What we did and when we did it. Sometimes.

What we did and when we did it. Sometimes. People, places and events to remember.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Want to Remember ...

Corrie's love of songs:

Her favorite song for the car goes, "I love you Corrie, oh yes I do. I love you Corrie, and I'll be true. When we're together, I'm pink. Oh Corrie, I love you." It is strikingly similar to the "I love you, Conrad" song from Bye, Bye Birdie. It used to be exactly the same (only about Corrie instead of Conrad), until one day Corrie questioned why blue was the color of sadness and requested a happier color be substituted (pink was strongly recommended). :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

All I Want for Christmas ...

is my two front teeth!

In other news, Ben is growing! He's up to 11 lbs, 12 oz (at least) and remains on the chart for typical kids. I think he's around 25% in height and 5-10% in weight. His head is 42 cm, which also impressed the doctor. The Tomai kids all have large heads. :)

Ben's heart is also doing well. The cardiologist upped his medication, but only because he's getting bigger so he needs a bigger dose.

And Corrie's got the sniffles. She napped for over 2 hours this afternoon. Hopefully she'll be back to her normal, energetic self soon!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Rest of the Story ... part 3

After the first ultrasound, we talked about doing an amniocentesis.  If finding out would have made a difference in labor & delivery or postnatal care, we would have opted to do it.  As it was, the amniocentesis wouldn't make a difference one way or the other for Ben's care, so we decided against it.

I went back for two other level II ultrasounds.  Both times, I was only able to see the ultrasound tech and not the doctor.  Both times, I had to wait for hours to get into the appointment and then no one talked to me about what they saw.  It was frustrating.  They asked me to come in for another ultrasound "to check fetal growth" but I refused.   I spoke to the nurse about the ultrasounds I had done so far, and she confirmed that (1) the echogenic bowel had resolved (2) the baby was measuring fine  and (3) my amniotic fluid and placenta looked good.  They had seen no further signs of Down syndrome - or anything else - so I felt comfortable not going back.  My OB/GYN's office could do follow up sonograms.

The last few months of pregnancy were good.  I was tired a lot, and the kids and I watched a ton of Phineas and Ferb, but we also went swimming several times a week and took a trip to visit family in Hawaii.  I loved feeling the baby move!

I nested.  I cleaned out our closet (halfway) and set up the pack and play.  I washed all the baby boy clothes that people gave me, sized them and put them in bins.  I dug through boxes in the garage to find baby toys and bottles.  I made one trip to Babies R Us to grab some pack and play sheets and bottles.  Evan and Corrie each picked out one toy to give their new baby brother.

And his name!  We had no idea what to name the baby.  Emmett and I went out to breakfast one morning and looked through a baby name book.  We came home with a list of 8-10 boys' names that we liked.  I stuck it on the fridge and we discussed it occasionally.  Whenever guests came over, they would weigh in with opinions.

It's funny to me now, but I kind of stopped thinking about Down syndrome.  I knew that the screening tests have a lot of false positives, and everything on the sonograms looked good.  I didn't do any real research or anything.  I just figured things would be fine.  And in the grand scheme of things, Down syndrome didn't seem that bad.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

When we moved to Texas, we met two great families. (Really, we met lots of great families. But at the moment, I want to talk about two of them). The dads worked at the same university as my husband. The wives are stay-at-home moms. And their kids are close in age to Evan and Corrie.

For two years, these families have been our "Texas family." Emmett carpooled to work with one of the guys, I did Zumba with his wife, and our daughters were best friends. The other family goes to our church, and we were in a small group together. Evan considers their boys his best friends. We are beyond thankful to know these men, women and kids.

Sadly (for us), both of the dads have accepted teaching positions at other schools. One family moved to Kansas in June, and the other one is leaving next week for Mississippi. We're bummed.

This Thanksgiving was really special because we got to see both of those families. The Kansas crew drove back to Texas to see us (also to meet Ben and to pick up some items they had left behind). The Mississippi-bound crew came over to play football in the yard and eat turkey. I can't imagine the past two years without these people. I am whole-heartedly thankful that God brought them to the Rio Grande Valley just when he brought us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Plague

We are down for the count. Fortunately, no one has strep or the flu, but we all have something yucky. Evan's coughing is out of control - he's on the nebulizer 3x/day, plus taking allergy meds and steroids. Corrie's got a fever and sore throat - she's on an antibiotic and Mucinex. Emmett and I both have sinus junk. And Ben is the champ - hanging in there with no cold sickness yet!

We are praying that he stays clear of all this yuck. A heart problem and respiratory sickness are not a good combination.

And still no photos. I really have to look for that battery charger! Not that anyone would want to see photos of all us sick people.

