Saturday, January 31, 2015


Thursday was a day steeped in Tiny Blessings Ministry. I had woken up early and finished two more hats to add to our stash for Methodist Willowbrook. I prayed for twins, a boy and a girl, fighting to grow strong in the Antepartum wing of the hospital, willing them to grow so they could have a twin set of hats delivered with our other items. I had painstakingly sewn on buttons to gowns and hats that would be the only item ever worn by the babies they were made for. It is tedious to put on those details, but we try to add them when we have the chance, showing love for the few moments their families will ever spend with them here. I looked forward to seeing an old friend, blossoming in the last days of her second pregnancy, happy for her to have the chance to take our gowns to serve more families. I reflected on all these great, ministry focused moments as I sat on the floor of the gym, watching Mac play basketball and busily working on a blanket. Methodist has asked us for more blankets to bless their families and I wanted to get to work at once, using one of my favorite yarns. 

As I worked, I received a text from a friend. She counsels at a faith based pregnancy center and was just made aware of a couple who had come in for counseling. The couple was pregnant for the third time and was leaning toward having their third termination. My friend urged us to prayer as they headed back to the ultrasound room and that is where their story, as far as we are concerned, ends. I doubt there will be more information that we are able to have, more than likely, the information we have toes the line of what is allowed and what isn't. Regardless, my heart breaks in this instance. 

As I immediately began to pray, asking for this couple to see God's own handprint on their child, for them to see the life bestowed upon them, I glanced down at the blanket quickly taking shape in my lap. My already broken heart sunk even further. All day I had spent time ministering to families willing their children to live. I had prayed for families that would only know their child as a medical concern and hesitatingly counted the weeks of pregnancy knowing their time with their child would end as soon as labor began. I had carefully made sure that all items were stored and paired together, showing care and concern for the last gift these children and their families would receive. I had prayed for the hearts of the families, friends, and medical staff who lovingly usher these children into their arms and back out again far too soon. Any one of these families would be honored and ecstatic to welcome this cast out child into their lives. 

How could I be busily praying for children who would pass away because of God's plan in one moment and be trying to pray for a child who would pass away because of man's plan in the next?

In "Mom World", when mom's miscarry and then get pregnant again, they are often referred to as "rainbow babies", in reference to rainbows coming after a storm. I often think of babies that are miscarried or who pass away when I see rainbow items. I now add the babies who lose their lives to the abortion industry in our country and around the world. The irony that I was making a blanket that naturally lends itself to a rainbow pattern wasn't lost on me. I pray that this couple chose a different route for the third gift they were given and that more couples and moms, seeking to end life, will make different choices in the coming years. As we pray for these decisions to change, we ask for loving support and care for moms in difficult circumstances and encourage you to find a local, faith based pregnancy center that can give guidance in these situations. 

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." -Matthew 19:14

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tiny Blessings Valentine's Event

This past Tuesday we had a small ministry gathering at my home to promote Tiny Blessings and simply enjoy fellowship with crochet-ers and non yarn aholics alike. We have been bestowed with even more great women joining us and pledging to make items for the numerous places we serve and it's wonderful to see so many details falling into place. The three of us "founders" that were present had a great time talking to our friends and compatriots that were there and wished we could have seen everyone that encourages us, supports us, and helps us along our way. I was also able to gather several donations in the days preceding the event and am busy sorting all the donations between the ministry opportunities we have. 

This morning I took some of those items to Methodist Willowbrook for them to sort through for distribution of Valentine's hats. I also grabbed a few blankets for them because they are always in need of blankets for babies in the NICU and for their bereavement donations. We were able to give 26 hats and 4 blankets today and will have more ready to go by the end of February, that was just the Valentine's hats!

Lastly, tonight, I took 13 gown and hat sets to a friend from high school for the hospital she works at. While they frequently get larger items, they were in desperate need for smaller gowns to give to the families they serve. We are hoping to at least fulfill this need for their hospital as we expand and move forward. It's a wonderful connection to have and it was so nice to see an old friend (who is almost due with a baby girl)!!!

