Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Ducks -Straight out of the Camera

This picture was taken at Biersdtadt Lake, in Rocky Mountain National Park
See more SOOC (straight out of the camera HERE.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Friday, October 30, 2009

Walking in the Drizzle

This morning, as I did a bit of aerobic walking in the drizzle, I couldn't help but think of this song:

However, in all seriousness, one DOES have to be careful if you are out walking quickly in the rain. Certain pavements can be very slippery, and someone who falls and breaks a leg won't get much exercise walking.....

The Teen and the Shoe Store Balloon

Wednesday I took Ricki to the shoe store to buy boots. And as soon as we finished, she looked at the balloon display (they give away balloons to young customers), and announced: “I want a balloon.”.
I promptly told her that walking out of this store with an inflated balloon in hand was not an option. She is a teen, and teens take home a prize like a pen (another prize the store offers), or settles for me to buy her a different prize elsewhere.
“But I want a balloon.”
At this point one of the saleswomen asked “What’s so bad about a balloon?” So I explained that it was a matter of knowing her self-worth and honoring her maturity. “What, will she also take a balloon home when she’s thirty?” I queried.
So then, when Ricki again said she wanted a balloon, a second mother there took up the challenge, and said: “You know, you are a big teenager. It isn’t fitting for you to go out with a balloon.”
Now it was someone else, not Mommy saying that it was inappropriate. Ricki quickly acquiesced, and agreed to a prize bought elsewhere. We paid for the boots, I bought her some popcorn, and Ricki walked home, her honor intact.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hate Crimes Against Those with Disabilities

Headlines today are that Obama signed into law an addition to the hate crimes law that makes this law also cover differences in sexual orientation. But to me, the big news is what the press is only barely noting: the new addition also includes those crimes done due to a person's mental or pysical disability.YEAH!

Friends, Real Friends

I owe a big thanks to Ricki’s friends from her former school. I was afraid that they would forget her as they went a different way from her, and to a different school, and I am still sure that this will eventually happen. The question being, how long will their connection last.
In the meantime, at least, they have maintained the connection, and the last week and a half was an excellent example. First, they organized and made for Ricki a big birthday party with most of the girls from her former class. All I had to do was let Ricki go.
* * *
This last Sunday, Ricki’s best friend from her former class had a family celebration (bar mitzvah), and had called the week before to invite us. I had told her that regretfully, I had a prior obligation, and could not come. (And Ricki would obviously not be traipsing around alone at 10 PM either....)
Then on sunday afternoon, TZ., another good friend from last year called to ask if Ricki was coming to the bar mitzvah. I explained why not, and TZ interrupted me: “Rickismom, I’ll take her, if that is OK with you.”
It was, and Ricki had a great time.

Real People. Real Friends!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Special Exposure: Ricki on the Trail with Granny

I have often paged through my pictures from the summer, but usually in a "preview" format, unless something caught my eye. I overlooked this one, an excellent picture of Ricki and my mom, hiking.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Non –Pacifist (A Post Just for Fun)

I wrote here once about how I used to be a pacifist. Well, anyone seeing me last week would never have believed it.
On morning I discovered to my horror, that my counter top was swarming with ants. The weather had been hot, and someone told me that the heat brings them out. So I annihilated the whole lot of critter crawlers. I went out not long after, and on my return, my husband mentioned a further advance wave of ants he saw exiting a hole by the faucet. (He had drowned them out....). As I entered the kitchen to investigate, I saw a whole advancing phalange of ants approaching the counter from the left. With that I unrolled the weapons of mass destruction (bug spray), and let them have it.
Followed by a thorough cleaning, an anti-ant liquid poured down cracks in the kitchen, I waged war with gusto. But I still couldn’t help wishing that they had stayed put in their wall, so I could have left them alone.
I think I’m hopelessly, absolutely, crazy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

That “Knowing Smile” – type Two

For years I’ve known that special smile: the smile shared by those traveling a similar journey. In my case this was always the smile a fellow parent of a child with Down syndrome would flash me when noticing Ricki next to me. Once as I was exiting the dental clinic of a hospital, I noticed a mother sitting with her older son with Down syndrome. I saw her glance at Ricki, and suddenly she looked up at me with a smile. I returned the grin, and went on my way. Not a word was spoken, but the connection , the fellowship, was there.
Suddenly, I have a second type of “knowing smile” in my life: that of fellow walkers. If I am out walking in the early AM, carrying only a bottle of water and a key, it takes no big brains on the part of a fellow pavement-hitting woman to figure out what I am doing in the local park at that hour. So, more often then not, she’ll slip me a smile as she wizzes past. And one morning I even met a friend of mine, who I had no idea was working on her health. BOKER TOV! (“Good morning!”)

