Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

Choose a Topic:

Oct '09

The Weekend to End All Weekends

This weekend John and I dumped Wes off at another family’s house, got a 4-star hotel off Priceline.com for 40% off, and spent a couple nights in The Big City.

Travel Savvy Tip: Before you bid on a hotel on Priceline.com go to betterbidding.com or biddingfortravel.com to see what rate other people have been winning hotel stays with. These Web sites also teach you about “free rebids” and how to use them to maximize your bidding experience.

Friday night we ate dinner at Christopher’s. It was perfect: ambiance lighting, soft jazzy music, and delicious food. As we ate we realized it had been a long time since we had gone out for a nice dinner together, just the two of us. It was nice.

Travel Savvy Tip: When you stay at a nice hotel, book your dinner reservation through the concierge. First, it saves you the hassle of doing it yourself, and second, often they have partnerships with area restaurants and can offer you discounts or special offers.

We got a free appetizer coupon through our concierge, but we ended up not using it because we were eating early enough to order their early bird special–four courses for $28. I had shrimp cocktail (yum), green salad (yum), Parmesan encrusted halibut (oh my gosh yum) with mashed potatoes and green beans, and for dessert bread pudding (on the floor dying of yumness).

I ordered the bread pudding because they were out of creme brulee, but normally I’m not a big fan of bread pudding. This was until I met Christopher’s bread pudding that’s served warm dripping with caramelized butter sauce. Every bite melts in your mouth and makes you think, “Oh my gosh! This is GOOD!”

The halibut, too, I was surprised by, probably because I don’t eat a lot of fish and the only other halibut I’d had was at Magleby’s (the place that tries to pass itself off as a nice restaurant but is really sub-standard–except for their chocolate cake, which is made by someone outside the restaurant named Lenora and is really to die for), and let’s just say the fish at Magleby’s Was. Not. Good. But the Parmesan encrusted halibut at Christopher’s was juicy and tasty and melted in your mouth. So glad I got that.

After dinner we walked around Temple Square.

There was a concert in the Tabernacle by the Orchestra on Temple Square. It had already started by the time we got there.

We waited outside, and during a break between songs we were allowed in. We heard a song by a 12-year-old virtuoso pianist from Hong Kong and then an orchestra piece by Wagner. I play the cello and love orchestra concerts, so this was a nice treat.

After the concert we walked to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and watched the movie about Joseph Smith. It was sad. Good, but sad. It’s hard to watch a lifetime of trials and hardship condensed into an hour and ten minutes. But it put me in awe of how faithful and obedient Joseph was even when he didn’t know God’s plan for him. No matter your religious background or personal beliefs, you should admire Joseph’s willingness to obey faithfully.

Saturday was actually the reason we came to Salt Lake City. I attended a Zumba instructor training workshop. It’s meant for people who want to teach Zumba but never have. Because I already teach Zumba and am a member of the Instructor Network I could take the workshop for half price.

It was a good review and so much fun! One of my students-turned-instructor was there, which made it even more fun. That’s her on the left, with Lindsey (who led the workshop), and me.

We jammed all day long with the merengue, cumbia, salsa, and reggaeton. It was great to meet the new soon-to-be-instructors, and I set some new goals for myself as a Zumba instructor.

Back at the hotel John and I went swimming, sat in the hot tub, and visited the sauna. The hot tub and sauna felt SO GOOD. And normally I don’t like saunas. They’re too hot. But it felt good on my body after being so active all day long.

Travel Savvy Tip: Before you travel someplace go to Tripadvisor.com and research your hotel, restaurants, and activities. There’s a wealth of information there from other travelers who have been there, done that, so you can know before you go what to expect.

We came home on Sunday and picked up Wesley. He didn’t seem to miss us at all. I didn’t hear much about what he did while we were gone, except that he went to two basketball games, got a pony ride, and had a lot of fun.

Oct '09

The Blond Within

Lately a few people have asked if I’ve dyed my hair. I’ve looked at them like, “What?” Of course I haven’t dyed my hair. I wasn’t even sure why they would think that.

