Fall 2012

Fall 2012
[learning to live a perfectly imperfect life]


He may have great teeth-brushing skills...

but self-dressing skills need some work.

Wordless Wednesday

Look Who's....

... fifteen!

... got a little brother and sister who love her lots!

... got a little helper to blow out candles!

... designated the upper right hand corner of the cake has her own! (And apparently doesn't have parents who have taught proper cake-cutting etiquette...)

... got parents who admire the person she is and love her lots!

Happy Birthday Jordyn!

(No comment on the party theme... can we just say, "There's always next year." and leave it at that?!)

boldly blogging and protective thoughts

Blogging boldly. It's something that many in the "blogosphere" are talking about, and a few blogs I follow have begun to blog that way. Boldly. Sharing much more than the "best" of your life. Writing about true, deep feelings, even if you may not be completely proud of them. (And maybe posting a picture of yourself without make-up every now and then.)

I will be honest. I have been selective in what I have blogged about. Now, obviously, anyone who blogs needs to be selective. I always think about my family first -- not only about our safety and security, but about our own privacy. No one needs to know everything about your life. I mean, Jeremy doesn't necessarily want me to tell you about the day he.... well, nevermind. And I think about the kids, years from now, reading my blog... I don't ever want them to feel as though I shared too much. (So, you know, the picture I have of Carter walking around naked wearing his cowboy hat -- it's hilarious and adorable, but I'll just keep that photo to myself. Okay, maybe the fact that I even told you I have picture like that was sharing too much... sorry Carter.)

Moving on.

Ever since we had Rylee, I have felt a sense of responsibility to share the good things about having a child with Down syndrome. And there are tons of good things, so sharing them hasn't been difficult by any means. However, when there are struggles, I feel hesitant to share. I guess it's because I feel as though most people will associate the struggles with the Down syndrome -- and sometimes the struggles are associated with the Down syndrome, but many times they are associated with simply having a child.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what I'd like people to take away from reading my blog, and one of the things I'd like is for people to relate. When I share a funny story about the kids, I want someone to think, "Oh geesh! How cute! That reminds me of the time MY son stuck play-dough up his nose!" (No lie... I actually have a story about that, which involves Carter crying on my lap, and me with a tweezers in my hands... but for now I'll stick to the topic at hand.) However, getting people to relate means getting them to relate to the funny times and the trying times... I want someone who may be struggling with feeling a certain way to read my blog and think, "I'm so relieved... I'm not the only one."

So here's to blogging boldly. Here's to sharing it all... well, most of it, except for the time that Jeremy.....

* * * * *

We were heading to the store for groceries. I could hear Carter in the backseat, playing with his Buzz Lightyear. I didn't catch everything he was saying, but I did hear that Buzz was "coming to the rescue." (Not sure who he was rescuing, but lucky them.)

Anyway, we have to drive by Rylee's school (where she attends Kindergarten) on the way to the store. I glanced down at the clock on my vehicle's dashboard... 9:45 am. Recess time. My curiosity got the best of me, and since Carter and Buzz were content in the backseat rescuing someone, I decided to pull into the school and take a peek at the kids (ok... Rylee) on the playground.

I pulled into a parking spot -- a spot that disguises our vehicle behind another, yet allows me to get a partial view of the playground. Surprised to see that Rylee is not on the swings, I looked around to find our little girl in a bright pink coat and cute pink crocheted hat, given to her by one of her teachers.

Bright pink is not hard to spot. Beside the school building, close to the Kindergarten/1st Grade entrance door, was a mound of snow. And, perched right on top of the mound was a bright pink little being. She had her back to me, but I could tell that she was digging in the snow with her mittened hand.

I wish I could've just thought, "Oh fun! Playing in the snow!" and driven off to resume our trip to the store. But I couldn't.

Rylee was alone. And my head began to race.

