Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chuck E Cheese!!

Hannah loves her cake. She picked it out herself.

Happy Birthday girl!

An I-Spy Fairy book from her Pompa.

Her lady bug bag from Auntie Mia. She keeps her tokens in there that she earns from me when she does what she is supposed to be doing.

Her emergency flashlight/radio/fog horn from Uncle Chris.

Her little mermaid toothbrush from Auntie Nina. She LOVES this.

A pretty heart necklace from mommy and daddy.

A barbie in a bed. She wanted this for like 6 months. She was so excited. :)

This cake turned out great. Hannah picked the flavors too. Chocolate cake with "pudding" filling. (or bavarian creme)

Playing at Chuck E Cheese.

Both kids loved it. We'll go back again soon. :)

Maizer gave Chuck E. a hug!

Hannah liked him but kept her distance. :)

Hannah and daddy - always silly goof balls. :)

What love!!! Daddy and his mini me. But prettier. LOL

Hannah had her 4th birthday at Chuck E Cheese. It was her first time there and we all had a blast! It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be and the pizza was really good too! Here are a bunch of pictures from her birthday party.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hannah on her 4th Birthday!

Hannah turns 4 today. My tiny little preemie baby at 4 lbs. 13 oz. is now a 4 year old!!! I'll post more pictures tonight after her party. But here are a couple cute ones of her today. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Who has Skype??

Ok so I am setting up my Skype and webcam tomorrow!!! If you have Skype let me know. You can email me your address if you prefer at redstonius@hotmail.com and/or find me on Skype! Until we see each other next!!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The "Retard" in my life

I know that nearly 100% of you have no idea about my who or what my family comprised of. But I will tell you the speech I posted below was so sweet. It made me think of my brother who was actually my grandmother's adopted son named Tom. We moved in with my grandmother when I was 12 years old. My mother had committed suicide that year and so we became my grandmother's children and Tom became more like a brother than an uncle. I love Tom and when I think of him a smile always comes to my face. I can not wait for the day when I meet him in heaven and he is whole. From what I know and this may or may not be true, but Tom was smothered as a baby by his father and a pillow. He had permanent brain damage and was considered mentally retarded and forever the age of 5 or 6. He LOVES people and all the business of others. To be included in the daily dramas of life, well dramas to him but not really to anyone else. When he gets excited or upset he gets very loud. My favorite thing about Tom is that he always says, "Hey, let me ask you a question." But then says a statement and never a question. LOL He is funny and sweet and innocent and unfortunately changed by many influences. He lives with the help of an aid in his own apartment now and participates with special olypics and has many activites that keep him busy as well as friends who are also like him in mentality. I haven't seen him for a good 6 months now but he is getting older and is looking it. :) It is almost strange to see Tom who is always "young" grow older. I believe this year will bring his 46th birthday. I have never in my life called him names even as a child who didn't really understand what was different about him. I have heard him be called retard many many times in his life and have seen him bullied and taken advantage of. He never understood what was happening except that he knew it wasn't good. It breaks my heart that others can be so flipant and callous as to think that what they do or say has no lasting impact and I am glad to have stumbled upon the speech below. It is great that a teenager would stand up in front of the entire school and defend what is right. May we all be that strong in our lives.

The acceptable word of "Retard"

“I want to tell you a quick story before I start. I was walking through hallways, not minding my own business, listening to the conversations around me. As I passed the front door on my way to my English classroom, I heard the dialogue between two friends nearby. For reasons of privacy, I would rather not give away their race or gender.

So the one girl leans to the other, pointing to the back of a young man washing the glass panes of the front door, and says, “Oh my gaw! I think it is so cute that our school brings in the black kids from around the district to wash our windows!” The other girl looked up, widened her slanted Asian eyes and called to the window washer, easily loud enough for him to hear, “Hey, Negro! You missed a spot!” The young man did not turn around. The first girl smiled a bland smile that all white girls - hell, all white people - have and walked on. A group of Mexicans stood by and laughed that high pitch laugh that all of them have.

So now it’s your turn. What do you think the black window washer did? What would you do in that situation? Do you think he turned and calmly explained the fallacies of racism and showed the girls the error of their way? That’s the one thing that makes racism, or any discrimination, less powerful in my mind. No matter how biased or bigoted a comment or action may be, the guy can turn around and explain why racism is wrong and, if worst comes to worst, punch ‘em in the face.

Discrimination against those who can defend themselves, obviously, cannot survive. What would be far worse is if we discriminated against those who cannot defend themselves. What then, could be worse than racism?

