Sunday, March 30, 2008

Family and Laughter

Mariko was home this past week on break. Knowing that as the kids get older, the opportunities for all of us to be together at a family dinner will become rarer, Robert suggested meeting up for dinner out. Jim & Steph live about two hours away from us, so we met up at the Olive Garden half way between us. Robert was working close to home that day, so our plan was to meet up part way and he would take some of the older kids with him the rest of the way.
In the twenty-five minute drive from home to the parking lot of the local grocery store, I laughed so hard. William is currently hooked on Johnny and The Sprites from Playhouse Disney. For Easter, he received a Johnny and The Sprites dvd. For twenty-five minutes, I was in the car, listening to William singing along with that, and with his older siblings making up their own lyrics. They also compared the Sprites to the Muppets and the Fraggles. Nothing makes a car ride pass more quickly than laughter. Laughter that brings tears to your eyes, which prompted my comment, "I'm so glad I wore my waterproof mascara because you guys are making me laugh so hard I'm crying". Which then prompted Mariko to say, "That is such a Mom comment~ only you would say that!", which of course, brought more laughter from everyone.
After we arrived to meet Robert, Mariko, Steve & Brittany quickly got out of my car and got into Robert's. For the rest of our trip, I was tempted to call Robert's cell phone and have him put it on speaker so the kids could enjoy listening to the songs from Johnny and the Sprites from our car. I didn't, and it turns out there was no need. Robert told me that when there was a quiet moment on their ride, Steve would suddenly burst out into a Johnny & The Sprites song.
We had a nice big table at the Olive Garden, set into this little alcove so we could have a rousing good time together.
One thing I've realized in going through the photos~ it's not a good idea for me to take pictures when I'm laughing so hard; despite the anti-shake feature on my camera, it's not very effective when I am laughing and trying to snap a shot.

The sound of laughter is very common in our home, and usually wherever we go~ it's one of my favorite sounds in the whole world.

I'd like to thank Christie for this award....

My dear friend Christie at Brady's Bunch has given me this Friendship Oscar! Christie and I travel the T21 path together, and had the opportunity to meet in real life last year. She's a wonderful person, fantastic momma, and has some of the most beautiful children you will ever see. Click on over to read her blog and see why I adore her.

I would like to send this award over to a few friends that I love dearly. Nicole, who helped draw me out way back when on our T21/Down syndrome messageboard and is such a joy to talk to.

Monica, for finding a wonderful new online home for our T21 board five years ago. She has shared her heart, wisdom and humor time and again.

Aly, my Aly~ we'd met online through Signing Time, and when we finally met in person, it was like we had always known each other. Her calls always brighten my day. She is more than a friend~ she is a sister of my soul.

Rachel~ for not only helping William shine, but helping me shine too. Thank you friend, for all the laughter, tears and memories. I know we will have many more!

Friday, March 21, 2008


I've been working on this post for a year now. Yet every time I sit to write it, or edit it, I cannot finish it. This is my fourth attempt ~ the first was last year, the second was last Mother's Day, the third was on Mom's birthday in January. So this is my fourth, on the anniversary of her death.

Another year gone by. It has been four years since my Mom died of sudden cardiac death. A few years before, I had given my parents our old computer after we'd gotten a new one. Dad had been using his old electric typewriter for years and I thought it'd be neat for him to be able to save things to disc on the computer and print out at his leisure. Mom asked him if she could keep her memories in it for whenever she remembered things so we could all share it someday. She dictated her memories as Dad typed, and I am so grateful to them both for these recollections. Maybe one day I'll share some of her memories here. For now, I will share some of mine.

Mom was beautiful~ a natural beauty. Her idea of makeup was a little powder from her compact and some lipstick. On special occasions, she would apply mascara, but she told me she wasn't crazy about it because it made her upper & lower lashes stick together. I, on the other hand, rarely leave the house without applying everything from foundation to eyeshadow, mascara... the works. When I was little, I would watch Mom apply her lipstick~ she had this lipbrush and I would gaze in awe as she dipped the brush into an often-used stick of lipstick, and then across her perfectly shaped lips. For as long as I could remember, she used that one lip brush and as an adult I searched for one similar. Even now, whenever I use my lip brush, I always think back to watching my Mom with hers.

She often told me of growing up in Japan. Her father, a civil attorney, had a house built incorporating both Japanese and Western features. Part of the house had traditional Japanese furnishings: tatami floors and futons. The other part, which housed his home office, had hardwood floors, desks and sofas. As a young girl, she and her siblings would sneak into his office and jump on the sofas until her Dad would catch her. That never stopped her for long. The image of my Mother as a young child, bouncing along the couch to see how high she could jump always makes me smile.

Her wartime memories are poignant, and those are absolutely something to share another day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Journaling, part I

My absence recently from blogging was due to a fountain pen. This fountain pen

I saw it on Levenger and thought, "With a nice pen like that, maybe I would take the time to write in my journal again" so I ordered it. This photo, and the photo on their website don't capture the beauty of this True Writer Sea Glass fountain pen. Turning it in my fingers, the flecks of blue, green and amber glimmer in the light.

When it arrived, I couldn't wait to put it to use. I picked up my journal, my very neglected journal, and began writing. And writing. To the neglect of my blog. There is just something so cathartic about putting pen to paper and letting your words flow through the ink. I definitely can type faster than I can write, but I so enjoy the flow of the pen on paper.

