Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Birthday!!!

One year ago today, I gave birth to a 4 pound, 2 ounce little boy, who has completely transformed my heart and my life.

If you're wondering why you haven't seen the long, sappy post I had promised... well, as it turns out, I was having way too much fun actually enjoying my son's first birthday to sit down and write about it.  It's coming, though.  His party on Saturday, so hopefully by then.

In the meantime, here's a little shot of the birthday boy (sporting his new haircut) to tide you over...

And in his hat that his big sister picked out...

Happy birthday, Roo!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

So far, so so so good

This time tomorrow I’ll be preparing a special birthday dinner for a special little boy… not that he’ll be eating any of it. He’s still perfectly happy to have baby food spooned into his mouth as opposed to having to go to all of the effort to actually pick something up himself. :-) I’m looking forward to posting a much sappier post tomorrow (be warned!), but for today I just wanted to update you a bit on how we are all doing, especially Roo.

Thanks in large part to my lack of regular posting (sorry), I have told you a bit about some of the concerns we’ve had with Roo’s growth and such, but haven’t really kept you all up-to-date on his progress. I can tell you without a doubt that he is just growing and changing before my very eyes. He still has a hard time sitting without support, as his lower back muscles still aren’t quite strong enough to hold his spine straight and provide the support he needs. I honestly don’t know why this is, and I don’t know at what point we should consider looking a bit deeper into it. Our physical therapist does not seem concerned, so that is reassuring. But that being said, he will sit (using his hands for support) for much longer periods of time than he was just a few weeks ago. When he is on his belly, he will pivot around to see or get a toy. He pulls his knees up under him and rocks back and forth—and he is starting to scoot backwards. He is also wanting to stand, although (again because of his back muscles) he needs someone to hold him around the waist to do it.

But that’s just one little aspect of his development. Roo is becoming more aware of who we all are—Mommy, Daddy, big sister, and big brother—and is also more aware when the person who is holding him is not one of us. Not that he really cares, but he is more aware. He is getting more into playing with toys, and will actively choose one thing over another—and if he is within reach of a toy AND something he is not supposed to have, he will get the latter every time. He absolutely loves my laptop and will do anything he can to get close enough to touch it, grab it, lay on it, whatever. He is also really into paper right now. He likes to crumple it up and wave it around… and stick it in his mouth, of course. (Note the earlier comment about how he won’t pick up finger foods and put those in his mouth.  Apparently the church bulletin is much more appealing.)

And lately I have realized that he is initiating contact more than he used to. Yesterday, for instance, we were sitting next to Monkey in a movie theater, and Roo suddenly realized that his big brother was next to him. He reached out and touched Monkey, who turned and gave Roo a kiss before returning his attention to the movie. But that wasn’t enough for Roo. He lunged forward in my lap and leaned over until he was right in Monkey’s face… like, “Hey! I was talking to you!” It was so cute, and so much more intentional than the typical yells for general attention that we hear. (They are happy yells, but yells none the less.)

And one of my favorite things that I see emerging in his little personality is his sensitivity to others’ moods—especially his mama’s. He will do everything in his power to get me to smile when I am feeling sad or angry, and once he does break me down and get a smile, he bursts into laughter and will screech happily… sometimes during an entire trip through Target. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

This past year has been… indescribable, friends. Indescribably hard, yes. And indescribably amazing. The friends we have made, the existing friendships that have strengthened, the joys we have gotten to experience, the lives that have been touched, the opportunities we have had (already) to minister to others… all because of this one tiny little baby. I guess I was wrong—God did know what He was doing when He gave Roo to us. Go figure.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's coming...

Guess what is happening at the zoo this week...!!!!

I'll give you a hint.  It involves this...

...and this...

...and this...

Can you believe it?!?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Weekend Zoo: In the kitchen

Has it really been almost a week since I posted? I'm so sorry, friends. There are a variety of reasons for this, but let's talk more about that another day.

