Monday, September 30, 2013

Drop Off for Tiny Blessings

Tonight we took our second large drop off to the hospital for Tiny Blessings. All told, we had 7 blankets, 4 blessing pouches, 15 gowns, 2 sets of twin gowns, and over 45 hats for the NICU! In addition to this, we got some great information. First, our main contact at the hospital is finally healed and ready to work after her back surgery! Second, they haven't been using many of the gowns or pouches, not because it doesn't meet their needs, but because they haven't needed them- huge praise for that. Third, they average about 10 babies a day and the NICU usually has 10-15 babies per day (this number includes full term babies that go up to NICU for various reasons). The nursing staff has been very busy lately so we can all pray that they stay healthy and that they have strength through the busier times. We were also able to encourage one of their front desk people to check out some video tutorials and give us a call to see if she would be interested in making hats or gowns too.

I think one of my favorite moments was delivering the hats and blankets to NICU, two of my favorite three nurses from Johnny's stay were there and one of them immediately recognized me. They ooo-ed and ahhh-ed over the hats and immediately picked out two flower hats for twin girls that were staying there. I am so honored to do this work, we all feel so blessed to be a part of this. Who would have guessed, when we decided on the name Tiny Blessings that we would feel just as blessed by this project.

Coming up we will be working on a huge delivery of hats. Since they don't need gowns for awhile, we are going to focus on blankets and seasonal, fun hats for the NICU. Our first goal is 30 pumpkin hats which is a personal pet project of mine. I want to celebrate Johnny's birthday in a big way, so every baby born that day or in the NICU that day will get a hat. Then we will work on some fall-ish hats, Christmas hats, and if they still are not in need of gowns, maybe some Valentine's and Easter hats. We will also be working on some blankets or other lovies for the nurses to dole out as needed.

What a fantastic night! Karlin went to drop off with me and she told me I was weird for being so excited about the hospital (I think smelling my hands to sniff the sanitizer after was the oddest for her), but I really do love being up there. I am looking forward to nursing one day!

Sunday, September 29, 2013


This week the girls finally had enough money saved from chores to get their princess dresses. I told them they had to save ten dollars and we would subsidize the rest. They earned $8.50, quarter by quarter, and their Mimi and Pawpaw gave them both a $5 bill on Thursday. Keegan got her Ariel dress and didn't need any extra money because Toys R Us had (and still has) their dresses on sale. Mac switched last. Inure from Cinderella to Belle and needed the aforementioned subsidy. I made sure she understood that if she wanted a Cinderella dress she would have to save more money. Both girls were proud, carrying out their money and dresses, and helping pay for what they saved up for. We also purchased a couple for them to earn if they want or for presents down the line. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Johnny in a High chair.

Johnny is growing too fast. Yesterday and today he has sat in big boy high chairs at restaurants and eaten littlembits of big boy food. Things are connecting in his brain, you can tell by the things he accomplishes, the amount he is consuming, and how much he is sleeping. I am excited to see where the next few weeks take us, especially as he gets closer and closer to the first crawls. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

We Have Nothing to Fear, but...


I am scared of the Buddy Walk.

I am trying to hype myself up, I am trying to get excited, I am trying to tell myself that it is going to be the most amazing day ever. But, honestly, I am scared out of my mind. There is a lot in my mind that contributes to that fear. That fear is so raw to me that it has been hard to discuss it or want to write about it, but here it goes.

Truth be told, the idea of seeing such a large population of people with Down syndrome makes me very nervous and very anxious. Some of it is related to old, very entrenched stereotypes and some of it is related to new hopes and dreams.

First, the old, very entrenched stereotypes. I think that humans, in general, fear what we don't know. If we face things with an open (educated) mind and pure heart, then more often than not, those fears go away. Other races or ethnic groups, new groups of potential friends, a well formed work force, all of these things can contribute to nervousness and anxiety. The same goes for a large group of people with special needs. You aren't sure what to expect, you don't want to offend or say the wrong things, you want to feel comfortable, you want them to feel comfortable, and it's just new. I think we all worry about what is new. Some of this is left over from my life "before". We often live in an "us" and "them" society and part of me still clings to the idea that people with Ds or special needs are part of them. Some of me worries about outbursts, unexpected reactions, and of people that are different. It's not that I wouldn't treat someone or hadn't treated someone in the past kindly, but it is very much attached to the idea that I had before of some sense that I had the right to look down on others and pity them. And there has been so much less of that with Johnny in my life, but it's still something that I work on. So at the Buddy Walk, I will have to fight that everywhere I look. I worry that fighting it will become too overwhelming.

