Friday, December 31, 2010

Appreciating 2010 and Welcoming 2011

Happy New Year!

I do not make resolutions, but rather I try to do something better.  I have not decided what that is yet.  However, I also like to spend time reflecting over the past year.  Yes, I know that most people do that over Thanksgiving, but that lull between Christmas and New Year’s is a great time to rejoice over all of the great aspects of our lives.

  1. Drew
    1. My soulmate and love of my life
    2. For always helping even if it involves baby doo-doo
    3. For cooking
    4. For looking really hot and sexy
  2. Ellie Bear
    1. For being the daughter I always wanted
    2. For making everyone smile and brightening the world
    3. For showing such determination in facing challenges
    4. For your incessant babbling
  3. My Parents
    1. Who passed on good morals and values that I would like to instill in my family
    2. For always being there in a time of need or just to chat
  4. My brother
    1. For talking my ear off.  Finally someone who talks more than me!
    2. In seeing the way my little Ellie lights up when she sees him
    3. For visiting us even though it is a horrible flight/flights
    4. For his perseverance
  5. My awesome in-laws who accept me as one of their own and call just to talk
  6. My extended family who embraces me, Andrew, and my beautiful little girl
  7. And Friends (you know who you are)--I know that it sounds cliche but it is true
  8. Ellie turned 1yo and was able to eat a cupcake.  Oh and was able to self-feed said cupcake
  9. Sophie turned 1yo and no longer pees in the house and for her sneak-attack “kisses”
  10. Amelie turned 2yo and her autoimmune gingival stomatitis is under control
    1. That she is now mostly toothless but can still eat solid, crunchy foods
    2. That she meows with us as though she is having a conversation
  11. Tama turned 6 or 7 and didn’t kill me with her razor claws

  1. Andrew and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary in Fredericksburg, TX.  Alone.  Sans kiddo.  It was amazing.
  2. Andrew is kicking hiney at work and has received many awards--I am so proud of you!
  3. My random jaw tumor was benign
    1. The surgical aspect, not so much fun
    2. I am now afraid of the dentist
  4. Super Ellie Bear Developmental Progress
    1. Rolling over
    2. Sitting Up
    3. Sitting up in high chair & shopping cart--and now able to escape these contraptions
    4. Scooching / army crawl
    5. Holding a cup and spoon
    6. Drinking from a straw
    7. Crawling
    8. Standing
    9. Cruising
    10. Two teeth
    11. Signing some words

  1. Ellie survived her first surgery without complications
  2. Epipens-without these, I would live in fear of Ellie dying from oats.  Well, I still live in fear, but the Epipen helps
  3. Ellie’s hole in her heart closed and she can now go deep sea scuba diving
  4. Mom’s pacemaker replacement went well
  5. For the love and support that everyone showed with this past October’s Buddy Walk
    1. Go Ellie Bears!
    2. Everyone has made a difference!!!
  6. Seeing “Wicked” in NYC with my best friend
  7. Seeing “Phantom of the Opera” with my Awa,
  8. My Mother’s Clubs for their support
  9. My sewing group for their support and craftiness

  1. The Andrew gang although now I am claiming you as my own gang!
    1. Girls Night Out Adventures that keep me sane and laughing
    2. Adult conversations
    3. Pole Dancing class
    4. Deep-fried Turkey
  2. Tutus and Tights!--on Ellie, not me
  3. The ability to stay home with my child and care for her
  4. Celebrating my 1st Mother’s Day
  5. Baby Noah--I am a great Aunt!
  6. The exciting news that a dear friend of mine will have a baby this upcoming Spring
  7. Being able to spend Christmas with so many family members this year.
  8. For the rest that is in my heart. . . and for all of the other experiences that I left out.
Celebrate in Style!