Today is a day of cooking & baking. Mr. Fantastic has recently started volunteering at a local organization that provides a variety of services for the homeless, which has just been a fabulous new endeavor for him, even in the short amount of timet that he's been doing it. Anyway, they received a donation of bananas from a local gas station, but the bananas were all black, so the shelter was just going to throw them away. Instead, Mr. Fantastic brought them home, and we are going to spend the day baking banana bread!  After that we're going to make one of my very favorite recipes--Mushroom Manicotti.  YUM!  I always make it when we have leftover ham--it is super-delicious and super-unhealthy.  (The recipe calls for feta cheese, cream cheese, and whipping cream, among other things...)  After that I'm going to decide what to do about Roo's birthday cake.  I did find a cake pan that will make a kangaroo, but it requires a 12x18 sheet cake pan, which I do not have and am not sure I want to buy.  I am also considering making several cakes in the shapes of different animals as part of a general zoo theme, but that would mean I wouldn't have any kangaroo stuff... decisions, decisions...

Have a great weekend!  Hopefully I'll escape from the kitchen in time to share some more posts with you all next week!

Monday, March 21, 2011

World Down Syndrome Day

Today is...

Check out this video put together by IDSC for Life and see if you notice any familiar faces (all the way at the end)...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Weekend Zoo: Wiped out

It is 7:30 in the morning, and my big kids are still sleeping. This is a miracle in itself, but especially when you note that they went to bed at SEVEN O'CLOCK last night!!!! Talk about a minor miracle...! We have completely wiped them out this weekend, and we have church & a birthday party today. Good thing we only have one more week until Spring Break! :-)

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Children of God

Please take 5 minutes to watch this (with tissues, if you're anything like me)...

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Tonight's post will be a short one, since I am literally nodding off as I type, but I needed to take a moment and say THANK YOU.

Thank you for the comments and e-mails of encouragement after yesterday's post.

And thank you most of all for the prayers.  They were truly felt & effective.  While I can't say that yesterday will go in my scrapbook of the Top 10 Best Days Ever (if such a scrapbook existed), and while I may have had a little less patience with my children than I should have, and there were definite moments of weakness and sadness... I can tell you that overall the day trended upward and it ended with me in a much better place emotionally than where I started.  And today has been SO much better than I anticipated!  And yes, that was helped along by a visit with a dear friend who I hadn't seen in 10 years AND a beautiful 65-degree day... but ultimately, it was the prayers of my friends that have kept me afloat.

Thank you.

And good night.  ;-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

That gut feeling

It's 6:30 in the morning, and my house is beautifully quiet.  The kids are all asleep--and as far as I know, they're all healthy.  I get to see my Bible study ladies this morning, which is always a treat for me.  And tonight, I'm teaching a Bible study, and I am more prepared and more comfortable with the teaching than I have been all semester.  It's the set-up for a great day.

But all I can think about is the feeling in my gut.  That sad, sinking feeling.  After 10 days of (apparently unprecedented, if you ask Mr. Fantastic) complete happiness, the dark & twisties are coming back.  I've known it was coming, because it is typically preceeded by insomnia, which I have had for the past few nights.  (And yes, it HAS occurred to me that the lack of sleep may also be affecting my mood.  But where does the insomnia come from?)  But I have managed to fight it off for the past few days because it just felt so darn good to be happy!  This morning, though, it is overwhelming me.

I was going to list the things that are on my mind and pulling me down, but what good would that do?  Instead, let me tell you what I know is true:
  • My husband loves me and would drop everything if I need him
  • I have some really fantastic and supportive friends
  • My children are made in the image of God and they are wonderful and they have been entrusted to me
  • We have fantastic love & support from our parents
  • I get to go to church this morning and be greeted with the smiling, beautiful faces of many wonderful and caring ladies
  • Most of all, I have a Savior who created me and loves me and cares for me and "He sees each tear that falls, and He hears me when I call" (From "He Knows My Name", one of my very favorite songs)
No matter how dark & twisty or crazy or sad I feel... these are things that I know to be true.  And they are just as true today as they were yesterday when I was perfectly happy.  And they will be just as true tomorrow, no matter what is going on in my gut.

