everything is possible... the impossible just takes a little longer

slow and steady wins the race

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A sad day...

The last ant has died. 
We will be observing a moment of silence during the water burial scheduled for later today.  

Santa brought Andrew an ant farm for Christmas... the actual live ants arrived on Christmas eve just in time. They arrived in the mail in a small plastic vial marked CAUTION. They were slow moving from the cold, but they soon perked up. Squirmy little legs and beady little eyes...they really creeped me out but I was fascinated at the same time. Note to self... next time put in a special request to Santa to bring ant farm completely assembled with ants already in there. So we fed them and gave them water and they built some pretty amazing tunnels, a graveyard, a food storage area, planted a little garden an erected a  hill (no doubt an attempt to escape). We learned a lot about ants from their anatomy to the roles of ants in the colony.  In my opinion, they are still creepy bugs but the instruction booklet made a good effort to describe how social, friendly and clean they are in an attempt to make me some how sleep better at night knowing that they are "Good Citizens".  We also learned from our Ant Habitat Manual, that the ants in our habitat are all females worker ants. Of course the worker ants are female!...duh. The packaging promised that the habitat was "escape proof" and although I had reservations about their claims, the habitat has indeed proved to be an escape proof death trap. The vial should have been labled "Dead Ants Walking". I have my doubts about whether ant farms in general are humane and whether or not my actions, ultimately resulting in their demise, will have a negative impact on my presently good karma. ??? I felt really sad for the last one to go and considered a mercy flushing but I knew it was only a matter of time.  And besides, the packaging expressly stated NO NOT HANDLE LIVE ANTS...THEY BITE, so heeding these words of caution and of course having my own self preservation in mind, I just watched and waited. 

Patrick thinks it would be a good idea to repopulate the habitat with "wild" ants from the yard. What is he thinking??? Any ants that survived last years "home improvement" fumigation are bound to be either really pissed or psychotic....and he wants to bring those ants into our home...on purpose!!! Didn't he read the directions in the instruction manual... THEY BITE!!!  And they know what I did last summer!

another one bites the dust

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the boys

Sean is absolutely the best baby ever!!!  It is a good thing I had my tubes tied when I did because I could have been persuaded to try for boy #4... ha ha ha... not!  He is just a happy and content little man.  He seems to delight in everything and he smiles all the way down to his toes. Although a bit wobbly, Sean is sitting for short periods of time, he is rolling over and he is thrilled to have found his toes.  He giggles and babbles and squeals and thinks blowing raspberries is the most hilarious thing.  And just like his brothers he LOVES bath time.

Sean, 5 months

Andrew is my big helper and disaster alert dispatcher.  He has devised a system, not unlike the DEFCON readiness system used by the military, to alert me of any potential melt downs or other immediate crisis situation.  Having 3 boys all with very important needs, it is obvious that I cannot be in all places at all times and it is usually the place where I am not that requires the most attention.  Andrew makes sure that I don't miss a thing.  I frequently hear him screaming at the top of his lungs "MOM... Sean is at a LEVEL 20 and he is giving me the hungry stare".  This no doubt is heard anytime I am busy with something else or when Andrew is done holding him.  "MOOOOOOOM....RIGHT NOW"  usually follows.   "TURTLE" is code for Sam flipping over his feeding chair (the feeder seat sits on the floor and Sam is belted in at the waist so when he flips he looks like a turtle with a shell on his back) .  And my all time favorite "23-19" is code for visual confirmation of diaper contents outside of the diaper... immediate attention required!   

Sean is fascinated with all things Andrew.  Andrew has been really sweet about "sharing" or at least showing Sean his toys but he abides by 2 strict rules... most of the time. 
1. nothing goes into the baby's mouth 
2. no small parts shall be left out unattended.  

Sam loves Sean and he says Sean's name all the time...  Sha, Sha, Sha...  as he plants wet slobbery kisses on his head.  Sean tolerates a significant amount of "affection" from Sam and rarely gets upset with him even when he is a bit rough... it is as if he knows that Sam means well and just smiles at him even as the red welts appear on his forehead.  

