Welcome to my blog!

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

Friday, January 30, 2015

Growing up

Just in the last few weeks, I feel like my little girl is growing up so fast. I wish I could slow it down, didn't I just have her a few months ago? She's going to be three years old in just two weeks.

She's lost her baby looks and she doesn't even really look like a toddler all that much now. She's a little girl. A beautiful, smart, healthy and perfect little girl.

When I think of how many babies with Down syndrome are aborted, I can't help but wonder. Who wouldn't choose her? Who wouldn't want her? I would choose her again, and again, and again. She is such a joy to raise. It's hard when she misbehaves (which is a lot, she is almost 3!) because she looks so incredibly cute that it just feels wrong to discipline her. Even my tough-as-nails husband agrees. He's better at the discipline than I am, thankfully. Ryan will yell at anyone who dares to be mean to his sister (including when I tell her not to do something. He just told me recently, "She can do what she wants!")

She's growing up. She's getting (marginally) better about having her hair brushed. She tries to put her shoes on by herself. She repeats everything she hears, even if it's almost impossible to understand some of it (unless you're grandma!). She loves to be read to, especially Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle. She loves to dance, she loves to sing, she still loves dogs and cats more than most people like humans. She has a great sense of humor and is surprisingly clever. She has friends, she loves babies, she colors at church in Sunday school.

But my favorite thing about Lauren Hope? Her ability to love. Unashamedly, unabashedly, truly, deeply, unconditionally love. We recently had a death in the family. Greg's uncle Carl passed away. He was such a great person, he loved the Lord, loved his family and thought Lauren was the best thing since sliced bread. When everyone gathered at family's homes in the days surround his death and funeral, I'd swear Lauren was the balm to open wounds. She hugged, she kissed, she smiled, she laughed, she loved.

I'd be lying if I said Lauren's future doesn't scare me. I get panicky when I think about Kindergarten, which is more than two years away. I worry about her being teased in elementary school, being accepted in high school. I think about her getting older and needing me to encourage independence when I know for a fact I'll want her with me always.

But one thing I never worry about is her capability to love. I know that long after we've left this earth, Lauren is leaving a legacy of love that few have done before her. Lauren brings out the best in people. She meets new friends at the grocery store, can charm even the most sullen cashier out of a sticker. I don't know if she will be "main streamed" in school, if she'll graduate high school with a regular diploma, attend college or hold a steady job. I don't know if she'll get married, though I hope she gets to experience the joy of  romantic love. But I do know that she is changing her world. Maybe not the whole world, but her world, in the most positive way. We are so blessed to be her family.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I surrender.

Parenting is rewarding, funny, challenging and sometimes it is just plain HARD!

Today was a hard day. Greg's been working a lot, this week he's working 7 days, meaning 13 days in a row... IF they don't need him to work next Sunday too. We are both thrilled for this opportunity and very thankful for the extra income. However, this means (what feels like) an infinite stretch of solo-parenting. Greg's exhausted when he gets home, he went to bed at 7:30 tonight.

I got a flat tire today with both kids in the car. Greg was at work. Thank GOD my dad came to rescue us, cutting short his workout and changing my tire- all with a smile on his face and joking with me and the kids!

Lauren is embracing her toddler-ness with a vengeance. I felt like I neglected Ryan today, and he was crabby because of it. But you know what they say about the squeaky wheel...Lo is my squeaky wheel. My adorable, loving, smiley and extremely clingy squeaky wheel.

I am worn out. I don't know when I'll possibly get a "break" next, I have commitments during my normal free-time (the 2.5 hours Monday-Thursday while the kids are in school) all week. I'm trying to set up a hair appointment for some much needed "me time" but then I'll feel guilty for leaving the kids with their exhausted dad, amazing as he is. I did great myself to an extra hot, extra long shower today after dinner.

Its just that kind of day. I feel like I'm engaged in an ever-present battle against sure defeat. I'm tired. I'm failing. And I have two little people who both need their mama, plus a wonderful husband who needs his wife. I'm blogging via my blogger app, getting teary eyed while watching the millionth episode of Tom and Jerry, thinking about how I hope this sweet boy knows how much I love him- even if some days I don't show it like I should. My house is a disaster and we're drinking water out of coffee mugs because I haven't even had time to run my dishwasher.

I'm waving my white flag today. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Embracing change and protecting hearts

The past couple of months FLEW by! I can't believe it's already approaching mid-January. Ryan turned 5 last month, Lauren turns 3 next month. Insane.

Christmas was wonderful, we spent a lot of time with our families and the kids were spoiled rotten. I finally took down my Christmas tree today, with the help of my parents who came to hang out with the kids while I shoveled and cleaned my house. My mom even vacuumed the (fake) pine needles up for me! The kids had a snow day yesterday (with no snow, it was just cold) but I had to sleep so the babysitter came. Today I'm home alone with them and really having a good time! Parenting is hard but at least they're cute ;)

Ryan has been being even funnier than usually lately, which is not easy! My nephew was over yesterday and kept saying, "My hulk! My hulk!" in regards to a toy. Ryan piped up with, "It's not going to be anyone's hulk in a minute if you keep saying that." LOL! He loves to parent his cousin and sister. It's so funny hearing him repeat things I've said a million times.

A lot has changed for us lately. We've left our church and are attending a new one. For some of you, this may seem like no big deal. But to us it is a HUGE deal and a great time of transition. If you are the praying sort, please pray for us and the kids as we sort through this transition period. It's been going great so far. Greg and I have kind of jumped in with both feet and have already joined a young marrieds small group. We're not used to being new in this situation as we were leaders in our old church, but everyone was extremely welcoming and our first time went great! We're starting a new study at church with our small group next week and we're really looking forward to it.

We met at someone's house for our small group last week and brought the kids along. I always worry about bringing Lauren somewhere new because it would absolutely break my heart for her not to be accepted. I know it's bound to happen eventually but so far we've been spared that hurt. At church on Sunday she was welcomed into her age-appropriate classroom and really seemed to have fun! And at our small group meeting she played with the other kids and both kids had a great time. The ever-adaptable Ryan even invited himself back over to play!

While I'm learning that I can't force everyone to love my children as much as I do, for now while they're young I feel as though I have the responsibility to guard their hearts. This is made especially challenging with Lauren having Down syndrome. I feel like it's my responsibility to guard BOTH kids from experiencing judgment based on Lauren's special needs. This is a challenging task for any person to take this on, as we can only be accountable for our own actions. But my hope is that for a little while longer I can protect my children from small-mindedness and ignorance as well as the hurt they cause. This is why I have such anxiety regarding change. I am so incredibly thankful that we've been welcomed to our new church and small group with open arms.

Thankfully Ryan has actually been agreeing (for the first time ever) to wear a hat outside!

Lauren REALLY missed school over Christmas break! As you can tell, she was ecstatic to be back with her friends and teachers!