Welcome to my blog!

A blog about our busy family with two amazing kids, one of whom happens to have Down syndrome!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The luckiest

Tonight as I was rocking my sweet baby girl to sleep I couldn't help but think how lucky we are. How many almost-two year old girls still let their mommy rock them to sleep? 

She was laying with her head on my shoulder, sucking her left thumb and using her right hand to play with the hair at the nape of my neck. Then she reached both arms around me in a hug and said "Hi! Hi! Hi!" Then she leaned up and kissed me, resting her head on my shoulder once again. She sighed a happy  sigh, "tiss" and snuggled me again. (Tiss is how she says kiss.)

Who on earth wouldn't want this? How could anyone feel she was more they could handle? And yet I felt the very same way when we got her diagnosis. 

As we approach this Christmas I am so incredibly thankful for miracles. And I pray that many, many more people choose this beautiful, windy, imperfect and blessed path we're on.

Merry Christmas.


Just us

I haven't updated my blog recently. I think when I first started this blog it was supposed to be a Down syndrome blog. I thought I'd have a lot more to say! It's hitting me lately how little Down syndrome plays a role in our daily life. I thought it would encompass our family...Define us. But really we're just a family from the Midwest living life. It's pretty amazing.

Lauren and her baby cousin (he's actually bigger than her now but she'll always be five months older!)

Lauren loves books!

Lo saw Santa at school!

And Santa also paid a visit to the mall ;)

Check out this happy guy at church!

We're enjoying winter and playing in the snow. We've had school, church, work, all the stuff that is life. Merry Christmas!





Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Happy birthday!

Today Ryan turned four!

He seemed to have a really fun birthday and he LOVED his cake. He asked about a million times for a Thomas cake. We got it from Kroger and it was delicious!
Who knew Kroger could make such great cakes?? It was delicious. I already can't wait for Lauren's birthday in February!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Brotherly love

I think aliens stole my son and replaced him with a strange boy who loves to kiss his sister. It's the most logical explanation.

Lauren and I picked Ryan up from school today and while we were in his classroom he kissed her...twice. What?! Then he kissed her before her nap when we got home, all unprompted.

And they got to ride in a laundry basket together where he let her kiss him again!

I am loving this new development! Generally, Ryan's snuggles have been reserved mostly for me, which I love, but it's so sweet to see him indulge his sister. Her world revolves around him.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Days like today

Days like today make my heart so happy and feel blessed beyond measure.

Ryan asked for a baby party, which means he and Lauren play in his bed with all of his stuffed animals. He willingly kissed her, hugged her, tickled her and they pretended to sleep. He shared his toys with her so well and they both had so much fun. Lauren cried when she banged her lip on my shoulder and Ryan said, "let me wipe away your tears Lauren". 
I think I was speechless! How incredibly sweet! She always wants to be around him and he's been so much more receptive to playing with her lately. I'm sure it's because she's able to play more now that she's older and more mobile. 

I feel so incredibly blessed that we got two amazing children only two years apart. Times like this make me wish so much that we could add another child to our family right now, I'd love to have another two year age gap. I feel selfish sometimes for wanting a third when I know many people that would give anything for just one. I know how lucky I am to count my amazing little ones as my greatest blessings!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

She climbed!!

Lauren climbed! (Clomb?)

We were waiting for an hour at the eye doctor today and Lauren was being her normal friendly self...She tried to brush a stranger's hair with her Barbie brush, share her goldfish crackers, the usual. The waiting room is set up for kids and adults to wait while their eyes dilate. Lo was the only kid waiting, so they turned on Tangled (which she actually watched and loved!) and she roamed around. There are these little cube chair things. I looked away for a second (to find the random goldfish she was tossing around) and looked over to see this!

What?! Luckily she was more than willing to show off her new skill so I could get a picture. She just started cruising on the furniture, so this is a big jump!!
I am one proud mama! 21 months old and climbing :) She was happy too and kept clapping for herself. Then she kissed the TV, the wall, the table and three chairs in celebration. What a sweet pea!




Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our church

I've heard some horror stories from other Down syndrome families about how they've been treated in churches. Families have been asked to leave the church once they have their child with special needs. Why? Many people are uncomfortable around people with special needs. People fear what they don't know.

Thank GOD our church has been the opposite. When we were still pregnant with Lauren, after we got her diagnosis, the outpouring of love from our church is indescribable. People couldn't wait to meet her. Our pastor told us he was proud of our decisions.

