Jan 18, 2015: What a Week!

Whew, what a week around here! Some of it was great, and some of it stunk. But it certainly wasn’t boring!

The week didn’t get off to an auspicious start when I dropped our van off at the service station to see why the A/C wasn’t working. (Yes, we do occasionally use A/C here in January! And while I could certainly survive without it until May or June, I figured there was no time like the present to get it fixed.) I was hoping it just needed freon on something, but no…not even close. As it turns out, the A/C condenser on our year of minivan is located right behind the front license plate. And thus it’s vulnerable to being hit by road debris. And so, our A/C condenser apparently got a hole in it, likely from a rock or some other road debris…to the tune of $900. Yes, $900. About the same amount we just paid the week before to put four new tires on the darn thing. Awesome. Simply awesome. Sigh…

And then Sam got sick! Croup again. It was a mild case, just like the last time, but enough that I had to keep him home from school. Which was no biggie because I didn’t have any work deadlines or anything, but still…I hate to see him sick, and I hate to see him miss any of his last few days at Early Intervention. He just loves it there, and they love him, so I hated to see him miss it. But boogers were everywhere and coughing was insane for about a day and a half, so he missed school for a couple of days.

On the bright side, the croup was mild enough that on Wednesday, I was able to take him to meet my friend Kim for lunch. And to see my mom after that. Neither one was worried about his germiness (which by that point was more snot than anything else), so we had a lovely little trip up to Sacramento together. Kim has been making soaps and shampoos and such for the last year, and she had an awesome box of goodies for me! Enough soap to last me for many, many months, plus shampoo, two types of conditioner, a few lotions, bath fizzies, and even dishwasher detergent. She even made two bars of soap for the boys—Theo’s has money in it (in a small waterproof capsule that you can see through the soap), and Sam’s has goldfish crackers (in the same sort of capsule). They were both so excited to get their special soaps!

Sam and I had a nice visit with Grandma Diane, too. He doesn’t usually get to see her one-on-one, so that was a nice treat. Much as it’s fun to see her with both boys, she and Theo have a special bond, so Theo tends to like to have most of her attention. It’s nice for Sam to get to spend some time with her, too.

I had a few preschool visits this week, too, and got Sam’s assessment from the school district. But that’s kind of a long story, so I’ve put it in a separate post here. Long story short: I found a mainstream preschool I really like, and I put a deposit down for Sam to start in mid-February.

I also officially started my job as medical outreach coordinator for the Down Syndrome Connection this week. We had a meeting, and I now have a direction to go and a place to start! The scope of the project is enormous, and they told me not to be scared, because they expect it will take several years to accomplish. But to be honest, I thrive on large projects. I love having lots of little pieces to organize and manage, and I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing them come together into a successful whole. That’s how editing books is when you’re the project editor—so many pieces have to be managed and have to fall into place, and at the end you have a lovely, published book. I love that type of work, so I think I’m really going to enjoy the big scope of work for this medical outreach plan. And I have some big plans for it, and it seems the sky’s the limit in terms of how far I can extend the reach. Not geographically—geographically, we are just working on the Bay Area. But there are a lot of people who come into contact with parents receiving a DS diagnosis, and the sky’s the limit on how many of those people I can try to reach and get up to date. So I’m excited. It’s a big project, yes—but one that I think I will find very fulfilling.

You want to know the funny thing (which I shared with them when they hired me, so this is no secret)? I hate making phone calls. Hate it, hate it, hate it. There are a select few people I enjoy talking to on the phone, but in general, I hate making phone calls. And a big part of this project starts with making phone calls, so I’m dreading that. I will really have to push myself to do it. But then the second part of the project involves presenting to people in the medical field—actually going out and meeting with them and giving a thirty-minute presentation on what DSC does, how to deliver a diagnosis, where to direct new parents, etc. And that part I’m looking forward to! As much as I hate talking on the phone, I actually kind of like giving presentations. I mean, I get stage fright right before I do it, but when I actually get up and start teaching something, I really enjoy it. So I’m looking forward to that part of it. The phone calls? Totally dreading them. The presentations? Can’t wait!

On another subject, Odyssey of the Mind! We’re closing in on our tournament, at the end of February, so now we meet every week. The kids came over on Friday and started building their weather-forecasting device. They’ve decided that to forecast the weather, they want to take a rocket up into space to examine the sky. So rocket-ship building has begun, and some of them are crafting space suits out of cardboard. I’m a bit nervous that we won’t get everything done in time for the tournament, but their division is actually not even formally judged (it is, but every team at this level “wins”), so it’s not a huge deal. It’s more important to me that the kids enjoy it and have a good first experience with it, so we’re sticking to one meeting a week and just hoping everything gets done. Some of the moms have older kids on older teams, and the meeting schedules have gotten pretty intense. I don’t think the moms actually want to deal with that for their younger ones anyway. 😉

After Odyssey, Chris took the boys for burgers and fries, and I headed out to book club. I didn’t have a chance to read the book, but it’s optional anyway—more just a chance for us to socialize! Though the book sounded good this time, so I think I’ll read it at a later time. In case you’re curious, it’s called The Name of the Star. Our next pick is JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, which I tried to read and didn’t like, so I guess I’ll be skipping that one. Funny, I loved the Harry Potter series, but I just can’t get into JK Rowling’s non-HP books. Not sure why…

