Friday, August 29, 2008

Time Out for Some Humor

Thank you, Jean, for my smile today :)

Here's a prime example of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus offered by an English professor from the University of Colorado for an actual assignment.

The professor told his class one day, "Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pairoff with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me. The firstperson will then add a third paragraph, and so on back and forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mail and anything youwish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."

The following was actually turned in by two of his English students:


(first paragraph by Rebecca)
At first Jennifer couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all cost, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocation, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(second paragraph by Gary)
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Jennifer with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. 'A.S. Harris to Geostation17,' he said into his transgalactic communicator. 'Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far...' But before he could sign off a pluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through hisship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

(Rebecca) He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for physically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. 'CongressPasses Law Permanently Abolishing War & Space Travel', Jennifer read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful thinks around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

(Gary) Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anudrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dimwitted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aeros Peace Disarmament Treaty through the Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anudrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the>atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Jennifer.

(Rebecca) This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

(Gary) Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. 'Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of FUCKING TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air-headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!!!'

(Rebecca) Asshole!

(Gary) Bitch!!


(Gary) In your dreams, Ho. Go drink some tea.

(Teacher) A+ - I really liked this one.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What Not To Say

With only a few days left of summer vacation, I took the kids and Michael's friend to the movies this morning and lunch. At Subway I met the person who epitomises "What Not To Say".

I sat down at one table with Brady, feeding him yogurt, while Michael and his friend sat at the table next to me. One of the girls behind the counter had already commented how cute Brady was. She continued to stare at him wistfully.

"How old is he - 10 months?" she asked.

"He's two," I replied, although he's less than two months away from being three.

"Wow, he's small!" she exclaimed.

"Yeah, well..." I said.

"So, you have three boys?" she continued.

"No, I am just borrowing one of them," I joked.

"Two boys? So are you going to have any more?" she asked.

"Umm.. I don't know," I answered.

"Do you want to have a girl?" she asked, as if two boys was the same as having 10 boys.

"Umm... I don't know," I answered again.

"So, are you done having kids?" she asked, since I am 73 years old.

"Umm... I don't know," I answered again.

"Wow, he's really small for two," she reiterated.

At first, I was a bit irritated with the line of questioning, then I thought about the young girl asking me questions - probably 19 years old, friendly, smiling. Did she have any ideas that she was being a tad bit inconsiderate, rude and invasive? Probably not. Was she trying to make me feel bad? Nah... but I pity the day someone not as laid back as me is on the other end of her questions. I was actually smiling to myself by the end, in amazement that this conversation was actually taking place.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do you need a ride?

We picked up this little used V-Tech scooter and Brady loves it - although I believe he thinks he's in Australia. He gets on, puts his left hand on the steering wheel and turns it, and then takes his right arm and pumps it up and down on the side, like it's hanging out the window. Well, unless he is in England, he ain't hanging his RIGHT arm out the window... but his therapist noted that he does watch a lot of The Wiggles in their Big Red Car and in Australia they also drive on the right side of the road!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Old Days

This past week I was able to hook up with an old junior high school friend of mine who now lives in Texas. She came up to visit family and we got together with the kids for a walk round her mother's neighborhood.
Michelle's boys, Brett (in the carriage) and Scott (with Michael) are pictures of their parents; Brett looks JUST like my friend and it is a bit eerie, to say the least. Having known Michelle since I was 12 (only two years older than Michael), seeing a little her running around now is quite strange.
It's also amazing how we fall right into the same conversations, as though time has stood still and we are the same people we were when we moved apart all those years ago.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just yesterday...

As I gather together items for Michael's first day of middle school in two weeks, I am reminded of a boy at the end of the summer three years ago before he became a big brother. The short hair and not too much attitude are the only differences between that boy and the one today. He is still full of questions, ideas and fun. How fast time flies!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Counting My Blessings

I have only two blessings this week I would like to comment on. The first one is obviously Brady's cath and its great result. I need not explain to the people reading this blog what a relief it was. For those who tune in here and there, please let me explain the roller coaster feelings I had this week: bringing Brady into the hospital to have a procedure that determined if he was having heart surgery next week (as was the plan) is no walk in the park. Both his hands are full of bruises, from bloodwork in one and the IV in the other; both groin areas are deep purple and black from bruising, so large they aren't completely covered by his diaper. Now that I know he is okay til next year, I have given myself permission to be in awe of what he has gone through. What a trooper! :)

