Friday, September 30, 2005 is grand when you have friends come to visit. Posted by Picasa

Yes,,,,, I love to JUMP!!!! Posted by Picasa

I just washed my hair and can't do a thing with it!!! Silly, silly girl. Posted by Picasa

What do you get when you mix....a bouncing girl in a cotton dress...a warm, sunny fall day and a nylon trampoline? Static-Cling!!!! Man what a silly hair day. Posted by Picasa

My indpendant little girl.....she gets her backpack on and happily heads off to school. She has such a spirit,,,such a joy,,,,blessed, I truly am. Posted by Picasa

Pretty maids at the gate......playing outside whilst waiting for the school bus to come.... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Greta and her cousin Rori. We are truly blessed that my brother and sister both live a short distance from us. Arn't they the cutest girls! Posted by Picasa

This picture cracks me up....Emma Sage was determined to get on the swing, which are up higher than she is used to just sliding on with her little she got her leg through,,,the swing started moving and she was trying to get her other leg over.....Leanne, swinging next to her was so sweet and got off and helped her. So precious! Posted by Picasa

Little girl going down the slide....I love these pictures of Emma Sage when she has that look of concentration on her face....I took these outside at my sisters yesterday. Posted by Picasa

Emma Sage meeting a new friend, Naia, at her cousins memorial. Out of sadness, joy shines through. Naia came to be with Patti from her homeschooling group. It was truly a remarkable outpouring of friends.  Posted by Picasa

Griffin Patrick's Blessing....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005, was by all accounts a beautiful fall day. The air was warm and clean............the kind of air that you love to hang the sheets out in because they capture that delicious fragrance of pure air and sunshine and bring it inside to fill the night hours.

The sky was brilliant blue,,,with little puffs of white clouds that were slowly floating by.

The colors were vivid...........everything was Kodachrome crisp.

Amongst all this beauty, gathered a solemn occasion..............but an occasion, that while marked with great sadness,,,,,,shown with true beauty, love, faith, compassion and friendship.

The gathering was large, filled with mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents, co-workers, friends and children, lots and lots of children.

Patti and Jim and Kelsy, Connor and Fiona walked over to the tiny casket.........with sad and heavy hearts. My father had a basket filled with little red roses and wooden trains, airplanes, cars and crosses. The little children gathered at the funeral were given an item and they each slowly went up to say good-bye, leaving a toy or flower at the grave.

Patti, while her heart is truly broken, looked radiant.........she is truly a beautiful young woman and seeing her standing there, tall and statuesque, it was almost hard to realize that just a few short days ago she was in full blossom as a mother in waiting.

At the direction of Father Peter, we gathered around and reflected and listened to a beautiful service............the topic of 'faith' and questioning GOD to, as why a child, needs to leave so soon arose. My sister had asked to have this passage included. As I stood there, watching my baby sister and her family and friends, holding on to my Emma Sage's hand and niece Fiona hand, Father Peter spoke these words and tears just streamed out of my eyes...........

This passage is from a book entitled, The Clowns of God, by Morris West. In the book, a deposed pope has gone through many trials and tribulations and it is the time of the Second Coming. When he meets the Returned Christ, the former pope is afraid and unsure much like the apostles when Christ first arose. This passage takes place in a mountain hideaway where children from a school for Down syndrome are among those present.

The Returned Christ is speaking about one of these children as he holds her.

"I know what you are thinking. You need a sign. What better one could I give but to make this little one whole and new? I could do it; but I will not. I am the Lord and not a conjurer. I gave this mite a gift I denied to all of you~~eternal innocence. To you she looks imperfect~~but to me she is flawless, like the bud that dies unopened or the fledgling that falls from the nest to be devoured by ants. She will never offend me, as all of you have done. She will never pervert or destroy the work of my Father's hands. She is necessary to you. She will evoke the kindness that will keep you human. Her infirmity will prompt you to gratitude for your own good fortune............ More! She will remind you every day that ~ I am who I am~, that my ways are not yours, and that the smallest dust mite whirled in the darkest spaces does not fall out of my hand............. I have chosen you. You have not chosen me. This little one is my sign to you. Treasure her!"

