Sunday, May 22, 2011

Theo today.

This is hard to watch because Theo is crying. I can hardly stand it! Ruby can't stand it either and ruined an earlier take by handing him the bottle. She loves him so!

But, it's just a temper tantrum...

He can pull to stand! Isn't that fantastic?! He has gotten so strong and looks like a little muscle man. I even think he might learn to crawl before his 5th birthday, which is coming soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Goodie Two Shoes

My handsome boy got new shoes. Doesn't he look great in red, white and blue?

Ralph's got a great life. I wish I could share him with every woman who is frightened because her doctor informed her that her unborn baby might have Down Syndrome. I wish those women could come play with us some afternoon.

He's not perfect. He's no angel. But he knows when I need a hug. That's priceless.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Be it ever so humble...

I am so happy to be home. Colorado is always beautiful, but there is no place like home. I spent the last five days at the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference at Estes Park.

If this sounds like a retreat to you, then you ought to think again. The conference was not a relaxing get away in the mountains. It was an non-stop, action packed week of learning, growing and worshiping God. The conference rocked me. I needed to get home to find a little rest!

The whole event surprised me. I didn't find much of what I expected in the way of writing instruction. I found something far better and more useful. I found God speaking to me.

My Father spoke to me through the dear people that I encountered. He spoke to me through the fire and fervor they displayed. Their passions and testimonies grabbed my heart.

I trekked over 500 miles not knowing what I would find, not knowing if I could even consider myself a writer. This is what I found: God has given me a message. Therefor, I am a writer. Ideas for compositions are raining down on me. I cannot keep up.

Our opening and closing sessions took place here each day.

Scads of elk and mule deer inhabit the area around Estes Park.
On an interesting and slightly weird (ok, very weird) side-note, my oldest son attended the conference as he has done for the past four years. Though Wes appears to be a little older than he is, I must look a bit younger. The two of us were mistaken for a married couple or brother and sister more than once. I took too much pleasure in the flabbergasted faces of the people who couldn't believe that I was his mother.

The altitude affected me more than I expected. My head ached from the time I arrived until I got down out of the mountains today. I tossed and turned each night that I was away.Now that I am home my head is clear and I can't wait to crawl into bed. I look forward to sharing some exciting things that happened while I was gone and displaying some improved writing skills.

Wes at breakfast today.
I can tell I'm close to my hometown of Hays, Kansas when I see these clean, white, chalk rock country roads. I know, they're limestone. I just feel like a kid again when I say chalk rock.
What do you think of these windmills? I find them beautiful in a way.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Going to be a great week!

Here's Ralph on his new trike for those of you who need a little Ralphie fix today.

He's almost big enough to reach the pedals. He's so pleased and keeps rolling the trike over to his mirror so he can look at himself sitting on it! My little rock star is a narcissist.

Today my husband of many years is having shoulder surgery. He's had trouble with his shoulders off and on for years, but he hurt it good last December while dragging a deer out of a field.

I dropped him off early this morning and I'll be loading up all the kids to go pick him up in a few hours. Poor guy. His pre-op nurse had zero personality and James was rolling his eyes at me when I left him there. Alone and scared. Poor HOMY.

Bright and early on Wednesday morning I'll be leaving for Colorado. I'm attending a Christian Writer's Conference and won't be home until late Sunday night. Today and tomorrow I'll be ziplock bagging outfits for Theo, Zhen and Ralph so he knows who wears what. I'll be writing out medication schedules and potty instructions. He will be stocked up on easy to make meals for children.

But, I'm worried. I don't know how he is going to get the kids dressed for school. It's a physical job. I offered to stay home and skip the conference, but he insisted that I go. So I'm going to try to find him some childcare assistance for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings as well.

It's going to be an awesome week!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ralph's party

Occasionally my husband's birthday falls on Mother's Day. Then I whine and complain about having to "share" the day with him. Today was not one of those days, but I still had to share.

Ralph's birthday was a week ago, but due to track meets, business trips and other activities, we were not all around to help him celebrate. Today we celebrated Ralph. Me? Not so much. But I didn't do a lot of whining today. I find it telling that I'm more willing to share the day with my son than with my husband. Hmmm. :)

I used to spend much time and energy crafting fabulous birthday cakes for my children. It was a labor of love. The past few years have been laborious enough and so my cake adventures took a vacation. I really wanted to make something special for Ralphie this year so I dusted off my mad cake skilz and had a blast! I enjoyed modeling with fondant for the first time ever. And, even though I ran out of time and didn't finish the cake to my satisfaction, Ralph LOVED it. That is the only thing that counts.