Here's another cutie Ben photo, just for kicks:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween 2011

We enjoyed Halloween. I have no photographic evidence to support that statement. We (I) have temporarily misplaced the battery charger for the camera, so ... I can't show you anything right now. (For that matter, I have also misplaced my car keys. I got the kids all ready for soccer practice tonight, and then couldn't find the keys ... we played soccer in the yard for a while).

Ben had no costume - just a cute orange Halloween onesie. Corrie opted to be Rapunzel (mostly). She wore her Rapunzel dress, some fairy wings, a tiara, and a headband holding some long yellow yarn. Evan was Steelix, a Pokemon that sort of looks like an evil gray caterpillar with spikes. We made his costume out of cardboard. I don't know that a written description would do it justice. One kid walking past him said, "Hey! It's scary-looking Pumpkin head man." Evan was a little offended.

Evan likes ... umm ... unusual costumes. Two years ago, he wanted to be Martian Manhunter. "Only blue. Not green." That was another crazy homemade costume - blue face paint, blue shirt and pants, red ribbon belt and vest, plus a black cape. I don't think anyone knew what he was supposed to be. Last year, he really wanted to be a dragon. We were traveling in October, so I finally convinced him to let us buy him a costume. He was a knight.

Corrie was a princess last year, too. Halloween 2010 was the first time she dressed up as a princess. She embraced princess dresses with great enthusiasm - I think we own at least 10 princess dresses and countless accessories by now.

Would it be awful if I posted pictures from last year? Then I'll throw in a cute one of Ben for good measure. Maybe we'll re-enact Halloween once we find the battery charger. :)

Evan with his friend B (AKA Captain Hook)
Corrie with her friend B (AKA Mulan)
Ben (AKA Cutest baby EVER!) Don't you just want to kiss his tummy? :)

Friday, October 28, 2011


Blue Blankie, photo taken by Corrie

In the car:

Evan: Corrie, who do you love the best?
Corrie: God and blue blankie.
Evan:  What?  You can't love blue blankie the best.  He can't even talk.
Corrie:  Yes, he can.
Evan:  No, he can't, Corrie!
Corrie:  For pretend, Evan.
Evan:  It hurts my feelings that you like blue blankie more than our family.

Talking about Kiki Camarena (DEA officer whose 1985 kidnapping and murder inspired Red Ribbon Week in the U.S.)

Evan: Why did they kill him?
Mom: Because he was doing something important.  He was trying to stop people from selling drugs and using drugs to hurt themselves and other people.
Evan:  Was he doing what Jesus wanted him to do?
Mom:  I think so.
Corrie:  Did he flush and wash his hands?
Mom:  Yes.

In case you can't tell, we've been talking a lot about good hygiene and potty routines at our house lately.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Rest of the Story ... part 2

I wasn't able to see my OB/GYN until I was 10 weeks along.  When I met Dr. Flores, she did an ultrasound so I could see the baby, and we talked about the pregnancy.  She mentioned that she might want to induce me at 39 weeks, due to my Advanced Maternal Age.  (I turned 35 in August of 2010, became pregnant that November).  I hadn't really thought of myself as an old mom before.  Then again, I didn't think of myself as a young mom, either.

For each of my pregnancies, we've done the early blood test.  My husband's brother had severe spina bifida, and we are at a higher risk for having a child with spina bifida.  With my first pregnancy, it was the triple screen.  Second pregnancy, the quad screen.  And this time, the penta screen.  Before this pregnancy, I didn't even know how the results came back - there was never any cause for concern.  This time, my doctor brought me over to her computer and showed me a list.  There was a list of various conditions (is that the right word?) on the left of the screen and ratios on the right.  I looked for spina bifida first; the number was something like 1 in 2500.  That was a relief.  Then as I scanned the list, I saw that the ratio for Down syndrome was 1 in 19. 

My doctor said that it was a pretty high chance for having a baby with Down.  She recommended that we have a level II ultrasound at a special clinic.

The day of the ultrasound was horrible.  I had a MOPS steering meeting that morning, then I had planned for a friend to babysit Corrie so Emmett and I could go for lunch and to the ultrasound.  A mini-date!  Unfortunately, while I was at MOPS, Corrie was not acting like herself in the childcare room.  The workers came to get me, saying that she seemed sick.  Poor girl!  I brought her home and sure enough, as soon as we walked in the front door, she threw up all over herself and me. 

I couldn't leave Corrie with a friend if she was sick.  I called Emmett, and he came home to keep Corrie while I went to the ultrasound by myself.  I was nervous, and I was sad that he wasn't going to see the baby.  He had gone with me for the ultrasounds for each of the other two kids. 

