Be Fake Fancy – Chocolate Dipped Fruit

This is a go-to fave of mine when I need a treat to bring to a party – or in today’s case, when making a snack for a baby shower.  It’s pretty and delicious – and SO easy.

Ingredients:

Fruit (strawberries, banana, apples)

11.5oz bag of chocolate chips

1 tsp of Crisco

1 Jolly Rancher

Tools

Cutting board & knife

Medium pot

Spoon

Cookie sheet covered with wax paper

1. Chop up your fruit.  I used strawberries, bananas and apples – I think oranges would be delicious as well, but I’ve got a mama who isn’t too fond of citric acid right now – so those will be for another day.

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2. Dump your chocolate chips and teaspoon of crisco into a medium to small pot.  You don’t want the pot to be too big because then the chocolate is spread out at the bottom and you have to wipe the fruit around in it, instead of just dipping.  Turn the burner on low, and stir as it starts to melt till it’s smooth.  Be careful with the heat – towards the end my chocolate started to burn.  Even as you’re dipping your fruit, give it a stir every now and then.

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3.  Put the Jolly Rancher in your mouth.  It’s about to get real delicious up in here, and keeping your mouth busy will keep you from eating the “fruits” of your labor (ha ha).

4. Start dipping!  The strawberries are by far the easiest, due to their handy stem-handles; the bananas are hardest.  They’re kind of slippery, and a few times they fell apart in the chocolate.  I had to scoop them out and eat them so they wouldn’t go to waste (I need more Jolly Ranchers!!).  After you take the fruit out of the chocolate, lay it on the wax papered cookie sheet.

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Once you’re done dipping, stick the cookie sheet of chocolate dipped fruit in the fridge to give it a chance to set – half an hour was enough for mine.

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Now they’re on a plate looking pretty and ready for the baby merry makers.  This is delicious with a crisp white wine – hey, it’s not my baby shower!

Enjoy 🙂

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Date Night at Home: Wine & Cheese Tasting

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Now that we have a little one, out of the house date nights are few and far between.  Luckily, this is an easy at home treat that involves two of my favorite things – wine and cheese (well, 3, if you count the hubs).  And if you get everything during your regular weekly grocery trip, it’s quick to pull together after the kiddos go to bed!

 
The wine: 
White – Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (around $20).  I think Chardonnay might have been a better choice for the white, but i’m currently obsessed with Sauvignon Blanc. 
Red – Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (around $14).  I’m new to red, so I needed something not too heavy – I really liked this one.
 
The cheese:
We used Gorgonzola, Gruyere, Gouda, Havarti and Brie.  I loved the Gorgonzola with the white wine, as well as the Brie.  A good substitute for Brie is Camembert – I find them pretty similar, but my husband likes it better.  He also likes red wine better than I do, and thought it was really good with the Gouda.
 
The sides:
Apples, crackers (I like something good and grainy – no table crackers here), fig jam.  If you spread the jam on a cracker and top it with a slice of Brie or Havarti – SO good.  And the last time I visited my friend Molly she had 34 Degree crackers, they’re so light and crisp – I’ll def be getting them next time we do this.
 
If you don’t like to eat the cheese alone and want to cut out the carbs, use cucumber slices instead of crackers – pretty good, especially with bleu cheeses!
 
Throw on some tunes and you’re set – dudes, if you’re doing this as a treat for your lady, pick up some flowers for the table 😉
 
Happy tasting!  Talking about it has made me crave a glass of wine – if only it wasn’t 3pm on a Sunday…

The Thank You Edition

I started writing this a few days ago.  Since today is a day all about love, I figure this is a perfect time to share a post filled with love…warning, it’s about to get REAL long and sappy.
RockingLion: The Thank You Edition