My second blessing is regarding a comment from Joanne in my blog entry of Saturday, August 16, Numbers (below). She is mother to a grown son, Scott, who is mentally challenged and grandmother to a child, Sawyer, with WS. Her comment was very touching and heartfelt, and I appreciate her life lessons learned and shared. I was very moved to read the following, especially:

It still tears at my heart to hear unkind comments about [Scott] or feel he is being left out of many of life's opportunities. I have cried many a tear over my husband's loss of the chance of being a little league dad or to have a fishing partner. However, it is (was) my sadness. Not Scott's. He is happy in his life - and if given the opportunity, he is willing to share his smiles and enthusiasm with all who open their worlds to him.

Most of all, just know that all of these changes will bother YOU much more than they will Brady. He will instinctively be drawn to those who accept and love him for being Brady --- and there will be many who will want him in their lives.

Thank you, Joanne, for your words. I am blessed to have you in my world! :)

I love this picture of Michael and Brady - it is a typical brother picture. "Leave me alone and give me my blanket!" is what I picture Brady saying right here :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Here is Brady with cousin Cooper and Grandma, while Cooper tells him the ways of the world.

Although Michael was an only child for so long, he never lacked for company. Besides his most fun parents LOL, a girl his same age lived next door, our friends had kids the same age when we visited, another close friend was an only child so he was with him a lot; plus as he got older three boys moved in across the street and now Michael rides his bike around the neighborhood where three more friends live. His cousin Adam, my brother-in-law's son, is only a year older than Michael and they grew up together. He sleeps over constantly and we have taken him on vacation with us. Tom and I were working on creating that bigger family, but in the meantime, Michael had many "siblings".

I have friends who also have kids around Brady's age also, but it's much different this go-around. When they were babies all was the same for our playdates. But as the kids got older and Brady stayed the same, it changed. Brady didn't enter that toddler stage when they did; he wasn't trying to waddle around and climb and play. My friends wanted to go to play areas and parks to have the kids play. Obviously, Brady did not partake in any of that activity. Knowing my friends, they didn't care and would ask me along, but it was hard sometimes to watch their child run around and play while my child, a year older sat in his carriage and watched. Not that he cared - Brady was always interested to watch but not fussy.

Over time, there were new babies born, and Brady fit in with them easily. He was one of the guys again! In fact, he was a little more advanced. What a different world! (Side note: I often joked that when people at the store asked me how old he was, I was going to star saying a year or more younger than he was so instead of them remarking how little he was they would say how advanced he was! LOL)

Well, those kids are growing up too, now. They started taking steps, eating real "people" food and playing with toys. But this time, so is Brady. I know that they will probably move through this stage more quickly than he will, but it is nice to see him play with kids his developmental "age". Even the WS kids we know in his age bracket are ahead of Brady. It seems that every year we'll need to make friends with kids who are one-year-old.

Speaking of his developmental age, Brady had his six month assessment yesterday. Yes, I know he was in recovery still. His therapists came over and more or less filled it out for him, knowing how he does anyway. Brady increased in all areas, but mostly in gross motor, which is what I figured. He scores at 12 months in that bracket. As soon as he is standing he will score a bit higher. His other areas scored around that same number.

It wasn't too surprising where he landed, but I also see his determination as he attempts to walk by himself, his frustration when he can't communicate something, his interest in his face when he spots a toy he likes. I feel like we are on the cusp as he tries to move ahead. Before, none of this really interested him, or it appeared that way. He is responding to facial cues more, attempting to smile in my face. Something all the other WS kids have been doing, but not Brady.

I'm glad Brady has the friends he does - the two-year-olds who push him to do more, and the one-year-olds he can play with. I refuse to be sad my entire life watching Brady not be able to do things, so instead I make sure I know of ways he will succeed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

B stands for Lobby

We're home from Children's Hospital and Brady's cath. It went VERY well. After getting there for our 7 a.m. arrival time, Tom, my mother and I waited just a few minutes before being called in to prepare for the procedure. Brady swallowed his magical sleepy-time medicine eagerly (anything with a little sugar on it and we're good to go!) and after 10 minutes he was ready to be whisked away. We were told the cath and echo would last two-to-four hours, so we headed downstairs to the cafeteria for breakfast.

