What we did and when we did it. Sometimes.

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review (From the Kids)

For the past couple of years, I have read and considered the New Year's Eve reflection questions from Tsh at The Art of Simple.  This year, she included 10 questions for kids.  For quiet time today, I gave Evan and Corrie a list of questions to answer.  Tonight, we talked about them before bed.  

Their answers:
 1. What was your favorite thing from this past spring?
Evan: My favrite thing in spring was school ending.
Corrie: I started dance balay.  (ballet)

2.  What was your favorite thing from the summer?
Evan: Going to a ranch.
Corrie: We went to swimming.

3.  What was your favorite thing from this past fall?
Evan: Football.
Corrie: Start Canterbury (She started kindergarten this year).

4.  What was your favorite thing from this past winter?
Evan: Watching Frozen.
Corrie: Frozen.

5.  What was the hardest thing that happened?
Evan: UIL was the most challenging thing this year.  (Math competition)
Corrie: Spilling a deeck.  (drink) - She spilled a drink about half an hour before answering this question.  We had friends over, so she was embarrassed, and she had to change clothes.  There were many tears.

6.  What were the best books you read this year?
Evan: Percy Jackson and Lloyd Alexander
Corrie: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

7.  Who were the most important people in your life?
Evan: My family, then David and Aidan
Corrie: Blue blankie

8.  What was your favorite thing that you learned this year?
Evan: Math
Corrie: To Read

9.  How do you hope this year will be like this past year?
Evan: More books
Corrie: School

10.  How do you hope this next year will be different for you?
Evan: Less writing.
Corrie: New dance class.

Emmett and I were talking about Ben's possible answers to the questions.  I think Ben's favorite thing in every season is Signing Time, plus he loved our trip to the ranch.  Ben hasn't had too many hard things ... he did fall into the coffee table when he was practicing walking a few weeks ago.  Favorite book: probably Eric Carle's From Head to Toe.  He also loves to read the Signing Time books and sign to himself.  Most important people:  I think he would say his mother.  :)  His favorite thing he learned: the feelings signs (happy, surprised, grumpy, scared, etc).   We hope that next year will be similarly fun for him and his siblings - they enjoy each other very much.  And we hope that next year will have Ben learning to walk - and hopefully saying (not just signing!) some words.

I have many editorial comments about Evan and Corrie's responses.  For example, Corrie has been learning SO MUCH this year - riding a bike, reading, math - it's amazing to see all the ways she's grown in just the past few months.  However, I will use this space to record and remember their responses.  And maybe later I will post my thoughts about them.  :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving morning ... the kids woke up early.  Evan headed downstairs to the computer.  Warcraft 3 was calling his name.  The other two snuggled in bed with me and their dad for a while.  Corrie read books to Ben, and they practiced signing together.






I have been falling behind on Ben's signs lately.  I'm sure he knows over 100, because he's got the first three Signing Time books completely figured out, plus many words from the other videos.  The problem is that I don't always watch the videos with him, so he starts signing emphatically at me ... and I don't always recognize the word.  Groan.

We cooked yesterday and today, and made enough food to feed an army.  This is the first time we've had Thanksgiving with just the five of us - usually we are with family or we do a big potluck with friends.  

Today's menu:

smoked turkey (made by H.E.B.)
spiral sliced ham (also H.E.B.)
cornbread dressing (my grandmother's recipe, with some edits from my mom and my Aunt Alice)
green beans (cooked forever, in good Southern style)
creamed corn (my mom's recipe)
sweet potato casserole with pecan topping (Nan Smith's grandma's recipe)
broccoli casserole (Mrs. Grayson's recipe)
cranberry sauce (the jellied kind from a can)
homemade rolls (made by Emmett and Corrie, with a little support from the bread maker) 
pumpkin pie
Tarheel pie (mostly chocolate and pecans, Pat McNair's sister's recipe)

I noted all the recipe origins because I felt so close to home today ... even though we are hundreds of miles away from family.  We used recipes that my mom has used for years, from women who were faithful members of our church in Mississippi.  There is something special about Thanksgiving - about the traditions of food and giving thanks, and remembering church communities and loved ones near and far.  

Corrie is a super pie baker.  Before starting her work in the kitchen, she needed to model her apron in front of the mirror for a few minutes.  Note the obstacle course of chairs and assorted tables behind her.

While Corrie baked, Ben climbed.

He navigated his way from one side of the room to the other, climbing on the chairs or the coffee table most of the way.  Proud boy!

