Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oct 25th, 2011: Holland Revisited

Most of us are familiar with the poem "Welcome To Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley.  Being from there, I have been asked about my opinion about this poem.  It also recently came up in a discussion during a class I took part in, many shared their thoughts about it and it turns out most have some (different) issues with it.  My first intruduction to this poem was when I was 2 weeks from having Annelies.  It was mentioned on TV, I do not remember the context.  I remember thinking at the time:  "Fabulous.  My ex-country is being compared with a disability.  Fitting."  (I have always been self-conscious of being from Holland.  It is not that interesting of a place to most Americans.  Being from France or Spain would have been so much cooler.  My accent would have been waaaay cooler, too.  The Dutch accent, like the language, sounds harsh.  Not sexy at all!)  Also, when I answered the question "Where are you from?" the responses varied from: "Oh, Holland, ...

-is that in Amsterdam? 
-do they speak Danish there?  Or German? 
-did you live in a windmill?
-does everyone wear wooden shoes there??
-I just ADORE scandinavian countries!
-I have been to Sweden...(Denmark...Germany...)
-I have an aunt from there, do you know her?  Her name is van den something...
-is that near the Netherlands (I find this a valid question actually.  It is confusing!  the Netherlands is the appropriate geographical name for the country, but it is often referred to as Holland by its people, those abroad, and rabid soccer fans.  Holland is the name of 2 of its provinces (North - and South Holland). "Hol" literally means "Hallow", a lot if the country is below sea level.  Oh, that reminds me of another one:
-are there a lot of dykes in Holland?  (the big shiteating grin on that person's face made me realize he was NOT talking about the fantastic reclamation technologies that do exist over there)
-Oh, Holland...Yeah, I have had a Danish before...heh heh... (this from a drunk dude at a bar).
(Now, American friends, before you think I am making fun of you, there are sooo many funny things the Dutch say about the U.S.!!)

But a few times, I received something that went like this:  "I went on a cruise/tour vacation to Europe, and was soooo looking forward to France and Italy, but HOLLAND TURNED OUT TO BE MY FAVORITE!  I had NOT expected that!  I want to go back just to Holland and see more of it!"

And it is that reaction I have to think about when I read the poem.  I wonder if E.P.K. had been to Europe, or at least had a good idea of what people's perception was about Holland.  So that part, I choose to see that way, simply because I, like many parents I know would not have things any other way!   For us, Holland turned out to be an unexpected but perfectly pleasant surprise!  One we like better than whatever our fantasies of Italy were.  One we want to share with the world and say: It is ALL GOOD, we are in a good place!

E.P.K does talk about the pain that never goes away.  For me, it is not pain.  It is realization and awareness, and neither of those are bad things I am actually happy to have gained!  The only painful thing to me is when I try to think about "B.A." (Before Annelies), if I offended anyone with my naivete!   (So, since I have a captive audience of about one on this blog -heh heh-, I would like to take a moment and shout out that any dumb comments I may have made back then came from a place of ignorance, not unacceptance.)  That makes me cringe if I dwell on it too long.  But I don't, and I try to never forget this so that I can appoach people with some kind of grace, even if insensitive, cringeworthy comments are made.

And all those people who are bragging about Italy (or, their 'typical' kids), well, they are just proud parents like I am!  Because they are proud of their kids does not mean they want to rub something in (there are some exceptions, unfortunately, that I have heard of but not yet experienced.)

So I guess I am back...Funny how life goes, isn't it? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oct 23rd: Yuki

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

~Mohandas Gandhi

You came into our lives the way you left: surprisingly and dramatically. It was a Wednesday afternoon in the Spring of 1997 and I pulled into my driveway wanting to hear the song that was on the radio (it was “Your Woman” by White Town) and was slightly irritated when a very excited Leif came running up to my car. I rolled down the window and he told me that he had ‘found something interesting (don’t remember his exact words). I turned off the car and followed Leif inside.

