The Littlest Storyteller

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Okay, so I love my kids' creative minds and wild imaginations. Ace especially has a WILD one. She makes up tons of crazy, outlandish stories, full of vivid details, and delivers them quite convincingly. Many times, by the end of her stories, she has me so engaged and interested that I forget she is making the whole darn thing up. 

Some of her stories start to border on flat out lies though. She will tell things to other people and then tell them, "but don't tell my mom, she wasn't there so she doesn't know..." (It usually gets back to me, against her sweet four-year old request.) Like a couple of months ago I walked up on a conversation Ace was having with a friend of mine. I didn't hear anything, but she had that "busted" look on her face, and I knew that she had been telling one of her stories. So I asked what they were talking about and my friend said, "oh she was just telling me how she got this bobo on her leg...." (She had a little scratch.) I asked how exactly that was... At this point Ace was looking at my friend with bug eyes like "please don't rat me out." But my friend proceeded to tell me that Ace said she had a Tinkerbell knife that she kept under her pillow at night, and that she had gotten cut with it. Oh and when asked where she got the Tinkerbell knife, she told my friend she had gotten it from her Gigi (her great grandma, my grandma). 

She insisted to me that she indeed did have a Tinkerbell knife that Gigi gave her, but that I just didn't know about it because it was a secret. (Don't worry Gigi, I know you would never give weapons to my kids.) I highly doubt that a Tinkerbell knife even exists. 

We talk a lot about telling the truth. We talk about how it is okay to make up stories, but that after the story is finished we need to admit that it was just a story and not the truth. She knows the difference, but she sure does convince herself, and often me, that she is telling the truth. 

Sometimes her stories really get the rumor mill started though. She often tells people that we are "getting a new sister/brother". She told her teachers last year that "Daddy's going to the orphanage this weekend to get my big sister and bring her home." After school one of them pulled me aside and quietly asked me, "are yall adopting again?" I was like, "umm not anytime soon!" And then she told me what Ace had shared with her and the other teachers. Awesome. 

Then at Sunday School one day they made wreaths with cutout hands and the names of their family written on them. Here is Ace's:

She told her teachers that Sally was her new sister that we just got. They were confused to say the least. I mean this kid is freakishly convincing. 

Then there are the "brothers and sisters" who actually live with us. They are imaginary siblings. Well, the baby, Kate, is technically a doll, but the others are imaginary. There's Kate the baby, Alex the big brother, Annie the big sister, and Mila, the other big sister. (Oh but don't worry, Ace assured me that "even though her name is Mila, she still speaks English"). Thanks for the clarification, I was concerned about the possibility of a language barrier. 

So I have been going along with this whole thing for a while. But it is seriously starting to feel like I have four other kids. Sometimes she needs me to discipline one of the big kids for not sharing with her, or for yelling at her. Of course Baby Kate needs full time attention. Ace insists on brushing her teeth twice a day and feeding her regularly. I have even bought things for her at the store. Yes, I have. This is not a joke. 

Other ridiculous things I have done (or do on a regular basis) for the imaginary sisters and brother: 
Hold doors open at various places (often public places) for an extra long time so that they can all walk through. 
Moved seats because it was one of the siblings spots.
Gotten extra drinks for them.
Scolded the older ones. (and was really pretty serious about it)
Put them in time out. 
Put a "baby show" on TV because that's what Kate loves. 
Sang lullabies to Baby Kate to help her sleep. 

Here are two songs Ace wrote about Kate. According to Ace, she "was first in a orphanage, then got in mommy's tummy, then we went and picked her up at the hospital."

Oh, and in case you were wondering, she is dead serious with these songs. She is not kidding. And she thinks she is so good. (Of course I do too and I tell her she's the best singer ever, so that could be part of it...).

So I am trying to figure out how to balance this whole thing. I thought it was going to be one of those quick phases that would pass, but I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel with this one. Of course, like I said, I love her imagination and ability to create such detailed stories, but come on, where do I draw the line? I feel like one day I am going to snap and scream, "there is no Alex or Mila or Annie, and Baby Kate is just a freaking doll!!!" No, I would never really do that. But I do it in my head most days. 

Life with Ace. Gotta love it.

