Sunday, October 31, 2010

Please Follow me With Blooger

Please, if you are on blooger, use the “follow” to link to me. Many of you may have noticed that I have been posting a bit less often as of late. And after much soul searching, I have decided to officially become a less-than-once-a-day blog.
I simply can not keep up the pace of :
study/fun with Ricki
time for walking/swimming/ceramics for myself
blogging and wasting time on the computer

Something has to give, and blogging is the obvious choice. (And even more, watching interesting but realistically non-important videos and the like that friends send me.) I also will not be following many blogs. Sorry, but it’s you or family. But I do plan to post a few times a week, as I feel that a view of life with a teen with Down syndrome is a bit unique, and to share encouragement towards weight loss with others. (Plus of course, the occasional “Israeli” posts, pictures, and completely off-the-topic ones.)
Usually when I write a post like this (which I HAVE done in the past, I end up with ALL sorts of good posts, and continue full speed. But that has always been at the expense of more important things. So I really have to set my sights on what is important to me and my life.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thoughts on RivkA, Life, and Death

RivkA of Coffee and Chemo was niftar (died) this morning. And while most of her friends realized that baring an open miracle, she would not be amongst us much longer, it was still sad to hear the news. And a bit of a jolt.
You see, we always try and push thoughts of death away. Death is not convenient, and definitely not popular. We would all like to imagine that we, and our loved ones, will live forever. But illness and/or death suddenly rear their head, and remind us that we are oh so fragile.
We can not choose when we die. We do choose how we live.
RivkA faced adversity with courage, and grabbed life with both hands, “fighting the good fight”.
For those of us left here on earth, let us grab life and do something meaningful with it. How much of our live do we squander on unimportant things??? Let us try and be there a bit more for our families, to keep our long-range goals in view, and to remember that we are not here forever.
Baruch Dayan Emet (this is a traditional Jewish condolence…)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Diet, Aerobics, and Feeling Good

For much of the last week I had been busier than usual, and had not had time to go on long aerobic walks. I DID get my minimum steps in, going to stores, running errands, and even marching in place while washing dishes. But this was not the “wind in your face” swift walking of aerobic exercise.
I missed it. I found that without the aerobics, I was much hungrier in the mornings, and was in a low mood. It has been shown that exercise causes a feeling of well-being. I believe it!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Pictureless “Special Exposure Wednesday”

I was fully intending yesterday to take a picture of Ricki for “special exposure Wednesday”. But I didn’t manage.
You may wonder why I could not accomplish such an easy task. To be brief, I forgot to give Ricki her Concerta (a type of Ritalin) for her ADHD yesterday morning. She was at school until about threeo’clock and within minutes of her return, her behavior reminded me that she was not medicated. But by then by then it was too late to give her the medicine….
She was terrible. She hit a girl in school, and took all afternoon and evening to clean up her room, because she spent 95% of her time either eating or starting up with others in the family.
So sorry, no picture this week.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ricki TRIED to Tell me….

Last week I missed my regular swimming group on Wednesday, due to the hospitalization of a family member. So yesterday evening I went for an extra, “make-up” session. The rules at this pool is that if you miss for a valid reason, you can have a free additional session, but not if you simply decide not to come. Well, I was confident that I had a valid reason.
Of course, they accepted my reason, but said in surprise: “There was no swimming last Wednesday. Something needed fixing in the pool. Didn’t you get a phone call?”
I replied that I had not, and was rather upset. (I mean, I was astounded at the “coincidence” that I didn’t go –since I NEVER miss going—due to the trip to the emergency room, but scared that a different time I also might not hear if the pool is closed.) I gave them my phone number (again), wondering how it happened that they “blew it”.
Then I remembered. Wednesday afternoon Ricki told me “No pool”. I assumed she was asking if she is correct, that there would be no swimming class (hers) that Thursday. I replied, that yes, she was correct, there would be no swimming this week.
Now I suspect that Ricki was given the message, and tried to tell me. She just didn’t speak a full sentence.
Note for those following my exercise/wt loss. I have slowly over the last three months gone from barely managing to do forty laps in over an hour to doing 40 laps in 54 minutes, easily.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Relief Too Soon

Yesterday I was very relieved to have rescued my new clothing from Ricki. Besides the silver vest, she had stashed in her bags a beige top with lace trim, which I also rescued. But when I went to but it away at noon, I discovered that the lace trim was badly torn.
I didn’t even wear it once.

