital I could hear Kelly screaming all the way up the hall to my room
PUT IT BACK!!!! PUT IT BACK!!!!
Obviously, Kelly did not take well to his role as big brother. In fact there are times when I'm not sure if he has ever forgiven Shawn for being born.
Well that's all background. Now to talk about Kelly. He was such a joy to me as a little boy. Since he was so much younger than Donald and Heidi, there were a few years when they were in school and it was just me and my little Kelly at home. He was my constant companion. Wherever I went I would take Kelly with me. Because of this he became a complete Momma's Boy.
He still is a Momma's Boy.
Kelly had an impossible time saying his R's. Because of this, he was so cute to listen to. The only problem was (and still is) that he was very sensitive to us laughing about the cute way he would say things. It is still a standing joke in our family the Christmas when he was really into WWF Wrestling and he got a bunch of the action figures. We have on video tape him opening up and shrieking with delight,
Oh Boy ! ! ! The Ultimate Woe-wee-ower ! ! !
(That's warrior for those of you who don't speak six year old Kelly).
Kelly loved movies. He was completely into " Back To The Future" and the "Star Wars" Movies. He would decide that he was Marty McFly and he would not answer to anything but Marty McFly. This caused a little trouble when one day he refused to get on his Kindergarten bus until the driver would call him Marty. Fortunately She was a nice lady and I was able to smooth things out. He also was Luke Skywal-koe (that would be Skywalker to you) quite often.
One Halloween, when he was a little older, he wanted to be a Ghost Bus-toe ( Buster). I made him a very good replica of their costume, and also bought him some toy gun thing (it might have even been an actual Ghost Buster Gun thingee, I can't remember for sure , although we do have pictures.) Oh he loved that costume. He would have worn it everywhere (even to school) if I had let him.
He also went through a karate phase.
We have some highly entertaining footage of he and Donald out on the lawn doing their karate moves on each other. In fact, pretending he was someone else, was one of the factors in one of my favorite Kelly stories.
When He was in second grade it came to my attention that Eastgate Elementary was going to have a talent contest. Kelly was usually kind of shy and not really one to be outgoing. So I was shocked when he and his teacher started talking to me about Kelly wanting to be in this contest. All he would tell me was that he was going to sing "Midnight Rock".
Now that I think about it this was probably the very first time he wrote a song.
Anyway he kept telling me he needed a guitar so that he could do "Midnight Rock" at his talent show. I didn't pay much attention to him because (A.) I couldn't see my shy little boy getting up in front of the whole school and performing. And (B.) I was sure this was just another one of his ,being someone else fantasies. I admit I was completely in the wrong here. I told him he couldn't do the talent show. I swear I thought I was saving him from himself. I called his teacher to talk about it with her and much to my amazement she informed me that he had been practicing for weeks in front of his class and that they all loved his act.
She had also made him a cardboard guitar.
It's really kind of brave of me to tell this story because it was not one of my proudest mothering moments. I didn't go to the talent show. I had two babies at home and for some stupid reason I didn't see it as the important occasion it was. Am I the only Mother out there who would love to go back and do SO many things differently? Well in spite of my lack of support Kelly did go on and did sing (with the help of his cardboard guitar) "Midnight Rock". His teacher called me later that day, to tell me that Kelly had been a . . . . .
HUGE SMASH SUCCESS
I was so proud of him and so ashamed of myself for trying to hold him back. He came home with his little guitar and told me all about it and even Donald had been impressed and proud of his little brother.
Heidi reminded me of this Kelly thing.
Kelly had a big wheel that he REALLY liked. He rode that thing for years. He went all over the neighborhood with that silly big wheel. By the time he was nine years old he was still riding it. We offered to get him a bike but he had no interest. He just wanted his big wheel. It didn't bother me at all really because he got so much joy from tooling around our neighborhood on it. However he had a big sister ( Heidi) who did not find it cute or endearing or anything of the sort. It was a constant source of embarrassment to her that her almost ten year old brother was still going everywhere on a big wheel. We had many heated discussions on the subject. Heidi finally felt she had to take matters into her own hands and I'm not sure when or how she did it but she got rid of that big wheel. Poor Kelly was devastated. We got him a bike, that he soon fell in love with, but I know Heidi has always felt pretty guilty about doing that to Kelly.
