Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Weekend Zoo: 10 things you should know about our Saturday

Welcome to a new addition, "The Weekend Zoo."  On select weekends (as in, whenever I can), I will give you a (hopefully) humorous look into our everyday life... or, I guess, our weekend life.

So here are 10 things you should know about our day so far:
1 - I tried some new "mix-ins" in our pancakes this morning--white chocolate chips & craisins.  They were a hit.
2 - We do NOT have dessert after pancakes (or any breakfast, actually--just lunch and dinner--but especially not after pancakes.)
3 - This was NOT well-received today, even though it is the rule EVERY day.
4 - Monkey just came downstairs wearing nothing but Buzz Lightyear underwear.
5 - The underwear were backwards.
6 - I wanted to take a picture, but my camera batteries (both of them!) were dead.  And besides, there are weirdos out there, so I'm not sure I want a picture of my backwards-underwear-clad 3-year-old on the net.
7 - Roo's favorite new hobby is chewing on his toes.
8 - And making high-pitched squeals.
9 - Lamb has had a fever for 3 days now, but it seems to be declining.  (It's been 101 - 102 since Wednesday afternoon, but this morning was only 99.3.)  We're spending one more day at home, and hopefully we'll be able to go trick-or-treating tomorrow.
10 - We've got fun crafts planned for today, and if they turn out well--and I remember to charge the battery for my camera--I'll make sure to post some pictures.  They'll probably just be edited in to this post, so check back later...!

OK, time for kitchen clean-up and craft prep!  Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Some for 21: Confessions

October is almost over and I haven't done a ton of the "Some for 21" posts that I started earlier this month, but today I want to combine a few thoughts into one post. I was inspired by a post I recently read at another great blog, and I want to tell you some of the things that I have thought over the past four months or am dealing with now. They're not all easy to put into writing, but I hope that they will be helpful if you or someone you know is going through the adjustment of a Down's diagnosis.

Confession #1: Sometimes I don't want to talk about Roo's diagnosis because I can't help you process it yet. One of the hardest parts of talking to others about our struggles is dealing with their emotions, especially when you're first breaking the news to friends or family. I would often feel like I was taking on the role of counselor to help others through my hard time, and it was more than I could take. So I would sometimes avoid phone calls, get-togethers, etc, so that I didn't have to have those one-on-one "sessions." It's easier now, but I still try to make a quick exit from conversations where I feel like I have turned into the therapist for someone who is trying to figure out how to help their friend (ME!) deal with her son's diagnosis.

Confession #2: I'm getting a little bit fed up with the platitudes. I tend to be a pretty laidback person in many respects. Since Roo's diagnosis, I have met several moms of Down's kids who are more easily offended by words than I am—in fact, some of them are probably upset that I just used the term "Down's kids." But those things don't tend to bother me. Many of them get very upset over society's casual use of the "r" word (ie, "That's so r*****ed! I can't believe you did that!") and I totally get it—I really do. Please don't hear me say that it's no big deal, because I completely understand that words can be so hurtful and that this one in particular can be downright painful to hear. But I can't say that it really gets under my skin that much. But the things that people say to try to make it all better… those are starting to wear a little thin. Again, I understand the need people feel to say something, to try to make us feel better, to try to make themselves feel better, and I kept trying to let it go—like water off a duck's back, right? But you can only let so much roll off your back before you get soaked. I'm soaked. I'm alllllllll filled up and weighed down with platitudes, and I can't take many more. If one. more. person. feels the need to tell me that Roo is such a sweet baby AND THEN FOLLOW IT UP WITH "those kids are always so happy", I'm going to punch them. At least then they'll know that the mamas aren't always so happy.

Confession #3: I am tired. I am incredibly thankful for the therapies that are available to Roo, and our therapists are great. It has truly been a very interesting learning experience to find out the growth/developmental benefits of so many of the things that we naturally do with babies. (Bouncing them on your knee, for example, strengthens their core muscles and is actually good for their nervous system. Who knew???) But I'm tired of them. I'm tired of having to put so much thought and effort into things that come naturally for many babies. I'm tired of wondering when he's going to be able to sit up. I'm tired of feeling guilty every time I set him on the floor because he can only lay there. And I feel incredibly guilty because I know that it's not about me, it's about what is best for my child. And don't get me wrong—I do it all anyway—but I'm just… over it. But you know what? Every single time I start to think I don't want to do it anymore, I look at that sweet sweet sweet little face, and my heart completely melts and I am happy to do anything for him.

