Oct 6, 2013: Buddy Walk!

Happy Buddy Walk day! You know how I was fundraising for our Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk? Well, the walk was today. Up until two years ago, it was called the “Buddy Walk,” which is still what most people call it. And it rolls off the tongue better than “Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk.” So, happy Buddy Walk day!

We were very excited to hit our fundraising goal this year—and, in fact, we exceeded it by $10. So a very big thank you to everyone who donated this year—we really appreciate it!

The walk was warm but a lot of fun. Like last year, it was a rather warm day, but there was a lot of shade in the park, so it was bearable. Sam once again snoozed through the walk, but he woke up to cross the finish line! He heard people applauding, and he loves applause, so that motivated him to wake up. 🙂

We had our same team this year—the four of us, Grandma Kathy, and Papa—but this year we also had Auntie Jeanette and Justin with us! It’s a neat little event with bouncy houses and games for the kids, so I think all three kiddos had fun. Sam’s a bit young for games, but he just liked seeing the people. 🙂 The funniest part was that Pepperidge Farm must’ve sponsored the event, because they were handing out goldfish crackers everywhere. You all know that Sam goes on “hunger strikes” where he will eat nothing but goldfish, so this amused me. And then, lo and behold, a giant goldfish showed up to take pictures with the kids! Of course I had to get one with Sam and Mr. Goldfish, given his great love of fish. But the funniest thing was watching Auntie Jeanette’s son Justin’s love/fear relationship with the giant fish. He wanted to see the fish…but did he? He’d get very close and then back away. He finally mustered up the courage to go offer one of his fish crackers to Mr. Fish, which cracked me up—cannibalism, anyone?! 😉

Alas, I didn’t win any raffle prizes, but we had a good time and a nice little lunch, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching karaoke—especially 15-year-old Eli performing a rousing rendition of the Scorpions’ hard-rock classic “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” He had the crowd cheering and singing along—it was awesome! I also enjoyed 35-year-old Blair’s rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and I wished Theo could’ve seen it. He was off in the bouncy house at that point! Ah well…

As long as I’m on the subject of Down syndrome, I should tell you about my Down Syndrome Awareness project. October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, and last year I posted a fact a day about Down syndrome on my Facebook page. But I have most of the same Facebook friends this year as I did last year, so I didn’t want to recycle information. Instead, I came up with a different idea: It occurred to me that my Facebook friends know all about what our life is like with Down syndrome, as I talk about Sam (and Theo) all the time on Facebook. In fact, that’s largely why I’m on FB—I like to keep up with my friends and their families, and I like to keep them updated about my family. But, if I really want to spread awareness about what life with Down syndrome is like, I should introduce my friends to other people with Down syndrome. So, I asked the members of my favorite Facebook Down Syndrome forum, as well as my local friends who have kids with DS, whether they’d be interested in providing a picture of their kiddo, as well as three bits of info: age, biggest challenge DS has brought to their family, and coolest thing about their kid. Because I wanted this to be real awareness, which shows the good and the not-so-good. I wasn’t interested in just doing a feel-good series—although there’s certainly a place for that. I wanted both sides of the story. And wow, what a response I got! I believe I have about 40 kids to feature this month, so on weekends I have to double up and post two kiddos a day!

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve seen my posts, starting on Tuesday. But if you’re not, some of the moms suggested I also post these on my blog. And several moms are posting them as well. I’m delighted at the exposure these kiddos are getting! So, each week this month, I’ll feature the kids from that week in our blog as well.

You know why this idea came to me? Because when Sam was first born and newly diagnosed, I was…confused. Not grieving, as I’ve said, but confused. I didn’t know what to expect. And the absolute best therapy I had was being around other kids with Down syndrome, as well as their families. Because what I saw was that life is very, very normal for the most part. You all know there are rough parts—heart surgeries and other medical concerns, IEP battles, cruel remarks from unthinking or unfeeling people—but you also know that there are beautiful parts. And I learned that by being around these kids and their families. I didn’t see frazzled parents with ruined lives, just trying to make it through the day. I saw parents like me—having good days and not-so-good, worrying sometimes and enjoying others. I saw parents in love with their children, and children in love with their parents. I saw happiness, love, acceptance, normalcy, and yes, the occasional frustration that is part and parcel of being a parent to any child.

So, by “meeting” these other kids with Down syndrome, you can get a feel for the fact that their families’ lives are much as I describe ours—sure, there are worries, but there are also joys. Just like there are for anyone. 🙂

And, before I move off the topic of Down syndrome, I might as well share that Sam had his follow-up ear check and hearing test this week…and he rocked it!! It was so apparent that he heard the majority of sounds in the test this time, and he scored within the normal range of hearing! And the doctor looked in his ears and said the tubes look great. Hooray! I am so glad we opted to do the surgery, because it’s very apparent that he’s hearing better. He’s even trying to say some new words (“up” and “baby”), and he’s doing a lot more babbling and following of simple instructions. (He likes to stand at the baby gates, and then we can’t get through them. But if I tell him, “Sit down!” he will plop down on his little butt with a big grin and then laugh when I come through the gate. So cute!)

