Friday, January 28, 2011
According to random.org, our winner was comment #18...
"Lynn B said...
My dd knows all the words to Kesha and Lady Gaga songs. She's three. But then again, I loved Madonna and I turned out ok.... :)"
So congrats, Lynn! You will get the chance to pick one of Melissa's beautiful wipes cases!
I am also very happy to announce our next sponsor! I was doing some digging around on Etsy, and came across a shop I just couldn't resist: RooRooNatural. She has some great things on this site! Check out this beautiful mobile (which she also has in purple and pink--I'm honestly thinking about getting one for Lamb's room)...
So I contacted Chandra, the owner of the shop, and she has graciously offered a discount of 15% to Roo's friends. Thank you, Chandra! Simply enter the code "zoorooroo" at checkout to get your discount. Hurry, before I buy everything! :-)
Mr. Fantastic and I are leaving with some friends in the morning to spend a weekend in the Windy City. Since he considers my laptop to be my mistress (If a man has a mistress, what does a woman have? A mister?), I'm thinking it's going to have to stay behind, which means no "Weekend Zoo." But I have some posts in the works for next week, including another sponsor or two, as we get ready to celebrate a big day for one of my kiddos.
So have a great weekend, and don't forget to snag your discount at RooRooNatural! See you soon!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Today I am remembering who I was 9—almost 10—months ago, before Roo; and who I was about 7 months ago, before Down syndrome became part of our vocabulary. She was a much different person. Her life, while far from simple, was simpler than the one I lead now. She worried about how many activities her children are/should be involved in, how many fruits & veggies they'd eaten that day, and how much sleep they got the night before. She didn't worry about when they would sit up or learn to talk or use the potty or whether they would ever be able to live on their own.
Sometimes I miss her.
But that girl didn't have the privilege of knowing what I know now—the complete and utter joy of spending a day with my Roo. The absolute excitement that I feel every time he hits a new milestone. The freedom that comes from letting go of accomplishments and comparisons, and truly just loving my child for him. And we're just hitting the tip of the ice berg. We have so many more joys and trials and victories to come.
Yesterday, Patti at A Perfect Lily shared an article that she had read. The article states that a non-invasive test will soon be available that will tell women definitively if their unborn child has Down syndrome, and it ponders what will come of this new development. Already, 92% of babies who are diagnosed with Down syndrome in vitro are aborted. That's a huge percentage, but keep in mind that most women don't opt to have the tests done because they are invasive and risky. Once a non-invasive test becomes available—and likely covered by insurance—how many women will have the test done? And will the percentage still remain so high? In fact, the title of the article asks the key question: Will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?
Keep in mind, friends, that we're not talking about a way to cure Down syndrome or prevent it. We're dealing with a way to get rid of Down syndrome—and really, to get rid of the children with Down syndrome. I know firsthand that finding out your child has Down syndrome is not exactly joyous news, but this… this makes me sick to my stomach. The article raises good questions—how far do we take this? Should parents who really want a girl be able to abort a boy? What if a test indicates that the child is likely to one day get some other disease, like cancer?
I actually appreciated the article. It didn't condone—or condemn—the test or what parents choose to do about it. It just presents the facts and raises some interesting questions. But Patti shared a comment that was posted below the article, and I haven't been able to get it off my mind:
If you can prevent suffering, wouldn't you? Perhaps something like Type II diabetes -- a disease that is usually adult-onset and easy to manage with proper attention -- wouldn't be worthy of an abortion, but something as serious and disabling as down syndrome? I know that the individuals who have it often lead relatively good lives, but they die young and often suffer quite a bit during their lives.
I would urge the parents of these children who advocate against testing or termination upon a positive test to examine how much of their opinion is based upon their own need to care and love for their child. Yes, your child is likely wonderful and kind -- most people with down syndrome are incredibly nice -- but are all the struggles they go through worth it? Wouldn't it be good to abolish something as clearly problematic as down syndrome, to effectively cure it?
"Are all the struggles they go through worth it?" Wow, I truly am just speechless. I have been sitting here for several minutes, trying to put to words the emotions and thoughts that are spinning around in my head.
Yes, people with Down syndrome are more susceptible to certain conditions and they have some delays and life isn't perfect for them. And absolutely without a doubt if I could I would take Down syndrome away from my Roo. But I would never take my Roo away. And it's not because of my own need to care for and love him. It's because he is an amazing person who is exactly who God wanted him to be.