Confession #4: I am nervous about the future. Sometimes I think that my "acceptance" of Roo's Down syndrome is really just masked denial—that I just don't think about it a lot of the time because he really doesn't look much different from any other baby, especially when you take into account that he's so small. But that's not always going to be the case. Someday he's going to look different, talk different, act different. What if I have a hard time accepting that? And what will I do when others have a hard time accepting that?—because I know that day is coming, the day when he is rejected or looked down on or picked on because of his Down's. To be honest, though, every time I start to get nervous about my future with Roo, I realize that I am equally nervous about the future with the other kids, too. The specifics might be different—What will Lamb be like as a teenager? Will Monkey disown me by the time he gets to high school? Will the kids move far away? Will we have a good relationship with them? Am I completely screwing them up?—but the nerves are the same. Each child, each relationship, is unique, special needs or not.

Confession #5: Sometimes I'm still sad. But when I grieve, I am grieving for Roo and the hardships that he will face, not because of Roo. And when I struggle inside myself, it is that Mommy Guilt that most moms know all too well, the guilt of wondering if I am making the right choices for Roo—not guilt over struggling to love my child. I am completely, totally, wholeheartedly in love with this sweet baby boy. How could I not be?

Confession #6: I'm realizing that life goes on. The last few months have been hard, but hard things happen. Roo has Down syndrome—that's our hard thing right now. Other friends of mine are dealing with divorce, with cancer, with loss of jobs, with hard adoptions. Life is hard. But you keep moving forward. Life—even our life right here in this house, even Roo's life—does not revolve around Down syndrome. And that's good, because that would be a very small and sad existence indeed. But life is about more than a diagnosis. It is trips to the park and hearing about Lamb's days at school and visiting Nana & Papa and family movie nights and getting to know each other and growing and laughing and crying and so many other things. And it's about taking all of the good and bad and all that we're learning and using it to serve God and others. And we're getting there, we really are.

Confession #7: I'm not being very productive right now. My kids are all asleep in bed (Lamb is home from school with a fever.), the van is full of stuff from Wal-Mart, the dishes need to be done, my to-do basket on my desk is full… and I'm blogging. It looks like it's time for me to get to work.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

LOL/LOL: What’s cookin’?

LOL/LOL stands for Lots of Littles/Lots of Laughs. It is a blog series by moms who are overrun by small children have 3 or more little kiddos, talking about parenting, marriage, & life. After you read this post, make sure you check out Jamey's take on this same topic at Zehlahlum Family. And then please play along! Answer our questions in the comments OR blog about it and post a link in the comments.

Today Jamey and I are talking about meals. I'm actually really happy about this topic, because this is an area I truly enjoy. I love to cook, and I love that the kids love to help me cook. We have lots of fun in the kitchen together.

OK, so here are the basics. I try to plan about a week of meals at a time (lunches and dinners). I make a grocery list based on my plan and shop from that. I rarely buy stuff not on the list, because I have no discernable will power and may be likely to do something stupid like eat an entire bag of potato chips with a container of dip all in one day. Not that I've done anything like that today ever, I'm just giving an example of what could happen. Of course. Ummmm… let's move on.

I try to make sure we eat reasonably healthy foods. We have both a fruit and a vegetable with almost every meal. We eat a lot of chicken… very little seafood, because I'm the cook and I don't like it… and no tofu because Mr. Fantastic hates it. I am not a short-order cook, which means that my kids are stuck with whatever I make for dinner that night. In fairness, if I am making something new or something that I know someone doesn't like, I make sure there is plenty of food available that they do like so that they can fill up on other stuff. For example, if Lamb doesn't like my latest chicken creation, she can have extra veggies, noodles, fruit, etc. They do, however, have to try at least one bite of everything. And it makes me bonkers when they claim that they don't like something that they've never tried.

Dessert is a must at our house—but before you judge, note that "dessert" is almost always a small piece of candy… like one Starburst or 5-6 Skittles. It's just a little something to 1) satisfy the sweet tooth and 2) signify that mealtime is over so that I don't hear "I'm hungry" five minutes after dinner is over. The kids know that they can have as many servings of dinner as they like… before they have dessert. Once they eat dessert, they are done.

