Apr 16, 2017: New Beginnings

Happy Easter, everyone! As I understand it, Easter is all about new beginnings. So I thought I’d talk about some new beginnings this week—albeit on a smaller scale than the new beginning that we commemorate on the actual Easter holiday!

We are back from Washington DC (obviously!), and in case you missed it earlier this week, I wrote a post summing up my thoughts on our work there.

One cool thing that came out of our time there was that Chris got to experience the feeling of community that comes at these big Down syndrome events. He’s experienced it somewhat before, when we’ve done Sam’s Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk and such, but those are local events where he knows some people. This was his first time being in a big DS conference environment and being surrounded by new people all with similar goals. He loved it! He told me at the end of it, “I get it now. I get why you say these people are your tribe.” He was really inspired by meeting and talking to some adults with Down syndrome and also by meeting some of my fellow Rockin’ Moms and getting to spend time with them.

So, in the spirit of community, we are attending the NDSC (National Down Syndrome Congress) convention this July!

I went to the NDSC Conference in Phoenix two years ago and loved it, and at the time I wished Chris could’ve come. They offer around a hundred different sessions over three days that you can attend, all on topics related to Down syndrome. It’s attended by hundreds of people, nationally and internationally, and it’s amazing.

As it so happens, it’s in Sacramento this year—just a little over an hour away from us! Our wonderful local organization offered to pay for our hotel room, and the Regional Center covers the cost of registration. So for the cost of childcare and food for three days, we get to attend a wonderful conference event! (In case you’re wondering, childcare is provided at the conference—for a fee, of course. I know a lot of people who’ve done the Kids’ Camps and say their kids loved them, so I’m sure the boys will enjoy it. Theo is technically old enough to go to the Siblings Conference, but I think at this age he’d prefer just the Kids’ Camp, so we’ll do that.)

I think it’ll be a slightly different atmosphere than when it was in Phoenix because Sacramento doesn’t have the same accommodations. In Sacramento, the event is held at the Convention Center, and there are three local hotels one can stay at. In Phoenix, everything was on site—it was held at a Marriott Resort, which I barely left for three straight days. It was like being in a wonderful DS bubble—everywhere I looked were families from our tribe!

So we won’t have quite the same bubble in Sacramento, but I still think it’ll be a wonderful experience. I haven’t chosen our sessions for the whole conference, but I did register Chris and me for two pre-conference sessions: one on positive behavior strategies (Chris will attend that one), and one on potty training (you know I’m all over that one!). I actually read the book on positive behavior strategies, and it’s excellent. I was going to have Chris read the book, but when I learned the author was presenting at NDSC, I just signed him up for the session instead.

The rest of the conference we can be more fluid with our session selections, but the pre-conference ones required early registration, so I took care of that. But I think in general, we’ll probably attend sessions on speech and education. Chris might be interested in some of the medical ones, too. We shall see.

Anyway, I’m thrilled we’ll get to go! And that Chris will get to experience it with me this time!

In related new beginnings, Sam started a tutoring class this week. Our local Down syndrome org is piloting a tutoring program and asked if I’d like Sam to try it. Why not?! He had his first session on Friday, and he loved it. It’s play-based tutoring, and we opted for the language-focused one. (You could also opt to focus on math skills, but he’s a bit young for that.) The tutor is a woman who also works for our org (doing education stuff), so I was glad to finally get to meet her. (I mostly work from home, so I don’t always get to see everyone.) She and Sam had a great time playing and getting to know each other in the session, and it turns out he knows more than I thought. (No surprise there.) I had told her he could recognize all uppercase letters and some colors (along with numbers 1-10 and some shapes). Turns out he can also recognize some lowercase letters and pretty much all of the basic colors. Way to go, Sam!

He’s also making a big leap in speech lately. He’s naming more objects (he came up to me with a clenched fist the other day and announced “wocks!” before dropping a pile of pebbles into my hand), and he’s using language a bit more abstractly. For the longest time, he would name some objects, but that was it. But the other day, he shook his cup at me and said, “Teeee!” (“empty”). I think it’s the first time he has connected a concept with an object, which was really exciting!