Lastly, a few prayer requests-

First, that our ministry would continue to be God led and servant minded so we can be where He wants us as we work and serve. 

Second, that our ministry continues to grow and multiply. That more commitments are made to help us and that we are able to connect with CyFair Hospital to see what their needs may be. 

Lastly, one of our servicemen that we made a hat in honor of last year is nearing the end of his third deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom. Please pray for his safety in these last few days, for strength for his family, and some pure rest when he gets home. Prayers and thanks for all of our men and women who serve in our armed forces. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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. 


Monday, January 26, 2015

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!


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. 

Friday, January 23, 2015


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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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. 

Monday, January 19, 2015


My girls went for another checkup at the dentist today. I don't have pictures of them sitting in the exam room or having their little teeth looked at because they went back all by themselves. 

All by themselves. At almost four and five, they need me for very little these days. They told me they wanted to be brave and they could go back there alone. The dental hygienist and X-ray tech said they both did great, there were no issues, and to keep brushing. I didn't know this point would come so early, when the independence we have diligently been building in our daily life would show up in such a seemingly grown up way. As their reliance on me wanes (and not saying that they don't need me anymore, thank goodness), it's been fun to watch our relationship grow, to see the personality and enjoyment of each other's company take the place of filling basic needs. 

I am so proud to be their mama. 

And in other grown up news, Keegan wants to buy a new Tundra. She "read" all about it in Road and Track in the waiting room. Her daddy is so proud! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015


The other day I posted about my snuggle time with Johnny. I posted about how special it is and how confident I feel in the job I am doing in those moments before bed. I wrote about contentment and security, for both of us. I reflected on how the worries seem to fade away and are silenced by the bond I share with my sweet boy. 

Today I settled in with Johnny for some pre-bed snuggles, happy that he not only signed cold, but when I asked if he wanted snuggles, he folded his arms into his chest and went "mmmmm", making up his own sign for our special time. I rubbed his back, gave him kisses, and told him how much I loved him. In turn, he licked me. 

Yes. That's right. He licked me. Repeatedly. And laughed about it. 

I decided snuggles were over for the night. 

In a way, I still feel like I'm doing a lot right!

First game

Yesterday Mac had her first game. She is a great defender! But that's because she loves chase. And she loves chase because she loves to run. In short, I think we have her in the wrong activity. She loves running up and down the court, but could care less about rebounding (understandable at this age), trying to get open for the ball, catching, dribbling, or passing. She just wants to run. We told her before the game that all we cared about was that she had fun and tried her best. She said she had fun and from what we could see she tried pretty well. What more could we ask for? 

After the game we went out and celebrated with milkshakes and chips, two of her favorite things. We are excited to see where the season takes us and if she starts to get the hang of the game or not. 

In the meantime, anyone know of a running club for 5 year olds?!?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Doing Something Right

I think that humans doubt themselves a lot. Even. Supremely confident person like myself is always striving for more. To do more. To be more. To achieve. To work. To fight. When all of the doing battles against the hours of each day and, ultimately, loses, doubt can settle in. Doubt in decisions made to do one thing over another. Doubt in not doing enough. Doubt in being enough. 

Compound this as a mother. 

Compound this again as a mother to a child of special needs. 

But take a night like tonight, with a freshly bathed and jammied 2 year old boy. A boy who signs "cold" to his mama because he knows it means she will grab a blanket off the couch and sit and snuggle with him before bed. A fiesty and vivacious two year old who still wants to snuggle and hug on his mama. A mama who rubs his back, strokes his hair, and sings to her boy. With a boy who takes his hand and, in turn, strokes his mama's neck, runs his fingers through the ends of her hair, and hums as he drifts closer to sleep. 

The only break in our sweet routine is spread sporadically through our time together, when Johnny pops up into a sitting position, just to smile at me and to see me smile back at him before nestling back against my chest. 