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Birthday Gift

What I bought Ricki for her birthday says a lot about how I view the proper way to educate a child with intellectual impairment. And when I spoke to Ricki’s school officials about the trailing streamers incident

I mentioned my gift as an example of the attitude I want.
Many people feel that the best way to treat a special-needs child is to “make them happy”. I mean, that SOUNDS good, doesn’t it? I mean, we DO want our children to be happy.
But consider this. If you have a (“normal”) son who is failing math, and tomorrow he has a math test, do you let him go see a football game, or do you have him “hit the books”? Obviously, the second choice. Why? You want him to be happy, no? But you realize that, in the long run of his life, he needs that math to succeed and be happy. So you push him to tackle and learn the tools he needs to be a functional, successful adult.
So even though Ricki had mentioned that she would like a ball (the type little kids play with),I did not even consider buying her that. Instead I spent much more money and purchased for her a cleansing face wash, foot cream, a bowl to soak her feet in, a nice towel ,and a pumice stone. I wrapped it all up nicely, and she really enjoyed getting “a gift that suits high school girls”. Of course, that doesn’t mean that she can’t have fun. .....

Friday, October 23, 2009


Thursday afternoon I saw that Ricki was on the computer. She was typing away a paragraph (she had the text before her). Later I sneaked a look:
The text of the paragraph was typed well, with no mistakes.
Underneath she had added a different piece, a rambling collection of remarks praising herself, and commenting about her imaginary friend. Her she had some misspellings, but I WAS able to read it and understand.

The Little (well, not so little....) Engine That Could

Those of us who are trying to lose weight are likely to measure their journey towards a healthier life by daily or weekly weighing, steps counted, and/or body measurements. I would like to mention a fourth mode of noting progress: endurance.
I have several “walking paths” which I like, all pre-step counted. Most are arranged so that the more strenuous uphill parts are at the start, or middle, allowing me an easier downhill or flat stretch as I possibly become a bit tired. Two of them have a good long uphill stretch, the rest are more gradual. Up until this week, going up either of the uphill stretches meant pausing on the way up.
When I first started walking, these sections were definitely difficult for me. I had to pause two or three times to catch my breath. Gradually, the pauses became smaller and less frequent.
One day this past week, I did BOTH of these paths (merging the paths, which overlap). As I reached the top of the first hill, I was pleased to have made it up without a pause. Several minutes later I was halfway up the next one. It started getting a BIT difficult, so I looked at the pavement (rather than how far I had yet to go....), and chanted inside my brain (like the “little engine that could”) "I--think--I--can, I--think--I--can.".

Suddenly, more quickly than expected, I discovered that I was at the hill’s crest, and mentally marked up one more sign of progress.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Wrong Number

As I picked up the receiver a mechanical voice emerged: “You have a collect call from ‘Bezek’ (phone company) client by the name of ‘_______’. Do you accept the charges?”. In the pause I heard a male voice, with a definitely Arab accent say what was probably “Achmad”.
Realizing that the fellow had made a mistake, I hung up, effectively refusing the charges, and turned to go back to my task at hand.
It took no more than three steps before an icy fear grasped my heart.

Twice I had read of women receiving phone calls from their husband’s terrorist kidnapers, informing them that their husbands were victims of kidnapping. In one case the husband survived, in the other the man was brutally murdered in cold blood.
The image of my son David, the soldier, flew to me, and the cold fear that he might be the next “Gilad Shalit” swept over me.
Then I suddenly brightened, and reaching for the phone, I dialed my son’s cellular phone. Within moments he answered, and after a casual “HI, how are you?”, I tried to invent a reason for calling at that (busy) time of day.
“Mom, what’s up?”, my perceptive fellow asked.
So I explained his paranoid mom’s fears, adding “You know, that’s just the way Moms are.....”
At least he is safe.
I wish Gilad Shalit was.


UPDATE: Will post, but a bit later.

