Monday, March 30, 2009

Some Stuff I Forgot To Mention In My Last Post

Okay, so I admit it, I was naughty and wrote that last post while I was at work today. I did work through lunch though... However, I missed some things I wanted to mention. First of all, the models for 2009 were/are all GORGEOUS. The calendar truly highlights how beautiful people with Down syndrome are. The calendar theme was "The Eyes Are the Mirrors", and will be again for 2010. The focus was on the beauty, intellect, enthusiasm, determination, intensity and wisdom as seen in their eyes. I'd like to find more of an outlet for social outreach into the community this year, so for all you local folks that may want to help out in some way with the project, I really, really need some people to find local businesses (toy stores, children's clothing stores, book stores, etc.) that may be willing to sell them in their stores. The calendar is not a money maker--it's a vehicle for awareness. The more ability we have to distribute it outside of our membership, the more we can reach the public and local communities, and the greater our voice will become. Please drop me a line if you have any ideas or would like to help out!

2010 Calendar Preparations Are Underway

It’s already time for me to start crafting the new DSANV (Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia, for those of you who are not from here) calendar. I can’t believe how quickly the last year has gone by. It’s starting to scare me—the older I get, the faster time goes by. When I was little, it just dragged on and on, but maybe that was because kids, with their short attention spans, get bored quickly and the time between fun things to do was interminable. Oh, here’s another thing--the older I get, the faster my hair seems to grow, as evidenced by my bright silver roots. I’d let it all grow out if it was a cool color, but it’s not. I’d love snowy white—that’d be cool. But the process of letting it grow out would be so painful. When do I draw the line and stop dying my hair? How can it be done, other than going to a salon and telling them, “I’d like you to dye my hair silver, please, to match the roots growing in.” Surely that would be good for a few laughs all around.

But I digress…the calendar. The way it works is I sent out a model-call message to the DSANV listserv and have been gathering names, ages and locations of prospective models (all with Ds, of course). I received names for about a month, and it’s just now tapering off. I then separated everyone into several age groups, and on April 1st or 2nd I’ll put the names for each age group into a box and pull the names of 2010’s 37 models! I get so few adult and teen submissions, however, that I’ll use all of them and not include them in a drawing. I like to have balance for the calendar. If I drew names randomly without separating by age group, we’d have 37 two or three year olds! I’ve got some professional photographers working with me to provide the sittings, free of charge, and will match models to photographers by geographic proximity, as much as possible. The sittings will take place some time between now and mid-June, and the photographers need to get their images to me by the end of June, so the layout can begin. Last year was my first experience with doing layout for anything, and boy, was I in for a surprise! It took me much longer than I had thought it would, and was much more involved than I’d ever expected. Especially when it came to color-matching borders and text with colors found in the images. It was a lot of fun, and was something I could do in my free time (whenever that was!), and not feel like I was compromising time with my family or my job. I worked with a great printer who helped me out a lot, checking and re-checking the images to make sure everything turned out just right on paper.

People had volunteered their time to help me with the project last year, but in all honesty, it would have been pretty hard to delegate bits and pieces. I felt much more in control by being methodical and working through each bit by myself. I’m so excited to see how this year’s endeavor turns out! Good luck to those of you who submitted names to me!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Now You See It, Now You Don't

Just a couple of quick pics to show how we got rid of our hot tub! When we moved in, we (well, I) had initially wanted to keep the hot tub. I had visions of soaking off the long day, relaxing in the hot, bubbling water after work. But the more we learned about the maintenance and upkeep of the darn thing, and the inherent costs, the less attractive it was looking. It needed a part (@$100) and a new cover (@$400), in addition to who-knows-what. I knew that the novelty would likely wear off in a week or two, and when it came down to having it serviced or drained every few months, we'd probably just let it go, an eyesore that took up more of our yard space than we wanted. There's also the issue of liability. As Samantha (and the neighborhood children) grows up, the attraction to a hot tub would be pretty strong, and I'd worry too much about an accident. Steve contacted a few junk haulers who said they'd charge us between $200-$500 to go at it with a chainsaw (ugh, expensive and messy!), but then had the brilliant idea to search "hot tubs wanted" on Craigslist. There he found dealers who would take unwanted hot tubs away (apparently the novelty wears off on a lot of people who can't afford their own pool guy), and two people he contacted today responded within minutes. And voila, our tub is gone. The two guys that came were great-if anyone wants to either buy a hot tub or have one hauled, drop them a line! Their website is They also deal in pool tables and outdoor fireplaces and kitchens.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Fun Morning!