On the other hand, and this is related to my hopes and dreams, I fear "seeing" Johnny's future. It is so easy for me to look away from the extra chromosome right now. But going to the Buddy Walk, being surrounded by 10 year olds, 20 year olds, 30 year olds, and all ages in between, above, and below, that's another matter all together. To see older people who share his look, his features, his extra chromosome and see what they are not capable of (because we are entrenched in fear right now), makes me worried. I so appreciate the parents who have fought this fight before me. They haven't just paved a road, they have carved a path up a very steep slope, and laid out brick by brick the road we will travel. The road that I take Johnny down is very, very different from the road 10 or 20 years ago. Early intervention has changed everything. I hear this over and over and over again. But I still get scared over losing those hopes and dreams that we have for Johnny. We have already altered much of how we define success for him. I worry that with seeing adults with Ds, adults that didn't have the benefits that we have, that are sometimes very much resigned to a different fate, that it will shake what we work on with him and pray for him every day. I worry that with seeing people that didn't have ECI, OT, PT, ST, tons of doctors, extra monitoring, research, and support groups, that the mantras I tell myself will come crashing down. I'm scared that it is just an illusion that I have created for us and I am very scared that seeing the typical situation for adults now create rips in that facade of normalcy that we hope for Johnny.

I know that none of it has to be this way. I know that in reality, after some initial nervousness, I will probably have a blast spending the day with my family, our community, and others. I know that I will smile at all the parents who have forged ahead before us and hug my friends that walk with us on our journey. I know that Johnny will become exactly who he is meant to be, and that if the past 11 months are any indication, he is going to be great. Thus, I keep reminding myself to focus on Johnny, focus on what I can change for him, focus on what I can do for him, and focus on our direct community who can help impact the community at large. The fear is there, but I am hopeful that I can squash it. I think I will always have the fear of who he will become, but I worry about that with all of my kids, chromosomally enhanced or not.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Princess(es)

Both girls are pretty into the whole "princess thing". No biggie. I had to laugh though when Keegan, when asked her name, said it was "Keegan the Princess". I laughed again, tonight, when she insisted that she didn't want Munster cheese in her sandwich because she didn't want to be a silly monster or a scary monster, she wanted to be a princess. So she got "princess", aka provolone, cheese on her sandwich.

Her sister isn't any better. She will be talking to me as we head out to the car for errands or fun, catch a glimpse of her reflection, and proceed to fluff her hair, smooth her dress, and with a smile, exclaim, "Oh! That's me!"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vehicle Details

One of the pre installed features with a free trial run on the new suburban (or NIGHT FURY ) is OnStar. We set the trial up this week and will have all the perks of OnStar for the next 6 months. I really like the vehicle recovery aspects of OnStar and the fact that we can call them to unlock our car should my keys (probably with the kids) get locked in. Of course OnStar is also great for mid traffic directions which proved exceptionally useful today. We went with Jennifer and Lylah to the mall and Toys R Us to look for some things. I wasn't sure exactly where the Toys R Us was on I-10 so I pushed my handy little button and as the operator fielded my call, the three girls in the back began to shriek and laugh with delight at the idea that my car was speaking to me. As I asked where the nearest Toys R Us was, the woman operator began to laugh and jokingly replied that it sounded like we needed it! The girls continued to laugh as the woman sent directions our way and wished us well. Not only were the directions handy, but it was instant entertainment for the kids, and the woman was very nice. She certainly made me smile and I hope we made her smile too.

Princess Night

Tonight we went to Chick Fil A for Princess night. The Chick Fil As around here try to do various family and kid activities from time to time and we were excited to see a princess themed one that worked in our schedule. The girls had a blast, but we are very glad we showed up early to get a table and eat before the festivities. The girls got to eat with two of their besties too. They had ice cream, nail painting, crowns and rings, balloon wands, a big girl princess, and a cow princess. The cow princess didn't come out until later so we didn't bother with fighting the crowd for a picture, but we got plenty of other pictures of the fun. What a great and cheap family evening. Now the girls are a little wound up, but hopefully they will pass out before we have to break out the straight jackets. Kidding. Maybe. 