I had kind of a weird conversation with the nurse beforehand.  She commented that 1 in 19 is a pretty good chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome, and she would terminate.  She also said that she doesn't have any children and may not want to, after realizing all the problems there can be.

The ultrasound tech was pleasant, gave me some pictures of our little boy - he was active, moving around a lot.  Fun to see!  Then the doctor came in to talk to me.  She was nice, too, explained things when I asked questions, and seemed very willing to talk through things.  Good news: none of the major markers for Down Syndrome were there.  Not as good news: the baby had an echogenic bowel, which is a minor marker.  She said that it could be there for any number of reasons - Down, cystic fibrosis, and some other minor reasons.  I'm a carrier for cystic fibrosis, so she recommended that Emmett be tested.  She also said that the baby's femur was measuring a little short, not short enough to consider it a major indicator of Down, but just a little short.  (Both our other babies have huge heads, so if they were comparing the leg to head circumference, then it wouldn't surprise me that the leg might come up a little short).

I told the doctor that we were not going to terminate, and I didn't know whether I wanted an amnio.

My friend had picked Evan up from school, so I got him, then came home.  Corrie still had a fever, but hadn't thrown up again.  Emmett had to teach a class, so he ran out right away without talking about the ultrasound.  And I missed Evan's open house at school because Corrie was sick.

I felt emotionally wrung out. 

And hungry!  I didn't want to cook and I didn't want to drag Corrie out to the store to get sick kid feeding supplies.  So ... I ordered pizza and a Sprite.  It may have been Corrie's favorite sick day ever since she got to drink Sprite all evening to calm her stomach.  :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Rest of the Story ... part 1

Emmett and I figured that we would have three children.  We each come from a family of three kids – two boys, one girl – and we both liked growing up with more than one sibling.  I can’t really remember when we started trying for #3.  I think it was late 2009.  Technically, we weren’t trying.  We just weren’t preventing.  I wasn’t keeping a calendar or anything. 

We had also talked about adding children to our family via foster care or adoption, so we started the process of applying to be foster parents with a local agency.  Over the summer of 2010, Emmett began to feel a little reluctant about foster care – and I didn’t want to push our family into something that we didn’t all agree on.  So we paused on our foster care application and focused on other things.

I don’t think either of us thought that we would actually get pregnant.  It was taking a long time, and I turned 35 in August 2010.  We were going to stop “trying” soon, just hadn’t gotten around to making the decision. 

In early December, we had plans to go away for a weekend to celebrate our anniversary.  Two sets of family friends had agreed to keep the kids, and we were going to drive up to Dallas to see a good friend (Jeremy) from college, then head back to Austin to have a night out for just the two of us.  We were scheduled to leave on Friday and return late Sunday.

On a whim, I took a pregnancy test that Wednesday.  It was positive.  What?!?!!!  Big exciting surprise!

Since we were going away, I wrote Emmett a card to tell him the big news, and I waited – on pins and needles – for Friday to come.  Then Corrie got sick.  Strep.  We canceled the first part of the trip and stayed home an extra day to give her the needed antibiotics.  Friday night, while he and I sat up bemoaning that we wouldn’t get to see Jeremy, I finally couldn’t stand it anymore.  I handed him the card.

He was delighted!  Totally surprised, but so happy.  Once Corrie had been on the antibiotics for a while, we took the kids over to our friends’ house.  They stayed for two days and one night, while Emmett and I left town.  We celebrated our life together and the new life coming to join our family.  

Friday, October 21, 2011


It's Friday morning.  Ben and I woke up at 5:30 (I woke him up) to nurse and pump.  He ate for a bit, then fell asleep again.  I'm sitting in the dark living room while he sleeps on a quilt on the floor in front of me.  Pumping is done.  I read the verse for the day, checked out the news on yahoo, and visited a few of my favorite blogs.

Emmett and Evan will be waking up in about 15 minutes.  Corrie will hopefully sleep a bit longer.  She's had a cold all week, so we've been hanging out a lot at home.  I hope the rest of us can avoid this illness.  Ben, especially.  My nose is stuffy today.

There is much to accomplish.  I'm having some girlfriends over this evening, so I'd like to do some cleaning and make a few refreshments.  The kids have soccer tomorrow, so I should find their uniforms.  I still haven't found a pediatrician for Ben, so I should make some calls about that.  I'd really like to take a nap.  Other ideas: take the recycling, email Evan's teacher, clean out the garage, laundry, write some thank you notes, call a friend, paint my nails, etc.

At this time in the morning, the day has so much potential.  What will happen?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Trying again ...