I was wondering if Ralph would be able to blow out his candles this year. It's a pretty big deal for a child with Down Syndrome to learn how to blow, whether whistles, recorders or candles. Check this out and see how he did...

On tap for next week, more drama. As always, right? My HOMY has shoulder surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning. I'll be traveling next week. Not great timing, huh?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Zoo today!! yay!!

No school today. What do I do with nine children at home?

Here is what I did...I gave them some chores with the promise of a fun, secret, surprise trip after lunch, provided the jobs got done. Most of the jobs were actually completed so...

I sent the teenager to his track meet...

and then I took eight children to the zoo! For Zhen and Theo, this was a first

For the past few months we haven't done anything fun like that. It felt good to get out of the house. Naturally I messed up and loaded my photos backward. But, it's late they are in reverse order.

Ralph really enjoyed the zoo. He "got it" today. It was so cool to watch him doing the animal signs and anticipate what we would be seeing next. Here is pointing to the lion that we just got done watching.

Jordan and Leroy got lucky today and saw the red panda up close. Jordan's favorite animal. :)

The penguins put on a nice show for us, zipping back and forth. Theo tried to catch them!

Zhen got a break from wearing his arm restraints today. They were so dirty I didn't want them to be seen in public!

My very best attempt at a group photo. Ruby was mad and would not turn around and smile. Actually, no one is looking at the camera! haha!

We had a great time at the zoo today. However, before we arrived a child was grabbed by a leopard when he crawled over a barrier and got too close to the cage. A friend of mine witnessed this awful scene. She and another man ran over and started punching and kicking the animal.

They were able to get the child away and he's doing OK tonight. However, she is quite shaken. Could you say a prayer for my dear friend tonight?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Got snuggle-puss?

Speaking of some of the unique characteristics of babies with Down Syndrome reminded me of a great article written by Kimberlee Kadar-Kallen.

Here are a few snips:

Hypotonia - Sometimes referred to as poor muscle tone, what this really means is that all of Baby is super soft and cuddly. Synonyms for this condition are smoosh-ball, teddy-bear, snuggle-puss, honey-love, and so forth. Squeezing and hugging Baby is a frequent and irresistible temptation.

Congenital heart defect - This is really one of several code phrases for an intensive training course in learning the true meaning of Jesus, I trust in you. This training involves great spiritual growth and opportunity for deepening and greatly magnifying one's prayer life. There may even be a special retreat involved where one can really progress in prayer. The special code term 'open-heart surgery' is often used for this unique retreat that takes place in a hospital.

Go read the whole thing! I love the way she takes many "normally-negative" characteristics and shows them in a positive light. It's not spin. It's perspective. It's a privilege to be graced with a child with Down Syndrome.

Got snuggle-puss? I do. :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thinking back...

Tonight I was a guest on a Mother The World podcast, discussing parenting children with Down Syndrome. The hosts, Deanna and Carolyn, were great about asking the right questions. But, how do you cover a subject like that? It's HUGE!

Then Carolyn brought out her new daughter who is sporting designer genes, and it took me back to when Ralphie was a baby. Ahhh. Memories.

Let me just say that I love babies, and children and grown ups with Down Syndrome. I think they are a great gift to the world. That said, Ralph's first year was downright frightening. Even so, I never considered that we would have been better off without him. Never once. I loved him with ferocity from day one.

In order to communicate with a large number of people who were praying for Ralph's health, I started experimenting with websites and blogging. I had never heard of a blog until 4 years ago! I'm not sure I would had anything interesting to share until he came along anyway, right?

Ralph at three months.

The original website is gone, but our second attempt is still live on the internet. If you want to go back in time, check it out HERE. I started Ralphcrew a little bit later.

1st birthday party - a little late because he had been in the hospital. :(

I feel like I came out of the fog when Ralph was born. I started to see things more clearly. He's the reason I started a blog. He's the reason we adopted two additional boys with Down Syndrome. He's brought some folks back to the Lord. He was, and is not, a mistake or a burden in any way.

I'm pleased to answer any specific questions that you might have about parenting a child with Down Syndrome. I sometimes forget what life was like before Ralph, so I don't remember what I would have wanted to know, ya know?

I haven't begged for comments in a long time, but here goes: Leave me some love and questions in the comment section. Please?