Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Secret Keeper

Throughout my life I've seen how "typical" siblings interact with each other. It's only been recently (college and beyond) that some siblings have become friends. Whether it's because they're older and more mature or what, I don't know. I have always been friends with my brother. 

I never understood the whole "not getting along" thing. Don't get me wrong, John was a complete pain in the rear when he was younger. He was a little brother, MY little brother and he certainly knew how to push my buttons. He still does. And he knows this. 

But we always got along. We didn't slam our doors in the other's face and stay mad at each other for days. 

Also, I had an amazing secret keeper. I could tell him ANYTHING and I never had to worry about him repeating him anything to anyone. Mostly, he may not have cared. Or understood. But sometimes...a lot of the time, it was just nice to be able to talk to someone and know they weren't judging you, weren't trying to think of a solution or wondering when you were going to shut up so that they could talk. I could just talk to him, tell him my problems, who I was mad at, the gossip around school, who my crush was and I knew all that would stay safe. 

He's still a pretty good secret keeper. And an awesome friend. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Passage of Time

A recent picture of a friend's youngest got me thinking about how quickly things go by. This little fella is 18 months yet I SWEAR he was just born this year.

I have been married for a year and yet I can still remember that day clearly.

My ten year high school reunion will be next year...this is a little more believable, but still TEN YEARS?? That means I'm almost thirty. We won't get into that right now, though.

My brother is 23 years old. TWENTY THREE.

I remember when he was just starting high school and was still pretty much a kid. Now he has a girlfriend, goes to college, does all these sports.

Ridiculous. I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden all this stuff happened.

When I was little I still remember what it felt like waiting on Christmas and birthdays. Weeks went by so slowly. Now, I can leave for work on a Monday and come back just a few hours later and it's already Thursday.

Time should not speed up right when you start learning to appreciate it.


I am really not doing well with this whole blogging every day thing. It didn't help that we weren't at home for most of yesterday.

Yesterday was our one year anniversary. It was nice and chill. We didn't do a whole lot. We slept in until almost ten. For those who know me, this is not a surprise. For those who know Trey, this is a once every other year occurrence. In fact, I woke up BEFORE him!!

We went to eat breakfast at this cute diner that's near our house; Trey ate his weight in eggs, home fries and pancakes and I had pumpkin pancakes that were deeeelicious!

We then drove up to Charlottesville since we were planning on going to Carter Mountain--it rained and rained and was cloudy and miserable so we altered plans and went to King Family Winery where we were treated to a bottle of wine from the Leaches (thanks, guys!) and then went to hang out with our little nieces until it was time to go home. SO. ADORABLE.

I completely forgot about eating our wedding cake until Trey reminded me this morning. It's been in the freezer for a whole year (YUM!) so I took it out of the freezer to let it defrost. I don't know how long it takes cake to defrost but I'm thinking we probably won't be able to eat it until tomorrow.

I'm sure it will be delicious.

Friday, October 11, 2013

One year (almost)

One year ago we were at the rehearsal dinner. My family was there and Trey's family was there and I think they get along pretty well.

John was a groomsman, of course. He look so, so handsome in his black suit. But I get ahead of myself.

On rehearsal dinner night John wanted to sit with me, Trey, and my maid of honor, a long-time friend. John enjoys food and eating out so this was probably a great night for him. He had a blue jacket and khakis and he looked so cute I just wanted to squeeze him and pinch his little cheeks. But he's a man now, 23 years old, and you can't really do that anymore. *sigh*

I had been talking to him leading up to the wedding. I told him it was a very important day and that there were going to be a lot of people paying attention to me, Trey and probably him since my extended wouldn't have seen him in a while. I also told him that during the ceremony he needed to be quiet. No whispering to me at the top of the stairs, no Garys. He understood.

He walked my grandmother and mother down the aisle like a gentleman. He processed down the aisle in line with the other groomsmen like a pro. And he was very attentive and watched the whole ceremony better than anyone.

I was worried he wouldn't understand what was happening. I wasn't worried that he would think I was leaving him; I know he knows better than that. In fact, he knew he was getting a brother so he was actually quite pleased with the whole deal. I was worried that he wouldn't understand how BIG of thing this was. But he did. He does. He knows that getting married is a big deal.

It was a great night. Both of them were, the rehearsal and the wedding. I couldn't have had a better, more wonderful sibling to have take part in it and share it with.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Yikes! I think I skipped a day...maybe?

I hope you'll forgive me...we just moved into a new house and are trying to get everything in order. It's busy and there's a lot to do, especially since this Wednesday we leave for San Francisco!!!

