Pictures of Fall

Fall is in the air. It is my favorite time of year, rivaled only by Spring. I love the colors, the smells, the fall annuals and change of leaves, the briskness in the air, college football, and even the annual South Carolina State Fair arriving in one week. In talking with Luke about Fall he informed me that he would prefer we refer to this season as Autumn. I am trying to remember that. So here are a few signs of Autumn around us. . .

Open windows and cool breezes


My first batch of Corn Chowder

Bright red Maple's


Blooming Mum's


Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Boys in long sleeves

Tomorrow we flip the calender to October. And October, in addition to being the month of Luke's birthday which he reminds us of daily, and Halloween, which he also reminds us of daily, is Down syndrome Awareness Month. Tomorrow I will tell you more about Get it Down: 31 for 21, a blogging challenge that many parents in the Down syndrome community will be accepting.

Kennedy-Brownback disability diagnosis bill

Sept. 23 and 25 the U.S. Senate and the U.S House of Representatives passed S. 1810, the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosis Conditions Awareness Act (or the Kennedy-Brownback Bill). This is an important bill that will make it more likely for new and expectant mother's of children with special needs to receive up-to-date and accurate information. This is especially important as prenatal testing is becoming the norm for women of all ages with testing being done earlier in pregnancy than ever before. Read more about it here at Patricia Bauer's site.

Pieces of Asheville

After Timothy's Birthday celebration last Saturday James and I, taking advantage of Grandma being in town, jumped in the car and headed for the mountains. Asheville and it's surrounding communities has long been a favorite spot of ours. We love the mountains, the weather, the myriad of things to do outdoors, the antique shopping, the variety of people drawn to the area, the food, and the beer selection to name a few. So every time we have a day or two to spare we tend to go to the Asheville, Black Mountain, Montreat area and just bum around.

We decided to go up Saturday night after T's birthday dinner so that we had a full day Sunday to fit in some of our favorite things. We arrived a little late but since we didn't have to wake up with the roosters - I mean the kids - we hit the town. He has a slight look of concern in his eyes doesn't he? Not sure what that is about. Maybe my head was starting to transform into a pumpkin. Because, truth be told, I am incapable of staying out past 10pm. I tried. Really I did. But before James could finish his first beer I was phasing out. Even knowing I could sleep in as late as I wanted couldn't keep me awake. Poor guy, I am a lame date.

After a good nights sleep, waking up when our bodies were naturally ready rather than being jolted awake by our children, we mozy'ed (is that a word?) downtown. We walked and walked, popping in and out of shops, discovering new places, and wondering who really pays $75 for an "organic" onesie for a 3 month old. Certainly not the hippies over at Mellow Mushroom. Next we drove over the Black Mountain to our favorite pizza joint and had some lunch.

Mmmmmm. That is some good stuff there!

Next stop, my favorite antique shop. I have found some great stuff here. This trip was no exception - found lots of great stuff, just couldn't bring any of it home.

Another favorite stop is the local used bookstore. Because Montreat College is a mile down the road they tend to have a pretty decent theology section. I browse with James for a bit and then I usually end up here, enjoying the action on Cherry St. My stamina in bookstores is no match for my husbands. I think I actually fell asleep out here. Next stop was Montreat. We wandered around the campus. Nosed around the Assembly Inn.And found a trail to walk.Uh, James. Let's not forget I am not dressed for hiking. I am wearing five year old Mary Janes with no support to speak of. And jeans. James enters an alternate universe when he makes his way into the woods. He reports that he literally aches, in a good way. I think it is a longing for heaven. Every time we visit we scheme of ways to move our family up. Maybe one day.

Last stop was The Grove Park Inn. This has become something of a tradition for us. We drive up around sunset, buy an over priced beer or coffee from the bar and sit on their terrace, enjoying the view while watching the sun slip behind the mountain ranges ahead. This picture simply does not do justice to the view at all. My camera, combined with the lighting, just couldn't pick up the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. We have never stayed over night at the Grove Park Inn. It is just a tad out of our price range. The people who stay here? These are the folks who buy the $75 organic onesies we saw in the boutique window.

And this is what we love about Asheville. There is literally something for everyone and we have found a way to enjoy pieces of it all. Maybe one day we will be able to enjoy more than pieces at a time. But for now? We are thankful for the day trips! And for Grandma's and Nonnie's who make them possible.

