Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas, 2010

This first picture really isn't about Christmas, but it still gets a Christmas frame because it's December. Joel and Seth both got glasses last week. They both look adorable!! Seth won't leave his on, and Joel's having a hard time getting used to his. I'm hoping they wear them at school and see better than they did without them.

Funny story before I go on with Christmas events: Joel went to a friend's house the other day along with a few other friends. The boys decided to play hide and seek. Joel decided to hide in the laundry chute. HE GOT STUCK!!! His friend's older brother had to call the paramedics to come get him out. The poor child was sweating and crying and wondering how in the world anyone could ever get him out of there. After his friends tried to pull him out, they sat with him to wait for the paramedics. The parents were at a church staff luncheon and had to leave in the middle to go help wait for the paramedics. When I talked to Joel on the phone, he assured me he was ok and immediately told me that he had NOT broken his glasses! He had taken them off to play hide and seek. He really wanted me to know that!

Christmas Eve is our family Christmas. Today was a little different from previous years because I went to work this morning. I was hoping to get back home before the kids woke up, but there was more work than I thought there would be. Jason made waffles and the the kids watched Christmas movies while they waited for me to get back. They all look so cute in their Santa hats :-)

We all opened our gifts and then the kids went to watch some new movies. Later in the evening, we went to the Christmas Eve church service. My boys look adorable in their suits :-)

Makenzie is looking so grown up now! The kids' choir performed at the beginning of the program tonight. The choir leaders asked Makenzie 1/2-hour before they were to sing if she would be able to sing a solo. She sounded GREAT -- not nervous at all! I was so proud of her!!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

need a clone!

today was a very tiring day! i'm pretty sure i did a full day's work before some people even got out of bed today -- getting kids ready, many loads of laundry, meals, ironing, cleaning the bathroom, and washing the pans that had been sitting on the stovetop since i don't even know when.

Joel and Seth had an eye doctor appointment today. i really don't understand why the scheduling people make appointments the way they do. every time i go to this eye doctor, we get to see him after sitting in the waiting room for about an HOUR! a little irritating. but he's the best, so i keep going back. Seth's eyes have started crossing again, so he's getting glasses to wear mostly at school. he's doing so well with wearing his hearing aids at school, so i'm hoping that the glasses work well there, too. Joel REALLY needs glasses. the doc explained to us that Joel's headaches are probably caused by growing, not by bad eyes. but the bad eyes have probably been making the headaches worse. there's a glasses store in the same building as the eye doctor, so we went to see them as soon as we got the prescriptions. picking out glasses for the boys took about 30 seconds. there's only one choice for free glasses for Joel's age and size, and there's only one pair of free glasses that hook around the back of Seth's ears so that they don't fall off when he looks down. the lady was SO nice to us! Seth was obviously tired of being well-behaved, so the glasses lady suggested Joel take him over to the toy corner. she then got the laptop and SAT ON THE FLOOR next to the toys so that she could get all the necessary information while i made sure Seth was occupied. and she didn't do it with any huffing like "SHEESH! you're really putting me out here." she was smiling and glad to do whatever worked to keep everyone happy. it's so nice to come across people willing to be truly helpful.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

almost a month!

Sometimes I'm good at keeping up on blogging and sending my mom pictures, but sometimes I really stink at it! November has been one of the "stinky" times I guess. Since the excitement I wrote about earlier this month, nothing exciting has happened. Maybe that's why I haven't taken or posted pictures all month.

Makenzie made a little bed for Seth while they were watching tv in my room. Seth LOVED it!

The kids had no school Tuesday or Wednesday because of ice, Thursday and Friday because of Thanksgiving, and of course Saturday and Sunday. That was a pretty big vacation! We got about four to six inches of snow now, though, so school should be open again on Monday.

Thanksgiving weekend is a fun time for my older three kids. Joel and Luke are at the cabin with Jason's dad and brother, and Makenzie is at the "Nutcracker" ballet with Jason's mom. She gets a new Christmas dress every year and wears it for the first time to the ballet :-)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it's all about being thankful and eating food :-) It's also a super busy time because of making all that food and then starting on all the Christmas hoopla. This year, I'm seeing the holiday commercialism more than ever since I'm swamped with Christmas card set-up at work. I'm thankful for the extra hours (bigger paycheck), though!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Welcome to Holland"

Jason found this article in a book from one of his classes and it expresses our thoughts exactly:


Welcome to Holland

Parenting a Special Needs Child

By Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this:

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans: the Coliseum, Michelangelo's David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills – and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy ... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you many never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.