Sam isn’t the only one who spent time at Kaiser this week. I had an endoscopy on Thursday. Here’s the funny part: I had to have a camera stuck down my throat, through my stomach, and into my small intestine. Meanwhile, Chris had to wrangle both boys in the hospital cafeteria and waiting room. Who had the more pleasant time? ME! Yep, I got to lie on a bed and play games on my phone while I waited, and then they gave me some nice drugs so I got a little nap, and then it was all over. Chris, on the other hand, spent two hours with antsy Theo and cranky Sam, who very much wanted to be down and crawling, not being held by Daddy! I find it amusing that the rather gross procedure was actually the easier option of the two. 🙂 And in case you’re wondering, the endoscopy was because although my GI issues have improved since having the polyp removed from my colon and starting a new probiotic (prescribed by the doctor), I still get sick on a somewhat regular basis. So, the GI doctor suggested the endoscopy, just to check for a few other things. As it turns out, he found inflammation in my stomach that he biopsied, but that’s it. I should have the results in a week or two. They didn’t seem concerned—said inflammation can even come from taking a lot of aspirin. I actually haven’t taken a lot of aspirin, but I have taken a reasonable amount of cold medicine over the last few weeks, so maybe it’s from that. I guess we’ll see. I do feel a bit vindicated, though. My naturopath had told me that my test results showing no bacteria in my stomach (not even the good bacteria that I should have) indicated that I probably had a lot of inflammation. And indeed, the endoscopy showed inflammation. The naturopath was very expensive, so I feel good that at least when I spent our hard-earned money on her, she did indeed know what she was talking about! Now if we could just fix it. I’m a lot better than I was, but I think that’s partly because I’m pretty darn careful about what I eat. When I’m not, I definitely get sick. 🙁

While we were at Kaiser, I suggested that we all get our flu shots. Chris often doesn’t get flu shots. He did last year, to protect Sam, who was still very young, but many years he doesn’t. But having seen how sick I got from the flu, he agreed to get one. And then, guess what? He got sick. Not super sick, but he definitely got mild flu symptoms from the shot. It’s four days out now, and he’s still not feeling 100%. He’s been congested and with a sore throat for a few days. So he’s kinda mad at me for suggesting he get the shot. But that’s okay—he’ll get over it. I do feel bad that he got sick from it, but I think in the long run he should be glad that he got the mild vaccine reaction, rather than the full-blown flu, because it is nasty! I’ve had it for nearly three weeks now, and I still don’t feel great. The fever is gone, but my ears and throat still really hurt—sometimes so bad that it’s hard to sleep. And my glands in my neck are still swollen and painful. No fun. And of course I’ve had a ton of work, so if I’ve been a lousy email correspondent (hi, Aunt Sally!), you can blame it on massive amounts of work, lots of volunteering for Theo’s class, and the stupid flu that will not leave! Sigh…

Speaking of volunteering in Theo’s class, I do it every Monday. Whew—it is fun, but I gain new respect for Theo’s teacher every time I do it! Man, those kids can be a handful! It is great to see Theo in there, too. He really is settling in nicely. This week he got sent away from the carpet while I was there (for acting up a bit), but so did seven other kids. So at least he was in good company. 😉 And in general, it’s evident to me that he’s settling in really well. Makes me happy!

On Thursdays, I watch Max, a 12-month-old who has a sister in Theo’s class. Max’s mom and I trade childcare when we volunteer—Breanne watches Sam on Mondays while I volunteer, and I watch Max on Thursdays while she does. This was our first week watching Max, but it was a lot of fun. I brought him back to our house, and the baby boys played together for a while, then had a snack. Then I took them on a walk, where Max promptly fell asleep on me while Sam rode in his little blue car. Max is a snuggly little guy—I loved having two snuggly babies to play with all morning! And surprisingly, mama’s-boy Sam didn’t seem to mind sharing me.

Theo also had violin this week, and I’m embarrassed to report that my five-year-old can get better sound to come out of the violin than I can! I tried to play it a bit to show him a tempo exercise they’re supposed to work on, and it sounded horrible! Yet he can actually make some very pretty sounds come out of it. I stink. 🙂 The teacher said Theo’s doing great—largely because at his age, she said boys pretty much never stick it out! They show up for a couple of lessons and then get bored and stop coming. But Theo comes and seems to enjoy it, and he actually has a pretty good hold on the violin. (Holding it is actually somewhat tricky.) So she said he’s doing great! His only gripe is that he doesn’t get to play much in class—it’s mostly lesson and then we come home and play. He’d like to play more in class. Ah well. If he continues to enjoy it, we may eventually think about private lessons where he’d get more “play” time.

Last but not least, we ventured to Oktoberfest on Saturday! Downtown Clayton has many fun family events throughout the year, and we rarely ever attend—for some reason, they’re always on days where we have something else going. But I was determined to attend Oktoberfest—why not? It’s walking distance, it’s free (you just pay for what rides you want to go on, what food you want to eat, etc.), and it could be fun. And indeed it was! It was crowded, but fun. Theo loved the roller coaster and the giant slide—he’s an adrenalin junkie, like his mama! And we all had some delicious Italian ice that felt like heaven on my throat! Boy, I could go for some of that now….

Oh, last bit of news is that I was supposed to start teaching this weekend, but my class got cancelled for low enrollment. I’m kind of sad because I was looking forward to it…but I’m kind of happy to have my Saturdays back. 🙂

Anyway, time to wrap up. Hope you’ve all had a good week! Lots of pictures this week, so enjoy!

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