Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Day After

We somehow managed to make it out of bed, after another night of no sleep due to constant risings with the boys, and make it to church. We welcomed a new preacher on Easter Sunday, and I have yet to hear him speak because of well, you know, the boys. I go with Travis to Children's Church and then I go with Justin to the nursery class, and by by then, it's time for someone to eat and someone to nap. But at least it is good to be at church.

And we did have the whole gang over for dinner/leftovers. We also inherited the leftovers from the Rehearsal dinner, which was another 8-10 containers of pasta, chicken, and even some chocolate cake! We invited extra people to help empty the refrigerator. So informal, but loads of fun. And a good chance for Mireille and Jerry to see everyone one last time.

And then we had an extra 6 people sleep at our house that night. It was a bit hairy, but they have since slowly been leaving for nether lands. We sent my mom and Uncle Johnny off to Arizona driving, and they took our extra sofa and some of the things we will need in AZ when we go (one car seat and the pack and play! Less to lug on the airplane. I am THRILLED!) And we had one more day with Mireille and Jerry and now they are gone too. But that's another post. We are on out way out too, and we will all meet again in AZ for the first post-wedding celebration. There are shindigs planned in AZ, WA, MI, and WI. It's parties all summer long, before it's back to the realities of marriage, although I suspect they'll set in before then! Here's some reception shots from the disposable cameras:

Justin really liked the black beans from the dinner, but the huge winner was the cake (big surprise) and somehow Travis got the first piece of cake (after the bride and groom's tasting). He made quick work of it and was ready for seconds.

The Big Day!

Okay, so the wedding was yesterday but we were too pooped to do much of anything by the time we got home.

The church where the wedding was held is one of the larger ones in town, and they have several chapels in which two or more weddings are held every Saturday. So there is a flurry of activity and lots of florists, photographers, weddings coordinators, brides and wedding guests roaming the campus. It is easy to get lost and end up at the wrong wedding and not realize it until it is too late! Fortunately for us, we had to arrive early enough that we could get lost several times and still get found before the wedding.

We all got dressed when we got there, because I knew the boys would get rumpled in their car seats. They looked so spiffy in their ties and black pants! And food was banned so as not to get any dribbles down the white shirts. But the wedding group before us had left behind some snacks and Daddy thought he would give Travis a treat...of chocolate M and Ms! So sweet, but very messy when dribbled down the front of white shirts! But thank goodness for wet wipes. The situation was quickly under control.

We got some great pictures before the wedding and then the wedding went perfectly. It was very small, only about 20 people total (including bride and groom) so I was relieved that anything the boys did would not ruin the occasion. As it was, Travis cried down the aisle because he had to leave mommy. (His favorite phrase is, "Want mommy!" He doesn't even bother saying "I" anymore, because he knows we know! And he can say that he wants me when I am right there. "Wanting" implies undivided attention and hugging. So I can be holding both boys and that's not good enough because Justin is there too. Any ideas for sharing mommy?) But daddy was waiting for him and since he knew he couldn't have mommy, that was good enough.

The ceremony was sweet and the minister shared three important sets of words never to forget while married: I love you, I am sorry, and I forgive you. Such power in short phrases. It's not just for marriage either! I know lots of relationships that would be healed with one or more of those phrases.

And then photos and party! We realized that we have not learned all about our camera and the battery died in the middle of pictures. So I just have before pictures and a few after. No party yet. I will have to get some from the disposable cameras from the reception. Not the best, but they will have to do!

This is the guys before the wedding: Uncle Johnny (my brother), Justin, Uncle Jerry (aka, the groom!), Jerry's brother Jeff, and the cheeseball in front- Travis.

We were able to get one picture before the wedding with the lovely bride-Mireille and me and my boys. Mireille got us a web cam to keep in touch when she is in the cold northwest. That should be tons of fun to use!

Jon, Mireille, Jerry, and me

Jon gave Mireille away and he was supposed to kiss her on the cheek as he handed her off to Jerry and he balked a bit- he is her twin and as he said, "I have NEVER kissed her on the cheek!" He did practice the kiss, and acted like he would do it, but then I think he forgot, because he didn't do it after all!

And this was just a super cute picture of Justin with Pop (Randy's dad). Don't you love the tie?!

And then we headed out to a restaurant for the reception. It was the perfect sized party room for our group and Mexican food is the perfect Texas wedding food (next to BBQ I think, but that might get messy...) We had fun talking and celebrating and toasting. Travis managed to finagle some chicken nuggets to eat instead of fajitas and he managed to get ketchup ALL over his white shirt. No really, I used a whole lot of stain stick on it and now it is soaking. It may be thrown away. Both boys crashed in the car before he even got to the freeway and we took them home, changed their clothes, and put them to bed at 7 pm. I would love to tell you that they slept all night, but alas, the wedding didn't change them into princes, they are still my bad sleepers and early risers. Travis' fever comes out at night, and he wakes up screaming for medicine. I was up with him 4 times, and Justin woke at 6:10 ready to go for the day. Randy asked if he was dreaming or if the boys were up a lot at night. It must be nice to be the daddy sometimes!