Monday, January 28, 2008

80 years of cherished memories & family traditions

Lorraine Powell

This is my Grandma Powell on her 80th birthday (isn't she beautiful!!!)... January 10th 2008.... surrounded by flowers that family and friends sent to honor her on this special day.  The framed picture that she is holding is that of her Far Mor (Mother of her Father) in Sweden who is also surrounded in a room full of beautiful flowers that were sent to her on her 80th birthday.  What a beautiful family tradition.  What makes this even more special is that in the top right corner of the photo my Grandma is holding you can also see her parents wedding photo (my Great-Grandma and Grandpa Nystrom) and a picture of my Grandma when she was 6 months old.   

The below pictures are of treasures that can all be linked back to family members that can all be found in the photo that my Grandma Powell is holding... Far Mor (my great-great-grandmother), Grandma/pa Nystrom (my great-grandparents) and my Grandmother as well.

These spoons once belonged to my Grandma's Far Mor.  They were given to her by my Grandma's Father (my Great-Grandpa Nystrom) and they have since trickled their way down to me.  I had them framed several years ago and they now hand on my wall.

My Grandmother got this spoon on a trip to Umea, Sweden with her Grandparents when she was 5 years old.  The spoon is engraved with a Laplander (a native of Northern Sweden) and a reindeer.  

I can remember this table being at my Grandparent's house when I was a kid.  I don't remember the table so much as I remember those claw feet.  This table was the first piece of furniture my Grandma's parents (my Great -Grandma/pa Nystrom)  bought after they were married.  Over the years this table transformed from a dinner table to a coffee table.  A few years ago, when we moved into our current house, I became the lucky guardian of the claw foot table.

 I love those claw feet.


Sunday, January 27, 2008


what a ham!

So after my last post I thought it necessary to post a pic of Sam, alive and well, the morning after.  As expected he woke up happy and ready to start his day with a full laundry list of naughty deeds to accomplish.  
So many naughty things to do... so little time.

The other night's occurrence is pretty common around here... just another day in the life.  Sam's health is excellent but he still keeps us on our toes.   

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dr. Mom on duty

Sam had a great day.  He has been on antibiotics for nearly 3 weeks now (yes again) for a sinus infection.  I don't like having him on antibiotics so often but I don't like spending countless days in the pediatric ICU more.  Sam has shown us time and time again that he will be fine one minute and in life threatening respiratory distress the next with little to no warning.  So even the slightest symptom is cause for alarm until we rule out any major problems.  When Sam has a sinus infection he doesn't even act sick during the day but at night when he goes to sleep he stops breathing.  He does not gasp or wheeze or fight for air in any way (no that would be a clear indicator of a problem and Sam is not so easy to give us the answers) rather he just does not breath.  No it is not apnea...  as the doctor put it "he drowning in his own secretions" ... the goo slides down and stacks up in his throat and as a safe guard his airway closes off.  It is easily fixed... just wake him up! Like I said... Sam had a great DAY.  It is now 1:33 in the morning and I have just satisfied myself that I can now go to sleep and rest assured that Sam will continue to breath throughout the night.  I ran through my usual check list... does he need to be suctioned? Is he breath holding or just breathing really shallow? Does he need oxygen? Any signs of respiratory distress? After I dust off my honorary medical degree, (ha) I give him all his asthma meds and an extra neb. and then I watch.  I watch his chest rise and fall and sometimes give him a little nudge if he appears to be breath holding.  Is he just exhausted or too congested to breath? I suctioned him and watched some more.  His breathing finally slowed and became very calm and even. False alarm.  I determined that it is no where near worrisome enough to call the doctor or to pull out the pulse-ox  but I still needed to watch a bit longer to be sure.  Otherwise I will lie awake in bed for the rest of the night listening through the baby monitor for each breath.  I determined that he is just slightly congested, overly tired and dropping into a very deep sleep and breathing very shallow but his O2 sats are good... crisis averted.  As it is, I will probably get no sleep tonight anyway because I can hear Patrick snoring in the bedroom from where I am sitting at the computer and Sean is stirring looking for a midnight snack.  I am going to get a glass of milk, wind down a bit, check on Sam one last time and head off to bed.  I will be the only one who is tired tomorrow... the boys will wake at the crack of dawn ready for the day.  