But first, we headed down to the lab so Tom could get some bloodwork done he needed for his own doctor, so for all you Boston Children's Hospital patients out there -- Tom now has an official blue card! My mother and I graciously waited for Tom to be done before going down to the cafeteria, since he was fasting for his bloodwork and was starving.

After breakfast, we headed back up the the waiting room. About 15 minutes later, we heard a nurse say, "Brady Farrell's family?" He was DONE - in two hours to the minute, I think. We gathered our belongings to go see him in recovery, but were first stopped by Dr. Marx, his cardiologist, to let us know the story. Brady's echos as of late have shown he has a gradient of 60 on his left side of his aortic valve. However, the cath (which is the most accurate) showed it was more like 35-40. It is common for the echo to show more than the cath, so they were not too surprised. They also did another echo at the same time, which showed 60 again. This will let them see in the future when he has echos what the comparison would be. So, more or less, Brady would have an echo of 90 before it is a true 60 and need heart surgery. They also checked out his other arteries, etc and everything else looked great.

His cardiologist said we will not do the heart surgery now, but rather probably in a year. We planned our next echo in December, and during these next few months, Dr. Marx will speak to surgeons about the benefits of waiting three years to have the surgery, or to do it next year. If the chances are the same for success, he would rather do it next year. We agreed, as the sooner he is "mended" the better it is.

Brady pretty much slept the next six hours, with a few bouts of crying and a little fever, but for the most part he handled everything well. Right now he is sleeping in his crib, and I assume at some point he'll wake up for some more crackers and juice. He has a small incision in his left groin where the catheter went in, so I just need to be careful not to bug him too much there.

Thanks to EVERYONE for their phone calls, emails and well wishes. We had a few ideas what to expect (thank you WS moms!) but it is still a little unnerving to go through this, obviously. I am so thankful I had people to speak to about this who already went through it. Once again, thank GOD for the internet!

Also, as for the title of this entry, we found it a little funny (probably from lack of sleep) that in order to get to the Lobby at Children's, you went to the "B" floor on the elevator. There is a First Floor, but apparently you walk in through the basement in the Main Lobby. We were in the elevator and it was mentioned that "B stands for Lobby" and we got quite the chuckle.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Just a quick note to thank everyone for all their prayers and good thoughts. Today's pre-registration for the cath went exceptionally well, not too much downtime and we were out fairly quick. We have to be at the hospital at 7 a.m. tomorrow, so I am off to bed... I will update as soon as I can.
Just wanted to share this adorable picture of Clare and Brady at the Spinney's barbque. You know guys ~ they play shy until you act uninterested, then they won't go away!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Finding New Friends

Today, Michael and I headed to the middle school for Locker Day. Since Michael is entering the school for the first time, the new students get to go in and practice their locker combination, find their classroom, and check out the instruments for band.

After getting his combination and pep talk from the principal, we headed to the fifth grade hallway where Michael attempted his combination. He got it fairly quickly and kept re-doing it, while I stood by and watched in amazement that this child of mine was only three years old yesterday, it seemed. A few lockers down, a girl was working on her combination with her mother and sister nearby. The sister looked to be around 13 or 14 years old and I kept looking at her, thinking, "This girl HAS to have Williams!" I knew there was an older girl in town but I had never met her.

Finally, I thought to myself, "Whatever! I am just going to ask her." I went over to the mother on the side and said, "Can I ask you a question - I hope not to offend you" or something like that, I can't even recall right now. I was hoping she wouldn't mind me asking a personal medical question. "Does your daughter have Williams syndrome?"

She looked at me and said, "Yes." I quickly replied that my son does too - unfortunately he was home with my father-in-law, I said to her when her head whipped around to see him. Her daughter is going into the high school and was very pleasant and polite. She doesn't have any medical issues at all, just a heart murmur that is not serious. The mother said when her daughter was younger she was involved a little with WSA events, but hasn't received a newsletter in years. We spoke for a few minutes before being hurried along to the music room, but since her younger daughter will be in Michael's homeroom, I will be able to get in touch with her again pretty easily.

