Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Flooring

In case you were wondering where I've been, I'll tell you. The tile laying guy has been here since last Wednesday putting in a real floor. In the twelve years we've lived here we've done some remodeling which resulted in the desk area and coat closet just having a cement floor. At the same time the rest of the room had stick on tiles that we're guessing were about 35 years old. The bathroom/laundry room also had a cement floor which we've painted three times. So our three attempts plus the previous paint were all peeling off in different stages leaving the floor looking well, ugly. Now the entire floor is one continuous real tile floor. Some of the grout still needs to be scoured off and the white residue from the grout sealer needs to weather a bit, but it looks and feels wonderful. And it's amazing how easy it is to clean a room with basically nothing in your way. But by tomorrow the room will be cluttered with the rest of the furniture, garbage cans, coats, shoe basket, stray shoes, laundry detergents, laundry baskets, and plain old stuff in general. The kind of stuff that gets left behind in a house filled with seven people.

That doesn't tell you why I've been away from the computer though. See, the internet service and router are all hooked up in the desk area and the tile guy assured me that they had to be unplugged and hung in a bag up high, out of his way. After he left last night and the sealer dried I went straight out there to plug everything in. And he had a good laugh today when he came back for the finishing touches. "Just couldn't live without it any longer, could ya?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kitty Quilt

This is for Lou. It's just a floppie right now, but hopefully soon I will get it sandwiched and quilted. I love it and so does she. It's such a happy quilt.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our Daily Bread

We love bread and eat plenty of it. I use my bread machine a few times a week; I only use it to make the dough. I don't like the way the machine bakes the bread, it gets too hard and I don't like the shape it bakes into, too high and doesn't fit in my toaster very well. But I do like the dough cycle. Mostly I make bread dough and pizza crust, on occasion cinnamon sweet rolls. But always I pray the Our Father when I take the dough from the bread pan to knead a couple times before shaping and rising. My favorite line is, "thy will be done". It's a convenient phrase for bread baking because it seems no matter how many times I use the same recipe it turns out slightly different. So I usually just repeat the phrase "thy will be done" while preparing the bread, hoping that the "will" is for it to rise nicely, bake evenly and taste deliciously. But due to humidity, freshness of yeast, temperature of liquids, timeliness of removing from bread pan and what ever else might play into the equation, "thy will" seems to be out of my control. It shouldn't surprise me though. God's will is rarely the same as my will. I can honestly say I never prayed for a child with Down syndrome, a husband to have spine surgery, high risk pregnancies, a 1999 cranberry crash - I never prayed for any of those to happen, but they did and I am better for them. It takes time to reveal that, though. God's will is always a better plan for my life than my will. Sometimes months or years later I realize just how God's will played out in my life and can't imagine it any other way. Thank you God! You Rock!

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
Recipe for Old Fashioned White Bread
7 oz. warm milk
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp. butter
3 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. yeast
Place all items in bread machine. Choose dough cycle. When complete, turn onto floured surface, knead 5-6 times. Shape and place in greased bread pan. Let rise until double. Approximately 30 minutes. Rising time will vary depending on kitchen temperature and humidity. Carefully, without jiggling, place in preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25 minutes or a little longer. Bread is done when the top crust is nicely browned and can be thumped. Thumping bread involves tipping it from the pan to reveal the long side and thumping with your thumb. If it sounds hollow, it's done. If it sounds muffled, then bake for a few more minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove and serve warm with real butter.
*The top can be buttered, after baking, for a softer topcrust. DH likes it crunchy so I usually leave the butter off.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chicken For Dinner

You know those cute little chicks at the top of the page...well, they're 6 lb. birds and in the freezer now. Yum!


When the flag looks like thisit's time for some early morning launches.

Blue Ninja

The downward spiral

The Recovery

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

So, the weekend to celebrate our Freedom is over. Thank You to all the Veterans out there who do your part in protecting our freedoms. May God Bless You abundantly! And what a weekend it was. We started it with a Fun Run for the middle three. It looks like Lou is getting into her running mindset.
Then we did a little Tilt-a-Whirling. After all the running and spinning we took 5 very tired kids home. Once home, however, they perked up just enough to light off a small package of fireworks.
On the Fourth, Grace headed over to the stable to ready the minis for a walk in the parade. Girls, glitter paint, patriotic colored rubberbands, 3 mini horses, a laundry basket of candy to throw. The morning was adding up to a ton of fun. Little J had a fun time waiting for the parade to start. And BTW, he says dada, guh-guh, and a very breathy key. Yeah for the consonant sounds. You can bet there was a round of clapping and cheering for those milestones.