She really is sorry Kelly, just so you know.
It seems that there have been several instances where we have tried to save Kelly from himself. I think things would have been better if we had trusted his ideas a little bit more. At least he has his best friend Katrina whom he has known for years. She is one of his biggest fans and can usually help him put things in perspective.
Kelly is the one child of mine, that really moves to the beat of a different drummer. He is incredibly sweet and sensitive. He adores each of his little nieces and is so good to them. He loves cats. He is always so kind and gentle with them and when they need to have drops in their eyes or ears or anything else applied Kelly is the one nominated to do it.
He hasn't really figured out this thing called life all the way yet, but I'm sure in his own time and more importantly in his own way, he will. Hopefully he will make it to college one of these days to hone the many, many talents he possesses.
He is a really good guy and I love him very much.
Posted by SuzanSayz at 11:58 AM
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Well I think you know enough about Donald now so I would like to write about my number two child, Heidi.
Heidi was born just a little more than a year after Donald, on August 23rd. I was so thrilled because I really wanted a little girl. She was an absolutely beautiful little girl. She was very bright right from the start. She was quite content to sit in her little baby seat and watch everything around her for the first nine or ten months of her life. She hit all the major milestones, such as rolling over and sitting up and things like that at all the right times.
Then when she was just a little over a year old, she started talking.
Now, I don't mean baby talking. Her first words when she was around fourteen months were "I would like more please Momma."
I swear those really were the first words I ever heard her say!
She skipped right past the Momma's and Daddy's and Bye Bye's and all the single baby words that kids usually start with and went straight to complete sentences. My Grandma Brinkerhoff, who loved Donald and Heidi as much as if they were her own, (She had them call her Grandma Elva, so that my Mom could have the Grandma Brinkerhoff title all to herself. She was such a beautiful person and I still miss her to this day.) Well she told me that she figured that Heidi had quietly spent the first year of her life observing everyone and everything and that now she was ready to make herself known. I think that is exactly what happened, too.
By the time Heidi was around seventeen months old you could have a true conversation with her. It made it hard for us to remember that she was still just a baby.
From the start Heidi was a keen observer of human behaviour. Sometimes to the point of making people uncomfortable. One time when she was probably two and a half I was in the Richland Fred Meyer and I had her sitting in the grocery cart, as we went through the store. There was a very heavy woman next to us shopping with a very heavy daughter who was maybe seven or eight years old. Heidi watched them intently for a few minutes and then said to me in her serious little voice, "That lady is very fat Momma, and her girl is fat too." She said this in just the most innocent and matter-of-fact way, but I was mortified. Then and there we had a talk about things that make other people feel bad and how we should never say things like that.
Skip to her grade school years. Heidi did not have an easy time with her first grade teacher.
I think Heidi was just too outspoken and too much of an independent thinker for this woman to appreciate.
Needless to say Heidi did not enjoy 1st grade.
When she was in 5th grade even I did not like her teacher. On the back to school parent night, Heidi came home that day really annoyed telling me that her faker of a teacher had made them spend the whole day making pictures and putting them up in the room so it would look like this was the kind of thing the class had been doing all along. The other kids thought it was so fun but my dear daughter saw through this woman's act and knew she was doing it just to impress the parents.
That's how her mind worked. You could never pull anything over on this kid.
Heidi was the first of my children to actually spend money on me for Mother's Day and my birthday. I think she was maybe ten or eleven. It was Mother's Day and she came and told me very excitedly to come outside because she had something for me. I was expecting the kind of surprise that you would expect from a ten or eleven year old. But no. She had gotten me a professional balloon and flower bouquet and it was actually being delivered by an actual delivery person.
I was so overwhelmed.
She did this at least one other time maybe two more. She told me years later that she had really only had a few dollars. I guess the people at Shelby's Floral were so impressed with her, that they gave her much more than she had money for.