Turn back time to the previous Sunday. We found a dead white cat in the office* driveway, it puzzled us and made us sad for the owner, but we did not really think about it much further. It did not look like it had suffered trauma, and we could tell it was a female.  We were not super surprised, because one of the neighbors had a whole bunch of cats (more than 15) that frequented our yards. We were a little disturbed by someone who would have that many cats without managing their procreative activities, but we never had anything about the cats because we were ‘Cat people’.
A box was thrust in my face with little white creatures that looked like rats. My Mom and Leif explained that Leif had heard a bird-like yelping sound in the garage, so birds was what he expected to find. He found you and your 3 siblings; approx. 7 day old kittens who had lost their mother at about 3 days old (we now understood that the dead cat was in the driveway was your mom). The Veterinarian explained that you and your sibs survived because your mother was able to give you colostrum those first few days, which goes a long way to ensuring survival of a young one. You all were super thirsty. 2 of you had not opened your eyes yet (because you all looked like each other, and you certainly did NOT look like cats, we don’t remember who was who from the beginning). Leif and my Mom took care of you all, feeding you with eye droppers. The 4 of you thrived from the beginning. Even though Aaron and I already had 2 cats (Rusty and Spikkel), it was not too hard to convince him that we had to have one of you.
The kitten-box was also duly transported to and from the office on days where both mom and Leif were there. In about a week or 2, you started looking like actual kittens, and you ventured outside of the box.
Even though you had four legs, a tail and whiskers, something about you never actually believed that you were a cat. This had to do with the fact that you were fed by humans from the beginning of your life. You never saw your mother, by the time your eyes were open the only ones you ever saw feeding you were us humans (we spend a LOT of time at my Mom’s house in Granite Bay that spring.) Once you came to live with us full-time, you quickly established yourself at the top of the family hierarchy within the Fisher household. As the kids grew, you came to accept them a little more. Over the past few months, Marco became a little more careful in his approach towards you and you allowed him to pet you as long as he did not do anything ‘wild’.
You gave us an enormous scare in the fall of ’99. I guess you came a little too close to the dogs next door and one of them bit you. You did not look like there was anything wrong, there was no blood. But you were in shock, breathing really hard. We took you to the emergency vet clinic, where they put you in an oxygen chamber and you were able to breathe normally again. You had some internal trauma and spent 2 days in the hospital but you recovered pretty quickly. Because your outside skin layer was separated from the inside layer, some air caught in it and until that dissolved it sounded and felt like rice crispies when we petted you on that side. So for a while your nickname was “Rice Crispy Kitty”, interspersed with “Our Thousand Dollar Kitty”- the price tag to get you mended back to health from that little incident.
This thing about you where you thought you were ‘people’ was evident in your reaction when we brought home several other creatures to live with us. First there was Sophie, who came to live with us after Spikkel passed away. Then Marco and Annelies joined our family. Oh, the looks of disdain you gave us (and them) were absolutely priceless. While we laughed at these instances, the special bond you had with Aaron made sure you never ever lacked for warmth and love. You and I had our special times; when Aaron was not around, after the kids were in bed you came and graced me with your presence, cuddling on my lap. When Aaron was home, though, you never hung out with me. Initially I found this confusing, weird and a little irritating. But I learned and came to accept that animals choose their hierarchy with people, and as much as you thought of yourself as the top (boss) of our little household, Aaron was your number 2 person and once I understood the dynamics I never begrudged that relationship.
You knew when you did something ‘wrong’, usually when you tried to sneak out at moments when we wanted you to stay in. You had this hilarious meow-meow-meow thing you did when we ‘yelled’ at you. Because of this, we also called you “Our Back talking Kitty”.
As you got older, you became more cross eyed, something that happens to Siamese cats (that whole ‘I am People” thing is just slightly compounded by that little part of you that was also Siamese). This made for funny moment when you would try to jump on something, miss, and look around you as if to say: “Did anyone see that? And if there was someone, your look would be one of “I SO TOTALLY MEANT to do that.” Aaron and I would look at each other and laugh, but never in your face because we valued your dignity. One of us would pick you up and pet you to help make you feel OK about things.
Despite the fact that you were aging, you were always healthy and happy. You took care of yourself, and to help you maintain your beautiful grooming we sent you in for an annual trim every spring. We lovingly called this your “Attitude Adjustment”. Yes, you did have an attitude, again because it the whole “I-am-people-even-though-I-am-a-mutt-who-is-partly-Siamese” thing.
Aaron mentioned just last week that he felt you seemed to be slowing down just a week ago. It became evident you seemed to be sleeping more, usually in a sunny spot on the landing of the stairs. My comment was that you were probably more tired because Max (the latest addition to our family) was giving you a run for your money. You gave us our final laugh last Thursday morning. I got up to go to work and Aaron was still sleeping. You and I played the bedroom door game every morning; because you HAD to come see Aaron (You probably heard me get up and went to wait at the door so you could go in. Yes, I had a strict no-cats-in-the-bedroom rule which was of course broken the moment I left the bedroom. I opened the door and you swooped by my legs like a little lightning bolt. I muttered: “Geez, for an old broad she still moves very freaking fast.” Aaron dissolved in laughter (I thought he was asleep).
Aaron found you on Sunday morning. Your hind legs were paralyzed. We took you to the emergency vet, who diagnosed you within minutes; you had a stroke due to a blood clot, this caused your paralysis. Your tissue was already starting to die. There was no reversal for this condition, and we could not bear to have you finish out your days with a paralyzed hind-end. As we were sitting in the living room, Aaron, Marco, you and I (it was 6 am, Annelies was still asleep), Aaron and I exchanged a glance that said that we knew you would be leaving us.  He explained to Marco that there was a possibility you might not be able to be 'fixed'.  Marco took it in, he seemed to understand in his way.  He gave you a kiss on your nose good-bye before you left.  We knew what we had to do and it was so, so difficult. I brought the kids over to the grand parents and came to the vet’s office. When you saw me, you showed happiness to see me and you purred briefly. Thank you for that. We spent a few more moments with you before you took your final journey over the rainbow bridge to join Rusty and Spikkel. You were the final of the “Original Fisher First Three” kitties. You are now with your friends. You bought 14 ½ years at the beginning of your life in the most miraculous way and we are so, so grateful we were chosen to spend this time with you. You will be in our hearts always.

