Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Last week Owen turned 7.  I honestly don't know where the time has gone.  I think the same thing every year, but this year really did go fast.  I don't know if it's because we moved, he started a new school, I picked up more work responsibilities, or what, but the time has flown.  I look at him all the time and realize that he's turning into a big kid.

We took cupcakes into both his regular and special education classrooms on his birthday to celebrate with all his people at school.  His teacher sent me the cutest video of his classmates serenading him that day.  We had a dinner of quesadillas and tortilla chips, his favorite, at home, went to the park for play, and of course ended the day with a cupcake.

We held his birthday party at a local inflatable place where his friends jumped and climbed and generally had a great time with each other.  We had 13 classmates (out of 20 in the entire class that we invited!) come and celebrate with Owen.  I got to meet some other parents and heard lots of "I. loves Owen, we hear about him more than we hear about any other classmate!"  I even exchanged phone numbers with a couple of moms who want to get together this summer so our kids can play together outside of school.  My heart definitely full that day!

In the last year, he's changed quite a bit.  He has given up a lot of things that most people would consider "babyish".  It took him a bit longer to do this simply because while he might chronologically  be 7, he isn't cognitively 7.  He is more like a 5 year old, so he still loves trains while a lot of his friends at school have moved on from that.  He has moved away from Sesame Street and is very much into super heroes like Batman.  This is something he picked up from his classmates, which is another reason why I like that he spends a majority of his day in the regular education classroom--he learns what things his friends are enjoying.

Reflecting back on these last 7 years, I realize now that I am in a place very different than where I was in the first couple of years.  I'm much more concerned with making sure Owen asserts his independence, giving him new opportunities, allowing him to make choices for himself, which I think is what every other kid his age is working towards.  The worrying about him never stops, it just changes a bit.  It is still very hard for me to let go, but with each passing year, I realize that I have to do just that.  No matter what he will always be my baby, but he needs to grow into his own person.  All I can do is be there to help, encourage him, and be a soft place to land when he falls.

I fell in love with this baby who has transformed himself into a boy.  I am proud of who he is becoming.  It's an absolute pleasure and honor to be his mama.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I Don't Want to be Rich

"Why doesn't he talk?" asked the little boy in the fitness club child care area when I came to pick Owen up last night.

I sighed.  And then trying to keep my emotions in check, I said that Owen was born this way.  Talking is hard for him.  I asked him if there was something in his life that was hard for him.  He thought for a second and then said, "Oh math is hard and I can't climb big trees."  So I did my best to say that everyone has something that's hard for them and talking is hard for Owen.  This kid was too little to explain what Down syndrome is and frankly, I wasn't in the mood to bust out my advocate hat.  All I wanted to do was collect my kid and head home.

If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me that question, I'd be rich.  But I don't want to be rich.

In my heart of hearts, I want a child that can talk to me.  Tell me what he did at school, instead of me trying to read the few words in his communication binder.  Or that he wants potato chips instead of tortilla chips because all he signed was the word chip.  Or that he is annoyed on the bus in the morning because it's too loud, instead of being mad all day at school and refusing to do his work.

Just when I feel like I'm in an OK place with this and I'm checking my emotions, I'm reminded that Owen doesn't speak and people notice it.  Sometimes it just plain hurts.  There is no other way to describe it.  And please don't tell me to be patient or that speech will come.  You have no idea how patronizing that is, when that is exactly what I'm doing and you also don't know that it will come.

I love Owen.  Very much.  I am proud of him and all the things he's accomplished.  The happiness and joy that I feel when I'm around him is pretty amazing.  There are just things that I wish were easier, for him, for me.  I try hard not to be jealous or selfish about this.  I struggle here and I don't know that that is going to change.

So I will try to pick myself up and appreciate what I have in front of me......a child that is healthy, that figures out a way to let me know how much he loves me, that is the life of any room he enters, that knows himself and has better self esteem than most adults I know.  I am learning, he is teaching me, I just need to continue to follow his lead.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Ferris Wheel, a Monorail, and a Boat Trip....Oh My!

What do you do when you have a $400 credit on an airline that doesn't go to very many places?  Well, you take your family to visit Seattle, WA, of course!

Solito had been to the area during the summer, shortly after he started his new job.  But Owen and I hadn't been to WA yet and it had been a dream of mine to visit after being a religious viewer of the Real World:  Seattle back in the day.

