Friday, January 30, 2015

The wonder of Roo

You guys, this kid. Some days I just have to shake my head in amazement. And amusement.

(Also, before you go any further, there's a lot of potty talk in this one. You might want to skip it if you aren't big on oversharing.)

About a month ago, I introduced Roo to the potty. I would NOT say that I started potty training. I simply took off his pants and diaper, he sat on his little potty, we read a book, and then I put his diaper back on. I've been doing that--with little to no consistency, to be honest--a few times a day ever since. Occasionally he'll ask for it, and I'll sit him there. But honestly, he hadn't seemed to make any connection between sitting on the potty and what is actually SUPPOSED to happen on the potty, and I didn't feel ready to push it yet.

Last night, my hubby and I went to a great seminar through our local Down's support group, and the first half of it was all about potty training. When we came home, I told Mr. Wonderful that sometime next month (after he and I take a much-needed grown-ups only weekend away) I will probably keep him home from school for a week and really get started on the whole process.

And then this morning. Oh my goodness. After taking the big kids to school, we came home to just chill out for the day, and Roo said, "Mommy... Potty?"

Well, sure. Let's sit on the potty. Why not? I called my mom to pass the time while I waited for him to be done.

But then I looked down at him, and I saw what looked like... a drip. Of something. What was it? He stood up... And YES! His potty had pee in it! A LOT of pee!


I told my mom I'd call her back, hunted down Roo's treat, and praised him to high heaven. He peed on the potty! Today! Right after the potty training seminar! What are the chances???

Well, since we're on a roll, let's just go with it. Right? I set my timer for 30 minutes.

It went off, I sat him on the potty again... AND HE POOPED! What??????

It was just a tiny bit, but SERIOUSLY. You guys. He pooped on the potty. He went from NOTHING to pee and poop both on the same day.

After that, the rest of the morning was anti-climactic. We sat on the potty every 30 minutes, but no more success--and twice his diaper was wet. But whatever. We're really just trying it out--I wasn't planning on this at all.

So then we went to Panera for lunch with my mother-in-law. (Rest easy, I'm going to give you a break from the potty talk for a few minutes.) She and I each ordered soup and salad, and I said I'd just share my soup with Roo. (That kid will eat just about anything in soup form.)

Share. Right. He ate 2--TWO--bowls of broccoli cheese soup. I ate THREE BITES of soup! Who the heck IS this kid??? And then Gram got him a chocolate chip cookie. He ate that too.

(He absolutely refused to smile for the camera. In fact, as soon as he saw it, he would turn away and shake his head "no." I had to snap this one quick before he realized what was happening.)
Also, a very kind lady who works at Panera took a liking to Roo. This happens everywhere we go--it is just incredible. She must have come over three or four times to talk to him. And then before we left... she brought me another cookie for him--in a bag, so he could have it later. So kind. And so crazy to me how much people just adore this boy!

So after all that, we were gone for almost 2 hours. He was, of course, in a diaper while we were gone (yep, back to the potty talk), so I just assumed that he would be soaking wet, and I was totally unconcerned. I walked him upstairs for his nap... and he asked to sit on the potty again. So I took off his diaper--which was almost totally dry--and sat him on the potty...

(This is fast becoming our official potty activity--it's What Does the Fox Say? You know... like the song. He loves it!

And he PEED and POOPED! What the heck?!?

I have to tell you, the timing of this is absolutely mind-boggling to me. I went to a potty training seminar LAST NIGHT... and now he has suddenly decided that TODAY is the day to potty train???

This boy is a wonder.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Every day, every burden

Praise be to the Lord,
to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
Psalm 68:19

If you have been reading for a while or have heard me speak, you probably know that this is one of my very favorite verses. God bears our burdens daily. Every day. No matter what. He never refuses because they are too big for Him to handle. He never refuses because they are too small and petty for Him to bother with. Every single day, whatever your burden, He is there.

That brought me tremendous comfort when Roo was diagnosed and I thought my world was ending. It got me through days of depression, when I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. It has run through my mind over and over as I have sat with friends who were struggling through various life situations.

And today. Today has been a tough one, friends. Nothing is wrong, really. I am just overwhelmed with life. I got up early to get a few things done, and fell asleep during my quiet time. I can't get caught up on laundry. For every item I put away, Roo throws 10 more across the room. I tried to get something out of the fridge, and a whole shelf fell out--and I can't get it back in. This has been a 1 step forward, 3 steps back kind of day. The kind of day that seems too big for me but too small for God.

But then he reminded me of this verse. Daily. No problem too big or too small. "Remember yesterday?" He asked me.

Yesterday. As I was getting ready to pack my kids' lunches (one of my LEAST favorite chores of all time), I checked the school web site and realized that French toast sticks--their favorite--was being served. Score! I didn't have to pack.

