June 7, 2015: Crazy, Busy Fun!

Happy June to you all! Our June had suddenly gotten insanely busy for one excellent reason: an unexpected bit of fun coming at the end of the month!

Every year, the National Down Syndrome Congress puts on a conference. Last year it was in Indianapolis, and I was dying to go, but I had to help shoot a wedding the same weekend. So I decided I’d go this year, when it’s being held in Phoenix.

That was an excellent plan until I lost my huge client and thus we had to majorly cut expenses. As you can imagine, the conference was one of the first things to go in the budget slashing. As you know, I ended up filling in for the missing work somewhat with other opportunities, but then there was that teeny, tiny expense of buying a house…so yeah. The travel budget is still miniscule, and the conference definitely wasn’t a part of it.

Until this week! When my excellent boss at Down Syndrome Connection asked me if I’d like to go. She said she had a scholarship for me to be able to attend if I could take the time off work (my work for her is only one of my jobs, which she knows). Well, the truth is, June was already pretty crazy because I need to finish a course design for UC Berkeley Extension and write two more books by the end of the month. Oh, and teach three classes. And do my work for Down Syndrome Connection. But what kind of fool would I be to turn down a trip to this conference that I had really wanted to attend?! So I’ll make it work. I’ll just get that course redesign done and those two books written by June 24th instead of June 30th. Don’t ask me how. I haven’t figured that out yet. But I will make it happen, because I’m not about to turn down the opportunity to attend!!

Actually, the hardest part will be being away from the boys for four days. I’ve only been away from Sam for one night maybe three times (I can think of two, but it may be three); for Theo, it can’t be more than half a dozen times, and only once was longer than one night. And now I’ll be away from them for four days! I am going to miss them like crazy. They’ll be in good hands with daddy, but I will still miss them like crazy.

And in case you’re wondering how Chris is doing this, given that he works full-time too, the answer is comp time. Probably. The conference goes from Thursday through Sunday, so he’ll probably work Thursday while Sam is at school and Theo is at day camp, and then he’s hoping to take Friday off. If he can’t, he’ll just do the same thing as Thursday—work while the boys are at school/day camp.

I’m actually also going away in September, to a retreat, but only from Friday through Sunday. Chris will be caring for the boys then, too. I’m definitely going to owe him a weekend away for all of this! Not that I know where he’d even go. Knowing him, he’d just spend the entire weekend at the grocery store. 😉

Anyway! It’ll be fun, and I’m excited! Nervous about missing my boys and about finishing all that work before I go, but excited! (Excited about Phoenix in late June? I must be nuts!!)

Speaking of Theo and day camp, that starts next week. He’s going to the same one he went to last year. He really enjoyed it, and I was happy with it, so we figured we’d just do that again. He’s looking forward to it, and they’re looking forward to having him. We stopped in to sign him up a couple of weeks ago, and the counselors were so excited to see him! I think it’s nice for him to go someplace where they get excited about him, because let’s face it—when you have a very charming little brother, sometimes you kind of get overshadowed. It’s nice for Theo that he has a place where he’s a big shot. 🙂

Sam’s preschool is open year-round, so he’ll just be continuing throughout the summer. Unfortunately, his beloved preschool teacher is no longer working there, so we get to meet the new teacher tomorrow. I just hope we like her as much as we did Miss Victoria! I’ve come to the conclusion that when it comes to my kids, I don’t like change. In general, I’m a person who likes change—I don’t like things to feel stagnant. But when it comes to my kids, I don’t like change. I mourn every time we lose a good person—teacher, therapist, doctor, or whatnot. And I’m generally happy with the replacement person—I’m really not overly picky, as long as I think the person treats my kids well and has their best interests at heart. But still, I just don’t like the change.

In thinking back, though, we’ve been very lucky so far. Between Theo and Sam, we’ve had quite a few teachers—Theo went to three different preschools with multiple teachers at each (long story, if you’re not a longtime blog follower who already knows it), a different school for kindergarten, and then a different school for first grade. Sam went to Early Intervention, where he had three teachers, and is now in preschool, where he has several co-teachers. And in all of these teachers, I have liked almost all of them. Theo had one who I did not like, but in general I have liked all of the others. Some more than others, but there was only one in the entire bunch who I can honestly say I just did not like. (And I don’t think she was Theo’s biggest fan, so I guess the feeling was mutual.) So really, those odds are quite good. Hopefully now the changes for Theo will just be the usual change of teacher with each new grade level—but he’ll be at the same school. And Sam should, in theory, have much the same…although it remains to be seen, since Sam has some additional needs. And, hopefully we will continue to be lucky enough to get good teachers who I like!