What else do you want to know? I used to be a very "by the book" cook, and I still follow recipes the majority of the time, but I have become increasingly bold in making stuff up as I go. My biggest success was a dish I adapted from a few different recipes that I call Basil-Cream Chicken, and I used fresh basil from my herb garden. It was, if I do say so myself. Oh, and I am a cookbook-a-holic. I collect cookbooks the way that some people collect Precious Moments. I absolutely love all of the different ideas and cuisines and combinations.

We have a few fun traditions that I enjoy… On Saturday mornings I cook a "nice" breakfast, typically pancakes or waffles. It's a good break from the cereal/toast/oatmeal options of the other 6 days of the week, and the kids help me make it, which adds to the fun. Also, even though I typically make them eat whatever I serve, we will occasionally play "restaurant" and I let them order from a "menu" of approved choices. They think this is huge fun, especially when I call them "Sir" and "Miss."

And even though I do enjoy cooking, I am at a stage in my life when it is difficult to prepare a hot meal for my family every night. So earlier this year I had a chance to become part of a supper-swapping group, and I jumped at it. It is wonderful! I have mentioned it before, but let me explain the basic idea. Once a week I cook up dinner for three families, then deliver a meal to two other girls before going back home to eat with my family. It sounds like a lot of work, but for many meals, multiplying by 3 really isn't that much more work than making a single batch. And then here's the best part: Two other nights per week, someone shows up at my door with a complete hot meal for my family! No cooking, no kitchen clean-up, nothing! It just appears, ready to eat! It has been a lifesaver. Again, I know I mentioned this before, but Trish Berg is truly the supper-swapping expert and I highly recommend her book The Great American Supper Swap.

Before I go, let me share one of my favorite super-easy recipes with you. It's not word-for-word from the cookbook, but you'll get the idea. This is actually what I'm making for my Supper-Swap group tonight…

Crock-Pot Beef Sandwiches
(from The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet: A Month of Meals Made Easy)

2 ½ pounds beef chuck roast
2 packages dry dressing (like Good Seasons Italian or Hidden Valley Ranch)
1 cup water
1 package buns

Trim fat from roast, place in crockpot. Top with dressing packets, pour water over all. Cook on low for at least 6 hours or overnight. Shred beef and serve on buns. Serves… oh, 6ish people, I would say.

The meat can also be frozen after it is shredded, which is a great option if you have a big crockpot and can make one batch for now and one to freeze for a quick meal. My hubby absolutely LOVES sandwiches these with horseradish sauce.So let's hear it, people! What are your mealtime traditions, rules, likes & dislikes, successes & failures? What's your favorite dish? Please share! J

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Allow(ance) or not to Allow(ance)? That is the Question

Recently I gave my children their first paid gig: picking up leaves and acorns. We have a nice play area in our backyard with rubber mulch, and it was getting taken over by the invaders of autumn. I gave Lamb and Monkey each a bucket, and I told them I would pay a penny per leaf and a nickel per acorn. Monkey quickly filled his up and came running back. I showed him how to push the leaves down to make more room in his bucket, and he went happily off to earn more money.

When all was said and done, I paid Monkey $1.35. I paid Lamb… are you ready for this?... $9.55! She was quite the hard worker that afternoon! Note to self: Make everything worth a penny next time…

Fast-forward a few days to Monday, when Lamb was home sick from school. As she sat on the floor and worked on a little craft, the following conversation took place:

Monkey (to Lamb): "Why are you cutting the couch?"
Lamb: "I'm not!"
Monkey: "Yes, you are!"
Lamb: "Noooooooooo!!!!! I'm NNNNNOOOOOTTTTTTT!!!!!"

Somewhere in my brain I heard this whole conversation, but the conscious part of my brain just heard "Fighting kids. Must stop." So I stopped them and talked to them. Then I played back in my head what had transpired, and I wondered if I should go over and check the couch. "Nah," I thought, "she's FIVE, not two. She knows better."

And then about two hours later, my mom was over and said, "Oh no! What happened to your couch?"


Sure enough, there was a 2-inch gash along the couch cushion, made by a nice pair of kid scissors. So Lamb and I had a talk. Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I was actually quite pleased with how calm and compassionate yet firm I was, almost like an actual good mom. But during the course of the conversation, I asked Lamb how she thought we should pay for the repairs, and eventually "we" decided that she should give me all of the money in her piggy bank. (And yes, she has an actual piggy bank.) That included all of her leaf and acorn money, plus a few dollars in coins that she had accumulated over time. She was devastated. (By the way, what on earth made her decide to slice open the couch, I still don't know.)