It’s not that important. I need to keep it in perspective.
The good side is that these shenanigans of Ricki swiping my clothing is only because as I lose, I am nearing her size…..

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tears / Tussle at the Door

A family member who Ricki habitually fights with has been hospitalized (nothing serious, just a preventative treatment), and Ricki has been in tears due to this person’s albescence.
“Why?” I asked myself. “Why should the cat miss the dog?” I figure that there are several possible reasons:
1. She is bored without her daily adversary
2. She actually misses them
3. She loves playing drama queen (and she DOES!)
4. She understands that this is the proper “script”.

I personally think that all of these reason factor in, suspecting that number 4 is the biggest…….

Tussle at the Door
After staying up ridiculously late last night catching up with 4 days of email etc, I set my clock late enough to barely get Ricki up and out to school. However, even before the alarm rang, I heard her getting up and prepared. I told her that I would get up later, in time to send her to school, and set the alarm for later. But I was awake, and after a few minutes, I got up anyway.
As I walked to the living room, Ricki pointed to the front door. “I have my bags ready outside.” She said.
Why outside? As I reached for the door handle to check why she had placed the bags outside in the stairwell, Ricki blocked my way. “I don’t want you to see…”
Gee, she does it every time, giving herself away. (Thank G-d….)
I acted unconcerned , but moments later zipped out the front door to check the packages there. Ricki scurried out behind me. As I was inspecting one bag, finding her swim geer (which she does NOT need at school), I noticed that she had grabbed a smaller bag, and was hiding it behind her back. Apparently there was “worse” contraband there. I had to wrench the bag from her by force (she could theoretically just dart downstairs with it), and discovered inside my new silver vest.
While I managed to salvage my new clothing, eventually she grabbed the swim gear back, and only parted with some of it due to my threats. She managed to flounce downstairs with the rest despite my threats of repercussions to come, disgruntled at my interventions.
I was left rather defeated (temporarily). I need to think of a fitting and effective punishment/plan.
GRUMP. I’m too tired to think, and I have no choice…..
I think that listening to my evil inclination and staying up late was the start of this debacle. I have to think up a good punishment/plan here, too….

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

My son obtained for me a MP3 copy of the song "Rocky Mountain High" (John Denver). People who haven't ever been to the Rocky Mountains are likely to think that this song is talking about drugs. But it isn't. Some people, me included, get an emotional "high" from the mountains. The two dimensional pictures you see in the video can not give you the feeling that being there does. The vast spaces, the rustle of the wind in the aspen trees, the roaring of water tumbling over stones in its downward rush towards the inspiring (in those whose heart is open to it). I came to believe in G-d as a result of my encounters with the awesomeness of G-d's world.
So now when out walking the pavements of the city, I listen (among other things) to “Rocky Mountain High”, and my heart aches for the quiet and fresh air of the mountains, and for the family that lives there.
[Originally I was going to post this tomarrow, but I want to share it today. So forgive me if I don't post tomarrow!]

Special Expiosure Wednesday: Golden Oldie

Sorry, but again an old picture of Ricki. (I haven't been taking many pictures of late...)