But there's something you need to know: In my house, we have a rule that I pay for their lunches ONLY. If they want something extra--a slushie, chips, etc--they have to take their own spending money to pay for it. (I started this because they were FLYING through their lunch money, buying extra treats every day--sometimes for their friends, too!) And on French toast stick day, you can buy double French toast sticks for a dollar. (It might be 50 cents. There was a brief discussion about this. But really, the amount doesn't matter.) Each of the big kids counted a dollar out of their spending money. Lamb put hers right in her backpack, but Monkey kept playing with his quarters, tossing them, rubbing them together, tossing them, knocking them into each other. I told him to put them in his pocket, and he did... for a good 30 seconds, and then they were back out. I reminded him again, and again he couldn't keep away from them.

As soon as the kids got on the bus, I turned around and saw them: 4 shiny quarters, laying on the floor. My heart groaned inside. My poor sweet Monkey, he is so emotionally fragile lately, and he is so eager to please. He wouldn't realize he had forgotten the money until it was time to use it. He wouldn't know that it would be OK for him to go ahead and buy the extra food on his lunch account just this once.

I considered running the money over to the school, but decided that was silly. It was one thing if he needed the money to eat, but to go to the school and burden someone with going to his class and interrupting his teacher just so that he could have EXTRA food didn't seem wise. It would have to be a life lesson for him.

I know, I know. It's such a small thing. But I worried all day about him and his darn lunch money. My stomach was in knots. And I prayed about it. I prayed about French toast sticks, you guys. OK, not really. Really, I prayed for Monkey and his day and his heart.

And do you know what happened? That kid got in the van after school just as happy as could be. "Mommy, guess what! I asked for double French toast sticks at lunch (which should have been six all together), but they only had 5 left... so they didn't charge me for them!" He never even realized that he didn't have his dollar with him. He got his extra French toast sticks. AND in his mind he got a deal, which to my little business man in training, was the absolute highlight of his day.

Every day. Every burden. No problem too big or too small.

He will bear it. He will provide.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Tonight after I put Roo's pajamas on, he stood up and climbed into my lap. He curled up into me like he only does when he is really, really tired. It's been a busy few days at our zoo. As he snuggled up tight, I pressed my cheek against him and remembered to "give his bald head a kiss" for a friend who is missing him. :-) And I was struck again by the love that he has brought into our lives--his incredible love, the people we have met because of him, the people we continue to meet who love him. Our hearts have grown two sizes too big because of this one sweet boy.

And I thought... I can't believe that I get to be his mommy. That out of everyone in the world, God chose me. I am so incredibly thankful.

There was a time when I couldn't imagine those words. I thought my ultimate goal would be acceptance. I thought that the people who claimed to be thankful for Down syndrome were lying--even to themselves. But I was so indescribably wrong.

I used to pity people who had loved ones with disabilities. Then after Roo was born, I cringed with the thought of people pitying me.

But now I know the truth: I am the lucky one.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tis the Season!

Is it really Christmastime already??? We have had tons of fun already this season, and I thought I'd share some highlights with you.

Last Friday, December 5, we had the wonderful opportunity to ride the Polar Express! Our local Down syndrome group bought a whole car and offered discount tickets to the families. Our kids were BEYOND EXCITED!

Hanging out with some elves before we boarded. Roo was not a fan of this particular photo opportunity.
I love, love, LOVE their penguin PJs! And Lamb's have matching doll pajamas as well. (The doll came along for the night, too. :-) )

Quality time with Daddy
Feeding Daddy popcorn
No trip on the Polar Express would be complete without hot chocolate...
...and cookies!
It's the North Pole!!!!
I love this shot. :-)

On the way home, we sang Christmas carols. These two love the microphone! Roo did too, but I was too busy trying to keep him from grabbing it to take a picture while he WAS grabbing it.
It's way too cold at the North Pole for us to get out of the train. Bummer. But would you believe that Santa Claus actually hopped on board?!? He came to visit us as we rode...

Roo absolutely LOVES Santa!!!


I had a hard time getting a pic. For one thing, Roo wouldn't stop looking at him long enough to let me get a shot. For another, he kept pushing the big kids away so that he could have Santa to himself. :-)

St. Nick signed Twas the Night Before Christmas for us.
This was one Christmas experience that I would call a huge success! I am so thankful we got to go! Lamb knows the truth about Santa, but she still loves the magic of it all. And Monkey is a believer, and Roo is SO much more into Christmas and Santa and snowmen and all things holiday this year. It was the perfect time to go!
Next up, I took their pictures in their Christmas outfits for cards. And for my own little photo collection. Are they cuties or what?