Monday, September 23, 2013


I have never been so glad to not be breastfeeding this child than now, as he cuts teeth. The girls had no issues with teething, barely chewed on stuff, and lacked the fussiness that most kids get. Johnny has been drooly and fussy for weeks, been sleeping a lot more than before, chewing on everything, and has had horrible diaper rash (that I am blaming on the teething). Finally, on Saturday, the little clear sliver broke through and I am sure some relief was felt on his part. I can't believe it took him 10.5 months to cut that first tooth. It will be sad to see his big gummy smile to be replaced with a big tooth filled smile, but I guess they have to grow up sometime!

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Sunday, September 22, 2013


It's here! It's here! Fall is here! And Houston got the memo loud and clear and has graced us with a beautiful weekend. Now I realize that it is currently in the 80's and most of the country scoffs at our profestations of gorgeous weather, but we could care less. Bring on the open windows, the extra cup of coffee, the baked goods made from gourds, and the plans for all kinds of outdoor activities that we have had to put off until after July and August and most of September!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Visiting the Greats

As far as I know, I only have a couple of pictures of me with one of my Great Grandparents. I have very few memories with them, mainly as being short little visits before they passed away when I was in elementary school. I tried to get a chance to see my grandmother before she passed away, but that never worked out due to her canceling for various reasons. I was able to go see her once she was in care, but that was not a situation that I felt I needed to take the kids to. Thus it has been important to me to take the kids to see their other Great Grandparents this summer. We get to see my grandmother with some regularity since she lives in town. We took a weekend this summer to go see Matt's grandparents who live further away. MacKenzie will definitely have memories of them and playing with them, I hope that Keegan and Johnny do to. They are very important and special to Matt and I, we hope that the kids sense that and have a special relationship with them too. If nothing else, we have pictures to show the happy times spent together!

 Matt's Grandma and Johnny (the kids call her Grandma)

 All the kids

 Grandpa and Johnny (John Madison One and John Madison Two)

 Nana and Johnny, she bought him this Astros outfit

The girls eating candy and lounging while visiting Nana

Friday, September 20, 2013


Matt took the girls up to bed this evening and it wasn't long before I heard exclamations of "What the heck?!?" from him. The girls play upstairs quite a bit while I get stuff done downstairs and are usually pretty good about not being destructive. Today they had other plans and had ripped a book to shreds. Mac had a problem with doing this right at about 2.5 and so if I had to venture a guess, I would say that Keegan started it (semi developmental process) and Mac regressed back to her old ways when she heard that tempting sound of paper tearing! But I digress.

When Matt confronted them about it, Mac quickly exclaimed that it was me that tore the pages. Several times he asked both of them who did it and each time they replied with me. At that, I ran upstairs because if you are going to call me out on something little missies, you better be ready to do it to my face. I walked in and asked Mac who tore the book. You could see the "Oh no!" settle into her face. She started to say "Mommy", then decided to start pointing at Matt, before settling on Keegan as her new target. We told her she needed to be honest and tell us or she was going to be punished for both tearing the book and lying. She insisted that it was Keegan until punishment ensued at which point she admitted that she had torn the book too. Keegan threw Mac right back under the bus and had to be punished as well for not being honest. I then made them both apologize to Matt for being dishonest and made them tell him the truth.

I hope they learned the start of a lesson. I know fibs, lies, and stories come as part of our nature, but I hope that my kids learn to be more honest than not. As a kid I stole a .25 cent piece of candy from the store and was mortified when my mother drove me back to the store, asked to see the manager, and made me return it and apologize...there may have even been a security guard involved, I'm not quite sure. What I do know is that I never stole again and I sure thought twice before being deceptive or dishonest again (not to say it never just made an impression). You better believe I will institute the same policy with our kids and make them fess up. I will support them the whole way, but they got to come clean.

