One of the big things I have been working on since we got back was an interview for a new magazine a friend of mine is putting together. It made me finally get around to writing answers to a lot of those questions blog readers frequently ask. So watch for some questions and answers to appear here in the next few weeks.
I am feeling completely random. My mind has been spinning a million miles a minute since we got home. Actually, its been spinning like that since Addison was born. Some nights I just wake up and I can't go back to sleep because of the lists going through my head. But believe it or not for the first time in 13 months I feel like life is returning to something that might be orderly and, I dare say, normal?
We went on vacation with some very basic goals. My health has been very poor since I got pregnant with Addison. We knew I needed some extensive rest that I have not been able to get at home. We had hoped three weeks would be enough. It really wasn't. But we got some down time and are heading in the direction of healing so we trust God will take care of the rest with His grace.
Another goal was to work out our scheduling, planning and logistics for our ever growing and changing family. We didn't even start on that, instead opting for more rest and down time. So I had to get serious about that when we got home. I am so blessed by my children. They spent our first day home handling the cleaning and unpacking and meal planning and laundry so I could immerse myself in that effort. This last week came off rather well for the first week back home, first week of Autumn and first week of school.
Since we returned we have begun our new year of home school. This is such a transition time. Brianna will be lending a hand with teaching now that she has graduated. She also asked if she could take over the meal planning and shopping. The kids are all very good cooks and asked if they could each have a night to prepare the meal. This allows me an extra hour in the late afternoon with the youngers. I sat down to dinner one night this week, having no idea what would be served. That is very bizarre but pleasant, indeed. We are also trying out new schedules to find one that suits Addison's therapy schedule. And, although she has been schooling for most of her life, Elisabeth will be unofficially-officially joining us for kindergarten this year.
With her business starting to take off, Kaitlin will be stepping down to devote more time to sewing and marketing. And speaking of Kaitlin's business. The Henry Owl sale was a huge success. The lady who was handling the owls in our absence said they were the best selling item at the Buddy Walk. The walk itself raised nearly $50,000! So far 76 owls have found new homes raising more than $500 to better the lives of children with Down Syndrome. I am so proud of my girls for their efforts. If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out Henry Owls over here. To all those who have helped to make this possible with your purchase or your post a big thank you!!! When she was putting one order together with one of her favorite guys Kaitlin said it was hard to mail them out to strangers because she had put so much of herself into them that they felt like her kiddos. We all cheered her on by saying, "You're doing it for Henry! Imagine him riding a bike one day." And there you have it. Each of you in some way have helped our boy to learn to ride a bike or to reach some milestone that might otherwise be intangible.
While we are on the topic of Down Syndrome. We are excited to be gearing up to be part of a new project for a book featuring children with Ds. One of the things that I have been so frustrated about is the lack of good resources. There are tons of books. But quite frankly, no good ones. I wanted just one good picture book that included children with Ds. There are two books people keep recommending to me. The one that supposedly explains Ds to kids in no way prepares children for the differences they could expect in their siblings or friends with Down Syndrome. Another one shows two preschoolers playing together throughout the book. I know that the one little girl has Ds but you couldn't tell from the picture and it says no where in the story. Which is nice in the realm of political correctness, I suppose. To my kids the book just came across as any two preschoolers playing together. So think about it. If you can't tell the child has Ds how can you make the point that they are doing the same things that other kids do? You know? Anyway, I finally stopped looking and told Emma to start drawing. The girls have been working on a picture book. I can't wait to see how it comes out. And so imagine my excitement when I got the email on this new book project. Stay tuned to see how it all comes out.
We hope to be welcoming an American Sign Language Instructor on Tuesdays to help our family better communicate with Addison. Kate not only works as an interpreter but has taught and worked specifically with disabled children and children with Down Syndrome. This is just one of those many areas where the Lord is teaching us. Never before Addison did it occur to me that you would need a special language for children who were disabled. As Allen and I began discussing and praying about learning sign language, we wondered how Addison would be able to sign when managing fine motor skills is so difficult. It is really amazing the questions you come up with when your perspective changes just a little. So for all those who never thought of it before, yes there are special signs for the disabled. I am both looking forward to and a little anxious about this. I don't learn new things very quickly. I really have to work like mad. And right now I don't have time to work like mad at anything so I will probably end up in the dust as the rest of the family develops their vocabulary. But I figure even if I can't keep up, I will learn something which is better than the ten signs I know now, right? Plus, I only need to really keep up with Henry, so I already have a head start because I know all the most important words like God, Bible, please, thank you and coffee. I can sign Jesus Loves Me, too. Working out scheduling with her babysitter is proving to be a challenge so we are praying for the Lord to work those details out if it is His will for us to do this.
Since we got home, there has been this gigantic praying mantis living on our back door. Every morning he greets me while I brush my teeth. We've had lots of these guys around over the years, but I've never seen one stick to one area like this one has. Stink bugs seem much lighter than they have been in the last few years. I wonder if we have the praying mantis to thank or if the wicked things are finally moving on. Which has nothing to do with anything but is one of the many things that is spinning through my head right now.
And what's the deal with this? Everybody is retiring. Well not everybody. Just 2 of the 3 doctors in our family practice. This is kind of traumatic for us. These doctors have treated our family for more than 25 years. And if there ever was a time when we needed to rely on our docs this is it. In June one up and retired and yesterday the second one. Now Addison's well baby checkups will be with some stranger. Yeah, we are more than a little resistant to change. Plus, we liked the idea that our doctor knew us so well that we'd chat about his grand kids and whatever was going on in our home school during checkups.
And then yesterday we got an email from the owners of our local children's shoe store saying they were closing their doors and retiring. This may seem trivial to you but this is serious business to us. Not only because it is literally the only place to buy good quality kids shoes in our area. But also because Allen and I remember going there to get our shoes as a kid. As parents to nine kiddos, it was always with great ceremony our new walker would go to get measured for their first (and, when they got too big, last) pair of shoes. Miss Dianne always kept a tub of pretzel sticks for each of the kids. And as long as I can remember they had a race car. You know one of those machines where you put in a quarter and get a ride. Our kids loved getting their quarter after being fitted. Sigh. I guess it is just one more way that we see time keeps marching on.
And wow! Time sure is marching on. I could swear we just put up the Christmas decorations and today, while decorating pumpkins, Allen turned on the Christmas music, again. So I think we are back where we started. The leaves are changing. The flowers are dying. We have traded flip flops for fuzzy socks and our bathing suits for cozy sweaters. We are drinking pumpkin lattes instead of iced coffees. Fluffy pool side novels have been exchanged for text books. Instead of roasting smores we are burning our Autumn scented Yankee candles.
I am not going to mince words. It has been a long, hard and sometimes very emotional year. But as we settle in for the cold months and look forward to the upcoming holiday season, I feel at long last I can start to breath again. Life is good. And the God who has entrusted it to us, is even better.