Now I've missed a whole week of 31 for 21!  I'm going to blame my husband.  :)  He had to travel to a conference in California this week, and that threw things off for the whole family. 

Fortunately, we were able to hang out with other family members while he was gone.  First, the kids and I drove up to meet my sister-in-law, my niece, nephew, and my mom at a cabin north of San Antonio.  All told, we had three adults, a 6 year old, two 3 year olds and two babies (2 and 4 months).   It was a little crazy.  We stayed two nights and drove back to the Valley on Monday.  Then my mother-in-law was able to come stay the week with us.  She did a lot of laundry, made meals, and entertained children.  It was great.

Emmett finally came home last night, and we're all so glad to see him.  The kids can't stop touching him - lots of hugs and patting and wrestling.  It makes my heart happy to see them love on their daddy. 

In other news, I'm probably going to call the cardiologist tomorrow.  Ben's eating seems to have slowed down a bit, and he's sweating more.  I'm not sure how worried I should be. 

Grab This Button

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I totally failed at 31 for 21 yesterday.  I intended to post something, but ...

Today I thought I'd give you a list of some of the resources I've found over the past 2 months.  Ben's postnatal diagnosis meant that I had (have!) a LOT of research to do.  I feel like I have so much to learn, and I need to learn it quickly.  The following books, websites and organizations have helped.

Babies with Down Syndrome is a book that gives a good overview of some of the medical issues that kids with Down syndrome might experience.  I have appreciated the comments from other parents, and I particularly like the way the book gives an idea of how prevalent the medical issue might be (i.e.  "this affects many children with Ds" or "this condition applies to only a few children with Ds").  The book talks about more than medical issues; it seems like a good reference book to have on the shelf.

The moms and dads that participate in babycenter.com's Down syndrome group have a wealth of knowledge and experience.  It's a friendly place to ask questions.  They also have a blogroll with lots of websites.  I have loved reading about birth stories, heart surgeries, achievements and therapies. 

Choosing a doctor has been one of my biggest concerns lately.  This page gives the guidelines for what tests should be done and when.  I'm planning to take with me when I talk to pediatricians over the next week or so.

Down by the Border is our closest Down syndrome association.  They do special events every other month - we'll go to our first event later in October.  Down by the Border also gives newborn baskets to new parents.  I picked up our basket on Wednesday and it's great: some fun stuff for the baby (a toy, a cute outfit, a baby bath) and lots of information.

Grab This Button

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baby pictures!

Tummy time!

He's so much bigger now - fits in the car seat a little better.

Ben's started talking to me.  Coo!

Such a happy boy!  I'm so glad I finally caught a smile on camera.  :)

Grab This Button

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Soccer begins ...

Evan and Corrie are both playing soccer this fall. 

The kids have played two games apiece.  In Evan's first game, his team lost by many, many points.  This could be because their best player from the past two years opted to play football instead of soccer this fall.  We miss J.  In Evan's second game, he played more aggressively than we've ever seen him, and so did the other boys on the team.  The game ended in a tie: 3-3.  It's been fun to see the boys on the team grow in their soccer skills.

For the past year, Corrie has said that "when I grow up, I will be a soccer girl!" She even got a hot pink soccer ball in her Easter basket.  This is the first season that she's eligible to play on a team.  She likes soccer practice OK (especially the snacks), but something about the games makes her nervous.  Corrie loves wearing the uniform (of course!), but has little desire to actually get in the game.  She didn't even go on the field in her first game.  I finally told her that she had to sit with her team and cheer for her team in order to get the after-game snacks.  Snacks are very motivating.  For her second game, we talked to her about going IN the game.  And she did!  She was on the field two or three times, for maybe 30 seconds total, but she got to do a throw-in.  Corrie stayed very far away from the ball.  I'm curious to see what will happen next.

This is a good reminder to take the camera to the games, because this may be Corrie's only season of soccer. 

Ben has slept through all the games so far.  He's got one of those cute baby outfits with a soccer ball on his bottom, so he shows some spirit even while he's knocked out. 

Taking the whole family to the soccer field on Saturdays brings back some fond childhood memories.  I was a somewhat reluctant soccer player, but my brothers were both big soccer buffs.  And my dad got really into it - he would sit at our kitchen table drawing soccer fields on graph paper and making notes about plays and players.  It makes me happy to think that my kids are doing something that their Grandpa Frank would have enjoyed.  I wish he were here to see them!

 (I am trying to post every day to raise awareness for Down syndrome, but I don't know enough to actually post about Ds every day.  If you're curious, click the button and check out some of the other blogs.  Very informative!)

Grab This Button

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What to Say

I've had two conversations lately where I felt thrown for a loop. 