And here's a photo of the food:

We got out the good china, and Corrie found different Thanksgiving decorations to put on the table: a cornucopia and a mini flower pot turkey. 

The next picture makes me laugh.  For those of you with young children, you'll see how we arranged Ben's seating and the food.  Maybe next year, we'll use the whole table.  

Bless his heart, Ben was so hungry by the time we ate!  He took a nap before dinnertime, and kept signing "eat!"  "please!"  "more!" but we tried to hold him off until everything was ready.  We put him in his chair as we got all the food out, and he started praying by himself.  Let me give thanks so I can eat!

 By the way, I hope everyone saw the left side of Evan in that next to last picture.  We didn't take any official family photos today, and he spent a lot of his free time enjoying computer games.  :)  He did shuck the corn for me, though.  

And we all hung out together a lot today: while Ben was napping, the rest of us played a game (7 Wonders - it's a German game, lots of fun).  Then after dinner, we took a family walk/bike ride through the neighborhood, then talked to family in Hawaii and Mississippi on FaceTime.

We have much to be thankful for: family, friends, health, home, church, community, and God's great faithfulness and love.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Quick Post (31 for 21:6)

I'm still not quite recovered from the Walk on Saturday.  I had a great time, and have enjoyed reading people's facebook posts, and seeing pictures and videos.  I need to think about it a little more before I write about it.

Let me send you to one of the 31 for 21 posts that I have really enjoyed this week:

How to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month if you don't have a child with Down syndrome

There have been so many more excellent posts, that I couldn't decide which other ones to feature!

If you want to read more about families who have a child with Down syndrome, please check out this great list of blogs that are participating in 31 for 21.  Maybe you will find a new favorite blogger.

And here's a quick picture of me and my silly guy at the Walk yesterday.  He's such a ham!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Step UP! (31 for 21:5)

Today was the Step Up for Down Syndrome Awareness Walk.  We had 1000+ people come out to walk, to dance, to cheer, and to party.  My heart is full!

Just a couple of pictures from the day!  I will add more tomorrow.  :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

ACK! (31 for 21:4)

I am going to be away from the blog today.  Why?

Do you remember my post from a few weeks ago?  Remember how I was so amazed and excited that we were going to have 275 people at our very first Step Up Walk?

The Walk is tomorrow, and there are officially 968 people registered.

Praying friends, please pray!  I think everything is going to be AWESOME.  But, oh, it is a bit terrifying at the same time.  Every day I get calls from people who just found out about it and want to register, and every day I am delighted at the prospect of meeting more local families who have a loved one with Down syndrome.

We are kicking off Down Syndrome Awareness Month in a big way!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Meet Gillian. (31 for 21:3)

Nearly a year after Ben was born, someone sent me this link: To the New Mother of a Baby with Down Syndrome.  The sender was a friend from a former workplace, and she had been part of a church that supported the blogger on missions.

It was timely, because I had been reading Gillian's blog for a while, and I loved it.  She said thoughtful things, she said hard things, and she said good things about God and His love and presence in the hard things.  

And she has two daughters with Down syndrome, two without.  And she lives in Chicago and loves MOPS and in the happy imaginary world in my head, I totally felt that we would be BFFS if we ever actually met in person.  

Yes, I am creepy online stalker lady.  And it went a little farther than that - I actually invited myself over to her house when we went to Chicago on vacation!  It turns out that we couldn't have a playdate because our schedule was packed, but I did get to talk to her on the phone.  

Since then, I've emailed her (only every once in a while - I try to reign in my creepy stalker tendencies) with questions about church and kids with special needs.  I told her about our group, and I've asked for prayer.  

She's been helpful and friendly and I have plans to marry Ben off to one of her girls one day.  And maybe Evan, too.

Since beginning to read her blog, I have wondered about her story.  I knew the basic framework: missionary in Ukraine gives birth to daughter with Down syndrome.  Returns to United States with family.  Eventually adopts another child with Down syndrome from Ukraine.

I wanted details!

And now, finally, I have them.  Gillian has written a memoir called Sun Shine Down.  It's a short read, but it gives more depth and detail to the events of her life.  I think the book is too short - there are parts where I wish she would tell me more, but I love the story.  It seems trite to say "she has a way with words," but ... she does.  She's an excellent and insightful writer.

This book fleshes out the hard parts of Polly's birth and diagnosis.  Gillian writes about her failings, and it is freeing - especially as a Christian mom - to hear someone say that they failed.  One of the poignant lines in the book: "I know of other mothers who have children with disabilities, and right away they loved them and decided to fight for them.  That isn't my story."