There is no doubt in that moment. There is an absolute presence of perfect confidence that you are doing something, and maybe even a lot of things, right. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Montrose Street Reach

Matt and I usually participate in some end of the year giving and this year looked to do that in a different way. Spurred on by my good friend Jennifer, we helped organize a small donation drive of items to take to Montrose Street Reach Ministry. This ministry is a Christian ministry that provides dinner, church service, childcare, and donated necessities to those who need it on Wednesday nights. Our church helps regularly with this ministry and my friend is very involved with helping the women who come for help. Our drive sought out toys, books, clothing of all sizes, shoes, blankets, and toiletry items to take down there for distribution. In just a few short weeks with only Facebook messages out to our friends we were able to collect a lot. A full suburban was taken down there last week and immediately distributed to the families who braved the cold. It was wonderful to see the generosity of our friends and just as wonderful to see all of the items immediately being put to use. I am so glad there are good opportunities for direct giving in our area!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Daddy Win

Matt is a good dad. He is a great dad. Especially to our girls. He patiently brushes their hair. He looks forward to bath and bedtime with them. He plays princess songs for them in the car. He knows the difference between a Pegasus and a unicorn and can name almost all of the My Little Ponies. He sings songs with them. He helps them build things from Legos and on their iPad apps. He puts up with the glitter, EVERYEWHERE! He is dedicated to our sweet girls. 

Today the girls brought down a "Brave" bow and arrow toy. They precariously knotched the arrows, pulled them back, aimed, and fired into the air, willing their toy towards some imaginary foe. When asked what they were trying to down, they proudly exclaimed, "A deer! A deer!" When Matt asked why they wanted to shoot the deer they exclaimed, "To get the meat! The meat!" Mac then took her aim, "shot the deer", strung up the imaginary deer, pretended to skin it with her arrow, and pulled out chunks of meat with her bare hands. 

I am so grateful my husband caught all of this on camera. 

I think he is too. 

I may have seen a little tear in his eye. I don't know that he has ever been so proud of his little girls. They may love pink and princesses and glitter, but to him, they've got it where it counts!


Yesterday Mac and Keegan started back to preschool after a full month off. Their program gives a longer Christmas break and I was actually grateful for the extra week off with them last week because it meant extra opportunities for us to go do things around town without the busyness of everyone else being out of school. 

As I drove the girls to school yesterday, Mac asked if I was glad that they were starting back to school. I responded by asking what she meant by that. She replied that I was probably glad she was going back to school because it meant that I could just relax and hang out without distractions. She was smiling so I hope that means she wasn't meaning it in a bad way! I explained to her that I had work yesterday at church and wouldn't be relaxing or hanging out. She thought briefly then responded, "Well, maybe Wednesday then!"

Where does she come up with these things?!? The truth is, I love that they go to school. I love that they interact with other people, get taught by other people, play with other kids, and learn all about the world while they are away from me. However, I am also very glad when they are home. I love having both parts in our lives!

Monday, January 12, 2015

On hand

I try to make extra of meals that will freeze well to put in the deep freeze for days that we need something quick. Unfortunately, sometimes these meals get buried under everything else in there and lost in the depths of venison, on sale frozen pizza, and seasonal blue bell ice cream. Tonight I dug for some of these meals, trying to purge and organize what we had on hand so I can better plan and prepare for each week. We are about to have sports two nights a week to add to our busy schedule and I need to be on top of things when I can. 

To our despair, plastic wrap and foil could not protect the items I pulled out and heated up for tonight and the freezer left it's distinguishing taste profile far too deep on the pasta shells we were hoping to consume. Thankfully, we can afford much more food than we need and had extra pasta and sauce in the pantry, ready to be heated up for our consumption. I try to keep quesadilla and pasta supplies on hand at all times in case a meal doesn't work out for whatever reason. 