As if I would tear a book anyways...nice try Mac but you aren't as slick as you think.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I am still not exactly sure how to be "only" a stay at home mom. I put "only" in parentheses because we all know that moms who stay at home with their kids do a lot of work. I have always had temporary/part time/contract work in addition to this. In addition to working for an oil service company creating bids and helping my mom with her event planning and catering business, tomorrow I will start an extremely part time gig watching the little Moppets at church. MOPS is an organization that is nation wide that helps connect Stay at home Moms with one another for encouragement, fellowship, fun, and a hot meal! I will be on the childcare side of things playing with the little preschoolers. I am excited for the chance to run around with other kids, glad for a chance for my kids to have fun with some of their friends, and grateful for a little extra cash in my pocket for some non crucial purchases that we would like to make. I feel blessed for all these little opportunities to make a bit of money here and there to contribute to our family in an economic way (in addition to keeping on our budget of course) and I am very thankful for the brilliant organization I have in my mind to keep track of it all. Fall is wedding season around these parts and Mom's business is ridiculously busy.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stuffin' Chicken

This is too easy of a dinner not to share. I have made this before and made it tonight for a friend who has a hubby out of town. It's easy, cheap, filling, and I find it to be quite delicious. The only changes I made are reducing the temperature to 375 and baking a couple extra minutes and I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little Italian seasoning before topping it with the soup mixture.

what you need

cups  hot water
pkg.  (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
lb.  boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
can  (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup

make it

HEAT oven to 400ºF.
ADD hot water to stuffing mix; stir just until moistened.
PLACE chicken in 13x9-inch baking dish. Mix soup and sour cream until well blended; pour over chicken. Top with stuffing.
BAKE 30 min. or until chicken is done.

I served it with canned green beans and glazed carrots (boil sliced carrots until tender, melt butter with brown sugar and a bit of salt, and toss with carrots) and it was a pretty good meal.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This past weekend

This weekend was a little nuts, even for us.

Woke up Saturday morning and drove to Conroe for Einstein Bros Bagels. From there we drove to Corsicana to meet some of our friends from college for lunch. Keith and Kerri are a fellow CFA couple and we have many, many good times in our history. It has been wonderful to get to see them from time to time and enjoy their laid back personalities and sense of humors all over again.

We then drove to Tyler and convinced the hotel to give us early check in so the kids could take "naps". How convenient that the Aggie game was on t.v. as well and we were able to watch the first three quarters from our room. As we watched, Johnny started rocking back and forth on his hands and knees which gets us really excited about the next couple weeks as crawling gets closer.

We then got the kids ready and headed to my cousin's wedding. It was wonderful to see her happy and excited to commit herself to her new husband. We did "cheat" and checked our phones a couple times before the bride walked down the aisle to see how the last quarter went. We missed the 95 yard pass from JFF, but we are still glad for a good showing from the Aggies. It was great to see my grandmother (and mom) as well! The kids didn't do so hot at the reception and we had to leave fairly early, good thing too, since Keegan tried to crash the first dance. She has some good moves though!

 Sunday morning we ate at a place in Tyler called "The Diner", it was excellent and if we are ever in the area, we will go back. The service was great and the food was really good. We then drove back to Corsicana for lunch with some friends who moved "up north" from Houston and had a great lunch with their family. I got snuggles with their new baby boy and the kids acted really good considering we had to wait a bit to get our table.

We then drove back to Houston where I made four lasagnas for a meal exchange for our small group and then headed off to small group and crocheted my little fingers off while we had our Bible study.

It was a great weekend, but tiring...but would you expect any different from us?!?

Tiny Blessings Update

Tiny Blessings is busy working away on another batch of hats, gowns, and blankets for Methodist Willowbrook again. We took a small donation up there over the summer, but are planning a (hopefully) large drop off in the coming weeks. Since our last drop off, all of the feedback has been great, but they did have a few requests.

The first was for the smallest of gowns, the 6.5" and 8" chest circumference gowns. These are the smallest of babies, so it shouldn't be a surprise that they need gowns for these little ones who just haven't grown enough, but it still makes our hearts hurt for them, their families, and their medical team. We also heard through one of our crochet-ers mom, who ran into a NICU nurse from the hospital and was by chance talking about our project, that they are in need of twin gowns from time to time. I hadn't even thought about that, even though we had started on twin hats for the NICU babies. For the twin gowns so far, we are making a base gender neutral color and will include four gender specific hats and four small clips to put on the gowns once they know which gender they need. Otherwise we would be making three gowns in every size instead of just two and they can mix and match sizes as needed. Again, it is with heavy hearts that we make the gowns, knowing that those that receive them do not make it, but we feel honored to be led to make these and pray over these families.

