Welcome to my blog!

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

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! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Last day of summer and back to school!

Ryan starts school in the morning!! I'm SO excited for him. I loved preschool and I hope he does too! I have his outfit layers out and his (currently empty) backpack by the door. Tomorrow is orientation day and parents stay for class :) Little Miss is staying with my parents tonight so Greg and I can both go with him.

We celebrated the end of summer with lunch with Greg's family and dinner with mine. We had so much fun! 
Could three kids possibly have more fun? I think not.

It's 9pm and Ryan's tucked into bed. I have September's calendar mostly made out, except for work for the second half of the month and little things that pop up.
Over the summer I realizes that a paper calendar wasn't working for us. Now we're all color coded so its easier to tell who has what going on. (Yes, Greg filled out the color code. Please note that he is blue and titled "master". Clearly he's confused.) So far a dry erase calendar is working really well and there's more space per day.

As I write this, Greg is in Ryan's room, he woke up to the noise of our popcorn maker. We've been found out- the whole family doesn't go to bed at 8:30. Haha!

I can't wait to meet Ryan's teacher in the morning and I hope he loves preschool as much as I did!