What we did and when we did it. Sometimes.

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

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Ben!

You are ONE year old.

You give high fives.

You are becoming noisy!  "Buh, buh, buh" is the babble of choice, and you loudly protest when things aren't going your way.

You are my easiest baby.  By far.  You are a great sleeper.

You love to eat, and I am probably too cautious with what I feed you.

You are incredibly flexible.

You are a ham.  You love the camera.

You push up SO high on your arms, but don't like to bear weight on your knees or feet.

You move from place to place - you can roll and push yourself backward, and I think you want to crawl.  I often find you wedged under furniture because you have pushed backward.

You grab noses, glasses, earrings and necklaces.
When someone is holding you and looking you in the face, you love to grab their hair with both hands and pull the person toward you, so you can give them a big open-mouthed kiss.
You love your siblings and want to be a part of the action.

You love music.

The shape sorter is your favorite toy.

You love music.

You love to wave.

You reach for people - for hugs, to be picked up, etc.

You sign "all done!" with enthusiasm.

Your smile lights up our lives. 

This has been quite a year.  Ben, I could not imagine our lives without you. 

We love you, sweet boy.  Happy birthday, Benjamin Paul!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Tooth Has Arrived

Ben has his first tooth!  It has been working its way up through his lower gum for quite some time now - heralded by drooling and an insatiable desire to chew on toys, blankets, and his brother's finger.  Our whole family welcomed its appearance (except maybe Evan and his fingers). 

I realized that Ben's birthday is Monday, and I want to be sure that it's on the record that his tooth arrived sometime around the 11.5 month mark.

Here is a slightly fuzzy picture of the new addition:

Eww.  Tooth plus half-chewed lima bean.  Sorry about that.

Ben refused to show it off, so I had to take matters into my own hands.

Ta Da!  

There it is.  It's kind of sharp, so consider yourself forewarned if he grabs your finger and wants to chew.  (Evan has learned from experience, evoking memories of this famous video).

Yay for growing up!  And ... sigh ... I'll miss that big toothless grin. 

Although he doesn't seem to have any other teeth in the works, so I ought to be able to enjoy this smile for a while longer:

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Toast!

We celebrated Uncle Elliott's birthday today.  Elliott was Emmett's brother; he passed away in 2008.  Since we don't live near Emmett's folks, we recognize and remember Elliott each year by going out for pizza and soda.  The kids rarely get to drink any soda at all (and if they do, it's non-caffeinated), but on this special day, everyone drinks Pepsi.   

Ben is in surprisingly good spirits despite the fact that he doesn't get pizza OR Pepsi.

Note that the soda is far, far away from the baby, but he still has hope.  Some day, son ... some day.

Why is this our tradition?  Well, Elliott loved pizza and Pepsi and Doritos and french fries.  (He introduced Evan to the wonders of McDonald's fries at a mall food court several years ago.)  The kids love pizza and soda, and it's a good way to help them remember their uncle.

We talked about favorite memories:  Emmett and Elliott swimming in the pool growing up, snow-skiing in the mountains, Evan watching Elliott playing Warcraft at Gamma and Papa's house, and Corrie trying so hard to grab his facial hair when she was just a baby.

We miss you, Elliott.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Conversations

Having the kids home and around all the time has been tiring, but fun.

Tonight, Evan asked me, "Mom, what is your dream?"  (I'm guessing this was inspired by the movie Tangled).

Me: My dream?  What I want to do when I grow up?
Evan:  Your dream.  Not what you dream about when you're asleep, but what you dream of.
Me:  I guess my dream would be to tell people about Jesus and help children and families somehow.
Evan:  I have two dreams.  One is to be an admiral.
Me:  That's pretty cool.
Evan:  And the second dream is to see a sperm whale and a giant squid have a battle.


Corrie is quite a character.  She likes to play with dolls and make up stories. 

I blame Disney, because ALL of her stories have the mother dying - and sometimes the dad, too.  She'll walk the doll over to the dollhouse and say sadly, "My mother died.  I have to take care of my brothers and sisters."  Then the doll will boss all the other dolls around. 