Happy New Year.  May 2011 be even better.
For the people who have left this Earth, who have been called Home and will not be forgotten:

Cousin Margaret
Aunt Amilda

I apologize for the weird numbering.  It kept wanting to start over at #1 after each picture.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aunt Peg Meets The Ellie Bear

I do not often write about family members outside of Andrew, Ellie, and the furbabies, however, I would like to make an exception to talk about the wonders of my Aunt Peg--the aunt I have been closest to on my father's side back when I was growing up.

Aunt Peggy is an exceptional woman who was born during the 1950s.  At a time when children with Down syndrome were sent to homes, my grandparents loved (I says loved because they are deceased) Peggy and raised her the same as my father, his brother, and his two other sisters.  I do not think I fully grasped how unusual and amazing that was until I read The Memory Keeper's Daughter a few years ago what that truly meant.

Peggy was not even diagnosed until she was 3 months-old. She had trouble crawling like most children with DS due to the low muscle tone. Determined to get around, she scooted around on her bottom and then eventually walked. She graduated high school at 21 years-old.  She has a boyfriend.  In fact, she has had many. She went on vacations with the whole family growing up.  She was included in all adventures.  Because of how my grandparents and siblings treated her, Aunt Peg grew into a wonderful woman full of love and resourcefulness.  Aunt Peggy is difficult to understand due to a lack of speech therapy that is so often provided to really young children these days.  Times were different back then.   However, she recognizes this and does not let it set her back.  Cannot understand what she says?  So what?  She will rephrase it a different way and use hand gestures.  She will get her point across.

Since both grandma and grandpa have passed on, she has moved into the Rainbow Village--a campus-like home for adults with intellectual disabilities.  She has her own room and has a job.  She uses their transportation system to get around town.  She is on a bowling league and enjoys swimming. She is relatively independent with some supervision.

My father likes to tease his youngest sister like all brothers do.  He will say  "Oh Peg, I am getting so old."  Aunt Peg replies "Me know" with a grin while patting the top of her head--insinuating that my dad is bald and therefore old.  Her sense of humor can lighten any mood.

When Ellie Bellie was born and diagnosed with DS, I was scared.  Of course any parent would be.  However, I had the advantage of knowing that although life would be somewhat different from what Andrew and I originally anticipated, it wouldn't be that different.  Peggy has a full life.  She brought love, acceptance, and patience to those around her.  I learned from her and my father's family that a diagnosis of DS is NOT devastation.  A challenge to be sure, but also a blessing.

Growing up, I did not know something was "different" or "special" about my father's youngest sister.  She was always just Aunt Peggy who was difficult to understand, but very talkative and close to grandma.  I often thought that Peggy surely was Grandma's favorite child.

As the years past, I entered the teenage years where, yes, clearly Aunt Peggy had DS, but who cared because I had more important things to worry about such as acne, boys, and grades.

The thing is, I often worry about Ellie and being teased and not being accepted.  Should I be?  Young children see other people as just that, people.  They see Ellie as someone to talk to and play with.  She is "a baby".  Kids at restaurants and playgroups talk to Ellie and try to play with her. (Unfortunately, it is sometimes the parents that react in a not so kind manner discouraging their children from talking to her--another post all together). As teens, we recognize the difference between people, but typically do not care due to the self-centeredness of adolescence--well at least that is my hope.

Both Peggy and Ellie have trisomy 21.  This is a genetic, but not a hereditary disorder.  That means it is a result of changes in the genes--in their cases an extra 21st chromosome (hey, the more the better, right?).  It is not hereditary in that Andrew and I had no greater likelihood of having a child with DS than the general population.

Aunt Peggy, I love and you are an inspiration.  Happy 52nd Birthday Peggy!

Peggy & Ellie together for the first time.  

Look at how enthralled Ellie is with Peggy!
To see a picture of Peg with most of the Bruns'--see the ARC of St. Louis Newsletter page 7

For those of you afraid of the Alzheimers Dz:  Yes, there is an increase risk for Alzheimers due to the extra 21st chromosome.  Aunt Peg is just now starting to show some signs of the disease, but she is on medications that work very well.


