A Brave Obsession

My name is Morgan, and I have a birthday party planning addiction.

For the girls’ first birthday, we did a farm theme.  I made 40 cupcakes that looked like various farm animals and set them up around an old toy barn of my brother’s, that I made my mother dig out storage just for the occasion.

You don't want to know how long those cupcakes took to decorate.

You don’t want to know how long those cupcakes took to decorate.

For their second birthday, we did a honey bee theme.  I made honey vanilla cupcakes with little sugar bees on top, bee themed games, and hand fans for all of the guests.

Pin the bee on the hive!

Pin the bee on the hive!

This year Chev and I had agreed on a Little Golden Books theme.  A Shy Little Kitten picnic, Color Kittens sidewalk chalk area, a Saggy Baggy Elephant conga line.  You get the idea.  I had it all planned out, and was just waiting for Chev’s tax return to start buying supplies.

The tax return appeared, like magic, in our checking account three days ago.  Which is the same day that Laurel, out of nowhere, announced that she wanted a Merida birthday party.  Um…what?  Since when do toddlers have opinions about their birthday parties?  Who told my kid she could make such an important decision?  Good-bye, Pokey Little Puppy.  Hello, Angus the Clydesdale.

I don't own this picture.  Please, Disney, don't sue me.

I don’t own this picture. Please, Disney, don’t sue me.

After the initial shock, I did what all normal mothers do…..I checked out Brave-themed parties on Pinterest.  And made a new board.  And started pinning everything in sight, from cellophane wisps to cardboard swords to PVC bows with dowel arrows.  Suddenly I didn’t mind that I have to completely re-plan their party.  Because, lets face it.  I LOVE planning parties.  If only I had the budget to support it.

On July 27th, there will be wisps leading up the walkway to my parents’ front door, which will be sporting a tartan wreath.  Come inside and choose your clan and put on your Merida hair headdress, then meander over to the kitchen where you will find Angus’ Horse Feed.  Imagine, if you will, a cardboard trough filled with popcorn, surrounded by smaller bins filled with lovely things to mix into your popcorn, like peanuts, raisins, M&Ms, and pretzels.  Fill up your plate with carrot and celery arrows, broccoli trees, and tomato boulders.  Try some of the King’s Private Reserve (lemonade) or some water from the Fire Falls.  Then head outside, where the real fun awaits.

Archery!  Yes, that’s right, all of the kids will get a PVC bow and three dowel arrows, and compete in an archery contest.  (Bows and arrows double as party favors.  Parents are going to LOVE me.)  Visit the Crafty Carver and make a bear claw necklace.  Add your own artistic flare to Queen Eleanor’s Chalk Tapestry.  Build your own castle in the sandbox.  Run and scream and have a blast.

Don’t forget to look for the birthday girls, in their kilts and sashes that were made for them by the awesome people at http://got-kilt.com/  And join us for some ice cream cake before heading home with your goody bag of Merida stickers, tattoos, and chocolate Teddy Grahams (for the wee bears).

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Boston

I feel a great and deep sadness over what has happened in Boston this past week.  So much so, that I’m blogging again for the first time in over a year.

I am sad for the victims of the bombs, of course.  We all mourn with their families, particularly with the parents of the little boy who was killed.  I am a parent and I can not imagine the crushing anguish of losing a child in any way, let alone in an act of terror.

I am sad for the people who rushed to the scene of the bombings, for they will never again be able to erase those memories.  It will be a long time until they can close their eyes and see anything except the horrors of that day.

I am sad for the family and friends of the security guard who was killed by the bombers after they were identified.  And for those who loved the police officer who was critically injured in the line of duty during the first shoot-out, when the older bomber died.

I am sad for the EMTs, nurses, doctors, orderlies, and other hospital workers who had to try to patch the victims of the bombings back together.  And even more so for those who had to break bad news to patients and families.  I’m sorry, we had to amputate.  I’m sorry, you will never walk on your own two limbs again, let alone run another marathon.

I am sad for the people of Boston and the surrounding areas, who stayed locked in their homes in fear while the manhunt occurred.  How do you explain to your children that they can’t go outside and play because there might be bad men out there who will kill them?  How do you take the nightmares away?