That was my Heidi.
Well Heidi is grown up and married now to a great guy named Jeff whom I love very, very much even though I sometimes like to give him a bad time. She has two daughters Abbey nine and Lindsay seven. She is a very good mother to my two oldest granddaughters and I am very proud of all the things she does. In fact I have skipped past the rest of her growing up years because I want plenty of room to tell about what a kind and generous person she has turned out to be.
Giving service is a big part of who Heidi is. She is a big feeder of Missionaries. Several of the wards she has been in, the people do not sign up to feed the Missionaries like they should. So Heidi has told them that whenever they need dinner, to let her know and she will cook for them. She even asks them what they want and she goes out of her way to treat them like honored guests.
Several months ago there was a family in her ward that was moving to a new house that was still in their ward boundaries. The wife and mother of this family was nine months pregnant and had to get her house cleaned in just a few days so they could move into their new house. In Relief Society a sign-up sheet was passed around for the sisters to sign to go over and help this sister with her house. Heidi was one of the last to get the sheet and when it got to her no one had yet signed up. Heidi felt so bad about this that she signed her name and was over there the next day. She swept and mopped all of this sister's floors for her. I realize this might not sound like too big of a deal, but for the last few years Heidi has been severely anemic. She has so little energy that it is almost impossible for her to keep up with even the bare essentials at her own house. So for her to go and do this for this pregnant sister was really a big thing.
Since she lives in Spokane, when Lisa was pregnant with Elisabeth, Heidi opened her home to Donald and Lisa whenever they needed it. She also watched Alexandra and Lorelai for them. She loves her little nieces so much and I'm sure that no one could have given them more love or better care.
The latest act of service Heidi has gotten into was also something that was announced in Relief Society. One of the sisters in her ward has an elderly next door neighbor, who is not a member of the church. This dear ladie's husband just died this February and on top of that her ninetyish partially senile mother lives with her. It was announced that this woman really needed someone to come in and sit with her mother, so that she could go shopping or to Dr. appointments or whatever things that came up for her. It was also mentioned how lonely this poor lady was since her husband had died and that she just plain needed company to visit with her. Well my sweet daughter signed up for this and has been going probably once a week to sit with the ninety year old mother for a couple of hours so that the daughter can get out, and then staying and visiting with the daughter, when she gets back. My Heidi really is one of the earthly angels.
Okay a little bit more about her personality.
Heidi is funny !!
She is one of the funniest people I know. I swear that she could have a career in stand-up-comedy if she was so inclined. She can do impersonations dead on and she can do ANY accent in the world. At family gatherings she cracks us up with her hilarious monologues. If you don't believe me ask Lisa or Courtney I think they are some of her biggest fans.
She knows how to relate to her youngest brother Shawn better than almost anyone. One of their favorite games she plays with him is Super Heroes. Heidi will be the villain and Shawn the hero. They will shoot their freeze or death-rays at each other and when they get into it is impossible to not be laughing.
As I wrote in an earlier post She has not been able to have another baby so now they are looking into adopting an older ( that would be from one to six years old) child. I was a little skeptical about this at first but Heidi has so much enthusiasm when she decides to do something that she has really won me over. I know that whatever child they end up with, that Heidi will be a wonderful mother and she will enrich this child's life in a most wonderful and exciting way.
As you can probably tell I really love my daughter and I am very proud of the incredible person she has become.
Posted by SuzanSayz at 1:19 PM
Friday, May 9, 2008
I don't know why I didn't include this in yesterday's blog about Donald. This has always been one of my favorite Donald stories.
First of all though, in my defense of Donald's comments on my last blog. He was five at the time he taught himself to ride a bike. I was thinking he was that young when I was writing it but I thought, "I wouldn't have let him go that far away on his own at five". Well of course I hadn't. That little brat was over there without my permission or knowledge. Sorry Son.
Okay, this story happened when he was eight. I was pregnant with Shawn and in kind of bad shape. Don had to run a few errands and I made him take Heidi and Kelly with him so I could go lay down. We couldn't find Donald, he was out playing somewhere but it was okay because he didn't really need my supervision. So here is the scenario, I'm upstairs laying down. Don is off running errands with Heidi and Kelly. Donald was nowhere in sight.