It made me feel a little spoiled though, that we could just throw away the meal because it didn't taste good. I understand that many don't have that option. I want to be a better steward of the food we purchase and make from here on out and plan to package items better when freezing them and purging items more consistently. It's nice for my budget this week too, as I empty out some of our freezer in hopes of doing just that. 

What are your tips for deep freeze organization and what meals do you have that freeze well in sealable containers?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What's In a Name?

Matt and I mulled over the kids' names for sometime, trying to decide what each of our sweet babies would be known by. We have never been so validated by a naming decision as we have been with Keegan Joy. While her fierceness shows in the passion and completeness she does everything with, what radiates even more is her joy. After spending much of her first year and a half angry at the world around her, she shines with joy most of the time. And she still gets angry and upset, but I truly believe her happiness more than makes up for her almost unmatched fits. 

This joy billows forth from within her in so many ways. In the way she will give a gracious laugh when she knows someone is trying to be funny. In the way she points and laughs and then continues to laugh because she finds joy in her own laughter. In the way she loves to be tickled and in the way she begs for more tickles even after you think she is done. And in the way that she can't suppress a smile. My favorite evidence of this is when we play a "game" with the girls, asking them to show us various faces depending on whether they are sad, mad, scared, etc. Keegan gives some fierce angry and sad faces, but you have to be quick to catch them. The sweet girl will only show those emotions for moments before her eyes start crinkling, her smile spreads across her face, and her face disappears behind her hands in peals of laughter. 

I love her insatiable joy!

Tiny Blessings Update

Tiny Blessings is doing more than we can keep up with and we are extremely grateful for that. 

This fall, myself and the other two "heads" of the Cypress branch of Tiny Blessings agreed that we would slow our ministry down a bit until after the new year. We had just dropped off a huge donation for our hospital and wanted time to regroup, make items for our family, and attend to other needs. We were all glad for a chance to breathe and looked forward to gaining momentum in the new year. 

God, apparently, had different plans. Almost immediately, we were contacted by a friend to make hats for the Ronald McDonald House that serves the pediatric wing of MD Anderson clinic. We all agreed that making hats for some of the children there was something we would like to do. Then, after a friend was diagnosed with Leukemia, we agreed to make special hats for all the men who shaved their heads as part of a fundraiser for his family. The hats included words stitched into the band of the hat, making a very cool, but time consuming project. It was great making the hats for people we actually knew and being able to pray for them specifically. 

Further, we all have small items that have been requested from time to time, anything from hats for nurses who are expecting to small memory items for friends who have lost their pregnancies to hats for others in our community. 

Lastly, and it's something I need to press forward on a bit more, is to answer a call from a friend who works at a hospital in town and is desperate for the smallest of our gowns. We are working to create a batch of items for her. 

It is fascinating to see God calling us to our work, even when we are hesitant to push forward. It's also comforting to clearly be a part of such a God-led ministry. He is speaking to us to cover these needs and we are working to answer Him. 

In addition to serving Methodist Willowbrook for the coming year, we are praying that we can provide hats for Nativiti Birthing Center, to provide the gowns needed for my friend at Memorial Herman, to take on an additional Cypress area hospital, and to make hats again for the Ronald McDonald House. It's a large undertaking, but we believe that, if God is calling us to provide, He will also provide resources to serve. We are grateful for His provision in our ministry so far. Donations are coming to us from amazing and seemingly "random" places and we had added more people who help us throughout the year. 

And, we know that our work will never be complete and that there will always be heads to cover. We just work to do our best each day until we are all ministered to directly by the only one who can meet all our needs. 

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. -Philippians 1:6

Friday, January 9, 2015

All Clear

Yesterday we followed up with Johnny's endocrinologist to check on his thyroid issues we have been monitoring. Many people with Down syndrome have thyroid issues, more commonly hypothyroid issues, but hyper is found as well. Our first endo felt like Johnny may have had a condition called Hashimoto's where the thyroid doesn't function correctly in its communication, causing hypothyroidism. Our second endo wasn't convinced. 