And I’ve been prompting him for weeks to use a sentence to request the iPad. I’ve had to prompt one word at a time, very slowly, like this:

Me: “I…”
Sam: “I”
Me: “Want…”
Sam: “Want”
Me: “iPad…”
Sam: “Pad”
Me: “Please…”
Sam: “Peas…”

And then all of a sudden, after weeks of prompting, we get this!!

Big excitement around here, people. Big excitement!

As for new beginnings for Theo, things are pretty status quo with him. Though he did start an after-school basketball class this week, which he said he enjoyed! It runs for six weeks or so.

Chris, too, is pretty status quo right now. Back to work after our nice vacation, and all is well.

As for me and new beginnings… What a difference six months makes! I was thinking back to six months ago. My monthly cycles had gotten worse than ever—I was miserable and constantly low on iron from the menorrhagia (that seems the politest way to say it!). I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, so I was achy and stiff and feverish all the time, but didn’t really know why. I was depressed and felt physically terrible much of the time.

Fast-forward six months. Still working on that depression, but there’s a whole host of factors that go into it, and I’m attacking them one at a time. And helping significantly is the fact that I’ve reclaimed my physical health! Having a hysterectomy was one of the best decisions I’ve made, and if you are a woman struggling similarly and are certain your baby-producing days are over, I highly recommend it. I feel about a thousand times better! I thought I’d still have the monthly symptoms (just no bleeding) because I still have my ovaries and thus I still produce hormones. But no! I have hardly any—the other symptoms have decreased by probably 90 percent, too. It…is…awesome! Wish I’d done it two years ago! But hey, better late than never.

And fibromyalgia: It is what it is, but I will say that acupuncture continues to make a world of difference for me. I’m not without pain completely, but it is significantly lessened, to the point where I rarely even have to take an Advil, and I very much look forward to my sessions when I have them, because I know I’ll have several days to a week of feeling significantly better after them.

So…new beginnings. I’ll keep working to get the depression under control, but things are looking up. 2017 is seeming significantly better than 2016, which was an utterly shitty year that I pretty much could’ve done without!

With that, I hope you, too, are experiencing happiness and some new beginnings of your own, and here is a lovely picture dump!

The group at the Capitol! Look to the very bottom-right corner, and you’ll see me with both boys on my lap. Sam is scowling—he wasn’t feeling the paparazzi! If you can’t find us, we’re next to a woman in a red jacket. Chris is hiding in the shadows behind her.

Word to the wise: Don’t ever fly through San Diego airport at the end of Spring Break. So…bloody…crowded! Sam’s car seat made a nice makeshift seat, since apparently able-bodied adults don’t give up their seats for young children (or women) anymore:

We went for frozen custard after a Scout meeting on Saturday. Yum!

After frozen custard, we went to the park for some basketball:

Sam mostly wanted to lie on my legs and chill:

The cats are jerks. This is their latest trick: Flip over the dog water and make a lake on the kitchen floor. Thank god we put in plank vinyl flooring, which doesn’t warp with water!

Sam’s going to be on a poster at our DS org’s gala this year! I love this pic! We shall see it in person if we can wrangle some babysitting, but that’s not looking promising:

Our orange tree is blossoming! The smell is heavenly:

We tried a new method of coloring Easter eggs—tie-dying!

I think they look like cartoon dinosaur eggs!

Fontina grilled panini with baby broccolini, and an arugula and pistachio salad on the side. Yum!

Black bean tostadas with pickled onions, queso fresco, and soft-boiled eggs on top. Delicious!

Chickpea and potato stew with swiss chard and garlic aioli on top. The aioli made this dish!

Spaghetti bolognese with salad:

Salmon tacos with creme fraiche, asparagus, and pumpkin seeds. Much tastier than they look!

Homemade ramen with braised tofu and soft-boiled eggs. Delicious but needed salt! (I’m the queen of under-salting.)


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