Saturday, April 26, 2014


A friend recently spoke to me about how much she admired my positivity and faith in regards to the "we've been trying for a year" issue. I told her that, while I wasn't sure if I was always as positive as I could be, I felt fairly certain of having faith. I felt faith in God, in His plan, and that He knows best. I assured her that I learned that lesson with Johnny's pregnancy, one that I distinctly remember handing over to God before even knowing I was pregnant, handing a child I was certain I was carrying yet over to Him, and exclaiming, "If I am with child, he or she is yours. I am yours. Do with us, Your will." 

It is amazing how He answered us. 

My faith was tested weekly, it seemed like. While I was scared many, many times, I never faltered in my faith and trust that God had some purpose for us. Through the initial testing, I knew this was an important task for us to work through. Before our official diagnosis, when we were concerned we might lose our child, we considered the name Faith for a child we may not meet. Through our amniocentesis, a controversial decision, I felt like God would protect my child, that He needed us to add that to our story as well. Through all of our "wait and see" doctor appointments, I had faith that, while our child may not be the healthiest, His hand was on our baby and was on our hearts as well, protecting us and guiding us. 

I learned a lot about faith through Johnny's pregnancy.

So I felt like I had learned enough about faith. 

However today I listened to the song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fall)" and realized there still may be something for me to learn. 

One of the lines sings "Spirit lead me to where my faith is without borders..." And that struck me today. I've been telling myself that I am ok with whatever happens with a future pregnancy or nursing school or none of the above. I've been telling myself that I am ok with whatever God has planned for me. I have been yielding and readying myself to bend to His will. But within that, I have been placing borders on Him and on my faith. I have been trusting that His plans fit somewhere in my "I'm ok with ___" spectrum instead of trusting that He has plans for me that may answer all of those great things or none of those things or some of those things. I have been placing God in a box of "my life should go one of two or three ways" instead of just being ready and waiting for what He wants for me. 

I'm trying to ready for something else than I imagine. Or something the same as what I imagine. Or a thousand other possibilities. I have faith that His plan is better than mine. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Little and Big Warriors

Tiny Blessings is doing a new project for Memorial Day, extending to the Fourth of July. We want to honor our veterans and current service men and women while making hats for our sweet babies in the NICU. We have "designed" six hats to honor our military branches and two patriotic themed hats. 

We have khaki and red for the Marine Corp, navy and grey for the Air Force, camouflage for the Army, and white and navy for the Navy. We are open to suggestions for the Coast Gaurd as well!

We will be making a large number of these hats and need help from our supporters. We would like to attach a name to each of these hats of one of our veterans or current service members. Each hat will be given to the NICU with an attached tag detailing the person it was made and given in honor of. For example, the Marine hat above was made in honor of Matt's grandfather and will have a tag that says "John M. Mayes, United States Marine Corp, World War II- Pacific Front". As you can see, I still need to get his rank!

So friends, send us names, details, and stories of our American warriors. Their stories will be used to cover the heads of some of our littlest warriors! The stories will be chronicled on our Facebook page along with the hats made and we will make two drop offs, one just before Memorial Day and one just before July 4th. We are excited to be thanking our veterans and military families in our own little way!!!

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. -Ephesians 6:13

Anyone interested in donating supplies to this project can contact us. If you are interested in donating to a great organization that directly helps veterans, we recommend the Wounded Warriors Project.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Little Bit of Ds

Johnny has Down syndrome. Period. His chromosomal analysis proves that. With as much assurance as they can give, doctors have shown us that his 21st chromosome comes in triplicate in every cell of his body. He doesn't have a "mild case", he doesn't have a "little bit of Down syndrome", and there is no reason to suspect that "maybe the doctors got it wrong". He has Down syndrome. 

A friend from "the community" fielded an encounter of someone saying similar statements today. I have encountered it as well. It's one of the many questions that we parents of kids with Down syndrome have to answer somewhat regularly. I always try to answer in a gracious manner. 

There is no such thing as a "little bit of Down syndrome" or a "mild case". Someone could argue for mosaic Ds to be an example of this, but we can argue that on a different day. The fact is, either there is an extra chromosome or there isn't. How Down syndrome manifests itself is unique to each individual. I will tell you, from all of my research, kids and adults with Down syndrome are amazing people. There is so much of the body that can be effected, a lot is stacked up against them. So the impact of Down syndrome can be mild on an individual, someone could only show slight manifestations of Down syndrome, but they either have it or they don't. 