Fast forward to today. Lauren is practically famous. Nobody is afraid of her. She says hi to everyone she sees and everybody says hi right back! She kissed our pastor twice today! Lauren is a valued member of NorthRidge Church already and people truly care about her and about our family. It is utter and total acceptance.

Words really can't explain what that means to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, NorthRidge Church!

Friday, November 15, 2013

We're still here! Pictures galore!


I've taken a break from blogging, life has been busy! I've been working a lot and well, family life is just BUSY!!

We've taken a hiatus from private therapy. It wasn't worth it when Lauren hates it to the point if not participating. She's only 21 months old, it's not like we can talk her into it! Lauren sees the eye doctor the day before Thanksgiving. Every time we go they tell us Lauren will need glass "next time". We'll see what they tell us this time! Greg and I are both blind as bats so neither kiddo stands a chance. She's started cruising on the furniture, really well when she wants to! Most importantly, she had her first French braid!!

Ryan has been loving preschool and being generally awesome. He is the best ever! He is so much fun and so sweet.

I've got no real updates to share, life is smooth sailing right now. 








Monday, November 4, 2013

Please approach us!

I feel like we're very lucky in that we've only had good experiences with people approaching us in public to talk about Down syndrome. I LOVE it!

I was holding Lauren and waiting in line to pick up Ryan from his classroom at church. A woman comes up and said how beautiful Lauren is and asked her name. Lauren, my ambassador to friendship, is active trying to kiss this woman on the lips! Hilarious and embarrassing. 

Then this woman said, "I have a sister...she's 39 and has Down syndrome. She has her own apartment, my parents built it onto their house for her! She also had a boyfriend and a job. She's happy and she has a very full life. I thought maybe you'd want to know that."

How amazing!! I must be very approachable because this kind of thing happens a lot. It makes my heart smile :)

We've had people come up to us at the mall, at the park, at church, at restaurants...just to say hello and talk about their connection to Down syndrome. We even had one woman (who's 19 year old son was not with her because he was with his friends) say "Well, we're all family so I wanted to say hi!"

I love the sense of community Down syndrome has blessed us with.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cutest baby award!

If there was a cutest baby award, I'm pretty sure Lauren would win it. Not that I'm biased or anything...


I am obsessed with her!! See the mischief in that look?? 


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Family fall party

My dad's side of the family does an annual fall party and hayride. There's usually around 25-30 of us. It's super fun and this year it was freezing!! Ryan got to go on two hayrides and ate a bunch of junk food while hanging out with a bunch of his cousins. Lauren was happily passed around, I think every person over age 10 held her! She just loves to be held and cuddled and talked to. She even took a few steps on the couch while holding onto my mom. I am not ready for that!!

 I didn't get many pictures because I didn't have my phone on me, but my cousin texted me a couple.

Here's Greg and I.

And my cousin Maddy and I!

We have a really great family :)


Uh oh!

Lauren is being so toddlerrific lately! It's cute and frustrating.

Yep, she's realized she can stand up and reach our junk drawer and pull magnets off the fridge. See that white shelf? That's where Maizy's food and water are supposed to go. We have to move the water every day because well, Lauren loves water! She gets this little gleam in her eye and crawls lightning fast over to splash around. So cute! And so frustrating. Toddlers.

Speakin of Maizy...She got a haircut. It's NOT what we wanted and I am so embarrassed for her! She's also cold and is now even more Velcro-dog than normal (which seemed impossible!) okay, I'll show you a picture...
She doesn't even look like the same dog!! I can't wait for her hair to grow back!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Feeling much better

Girlfriend is back to her normal self!
She got to fly around in a laundry basket, a favorite game at our house.

Ryan is loving preschool!
That's him practicing his ninja face for Halloween!

And Maizy is getting a haircut tomorrow!

As you can tell, life is back to normal here at Meeting Lauren! I don't have anything too exciting to blog about us.

But my best friend ran the Detroit Marathon!!! Go Kristen!! Like my Kim Kardashian sign? It was definitely a crowd favorite. We found a great spot to stand right before the finish line. It was AMAZING to see the runners get emotional when they realized how close they were. It was such a wonderful experience as a spectator.