Skipping today- was too tired yesterday evening to write, and not enough time today!
You might want to read a "golden Oldie" Post:
"A Good Week"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Special Exposure Wednesday: Golden Oldie

This is Ricki when she was almost 5 years old.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

For more of "special exposure" go HERE

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teen with the Trailing Streamers

Today Ricki came home from school, after a school party, flamboyant red crepe paper streamers tied to her wrists, and a helium balloon as well. I understand that they wanted to girls to have fun. But WHY should she be allowed outside of the school doors (IF you have to give balloons to 15 and 17 year-olds at all....), decked out in a way suitable for a five-year old?
[When Ricki graduated from eighth grade a few months back, they also wore streamers at the song and dance production, but ALL the students took off the streamers before leaving the building. (Admittedly Ricki took hers off only due to verbal arm-twisting on my part....)]
I will have to speak to the teacher about this. We need to promote in Ricki and her classmates the attitude that they have the appearance, responsibilities, and maturity of their fellow teens. They are NOT little girls in a big body, but teens with an intellectual disability. There IS a difference.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Monday, October 19, 2009

Suddenly, She’s Telling

For years, Ricki’s answers to “What happened in school today has been “I doknow...” (don’t know). But lately that has changed. The other day I sat down with her, with the class schedule in hand, asking her what went on today in “X” class. And she told me.... subject after subject. So the nexst day I tried again, and AGAIN she told me.
In addition, she has taken over responsibility to prepare her school bag each afternoon with the correct notebooks for the marrow.
The responsibility has been placed on her, and she picked it up, completely. PROGRESS!

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE


Well, my walking the last week has been nothing remarkable (in the 5000 range, and I try to be in the 7000 range at least), so I am going to have to try and make more time for walking. BUT I am not willing to do so (to reach 8500 instead of 7500) at the detriment to so many other things I want to do... so we'll see how it goes. Less computer time would do it, so I can start there I guess.
I think that as much as we love to mark up walking steps, the bottom line means finding a balance of correct eating and exercise that we can LIVE with for the REST OF OUR LIVES. I am not dieting; I am making a lifestyle change.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Fifteen is an important number, Jewishly. There are 15 Psalms of Ascent (120-134). Passover falls on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan, and Sukkot on the fifteenth of Tishrey.
Fifteen is also Ricki’s age as of today; today is her birthday on the Hebrew calander.
(My G-d, she is growing up FAST!!)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Traffic lights

Today I got out EARLY 5:45-6:45, mostly in order to beat the heat that comes with the sunlight. It was definitely pleasant, enough that I am (slightly) tempted to try and do it daily (at least while our current heat wave lasts). Here in our town there are no cars on Saturday day (except ambulances), and one doesn't even have to deal with traffic lights. So it was a real enjoyable walk.
A note on traffic lights. This summer, when I visited my Mom, I noted with humor her insistence that a certain traffic light always had her stopping. I pointed out that since she was coming from a side street to a main one, and the drive up was long, she would invariably see a red light at some time in her approach.
Well, the traffic light I usually need to use when walking a certain route, is also a side street crossing a major thoroughfare. It is green from my direction only about one fifth of the time. So, theoretically, it should be green one fifth of the times I arrive, NO?? Well, once it was, and twice I have “sprinted” and made it. That leaves about 40 times that it was red.... [Actually, I solve this by walking downhill on the main street, and turning back after a bit. I have the timing pretty well done, and haven’t missed the crossing this way. Thus I can cross at this light without stopping, and breaking my aerobic walk.]
What’s really funny about all this, though, is how easy it is to “determine” that someone is against us. So remember your traffic light next time you think your friend/neighbor/ family member has wronged you, and try and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Barbie’s Ankle Weights/ The Profit World is Made for “Normal” People

Being Convinced that I need to get some muscle- strengthening exercises into my weekly routine (not that I found TIME for it yet...), I trekked over to the nearest sports store to buy some accessories. I bought an rubber resistance-type band and a pair of one-half kilo ankle weights. As an afterthought, I decided to buy some dumbbells. I tried the one kilo pair, but decided that they were too light, and bought 2 two-kilo weights.
On my arrival home, I dumped all the items on the table, and decided that it would be real smart to wear the ankle weights a bit around the house in the evening. But when I tried to wear them, I discovered that they were WAY too small. (Maybe they would fit an anorexic. But not my ankles.) So they are in temporary storage, waiting for the day that I get thin enough to wear them.
The world is quickly becoming a place for only “normal” people. Manufacturers, caring only about profit, aim for the size that most people are. Most firms don’t even made XL size. Left-handed people are also often overlooked. If you are smaller, shorter, taller, or fatter, it’s just too bad. Buy (and pay) for larger shoes, custom made. Sew your clothing.
---And if you don’t have the money, or time, or know-how, that’s just too bad.

