Feb 19, 2017: Still Raining!

Happy rainy weekend, all! At least, it’s rainy here. Last time I checked, our rainfall totals were something like 173 percent of normal for this time. Given that we’re hardly ever anywhere near even 100 percent of normal, that’s pretty exciting! It’s definitely the main topic of conversation among people around here lately—we so rarely get a really wet winter that everyone talks about it when we do!

I didn’t take these pictures (they were published on SFGate.com), but just to give you an idea what it’s like if you don’t live in this area, I’ll share them. We’re actually in a really hilly area, so we don’t have the flooding—it all runs downhill. But these areas aren’t all that far from us—maybe 60 miles for some of them? Anyway, enjoy the pix that I did not take!

This is the Embarcadero in San Francisco (about 35 miles from us)—that’s sea water from the Bay splashing up over the sidewalk.

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This is the spillway from the Oroville Dam that you may have seen on the news. It’s maybe 70 miles north of us? See the eroded section in the middle of the spillway? Apparently that’s a big problem. They evacuated thousands of people in case it gave way. Thankfully, it didn’t…yet. And I understand they’ve released a bunch of water another way to try to avoid disaster. But we’re due for another big storm in the next two days, so we’ll see how it goes:

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This is another highway maybe 30-ish miles from us. That’s right—a highway. And yes, it’s closed. 🙂

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This is Interstate 5—probably the most heavily traveled highway in California. It stretches all the way from British Columbia, through Washington, Oregon, the entire length of California, down into Mexico, and I have no idea how far past that. This is maybe 60 miles north of us, as the crow flies?? Doesn’t look much like a highway, does it? It’s usually two lanes in each direction (sometimes three) and full of fast-moving cars. Not so much yesterday.

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This is Maxwell, a farming community off I-5. Probably no description needed:

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Funny thing is, I used to be the person who hated rain, because it meant I was stuck inside. While I still don’t relish being stuck inside with antsy kids who are dying to be let loose, I actually have grown to like the rain. Chris and I have had a role reversal—he is over the rain and ready for sun!!

Anyway, not the most exciting week here. I’m feeling a lot better, though still not fully back to normal on the digestion front. But post-surgery wise, I feel almost completely back to normal—after only two weeks! The doctor had told me I’d feel really tired for probably four to six weeks, but I actually feel good—pretty much my normal self. I’m allowed to lift Sam once a day now, and I can do so without pain. So it’s all good—and I’m sure my digestion will right itself soon. A friend told me her GI problems lasted about three weeks after her surgery, so hopefully I’m on the home stretch.

I’m relieved to be feeling better, since on Thursday I head out to Cincinnati. In case you’re wondering, I’m going there to represent Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network (DSDN) at the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action conference. DSDN is an online support network for parents of kids with Down syndrome, and I’m on the Board. At the conference, they’ll be presenting about how DSDN can work with local organizations to help support parents. I’m not doing the presentation, just working the booth at the exhibitor portion. But because I also work for our local organization (Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area, or DSCBA), I was a good option to work this event.

While I’m there, I’ll also be accepting a grant award on behalf of DSCBA, and speaking about Sam’s experience in the Communication Readiness Program last summer, along with another member of the DSCBA staff. So I’m there on behalf of DSDN…but also doing a couple of things for DSCBA. Confused yet? I am. I just need to figure out where I’m supposed to be at any given time. And apparently there’s a formal event to attend one night, so I need to figure out if my one formal dress still fits. I’m not relishing that….

In kid news, Theo had his Spell-a-Thon for school and got fifty out of fifty correct, which earned him a Super Speller commendation. I mention this mostly because he worked very hard to earn that—when Chris was in Switzerland, Theo had me quiz him every night on his fifty spelling words. He was incredibly motivated about this spelling competition! We don’t pressure him on things like this—he is not a particularly strong “tester,” and we don’t like to put undue pressure on him because the poor kid puts enough pressure on himself about other things! So of course we encourage him to try his hardest on everything he does, but we don’t emphasize tests and grades. But for whatever reason, this Spell-a-Thon was very important to him, and he put in a ton of effort—and is very proud of the results! So we are proud of him. 🙂

I will say, spelling is his strongest subject. Maybe that’s why he was motivated—because it’s something that he’s actually pretty good at. But he also put in a big effort to improve his reading comprehension tests (which are much harder for him), and I noticed yesterday that his binder has a handwritten commendation from his teacher about being most improved in the reading comprehension tests for the second quarter. She had emailed me about how pleased she was with his progress—apparently it’s not so much a lack of comprehension as a lack of ability to focus on completing the test. So he’s made a big improvement in being able to focus long enough to finish the test, which is very cool.