Lots of Love!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

So I thought I would be doing a bunch of profound Down syndrome posts this month being that October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. But here it is October 25th, and I haven't said a thing about it. I thought about posting a bunch of facts and statistics, but I figured those could be Googled. Instead, I am going to share with you 10 random facts about my extra special boy. 

1. He and Ace wear the same size shoe, but his chubby little foot is much more difficult to wiggle into his shoes. He also has the classic Down syndrome space between his big toe and the others. 

2. He has the kindest soul. He is so caring and concerned about others. Here is an email I got a while back from the preschool director at our church:

"Archie was the Worship Leader yesterday and did a great job!  I’ve noticed over the past two weeks he seems so much more mature, patient and responsible.  He listened to the story while sitting on the little leader bench the whole time and I know he heard it.  Our storyteller, John, came in complaining about an upset stomach.  (We were learning about Daniel and how God wanted him to make good food choices.)  AfterJohn left, Archie was done being the worship leader too.  We initially thought he just had enough, but it turns out he was worried about John!  He went to the back of the room and sat with John rubbing his tummy and saying, ‘bad food.’  What an empathetic little soul."

3. He is the world's best sleeper. In the fifteen months that he has been home with us, not once has he woken up in the middle of the night. He falls asleep very quickly, and he sleeps through the night. Every night. And thank heavens for that considering that our little girl is just the opposite. Impossible to get to sleep, and awake by 1 AM. Every night.  
He does, however, flop around quite a bit in the night. These pictures were taken within a one hour time frame:

4. He has an obsession with wearing fake glasses. We have been through several options, but the best so far have been a pair of goggle-like glasses that came with a superhero costume that a friend of mine let me borrow to try to entice him to play in his soccer game. (He only wanted to play wearing glasses). Now he wears them every day, everywhere. 

 On bike rides

In floor seats at the Rockets game


And of course, to sleep

Another favorite pair

5. His favorite thing in the world to do is take pictures. I really think he might be some genius photographer one day. 

6. He also has an obsession with ties, vests, suspenders, and basically all accessories. I am on the hunt for a man-purse or a European carryall, much like Jerry Seinfeld's.

Archie is definitely my fancy boy. 

7. He has become an incredibly picky eater. When he first came home he would put anything into his mouth. He was desperate to get his hands on food. He always cleaned his plate-- including veggies. Now, it is a total battle to get him to eat anything green. His breakfast of choice is a bunch of turkey slices and a string cheese. Tonight, I made some ground turkey and put some tiny diced veggies in it, and he spit out every bite that had anything other than the turkey in it . I have never had to worry about having a picky eater...Ace is an awesome eater, and would actually choose green beans over a cookie. Now I am finding myself being one of those moms trying to hide the veggies in stuff. 

8. The boy can seriously dance. Seriously.

He just started a dance class. And he is obsessed. A dance center nearby started a class for kids with Down syndrome. It is right up his alley. 
And Ace started a class too. When she found out Archie was starting dance she said to me, "Mom, maybe they have a dance class for kids what don't have Down syndrome and what was born from their mommy's tummies." I told her I was sure they did. Of course they had to get matching outfits. 

9. He is the world's greatest cuddler. He also loves to give me kisses and I love to get them.

10. He brightens the lives of everyone he meets. His smile and laugh are truly infectious. It is impossible not to fall in love with this boy. I got an email the other day- the subject: "Thank you for blessing us with Archie". 

Down syndrome truly is a blessing. I don't know how else to put it. I know for some people that is hard to understand. Does raising a child with Down syndrome come with its unique challenges? Absolutely. But then again raising a super smart, sassy, stubborn little girl comes with its unique challenges too. 

We are just so thankful to have Archie and his extra chromosome in our family!

Lots of Love!

Slide, Slide, Slippity Slide

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A glimpse into my Google "Recent Searches":
"How to build a raft"
"Float down Buffalo Bayou"
"Blow stuff up"
"Blow stuff up with kids"
"Blow stuff up safely"
"Giant homemade slip-n-slide"
"Slip-n-slide without water"

I wasn't convinced with anything I was finding from the "blowing stuff up" searches (although it was bringing back some awesome memories of my teenage pyromaniac days). The final decision of what our next adventure would be was left up to the little monsters. So a giant slip-n-slide it was. 