I think that one of the reasons these statements can be bothersome is that they often come from strangers or lesser known acquaintances. Random encounters with people will sometime lead to conversations about Down syndrome and there is sometimes shock to learn that Johnny (or other people's kids) has it. The statement is usually along the line of "What?!? Well he doesn't even look like he has it, it must be a slight case." It is always, always, always linked to appearance. 

(These photos were chosen because more physical markers are seen here)

Can you imagine the steam coming out of my ears?!? Because I can sometimes feel it. 

I don't want my son's abilities to be based on how he looks. I don't want others to judge his abilities based on how he looks either. I want them to see how hard he works and tell me it must be a slight case. Then I can explain that he has Down syndrome, but yes, he is one of the hardest workers we know. I want them to see him holding down a job one day and question how capable he can be inspite of all that is stacked up against him. I want them to see his face and comment on his smile and his big brown eyes without looking at all the ways to "see the Down syndrome". I want them to question a Down syndrome diagnosis because of how well he plays with his buddies, how kind and polite he is, and how easily he interacts with others and his environment. I don't want them to question his diagnosis because sometimes, from some angles, he looks "so normal"...whatever that means. 

And sometimes I am grateful for the physical indications that he has Ds. I hope that sometime in the future, when he is struggling, that people will be patient, kind, and helpful to him. But shouldn't we be that way to everyone who is sincerely trying at their task, but, for whatever reason, just isn't succeeding?

Regardless, he has Ds, 47 chromosomes in every single last cell of his body. Sometimes he looks like it, sometimes he doesn't. But his life and encounters with others will be a far better indication of who he is than any markers that can be checked off a list. 

I love that little boy, looks and all. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tiny Blessings Update 4/2013

We had previously scheduled our drop off for next week, just in time for Easter. Due to some conflicts, we have rescheduled for the week after which meant a quick run up to the hospital (and a snuggle with a friends newborn baby) to take the specifically Easter themed hats for them to pass out. I was able to take 33 between mine and Jennifer's and Karlin was planning on taking more so that will be more than adequate for the next two weeks until we take a large batch of items. Our contact person said that every single one of the St. Patrick's Day hats were used and it was one of the busiest they had seen in a long time. How wonderful for all of those little leprechauns!!!

With a heavy heart, she let us know that the hospital has seen an increase in fetal demise over the past two weeks. It is unfortunate that this has been the case. We pray for the little ones, their families, and the medical staff that worked with them. We cannot imagine the heart break involved in such circumstances. 

We will surely post about our big drop off in the coming weeks, we are excited that we have been officially handing items to them for almost a full year. I love how this ministry has grown and changed in 12 short months and how we work to remain flexible as God's needs for these babies and their families presents themselves to us. We originally thought we would be doing mainly hats, then mainly bereavement items, and now we do way more hats than we thought possible. Plus, we like to spoil our nurses when we can! 

Please let me know if you would like to help us in any way. With our big post in a few weeks we will have some specific needs that we are looking for as well as a Memorial Day project. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

One Day at a Time

I'm a planner. I always have been. I used to write out packing lists for family vacations before I exited elementary school. I sometimes schedule particularly busy days down to 15 minute increments. I refused to share "team copy" duties when I was teaching because the other person wouldn't "do it right" and may not have them a day or two in advance like I preferred. I like knowing where I'm going. 

As a parent you have to let some of that go. As mentioned in my previous post, I'm trying to find that balance. 

But I still see myself looking to the future, planning out family trips, theoretical finances, kid's futures, and job promotions and growth. It's been nice to let some of that go with Johnny. He brings us to the present. I should know that I don't have the plan right for all of us. Johnny showed us that the "plan" sometimes is completely wrong. I don't know what his future holds, but I can take comfort in the fact that all I have to worry about are short term goals and days and weeks for now. Sometimes, I really only need to focus on those 15 minute increments and decide what is best for Johnny (or Mac or Keegan or Matt or me) in that short time span. I think that having a kid with special needs multiples the normal mommy input that takes place sub consciously. All of those constant questions that Moms are asking of themselves all the time, gets a little more frantic and increases in number. With extra doctor appointments, therapies, and work to be done, let's be frank, sometimes special needs simply means more needs. A lot more needs. 