She ran her own bloodwork in October (took four of us to hold him down) and found all levels to be...normal. She thinks the bloodwork was a fluke in that TCH measures things slightly differently. Additionally she checked two additional hormones which he was negative for, indicating that there was no reason to diagnose him or monitor him extraordinarily anymore. 

Thus, we have been cleared as much as we can be for this doctor. We still have to monitor him, but she is sending explicit instructions to our pediatrician on extra testing for his annual work and what to look for and sees no reason to schedule more visits with her unless something else pops up. 

We've been cleared! Most people won't understand what that means to a parent of a kid with special needs. Our story, from the beginning, has been a story or "wait and see" and "let's talk to this specialist". Even cardiology, which we've been mostly clear from, needs a couple of follow ups. The weight of not having to remember those appointments, worry about what she will say, or wonder if we have more bloodwork or will start medicine, has been lifted. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. That stress can go away and I can devote that time to something else! It's a good place to be!
He looked like a big boy today before speech therapy. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

First Day as a Basketball Mom

Today was almost tragic. 

Mac has been looking forward to basketball for weeks. She has been excited to try and play, she helped pick out new tennis shoes to wear (thanks Dee), she laid out her clothes this morning so she knew where they would be, and has been giddy with excitement all week for her first practice. 

I won't lie and pretend that I haven't been excited too. I played for 12 years and loved almost every season. Not every second, there were too many timed sprints for me to love every second, but really enjoyed my time as an athlete. 

Her excitement faded when, not ten minutes into practice, a stray ball hit her in the face. Our poor girl was crushed and it took quite some time to coax her back onto the court. Then she was embarrassed and had to be re-encouraged back onto the court. I was a little frustrated, mainly at her excuses (her hand couldn't possibly hurt that bad from dribbling right?), but finally told her that I just wanted her to do her best. I asked if she could do that for me and she agreed. I don't care if she plays one season or twenty. I don't care if she is the best or the worst. I just care about her trying new things and working hard at them. 

The second half of practice was much better. She enjoyed running with the boys after rebounds, got much better at catching and passing the ball, and had a smile on her face as practice ended. She was delighted to see her jersey, more so because she is #5 which she loves because that's how old she is, and even more after I told her that #5 was my number for my first few seasons too. 

With a promise to practice with her more over the next few days, I think she is looking forward to practice next week. Regardless, I am so proud of her getting back out there today. 

Keegan was ticked that she wasn't playing basketball (because she refused when I went to sign the kids up), but I reminded her that she starts soccer with her bestie in just a few weeks!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tips for Tagalongs

How do you do it? 

I hear it a lot. Not saying that I hear it all the time, just a lot. And not saying that I hear it about all aspects of my life (nobody says it in reference to my housekeeping), mainly in the area of "how are you so active with young kids?!"

I find great joy in taking my kids places. I am usually up for getting out of the house and running to old favorites or trying new places. If you don't want to get out of the house with your kids, then this post isn't for you. If you are wanting to try something new, but want some tips, here is what I have to offer. It's not solid, but it works for us. 

First- Be prepared. We rarely go anywhere without three changes of clothes (one for each kid), extra diapers, snacks, and drinks for everyone. Many day trips and adventures have been ruined or seriously derailed when I haven't had these items with us. If you have an extra pair of clothes, it isn't a big deal if, like today, your two year old gets soaked playing at a water table at The Children's Museum. I didn't even have to go to the car for his clothes because he has a change of clothes in the car and backpack! For extra clothes, I just pull hand me downs that the kids probably wouldn't wear as much and throw them, a plastic bag, and extra diaper for Johnny in the back of the car. My girls are very potty trained, but sometimes accidents, spills, puddles, and rain happen. Especially in Houston. As far as drinks and snacks go, if my kids start melting down at something fun, it's probably because they are hungry or tired. Either of those things can be fixed with a litte bit of water, milk, or juice and a quick snack. It can at least buy us 30 more minutes while we decide the best course of action. 

