Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Kaela!

Officially Kaela turned one a week ago at the LPA convention, but yesterday we celebrated! Owen is so thankful to have such a good friend in Kaela. Here's to many, many more birthday celebrations! Brother Will helps his sis blow out the candles! Birthday girl and daddy Is that hat the cutest or what? I'm pretty sure Owen thinks it's his special day too Knoah is showing Owen how the stairs are done. Sarah and Owen "Tower, this is Ghostrider requesting a flyby" Tonya and Knoah Missing Kaela (who was napping contentedly)!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Edition (I mean Addition)

Ha! Blast from the past. New Edition... Johnny Gill was my favorite and I actually had his self titled solo album (and PS - now that I realize what those songs mean, I can't believe my mother let a 12 year old buy such a dirty album!). I also remember when Ralph Tresvant did Voices that Care. Does anyone remember that? It was circa 1991 and my sister and I taped the "Making of" special. We ussed to watch it over and over. We could probably both sing the entire song for you if you asked us to (though, why would anyone do that?) If you've never seen it please, please, please click here! HERE Totally cheesey, but admit it, you get a little sentimentially patriotic watching it don't you?! But I'm totally off track ...

My point was to turn your attention to the new addition to my blog. My coworker Judy, upon discovering I had a blog, suggested I add a map (as many of my fellow bloggers of the future have already done). So I did. That's it. Scroll down to the bottom and sign it. Now.

NEW!!! LPA National Conference 2008 Report (part 2)

Do you like how I've divided my posts up into parts? I feel that it really builds the anticipation for what is coming next. Kinda like the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. It also gives me a small sence of self importance the way a roman numeral at the end of my name would. Anywho...

Before I really get into more LPA stuff, I want to throw the spotlight on my fellow blogger Katie. Has anyone noticed that her blog list now keeps track of the last time you posted? I think this is her subtle way of calling out all the blog slackers (you know who you are!). I'm kinda jealous I didn't think of it first. although I may still shamelessly copy the format. It's kinda like a competetive sport! It's totally kicked my butt into posting more because I don't want to see How Life is Measured 7 weeks ago on her blog. I used to just go down my list of blogs in order to catch up but I now go to Katie's first and go down her list so I can see who's posted most recently! Kudos for the time saver and the motivation!

Well Tonya beat me to it, but I was defintely going to mention all the faces I recognized at conference. I too saw Marty Klebba and actually met his sister. They are from the Metro Detroit area (Troy)which I didn't know, but may have been able to guess had I seen the Detroit Tigers tats on his arm (nothing gets by me!). I also saw the Foos who had a couple Discovery Channel specials and briefly spoke to Kenadie who has primorial dwarfism and her father. I too saw the Roloffs and got to watch Zach play ball at the DAAA games. Throughout the week there were quite a few faces that I recongnized and couldn't place only to realize later that they had been the subject of one of the many dwarfism segments I've seen. Owen was definitely humbled. It was good for him, with his small potatoes local news story, to get knocked down a peg or two. I will say though, I was totally taken aback to be approached by a few people who read the blog. I'm not going to lie - it was awesome!

We attended the banquet on Thursday night and Dan and I felt it was well worth it. The Mariott had a great dinner prepared and the awards ceremony was great to see. It gave us a heads up as to which scholarships we need to push, ahem...I mean encourage Owen to win. It also gave us a little more insight as to who's who within the LPA and how much work is involved in putting the Conference together. But if I'm really being honest, there was wine involved and it was the first time we've been able to sit down and take a load off with our fellow LPA members. The dance afterwards was a blast and Owen, in his Sunday best, was a dapper debonair ready to shake his tailfeather!

YES! There is a part 3 coming! Of course you all should have known based on the way that I went on and on about the Florida trip. The next post will try and give some tips as to what I learned as a first time Conference attendee. Hopefully I can help the first timers going to NYC!

Owen loved the scooters. All week he followed anyone with a scooter. I can't believe he didn't get run over
My two handsome boys. Aren't I a lucky girl?
John Travolta ain't got nothing on me!
Even Mom and Dad had fun!
This is my friend Charlene who took great care of me in Kid's Camp.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

LPA National Conference 2008 Report (part 1)

For Owen's 1st Birthday, his family and friends contributed to a fund that allowed him lifetime membership to the LPA. In my thank you cards, I expressed my gratitude for providing Owen with a means to life long support and friendship. At the time, my word were only theoretical. This week truly allowed me to see what a blessing the Little People of America organization is to our family.