I have an extra copy of Sun Shine Down that I would love to give away to one reader.  If you would like to enter the drawing, please leave a comment on this post.  I will draw the winner next Friday, October 11th. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Down Syndrome Awareness Month (31 for 21:2)

These first few days of October will be a bit scattered on the blog.  I'm one of the organizers for the Rio Grande Valley Down Syndrome Association's FIRST EVER Step Up for Down Syndrome! Awareness Walk.

I'm going a little bit crazy!

But it's been awesome to see how the community is coming together for this walk!  We have had lots of sponsors sign on, and the City issued a proclamation today - proclaiming that October 5th is Step Up for Down Syndrome Day in Edinburg, TX.  The other highlight for today was deliveries!  Our fact posters arrived, and they look amazing.  The RGVDSA wristbands got here, too.  And the ribbons for the end of the Walk.  It was fun to answer the door today.

Tomorrow, I have T-shirts to deliver and lots of bottled water to buy.

I feel like I should share a story or something for 31 for 21 instead of just talking about my to do list.

One recent highlight in our local Down syndrome community was that one of our teen boys scored a 70 yard touchdown in his middle school football game.  He's a great kid, and the school held a pep rally for the team, then gave him the game ball.

So, today's fact: kids with Down syndrome can play football.  If they want to.  And if their parents say it's OK.  And they can score.

Woo hoo!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Down Syndrome Awareness Month (31 for 21:1)

Everybody knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I'm pretty sure it's Pastor Appreciation Month, too.  It is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month. 

This month, I'm going to *try* to blog every day.  There's a whole group of bloggers who write every day in October, and they call it "31 for 21."  Down syndrome happens when a person has three copies of the 21st chromosome.  Hence, 31 (days) for 21 (the chromosome).

I have some ideas for this month - starting with a couple of book reviews and giveaways, some picture posts, and at least one or two posts about the Step Up for Down Syndrome Awareness Walk that I'm helping to plan.  I'll introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers, and hopefully give you some more information about Down syndrome.  It'll be fun!

It will be good to get back in the habit of writing on the blog.  This space has been neglected for a while.

So - happy October!  Thanks for following along.

If you want to check out some other blogs who are participating in the 31 for 21 challenge, check out the list here.

And here's a photo of Ben back when he was my little snuggly baby.  Such a sweet boy. 

Now he's my big toddler - climbing on the furniture and throwing his goldfish crackers on the floor. But he's still a great snuggler.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This Big New Thing.

Y'all, this is a long story.  I haven't written about it because it's been so crazy.  Amazing, but overwhelming.

Ben was born in July of 2011, and he was diagnosed with Down syndrome.  I needed community.  I had questions.  I was scared.  I found some supportive groups on-line, but I craved real relationship with other families in my town.
God provided in a major way.  When Ben was six months old or so, I met my friend Nellie.  She and I had both been asking our Early Intervention case manager for contact information for other families.  After enough asking (the squeaky wheel gets the grease!), we each received a list of 5 families or so.  She called me, and our support group was born.

Nellie and I met for the first time at a local park.  We talked, and I watched her beautiful boy crawl and play and wave - and it was so good to have a friend, and to see the hope and possibility in her son (who is one year older than Ben).

We thought it would be fun to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day 2012 together, so we divided up our little list of families and invited everybody to a potluck.  Seven families came.

Over the next couple of months, in fits and starts, we began to become a group.  A community.  We had a moms' night out.  Then a pool party.  Then we started meeting monthly for dinners or playdates.  Gradually, more families joined the group.  We met some parents of teenagers with Down syndrome.  Families of elementary students joined.  At our second World Down Syndrome Day event, we had around 100 people attend.  Boy, was it noisy that night at Chuck E. Cheese!

We started talking about events.  What else could we do?  Several of the moms suggested a Buddy Walk, so we learned about that.  In order to do a Buddy Walk, you have to have a sponsoring nonprofit.  We thought we had a partner organization, but that fell through.  I cried.  Then we regrouped.  An awareness walk!  Not really a fundraising walk, but an awareness walk for families to come and get together and celebrate our family members with Down syndrome.

The group did a BBQ plate fundraiser that raised just over $2000 for the walk.  And we started planning.  Our little support group filed papers to register as a corporation in Texas.  We elected a Board of Directors.  We created a website and a facebook page.  We've filled out forms and sent off information, and we are now in the process of becoming a 501(c)3.  Until that comes through, we are established as an organization through my church, BT McAllen.

