Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Today I'm so very thankful that I made a decision a couple weeks ago to say "no" to the busy work of being mom to Cate & Lucy.  At the very last minute two weekends ago I decided to accompany my dad to Arizona to see my grandfather for his 98th birthday.  Once the idea hit me that I should go and I had Ric see if I could get a flight, I debated the issue in my head for hours.  Ric had plans to go to an away football game, there was laundry to do, Cate had her first cheer practice, I needed to clean up the areas of my house that are starting to look like a hoarder lives with me - lots of reasons not to go.  But there was one big reason pulling me to go - a man who loved me and I hadn't seen in a year.  I'm lucky enough to have a husband who said go and a mother who said she'd take the kids on Saturday - so I went.  It was a quick trip barely over 24 hours for me but so worth it.  My grandfather had conquered not just time but illness.  At 92 he was diagnosed with Lymphoma and went through a full course of chemo and came out of it still kicking.  With his amazingly sharp mind, he was not only able to tell me about traveling in a covered wagon and a sibling being born in a school house along the road, but also able to remember that Cate loves to swim and that I was renovating my house.  We talked about some of his memories - especially meaningful to me was his recalling a fishing trip my dad and Lane took him on in Minnesota that Ric joined them on.  I was so happy to realize that even though they only met a couple times, he remembered and liked my husband.  But even more amazing to me was listening to him talk about Cate.  He asked about Lucy and commented on her adorable attitude in one of the pictures I brought but it was obvious that he thought Cate hung the moon.

When I think about the changes in perceptions about children with special needs in his lifetime it is amazing.  When he was young there was no option for kids like Cate except institutions and no early intervention or therapy to help them be productive members of society.  He might have never known anyone with Down syndrome because of the likelihood of institutionalization in the bulk of his lifetime, I never even thought to ask him.  His views on Down syndrome should be skeptical, wary, even negative based on the times in which he grow up.  But you know his favorite thing to say about Cate - "Nothing is going to stop that girl" - and when he said it you felt his pride and love for her.  He loved her even though he only met her one time when she was still a toddler.  His love came from her being part of him, from his closely listening to my dad tell stories, and looking at the pictures or videos I'd send him.  He was proud of her accomplishments because he could feel the pride in my dad voice as he talked about her and accepted it without question.  Can you imagine how amazing that is for me to know?  My family loves Cate because of who she is - the diagnosis is irrelevant even to the ones among us that have good reason to be unsure.

My grandfather passed away Monday night and even though I'm selfishly sad because I know he was ready, mostly I am grateful.  Grateful he was able to live 98 years with a sharp mind, grateful he left on his terms - at home with family taking care of him, and grateful I got to say goodbye.
Rest in peace Grandpa secure in the knowledge your family loved you so very much.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Therapeutic Riding Lesson #1

Sorry it took me all week to give you an update but Cate LOVED  her therapeutic horse lesson as expected.  We had a little glitch in the "earning" rewards process because there wasn't a swim practice Friday for her to be good at and she got a yellow at school so we were two short as of the end of the school day.  I gave her some opportunities to earn "horses" by being good at while I was at the chiropractor and then helping me with sorting laundry so she got there - phew.  The barn isn't as far away as I had expected which makes is possible for the future and Cate was really good for almost the whole lesson.
meeting a horse when we first arrived
 Cate was so ready for this that she wouldn't even wait in the cute gazebo with nice soft chairs - she waited right on the concert outside the area of the barn she saw the horses coming from!
She immediately took to her instructor, Miss S.  They spent more than half of the lesson learning the process of getting the horse ready.  Cate's horse was named "Hersey" and was a palomino.  She was very excited to meet him.

Next they walked him over to the grooming area (sorry I don't know the real terminology yet) to begin to learn all the steps and safety processes.

Cate was really engaged in learning the steps in getting the horse ready.    She readily repeated unfamiliar words like "bridle" and didn't push back at all when Miss. S gave her instructions.  They brushed the horse with the different types of brushes and even cleaned his shoes with some sort of pick.  The whole time Cate was listening intently and focusing on the tasks - I didn't hear much out of her except her little instructions like "Hershey be still" and "Hershey stop moving your legs"!

After doing the grooming process then talking about the equipment they got him saddled up and Cate put on a helmet with no fuss at all.  They took the horse down to the ring and started working on voice commands.  Cate firmly told me to wait in the barn so I missed the first part until I couldn't stand it anymore and headed down to watch.  They led the horse around for quite a while.
When it was finally time for her to ride, Cate actually got a little nervous and wanted Miss S to go first.  They ended up watching another lesson for about one minute before Cate said she was ready to go.  I think the problem in the mounting for her.  They put up a step but of course the horse won't stay still since it takes her forever.  We ended up having me hold the horse and Miss S give her a fast leg up.  Once she was up there she was ready to go.  After a little while of listening pretty well even on the horse she started to get her imagination going and ask to run or started telling a story.  Miss S dealt with it really well and they kept on practicing "whoa" and "walk on".

I would consider the whole lesson a success.  I think there is value in it outside the core muscle strengthening to following instruction and self confidence.  Especially after this part Cate is already asking when her next lesson is:
I know the video is hard to see since it was with my phone but Cate is learning to say "trot"!!  She loved that little bit of speed.  I think I have created a horse riding monster!!