Yesterday, I asked her how the mother died, and she said, "She had too many birthdays.  She was 13, then she had too many birthdays, like 100, and she died." 

Did I mention that my birthday is coming up in August?  Fortunately, I'm not nearing 100 yet.


Lately, Ben loves to wave.  If anybody smiles at him, up pops his hand.  Today at the cardiologist's office, he waved majestically to one side of the waiting room, then looked over my shoulder and waved at the other half of the room.  He has a very political wave.  He looks like he's running for mayor.


Thanks to all who participated in the Easy Canvas Prints giveaway.  Lizz is the winner!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Staying Cool on a Hot Summer Day

Reminder:  There's a giveaway going on!  Check out this post if you'd like to win an 8x10 canvas.  :)


Today was a good day.  We got up, had an easy morning, then went to church at 11.  When we dropped Corrie off in her Sunday School class, I realized that only 2 of the 4 classrooms had teachers.  There were a LOT of kids combined into those two classrooms.  I offered to help, so Emmett went to the service without me.

After church, our small group went out for a long lunch at Taco Palenque.  One of the couples in our group is expecting their first baby, so we went out to celebrate.  Summer is spotty for church and small group attendance - everybody's got vacation and family plans - so it was good to see friends.   We talked a lot about labor and delivery, recovery and breastfeeding ... Hopefully some of our comments were helpful (and not just terrifying).  They are going to be great parents, regardless.  :)

When we got home, we discovered that the A/C is broken!  Tragedy.  After cleaning out some things and looking it over, Emmett's pretty sure we need to replace the motor.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone can come out tomorrow to repair it.  

In an effort to beat the heat, we took a long family walk around the neighborhood, then played in the yard for a while with the hose.  

Evan got everybody wet.  He was a little intense.  :)  Corrie ran around and squealed a lot.

Ben wasn't sure what to think about the water, but he loves hanging out with his daddy.

 The kids came inside, took showers, and played around till bedtime.  Evan and Corrie love to make Ben laugh.  Raspberries!

Good times.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mooooo! Free Chicken.

If you don't have a Chick-fil-A in your area, you are missing out.  The chicken is yummy, the lemonade is sweet and refreshing, the playplace is excellent for little ones, and the milkshakes hit the spot.  Not to mention, they like to encourage reading - the kid's meal toys are often books or CDs instead of plastic toys.  (And if you already have the book, you can turn it in for a free ice cream instead).  We love Chick-fil-A!

The one near us has fun promotions all year long.  I'm sure it's a national thing, but we're glad that our local franchise participates.

One fall evening, we all wore our jerseys to CFA so we could get free chicken sandwiches.  We were proud to represent the Chicago Bears.  Everybody else was wearing UT, Texas A&M, or Dallas Cowboys garb.  That's what happens when you live in Texas.

In the spring, Emmett took Corrie to CFA for a Daddy Daughter Date Night.  You had to make reservations, and they had decorated part of the restaurant in a fancy-ish way: flowers, paper placemats, and little booklets with suggestions of things for dads and daughters to talk about.  It was super-cute.  (Not that I saw it in person, but they also had someone take a picture of each daddy/daughter pair at their booth and sent it home in a cute card).

Today was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A.  If you were dressed like a cow, you got to eat for free!  Woot!  We are all about the free food.  Corrie, Evan and I used black fabric paint on white tshirts 2 years ago for this same promotion.  Fortunately, we still have our cow shirts.  Unfortunately, we're going to have paint a new one for Evan next year.  His was a little skimpy.  :)

We decided our newest calf should participate, too.  I gave Corrie a black sharpie and a white onesie, and she went to town.


I didn't manage to get a picture of the three cows together.  And - oh darn - I forgot to take a picture of myself in my cow shirt too.  Bummer.  :)

Evan would like me to mention that we got adult-sized meals for free.  So he had 12 chicken nuggets ... and ate them ALL!  Corrie split her 8 nuggets and fries with her friend Zoe, and I ate all 8 of my nuggets, but couldn't finish my fries.  They even gave us a meal for Ben.  I said, "He's not going to eat a meal."  But the woman at the register said, "If he's dressed like a cow, he gets a meal."  Score.  We took the extra meal over to Zoe's mom.