Boys and toys

Every birthday and Christmas I hunt for appropriate toys for the boys. It can be especially hard for Wil and Timothy. For a while I tried to stay away from the obnoxious, noise making, battery requiring, vibrating, singing, type of toys. Especially those without volume control. Really, we have enough noise in our home. But Wil loves, and I mean loves, toys that make music. So I relented on those. I prefer well made wooden toys. You know, the kind that are made to last. I like the idea that one day the boys can pass them on to their own children should they choose to do so. But it turns out that no matter how well made a toy is it cannot withstand a fall from the second floor hallway onto the hardwood floor below. No matter the quality of a toy it just doesn't hold up when used as a bat against the concrete patio outside or thrown into the toilet bowl or slammed against another well made toy.

Timothy received some age appropriate toys for his Birthday last weekend.

Only problem is he is the master of destruction and is not interested in playing with toys for their intended purpose. He wants to use them as weapons. So I have already put away a few things for another day. But that is fine by him because he has found something he enjoys far more than all the toys he received. And true to character he is using it in a way in which it is not intended.No, there is not hazardous material in our home that requires a hazmat mask (well, maybe the boys bathroom but that is a post for another time). Timothy has taken to some packaging from one of his toys. He can be found wandering the house with this on. Just going about his business, sweeping and what not.Here he has paused to fix the rug which he pulls up and shakes 18 times a day.He loves this distorted view of his surroundings and looks for it as soon as he comes downstairs. He even wears it while having his afternoon banana. I tried to convince him to remove it while eating but he would have nothing of it, demonstrating that he could both wear his hazmat mask and eat his banana. So toys for my boys? I am keeping it simple from now on. And I continue to enjoy seeing the world through my boys eyes, even when they are covered by plastic packaging.

duplicate

After I posted the link to the New Atlantis article earlier I kept thinking it was very familiar. . . now I remember why. I read the same article in the spring. In the New Atlantis. And I linked it here. They evidently re-printed it. I'll chalk it up to mom brain! I have lots of that going on these days.

Down syndrome. . . where we are now

Those of us that have children with Down syndrome know what a gift they are. We know they teach us far more than we teach them. A new article in The New Atlantis reminds us that people with Down syndrome are doing better than ever through advanced medical services, early intervention, and loving homes. It also reminds us that because of some of those advanced medical services fewer children diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome ever have a chance to show the world who they are, with approximately 90% being aborted after prenatal diagnosis.

October is Down syndrome awareness month and, like last year, I am going to attempt to blog each day of the month. Some days will be about Wil and Down syndrome and others will not. On October 1 I will link you to others who are also taking this challenge in case you want to read from other parents to children with Ds. It is our way of getting the word out and letting others know what life is really like with Down syndrome. You might be surprised.

My baby is two!

Happy Birthday Timothy!

Oh come on, your two's aren't going to be that bad are they?

Respect

The above PSA was developed by ARC of Virginia and will be included in every Tropic Thunder DVD as it hits the stores. (What a beautiful way to educate others about the hurtful language found in the film) It will also be playing in Wal Mart stores all over the country throughout the month of October, Down syndrome awareness month.

Sarah Palin Baby Names

If you (or your children) were born to Sarah Palin what would you be named?

Go here to find out.

Here are our Sarah Palin Baby Names:

Me: Strike Chipper Palin

James: Crank Widow Palin

Luke: Beans Harpoon Palin

Wil: Jeep Pike Palin

Timothy: Spoon Archer Palin

We're thinking of keeping them. :)

greg willson

Do me a favor, check out our friend Greg's new, improved, and blended site. Theology, music, and design all rolled up into one delectable site.

Escaped

That would be me - I escaped. Now that James is unemployed (Oh, I haven't mentioned that have I? Yep, it's true. More on that later.) I am having all sorts of time to just "get out." No agenda or plans or errands. Although tonight I do have plans to hang out with some girls for dinner, but I left two hours early and have parked myself at Starbucks where I am surfing the net, people watching and thinking about a new blog entry. Probably won't get to the latter because there are too many other interesting things to read and watch. Just wanted to pop in and say "hi." Hi.

We are good, despite being unemployed - which is so stinkin' crazy! James and I have both worked since we were teenagers and never imagined we would be in this position. At such a time as this. . . with the economy tanking, gas prices through the roof, and the housing market in terrible shape. But here we are. Unemployed. With nothing on the horizon. And you know what? We are grateful for it. We are excited to see where the Lord will lead us. Never a dull moment around here!!