My brother goes to camp. A lot of them. Several sleep-away camps, in fact. He loves them. And he always does really cool things.

Unfortunately he takes after his sister in that he often leaves things behind. I myself have left socks and other bits of clothing behind. I think one time John came home with two pairs of shorts and nine socks. And that was it. It was something like that.


He just recently got back from a camp called Camp Blue Skies. It's somewhere in the mountains of NC. It's a week-long overnight camp for adults who have cognitive and intellectual disabilities. There are a lot of outdoor activities, boating, fishing, swimming, and other various sports.

This afternoon while on the phone with him, John told me he went down the zip-line at camp. The ZIP-LINE??? I asked him. He said "Yeah! It was fun!" He told me he also went on the big swing, which I'm not sure what that was and he didn't explain further.

I asked him if any of that was scary. "No, not too scary."

I've got pictures of John climbing up those climbing walls. He's really good at that actually.  He's told me about some other activities at other camps (challenger course, rope something or others) that he's done that I would probably hesitate before jumping in with both feet like he does.

He may love playing on the iPad and watching movies, but put a physical challenge in front of him and he'll probably take you up on it.  And it's not because he wants to impress a girl (though he is a ladies' man) or that he think it will make him look cool, it's because he wants to do it. For him. And that's the coolest thing of all.

For more information on Camp Blue Skies and to donate or volunteer visit this website: 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Just a quick one for today since it's late and I am exhausted.

John hates getting his hair wet. Unless he's in the shower or in the pool. If it's raining, even if he only has to go a foot or so to get to the car or house, he will be stubborn and make you get him an umbrella.

Trey was telling me a story yesterday of one time when he took John to some museum and it started raining. Of course they had no umbrella so when it was time to leave John let Trey know he was not going out in the rain. So, Trey offered a piggy back ride and out into the rain they went. The whole time John was yelling that his hair was wet.

Funny guy.

Brotherly Love

I asked Trey just a few minutes ago if he remember any conversation I had with him about my brother, right when we started dating.

He said he didn't remember any specific conversation about that, just that he would be meeting him along with the rest of my family for the first time. It wasn't a big deal to him that my brother had Ds.

He does remember going to eat lunch with my family and my brother telling him to "stop screwing around." He told me that looking back on that day, John seemed really calm.

We started sharing silly and funny John stories, some of them Trey will share in a later post this month.

They have a good great relationship. Even before we were married and John and Trey were brothers-in-law John would call Trey his brother. He still does it now and my parents and I have tried to get him to add the "in-law" part, but it's no use. In his mind, Trey is his brother.

They wrestle, they argue, they hang out together.

I don't remember ever worrying about ending up with the right guy. I do remember worrying that I would have to meet some awful guys to get to the right one, but luckily the first one was a keeper :)

I love watching them interact with each other; most of the time it's hilarious, but the rest is sweet and melts my heart.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Gary is a red straw. The best Garys come from Sonic or Burger King.

I don't understand my brother's love of red straws and naming them Gary, but I don't need to.

So what if he has made a non-human, inanimate object a huge part of his life? It's not like he's carrying around a 9mm or a machete. It's a straw.

And yet, I am somehow annoyed by this.

I need to learn to be more tolerant. I need to work on being more accepting. I need to work on not needing to understanding the reasons behind my brother's wants, actions, connections.

He wants to carry around a red straw named Gary? Fine. Great, he should!

I mean, I still sleep with my husband's old tshirts so who am I to talk?

Saturday, October 5, 2013


These are those points in development when you are "supposed" to achieve something, whether it is walking, talking, feeding yourself, being potty trained, cleaning up after yourself. Some of us never achieve the latter.

These are things that parents, doctors, specialists focus on when they are talking to a family with a child with Down syndrome, in that they usually say something to the effect of "don't expect your child to reach these milestones on time." On time. What does that even mean? As a "typical" child I refused to learn how to read; I loved having my parents read to me and so didn't see the point in making myself do that. Now I can't stop.

It took my brother about a year long to begin walking and now he plays football, tennis, soccer and volleyball. He will go outside and play basketball in the driveway by himself. Sometimes it's hard to get him to come inside.

I can't remember at what age he started talking, but for the longest time I was the only one who could understand him. He used sign language for a little while, which is a fairly common practice with any family with a child with any disability. He still uses signs sometimes. But, most of the time, he does not.stop.talking. You get him in the car and it is just constant chatter.

