28 August 2017

The New Additions

It has been a long and emotionally draining process that involved about a dozen applications and the sudden death of a kitten we were about to adopt. But on Saturday, we finally brought home Kalley, a four-month-old Oriental Shorthair mix (Orientals are hypoallergenic)...




She is uber shy and super scared of everything and everyone. I snuggled with her a lot during the first day, but once she escaped me, she ran under our bed and hasn't left our room since.


Then this evening I brought home Cora, an 8-week-old Russian Blue mix. (Also hypoallergenic.) Cora is a typical kitten, who was running around the house and playing within minutes.




It's basically a constant fight between the kids over who gets to play with Cora.

That moment when you're attacking the couch and you accidentally fall asleep.

Kalley came right out to meet Cora, and then promptly hissed at her. They've eaten together and Cora makes sure to bound under the bed and "sneak" attack Kalley on the regular, so I suspect she'll break down Kalley's walls soon.


I am so happy to have cats again, and I can't wait until they get more comfortable with us. Although I do still really miss Belle.

21 August 2017

Just Keep Swimming

I made a rule that I'm not allowed to blog when I'm feeling depressed and emotional, so I haven't been blogging lately because I'm feeling an excess of those things. Loosing Roxy in June, having a miscarriage in July, and loosing Belle in August has really drained me emotionally. I'm 100% back on all my supplements for depression, and I'm trying to process all my emotions instead of burying them. Abigail starts school in one week; I'm excited for the therapeutic support, but, as per usual, I am feeling really guilty that I can't wait to lose one of my kids for 7 hours per day.


When she starts back up, it's going to be another two weeks of everyone adjusting to the new schedule. Monday is a half day, and then she'll have Friday and Labor Day Monday off. I can see how all this would mean theoretically that she'll be able to slowly ease back into school, but really it's just going to confuse the hell out of her. It's far better to drop Abigail into a new schedule, even an all-day one, rather than tease her with half days here, vacation days there. It is my goal to be very easy on everyone, including myself, through mid-September.

Not everything is going wrong in my life, though. Despite this summer's numerous challenges (some of which I can't discuss online, but do exist), I have had enough positive "steps forward" to keep myself sane. I re-ran last year's 5K from hell and rocked my best 5K time yet! I was the 14th female runner out of 48, which isn't objectively ground-breaking, but is really good for me.


I also went to a Mom's spa night out as part of my Down syndrome support group and had my makeup done by a profession makeup artist for the first time. I didn't even have it done for my wedding! I finally learned (at 30!) what contouring and highlighting and bronzing is all about. I picked up my own fancy contouring kit when I was grocery shopping later that week and have been experimenting to recreate the look.


I also - very excitingly - have officially lost 30 pounds since January (and remember, for just over two months during that time period, I was pregnant and couldn't lose weight as well!). I'm flirting with my pre-pregnancy weight from before Theodore and excited to keep loosing until I hit my goal weight - about what I weighed at my wedding! I actually paid to get some outside help, but I'll talk more about that in a different blog post.


I'm really proud of myself for not turning to emotional eating to deal with all the challenges of this summer. As embarrassing as it is to have gotten so heavy and to have lost a whooping 30 pounds and still have so far to go, I'm really, really proud of myself for not giving up. Which is pretty much my motto for 2017: Just Keep Swimming.

10 August 2017

The First Time

We were at the park when I heard another girl shouting from atop the play structure: "That girl! That girl!" I groaned, but looked up and followed her pointing finger down to the ground. To Abigail. I wasn't surprised it was Abigail being called out of all the kids on the playground, but I could not figure out what she'd done. I'd been keeping a close eye on all three and she hadn't done anything to indicate a run-in. Her behavior had been exceptional and nothing gave me suspicion that she'd been throwing mulch or pushing, and she long outgrew her hair pulling phase. Since the accuser wasn't being specific and not pushing the issue, I dropped it. A few minutes later, I heard her again, "This girl! She's my friend!" I looked up again and the same girl had a friend with her. They were both standing by Abigail and trying to get her attention.
"Hello! What's your name? My name is -, what's your name?" Abigail turned away to climb up a ladder, but she insistently followed her, going on the other side of the ladder to maintain eye contact. "I like your cookie! What's your name?"
Abigail tried every body language trick in the book to get the other girls to leave her alone, but in the end, she said, "Leave me alone," and climbed to the top of the ladder and the other girls did leave her alone.


It broke my heart. My heart is always breaking with her. It is extremely rare for other kids to engage her, and I'm pretty sure this is the first time a child of her own age, outside of her classroom, has ever tried to engage her. Usually when the rare occurrence happens, it's an older kid who thinks she's cute. While that's nice and all, it still breaks my heart when an eight-year-old swoons over my six-year-old who can count to 100 and write her own name like she's 18-month-old Theodore.

And here we have two girls, sporting Frozen t-shirts and sparkly skirts trying to befriend her in a totally normal, typically-developing way. And Abigail demands to be left alone.


I did tell her, "Abigail, she wants to be your friend!" But I knew it wouldn't help, I just wanted to reassure the other girls (and their dad who was standing nearby) that I saw their kindness. I hope - I pray - that kids will keep reaching out to her. One day she will reciprocate. I know it.