Our Families
The support from our families – my mom and dad, Joel’s mom and dad, our brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. has been invaluable through everything.  They have been a constant reminder that we aren’t going through this alone.
Jeff and Teag
Teag with one of her Uncle Jeffs – Christmas ’12
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I email with a woman whose son has a condition similar to Teagan’s, we were connected through our genetic counselor.  I got an email from her just after Christmas asking me how the holidays went, because family time was always tough for her.  I couldn’t disagree more.  One of my greatest fears about this whole situation is that Teagan will feel alone…so to see her surrounded by loving Grandparents, both Uncle Jeffs (plus Aunt Jaime and Teag’s cousins), and the rest of the family this past Christmas made me so happy.  At Teagan’s birthday party, one of Teagan’s Grandmas (my mom) and her cousin Joseph got into a “fight” about who loved Teagan more…”I love her more than donuts,” “Well I Iove her more than ice cream” – yep, family time is alright with me. (also, my family is hungry)
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Cousin Joseph teaches 5 mo Teagan about Cars
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Friends 
There are four friends of mine who, for weeks, didn’t know when I called if I would be laughing about what happened on the bachelor last night or sobbing uncontrollably because there was yet another unanswered question, or in the end, the diagnosis (and for a while, sobbing was the rule).  I was a mess.  I’m not sure they could even understand what I was saying…but they always answered.  They always called, visited, hugged, cried with me.  Becky, Molly, Craig and Tracie – Thank you so much, I am lucky to have you.

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I consider myself lucky to have more than a handful of girls who I consider seriously close friends, and I know all of them would have shown unyielding support had I been strong enough to talk about this with more than just a few people – to you (Laura, Lisa, Caitlin, Julie, Cathie, Amy, Megan, Courtney, Steph) – I thank you for loving me so much that I knew I had your support before I even told you what was going on, and thank you for understanding my initial silence.
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And to any friend, close or distant, who has reached out or even just read our story – thank you for your prayers or good vibes.  Teagan seems to be making a lot of strides right now, and I can’t help but wonder (who am I, Carrie Bradshaw?) if it is because of all the positive energy being sent her way since the first blog post.
Muhlsteins and Teag
Teag with one of my besties Laura and her baby girl Mia
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The Kiddo Pros
The list of professionals we’ve seen in the process of figuring all this out is long.  I feel that we have a really good set of doctors, from Teag’s pediatrician to her geneticists to her neurologist, but the ones closest to our hearts are those who we see on a regular basis.  First of all, her therapists through the school district. Their support has been AWESOME.  Our main contact is a woman named Julie – she is a warm, enthusiastic special education teacher who visits us a couple times a month.  She knows Teagan’s progress, keeps up with her changes, and tells us what we should be looking for next.  Visiting one or two times a month are her PT and OT, Melanie and Nicole.  Melanie is so fun, and also driven – she doesn’t let Teagan get away with slacking during therapy sessions, and she has made AMAZING progress in PT.  Nicole is so incredibly kind and patient – the most frustrating area for us is feeding, and she always has suggestions, and is supportive when I get so flustered I don’t know what to do.
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And in the Kiddo Pro category, I have to talk about our daycare providers, Michelle and Eugene.  Words cannot express how lucky Joel and I feel to have found these two and their family.  I went to an in home daycare, which I LOVED, so I always knew that is what I wanted for my children.  However, if you’ve been through this process you know, there is a lot of variation from daycare to daycare.  We did a lot of searching, and as soon as we met with Michelle, we felt really good.  After a few calls to other families, we knew we were set.  And boy were we ever – they let the therapists come into their home to work with Teagan during the day, they fill out the workout sheet so we know what exercises Teagan has done during the week, and most of all, they love her.  Just yesterday at work, I got an email from Michelle that Teagan had gone from sitting on the floor to standing at the couch all by herself (!!!) – something we’ve been working on a lot lately (due to her low tone, it isn’t as easy for her to do moves that are simple for other kids).  I know there was a celebration after this happened.  I think every working mom (well probably, every mom) questions if they’re doing the right thing, and possibly even more so in my case (if you disagree, please don’t get mad – to each their own).  When discussing this with Julie, her view was that Teagan flourishes at daycare – she is happy there,  is social there, and learns so much from her peers.  It warms my heart that Teagan spends the time away from us with such wonderful, loving people.  Julie is pregnant, and she asked if Michelle had openings – when your school district special education teacher wants her kids to attend your daycare, you know you’ve found a good place 😉
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space150
“You take care of Teagan.  We’ll take care of you.”  These are the words my boss said to me as I was going through the “something is wrong/we don’t know what it is” stage of this, after she had spoken with our HR director and come up with some counseling options for me (which I still haven’t used, but probably should – thank you, Nicole and Julie).  Those two sentences are probably enough to show the quality of the people at space150 – but I promised to be long and sappy, so I can’t stop there ;-).  Craig, Christina and Cait were always there for the unexpected (and thankfully, rare) mid-day panic attack.  I received sympathy and understanding when we had a scary dr. appointment from Billy, and so many other people.  Claire, Bethany and Brian have come to talk to me about friends and family members who might be able to help – and so many more have stopped by just to cheer us on.  Most people close to me (and even some who aren’t) know I am in love with my job…coworkers’ reactions have further validated that I work for an awesome company made up of awesome people.
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My Husband
The last, yet most important person I have to thank is Joel (and he LOVES internet displays of affection, so I’m sure this is just going to make his day ;-)).  He is strong at times I’m not, so patient, and such a loving daddy.  I am so in love with you.  Happy Valentines Day.
Joel Teag Twins