But as we discussed this consequence, she said two things that really stood out to me. "Now how will I save up for anything?!" and "But no one ever wants to give me their money!" I was impressed that she had given thought to saving up for things, and struck by the fact that she relied on us giving her the occasional quarter in order to do so.

So that got me thinking… What other jobs would she be willing to do for a penny or nickel at a time? No wait, that wasn't it. It was… Maybe it's time to start an allowance.

And then I started researching allowances, and let me tell you—expert opinions vary widely on the topic. Here are just a few of the results I found in my search:

  • From – "Don't link allowance to routine household chores. Children have chores because they're members of the family; they get an allowance to learn how to handle money. Linking the two may result in children who won't do anything without pay or children who decide the money isn't worth the work."
  • From – "Start paying them a commission for chores they do around the house… Do not give them an allowance."
  • From – "Provide your child with a weekly or bi-weekly allowance, depending on how often you get paid. Letting your child know that his "payday" corresponds with yours can help drive home the idea that money has to be managed and made to last until the next payday."
  • From – "Their first allowance should be given at a minimum of once a week."

And that's just the beginning! A wide range of opinions can also be found on what age a child should be, how much they should be given, how involved the parents should be in how the money is spent, and on and on and on.

I just wanted a simple way to help my daughter save up for something!

So now Mr. Fantastic (That's how I'm referring to my hubby from now on—I may even go back and do it retroactively. He's not a big blogging fan, so maybe this will help me to earn some brownie points. Plus, he IS pretty darn fantastic.) and I are trying to decide how to handle this whole thing. Do we give her an allowance or a "commission"? Maybe we should give her some basic responsibilities and then she earns money for chores she does on top of that…? But if we do that, will she start to expect payment every time we ask her to do something? If we give her an allowance (and not a commission), will she think that money just grows on trees? How much is appropriate? How do we help her learn how to spend it? Should we start something with Monkey too? How much of her allowance should be set aside for the therapy bills that she will inevitably need after being raised in this house?

And that's where we are, in the midst of the great payment debate. So what do you do? Do your kids get an allowance or a commission or neither? Or both? What are the parameters? Do you have a set of written rules—amounts, times, conditions, etc? Let's hear it—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Commence! J

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LOL/LOL: Schedules

LOL/LOL stands for Lots of Littles/Lots of Laughs. It is a blog series by moms who are overrun by small children have 3 or more little kiddos, talking about parenting, marriage, & life. After you read this post, make sure you check out Jamey's take on this same topic at Zehlahlum Family. And then please play along! Answer our questions in the comments OR blog about it and post a link in the comments.
Today we're talking schedules. Did/do you schedule your kids' days? What does your daily schedule look like? Do you do cleaning, groceries, etc, on the same days each week?

Why do I feel like every question is so complicated for me? Or maybe I just make them complicated. OK, let me start with the easy part. Yes, I have some "scheduled days" for certain tasks. For example, Mondays are sacred to me. I do everything I can to not leave the house on Mondays. Mondays are Laundry Day and Pajama Day, two things that mesh well together. Unfortunately, Mondays have also become Therapy Day for Roo, which does NOT mesh well with Pajama Day… but the Early Intervention Specialist and our therapists are getting used to seeing me in my sweats and I think they enjoy the fact that I don't feel the need to get all dolled up for them. At least, that's what I tell myself.

As for other scheduled days… Tuesday is my supper swap day, so I spend most of the afternoon cooking. And lately, Tuesday has also become grocery shopping day… so that I have food to cook that afternoon. Wednesdays are Bible study days, when I am gone almost the entire day, 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM. I try to be home for about 2 hours in the afternoon to let Monkey grab a nap, but that's about it. And Sundays are set aside for church & family. That's about it. I used to have a specific task for each day, but most of those went out the window when the baby Kangaroo joined the zoo.

On a daily basis… well, this is where I don't have an easy answer. For my older kids, I do keep a pretty regular sleep schedule/routine. 1:30 is naptime, and it ends anywhere from 2:30 to 4:00, depending on whether or not Monkey falls asleep. (Lamb doesn't really nap anymore, but she does lay down for about 45 minutes or an hour on days that she doesn't have school.) Bedtime is between 7:00 and 8:00, again depending on what happened at naptime. For Roo… oh my word, I have been wrestling with getting that kiddo on some type of nap routine. But it's not going well, and I don't really want to talk about it right now, so let's just leave it at that. K?

