Stuffsoup – a little blog with a lot of "stuff"

Thank you for bein’ a friend

Posted in pop psych by stuffsoup on February 5, 2011

Multiple times within the last week, people have thanked me for saying hello to them. Sometimes it takes multiple occurrences for me to notice something, but this seemed striking and interesting to me from the beginning.

Are we so lost in our own worlds with mp3 players, cell phones, or even just the thoughts or worries in our heads that we would actually thank someone for pulling us back for just a moment? Or, is it, as a friend of mine confessed, that we don’t acknowledge each other because our hair or our clothes or our weight just isn’t right that day and that ends up making us feel isolated and it is a relief if someone reaches out first?

My facebook phrase (whatever that means exactly) is one that’s origin I don’t remember, but still feels true to me… “Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.” So, no matter your hair or clothes or weight or whatever, sometimes the nicest thing you can do is just say hi. Someone may actually thank you for it and you might feel great for having made a nice connection too.


I like to read

Posted in parenting by stuffsoup on February 1, 2011

Just in time for I-like-to-read month, my son suggested that we should read one hundred books. One hundred is a favorite number of his right now and he uses it basically to mean a lot. What he was trying to do at the time was delay bedtime, but what he actually did was inspired me to keep track of the books we read, at least for awhile.

At first I thought we could do a summer reading list of 100 books, but then when I saw the note from my daughter’s teacher saying that February is I-like-to-read month, that decided it. We’d read 100 books in February.

I got out a container to fill with 100 coins and labeled it “100 books” and I got out a sheet of paper since I thought it might be fun to keep track of the titles too. And so it began this morning, even before I told my kids about it. We read 3 books before we even came down the stairs. More were requested, but I was hungry for breakfast and our bodies need food too.

The kids saw the container on the counter and we put in 3 coins and listed the books we read; Who’s Behind the Door? At the Zoo by Michael Salmon, My Little Pony The Thanksgiving Gift by Meg Haston (which had been selected by my son at a book fair last week to give to his sister because he thought she would “love it” — who could say no to that!), and Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire! by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser (picked out by me at said book fair; our first Fancy Nancy book, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites because of the fun and fancy vocabulary).

Speaking of the book fair, it was a huge hit. It was put on by my daughter’s school in conjunction with their Winter Festival/huge party. They charged 50 cents or a dollar per book and all proceeds went to charity. I also picked up a couple of games including one called Zingo which my son has played or wanted to play at least “one hundred” times a day since we got it. Totally worth it. I thank whoever donated the books and games to the school.

And so, we shall continue our month of (at least) one hundred books. I think something fun might be done at the end of the month with the coins we collect in our 100-books container. I guess we’ll end up with somewhere between $1 and $25. Maybe a library book sale is coming up. Anyway, will you join us in showing how you like to read too?

First iPad post

Posted in Down syndrome,parenting by stuffsoup on January 31, 2011


Wow. So I just now saw this (3 days after originally posting). I worried that it had actually posted when I was playing with it and apparently I was right to worry. I quickly forgot about the whole post as I left the speech therapist’s office though and hadn’t given it another thought. You see, the only place during my regular week that I have access to wifi is at my daughter’s speech therapist’s office. So, everything written here after the gibberish was written from my home computer.

I think I am getting ahead of myself though. This post, originally, was going to be the story of how I got an iPad as I feel like I have been telling this story, to varying degrees, quite a bit. So, here’s (basically) how it happened…

I had seen many posts, and particularly this one, about how great the iPad is for kids (particularly with special needs). The video from the article with the boy drawing letters was really the clincher for me… I really, really, really wanted one of these things for my daughter. It almost haunted me. She was working on writing letters. Working really hard. I didn’t want that work to get stale. I wanted her to keep working. I was sure the iPad could help keep it fun. Plus, how many other learning games could there be. So much to learn AND she could really use more computer time (I was told that in confidence by someone that works with her). It all seemed very important. Apart from all of that for her, how fun might it be for me — I have not been what one might call an early adapter for technology. This could be kind of exciting even if not really very early.