Life is hard, friends. People suffer. People with and without Down syndrome. And sometimes people with DS have health problems and short life spans—and sometimes they don't. And sometimes perfectly "typical" children have health problems and shortened life spans. And it's sad and we wish that suffering didn't happen, but life without suffering... well, it just doesn't exist.
And sometimes I suffer and I wish someone would take it away… but then I get through it, and you know what? I come out a different person. A better one. I may sometimes miss the girl that I used to be, but I am a better, stronger, deeper person than she ever was.
So would Roo be better off without Down syndrome? Mmmmm… sometimes I think he would, but sometimes I think Down syndrome is going to make him a better person than most people I know. One thing I know for sure, this world would not be better off without him. It will be better because of him.
Monday, January 24, 2011
First, I need to get a few things off my chest. In today's Supermom culture, it can be a bit intimidating to let our imperfections be known to each other. But I have let it build up all I can--I need to confess! Here are a few less than perfect things you may or may not have suspected about me.
I confess that...
- I sometimes use PBS Kids as a babysitter. (Um, I mean while I get housework done. Not while I actually leave the house. I'm confessing to things that are embarrassing here, not dangerous.)
- I've been known to use little white lies to get my kids to eat vegetables... like, "WHOA! When you took that bite of broccoli, your left bicep GOT BIGGER! Quick, take another bite so that your right one catches up!"
- I often drive Lamb to school wearing my PJs. (I mean, I'm wearing my PJs. Lamb is fully dressed.)
- Often, those PJs are a pair of sweats that I bought from Target in 2005, which now contain several more holes than they did when I purchased them. Including one smack dab on my rear end. (Aren't you thankful I don't walk her to the door?)
- I once got frustrated when I was reading a book and Lamb kept interrupting me. I finally looked at her and sternly said, "Would you please just STOP and give me a few minutes to read????" She asked what my book was about, and I angrily responded, "IT'S ABOUT HOW I CAN BE A BETTER MOMMY!" (And I wasn't kidding.) And yes, I did pick up on the irony right away.
And as an added incentive... Yes, friends, this is where the giveaway comes in! Welcome to our first ever sponsored giveaway!!! Thanks to Melissa at The Hair Pretties Mom, we have a great prize that will go to one of this post's lucky commenters. Melissa makes gorgeous bows of all shapes & sizes (and Lamb has her own mini-collection of Melissa's handiwork), but today she is sharing with us one of her other unique & beautiful creations: a designer baby wipes case! Check out some of the awesome options...
Saturday, January 22, 2011
For Christmas, Mr. Fantastic and my friend Stacy's husband went together to get Stacy and me a girls' weekend. This is the second year in a row that they've done it, and we're hoping that they continue the tradition.
So we are deep in girl time--yesterday we chatted by the fireplace, had afternoon tea, a delicious dinner, and a chick flick. So far this morning we have slept in and had breakfast delivered to our room. Next stop: Outlets! It's been a fabulous and much-needed getaway.
So I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and I will catch you up on news of our zoo and the first of our giveaways on Monday! :-)
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I woke up this morning feeling hopeless. I don't know what's up with my "dark & twisties" lately. Normally they follow a pretty predictable pattern—well, not the timing necessarily, but the progression. I'll have a couple days where I start feeling a little down, then a day or two at rock bottom, and then a few days of gradual improvement… and then we can all go on with our lives for a few weeks or… however long it takes for the next round to start.
But the past two weeks have been nutty. I have been up and down and all around, with no rhyme or reason. It changes from hour to hour. But the one thing that has been consistent is that the mornings suck. And this morning was, I think, the worst one yet. I felt angry and lonely and overwhelmed and… just plain hopeless.
So I got up and decided to catch up on some reading. First I read this. Tricia is an amazing woman (And after I read this post just now, I tried my best to come up with a different way to say it and just couldn't…) whose husband died suddenly of influenza less than a month ago. She is suddenly raising two boys on her own while mourning the loss of her best friend and her biggest fan and her co-parent and so many other things. She is… well, she is someone who puts one foot in front of the other every day in a whole new reality she never thought she'd face. I might be facing a different reality than I thought I would too, but I definitely wouldn't compare my wounds with hers. While I have never met her personally, she is a friend of a friend, and I think about her and pray for her constantly.