So even though I'd like to hide by spending the entire day sitting here at my laptop... no.  I need to stand up and face the day.  (It's much easier to force myself to do that now that I can't spend my time on Facebook--I gave it up for Lent.)  I will do my best to change how I feel, and I will cling to what I know is true.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Below is the support letter I am sending for my upcoming short-term mission to Mozambique.  I would love for you to be part of my support team.  If you wish to contribute but would prefer to send a check rather than use the Chip In, please e-mail me through my profile and I will get you the information that you need.

Thank you in advance!


Dear Friends & Family,

Have you ever been afraid that getting water might cost you your life? Have you ever worried whether the water you drink might cause you to fall sick? Have you ever worried that your husband, who was leaving for months to provide for your family, might not come home again? For countless women in Africa, this is part of daily life. They walk to crocodile-infested rivers to draw their water—water which is often contaminated with cholera or other bacteria. They work all day in the fields, leaving children as young as 3 or 4 to take care of their infant siblings, because their husbands have traveled hundreds of miles away to find work in mines.

The Chapel has adopted two villages in Mozambique in an effort to combat these sad circumstances. Our mission, called Fresh Passion, began by providing fresh water to these villages. Now we are providing them with Living Water—that is, the good news of Jesus Christ. Twice a year, teams from the Chapel travel to Mozambique, where we partner with an organization called World Relief to provide spiritual teaching to the church leaders, women, and children in the villages of Chiamite and Koca Misava. We are also working with them to find new ways of improving the local economy so that the men won’t have to travel so far to find work.

Why am I telling you all of this? I am excited to tell you that I will be joining the next team going to Mozambique! On May 24, 2011, a team primarily made up of people from our ABF (much like a Sunday School class) will be traveling to these two villages for almost two weeks to provide biblical teaching and aid in the current financial project we have developed with them—hand-knit bags.

This mission is a little bit scary, but a lot exciting. And it has started to take on a special meaning for me as well. In addition to Bible teaching, we also plan to do a health lesson. Witchcraft is still common in these villages—as in many places throughout Africa—and illnesses or abnormalities are often viewed as curses. Our teams have dispelled those myths on things such as infertility by providing medical information and personal testimonies. Do you see where this is going? This May, I will have the opportunity to share our family’s journey with Down syndrome as part of a health lesson in birth defects and abnormalities. It’s hard for me to believe that God has had this timing planned since before I was even born. Here we are, less than a year into Roo’s life, and I have been given the opportunity to literally share him with the world.

I would love for you to be part of this adventure with me. How can you do that? First, you can pray. Please pray for our team, as we prepare lessons, as we travel (May 24 – June 4), and as we teach and worship with the people of these villages. Please pray for my family and those who will be helping here while we are gone. And of course, please pray for the villages themselves and the people in them. If you would like to receive e-mail updates and prayer requests, you can include your e-mail address on the form or just reply to this message.

Second, we would greatly appreciate any financial help that you feel led to provide. The total cost for the team is around $21,000. The Chapel is planning to provide around $8,000 of that, but we would love to raise enough that we wouldn’t need it. Checks should be made out to The Chapel and mailed to me, along with the form I have included here. Please do not put my name on the memo field of the check. This prevents you from being able to get the tax deduction from your donation. Simply mail it with the form, and we will make sure your donation goes to the correct account and that you get a receipt. You can also donate online at by clicking on the “Chip In” box on the right-hand side of the page, but online donations are not tax deductible.

Thank you in advance for your help. I can’t wait to tell you more!


Katy & family

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Weekend Zoo: In short

The zoo is closed today due to sickness--the Monkey and baby kangaroo are both running fevers and just generally being sickies.  Poor boys.