Christmas Celebrations Part 3: Boxing Day

My father collects Santas.  Mom gives him one every year.  He has 27, I believe.

The day after Christmas, aka Boxing Day, is traditionally spent with my mother's only brother Robert and his wife Susie.
Two of my favorite girls.

Awa & Uncle Robert.  I think that Matty looks a lot like him.
Robert happens to be 20 years older than my mom and remained a bachelor until the age of 65.  Overnight, Uncle Robert went from being practically an only child to a husband of a wonderful, vibrant women with 9 grown kids, multiple grandkids, and a few great-grandkids.  He now goes by Bob.  He now owns jeans.  He looks and is smashing.

Robert, the Great Storyteller

Uncle Robert has a long history of showing up late to everything.  One time we told him Thanksgiving dinner would be served at 10:30am in hopes of having him arrive between 12noon and 1:00pm.  Then punctuality became a more normal occurrence with Aunt Sue in the picture.

It saddens me to say that Aunt Sue was not feeling well so she did not join in our Christmas celebration.  She is doing better, but please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Doesn't he look ever so fashionable?
Many of the gifts for the Bolte clan were selected with Aunt Sue in mind.  .  . that would be the gifts that I made.  The bag with fabric that just screamed "Susie!" and the table runner with their kitchen colors in it.  Robert was a good sport about it all.

Ellie Bear went all toddler happy over the large gift bag filled with tons of tissue paper.  She was like "oh I know how to open this!".

She is calling all of her friends on the toy phone.

She loves her toys, but as with any child, the gift wrap is just as much fun.

Sparkler & Smokey Joe aka fraidy cats
After 30 years of a pet-less marriage, two years ago my father surprised my mother with the adoption of a Main Coon Cat--Sparkler.  My mother grew up with Tom, her Main Coon and she had wanted another kitty since then.  A year after Sparkler, my father decided he needed a friend--Smokey.  They were petrified of Ellie.  She is scary.

My handsome brother, Matt
From the previous posts, you now know that my brother had difficulties making it to St. Louis, MO from Madison, WI.  With Matt, nothing is ever straightforward or ever easy.  As I type this (12/29), he should be half way home.  Matt woke up early this morning for his 7 hour journey home.  However, his car would not start.  Jumper cables and several attempts to start the car were made and finally Matt found his way to the car dealership where the situation could not be reproduced.  It was not the battery or some other auto-stuff.  They did figure out that his car was on the recall list for certain things (sorry I do not not have more details).  After spending most of the day at the shop, he finally got his car back and headed off into the sunset.  Pray that his car carries him safely home in a timely manner.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Celebrations Part 2: A Missouri White Christmas

My brother Matt, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, had to work the first half of the day before he started on his 7 hour drive down to St. Louis. 
Christmas Eve we flew out of DAL  to STL where Ellie screamed for 2/3 of the flight.  It was naptime and she discovered that she cannot flip over onto her tummy while in her carseat or in our arms.  

The Proud Grandparents at Aunt Kris' House
Matt calls my mother and is running behind.  He took a wrong exit and had to backtrack in the falling snow.  He says he will be really late to the Bruns gathering that night.

That night, we were reunited with the Bruns (aka my Father’s side) family where we met the newest addition to the family--baby Fat-Cheeks-Sweetie-Pie William, my cousin Andy's and his wife Anne’s (who happens to be a high school friend of mine) son.  

Christopher holding his nephew William
Matt calls at 10pm.  He got caught in some weather would be spending the night in a hotel 3.5 hours away from STL.  In all of that time, he only had only made half the trip.

Christmas Day was the Bruns-Theurer celebration.  The prodigal son arrived safe and sound and we had a nice relaxing day.  My parents made brisket.  Yes, I realize that we were not in Texas, but St. Louis is also known for their BBQ.  Yum.

