Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Sep '11

My Birthday & Black Light Zumba

So last month I said goodbye to my twenties and entered a new decade of life.

I wanted a party to celebrate, and a party that involved Zumba–one of my favorite things–but I wanted a party that wasn’t just for me. I rented some black lights and disco laser lights, and threw a few black light Zumba parties for my students and their friends. We raised a little money to help a family that’s adopting a little girl from Russia who has Down syndrome.

(And if you want to see the amazing web site that helps families adopt children with DS and other special needs from Eastern Europe, go here. Can’t say enough good about the program. Just to think that if Wesley had been born in Russia or Ukraine to some other parents, he would have likely been given up by them, put in an orphanage to be cared for by nurses with little stimulation until he was five or six, and then placed in an adult institution for the rest of his life. Many kids only live to age 18 or so because of the conditions. I’m so glad we have Wes, and that families are going out of their way to make better homes for these kids!)

The parties were fun, but a lot of work for me! Possibly the most tiring but rewarding birthday I’ve had so far.

Lots of neon is the key to showing up under the light. Since I was leading a room full of students, my arms and feet needed to be highly visible.

The kids liked the glow bracelets.

Same kids, same pose, just in the dark.

I made cupcakes.

Friends/fellow instructors.

I held three different parties in three different places. Two blacklights was enough for even the giant gymnasium for my class at BYU. In this smaller room, two was a little bright.

And this is about the only video I have, from our first black light party in my Springville class. The song is “5 Letras,” a reggaeton rhythm.

Nov '10


I had kind of an epiphany coming home tonight from teaching Zumba. It was our last class in a two-month session, and it was a blast. It is always such a treat to meet new students at the start of a session and see their Zumba love grow and grow, along with their physical abilities and emotional well-being. Zumba Fitness is a wonderful thing.

But I digress.

As I was driving home I thought, “I am so glad I’m not perfect.”

A simple thought, maybe even too obvious? For some reason tonight it just clicked that it’s a GOOD thing to not be perfect. Or anywhere near it. I am like everyone around me–striving for betterment, gradually, but not perfectly. And this is a good thing.

Recognizing my imperfection reminds me of what I really am, of who I really am, and of my potential to be better, and all this brings into sharper focus my more positive traits. As John often reminds me, if we were perfect there would be nothing to learn in this life.

Being imperfect is a good thing.

Oct '10

Things I Love Today

In no particular order…

1. That Wesley sort of smiled for his preschool picture. And that we actually thought to buy a few copies of the picture to keep for future memories. Wes doesn’t smile on demand, so this is a big deal.

I’m not sure why he’s wearing his jacket in the picture. Maybe he wouldn’t let them take it off??

2. This gal who is 2 months old and who smiles whenever you give her attention.

I will, however, be grateful to see her sleeping through the night. I get up with her consistently twice each night. Usually she goes right back to sleep. But then sometimes Wes will wake up and I have to get up to help him go back to sleep…

3. That Wes likes strawberries.

He’s made the sign for them before, but I didn’t know what the sign meant until I caught a snippet of his “Signing Time” DVD where they were signing it. Last night he was on the counter watching me cut strawberries for my meal, and he helped himself to one. I was kind of surprised, but he ate the whole thing and asked for more. Yay for another thing Wes will eat! He ate three more strawberries tonight. He can even kind of say the word: “Dah-Bay.”

4. My Zumba classes that I teach. I worked at a desk for seven years and truly never liked sitting at a desk. Standing in front of loads of people and making them sweat and smile and have so much fun is much more my idea of the dream job. I often come away from class thinking, “I have the best job ever.” Not that being a mom isn’t truly the best job (it is), but there is something so gratifying about a job where people come up afterward and smile and say thank you and tell you what a joy the class is to them. Wes and Carissa aren’t big into thank-you’s.

5. Losing weight. Because I’m finally losing a little more. I’ve been at it (imperfectly, for sure, but consistently, yes) for about six weeks and I’m making progress. I’m getting close to where I was before I got pregnant, and then from there I’ll just be a few pounds from my goal. Not every day is easy. In fact, most days aren’t. But as I keep working at it I gradually get closer to my goal.

6. Wes is getting so smart. He amazes me with how much he knows. Today we were watching “Signing Time,” which had a song about the colors of a rainbow. I looked over at him and he was not only signing the colors but even saying some of the words. Impressive! He is getting really good at colors. And he loves it when we count with him. He holds up his hand as we count 1-10, although he can’t arrange his fingers the right way yet. But he can make sounds that resemble most of the numbers as we count. I also started singing the alphabet song with him, and he is totally into it.