After about twenty minutes who should I hear come in the front door but my wayward oldest child.
He started yelling MOM, DAD, MOM, DAD. Now I'm not really sure why I didn't answer him. I think I was suddenly infected with some kind of morbid curiosity to see what he would do if he thought he was home alone. I had from time to time suspected him of various naughtinesses commited when no one was around. So I decided to see what he would do.
After a few more MOM and DAD's with a few WHERE ARE YOU GUYS? And at least one ISN'T ANYBODY HOME? thrown in for good measure. It finally sunk in that no one was home. I waited as quietly as I could to see what would come next. The next thing I heard was so unexpected, it took a few seconds for it to register. After a few seconds of silence, I heard him suddenly yell out as loudly as possible. . .
YIPEEEEEE! ! ! !
Yipee? I honestly don't think I have ever heard someone actually yell, Yipee!!
Now as amused as I suddenly was I was also a little disconcerted at the thought that my little boy wasn't at all upset to find himself all alone at home.
He was not only, not upset, he was also obviously looking at it as a wonderfully unexpected, opportunity. He was definatly up to something because I heard him making all kinds of rummaging noises in the kitchen. I was getting really curious as to what he was getting into when all of a sudden, I heard the Popcorn Popper start up.
It was one of those (at the time, newfangled) hot air popcorn poppers.
Donald knew that he was not supposed to be making popcorn without permission.
I decided that enough was enough and I needed to put a stop to this flagrant disobedience. I crept down the stairs as quietly as I could which really wasn't neccesary because Donald was just at that moment realizing that you had to put a bowl in front of the popper.
Popcorn was shooting everywhere.
He was starting to realize that maybe he should have thought this latest little stunt through a bit more clearly. I don't know if he was trying to turn it off or find a bowl for all that shooting popcorn, but he was definatly not aware of me sneaking up on him.
He decided to go the bowl route.
Now he was catching the shooting popcorn and scooping up the stuff that was all over the counter, when I jumped up at him and yelled,
DONALD WHAT ARE YOU DOING ? ! ?
Oh man, I WISH I had a picture of his face. He was so startled he threw the bowl of popcorn in the air and then immediatly had the nerve to start screaming at me for scaring him.
Donald's best defense has always been a strong offense
Of course it didn't take him long to realize that he might just be in trouble. I gave him a smallish lecture on being responsible and told him he better not use the popcorn popper anymore without permission or supervision.
You know I think about it now and I'm not quite sure why he wasn't allowed to use it. After all this was a kid who could navigate the TV at eighteen months and the stereo at two. I guess sometimes first time parents just don't make sense.
Posted by SuzanSayz at 12:28 PM
Thursday, May 8, 2008
You know, I wasn't going to write a blog in honor of Mothers Day. It all seemed so cliche'. I have decided to write a blog about my children (who made me a mother, so I have an excuse to buy myself something foolishly expensive this weekend, and almost not feel any guilt. Because hey it is Mother's Day.)
Anyway, I have been wanting to write a blog about each of my kids. Lisa did that for her family and it made me think, why not?
First up will be my firstborn Donald.
I am sure that most the people that read my blog read his and you have learned quite a lot about him. But trust me there is so much more.
Donald was born on August 5th at around 2:30 in the afternoon. We knew he was going to be an interesting kid with lots to say because as soon as his face felt air he was screaming. Yes that's right, he wasn't even all the way born and he was screaming.
He was an absolutely beautiful baby boy. My Grandma Brinkerhoff came and stayed at our house the night I brought him home and got up with him every time he cried. After that night she was completely in love with Donald, and he continued to be the apple of her eye until her death 8 years later.
Donald was mostly a happy kid. He had a very positive outlook on things. He had a " Follow That Bird " record (that would be on vinyl). He loved that record and one day he decided to roll it pinwheel like across the floor. It hit the closet door and shattered. I expected him to burst into tears at the sight of his dearest record in ruins. Instead he just came up to me and said "It's okay Momma we can glue it. I had to laugh at his optimistic attitude. I told him that, that would not work and it would just fall apart. He looked at me like I must be the worst kind of fool and said "no Mom I mean with SUPER GLUE!!"