Mommy and Lamb are hiding from the germs.  And to pass the time, Lamb is making a list of every animal in the world.  We could be here a while.

By the way, I've learned that it is only $100 to have the Zoomobile from our local zoo to come out with some animals and do a show.  I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how much I want to do this for Roo's birthday.  There's no way on earth it's going to happen, but how fun would that be?!  Anybody have an extra $100 laying around?  Just kidding.  And if you do, it would probably be better donated toward our Mozambique mission than having a zoo show for a 1-year-old.  But it would still be fun.  ;-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grow, Baby, Grow!

Yesterday we took Roo to the local Down's Clinic at our Children's Hospital. I was prepared to come out of there feeling really overwhelmed and depressed, because FOUR different moms have told me that was how they felt at their appointments there. Apparently the doctors and therapists there tend to look at the worst-case scenario and err on the side of caution rather than the side of hope. It didn't sound pleasant.

But I was pleasantly surprised. Our intake nurse was fabulous, and the doctor, while not exactly my BFF, was calm and not over-the-top in her concern and relatively friendly. Thank you, Lord.


Anyway, as I mentioned on Wednesday, we took Roo in because his growth has slowed. He went from 4 lbs, 2 oz at birth to over 12 lbs at 6 months. But now, six months later, he's just hitting 15 lbs. Now, a child's growth does slow in the second six months of life, but his slowed more than it should have. But the doctor, as I said, wasn't alarmingly concerned. She just made a few suggestions to help boost his growth, and asked us to follow-up with a nutritionist (and do a couple of follow-up weight checks). Her main concern is that he's not drinking enough formula (He's only drinking 16-18 ounces per day, and he should be taking a minimum of 24 ounces), so we're trying to encourage him to drink more. Of course, we have this whole big conversation about how he doesn't usually even finish his bottle, and he just doesn't want any more. And then it's time to give him a bottle while we're there. We fix a 4-oz bottle (which is what he usually takes, and leaves ½-1 ounce in it), and he DRAINS every last drop. So she gave us a sample of PediaSure (more on that in a minute), and we give him two ounces. He drains that, and then refuses to stop sucking or let me take the bottle! I finally wrestle it away from him, give him ANOTHER 2 ounces of it (That's EIGHT ounces total, people!), and he absolutely SUCKS IT DRY. At that point the doctor suggested that we stop, since the PediaSure is so much higher in calories and might upset his stomach if he drank too much. That little booger really worked to make a liar out of this mama!

So in case you're wondering, here are the things that Roo is supposed to do—which most adults would give their left arm to have a doctor recommend…

  • When he's eating baby food, we should add a teaspoon of melted butter or olive oil
  • When he's eating crackers, puffs, etc, we should spread them with cream cheese or butter
  • If we're giving him things like mashed potatoes, we should add butter or gravy
  • We should give him less fruits & veggies, and more meats and carbs (higher in calories)

We are also supposed to go back to fortifying his formula (putting in more powder than normal) for the next few weeks. After that we are supposed to add stuff to his milk, but I am hoping to talk to the nutritionist before we do that. The doctor's suggestion yesterday was to just give him PediaSure (instead of milk) or add Carnation Instant Breakfast to his milk, and both of those products are either chocolate or vanilla flavored. I'd really rather not get him used to ALL of his milk being sugary and flavored, so I'm hoping we can just fortify the milk with one of the toddler formulas they make now.

SOOOOO all that to say, it was a positive appointment overall, and I am thankful for that. She did mention that Roo, whose growth has been tracking between the 10th and 25th percentile on the Down's chart, will likely not be in the starting lineup of his high school basketball team. With mommy's coordination genes being passed down, though, I'd say it was a safe bet that wasn't going to happen anyway.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Settling In

When Roo was just a teeny tiny newborn and spent a week in the hospital, I spent the days in a constant state of wondering, "What's next?" Every day seemed to bring new issues, new challenges. We went in for jaundice, and soon discovered thick blood, then poor growth, then high H&H levels in his blood, then increased sodium output… just to name a few. We finally got everything under control and got to go home. Hallelujah!