*Back then Leif ran his business out of a home on King Road in Loomis. For investment purposes, he and my Mom bought the house next door when it came up for short sale. The neighborhood was not that great back then, and houses were “gasp” well under $100K at the time. We rented (and eventually bought) that house from them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sept 17th, 2011: Two Worlds

When I was 15, my parents divorced and subsequently my mom took my brother and I to the US to give her next marriage a shot.  Moving at 15, after a divorce (which was difficult, I was the only offspring to come out of that union so I experienced this differently from my older brother) is not an easy thing.  Moving to another country, well, fuhgetaboutit!  I resisted becoming part of the world I was physically in, and choose to write to my friends back home instead.  I spent hours and hours writing,  We are talking 80's.  Al Gore had yet to invent the internet; let alone Facebook, blogs, etc.  You still had to put little "Airmail" stickers on your letters because if you didn't they would end up on a BOAT and take up to a MONTH to get there!)  My wonderful friends rose to the challenge.  Not a day went by where I did not receive at least 1 letter, some days as many as 5!  Just between my BFF and my boyfriend I received 3 letters a week!  We spent the first year in New Jersey because my mom's new husband had some harebrained plan for a house he had just built.  Rather than selling it immediately he felt the need to hang on to it and sell it 9 months down the road.  The plan after that was to move to California.  The needs of a 15 year old, and how difficult it would be to get used to one place and then have to move across the country to another place, were obviously not considered in any of these plans.  The marriage (combine an independent, stubborn Dutch woman and a fairly traditional Arab man...and the LAST thing you can count on is a happy union) was a bust from the beginning, so rather than having energy to be there for me, my mom was in relationship-survival mode from the beginning.  So I took matters in my own hands (I am nothing if not resourceful!!!) and choose to NOT get attached to my environment in New Jersey.  I wanted to save my energy for California.  So while I lived in NJ, my heart was in Holland.  When I went home for the summer after those first 10 months in the US, I was completely 'in the loop' as to what my friends were doing and I picked life back up without missing a beat.
Now that I have kids, I realize there are a lot of similarities to having kids with special needs and living in separate worlds.  Having Annelies, we were thrown in the world of Down syndrome.  So many preconceived notions I had about that one, oh boy!  Because I was of *snicker* 'advanced age' when I gave birth to my kids, of course I had given Ds more than a few thoughts.  And I had all these lovely preconceived notions about "those" kids and their parents, and the one thing I knew for sure was that I DID NOT WANT TO BE IN THAT WORLD!!!  (For the most part, I felt pity towards families with Ds).  So the first few weeks of Annelies's life, I decided to do whatever I could for Annelies to have as 'normal' a life as possible.  Sure, she had Ds, but dammit, she was going to be the BEST, SMARTEST, CUTEST kid with Ds out there.  In those early days I felt vindicated whenever someone told me:  "Oh, she doesn't look like she has Ds."  Any pictures I published or sent of her were ones where she looked as 'typical' as possible.  I avoided contact with other families (not that hard at that time, it was a pre-Sisterhood era.) 
In July of Annelies's first year, the annual Ds convention was held in Sacramento.  I wanted to attend because I was beginning to realize that Annelies's interests HAD to come before mine in this matter.  As her parents, it was (and continues to be) our duty to find out what we could do, and tap into the resources out there to help Annelies with her development and live the fullest, healthiest life she can.  The older Annelies got, the more obvious her Ds became in delays and just in the way she moved and looked.  But to my surprise, the older she became, the LESS the Ds seemed to matter!!  I was (and still am) amazed at the things she DOES know and do, and she continually blows out of the water the preconceived notions I had about Ds.  Towards the end of that first year, I found myself looking at Annelies and noticing the things she was learning, the personality that became more and more defined, and seeing the Ds less.  So I am now amazed at how easy it is to merge the 'world of Ds' with all its fabulous people (yeah, another preconceived notion that was blown out of the water about parents who have kids with Ds...what an amazing group of people!) and experiences with the world we live in that includes typical daycare and friends for both of our kids.  Kind of like both worlds have merged.  Which brings me back to my move to the US.  Initially, I felt like a foreigner here (people asked where my lovely accent was from) which made it difficult for me to 'nest', but when I went back 'home' for a visit, people would ask me when I was leaving again, which made it hard to enjoy my stay over there, settle in and feel at home, even if it was just temporary.  After 25 years of being in the US, I feel at home here, and I feel great when I am in Holland, visiting my family.  Same way as I feel at home in the "Ds world," and it makes me feel good that Annelies is thriving in *her* world, however she chooses to define that world.  All I want is the wisdom to guide her in the best possible way.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

03/13/11 13.1 (Lots of 1's and 3's in this title!)