Now here we are.  Two weeks before our very first Step UP for Down Syndrome Awareness Walk.  As far as I know, this is the first Walk of its kind in our community - the Upper Rio Grande Valley.  As of this moment, over 275 people have registered to attend as either walkers or volunteers.  Several local companies have agreed to sponsor the Walk.  College students, churches and Harley Davidson groups are coming to volunteer.  We've reached out to local doctors, therapists and schools - and have had a great response.

I wish I had the right words to say here.  I am amazed and thankful and blessed and excited about this organization.  About these people.  About the awesome opportunity we have to celebrate Ben and Roman and Alex and Ella and Tommy and Sammy and Celinda and Melinda and Mason and Emily and Karina and Madi and ... and ... and ... lots of people that I haven't gotten to meet yet.

And I'm astonished by the doors that have opened for us across the Valley.  And across the US - the Down syndrome community has been very welcoming; we've received help and support from our neighbors in Brownsville, the Down Syndrome Association of Houston, the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas, friends in Kansas City and Chicago, and Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action.  Not to mention the other moms that I've met on babycenter.com and facebook!

I was elected President of the RGVDSA, which is kind of crazy because Ben is only two years old.  I feel alternately terrified, enthusiastic and completely inadequate.

But I know that I need to have real people in my life to answer questions, to celebrate my child, to understand my fears and concerns, and to help us navigate through this journey.  I want our community to be a place that values and includes people of all abilities.  I want to advocate for my son, and I want to provide resources for other families who need support - whether they have a baby with Down syndrome, an older child, or an adult family member.

For my praying friends, would you pray for me and for our group as we put this organization together?  And pray for this Walk!

If you're local, join us at the walk.  And everybody could like us on facebook.  :)

This is the start of something big.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Houston: Visiting Doctors and Being Tourists

Just before school started, the boys and I made a quick trip to Houston.  Ben had an appointment with the developmental pediatrics team at the Down Syndrome Clinic, and Evan wanted to eat dim sum.  We figured we could kill two birds with one stone!

We made the most of it.  It's a six hour drive up to Houston, so we got up early on a Wednesday and drove till mid afternoon.  Our first stop was the Down Syndrome Association of Houston.  The executive director, Alejandra Lima, and her staff were so welcoming!  She gave us a tour and lots of information about how the DSAH operates.  (This was vitally important because we just established a Down Syndrome Association in my town, I'm the president, and we need all the help we can get.  One of these days I'll write about that whole journey.)

Next, we were supposed to visit one of my facebook friends - Anna - whose daughter Sophia is beautiful, close to Ben's age, and has Down syndrome.  I was excited to meet Anna and Sophia in person, but we were so rushed for time that I had to call and cancel.  Such a bummer!

Instead, we drove into Houston to stay with one of my friends from college (Regina), her husband and little boy.  Evan was super-impressed with their house and their dogs.  He was also full of energy.  It didn't take long for him to break a picture frame (sigh), so we got him out of the house and took him to the park to use some of that energy.  That night, Regina and I stayed up talking about college and life afterwards ...

Thursday was the big day!  Ben was on the waiting list for this clinic for over a year, so when he finally got the appointment, we were a little bit excited.  I got lost on the way, but managed to arrive on time anyway.  We hung out at the clinic from 8:30 a.m. to noon.  First Ben saw a speech therapist, then an occupational therapy team, then a pediatric resident and pediatric fellow, and then finally the developmental pediatrician.  And a friendly genetics student sat in on most of the sessions.

Overall, everybody was impressed with Ben.  The staff were positive and encouraging.  After the assessments, both speech and OT said that Ben is developmentally around 18-21 months.  So he's got about a 3-6 month delay.  That sounded good to me.


Sidebar:  I struggle to know how to think about Ben's development.  I'm with him every day, and every day I see him learn something new.  I think he's a fantastic kid and I don't tend to worry too much about how he's doing.  However ...

I just received the written report from the Clinic, and it recapped everything the speech and OT people said, but it also included a Gross Motor assessment of 8-9 months.  Whoa.  That was a punch in the gut.  I know he's not walking, but I don't think of him as being that far behind.   I don't usually quantify his delays.  I just think "well, he's not walking, but he's doing way better at trying to stand independently."   

Silly boys at the doctor's office:

Back to Houston.  We finished up at the clinic and went on a search for dim sum.  Regina had given us the name of a place in the neighborhood, so we headed there instead of driving out to Chinatown.   Ben knocked out in the car, and slept in the stroller all through lunch, so Evan and I had a pleasant mom/son date.  He devoured two plates of siu mai and sampled everything I ordered.  Fortunately, Evan wasn't a fan of the taro, so I got to eat all of those.  My favorite!