Then today I noticed that the hair around my face actually IS a lot lighter. My natural hair color is brown with copper undertones that show up more when my hair is wet or in the sun. The hairline around my face, I realized, is VERY coppery. Almost orangey. Even blondish in some parts.

I stood there lost in confusion as to why my hair is suddenly changing colors, like the leaves on trees.

My first thought was hormones because I’ve had some miscarriages and I’ve noticed that since they’ve started I’ve broken out more frequently with acne. But why would hormones affect hair color?

And THEN I realized that because my face has been breaking out in acne, far worse than it ever has before, I’ve been using cleansing pads on my face, which I’d never had to use before. (They totally work, by the way.)

So then I was thinking, would cleansing pads affect my hair color?

As it turns out, yes.

The directions (which you have to peel off the label in order to view) include a few important gems, which I never saw until now:

1. Contains Hydrogen Peroxide. Wash hands after using product.

2. Limit use to the face and neck.

3. Avoid contact with hair or dyed fabrics, including carpet and clothing, which may be bleached by this product.

So. There you go. I have been self-bleaching my hair without even meaning to.

Oct '09

H1N1 Vaccine

Today I took Wes to the county health building to get vaccinated for the H1N1 virus. People with Down syndrome have extra narrow nasal passages (and often weakened immune systems) so if he gets the flu and congestion it could be bad.

I took Wes close to his nap time, but I hoped we’d be in and out. That was before I saw the line that spilled out of the building, snaked through the parking ramp, and ended on the sidewalk outside.

That’s when I realized Wes wasn’t wearing shoes and I’d have to carry him.

Wes and I took our places and stood. And shuffled. And stood. And shuffled. And made small talk with the couple behind us. And stood more. And filled out paperwork with Wes in one arm and a clipboard in the other. And shuffled and stood. And played peek-a-boo. And stood some more. For over an hour and a half.

I wish I had a camera to snap a photo of the line winding through the parking ramp–more kids and crying babies and pregnant ladies than you normally see together, unless you’re at Disneyland, mashed together in a dim, gray concrete box. Then again, I probably won’t mind forgetting that image.

By the time we made it out of the parking ramp into the sunlight again my arm felt like it was going to fall off.

Then we were in the building, which was a huge relief. Until we turned the corner and entered The Longest Hallway in the World that held the Longest Line in the World.

Finally, finally, finally, we got our shots. I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to say I was happy to get a shot, but it sure was nice to be done at last.

Oh, and the best part? I get to take him back in four weeks for a booster.

Oct '09

Halloween Baby

Wes doesn’t have a costume this year. At least, not yet. When he was born I got him a Superman costume off eBay, which was supposed to be for babies 0-9 months and which served him well for two Halloweens.

Here he is 6 weeks old. I think he weighed about 5 lbs back then.

And here he is last Halloween, 13 months old.

The ironic thing is that I normally despise dressing myself up for Halloween, but since I’m teaching Zumba at a Halloween fundraiser party I’ll be all decked out this year. Dressing up one person is enough work, but two? I have no ideas and really no ambitions to dress Wesley up. Unless you have some good, easy suggestions for me. Any?


Such a Big Boy

Wes is obsessed with light switches. If you’re carrying him through the house and you pass a light switch, be prepared for him to reach out, hook his hands onto the door frame, and pull with all his might until you stop and let him turn the switches on and off for a while. Sometimes I’ll put a chair under the switches so he can have at it while I do something else.

Wes is getting bigger and older. At his 2-year checkup last month he weighed in at about 21 pounds, which put in him in 0.96% for regular kids, and in the about 25% for DS kids. Smallish, in other words. I have to take him to get his blood drawn for another thyroid test (a common problem for people with DS) and next Friday I’ll take him to the cardiologist for an EKG and limited echocardiogram. Hoo-boy. So much fun.