I am also sad for the bombers.  How do two young men become killers?  They younger was described as happy, normal, grateful to live in this country by his high school friends.  How does so much change in a year or two?  What causes a child to begin to hate, and to hate so much that killing becomes a viable option?  I am not angry at these young men, like so many are.  My heart weeps for the loss of their childhood joys, their innocence.  They have a mother, far away in Russia, who will never see her boys again.  And for what?  Was is a religious act?  A misguided translation of an Islamic text, used to incite fear and rage?  Was there a trauma in their lives that flipped a switch deep inside of them that made them turn against the world in general?  And what can we do to stop it from happening again?  What can we do prevent the change from happy youths to young men who kill?

I am sad for the people of Chechnya and the followers of Islam.  Because mass media is already blaming you, connecting you, making you all evil terrorists in the populous’ eyes.  Even though most Islamic people are full of peace and love, this will once again taint them.  Even though most people in America have never heard of Chechnya, people will say that they always knew that bad things would come from there.

I am sad for the world tonight.

Feelin’ Funky

weekly writing assignment…  How do/did you get out of a funk or rut?

How do I get out of a funk or rut?  Hmm…… That’s a tougher question than it looks like.

If we’re talking about writing, I just don’t write when I’m in a rut.  There are no deadlines on a blog.  (Except my weekly assignments.  lol)  I just go about my life and wait for something to set my mind rocking.  Then I hope for a quiet moment to type it out.  Which I’m not getting right now, btw.  (Quiet, Ellie, Momma is writing!)

If the question is addressing a funk or rut in general life, I don’t really know how to answer.  I try not to get into funks.  I’m a mom of twins.  I don’t have time for it.  I can’t wander around with storm clouds surrounding me, unless I want the rain to fall on my girls as well.  Because the old saying holds true.  If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  My bad mood rubs off on them, and then we’re all miserable.

Sometimes, I do get down, of course.  There are days when the girls won’t nap, so they cry.  All. Day. Long.  Or I’m sick.  Or I’m tired.  Or everything is just not going my way.  We all have days like that.

That is were Chev comes in.  She is my rock.  She knows when to listen, when to fix, and when to take the babies for a drive so I can calm the hell down.  She takes my abuse, standing quietly while I curse at her for things that are either a) not her fault, or b) completely blown out of proportion.  She holds me when I cry and makes me laugh when I really need it.

I’d credit Chev for stopping my funks before they start.  We have become a fairly well-oiled machine over the years.  We have a routine that keeps us both sane and funk-free.  Having the girls has strained us at times, be we have gotten very good at juggling.  Because there are some balls you just can’t afford to drop.

The Future

I just read an article in Good Housekeeping Magazine.  (I know, how very housewifey of me.)  It was called “The Never Empty Nest,” and it was about a couple who have two grown sons with Fragile X syndrome.  It’s a severe type of autism that leaves the boys unable to take care of themselves.  The article talked about how everybody loves special needs children.  They adore their open expressions, sweet smiles, and bright eyes.  But somewhere during the growing up process, the indulgent smiles start to fade.  A two year old having a melt down in the middle of the grocery store is looked at much more tolerantly than a 19 year old doing the same thing.  Never mind that his mental development never passed the age of four.

The article went on to talk about the worry the parents have about who will take care of their boys when they are gone.  There are no other siblings, only a couple cousins.  How can you ask someone to take on that responsibility?  The only option is arrange for them to go into a home when their parents can no longer take care of them.  To leave the stability, the routine, the familiarity that is so important to people with special needs.  To enter a facility where they likely will not get the special, one on one attention they need.  To spend the last 20 or so years of their lives in dull monotony.

It made me think.

First, about the fact that one day Ellie won’t be the adorable smiling baby that she is now.  One day she will be an adult with Down syndrome.  People won’t necessarily love her on sight like they do now.  Will they look past the differences in her appearance and the way she talks, to get to know the bright young lady she be?  Or will they turn their eyes away, look through her, talk around her like she isn’t there?  Will they laugh at her, make fun of her behind her back?  (Or, god forbid, to her face?)  Will they give her the chance to shine her beautiful light, or will they try to snuff it out with their ignorance?

When you have a child with a disability, this kind of stuff keeps you up at night.

I’m so grateful that Ellie seems to be fairly on-track mentally, and that her delays so far are all physical.  One day she will be able to hold a job and live away from home if she wants to.  She will be able to have her own life.

For a while, anyway.

It use to be that people with Ds weren’t expected to live past 30.  Now around 50% live past the age of 50.  That’s right.  Half of the people with Ds die before their 5oth birthday.  The last years of most people with Ds’s lives is spent in nursing homes or hospice care.

Think the worst for a moment, and do the math.