    (Yes he got wet, but he stood there 
      For about 20 minutes. That's a
           Parenting win!)

Sometimes, special activities need extra preparedness. During warm months, the zoo needs extra water, swimsuits, and extra sunblock. Bright events outside mean sunglasses for Mac. Longer activities mean making a lunch plan. Think about what you would do before you get up and go. 

Second- Find a friend. If you are nervous about a new activity or aren't sure if you or your kid(s) will like it, take someone with you. It works really well to find one or more friends that are similarly minded as you when it comes to getting out of the house. It's even better when kids get along well together too. It makes social time an aspect of taking the kids out, as long as you are patient with having to run after or correct children. And in some ways it makes life way easier. You can tag team potty breaks, meltdowns, and kids can play together which often times means less work for both Mommies (or Daddies involved). 

Third- Don't be afraid to go at it alone. Yes, this contradicts the above paragraph, but it is crucial for your enjoyment of outings with your kids. For starters, you need to spend time doing things with your kids one on "one" (or two or three). You need to talk to them, experience things with them, and in general, enjoy their company. Additionally, sometimes you cannot rely on others. Play dates fall through, kids get sick, schedules get jammed. If we invite others, our policy is always, "This is what we are doing, join us or not, we will be having fun regardless". It's not to be pompous, it's just to continue with our adventures and to encourage others to venture out as well. 

Fourth- Find systems that work for your family and practice them all the time. I have three kids five and under, systems are how we function in public. Mac helps her sister get unbuckled, they don't open the car door unless I say so, when they are by the car their hands are either on the car or they are standing on the yellow or white line, when we walk through the parking lot we all have hands, the list goes on and on. Because these systems or procedures are commonplace for my kids, they aren't out of sorts when we are doing something fun or trying a new place. Whether we are at the grocery store or at the zoo, these hold true. 

Fifth- Find places that work for you. We loved The Children's Museum downtown. It was fun, informative, and has some awesome activities for kids. However, my kids' ages aren't ideal for that particular museum right now. Johnny is way too young, has to be held or in a stroller, and many of the exhibits need a lot of assistance from parents for Mac and Keegan's ages. While I love explaining and teaching my kids, it can be a challenge when all three are headed in different directions. So we switched to the museum in The Woodlands. It is a smaller facility, it is more interactive and explorative for younger kids, and is usually less busy so Johnny can explore some too. It works better for us. The same goes for you and your kids. If you hate animals, the zoo isn't the best place to go, try a bounce place or library story time instead. If your budget doesn't allow for extra spending, look for free nights and events at places around town. Find what works for you. 

Sixth- Temper your expectations. It's good to have a general plan in place, but be realistic and flexible. My kids have some stamina, but if they walk most of the zoo, even with stopping for a picnic lunch, they are exhausted after 3 hours there. That is a lot of walking for a kid. Be sensitive to that. Kids have to pee, often, ask frequently, ask every time you see a restroom, and don't be surprised when they have to go again. I kid you not, we made three restroom stops on the way to the zoo this week. And at least that many inside. Just because something is fun and exciting for you, doesn't mean it will be for them, and vice versa. Take it all in and if you catch yourself getting frustrated, see my first rule, specifically about packing a snack and a drink for mommy too!

Seventh- Back off. When places are slow or the setting allows, let your kid move at their own pace. Let them pick the route you take through the museum. Let them choose which art activity to do. Let them race to find the next animal. I'm not saying to be an absent parent, quite the opposite in fact. I am encouraging you to let your kids explore and have freedom as the outing allows. As they grow, those moments will help them continue to be strong and independent. I laughed today at the parents at the museum who were shocked that I was allowing my kids to explore much of the place independently (politely and respectfully, with about 10 other moms, and parameters set) while they say near their kid, buried in their phone. Trust me, I need my phone time too, but my kid is no less unprotected as theirs was and they loved feeling like big kids as they took their time at each station as they wished. I loved looking for them and seeing what they were doing. 