Griffin Patrick were a perfect and precious gift. You will always hold eternal innocence as your greatest blessing. You blessed your Mommy and Daddy and siblings and family for a short while..........but your blessing will be carried within their/our hearts for all eternity.

The service ended and with Tears and Sorrow, I watched my sister say good-bye to her precious little boy. I stood and watched as every attendee approached the tiny casket and said a heartfelt good-bye and give a hug of comfort to my sister and Jim and the children.

We went back to Patti & Jim's to an incredible luncheon put on by their neighbors. It truly is an inspiration to see family, community & friends come together…..humanity at its highest.

I know time will heal my sisters body and soul..........her loss will be forever carried within her heart.

I love you so dearly 'Trixi' are the best sister anyone could ever wish for.

Monday, September 26, 2005

My dear sister, Patti Ann and her husband Jim, had a tragic loss this weekend. Their very much wanted and loved son, Griffin Patrick, was born still.

My sister wrote about her experience on her expecting board at Mothering. My heart has broken, because my little sisters heart is broken. I can not put into words the sadness and helplessness I feel. All I can do is love and support Patti and Jim and their three beautiful children, Kelsy, Connor and Fiona and know that Griffin Patrick will always be a part of our hearts and family.

You can read her story 'Griffin Patrick ~ His silent birth story' here.

This is the Christening gown that Griffin Patrick will be laid to rest in. This gown was worn by my brothers, Kenny and Michael, my baby sister Patti Ann and myself at our Christenings........and it brings a sense of joy to me to know that sweet little Griffin will be draped in the satin and silk and the love and faith that this gown signifies.  Posted by Picasa

Griffin Patrick Letko

Griffin Patrick Letko

September 24, 2005 ~ September 24, 2005
6lbs 9.8 ozs ~ 20 1/2 inches
Beloved Son, brother, great-grandson, grandson, nephew

"Visitor from Heaven"
by Twila Paris

A visitor from Heaven if for a while
A gift of love to be returned we think of you and smile
A visitor from Heaven accompanied by Grace
Reminding of a better love and a better place
With aching hearts and empty arms we send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go but we're so glad you came
A visitor from Heaven if only for a while
We thank Him for the time He gave and now it's time to say
-We trust you to the Father's love and to His tender care
Held in the everlasting arms and we're so glad you're there
We're so glad you're there
With breaking hearts and open hands
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go -But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

Thank you for Blessing us with Love, dear Griffin Patrick

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Florence...... Posted by Picasa

This kid is too funny!

She is such a typical little girl! Or should I say, a typical little Daddy's girl!

Emma Sage was naughty this morning ~ so I told her she needed to sit down and think about what she just did [dumped her OJ on the table] and she wasn't too happy that I made her take a time-out.

She runs upstairs crying..................slams her sisters bedroom door and then I hear her sobbing and talking.........I hear "Daddy, please come home now" ~ "Daddy you come home to me". I open the door and there is Emma Sage, sitting on the floor with a toy phone on her ear calling her Daddy in Italy!!!!

Hummmmm,,,,,,how can a four year old act so much like a typical teenager? Am I in trouble or what!?!

Daddy coming home to his little girl......Do you think he got that phone call from Emma Sage saying "Daddy, please come home to me?"  Posted by Picasa

Daddy's home.....guess where he was? Emma Sage is in heaven with her beloved Dadda home.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 23, 2005

Presume competence

Presume competence
'Retarding environments are not limited to segregated or congregate settings. They can exist anywhere individuals with disabilities are prevented from living ordinary, natural lives and having power over their environments.

We must look at children and adults and presume competence. How can we prevent retarding environments? First, by understanding that people with disabilities need the same experiences for growth and development as people without disabilities. To meet that goal, children and adults with disabilities must be in age-appropriate, typical, ordinary, inclusive settings.'

I went to back-to-school night last night. Emma Sage's time was at 5:15 p.m. and Otto's was at 7:45 p.m.

I love our school district [but I believe that is because I love our community, and our schools are a direct reflection of our community]. Of coarse not everything is perfect ~~~what it life is, but as a whole, our schools are such a positive, constructive, stimulating and nurturing environment for our children to grow and learn in.