As far as hats for the NICU babies go, we can stretch our imaginations a bit more and we try to make a varied selection for the nurses or parents to choose from (we aren't really sure what happens once we pass them over). They requested more boy hats and in the 11" or so circumference range. This is actually a newborn sized hat. The hats are quick work, in fact, on the car drive to a play date (obviously the husband was driving), I made 2 and it was less than a 30 minute drive.

 These are three sizes I make. Left to Right (11 in, 9 1/2 in, and 7 in)

 I think the bear ear hats are the cutest, but they are also the hardest to make!

Twin Aggies- the best possible kind!

We are still accepting donations of supplies (yarn is always needed and fabric can be made into blessing pouches or blankets). We would like someone to design a logo for us and help with a bit of facebook header design as well. Lastly, I would like to take those hard working nurses a treat when we go up there, so any baked goods or funds towards that (I will provide you with receipts) would be greatly appreciated. Let me know if you are interested in joining our team in any way.

In a bit of exciting news, one of our crochet-ers is running an entire class at the Women's Retreat for our church this weekend and will be teaching approximately 15 women how to make these preemie hats. We hope we can get more women excited about our ministry and spread the word about what we do. We are also hoping that they donate their first hat (or more) to our team to get these little heads covered (in prayer and physically)!

Monday, September 16, 2013

New Friends

Sometimes in life, I get a little caught up in whether or not a decision was the right one or, even in decisions that aren't entirely up to us, if we are on the right path. Sometimes I don't necessarily want to know where I am going, I just want to know that I am headed in the right direction. I think it is clear that you are headed in a good direction when you start meeting people that you wouldn't otherwise that end up being amazing and fabulous new friends.

I think this is one great aspect of Johnny having Down syndrome. The amount of people that we have met, that our lives are infinitely better for knowing, is an amazing side effect. The number of people who have sought out deeper relationships with us as we shared our journey has been an encouraging part of his diagnosis as well. Johnny and his extra chromosome (as well as all of his buddies) bring people and families and circles together. They are usually not divisive people, they are immensely talented at creating bridges between people. I am so thankful for the friendships he has fostered in my life, they don't talk about that in a lot of the prenatal testing, how great the community can be. It's magic though and it makes life all the better.

Somewhere in the craziness that was this weekend, a blog post got lost...I will make up for it tomorrow.

Awkward 2.0

Holding Johnny. Picked Up my Phone. Went to turn off living room light. Tripped over cord (flat on floor, mind you). Crashed into wall. Almost hurt Johnny. Broke lamp. Scraped and bruised leg. Still not idea how that happened. The clumsiness continues...

Friday, September 13, 2013

THE Game

Everyone keeps wondering what Johnny Football is going to be doing tomorrow around 2:30. The media keeps posing the question about how Johnny Football is going to look, what can we expect of him, how wild are things going to get?

Well, I'm his mama and I can tell you he is going to be sleeping. No wildness. No performance. No autographs.

In all seriousness, we are pretty stoked about playing in "the" game of the year. I love my boys, always have, and always will. But I never, ever, ever thought that I would see a game where the average ticket price was over $700. I never thought there would be a whole camera devoted to one of our players. I really hope we win. But either way, I love my Aggies through and through!

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I'm awkward. There is no way around that. In high school I played basketball and could do some pretty intricate moves and fakes to get a better shot at the net. But I was also known for my ability to fall. It was suggested by other teammates that I would trip over the painted lines on the court. There would be nobody around me and I could be running, or sometimes standing completely still, and I would just drop like a sack of bricks. I am constantly running into stuff, mainly door frames, but sometimes straight walls that I should be walking parallel to and always furniture. When I say I am running into stuff it is more like slamming into it, but that's semantics.