Speaking of Theo, I’m excited because I was able to get him into a summer camp we were hoping to for this summer! I can’t remember whether I’ve already mentioned it on this blog, but it’s a summer camp for kids with high-functioning (I hate that term!) autism, ADHD, anxiety, etc. A friend of ours has a son with HFA who is quite similar to Theo in a lot of ways (his strengths and the areas that are more challenging for him), and they highly recommended the camp. And then I asked around in my autism parents group, and half a dozen other parents responded and said their kids had gone and loved it. The camp is insanely expensive and normally wouldn’t be anything we could afford—but because Theo is finally a Regional Center client, he’s eligible to go. The amount we will have to pay is about the same as the amount we pay for just a regular summer day camp, so it won’t cost us any more than last summer, which is manageable.

Anyway, the camp is like any other summer day camp—they play outdoor games and sports, they go swimming, they do art projects, they go on field trips. But it also includes a positive reinforcement system where the parents set some goals for their kids, and the camp helps to work on them. It also includes a small segment of small-group therapy, which I think might be very good for Theo. Anxiety is something he’s been struggling more with, and so we are structuring his camp goals around teaching him coping strategies he can use when he feels anxious or frustrated.

So we’ll see how it goes. I haven’t heard any negative reviews about it other than “it’s quite expensive!” and the activities they do seem super fun. Also, Theo already knows at least two of the other kids who will likely be there (as they’ve done the camp in the past and are planning to do it again), so that’ll be nice for him. He’s excited about it.

The only downside is that it’s far from our house. But it happens to be very close to where Sam will be doing CRP again this summer (the intensive speech program through Down Syndrome Connection), so I will just drop Theo at camp, drop Sam at CRP, kill time for three hours, then pick Sam up and somehow kill 3.5 MORE hours with him until it’s time to pick Theo up. Don’t ask me what Sam and I will do for 3.5 hours every day—if it’s a hot summer, it’ll be too hot to play outside for that whole time. We’ll figure something out, though.

Speaking of Down Syndrome Connection (a moment ago), I organized a book reading that took place on Thursday night. While the turnout wasn’t what I’d hoped (why do 39 people RSVP and then only 12 show up?!), the event was great. Amy Silverman, author of My Heart Can’t Even Believe It, came and read a couple of passages from her book, and we all chatted. Her daughter with DS is 13.5, and, as Amy will tell you, “The first person I ever met with Down syndrome.” So Amy’s book is about her own learning about Down syndrome—but in true journalistic style (because she and her husband are journalists by trade), she researched every rabbit hole that interested her until she had answers. I loved the book—it was a fun read. Her writing style is down-to-earth and funny, and her daughter sounds like someone who you just want to hang out with. And the research was fascinating. So anyway, it was a good event—I only wish more people had been able to come and enjoy it!

One of the women who did come, though, was a woman with cerebral palsy. One discussion we had as a group was when and how to tell your child that he or she has Down syndrome—and how it went, for those who have already done it. The young woman with CP said that she found out about her disability in first grade, and what she sticks with her, even to this day, is how negative it was—people told her, “You have brain damage” and acted as if it was a negative and disappointing thing.

She said she wishes people would’ve been more positive when talking to her about it—because as a child, those things hurt to hear. And it’s clear that even as an adult, it still hurts her to think back on it. That was so interesting to me to hear, because that’s what I do for Down Syndrome Connection—talk to medical providers about how to phrase the diagnosis in a positive way when talking to parents. Because let’s face it: the diagnosis is what it is, and nothing’s going to change it. You might as well try to make the diagnosis experience less difficult in any way you can. Which doesn’t meant to sugarcoat and not share the scary things about a diagnosis—there are things that parents need to know. But it does mean instead of saying, “Your child has a 50 percent chance of having a serious heart condition,” you can instead say, “Fifty percent of children with Down syndrome are born with a serious heart condition, but here’s the good news: Heart surgery is now very routine and very successful for these kids. There’s a very high probability that if your child has this condition, he or she will come through heart surgery just fine and live a long, happy life.”

Anyway, the woman with CP said the same thing: She didn’t expect anyone to sugarcoat the reality of having CP, but she just wished they hadn’t acted so negatively when they told her about it. It was good—although sad—to hear that from someone who has actually been on the receiving end herself. I’ve been on the receiving end on behalf of Sam, but not myself…if that makes sense.

Anyway, what else did we have this week? Valentine’s Day! Yeah, we did nothing. Chris texted me bizarre Valentine memes throughout the day, for my amusement. And that was pretty much it. I’ve never been a fan of V-day. The kids had fun at their school V-day parties, though.