Emma Sage is in a very empowering environment. She is in a fully inclusive Pre-K class where she is the only child with a disability. But unfortunately I do believe that her teacher and aides do not presume competence.................. but it will be OK for this year, because her environment will be the catalyst for her to grow and learn.

There are, though, many teachers and a principal, in the school district that presume competence and are very supportive of inclusive settings,,,,,so Emma Sage's school days should all be positive and rewarding.

On a very positive note, at back-to-school night one of the teachers came up to me in the hallway [a 20+ year teaching veteran and mother of 6] and told me how much she adored having Emma Sage in class [music teacher] and that she was completely in awe of Emma Sage and how she listens, participates, answers questions and has such a joy for music!

She told me more than one time "She is so aware of what is going on around her" that it made me think that maybe, just maybe, this teacher had fallen into the trap of looking at a child with a disability and not presuming competence, but now having Emma Sage in her class she is finding out that some misconception she held before is eroding away.

That was just a great encounter for me.

Well, it took a bunch of evenings out, but our back-to-school nights for the year 2005 have come and gone, and I can't believe next year will be my last back-to-school night for Katrina!.......where-oh-where does the time go?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Little Things....

Lots of little things going on in our neck of the woods.

Today was Emma Sages first official school picture day!

She decided that she was going to pick out her clothes [with gentle steering from Momma] and she picked out a cute little jumper and MaryJanes............can you say precious!

Of coarse I will cry when the pictures come home in her little backpack [because I cry at the littlest of things] and I am so excited to see her standing with her classmates, I just can't wait for them to come back in a few weeks!

Tonight is back-to-school night for Otto and Emma Sage. Our school district is great by staggering the grades, so I head off at 5:15pm for Emma Sage and then at 7:15 pm for Otto................flying solo these days as Rick is still in Italy.

Greta has a game this afternoon, her team is undefeated! Go Vikes!!

Otto has soccer practice. Thank goodness my mother-in-law is around to help me out [she truly is a blessing and a gem of a woman!]

Katrina has so many things going on at school and with youth group. She is babysitting for me this evening and I know Emma Sage will just be delighted to have her big sis all to herself!

Oh, and the cutest of things. Emma Sage came home from school yesterday and told me "Hola" [OHHHH-LA] "Mom,,,,,,,I said Hello in Spanish!" She was so very proud of herself. The Pre-K has Spanish on Wednesdays.

And we got to meet a classmate at the library yesterday. Emma Sage was so excited to see her friend and told me that she was a "Friend from school".

The weather here is just gorgeous ~ picture perfect days. Cool nights, sunny, breezy and warm days. Absolutely delightful!

Three friends waiting for the bus.....Emma Sage, Claudia and Miss Gracie Kitty! Posted by Picasa

Today is Emma Sage's first official school picture day! I had no clue what to put on this little girl and she was the one who decided on this outfit [so I think she looks smashing!].....I can't believe my little girl is getting so grown-up. I know I will cry when the class photo comes home with my little imp smiling amongst her peers! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Waiting for the bus with my best friend. I think one of the best things I have ever done for Miss Emma Sage is to stay home and provide childcare, because the friendship and learning these two have shared over the last three years has been amazing!! Posted by Picasa

Sitting waiting for the school bus to arrive. We live 2 miles from the school and Emma Sage is the only one on the bus to school....on the way home her friend Skylar is with her ride is very short [and that makes Momma very happy].....We have so much fun sitting, chatting and waiting for Dave the Bus Driver to come down the lane! Posted by Picasa

This was taken fall of 2004 before Dance Class.  Posted by Picasa

May you always dance......

She stretches..........

She twirls..........

She points..........

She bends..........

She moves her arms, in line with her feet.

First ~
Second ~
Third ~
Fourth ~
Fifth Position

She dances!

My little girl dances and her face radiates from the joy she is feeling and her movements tell me that her little body is loving every minute of dance class.

Today I am in awe.........

This evening was the first dance class of the new season.

Emma Sage and Claudia had been excited all day because it was finally Monday and they were going to get to go to dance class.

We got dressed [with the cutest new dance outfits from Claudia's Mommy,,,she is a sales rep for Capezio, and these little girls are so very lucky to get samples!] and we did our hair in little buns,,,,,,,,,can you say too cute!