As I have been a total slacker reading other people's blogs (I feel so out of touch lately!!), I almost didn't realize that today was World Down Syndrome Day, until I glanced at a few of today's blog headlines. I'm glad I saw that with an hour left of 3/21.

Samantha had a playdate with her friends Lila and Jessica this morning while I and the other two moms, Linda and Janie, got a chance to hang out, drink coffee and chat. I was so impressed with how well they all played together, sharing toys and interacting, and I'm so glad Samantha already has friends here in the area! The main topic of discussion was school, and, more specifically, the possibility of Extended School Year (for the long summer holiday). Definitely interesting, and I left with some food for thought to prepare us for our upcoming IEP meeting at the end of April. I'm very grateful for the network of friends/moms/smart people I have.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

At Least I Know Where My Computer Is...

I LOVE our new house! Can I say that louder? I LOVE OUR NEW HOUSE!! It's such an amazing feeling to be tromping up and down stairs (heck, it's doing wonders for my calves and thighs!), wandering the halls, and sitting in the living room in front of the fireplace. Okay, so it's not working yet until we replace the glass door (it's a vented gas fireplace that has to have a door in place when in use or the fumes could kill us), but it still looks nice! Steve has been an absolute wonder with all that he's been doing and organizing. We've had contractors in to fix the electrical outlets and install ceiling fans, contractors to paint our massive upstairs hallway (no way could we get up to paint a 25-ft. ceiling over a stairwell and into a skylight!), contractors to replace the basement sliding glass doors, and Steve, himself, has been unpacking, cleaning, organizing and painting. It's like a totally different place than it was, and has a warm, homey feeling now. And we have joined the ranks of responsible (read: thrifty) homeowners who turn lights off in rooms as we exit them and turn off the faucets while brushing our teeth. Gotta keep an eye on those utility bills!

Samantha started at her new school on Monday. Tears on Monday, cooperation on Tuesday, and tears at drop-off this morning. Poor little thing, having to get used to a whole new routine. And she has a yucky cold right now, too, so she's definitely not feeling her best, either. By next week, I'm sure she'll be settled in. Other than school, she seems to love her new room. Actually, she loves her ceiling fan. LOL She wakes up in the morning, and before her eyes are fully opened, she points to it and says, "'an!" (she drops the first letter, but we're working on that right now--sometimes she'll say, "ffffff 'an!"). I've had to pick her up off the floor a few times this week during the night. Her room is pretty chilly, so hopefully she hadn't been there for long. I think her head cold has made her pretty restless.

Oh--here's a question for you. Samantha finishes eating her breakfast at 7:30 every morning (frozen waffle & milk). She has a snack at some point in the morning at school (goldfish, I presume). They have the kids eat their lunches at 10:45am. I know their school day ends at 11:50, but am I crazy in thinking that this is kind of unrealistic? Are they assuming that kids don't eat breakfast, or that they eat breakfast much earlier? What have all of you experienced with preschools with respect to feeding?

Sorry there are no pictures this go-round, but hopefully I can get organized enough by the weekend to take a few and post them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Samantha's Room

Samantha's Room
Originally uploaded by sammi's mom
Steve has been totally working his backside off the last week or two, getting the house ready to move in. Samantha's room was the first room to be painted, and now he's moving on to the living room and dining room. I think this came out beautifully! We also had the ceiling fan installed. The room is teeny-tiny, but the vaulted ceilings help to make it feel a little bigger.