Look around you and thank God that we don’t live in a world that discriminates and despises those who cannot defend themselves. Thank God that every one of us in this room, in this school, hates racism and sexism and by that logic discrimination in general. Thank God that every one in this institution is dedicated to the ideal of mutual respect and love for our fellow human beings. Then pinch yourself for living in a dream. Then pinch the hypocrites sitting next to you. Then pinch the hypocrite that is you.

Pinch yourself once for each time you have looked at one of your fellow human beings with a mental handicap and laughed. Pinch yourself for each and every time you denounced discrimination only to turn and hate those around you without the ability to defend themselves, the only ones around you without the ability to defend themselves. Pinch yourself for each time you have called someone else a “retard.”

If you have been wondering about my opening story, I’ll tell you that it didn’t happen, not as I described it. Can you guess what I changed? No, it wasn’t the focused hate on one person, and no it wasn’t the slanted Asian eyes or cookie cutter features white people have or that shrill Hispanic hyena laugh (yeah, it hurts when people make assumptions about your person and use them against you doesn’t it?).

The girl didn’t say “hey Negro.” There was no black person.

It was a mentally handicapped boy washing the windows. It was “Hey retard” I removed the word retard. I removed the word that destroys the dignity of our most innocent. I removed the single most hateful word in the entire English language.

I don’t understand why we use the word; I don’t think I ever will.

In such an era of political correctness, why is it that retard is still ok? Why do we allow it? Why don’t we stop using the word? Maybe students can’t handle stopping - I hope that offends you students, it was meant to - but I don’t think the adults, here can either.

Students, look at your teacher, look at every member of this faculty. I am willing to bet that every one of them would throw a fit if they heard the word faggot or nigger - hell the word Negro - used in their classroom. But how many of them would raise a finger against the word retard? How many of them have? Teachers, feel free to raise your hand or call attention to yourself through some other means if you have.

That’s what I thought. Clearly, this obviously isn’t a problem contained within our age group.

So why am I doing this? Why do I risk being misunderstood and resented by this school’s student body and staff? Because I know how much you can learn from people, all people, even - no, not even, especially - the mentally handicapped.

I know this because every morning I wake up and I come downstairs and I sit across from my sister, quietly eating her Cheerio’s. And as I sit down she sets her spoon down on the table and she looks at me, her strawberry blonde hair hanging over her freckled face almost completely hides the question mark shaped scar above her ear from her brain surgery two Christmases ago.

She looks at me and she smiles. She has a beautiful smile; it lights up her face. Her two front teeth are faintly stained from the years of intense epilepsy medication but I don’t notice that anymore. I lean over to her and say, “Good morning, Olivia.” She stares at me for a moment and says quickly, “Good morning, Soeren,” and goes back to her Cheerio’s.

I sit there for a minute, thinking about what to say. “What are you going to do at school today, Olivia?” She looks up again. “Gonna see Mista Bee!” she replies loudly, hugging herself slightly and looking up. Mr. B. is her gym teacher and perhaps her favorite man outside of our family on the entire planet and Olivia is thoroughly convinced that she will be having gym class every day of the week. I like to view it as wishful thinking.

She finishes her Cheerio’s and grabs her favorite blue backpack and waits for her bus driver, Miss Debbie, who, like clockwork, arrives at our house at exactly 7 o’clock each morning. She gives me a quick hug goodbye and runs excitedly to the bus, ecstatic for another day of school.

And I watch the bus disappear around the turn and I can’t help but remember the jokes. The short bus. The “retard rocket.” No matter what she does, no matter how much she loves those around her, she will always be the butt of some immature kid’s joke. She will always be the butt of some mature kid’s joke. She will always be the butt of some “adult’s” joke.

By no fault of her own, she will spend her entire life being stared at and judged. Despite the fact that she will never hate, never judge, never make fun of, never hurt, she will never be accepted. That’s why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because I don’t think you understand how much you hurt others when you hate. And maybe you don’t realize that you hate. But that’s what it is; your pre-emptive dismissal of them, your dehumanization of them, your mockery of them, it’s nothing but another form of hate.

It’s more hateful than racism, more hateful than sexism, more hateful than anything. I’m doing this so that each and every one of you, student or teacher, thinks before the next time you use the word “retard,” before the next time you shrug off someone else’s use of the word “retard”. Think of the people you hurt, both the mentally handicapped and those who love them.

If you have to, think of my sister. Think about how she can find more happiness in the blowing of a bubble and watching it float away than most of us will in our entire lives. Think about how she will always love everyone unconditionally. Think about how she will never hate. Then think about which one of you is “retarded.”

