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

slow and steady wins the race

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

half-assed parenting at its best...

So we all have those moments (you know the ones) when we are not proud of the influences we have on our offspring.  We hope that we are able to provide them with the tools to make the right choices, do the right thing, be kind to others and to require as little therapy as possible. However, there are those moments...

 half-assed parenting example #1
You find half of a smashed chocolate chip cookie on the carpet.  I mean really smashed into the carpet and perhaps ran over by the wheelchair a few times.  You ask "Whose cookie is this?"... thinking you know the answer you pause and wait for it.  Just then your husband comes in from the other room with a bit of chocolate in the corner of his mouth and crumbs on his shirt tells your son... "next time you have to eat your cookies at the table..." Blame-shifting at its best!

half-assed parenting example #2
You know your child has over heard you use inappropriate language when they can use it in a sentence...  So your child over hears a phone conversation where you spew some nasty inappropriate language in the heat of a rant over something.  Obviously his Christian education is picking up where we left off because he politely reminds you that "that" is not a nice word. Immediately collecting your thoughts and hoping to now set a good example you apologize to your small child (oh so wise beyond his years).  Upon hearing your humbling response he tells you... "don't say sorry to me Mom... say sorry to God... and Jesus... and Santa..."

half-assed parenting example #3
So we are out at a local pizza joint with some friends and the kids in tow.  Sam is in his wheelchair and pushed slightly away from the table so that he can't grab at anyones' food or glasses.  Every one at the table knows that Sam does not eat anything by mouth and knows that this is just Standard Operating Procedure for a night out with the Collins'.  Sam is still included in the conversation and such... he is just kept away from things he might throw at other patrons.  Well our 20 something waitress comes out and immediately wants to take the kids orders and get our drinks.  We order for Andrew.  She asks about Sam and we say no... he's ok.  This obviously has disturbed her and repeatedly she asks if she can bring him a plate or cup.  We say... no that's ok... and continue with our conversations.  She then proceeds to bring out a paper plate and cup and attempts to lay them in front of Sam.  We take them away and tell her once again that he doesn't need anything and that he will just throw it.  Now she is very nice but this is getting annoying.  Sometimes I just don't feel the need to have to explain to everyone we meet about Sam's extensive medical history and why he does not eat orally.  So then the pizza comes and once again she brings Sam a plate.  Once again  I take it away and say he doesn't eat while in the back ground, trying desperately to be acknowledged, Andrew is repeating (quite loudly at this point...he obviously realizes too that she just doesn't get it) "HE HAS A G-TUBE, HE HAS A G-TUBE, HE HAS A G-TUBE"  in a sort of sing song voice.  On her final attempt she brings Sam an apple sauce cup.  I snapped... I then politely told her... " We all drew straws in the car before we came in and Sam drew the short straw so he doesn't get to eat tonight"  She left us alone for the rest of our meal.  As we are leaving restaurant we quickly say a silent prayer that DCFS is not waiting for us in the parking lot.


Monday, July 21, 2008

We make camping look good!


So here is our set up out on the bluff in the beautiful UP, Garden Michigan to be exact... we make camping look good.  Menu items included... omelets cooked to order (see recipe below) , pancakes with grilled bananas, cuban sandwiches, chicken gyros, strawberry short cake and lots of other yummy treats. Our tent is HUGE and so we had a few of the cousins sleeping with us and still had room to spare.  The kids had a great time.  We spent most of our days down at the beach and once everyone was fried to a crisp we headed back up to the bluff for a nice camp fire and a cool breeze.  Our "camping site" is on a bluff over looking Lake Michigan (Big Bay de Noc).  Great view, amazing sun sets and incredible starry nights.

*crack 2 eggs into a FREEZER baggie (regular sandwich baggies melt... use Freezer baggies)
*add fixin's (bacon, ham, green peppers, cheese, tomatoes, onions, spices or whatever)
*seal baggie and squish the contents with your hand until well mixed
* with a sharpie marker write your name on the baggie (important if your husband likes really hot peppers and you don't)
*drop baggies (ok to do a bunch at once) into a pot of boiling water
*let boil for 15 minutes.  use tongs to remove baggies from boiling water
*remove omelet from baggie (don't reuse baggies) and add more cheese, sour cream or salsa if desired and eat up
**** you can also make it a breakfast burrito by wrapping your omelet in a soft tortilla shell... great for camping because you really don't need a plate.

the boys playing with fire

The past few years I have rented a port-o-john and had it delivered to the bluff (we have no power, running water or electricity out there).  It is always a big hit.  Those who prefer to "rough it" are welcome to wander into a secluded place in the woods or behind a hay bale to do their business but upon return must submit to a "tick check" before being allowed back into the tent.  Since this often involves public nakedness and a flashlight, the port-o-john has become a welcomed eye sore. Pat's uncle brought  down a water barrel from the farm (that big black thing on the wagon).  The water is not good for drinking but it is great for washing (both bodies and dishes).  We also charge Sam's feeding pump at the farm.