Steve has been under a major time crunch. Contractors have been coming out, paint prep takes forever, he's had to leave mid-day to pick Samantha up from there's still so much to be done before we move on Friday. The carpet cleaners were supposed to come out on Sunday, a day we'd reserved for them to do their thing and to leave wet carpets to dry. However, we got a call at the last minute saying their equipment was broken. Okay, um, they're professional cleaners--WHAT?? Granted, carpet cleaning isn't their only function (they're basically a house cleaning service), but they only have one rug cleaner? So Steve switched everything up and arranged for them to come this morning. As he was leaving the house to take Samantha to school and rush out to the house to meet them, he noticed he had voicemail. Of course, it was the cleaners, saying they needed to order a part and couldn't come today. WE'RE MOVING ON FRIDAY!!!!! This totally messes everything up. Sheesh, no wonder their rate was so good. Now we have to find someone who can do it tomorrow morning (of course, this means that Steve will have to continue painting while standing on wet carpets) for a similar rate. I feel so bad--he's been working so hard, and I feel like I'm not able to really help because if I'm not at work, I'm watching Samantha. I'm trying to help with the packing, but he's also had more time with that, too, and has done the lion's share. The two days after we move he'll be coming back to the apartment to clean. I think I'll be able to help if I bring Samantha here with me to play, though. Can't wait for this to be over...

Monday, March 2, 2009


Steve, Samantha and I were in Home Depot last week, picking up some painting supplies for the house. Home Depot and Lowes have become our friends. Okay, who am I kidding? They've become Steve's friends. I'll say "we" until the cows come home when it comes to painting and preparing the new house, but actually Steve's doing all of it. I'm really in awe. He's been working so hard on every aspect of buying this house, and I'm sure he's completely mentally drained. And he's got Samantha in the afternoons after school finishes every day, so his hands are doubly full.

Anyway, one of the Home Depot employees, a very sweet and helpful young woman who was fawning all over Samantha, eventually said (as they all do), "Do you mind if I ask..." (as if I could actually say, "yes, I mind") "...does she have Downs?" So I told her she did, and she proceded to tell me that her goddaughter also has Down syndrome. She said that her friend, the girl's mother, has rheumatoid arthritis at only about 30 years old, and had been taking lots of high-dosage meds for the RA, and was told that this could have been the cause of her daughter's Down syndrome. Seriously? Someone in the medical field actually told her this? I can't help wondering (hoping!) that the young woman I was speaking to was just a little confused, and that there isn't another mother of a child with Down syndrome out there that thinks that the meds she took in early pregnancy caused her child's genetic anomally. Or perhaps this woman was confused about what her goddaughter actually had--perhaps it was not Down syndrome. I quickly set the woman straight, not even thinking to ask her if her friend is local and what her last name is. I think I would have felt much better about this if I knew it was someone whose name I was familiar with in the DSANV membership, because then I would know that she probably had correct information. Misconceptions about cause are so frustrating to me. But I know that people who are not exposed to the Ds community just don't know, which is fine. Like the mother of a high school ex-boyfriend, who said, "Oh, I didn't even know Down syndrome still existed..." But she just didn't know. I got a chuckle out of that one. I think that before Samantha was born, I didn't know much more than them, either, but the medical community hopefully is beginning to give better information.

Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting Jeanette from DownRightFaith while she was in town for the Affiliates in Action conference. Please check out her blog for a recap of her very productive visit to DC! We had a wonderful (but very short) time talking over dinner and a drive of the DC monuments by night. We even got stopped by President Obama's motorcade (I've been stopped by enough Presidential motorcades to know this was his, btw...)!

I'll probably be pretty scarcely/sporadically posting on my blog or on Facebook for the next few weeks, until we're settled in after the move (on the 13th). Things are pretty hectic right now.