I saw on the news today that a 120 lb. model was fired for being “too fat”. Soon we’ll have to be anorexic, just to have the “privilege” of purchasing clothing.....

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

Ricki came home without her eyeglasses Tuesday afternoon. Now this was a real problem, as her spare pair was misplaced somewhere in Colorado in the summer, when visiting grandmother. After grilling Ricki for information, we discovered that because she was “tired”, she put her glasses in her school bag. The problem was that the small pocket of the school bag had an unfastened cover. The glasses fell out either in school, on the way to her ride, in the taxi home, or between the street and our house.
The search was on.....
-called the driver
-called the teacher
--checked downstairs

Today she came back from school, eyeglasses perched on her nose. They were found. Where? I don’t know, but what’s important is that they WERE found.

That’s $150 saved. (WEW!)

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Diet Pottery

This week I did something I have always dreamed of. I joined a ceramics class. I remember vividly how much I enjoyed ceramics in art class as a child, and the fascination I have for pottery has never faded.
But I was always too busy.
Or it cost too much.

But I decided that if I am cutting the “fun” of overeating out of my life, I have to substitute something else “fun”.
I decided that for once I can do something for myself. I expect that within 4-5 years all of the children except for Ricki will be living elsewhere. NOW is the time to invest in avoiding the “empty nest” syndrome.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Grocery Store Bandit

(this photo was done at photofunia)
Those of you familiar with this blog are probably already smiling at my title. And even though I am serious, I don’t blame you.
Sunday, being the day immediately after the week of holidays, Ricki still didn’t have school. So when she got up, I had already been to the grocery store. But she was in a “purchasing” mood. She wrote out a list, and told me that she wanted to go to the store.

Her list: (my comments in parenthesis)
-1 milk
-one candy (guess for whom?)
-one small bottle of drink (again, she wanted this for herself)
-3 borekas (a salty pastry, calorie loaded)(THREE! Yikes! Again, she wanted this for herself)
-Soup nuts

Well, I obviously vetoed this shopping spree.
The problem is, that she went out the door anyway.
I yelled a consequence as she was going down.
I phoned the store to ask them to refuse to ring the purchase up.

In the end, she ate borekas there, and received a very large consequence during the day.
She kept begging me to cancel the punishment, but I didn’t. Such Chutzpah I am NOT going to tolerate.....

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE


Embarresment is when someone sits next to you on the bus, and switches place as soon as another seat is available.
One day, not too far in the future, I will take up ONLY my space!
* * * *
I am very tired- will try and post more later.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We are rearranging the rooms in the house. Since one of my older sons returned recently, there has not been enough room for all of the men. So Ricki is leaving her bigger room, which will go to the boys, while she gets a cozy little room to herself.
Last night was her first night sleeping in the new room... alone. And she didn’t even have me next to her on the computer (as she did have before). So every ten minutes or so she would pop out of bed to check who had come home, etc. I think that this move will be an excellent opportunity to wean me off some of my computer time, and Ricki of my nighttime presence next to her, on the keyboard. Question of the week is who will be weaned more quickly?

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"You're Fat"

Ricki's niece,four years old, had argued with her. She suddenly turned to her and said: "You're fat".
I bent down and told her "Yes, Ricki is fat. But it isn't nice to say so."