Thanks, Chick-Fil-A!  You are awesome.

Note: I am not in any way affiliated with Chick-Fil-A.  :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Musings on Faith and Down Syndrome

There's a blog hop happening every couple of weeks this summer, hosted by Meriah.  The topic for this time is "Faith and Disability."  The big question:  How has your faith (or lack thereof) influenced the framework within which you view/experience disability?  How has that "Faith Lens" affected your perspective?

There are some wonderful bloggers - excellent writers - who all have different opinions and perspectives on faith.  I'm not sure how well I can articulate my perspective, but I will try.

I can only speak to the disability that affects my life: Ben's Down syndrome.  And then my faith:  I'm a Christian, raised in the church, asked Jesus to be King of my life in junior high.

The main way that faith impacts my view of Down syndrome is that ... I believe that God is sovereign and that Ben's life has value.  This is not to say that I didn't - or don't - struggle with Ben's diagnosis sometimes.  I definitely cried a lot when Ben was first born.  And I still have days when my spirit feels tender and easily bruised.

At the same time, I haven't felt punished by God.  Ben is a rock star.  Anyone who thinks he's some kind of punishment has obviously not spent any time with him.  I haven't felt specially chosen either.  ("God gives special children to special people" is silly, I think).  I mostly feel like God designed our family, and He thinks that the 5 of us - me, Emmett, Evan, Corrie and Ben - ought to be together.  We will love and challenge and laugh with and encourage each other as best we can.

My "Faith Lens" lets me see God's fingerprints all over my life.  He's introduced me to amazing people in unexpected ways.  I met a Talk Tools-trained speech pathologist at a Pampered Chef party.  One of our neighbors down the street has a little girl with Down syndrome.  My doctor recommended I meet one local mom, then another friend mentioned the same mom, then I met her for real when we happened to be at a birthday party for one of her 4 year old neighbors.  And among all these new relationships, God has given me longtime friends and family who have listened and asked questions and tried hard to be there and understand.

While I was pregnant with Ben, our family was trying to learn verses together.  We read Psalm 139 and chose a section to memorize (vv 7-11):
"Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
     If I make my bed in the depths, you are there!
If I rise on the wings of the morning
    or dwell in the far parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast."
When Ben was first diagnosed, I prayed and thought about Psalm 139 a lot.  Even there!  Even here, with this vulnerable baby, God is here.

On the days when I feel lonely ... or incompetent ... or angry ... or overwhelmed - and there are many days when I feel one or more of those! - I find rest and security in knowing that He is present.  I may be a mess, but He is not.  

I want so much to do everything right - to parent wisely, to be a thoughtful and compassionate wife and friend, to be faithful and responsible, to improve the world around me, to say the right thing at the right time - and this year has hammered home to me that I cannot meet that standard.

Faith allows me to be OK with not meeting the standard.  Faith tells me that HE will take care of my kids, my family, my hopes and dreams and plans.  Faith tells me that I cannot run from Him or hide from Him.  He sees me and loves me even at my most inadequate moment.  And He loves Ben and all of his 47 chromosomes!  Just like I trust God to hold me fast, I choose to trust Him for Ben ... and Evan ... and Corrie, too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Easy Canvas Prints Review and Giveaway

Giveaway is now closed.  Lizz is the winner.  Congratulations!  I'll be emailing you tonight.  :)

Hi y'all!  Who's up for a giveaway?  :)

I entered a giveaway on another blog (mommylife.net) and won a free canvas print from EasyCanvasPrints.com.  This was super exciting because Beckie had recently taken some great photos of the kids, and I wanted one for the living room.  I'd been looking around for a good deal on a canvas, and considering which picture I wanted. 

Here's the picture I (finally) chose:

 And here's how it turned out:

Doesn't that look great?  I could choose whether I wanted the image itself to wrap around the edges or to frame it with a color.  After playing around with the black & white images - and trying a couple in sepia - I opted for the full color version.  I love how the blue edging turned out.

The website is easy to navigate.  The only hard part was deciding which picture to use! 