Maybe this has become more of an issue today because society is changing, slowly, to be sure, but changing nonetheless. The mentally handicapped aren’t being locked in their family’s basement anymore.

The mentally handicapped aren’t rotting like criminals in institutions. Our fellow human beings are walking among us, attending school with us, entering the work force with us, asking for nothing but acceptance, giving nothing but love. As we become more accepting and less hateful, more and more handicapped individuals will finally be able to participate in the society that has shunned them for so long. You will see more of them working in places you go, at Dominicks, at Jewel, at Wal-Mart. Someday, I hope more than anything, one of these people that you see will be my sister.

I want to leave you with one last thought. I didn’t ask to have a mentally handicapped sister. She didn’t choose to be mentally handicapped. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have learned infinitely more from her simple words and love than I have from any classroom of “higher education.” I only hope that, one day, each of you will open your hearts enough to experience true unconditional love, because that is all any of them want to give. I hope that, someday, someone will love you as much as Olivia loves me. I hope that, someday, you will love somebody as much as I love her. I love you, Olivia.

Soeren Palumbo

Soeren Palumbo is a senior honors student at Fremd High School in Wheeling, Illinois, and big brother to Olivia. During Writer’s Week (in March 2007), he gave the following speech to a gymnasium full of his high school peers and faculty and received a standing ovation.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stick Figure Family at FreeFlashToys.com

Make your Stick Figure Family at FreeFlashToys.com


Hannah has officially gained back 9 ounces after being so sick a couple of weeks ago. The real kicker?? She did it all by herself! There were no tube feed interventions. I am so proud of her. I am excited to see if she can gain the last 7 ounces to be back where she was all by herself as well in the next two weeks. She has also grown and is now just barely over 40 inches tall. Her weight is 28 lbs. 1 oz. Birthday count down alert -10 days to go and she will be a 4 year old! She chose an Ariel mermaid cake and wants to go to Chuck E Cheese for the first time. We checked it out today and she was so excited with everything. We didn't play any games so it will still be her first time there for her birthday. I don't think we will do a friend party for her, just a family party. It's just a money issue and an energy issue. I am pretty pooped out and the thought of lots of kids and craziness doesn't appeal right now. Besides, she'll never remember it, right? LOL The family will be enough for now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Home sweet Home

Well, I am so tired but finally I can post something. We got our computer hooked up today. It took the phone company FOREVER to get us our service and even now we are on a temporary line because they can't find the buried line to our house from their box across the street. We have been in here since 2/28 and it's the 10th. No phone - no computer. I felt like I was in a black hole. That's pretty sad to think how dependent we can be on our technology. :) It's just so nice to be able to keep in touch this way though.

The house is lovely. Still a bit echoey because we don't have all our stuff moved in. But we are getting there slowly but surely. It all sits in the garage. We have some things that still need to be done such as painting the outside of the house (can't because of weather), cementing the porch (can't because of weather, cementing the driveway (can't because of weather), finding our permanent phone line - yep you guessed it - can't because of the snow. Oh snow...you are beautiful but I am tired of seeing you now. I love the house and can't wait to make it more reflective of our family. You know - curtains so we don't live in a fish bowl - LOL and pictures on the wall...stuff like that. I wake up everyday and it is still so new!! I have that whole nesting thing coming out and I just want everything done!

We hope to amend our taxes and collect our First Time Home Buyers compensation in a few weeks. That would make it possible to finish the basement before the baby comes! We'll see. Things have had so many obstacles lately that I am not going to bet on it at this point in time. But how nice to have a play area for the kids and a family room downstairs! John's bedroom all done and a work area for him and a spare bedroom for visitors!! Hint hint! Family can now come visit and see the kids! Yeah :)

Well, I have been feeling better after having to have breathing treatments to help me breathe after catching Hannah's terrible virus. My lungs are feeling less heavy and itchy and my energy is coming back up. I feel the baby kicking more now and I am happy about that. While I was really sick he was a quiet little guy. Had me worried! I have my next appointment in a week. I am in my third trimester now! Boy this pregnancy has gone by fast! I am so excited to meet this little one and I hope that Hannah's excitement lasts and she becomes a little mommy for him too. It will give her an important job and she does love to be a big helper. I can't believe Hannah is turning 4 on the 23rd! That's just nuts. We will find out how her weight is doing on Thursday.

Well, I have blabbed on long enough. I will take a few pictures when things are looking more like a house in here. :) Love you all!