Saturday, November 29, 2008

First Snow

The first snow came later this year than it usually falls. The earliest I remember a good, sticking snow around here was on October 7, many years ago. So this was a longer Fall than usual. We ended up with about 3 inches up here on the hill, more than the weather-guy had predicted. The first one or two are so pretty, I got out with the camera for a few pictures for posterity. It will be warm enough today to melt it all by the time I get home from work this evening. So, with Thanksgiving under our belts (literally), the Christmas tree lighting the bay window in the living room, the Holiday CDs and DVDs pulled out of a box for the kids to enjoy again another year, and now our first beautiful white blanket of snow; the Christmas Season is alive here on the Ranch. As much as I will complain about it come February, the snow is part of Christmas for me. Perhaps, it goes back to my childhood Christmases in Western New York, famous for huge winter storms.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

Well, it's all over but for the leftovers.... It was a big day, for me, at least. I was in the kitchen from early morning 'til we sat down to eat around three. By the time we topped the pie with CoolWhip, I was exhausted. As much as I think Traditions are important, I am seriously considering taking the easy way out for Holiday dinners from now on, and buying the readymades from the store. That way, I would get to enjoy more of my day with the family, and not feel as whipped as the potatoes we ate yesterday.... actually, more whipped!!
Today will be in SloMo.... still lots of clean up, and we will gnaw on the leftover turkey and snacks, so I won't be cooking. Then, tomorrow, it's back to work, which provides a sense of a normal routine. Hate to admit it, but I'm looking forward to it!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas is Coming

A month from now, we will be traveling, gathering, eating, and drinking. There will be laughter and hugs, boxes and bows, lots of presents and lots of leftovers. Christmas is wonderful, happy, and hectic. The kids have goaded me into putting the tree up already, although I am firmly holding off flipping the switch and lighting things up until after Thanksgiving. The annual decorations are being unboxed, along with the memories they contain.... the school-made doughy ornaments, the photos with Santa that go back thirty years, the music box and snow globes; each one with it's own story that brings a smile, a sigh, or a tear or two as I carefully place them in just the right spot. We are bubbling with Holiday Spirit.
I am conflicted this season. The financial crisis is overwhelming. I'm scared. I have watched my 401 shrink to a 201, and my hopes of retirement this coming year shrivel along with it. Oh, well, I love my work.... good thing, I'll be workin' for a while longer!! The real plus is that I HAVE a job. Some folks are in bad shape, and Christmas is coming.... Thus, my conflict; sort of survivor guilt. So, as I unwrap my memories, and wrap the traditional socks and underwear and slippers and shirts; my heart is with those that may not be able to have this joy.
At the office, we have decided to adopt a couple of local families instead of our gift exchange. In contacting an elementary school in the Valley near the office, we were told that there were forty families in that school that could use a visit from Santa. So, we are going to take on three and do right for them, just like St. Nick would..... So, I brought the idea home, and we are going to do something similar here. The kids , our care providers, Jim and I will forgo our annual gift exchange, and take the money and energy we would spend on ourselves, and try to make a local family's Christmas actually happen. We are really excited about it. The kids can shop for kids that really need the socks and undies, and I am going to find a special snow globe for Mom that can be unwrapped each year, with a smile and a tear and the memories of this Christmas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

All you ever needed to Know (and then some..)

Mosquito repellents don't repel. They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito's sensors so they don't know you're there.
Dentists have recommended that a toothbrush be kept at least 6 feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush. (I keep my toothbrush in the living roomnow.)
The liquid inside young coconuts can be used as a substitute for blood plasma.
No piece of paper can be folded in half more than 7times.
Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.
You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television. (naps rule)
Oak trees do not produce acorns until they are fifty years of age or older.
The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum.
The king of hearts is the only king without a mustache.
A Boeing 747's wingspan is longer than the Wright brother's first flight.
The wingspan of the B-36, a retired USAF bomber, was twice as long.
American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first-class.
Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.
Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in themorning.
The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets. (good forcrosswords)
Most dust particles in your house are made from>dead skin.
The first owner of the Marlboro Company died of lung cancer. So did the first 'Marlboro Man'.
Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.
Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than all of the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined.
Marilyn >Monroe had six toes.
All US Presidents have worn glasses.. Some just didn't like being seen wearing them in public.
Walt Disney was afraid of mice.
Pearls melt in vinegar.
Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.
The three most valuable brand names on earth Marlboro, Coca Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.
It is possible to lead a cow upstairs...but not downstairs
A duck's quack doesn't echo and no one knows why.
The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walkup straight staircases.
Richard Millhouse Nixon was the first US president whose name contains all the letters from the word "criminal." The second? William Jefferson Clinton.
And, the best for last......Turtles can breathe through their butts.
Now, you know everything there is to know.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nothin' but Trouble

I have screwed up my layout, and, as usual.. tho only way I know to fix computer "problems" is to keep pushin buttons until it fixes or I crash the 'puter. I am really illiterate in this area, and even the wonderful Blogspot helpful hints aren't helping tonite. I suppose I am too tired and hungry and angry and probably lonely, too. HALT!! So I will put this away for now, and try again in the morning. I consider this a success, since I have not harmed either this machine or myself!!! I'm gonna go make some peanutbutter toast.

People First

Angela and Sue made a good point on HBO today in regard to "children with Down Syndrome" as opposed to a "Down Syndrome child". I think that is a very valid observation.... and certainly something that the public has been educated on over the last decades of increased political correctness. When I look at my kids around the dinner table, I don't see the disabilities, I see the individuals--who just happen to have various disabilities. I have a hard time with the term Disabled, perhaps differently-abled would be more accurate. They each have abilities, some quite astounding, but on the other hand, lack some abilities that our culture has deemed important or normal. What IS normal?? My definition.......