This is Ricki in third grade. She was two years older than her classmates. (A year later she jumped up to sixth grade to her age level, when she switched schools.)Note the dangly earings.....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mamma Rochel and the Amazing Human Mind

“Mamma Rochel”, the matriarch Rachel, was buried on the way to Bethlehem. (Today is the anniversary of her death.) Now what has that to do with the mind? And isn't this an interesting painting of the monument?
The brain is bombarded by innumerable amounts of stimuli at any moment, and our minds manage to filter out a lot of the extraneous stuff, while simultaneously noticing things that this person is interested in.

The above public utilities closet (one of several variously-painted ones in our town) is painted with a picture of the grave of Rachel. It is located next to Ricki’s swimming class, and I pass it weekly. Yet I never noticed it. Late last week as I was walking one morning, I strode past it, suddenly noticing it, and remembering that in a few days we would be marking the death of the Matriarch. Since I was unencumbered by my usual post-swim class thoughts of "Gee, glad the lesson is over, lets get home and do XYZ...", my brain allowed me to notice this non-relavent stimuli....

Monday, October 18, 2010

On a Babel of Language

A week and a half ago we read in the synagogue the Torah portion [for explanation, see HERE]containing the story of the Tower of Babel.. Well only a few days later, we had our own mix-up of languages.
Ricki was playing with E___ , the son of her older sister. Her older sister was busy in the kitchen, and Ricki was talking a mile a minute with E___ . I wasn’t really paying attention, but suddenly Ricki’s sister called out:
“Ricki, how many times do I have to tell you that E___ does NOT speak Yiddish!??!”
Ricki was trying to speak Yiddish to him (the preferred language of the children of one of her older brothers), which definitely hampered communication. Not only because E___ does not understand Yiddish, but Ricki (in spite of her belief to the contrary) does NOT speak Yiddish. (She “babbles” something that sounds a bit like Yiddish, but is really just a mumble-jumble…) But usually the children she “babbles” to are young enough that they don’t mind. After all, the non-verbal attention and communication is still there….

Sunday, October 17, 2010

“I Want to Live HERE!”

With sundown at about 5 PM, our Friday evening shabbas meal finishes early. And since I had not had time in the morning for a walk, I headed off after the meal with Ricki to visit a friend of mine, thus not only having the joy of the visit, but getting some exercise while both going and returning. My friend lives in a lightly more upscale neighborhood, as as we entered the area, Ricki ogled the houses. “I want to live HERE”! she exclaimed, and minutes later as we passed another house, with recessed lights along the front steps of the apartment building, Ricki nudged me: “Look at that!”
Now I am not immune to desiring luxuries, but I have the understanding that certain things cost more many than I wish to spend, or can afford to. I had the feeling that Ricki did not really understand that. When I mentioned that the houses here were expensive, she simply countered with a “But I WANT to live HERE!”
We reached my friend’s house, which is not flashy on the exterior, but is self-designed and quite nice on the inside. After the visit, as we were leaving, Ricki started: “Mom…”
I knew what was coming.
“I want to live HERE.”
Just to be sure that I was reading her right, I asked her, “Do you want to live here WITH or WITHOUT the whole family, me, Dad, and everyone…?”
“With” [ WEW! RELIEF!!!]
So I tried to explain that we can’t afford it, and that we have a VERY nice house, and our house is neared the buses and nearer the stores…
It didn’t work.
“Mom, I want to live HERE…..”

Anyone have a manuel on teaching a teen with Down syndrome that she can't have it all? (Something a lot of the rest of us have trouble with.....)

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Flue Vaccination and Friends

Yesterday afternoon I took Ricki for her yearly flue vaccination, and she coped with it very well. She held my hand, but that was about it. Of course beforehand she wheedled out of me the promise of some ice cream…..
On the way home we met one of the girls from the class she had been “included” in through eighth grade. I mentioned to her that Ricki needs visits from her former classmates, and she was very surprised to hear that no one has been coming over. Besides promising to come herself this shabbas, she promised to get the word around.

Update: Ricki waited all shabbas for her "friend". She never came. How sad!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

With Compassion

[image: Sunrise this morning.]