My Superman had a great idea for staking out our spot along the parade route. We put our chairs out the night before. I have to admit I figured they'd get stolen or at least moved. Lots of bars line the parade route in small town Pittsville, WI. But our faith in people was restored when we showed up to find our chairs still there in the morning. Or maybe that says something about the quality of our chairs. In the morning he packed a cooler of drinks and bag of snacks for the wait. Not just pop and chips, but he threw in some grapes and cheese sticks as well. What a guy! I love him.
The girls, looking pretty tired, after a long walk with the minis. Then they had to walk all the way back to the beginning of the route to trailer up the minis and head home.
Lots of candy thrown at the parade. This is a traditional old time parade where candy is tossed to the kids. Sometimes they get hit in the head. Sometimes the candy busts into a package of crumbs. Sometimes you even get hit with water ballons. Definitely need to stay on guard.

In between the parade and fireworks I made 12 quarts of rhubarb juice. Yum!

Off to the fireworks to meet up with DH's brother, his wife and little boy. We played catch, rollerbladed, threw beanbags, lit sparklers...all just to pass time until the fireworks began. Little Ray, who isn't so little anymore, 5 days till he's 5, snapped pictures of DH, Little J and I. Pretty good job, I think.

Sunday rolled around and we slept in a little (till 8am) and went to late church. Stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items for Grace's trip and then packed and did dishes most of the afternoon. Here she is all ready for the Boundary Waters for 5 days. How she's going to carry that pack along with a canoe over her head on a 1/4 mile portage, I'll never know.

Now for the week to begin so I can relax...NOT! I have 1 minute to officially post my Weekend Wrap-up before it's not the weekend anymore. I hope all of you had a terrific Independence Day weekend and I'll be back before too long to share what I know about encouraging sitting in a baby with Down syndrome.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Book Review - The Year My Son and I Were Born

The Year My Son and I Were Born by Kathryn Soper

Tears and laughter. Happiness and Sadness. Despair and Triumph. I felt all these while reading, but now I'm drawing a blank. I read the book so fast and felt so many emotions, but how to sum it all up in a few paragraphs is making my brain work in overtime. Little J is quickly appoaching 1 year old and reading Soper's book was a wonderfully refreshing way to take a trip down memory lane. My experience was different than hers, of course. Yet the same in so many ways. Boys for both of us, Down syndrome diagnosis, NICU stay, feeding tube, breast pump, feelings of despair, feelings of intense love, strong desire to protect our babies from the world. The list goes on - a full year worth of shared experiences.

Many times while reading Soper's book tears would fill my eyes and usually roll down my cheeks. The kids would badger me about my crying, "Are you reading that sad Down syndrome book again?" "Why do you cry when you read books about Down syndrome?" Yeah, why was I crying again I asked myself. The book's not sad. I'm not sad. After a little self reflection, I realized I was crying because I had been there. I had experienced the intense feelings of anger and gratitude that came from people helping us during the early weeks of Little J's life when we were tethered to the NICU and clinic and newborn weight scale. I cry because I feel validated for feeling anger and selfishness and pity and love and happiness and protectiveness all at the same time. I cry because Mrs. Soper and I are survivors. Survivors of the Down syndrome lifestyle. The frequent Drs. appointments, physical therapy, audiology appointments, well meaning comments that sting, individualized family service plans, thoughts of our babies' dying. All part of the first year of life with a baby with Trisomy 21, an extra chromosome.

If, like me, you've experienced any thoughts that brought about guilt during your child's first year and have pressed on, this book will be a welcome read for you. Kathryn Soper articulates the process of coming to terms with her own feelings towards and about her son and his future in a way that is refreshingly honest and painfully real. Her subtle bits of humor were welcome as well. Because if you can't look back on your life and laugh a little...well, then all you'll do is cry.