A few weeks ago I ran into Target with the kids and thoroughly managed to slam my flip flop adorned feet into a stationary railing meant to corral carts. It hurt, but I supressed a cuss word or two, breathed deeply (natural childbirth methods are great for that), and moved on. It bruised, but no biggie. Today, at the same Target, one I don't go to often, I hurt myself again. I could come up with some cool story about a burning orphanage, my running to save orphans and puppies, getting everyone out safely, and as my hair billowed through the wind with a massive explosion behind me, stray debris hit my foot, but that is not what happened. In fact, I am not sure what happened. I was walking behind the cart, Johnny was happily looking around, I slammed my pinky toe into the wheel, and felt more pain than I have felt in...well... just about 10 1/2 months! I'm not kidding when I say it hurts. We are talking about tears to my eyes, lump in my throat, holding myself up from falling over, gasping for breath, and trying not to shout anything to profane hurt.

I limped away, still feeling shooting pain through my foot and throughout the day I have marveled at the change in color of my damaged toe. Matt sent pictures to his dad, he said it's probably cracked/fractured, but they don't do much for broken toes, and the bruising is from lots of burst blood vessels. I still can't believe how awkward I am, I have had some injuries over the years but this takes the cake so far.

The first picture is at 1:30, the second is at 9:30

Sorry for the unpainted toes!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Friend response

I had some great feedback from yesterday's post. All of the support and love meant much to my heart. A particularly meaningful conversation follows:

Friend: "I don't think I am as great as you say. But I do love you guys so much. And Johnny the most. LOL"

Me: "You don't have to be great. You just have to love with all your heart. Remember- (this is from a blog I read and shared with her at a different time) Don't over think love."


Me: "But I think you're pretty great."

It was a perfect reflection on a meaningful post. None of us have to be great, we just have to love. That love doesn't have to be anything magic or book worthy or picture perfect, it's simple and innate. The love in our relationships is what is most important, we all find flaws in ourselves, but if we love then none of that matters. If we love freely then the perception of greatness will follow. And Johnny will probably love better than any of us could imagine.

On a side note, this is so reflective of what true Christianity is. We are all flawed, but we have the ultimate gift of love given to us. That love was not over thought, but given freely. We hope to show that love back to others. Even though we fail and fall short, we can still be examples of love.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Matt and I are very big into relationships. We work hard to strengthen, build, develop, and invest in relationships we have or feel we would like in our lives. Matt and I think these relationships are important and drive much in our lives. We like having friends and we like our kids having friends. Having friends with kids that are near our kids ages was and is

very important to both of us.

I have always had dreams of grand things for myself, my family, and my kids. I day dreamed situations of political leadership, scientific discoveries, athletic skills, historical or educational brilliance, business dominance, or even fame of the Hollywood persuasion. I felt amazing and unique, I wanted my kids to be amazing and unique, and wished big dreams for them. I wanted uniqueness in the real way, not the "every kid get's a trophy because everyone has value" kind of way.

Then we were slammed with Johnny's diagnosis. I wanted unique and I got unique. He is one in 400,000 that possess that extra chromosome here in the United States. He has physical characteristics that set him apart. He will very well struggle in a way that makes him different from the group. And suddenly, all I could possibly crave was normalcy for him. Gone were the dreams of being an olympian/actor/president/mogul/noble prize winner/author and it it's place were dreams for a perfectly average life.

Within that average life, what I crave most for Johnny are friendships. I yearn for true, deep, meaningful, supportive friendships. I want people to desire to spend time with my son. I want others to feel his magnetism. I want kids to automatically include him in their friends list, to place him on their birthday invite list, to ask where he is if he is absent or gone for some reason or another, and to beg for chances to play with him. I fear the day he is shunned by who he thinks are his buddies because he is different. I worry about the first party he is left out of because his pals (or their parents) don't want to invite him. My heart aches thinking about people running away from him on the playground or at school because they fear him or don't want to be around him.

I won't even venture down the road of concerns about him being verbally abused or made fun of.

I worry too about the girls, how their friendships will be impacted by his presence, how their lives will overall be better, but how much of a struggle those lessons may be one day. How hard it will be to explain about their brother, how difficult it may be to have to balance their desire for acceptance and their love for him, and how kids can be cruel enough to the most "perfect" of children, much less the easy targets and what that will mean for them. I worry both about their shame at having a brother with special needs and the guilt associated with feeling that shame that will eventually come around as well. I pray that they will be able to forgive themselves for the inevitable frustration that will come at some point.