But, alas, the spending freeze was on (still). No work, no money, no iPad.

I admit, I did buy a raffle ticket in the fall like the woman in the article, but I didn’t win. I was kind of shocked actually as I fancy myself quite lucky. 😉 Anyway, when my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I joked that I wanted an iPad for my daughter. When my mom asked what I might want for Christmas, I again joked that I wanted an iPad for my daughter. I also mentioned other little things that would be good for the kids like a mini muffin pan to make them mini muffins. My mom asked if there wasn’t anything that I wanted for ME. The question gave me pause. The answer too. No, there wasn’t really anything that I wanted just for me, not really.

On Christmas day (I’m glad my family has been flexible on this), we were at my parents’ house opening presents and I was helping the kids (who had piles and piles :)). I eventually got to a nice sized box from my parents (bigger than a bread box) for me at just about the time my brother got to a “much bigger than a bread box” package. My brother guessed his (and was right). I opened mine and it was filled with lovely little things including the mini muffin pan and I was feeling quite warm and fuzzy and then I got to the bottom of the box where there was another wrapped gift. I didn’t think much of it and started unwrapping. I don’t know how far into the unwrapping process I got when I saw it. The logo. The letters. An iPad!

I guess I did what any person who has been holding their breath about something that felt so off limits yet so important. I burst into tears. Really. A lot of tears. I think I actually started to freak my family out. I just couldn’t believe it. I had an iPad. And, an amazing amount of gratitude to my mom, my parents, for “hearing” how important this was to me even though I tried to keep it light. I cried again the next day for anyone who doesn’t have their parents around anymore to have these amazing moments. (Note: Go hug your parents if you can!)

I touched the iPad’s smooth, cool surface and was entranced. I couldn’t wait to do something with it. It was more than 2 weeks before I could really do anything though. My poor dh had to update everything on my main machine… operating system, iTunes, what-have-you. Then, I had to wait to find wifi which thankfully I can access at my daughter’s speech therapist’s office at least. So, while she is in doing oral-motor exercises, I am searching for free apps like Talking Tom and iWrite, that can help her in any way (along with two (so far) that are fun for me too).

The gibberish at the top of this post is because as I was trying to write on the iPad, the cursor would move, but you couldn’t see any of the letters. When I’d preview the post, the type would be there and apparently, when you post… the type is also there. So, at least for now, the iPad really is more for my daughter (and son who adores it as well) and I love watching them navigate it and the games and draw letters and spell and play matching games and learn. Technology will always be there for them and I am glad they are learning what they can. I am also humbled to have such generous parents. Thanks again, mom.

Sometimes the sibs have it

Posted in Down syndrome,parenting by stuffsoup on January 24, 2011

I have been asked what I think it might be like to be the sibling of a child with special needs. There are not only groups for the parents of children with special needs, there are also groups for siblings of children with special needs; so, it must be somehow different, right?

I think that some of the things these sib groups talk about is how sometimes it is hard to just be mad at your sibling without feeling guilty or how so much attention is diverted to the child that seems to need it most. Perhaps one day my son will have these dilemmas too, though I hope he knows it is ok to get mad at his sister and I hope he feels how much I love him too (and to be quite honest, he pulls his own attention quite often).

In the meantime, I can only opine about how I see the life of the sibling. I have to say that as his parent, I am amazed by him. Being the sibling of a child with special needs has actually seemed to bestow some additional awe upon him that he might otherwise not have received. As a parent of a child with special needs, you sometimes become hyper-aware of milestones and developmental stages and the bonus of that for a sibling is that the parent enjoys every, single, little step as they go whish-ing past them and on to the next thing. It is amazing to watch.

So, while I am truly amazed at my daughter as she tackles each next thing on the developmental checklist, I am also aware enough of those things to really be gobsmacked by my son as he keeps checking things off as well. So, at least for now, I’d say the sibling thing is really just great for both of them and I’m so glad they have each other and that I have them.