Sam being goofy

Andrew by a tree at the Ghost Town (Fayette State Park)


We packed up camp, visited Pat's Dad's grave and then headed to the beach.  After spending some time in the water we grilled hot dogs, said our good byes and headed back home. Until next year..... 

oh a camping we will go...


We are loaded to the hilt and I am pleased and impressed with the amount of stuff that we are able to load into the wonder van.  Everything had its place, everything was secure, and everything made it on board... everything started out perfectly...besides getting a slightly later start than originally planned...
So we are headed out for our camping trip but before we leave we have to drop off some books at the library and pick up some bug spray at Home Desperate...er um Home Depot.  However, somewhere along there we loose the checkbook.  After searching and retracing our steps, Patrick is convinced that someone has stolen our identity and is writing checks like mad all over town (it is now 8:30am).  So we close our checking account and activate a fraud alert.  In the mean time I have spilt coffee all over the place.  20 minutes later Andrew finds the checkbook.  In desperate need of more coffee we decide to have breakfast at a local joint.  Andrew finishes his meal and throws up all over the place.  We quickly exit the restaurant.  We have not even left town yet.

Due to lack of space in the back we moved Andrew's booster up to the middle row so that he rode between Sam and Sean.  The day before we left Sam's urine culture reveled that he had a UTI and we would later find out that he had an ear infection too.... therefore he was full of piss and vinegar and uncomfortable.  And the only way he has to tell us that is by scratching and slapping... and Andrew was now the closest to him and for the next several hours took much of the abuse. 

We finally arrived in Newberry around 8:00pm and check into our room (several hours behind schedule) ... immediately we took the kids to the pool. I think they were close to chewing their own arms off (as would any caged animal) in any attempt to get out of the vehicle. We then ordered pizza, put the oldest cousin in charge and the adults went into the next room for a much needed margarita.  Just then the heavens opened up.  We were oh so thankful that we had hotel rooms that night because there was a torrential down pour and would have ended up sleeping in our cars.


Up bright and early... we all headed out to Tahquamenon Falls.  Here is a pic with all the cousins. We left with lots of pictures, even more mosquito bites and a new stamp for our letterbox journal (all the kids left their thumb prints).
We all piled into row boats and rowed out to the island.
Sam and Pat in the falls
Me and Sean

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sam's new set of wheels

So this is Sam's new set of wheels... the Lightning by Stealth.  So far I really like... it is far from perfect but it has most of the features that we wanted for him.  I was slightly annoyed that it arrived with out the tie-down kit (allowing him to ride it on the bus), the canopy/sun shade has a small tear in it and the rain guard was no where to be found.  These are all pretty easy things to remedy so I will hold my tongue for now... pick your battle wisely young grasshopper.

Anyway... Sam seems pretty comfortable in it.  Oh how I wish I could just design a wheelchair myself.  I would take the wheels from this company and the frame from that one and the riggings and seat from another and put it all together to get exactly what we want and need.  This chair is primarily for camping, outings and family stuff in general and he will continue to use his other chair (the red beast) for going back and forth and use at school.  Sam is now 45" tall and 46 pounds and he is getting too big for me to carry around so the wheel chair is a must until he is walking... however it has to be easy for everyone.   Besides, my children do not need to witness me have a melt down every time we go to the park because I can't get the Red Beast across a 6 foot patch of grass or when I get stuck in wood chips.  I digress.  Anyway... we leave to go camping in the UP in 2 days and that will be the big test for the new wheelchair.  

Thursday, July 10, 2008


You know you have a child with special needs when you practically do a back flip in the specialist's office because your child ONLY has a broken toe... that is when the alternative could possibly be leukemia.  Yesterday we got in to see the bone and joint doc and she did even more x-rays.  Initially I think she missed the fracture too but what she saw on the film was new bone growth and they she magnified the image and looked closer.  And there it was.  A fine fracture of the metatarsal... in the head of the long bone on the big toe.  She suspects that he could have gotten this sort of fracture from stubbing his toe really hard... but with Sam who knows.  Since it is already healing and in place there was not much to do... so no cast.  We will let him nurse it for a few more weeks but if he is not at least attempting to walk again in 2 weeks we will take him back for a follow up.  So need less to say we are thrilled.