Isn't it amazing TERRIBLE how young we learn to use to use society's negative labels as a lever to get our way?
The girl's parents didn't notice this, but I am hesitant to mention it. I think she heard me well, and I will drop the matter unless she does it again at their next visit.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Supper, Ricki-Style

Wednesday evening, As I was reading a novel (I was DEEP into it....), Ricki surprised me. She offered to make me supper. And it wasn’t in order to have supper herself. She wanted to make me an egg, and since she had already made herself an egg at breakfast, she wanted soya hot dogs for dinner.
And she did a REAL good job. She fried the egg, spread cheese on the bread, and even made a salad to go with it all. Than Ricki served me, and toped it off by offering me some diet cola. The only “not perfect” thing was the large amount of black pepper in the egg.
But what impressed me the most that NOT that she made the egg (including lighting the stove), but that she looked beyond her own needs, and thought to make ME supper. She did a kindness. This is not the belligerent Ricki I often face. This was something different. Several older moms (ie, mothers of older children with Down syndrome) have told me that as our teens get older, their “rough edges” (like any teen’s) smooth off a bit, and they start being more aware and thoughtful.
Could it be that my almost-fifteen year old is growing up?
For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Personal Grooming: Time for a Plan

As I was writing yesterday's post, I realized that I was letting the issue of personal appearance side too much. No, I wouldn't let her go out looking poorly, but I was NOT taking steps to make it RICKI'S problem.
I learned years ago that a mother who wakes her teen-age son up every time he oversleeps, is asking for the task of dragging him out of bed daily. She has allowed him to make HIS getting up HER problem. If she lets him oversleep and miss something (assuming that she has already bought him a good load alarm clock), she is letting him realize that it is HIS problem, and he will probably start being more responsible.
So I decided yesterday that I need to stop being Ricki's reminder. I need to set up a system where-by she self-checks her appearance. Then, if I see that she didn't do something, I need to send her back to that list. So I plan to set one up, and start a "campaign" with a prize for cooperation. I hope it works!

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Gut Fear (Sorry, NOT a PollyAnna Post)

Amy posted HERE about her seeing a person with mental illness/disabilities at an affair.
I would like to touch briefly on the subject of my reactions to older people with Down syndrome. I have posted about it before, but right now I don't have time to search for it (some day I have to make a list of good old posts, but don't hold your breath....), AND its been a long time since then.

When Ricki was young, and I saw people with Down syndrome who were older, and NOT so high functioning, I would cringe. I am not proud to admit it, but I found it very hard to be positive about someone who was drooling, and with their tongue hanging out. Yes, G-d loves them, I realized in my MIND, but in my gut I was repulsed. (SORRY, but I am not going to white-wash this.)In my gut was the fear: Will Ricki be like that some day?
I always told myself "Well, Ricki's getting a better education, I am working with her behavior", etc. But deep down inside the fear was present. And sometimes, today, it still is. When Ricki, in an ornery mood, doesn't wipe a runny nose until I give her an ultimatum, I wonder what will be when I am not around. There are some things about taking care in dress that she seems to not want to be bothered with, and which I need to remind her everyday. And this just increases my fears.
So today, when I see a less-than-perfect looking adult with DS I try to view with compassion, yet the gut fear is still there.... and a determination to prevent such a future. Because MOST people are NOT going to look past her outside appearance. (If it’s hard for me to, what can I expect of people who DON’T have a talented, lovely daughter with Down syndrome??????).... So how she looks will effect how people react to her: Thus in effect, it colors her whole future.

(More, tomarrow)

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Special Exposure Wednesday: Follow-up on Chipmunks

Last week,after posting a picture of Ricki wanting to photograph chipmunks, I had a request in the comments to post the picture that Ricki had taken. SHE never managed to film the chipmunk. (Actually, we are talking about ground squirrels. Chipmunks look almost the same, but are slightly smaller, and also have strips on their faces. But they are all “chipmunks” to Ricki.) But I did catch some with my camera, but the quality was poor due to a dirty lens....
Actually, I have posted earlier about Ricki and chipmunks, HERE (including an excellent close-up of a ground squirrel).
The pictures here are all from two and a half years ago, when my camera had a clean lens:

And what can we learn from the chipmunk? BE FAST and QUICK to grab opportunities, but beware of dangers!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Again to the Grocery Store

This morning I was sleeping in. I had been up late last night, and was determined that too little sleep should not prompt me to overeat (as I did a bit yesterday...). Ricki hovered over me, fully dressed, waiting for me to open my eyes.
“Mom? We need (black) pepper. I want to go to the grocery store.” With my grunt of approval, she read off the list (and a very thorough one, too, I might add....). She ended with “a sweet”. I acquiesced, and off she bounded. On the way she added a few other items for to the list (like several pudding-yogurts). She also bought for herself a drink....
I should have nailed her down on all of these things, but this morning I didn’t. I just announced that the yogurts are off-limits until Friday (the only day we usually buy them).
Its hard to be a disciplinarian when prone and under the covers......