From the morning prayers:"[Blessed be He] who who illuminates the earth and those who dwell upon it with compassion...." We thank G-d for the gift of the fireball that lights up our world. And may we also thank Him for the compassion that He shows us each day, for the miracles we see (like the rescue of the miners), and for those we are unaware of.....
The miners were underground for 69 days. Everyone was thrilled at their rescue, and their ability to see and hug their families. May I remind my readers that the family of Gilad Shalit have not spoken with their son for over four years.......

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dipping Into Our Own Reserves of Strength

Note: I have been posting a bit erratically lately… having put into action a decision not to “sweat it” if I don’t have what to post….
Chilean miner Florencio Avalos, the first of 33 trapped miners to be rescued, hugs President Sebastian Pinera and his sonat the surface of the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile late October 12, 2010. An accident trapped 33 miners for more than two months more than 2,000 feet below the surface.  UPI/Chilean Government/HO Photo via Newscom
I am sure that everyone reading here is thrilled for the rescued miners from Chile and their families. Let us just hope and pray that the escape route stays clear and that ALL of them (and the six rescue workers now with them) make it to the surface. The bravery of the rescue workers, who willingly have put themselves into the same potentially lethal position, is staggering.
Note that all of the miners have been on a strict diet, to maintain a weight low enough to fit into the capsule. I haven’t heard of any who found it “impossible”. Isn’t it amazing that when our life is on the line, and WE REALIZE IT, dieting is no longer an “option”.
If those of us who are overweight would truly internalize that our lives are also hanging in the balance, that we face discomfort, disability, and early death due to our overeating, the urge to overeat is much easier curbed.
People are calling the miners heroes. (Though to me, it is the rescuers who are the prime heroes.) (Although the miners certainly deserve credit for managing so well and helping each other.)
You can also be a hero. Stick to your eating plan. (Or if you are facing different challenges, face and deal with them.) Today. Tomorrow. For sixty days.

Special Exposure Wednesday-another Golden Oldie- GULP!

You will find more of "special Exposure Wednwesday" HERE.

Picture: Ricki getting up the nerve to pet a pony (GULP!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Morning in the Mall--- and Thank G-d for Good People!

Two days ago Ricki managed to break the plastic supports which hold the small shelves for shampoo in place in the shower. (She probably grabbed the shelves for support for some reason.) Anyway, there being two stores that carry those shelves in close proximity to the local shopping center, I decided to walk over and see if they carried replacement parts. It turns out that in one store they hope to be getting replacement parts in next week. While in this store I purchased a few plastic baskets to use (hopefully) later this week to arrange and make order in Ricki’s clothing closet.
After this, I went to the second store, hoping that maybe they had replacement parts for the shelves on hand, but the salesman was not helpful at all, so I left without purchasing anything.
My last stop before heading home was to be the shopping mall itself. I wanted to check a few stores which I suspected might carry my clothing size, and to compare the prices between these stores. Later this week I plan to throw out my oversized clothing, and to decide what I need to purchase later in the month, before the cold weather hits hard (probably in about 1 ½ to 2 months from now).
In one store there were several items on sale, and I decided to try them on. This took a while, but when I finally finished, I had chosen two skirts. And that was when I realized that my nylon bag which I had been carrying my change purse in (including my credit card) was missing.
I hurriedly backtracked, but not finding the bag anywhere, I took a cab home (I told the driver that I would get money from the house on our arrival). On arriving home I was informed by my family that the card and bag had been found, and my son arrived home from picking it up a few minutes later.
Someone found it and turned it into the mall’s “Lost and Found”, not leaving their name or anything. They saved me a lot of anguish and probably monetary loss as well. (Isn’t it terrible that we consider it lucky and not par for the course that it was returned?) Anyway, right then and there I asked G-d to give that good person a nice day today….

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Israeli Driver Hits Palestinian Youth: What would YOU have done?