The weather is cooling just a bit, and it's wonderful to be outside in the afternoon.  After dinner, our crew headed out front to enjoy the evening.  Our next door neighbors were outside, too, so I took Ben over to show him off.  :)  We were talking about how beautiful he is and what color his eyes are (blue!) and so on, when my neighbor commented that she could see that he was part-Asian because of his eye shape.  I agreed, and then told her that he has Down syndrome as well.  She was super-positive, just kept loving on him and saying how sweet he is (like sugar!).  She's a nurse, so she gave him the once-over and told me that he really looks great. 

Then today, we went to Evan's report card pickup (he did great - all scores in the 90's), and stopped to talk to the school secretary.  She's half Japanese and likes our family because Emmett's half Japanese as well.  She and some of the teaching staff all stopped their conversation to admire Ben, and she made the same comment about his eyes!  "Oh, you can see that he's Japanese because of his eyes!"  This time, I just smiled and agreed; I didn't say anything about Down syndrome because I felt awkward.

I'm not ashamed of Ben at all - or ashamed of Down syndrome.  I'm just not exactly sure how to work it into conversation.  Is it that important to mention that he has it?  Or can people just tell from looking at him?  I look at him all day long, so I don't notice anything different.  He just looks like a baby to me - although I do think he's more beautiful and amazing than any other baby I know.

 I need a conversation strategy.

Grab This Button

Monday, October 3, 2011

Funny Girl

Again, no pictures!  And I'm really sorry because this would mean more with pictures.

Corrie and Ben and I had such a good day.  We hung out at home all morning, then Corrie went out for lunch and a park playdate with her friend Zoe.  Most of our time at home was spent doing laundry, reading books, and playing games on PBSKids.org.  Corrie is a great helper, and she loves to do laundry with me. 

But what she really loves ... is dressing up.  While I folded clothes, Corrie put together her outfit for today:
  • blue striped tights
  • pink Hello Kitty socks
  • black pants
  • flowery pink skirt
  • blue Hello Kitty jumper
  • orange polka dot dress
  • Tinkerbell sneakers
And she wore it ALL day long.  I suggested that wearing all those clothes would make it difficult to use the potty, but she didn't care.  What's a little discomfort when one's goal is high fashion?

Just to show off Corrie's sense of style, here she is at "Meet the Teacher" day at her preschool.  So glamorous!

Grab This Button

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Some Daddy Pictures

Grab This Button

I just realized I hadn't put up any pictures of Emmett and Ben.  That's partly because if Emmett has Ben, then I'm probably 
   (a) sleeping
   (b) accomplishing something around the house 
   (c) pumping!
   (d) entertaining/refereeing/separating Evan and Corrie or
   (e) running errands.
I'm not hanging out taking pictures!  :)

Here's a couple of quick pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Emmett is a great dad!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Hello, October!

This is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  There are lots of activities happening on-line and in real life to educate and inform people about Down syndrome.  I am thankful because I have a lot to learn.

We didn't know that Ben would have Down syndrome when he was born.  We knew that it was a possibility, but we didn't really think about it much.  We prayed for a healthy baby, and we talked about how having a third child would change our family, but we didn't anticipate having a baby with special needs.

Maybe sometime later this month, I'll write about the prenatal testing and the diagnosis at the hospital.  I don't have the time right now to find the words.

I will say that I spent Ben's first month worrying more about his eating, peeing and weight gain than I did about Down syndrome and congenital heart defects.  However, now that he is 2 months old, with a good eating schedule and gaining weight, I am trying to learn more about Down syndrome. 

The most fun thing has been reading blogs.  There's a challenge going on right now called "31 for 21" - the idea being that people should post once/day for a month to raise awareness of Down syndrome.  I'm not participating because I'm only 2 months into the journey.  However, I plan to READ LOTS of these posts.

You are welcome to join me!  :)  And please, give me a heads-up if you know of a great resource or read a fantastic post.

Grab This Button

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ben Update - 8 weeks

Ben is 8 weeks old today. How did that happen? I know I sound like every other mom when I say "They grow up so fast!"

He's doing great. First of all, he's adorable.* Ben loves to be held and snuggle. He only gets squirmy and complaining when he's got gas or needs to poop. Otherwise, he's perfectly content to peer over my shoulder at the world.

He's also gaining weight. At the cardiologist's appointment when Ben was 6 weeks old, he weighed 10 pounds. Yay, Ben! It makes all the pumping seem worthwhile. Speaking of pumping, we are still pumping and nursing. Praise God, we have gotten into some semblance of a routine. I'm trying to pump at least 7 times a day, but the timing varies.

