Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello - anyone still out there? (Why I haven't written in a while)

HELLO!  Did you miss me?  I know you are probably super surprised to see a post from A Brighter Sunshine show up on your reading list or in your inbox.  I just kind of fell off the circuit didn't I?

Well I'm probably not back for good but I am going to try my best to get some posts out in honor of Down syndrome awareness month and '31 for 21' which starts today.  First if you are still reading this blog then I guess I owe you an explanation for my absence.  Really that is a twofold thing - one is the simplest answer, I'm completely busy and frequently overwhelmed by daily life so writing was the easy place to cut back.  The other reason is I just needed to step away from Ds.  Not sure that makes sense to most people but when I am writing blog posts, I feel the need to read blog posts and articles about Ds.  Not sure why except if someone is reading my blog it is only polite to read theirs, right?  And I love reading blogs about the daily lives of kids like Cate - it is inspiring and motivating, which makes it easy to fall down the rabbit hole.  I kind of obsess when I get too far into that habit - I spend hours reading blogs which leads to links to interesting articles about Ds around the country and the world, which leads to reading comments, which leads to outrage at how awful people can be, which leads to a need to advocate more.  All of that can be a really good thing until it starts messing with my perspective.  My reality is that our daily lives are not ruled by Ds but by two pint sized, strong personalities which take all my focus and the majority of my time. The last year has held some new challenges, new milestones, and a lot of fun.  For the month of October, I am going to do some reflecting of the time that has past since my last post in November 2013 and try to share some of that with you because I do love the Ds community  and I am an advocate at heart so it makes me happy to think that maybe I helped one person out there deal with an issue or at the very least made them realize they are not alone in this crazy life!

Now all that talk is well and good but truly you probably just want to see a picture of Cate, right?  When I look at my last couple posts I can't believe how much she has grown and matured.  I swear she is two inches taller and not a pound heavier.  She is getting adjusted to the third grade, swimming, horseback riding, cheerleading and starting to become very independent (in reality instead of just in her head!). 

Just a taste - at the very least I promise more pictures this week!
Thanks for sticking around!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Swim Meet 2013

Cate had her fall swim meet last month and again it was awesome!  You'd think we'd get bored of this or at least lukewarm but it is so much fun to watch these kids swim.  They all have worked so hard to get here regardless of their challages - on this team they are all equals and that is a great thing.  Cate swam in 4 races - 50 yard freestyle (new for her), 25 yard freestyle, 25 yard backstroke, and 25 yard breaststroke (new for her).

I did get a cute pose before the first race!
She started with the new 50 yard freestyle race and got 3rd place because she wasn't really sure she wanted to swim after the shock of cool water.  She wasn't the only new one to the race so finishing it without stopping got her 3rd place even though she spent way more time doggy paddling and looking around than being the competitive swimmer.  Cate has to be invested in something to do well and after that first race I was worried she was more interested in the birthday party for afterwards than the races at hand.    I don't know if she used that first race as a warm-up, was inspired by the ribbon she got, or just clicked into gear but the 25 free race was a totally different story.
game face on - ready to go!

Not only did she finish first, she did it in 48 seconds which is almost 10 seconds faster than her time in the spring.  Cate's stroke looked good and she was moving fast!!  She rushed over to show off her to cheering section which included my parents, my aunt and my cousin the blue ribbon!
first stop was to show her proud daddy!
and then "surprise" grandma and Kim
Of course because she won that one she was ready for the backstroke which she placed 4th in last season.    
ready for backstroke

off she goes

First Place for Backstroke!!!
a hug for sister!
 Not only did she get first place she got her time under a minute! 

One of Cate's friends was doing her first backstroke race and so Cate decided to give her some encouragement just like we gave her the first time she when she took 4 minutes to finish!

After this we set up for breaststroke which is the new stroke she just started this season.  She had a little problem getting started since she wanted to do free but there were a couple new to this race so she wasn't the only one.  But she got into it after a little while and did a great job.
Cate is the middle lane slightly ahead of the girl next to her at this point.
a little "I did it wave to the crowd"
Even though it is awesome that Cate did so well and made us so proud with her competitive spirit and hard work the best thing about this meet was that she sought out her friends.  They aren't really new friends but somehow this day it seemed that the relationships had matured which is awesome because they are great girls!
swimmer girls (A&L) and their sisters
A & Cate are proud of their backstroke ribbons
Our awesome swimmers!

It was a successful afternoon all around!

"enough pictures mom - ugh"


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

3 for 21 Blog Hop - November

Jumping in for a quick blog hop entry since I've missed a few! 3 for 21 is a Down Syndrome blog hop in which the participants do a post with one truth, one tip, and one picture.

One Truth: Cate is a great swimmer!  I have a long overdue post about her recent swim meet with some pictures about half ready to expand that.  Cate being a great swimmer is in and of itself a truth but behind that lies a every bigger truth.  If you are/were like me when you find out your  baby has Down syndrome you go through a time of sadness that comes out in thoughts like "she'll never do <something> like I did".  And really I still do it sometimes even with experience of being wrong in the past.  Some of those things you thought that about will be silly or turn out to be irrelevant, some with haunt you, but a lot of them will just turn out to not be true.  I worried when Cate was little she wouldn't be able or love to swim like me.  The truth she loves it and is great at it.  So the moral of my truth - that every time you think "she won't" remind yourself "she will if she wants to" if you just give her the tools.