Donald was very independant and really quick to learn things he wanted to do. I think he was probably 6 years old when he learned to ride a bike. The thing is he didn't have a bike at the time. He came into the house one afternoon and announced that he could now ride a bike. I was confused by this. He didn't have a bike and I had never even seen him try to ride his friends bikes that lived on our street. He was adament though that he had just learned how to ride a bike and that he wanted me to come and watch him.
I decided to humor him.
He led me around the corner to the park that was behind our house and we walked all the way over to this one house where a friend of his lived. Donald told his friend that he wanted his mom to see him ride his bike.
He took the bike to the top of the hill in the park, got on it and just took off.
I could not believe it!
I asked him how long he had been learning to do that and he told me he had just learned how right before he had come to get me. The kid didn't have to learn how to ride a bike it had just come naturally to him.
Donald was always a bright kid but he could be so lazy. He could have gotten top grades in school but he wouldn't put in the effort. This was frustrating for me and for his teachers. They would always tell me that he was one of their smartest students but they would get so upset with him for not living up to his potential.
When Donald was in the early grades he was constantly in trouble for talking too much. He was always so excited with life that he had an almost impossible time being quiet. Like his 1st grade teacher once told me " If one child says something about a dog, Donald will have 10 stories about dogs, and he will want to tell them all.
Donald was kicked out of several school assemblies before he even reached the 3rd grade. Principal Harry Clemens got to know him very well. Fortunatly he really liked Donald and I think he was secretly amused by him.
Donald had a hard time at first when he entered Middle School. He had been friends with the boys from Eastgate and assumed that he would still be a part of that group when he reached Middle School. Unfortunatly for him there was this one boy (who was actually in our Ward and had been friends with Donald for most their lives.) Any way for some reason this kid started a smear campaign on Donald and within the first day or two none of his Eastgate friends would talk to him. He came home after the second day and was so sad and discouraged he even started to cry as he was telling me about it all.
I don't think there is anything harder on a parent than to see your child hurt in this way.
I hugged him and told him that this was actually an opportunity in disguise. I pointed out to him that there were tons of kids at that school who had not been at Eastgate. I told him that I knew how easily he could make friends and that tomorrow I wanted him to start making new friends with new kids.
He came home from school the next day SO happy!
He had met several new kids that day and had found new friends to have lunch with and suddenly everything seemed wonderful. I knew he could do it because he was just that kind of kid!
I think Donald mostly enjoyed his school years. He had a few girl friends but I don't want to dwell on that except for one and that is because it leads to a much bigger story.
When Donald discovered the internet he was hooked.
It didn't take him long to start meeting people on line. After that it didn't take him long to meet girls on line.
He had met this one girl on line I cannot remember her name (not that it matters), anyway Donald struck up a friendship with her and I was cool with it because she was a member of the church and she seemed alright to me. Well before I knew it he was telling her he loved her and soon after that he was actually thinking, MARRIAGE!!!
Now I was freaked out!
He was over twenty so there wasn't much I could do but voice my opinion, and tell him I thought he was really rushing things.
Which I did!
After a couple months of this He made plans to go visit her. She lived in Idaho. I tried my hardest to talk him out of it but he was determined. He was sure he would come home triumphant having met finally the GREAT LOVE OF HIS LIFE. Well to make a long uncomfortable story short he called me the first night he was there. He was pretty much in tears. He told me that she didn't look anything like her pictures, ( apparantly she was using ones that were like 5 years old). He said that he felt nothing for her and that the more time he spent with her he was really turned off. She was, shall we say, very eager.
I told him to come home as soon as he could, and to not worry about hurting her feelings because the alternative was to stay there and get engaged.
That's how eager she was.
He thankfully took my advice and came home. I knew at the time that he was breaking her heart but (being kinda ruthless when my kids are involved) I told him it was better her than him.
Okay fast forward several months.