Later that day, we had our annual Santa Party. My mom and her sister gather with all of their kids and grandchildren to celebrate, and a special visitor comes to give each child a gift. It is quite the soiree!
My boys playing a little foosball

He's here! He's here! Is this guy not the best Santa ever?!?

It wasn't even Roo's turn to get up there. Santa was telling the kids a story, and Roo climbed on up.

So happy!

This is my oldest nephew. He was the ring bearer in my wedding a month before his 2nd birthday. He's now almost 16. And considerably taller than I am. And probably won't appreciate it if he discovers that I put this photo online. I'm getting teary just looking at it.

How much longer will she do this happily?!?

As much as Roo loves Santa, he would NOT sit on Santa's lap when it was his turn. (I think all of the commotion of everyone cheering for him kind of freaked him out. He doesn't love large groups.) I snapped this while all of the kids were gathering to get their pic taken with the big guy.
Look at all those kids!!!!

Roo got Chase (from "Paw Patrol"--his favorite show) from Santa. He's not huge on stuffed animals and kept asking me to make it work. (He thinks all toys should be electronic.) But he really does enjoy Chase...

...Here he is singing "Jesus Loves Me" and putting Chase to bed. :-)

Monkey got Twister. All the kids loved it. :-)

Roo kept sneaking cookies when I wasn't looking. I'm pretty sure this was number 5.

Are we adorable or what?!?
And last up (for today), the Christmas music program from Roo's school. As it turned out, my nephew's school band came to play for Roo's school! It was so neat to have him there!
(He's the one waving, in case you weren't sure.) ;-)
I didn't even know that this was actually Roo's PROGRAM--that he would be up on stage singing! His class was the first to go up...
There he is being led by--or more accurately, leading--the world's best classroom aide EVER. So thankful for Miss Dona!
He is ready for clapping and singing!

I love this! I had a hard time getting pics up there. Every time I took a shot, the lady in front of me leaned over to talk to the person next to her. Every time!
Nana & Papa came to see their boys!
And after the music was done, we had another visit from Santa! (Yep, the same Santa that we had at our party. Of COURSE. He's the real Santa, duh!) Roo sat on his lap THREE TIMES! It was partly because of Roo's love for St. Nick, and partly because he continued to thwart my efforts to get a good picture of them together. I finally snapped this one on the third try... although I felt a little guilty, because this wasn't actually Roo's turn. He pulled away from me while I was talking to someone, ran up and climbed onto Santa's lap between kids. Stinker.
That's how our December is going so far. What's new with you?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maybe not JUST like me

Get ready to learn something new about me. Are you sitting down? Here it is...

In general, I think I'm a pretty typically affectionate person. I mean, I might not be what many consider a "hugger", but I don't shy away from an embrace, I'm happy to touch the hand of a friend who is struggling, and I love me a good massage. Touch is not an issue for me.

But when I am sick, For real. I don't want to be snuggled or stroked or rubbed or touched in any way. I barely want to be spoken to. I can remember even as a kid feeling my stomach turn when my cat would crawl on my lap when I was too sick for school. I just want to curl up in a ball with a hot cup of tea and a good movie--or even a not-so-good movie... or an old episode of "Friends"... or just Pinterest--and be left to suffer in silence.

For the past 10 days or so, a bug has been making its way through my house. In fact, there have been a few of them over the past few weeks, to the point where I can't even remember where or with whom this most recent one actually started! All I know is that I avoided it for a long time. Until Friday night. While my kiddos had a few school friends over for a belated Halloween celebration, I started to feel increasingly run-down. For the next few days, it was a minor annoyance. But today... ugh. I feel terrible.

I just want to sit and sulk in peace.

In the meantime, I'm not the only victim here. Like I said, a variety of bugs have been hitting my house, but yesterday I took Lamb to the doctor for what turned out to be a sinus infection and strep. She actually didn't feel too bad, but the strep had caused a nasty rash on her face that was itchy. Unfortunately, the amoxicillin is taking its toll on her tummy, though, so today... while I feel like death... while I just want to sit in peace and moan... Lamb was home with me.

And my little girl, my mini-me, my child who drives me crazy because she is just like me... apparently has at least one key difference from her mama. When she is sick, she wants to snuggle all.the.time. She wants to constantly be touching me and rubbing my arm and nuzzling her head into my neck. She wants me to be in the same room AT ALL COSTS. She wants to whine and commiserate.

This is not funny, Lord.

And here's the odd part: She hasn't always been like this! The first time I noticed it was just 3 weeks ago, when she had Hand, Foot, and Mouth. I blogged about it then, too. It was grating on my nerves then too--but I was healthy then. Today all I want is to put myself in a bubble, and she is trying to crawl back into my WOMB.

For as many times as I have prayed, "Lord, does she have to be like me in every way?", I had no idea He would chose this as the way to show so clearly that she is her own person.