Lastly, take pictures but also enjoy the moment. It's nice to snap a few quick pictures here and there with the phone, to get a random video of kids playing, or to even pull out a real camera for a couple of set shots, but not at the expense of living in the moment and experiencing what is happening. I think our generation of parents will have more than enough pictures to remember our kids with, don't be so wrapped up in getting the perfect shot that you forget the details that make it all so nice. 
     (it's not a perfect picture, but I could
      not capture on film her little voice 
      calling for her brother to sit with her
      and her "driving" them to the movies)

Again, this is what works for us. It's not for everyone. But I encourage you to get out of the house with your kids, try some new places, and have fun. It's worth the extra work and becomes easier each time. I delight in the time my kids and I have with one another. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Halter Inc

This October we found a groupon for a place not far from us called Halter Inc. Typically, it is a horse riding facility that offers typical and adaptive classes, but during October, they have a fall festival of sorts. Our groupon allowed the family to come out one day and experience all they had to offer. In short, I think it was one of the best days of Keegan's life. 

The one activity the girls did not enjoy was the walk through the haunted woods as there were kids out there who had the task of frightening any passerby. Despite our attempts to encourage them not to scare our kids and our attempts to reassure the girls that it was just a game, there was some panic from them. Other than that, everything was enjoyable for the kids. They got to feed farm animals in the petting zoo, ride a small train, go on a hay ride, eat hot dogs, play in a pumpkin patch with the largest pumpkin we have ever seen, and ride in a horse and buggy.

The best two activities, however, were the pony rides and the chance to walk the ponies. The girls did this half a dozen times each at least. It rained halfway through the day and we stuck it out considering the hay ride to our car had a line that took longer to disappear than it did for the rain to clear. After that, the kids had no wait for any activities. Mac had a good time riding the ponies and taking the ponies around the obstacle course, she used the same voice she does to call for Dee and Doc's dog, calling, "Here, here!" over and over. 

But Keegan. Wow. She is a natural horsewoman. She climbed into the saddles like she had been doing it her whole life. Several times, the lead person and Matt and I were shocked to find her casually standing in the saddle as we encouraged her to get on. She was so gentle with the ponies she led around and used firm tugs to encourage them though their tasks. And her smile through it all was amazing. 

We went home that day, caked in mud, and tired, but it was a really nice family time. Keegan hasn't stopped talking about horses and ponies since and we are looking forward to encouraging her love as she grows. It'll definitely be a groupon we look out for again. And considering how few people were there when the weather was bad, we would probably look for a gross day to go again!

Monday, January 5, 2015


I wasn't intending to write this tonight, but I couldn't help but share it. For some reason my phone is showing one unread text. It's making me crazy. I have scanned through my text messages multiple times and cannot find the cause. Desperate, I scrolled all the way to the bottom of my text messages. 

I have cleaned them out from time to time and deleted larger strings of messages or texts that I don't need, but this one will, hopefully, never be deleted. 

My family had already been notified, and while we would send out a larger message at a more appropriate time in the morning, I had to send this message to these people. Notice the time and the simplicity of the message. I think it's hilarious, how stoic it seems, juxtaposed with how excited I know I was. I was about to meet my Baby TRex for the first time, but I think, in my head, I thought a simpler text message wouldn't wake my friends up as much! 

What a great reminder of such a lovely time, right on the cusp of a new world and a new role!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Halloween Catchup

This year we did much of the same activities, a trip to the pumpkin patch and going to our friend's block party and trick or treating with lots of people there. The girls had a ton of treats from school, added to that with trick or treating down one block of their neighborhood, and with leftover candy we had. After a couple days, we pulled out much of the hard candy and gum, then let them pick 30 pieces each to leave in their buckets. The rest was donated to the nurses at the hospital and Operation Christmas Child boxes. 