One Tip:  Trust your instincts.  When Cate was a baby I was still in that "doctor/teacher/therapist knows best" frame of mind.  These days I'm more likely to take all professional opinions in mind and add them to own ideas before I make a decision.  No professional who sees Cate once a year, a month can know how she'll react to something.  For example when Cate get sick, a lot of the time she'll push herself harder and become more stubborn instead of seeming tired or telling you something hurts.  Actually if she says her tummy hurts or she feels sick it is very likely a reaction to a task that is hard for her (even when you don't see it that way), it is rarely actually a virus or bug.  Many times when she was a baby she didn't get treatment for a bug until she was running a high fever or developing pneumonia.  Now I try to trust my instincts that something is wrong when she starts getting whiny for no reason or seems to be pushing away from activities she normally likes.   You always know your child best.

One Picture:

as proud of herself as we are of her!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Halloween Pictures - just for Aunt Brandie

Didn't think I could be more of a blog slacker did you?  Life is rolling along these days and not leaving much time for anything.  Everyone has been healthy and is very involved in their activities which makes for a busy mommy with very little down time.  Pretty awesome huh?  Much better than the alternative of having sick kids, bored kids or no job.

Last week the girls' Aunt Brandie asked me for Halloween pictures - which I never even thought about sending until today.  So here is an overdue post for Halloween!  Lucy was a kitty cat.  She had a few choices including a cowgirl, princess, panda or the cat.  Smart girl choose the cat because it was slightly chilly and "it is like wearing a blanket so I don't have to wear a jacket".  Cate wanted to be princess Sophia from the Disney show Sophia the first.   The girls' Nana sent a huge box of old dance costumes that she got at a garage sale a few month ago (best care package ever!) and there was a perfect purple dress for a princess.  We added a purple amulet (Sophia's prize possession) and a crown, added a little curling iron action and TA DA - Cate was Sophia!  They had a fun at our neighborhood party complete with hayride (first time for Lucy!) and then a great time trick or treating home.

Princess Sophia and the white kitty cat!

The pumpkins are Wilbur and Charlotte - Cate's class made them and I won them at the fall festival auction.  Cate begged for them it is her FAVORITE book.

Cate spent a lot of the night showing us her curtsy - and you can just see the pink cowboy boots underneath!

hay ride - they went by themselves :-)

they are both still asking how long until Halloween again as they see the candy dwindle down!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Buddy Walk 2013

It is our 7th year doing the Buddy Walk - it is unbelievable to say that but it is true and we have the t-shirts to prove it!   This year was a little different that previous years, it didn't have the hype we've added in previous years.  A lot of that is due to me - I just let it sneak up on me.  The result was a very little team and not much money raised (under $500 :-().  I'm disappointed in myself but I guess it is to be expected that some years you just can't commit as much as others because life just gets in the way.  The girls also had a different take on it this year - we went from both of them asking "when is the buddy walk" to saying "I don't want to go".  Cate had to miss a girl scout outing and Lucy her school's fall festival - neither one was happy about it right up until the day of, when they started to accept I wasn't giving them a choice.  As usual once we arrived they changed attitudes and got into the spirit of the event.  There is just a huge feeling a joy at this event every year - you can't help but smile.  The weather was absolutely perfect, we ate the great food, the girls danced to the music and played on the bouncy houses.  I forgot to take my camera even though my best shots of Cate (including the blog header) have been from past walks.  But at least I have cell phone shots to show just how much we enjoyed this years buddy walk - and next year I'm going to be way more on the ball!
Had to hit the playground first of course - isn't this the coolest slide!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Important info over on "the Bates Motel" for parents of children with disabilities

Rebecca over at The Bates Motel blog today address an uncomfortable, scary but so important topic - "Disability and Abuse - the Latest Findings, and How You Can Protect Your Loved Ones".  All parents of children with disabilities please head over to her blog to check out what she has found and the links to important information.

The statistics on different types of abuses against people with disabilities are varied but always terrifying.  The report that Becca references from 2013 found 70% of the 7000+ respondents reported being victims of some time of abuse including bullying.  Her view is a good one in my opinion - these studies are scary but empowering because this abuse is in the past and we can use the information to try to prevent it in the future.  A post she did in early October about the same subject actually made me start acting now with hopes of prevention for Cate.  Even though Cate is only seven, we have gently started the dialog with her and Lucy.  In the last couple weeks, we have have two dinner time conversations along with reminders as we arrive at non-family events, like the buddy walk.  We talked about different kinds of touching that are relevant to their ages - kisses, hugs, tickling, high-fives.   Cate is very affectionate and although I have never noticed a real problem in her showing affection, she will sometimes hug people who she doesn't really know only recognizes.  So now we have rules to help her manage the behaviors - kisses are only for family, hugs are only for friends - which are people who you know their names, everyone else or if you aren't sure gets high fives.  I have also asked her to tell me if anyone asks her to hug or kiss another person or if a non-family person tickles her no matter who it is or why. I try to make sure she knows she won't be in trouble but that mommy just wants to know.   I have actually brought up the "don't do what others tell you too" conversation before as it relates to other kids because a common form of bullying for second grade girls seems to be getting a weaker girl to get in trouble for kissing a boy.  Most of these situations are pretty harmless in general but it is a good place to start in making sure Cate knows what to do in this type of situation. The adult part of that is harder right now given her habit of testing every teacher and helper at school to see how much of what they say she actually has to do.  We'll have to tackle when to not listen to an adult later on. 