After a few days at home, the next reality set in: "Holy moly, I have 3 children ages 4 and under! What were we thinking???" (Which is funny, because we weren't *thinking* anything—Roo came as a total surprise.) The craziness of having a newborn combined with the craziness of having a 3-year-old and almost-5-year-old was overwhelming, although I think we adjusted more easily to Roo than we did to either of the other two. Still, it took a while to get into a groove.

And we were just getting into one, when our pediatrician asked us to have some genetic testing done "just to rule out any issues down the road." Ha. Just days before our sweet baby was 3 months old, our world was turned upside down when we were told, in a rather matter-of-fact manner, that he has Down syndrome.

The next several months were a series of CONSTANT ups and downs. CONSTANT. As if the emotional turmoil of dealing with this new diagnosis weren't enough, a question was raised from his karyotype that led to additional bloodwork and weeks and weeks of waiting for answers.

"I just want to feel settled!!!" I cried out to my husband. I wanted to know a final diagnosis and be done. Move on. Live life. But then I told him, "I'm starting to realize it's not going to be settled. There's always going to be something. Delays, therapies, health issues, concerns. This is our life now."

And… OK, to some degree that's true. Therapy is a part of our everyday life. Delays are definitely present. And yeah, when he starts to sniffle and sneeze, I worry more than I did/do with the other kiddos. But I was also wrong. We are getting settled. We don't live in a constant state of worry and waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is getting easier.

Of course, I say all of this less than 24 hours before we take Roo to our local Down's clinic. His growth has slowed significantly, and I'm a little bit concerned that our pediatrician doesn't have enough knowledge of Down syndrome when she advises us about what to do. So maybe we'll go in tomorrow and come out feeling unsettled all over again.

But do you know what I have learned in the past 11 months—and actually, the last 19 months, since we found out we were pregnant? I've learned that, no matter how unsettled I feel, I've got my feet on the Rock. He is firm and unchanging and won't let me fall.

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. –Deuteronomy 32:4

There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. –I Samuel 2:2

For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? –II Samuel 22:32

The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior! –II Samuel 22:47

For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? –Psalm 18:31

The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! –Psalm 18:46

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. –Psalm 95:1

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. –Isaiah 26:4

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today has been brought to you by the letter "P"

Here is my day so far...
  • Play date with a group from the Up Side of Downs
  • Panera with my two little guys
  • Penguins at the zoo--we got to feed them!
And tonight, praise time with Gungor--I'm so excited to take my family to see this group!

In the meantime...
  • Plates--I need to do dishes
  • Preening--My kiddos need baths desperately
  • Post-school work--aka homework  (OK, so I had to get creative with the P's in this list... ;-) )
I sure hope tomorrow isn't full of Q's...

Monday, March 7, 2011


The other day, I told Mr. Fantastic that I don't like to go out of my comfort zone. He replied with some mind-blowing wisdom: "That's why they call it a 'comfort zone', Honey."

Hmmm… Oh yeah. I guess that makes sense.

But I am about to go out of my comfort zone, friends. In fact, I am about to kiss my comfort zone goodbye and make a running leap.

Goodbye, comfort. Hello………………………………. Mozambique!

YES, I am going to Africa—you know, me, the girl who thinks staying at a Holiday Inn is "roughing it." The girl screamed when my husband pretended to throw a dead mouse at me. (Really? Did I honestly think he would do that?) The girl who is addicted to Facebook and my Panini maker and my heated mattress pad.

I'm going to spend almost two weeks in a small village in Mozambique, Africa.