If any of my non-Israeli readers are puzzled how an Israeli driver could be callous as to hit a teenager, read THIS to understand. The culprit, truely, are those who encourage teens to throw stones.

The Fight Between Desire and Knowledge

The other evening I was preparing soup for supper, and Ricki walked in , asking if she could eat a soy patty. I agreed, but indicated that if she did, she would need to choose whether to eat bread with the soy or with the soup. She said “Oh, I’ll save it for the soup.” I was genuinely surprised at this, being a very rare occurrence of any ability by Ricki to postpone gratification, or to even attempt to forego unneeded calories..
However, if I thought that Ricki was making progress in controlling her eating, I was astounded when she unabashedly served herself 4 slices of bread to eat with her soup (before I intervened).
What was interesting was to see the interplay between her knowledge that overeating is bad, and her desire to overeat. A real tug of war. But she was not as adapt as most of us in camouflaging our indiscretions…..

Friday, October 8, 2010


[image: the number sixteen]

Gleaned from Wikipedia:
Sixteen is the fourth power of two. For this reason, 16 was used in weighing light objects in several cultures. The British used to have 16 ounces in one pound, the Chinese used to have 16 liangs in one jin. In old days, weighing was done with a beam balance to make equal splits. It would be easier to split a heap of grains into sixteen equal parts through successive divisions than to split into ten parts. Chinese Taoists did finger computation on the trigrams and hexagrams by counting the finger tips and joints of the fingers with the tip of the thumb. Each hand can count up to 16 in such manner.

Sixteen is the minimum age for being allowed an official beginners driver's license with parental consent in many U.S. states and in Canada.
Sixteen is the minimum age for getting an adult job in most states and provinces across the globe.
Sixteen is the minimum age that one can drop out of school in most states of the US (however, restrictions apply and vary depending on state).
In the United States, female sixteen year olds earn the right to privacy laws surrounding OBGYN practices.
Sixteen is the age of consent for many jurisdictions around the world.
For its "coming of age" significance, this age has inspired the titles of many songs, such as "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", "You're Sixteen", "Sweet Sixteen", "U16 Girls" "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Sixteen Candles
Sixteen is the minimum age to get married with parental consent in many countries.
Minimum age at which one can donate blood with parental consent in many states.
Minimum age at which one can obtain a 10 year passport in the United States and Australia.
Minimum age at which one can join the Armed Forces in the United Kingdom.

Today is Ricki's (Hebrew date) 16th birthday! Of course, she won’t be joining the armed forces in Britain, nor getting a driving permit. But she IS coming nearer to being an adult.
For weeks lately, she has been claiming to be “21” ,”22”, and once even “31”. (Amazing how we are NEVER satisfied with our age! The young want to be older, and the old, younger……..) Last night we finally prevailed on her that she is 16….

Last year I bought her cosmetics (foot/face cream) which she really doesn't use), not wanting to purchase a ball! This year I bought a grown-up gift that she is more likely to enjoy: Jewelry.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Trials and Tribulations

I forgot to give Ricki her Concerta on Tuesday. (Concerta is a long-acting type of Ritalin, used in her case to help deal with her second diagnosis, that of ADHD.) It was my mistake, and I paid the price! Tuesday afternoon Ricki had a dental appointment, and Ricki was constantly prodding me, trying to get my ire up. She would sit with her feet up on another seat, or lean over and stick her elbow into my shoulder. She behaved so poorly that she exhausted herself and went to sleep early. (All through this I tried to react calmly, spelling out consequences for continued repetitions, etc.)
The one good part of the day was when we walked back to the buses, a good fifteen minte walk. For once it wasn’t hot, and we saw a really gorgeous sunset……

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday-Ricki's the Photographer

As I mentioned last week, recently I went to the zoo with Ricki. While there, she took some pictures. After taking several, she sat down and erased the poorer shots. Here are some of the good ones!:

[image: looking at the crocs]

You will find more of "special exposure Wednesday" HERE.

