Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review - Life with a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome

I received a free copy of this book for review. I was not obligated to post a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

 Life with a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome
by Kathryn U. Hulings

Life with a Superhero tells the story of the Hulings family and their adoption of a baby boy with Down Syndrome (Michael). The circumstances which brought them all together are quite compelling and I think that they really were destined to become a family.

From the beginning, Kathryn Hulings stands out as a fierce and loving mother. She was staunchly committed to all her children but when it came to Michael, she always fought to make sure he was afforded every opportunity and lesson that any other kid might have. Even when it wasn't always the easiest road to get there, she was still up to the challenge. While some of her methods were a little unconventional and might have raised the eyebrows of others, everything she did was out of love and protection of Michael. For example, Michael had a habit of taking off and running away sometimes. Of course, this could be a very dangerous situation. Once when they were on a family camping trip in Wisconsin, Kathryn was worried about Michael slipping away and running off into the woods. He happened to be afraid of monkeys so Kathryn told him that if he took off and left the cabin, the monkeys would get him! I'm pretty sure there are no monkeys in the wilds of Wisconsin but Kathryn knew she had to find a way to keep Michael safe. I think she figured that her intentions were good so she would be forgiven for a few little white lies.

The Hulings family had a lot of unique methods for helping Michael thrive and learn about life. I was touched at how everyone, especially the other siblings, were always so committed to teaching and including Michael and showing him so much unconditional love.

Life with a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome is about a real, ordinary family who did an extraordinary job of raising Michael.  Funny, heartwarming, and, at times, heartbreaking, this book shows what it's like for someone growing up with Down Syndrome. I enjoyed getting to know this special family and learning about not only the hardships, but also the joys of raising a special needs child. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

That Time When I Was Really, Really Stressed...

You may have noticed I've been neglecting the ol' blog lately (or maybe you haven't noticed). Anyway, I think I'm in a permanent state of writer's block as well as dealing with all kinds of stress in my life. Here's fair warning, I'm getting ready to tell you about a few of the things I've been dealing with and it's pretty much going to be some ranting and whining and complaining. So, if you're not up for that, I totally understand. I won't hold it against you if you leave now and come back another day. Just please do come back again:o)

At the top of my "Stress" list is the fact that my daughter will be graduating from high school in a few days. I am so excited for her and beyond proud of her accomplishments. She is an excellent student and just a very good girl. Her academic success earned her a full 4-year tuition scholarship to college. YAY! Yes, I am a little stressed about the fact that she will be going to college TWO HOURS away from home, but, I'm dealing with that. It's kinda our thing to watch Jeopardy together every evening. I told her when she goes away to college she still has to call me every night at 7:30 so we can enjoy Jeopardy together. She didn't go for that idea though so I guess I'm on my own now in the tv game show department. Seriously, it's hopefully going to be a wonderful experience for her and a chance for her to gain some independence and learn to be on her own.

But back to the stress! What is causing me major stress about this situation? Well...the fact that we are having a graduation party at our home for her the week after she graduates. There are about 50 people on the guest list. We had a fun day planned - cookout, swimming in the pool, corn hole, etc. One problem...our pool collapsed!

For reasons unknown to us, one end of the pool failed. It appears to have rusted and just be a failure of that part of the pool wall. We bought the pool in 2012 so it is still under warranty. All of the replacement pieces are being provided to us through the warranty except for the liner. We do have to pay for freight and handling charges for delivery of the parts so we're still looking at about $800-900 to get it fixed and that's with my husband doing all the labor. It takes about three weeks to even get the pieces once we order them so it's not looking good for getting this fixed in time for the graduation party. I am totally stressed that my daughter's 50 party guests will have to look at this mess in our backyard.

Without giving you too much information, my next stressor involves me and my health. For months, I've been having some major stomach and bathroom issues and finally gave in and went to the doctor. I''m now being treated for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (what an embarrassing name! seriously, couldn't they come up with something else to call it?) Anyway, it can be pretty intense and there have been stretches of days that I haven't wanted to leave my house because of stomach cramps and my fear of needing to find a bathroom ASAP. The medication they prescribed is helping and I have tried to really cut back on dairy products which has helped. But, you just never know. My big worry about this is my upcoming trip to Ireland. After a 7.5 hour flight, I'm going to be on a tour bus with 60 other people, traveling the country roads of Ireland. I cannot be having bathroom issues! It wouldn't be pleasant, people!

Next up on my ranting list is something that happened at my youngest son's school. He is in middle school, about to finish up the 7th grade. The other day he told me that they were doing a fun activity that they do every year near the end of on which classmates were "Most Funny"- "Most Likely to Succeed" - "Most Cute" etc etc. This is something that has been done since I was in school and I see nothing wrong with it. There were not enough categories so that every single student would be picked. In fact, many students were not picked. One of his classmates who did not get picked for anything had an upset mom. She called the school and complained. Now the whole thing is scratched and they can no longer do it. Are you kidding me? This really infuriates me! It is just like the "everyone gets a trophy" concept. We are raising a generation of wimps and entitled brats who do not know how to deal with disappointment.  I was NEVER voted for any of these type of things, I was NEVER homecoming queen, I NEVER received a trophy and I turned out just fine. No permanent scars.


If you are still reading, thanks for sticking with me. I don't want this post to be a total downer so I'll end on a funny story.

Two of my kids are in high school - Shelby a senior, Connor a sophomore. Yesterday, there was a massive food fight in the cafeteria that had apparently been planned as a sort of end-of-school-year prank. I'm not condoning this at all but have to admit it made me laugh (I mean really...a food fight? They could've done something a lot worse than a food fight). There are different lunch periods and it just so happened to go down during my son's lunch break. The signal was when one of the kids ran over and turned off the cafeteria lights - that's when it all began. My son was not a part of all this but he was present. He said as soon as the lights went out, he immediately ran out of the cafeteria into the hallway. I was thinking, "Good job, son! I'm proud that you had the sense to remove yourself from that situation to avoid getting in trouble." His reply..."No mom. I wasn't worried about getting in trouble. I just didn't want to get my new Nike Roshe shoes dirty during the food fight."


You see, Connor has his first job (umpiring at the little league baseball park). These Nike Roshe shoes are his first big purchase with his earned money. They were $75 bucks and he was going to make sure and protect his investment. I really thought that was funny.

The school administration did not appreciate the hi-jinks and humor of the food fight. They went straight to def-com 1 and put the school on soft lock down and anyone in the cafeteria was not allowed to leave. The police came. (I understand there have to be consequences but seriously, a police presence?!) The kids cleaned up the mess and were read the riot act. Those who were able to be identified as actual participants were taken to the office (I'm not sure what their fate was) but if any seniors were found to be involved, the principal vowed that they would not be allowed to walk the line during the graduation ceremony in a few days. Harsh! Once everything was cleaned up and the offenders carted off to the office, they ended the soft lock down and let the next lunch period begin.

Now, here's the really, really funny part.

Because of what had just happened, they beefed up security for the next lunch (which happened to be my daughter's lunch break). There were teachers and principals and the police all walking around monitoring the cafeteria.

Guess happened again! Another food fight. Boy, were they mad! (My daughter did NOT participate)

I know it's wrong and it's not funny. But, it is really funny.