On our hike last week we walked back through this giant field with steep hills on all four sides. I immediately thought that a slip-n-slide down one of those hills would be so sweet. Problem was there was no water source close by, but I was going to figure out a way to make it work. The majority of what I could find said "lots of baby oil". So off to King Dollar we went to buy out their baby oil stock. Then we headed to Home Depot where we got a giant plastic roll. 10 feet by 100 feet. Humongous. 

We headed to the field at about 5:30, ready to go. Only to find this when we pulled up....

A freaking football practice going on right in the middle of our field. Bummer. 

This had become a bit of a covert operation as I noticed a vague sign, and wasn't completely clear on what it meant.......

Did this mean no humongous homemade baby oil powered slip-n-slides? Or were we cool?

Either way we had to wait until the Little Giants evacuated the field before we could roll out the slide. So we watched and waited. Pantlessly of course. 

That darn practice lasted way longer than we had anticipated and it was dark by the time they finally got out of there. But I had promised a slip-n-slide and it was going to happen. Even if it meant having to stay up a little past bedtime. 

The lack of light made more difficult to document. But here's a look.

We lathered that baby up and were ready to go. 

And we went FLYING. 

At one point, a sneaky sneaky man came over to the corner of the parking lot right by where we were. He seemed very suspicious and we were all hiding and trying to figure out what the heck he was going to do. Then he walked around his car with a cage-like thing, and tossed something out of it. Seconds later a freaky little possum scurried right by us. 

We kept on sliding while he observed the excitement. 

Here is a look at the real action. These videos don't seem to capture just how fast we were flying down. 

Oh and thanks to my awesome husband for capturing these moments. Especially for the artsy zoom in shot of the Baby Oil bottle at the end. Classic. 

In this one I underestimated how fast I was going to go and I almost slam Archie. I didn't. But I almost did. 

In the end, we were the greasiest greaseballs I have ever seen. And I would say that was the most fun night of the kid's lives to date. Probably mine too. I am realizing now more than ever just how blessed I am to be this pair's mom. 

I am also realizing that I need a lot less than I thought I did. 
"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify. Simplify." -Henry David Thoreau 

Lots of Love!

Picture Me Rollin'

Monday, October 15, 2012

So this is it. I spent hours last night clicking through hundreds of free blog templates. I just could not find what I was looking for. I wanted simple, but with character. Finally, in a last ditch effort, I fumbled across, and there it was-- toast. I immediately thought about my all time favorite Glee quote. Sue Sylvester was ranting and raving to Becky Jackson (who happens to have Down syndrome) when Becky just very matter of fact says to Sue.....

I love Becky so much.

So this post marks the first of the "newly evolved" Eicherumba...

When I was pregnant with Ace, I would constantly dream of the adventures we would share together throughout her childhood. Huck Finn like stuff. Exploring the world together. I wanted her to have the most amazing childhood ever, the kind you only find in storybooks. Then somewhere between zero and four, those dreams got lost. And I found myself just trying to figure out what Disney movie would keep her attention the longest so that I could get some peace and quiet, driving around in the car just to kill time, or finding a game on my phone that she could get lost in. Then Archie came along and not much changed. Other than the fact that I felt a little less guilty because she finally had a buddy to play with.

Don't get me wrong, we have always done a lot of fun stuff, and we are pretty much the goofiest family in the world. But I was constantly saying or thinking, "man, I can't wait until they are big enough to do x,y, and z." Or, "I can't wait until we own a home and can do this and that." Or, "I can't wait until we have enough money to go here and there." I eventually realized that I was "I can't waiting" their childhood away. What the heck was I really waiting for?

I read Oh the Places You'll Go to them quite a bit. It is one of their favorites. (Mine too). Recently, the part about "The Waiting Place" really started to get to me.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

The answer was right there all along- I simply needed to get my ass out there and find those bright places where the Boom Bands were playing. 

And so begins, our Journey to an Epic Childhood. 

I woke up this morning, feeling like it was just another day, but I quickly remembered, "crap, today is the first day of the rest of my life." Neither kid had school today, which would have normally meant MOVIE MARATHON. But this was a new day. I really didn't have much of a plan, but I knew it was going to involve being outside with good old mother nature. Giving my kids a real taste of the great outdoors. So off to Academy we went for hiking boots. 