And then I read this. Actually, I had read it before, but I read it again this morning. Dear, sweet Olga. Olga and Kareen and now Peter… and so many more like them. And so many more who have preceded them to the institutions. Alone. Afraid. Hopeless.
Apparently, I just needed a little perspective. I'm not saying that my entire day was fabulous after that, nor am I saying I was thankful for someone else's problems to be worse than mine. I'm just saying… perspective.
And tonight I came home from a meeting where I heard about people who are living in poverty, whose husbands are dying of AIDS while trying to provide for their families, who are seeking God but getting confused by the devil's schemes. You can read more about them here—and you should, because I'm going to be talking more about it in the months to come. (It's the bottom half of the page—the section about Mozambique.)
I came home with one word on my mind: hope. Yes, I may have times when I am down, when I am overwhelmed, when I feel empty. But I am never hopeless. How do I know? Because the second I got home (and got all three kids in bed), I looked up the word "hope" in the Bible.
So whether you are having a bad day or in the midst of a tragedy or somewhere in between, here is what I found that spoke to my heart tonight…
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. –Psalm 121:1-2
(OK, this one doesn't specifically mention the word "hope", but "help" is close enough. This is the passage that was running through my head before I even started the search…)
May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in you. –Psalm 33:22
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you. –Psalm 39:7
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. –Psalm 42:5
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him. –Psalm 62:5
But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me. –Micah 7:7
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. –Hebrews 6:19a
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. –Hebrews 10:23
God bless & good night.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
AkronOhioMoms.com is giving away 4 passes to COSI in Columbus! Right now they are featuring a gecko exhibit, which I know my Monkey would love. I have actually only been to COSI once before, but it was SO MUCH FUN. Over the summer I took the kiddos there with a group of my college friends, and we spent almost the whole time in the little kids' area. I REALLY want to get back soon, because after her birthday Lamb will be too big to go in that area, and it was so much fun!
So anyway, go check it out, and I wish you luck--well, you know, kind of... 'cause really, I want to win... but I will wish you well if you win, too...
(Click here to go directly to the giveaway.)
Saturday, January 15, 2011
This week I thought several times about starting this post in advance and adding to it as the week went on. But I didn't. As you may have picked up from my last post, this hasn't been my most favoritest week ever, so it was hard to get motivated to do much of anything. BUT today we are here to be light and fun and happy, so let's do that.
No special topic today, just a random little story about each of my three kiddos...
Roo's development is, of course, lagging behind "typical" kids his age. On a sidenote, I still find myself thinking, "It's going so fast! I can't believe he's already..." fill-in-the-blank. And it really makes me realize just how fast it truly did go with my other two. ANYWAY, sometimes one of our early intervention team members will be working and working and working on something with him (actually, they'll be encouraging ME over and over and over to be working with him on something...), and just when I start to get discouraged... it's like someone flips a switch on him and suddenly he's doing 5 new things at once. That's what this week has been like. He has started pushing up really tall when he's on his belly, but the funny part is, he actually does push-ups--he goes up and down and up and down, and when you smile at him, he breaks out into laughter. I really need to try to get a video to share with you. And he's doing a better job of sitting (using his hands for support). And his newest trick... Last night I stood up to carry Roo to bed, and I turned to Mr. Fantastic and said, "You know, the last couple of times someone has waved to him, it really seemed like he was moving his hand on purpose, trying to wave back. His hand didn't come up or anything, but it seemed like he was moving his fingers like he was waving." (This is one of his current speech/language goals.) Just then, Mr. Fantastic raised his hand and waved bye-bye to Roo, and Roo's arm instantly shot up and he waved!!! It was only for a second, and then he put his arm down, but continued to wave with his hand. It was so cute, and such perfect timing! I loved it! Ahhhh... the joy I've learned to take in the simple things.