The last part of our conversation has dealt with not everyone wanting a hug.  Of course this concept is completely foreign to Cate but it came up at a recent school event when Cate tried to hug one of the boys in her class and he ran away.  I told her about boys not liking hugs as much as in 2nd grade and she seemed to accept that pretty well.  So now we have added a reminded to not hug people that don't look like they want one because that is OK - which I hope will translate later into her knowing that she has the right to not let someone hug or touch her.

This is our plan for now - start talking about the easy stuff and as both girls get older transition in to the hard stuff.  It may not seem like much but it feels like the right way to start with prevention.  It does seem to be sinking in so I feel hopeful we are starting off on the right foot.  When we arrived at the Buddy Walk  (promise pics this week after this heavy subject!) this weekend I did something I aways do at events and asked "what are the big rules for a crowded place".  This time I got a new answers "stay by mommy or daddy", "don't run off" and "only kiss family and hug friends".  We'll keep at it so some day it is stuck in their heads! 

And if you are a teacher, therapist or caregiver for Cate and you are reading this - we will probably not talk about it in person but I would be happy if you would back me up on this with a gentle reminder if you see Cate hugging someone she probably should give a high five too or someone who doesn't really seem to want a hug.  Just a simple "you don't know his name so next time lets give him a high five instead of a hug" or "did you see his frown, I don't think he wanted a hug do you?  maybe try a high five next time".  As always feel free to tell me about any concerns in this are as well - I don't need an official case of bullying or even need to know the exact circumstances to be able to help Cate with an example of something she should avoid or tell the teacher about next time.  With Cate is all about experience and specifics.

Let me know if you have any other great ideas for talking about this subject with little girls!  And parents of kids with disabilities - don't wait do the research, get on it and start thinking about the best way to approach prevention with your child.  Ignoring it won't make it go away, and awareness might be our biggest advantage against the cruel people in this world.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What happened to 31 for 21 on A Brighter Sunshine?

Apologies again - feel like I'm doing that a lot lately even though I said I'd never make excuses for not blogging since I'm not the type to write when I have nothing to say.  Last year I loved the challenge of 31 for 21 and successfully blogged every day in October to raise awareness for Down syndrome.  It was fun to stretch my mind for new topics and to work towards a blogging goal.  Everyday I not only wrote, but I also read so many great new blogs.  This year I'm barely keeping up with my two favorite blogs and then only because we are facebook friends and they post their links there so I see them in my 5 minutes of facebook time each day.   I am just swamped - no other way to put it.  I ended September working to get Cate back on track at school and adding her new horse lessons into our packed schedule then I started October by leaving town for two days for a funeral.  No time to think about writing, although I took a picture or two with intent - like this one of what I packed first for my trip to Iowa -

day one - veggie pasta, strawberries, olives, Annie's bunny cookies and Capri sun
day two - ham sandwich cut elephant shaped, cheese (soy for Lucy), strawberries, carrots, veggie sticks, water
day three - turkey & cheese rolls, applesauce squeezer, bell peppers, pretzels, super V juice

I know most people pack clothes or toiletries first, I pack lunches for other people.  Not because my hubby couldn't handle the job but because I think its is fun!  I love figuring out lunch ideas and putting them together - although I hate the clean up.  I made each of the girls three days worth of lunches ready, along with labeled bags of non-fridge items to make it one easy chore for Ric.  I knew he had a challenge dealing with both girls and their crazy schedules by himself for 2 plus days.  Our kids require a two person team to get it all done for sure, sometimes three or four.    Of course I did get packed eventually with all the clothes I need and the trip went smoothly even flying standby.
Once I got back from Iowa everything was in full swing and I just never caught up at work or home.  Today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel but I'm realistic to know I can't jump into posting everyday.  I'm promising myself I'll try again next year and do better about getting on the blog hops so I can keep my writing going and not let reading blogs get away from me.  Writing for me is very therapeutic and I do enjoy it so I don't want to stop.  Sometimes it just has to be put on the back burner when things are moving along very swiftly but smoothly enough I don't need therapy.  This seems to be one of those times, we'll see.
In the mean time here are some pictures from Cate's make up horse lesson yesterday!

Lucy waiting at the fence in her new pink boots

Cate talking to Hershey

headed to grooming stall

this is big for Lucy, she actually pet Hershey while Cate was grooming

Cate spent all lesson fighting her helmet so now she has one of her very own that we can adjust.