Normal is a setting on the dryer.

Dana loves game shows and helocopters, does chores without being reminded, and walks a couple of miles every day. She knows dates and times of every appointment for the next year, and birthdays and anniversaries of everyone she's ever met. That is a gift!!

Richard is the chief snow shoveler, leaf raker, wheelbarrow driving outdoor guy. We literally have to call him off, or he would be out there all day..... there's lots of raking on 10 acres!! Jim takes him to the Speedway to watch the races and he loves any kind of heavy equipment. The fact that one arm dosen't work well and that he can't talk very well or brush his own teeth really makes no difference. We help him out; and he helps us out.

Stacy happens to have Down Syndrome, like Matthew, and is probably the highest functioning of the home team.... she's a girly-girl, was sort of a cheerleader in school, likes teen girl flicks, and tormenting her sister, Dana. She is very aware of what DS is, and can recognise others who have DS. She is limited only by the size of her dreams; like any of us. But, unlike many of us, she puts out a tremendous amount of effort. Stacy has had 3 open heart surgries. She is a champ. She and I are going to the High School Musical Ice Show on Sunday. High School Musical 1,2,&3 are real big around here.

Anna has CP, no speech, and an autistic edge. She is a whiz at puzzles, LOVES food.... lives only for the next meal. Although she seems very limited, she understands all that is going on around her, so be careful what you say!!

Kristina is a real redhead. She is beautiful and funny, but like Anna, no ability to speak. That dosen't mean she dosen't communicate.... we know what she wants when she wants it.!! She needs help eating and with all of her "activities of daily living", as do the rest of them.... but that dosen't make them less valuable or important. She likes anything musical or just plain noisy, and can be relentless with noisy toys.

Tom is the oldest, and needs someone nearby at all times. He is not able to do much independantly, but he is a great walker... a couple miles a day, down to the end of the road and back with one of us. He helps all of us get our exercize! He is absolutely a genius with any kind of puzzle. He sees the shapes, not the picture or color, and puts them together without missing a beat. I can't do that!!

Heather has the most involved physical problems of all. She has quadraplegic CP, almost no volitional movement, seisures, and visual impairment. In spite of all this, she is HAPPY.... all the time. She is quite intellegent, but locked in a real bad body. I can't imagine that I would be as pleasant as she is, given similar circumstances.

You have met Mac, who like the rest of the kids (I know, Iknow... they are adults... but they are and always will be MY kids) needs help with his ADLs, and will never go to college or drive a car, or own a home. He thinks a nickle buys a Baconburger..... But, he/they have taught me so much about living each day to it's fullest, loving life no matter what you are handed. They are unconditional in love and acceptance. They do not see or judge you based on the outside; they see your soul.... they see mine; and love me anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jim's Off Fishin, Again...

Well, Jim loaded up the camper and left for the Grand Ronde River this morning. Steelhead are running, and there is no bigger fishing thrill than catching one on a flyrod. The area is remote and beautiful. It is his favorite place to fish. I wish I could be there with him, but someone needs to bring home a paycheck to keep the wolf away from the door, and the fish in the freezer. I love my work, it's a good thing, since my retirement accounts have taken a huge puke!! It looks I will need to work for three or four days after I'm dead. I am beyond the worry and fret phase, and now just plug away, and hope there is enough money for the month.

Fortunately, I love second-hand stores, garage sales, and such. I'm a pretty good bargain hunter and refuse to pay full price for anything!! Groceries have gotten real pricey, and the cost of keeping these eight kids (in grown-up bodies) fed has taken a big bump. I know everyone is in the same boat, and frankly, I am grateful to have a great job and am able to provide for the basics and an occasional fishing trip for ol' Brando.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm On HBO!!!

One of the reasons I began this Blog, besides keeping up with family and friends, was that I am facinated by the Blogs I follow through Dave Olivera's "Huckleberries On Line" . I love and admire these brilliant people who articulate their thoughts and ideas in such style. I wanted to be one of them. Well, today when I checked in with HBO, there I was...... My Hero, Dave, posted one of my silly comments right there on the main page. I was stunned. I was shocked. I couldn't believe my eyes. I called everyone to tell them of my elevated status in Blogdom. I am walking on air. Jim says there will be no living with me now, and perhaps he's right....there won't be, for a day or two, anyway. Since he's going fishing for a few days on the Grand Ronde, it won't matter to him, and I'll spend the time basking in my small spotlight on HBO. Thanks, Dave, you made my day!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Matthew 10/26/80

Matthew's Birthday was a great success. He jumped in the truck and directed me down the road, turn by turn, to McDonald's for a Birthday Meal. He ran across the parking lot, ordered his burger and fries, and had a chocolate shake to celebrate.
I remember the day we talked to our adoption worker at Catholic Family Services, and told her that we were interested in starting another adoption. After a few questions to determine what we were interested in, she told us that she had a new Down syndrome baby that no one wanted. He was ours at that moment. A few weeks later, we were waiting in the Clinic at Children's Hospital in Seattle to meet our new baby and bring him home. He was so little and frail.... who woulda guessed he would grow up so soon and time would fly so fast. He's our family clown, loves baseball and Barney, goes for walks with Stacy, and likes to push the cart around the grocery store.
Down Syndrome kids. like Mac, are the best. They have such a joy, they love unconditionally, and in this household, help us to keep priorities in line.... nothing is more important than family, friends, and an occasional trip to McDonald's.