I'm sure I'll laugh about this later. (OK, I'm laughing about it a little bit now, too...)

Friday, October 24, 2014


I have a rather humbling confession to make... compassion is not my strong suit.

Don't get me wrong. I feel strongly for the wronged in our world. The older I get, as a matter of fact, the more emotional I become about the state of our society. Children with Down syndrome around the world who are abandoned--or even aborted--tear my heart in two. Thoughts of the beautiful people I met in Mozambique three years ago flood me with passion to change the world. Even sentimental commercials make me teary--something that just did.not.happen 10 years ago.

But as a mom, my compassion can be lacking. When my kids mess up, sympathy is not my "go to" response--although I'm working on it. I never thought of myself as an angry person until I had a restless infant, a stubborn toddler, a sassy tween. Oy vey.

And when it comes to sickness, I'm not much better. Oh sure, when my kiddos cry, I think, "My poor baby." But after a while, my compassion is all used up. Sometimes I think the drama is bigger than the illness. But even worse is when I can TELL that it is genuine, and I have done everything I know to do and the tears persist and I think, "Why are you trying to make me feel bad? I have done everything I can for you! Just feel miserable in silence!" Like they are crying at me to make me feel like a bad mom--because, you know, it is obviously all about me. Their sickness and misery and tears couldn't possibly be about them and their own feelings.

Oh my word, I am the worst mom ever.

No, I get it. I recognize that I am not the worst mom EVER. But seriously, this area needs a LOT of work.

So on Monday I got a call from the school nurse that Lamb had a "rash of unidentified origin" on her hands and feet, and even though she felt fine and had no fever, she could not be at school because Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease has been making the rounds. (I took her to the pediatrician later that day, who confirmed that it is indeed Hand, Foot, and Mouth.) For the first two days, it was pretty fun--she felt fine, so we played games, watched movies, even did a little shopping. But sometime on Tuesday afternoon, she took a sharp turn for the worse.

By Thursday, all she wanted was for me to snuggle her. All day. I was loving it at first. A chance to snuggle my sassy and independent 9-year-old? Yes please! A chance to just hang out and chat and watch "Cupcake Wars"? Definitely! Knowing that my hugs and snuggles could calm her tears? Wahoo! But soon she had to be touching me at every moment, I couldn't even stand up without sending her into a fit of tears. If I managed to sit on the floor while she was on the couch, she could cling to my arm or shoulder. And even when I was right up next to her, she would cry out, "Mommy, I don't feel good! Mommy! MOMMY! I DON'T FEEL GOOD!!!!"

I hate that she doesn't feel good. I HATE that for her. But seriously, I am at the end of myself here.

And then yesterday I got a call from the school nurse. I saw the number and thought, "How nice that they are calling to check up on Lamb." Instead, I heard, "I have Monkey here in the office. I know that his sister is home with Hand, Foot, and Mouth, and he has just a few faint spots on his chin and hands."


Is there a compassion pill I can take somewhere? I'm gonna need an extra dose.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Weary Angels

Do angels get tired? This is a question I think I'm going to ask God one day. Also, what kind of a "thank you" gift does one give to an angel?

You see, Roo has had quite a couple of weeks. He's given us a few scares. There was the regular kind of scare, like the night he was up with croup for hours, and I sat up with him and snuggled him and debated and debated whether or not to take him to the ER--since every time we go, he is a million percent better by the time we get there. We made it through right here at home, and he was breathing fine by late morning, but it is still not a fun experience.

And then there was the mysterious spot on his head that just APPEARED one day, a giant hickey on his bald noggin. I exchanged worried texts and phone calls with a wonderful aide in his class who is also a paramedic and is quickly becoming a lovely friend. She assured me that it was not petechiae (a potential sign of leukemia and something to watch for in kiddos with the extra chromosome), and after a few days it was gone--although we never found out what it was or what caused it.

And then there were the other kind of scares... Like the time we were all in the backyard and suddenly Roo wasn't with us anymore... and we found him in the garage. Or the time we were all in the backyard and suddenly Roo wasn't with us anymore... and we found him in the house, upstairs in his room. Or the time we were all in the backyard and suddenly Roo wasn't with us anymore... and we found him at the house across the street. Are you detecting a pattern here? Don't ever take your eyes off of Roo outside--even WITH the fenced-in backyard.

There's more I could share, but you get the idea. Roo simultaneously makes my heart stop and makes it pound harder than it ever has in my life. I know that sounds impossible, but I am not kidding you, it's true.

And this morning I was struck with the realization that I am not the one keeping him safe. Yes, it is my job to protect and love and nurture and care for him, and I take that very seriously. But ultimately, it is God who keeps him safe, who knows his every move and sees every sleepless night.

And then I thought, his angels must be exhausted!

Oh, this boy.