Then we were off to the Space Center.  This was a great place for Evan!  We took a tram tour of the Space Center, so we got to see the real Mission Control ("Houston, we have a problem"), a mock up of the International Space Station and the real Saturn V rocket - HUGE.  

Evan loves to learn, so he explored and listened and read placards while I entertained Ben.  When we got back to the main building, Evan climbed a climbing wall while Ben and I played with balls in the "Angry Birds Space" kids play structure.

We didn't get to the Space Center until 3 p.m. so we stayed until it closed at 6 p.m.  We drove through Houston, had dinner at Cracker Barrel and found a hotel.  Friday morning (my birthday!), we drove a couple of hours to a little town near Victoria, where we had lunch with another friend, then did another 4 hours to get home.  Whew!  And then - we went to Open House at the kids' school.

We packed a lot of activities into our Houston trip, and I look forward to going back again!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Signing Time Birthday Party

Ben just turned two.  The big kids and I were talking about possible party themes, when Evan made the brilliant suggestion: Signing Time! 

Ben LOVES Signing Time.  At any given moment, he will scoot to the TV or the laptop, point at the screen, then do the sign for "time."  If you don't seem to get it, he will sign "Baby Time."  For some reason, he never signs "Signing."

What tends to happen at our parties is that I plan several different games and activities, then the kids show up and play whatever they want for 2 hours, occasionally swinging by the kitchen to grab a snack.  Sure enough, that's what happened for Ben's party.

Here are the games/activities/decorations that I planned:

"I love you" fridge magnets.  
          I bought a pack of paper hands from a teacher's supply store, pulled out some foam heart stickers, glue sticks, crayons and magnets for the kids.  The idea:  fold down the two middle fingers so that the hand signs "I love you."  Decorate with crayons and heart sticker.  Attach magnet to back.  Voila!  I just put all the supplies out on a craft table, and kids occasionally stopped to make one.

Pin the flies on Hopkins.  
          I don't know if Hopkins likes to eat flies or not (I've only seen him swallow a banana!), but we figured that would be an easy game.  I drew a picture of Hopkins and hung him on the wall.  We didn't end up playing with Hopkins, but Corrie liked the picture so much that she hung it up in her room afterwards.

Learning a little sign language.
          I thought it would be fun to teach the kids a few signs.  For example, "I love you" with the magnets, "frog" with Hopkins, "jump" with the bounce house in the backyard, "eat" for snacks, and "Happy Birthday."  Not a whole lot, but a little something.  Didn't happen.  :)  The only time the kids were all together was for the birthday song, and that was kind of spur-of-the-moment.

          I just like to make cookies.  These are mostly B's and stars.

Happy Birthday Banner
          The pictures aren't very good, since the banner was hanging in front of the window, but I printed out the letters for "Happy Birthday Ben" in a sign language font and strung them up with a couple of the paper hands.  It was cute!  You'll have to take my word for it. 

          Corrie was the main cupcake decorator.  We bought these clapping hands and stuck them in the cupcakes.  Some cupcakes got lots of green sprinkles, some got none.

The birthday boy:

Ben is wearing an "I'm this many" shirt from ThingsVerySpecial on Etsy.



          I don't have any pictures of the favor bags, but I printed out coloring pages from SigningTime.com.  I also ordered some of these cute "I love you" crayons from an Etsy shop.  This is not the shop I used, but these are the same basic crayons.  I was surprised at how little they were, but they were packaged in sets of 3 and looked cute!

Moon Jump:
Here is Ben checking out the bounce house after a clothing change.  No bouncing for him, but he loved climbing in and out.  The bounce house has nothing to do with signing, but the party was for kids of all ages, so it was nice to have one outdoor activity.

I want to have Ben's birthday party AGAIN, so we can do all the activities!  It was a lot of fun.  :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ben at Two Years Old

Happy Birthday, Benjamin! 

Two years ago, your story began with the doctor announcing "He is perfect!  Beautiful!"  She was so right. 

Look at you now!  Where has the time gone?