But for our daily non-sleep-related-routine… I can't really say that we have one right now, other than getting Lamb to & from school every day. I would like to tell you that I do housework from X to Y and spend 1 hour a day doing preschool with Monkey and I have a regular quiet time with the Lord and never miss my workout slot… but no, that's just not reality right now. But remember when I told you that I was drowning? Well, thanks to some great help and prayer support from our amazing family and friends, I have been quickly catching up on the projects that have been piling up since Roo was born. This has been helpful on a number of levels, both practical and emotional, but that's another topic for another post. Anyway, my hope is that I will be able to get the house to a good "base level" and feel like I've got my footing a bit, and then get into more of a routine with all of the stuff I just listed. So maybe we should revisit this topic in another six months, so that hopefully I can be proud of how far I've come…!

OK, friends, I'm signing off for now. Coming soon to the Zoo… Allowance: Yea or Nay? And other Lamb-related talk.

Enjoy your day! And don't forget to tell me how you handle (or don't handle!) schedules in your house! J

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Look what I got!!!

How freaking cute is this???

And yes, I know it's a mommy kangaroo, but beggars can't be choosers, 'k?  I'll probably take the baby out before we go trick-or-treating.

Some for 21: A video (& some Roo stats too!)

I'm back!  Two days in a row!  There's a real "up side" to this whole sick thing.  Silver linings, right?

Anyway, I wanted to share a video with you today.  A friend of mine, who has twin boys with Down syndrome, put it together.  (She also blogs periodically at The 3rd 21st.)  I think she did a great job, so you should check it out.  You might even catch a glimpse of someone you know.  ;-)

Here's the video:

By the way, Roo's 6-month check-up was this morning.  My little guy is 12 pounds, 5 ounces, and he is 25.7 inches long!  Yep, he's a peanut.  He still doesn't register on the growth chart...!  But he is gaining and growing and all is well.

Enjoy the video, and I'll talk to you soon!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some for 21: Down Syndrome Awareness Month

It's a sick day. No, not for Lamb—she is quite happy to be at school today, because she is the Student of the Day. Today is a mommy sick day, which as many of you know is pretty much the same as any other day, but with more TV. Mommies don't really get sick days, right? But fortunately, Roo is sleeping (for about an hour now—yay!) and Monkey is watching TV and I'm laying on the couch. And catching up on some blogging—another yay! So hopefully I'll have a chance to get some real writing done today and you will hear more from me over the next several days. (Oh, and if you happen to notice me rhyming more often than usual, it's because Monkey is watching "The Cat in the Hat"—I'm trying to tune it out, but I am already finding myself thinking in iambic pentameter…)

ANYWAY, October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and several blogs I know of are participating in a campaign called 31 for 21. Basically it means that these bloggers have committed to posting every day in October to raise awareness about Down syndrome. I think it is a great idea, but since it is mid-October and I am just now climbing on board, I can't really consider myself part of the "31 for 21 campaign"… so I have decided to do Some for 21. Starting now.

So today let me just give you a little update on how we're all doing. The short answer is… good. We're doing well, much better than four months ago, two months ago, even last month. I know some of you are thinking, "It's about time!" But honestly, I really thought it would take a lot longer. I remember the day after Roo was diagnosed, I was trying to imagine us several months down the road… when Roo as 6 months old… 9 months old… at Christmas… at his birthday… and they all looked so grim. Now I look ahead and wonder what he'll be doing by Christmas, by his birthday, by next summer. But I don't wonder with sadness—well, OK, yes I do, but not as much sadness as I did at first. I am just genuinely curious and excited to watch him grow and see who he'll become.

I think one of the hardest parts of Roo's diagnosis was trying to figure out where to place the blame and focus my grief. If someone is in an accident and loses their legs, you can be angry at the other driver or the road conditions or something. You can wish for the days before the accident. But this was different. To wish for life without Down syndrome was to wish for life without Roo, and I definitely did not want that. From time to time since that life-changing visit to the geneticist, I have found myself wishing that we hadn't ever made that appointment—but that's just silly, of course. Avoiding the appointment wouldn't have changed the fact that Roo has Down's, but it's the only way my brain could rationalize getting rid of Down's while keeping my sweet baby.