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sick

I've taken a break because our family has been sick! First Ryan, then me, then Lauren. Poor little Lo had it the worst :( 
I did enjoy the three solid days if snuggles, but I'm glad she's perking back up! She's still sleepy today, she slept from 8:30 last night until noon today and she just woke up from a two hour nap. But she's no longer burning up and is back to her dancing self!

Lauren's happily chatting away to her stuffed animals in bed and I'm blogging and partaking in my guilty pleasure:
Vanilla Coke. Aaaahh! It doesn't even have to be cold, I just love it.

Also, in greater news, I went to the dentist yesterday! I know to most normal people this is no big deal. But I have a paralyzing and unrealistic fear of the dentist, therefor it had been 5 years. Please don't judge me! My teeth feel so clean now and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting.
Check out these pearly whites!! 

I hope everyone is having a great October! If you can spare some prayers, a friend of mine is pregnant with twins and now on bed rest for the foreseeable future. She has a toddler at home and a husband overseas. Please remember her in your prayers!



Monday, October 7, 2013

Family is everything :)

Both kids seem just so big to me lately!

Ryan is already going to be 4 in December. How is that even possible?! Didn't I just bring him home from the hospital?

Lauren is already 20 months (on the 12th) and crawling, chatting and really turning into a toddler. Luckily she's still my tiny peanut at 21lbs and loves to be carried around (on her terms! Did I mention she's turning into a toddler?)

I just feel so incredibly thankful for my family. My amazing husband of 5 years, though this winter marks 12 years together. Our two perfect children. What more could we ask for?

I'm feeling so sentimental today! Ryan had a sleepover with his grandma and is helping "babysit" his favorite baby cousin. Lauren are breakfast and is happily playing with her toys, allowing me to drink my coffee and blog. 

Greg and I are joining a small group of couples starting this week, hopefully! And we might join a young marrieds class at church as well. We're excited to make friends! Our Wednesday night group is a family thing so the kids will all join in and Satirday night has childcare, so it looks like our kids will become quite the social butterflies!

And to tie this all into Down syndrome awareness month- I never, ever imagined my life would be this full when we first got Lauren's diagnosis. What a difference time (and reality!) makes, huh? 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Im trying to blog every day this month for Down syndrome awareness. So far I'm 3/3!

Today is our fifth wedding anniversary! When we got Lauren's diagnosis I was worried out marriage would suffer. In fact, it has gotten stronger and Greg has really stepped up and become a wonderful father and husband. I'd be lost without him!

Today is also Greg's grandma's birthday, she passed away a few months ago. Please pray for my wonderful mother in law and her sisters as they miss their mom today.

Ryan had school today and Lauren and I went to MOPS. We all had lunch together after :)

Ryan got ice cream after lunch!

Lauren got to visit with Grandma at church this morning!

It was a great day and I can't wait to spend some quality time with Greg this evening!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Brother and sister

There is nothing sweeter than watching my little ones play together! Even though sometimes they pinch, kick and bite each other... It's all part of growing up with siblings!



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Well child visit

Lauren had her well-child visit today and everything looks great!

Two years ago I never imagined actually having a well child. I thought she'd always be sick. She's doing amazing! She amazes us every day.

Happy Down syndrome awareness month!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Two years

Two years ago we were so excited to walk into our ultrasound and find out whether we'd be bringing home a perfect baby boy or a perfect baby girl. I was practically floating I was so excited.

We walked out absolutely devastated. At 18 weeks we'd just found out our daughter had Down syndrome. I had an amnio to confirm but the doctors were confident in the diagnosis we were faced with. I remember the walk to the car felt incredibly long and Greg had to physically support me to get me there. I felt like everything I'd know had just changed in an instant and it just wasn't fair. I sobbed. I remember calling my mom on the way home and I could barely say it out loud. Down syndrome. It felt like a dirty word.

That was one of the darkest days of my life, second only to Lauren's open heart surgery day.

It seems almost impossible how far we've come in the last two years. We went from absolute devastation to pure joy. We couldn't imagine a life with a special needs child and now I truly can't imagine our lives without her. She is our sunshine in a world that can, at times, be constantly cloudy. How did we ever exist without her? I feel like she's always been mine.

The anniversary of this day will always be so important to me because it was the start of a rapid transformation within myself that, while I didn't realize it at the time, would make me a better person. How did we possibly get so lucky? She's blessed our family beyond measure. Ryan and Lauren are thick as thieves and behave like totally typical siblings, which is something I never expected.