I believe that all parents are blessed, but that I'm the most blessed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

nice, easy excitement

Life has gotten pretty much "normal" again. "Normal" with four children is not the "normal" person's "normal," but it's so much better than e.r. ABnormal!!

Luke and Jason made a little racecar for the Awana Grand Prix (I think that's what it's called). Wednesday night, Luke got to race his car against 40-something other little racecars. He won two of his heats, and he was so excited!

We have enough snow now to make a cute little snowman -- which Luke did almost completely on his own since Joel quit helping because Luke wouldn't let him be the boss.

Seth is all healed up and so cute this morning that I just had to take his picture. I'm not a great photographer, so the picture doesn't really convey the level of cuteness that he had going on in his little green corduroy shirt and jeans this morning.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

so much excitement

All the excitement has me exhausted, so I'm letting the pictures remind me of all that has happened in the past week or two. Everything will be out of chronological order, I'm sure.

I have made four trips to the doctor in the past two weeks.
1. Seth had a bad cold, so we went to ask the doctor to listen to Seth's breathing because we did NOT want to end up in the e.r. again with Seth not breathing! The doctor said everything was fine, just a cold. He's better now.

2. Joel got a sore throat and was having trouble breathing, so we went to the doctor to get antibiotics. He's better now, too.

3. The next child to need the doctor was Luke. He had some pain where no male wants to have pain. He had to have an ultrasound to find out there was some inflamation that the doctor said would go away without medication. Every time I ask him if he's still hurting, he gives me a percentage. "It feels 85% better." "Now it's 90% better, Mom." This morning, it was 98% better, so he was able to leave the house for some fun time.

4. When Luke and I were on the way home from the doctor, Jason called to tell me that Seth needed to go to the e.r. Joel, Makenzie, and Seth were with Jason at wrestling practice while Luke and I were at the doctor. The wrestlers were running laps, and the kids were sitting along the wall. Seth decided to stand up at exactly the wrong time and one of the wrestlers knocked him out with his knee. The teenager tried to jump over Seth, but couldn't miss him. This time around, we got right into the doctor in the e.r., no waiting at all. He had a ct scan which showed no bleeding in the brain or neck, so they sent us home. He just had a concussion, which I learned means "jarring of the brain." He was in a lot of pain for two and a half days, but then woke up from a little nap completely healed and back to himself. He has been eating all day today almost without stopping to make up for the two days of not eating anything at all. We've watched a LOT of Blue's Clues the last few days!

(Luke just ran into the room saying, "Mom! My problem is 100% better!!" yahoo :-)

Another exciting part of life is the complete rearranging of the house so that Joel can have his own room. The computer room/junk room/Seth's room had to be almost completely emptied. I hadn't realized how much junk I had accumulated in that little room! In just one week, though, it's pretty much all finished. Joel has his own room downstairs, and Luke and Seth are sharing a room upstairs. Luke has been a very nice big brother, straightening Seth's covers for him after Seth falls asleep -- so sweet :-) And Joel is excited beyond words to have his own room.

Since Joel was sick last weekend when the junior high church youth group had an overnighter, we had a late-nighter last night. A few friends came home with us after school yesterday to play the wii. We had pizza, soda, and ice cream followed by a movie and more video games in the game room at church (chaperoned by Jason). They had SO much fun!! Makenzie is looking forward to being in the 6th grade so that she can have a girls' late-nighter with Mom as the chaperone :-)

Tonight was the fall carnival at school. All three kids looked adorable in their costumes :-)

Seth had to stay home because of the concussion, but a friend from church heard that Seth wouldn't be able to enjoy the fall carnival and brought him a giant bag of gifts. Seth was amazed and excited by the toys and candy, going back and forth between saying "wow!" and "yumm!" for the rest of the evening :-)

I'm hoping that the Hofacker house will be excitement free this week so that Mommy Hofacker can recover!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

potty failure :-(

Friday and Saturday, I tried to do some potty training with Seth. This was apparently a complete waste of time. He sat on the toilet for a while, then went and peed on the floor :-( He sat on the toilet a little later, then went and peed in his diaper. I gave up on undies for now because I don't want to clean up disgusting messes. So I tried taking him to the bathroom more often. He has not yet even once done any business on the toilet! So potty training so far is a failure.