On Saturday, we went to the Blue and Gold Dinner for Cub Scouts. I don’t get to go to Cub Scout events very often because I’m usually home watching Sam, so that was fun. And Sam spent much of the evening dancing with his pants down, so hey—you know it was a party! (Kidding. Sort of. He really did, but it was just because his pants were too big and he was tearing around the cafeteria, so they kept falling down!)

On Sunday, I was supposed to have my book club, which I was very excited about (given that I had chosen the book for this time!), but I had to skip it because I have a cold. (Thanks, Chris!) It’s not a bad cold, but one of the members is pregnant, and I didn’t want to risk giving it to her. So, no book club for me. But here’s the reason I mention this: Because I wasn’t feeling tiptop, I took some NyQuil on Saturday night, hoping for a nice, congestion-free night of sleep. I have taken NyQuil many times in my life and never had a problem. But Saturday night, I had a bad reaction to it—and I’m pretty sure I’ll never take it again! I woke up two hours after I went to sleep and was so dizzy I could barely walk—and so nauseated I thought I was going to throw up. My heart kept racing, too, but the weirdest part was my vision—my left eye kept going in and out of focus and going black. It was a weirdest thing! I knew it had to be the NyQuil (because this cold, although annoying, is pretty minor), but I was completely baffled, because I’ve never had a problem with it before! I kept thinking, “Did I accidentally take two doses?” and “Did I accidentally mix it with something else?” But I hadn’t—I had only taken one dose, and I haven’t had any other medication in over a week, not even an Advil! Hadn’t had any alcohol either—I think the last alcoholic beverage I had was a glass of wine on New Year’s!

The only thing I can guess (from what a friend suggested) is that perhaps the prescription-strength ibuprofen from after my surgery (that I last took TEN DAYS AGO) is somehow still in my bloodstream and created a wonky reaction with the NyQuil. Anyway, needless to say, it freaked me out enough that I will not be taking NyQuil again, which is rather a shame because it is quite effective at unblocking your nose so you can breathe and sleep. But I don’t want to mess with it again. Yuck!

Anyway, such was our week! I’ll probably be late posting next week since I’ll be just getting back from Cincinnati on Sunday. Wish Chris luck solo-parenting with our two monsters!

And now, pix:

Theo’s all about this Darth Vader bathrobe my sister sent him for Christmas!

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I’m back to cooking again! Here’s a cauliflower and caper pizza. It doesn’t look good (lighting was bad!), but it was actually really yummy!

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Fresh fettuccini with kale, tomatoes, and parmesan. Yum!

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Oooh, this one was really yummy! Quinoa, cauliflower, kale, almonds, and spicy sauce:

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Pizza topped with sautéed brussels sprouts and a balsamic glaze—also very tasty!

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This is my life: Sitting at the top of the stairs (outside the laundry closet) sorting massive piles of laundry, with a cat staring imperiously at me:

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Oooh, this may have been my favorite this week: cauliflower (can you tell that’s in season?!), carrots, cashews, kale, and rice, all stir-fried together with an egg on top:

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Theo wanted to try making French toast for Chris all by himself. He did most of it by himself. Pouring out a teaspoon of vanilla isn’t his strong point. 😉 But most of it was all him:

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Sam likes to crawl into the guest bed and get cozy with the iPad while I’m working on the computer:

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Proof that Chris occasionally wears a color—but only if he’s at home!

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I found this note floating around in Theo’s Valentine bag. It was unsigned, and he claims he has no idea who it’s from. Hmmmm, a little crush?! Or just an appreciation of his wit??

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Sam testing the “sauce” at the Blue and Gold dinner:

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And eating toast—which is pretty much all he ate (along with one bite of brisket and two bites of chicken skin):

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Taking advantage of a  break in the rain to do a little yard work:

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Since the Secretary of Labor candidate withdrew, may I suggest this young man in his place? He spent so long negotiating what he felt to be a fair wage and fair working conditions for his weed-pulling that he barely got any done. 😉

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My Rockin’ Mom group was doing mom-kid selfies today, but I couldn’t get Sam to smile for one. So here’s Sam scowling and me trying to get him to laugh!

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Speaking of laughing, he has the best laugh. Here’s a dose for you:

And here’s a video of him using his talker to request his iPad. (I was trying to get some video of him using it for the presentation I’m doing at DSAIA.)

And another attempt at getting talker video—here he’s asking for some food for breakfast:

And last but not least…look how chatty he is here! Unfortunately, the only words I can pick out of it are “mom” and possibly “ball.” But he clearly has something he’s trying to express:

 

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