I have been asked to share a little bit about my half marathon experience, so I will.  I am generally not too eager to write about myself, but this was an experience that I will share so that maybe others may be encouraged to do something out of their comfort zone as well.  Here is the main reason I am sharing:  When people caught wind of this 'endeavor' 90% would say; "Oh my gosh, I could never do that".   Well, yes, you can.  As long as you want to give it a shot, anyone can do this.
Most of you have know me in person know I am NOT athletic (at least, I do not LOOK athletic even at this point).  I have had periods of working out during my life time, have even had periods of being in reasonable-to-good shape, but that was during my 20's.   When I WAS working out, I always thought about running (jogging, really).  I started running last summer, tentatively, a couple of miles here and there.  My relationship with my body has not been a good one throughout my life, I have always felt overweight, even when I was not, but have been too heavy since my mid-20's. 
Anyway, one of the Ds mama's threw out an idea on our forum: Let's get rid of some Holiday fat by training for the Shamrockin' Half Marathon.  This was in January, about 12 weeks from the event.  I looked up the event, and came across a Fleet Feet training class that was going to meet 2 times a week.  I thought:  If I can make it to 70% of the training sessions, I am going to sigh up.  I checked my schedule, and was able to make to all but 2 sessions.  It was "Meant To Be".  I signed up for the training and the event, and zestfully threw myself into it.  I started out running 25 minutes, built up to 30, then 35, 40.  2 weeks later, I was ready to start the Fleet Feet training.  The thought of going to this training intimidated me to no end.  For sure, people were going to look at me and think: "What the heck is she doing here?"  Oh how little faith do I have in humanity (and if there really ARE people out there who think that way, well, they are not really worth my time.)  I joined the run/walk group, because I was jogging a 15-16 minute mile (I TOLD you I am slow) at the time.   
The training was really neat, we built up to a 12 mile long run once a week by adding one to 2 miles each time.  The first training session, we ran 50 minutes.  The first 3 weeks we did 50, 65 then 80 minutes (the 80 minutes was about 6 1/2 miles).  Then we did 7, 8, 10, 12, 8 mile long runs on Saturday.  During the week, we did shorter workouts and cross training (I did some swimming).   I found out that training for a long distance event does not take up more time than 'just' working out.  It took my mind off working out to lose weight (my sole motivation to work out so far), making a workout actually a fun thing to do ("I am training for something..." rather than "Damn I am fat, I need to work out").  I even got to the point where I would plan on a 3-4 mile run, and end up adding a mile or 2, just becuase I felt like it! 
The event itself was wonderful.  I am glad I joined a training program, because I had done 12 miles, I knew I could do it.  Nevertheless...I was nervous as hell the week before the event.  The only times I did not feel nerves doing through my tummy was when I was in the gym (I did 2 long 1.5 workouts on the bike and elliptical machine to get mentally ready to move for a long period of time, while not having too much impact) or when I was sleeping.  The night before, I slept about 3 hours, I was absolutely wired!  The morning of, I woke up before my 2 alarms went off (it was daylight savings, too). 
The run itself was a peaceful experience.  I did not go out too fast, I kept at my slow pace and fgelt good throughout.  The only time I started to feel ready to get it over with was during mile 10 and 11.  After that, I felt good and knew I was close to the finish.  I was able to sprint the last .10 in the stadium, and was at the same time really emotional.  Could not believe I did it, and for the first time in my life felt proud of something I accomplished physically.  I actually felt a slight bit of respect for my body for the first time ever! That is a new feeling for me.
I am going to do another 1/2 on May 1, am ready to get a little faster!  I have my workout plan (and eating plan) all ready for this one, I am adding strenghth training and will watch my eating.  Now, I want to lose some more weight so that I can actually get faster at this!  