Say Ellie’s health wanes and she needs to go into a home at the age of forty.  After all, she has a heart defect, and we don’t know how that will effect her in the future.  Now subtract they years she spends growing up.  She’ll probably be 20 before she leaves home and starts her own life.  That leaves her twenty years to herself.  Twenty.

Think about that for a minute. Imagine trying to cram everything you want to do with your life, everything you want to be, into twenty years.

And if Ellie is in that unlucky 50%, there is a very good chance I will out live her.  I will be 80 when she turns 50.  I may have to bury my child.  No parent should have to do that.  Ever.

Of course, she may one of the lucky ones.  She may live to be 60 or even 70.  She and Laurel might grown into spunky old ladies together.  Wear red hats and go out to eat on Sundays.  I’m sure Ellie will be in a home at that point, but I am hopeful that Laurel will visit her as often as possible.  Maybe bring her kids and grandkids to visit Aunt Ellie.

That’s the hope I wrap my arms around and hug to me at night.  Because when you are the parent of a child with special needs, hope is what you breathe.  You have to live with the assumption that everything is going to be ok and your child will live a long and healthy life.  You don’t think about all the things that could go wrong, because if you did, if you dwelled on the what ifs, you would never get out of bed.

And then you’d miss out on all of the beautiful moments that you have together.

 

 

Why I Blog

Weekly assignment #2.  Why do I blog, what are my inspirations?

I blog because I like to hear myself talk.  Because I think I’m funny.  Because I have a lot to say about really random topics.  Because I have very little adult interaction.  Because the twinfants couldn’t care less what my views on the economy, medical reform, or Paula Dean are.  Because I hope that someone will connect with what I’m saying.  Because I want to make you smile.  Because I want to make you cry.  Because I want to make you think.

My inspirations range from my kids and partner to whatever I’m reading or watching or listening to.  I have no real blog structure.  I just write whatever is going on in my head, so basically I’m just sharing my ADD with the world.   Oh, and deadlines.  My writing group is doing weekly assignments, and this sucker is due tomorrow.  Yay for inspiration!

The Plague

Nothing like a family-wide cold to start the summer off right.  It started with me, then Nan, then Laurel, and now Ellie.  We are living in the land of Snot.  I never knew how much goo could come out of a single baby’s nose!  It’s incredible.  I don’t know where it comes from.  And now that they both have it… wow, just wow.

Laurel sneezed yesterday, then started crying.  I looked at her, and there she stood, with the biggest snot bubbles coming out of her nose.  It’s amazing that she didn’t float away, that’s how big they were.  Its hard to wipe a screaming child’s face while laughing hysterically, by the way.  Sorry, Laurel, but you’re lucky I didn’t take a picture as well.  (Momma loves you!)

Ellie has greeted being sick the same way she greets everything…with a smile on her face.  I’m telling you, if I could bottle that girl’s disposition, I’d be a billionaire.  She is just a little ball of sunshine.  Snot covered sunshine, but sunshine none the less.  Leave it to Ellie to make being sick look like fun.  Snot bubbles?  Pop!  Pop!  Pop!  Sneezing is funny, especially followed by a raspberry!  She’s just the happiest baby in the world.

I’m starting to feel better, so hopefully in a few days we’ll all be plague-free.  Until then, visit at your own risk!

Summer

Summer is here.  Time for picnics, lightening bugs, and the smell of Coppertone.  I have fond memories of long summer days spent building tree houses, catching crayfish, and just laying in the fields, watching the clouds go by with my best friend when we were young.  As a teenager I spent some great summers hanging out at an old strip mining hole that had filled with the coldest, clearest water you’ve ever seen.

What summer really makes me think of, more than anything, is summer camp.  I spent some of the best summers of my life at Camp Wood Haven Girl Scout camp, first as a camper and later as a counselor.  This time of year makes me yearn for those cool, damp, green mornings, waking up in my tent to the sun just peaking through the leaves, while the mist clung to the undergrowth.  The smell of earth and hemlock and leaves still clings to my memories.  I dream of cooking out on Teardrop Island, taking creek hikes, riding horses, walking along Wood Haven Way.  I have never felt as at peace as I did walking those paths.

I can’t wait to go back in five or six years.  Then it will be the girls’ turn to make their own camp memories.

This summer I’m looking forward to showing the girls all the wonders of the season.  I can’t wait for their first dip in the pool, showing them their first lightening bugs, and, most of all, celebrating their first birthday.  A lot has changed since I was a kid, but some things, like the joy of cold watermelon on a hot day, will always be the same.