A life of crime?

Our eldest has committed his first crime. And then he lied about it, thus committing a second crime against us.

Friday he came barreling in from school, out of breath from running the last block, to show me the rock he found. He pulled it out of his pocket with great delight and a twinkle in his eye and held it proudly in the palm of his hand.

"Look what I found!"

"Wow, Luke, look at that. Where did you find it?

"I just found it." He was being extra silly and fidgety which was my first clue that something was up.

"I understand you found it - I'm just wondering where? I have never seen a rock like that around here." You see, the rock appeared to have nuggets of gold sprinkled throughout - it was dazzling and shimmery.

"Mom, I don't know, I just did." As he spun around and tried to change the subject.

"Okay, Luke, I am having a hard time believing that you found this rock around here. You need to tell me the truth."

Turning to James, who walked him home from school, "Dad, remember when I was walking behind you? That's when I found it."

"Where Luke? On the sidewalk?"

"Moooommm, I just found it." Then the lips start to quiver as the head drops. His spidey senses have kicked in and he knows I am onto him.

"Luke, I am going to give you one more opportunity to tell me the truth."

"Will I get in trouble?" And there it is. We have moved on to negotiating his punishment before he has even confessed.

James and I, at once, reaching the end of our patience, ask in unison "Where. Did. You. Get. The rock!"

"I accidentally took it from the science lab. I just put it in my pocket and forgot it was there."

Let me stop at this point to let everyone know that my father, Luke's Papa, is the Head Honcho of Safety and Security for our school district. And everyone at Luke's school knows that Luke is Capt. McGee's grandson. Nice.

So after a bit more discussion Luke is told that he cannot go to the pool that afternoon. The wailing and screaming commence and he is sent to his room where we hear him just as clearly as if he were standing in front of us. Then, he abruptly stops, opens the door, and with a clear voice says, "did you call me, mom?" No, Luke. And the wailing continues. I'd bet a gold rock there were no tears.

Later, Luke tells us that he had big plans for that rock. He was going to chip away at it until he got to the center because he was certain there was something really great inside. I suppose we could applaud the "life skill" (see yesterday's post) of curiosity but petty thievery and lying (creative as it might get) trump an inquisitive mind.

I think Luke's days of crime are over, however. He just doesn't have the stomach for it. He wrote a note of apology on Saturday and anguished all weekend over facing his teacher.

James walked him into his classroom this morning to make sure the rock was returned and to support Luke as he confessed. Luke first approached the assistant teacher and offered his confession, "I stole this rock and want to return it. I'm sorry." To which she responded, "Oh honey, you didn't steal it you just borrowed it." WHAT?! Really? Did she just say that? James bent down to quietly correct this and encouraged Luke to go speak with his lead teacher. Poor kid, had to repeat those painful words. His teacher acknowledged it was wrong then thanked him for returning the rock and told him that by doing so he was practicing the life skill of responsibility.

And that was that. I have to say, it was a totally cool rock.

Kindergarten at home

Luke is really loving kindergarten. So much that he demanded - uh, I mean asked -that we make a few changes at home. Here are a few.


1. Active Listening

I know. You thought this was the universal sign for "Loooserrr," made popular by Jim Carey's Ace Ventura. Not to kids at Lake Carolina Elementary. In Luke's class, when the teacher needs to regain some control and get every one's attention she makes the "L" above her head and everyone follows suit as they catch on. The big "L" means it is time to stop socializing and listen to the teacher. In other words, the big "L" means SHUT UP!

Luke has requested that when I need him to stop talking I use the active listening sign. "Like when you are on the phone," he said, "and you don't want me to interrupt you can give me the active listening sign." Okay, I like that. I guess what Luke is telling me is that he prefers this to my usual "Luke, Luke, Luke (it normally takes at least three name calls to get his attention) you NEED TO STOP TALKING NOW."

2. "Must do," "May do," and "May not do."

In Luke's class these three phrases guide and direct them in work and play. This was hard for Luke the first few days of school. But now? He is bringing it home and implementing it here.

When asked to do something it is not unusual to hear him ask, "Is that a 'must do' or a 'may do'?"

