Mac-a-doodle-doo!

Lilypie Fifth Birthday tickers

Keegan Joy

Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Johnny

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Old haircut

I was going through old pictures and came upon these. Not super great quality but that is what happens when you take an iPhone picture of a disposable film picture!


The first time I cut my hair to donate. I woke up one Sunday and decided it was time to chop it off. We went that afternoon and everyone in the little hair cutting place (what would you call a little local place like TGF?) watched as they put my hair in a pony tail and chopped 14" away. It felt amazing to have the weight off and I immediately loved my decision. Friends were shocked, but it made me happy to give that first batch away. 


September 2000 for reference


January 2000 just after I cut it. 

Gig'em!

Embracing Glitter

Our girls love princesses. They love dress up. They love pink. They love barbies. They love pixies and ponies. They love dresses and skirts, especially ones that twirl. They get excited to get new shoes. They nurture and care for their beloved stuffed animals. I just wrote an entire post about one of them being attached to the man of her dreams. Everything the girls touch has glitter in it. 

You cannot fight the glitter, it's impossible. It's on shirts, dresses, shoes, purses, bags, cards, toys, dvd cases, the list goes on and on. Our lives became easier when, instead of cursing the glitter, we embraced it. It makes them happy and it's fairly easy to sweep. 

We have girly girls. 

However, we also have smart, inquisitive, adventurous, active, and well rounded girls. They love the stereotypical pink side of themselves, but being scared, playing hide and go seek, and taking on any boy that tries to get in their territory. Matt has been waiting, patiently for the day he could introduce his girly girls to this. 


A blanket on the ground, Legos poured around, and three imaginations running wild. Mac is an amazing engineer, crafting ships with intricate landing gear, and funny details that you wouldn't think a five year old girl or boy would know about. Keegan is a builder, looking for patterns and absorbing the time with two of her favorite people. They happily listen to Matt put together sets and he patiently encourages them to build something new for themselves. If I had known the Legos were going to be so great for all of them, I would have bought them years ago. 

I'm glad for my girls having a good balance. We encourage that it both of them. I was quite happy today when Keegan picked out Doc McStuffins and Palace Pet Valentines and Mac picked out Star Wars. I'll take them however I can get them and whatever stage they are in. 

Another happy thought, while neither valentine set had glitter, there is always room for glitter stickers and markers when decorating their valentines box!

Listening

One of my daughters has a huge crush on a boy we know from church. Huge. Talks about him constantly and, to be fair, they do seem to be good friends who enjoy each other's company. She has their lives planned out and is just waiting to be old enough to get married. It's adorable and while we don't encourage it too much, she does say some pretty profound things about why she likes him and wants to spend time with him. 


Problem is, she talks about him all the time. All. The. Time. Understandably, we get tired of it and want to hear her talk about something else from time to time. The other day we were in the car and the talk about the boy started. In my frustration I told her I needed a break from hearing about the boy. That I wanted her to talk about anything else and to stop telling me about him. 

She complied and remained silent. 

Immediately I regretted what I told her. Yes, it's more than likely a little crush. Yes, it will probably fade away and make room for someone else before long. Yes, it is tiring to hear her talk more about this boy than most any topic. 

But there will come a time when I am desperate for all three of my kids to tell me about their crush. When I beg to hear them tell me the name of the person who has caught their eye. When I want to know why they are attracted to them and how they want to spend time with them. When they hesitate to tell me anything about who they like and why. Why was I setting a precedence today that I didn't want to hear something that was so exciting and meaningful for them. What else was I going to do as we drove? And worse, was I teaching them to remain quiet about this stuff because it may bother mommy?

I apologized to my sweet girl and told her I was so happy for her that this boy meant so much to her. I told her that I would love to hear more about him and asked if she could tell me what she was saying again. Her face lit up in the rear view mirror and I knew it was worth hearing about him again. 

I hope I remember this lesson in the years to come. Most of all, I hope they remember the time mommy apologized and reaffirmed how much she wanted to hear about something important to them. It's important now, and will be more important then. 



Crust

Matt had a meeting for lunch at a Greek restaurant we both like so he bought extra food to go, rented a couple of movies, and we had a nice dinner upstairs. We were both disappointed when, after looking at the goodies he brought home, we discovered that there was no flat bread or pita bread. I thought I might make a quick batch of flat bread (pizza crust sans toppings) and see how it goes. We could always run to the store if we needed to. 