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Magic Marker Monday"- Succah Decorations

Ricki made several decorations for the succah, but this is the one she likes the best:
(It says "WELCOME" in Hebrew) It is basically a simple color-in the felt plus adding stickers all around.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day by Day, Step by Step- A Way of Life and a Motto

All in all, this was a harder-than-usual week for dieting.
First of all, Sunday night and Monday until night was Yom Kippur, a 25 hour fast from all food and drink. The tendency to overeat before/after a fast are very big (strong “survival mood” emotions and physiology weighing in here), plus going out walking was not feasible. (Anyone who wants to finish the fast feeling relatively good does NOT traipse around outdoors in the boiling sun. )
Secondly, Saturday was a holiday, which meant that I had a lot to do at home in the preceding days (little time for walking). And to top it off, I spent Friday cooking in the kitchen, and Saturday trying to convince myself that all the holiday food I had prepared was NOT for ME (or at least only a bit of it).
All in all, I did pretty good (although I’ll see later this week what the scales say...), overeating just a bit today. Starting tomorrow, I should have a fair number of guests, but I plan to get out and walk more and stick 100% to my eating plan.

But the main thing is that my habits ARE changing. I am drinking much more WATER (as opposed to coffee/diet drink). (Not to even mention the 150-calorie-a-glass chocolate milk I used to guzzle....). My idea of what constitutes a “portion” are shifting. I make a point to include more vegetables and fruit in my diet, and most importantly, I get out and about more.
[Over the last few days I had lots of steps from running errands, errands that once upon a time I would have avoided, or attended to by bus. This alone is an improvement. But I “hungered” to get out some real aerobic walking. After standing most of Friday in the kitchen, I was exhausted, and I went to bed early. But then, early Saturday I went out to walk. My feet hurt me a lot (a result of all that stationary standing on Friday), and I quickly realized that UNTIL I GOT OUT AND GOT MY BLOOD FLOWING, via a good quick pace, my feet wouldn’t feel better. It took about 15 minutes of walking until I really felt normal again, but it did help in the end.]
Weight Loss, or ANY change in our lives, is about DIRECTION. Even if we occasionally mess up a bit, don’t quite make all of all goals, if we are in general making progress and changes in the way we do things, than there is no room for despair over a little lapse. (Just don’t use this as an excuse to ALWAYS go below your goals...If you are slipping off your plan frequently, than THAT indiscretion is your direction, not what you had planned to do..) We have to go day-by-day and step-by-step. We need to see alterations in our general direction.
The same applies to other areas in our lives. Struggling with a new diagnosis of disability in the family? Trying not to look like the “Wicked Witch of the West” when you discipline your children? Whatever your struggles are, you are likely to falter here and there. And that’s OK, as long as it doesn’t become a habit. Each time you conquer the urge for a piece of cake or a scream at the kids, you are strengthening those emotional and psychological muscles that will help keep us on the correct path that we are choosing. So “go for it”, day after day, a step at a time.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Sukkah Holiday

We had a real last-minute rush to get our sukkah up and functional before the holiday. The plus side is that it is bigger and airier than in previous years.[This week is the week-long tabernacle-"booths" holiday. We eat in temporary dwellings (in this case on our roof, with permanent walls but a non-solid roof.]
Ricki had a great time on the holiday today, and spent most of the afternoon with her friends. Later, as daylight faded, she "hung out" with some younger girls from downstairs. But after a while, I noticed that one of the youngest was making fun of Ricki, so I called her upstairs. (I think Ricki realized that the girl was making fun of her, but she put up with it for the company. How sad...) As Ricki walked away from the group, the little girl's older sister reprimanded her, but I am wondering if that was for MY benefit.But most of the day she was with friends from her class last year, who really accept her, yet demand normative behavior as well....

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Oh, it was nothing."