The Bachelor 2.11.13 – she-who-must-not-be-named.

The girls are in St. Croix.  Now THIS seems much more typical bachelor speed. Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know who hits the bricks tonight.

 
It pains me to write this somewhat, because it requires talking about Tierra, and I don’t like rewarding bad behavior.  Within the first five minutes, she’s dragging a collapsible bed into another room so she doesn’t have to share a room with any of the girls.  Then she calls AshLee a cougar.  Um, sorry Tierra, but there is NOTHING wrong with being 32.  I find 32 year olds to be quite lovely.
 
Desiree looks like Katie Holmes, does anyone else think so?
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Anyway, AshLee tells Sean the truth about Tierra, and he says he believes her…we’ll see, dishing the dirt is usually a one way ticket home.  Oooh…AshLee has a dark secret.  She’s divorced?  Has a kiddo?  Used to be a man (if so, NICE work!)?  Yep, divorce – she got married when she was 17.  Sean: “So you were a married high-school junior?  That’s…young.”  AHHH Sean still likes her!  He thinks he’s perfect!  Heart.  And, she is the first one to drop the L-bomb!  Wow, girlfriend is hooked.
 
Tierra really wanted a 1 on 1, but instead of being excited, she is complaining about her makeup running or something.  Okay, she is doing this on purpose.  No one is truly this irritating.  Did you know her eyebrow has a twitter?  Someone out there has a sense of humor.  I bet it’s Leslie.
 
I have to go on a bit of a rant here.  The mean girls have been the rulers of The Bachelor lately – Vienna won, Courtney won, and it looks like Tierra is doing pretty well.  With the exception of Courtney, they aren’t better looking than their competition, so I know it’s not something simple as the dudes are blinded by their beauty.  What is it?  And didn’t Sean learn from Ben/learned from Jake?  If all the girls in the house don’t like one girl, RED FLAG.  If the girl says other girls are jealous of her, RED FLAG.  If they don’t have female friends, RED FLAG.  It means they’re cray-cray!  (Learn from Kristen Wiig: “And all her friends are dudes” http://www.hulu.com/watch/282330).
 
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Okay – anyway…Tierra told Sean some BS, he believed it, we’re back to where we were before his conversation with AshLee.
 
Sean just showed up at the house at 442am to surprise the girls.  He has a camera.  “I hope none of them hit me” – at least he knew what he was in for!  I wonder what time they went to bed?  Sean’s dates are nuts, but I love that he’s out of the box…and being the first people in America to see the sunrise (they’re on the east side of the island) is pretty cute.  And now they travel west, where they will watch the sunset.  This date is awesome, all three girls are awesome (Catherine, Desiree, Lindsey) – nice work Sean.  Who would have guessed the wedding dress girl would make it this far?!  Beach chats are getting real emotional…sleep deprivation does that to you.  Wedding dress girl gets the rose!  
 
Leslie and Sean date – EEEEEEEEE!  If I haven’t said so already, I heart Leslie!
 
Oooh…Sean is talking to his sister about Tierra, AshLee is talking to Tierra about Tierra.  “GIRLS ARE JEALOUS!”  Tierra just said it!  CRAY-CRAY!  AshLee just asked “what can we do to roll tape,” because Tierra told her everyone in the house has talked about her, then turned around and said she didn’t say that.  I love it when they acknowledge that they are on a TV show, it happens so rarely (usually “this journey” or something cheesy like that).  They’re talking about the eyebrow…this is too much.  Tierra doesn’t smile because her face is tired.  Sean is coming…they’re still fighting…here he is…he finds her crying.  Figures.  I thought dudes didn’t like needy girls, why is he eating it up?
 