Hand in hand

Feel the burn

Posted in health/fitness by stuffsoup on January 16, 2011

I have sore muscles and I have a sneaking suspicion that more muscles will be sore tomorrow. It mostly started on Thursday. Yep, enough days ago not to be so sore any more. Thursday was team day at one of my classes (my current fav) at the gym (Lifetime) so between me and my two team mates, we did 1,000 jump ropes, 500 dead lifts, 300 deep weighted squats, and 100 burpees. We did extra jump ropes and one extra burpee just for good measure.

Now in case you don’t know what a burpee is, 100 is too many. Basically, stand at attention, put your hands on the ground beside or in front of your feet, jump your feet back so that you end up in a push-up position, go ahead and do a push up, jump your feet back up to your hands, then take your hands off the ground, throw your hands up  above your head, and jump up like a jumping jack… that’s one burpee.

The burpees were actually ok, it was the dead lift that really got me. That’s basically hauling a heavy weight from ankle height up to your hips. Really got my back. Then today, a friend of mine and I started a round of boxing classes at Opportunity Knocks in Edina.

So, to finish off my week, my arms got some pretty serious time on a heavy bag with the cool wraps and gloves and everything. It was fun and though the owner made a joke to my friend that she didn’t need to bring her own puke bucket because we could use one of theirs, I think I could have used one for the sweat instead.

Please don’t drop anything on the floor tomorrow. I may not be able to help you with it.

Superlative as a whistle

Posted in parenting by stuffsoup on January 8, 2011

It is fascinating to me to watch the minds of my children piece things together. My 3-year-old son seems to be working out how this whole superlative thing works by trying out -est on the end of things he knows are somehow different, but he is unsure in what way. For example, he was putting things in a line (as he is wont to do) and as he was counting out “first, second…”, he only paused a split second before he said “three-est”. And, since he is the three-est kid in the house, I thought that sounded pretty good. (Oh, and I did let him know about the word third and fourth, etc.)

In the same fashion as kids tend to put -ed on the end of the past tense of any verb (even go), he also thought he’d try -est on front and back. In this, he was correctly using his newfound (and new) words, frontest and backest. This got me thinking about the whole phrase “furthest to the front (or back)”. I mean, really, why can’t we just say frontest and backest. I think I like that construct better, seems cleaner, even if it at first sounds funny.

My 5-year-old daughter on the other hand is working on similes. Her most favorite (or favoritest, as my son will no doubt stumble upon very soon) started out when I told her about “clean as a whistle”. Well, now everything is anything “as a whistle”… skin that’s soft as a whistle, funny as a whistle, and even I love you as a whistle. I just had no idea how very versatile whistles were, apparently. Again, I promise, I am providing some correction to this (and boy, have I rediscovered how very many similes there are for very many things).

I must say though that I am also enjoying the errors for their humor value. I just think they are the funniest as a whistle.

When worry comes

Posted in Down syndrome,parenting by stuffsoup on December 12, 2010

I don’t really consider myself much of a worrier. I am more of a glass-is-half-full, it’ll-all-work-out kind of gal. To the point that my dh has asked me repeatedly what color the sky is in my world. (I always assure him it is very rosy and that the skies are a clear, clear blue.)

But, sometimes an overactive imagination or something that is a real unknown to me will get me… and I can worry. Like yesterday, I was worried about my daughter. Her education. Her opportunities. Her progress. You see, we have a meeting with nearly a dozen school people (teachers, therapists, etc.) on Monday to discuss, well, everything. Or at least it was starting to feel like everything.

When your child is on an IEP (individualized education plan), which basically means that they are receiving special education services; every 3 years they test, evaluate, observe, and analyze the child to determine placement, continuation of services (or not), etc., etc., etc. and that time is upon us.

It sure seems that there is more known about a child with special needs than nearly any typical child. They are tested, tracked, and evaluated nearly constantly. And, to a certain degree, that has to be done to know how to help them continue to learn and really I’m all for more information rather than less. I think I’d like to know EVERYTHING if it were actually possible (yes, even the date of my own death… morbid, I know).