And Sam, no doubt, will have another great day tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tip of the day

Having 2 children in diapers (a 5 month old and a 5 year old with special needs) can be enough to tax anyone's olfactory limits to the brink.  There are often times I feel it should be my duty as a good citizen to remove the cute welcome sign  I have on the front door and replace it with a bio-hazard warning. CAUTION... ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!  So what is a mom to do??? Poop happens... and around our house it happens a lot. 
That brings me to the tip of the day!
In my sometimes futile attempts to keep my house smelling fresh (or at least not like poop) I have devised an inexpensive, easy and effective way to freshen my house.  I stick bounce fabric softener sheets in my vents.  Brilliant... I know!  I stick the corner of one bounce sheet under the vent cover so that the sheet hangs freely down into the vent but is secure and does not fall down into the vent pipe (bounce sheet cannot be seen when vent cover is in place).  When the furnace kicks on the heat activates the bounce sheet and wafts a fresh scent throughout the house.  You can adjust the desired level of freshness by the number of vents you utilize.  I find that this works better when the heat is on verses the A/C but even then this is a great way to freshen your house year round.  Fabric softener sheets come in a variety of scents, they are cheaper than plug in air fresheners and last longer than sprays.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

While they were sleeping

On occasions when my boys are moving slower than the speed of light, preferably when they are sleeping, I will attempt to do some quick sketches of them.  Their slow rhythmic breathing...the sound of the pencil as it scratches the paper...a moment of quiet...these are a few of my favorite things.
        Andrew, 6 years
                      Sam, 5 years

                      Sean, 5 months

pencil drawings done on 4x6 Medievalis paper

Monday, January 21, 2008

Notes from the Deep End

As a member of the Deep End Club myself, I absolutely love this poignant analogy written by a mother of a son who has Down syndrome. 
Thank you Jen.

                            Sam, my deep end buddy 2006

Notes from the Deep End
I was thirty-seven years old when my husband and I decided it was time to have a baby. We had been married nine years, together for sixteen. We had put it off for all this time in order to focus on careers, travel, fun, ourselves. My job was pretty glamorous: vice-president of a big publishing company in New York City. My life was filled with interesting writers, fascinating trips, sparkling conversation, fine wine, speaking engagements. I saw having a baby as something to “check off a list.” Something to do. And besides, a baby would go so well with my new black suit. So I signed up for the Gwyneth Paltrow version of motherhood. The Kelly Ripa woman-on-the-go scenario. The version of motherhood that gets glamorized in People magazine. But in my heart of hearts, I was scared. Terrified. I didn’t want my life to change that much. Still, I had the anticipation of regret and I thought having a baby would be “good for me.” So picture this: parenthood, to me, was like a giant swimming pool. I saw other people in the pool and they looked okay. But I was hesitant to even stick a toe in. I didn’t want to get wet. Other parents said to me, “going into the pool can be really scary. But it’s all worth it.” I thought to myself, “if they can do it, so can I.” And, tentatively, I put my foot in the water. Suddenly someone grabbed me from behind and threw me in the deep end. In the deep end! How unfair! You don’t take the person most frightened of the water and throw them in the deep end! Throw another person in the deep end, someone who’s used to the pool! Someone who knows how to swim! “I’m going to die,” I thought. I railed against the unfairness of it all, the shock of the cold water. But instinct kicked in and clumsily I moved my arms and legs. And I did not drown. Gagging and coughing and choking and sputtering I had a question: “Who did this to me,” I wanted to know. “How did this happen?!” My head went under and panic set in. I moved my arms and legs more and I did not drown. Now I was treading water. I noticed there were other people in the deep end with me, and they were offering to help. But I didn’t want to be in their Deep End Club. And besides, I didn’t think I even belonged here, it was only a matter of time before someone told me it was all a mistake and I’d be pulled out of the pool to safety. “I should have left well enough alone. I should never have tried to go into the pool,” I thought. And as I continued to tread water I noticed something else: I did not drown. Soon I started to float. I felt pretty much alone but the panic had subsided and I knew I could survive although it wouldn’t be pleasant. And I did not drown. But then I noticed there was a little boy in the deep end with me, a little boy named Nicholas with eyes that crinkle up like half moons when he smiles. A little boy named Nicholas who loves Bruce Springsteen and Puccini’s “La Boheme” and 1940s Big Band Music. And Nicholas could swim. Looking at him, I began to realize that I might be able to do more than float someday. I might be able to swim. And I might even enjoy it. Perhaps I’d even love it. I realized that the deep end allows for underwater somersaults and in the deep end, it’s possible to dive. You can’t do that in the shallow end. And perhaps someday, with Nicholas at my side, we’d both wave to the parents at the shallow end of the pool and say, “you don’t know what you’re missing, here in the deep end.”

mother to Nicholas (3/31/05)

Caution...this may contain veggies!