Sean’s sister told him if a girl can’t get along with other girls, that’s a problem…and he listened.  Awesome!  I wish my bro would go on the bachelor so I could be a guest (come on Jeff, what do you say???).
 
HE TOLD HER TO GO HOME!  Sean, I tip my hat to you.  I thought he was going to be a snoozer of a bachelor, but he’s actually been pretty entertaining…and he is smarter than the last few.  I wonder if she’ll show back up later though?  If not, I highly doubt she’ll show for ATFR.  Much like the woman on Travis’ season (I think?) who talked about her eggs rotting.  
 
No cocktail party?  I’d be pissed.  And on to the rose ceremony!  Lindsey’s already got a rose.  Des has a rose.  Catherine has a rose.  Leslie or AshLee…(the music is very dramatic)…NO!  NO!  Leslie doesn’t get a rose, are you kidding?  She was so awesome.  And I thought AshLee was doomed…WTF do I know.  I need another glass of wine.  So does Catherine – she said if he doesn’t want Leslie, why is she (Catherine) here…what a strange reaction.
 
SCENES. FROM. NEXT. WEEK. LOOK. AWESOME.
 
Night all!

Teagie’s power shoes!!

I’m so excited…the team from our school district came out today to give Teag her shoe inserts.  They will offer extra support until her feet get stronger (low muscle tone is common across many chromosomal abnormalities).  Our girl wants to walk so bad!  She is SO happy when someone helps her walk.

Happy walker

 

That’s a happy kiddo, no?

I think it will take a day or two to get used to the shoes, they are clunkier than what she is used to wearing (the soft slipper shoes).  But she was immediately more steady when standing!  I fully expect her to be on the go soon – everyone is excited about this except for Dudley.  She’ll soon be chasing him for horsey rides (at 95 lbs, it makes sense).

Here she is with one of the PTs in her new shoes!

shoes on

So as far as her progress – we are working on pulling up to stand and walking with her physical therapists.  With her occupational therapist, we’re working on Teag feeding herself and using a sippy cup.  If you put food on a fork and hand it to her, she does a great job feeding herself, but she won’t pick food up off her tray (except for her b-day cake – she had absolutely no problem feeding herself that).

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She eats enough, but isn’t super motivated by food.  If I hadn’t been there when she was surgically removed from my torso, I would question our relation.  And for some reason, she hates sippy cups.  Feeding has definitely been the most frustrating part,.

As far as speech goes, she isn’t saying words yet – but that she will say “da da da,” “ba ba ba” or “mmmmm” back and forth with you, which is a good sign!  Julie, her special edu teacher, told us the different consonant sounds and turn-taking (among other things) are precursors to speech – sounds good to me!

The last category we’re working on is cognitive.  Things like dropping a ball in a bucket, learning cause and effect, etc.  Joel and I use a worksheet I made to keep track of when we’ve done 15  or so different exercises  from day to day (obsessive what?) so we’re sure to get them all in at least a couple days a week.  Teag is at daycare Monday – Thursday, they keep track on a worksheet too.  We are so lucky to have them, and all the therapists – my list of thank-yous will be the subject of another, most likely long and emotional, post ;-).

So  – that will come later, but I will say this now: it’s been half a week since my first post about Teag’s diagnosis, and the response has absolutely floored me.  From the closest family and friends to  to people I haven’t talked to in years – I’ve gotten supportive comments, emails, calls, and texts from so many wonderful people.  I can’t even tell you how much it means – each one is like a word-hug.  Thank you so much 🙂

Guilty pleasure: The Bachelor (2.4)

For post #2, I’m going to step away from the most important subject, to a subject that isn’t important at all…The Bachelor.  Oh how I love it, I wish I didn’t, but I do.  We all need a guilty pleasure, right? (don’t read if you haven’t watched yet – serious!)