As far as Ben's health is concerned, he's now on medication to help his heart. The hole has not gotten any smaller, and the left side of his heart is beginning to dilate in response to the additional blood flow. The cardiologist prescribed two medications (diuretics) that will help Ben's body process fluids. The meds don't do anything for the heart directly, but they do lower the blood volume that is passing through, so his heart doesn't have to work as hard. The doctors haven't given us any indications about when surgery might be. We're supposed to keep an eye on his eating and his breathing.

Ben also got to see the Early Childhood Intervention case manager and speech therapist this week. We have a few tongue and cheek exercises to do - hopefully they will help with nursing and eventual speech. Ben's been cooing - just a little - sooooo sweet.

He sleeps 6-8 hours at night. He's usually sleepy in the mornings, but has more awake periods later in the day (especially in the afternoon when Evan and Corrie are home from school). His eyes are tracking more; he likes looking at toys and people for short bursts.

We're enjoying the little guy!

* I know I need to post pictures - here and on facebook. I have a lot of them on my camera, but haven't taken the time to download them on the computer. That's one of my goals for the weekend. For now, you'll just have to believe me when I say he's cute ... and handsome ... and delightful in every way. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Best Dog Ever

Rosalani. Rosy-Dosy. Rosabelle. Rosie.

Our sweet Rosie died on Sunday, August 28th, in the afternoon. She was 13 years old, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and our first child.

Rosie joined our family a couple years after we got married. Emmett's parents' dog Josie had puppies; one of them was Rosie. My in-laws kept Rosie for 2 years, but then had another litter of puppies and needed to downsize their dog population. They asked if we would like her, and we cautiously agreed. They gave Rosie a tranquilizer, put her in her crate, and stuck her on a plane to Chicago. Poor dog! She avoided her crate forever after.

Some of our favorite Rosie memories:
  • Snoring. She slept on our bed in the wintertime, and in our room all year long. Her snoring was distracting at first, but we grew to appreciate the sound.
  • Whining. Emmett's dad taught her to whine when he kissed her cheek. When we came home from work, we'd sit on the floor with her, and she would "talk" to us. When she was young, her whole body would wag when she was happy.
  • Comfort. Rosie was a lap dog ... a large lap dog, but a lap dog nonetheless. She was lonely after being home by herself all day. As soon as I would sit on the couch, she'd hop up, flop on my lap and settle in for lots of petting.
  • Eating. Rosie's stomach was made of iron, and her hunger had no limit. She could clean out her dog bowl in less than a minute. Woe to any visiting dog who liked to take his time eating; Rosie would lurk nearby to gulp unguarded food. She would also eat any food that we left out. Over her lifetime, she ate a bag of snack-sized Kit Kats, several loaves of bread, dry salad dressing packets, carrots, popcorn, and more. She turned her nose up at mushrooms, but that may have been the only food I ever saw her refuse.
  • Thunder and fireworks frightened her. Many times Emmett would wake up in the middle of a stormy night to find Rosie standing on his chest, breathing heavily into his face.
  • She was gentle and tolerant with the kids. Even when our toddlers were at their grabbiest - yanking her ears and tail mercilessly - Rosie would roll her big brown eyes over at us to ask, "Why do you let them do this?" and then she would carefully get up and move to a kid-free corner.
  • Rosie liked to think she was tough, but we knew better. Once, she found a dead moth on the sidewalk. She stopped a few feet away, pointed her nose right at it, and growled, but wouldn't get any closer. Another time, she cornered a large cat in our apartment's backyard. Rosie growled and hovered, but didn't know what to do. Finally, Emmett picked her up to bring her inside. He said that if he let her stay there, the cat was going to get impatient and claw Rosie in the nose.
  • When she lived in Hawaii, she would chase racquetballs with the other dogs. In Chicago, she would run to where the ball landed, then casually walk away, leaving the ball untouched in the grass. Instead, she liked to run up and down our hallway, chasing a rope or a bone.
By the end of her life, Rosie had slowed down a lot. She still loved to eat, but she spent most of her time snoring on the tile floor in the kitchen. We had decided that when she stopped eating, we would consider having her put to sleep.

On the morning of the 28th, she didn't eat her breakfast. That afternoon, she went outside and lay down in the yard. Emmett carried her in; he and I sat with her and petted her as she quietly stopped breathing. And then we cried.

We miss our sweet girl.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Funny Kids

Evan: I ain't like dancing. And I ain't like kissing.
Me: We don't say "ain't." It's not a real word.
Evan: Yes, it is. That's how cowboys talk.
Me: Are you a cowboy?
Evan: No, but we do live in Texas.