So the other night, Monkey got to stay up later than my other kiddos. He had taken a long nap, and I knew if I put him to bed too soon he'd lay there awake until midnight. So he was spending some quality time with Daddy while I was trying to get the kitchen cleaned and get ready for the next morning. We were all joking around and being silly. (I feel the need to put that in as a disclaimer, lest you read the rest of this and think I'm raising a total brat.) And at one point I teased the two boys about something, and Monkey says (jokingly), "Mommy, you just need to shuuuuuut up." Immediately, Mr. Fantastic says, "No, Buddy. We don't say that. It's not nice." (Meanwhile, I was glad I was out of his line of sight because I was doubled over, trying to keep from laughing.) Then Monkey Isays, "Oh........ Mommy, you need to quiet down." (Pause for effect.) "Which is a nice way of saying, 'shut up.'" I nearly died from laughter that night. ;-)
I have really enjoyed this past week with Lamb. She got her first "real" Bible for Christmas--she has a couple of little kid Bibles that just have Bible stories in them, but this with the actual complete text, NIrV (New International Reader's Version). And since she's a morning person and I've been getting up early with Roo, we've been getting up before anyone else, snuggling up on the couch, and reading the Bible together. It has been a really neat experience. I love watching her pick out what she wants to read (Any good tips on studying the Bible with a 5-year-old? Anyone? Anyone?), hearing her insights on the stories, and just spending one-on-one time with her. It has been an absolute blessing on these last few days that have otherwise been hellish.
But that's actually not what I wanted to tell you about Lamb. It's actually a completely different topic than what I wanted to talk about. Anyway... As many of you know, kindergarten has been a slightly different experience for her than I had anticipated it would be. I thought she would absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Instead, she likes it, but... I don't know, it's hard to describe. But let's just say that it's been a bit more of a struggle--not academically, but emotionally--than I had expected. On Thursday of this week, though, she came home excited. They had done an exercise in estimating, and she loved it! She showed me her worksheet--it had four or five objects on it, and the students had estimated how tall they thought it was (They have those plastic interlocking cubes, and they had to guess how many cubes would be as tall as the object.), and then they measured and wrote down how many cubes tall the item actually was. Lamb immediately got a blank piece of paper and made up a worksheet for me. She found about 10 things around the house and made me draw a picture of each item, write down my estimate, and then she measured them. (Thanks to 2 neighbors who are elementary teachers, one of whom has a fabulous garage sale every year, we just happen to have a set of those cubes as well!) When we were done, she asked me to make up an estimating worksheet for her to do. It was so much fun to spend time with her and hear about something that had really stuck with her at school. No drama, no pouting or complaining that someone had done better or said she did it wrong or anything like that. Just fun. And that girl is darn good at estimating, too.
So that was a little glimpse into the lives of the animals at our zoo this week. As a sidenote, I wanted to share with you some books I am reading or planning to read soon. For some reason, I can't figure out how to update the box on the right side of my blog with some of my favorite books, so I thought I would share them here. By the way, if you use a link from my blog to buy a book... I do get a little somethin' somethin' from Amazon, so... if you are planning to buy a book and saw it here, could you be so kind...? :-)
Anyway, here's my current reading list:
Yes, five books. But I can't really claim to be actively reading them all right now. Choosing to SEE is definitely on my nightstand--I'm about 3/4 of the way done with it, and highly recommend it. I can't say it's the best written book ever, but the story is amazing. It should come with a free box of tissues. Be warned.
Play to Talk is from the seminar I went to this week, which dealt with encouraging communication in late-talking children. While I haven't started the book yet, the seminar (which was taught by the author of the book, Dr. James MacDonald) was very worthwhile. Based on what he shared on Thursday, I would definitely recommend this.
It's Not About Me is actually the NEXT non-fiction book on my list after Choosing to SEE, so I haven't started it yet. I have read it before, though, and found it very interesting. Max Lucado has a way of writing books that are very easy to read--almost to the point where they seem like they aren't very deep--but that make an impact on your heart.
I haven't even started The Poisonwood Bible yet, but it's this month's selection for our book club, and I have heard good things about it. I hope I can get it read in two weeks, especially since book club is at my house this month, so I can't exactly skip it. (I also hope my Christmas decorations are down by then, but that's another story.)
And yes, the classic Gone with the Wind. Mr. Fantastic gave me this book for Christmas, as part of a package that is probably the best Christmas present ever--a girls' weekend at Tara, a re-creation of the mansion from Gone with the Wind! I am so excited! We're actually going next weekend, and I can't wait to have some girl time, do some shopping, and hang out at Tara. I was there once for afternoon tea, and it was amazing! Anyway, I've never actually read the book OR seen the movie, and Mr. Fantastic--being the fantastic guy that he is--bought me both. As soon as I catch up on my book club reading, I'm going to read the book and then sit down with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh for an evening. :-)
And that's it for this week's edition of the Weekend Zoo. I think I just heard the door to the kids' room open, so it's time for a little girl time of a different sort. :-)
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
And then we realized that "Grey's Anatomy" had come up with the perfect description: Dark & Twisty. Apparently I'm more like Meredith Grey than I realized.