7. Wesley’s preschool teacher is thinking of increasing his school time to four days a week instead of two. I think this will only help him. He is doing so much better verbally since starting, really repeating and imitating sounds. So we’ll see what happens with that.

8. Sleep. In theory, anyway. I should go test that theory.

Sep '10

Piddlings and More

Wes and Carissa.

Wes is 3 and Carissa is 5 1/2 weeks.

Wes loves preschool and is so excited when the bus comes. He hops on board and doesn’t look back. He loves to count (or, rather, I count while I hold up my fingers and he holds up his hand). And I just taught him the “Give me five, up high, down low, too slow” thing and he thinks it’s hilarious. He likes playing in his sandbox out back, which means I frequently get to brush sand out of his hair and sweep up sand that’s thrown everywhere. But he sure has fun. We’re also working on brushing his teeth at night. This is essentially torture for everyone involved, but maybe someday it’ll get easier.

Carissa’s eyelashes are growing in long and curly and I am hopeful she has John’s luscious lashes. She’s getting stronger at holding her head up and does well at tummy time. And she’s starting to smile on purpose, but not too often yet. Someday I’ll catch it on camera. Smiles really open up a baby’s personality, like they’re more than diapers and milk–they’re a person!

This week I resumed teaching Zumba and it’s good! Even last night when my pants (which I usually cinch up) were too long and I slipped and totally biffed it hard and nearly fell off the stage and the microphone’s batteries died and then didn’t work even when I replaced them–the class was still good! A couple girls came up to thank me for how sweaty they were. One said she looked at the clock once, sure class wasn’t even half over, but discovered there were only ten minutes left. That’s Zumba. I am glad to be back.

I am watching what I eat, following an eating program designed by KristiApproved, and it is the best thing ever. I’m eating a structured, well-balanced diet that’s low carb, high protein, and very low sugar. I love it. I grocery shop on the weekend, get all my food prepared and in the fridge, so when it’s time to eat I know exactly what to eat and it doesn’t take long to prepare. I eat essentially the same thing every day for seven days, with some variation. I thought this would be weird, but it’s totally easy and convenient.

This is one of my favorite things to eat. I usually have it about mid-morning, and it’s so tasty that Wes eats mine and then I have to make myself a new one. It’s egg that makes me think I’m eating a pancake.

Egg Pancake

1 egg
2 egg whites
cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla Stevia

Mix ingredients and pour into greased skillet heated on medium. Spread to crepe or pancake size. Cook until you can flip it, then reduce heat to low and cook 1-2 minutes more. Serve with 2 Tbsp sugar-free syrup.

Stevia is new to me. It’s a natural zero-calorie sweetener and it is the first non-sugar sweetener I’ve ever used that I actually like. Scratch that. LOVE. I also put the Stevia in club soda for a drink that’s like a creme soda. So good.

I always eat the egg pancake with apple spice oatmeal. Also so stinkin’ good.

Apple Spice Oatmeal

1/4 apple, diced
2 Tbsp instant oatmeal
2 Tbsp cream of wheat
1/2-2/3 c. water
1/2 packet sugar-free apple cider powder

Microwave apple 30 seconds until soft. Microwave oats and cream of wheat with the water for a minute or two. Remove and stir in apple, sugar-free apple cider powder, and cinnamon.

And both those things eaten together is only about 240 calories.

Sep '10

Out of the Woodwork We Come

First off, here’s our resident princess.

She’s nearly five weeks old now, growing, and I think her blue-black hair is starting to go more dark brown/black.

This week I start teaching Zumba again. I’m looking forward to it and hope I don’t keel over in the first hour from lack of stamina. Five weeks postpartum might be a little early to start, but I hope it will be good. I’m following a new eating schedule that so far I love. It’s helping me feel healthier, more energetic, and I’m starting to lose a little weight. All good things.

A lot of big changes lately for Wes. He turned three on September 12. First, he got a bouquet of balloons from my folks. He went nuts over those.

His occupational therapist (whom we love) brought him a terrific and timely gift of a memory matching game. We’ve been working with him on matching, and he’s doing so great. Instead of flimsy cards, the pictures are on more of a cardboard material so Wes can’t destroy them as easily. There are pictures of balls (his favorite toy), and even of pretzels (his favorite food)!

We took him to an indoor bounce house place. Wes is completely in his element there. He jumps off everything and is braver than I am on the really tall slides. Here he is climbing with his cousin Savannah.