Feeding Ben ... the first 6 weeks

I'm typing this one-handed, with a baby snuggled on my shoulder. Please forgive any spelling or capitalization errors. :)

Ben will be 6 weeks old tomorrow! He's a pretty typical newborn. He's super-snuggly and still likes to tuck his feet up so he's in a little ball when you hold him. He's mellow - only fusses when he has gas or needs to poop. He has the most adorable gummy grin, but I've only been able to see it when he's sleeping. Evan insists that Ben smiled at him - twice - yesterday, but I missed it. Hopefully we'll get some real smiles soon.

The hardest part of this whole shebang - so far - has been breastfeeding. I nursed both of my other kids for at least 18 months, and it was a precious part of my mothering experience. When we found out we were pregnant with Ben, one of my first reactions was to celebrate that I would be able to breastfeed again. I've realized that I value breastfeeding not for the milk itself, but for that guaranteed intimate time with my baby.

Ben's first week was rough. He latched fine, but was sooooooo very tired - I think because of the jaundice and because of his heart. He'd nurse for a couple of minutes, then he'd totally knock out. I kept having to wake him up (not an easy feat!) and I got worried that my milk supply was dwindling. He was getting some milk, but he wasn't peeing or pooping as much as he was supposed to, and I didn't want my little boy to end up back in the hospital for dehydration. I rented a hospital pump and called all the La Leche League people and lactation consultants that I could find. I also did some research about nursing babies with Down Syndrome. It turns out that breastfeeding can sometimes be difficult - cardiac problems can mean low energy, and D.S. babies often have low muscle tone, so their mouths and cheeks aren't strong enough to stimulate milk supply and get enough to eat. Breastfeeding is supposed to be particularly beneficial for D.S. babies because they need the immunity boost from breast milk AND the act of nursing is good exercise for their facial muscles.

I have been using the breast pump and feeding him breast milk in a bottle for the last 6 weeks. On the one hand, the milk is really good for him. On the other hand, I'm spending a lot of time hooked up to a machine instead of snuggling with my baby. We still try nursing a couple of times a day, and Ben seems to enjoy it ... but he isn't getting a whole lot (as far as I can tell).

I know a few women who pumped exclusively for 6 months to a year, and my admiration for them has grown by leaps and bounds. It is hard work. I haven't figured out a schedule yet, so I try to plan outings in 90 minute intervals, because I have to pump every 2-3 hours. No longer can I do several errands at once.

Emmett has also had to sacrifice additional time and energy while I pump. I can't do many other things while I'm pumping, so he's stepped up in every way - getting dinner, doing baths and bedtime with the older kids, and running assorted errands. He would have had to do some of that anyway, but he's gone above and beyond the call of duty. It also helped to have family in town for a few weeks. My mom and Emmett's parents took turns visiting. They entertained Evan and Corrie, fed Ben bottles while I was pumping, and did multiple loads of laundry and dishes.

Not being able to breastfeed has been ... humbling. I didn't realize how proud I was of my ability to feed my babies! The first Sunday back at church, Emmett pulled out a bottle to feed Ben, while I felt self-conscious. I don't think anyone at church cares - at all - about how I feed my children, but evidently, I do.

I'm pleased that we've made it through the first month, and I'm committed to pumping through the end of month two. We'll decide on a monthly basis what our family can manage. Fortunately, I've been able to store lots of milk in the freezer, so that will help if I do need to stop pumping. And I'm holding out hope that as Ben gets older - and his heart improves - we'll be able to establish a regular nursing relationship.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ben's Birth Story

Several months ago, Emmett learned that he might be out of town for several conferences in July. At the time, we didn't really think about the baby coming so early. Evan and Corrie each arrived 3- 4 days before their respective due dates. This little guy was due on August 7th, so I figured he would show up around August 4th. That makes sense, right?

Eventually it turned out that Emmett would only have to go out of town for one set of meetings in Washington, D.C. from July 27-29. I didn't start to worry about it until mid-July. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions, and it occurred to me that I should make a plan in case the baby came early. My friend Crystal and her husband have two boys - Evan's best friends - and they generously agreed that the kids could stay with them if I went into labor while Emmett was out of town. Several other people said that they could come with me to the hospital for the delivery, if needed. (What a blessing! It still amazes me that we've only been here 2 years, and God has already provided friends that will stand with me through major life events).

On Friday, July 29th, the kids and I had a busy day. They went to VBS in the morning, while I ran some errands. I also had a college student friend come over to earn some extra money - she cleaned all the bathrooms and the kitchen for me. We had a special lunch at Burger King after VBS. After quiet time at home in the afternoon, we took a trip to Old Navy to buy Evan's school uniforms. By the time we got home, we were all hungry and tired. The kids watched Phineas and Ferb while eating dinner, and I rested. Those darn Braxton Hicks contractions! (Or so I thought).

