Reincarnated As A Mother

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Holland Chronicles

It is much quieter around these parts.
Amazing what taking one child out of the mix will do...
Holland went to Texas with my folks to visit my brother and his family.
Their oldest is just a week older than H.
They've been going non-stop.
Here they are at Sea World in San Antonio.
Holland is on the left.
I'm betting she is near collapse by the time she makes it back home.
It's been interesting. 
She has hardly called.
Unlike a certain second child who called 14 times in the first two days of her trip to Vegas.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Breaking News

We experienced a right of passage this evening with Reese.
We went for a walk-- well, Reese and Greer were on bikes.
Reese took a bit of a tumble and bent up one of her training wheels... so she had to limp back home with only one training wheel.  She did so great, at her request, Byron took off both training wheels and, well, see for yourself.
Talk about proud of herself.  She strutted around like a little peacock.
Pretty exciting stuff when you are five.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Studying Lehi's Dream

Take a look at what someone else just sent us.
This is of Byron and Kean asleep in the foyer of our church.
Geez, between photos, videos etc.  you'd think the whole religious paparazzi was
hanging out in our chapel.

Oh Father!

I have never been much of a cartoon fan.
But Byron and I both have this memory from when we were kids of the cartoon with Sylvester, the cat.
He had this son (Sylvester Junior-- I had to Google it), who would constantly sigh "Oh Father"... each time Sylvester would get into trouble or try something dorky.
Alas, not insinuating that Byron gets into trouble often or seeks after dorkiness- but we laughingly use that phrase around our house quite often.
This year, Father's Day came just two days before Byron's birthday.
 We had a great morning, with homemade Raspberry French Toast (the girls picked berries that morning) and lots of homemade gifts.
For Byron's birthday, we got a bit fancier... inviting the Bodily's and Moomey's over to celebrate.
 After opening some pretty cool presents, the girls led him on a treasure hunt to his final gift.
He had to hold onto a ribbon and follow it as it wound through the house....
 All the way up to GiGi's room where he found a little cafe' table and chairs for the balcony.
 Since the crew had expanded so much energy on their Indiana Jones-ish treasure hunt,
they were rewarded with cake and ice cream.
And yes, those are more fresh berries.  It's that time of year.


I thought you'd enjoy reading the impact so far on the Tim's Place story that aired on the CBS Evening News.  It's pretty cool.  This is an email from Tim's father, Keith:

I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing Father's Day weekend.  We had a blast!

Here's a brief update on impacts of your story (so far):

Tim's Place:
The "Place" is packed.  Starting last Friday, we've had record crowds.  Father's Day was a record for one day sales - we even ran out of eggs and had to send someone to the grocery store!!  Lots of out of towners had seen the story and dropped in.  Also lots of locals who had never visited before.  The hug counter rolled over past 19,000 on Sunday when Tim delivered a record 172 hugs!

Tim's Place Facebook page has over 750 new likes and a very lively flurry of conversation.  Tim's personal Facebook is very, very acitve as well.  People all over the world in the Down Syndrome community are sharing the story.

Tim's Place website:
We've had around 200,000 hits on the website since your story aired.  We had around 92,000 on Father's day alone.  We've passed 265 people who have taken the time to write in and send Tim a Wish.  You can see those posts at under the Send Tim a Wish tab.

Special Olympics International:
Tim Shriver's organization sent a blast about the story.  You can see it here:  They followed up with an email to all their North American delegations this week.

National Down Syndrome Congress:
The Congress sent a blast email to their members worldwide on Friday and posted links to the story on their Facebook page.  They report that they think the story is "viral" within their membership.

Albuquerque Journal:
We were contacted today by our local newspaper in Albuquerque.  We've been after them since we opened in October 2010 to do a story on Tim.  They've told us that restaurants are not news.  Apparently your story changed that as they're coming by tomorrow for a story that will run in their Sunday edition.

CBS News website:
We've been watching the traffic on your website.  As of right now the story has 9,100 likes on Facebook on the On The Road page and around 1,700 likes on the Sunday Morning page.  What other feedback have you gotten on your side?

Thanks again for what you've done. 

We'll keep in touch,

Keith Harris

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hoo are You?

Look "hoo" moved into one of our trees?
Reese named him Feather.
Or perhaps I should say her.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Three Amigos

One final souvenir from the boys' trip to Albuquerque.
Tim's dad has written me-- with some great encouragement and to ask more about Kean.
What a sweet experience to match a sweet Father's Day story.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Beautiful TV

If you didn't get a chance to see the story on the CBS Evening News about "Tim's Place"... take a few minutes to watch it now.  This is what television should be.