The kids had a blast running around in the street, eating snow cones, playing with their friends, and admiring all the costumes. Mac eventually fell asleep on our friend's couch while Keegan laid in the driveway looking at the stars. Johnny just loved watching all the action and the happy birthday wishes from everyone. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Hair Cut

In October a friend of ours was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia (ALL). Like all cases of cancer, this caught us off guard, but I think, even more so, as it is the first time our young parent church group has had to face something like this. Our friend is sick and we are working hard to respond. 

Part of that response was an effort to sell shirts to raise money and awareness for their battle. In order to boost sales, some of the guys, Matt included, agreed to shave their heads if certain numbers were met. As Matt's number approached, his boldness and complete willingness to serve his church buddy pressed on me and I decided to, once again, cut my hair for donation. I had to switch to a different donation company because I only had 9 inches, but the hair will go to making a wig for someone with hair loss. 

To be honest, the hair cut didn't go as planned. The cut was shorter than I asked for and styled a bit differently than I wanted. It was the first time, in all my big haircuts that I had to hold the tears back after seeing the big change. But I was able to keep perspective on it as my haircut, would literally, grow on me. Others cannot say the same. 

We are honored to stand with our friends and to watch them #bthocancer

Friday, January 2, 2015

Old and New

My family likes traditions. Lots and lots of traditions permeate our holidays and life. Add on that the fact that we are a family of Aggies, where anything done once with the intention of doing it again becomes tradition, and we latch onto events and activities we love. 

Many of my childhood weekend mornings were spent, perched on our kitchen counter. I would sit carefully, nightgown tucked around my legs to avoid the sharp edge of the laminate countertop, and listened diligently to my dad's instructions. We discussed the importance of sifting, the reason for leveling your dry ingredients, and the difference between stirring and beating. We made biscuits, pancakes, and, at Christmas time, cookies. 

The cookies were an even larger tradition that involved not only counter top assistance on mine and my sister's part, but leaning over the dining room table to decorate the sugar cookies. We would decorate for hours, spreading milk on the dough that was cut into seasonal shapes, picking out sprinkles and toppings, and sneaking bits of dough and sugar when we thought mom and dad weren't watching. It was a warm and happy time. I looked forward to it each year. 

While some of our family traditions from growing up have faded, decorating these cookies has not. In fact, it's been revitalized with the next generation of decorators. My dad will sometimes bring dough and sugar out to us and other times we head over to his house for an evening of visiting, dinner, and trying to monitor how much the kids are sneaking!

This year's was my favorite for a simple reason. My girls took mine and my sister's perch and sat precariously on the same counter that I did. Granted the laminate is now tile, the number of cookies has reduced, and we have to chase after a very curious little brother that my sister and I didn't have to worry about, but the scene was set in a familiar way none the less. The sat, attentive, taking in my dad's every word and waiting for their chance to stir a bit or measure out the next ingredient. 

In summary, my heart was happy. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Two years ago, I made a commitment to write something every day. Our lives were chronicled, stories were told, and it stretched me to express myself. I enjoyed writing that year and while some posts came a day late, I had 365 posts at the end of the year. 

Actually, I think I had 366, not sure how that happened...

A year ago, I failed to continue on with that commitment. I thought the habit was there and writing has, sadly, been lost from my to do list. I miss it and miss what it meant to me. 

I don't have great expectations for this blog, it's merely a place to share moments and snapshots, to act as a placeholder for memories for years to come, and to sometimes to connect with others. I miss having that over the past year as my devotion to this blog became less consistent. 

Today here we begin 2015 and a renewal of my prior commitment. In addition to the ever present get healthy, read more, be more intentional with time, I will write every day. I will record our stories and my thoughts and reflections and catch up on some of the past year as well. I only guarantee a glimpse into our lives, with varying degrees of depth and writing attached. 

It feels good to start back. 

Happy New Year!