All that to say... I have an incredibly busy day ahead. Big stuff, exciting stuff, and also just a wee bit stressful as I try to fit it all in. And in the middle of it all... I am dark and twisty. I am literally paralyzed by my emotions and am still in my pajamas--and yes, I drove Lamb to school this morning in my PJs. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I don't have time for this.
I don't like dark & twisty.
That is all.
(PS - When I'm back to myself, I've got some fun stuff coming up, including some giveaways! So stay tuned. We will resume our regularly-scheduled programming soon...)
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Do you remember those teachers who would say, "Don't ever hesitate to ask a question. Chances are, if you are struggling with something, someone else is too?" Well, today we're going to put that theory to the test. I don't really have a question, but I am struggling with something. I have been trying for several days now to not write this post, but I need to share what I am feeling and hope that it helps someone out there.
It has been over six months now since Roo was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Soon after his diagnosis, I started to seek out support and encouragement from others whose lives have been affected by Down's. I connected with our local support group. I was put in touch with friends of friends. I sought out blogs by moms like me. And I have met some amazing people—people who have wrestled like I have to come to grips with their child's diagnosis. People whose lives were forever changed by two words, and people who are actively changing their lives due to the work God is now doing in their hearts as a result of this extra chromosome. I feel honored to know them.
I don't feel like I'm one of them.
Some of the moms I've met said that they never grieved the diagnosis—their only concern was the teasing and heartache that their child might endure. That wasn't me. Yes, of course, I did—and do—worry about Roo being teased, but that was far from my only sadness.
Some moms adopted children with Down syndrome, actively seeking out the blessings brought by raising a child with special needs. That wasn't me. Maybe it will be someday, but if God hadn't placed Down syndrome right in my lap, I would have had nothing to do with it.
Other moms looked more like me when they got the diagnosis—sad, scared, overwhelmed, maybe a little angry. (OK, I was actually way angry.) They cried and asked why and toiled through doctor's appointments and assessments and missed milestones. And, like me, eventually they realized that the heartache wasn't quite as painful. The anger wasn't quite as strong. The outlook not quite so dreary. And then, they realized that they had finally settled in to life in Holland. They are fully Dutch. The grief is gone, and they are ready to tackle this new life with excitement and vigor.
But that's where they lose me.
I read these blogs, talk to these moms, see their e-mails, and I feel terribly guilty. I am so amazed, so glad for them that they are adjusted—happy even. Why isn't that me? And I know, you're probably thinking, "Didn't she just say that they are doing great?" And yes, we are. Most days we as a family are doing great, and I take things one day at a time, and I love Roo fiercely. Please don't get me wrong about that. It's not that I am sad all the time or having trouble bonding with him or… anything like that. And I see huge things that God is doing in my heart through this. He is changing how I parent—all three of my kids. He is showing me how to live in the moment. He is giving me a passion for children around the world who need a voice. Those are all great things.
It's just… I still feel like a tourist in Holland. I feel like this isn't really where I belong. I've spent some time here, learned a lot, seen the sites, and I feel like I'm a better person for it. And now I want to go home.
I adore my baby boy with every fiber of my being, and I don't want to spend one single minute without him… I just want him to not have Down syndrome.
I am a better person for the things I have learned over the past 6 months. I have made some amazing new friends. But I would absolutely give it all back in a heartbeat. I would go back to being the "shallower" me who didn't know about the Buddy Walk or Reece's Rainbow or any of those things, if it meant I didn't have to worry about early intervention and cardiologist appointments and regular hearing checks and so many other things. I would trade it all for a "normal" life with three little ones.
But the bottom line is, that's not the way it works. Down syndrome is here in our lives for good.
Honestly, I have written and deleted and rewritten this post so many times, I'm exhausted. It's hard to tell you all that this is how I feel. It's hard to read the words of other moms and not think, "That's how I should feel." I feel like a lesser woman, a lesser mom. But this is it, the raw, honest truth.
But here's the rest of the story. I'm still struggling. And that's OK, too. I'm here, and I am fully committed to it. The grief may not be gone, but it is outweighed by the joy that Roo brings. My struggles may not be over, but I can continue to lay them at God's feet. And I will.
So if you're here and you're struggling… welcome. This post was for you. You're in good company here, friend. Let's meet for coffee and chat. We can go Dutch. ;-)