Les wrote: "Thank you Steve Hartman, Miles Doran , Allison and all the folks at Tim's Place...folks, this is why I still look forward to work, and love Journalism. Lonni- Lonni Leavitt-Barker ...hope we did Keane proud!"

The Whirlwind Tour

I told you the other day how GiGi got to go with Grandpa and Grammy on a trip
(to make up for the fact they are taking Holland to Texas in a few weeks to see my niece).
Anyway, the trip was a rager!
My mom, Aunties and Grandmother took Greer with them
to see Hairspray at the Tuacahn outdoor theatre near St. George, Utah.
I've never been but I hear the setting is stunning (it is the red rock canyons).
My mom took several pictures of Greer with the cast after the show.
Here's a couple...

The other major highlight was going on a date with these two...
Chris and April.
April and I grew up one house away from each other in Vegas.
We used to play "Charlie's Angels" and sneak through our neighbors backyard.
It was only later we learned he was a hit man for the mob.
No kidding.
That explains why he used to get so mad at us!
Anyway... they picked up Greer from my parents house
and took her out on the town.
They went to see the Cirque de Soleil show:  The Beatle's LOVE
at the Mirage, then out to dinner (which she slept through).
The next morning, it was out for a yummy breakfast
(Greer claims she ate something along the lines of 20 pancakes),
then swimming with April's friend's daughter - they've become fast friends...
and then to see the new Madagascar movie.
She came home giddy, chatty and exhausted.
Talk about memorable!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tears, Smiles (and hugs too)!

So most of you know I used to work for CBS in L.A. where I made fast friendships with two
of my favorite people in the world:  Les Rose and Steve Hartman.
You might remember Les from our trip to Disneyland/California.  He's the one who smuggled us
onto the sets of The Price Is Right, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and The Restless.  Les is one of the nicest guys you'll ever be lucky enough to meet.  As a news photographer, he has this knack for putting people
at ease and getting them to open up and be themselves.
Steve just so happens to be one of the best writers in television.  He can often be found as the final story in the
CBS Evening News or on CBS's Sunday Morning.
I got an email from the boys yesterday that they were headed to New Mexico for a story "I might find interesting".
They were headed to profile a man in his twenties, who also happens to have Down syndrome.
Tim is quite the force of nature. 
He won a gold medal in the Special Olympics, he was voted Homecoming King at his high school winning with a record number of votes.
And get this, he graduated from college and has opened up his own restaurant "Tim's Place"... where along with good food; customers can order hugs from Tim.
Hugs are actually on the menu.
Les sent me a few articles on Tim, including the speech Tim's father, Keith gave at Tim's college graduation.
Here's a tiny excerpt that brought big tears from me...


As long as I live, I'll never forget the look on Jeannie's face as I entered the room. She knew instinctively that something was wrong. My heart broke for her, for our newborn son Tim, and for our family. Would our lives ever be the same? Raise your hand if you've lived through a similar scene. It's not something I'd wish on anyone. Well, time has a way of changing our perspectives if we're open to it. A few weeks later, I got the nerve up to call a local support group and a short time later we were visited at home by a family with a three year old daughter with Down syndrome. The doorbell rang; I opened the door and was greeted by one of many angels I'd have the chance to meet in my life. This particular angel was about two and a half feet tall, blond, and had a smile and a laugh that could light up a room. The afternoon flew by, the angel played with our son Danny, and their family life looked pretty normal to me. Hope emerged. The fear and dread faded. Life moved ahead.
Several very busy years passed and suddenly Tim was in first grade. Our family had grown and we now had four sons, all two years apart in age; Tim being second oldest.

More time passed and now Tim was in Eldorado High School in Albuquerque. Tim was enormously popular in High School, mostly I think because of his uncanny knack for connecting with everyone no matter what group or click they belonged to. The athletes, the cheerleaders, the brainy kids, the skateboarder crowd, the group that all dressed in black and smoked cigarettes like chimneys across the street. They all called Tim friend. Well, almost everyone. A story we heard, after the fact, occurred during Tim's freshman year. Apparently, a couple of boys decided to corner Tim every day after school and make him give up his left over lunch money. Tim, being a pacifist, didn't resist or tell anyone. This apparently went on for some time. One afternoon that fall, during the daily shakedown, loud footsteps came from down the hall. It was the Varsity football team heading out to practice. The boys, many of whom had known Tim from elementary school saw the villains in action.
What happened next was described to us later by Tim. "The team dented the lockers in the hall with those guys, Tim said. "Oh, and they called them bowling balls and slid them down the hall, too. The "bad guys" were warned that if they ever went near Tim again they would be very, very sorry. Some angels wear football uniforms and cleats.