I kept diaries as a little girl and wrote some of the silly things little girls write about like petty squabbles with friends or the stars we idolize. I have no idea where any of those diaries are. Long since destroyed, I hope. Either that or they are in a box somewhere in my basement. Chances are, they were mostly filled with drawings though; I drew and doodled a lot. As an angst filled teenager, I kept a handmade book that I filled with all those teenage egocentric thoughts. I didn't start journaling again until I was hospitalized with severe depression and generalized anxiety disorder a few months before I turned 31. The counselors at the psych unit in the hospital encouraged the patients to write our thoughts and feelings out in notebooks. That was extremely helpful for me, but when I returned home, I realized I needed to hide those notebooks. My husband at the time felt that he should be the one I shared all my feelings with, not some private notebook. Reading what I wrote made him feel bad. So I bought another, and wrote a mock journal, the one which contained the things which satisfied him and hid my real journal in a public area of the house, but put the fake one away where he'd snoop and find it. Anyway.....

After I met Robert, but before he moved here to be with me, we wrote back and forth, and poured our thoughts out on paper. A few days after he moved here, he bought two notebooks, one for each of us. He thought it'd be a wonderful keepsake to someday look back through and reminisce about our first years together. For me, that was the first journal of several. For a while, I was going through them one a year. Sadly, I have misplaced the journal that covers William's first year; the last time I saw it was right before we moved into our new house. Hopefully it is just in one of the bazillion boxes in the basement I have not yet gone through. I had copied some of the text online before that which is why I still have William's birth story & second surgery details.

Somehow, as I spent more time on messageboards, the entries in my journal lessened. I was sharing our family life online, and just did not take the time to write it in my journal. This journal was begun July 19, 2002.

I am disappointed in myself~ for the first six years together, I went through 6 journals. This one has covered nearly six years! I am at the end of it, though, and will probably begin my new journal in the next day or so.

I imagine one of these years, Robert and I will sit down and read the old journals. I quickly glanced at the first one this morning. My initial entry sounded like a giddy schoolgirl in love. Funny. One of my current entries evokes that identical impression. Maybe that's because I still feel that way about Robert.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Baby's Got Book!

I was absolutely delighted to see this on the Today show! Baby's got book! Tot shocks parents by reading. This story emphasizes what I have been saying about all the benefits of using Signing Time! with all children. Here is an excerpt from the article on the Today show site, but please go there, read the article and rate it high!
"Katy Barrett and her husband, Michael, are speech pathologists, and when Elizabeth was born, they said on Monday, they started teaching her sign language along with spoken language. They read to her often, and her favorite television program — the only one her parents let her watch — was a PBS show called “Signing Times,” which teaches kids sign language."

See this remarkable toddler for yourself

Are you and your child a fan of Signing Time and do you have your own story to share? I encourage you to share your Signing Time! story with the ">Today Show.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Seven Things

Back in early January, AZ Chapman tagged me to write 7 things about me. Sorry it has taken me so long to get to this, my friend.

1. I have never been skiing (nor have I wanted to), despite having lived most of my life in New England.

2. I love Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat - 3. Allegro It is brilliant.

3. I have finished several scrapbook projects and given them as gifts, but have never finished one for me.

4. I've been known to geek out and have several programs running on 4 computers simultaneously, yet when we bought our first computer 12 years ago, I didn't know how to shut it down.

5. I worked as a cocktail waitress when I was pregnant with my oldest child.

6. I collected comic books growing up and into my adulthood.

7. I can sing quite well.

I have no idea who to tag, so if you read this, consider yourself tagged!

Well, Why Didn't They Say So?

We bought a new front loader washing machine last year, after my Maytag Neptune stopped working. We decided on a GE Adora, with a wonderful sanitize setting, which I love. The washer worked perfectly.... for a while. After several months (keep in mind there are seven of us who live here and we go through a lot of laundry), the final spin cycle was taking longer and longer, and was not spinning enough of the water out of the clothes. A one hour fourteen minute wash should not take more than four hours and leave the clothes dripping wet.

Two weeks ago, I couldn't take it any longer and Robert was ready to call a repairman. Not really wanting to spend money on a service call, I googled "GE front load washer troubleshooting" and clicked on one of the links. It brought me to where I found others with the same problem I was having. The solution, someone suggested, is to take off the front lower panel and empty the filter that is there, and to check the hose that leads to it for backed up gunk too.

Could it be that simple? Actually, it should have been simpler. The washing machine owner's paperwork should have that listed in the troubleshooting guide, but it doesn't. The panel should have a flip-down access panel over that area rather than three screws that are difficult to line up afterwards to screw back on, but it doesn't.

After Robert came home from work that day, we got towels, a shallow pan, a screwdriver and a flashlight. He took the panel off, unscrewed the filter plug slowly, letting the excess water drain into the pan, closing it while he dumped the water and repeated until the water was completely drained. When he pulled the filter plug out, we laughed at what we found. Lint, a pencil, a few paperclips, a hair tie (possibly two), some screws, a zipper pull, a toy ring, change adding up to a couple dollars, a Big Y coin (local grocery store), long dark hair (mine & Doug's), a bra wire, a Nintendo DS stylus, and a flat washer. He clipped a wire hanger, bent the end and grabbed more lint, then got his long needlenose pliers so we could grab the rest of the gunk in the hose. He reconnected the hose to the filter, screwed the filter plug back in, and we struggled to align the front panel back into place and screwed the three screws back in.

Voila! The next load of laundry took one hour, fourteen minutes start to finish, and was not even close to being sopping wet. The washer worked as perfectly as the first load we had washed in it. We will now be checking the filter every two to three months to keep our washer running as good as new.

Honestly, though, why didn't GE just put this little tidbit of information in their owner's guide?