It's hard because it is all so innate and deep in human nature. The desire to be...desired. The hope that other's will love you and that your presence will be just as nourishing to others as their presence is to you. We all want acceptance into a group, into our pack. Nobody wishes to be left behind, especially not on a consistent basis.

I can worry and pray about the future, but I can't make friends for him. I pray for him, but I also pray for his future friends. That they are good people who enrich our lives and feel enriched in turn. I pray for their hearts and for strength when the friendship becomes challenging. Today, it means so much to us, to see the rallying force of our friends while we wait for Johnny to make his own. I admire the pure love shown for our son and the treatment of him as being normal around their children. They couldn't possibly know how wonderful it is to hear them refer to Johnny as their kid's best buddy or friend or future best man at their wedding...and wouldn't he be the perfect best man! It can be stated aloud or posted as a simple facebook status or message, but it Consistently, tears spring to my eyes and my throat swells with a heart that fills to the brim each time I hear this. I cannot help but be nourished by the "I love you"s, the requests for snuggles, and the happy gazes sent in his direction. If these friends are any indication of how their children will love my son (and my daughters) then our lives will continue to be rich indeed.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Johnson Gene

Mac is pretty much all Howard Family. Her stature, her looks, her expressions all come from her Daddy's side of the family. We still comment on how, within 15 minutes of exiting the womb, she was making facial expressions like Matt. I see so little of myself in her physically, but I've been thrown a couple of pitches in her personality. One shone through this past weekend at church. A friend of ours was with Mac in the large group for preschool. Anywhere from 20-30 kids will sit, listen to a bible story, sing a song, and answer questions about what they are learning. Apparently, someone was either talking out of turn or answered incorrectly. Mac proceeded to turn around, look our friend straight in the face, and gave her the biggest eye roll she had ever seen out of a little kid. When my friend told me the story she laughed and said, "I couldn't help but think, oh! There is some of your mother in you!" I'm so proud of my little eye roller. I will give her a lesson in hiding the eye roll soon.

Edited to add: Apparently it was the teacher that Mac was rolling her eyes "C'mon lady, we got this, let's move on..." She is so my daughter...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Savory breakfast muffins

I try to have breakfasts for Matt that are easy for him to grab on his way out the door. I will make big batches of breakfast tacos, muffins, kolaches, or egg sandwiches for the fridge or freezer most days. But we are always looking for new meals to enter the rotation, so enter the sausage muffin recipe found at this website

They were first made by a friend for church and Matt and I loved them, thinking they tasted "like Thanksgiving". I 
made them this last week with a few changes. First, because we have gobs of link venison sausage, I diced that 
and lightly sautéed it. I also skipped the sautéed onion in favor of fresh green onions, chopped and thrown in the 
batter with the cheese and corn. 

These muffins are savory and sweet with a nice salty flavor from the sausage and cheese. My friend said they 
freeze great so we will be making another double batch for the freezer soon!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gearing up...

Is there much better than a breakfast of blueberry muffins made with blueberries frozen but picked by your precious girls? Is there much better than spending time with dear friends at the birthday party if their little girl, enjoying the kids playing, whipped cream icing cupcakes, and being with other parents? Is there much better than a sweet son falling asleep in your arms as you chat with said parents? Is there much better than 2 pounds for a dollar Roma tomatoes and 3 for a dollar avocados at sprouts? Is there much better than a hubby that troubleshoots cable problems while you get time to straighten up the house? Is there much better than Aggie football with friends while kids (for the most part) shriek with delight, happy to be together? Is there much better than a fridge full of leftovers and relaxing after a full day? We are blessed!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Two girls and a boy

My ears hurt. The girls were extremely talkative and on the wild side for the latter part of the day. It's probably mine and my moms fault...we gave them ice cream. Mac talks a lot and Keegan is doing her best to keep up with the word quota. I had Matt wait in the car while I ran into Walgreens today and relished in the relative quiet for a few minutes. The girls are sleeping, probably tuckered out from all the talking. After today, I think Johnny is going to enjoy our days of just me and him while the girls are at school. I swear he looked at me and rolled his eyes several times today. Poor guy. They sure are sweet to him though!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Day 2013

The girls had their first day of their new school today. I had their bags, outfits (that they picked out), and lunches ready to go last night, they woke up to have waffles which they loved, we took pictures, and made it to school with plenty of time to spare.