About 50% of people with DS are born with heart problems. I took Wes to the cardiologist in Nov. 2007 when he was just 7 or 8 weeks old. We learned then that Wes has Small Secundum ASD. It means that one of the valves in his heart that should have closed up at birth didn’t. But the opening was a small one, and Dr. Mart said that often such openings will close by themselves in a couple of years. So that’s what I’m hoping we’ll find when I take him there next week. If not…surgery.

I finally forced myself to pack up all his clothes that were size 3-12 months and only leave stuff in his closet that’s size 12 months or bigger. He was still wearing pants and onesies that were size 3-6 months. But I thought to myself, This kid is TWO. He should not be wearing stuff meant for infants. So, even though his clothes are baggier, at least they’re more age appropriate. He looks more like a boy with proper big boy clothes on. He fits best into pants that are size 12 months and he can wear shirts that are 12 or 18 months.

Now that we have window well covers in our fenced-in backyard I’ll let Wes out there on nice days to play. He has a couple of balls that he likes to roll around and sometimes lose behind shrubbery. He also likes to pull the petals off my roses and yell at the cars that go by on the other side of the fence.

John and I have learned that Wes picks up on much more than we usually realize. This past week I was listening to The Phantom of the Opera CD at home, and when the first song ended I looked over and saw that Wes was standing still, with his arms folded. Like he was ready for prayer.

I had to think, why is he doing that? Then I remembered how in church we often sing first, and then pray (like at the start and end of our Sacrament meetings). Only two years old and already Wes knows about prayer.

Our church is three hours long, and during the last two hours Wes normally goes to a nursery class with the other 18-month to 3-year-old kids. Last week he had a runny nose so we took him to the adult classes with us. By the last half hour of church Wes had had enough, so I took him on a walk in the hallway. When we got near the door to the nursery Wes ran up to it and started tapping the door. I tried to pull him away so he wouldn’t disturb the class inside, but he looked up at me and urgently made his “more” sign. I was so surprised that he knew that his nursery class was on the other side of that door!

Oct '09

Some of My Favorite Things

Listening to General Conference while making something good to eat. Today it was chocolate sweet rolls, courtesy of the September issue of Better Homes and Gardens. The recipe can be found here. I changed it slightly since I had no coconut, but I added chocolate chips instead.

All my other Favorite Things today are Wes-related. No mention of John or Zumba anywhere, but you know I still love them.

This first video shows a few of my favorite things:

1. Wesley playing Flip the Burp Cloth. I don’t know why this entertains him so well, but it does. For a half hour, sometimes.

2. Wesley talking to himself. He’s getting more and more vocal. No real words, but sounds. Lately when I give him a bottle I say, “Do you want mmmmmmmilk? Say ‘mmmmmmmilk.'” And he really concentrates and tries to make the sound! Usually when I say, “Mmmmmmmilk” he says, “Ba!” But still, it’s a sound. And sometimes he makes the “mmm” sound.

3. Safety locks on the cabinets. I hit a breaking point last week and bought child proof locks for our kitchen cabinets. I. Love. Them.

The next video demonstrates something I’ve been working on with Wes a lot lately: feeding himself with a spoon. At home I put my hand over his to help him keep his grip. Teaching him to feed himself requires more time and patience from me, but he actually eats more because he’s “doing it himself” (even though I’m helping).

Today I was listening to Wes eat some crackers and I found myself enjoying hearing him eat. And I thought to myself, “That’s weird; why would I find listening to Wes eat crackers so enjoyable?” Then I realized it’s because I can HEAR him crunch his crackers. Which means that he has teeth! Wes didn’t get his first tooth until he was 19 months old, and his molars only started coming in only last month. We gave Wes crackers (the kind that dissolves easily) long before he had teeth. So I was used to him gumming his food, which is silent. Now that he has teeth he can crunch! If you’ve seen the 2008 BBC film version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, doesn’t Wesley’s crunching sound remind you of Henry (the spoiled red-headed boy) who’s eating cheese puffs near the start of the movie?