Is she alone because she wants to be? Is she enjoying her time digging in the snow by herself? (She doesn't seem to like the snow very much at home.) How long has she been digging in the snow? Is she doing this because what she really wants to do she's not able to do because she doesn't know how to ask her friends that she'd like to join them in doing what she wants to do with them? Have I taught her how to ask her friends to join them in play? (I know I've worked on this with her, but maybe I haven't spent enough time on it.) Where is the teacher on the playground? Should I ask them if she is always alone on the playground? Should I ask that an Aide come to recess with her and help her with social skills if she needs help? (But then again what child wants an adult to follow them around on the playground.) Is she....?

Seriously. All of this in a matter of seconds.

Now, Rylee has an amazing, magnetic personality. She has friends at school. Her teacher says wonderful things about the kids in her class, and often tells me who Rylee plays with or what she and her friends did on a particular day together. After school, she is dropped off by school transportation and she has several classmates who ride with her. When the door opens, laughter and friendship ooze out of the Suburban. So, really, there is no justification to my thoughts.

But I still think them.

Just then, the bell rang. Kids began racing toward their class line, laughing with their friends and stomping snow off their boots.

Rylee continued to play in the snow.

More thoughts....

Did she hear the bell? (Maybe we need to get her ears checked again.) Does she know what she needs to do? (Yes, of course she does. But then maybe she forgot.) Will the teacher on duty ask her to get in line? Will she listen? What if the teacher on duty doesn't care that Rylee's not listening? (I want the same expectations held of Rylee as are held of the other kids.) What if she doesn't remember which line she needs to get in? (Maybe I could ask that a mark be made on the cement where she needs to line up.) What if she is trying to get up out of the snow but it's difficult for her muscles? What if...?

My eyes are still fixed on the bright pink coat. Then I saw a girl, a few inches taller than Rylee, go over to her and extend her hand. Rylee reached up and took the girl's hand. With a little help, the girl pulled Rylee to her feet and ran off to one of the 1st grade lines.

My eyes got a little teary.

Rylee patted her snow-covered mittens together, and snow sprinkled the cement below her. She glanced up, her eyes peering out from under her now-crooked crocheted hat. As her classmates began their trek inside, she joined them at the end of the line. Within about 10 steps, she was inside, and the doors shut behind her.

The overwhelming feelings of protection. Of wanting to be right there, every second of the day, helping to teach her and keep her safe and happy and loved and.... wow. It was almost too much to think about.

Was I feeling these things because I am a parent? A mom? Would I feel these things if Rylee didn't have Down syndrome? Would I feel them as strongly? Will I feel this way about Carter?

The former teacher in me often has talks with the mom in me. For a second, sitting there in the parking lot, the teacher reminded the mom of a few things.

I wouldn't be doing my job if I was with her every second of the day. My job is to teach her how to be as independent as possible, and how to ask for help from others when she needs it. My job is to teach her how to handle situations that may not go as planned. My job is to give her the skills and self-confidence to interact with others; to make and keep friends. My job is to make her feel loved, and teach her to love herself.

Carter asked if we were at the store yet, and I was suddenly reminded that he was patiently waiting in the backseat for me. (Apparently Buzz was done with his rescuing for the day.)

But before I put the car in drive, I realized that my job was the same for all of our kids. Down syndrome or not, our kids need me to teach them so, at some point, they don't need me.


I know that's what my job is. But some days, the mom in me wants to tell the rational teacher in me to keep her opinions to herself... and follow Rylee to school.

(Photo courtesy of David Lauritzen.)

Wordless Wednesday (GO VIKINGS!)

Wordless Wednesday

Not Me! Monday (on Tuesday)

So time for confessions... you know -- of things I haven't done these last few weeks.

(This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing!)

I did not to talk on the phone with my sister, even though I heard our kids digging into the pantry, sneaking a box of Teddy Grahams, and running into the bathroom to enjoy their snack. I would not be so lazy as to let them do whatever they wanted... even though I asked them to wait for a snack. I did not continue to talk on the phone, even admitting to my sister that I knew exactly what the kids were doing. I always follow through with what I say, even if I could use a little break.