They both stay directed and focused [and to me this is a big feat since dance class is in the nursery school room and it is filled with childhood delights, water tables, dress-up stations, a kitchen area, blocks and books...............and the two of them never waver from the task at hand. Following the directions of their dance teacher Ms. Denise!

What truly amazes and saddens me by watching my little girl, is that this time last year I had signed her up for a preschool dance class and never told the school she had Down syndrome [as I believed it didnt matter]...........and were told at the second class~"We dont teach children like your daughter"~

I found Ms. Denise at Dance Sensations. When I called, this time, I told the school that my daughter had Down syndrome. {It broke my heart because I truly believe that she was discriminated against by the last school, but I did not want to have another experience with prejudice so I mentioned it to this new school.}.............the response was "Sure, we would LOVE to have your daughter attend our school and by-the-way, my daughter also has Down syndrome!"

So you can only imagine the magic of this school.

And my little girl is there..................stretching, twirling, pointing and dancing!!!

May you always dance, sweetheart,,,,,May you always dance!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Childhood days.....the kids just love spending time at the do I! See "Uncle Louie" right in front,,,he is the coolest duck ever! Posted by Picasa

Day by Day........we love to go to the river and feed the ducks and geese. This white duck always swims amongst the Canadian Geese,,,,,we call him "Uncle Louie"! He lets the children feed him right from their hands Posted by Picasa


My post below got me thinking.

What myths, stereotypes or misconceptions did you [or do you] hold regarding Down syndrome/Trisomy 21?

What has or does your child do that makes you think "Wow, there goes another misconception/myth busted?"

So this post is for the 'Myth-busters'

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mom, Otto's bugging me....

"Mom, Otto's bugging me"

I pause from doing the dishes....and laugh to myself. I think back to all the misconceptions I had when the possibility of Down syndrome entered into our life.....and this comment coming from my active four year old just busted another bunch of those 'misconceptions'.

"Mom, Otto's bugging me....please tell him stop!"

Yup,,,,she is a typcial four year old who had had enough of her big brothers antics!!! You gotta love it!!!

Murphy's Law.....

Murphy's Law ~ Whatever can Happen, Will Happen.

You know, it is a good thing I'm part Irish, as I wouldn't be so keen on the humor of Murphy's Law if I was not.

Of coarse Rick is away, and a pipe starts to leak. I'm getting real good at fixing these things.....and actually it is not an unpleasant process at all. I love copper.

Other than that, we will be busy, busy today.

The day has started out magnificantly,,,,,,the sunrise was incredible,,,,the colors just so soothing. The day is drier [much less humidity that yesterday] and the sun is shining brightly.

So on this glorious Sunday we head forth to celebrate a day without a care in the world.....lots of little chores to complete to keep our hands, minds and body's busy, and my children with me to make my load light [and happy and gay with their delightful conversations]

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fate, Destiny & Happenstance......

Fate, Destiny & Happenstance........

Today was a warm, a bit muggy, but beautiful fall day. A few raindrops fell, but it was the delicious warm kind of rain that sooths the skin on a muggy day, and we are desperately in need of the rain here in Hunterdon County.

I got up early with Otto and his cousin Mikey and took them into Califon to have a garage sale at their friends house [town-wide tag sales, so lots of customers....that we would never get down our out of the way lane]. Helped the boys set up and was very happy to see how well they handled the 'pushy' dealers that were roaming about town at the crack of dawn.

I then hit a sale that I got a bunch of neat treasures at,,,,,some old wrought iron garden trellis's, planters and a beautiful lace table cloth.

Headed home to pick up Katrina and bring her down to the orchard for work......[this is where the 'Fate, Destiny & Happenstance' of our day occurred].

Returned to check on the boys [they had made $35.00 bucks since I had left them], then went back home to get Emma Sage from Greta and take her back to pick-up Otto to take him to his soccer game. We watched the game [tie 2-2] and had bagels and juice and cheered Otto and his team-mates on.