I could not have done this without support from some wonderful, inspiring people.  One of them, is my friend Jen V. who planted this whole idea in my head in the first place, and who is an inspiration in all aspects of life.  Then there is CM, my cubicle mate at work.  She is a super-runner, and has patiently listened to my tales of beginner's woe (actually, not much woe at all, it has been good!).  She has given me some very valuable advice!  The coaching team from Fleet feet was AWESOME and so, so supportive!  And then, of course, Aaron who has spent time watching the kiddo's on Saturday's while I did my long runs!   The bottomline for me is that one can DO a lot, when a support system is in place!  And if you ask for support, it is usually there! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Feb 6th, 2011: Annelies's World of Opportunity Just Got a Little Bigger

From the first day Annelies came into our lives, I looked for opportunity for her (once I got past the self-pity part).  I read hopeful stories in blogs and on other websites from all over the world about what people with Ds can do and have achieved.  Via YouTube, I 'met' a very cool lady in New Zealand who lives on her own and has her drivers licence (when I saw that video I initially thought...wait, you are driving on the wrong side of the road...).  I 'met' kids who go to school and have typical friends.  On Face book I 'met' these 2 beautiful girls who were hanging out at Starbucks in Germany via a fabulous photographer (Conny Wenk-Google her, her pictures are a true treat) who makes it her life work to photograph kiddos with Ds.  I met in true life a beautiful 10 year old who attends public school in Colorado, and a just-21 year old who celebrated his 21st B day in style, in Las Vegas, where his Dad bought him his first shot.  I also met 100 beautiful children in Holland, in a book my Dad sent me, taken by a photographer who has nothing really to do with Ds, but was just fascinated by the beauty of 'our kids' and felt teh need to publicize this.  These images and real-life meetings gave me such hope for Annelies's future, and eased the 'freaked-out-ness' that I felt about the diagnosis. 
What also helped tremendously were the words of our Pediatrician who told us:  "Do not let this diagnosis lower your expectations for this baby.  She will talk.  She will go to school.  She will lead a full, productive, independent life..."  At Annelies's first physical she did not even want to write "T-21/Ds" on her chart. 
So of course there is hope, and there is the question of:  What are we going to do to bridge the gap, or as they are called in therapy, 'deficits' (also such a lovely word, but I am not worried that much about words.)  How are we going to get this beautiful baby from here to a relatively 'normal' life without being too drastic about it?  When I bottle fed Annelies those first months, it occurred to me that the bottle-nipple-holes were packaged and sold by age.  0-3 month nipples had small holes, 3-6 the holes became bigger, etc etc.  Because Annelies is a child of 'least resistance', I gave up nursing her after she discovered how easy bottle feeding is when they started pounding those bottles into her at the NICU (They were just doing this because low tone can partially help cause feeding issues with many kiddos who have Ds.  And I was still in the self pity phase of the whole thing so I went along with what they thought would be best.  I knew nothing about Ds, and was more worried about other possible health issues that were presented to me she might have because of the Ds.  I LOVED the nurses at the NICU and will forever be grateful to them, for giving us our start.  At any rate, here Annelies was drinking happily from her bottles.  I used lowest possible flow nipples because if she was not going to gain strength from sucking on a human nipple, she sure as hell was going to gain as much strength as possible from the fake ones.  And I never moved from the low flow.  The nipple I threw out just a few months ago was a lowest-possible flow nipple.  When I pumped for Annelies, I found I had to set my (hospital grade) pump setting higher and higher.  So I wondered about the 'wisdom' of the hierarchy (shall we say) of the fake nipple holes.  And I applied my logic (I may not have much, but I DO have logic and common sense, and they DO help get you somewhere sometimes!) and made that decision. 
Anyway, about 6 months ago I was told about Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson.  If you have a child or loved one with Ds, you have to look at this article: 
The Oral-Motor Myths of Down Syndrome

By Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, M.S., CCC-SLP
Published in ADVANCE Magazine August 4, 1997
You can get to it via this link, scroll down to the bottom. 
Annelies had an evaluation today, and it was so helpful.  I will not describe all that we talked about, because my head is still spinning.  But in a nut shell, we have a set of tools and steps we are going to take that will help Annelies strengthen the areas in her mouth that wll help her eat better and eventually talk as clearly as she is going to be capable of.  SRJ gave a lecture last night for parents, and out of all the things she said that were so good, one thing that resonated with me.  That was the part about how such a large percentage of communication has to do with visual perception of a person.  What do people think about when they see a person with Ds?  Slack jaw, tongue hanging out (partially).  What do people think with they are presented with a person who looks like that?  Right.  Go figure.  Slam that door (to opportunity-jobs, schools, etc) right shut!  SRJ found methods to therapy that can be done at home to decrease this, and send out kids on their way to Oral Motor 'control' (for lack of better words).  Annelies and I had a 2 hour meeting with SRJ today.  I told her my thoughts on nipples and she told me I am "the perfect mom".  LOL.  She made me feel good, even though I am so far from being that (seriously, she was just being funny).  But she DID tell me that becausee if what I did, Annelies's tongue thrust is so mild, and she has a wonderful 'basis' to work from!  As I drove home, I was nearly in tears of hope and happiness.  I saw more doors open for my child, and I am so excited for her!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jan 1, 2010: Marco Has a Girlfriend

Really never imagined it would go this way.  Also did not think it would happen quite so soon but alas, my first born has lost his heart at the tender age of not-quite-4.  Here is how it went down:  New Years Eve at my Mom's house.  Violet, a long time girl-friend of my Mom's, often indulges the kids with presents when she visits and she did not fail this time.  Annelies was already in bed when Violet showed up, so Marco got to open his present.  Not quite satisfied, he dragged (I say dragged because it was a LARGE box) Annelies's present over to me with a request to 'open Annelies's present, please'.  My Mom told me to just go on ahead, Annelies would not really mind if Marco opened her present.  He tore the wrapper off the box, carefully handing us each piece.  So cute.  When the wrapper was finally off, Marco's eyes became round as saucers and he grinned from ear to ear, because he was face to face with...an almost life-size doll.  We found out her name is Lisa (The box said "Lovable Lisa") and we sat her down on the couch.  Marco stood facing her, and looked at her out of the corners of his eyes from each direction, with a goofy grin on his face.  We were all astounded at this very non-autistic bahavior.  We told him to hug Lisa, and he did.  We told him to kiss Lisa and he couldn't do it quickly enough! 
When bed time came, Lisa had to come with.  Marco asked for Lisa to sleep in the crib that is in my Mom's guest room, and I would share the big bed with Marco.  (I asked him if he wanted her in the bed, he said 'No, Lisa in the crib').  We tucked Marco and Lisa in and told them good night.  An hour later, I went to check on Marco.  He had gotten up, turned on the light, gotten Lisa from across the room and tucked her in bed next to him, and fallen asleep (there is no way for him to reach the light switch on the wall from the bed, so the light was on).  Unbelievable, so very cute!
The next morning, Marco wanted to take Lisa with him from the bedroom to the living room.  I announced to my Mom that this was not just a one-night stand, this is the real thing!  To this day, Annelies has not been able to get anywhere near this doll, who happily lives in Marco's room.  (He does not insist on taking her everywhere, he is happy for her to just be there when he comes home.) 