Every year, the LPA hosts a national conference in a different major city. It is a week long opportunity for little people and their families to catch up with friends, attend workshops, see medical specialists and compete in sports. This year the conference was in Detroit which means we were lucky enough to attend. If it wouldn't have been in our own backyard, I doubt we would have gone. Our thoughts were that Owen was really too young to understand what was going on anyway. Obviously we didn't even occur to us that the conference would benefit us as well.

Conferences seem to be a family affair. The average height people (or AP's which is apparently what all the kids are calling us these days), seemed just as integrated into the LPA life as the little people. It makes sense when you think about it. Statistically 80% of dwarfs have average size parents. But it wasn't just parents. Siblings, friends and grandparents were all in on the fun. It was a huge relief to see. It was a relief to know that Owen's dwarfism won't keep me from relating to this aspect of his life.

There were a lot of 1st time parents with kids under 2, the youngest I met being 11 months old. There were also parents who waited a bit to bring their LP children. I talked to a woman who attended conference for the first time with her 6 year old and an older LP (I wasn't rude enough to ask his age) who had just recently started attending. Either way, from a social aspect it didn't appear to make a difference if you had been attending your whole life or if you were a newbie at 40. Everyone seems to find their place.

It was very refreshing to find myself in the company of parents who really, truly know what it's like to be a parent in our situation. Conversation flowed without having to go through the "dwarfism rhetoric" that I'm becoming an expert at. Mine goes something like this - "Owen is a little person. He has a condition called achondroplasia which is the most common form of dwarfism. We are not sure how tall he will be but the average height of a dwarf with his condition is about 4 feet. There are some things that medically, we will have to keep an eye on, but otherwise he will just be short." - Pretty good huh?! Anyway, with other parents of little people you can skip this whole thing and just give "the stats". Age, type of dwarfism, where you were from, how many conferences you've been to and how you found out your child had dwarfism. I talked to different parents about so many things. How do the other kids react? How to their siblings handle all the attention an LP gets? How did dating go? How's school? It was so nice to not only share my experiences, but to hear other people stories.

It was really nice to talk to other little people. I've never known anyone with dwarfism and it was exciting (yes, exciting) to be able to spend days in the company of so many great people. At first it is a little jarring to be surrounded by people who are physically different from yourself. After a bit however, you realize that the difference is of no more importance than hair color. For me to go through that was important because I know that other people will do the same around Owen.

I can't even begin to discribe how much we got out of this conference. I am whole-heartedly looking forward to them in the future. If I wasn't the parent of a little person, I would for sure try to weasle my way into conference every year. Most importantly I think that this week has facilitated an existential shift in my thinking. Instead of living the best life possible despite Owen's condition, we are living the best life possible because of it.

Owen's used a stool for the first time at conference!
Dan and Owen at the Newcomer's Reception
The Mallinson's from California with their beautiful daughter Caitlin(achondroplaisa, 11 months)
Family shot!
Owen's new friend Patrick
Uhh...Hey bro, I thought we were in this dwarfism thing together!
Julie from Arkansas reads my blog! Poor girl...
New District 5 Mascot
Double fisting muffins after the medical workshop in which Dr. Pauli told us that Owen should be eating 2/3rds of what average height babies eat. Hmmm...Is he thinking that an AH baby would eat 3 muffins?
Taking a dip before the festivities
Bundled up with Grandma and Grandpa who came down to see me! They went to the Grandparents meeting too!
Playing in the water at the Riverwalk
The Roloffs spoke and did an question and answer. Owen asked Zach about what it was like to date.
This is at the DAAA games (Dwarf Athletic Association of America). They were taping for "Little People, Big World".
More DAAA games
Just watching these guys makes me tired!
Blowing kisses to dad
Mommy and me
Finally! Mom, Dad - you can leave now, I found the boys.
Owen and his buddy Knoah
Gabe from New Mexico and Sandy from California introduced themselves. They read my blog too! I introduced them to Julie so they could form a support group.
Me, Owen, Sue and Aiden (from Perrysburg, OH) Grandma's giving me snacks at the talent show.
Mind if I take a load off?

Friday, June 20, 2008

LPA National Conference 2008

We are headed to Detroit this weekend for the LPA convention! Detroit's only an hour from us which usually is nothing to brag about unless there is a major national conference in town.
I'm so excited to finally meet some of the people I have been corresponding with over the year. We leave tomorrow and are staying through until Monday. I will be back and forth all week but I will give updates!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why am I drinking cheap beer?