 I knew of a pretty cool spot on the bayou near my parents' house. So we headed there. Ace was so excited. All morning she was asking me, "mom, whats that place what we're going to again? Oh yeah, a bayou, like 'bye you' or 'bye me' that, mom?" Yeah, like that, baby. 

I wasn't sure how they would actually feel about hiking once we got there. They absolutely love being outside, but both of them beg to be carried after walking like three steps anywhere, so I just didn't know how this would go.

I was so thrilled to see them so happy. They LOVED it. Ace just took off like a little wilderness guide. She told us we needed to pick up sticks to use to help us get through the trees. 

She explored every step of the way, finding all sorts of bugs. She also found some poop, and we had a lengthy discussion about what type of animal poop it was. She's still not sure, but she's gonna let me know next time. 

And Archie Bear. Holy moly did he surprise me. My little boy who hates being dirty. Cannot stand anything touching him. He was right in there with Ace. I couldn't believe that he walked as long and far as he did. 

Where's Waldo?

We took a picnic break after a while.

                                                                 Did some more exploring

And resting

That is when Ace spotted a nice steep hill behind us and asked me if she could climb it. I didn't really think that was going to happen and I tried to dissuade her, but she was pretty adamant. So I told her that I would try it first and see if I thought she could do it. So I made it to the top, and it wasn't super easy. But she still wanted to do it. So I went behind her and pushed her little bottom to the top of that hill. I was really shocked (and proud) that she wanted to do that. She is not fearless by any means. So she made it to the top and was so thrilled with herself. Getting back down was the tricky part. I held her and we pretty much slid down. A big stick about halfway down forced me to stand up, and I went running down full speed while holding Ace and screaming louder than I have ever screamed in my life. Have you ever run down a really steep hill? Imagine doing it while holding a 40 pound kid. I thought we were going down for sure. But we made it to the bottom, still standing, Ace was cracking up. 

After seeing that fun, Archie wanted to give it a go. NO WAY was my first response. But of course, that didn't last. Again, this is not a fearless child. He was being so brave and I wanted to encourage that. So off we went. At first, he wanted me to practically carry him up. He hates touching dirt, so he wanted me to be his arms. That just wasn't going to happen. So I told him, "Archie, if you want to do this, you have to touch dirt. I promise it will be okay and we can wash it off." He finally agreed, "okay, mom, okay." And he started climbing up. He is a pretty solid and heavy boy, proving to be a much greater challenge to get up that hill than his sister. At one point when we were about three-quarters of the way up, he got stuck. He couldn't pull himself up, and I couldn't push him up. But at this point, there was no turning back. So I climbed up around him, and tried to pull him up. He thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I was totally freaked out. I couldn't pull him up, and I started to slip, and the next thing I knew I was literally rolling down the hill. You can see that it's not some ridiculously huge hill, but it felt like I was rolling forever. And I was screaming all sorts of things I should never scream in front of my children. Ace was standing at the bottom and snapped a picture of the aftermath. You can see Archie sliding down behind me. He thought that was the greatest thing in the world.

At the end of it all when we were walking back to the car, Ace said to me, "mom, my favorite part was when you fell down the hill." Thanks, mine too. 

At least I looked awesome in my Janis Joplin T-Shirt, cut off jean shorts, tube socks, and hiking boots. (We went to the pet store later and I thought a picture in front of the amphibians in this get-up was only appropriate.) 

I am excited for the adventures to come for me and my ragamuffins. (and hopefully Daddy some, too). I know some of you are like, "what's the big deal, we go hiking all the time...." And I know this wasn't some crazy adventure. But it was a start for us. We are going to be trying all sorts of new things, adding some new routines into our lives, some new traditions. We are going to LIVE, not merely exist. 

I have also been learning a lot about myself lately, and I will share those things here too. I want to write in my authentic voice without fear of any sort of judgement. As a recovering people pleaser who still falls off the wagon every once in a while, I really want to stop worrying about what anyone else might think of me, and just start being ME. As Bob Dylan said, "All I can do is be me, whoever that is."

Lots of Love!