So, my point is, yes, there are goals to work towards. But no one should ever be discouraged from meeting any of those goals, "typically" developing or not. Doctors should never tell a family "Don't expect to understand her verbally" "Don't expect him to be able to live by himself." That is discouraging. That is why parents worry their hair out about their child not walking when their other child started or not being able to tie their shoes at age 10. It might be difficult, you will probably need some help, but everyone EVERYONE is different.  Things happen when they happen and if they don't, they don't.

"Gond, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference."

Friday, October 4, 2013


Responsibility is a big word, with a simple meaning: being accountable for YOU, YOUR STUFF, anything you OWN, and ANYONE (or anything) that you caused into being.

This means: you don't want to pay for the upkeep of a house? DON'T BUY ONE.

You don't want to make sure your child has a safe home, food, appropriate clothing? DON'T HAVE ONE.

I am so sick and so tired of reading all these stories about these mothers who don't feed their children, let them live in infested, dirty, absolutely disgusting places, and then have the nerve to whine and plead to the court and judge not to sentence them to a lot less than they deserve.


On a different, happier note, we are spending the second night in our new house. The movers come tomorrow with the rest of our furniture and then I can finally start getting things into their places. We have internet (yesssss) and TV. We have a dishwasher, dryer and washer. Though, when I went to do laundry this morning I actually looked at the dryer. This thing looks almost identical to the one my parents had when I was little. And I mean *little.* I used to "help" my mom with laundry by pushing the clothes into the dryer after she laid them on top of the lid. 

I got to sit on the porch swing again tonight. It was GREAT. I can't wait until we get to decorate for Halloween; I'm going to put our big pumpkin on the swing!


So I know I said I would blog everyday for 31 for 21 but I had a good reason to not blog yesterday: no internet!! That's right everyone, we moved into our new house yesterday and (through no fault of my own) Verizon could not come out until today to install the services.  So, today, I will be blogging twice to make up for it.

This house is pretty awesome (especially compared to the one we just left). I think the first floor is bigger than our WHOLE old house. And guess what? We have a PORCH SWING. Harley and I sat on the porch last night waiting for Trey to come home from school. It was nice, except for the mosquitoes which we will be spraying for this weekend.

And that's really all the news, for right now.  Oh, except that we couldn't get our box springs up the stairs. Let's hope the movers can maneuver it up there. *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

31 for 21 Blog Challenge

As I mentioned yesterday, October is Down syndrome awareness month. The 31 for 21 challenge is blogging in support of Down syndrome awareness. Everyday in the month of October (31) anyone can blog in support of Ds (21). You don't have to write about Ds every day and you don't have to be a family member of someone with Ds. The idea is to just dedicate your October blogging to Ds awareness.

Today, I'm ashamed to admit, I didn't really think about much at all. All I really thought about was how bad my muscles were burning and how exhausted I was in response to moving crap belongings to the new house. By myself.

I'm at the (old) house and looking at the pictures that we've put on the wall and am realizing (again) that my brother is incredibly photogenic. There is no pose or face that he has made that does not look cute, handsome, and perfect. I, on the other hand, can make some awkward and unusual faces in photos. Especially candid ones. It's unfortunate since I do enjoy taking pictures.

Oh well. At least I have a good subject who is willing to have pictures made of himself :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Sister's Point of View

Today is October 1st, which means Down syndrome Awareness month is upon us. For many people, that's not even on the top ten of what October means to them (Halloween, breast cancer, fall, etc). For many people, Down syndrome Awareness month is something to shrug at.

Not for me.

My very first memory is when my parents went to the hospital to have my brother. I can't tell you the specifics of that day, when my parents left, if they were nervous or excited or if they even had a feeling that their lives were going to be incredibly different when they left that hospital.

I don't remember if they ever had "the talk" with me, about how it would take John longer to do things, that he might need more help with walking, talking, feeding himself. I really don't know.

All I know is that on March 23, 1990 a wonderful person came into my life. This person, just by being himself, by being my little brother, changed my life in such a wonderful way, made me a stronger person, showed me how to love, unconditionally. I don't know what or who I might've been without him, but I know, I KNOW that my life is so much more than it ever would have been. Just by being his big sister.

I'm sure that there are parents, right now, who have just been told that their baby has Down syndrome. They may have other children and may worry that their baby with Ds may take away time from their "normal" children. They may worry that their "normal" children may lose friends, may have a harder life than if their baby didn't have Ds.  I would like to tell those parents, those siblings that it IS a different life. Not unfullfilling, or horrible, or inadequate. Just different.