It's really neat to have this sense of community with complete strangers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Here is a great post from Joanne, who happens to be Sawyer's grandmother (Sawyer is in the pictures from Sunday, August 10 post.)

When I heard about this movie, it looked hysterical and I was anxious to see it. I had no idea about the sub context in it. While I have never taken a stance about the word "retard" in my blog before, the points Joanne makes are right on.

Augmentative Communication Clinic

Today we went to the Augmentative Communication program at Children's Hospital. It was very interesting and not at all what I thought it would be. I thought we were going to see Brady tested in Speech and other ways of communication but it was all about equipment that we may use for him. I will get a full detailed report shortly that will be beneficial for the school.

Brady got the idea pretty quickly: there was a video and music on the computer screen and suddenly the music would stop. He realized if he hit the button (envision a "Easy Button" from Staples) it would go back on. It was pretty neat to see him use the computer. She gave me a ton of websites to look at (,,,, and ideas on how to put together some programs of my own with Powerpoint, Boardmaker, and SwitchIt Maker 2. The button and other equipment came from Ablenet, Inc ( She is planning on having a workshop to help parents like myself work with the computers and kids.

Brady's Education Therapist came with my mom and me, which proves once again how in love I am with his therapists... they are so caring and are so devoted to Brady. She was interested to come and see what the deal was with this clinic, but we had a blast driving in and having lunch. I will miss these guys so much when Brady graduates Early Intervention and moves onto preschool in two months.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I was planning on making my triumphant return to blogging on August 1st, but this past week has for some reason flown by, so here I am on August 10, ready to get back into the groove. While I have been reading and commenting on others' blogs, I have not posted for over a month, as my friends and family have graciously (and not-so-graciously) have reminded me.

Besides going on vacation in July (That's Brady in our Park Home on vacation waiting for me to get him out of bed), I have been trying to gets things in order around my house. It seems there is always so much STUFF that is EVERYWHERE. We have also been trying to keep up with Brady, who has gone with leaps and bounds motor-wise. Here are the top ten things going on with Brady:

1) He is an active crawler, not content to just sit, he moves to toy and toy, crawling all over the place.

2) He is cruising along furniture and walking with his walker FANTASTICALLY! I have the walker in my trunk so he can walk into playgroup on Fridays and walk into his doctor appointments at the hospital now. Sometimes he just stops and looks around, but he usually gets going with a nudge :):)

3) Brady is doing much better eating, although he still does great one week, lousy the next, etc. He is now loving Pop-tarts, chocolate milk, endless graham crackers... and of course, Pepsi! He has YET to hit that 20lb. mark though. Last week he weighed in at 19 lbs 13 oz.

4) He has been able to see his WS friends this summer - we were fortunate and excited to visit Clare and Michaela at their BBQs, along with seeing Coleman for music therapy a few times each month and Lucien for play dates. We also got to meet Arianna and Michelle, which was great. Tom and I are both happy to be so close to such fabulous people. We are enjoying all the time we are spending together. This Fall we're looking forward to more gatherings! (He's in these pictures with Sawyer playing with the blanket at Clare's house.)

5) Brady intermingles with his cousins like one of the gang - they are 1-1/2 years younger that him, but he intermingles with them just the same! It's cool to see them play.

6) We're getting ready to go to an Augmentative Communication program at Children's tomorrow, which is a two-hour clinic that will assess Brady's communication skills and his needs. Apparently I will get a big report that will be great for school that will showcase if he needs any equipment.

7) We also have Brady's first-ever cath this week on Thursday, with a full day of testing on Wednesday. We should have answers on Thursday on when they will do heart surgery.

8) We have two months left before we start preschool. His Early Intervention OT is going to be working at his preschool, so we will have a great transition there - I am so LUCKY this has worked out! We will hopefully get his plan in a month so I can see how many days they recommend.
9) Brady wears soft splints on both hands to keep his thumbs out, and it has really changed his playing abilities, very quickly.

10) He is enjoying time with his 10-year old brother (Michael had a birthday - double digits!!) and getting along with the dog (yes, we still have her... so far!)

I am planning on challenging myself to blog every day in August like I did last October... let's see if I can do it!