Slander…..On Her and Others

Hebrew terms for those not aquatinted with them:
Lashon Hara
– Saying some thing bad about another person, even if true. This is usually forbidden by Jewish law, except in some cases, like when it is needed to prevent someone else from getting hurt/cheated/wronged/etc.
Motzai Shem Ra-Saying something bad and FALSE about an other person. This is even more serious than “Lashon Hara”

The Post:

Saturday evening, Ricki was caught doing something bad (I can’t remember what, but it was no big deal). When we cornered her about it, demanding a confession, she started preaching to us: “It is forbidden to say “lashon hara”, I don’t want to say Lashon hara! My teacher said that it is forbidden!”
However, the next morning, when the “victim” was someone else, oh was it a different story! Ricki, a big fan of fried chicken cutlets (“shnitzl” in Hebrew), had swiped a piece and-a-half from off the pan lid where the cutlets for lunch had been warming up since early that morning...
As I entered the living room, Ricki burst out “I saw Issac and David (her two brothers) take shnitzl yesterday before they left!!”
Unlucky Ricki. The shnitzl had been warming up from only in the morning. Any missing pieces had been snatched in the previous hour, and her brothers were FAST asleep. So I told her off for that juicy little bit of “motzai shem ra”, indicating that if she wanted to avoid lashon hara, this was were she could start…..

Monday, October 4, 2010

The REALLY Good Babysitter

Now my married daughter would never leave Ricki as a REAL babysitter for her 10 month old nephew, but she does call her up to play with my grandson when my daughter needs a break from the baby’s kvetching.
Over holidays, on of my daughters-in-law, watching Ricki play with the baby, told my daughter “Gee, you have it ‘made’!”
My daughter laughed, and smiled. “Yes, when he is driving me nuts, I call Ricki up to our room, and she plays with him non-stop. Within half an hour she will tire him out, and he’ll fall asleep like a log…..”

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Teens and Down syndrome

As I have mentioned before (in reference to “would I cure her if I could?”), our teens change, and we continue to love them. (Even if they are, at times, a pain in the _______.) (Sorry!)
But I have terrible news for all you parents with cute little smiley kids with Down syndrome: they ALSO become teens. Really ornery, “I-hate-you-Mom” teens. Don’t think that they remain “little kids” forever. They don’t. They are NOT “perpetual children”. They are teens, and later, adults, with a limited intellect. And just as all teens strive for independence from their parents, and for respect as an adult, so do our growing teens with Down syndrome. But since they DO have an intellectual disability, that independence is harder to receive, and society as well treats them as children. This makes the fight much harder, that much more bitter, and therefore perhaps more rocky than with your average teen.

But the flip side is that a lot of things you may have been working on for ages suddenly “click”, and they really can learn to do an amazing amount of things. More than you ever dreamed when you were first told by the doctor that this precious child has Down syndrome.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Who’s That Lady With Ricki????

My youngest son came up to me the day before yesterday, and said “NOW I really know you’ve lost weight….”
What’s the story? He was coming from his room to the front of the house, where I was sitting (back to him) with Ricki. He thought to himself: “Who’s that lady with Ricki?” for a moment, before realizing that it was me.


Exercise and Being Consistent

This morning (Thursday), I went walking for about an hour and a half. Although it was a bit warm, it was good to get out and stretch my legs. Last week on Saturday I also went walking, but 50 minutes was more than enough for me. I felt tired and “out-of-sort”. Now why would that be? I normally enjoy walking…
I suspect highly that the difference between the two early morning walks was due to the days leading up to them. This week I had gotten out and walked every day, including Wednesday, even though it promised to be a busy day in the kitchen. In contrast, I got very little walking in the end of last week. The result, apparently, was the lethargy I felt on Saturday morning.
Exercise, done regularly, should make you feel good and energetic. But keep the habit up. The on-and-off path just isn’t as rewarding.