He was doing it again.
Meeting girls on the internet.
I was really annoyed with him. You would think he would have learned his lesson with this other girl. But no. He showed me that there were two girls he was talking to but one in particular had really gotten his interest. I started in lecturing about learning from your mistakes blah blah blah. " But Mom this girl is different She's going to BYU and she's really pretty and we have really hit it off. I think she may be the one." I was totally sceptical but he showed me her picture and I had to agree that she was very pretty. It turned out that a friend of hers at school was coming to Yakima for the weekend and that she was going to come with her and come to our house to meet Donald in person. For some reason I wasn't half as worried as I had been about Idaho girl.
I was up in my sewing room making a bed in the closet for her to sleep in when I heard the doorbell ring and then I heard happy excited sounds downstairs. After a few minutes I heard thump thump thump up the stairs and then there was Donald at my sewing room door. He said "Mom I want you to meet . . . . . .
LISA ! ! ! "
I swear it was love at first sight.Not only for Donald but for me as well.
Lisa stayed that weekend and went home with the understanding that she would be back very soon. It wasn't too long after that that she dropped out of the "Y" and Donald went up there and brought her and all her stuff home to the Tri-Cities.
Well the rest of course was history. I really have loved Lisa from the first time I met her and she is truly one of my very best friends.
Donald (with help from his father) was able to get a good job out at Hanford.
He has three beautiful, precious little girls. He is a wonderful husband and father, and I am so proud of how well he has turned out.
Well I see that I will have to do a seperate post for each of my kids. Stay tooned for my next post about my smart, super funny, creative daughter Heidi.
Posted by SuzanSayz at 8:25 AM
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I was tagged by Lisa. Cool. This is my first tag
4 places I go over and over...
The Tri-city court club
Donald & Lisa's
Okay and. . . Walmart
4 people who e-mail me...
My brother Mike
My son-in-law Jeff
Barnes & Noble
4 of my favorite foods...
Jujyfruit, fruit flavored ,chewy candy
The Reuben Sandwich at Cyrus O'Leary's
4 places I would rather be right now...
DisneyWorld w/unlimited funds and time!
4 people who I think will respond...this means I tag you..
Yeah right. Like I actually know 4 people who haven't already been tagged by this.
4 movies I could watch over and over...
The Butterfly Effect
Posted by SuzanSayz at 1:48 PM
Friday, May 2, 2008
Why, Why, Why, does life have to be so hard?
My daughter Heidi called me today and we had a nice talk. Apparantly she and her husband Jeff are hoping to adopt. She is the mother of my two oldest granddaughters my sweet kindhearted little Abbey, 9 going on 10 , and my darling spunky little Lindsay, 7 soon to be 8.
Heidi has been trying for years to have another baby and they haven't had any luck. This has been really hard for her because she really planned on more than just 2 children.
She has been looking into the foster care system and has discovered how many children there are in the State of Washington that are up for adoption. They have found a beautiful little 3 year old girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. The Case Manager Heidi talked to says that this little girl does not have any of the problems that a lot of children in the foster care system usually have. Heidi feels really good about her and she and Jeff are starting the long proccess to become her new parents.
Now this is really good news and I am quite excited at the idea of a new little granddaughter.
It will be wonderful for Lindsay, because Abbey has been acting a little bit teenagerish lately and everything Lindsay does seems to annoy her. This is hard for Lindz because she wants a sister that she can be best friends with like she and Abbey used to be. I know that she will be the best big sister in the world.
Now for the really sad part of this.
Heidi and Jeff really want a little girl and thats what the social worker has been helping them with. But she couldn't help but tell Heidi about this sad situation.
Apparantly there are two brothers who have been in the system for years who are up for adoption. The oldest one is 8 and his little brother is 4. His little 4 year old brother has Down-syndrome. They have been in the system for 4 years or in other words for his little brother's whole life. The big brother absolutely loves his little brother and is very loving, helpful and protective of him. He is completely devoted to his little brother and of course the little 4 year old is completely bonded with his big brother.