Yep, that is my Dad in an apron.  A frilly one.
Ellie just loves her Uncle Matt

Ellie is an expert at present opening.
I forgot to mention the best part--SNOW!  Ellie got to experience snow.  She found it tasty and cold.  She continued to dunk her mittenless hand into the snow and eat it.  Then she suddenly realized just how cold it was. . . 

My Dad picked out this Precious ornament.  Get it!  A red-haired nurse like me holding a little Ellie girl!

Camera: I thought I was being all pro-photographer-like and capturing great shots at the Bruns Christmas Eve Bash.  Not. Even. Close. I did not have the camera set to allow for dim lighting and colored-light Christmas tree.  


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Celebrations Part 1: Texas Style

Next year, I do not care where it goes, we are putting up the big tree.

We hope that everyone had a nice, relaxing, wonderful Holiday filled with peace, light, and chocolate.  We recently returned from celebrating Christmas on five separate occasions. All celebrations were filled with heartwarming tradition, the usual hustle and bustle, and unconditional love.

Using our new SLR camera, we weeded our photos down to 297.  With loads of laundry awaiting, suitcases that need unpacking, and an empty pantry awaiting me, I am instead blogging and slowly, but surely editing the photos.  Clearly, I will not be uploading all of these onto the blog (I will spare you that!), but we would like to give you a taste of our festive holiday. . . in a 3 part series.

Part 1: Texas Christmas

Sophie loves her new bone. 

Andrew, Ellie, the furbabies, and I celebrated our immediate family Christmas a few days early.  All around the Charlie Brown-like tree.  Christmas music in the background.  Camera flashing.  

Ellie Prints!
Both cats are hiding in the tree.

Ellie loved the toys she received so much that we couldn’t even get them out of their packaging fast enough.  Andrew really enjoyed receiving his “BaCoN” (barium, cobalt, nitrogen) biochem shirt as well as his “Linux Cheat Sheet” T-Shirt.  That red box that was just taunting me?--a gorgeous wooden jewelry box from Pottery Barn.  Andrew, would you like to give me diamonds to fill the box?

Mama Dunja & Papa Charles' House
A real fire in the fireplace!

Preparing for a Christmas Feast

The day before Christmas, we made our trek to Plano, Texas to visit with Awa Dunja and Papa Charles.  Andrew’s two brothers, their wives, and their children all attended this amazing feast.  I can honestly say that Andrew, Ellie, I were definitely not starved this Holiday season.  Dunja made a ham, seasoned potatoes, green beans, rolls, salad, and various desserts.  Did I mention how much I love dessert?

I just love Holiday china.

It was such a treat to catch up with Andrew’s family and for Ellie to socialize with her cousins Haleigh, Megan, and Zander.

These guys do not look related :-)
Mark, Tom, Andrew

Megan and Haleigh

Ellie Bear during the gift exchange.  It was WAY past her bedtime

There is also nothing like seeing Christmas through a child's eyes.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Andrew here. I apparently I do not have the "correct" version of Blogger according to Anna.

Meanwhile, we would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from St. Louis, Missouri!

Ellie's first taste of snow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Season's Greetings!

I discovered this in Andrew's study today and it has been taunting me ever since.

Whatever it is, it is heavy and he didn't wrap it himself. . . 

Remember that the best things in life cannot be gift-wrapped.

Snuggle Angel Bear

A Mother's Love For Her Daughter

Sophie Princess of the Puppy Paw-Paws

I did not get clawed during this "decorate the kitty" attempt.  A miracle for sure!

Amelie!  Tsk. Tsk. The bows are not for eating.

Amelie has a great ambition to be a "calendar cat".

The Love of My Life, My Helpmate

Andrew, Ellie-Bear, Sophie, Tama, Amelie, and I would like to say:

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Season's Greetings!


A mask for kids with Down syndrome

Do you hear crickets?  Yes, we are here!  We are alive!  We are safe and healthy!  We haven't been inside a restaurant or store since m...