For his birthday I made cupcakes, more for the tradition of it than for Wes to eat. He’s not into cake. Too bad, as these were cream-filled chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter cream frosting.

I bought him some pretzel M&Ms that he ate instead. But we still lit a candle and sang to him, and John blew out the candle for him. Maybe next year he’ll know how to blow on things.

But he does know how to open presents, and he got to do that.

Now that Wes is three he starts preschool. He’s been there twice so far and, as far as I can tell, he likes it. He doesn’t really talk, so I actually have no idea what he truly thinks of it, or what exactly he does each day, but the teacher has a blog where she posts highlights of what they’re learning about.

I know he likes riding the bus. We sit outside on our front porch and wait for it to come. When it pulls us, Wes jumps up and walks down the steps and gets on the bus without even looking back. And when he comes home from school he is tuckered and takes a great nap. So far, preschool is good.

Feb '10

Last week it was warm enough that Wes and I strolled over to our neighborhood park for 15 minutes. (It wasn’t thatwarm. I spent a good portion of the time wiping his nose.) He had so much fun that he didn’t want to leave. I hope spring hurries here.

Wes is so smart. He knows how to get into things I’m not ready for him to get into yet.

He loves it when we put toys…or things…on his head so he can anticipate them falling off. Hey, who needs fancy toys when we’ve got empty toilet paper rolls?

One thing I’ve had to work on with Wesley is eating. It’s taken a couple of months (at least) but just this past week he’s started using a spoon without me having to hold onto it with him the entire time. Before, he would use the spoon fine as long as I helped him guide it. The second I let go so would he. He still struggles to scoop up the food, but at least now he can get it to his mouth and feed himself successfully. I’m very proud and happy for this accomplishment.

He’s also eating more “big boy food,” which is good progress. For a long time he didn’t want much more than just his bottles of milk and baby food. His appetite seems heartier. His breakfast usually consists of oatmeal (maple and brown sugar–NO substitutes!) and often some yogurt or a piece of toast. He doesn’t always eat a real lunch because sometimes he falls asleep for a nap before I get around to making lunch for myself and John. But he’s always ready for dinner by about 4 o’clock. He’ll usually eat a couple pieces of toast, some mashed fruit (he likes pears and sometimes peaches), and if we happen to be eating around the same time he may sample what we’re having (no guarantee he’ll like it, though). He’s picky and very opinionated about what is allowed to stay in his mouth.

Some things he likes:

Starches: toast, bagels, oatmeal
Fruit: canned pears or peaches, mashed. Sometimes I’m lucky and get him to eat a banana, but not often. He’ll eat it in baby food form, though, no problem.
Veggies: still only in baby food form. I can’t get him to eat any “real” veggies except for a few bites of salad now and again. But he eats baby food really well: peas, green beans, carrots, and squash.
Dairy: yogurt. NOT cottage cheese.
Snacks: pretzels, pretzels, pretzels, did I mention pretzels? Also chocolate pudding and sometimes crackers.
Junk: french fries, ice cream, cookies (ONLY the fudge-striped shortbread cookies)

The other thing I’m struggling to transition him to is drinking from a cup, sippy cup, or straw. He doesn’t understand how to suck, so a straw and some types of sippy cups don’t work for him. He gets the concept of a cup but mostly he likes to chew on the edge and isn’t so interested in the purpose of drinking. Often the liquid goes into his mouth and spills right down his front and onto the floor. This is frustrating to me. We want him to be comfortable drinking liquids that are cold (like milk straight from the fridge rather than microwaved warm) before we go on vacation next month, but right now that goal seems waaaay off. And I haven’t even touched on the apparent impossibility of weaning him off the bottle. He’s going to be eight and taking bottles of milk to school in his lunch box.

In good news, though, his love for balloons has helped him say his first two-syllable word: “ballooo.”

Speech is notoriously hard for kids with Down syndrome. We’re just so happy that he’s making sounds that actually resemble words. He’s making good progress! In addition, he knows a lot of signs, more than we even realize (thanks to Signing Time videos). Some things he says that John and I recognize as words (he always accompanies these words with the signs):

“Dow” for down
“AyDuh!” for all done
“Mo” for more
“deesh” for cat
“balloo” for balloon
“no” for no
“wawa” for water
“dydydy” for dry (we always tell him, “dry dry dry!”)
“yay!” for yay

All in all, we think he’s one super smart kid.

Completely unrelated, here are some pictures snapped at one of my Zumba classes at BYU last month. I love teaching there. It’s one of the funnest ways I get to spend my time every week. If you haven’t tried Zumba, you should.