It sometimes feels a lot like my first year of teaching. What you would like to think of as treading water, but looking back was a lot more like drowning. I like to think that I keep my head above water, but sometimes it's just my mouth and nose that stays there. And there are other days that it's probably more like a straw being pressed firmly between my lips, giving me a chance to suck air in and stay alive. 

It most often feels like this on the days I try to plan all of his needs out. All of that weight gets thrown onto my shoulders at once and I begin the research of all the crazy therapies and methods I'm not doing, I begin trying to work in speech, developmental, and occupational therapy all in the same activity (although some of that can be done together), I push too hard in meeting physical milestones meaning naps hours longer than usual (and missing out on more work), and, in general, feeling the obligation more than the love, pride, and honor I want to feel towards my son. 

Now I tell myself, take a moment, focus on now, what is best suited for the next fifteen minutes. Today, it went well. 

This morning- a bottle and snuggles in bed. He held his own bottle and we bonded. I wouldn't change that for the world and so, in itself, that time was well spent. We are planning on working on a sippy cup, but we will get to that another time. 

He sat in his high chair and fed himself breakfast. That is 15 minutes well spent. I am so glad for his ability to feed himself. Some of my friends from the buddy group would argue that as a huge victory at this age. 

I changed his diaper and got him dressed. While doing so, we laughed and giggled, but also looked for his feet and hands as we pushed them through his clothes. I think he is beginning to learn the word feet. Those moments have worth. 

I worked at church today so he spent time in the church nursery with other babies. He chases balls, climbs in and out of different toys, and interacts with other kids his age. That's good. AND, they told me that he recently told/signed another kid "thank you" when the kid brought him his ball to play with. Hello?!? Johnny for the win!

After we went to lunch with a friend and while no deliberate therapy took place, I got some needed checking in on and Johnny fed himself fries, chicken strips, and crackers. He also signed more and all done. What else could I ask for?

This evening, post nap, he and I sat and watched the girls in their gymnastics class. He wore his glasses, practiced standing, and worked out his oblique and core muscles while we waited to their class to be over. I took advantage of the time with him, giving him breaks as needed. Would I have preferred more standing? Yes. But we did what we could. 

None of this may be mind blowing or life altering to some, but it is much needed perspective for me and other parents (kids with special needs or not) to have. Breaking down a day into manageable bites when we have platters worth of "stuff" to do in front of us makes all the difference. And while many people talk about enjoying the small things in life, my focus right now is taking advantage of the small things and the small moments and making sure that, whether it be snuggles or work or time away, each moment is filled with what makes us better. 

Monday, April 7, 2014


I've said it before, my life is busy. Sometimes busier than I want it to be. However, I find it fulfilling, pouring into others fills my cup too. I'm working hard to find that theoretical balance that the latent, hiding, obsessive compulsive side of me wants to take over and micromanage. I'm on the verge of letting her out, scheduling and controlling everything, letting her leave no room for spontaneity or freedom. 

While I fight that urge, I work on figuring out what works best for us. Trying to find the balance between all the side jobs, working with Johnny, spending quality time with the girls, promoting Tiny Blessings, and being with friends and family. Oh yeah, and Matt needs time with me too! I have a full post about the amazing partner he is and how we work so well to manage our lives together. 

Today I think I found a good balance. I just have to rinse, wash, repeat to see if works again. We had breakfast with a friend which ended with a bit of therapy work for Johnny, grocery shopping, lunch and relaxing, straightening up, working with Johnny more, and the kids enjoying the sunshine while I made a couple hats for those precious babies in the NICU. While this may seem a bit ordinary and mundane for most, this is the balance that I have to try and find. I tend to be a person of extremes and many of my days quickly get turned into one extreme or another. A breakfast with a friend will turn into adventures and friend hopping all day, killing any productivity. Or a cleaning hour will turn into detailed decluttering of a single closet while the kids are ignored as much as possible all day (don't worry, I throw down lunch and snacks). Or a relaxing show will turn into incessant movie watching until Matt comes home and we are all in our jammies still! And not that those aren't bad from time to time, I just can't fall into a pattern of extremes. 

So here is to a successful today and hoping for a successful tomorrow.