When told not to do something I am finding I must tell him it is a "may not do," otherwise he views my command as a suggestion.

3. Reading

This isn't new for us, we do lots of reading. Or we thought we did. The reading requirements for kindergarten, however, surpass what we had been doing. So we have ramped it up and Luke is doing much more reading on his own. When Wil and Timothy are around it is a little more challenging.



What with Wil pushing the book closed or pointing to the pictures making the appropriate sound. Or Timothy trying to turn the pages before we are ready or both boys deciding to stick their fingers in Luke's ear while he is trying to sound out the word "favorite." I figure in addition to reading he is learning some multi-tasking skills.

4. Life Skills

Luke's school is all about the "life skill's." So in addition to their traditional school work they have an ongoing conversation about things like compassion, courage, common sense, kindness, responsibility, integrity, honesty, etc. I like this. It is good for him to hear these things from folks other than mom and dad. On Wednesday's his "Life Skills" folder is sent home for us to write down a few of the life skills we have observed in Luke. The folder goes back the next day and the teacher reads the accolades to the class. They all love hearing their parents praises as their peers listen on.

Luke, being the boy that he is, struggles with some of his life skills. Except on Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday he comes home from school and offers to take out the trash, get his clothes out for school the next day saying, "I think it would be good for me to be responsible for getting my school clothes ready, don't you mom?" He is extra patient with his brothers - and always points out his patience. All in all he is really agreeable, for he knows I will be pulling his folder out to write down his life skills. Too bad cleverness is not on the list.

So kindergarten? We are all loving it. I pray this enthusiasm for school will be long lasting!

Conversations with Luke, #57

Luke: I want something else to eat, I'm still hungry. (this after hamburger, fries, and ice cream)

Me: You may have some carrots.

Luke: Carroooots??

Me: Yep

Luke: How many?

Me: Just grab a handful, Luke.

Luke: Dad said I have to eat as many as my age.

Me: Sounds good, five carrots.

Luke: Does that mean when I am 40 I will have to eat 40 carrots?


And then later, coming out of the bathroom. . .


Luke: Mom, is my head on my body?

Me: It appears to be there, Luke, screwed on pretty tight.

Luke: huh, I didn't see my reflection when I looked in the mirror. I thought it might have fallen off.

Me: Wha...? Nevermind.

The Pioneer Woman

Over a year ago I stumbled across a blog titled Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. I was immediately smitten with this woman, Ree, a former city girl, who married a fourth generation cattle rancher who now spends her days cooking for cowboys, among other things. She writes about life on a working cattle ranch which includes raising her four children. I was hooked from the day I found her site but the big bonus came when I discovered her brother, Mike, whom she writes about with humor and love. Mike is cognitively delayed. I am not entirely sure of his diagnosis, I believe he has a deleted chromosome. What I do know is that she really delights in him and it comes through in every story that she tells about him.

Like today. She talks of Mike's lifelong love of firefighters and their station. Check it out. And check out the rest of her site too, she has expanded it a great deal over the last year to include cooking, photography and home and garden. But I warn you - you might loose a few hours reading through her hilarious posts.

Packages

What's this? A package from Dell? ahhh, my long awaited computer.And already a certain little blond is anxious to get his hands on it.
Hang on there buddy, let me help you with that.

Awwww, and here it is. I'm feeling a little weepy. Finally a decent computer. And I am determined to keep greasy and destructive little fingers away!Whoooaa there Mr. T! Too close! Hold on, I must re-direct the little terror.
There we go, that was close. It's all yours, Timothy. Have at the box! And keep your little fingers off mom's computer. And please, give your partner in crime the same message!
I am king of the box!

I'm back

After having a migraine to end all migraines Thursday through Saturday I am finally able to get on my new computer. I am having to reacquaint myself with the space bar and develop trust that my cursor will not randomly jump three sentences back in the middle of typing. Or delete a half dozen lines for no apparent reason.

So, just wanted to say "hi" and let you know that I'll be back on this week to share a few pics, tell you the story of how my two youngest spawn absolutely destroyed one room in thirty seconds flat, share with you some of the things I am learning in kindergarten, and maybe say a couple things about Sarah Palin's presence in this most heated presidential race.

But for now, I have laundry up to my eyeballs and children without clean shorts!

News-of-the-Day

My-new-computer-has-been-shipped!
Praise-the-Lord,-Hallelujah,-and-Amen!

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