 
Favorite moment right from the start – when Chris announces the ladies are going to meet Sean in…Montana.  I haven’t been to Montana, I’ve heard it’s awesome (from what they’ve shown on tonight’s episode, it is), but I can’t help but believe those chicks were expecting “Italy” or “Tahiti” to come out of Chris’ mouth.  They acted super excited, which made me laugh and almost lead to a very unfortunate treadmill incident.  Well played ladies, well played.
 
Pretty sure I went to elementary school with the girl who was just singing on Sean and the girl who wore the wedding dress’ date.  Weird.
 
So far my favorites are Leslie and Desiree, and I’m kind of digging Selma (maybe mostly because her name is Selma) – although I have a sneaking suspicion she is campaigning for next bachelorette.  Which would be interesting, since she won’t kiss anyone.  She’s got character and she’s a hottie – I’d watch.
 
Poor goats, to have a bunch of people who don’t know what they’re doing tugging on them.  Not a fan of that part 😦  The blue team loses and has to go home.  But later on…the blue team is invited to the party!! YAY!!  The red team is going to be PISSED.
 
…and they are.
 
Tierra…this girl acts like she’s never seen the show before.  Sean knows she’s being patient.  Things aren’t fair for her.  She feels like she’s being mislead.  YOU’RE ON A TV SHOW COMPETING WITH 25 WOMEN FOR ONE MAN.  She’s trying to be the villain, and she’s not even doing a good job – Courtney and Vienna could teach her a thing or two.  OMG…she is not sneaking up on Sean.  Stop.  NEEDY.  Now the 2 on 1 is a slap in the face?  Twenty minutes ago she was pumped to have it!  If she wins I’m done with this show.  NO I DON’T MEAN IT!  I’m sorry Bachelor, I take it back, I will never say it again.  Are we okay?
 
I also like AshLee.  I’m going to start going by KathLeen.  Sean is crazy about her.  Unfortunately, he is crazy about a lot of gals.  Oh no.  Catherine’s got game and Daniella is crying.  Do tears = rose??  Yes.  Cheap!  There was a 2 on 1 date, Jackie went home, I can’t talk about it.  Desiree feels like he gives roses to the girls who are having trouble.  Desiree is on to something.
 
Robyn tries to give it to Crown straight…she’s not worried, there are plenty of guys she can get engaged to.  Sean is going to get to the bottom of it, so he asks Leslie what’s going on with the girls.  Heart.  He wants some dirt – hey Sean, guess you should have kept that crazy Kacie around!
 
OMG OMG, rose ceremony…and so long Robyn.  
 
Less than 24 hours till the next episode!

 

What’s going on

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a long time, mostly because I think I have a lot of funny things to say that I’m sure you’re all dying to hear ;-).  I assume I’ll do some post about my profession, about random things I love (wine, the Cyclones, Harry Potter), about recipes I find on Pinterest that are actually delicious.  But what I think I’ll talk about mostly, is my sweet baby girl Teagan.

News of what is going on with our daughter is becoming more known by those close to us, but Joel and I feel it is time to just put it out there.  It’s a difficult decision to make, not because I’m embarrassed or afraid to talk about it, but because I don’t want her to be put in a category and I don’t want anyone to put limits on her.  We have no way of knowing what she is capable of, and I already know that she is, and will continue to be, amazing.

We attended a networking event put on by Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota’s Genetics Department today.  We sat at a table with other parents who had the same fears, feelings of “it’s not fair,” and strong love for their childen that we do – they are who inspired me to post this today.

So for my first post…this is an email I wrote to close friends of mine some months ago now to tell them what was going on.  It was hard enough to write the first time, I’m going to take the easy way out and just paste it here ;-).  Soon I’ll follow up with Teagan’s progress, as a lot has changed since then.  Thanks for reading 🙂