"Because it numbs the pain." is not the correct answer. My reasons for drinking will be detailed in another post, but for now the issue is not the drinking itself, but the quality of which I drink. Let me provide you with a little background.

Before I had Owen (BO, as i like to call it), I was working on my 9th year at the Palace of Auburn Hills. As a manager, I had a few areas of responsibility but most of my tenure was spent as the Backstage Catering Coordinator. I loved my job and yes, it was as cool as it sounds. The Restaurant Management Group became my family (literally, I met and married Dan while employed there!) and I actually looked forward to going to work everyday. Ok, not EVERYday, but the vast majority of them.
The day before my devastating ultrasound was inadvertently my last day at the Palace. I started my maternity leave and found another job at the end of my 3 months. The decision not to return to the Palace was one of the hardest of my life. They were so wonderful to us during Owen's "scary time" giving Dan ample time off and sending well wishes everyday. However, the fact of the matter was, that I couldn't continue to work the hours and raise Owen. At least both of us couldn't. We were an event based business which meant nights, weekends, 12 hour days. All non-issues when we were a carefree childless couple. When was offered a 9 to 5 position (the holy grail of jobs in the restaurant business) as the business manager of an Irish Pub, I had to take it.

Flash forward to one year later. I am unhappy with my current situation and have come to the realization that the 9 to 5 life isn't a trade off for loving your job. So I quit. No back up. No money saved. Michigan economy. YIKES!!
Luckily, I had the good sense to go crawling back to the Palace begging for mercy. Ok, it wasn't quite that bad. When I originally left, my boss told me that I was welcome back if it didn't work out. Much to their credit they kept their promise!

So here's the current situation. I am back on a part-time basis working events in the backstage catering coordinator capacity. Time-wise it's the perfect scenario. I am at a job I love, but don't have the crazy hours of a full time manager. Pocketbook wise - holy crap! Loosing half of my salary is one hell of an adjustment for my family.
Let me make this very clear. Dan and I are not wealthy people by any means but in our younger days we always found money for the "extras". Vacations, nice dinners with wine by the bottle (ok bottles plural if we are being honest) and a new wardrobe - for me of course - at least twice a year. Jeeze, just writing that depleted our bank account a little! Even after Owen was born, the occasional purse party splurge (don't rat me out to the Feds!) wouldn't put us in the poorhouse. Those days are a thing of the past. I don't normally like to talk about money, but my new part-time status isn't just about the money, it's about a lifestyle change.

In a way, it's been good. Dan and I have really been able to weed out the extras and figure out what we truly need to survive. And yes, if you are working it out in your head, that includes beer. Just cheaper beer. Hell, if we can live like this when we are back in the clear, we might actually be able to...possibly...maybe...SAVE!
In another way, it hasn't been good. You try breaking an addiction as powerful as my US Weekly addiction! I die a little bit every time I go through a grocery store checkout line.
All in all though, it's about Owen. I've learned that a 79 cent pack of markers can provide endless enjoyment - minus incidentals like repainting and bathing. We have agreed that if at any point we struggle to provide for Owen, it's for me. Until then, I'll just keep enjoying my nightly Busch Light.

A Pictoral Tribute to Past Good Times (which are now over)

Fun at a bar

Fun at a wedding

Fun with friends out to dinner (that's Dan's twin in the green)

Fun at dinner (look at all the wine!)

Fun with the girls

Sunday, June 15, 2008

One Year Old!

No, no, not Owen of course...My blog!
It started as a means to share Owen news with family and friends and morphed into a way to help other people. Like the Roloffs and Tonya, I thought that by putting our life out there, we could familiarize people with dwarfism. After 15,000 hits, 81 posts, 18 linked blogs, 8 videos, 1 article in the newspaper and 1 guest blogger (thanks mom!), I feel like I'm the one who has gained the most. I've met amazing families, heard heartbreaking stories and laughed at the hilariousness of my fellow bloggers.
So with my Bush Light in hand (long story...I'm working part time now, hence the really cheap beer...the subject of my next post!), I raise a toast to the blog and all my fellow bloggers.
Happy Birthday to me!

To My Dad, Love Owen

Friday, June 6, 2008

Random Pictures

Enjoying a Peanut Butter and Jelly delicacy. Frolicking in the grass What happens on the playground, stays on the playground. I suggest you listen to the shirt....(a gift from Mimi and Pop Pop) Owen's favorite activity as of late. Chillin' with Elmo, watching (and eating) a video. Like father, like son in their Sunday best Owen's best pal. "They're here!" ...I couldn't resist the Poltergeist picture.