So, it is probably the not-knowing, what-if part that gives me pause. What if she is doing so well that she could lose services? and scarier than that… what if she’s not? She’s lost service time already and I’m glad because that means she’s doing well and I’m not glad because that means she’s not getting as much help. It feels like a weird place and yesterday was like that. I just had to take a deep breath (ok, maybe a few) and in the spirit of full disclosure, shed just a couple of tears — which isn’t so unusual for me, I guess, and talk to someone else who’s been there, also not so unusual for me since I find other perspectives helpful and connections reassuring.

Now to adopt my theme song for the weekend. Que sera, sera… whatever will be, will be. Since, however it goes on Monday, it’ll all work out… with glasses half-full.

Why the break?

Posted in health/fitness by stuffsoup on December 10, 2010

I hate being a perfectionist. It sometimes can stop me in my tracks. I wanted to learn more about wordpress so that I could add photos. So, I stopped writing while I tried to sort it out. I didn’t actually got it all sorted, but I did figure out a few things. So here’s an idea of the post that I wanted to do, but really, really wanted to have photos in.

I got to meet Cat Cora! And she inspired me to do some cooking. She did a cooking demo at Macy’s that I attended thanks to the Blog Pantry. I had a great seat in the front row to get a great shot of her with the dishes she prepared for us that night.









Here are my versions of her dishes. They were great and I enjoyed recreating them. It is a lot more work when you don’t have people prepping stuff ahead of time, but my mom happened to be in town for this fun and she helped too. I love cooking with others. It is just more fun and makes all the chopping go by quicker.

Ah, inertia…

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on December 5, 2010

Physics. It’s great. Except when it’s not. One of Newton’s laws of physics has been true law around here for awhile. You know the one, “an object at rest tends to remain at rest, and an object in motion tends to remain in motion”. The thing is, I’m not sure if I’ve been more at rest or in motion (just not in my direction). It feels more “at rest”, but I know I’ve also been going through the motions of the everyday things that need to be done.

I want to write. I need to write. I love to run into a friend who misses my writing. It lets me know that someone is listening. Though that scares me a bit too to be honest. I want to learn more. I want to do more. I want to be more. And, I shall start by writing more. Let’s get in motion and set a course. Is there anything you want to do more of?

When did we stop letting kids win?

Posted in parenting by stuffsoup on August 5, 2010

Two boys raced frantically toward the top of the stairs that I happened to be climbing. Their mom was lagging behind. One of the boys grabbed for the railing on the top just barely edging out the second boy and he shouted with glee, “I win!”. “Awww,” lamented the second boy.

There was an age difference between these boys. I am not sure how much. But, it was the older boy who won. I wasn’t struck by the competitive nature of these (most likely) brothers, or even the rambunctious nature of their race which was taking place indoors. I was however struck by what came after the mom reached the top of the stairs as well. As the first boy smiled and the second boy was plotting his next race, the mom leveled them both by saying, “You didn’t win.”


Then she sort of shifted it around to say that each of the boys had won. Ahh, now I see… political correctness. As I was now passing this group, I could see the wheels turning in each of the boys heads. What had they just learned, I wondered. Here’s what their faces seemed to say to me…

The first boy was deflated and seemed to be wondering why anyone should strive at all. What’s the point? We all win, right? Why work so hard at it?

The second boy seemed way less satisfied than one might think after being declared a “winner” as well. Seems he had no reason to strive harder either and he knows deep down that this “compliment” rings hollow at best. Did he now wonder about other compliments he had received? Were these false as well? Maybe that art project he had done wasn’t so great after all.

It is hard to watch the second place “suffer”. But, let’s not sell kids short… they know when they’ve gotten second place. They know they didn’t win and, I think, they are ok with that mostly as long as you are. Better luck next time or a focus on a personal best versus the contest is way more motivating than false claims of victory. And, just think how much sweeter victory will be when it is honestly strived for and earned.

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