When receiving flowers from my husband before he left on his 4-day snowmobiling trip to Wyoming, I did not immediately wonder why he was giving them to me. I knew it was because he was thoughtful and loving. My mind did not think, "How much money is he planning on spending on this trip?" or "He is coming back from the trip, isn't he?"

I did not finally give in and agree with Rylee that a "W" was an "M"... just because she had worked so hard to write "Mom" for me. I would never lead my child to believe that something was what it wasn't.

During these last few weeks of potty training, I have not let my kids run around the house without pants on, because it was just easier for everyone involved. I would not be so lazy as to abandon proper clothing-wearing etiquette. (And, I most certainly did not have to just double-check the spelling of 'etiquette' on my computer dictionary.)

And, last but not least, I am not posting this "Not Me! Monday" on a Tuesday because I didn't get it posted last night. I did not fall asleep last night while rubbing Carter's back, trying to get him to sleep... which brings me to admit that we definitely do not have our 2 1/2-year-old still sleeping in bed with us. (That topic, in itself, is a lengthy "Not Me!" post... I'll save that for another Tuesday Monday.)

What have YOU not been doing?

staying warm

When it's this cold outside...

you've gotta find something to do... inside.

{Notice only the most skilled artists paint with their tongues peeking out. As their paintings dry, I'm waiting for a call-back from the Metropolitan Museum of Art... I'm sure they will want to consider these for their next exhibit.}


Driving to Target this morning...

Carter: "Mom, drive faster!"

Me: "Carter, I have to drive slowly because there is snow and ice on the road, and it might be slippery. We want to be safe."

Carter: "Well, Yight-ning Keen (Lightning McQueen) drives faster than you."

Me: "Yes, honey, I'm sure he does, but he doesn't have to drive on snow."

Being compared to a cartoon race car... I think that's a first for me.


Tonight Rylee & I were sitting at the table, finishing up our before-bedtime snack of berry yogurt smoothies... Carter had already finished his and had begun his nightly ritual of begging to watch Toy Story. (Fortunately he was begging from the hallway, and his plea had not become desperate... so I could postpone my "no" answer and his meltdown for now.)

It was quiet for a minute or so, and then Rylee turned to me and said,

"Best. Friend."

I was quite surprised. It had come out of nowhere, and though Rylee does pretty well answering questions we ask her, she doesn't often initiate conversation.

So I asked her, "Best friend? Who is your best friend?"

With a yogurt-smoothie moustache, she replied,


*sniff, sniff*

I leaned over, gave her a kiss and told her I loved her.

Moments like these make everything worthwhile.

November 2009
(Photo courtesy of David Lauritzen.)


You can never wear too many stickers.

It's all about accessorizing.

Wordless Wednesday

Picture Imperfect

Daddy made a sledding hill, just the right size. Carefully-carved steps would lead the kids safely up the hill and to the top, where a platform would allow their sled to sit as they got on. The kids would giggle with anticipation, and Mommy would be there, ready to take pictures of huge smiles as they glided down the hill...

The kids would spend hours, sliding down and climbing up... sliding down and climbing up. Daddy would even jump on the sled behind them on a few runs, and Mommy would be capturing every minute of it.

Picture perfect.

* * * * *

The little boy did, in fact, climb the carefully-carved steps,

but chose not to sled. Throwing snow was much more fun.

The little girl did not come out to join in the snowy fun. She decided that she was a "watch-from-the-window" kind of girl.

So, the little boy played in the snow...

and tossed a few snowballs Mommy's way.

He decided that he would give the swings a try, even though the mounds of snow underneath made pumping his legs impossible.

Daddy pushed,

and the little boy giggled with anticipation of the next big push.

When the little girl saw that swinging was an option, despite the heaping snow piles, she got on her winter gear and headed out.

She gave the snow a little taste,

and laughed with rosey-red cheeks.

The little boy and little girl played on the snow pile,

and slid down on their tummies.

They smiled

and they laughed,

and when it was time to go in, Daddy was there to help them trudge through the deep snow...

and Mommy was there to capture every minute of it.

Picture imperfect.