Tuesday, December 30, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tis the Season!

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

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

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

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

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

Roo absolutely LOVES Santa!!!


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

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


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

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

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

So happy!

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

How much longer will she do this happily?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maybe not JUST like me

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

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

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

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

I just want to sit and sulk in peace.

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

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

This is not funny, Lord.

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

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2014


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

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

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

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

Oh my word, I am the worst mom ever.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Weary Angels

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then I thought, his angels must be exhausted!

Oh, this boy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Because hope is a beautiful thing

Hello, my dear, sweet, neglected blog. How have you been? I miss you, all of you. I have so much I want to tell you. Titles jotted down in margins. Notes scattered over my hard drive. Plans running through my mind. I want to share them all with you.

Right now, though, my hands are full. In a beautiful, exciting way. That's what I want to tell you about now.

About a year ago, I had an idea. A dream for a women's event that would reach women of all ages. I brought it to the director of women's ministry for my church, and I started small... just a little nibble of what I was really hoping for. And she said, "That sounds great." And I thought, "She agreed so readily! Maybe I should dream a little bigger." And I did. And she said, "Sure! Why not?" So I dreamed bigger. And she said, "I love it!" And... well, you get the picture.

And a year later, this is what we have put together...

And Life Comes Back: Hope for Every Woman. Those eight words say so very much. A young wife is suddenly a single mom, navigating grief and despair... and life comes back. A woman in the midst of depression in the middle of divorce... and life comes back. A young mom overwhelmed with this newborn that she thought she could manage... and life comes back. A woman who is empty nested, exploring a new kind of freedom, when suddenly she finds herself again in the role of caretaker, this time for her own mother... and life comes back.
No matter where you are, how old you are, what your circumstances are, no matter how hopeless you feel... there is life. Hope. That is what this day is all about. Hope for every woman. My goal is to have a woman come and bring her college-age daughter AND her mother. Her neighbor and her boss. Every woman needs hope.
Do I have your attention yet? Are you ready to grab your ticket? Let me tell you one more thing that I hope will sweeten the deal just a bit. In addition to Sara Groves (SARA GROVES! For real!) as our worship leader and Tricia Lott Williford, whose book And Life Comes Back was the inspiration for this event, we will have FIFTEEN different breakout sessions to meet women right where they are. Each woman will get to choose 2 of the 15 sessions. And guess what... one of those 15 will be presented by yours truly.
Yep, in addition to dreaming and coordinating this event, I will have the honor of sharing a little bit of my hope journey with you. Join me as I talk about letting go of the "supposed to be" approach to life. You know what I mean. The tendency we have to cry out, "But this isn't how it's supposed to be!" The feeling that we are being punished when something is hard. The confusion we experience when our life looks different than everyone else's. Learning to let that go and embrace our unique paths.
PLEASE don't miss this event. If you are anywhere close to Northeast Ohio, you are going to want to be at The Chapel in Akron on Saturday, October 18.
AND if you love Sara Groves as much as I do, we have more!!! She will also be in concert on Friday, October 17! The concert is open to EVERYONE--so bring your husband, your boyfriend, your kids, everyone!
So now you need to go get your tickets. No, really. RIGHT NOW. They are ONLY available at iTickets, so go place your order and come say hi!
If you want to keep up with the latest news & info, you can like us on Facebook at And Life Comes Back.
And if you would be willing to help us promote this event, head to the Facebook page now to find out how you could win a free ticket to either the concert or conference!
See you soon...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day(s)!

Do you know what happened this week?

This happened...

And this...

And this...
And this...
And yes, if you're paying attention, Roo is wearing 2 different shirts in these pics. My big kids actually started school yesterday, but Roo's first day was today. I still wanted to get a pic of the three of them together, though, because it's just so darn cute with all three of them there.
And then, because they continue to be so cute, I have to share some more photos with you.

He loves his big sister!

One year we'll get one with ALL FIVE of us smiling at once. I refuse to believe otherwise.

Me: "Roo, say 'Cheese!'"
He's a stinker.
 Singing "Old MacDonald" with Papa
Time for the bus...

And they're off!