Hi gals,

I have some news to share with you.  I’m sorry for doing this over email, but the thought of having this conversation on the phone multiple times was too much, and MN girls, the next time I’ll see you is at our girls night in a few weeks, and I want that to be fun, not overshadowed by bad news.
We’ve found out what is going on with Teagan, and it isn’t good.  After multiple tests, MRIs, MRVs, EEGs, ABCs, 123s, her neurologist decided we should do genetic testing.  So they took a blood sample, and there we found the culprit.  She has trisomy 12p – for those of you who aren’t nurses, it’s a chromosomal abnormality.  Sometime shortly after conception, when all the cells that make up Teagan were multiplying rapidly, there was an error in one.  From what I understand, it isn’t rare for a cell to have an error, but normally the body gets rid of it.  Teagan’s didn’t, so the bad cell started multiplying along with all the rest of them.  So on the 12th chromosome of some of her cells, the short arm (p) is duplicated and flipped upside-down.  Since it is only in some of her cells, not all, it’s called the mosaic form.
Down syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality that is more common, this one is super rare.  One in 50,000 births.  Only 150 or so have been medically documented.  Of the documented cases, some can talk, some can’t.  Some can go to the bathroom on their own, some can’t.  None of them live independently.  It remains to be seen if she’ll start regular school (I have high hopes for this).  A lot of them have seizures, so we’re on close watch for that till she’s seven – but we had an EEG last week, and it looked good.  A lot of them have heart or other organ problems as well – we had an ultrasound and heart ecco (?) done two weeks ago, and that was good too.
So how she’s doing now…because of her difficult birth, we were watching her very closely for cerebral palsy.  Because of that, we caught this much earlier than we would have otherwise – and we’ve been doing therapy with her since we found out she had low tone at her NICU follow-up clinic when she was five months old.  We found out with the MRI that her brain is fine – the small part that we saw on the MRI before she left the hospital when she was born is gone, it healed itself, like the doctors were hoping it would.  Anyway – we do physical therapy, occupational therapy, and special education through the school district weekly on a rotating basis, and physical therapy through Children’s hospital weekly.  So every week she has at least two therapy sessions.  Shortly here we’ll probably start occupational through Children’s as well, and speech therapy when she’s closer to two.  She makes quite a bit of noise, nanas and mamas, and gets taking turns with making noise – so I have high hopes for speech too.  My dream is that she is able to go to college.  And the therapy is going well – on Friday her special education teacher was out, and we were going over the 15 or so goals we’d set for her at the beginning of therapy, because her next assessment is coming up in early November.  Of the 15, which range across physical, occupational, cognitive  and communicative, there is only one she hasn’t already reached – crawling, which is hard because of her low tone – and she is getting close.
So how are Joel and I doing…we’re coping.  To put it bluntly, we are living a nightmare – every parent’s nightmare.  There were a good two weeks or so where I was in a really dark place, darker than I ever would have thought possible, but I’ve come out of it some – although it’s still a roller coaster of emotions, and probably always will be.  I still can’t believe this happened to us – a member of our family is special needs, has a disability.  Doesn’t seem like something that could ever actually happen to you.  But I haven’t burst into tears in front of a random unlucky coworker for almost a week now ;-).  Joel’s found a trisomy 12p support group on facebook that he finds comfort in.  We do a pretty good job at taking turns freaking out, and being strong for the other one during their turn.  And within our house, me, Joel, Teag, and Dudley, there is so much love.  And Teagan is generally a happy little girl – she is so sweet and loving.  Not many people know – our families, a few coworkers each, Tracie, Molly, Becky, and now you.  We’re not embarrassed of it but we haven’t quite figured out how we want to handle it with outsiders yet (you can tell your hubbies, of course), because there is no reason for people to start treating her differently now.  And if I owe you a phone call I hope you can understand why I’ve been distant.  You’re all very important to me, too important to be learning of this through email, but like I said, it was just too much.
Since you are my good friends, I assume if I was telling you this in person, you’d ask me how you could help.  For the MN gals – lets get your hubbies and Joel out for a fun night here or there.  I know I can turn to any of you when I’m sad, men aren’t like that as much.  And if there is something in your life that is making you sad or mad, and you can change it, do it.  I’ve never had anything important I’ve been this out of control over before – to be quite frank, I don’t like it ;-).  And next time you hear someone say the word retard, give them the stink eye for me 😉 I know people aren’t trying to offend anyone when they use it, but since this has happened, I’ve been amazed (now that I’m paying attention) how often people use it – it stings.  And if you want to call me in the next day or so, or next time you see me you want to ask how therapy is going, I would love it – I’m not scared to talk about it, it’s my life now – I just didn’t want to break this news so many times, you know what I mean?  Oh – and pray for her continued progress.
So, I think that’s it.  Sorry that got so long.  Thank you for being my friends.
Kath