The hearing aids are also a failure. He loved them for almost four whole hours -- until I had to change his shirt, knocked one of the hearing aids loose causing it to screech in his poor little ear. Now every time I try to put them in his ears, he covers his ears tightly and says, "Ow, ow, ow, ow!" When I finally get them in his ears and point out to him that they are NOT screeching, he leaves them in until I turn around for second and then takes them out. He has thrown them behind the couch, behind the video cabinet, under the table, across the table, and down the stairs. We're taking a break from the hearing aids until we hear back from the audiologist. I called yesterday and left her a message about the situation. She doesn't like the way the ear molds on this set were made, so she ordered a different set. It won't be here, though, for three weeks.

On top of these two issues, Seth now has a cold :-( I'm watching him VERY closely this time!! Any sign of wheezing, and we're going to the doctor immediately. He grabbed his ear this morning and said, "ow," so I think we'll be seeing the doctor soon.

After three negative notes, I have a picture that shows the reality of being Seth's mom:

Seth is a person who OFTEN throws his head back and laughs with his whole self. Generally, that's my life with Seth :-) The little pieces of negative situations are just that -- little pieces soon forgotten when Seth throws his sweet little arms around my neck and plants nice, juicy kisses on my cheeks!

Friday, October 15, 2010

hearing aids :-)

Can you see them? Seth got hearing aids today, and he LOVES them!!! At least today he does :-) They're not very noticeable when you look straight at him. They're not even too terribly obvious when you look at the side view.

So here's an up-close view:

As soon as the audiologist put them in, Seth started whispering to himself and to us. He was SO excited!!! The audiologist said that she had never seen someone so excited with getting hearing aids before. He hasn't tried to take them out yet at all. In fact, he yelled at me when I took them out to practice putting them back in. So the audiologist, Seth, and I are all VERY pleased with these new "ears."

And as a little side-note, Seth's kindergarten teacher and school librarian are reading a textbook about teaching children with Down syndrome how to read. I had to work really hard to not get tears in my eyes when she told me this because it's so touching that they would care enough about Seth to put in extra work time. And she's serious about learning the information, too. She said that she's reading it slowly and just a couple chapters a week so that she can put it into practice as she learns. It's always amazing to me when people care enough about my sweet Seth to spend their own time and attention on him :-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

two cute boys

Isn't Seth's first school picture ADORABLE?! I never order the kids' school pictures in the fall, but I take pictures of their school i.d.'s to put in my photo album. I hope Seth's spring school pictures turn out as nice as this one -- I always order the spring pictures.

And here's a picture of Joel in his first season of junior high cross country:

He's so big, I can hardly see my baby Joel anymore :-( But, of course, every stage of a child's life has huge positive notes. Joel can get himself ready to go places and doesn't need help or reminders to do his homework (except special projects -- and Jason usually helps him with those because I've lost almost all schoolwork usefulness over the past ten years of being on diaper/kitchen/laundry duty). Probably most exciting of all, Joel is learning to decide for himself what he believes, wants, enjoys. The godly influences he has at school and church are helping lead him through the difficulties of doing what's good and right instead of doing what's selfish or self-serving. Somewhere in that pre-teen is still my sweet angel baby who occasionally needs a hug and reassurance from his mom :-)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me :-)

I'm 38 today :-) Some people are super-sensitive about their age, but I'm not one of those people. I can't help it that I was born in 1972, so I don't mind at all telling my age. About a million other things bother me, but not my age. It's quite a trip to think back to when I was a little kid who couldn't comprehend being an adult or all of the life changes that would take place along the way. Like gray hair and a weak bladder and sorted boxes of clothes to fit different stages of weight loss or gain :-( Or like feeling my own children's chubby arms squeeze my neck and sweet lips slobber all over my cheek :-)

Today started out normal -- Sarah Kelly serenading me at 4:30 a.m., telling me it was time to wake up and get moving (actually, she only got about two words out before I hit the snooze). The kids fought like normal (with each other and with me). And I went to work like normal. Then "normal" took a little break after I took some books to a used book store to see how much store credit I could get. They only wanted ONE book out of the FOUR BAGS stuffed full that I took in. They were nice enough, though, to put all the books in a big box for me to carry out. Now here comes the NOT normal part -- As I was walking out of the store with the big full box of books, a lady walked into the store, started to go on with her shopping, saw me, turned around, went back to the door, and held it open for me! People are NEVER that nice!! It gets even MORE abnormal, though! A man who was also starting to walk in the store, started to open the second door for me, but instead took the box from me, telling me that he would carry it for me to my car! People are never never ever THAT nice!!!!! I felt a little foolish because the box wasn't even as heavy as Seth, I don't think. I'm used to carrying a 45-pound child, my purse, a diaper bag, and maybe a couple other bags. But it sure was nice to have someone else carry the load for once! All I had in my hands were my purse and my keys! That was a great birthday gift, and he didn't even know it. I prayed God would give that guy something SUPER great for being so nice.