The recipe was fairly easy and decently good, even if it does come from the kitchen of my arch nemesis, Bobby Flay. It had no ancho chiles in it though, so it's completely out of character for the leprechaun from the food network. I made the chewy version and it will be a great pizza crust one day, specifically a real rustic pizza with a hodgepodge of foodie toppings and fresh herbs pretentiously sprinkled on top. It wasn't the best flatbread, but it beat getting out in the cold rain! 

I baked it on a pizza stone covered with cornmeal at 500 for about 10-12 minutes. Because it was "naked" I could easily check it for doneness. If it had toppings, I would wait until the cheese was melted and the crust was a light golden brown. It's a nice recipe to have on hand because you can keep the ingredients easily and it only takes an hour to rise. I can see adding these ingredients to our "always have in the pantry and fridge" list so we can make pizza if all other plans fall through. 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/pizza-dough-recipe.html

Dear New Mom

I have been wanting to write a letter like this for some time. I know there are several floating around cyberspace, a letter from a "seasoned" mom of a kid with Down syndrome to a new mom. But this is my take. 


Dear New Mom,

Congratulations on your pregnancy! That little life inside you is a blessing that is handcrafted and given to you. I hope he or she isn't giving you too much sickness or tiredness as you pass through each week. Even if you have other children, I'm referring to you as "New Mom" because you are. You are about to be a new mom in ways you never thought you would be and that you most certainly never thought you could be. 

If you are preparing for prenatal testing or  if you already have your results, I know you may feel unsettled. I know this isn't what you had planned. I know that you are probably feeling more than you can say. If you are like me, your first thoughts are probably along the lines of, "No! It couldn't possibly happen to me. There must be a mistake." I think those feelings will soon make way for new feelings. As much as I wanted to reject the diagnosis of Down syndrome for our Baby Raptor almost three years ago, I knew that our baby wasn't a mistake. And I knew how much I loved the sweet life growing inside of me. I'm not going to tell you that you can't be sad or frustrated or scared. In fact, I would encourage you to feel that way. Those feelings are natural and important to acknowledge as you move through this process. I was scared out of my mind. There are still some days that I am scared, but they are few and far between. 

It's ok to be afraid to say the word Down syndrome. It took months for me to say it, as if saying the words made it worse. I sometimes had this mental image of a huge sign being plastered over my head that said "Down syndrome baby" flashing in big lights. It felt like everyone, even strangers, knew. They didn't, obviously, it's simply hard to wrap your mind around. Your baby with Ds is the same whether you say the diagnosis or not. The reason it's hard to say is because of the stigma society has placed on the label. Down syndrome is an important label to know. It helps prepare you for some expectations and health issues you need to keep an eye on. It can help you get into hard to see doctors and to get prime appointment times. Having the label means access to therapies and resources that other parents have to fight for. It is a label for your baby, but it's not the only label. Take your time getting used to saying it, you will have a lifetime of opportunity to use those words. Your baby doesn't know that he or she has Down syndrome, they are ok if it takes you some time to get comfortable saying it. 

I wish I had sought out support from people ahead of me on the journey to see how normal and wonderful life can be. Again, I was scared. I did have a friend that had a baby boy with Down syndrome a couple of months before me and I will tell you, holding her son was the most therapeutic activity I could have done. Holding him was the last piece of the puzzle I needed before welcoming my own sweet boy into this world. He was a baby, he smelled good, he lay relaxed in my arms, he sighed with contentment. He was a baby, with just a few extra needs to pay attention to. And really, that's what I frequently say, special needs, more often than not, simply means extra needs. If you feel ready, find someone you can talk to and experience this journey with. It may be online, or one on one, or a large group, as long as it's someone. In the mean time, let me assure you that our life is very similar to how our life would be without Johnny's extra chromosome. Yes, we have lots of appointments and are very deliberate to do therapy in certain ways with him when playing. But we also spend a lot of time going on normal family outings, playing with cars, reading books, and keeping Johnny out of the toilet/fireplace/stairway/under sink cabinet. There are many days I am more worried about Johnny's xy chromosomes more than his triplicate 21st. 



