Fall 2012

Fall 2012
[learning to live a perfectly imperfect life]

A New Look

I'm trying some new things on my blog!

Playing around with the size of my photos...

working on a new header... (coming soon)

and because I am a font-junkie, trying out some new funky fonts.

However, in trying to stick to my recent motto of "perfectly imperfect..."

the font on my headers is funky. Grrrrr.

And not "cool funky"... like it's supposed to be that way.

But "not-so-cool funky"... like "Looks like she tried to change her font but it's all goofy because the top and bottom of the font is getting cut off."

Yup. Not cool funky. Goofed-up funky.

But, you know what? It's late and I'm tired and I can't figure out why it's doing that or what I can do to fix it.

So, I'm going to bed.

And I'm leaving my blog "perfectly imperfect."

Updated: Font fixed! (Well... not really fixed. Just picked a different font. Not sure why the other one was getting cut off.) And since I'm trying hard not to be a perfectionist, I won't tell you that after posting last night, I honestly couldn't fall asleep knowing that the font was goofy. So I got back up (at 1 am) and picked a different font. I know. I'm working on it. Baby steps, my friend. Baby steps.


And so the melting begins.

Flashback Friday (Boy, Oh Boy)

Carter, just minutes old

I have to admit... when I was pregnant with Carter, I was nervous about having a boy. (Not a big surprise to know that I had to know what we were having.)

I don't have any brothers, so I had nothing to go on. I knew girl. Jordyn and Rylee were girls (actually, they still are, now that I think about it) and that's what I knew.

To be even more honest, I was also nervous about having a baby without an extra chromosome. (Jordyn was 6 when I met Jeremy, so I hadn't been there to help care for her as a baby.) Rylee was my first baby -- she had Down syndrome (still does, now that I think about it), and that's what I knew.

Emily Perl Kingsley's "Welcome to Holland" equates having a child with a disability with going on a trip... you're thinking you're going to be traveling to Italy (having a "typical" child) but wind up unexpectedly in Holland (having a child with a disability.)

What's ironic about it all is that Carter -- not only a boy, but one without extra chromosomes -- was more like my Holland in many ways.

When Carter was 2 days old, they said we could take him home. "Really? Don't you keep him a little longer? He seems so little... I'm just not sure I'm responsible enough to take him home yet." (Rylee spent nearly 50 days in Intensive Care.)

When Carter began drinking from a bottle immediately, it was a strange experience. "How did he know how to do that? And wait... don't we have meds to put in his bottle every 4 hours?" (Rylee never drank from a bottle -- she went from tube-feedings to drinking from a sippy cup... and she was on heart medications for many months.)

When I changed Carter's first diaper, I didn't know how to wipe... or where to wipe... or what to wipe. Which way does "it" go when you put the diaper on? Up seems somewhat like an accidental shower waiting to happen... but down looks painful. (It goes without saying that with Rylee, this was not an issue.)

It was all new to me. I had been to Holland. I knew Holland. I liked Holland. I felt very lucky to have been someone chosen to go to Holland.

And now I'm going on another trip? To Italy? Not sure I know how to pack for Italy....

But, I discovered quickly that, just like Holland, Italy is a wonderful place! They are both beautiful countries. They are different, but equally amazing.

Carter will turn 3 in April, and I can't help but think about the little person -- the little boy -- he's become in 3 years. He's delightfully goofy. Imaginative and patient. Talkative and distractible. Intent and spunky. Thoughtful and loud. Dramatic and loving.

It makes me go back to the days that I was so unsure of boy.

I didn't know boy.

But now I do.

And boy, do I feel lucky.

(Wet) Wordless Wednesday

Gold Medals

If they had an Olympic event for putting your swim goggles on in the bathtub in the cutest crooked and lop-sided way...

I think they'd have to give two gold medals.

Meet Kelle

I can't say how I would've felt about Rylee's diagnosis of Down syndrome if we had found out the minute she was born. We already knew she had an extra chromosome.

So, I did not experience what this mom experienced.

But, it doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter because this mom is a good writer... no, an extraordinary writer. And extraordinary writers write so well that it doesn't matter if you experienced what they did -- you still feel as though you can relate.

I didn't know about her blog until the post in which she so miraculously describes the way her family entered the world of Down syndrome.

I haven't gone back to read about her life before the day she describes. Instead, I am joining her on her journey from this point forward.

Whether you have a child with Down syndrome or not, you will be touched.

With amazing photos, breathtaking words, and a remarkable story, she has captured me.

I leave her blog each time with a feeling of such love.

And it doesn't seem right to keep this feeling to myself...

Wordless Wednesday (My Valentine)

(Photo courtesy of David Lauritzen.)


Waking up to find this...

We may not always like what Mother Nature gives us...

but sometimes, she's quite the artist.


Three individuals...

their own personalities,

their own strengths,

their own presence.

All here to offer the world

something unique.

But they do share a commonality.

They fill

my heart

with love.

Happy Valentines' Day

A New Love

Not sure that I'm exactly thrilled about someone's

newly-discovered love

of changing clothes randomly

throughout the day.

Learning As I Go (1 Year Old)

Was it really that obvious?! I gave you absolutely NO hints! I guess if I'm going to do more contests during my 2nd year of blogging, I'll have to learn how to be a bit more mysterious!

Sandy is the winner! Sandy and I met several years ago during Partners in Policymaking -- she is a huge part of the program in South Dakota and is a wonderful advocate for individuals with disabilities! My prize for this contest is a copy of Gifts 2, and honestly, I couldn't think of a better person to receive this! Sandy, this book is on its way to you! Enjoy! (And don't forget to read about a little girl named Rylee on page 109!)