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dec 31, 2010: Looking To The New Year

I did not make any resolutions because I learned early on that making a resolution for me is the quickest way to stop whatever habit the resolution required FAST.  So at the beginning of this month I took some time to reflect back over 2010 and if I had to sum the year up with one word, it would be: chaotic.   The biggest contributor to chaos in many homes would probably be kids.  So many things need to be organized for kids.  For Annelies, I tended to go with the flow of our therapists' schedules, fitting my work around them and not looking for better options (like, scheduling something for when Aaron was around).   With most therapists, we did not have a 'standing' appointment, so often at the end of the appointment I would have to work with them to find a good time/day for the next one.  Just thinking about this process made be break out in a cold sweat, because it is so hard to book an appointment with an already over committed therapist!  It also caused me to decline one hour of warm water therapy per week for Annelies, because I just did not think we could fit it in!   
Mondays were tough: 
1) Bring Marco to Rancho Cordova for school (1 1/2 hour round trip in rush hour traffic on the way there), 2) Be back home in time for ST with Annelies at 9:00 am
3) Annelies to Monday Morning play/therapy group at 1:30 am
4) Coordinate drop-off/pick up for Annelies
5) Back to Rancho for work
6) Marco up at 4:30, go to class at 6:30. 
By the way, I am sharing this not for sympathy reasons.  Parents (special needs and/or SAH or not) are Just.Plain.Busy.  Being that the kids at toddler age need more supervision and help doing things (potty, dressing, eating, etc) makes it even more so. 
So early December when I thought things over, I figured it would be a great idea to set up all Annelies's therapies for set, weekly times.  And I proceeded to call each therapist and do just that.  Within a few hours of talking on the phone, we now have a steady appointment schedule for Annelies!  Also, one of her Physical Therapies (Warm Water) she will mostly be able to attend with her Dad, and I love having him involved with her activities!  I also arranged with one f her therapists that she will either come to our house, or my Mom's house, depending on where Annelies is.  The appointment time will remain the same, I will just send one email at the beginning of the month telling her where to be.
One other load off will be that Marco will attend preschool and daycare in Loomis.  He will go to ST once a week, on either Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, with Aaron.  With this therapist, I arranged that Marco and Aaron will attend on the day Aaron does not work (he never works both Tue AND Thu, and I can let her know in the beginning of the month what days they will be there!).  As I was arranging this, knowing my desire for regularity and organization in the Fisher household, I did freak out a few times.  What if I can't do it?  But I kept at it, and voila!  Done! 
In the physical-organizational-sense, Aaron installed shelves in our little bonus room (we have an 8 X 6 lighted room at the back of the house for storage (or time outs...KIDDING!).  Up till now, we just threw things in there, and it had stacks and stacks of boxes and crap from our move (because when you move, you find all kinds of stuff you forgot you had.  Stowing it away in a dark corner of the house will actually create the illusion that it is still not there and we don't have to deal with it.  Right?!?  Anyway, when I looked at that room/closet with the shelves, I asked Aaron:  Where is the rest of the stuff?  He began laughing and told me:  It is all there, just easier accessible and much less messy!  This prompted me to clean out our coat closet, which is now Annelies's favorite place to open door and go in and play (there is now room for her to do so, and I don't have to be afraid that something may fall on her due to the way things were packed in there, too.)
Who knows, maybe all this organization will give me enough energy to do AMAZING things next year.  Just kidding, I am really just looking forward to a less-chaotic year! 

And I wish for you all the same; not-so-much chaos but LOTS of Love, Happiness, Health & Compassion in 2011!!!