At two, you are
  • climbing up and down the stairs
  • signing more than 50 words
  • not afraid to voice your opinion
  • saying "moo!"
  • crawling (a real crawl, not just army crawling)
  • still scooting around on your bottom - you are incredibly fast.
  • pulling to stand and cruising around furniture
  • climbing onto the arm of the couch and "jumping" onto the cushions (learned from Evan and Corrie)
  • clasping your hands together to pray before dinner

You love
  • your brother and sister
  • Signing Time
  • pizza
  • Signing Time
  • singing and dancing
  • Signing Time 
  • bounce houses


Some of my favorite things you do:
  • tricking people into singing (you start doing the motions, I start singing the song, then you stop doing the motions and laugh at me)
  • tattle-telling on people (when Emmett denied you something, you fussed.  I asked what was wrong, and you pointed indignantly at your father.  Ha!)
  • throwing toys down the stairs ... or out the front door ... or out of the garage ... Our front step often has a collection of plastic balls, Fisher Price Little People and shoes that you have tossed out.  
  • You also hide toys (and other items) in the most convenient kitchen cabinet or drawer.  When we were on our summer trip, half of the baby monitor went missing.  "Was Ben playing with it?"  "Yes."  "Check the dresser drawers."  And there it was.

You are fun and smart and sweet and a bit of a troublemaker.  You make my heart smile.  I love you!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

(3) 21 - A Truth, A Tip, and a Photo

A group of bloggers in the Down syndrome community are putting on a blog hop: three questions on the 21st day of the month.  And yes, I do know that I missed the 21st.  The hop is open for a week, for the slackers among us.

Better late than never, though.  :)

(1) A Truth

Our life is pretty normal.  Our family goes on vacation.  We grill.  We play board games.  Our kids alternately love each other and drive each other crazy.  Today, Evan and Corrie played Minecraft together while Ben napped.  When we ran errands, Ben pulled Corrie's hair.  Repeatedly.  We said, "No, Ben.  Be gentle."  Repeatedly.  After dinner, the big kids created a massive sofa cushion obstacle course and explored it with Ben.  Evan refused to share a toy and Corrie whined.  Everyone groaned when it was time to clean up.  Pretty typical, I think.

That's not to say that we don't get stressed or frustrated.  We love all of Ben's therapists, but it does take time to see them all - and it's annoying over the summer because all of the kids are home.  And I do worry about medical issues - Ben's heart, his hearing, etc.  

But ... life still feels normal.

(2) A Tip

Use sign language with your baby!  I didn't do much signing with my other two kids - just the very basics. "More" and "all done" sufficed until they started talking.  After Ben was born, I read lots of recommendations online about Rachel Coleman and the Signing Time videos, so my in-laws got them for Ben for his first birthday.  

Signing has been so much fun!  At just about two years old, Ben doesn't have any spoken words yet.  He babbles, he makes lots of noises, but no deliberate words.  But he signs ... and signs ... and signs.  I deeply appreciate that we can communicate.

(3) A Photo

Here's my boy at our vacation cabin in June.  My little rancher-in-training.  :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer. Weeks Four and Five.

These weeks alternated between busy-ness and boredom.  Do other people's summers have that same pattern?

Emmett was out of town for a few days.  During that time, the kids and I celebrated cows at Chick-Fil-A, ate lots of macaroni and cheese, and hung out with some friends.  

I also stayed up way too late multitasking.  I watched Season One of In Plain Sight on Netflix and did lots of blog-reading and researching Down syndrome and Down Syndrome Associations.  The highlight of the weekend was a big pool party with our local Down syndrome families.  It was our second annual pool party - and we had more than 80 people there.  

I took a sweet friend (all star babysitter, house-sitter, college student and cleaning help) with us to the pool party because there was no way I could take the 3 kids by myself to a pool party AND try to be helpful.  When we left the pool, my friend looked at me and said, "I keep thinking that this - the party, all these people - this happened because Ben was born."


Benjamin learned to climb onto the arm of the couch and jump off onto the cushions.  He doesn't speak yet, but he sits on top and counts to three: "Ah da.  Ah da.  Ah daaaaah!" as he throws himself onto the cushions.  This is just what his brother and sister do - even though none of them are supposed to be climbing on the couch.


Meanwhile, Emmett returned - hooray!  And we had a typical week - pool, playdates, TV, some board games at home.  Evan had a couple of school friends over.  Emmett, Evan and Corrie bonded over Minecraft.

Evan saved up enough money to buy a new Skylander.  He's been spending a lot of time in this position.


Corrie is in a great creative stage of life.  We recently watched Mulan and Mulan 2, and Corrie was inspired to design her own princess costume.  Note the bow, the fan, the chopsticks in her hair, the bag of goldfish tied at her waist, and her attitude.  I love her.