Yesterday I had a bit of free time, despite the fact that the "sukkah" holiday is starting tonight. Figuring that everyone else is too busy to think of flu vacines, I ran with Ricki to get our yearly vacine. (I was right; the health clinic was pretty empty.....We didn't have to wait at all.)
Ricki was nervous about the vacine, asking me every minute or so "Does it hurt?" (I think she was trying to fiqure out if she was haing blood drawn.) Once she saw me get my shot, she was a BIT calmer, but not 100%. She said a few times that she didn't want the injection.
So I pulled out the puppets,our pre-shot standby, and as she received the shot, she was distracted by the puppet story. (The nurse was very impressed with the idea.)
On our return home, Dad asked how it went. Ricki's reply, "Oh, it was nothing." I wish she would remember that NEXT time she needs a vacination.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Little Kid at the Door

It was a few days ago, in the days between Rosh HaShana (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). I had heard a soft knock at the door, and opening it, found a small boy, hand raised for another knock. He looked to be about age six or seven, and I didn’t recognize his as a neighbor’s child. What in the world did he want?
Then he stretched out his second hand, fist clenched around a booklet of fundraising receipts. “I’m collecting for _________.”
As I contemplated the youngster in front of me, my mind flew backwards in time to the days when my own children wanted to collect tzedukka (charity). They had been considerably older, yet I remember how a promised percentage had sent them off on a wild run after the golden egg (money). More than once I have found myself yelling on the phone to some teenager who in an effort to earn a larger percentage himself, had sent my son collecting money. My query “How can you dare to send a grade school child out collecting without their parent’s permission?” never got a better answer than a mumbled “I’m sorry; He said his parents don’t mind....”. Yeah, really.....I frown on the practice, it being dangerous, and teaching youngsters that collecting charity is a way to earn money is NOT what I want.
My attention returned to the child on my doorstep. “What’s your name?”
“_______” (last name)
-“Where do you live?”
And he gave me his address as well. Then I told him that if he wanted a contribution, he should send his older brother. And he disappeared.
Five minutes later I looked up the phone number and dialed the family in question. After waiting a while, Mom got called to the phone.
“Look,” I said, “You don’t know me. I live on ____street. Do you know that your little son is collecting tzedukka?”
- “Well, he’s with an older brother, I think.” (You “THINK” I wanted to yell, but I didn’t.)
- “Look, he was here at my door, with no one else in sight. ANYONE could have taken him into their house for a few moments, and his older brother, and you, would never know it!”
This gave her pause. She gulped, thanked me, and wished me a good year. At least I didn’t have to spell the danger out to her. THAT much she understood. It’s just that she had never really given the matter much thought, probably. (Or she didn’t know not to trust older siblings...)
People like to think that there is little sexual abuse in the chareidi (ultra-orthodox) world. Unfortunately, we have our rotten apples, just like any other community. We are not immune. But since we don’t talk about such things, and it never would be discussed in the newspaper here, people are blissfully ignorant.
And all of this has answered a question I have had for many years:
On Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest day of the Jewish year, observant Jews fast and confess their sins. There is a prayer phrase normally said quietly, which on this day is said out loud, because we are, our sages say, like angels (who say this phrase aloud). These angelic people stand in synagogue the whole morning, and as afternoon arrives, they start the afternoon prayer. In the middle, the holy ark is opened, the sefer Torah scroll is taken out, and placed on the podium to be read. And what is read? Inspiring psalms? How Moses fasted for forty days as he received the Torah from G-d? I would expect some sublime, lofty theme. But no. The reader intones the verses admonishing us against incest and other sexual sins. Things that no self-respecting Jew would do. I never understood why.
But I think I do now. G-d knows man, and on the holiest of days, he warns us: No one, no community is immune. Not even on the holiest day.

All of this prompted me to sit Ricki down and talk to her about “touch”. And am I glad I did, because from her reactions, I can see that it is as if I never discussed this with her. (And I have, more than once.) I repeated it, did a bit of roll play, and I plan to do a repeat often to see if (and when) the message sinks in.

A final note to those who are observing the Sukkot holiday, starting in two days. Be forewarned that the largest percentage of abusers (by far!) are not some stranger. Usually the abuser is someone the child knows. If you are sending a son to sleep in someone else’s sukkah booth (having no space in your own), or when you are visiting relatives or friends, be sure you know that things are safe. Don’t let a child go unaccompanied to a sukkah outside. Keep tabs on your child’s whereabouts. If two children playing in an other room get too quiet, go check it out. Speak to your child about abuse, and unwanted touch, TODAY.

For more of "31 for 21" (blogging in October for Down syndrome awareness)go HERE