04 August 2017

The Skirt Experiment

People treat me different when I dress nicer, I discovered this summer.


I've been wearing a lot of skirts and dresses lately, largely because I hate the way I look in shorts, but also because they are more fluid in size - as I lose weight, I don't have to keep buying a new wardrobe. When I go out by myself, people are nicer to me, they smile, they give me more space when we pass in the aisle. guys let me enter a doorway first. When I go out with all three kids in leggings and a baggy shirt, I'm far more likely to get comments. But when I'm wearing a maxi skirt, I even hear the omnipresent "You have your hands full!" less often! I still have messy hair, no make up, I'm still just as sweaty and stressed, but people treat me so much differently. It has really hammered home to me that, whether we like it or not, the way we dress matters.

I've to some extent always known this and so I'm pretty strict about what the kids can wear and not shy about donating clothing I don't like. (Although I should preface this by saying that when kids are young enough to be running around naked/in a diaper, I really don't think clothing is doing any harm.) Some of it is obvious: no short-shorts or strappy tank tops on my kindergartner. No two-pieces in public pools. Potty trained girls need shorts underneath dresses and skirts. There are just too many perverts out there. But I have a few more subtler rules for Abigail and Theodore.

I like to keep Abigail well-dressed. No sloppy or stained play clothes. Nothing mismatched. And I try to keep her hair as nice as I can, although hair is a daily struggle with her, so it's not usually as tidy as I'd like. She has a million battles to fight and a ton of stereotypes to overcome - if I can eliminate some of them by making sure she looks clean and put-together, it's worth the effort. I also worry about possible neglect or abuse on the part of caregivers. Right now, we have a pretty tight circle, but as she gets older, I think the nicer she looks, the less frustrated people will get with her behavioral challenges. It's just more pleasant to deal with people who look pretty. I also think the more obvious it is that someone is caring for her, the less of a target she'll be. On a lighter note, I want to be a good witness to Down syndrome. If people see a sloppy dressed, tangle-haired, runny-nosed girl, I feel like I'm perpetuating bad stereotypes. If people see a clean, washed girl with a french braid and light-up Frozen sneakers, Down syndrome looks down right normal. (See what I did there?)

Theodore doesn't wear "Ladies Man" clothes, even though he's young enough to qualify for my "whatever, he's young" clause. I can't stand men with "player" personalities, I don't trust them, and I would never want my girls to date them. I want my boys to grow up to be men who respect all women and are devoted to their own families. I also really want a priest in the family. I really hope Theodore or a possible future son is called to the priesthood. So I want to avoid steering him into the typical path of girl-obsession.

Lastly, Roxy. She passed away in June, but I still want to bring her up. She was an 85 pound German Shepherd, who, despite her marshmallow interior, inspired fear among some people we came across. I had gotten an orange reflective vest to make her more visible during our early-morning walks, but I found that people reacted much differently to her when she wore it, so I started putting it on her for all our walks, even in broad day light. I don't know if people mistook her for a service dog (I hope not, would have been a bad witness to leader dogs with her poor leash training), but something about the vest soothed people with power breed fears.

It is important to change the world, and the way we dress doesn't take away from our inherent human dignity, so I agree that it's unfair that black men can't wear baggy sweatshirts or girls wear short skirts without putting themselves in very real danger. Some people are called to tackle that issue head-on, but it's definitely much more my conflict-averse personality to keep a low profile. It's like camouflaging in plain sight - I can have lots of kids, be Catholic, and still be treated politely because I'm wearing a long, purple floral skirt. Sure, it's unfair and I should get the same respect in leggings and a baggy shirt or a mini skirt (yeesh, I'm scared to know what people would say if I went out with three kids in a mini skirt). But I'm still getting what I want, so I'm good with it. Plus Lularoe maxis are so comfortable and pretty, I actual prefer them to jean shorts. Heck, maybe one day I'll master wearing lipstick and make large families look - dare I say it? - graceful.

03 August 2017

Belle

Belle is in kidney failure and we need to put her down. Roxy in June, the baby in July, and Belle in August. I'm struggling to process everything without stress eating or stress shopping. Stress praying? Maybe I should take up stress praying.


I have had her for 11 years, but she is 17. I adopted her when I was in college. I really love my black cat.

01 August 2017

Quack

I am doing 1,000 times better. I feel like I finally got my ducks in a row. My schedule is going well and my mood is improved, which directly translates to my children all doing better.


This week has been quite the bear, but I'm still rocking it out. Abigail has nasal and chest congestion. She tires easily and is pretty non-verbal during the day. Theodore doesn't feel well and has a fever. Everything makes him mad and he wants to be carried all day long. Eleanor has a fever and - literally - 12 mosquito bites, all of which are swollen and three of which are around her eye. She's also short tempered and yells a lot.

This is after the medicine has been applied, when the swelling is down.


I think I'm handling it pretty marvelously. My mood is good, I'm waking up early and working out to DVDs (Don't want to take sick kids to the YMCA's childcare), eating healthy, making dinner every day, getting a basic level of chores done, playing outside as much as the kids are feeling up to it, and enjoying playtime with them instead of shooing them all away.

Alleluia for good days.