In her book The Year My Son and I were Born, Kathryn Lynard Soper acknowledges the fact that she will likely have to grieve her son's Down syndrome all over at different points in his life, and I'm trying to prepare myself for that. But for now, I'm trying to just enjoy this sweet little baby exactly how he is right now. Over the weekend we had a chance to visit with some friends who have a baby just two weeks younger than Roo—and miles ahead of him. I was nervous about seeing them, but it really didn't bother me at all. That baby… well, he just isn't Roo. Yes, he's bigger and more coordinated and sitting up better and… probably other things. But it's not like I thought, "Wow, they got a way better baby than we did." Or like Roo was depressed because he couldn't sit up like the other boy. They were just two different babies at two different stages.

And what is Roo doing these days? Well, he is happy and sweet and charming everyone we meet! (See, I knew I'd start rhyming eventually.) He rolls from back to belly AND belly to back, and he holds his head up nice and high. He knows when we stick a bib or burp cloth under his chin (because he's a very messy eater!) that food is coming. He knows when I hold him and say, "I'm gonna get you!" that I'm going to kiss and tickle his neck—and he'll smile and lean his head back for me. J He is absolutely fascinated with his hands, and spends much of his time holding them in front of his face and studying them. He's trying to grab his toes now, and he is finally starting to grab at toys. And he makes all manner of noises, some more polite than others. ;-)

His physical and occupational therapies are going well. Our main focus right now is to strengthen his core muscles, which I actually find rather amusing. Maybe I should start doing some of his exercises, too, because heaven knows my core could use some strengthening. Anyway, we're working toward getting him to sit up with support and getting him to pivot and move around a bit more on his belly.
So yes, we're doing well. Learning, growing, adjusting. Even, dare I say, enjoying.

Here are a few blogs I read that are participating in 31 for 21:
And for more information/resources, check out the Down Syndrome Resources & Recommendations page.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LOL/LOL: Never

"When I'm a parent I'll NEVER…"

Ha. Before I became a parent, I had a whole list of things that good moms do or don't do. It went something like this. Good moms
  • Don't discipline their children in public
  • Do breastfeed
  • Don't co-sleep
  • Do let their kids cry it out
  • Don't homeschool
  • Don't stress too much about what their kids eat
  • Don't let their kids watch too much TV
  • Don't overschedule their kids, both in terms of activities and in terms of an actual day-to-day scchedule
  • Do have well-behaved children

Then I had a baby. And while some of my list remained untouched, others were added/removed/adjusted as necessary. I believed that good moms
  • Don't discipline their kids in public
  • Do breastfeed (even though I didn't)
  • Don't co-sleep… you know, as a rule… but it's entirely different if you've been up with a fussy baby all night and just need to lay down with her in your bed so you can get some sleep…
  • Don't let their babies cry it out
  • Don't homeschool
  • Do worry about every single bite of food that goes into their children's mouths
  • Don't let their kids watch any TV
  • Do keep a consisstent routine, including regular (one-hour or more) naps and an early bedtime
  • Do get their kids involved in every activity possible
  • Do have well-behaved children

This list of requirements for being a good mom led me to be very judgmental, both of others and of myself. And as time went on, the list evolved based on what did or didn't work for me. But it was continually challenged—parents I knew who didn't follow my "rules" still had good kids, others who had similar philosophies had kids who were atrocious, and still others did some of the things on my list but not others… Even I didn't always stick to my list, or didn't see the results I expected when I did follow it. It was hard to decide where to cut some slack and where to stand firm.

And then it hit me: Why does there have to be a list and who am I to think that I get to write it?

I can't say that is has been easy, but I'm learning to let go of the list. I have disciplined my kids in public. I breastfed each of my children for a brief period, followed by a much longer period of formula-feeding. I understand why some moms homeschool and have briefly entertained the idea of doing it myself. And sometimes you can do all of the "right" things and your children can still be little monsters, and it doesn't have to be a direct reflection on your parenting.

So now I'm working on a new list. It goes something like this: I will
  • Never stop loving my children
  • Always forgive them
  • Always remember that they are God's first, mine second
  • Always do the best that I can to raise them as God intends
  • Try to let other moms parent the way that is right for them without judgment

It's not always easy, but I'm learning to extend some grace to myself and others.  And that seems to be the best rule I've found--for parenting and for life!