FYI for those of you who think I might be insane....  leukemia is a very common risk for kids with Down syndrome... something like 60%.  Often times, especially when our kids are non verbal, the only way they have to tell us that something is wrong is by acting out or when they abruptly stop doing and activity that they usually do (such as walking, weight bearing, smiling, eating etc). but otherwise appear perfectly fine.  In Sam's case he would not put weight on his left foot for nearly 2 weeks now and sadly not weight bearing is a big red flag.  

Thank you thank you thank you for all our Down syndrome friends who asked about Sam's bloodwork (believe me I KNEW exactly what you were thinking).  We did not do a CBC at this time but like I said... he will (regardless of how his foot is) have a complete blood work up during his surgery in a few weeks... more on that later.  In the mean time we are doing the happy dance... over Sam's broken toe.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


OMG... have you seen this show?  In a word... HILARIOUS!  We watch and giggle until we have tears in our eyes and can't breath.  The Big Balls are the best and the sarcastic commentary is second to none.  So go watch it... you know you want to.  This is stupid, entertaining, mindless TV at its best... seriously... there are days when I don't have 2 brain cells left to rub together and the boys have exceeded the usual and customary whining allowance ... it is days like this that I need shows like WIPEOUT. 

me:  *** laughing hysterically***

andrew:  Mom are you crying?

me: ***gasping for air***

andrew:  ***now laughing with me***  Mom... I am laughing so hard I think I farted... and maybe wet my pants

me: *** I have to remove my self in an attempt to suck much needed air into my lungs***

sam: ha ha ha 

andrew: Don't try this at home kids...



Sunday, July 6, 2008

Letterboxing anyone???

Today we hatched as new Letterboxers and had our first find.  What is Letterboxing you ask... check out the link.  It is basically a treasure hunt with the prize being and exchange of rubber stamps.  You get a set of clues (I believe there are several ways to obtain clues but we got ours from one of many letterboxing websites) that lead you to a box that contains a rubber stamp and a log book.  Once you find a letterbox you stamp the log book within with your personal stamp and you stamp your personal log book with the stamp inside the found letterbox.  Then you discretely re-hid it again for the next letterboxer to find.  It combines hiking, nature, clues, art (as many of the stamps are handmade vs store bought), map reading and a basic sense of direction.  We are very new and I had no idea how popular it is and really surprised to find that there are letterboxes stashed everywhere... really everywhere.  Today, as a family we found our first box.  Our collective trail name is Collins 5, but I think we will all come up with individual trail names too (Andrew is getting really creative). It was really a lot of fun.  Besides all the local letterboxes we plan on making some side trips when we travel back and forth to Michigan and may even plant one of our own...what a nice way to let the kids stretch their legs after being in the car for several hours or to just burn some energy.  

Think you want to try Letterboxing too... check out these sites

Saturday, July 5, 2008

update on Sam...

Well today is day 9 of Sam refusing to put weight on his left leg. We are all stumped. Over the past week he has had x-rays of his foot, ankle, knee and hip (still waiting to hear back about the hip and knee) but so far everything looks fine... no fractures, no cracks and soft tissue appears to be intact. He is not in any pain but he will not put his foot down. There is no swelling or any other indication of a problem. Sam does not have the cognitive ability to "fake it" or to really keep this act up for such a long time... something is definitely not right but so far we have no clue what the problem could be. The pediatrician's most recent thought is that it could be a problem with his hip.... I hope to hear back from her soon after she get the reports back on all the x-rays. Our next step is to see a specialist and possibly an MRI... because everyone agrees that something is wrong, it is Sam so that something could be anything and because everyone is stumped. In the mean time Sam is still walking on his knees and crawling just fine... he just won't stand or weight bear on that left foot. Otherwise he is just as happy and naughty as always. 

Sam is wearing the T-shirt that he tie dyed at school for their 4th of July celebration and parade.  I think he is quite proud of it and says Noooooooo when I try to take it off.  He can wear it all he wants as far as I am concerned :)

*** on another note***
Sam's surgery is scheduled for August 21st.  He will have 3 procedures done... if he has to go under anesthesia we try to get as much done as possible at one time.  So he will have his ear tubes replaced and ears cleaned (he has gunk behind the ear drum)... then he will have his hydrocele reparied...AGAIN!  Yes it is very rare to have a hydrocele (extra fluid around the testicle) re-occur after it has been surgically repaired but well that is Sam for you...and then to finish things up the dentist is coming in and pulling a bunch of teeth, capping his molars (because he grinds) and doing a really good cleaning.  The whole thing should take about 2 hours and 15 minutes and then once he is awake we can take him home.  

sometimes... love hurts

Sam in his best attempt to share, cracked Sean in the face with a toy.  Sean was in the pack n play, under the assumption that he would be safer in there, and Sam brought over a toy and chucked it in there.  Well... the swelling has really gone down but he definitely has a shiner ....the first of many I am sure.