On Saturday, we decided to head over to the warmer side of the bay (which is actually the cooler side of the bay during the summer!), so we went to CuriOdyssey. It’s been quite a while since we’ve gone there, and I had forgotten how much we all enjoy it. They have hands-on science displays (the kids learn about gears, pulleys, steam, vortexes, etc.), as well as a small zoo and aviary with lovely plants around, too. It’s never horribly crowded, and it’s just a neat, fun, pleasant place to spend part of a day. Theo mostly played with the indoor science exhibits, and Sam split his time about half and half—he also enjoyed the outdoor animal exhibits and aviary. The river otters (my favorites!) were putting on quite a show for us, and he watched them for a long time! The bobcats were awake and prowling, too, and he kept insisting that they were not cats. 🙂

Here’s a cute little video clip of him. They have a cave that kids can go in to get a better view of the burrowing owls, but Sam loved the cave mostly because he liked to experiment with his voice and the echo in it. He kept running down the tunnel and then back up, making noise to hear the echo. But every time he’d step out of the tunnel, where there was no echo, he’d immediately stop making noise. He does the same thing every morning when we walk Theo to school and walk through a long tunnel. Cracks me up!

On Sunday, we went down to Sunnyvale to visit the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum. It’s a replica of a farmhouse of one of the original families of Sunnyvale, and it’s full of cool old stuff. I wish I could be more specific, but I actually spent all of five minutes in the museum before fleeing outside with Sam, who wanted to be down and marauding. That was okay, though—we expected that would be the case, and we mainly went for Theo, who has been really interested in old, historical places and items lately. Chris and Theo stayed inside for over an hour, and Chris said Theo spent much of that time talking up the curators in the gift shop. Apparently they were quite charmed by our inquisitive little nerd-in-training. One of them said to Chris, “He’s gifted, I guarantee it. I can spot it a mile away.” That was kind of a nice comment to hear, given that the autism clinic called this week and scheduled his appointment. That is what it is, and it’s fine—it doesn’t change who Theo is. But you know…it’s not exactly uplifting to be chatting with the autism clinic about your son’s appointment, so it was a nice pick-me-up to hear someone refer to him as “gifted” rather than “autistic.” 🙂

We wrapped up the week with a colossal flop of an ice cream run. Now that Chris can eat ice cream, we’ve been trying out various unique ice cream places whenever we happen upon them. (They almost always have some non-dairy option for Theo.) So today I decided that after the heritage museum, we’d try a “shaved snow” place. A shaved snow shop recently opened near us, but we haven’t tried it because it’s one of the few places that does not have any dairy-free options. But the one in Mountain View does, so we decided to see what all the hype is about. The place had more than 400 Yelp reviews and got 4.5 stars, so I needed to see what everyone was raving about!

Um, yeah. I have no idea. It was a total letdown. I love most ice cream, but it was just…blah. Not much flavor. To be honest, the store-brand ice cream at Safeway is better (and much cheaper!). I guess shaved snow is popular in some Asian countries, and apparently they take a dense block of ice cream and shave it so that you get a bowl full of light, thin ice cream shavings. The reviews I read said it’s kind of like “cotton candy, but made out of ice cream.” I was intrigued after reading all of the glowing reviews, but…blah. It was kind of icy and watery and had very little flavor. Neither of us liked it very much. (Theo got shaved ice and promptly went wacky from the artificial colors in the syrup. Lord help us all….)

So anyway, no more shaved snow for us. Back to the good stuff: ice cream!

Before I bid you goodbye, here are two interesting articles I read this week. This one has to do with Senate bill 334, which proposes to ban abortions based on disability or gender. I thought the blogger made a lot of good points—I agree with her that the Senate bill does nothing to get to the root of the problem, and only puts a Band-Aid on a much bigger wound.

The second article is generally about the work of Dr. Brian Skotko, pretty much a rock star in the world of Down syndrome. I admit that I have a total crush on him. Not only does he devote his life to making the lives of people with DS better, but he’s whip-smart and so incredibly cute with that giant smile and those crazy pants! And yes, Chris knows about my crush. He’s well aware that I have a soft spot for brilliant, nerdy, sweet types, and he’s confident in the fact that I will never leave him for Dr. Brian Skotko because I wouldn’t even be able to speak a comprehensible sentence in the man’s presence—I’d be reduced to a babbling fool. (Flirting is not my strong point. And besides, I’m married and so is he. So Chris is safe….)

ANYWAY! Now that I’ve confessed my total crush on this man, let me direct you to this article. It’s full of a lot of interesting info about Down syndrome, Skotko, his work with the syndrome, etc. But if you make it to the third page of the article, you’ll see what really interests me: the fact that Massachusetts passed a law requiring its Department of Public Health to give pregnant women with a DS diagnosis accurate, unbiased information about DS. That’s exactly what my new position with Down Syndrome Connection is intended for, and I’m fascinated by the fact that Massachusetts has actually made this into law—and that they’re working to get similar laws passed in other states. Hmmm, could this be in California’s future? Can I work to be a part of that? I’m excited to investigate the possibility.

If you read down past that part of the article, too, you’ll see a short paragraph about a DS treatment that Skotko and his team are working on. I’m fascinated, since it targets the early-onset dementia/Alzheimer’s that terrify me for Sam’s future.

On that note, I bid you farewell for now! Here’s hoping for a quieter week for us. Hope you’re all having a pleasant one, too!

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