Today I am beyond thankful for unanswered prayer and veiled blessings.

 
 
Also, I got an exciting tattoo today that relates directly to our sweet girl and her extra chromosome! I realize not everybody likes tattoos, but I do :)
 
These are Lauren's actual 21st chromosomes, taken directly from her karyotype! I couldn't imagine a better time to get this tattoo. It's on my inner arm right below the bend in my arm.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Say cheese!!

Cute response, huh?!

Lauren's first field trip!

Lauren's baby group had their first field trip of the year! We went to a cider mill. We got to see animals, go on a hayride, eat donuts and drink cider. Perfect fall fun!

Lauren LOVED the cow they had. She kept barking at it and gesturing for it to come over to her. That's exactly what she does to the dog but the difference is the dog listens! The cow was markedly less impressed with her communication skills.


She was even so polite as to calmly hand me each adorable tennis shoe instead of chucking them off the wagon ride! She really liked the donuts (who doesn't) and was just so sweet. I love having time with just the two of us like that. I get it a lot with Ryan because Lauren naps every day. Ryan is my grocery shopping buddy, my walking buddy, my quick-trip-to-wherever buddy. It's really nice now that Ryan is in school a couple days a week that I can have the same experiences with Lauren.

Ryan is loving school and growing like a weed. Greg said to me yesterday, "When did he become such a big boy?" It is truly mind boggling how fast these kiddos are growing up.

Lauren and I start MOPS tomorrow! It's Mothers of Preschoolers. Our church hosts quite the large group and we're excited to get involved. There's childcare for the kids and adult time for the moms! Several of my MOPS friends are pregnant or have newborns so it's pretty much a guarantee I'll catch baby fever this year. I think Greg is scared, haha. Adding another squishy baby to our family is a few years off so I'm enjoying the ones I have!

I'm off to the Detroit Tigers game with my twin sister tonight! A kid free night for both of us :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Inclusion at its finest

It was raining yesterday so my sister and I packed up the kids and headed to the mall! It's a great idea to take a 3 year old, a 19 month old and a 13 month old to the mall, right?

Actually it was! The mall we went to had a large play area for kids surrounded by benches for the parents. We took Ryan last week after our failed attempt at his first movie theater experience.

It was packed yesterday and all three kids had a blast! Ryan and Jesús, my nephew, ran around like crazy and were climbing everything and going down slides. Lauren stuck a little closer to me mostly because its not as easy for her to get around.

One little girl kept giving Lauren weird looks and would get upset if Lauren to too close. Her mom whispered something to her and she started being a little nicer but eventually went to the other end to play. My heart broke a little bit because it was clear she didn't want Lauren around because she looks different.

Then another (amazing) little girl swooped in and was basically Lauren's little protector. She was around 8 years old. She followed Lauren around, hugged her, helped her reach for one of the wall toys. It was awesome. A little boy accidentally knocked Lauren over and she didn't even cry because the older girl gave her a hug! The boy who knocked her over also gave her a hug and patted her head! The older girl even totally blocked a tunnel so Lauren could safely crawl through without getting knocked over again.

My heart was so happy! When it was time for her to go the little girl gave Lauren another hug and waved goodbye. 

Then a little boy (around 2) and his brother (around 4) showed up. Since they were the same age as my kids it worked perfect! Their mom right away encouraged them to play with my kids.  The 2 year old even tried to pick Lauren up which was SO funny. The older boys played and Lauren played with the little one. The the older one was playing with Ryan and then all four of them played too. 

I can't even explain how awesome it was to see BOTH of my kids playing so well with others. Ryan can be shy and its awesome to see him come out of his shell. And Lauren playing just like any other kid is a sight to behold.

There's something to be said about a mother encouraging her child to play with another child with a visible disability. Lauren looks different. And while younger kids may not notice, parents do! It's great to see parents encouraging inclusion. And even better is seeing older kids, who tend to notice obvious differences, take the initiative to not only befriend but protect another kid. 

Yesterday was an awesome day and both kids were SO sleepy by the time we got home! Lauren screamed for an hour straight, thanks to teething and her lack of a nap, then promptly fell asleep right at 8 (for 13 hours!) Ryan didn't argue (very much) at bedtime either. Definitely a successful day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another first day!

Today was Lauren's first day of baby group! Baby group is a once a week program through Early On (Michigan's early intervention) for babies under age 2 that qualify for Early On. We didn't go last year because you can't bring siblings. This year Ryan is at school so we can go!