Then abnormal took a negative turn -- for the first time EVER, I forgot Seth :-( I was switching the laundry, opening the mail, opening my gift from my mom, calling my mom, unpackaging the new board games I got Seth this morning, thinking about when I needed to switch the laundry again -- when I looked at the clock. OH NO!! SETH'S OUT OF SCHOOL!!! I ran to the door, calling his special ed. teacher to tell her I was SO sorry and I'd be there in about two minutes! Really, I was only about five minutes late, but I felt AWFUL!! How could I forget that sweet little angel???!!!! inexcusable!

Jason, the kids, and I went out for Mexican food for dinner. He offered to cook dinner so that I didn't have to cook, but I added to that little plan so that I would be sure to not have to clean up anything, either :-) After dinner, we went to my favorite store -- Value Village :-) I took so long browsing around that I AGAIN lost track of time and forgot that I had cake and ice cream at home. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, Joel commented, "It's ok, Mom -- nothing wrong with eating cake and ice cream right before we're supposed to go to bed :-)" yeah -- thanks, Joel!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

birthday party

This was my birthday cake tonight :-) Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and fall flower decorations. I made it -- I'm not a professional by any means, but I liked it.

In the window sill is my cake next to the flower arrangement that Joel and I made today. He's a very creative child -- he especially helped with picking the bow, and he also added the butterfly on top and a little dew drop on one of the flower petals.

Seth was REALLY excited about the day's festivities :-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

my smart cookie

HAHAHA! found this shirt at Walmart this week for Seth. He's ADORABLE!!!! And he's doing SO well in school and therapy!

He's a smart AND silly cookie!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Buddy Walk 2010

Today was our third year to participate in the Down syndrome Buddy Walk. We were freezing, but we still had fun.

Seth LOVED playing in the bounce house!

Our group was considerably smaller than what we had the last two years, but that might have been a good thing since the temperature was so low today. All four kids stood in line to get a balloon creation. Seth only stood in line for a little bit, though, because a nice lady let him cut in front of her.

This was Jason's first year to be able to come to the Buddy Walk. He let Darryl and Amanda take care of the cross country team so that he could be with Seth.

Seth walked almost the whole entire way (the walk seemed longer to me this year, but it might be that I had to carry Seth part of the way because we didn't bring the baby jogger this year -- Seth did just fine without it).

We found Seth's friend and school playmate, Lindsey. She helps Seth in their special education time at school. Their favorite activity is to play with pretend food. Lindsey sets everything up and then they pray over the "meal" (Lindsey's from a Christian home, too).

We got to meet Sarah Palin and her youngest son, Trig. She commented on how much Seth looks like Trig and wanted to hear Seth say "mom." She took us over to meet Trig and told her mother that Seth had said "mom" very clearly. Seth gives EVERYONE he meets encouragement!

Apparently Seth isn't as impressed with being in the presence of a celebrity as I am.

When we finished the walk, lunch, and the prize drawing (we didn't win anything this year), we walked over to this beautiful garden to get a few last pictures.

Seth also appears to have no concept or concern for the laws about not picking the flowers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Last night was Open House at Seth's school. We learned two incredible pieces of information: 1.Seth can read more of the alphabet than about half of his class (made up of other 5-year-olds, none of whom have Down syndrome). This amazes me because Joel, Makenzie, and Luke could READ before they started kindergarten! But no one but me seems all that surprised at this information. I'm very glad that Seth's doing so well and enjoying his school experience, but I'm concerned for all these other kids. What have they been doing at home or in pre-school all these years? Even kids' tv shows teach the alphabet! anyway -- 2.Seth has progressed to the social development of at least a 3- or 4-year old. After we had been in Seth's classroom for about ten minutes, he realized that his teacher had probably never met Joel, Makenzie, and Luke. SO HE INTRODUCED THEM! In a Seth kind of way that I had to translate, but STILL! His speech therapist told me today that the concept of realizing that someone doesn't have all the necessary information in the immediate circumstance and being able to rectify that is a social skill usually seen in 3- or 4-year-olds. In some areas, he's still at about the 2-year-old level; but in others, he's really growing!

The Hofacker Family 2008