So, one year ago yesterday, I posted my first entry on Learning As I Go. I had wonderful intentions of blogging about many of the things I've learned this last year... a perfect post to mark the occasion; something creative and meaningful and relatable; maybe toss in some of my favorite pictures from the year. Something I could do every year on my "blog anniversary."

I had lots of "what I've learned" ideas this last week... some came to mind while making supper or driving to town; some while getting the kids in their jammies; some are captured on post-it notes on the kitchen counter or on my nightstand; some were thought of and forgotten before I could even jot them down.

It had to be a great post. Creative. Meaningful. Relatable. Fun pictures.
Posted on January 12, 2010.

It would be perfect.


It didn't happen.

Somewhere between Carter's swimming lessons, making supper, helping kids write on Valentines, doing laundry, working on designing a website for our Down syndrome association, eating too many M&Ms, and sleeping, the post slipped through the cracks of my to-do list.

So, I come to write my post now with nothing but random thoughts. Nothing too creative. Nothing very meaningful. And definitely nothing relatable since the thoughts are so random no one would ever quite understand what I was talking about. And not on January 12, 2010.

Not what I had in mind. Not perfect.

Immediately, I feel bummed. I didn't do what I wanted to do. I didn't capture the thoughts I wanted to capture. And now, my thoughts have drifted away.

Then, I go back to my first post, and I realize the irony in all of it. I had somewhat forgotten what my first post even said.

"Perfectly imperfect."

I began my blog that way.

If I hadn't decided that "perfectly imperfect" was okay... I may not have even started my blog a year and a day ago. (And I can't even begin to think about all I would've missed out on without my blog this past year... the memories I've captured, the blog friends I've made, the other friends I've connected with.)

For those of you out there who struggle with "perfectly imperfect," maybe this will be meaningful and relatable to you. For those of you who are perfectly fine - even happy - with "perfectly imperfect," then I actually have a lot to learn from you.

I know that every day I learn something new -- who I am today isn't who I was yesterday. My blog is an ongoing display of that.

Maybe my biggest lesson this year is that perfectly imperfect is, well... perfect.

I didn't write the post I wanted to write on my 1 year "blog anniversary."

Instead, I wrote this.

It's perfectly imperfect.

And I'm learning to be okay with that.

What Happened...

one year ago today?

Alright everyone... my very first contest! Please leave your guesses in the comments! Remember you don't have to be a registered user... just click "anonymous" (but be sure to put your name in the comments!) You may guess as many times as you want! I will have a prize for the first person who guesses correctly!

I may start giving hints if everyone starts getting way off track, (like guessing that the kids picked up their toys without being asked...)

If you have never commented on my blog, now's your chance!

Ready, set... GO!

Oh wait... and just because no post seems quite right without a few pictures, here are the kids. They aren't complaining about the weather (like many adults do)... they are simply enjoying what Mother Nature gives us!

South Dakota

It has snowed here. A lot.

And even though she has tried to keep up and continually dig us out,

the snow just keeps coming.

And so, with feelings of exhaustion and defeat, she has given up.

After all, we live in South Dakota.

What's In a Name

Enjoying each stage a little bit longer... it's what Rylee allows us to do.

June 2005 - 1 year 7 months old

She has always enjoyed writing and drawing.

January 2006 - 2 years 2 months old

She's never done it for long periods of time... usually just a few minutes is long enough for her.

October 2006 - almost 3 years old

And though she hasn't always drawn on what she's supposed to...

April 2007 - 3 years 5 months old

she has enjoyed it.

When she was ready, we began teaching her the letters in her name. And we knew the time would come. She would write her name, and we would jump up and down, give her big hugs, and tell her how proud we were of her for working so hard. It would be so exciting to see it.

For awhile, we had to use our imaginations. Some "letters" looked a little silly -- a few extra lines here, an extra loop there -- some letters were written out of order, and some not at all. But, we continued to praise Rylee for trying so hard. And we waited to see it... R-y-l-e-e.

December 2007 - 4 years 1 month old
"lee" for "Rylee"

Rylee really preferred to write her way. She loved writing and drawing on the driveway in the summer. She never really told us about her drawings, but you could tell she loved it by the way her little body hunched over, nose inches from the cement, drawing intently.

August 2008 - 4 years 9 months old

We loved seeing her be creative, but we were still waiting. And we knew the time would come. She would write her name, and we would jump up and down, give her big hugs, and tell her how proud we were of her for working so hard. It would be so exciting to see it.

Letters became more recognizable. "R" for "Rylee." Whenever she saw an "R" she was convinced the word was "Rylee." And her "R" got better and better.

August 2008 - 4 years 9 months old
"R" for "Rylee"

We knew she could do it. Rylee kept trying, and we kept waiting to see it... R-y-l-e-e.

And though she continued her imaginative drawings on the driveway,

September 2009 - 5 years 10 months old

the time came.

We knew it would come, and it did.

She wrote her name.

January 2010 - 6 years 2 months old

All the letters were there. In order. No imagination necessary.


And we jumped up and down, gave her big hugs, and told her how proud we were of her for working so hard.

It was so exciting to see it. More than we thought it would be.

So, what's in a name?

Patience. Practice. And persistence from a little girl.

In Bed

I said Carter could sleep in bed with me,

but I don't remember saying these other guys could.

I'd Love To!

Me: "Carter, will you please come get your toys off the table? I need to wipe it off."

Carter: "Sure Mom... I'd love to."

Me: (smiling and giggling inside) "Thanks Carter!"


I wonder how long his enthusiastic compliance will last!