Lauren seemed to LOVE it. She was super nosy about what everyone else was doing, which I loved because it means she was paying attention to her surroundings. She hands and knees crawled all over the place, played with all of the PT equipment. She made lots of little friends and she even kissed a boy! LOL. She seemed totally in her element. It was so awesome to see her like that. She was so so happy. As a special needs parent, it's the kind of day to hold onto and file away to think about on a not as great day.


Now we're at home and she's harassing daddy for popcorn!

Friday, September 6, 2013

She crawled!!

Lauren 4 point crawled across the kitchen today!!!

She's been trying lately but could only go a few "steps" and only outside where it hurts to army crawl. 

I'm so proud! 19 months old and crawling is pretty dang good by my book :)

First day of school!

Look at this handsome guy! First day of preschool :) He's still a little unsure about staying for 3 hours without mom and dad, but I really think he'll love it. He's pretty cautious by nature so I expect him to reserve judgement until he's been there a few weeks. His teacher is really nice! It's all kids with later birthdays so its a "3's plus" class. It's to get the older kids who just miss the cutoff involved in preschool and on track by kindergarten. He'll turn 4 in December and all of the kids in his class have November, December or January birthdays. 

I hope he ends up loving it!!
(Blogger has not been letting me publish this for some reason! Grrr)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First day of school!

Look at this handsome guy! First day of preschool :) He's still a little unsure about staying for 3 hours without mom and dad, but I really think he'll love it. He's pretty cautious by nature so I expect him to reserve judgement until he's been there a few weeks. His teacher is really nice! It's all kids with later birthdays so its a "3's plus" class. It's to get the older kids who just miss the cutoff involved in preschool and on track by kindergarten. He'll turn 4 in December and all of the kids in his class have November, December or January birthdays. 

I hope he ends up loving it!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It takes special parents to take care of special kids

There's a sentiment floating around that it takes special parents to care for children with special needs. Some people vehemently disagree with this sentiment. Some people agree.

I fall somewhere in the middle.

Does having a child with special needs require a special kind of person? No. Does it take a special person to love a person with special needs? Hell no. Just look at Lauren and you can't help but love her, regardless of how "special" you are. Try it, I dare you.

But at the same time, I do truly feel that Lauren is a special piece that fits into our unique family puzzle like no other child could. She fills a Lauren-shaped hole in both our hearts and our family. 

It certainly wouldn't take a special family to love our daughter but she sure makes our family special. Make sense?

I don't take any offense to the well-intended yet misguided notion that God only gives special children to special parents. It can sometimes be a thinly veiled "better you than me" sentiment. But you know what? If someone feels that way then yes, better us than you! Thank God we got her instead of any other family. How can I be offended? But sometimes people just want to say "great job" and aren't sure how to do it.

 As a society and as parents we're all too quick to beat each other down. I don't have a problem with trying to build someone up, pat them on the back and admire their parenting in a situation they themselves can't imagine. 

And sometimes when Lauren's delays are very apparent, whether it be her lack of speech, delayed crawling, decreased awareness and I can truly feel joy and celebrate her accomplishments... I hug her sweet little body, kiss her adorable baby face and look into her beautiful almond-shaped eyes and think maybe God really did think I was special enough for Lauren.

And there's no better feeling than that.




Milestone of a little girl

I don't know if it was the same for you, but for my generation and neighborhood, every little girl had a Cabbage Patch Kid. Mine was named Michael, I inherited him from my big sister, and I LOVED him. Coincidentally my very first boyfriend (in 6th grade) was named Michael, haha.

Thanks to Grandma Pam, Lauren got to meet the very exciting milestone of getting her first CPK doll today!!

Meet Leni Jemma

Don't they kind of look alike? Lauren fell in love with her in the store so we let her play with it in the cart. We looked over and saw Lauren kissing her, holding he hands and playing with her hair. Lauren and Leni clearly could not be separated, so Leni came home with us :)

Lauren is currently taking a nap and I can't wait to see this beautiful friendship evolve once she realizes Leni comes out of the box!

I mean, seriously:
I may or may not be jealous that Lauren is getting a brand new CPK doll at the ripe old age of 18 months when I had to inherit an already, ahem, well loved doll.

I realize this whole post probably makes me sound like a nut case, but what a fun, girly thing!