We then took Otto back to town to pick-up with Mikey the selling of wares and stopped by to ask Katrina what she wanted for lunch. Emma Sage and I went into the barn and watched off in the distance Katrina busy at work behind the counter [this was only her second day of official work] and it was jammed-packed. She was bright, quick, polite and looked like she had been working for years! [proud Momma moment here]........when she noticed us over in the corner [by the eggplants] she smiled and said 'Hello' which Emma Sage ran excitedly over to her big sis and gave her a hug and kiss.

At that moment I met Katrina's co-worker, a beautiful young woman named Amanda. Emma Sage and I said 'Hello' and she told me [with this great big smile on her face] that she had a younger brother who was also four. I told her that was wonderful and how lucky she and Katrina were to have younger siblings. We got Katrina's order: Turkey, American Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo and Vinegar on a hard roll and a Snapple raspberry tea. We said good-by and left.

Went home to see if Greta wanted to come with us. She did. We headed to Rambo's Meat Market to get the sandwich and breakfast sausage for tomorrow morning. Passed the boys and tooted the horn. They were busy with lots of customers. They were selling at their friend Roberts [Claudia whom I baby-sit for, big brother] and the house is also a coffee shop so there is a big driveway and porch and lots of shoppers to view their wares.

Brought the lunch to Katrina and Greta, Emma Sage and I decided to go out for pizza and a salad. After lunch we checked in on the boys and then headed garden, laundry and clean.

Later in the day we went to go collect our salesmen, take Mikey home, get ready for the steak dinner at the church, go pick up Katrina from work and get Otto ready to go with our neighbors to the Somerset Patriots baseball game and fireworks [lucky little boy!]. Paused at home for a brief bit, then had to take Katrina to her friend Katie's for a sleepover.....but this brief pause was when we got to hear about Fate, Destiny & Happenstance.

Katrina said that in the morning at work she and her co-workers were looking at the schedule and she realized that she was on for Sunday the 25th. She told her co-workers that when she was hired she had told her boss that she needed that one day off because she had to attend a Buddy Walk in NYC........her co-workers asked her "What is a Buddy Walk" and Katrina told them it was a walk to raise awareness about Down syndrome. Katrina's co-worker Amanda says "My little brother has Down syndrome, who do you know that has Down syndrome?" and Katrina said ~ she got chills hearing this and smiled and said "My little sister has Down syndrome" and she said they both laughed a laugh, of like, they both knew this incredible secret.

So.......when I had walked in with Emma Sage later that morning, Amanda was so excited to see Emma Sage and now I realize the reason her smile was so bright, beautiful and full of joy.

Then later that afternoon, Katrina got to meet Amanda's little brother as he came with her family to pick apples!

So now we have to get these two little siblings together to meet each other!!

Fate, Destiny & Happenstance!

Whew.........and to think there were more silly details of our day today [but I spared you all from reading them! lol!]

I'm going to head into bed right now and finish my book that I'm reading and get some rest as my 'To Do' list didn't even get a dent put in it due to the running around we did today.......but that is OK,,,,,,we had such a grand time while 'on the run!'

Day three.....

Day Three of the Roberts Confirmation Hearings.

Here is a clip from the transcript of the Roberts Confirmation Hearings that talks about a young man with Down syndrome and our humanity!

"And I want to take another point on that to tell you -- we talked a lot about the disability community, and well we should, and the protection needed for the disability community. And that's important, because I think it really helps people that need help, but it helps the rest of us to be much more human and caring.
Senator Kennedy is helping me with a bill because a number of children never get here that have disabilities. Unborn children prenatally diagnosed with Down's Syndrome and other disabilities -- I don't know if you know this, but there was a recent analysis, and 80 percent to 90 percent of children prenatally diagnosed with Down's Syndrome never get here -- never get here. They're aborted in the system.
And people just say: Look, this child's got difficulties. And we even have waiting lists in America of people, today, willing to adopt children with Down's Syndrome. And we will protect that child -- as well we should, under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other issues -- when they get here.
But so much of the time, and with our increased ability of genetic testing, they don't get here. Diagnosed in the womb, system that encourages this child to be destroyed at that stage -- and this is all in the records.
And we are the poorer for it as a society.
All the members of this body know a young man with Down's Syndrome named Jimmy. Maybe you've met him, even. He runs the elevator that takes the senators up and down on the Senate floors. His warm smile welcomes us every day. We're a better body for him.
He told me the other day -- he frequently gives me a hug in the elevator afterwards. I know he does Senator Hatch often, too, who kindly gives him ties, some of which I question the taste of, Orrin...
... but he kindly gives ties.
HATCH: It doesn't have to get personal...
BROWNBACK: And Jimmy said to me the other day after he hugged me; he said "Shhh, don't tell my supervisor. They're telling me I'm hugging too many people."
BROWNBACK: And, yet, we're ennobled by him and what he does and how he lifts up our humanity and 80 to 90 percent of the kids in this country like Jimmy never get here..............."