I met Tim on the phone today.
And he's an angel.
Les had him call me.
Only point 4 seconds into the conversation I was choking up.
He told me to always remember that my son and I have more in common than we have differences.
I was wishing I was at Tim's Place and could order up one of those hugs.
But what he gave me on the phone was pretty darn close.

So far Tim has filled 18 thousand plus orders for hugs at his restaurant!
Steve and Les's story will air this Friday night on the CBS Evening News.
It is scheduled to air again on Father's Day (fitting, eh?) during the
Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood show.
I'll be watching.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


My little man, Keanut moved to a new level this morning.  For, oh, it feels like forever (but it's probably only been a year), we have been dealing with the issue of him throwing his food from his high chair.
And I mean, throwing his food. 
Nearly everything gets tossed.
Most of the time, it land on the floor (just call me Cinderella-- I swear I spend half of my life cleaning that floor).
And sometimes it lands with a smack on Reese (who is lucky enough to be seated in his firing range).
She's so used to it, she rarely even reacts anymore.
Routinely, we just pick it up off the floor and try to get him to eat some of it-- which eventually happens.
Anyway, we have tried EVERYTHING! 
And this morning was no exception.
He ate a few bites of pancakes (blueberry- which is a bear to clean) and chucked a few pieces.
After I scolded him for the 9 thousand 800 and 42 gazillioneth time -- and I'm not exaggerating...
he took his pancake piece, slid his arm down his side, underneath the high chair tray and casually dropped it on the floor.
I'm sure he didn't think I'd notice.
And then he did it again.
And again.
And again.
I was so surprised by his new level of "trickiness" that I had to look away....
lest he see my smile and grow encouraged.
He may not talk or walk but he has a Doctorate in driving his mom crazy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Grandma's My Name and Spoilin's My Game

While we are here in Idaho going from 91 degrees on one day to 54 the next, Greer is melting in Vegas.
My folks took her with them for a week-long trip. 
She's already had her first pedicure (yeah, I know, I'm a lame mom and have never taken her).
They drove down to St. George, Utah for a few days
where she has met her soul mate-- my cousins' daughter, Laney.  I guess they were
joined at the hip, have become fast friends and have covered their entire life
histories in one loooonnnnngggg conversation.
My mom and Grandma and aunties also took her to the outdoor theatre, Tuacahn's production
of Hairspray.
And tomorrow she's in for another surprise.
One of my childhood best friends, April and her husband Chris (they met us in Disneyland)
are picking her up, taking her out to dinner, to the Mirage to see the Cirque's Beatles Love show and then to dessert.
I have a feeling she will come back to us here and find herself perpetually bored after this adventure. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Growing Up and Letting Go

Oh, for heaven's sake, I am such a blubbering fool.
We are in the looooonnnnnggggg process (7 meetings) to transition Kean from
the Infant - Toddlers program where he gets all of his therapy at home to the school district
where he will get most of his therapy in school.
Yes, I said school.  He turns three in August and will go into a special pre-school.
I've already met his teacher-to-be and she is wonderful.
Last week, I had to take him to school so he could be observed in the classroom for three hours.
I want you to know, I held it together in the parking lot...
 And in the classroom.
Even though right before we got there, a boy had thrown up in the bathroom (they were keeping him in there
with an aid until his mom could come get him), another mother grabbed her son and said she was out of there because
she didn't need to deal with any more germs or illness in her home... and another kid was sobbing and clinging to his mother.
It wasn't quite the calm classroom I had envisioned.
I played with Kean for about 45 minutes and then left him with an aid.
There are about 7 kids in the class, two aids, a teacher, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a speech therapist work with the children.
Talk about a village.
That's his teacher, Ashley in the black playing with him.
He looks so tiny and IS TINY.  One of the other kids kept coming up to him and calling him "baby".
And he does look like a baby in there-- he doesn't walk, only says a couple of words and signs a few signs.
In many areas, he tested on the level of a 13 month old.  Can you imagine sending a 13 month old to school?
When I came back to get him, Ashley said he had played for a while, then burst into tears when he realized
I was gone. Settled down, played some more, then cried some more.
He finally exhausted himself and slept through a chunk of the class.
Go figure.
I'm embarrassed to admit, I lost it in the parking lot after I left him.
That kid was right... he is a baby -- my baby.
We will get through this.