And of course, you can check out Jamey's take on this same topic at Zehlahlum Family. And please play along! Post in the comments (or on your blog and leave a link in the comments) something that you thought you would never do as a parent—and let us know if you have stuck to it.

LOL/LOL stands for Lots of Littles/Lots of Laughs. It is a blog series by moms who are overrun by small children have 3 or more little kiddos, talking about parenting & marriage.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lifelines of Grace

OK, friends, it's time for a little honesty. I've been drowning lately. Drowning in laundry, in dishes, in packing lunches, in the pile of papers on my desk, in the 5,000 projects I can never seem to get to, in doctor's appointments and therapy appointments, in pressure to keep my house looking nice and to spend more time with my kids and to be a coupon queen and to be better at reading my Bible. All of those things… and also drowning in depression. It's been sneaking up on me for a while, and I managed to hold it at bay… and then the week on vacation was fabulous… and this week I feel like I have tumbled down a mountain headfirst. It's been ugly.

But while I've been drowning, God has been sending me little lifelines through the amazing people in my life. Like my neighbor who called yesterday morning just to say how much she appreciated our carpooling arrangement for school. (I know that sounds silly, but I've been kind of stressed out because I felt like I got the better end of the deal and have been worried that she would think I was taking advantage of her. It turns out it's just as beneficial for her as it is for me.) And my dear friend who e-mailed me about running into a guy who knew from high school who has Down syndrome. And the women from my morning Bible study who were all genuinely interested in how our vacation went and how we have been readjusting to "real life." And the women in my evening Bible study (Yes, I'm in two, it's a long story.) who asked about Roo's test results. And the friend—bless her heart—who hardly even knows me, but read my blog and asked if she could come over and help. And my parents, who are willing to drop everything and come over or take the kids because they just found out that I have been struggling and want to do anything they can to help. The unsolicited e-mails from people who are praying for us. The unsolicited hugs from friends.

And most of all, my wonderful husband, who is working dawn to way-past-dusk to make ends meet for our family and who held me through a minor breakdown last night and who is now orchestrating a help-Katy-regainmaintain-her-sanity movement to get me through this rough patch.

Lifelines. I can grab onto them, pull myself up enough to get some air. Yesterday afternoon I felt hopeless. Today I feel… like we might make it through after all. The storms aren't going away any time soon, and the waves will keep crashing… but I know God's going to keep sending those lifelines.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

LOL/LOL: A few more questions

I hope you’re enjoying this series as much as I am. I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel like I know me better already. :-) This will be our last interview-type post—next week we’ll start to focus on those burning questions of motherhood, like “How have I NOT pulled out all of my hair yet?”

I’ll be honest, I had a hard time with a lot of these questions, but I’ve answered them the best that I can. And as always, don’t forget to visit Zehlahlum Family for Jamey’s answers and to post your own answers either as a comment here or in your own blog and put a link in a comment!

1. If you weren't a SAHM what do you think you'd miss the most?
I think I would miss the opportunities that I have to build fun memories with my kids. Trips to the zoo, the local orchetra’s “Concerts for Kids” that we go to every year, even weekly pajama days would all be a big void if I couldn’t be home with them.

2. Do you have a favorite family ritual?
Believe it or not, car rides. When it’s just me and the kids we typically just listen to the radio or Adventures in Odyssey or something, but when my husband is with us we have a blast together. We sing, we play “I’m thinking of something” (basically “20 Questions” but a bit more little-kid friendly), we tell jokes. It’s really a lot of fun.

3. Are you the only cook in your house?
Weeeeellllllllllllll… no, not really, but I probably do about 95% of the cooking. Jon enjoys cooking, and we especially like to cook together, but most of the time it’s just me. I do, however, belong to a Supper Swap group, which is a fabulous thing. You can learn more about it from Trish Berg, the true Supper Swap authority. Anyway, thanks to the Supper Swap, I really only have to cook 1 or 2 nights most weeks.

4. Are you a good housekeeper?
That is a loaded question in this house. My dear husband is borderline OCD and a super-duper neat freak. Rarely is our house up to his ideal, especially with three kids. But I think I do a fairly decent job… or at least I did before Roo came along. How anyone can maintain a clean and organized house with an infant in it is beyond me.