I post this because it is a statistic that bothers me greatly. I firmly believe we all have the right to choices, but it breaks my heart to know that many choices are made based on fear, indifference, predudice or what I believe to be the greatest reason, Dr's afraid of being sued, so they paint a picture of doom and gloom and parents make a choice not based on facts.

This clip made me happy to know that our senators are being greeted everyday by a human being that is blessed [as my daughter is] with an extra choromsome and is living proof that a life such as theirs is valuable, endearing and uplifting.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The sweetest things

The sweetest things...........

Watching your little girl waving excitedly at you from the school bus [only to watch the bus continue down the lane forgetting to stop to drop your sweet one off at her house.........then looking at your oldest daughter and laughing and then getting a bit worried and deciding we will give the bus 5 minutes to return with our precious cargo,,,,, then hearing the bus coming back up the lane, only to be VERY surprised that the bus was making the trip back, BACKWARDS!]

Watching your little girl talking to the picture of her father in the frame on the refrigerator saying "Daddy, you come home to me?" ~ "Daddy, you in Italy?" ~ "Daddy I miss you" and then breaking your heart because she comes up to you with the picture in her hands and tears in her eyes.

Watching your little girl jumping for joy and cheering her sister on the field hockey field............and then laughing because she just can't get the V in Vikings clear enough but won't stop trying to yell 'Go Vikings'….and then a quick smile and a very LOUD and CLEAR 'GO TEAM'!!!!

Watching your little girl wait her turn to tell you what she wants from the grocery store...............her siblings give me their list of what they want and then a very concerned little girl explains to me, "Mommy, I want yellow ice-pops" and then a little giggle and "some gum!" lol!!! I guess she figured that she would give it a shot to get the forbidden gum that she loves so much.

Watching your little girl ask you if her friend Jon can come over to play and then tell me "On Tuesday Mom?" Lately everything is "Tuesday". Too cute!

Watching your little girl fast asleep on the floor of the TV room completely exhausted from her busy, happy day!

So now I get to go pick up my sleeping beauty and cradle her in my arms and drift off to sleep myself.

Man, Life is good.


Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.

We miss you Daddy-O!!!!

and as Julius Caesar [100-44BC] once said....

"Veni, vidi, vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered)

We hope you are having a great trip to Italy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Singing, dancing and JUMPING in the rain! Rick has my camera,,,but I forgot,,,,Katrina has a neat digital camera that she got as a Christmas I can journal our days with Miss Emma Sage in pictures still! Posted by Picasa

Well, we finally got rain. We have been dry for so long [my gardens were very thankful] and I am hoping it continues to raid for the next day or two so the earth gets a good soaking. So what do you do when it is in the 80s.....and raining? You put on your boots and coat and grab an umbrella and go singing and dancing in the rain with your big brother! Posted by Picasa

Husking corn.......This was taken last summer at the shore [Belmar, NJ] and I just loved Emma Sage's expression and her determination that she was going to help everyone 'husk' the corn. Posted by Picasa

Art is a way of approaching life, of moving and speaking, of decorating a home and school and oneself, of selecting toys and books. It cannot be separated from other elements of life.
We cannot "teach" a child to be an artist, but as Dr. Montessori says, we can help him develop:
An Eye that Sees
A Hand that Obeys
A Soul that Feels

My little artist......we are always drawing, painting, sculting, cutting, pasting, creating! Rick took my digital camera to Italy, so I have to resort to finding photos that have touched my heart and soul, and add them to my sweet pea's blog.
Posted by Picasa