MacKenzie walked into her class, put her backpack up on the hook, put her lunchbox in the basket, and moved onto crafts without a word in my direction. Her teacher said she had a great day, that she was quiet at first, but by the end of the day was much, much more communicative. I think that is code for "wouldn't stop talking". MacKenzie said she loved playing in the gym, that they learned about the letter "m", and that she didn't play on the playground, she just learned about fire there...not sure what that is all about!

Keegan was a bit more timid and insisted that Mac go to her class first. She hesitated at the door to the classroom before remembering that there was a toy cell phone she had played with in our meet the teacher visit. She located it within about 30 seconds of entering the room, came back to grab her backpack and lunch, and went off to play, fingers in mouth and trying to peel her glasses off her face. They said she used the potty every time the class went and several times between (not all the kids are potty trained in her class, so they talk a lot about potty) and Keegan said she played outside and learned about the letter "a".

They were both very excited to see Johnny and I at the end of the day, both fell asleep in the car while running errands, and happily showed me their work while having a snack "picnic" on the living room floor when we got home. I happily met a friend for brunch, a friend for CostCo perusing (cannot decide if I am up for changing my entire way of shopping to make a membership worth it), lunched with Johnny, and ran into Kroger before it was time to get the girls. I love that we can all enjoy our day and then be excited to be reunited at the end of them!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Buddy Walk 2013

We are very excited to announce our participation in the DSAH Buddy Walk 2013! We had thought about joining in last year, but seeing as Johnny was only a week and a half and we were playing the jaundice game, we skipped out. But now we are very excited to be part of this great event. The DSAH plans events, activities, gives resources, support, and is generally available for the Ds community and their families in the Greater Houston area. The Buddy Walk is both one of their largest fundraisers and biggest events, bringing together families from the whole area. We would love to raise money for the organization (we picked $1031 in honor of Johnny's birthday), but I think, more important to us, is being joined by family and friends who have come to know and love Johnny just as we do, extra chromosome and all. The walk and festivities are on November 9, at Minute Maid Park, from 10-2.

We chose to play up the Johnny Football name and hope that friends will consider being a part of the 12th Man!

I put together a little video for Johnny this year here is the link if it doesn't play...

Song is by Imagine Dragons, titled "It's Time"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


This past Sunday our guest speaker gave me a lot to think about. So much so that I even took notes (which I usually don't) and have been chewing on what he said for a couple days now. Within his sermon, he spoke a lot about our trust in God. I instantly felt wrapped up in what he was saying and this spoke to me a lot.

Basically, in many of our struggles as humans, God is asking us, "Do you trust me?"

I really feel that God was asking us this question with our pregnancy with Johnny, "Do you trust me? You have a plan, but my plan is better. Do you trust that I am God and I will lead you where you need to be?" We had to submit to his will in the pregnancy. Because termination would never be an option for us to consider, we were pregnant with a child with Down syndrome no matter what we wanted. So Johnny was coming regardless of what we felt was our plan and we needed to adjust to that. And it was an adjustment and more than being mad at God, we questioned Him. Why us? Why now? What is the purpose for this? Which way are you taking us? It is so hard for us humans to be instilled with that questioning nature and then to not know what our end result will be. We really came to terms with God's infinite plan and the fact that He knows where we are going. If we were to believe that God has a plan for us, which we do, then we were ordained to be Johnny's parents and he was ordained to be our son. And it comes with struggles and responsibilities that we didn't foresee, but there is always grace and redemption and God is the giver and sustainer of life. He gives us trials and He gives us the strength to deal with them. He yearns for us to rely on Him during the hard times and to praise him during the good times. Even in our hard times, it is hard not to praise Him, because we are so immensely blessed despite what we saw as a huge obstacle.

The sermon spoke of the Israelites in the desert and how they were forced to wander for years. Each night they would go to bed not knowing where there next meal would come from, praying and trusting that God would provide and each morning they arose to the realization that He does as manna was given to them by the Great Sustainer of Life. Thus we trust in God to provide for us, maybe not what we thought we needed, maybe not what we desired in our hearts, but the manna we need for sustenance and strength nonetheless. And honestly, with how blessed and privileged we are, he provides so much more than manna for our family and for that we are thankful.

Our manna, and milk, and honey, and whatever other good analogies there are...