5. What do you and your husband do for couple time?
Twice a month we have a date night, which varies from hanging out in his office and me scrapbooking/blogging/Facebooking while he works to running errands together to having a real actual date with dinner and maybe even a movie. Apart from that, right now we just try to carve out time to keep up with each other, even if it’s just a couple of phone calls during the day. He has been insanely busy at work, so time is a scarce commodity.

6. What's the one parenting rule that you never break?
Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. I learned long ago to throw most of my parenting absolutes out the window. I guess the two things I strive to do no matter what are to apologize when I’m wrong (I don’t know if there is anything more humbling than apologizing to your children.) and to make sure my kids know that I love them no matter what. It is very common for me to tell Monkey that I love him, and for him to reply, “And you’ll never stop loving me, right?”

7. What do you want your kiddos to grow up knowing?
Many things, really. I want them to know Jesus as their personal Savior. First and foremost. Everything else is a distant second. But within the scope of our family, I go back to my previous answer—I want them to know that they are loved unconditionally.

8. What role does faith play in your life?
My faith isn’t just a role in my life, it is… it is the substance in which my life is wrapped. I make no claims to have it all together or to be the expert—I struggle (greatly) in these areas every day—but I want to parent the way God parents me, to forgive as God has forgiven me, and to live my life for God’s pleasure and not that the approval of others.

9. What's the most important item in your home?
My word, I’m not letting Jamey pick the questions anymore! ;-) Just kidding, Jamey! Honestly, I just can’t think of a thing in my house that I couldn’t live without. Yes, I know that wasn’t really the question. I guess just coming off of my answers from the last two questions, I’d have to say the most important item in our home is my Bible!

10. Are there any more kids in your future?
There are no more kids in my womb’s future, at least not that I’m planning. But I have always wanted to adopt, and while some events of the last 5 years have made that less concrete…… it’s still a definite possibility. Someday.

11. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
As I think I mentioned before, ever since Roo was diagnosed, I have become much more of a short-term planner. I really have no idea what life will look like for us in five years. I would love to be speaking to groups of women/moms or teaching some kind of class or Bible study. Maybe have a book out/in process. But maybe I’ll be so wrapped up in therapy and preparing Roo for school and doctor’s appointments and who-knows-what that I’ll have to put those things on the back burner for a while longer, and that’s OK too.

So there you have it—me in a 1,000 words or less! Coming soon: Pictures of our non-beach beach vacation! :-)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Home & News

Greetings from… my living room! Yep, we are officially home from OBX. To sum up our vacation in one word, I would have to say……….. wet. Yes, wet from spending time at the pool with the kids pretty much every day, which was tons of fun. But primarily wet from rain. Not exactly optimal for a vacation on the beach, eh? Our first day there was nice, and Jon, my mother-in-law, and the kids got to spend some time on the beach that morning (They let me sleep in—aren't they wonderful?); and our very last morning we got to watch an absolutely beautiful sunrise before we got in the van and headed for home. Everything in between was gray, windy, and wet.

Sooooooo… we played games, Lamb made crafts with Jon's mom, we went bowling, we played arcarde games, we went to the aquarium, we went indoor mini-golfing, we watched movies, and we spent a lot of time in the indoor pool—it really was a very fun family time. I'll post pictures later, but last night we got home, put the kids to bed, and went to bed. The only things that have made it out of the van are my laptop and the book that I am reading. Speaking of which, I highly recommend The Hunger Games and the rest of the series by Suzanne Collins. I read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire on our trip, and my dear wonderful hubby bought me Mockingjay, the third book in the series, when we stopped for lunch yesterday—and I'm already 200 pages in. I picked up The Hunger Games because I had heard good things about it… but I started it with reservations because it sounded very 1984-ish to me, and I hated that book. But while it does have some very general similarities—it takes place in the future, the US has fallen, and a new, cruel government has risen up—it is 5,000 times better. Very well-written, very hard to put down.

And you know what? It's early, my house is quiet, and I think I would like to go read some more of my book before everyone is up. J But before I go, I want to share some news with you. While we were gone, we finally got the results of Roo's last round of blood tests. It took SIX WEEKS (twice as long as they told us it would be) and several phone calls, but thank the Lord we got good news: Roo has no further chromosomal abnormalities!!! We have been waiting to hear if chromosome 15 had an issue as well, but it is completely fine. Praise God!

That's all for now, but come back on Tuesday when Jamey and I answer more of your burning questions for those of us insane enough to have three little ones this close together! J