We picked Owen's spring break, knowing that it was smack in the middle of rainy season (when isn't it, though?!) and figured we'd go out when the rain held off and head indoors to a few places when the weather didn't cooperate.  We actually were quite lucky in that the rain wasn't really bad when it came and our plan worked out quite well, especially since we purchased the City Pass.

We had a direct flight and Owen did a fantastic job, watching his Kindle, playing games, looking out the window, and having lunch.  After we checked in to our hotel, we took a little walk around the place, which has a nice nature trail as well as ponds and a miniature waterfall.  Then we took the hotel shuttle to the light rail station and headed to the city!

We hit Pike Place Market first and watched them throw the fish at the fish market.  We checked out random shops, including a book store that had the funniest book in the window--"The Gas We Pass".  Pike Place is pretty amazing with just about everything you can think of crammed into all its levels, including many restaurants.  We found the original Starbucks--huge line out front and an amazing cheese shop, Beecher's, that has full size windows to allow you to watch the cheese making process.  We wandered around for an hour or so and then walked down the street to meet some online friends........Leah from Our Cora Bean and Cindy from Adventures with Beth.  It's pretty neat to meet some of the people you have followed in the blogging world and this was no exception---we had a great time together!

Who knew watching cheese being made was so fascinating?!

With Leah!
The whole gang...Cindy's family, Leah's family, and mine
On Sunday, we decided to take the monorail to go to the Space Needle since it wasn't raining, but it was quite windy.  Owen loved the elevator ride up and down and he enjoyed walking around the outdoor viewing area once.  He played a video game as well.  We went down the street to the Pacific Science Center where we looked at bugs, dinosaurs, musical instruments, and how wind velocity works.  There is something there for everyone, including the parents.

On Monday, it was still windy but the sun came out in the morning, so we decided it would be the perfect time to go on the Great Wheel, a giant ferris wheel with views of Pike Place market and the Seattle harbor.  We waited in line for about 5 minutes and then got into an enclosed car of our own.  It was a quiet morning, so they let us ride for nearly 25 minutes!  Owen loved checking everything out and liked seeing all the boats coming in and out of the harbor.

Afterwards we walked down the street to the aquarium.  This was one of Owen's favorite places....he loves fish and water.  They had a wave action area that he could not get enough of and we got to see 2 different feedings in the main aquarium area and the seal pen.  Owen liked the main feeding because he got to high five the diver through the glass!  We also saw jellies and touched some starfish.

Later we drove up to Deception Pass, which has a beautiful view of Skagit Bay, Whidbey Island, and Fidalgo Island.  There is a bridge that both vehicles and pedestrians can cross.  I tried walking about 1/4 of the way across before the vehicle vibrations freaked me out.  Owen wanted no part of it at all!

That evening we found a great seafood restaurant, Ivar's, in a city right on the water, Mulkiteo.  There's a ferry that runs right off the dock there and we enjoyed watching it while having dinner and walked on the dock after we were done.

On Tuesday, we went to Everett pier to catch a boat for a whale watching tour.  We whizzed past Whidbey Island and saw 2 bald eagles, 8 CA sea lions, and 2 different gray whales.  Watching the whales spout and then seeing their of the most amazing sights I've ever seen!  Owen loved being on the boat and he was so excited to see the sea lions.

Bald eagles!

We have a spout!
Still spouting
Tail has flapped over
Whale tail....amazing creatures!

After some lunch, we decided to head to the Boeing Future of Flight center.  You can take a 90 minute Boeing factory tour, but Owen was too short (there's a height requirement!) and we figured it might not be something he would like.  Instead we were able to check out all the exhibits, including an old airplane pilot area.  The coolest thing was heading to the viewing deck on top of the building.  We randomly happened to be there on the day they decided to send off the "Dreamlifter", the world's longest cargo loader.  It was pretty amazing to be there to watch it take off!

We loved Seattle and that part of Washington.  We enjoyed checking out the city and visiting with some new friends.  I loved crossing off another state and now I have four left to visit while Owen has now visited 23 states (AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, HI, IN, IA, KS, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OH, PA, SD, WA, WI, WY).  At this rate, he'll have all 50 visited by the time he finishes high school!

Mt. Rainer on the way home!