I am quite nervous, but I am also unbelievably excited. Our church has adopted two villages there, where our primary mission is to provide them with clean water and Living Water. The clean water part has been accomplished—we have brought fresh water lines to the villages, which gives them easy access to drinking water, saving lives both because the water itself was filthy and because of the crocodiles inhabiting the nearby river. Now our teams, which go there twice a year, focus on the Living Water, which is Jesus. (See John 4:1-26 if that reference is unfamiliar to you, and feel free to contact me with any questions.)

So a group of 8 of us will be flying out on May 24 to love and teach the people in two African villages. We will be presenting them with highlights from Philippians, focusing on humility, unity, obedience, and stewardship. Another woman and I will be teaching the women, two men will be teaching the church leaders, and the other four will be working with the children.

It is scary and overwhelming and unknown and an amazing opportunity.

And here's the most amazing part. Each time we go, we also do a health lesson. The people in the villages, even those who are Christians, still hold to many teachings of the witch doctors. This means that they believe that sickness is often—if not always—the result of a curse of some kind. During the last trip, they addressed the topic of infertility, since women without children were considered cursed. The team taught the people all about the reproductive system (Can you imagine doing that through an interpreter???) and the possible causes of infertility, and a friend of mine who was there shared with the women her struggle with infertility. And as I thought about that, it reminded me of the emotions that I experienced when Roo was born… I don't know any witch doctors and I don't really believe in curses, but I sure felt that I was being punished—or worse, that Roo was being punished for something I had done. And if I felt that way, knowing all of the things I do both about science and about God, how would these women in Africa deal with Down syndrome or any of the other many, many things that can be "abnormal" at birth?

So I offered to share my story. And I think it's going to happen.

So… pray for me. Pray for our whole team. I will definitely be sharing more in the weeks to come. We have a lot of funds to raise, and I am in the process of finding out if there is a way that people can donate online—which would open great doors for a giveaway… ;-) And pray for my family, as I will be leaving four very special people behind, one of whom will be turning 6 while I'm gone.

And most of all, pray for the people in these two villages, that God will use us to bless them as much as I am certain they will bless us.

I'm being stretched, friends. It's a tiny bit painful, but a whole lot exciting.


Yesterday morning before church, I walked into my room smiling, and Mr. Fantastic was sitting on our bed. "What's that smile for?" he asked.

"Um… I'm just… smiling," I told him.

We got into the car, and he looked at me and said, "What's that smile about?"

"I don't know… I'm just smiling," I said.

At church we divided up the kids and dropped them off at their classes, then met back in the lobby to go to our class. "What's that smile for?" he asked again.

"I don't know, I'm just smiling. I'm just… HAPPY," I explained self-consciously. "Is it that unusual???"

"Um… Honey… you've been in a funk for… a while," he answered.

Normally the fact that he's this surprised that I'm happy would make me sad, but I'm too happy to let it ruin my mood. Let's just pray that this keeps up. ;-)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Weekend Zoo: Play date

I'm writing from a retreat on contentment.  Who knew that I had so much to learn?  OK, actually, I fully knew that I had a lot to learn about being content, but now my eyes are truly opening.  It's good stuff.

But today we're keeping it light, so let me run you through my little checklist of insanity that has made up my past few days:
  • Girls' night with my favorite little girl and some of our BFFs -- check
  • Stay up until 11 PM cleaning my house for a play date -- check
  • Play date with 7 girls from my high school graduating class and all their kiddos -- check
  • Quick clean-up of the house and pack for the retreat -- check
  • Go on retreat, leaving my 4 loves to fend for themselves -- check
And still to come... go home and get kids to bed, go to church in the morning, go to dinner with my family, have another play date, and then another, and then another... All between now and Tuesday.  Something tells me I might need to schedule in some down-time for me and my kiddos.  But at least we're wearing ourselves out having fun.  ;-)

And just to show you the houseful that we had in our zoo on Friday...

Check out that crew!  A lot can change in 10-15 years.