I got a 16x20 canvas.  Here's a picture of it hanging in the living room:
Ignore the glare from the flash.  It's hard to take a picture of a picture.  :)

I also decided to sign up for the email sales from EasyCanvasPrints.com, and I've gotten several emails with quite good deals on canvas - free shipping is often included, and that makes a big difference.  I look forward to ordering from them in the future.  Perhaps Christmas presents?  I think one of these would make a great gift.

And now for the giveaway:

EasyCanvasPrints.com has offered one 8x10 canvas to one of my readers.  Winner must be a resident of the continental U.S. (Sorry, Hawaii and Alaska can't be included).  Just leave a comment on this post - make sure your email is included somewhere, so I can reach you.  Contest will close at noon on Tuesday, July 17th, and the winner will be chosen randomly.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

An Early Summer Recap

It's hard to believe that June is already over.

May flew by because we had so much going on:

     1.  My mom came for a visit.

     2.  Emmett's parents came for a visit.

     3.  Emmett was out of town for a week.

(No picture of me pulling my hair out!)

And then we kicked off June with a visit from a friend from Chicago.  (At least, we knew her in Chicago, but now she lives on the East Coast).

Melissa's visit got off to a crazy start, with our unexpected stop in George West and Alice, but I got to spend a lot of uninterrupted time with my friend - and we were safe, despite being in the middle of nowhere, and catching rides from strangers.

The rest of June was not quite as exciting.  :)  VBS, a day at the zoo, free bowling, and lots of afternoons at the pool and mornings at the splash park.  We have had some busy times, and other not-so-busy times. 

An example of our not-busy times:  we watched all three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon series from Nickelodeon on Netflix.  And had a family party to watch the series finale! We made chocolate cake balls to represent Earth, had Blue Gatorade for Water, Cheetos Flaming Fries for Fire, and Pretzel Sticks for Air ... the pretzels reminded us of Aang's staff.

We've also done some home decorating: I tried to move the futon downstairs by myself and it got stuck!  Evan happily played Xbox alone downstairs while Corrie, Ben and I were trapped upstairs.  Hooray for my husband who came home from work to free me from my self-imposed prison.  :)  I should have taken pictures, but didn't.  

On Monday, a friend of mine kept the kids in the afternoon so I could organize my life.  I took a huge pile of paperwork and binders to a local coffee shop and went through everything.  Whew!  Now I kind of have a handle on Ben's therapies, medical care, etc.  There's a lot of information to manage.

And now we're already five days into July.  Our July 4th was pretty low-key.  Emmett had to work, and the kids complained when I tried to get us moving for the parade, so we just hung around the house and cleaned up some.  For dinner, Emmett grilled.  He and I ate fajitas, BBQ sausage, pasta salad and pico de gallo, finishing up with some homemade cherry crisp and vanilla ice cream.  The kids?  Well, the kids ate oatmeal.  (Their choice!)  I think Evan and Corrie were just in a mood yesterday.

Here's a couple of pictures from a recent park morning with friends and errand-running afternoon.  The kids wore themselves out in the sun, and were generally pleasant and helpful when we stopped by the drug store, the church and the post office.

My new favorite picture of the three of them together:

Now we have only a few weeks before our massive road trip.  I'm excited!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Eleven Months ... and Counting

I can hardly believe that Ben is ELEVEN months old already. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this first year of his life. Most of my thoughts have to do with myself - especially recognizing ways that I have been changed since becoming Ben's mom (and a mother of three).

I have lots of posts percolating in my head, but I'm not sure if they'll ever make it onto the screen. We'll see.

Check out my handsome and happy fellas! Aloha shirts are a fashion staple in our household. Evan picked out his Hawaiian-inspired outfit for church, so I grabbed an aloha shirt for Ben, too. Emmett always wears an aloha shirt on Sundays, so it was a prime photo opportunity.

Corrie didn't want the girls to miss the picture-taking!  We don't match, but - isn't she fun?  She layered one dress on top of another one, then added black leggings, sparkly shoes, and her hot pink Hello Kitty hat.  I enjoy her sense of style.  (Although I don't always let her style herself for church). 

I've been neglecting the blog lately, but hope to post more ... especially as Ben's first birthday approaches.  Thanks for hanging in there with me!