The problem is that there is a family who wants to adopt the 8 year old but they don't want this precious, innocent, happy little 4 year old boy because of his being Down-syndrome.
I am so heartbroken thinking about how sad of a situation this is
I just can't imagine the anguish this will cause these two little brothers to be seperated like this. The social worker lady told Heidi that they are trying really hard to find a family that lives close to the people who want the 8 year old so that the two brothers can still see each other.
I just feel so horrible about this and I wish I was younger and had more energy to take both these little boys into my home. It really could never work for me though, because we already have our wonderful youngest son Shawn, who is also mentally retarded, but pretty high functioning. He is such a blessing in our lives and I have always felt so honored that Heavenly Father entrusted him to us.
I hope that there will be some family out there with a big loving heart that can see this little Down-syndrome boy for the special little spirit that he is. I truly believe that these are some of Heavenly Father's most choice spirits that have very little need to be tested on this earth, and are here because they did want the opportunity to live their life out on earth, but had progressed so far in the pre-existence that they really have little need to be tested in this life.
Please say your prayers for these two special little brothers that something will work out for them to be together or at least to be able to still see each other frquently.
Posted by SuzanSayz at 4:47 PM
Thursday, May 1, 2008
WE GOT MAY DAYED!!!!!
I can't believe it! I read Lisa's post today about May Day, and it brought back some happy memories of being in elementary school and learning all about May Day and then making little flower baskets to take home and hang on neighbor's doors.
It was so much fun, and it makes me sad that this cute and fun little, sort-of-a-holiday, has for the most part been forgotten.
Well here's what happened to us today.
I had just finished a new dress to sell in my etsy shop, and I was kinda on an etsy high because two days ago this lady bought TWO!!!!! of my dresses.
I headed over to Lisa's to have Alexandra put it on and model it so Lisa and I could list it.
If you want to see it go to my etsy shop. MAN I HAVE GOT TO LEARN HOW TO DO LINKS!!!
Okay okay back to my story.
We got some really cute pictures and got it listed and all was good so I came home. I was upstairs at my computer, when Courtney called upstairs and asked me where the flowers had come from. Now I had almost no idea what she was talking about. But in the back of my mind I said [to myself of course] well it's May Day isn't it.
I told Courtney I didn't know anything about any flowers and asked her to be a little more clear in what she meant. She said in a somewhat exasperated voice [keep in mind that she was downstairs and I was upstairs, so this was almost a shouted conversation.] I just had a feeling that something wonderful had happened and that we had been May Dayed.
I asked her to bring them up to me.
And she did.
They were May Day flowers!
I couldn't believe it. I mean who does this anymore!
I looked them over. There were actually two different May Day baskets. One of them had the name Jacob written on it. This was a pretty big clue, because two houses down from us is a family that has three boys.
Their names are Jacob, Michael and Nicky.
I know these three boys because every year since we have lived here, and this will be our fourth summer here. My two oldest Granddaughters, Abbey and Lindsay have come and spent time here with us, during the summer. They have made friends with several kids in our neighborhood and These three boys are some of their favorite friends.
To make this a little more clear, Lindsay and Michael, who are the same age and in the same grade, really like each other.
They REALLY like each other.
I am sure that they are the ones to bring them here. Shawn was home the whole time I was at Lisa's doing my etsy stuff and I asked him if he was the one that brought in the flowers.
He said yes.
Then I asked him if they had knocked or rung the doorbell and run away.
He said yes.
Then I asked him if he had seen if it was Michael and his brothers that had been the ones there.
He said "I think so."
Well I have added up three + one, that would be the three boys and the one Shawn. And have come to the conclusion that it was definately them.
Isn't that just the cutest thing?
Now though I'm not sure what to do. The flowers were really nice. They were in an actual grower's pot with actual, plant them in the ground type flowers. They also put some chocolates in with them too.
I suspect some adult involvement.
So now I'm not sure if I should blow their secret and let them know how happy this has made me, or play along and not let on that I know it is them.
I am going to have to give this some thought. In the meantime. . . . . .
Happy May Day to everybody! !
Posted by SuzanSayz at 5:29 PM