Speaking of people I like, our neighbors are pretty awesome. They’re always friendly when I see them, and on Wednesday I opened the front door to find two new Richard Scarry books on the porch for the boys (mostly Sam, since they’re for younger kids, but Theo still enjoys them, too). I had no idea who they were from until later in the day, when a neighbor who I hadn’t met yet flagged me down as I was pulling out of the driveway and said, “Hi! I’m bossy, and I left the books on your porch. I wanted the lift-the-flap book, but they didn’t have it. So I got these ones instead. I hope your boys will like them.” Then she looked at Sam, sitting in his carseat, and said, “Read! Read a lot.” And then she marched away. It cracked me up! I thought it was so nice of her to think of the boys, and I don’t even know her name! Luckily, I got a chance to thank her before she marched away. And Sam quite likes the books, as Richard Scarry books always have fun pictures to look at.

Friday was a super-fun day for me and Sam! One of the Rockin’ Moms (who lives in Washington) was in the Central Valley visiting her extended family, so Sam and I went out there and met her at a children’s museum, along with another Rockin’ Mom who lives here locally. We had a total of nine kids with us, and we managed a fun morning at the museum and lunch at a diner! Thankfully, the visiting Rockin’ Mom brought her mom and aunt along, so we had five adults to corral the nine kids. 🙂

I think Sam may have had a growth spurt! He’s closing in on age 3.5 and still wearing 18-month clothes, but he was actually the biggest of the three Rockin’ Kids at the museum on Friday! Granted, the other two are younger than him (one is almost a full year younger, and the other one is at least six months younger), but in the past he’s been smaller even than the other kids with Down syndrome who are younger than him, and this time he was actually slightly bigger than them! Pipsqueak is growing a bit—maybe someday, he’ll even wear the giant stash of 24-month hand-me-downs that are waiting for him. 😉

On Saturday, we attempted to fatten the child up with ice cream. Okay, really we just wanted ice cream, but fattening up Sam is a good excuse! We went to a park near our house and had a picnic, then visited our favorite local ice cream shop. While we were at the park, I spotted a kid on the play structure who had his back to me, and I commented to Chris, “That’s got to be a member of the tribe” (which is our code for “I see another kid with Down syndrome”). Sure enough, when he turned to face me, I saw that it was—and in fact, it’s one I know from Down Syndrome Connection. Nice to see a familiar face, but what cracks me up is that I can spot kids with DS from behind when they’re not even moving. There’s something about the tilt of the head that is a dead giveaway to me. Sam has it, and I’ve noticed a number of other kids with DS do, too.

That head tilt is part of what makes Sam’s running so adorable, by the way. He tips his head forward, clenches his fists, yells “Wunnnnnnnnnn!!!!” and goes charging off like a little bull. It’s quite cute. 🙂 He now “wuns” most places instead of walking…because why walk when you can “wun”?!

That evening, we babysat our little friend Justin while his parents went to a BBQ, and he and Theo and Sam had so much fun! Theo couldn’t wait for Justin to come over, and he talked Justin’s ear off for about an hour straight. Justin is actually just a few months older than Sam, but he speaks much more than Sam (not surprisingly), so Theo loves to play with him. It cracked me up because Justin very quickly figured out the way to get Theo’s attention (which can be hard to do sometimes): He would just walk up and yell, “THEO!” when he had something to say to him. Maybe I should try that. 😉

We had the boys make their own pizzas, which they then ate on the deck, and then they played outside until it started to get dark. Then we did ice cream sundaes for dessert—yum!

On Sunday, it was supposed to be uncomfortably hot here, so we headed across the bay for parts cooler. We still have our membership to the Bay Area Discovery Museum, so we hit that for several hours. The weather over there was cool and breezy and lovely, and the boys had a ball. Sam was chasing the birds and playing with the pretend fish and frogs in the pond, and then later both he and Theo played for a long time at the Curious George exhibit. The cool thing about that museum is that both kids still really enjoy it, because there’s plenty for older kids to enjoy, as well as plenty for young kids to do. As usual, we just divided and conquered, which is why you’ll see mostly pictures of Sam—I was on Sam duty.

Speaking of which, I hauled out the good camera for the first time since Theo’s birthday, trying to get some good pictures of the boys. I got some cute ones of Sam, but Theo was with Chris most of the time, so pictures of him are in short supply.

And before I wrap up, speaking of Theo…he finishes first grade this week! As of Thursday afternoon, we will have a second-grader in the house. Woohoo!

All right, wish me luck—I need to attempt to get a book written and a course designed this week…while on a limited schedule due to dental work and kids with shortened school schedules. Eeeeeeek!

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