When I was pregnant with Corrie, there was a day where I had so many contractions, I was sure she was coming ... and then after a while, the contractions stopped. I figured this could be the same thing. Contractions, semi-regular, started about 7 p.m. or so. But they were pretty far apart. By 8 p.m., I began to consider that I could be going into labor. I called Crystal and asked if the kids and I could come over and hang out. I packed a suitcase for the kids and one for me, and then we drove over. I sat and talked with Rob and Crystal while the kids watched movies. By 11 or so, it was clear that I was actually having regular labor contractions. At midnight, I emailed a few friends and family to say: Pray! I think the baby's coming.

Meanwhile, Emmett was still in D.C. I called him every so often to tell him what was going on. He managed to get a seat on an earlier flight, but it still wouldn't arrive in McAllen till 10:30 a.m.

We put the kids to bed after the movie, and I hung out in the living room, timing contractions. I told everyone to go to sleep because it could take a while. At midnight, the contractions were 10 minutes apart. By 12:30, we were at 5 minutes. I woke up Crystal and she drove me to the hospital.

According to my hospital ID bracelet, I got there at 1:23 a.m. I think the contractions must have been coming every 3 minutes at that point. The nurses in triage checked me and I was dilated 7-8 cm, 80% effaced. (I totally asked for an epidural and they said, "maybe." Ha! There was no time). Off we rushed to L&D.

By the time I got around the corner to L&D, I was pretty much ready to go. My doctor showed up shortly. Crystal got a little queasy at all the blood and hospital drama, so she exited the room when the doctor broke my water. Bless her heart! I didn't care WHO was in the room at that point - just somebody, please get the baby out! I pushed and pushed, and when baby finally popped out, the doctor and nurses said "Ohhh! That's why!" It turns out that Ben was face up, so that made things a little difficult. Ow. He arrived at 2:11 a.m. He cried - he has such a funny, squawking cry - very cute. Everyone said he looked great. I got to see him and hold him and nurse him almost right away.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Introducing ...

Benjamin Paul Tomai
born July 30, 2011
2:11 a.m.
7 lbs, 4 oz
20 1/2 inches

I'll probably try to write up his birth story in the next couple of days. This was my quickest labor and easiest delivery by far - even though Emmett was out of town and missed the birth. Can you believe it? :)

Ben is a delight! Corrie and Evan can't stop giving him kisses or patting him or asking to hold him - and he seems to enjoy their company just as much. He's breastfeeding pretty well - he's a sleepy baby, so sometimes it's hard to wake him up for a feeding. He and I are finding our groove.

Ben has many of the clinical markers for Down Syndrome. We're expecting to get the official confirmation and diagnosis sometime in the next week. In the meantime, he received all sorts of tests at the hospital and now has appointments with a couple of specialists. The biggest concern right now is that he has a large ASD (atrial septal defect) - a hole between the two atria of the heart. We'll start addressing that with medicine, and then consider surgery when he's a little bigger (4-12 months old).

We're so glad that Ben is a part of our family. Right now, we're especially glad to be home from the hospital, so we can start doing life as a family of 5.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Easter just happened, so I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of the kids. Corrie paused to pose for her picture, but Evan was too busy chasing eggs.

Mother's Day is this weekend. Here's the text of the card Evan made for me at school:

Happy Mothers Day!
May 2011

Dear Mom
Yor my favrit ever I
like yuo yor the best
ever yor osum (awesome)
and yor my favrit
for ever. You are
like a ros I luv yuo
frum Evan to Mom

Made me melt! :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

More Funny Kids

Didn't want to forget these:

Evan came home from school talking about how they meditate during the day. I think that's fine. His teacher probably needs a little peace and quiet, and encouraging the kids to sit and think quietly sounds smart to me. It's only a little weird because they sit in a specific position to meditate: legs crossed, hands held out, palms up and fingers together. Evan and I talked about what meditation means, and I suggested that we learn some verses about meditation. So ... we've memorized Psalm 1:1-3.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Evan has it down pretty well. One of these days I'll correct his few wording errors, but right now I enjoy them too much. He likes to say "which WIELDS its fruit in its season and its leaf does not TWITHER." Makes me smile!

And Corrie ... still wants to be a princess, but she's also strongly influenced by her older brother. When we were playing in the backyard a few weeks ago, she hollered, "Look out! There's a Decepticon! We must defeat him!" After a few minutes of "shooting," she announced, "I will throw a princess bomb at him." That was the end of the evil Decepticon.