So I have started sneaking veggies into Andrew's diet.  The only two veggies that he deems safe for consumption are pickles and ketchup (sad but true). Push has come to shove and it is has become painfully clear to me that no amount of me screaming, kicking, pleading, rewarding or force feeding will entice my child to allow any unsanctioned veggie to touch his plate or worse yet to actually pass his lips.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  

For Christmas I got the Deceptively Delicious cookbook (better known as the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook) and I have begun covert meal preparations.  I was skeptical at first but so far we have had some success and even some requests for seconds!  The other morning Andrew actually asked for "that new french toast" for breakfast (just between you and me it is made with pumpkin puree...but he thinks I just used "real" maple syrup). Needless to say, my blender was on fire and I could not puree fast enough.  I will say that I think many of the menu items incorporate extra un-necessary fat (for example in my opinion you don't need oil, non stick cooking spray and butter to make a grilled cheese sandwich) so I have made changes to some of the recipes but over all my sneakiness is paying off.  

I think one of the key factors is that for the most part, the prepared veggie infused foods look the same as the acceptable veggie-free foods that kids know and love.  Andrew was completely unaware that his beloved chicken nuggets contained sweet potato puree and I practically did a little happy dance with every bit he took.  So as far as Andrew knows ... if you can't see any veggies and you can't smell any veggies then there must not be any veggies.  A little slight of hand doesn't hurt either.  I was pleasantly surprised with the homemade ketchup, however I think it makes a better pizza sauce, (also considered an acceptable veggie) but all the same, Andrew caught on right away and stuck his nose up at it.  Being that for now I am the smarter one... I added a few drops of red food coloring, served it warm and told him it was dipping sauce from Pizza Hut and then it passed  as edible. I have no shame. I also have high hopes that the tips in the cookbook for making purees will also come in handy soon as we start introducing solid foods to Sean...and maybe someday Sam too.  

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Stand-Off

I recently pulled out some "baby toys" for Sean who is quite delighted, however Sam is not quite sure if he wants to share his old toys.  Sam is more than willing to smother Sean with a soft book or stuffed animal that he (Sam) has deemed appropriate, but it would seem that there are certain toys that are off limits. I have not yet determined the criteria that Sam has for selecting acceptable toys for Sean but at least he is making attempts to share (we must keep the big picture in mind). He also for some reason feels the need to remove Sean's socks whenever possible.  Often times the-taking-of-the-socks appears to be some sort of payment system that Sam has devised... I give you something so you give me something.  Sean is also very tolerant of Sam's heavy hand and actually beams over any attention that Sam gives him.  Andrew, in his ongoing attempt to right all wrongs, has perfected a tackle take-down move to disarm Sam when the need arises (any excuse my boys have to wrestle).  Over all Sam has been quite gentle and affectionate towards Sean but I will admit that sometimes I have thoughts of Lenny in "Of Mice and Men", who not knowing his own strength "loves" the puppies to death....but so far, besides a few very wet hard kisses, no harm done.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Collins Family Cloning Project

Everyone comments on how much Andrew and Sean look alike.  So it would appear that our human cloning project has been quite successful.   Although we are thrilled with the results we have closed our production warehouse and will not be participating in any future projects.  

     sean and andrew 1/2008

sean 1/2008         sean 11/2007

    andrew 4/2002 andrew 4/2002



 OK... so I am just jumping into this blogging thing.  I am a mom of 3 boys (one of whom has Down syndrome).  Amidst all the chaos that we have become so accustom to, interesting things happen which warrant special notation.  Therefore my goal is to chronicle the highlights of Andrew, Sam and Sean,  family updates and other ramblings.    
Patrick, Andrew, RaeAnn, Sean and Sam 11/2007