The information and health issues can be devastating and overwhelming. Take it as you need it. Monitor what you can in the womb and don't worry about thyroid issues just yet. Make sure the heart and bowels look good on ultrasounds and don't stress over the neck X-ray you need at the age of five. All of the extra needs won't pile on you at once. Sometimes there are many to address together, but they usually come in batches and you get better at it as you practice. You will figure out what works best for you and your family as far as managing needs, appointments, and therapy. You will see people with Down syndrome everywhere now and wonder if they were always there and how you missed them before. More people will stop and talk to you about your child, thankfully, it's usually positive even if it is often misguided (no, my child is not happy all the time!). People will forward you this letter and dozens of others like it, or articles, or news stories, or cute pictures and you will love them for it. Because it's their way of affirming that they are still on your team and they adore your kid (and you) just as much as anyone else! 

Your life is already different. I wish I could tell you how amazing it will be if you let it. My son has made our family better. We appreciate all of our children more because of who they are, rather than who we wanted them to be. We are usually kinder and more patient with strangers, even when we don't always want to be. We sit and laugh more because it's fun to make Johnny laugh, and that's not saying that he is happy all the time (lies people will tell you), but when he is happy, it's infectious. He snuggles with the people he loves more and makes them feel whole and complete with his contentedness. He has introduced our family to new friends, new information, and a new world that we had ignored before. He has made us closer to the people who support us and brings us closer to him each day. There are times that life is hard. Johnny isn't walking yet at 26 months old. He has some minor health issues that need working out. He doesn't do puzzles or say his own name. But there are so many other things he can do that make the delays ok. I'm pretty sure he told me "I love you" today. What more could I want from my son?



New mom, you are going to be ok. One day, you are going to be fine. Then good. Then great. I promise. I know that you cannot understand this right now, but it's going to be amazing and you will look back on your life before your new baby and wonder how you never knew how good life could be. In spite of all the difficulties and hardships, you will still pick your life today. You may have never imagined this life for you before, but in time, you would never have it any other way. Even when you are scared or frustrated or mad, even when you wonder if your child will ever walk, or how many more doctors you will need to see, or if there is anything you are missing to help your kid, your love will expand to take all the hardship in. 

It's a new life and a new world. There is no turning back and not everyone gets to see life the way we do. I feel honored to be raising my son and I cannot thank God enough for giving him to us. 

With love and admiration,
An Old Mom

Perfect Fit

In addition to my work with VBS every year and coordinating the 9:30 hour of nursery at church, I have been working on a ministry team at church that has a two fold mission. The first is to hold a seminar on a regular basis to help participants discover what their "SHAPE" is. Shape stands for spiritual gift, heart, abilities, passion, and experiences. The second is to hopefully place participants in a ministry at church. 


The work I have done with this team has been fascinating, largely because I have been so blessed to be placed in ministries that I find nourishing as I serve. That's our sincere hope for SHAPE and what our desired outcome is. That members and regular attendees of our church are placed in a ministry that really speaks to them. 

I have been thinking a lot about serving the church, why people do it and why they don't. It's challenging because I see so many people shy away from service. It's not in my nature to do so, thus it's difficult to understand why others are seemingly at ease with turning calls for help down. 

In reflecting on the work I do at church in addition to how busy Tiny Blessings has been, I wonder why I am so busy serving right now. I began to think about Jesus just before The Sermon in the Mount. He headed up the mountain for retreat and rest, but was unable to have the respite he desired. The crowds followed him and clamored for his service to them. And he produced. 

I can't compel others to serve even when offers have been made. But I can work to try and model my devotion to service after the best example there is. Of course, knowing that I will follow short is a little sad, but that's why Jesus is there to bridge the gap, right?

Saving Money

We need to be more consistent about it, but we have been working with the girls on earning money for certain chores and saving that money for something they want to do or purchase. In the past, they saved money for dress up dresses, this summer they saved up money to go to Chuck E Cheese. They had been for a birthday party last year and had been begging to go back. The only way I would concede was if they saved money to play games then we would go out to eat elsewhere after. They worked hard to save ten dollars and were excited to go this fall. 


It was fun to watch them choose the games they wanted to play. Growing up I was strategic on picking games that would afford me the most tickets. The girls played for pure enjoyment. They rode rides, played games just for fun, and earned a fair number of tickets too. It was so nice to see them enjoy the money they had saved. After, we went to BJs for some real pizza!





They are saving money again, but I'm not sure if it's for another trip to Chuck E Cheese or if it's for something different this time. Mac is somewhat convinced she can save up for a Blue Macaw, which is actually more attainable than what Keegan wants to get...a unicorn.