And all the left over reception food came to our house. I already got all of Mireille's refrigerator items earlier this week, and now I have all of the take-out containers, and the bouquets. So this is our refrigerator:

We encouraged everyone to come back and eat dinner here tonight. We still have more ice cream to eat too! I need to clear out before next meat day. Oh, and we got the top layer of the wedding cake which we wrapped in many, many layers of plastic wrap for their first anniversary. We are holding it hostage so they have to come back at least once before then!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rehearsal Dinner

We had Mireille and Jerry's rehearsal and dinner tonight. It went very well actually. I was a bit concerned about the boys being up so late, but it turned out okay. The rehearsal was very easy, given the small wedding party. Of course the most difficult part is just getting everyone focused before they go into party mode. Travis and Justin are both ring bearers (Travis will obviously have more duties in this than Justin...) Travis walked down the aisle very well. Of course the real test is tomorrow when he is over-tired and has to walk AWAY from mommy, down the aisle.

The dinner was fabulous! It was a bigger group than the wedding, but still only about 40 or so. They used it as a sort of going away party, with most of Mireille's friends from Houston along with the out-of-town wedding guests. It was a yummy dinner, but the boys have been a little under the weather with fever and cough so we planned to head home early. (Justin is on the upswing, Travis is on the way down now...) But then we learned about what was coming for dessert: chocolate cake! And that perked Travis right up! So we had to stay for that at least. Uncle Johnny cut us off a piece of cake:

And it was good!!

Justin did well being over-tired and being passed around and shown off. Ami is very proud of her nephew! She is going to miss him so much. And Travis already is disappointed for not being able to move to Washington. We had to tell him finally that only Ami and Uncle Jerry are moving, not us too. I don't think he quite understands, but we'll give him some time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend was a busy one. I had to work both Friday and Saturday night red eye flights, with a long nap on Saturday. Justin has been feeling badly, so I actually got more sleep during the day than Randy had gotten at night. Sunday was my birthday, so after my Sunday nap, Randy and I went out with Mireille and Jerry. So fun! We went and ate yummy Mexican food. We joined in their crazy tradition of taking pictures of themselves by themselves:

Monday we grilled and hung out, but the major highlight of the day was getting to eat Mireille and Jerry's wedding ice cream. Jerry works for an ice cream company in Washington that makes fru-fru flavors for restaurants, and as his wedding gift to Mireille, he had them make a special flavor just for her, which is named Mireille's Wedded Bliss. I am not sure if I can share the secret recipe (like I could anyway...) but it involves almonds and chunks of red velvet cake. And it is very tasty! We have been hounding him for months to bring us some of this fancy ice cream that is "better than Blue Bell" (his words...) and we finally got some. He actually brought 3 flavors, and I have to admit, it might be better than Blue Bell...

And the second best part of the weekend was going to see the new Star Trek movie! SO GOOD!! I LOVE Star Trek and J.J. Abrams did it very well. I am a Next Generation girl, but I might have to check out the older stuff too. I had quite a crush on Piccard back in the day.

So now we are in the final countdown to wedding day. The apartment was cleaned out in preparation for the big move. And now the apartment is in our house...

And this weekend we get Mireille's (and Jerry's by marriage) cat too! It's going to be fun!

Monday, May 25, 2009


A couple of weeks ago we went to Wisconsin to throw a baby shower for my cousin. I traveled by myself for the first time with both boys on the airplane. We left first thing in the morning and we went to Milwaukee so I wouldn't have to make any connections, which helped SO much! We did very well, although when we went through security Justin spit up everywhere and the people behind us were in such a hurry they put their belongings right on top of the spit up before I had a chance to clean it up. Oh well! I did try to warn them!

We were busy during our trip, as usual. Mommy Sharon and Daddy Jack came for dinner and then Sharon and my mom helped me create my very first diaper cake. I think it turned out okay.

The next day a long time family friend came to visit with her daughter. She used to live with us in our house that my dad just sold in February. She was in college when she lived with us and she became a close friend and even helped my parents wrangle all 4 of us kids when we went on a family vacation in Mexico. We have stayed in touch and she even has a son named Travis too! Her second son is named Tyler, so that name was off limits when we had another boy. Anyway, we had a super fun visit. And she knows that the way to Travis' heart is by truck. She was very thoughtful and bought both boys SMALL trucks that I could fit in our suitcase for the way home. Travis and Rachael played so well together. You'd never know she is 21 and he is 3. Okay, maybe you would! Travis had a blast and as expected he said, "I'm really going to miss Rachael" when she left. He kept saying, "That's the pillow that I threw with Rachael!" We might have to remind them both about the no-throwing-things-in-the-house rule...

Then we headed up to my grandmother's house. We had the shower at her house so she would come. Travis enjoys going to her house because when we go there, we go to the COOKIE FACTORY! We had to go back and take pictures, even though we didn't buy any cookies since we really didn't need any. But Travis didn't mind not buying any. As long as he gets to sample! And sample he did. In the one picture he has 3 cookies! I did encourage him to throw away some parts of them before he got more. And I caught him with his hand in the cookie jar more than once. There is something about sugar that makes kids lose their heads. Adults too...

How about one of THESE?!

They were doing some work on my grandmother's condo so Travis got quite the view all day.

We went outside and watched for a while too. Then we had to run some errands and we stopped at a park for a while. It was incredibly windy and we couldn't stay long, but Travis found a new favorite toy:

And Justin got to swing by himself for the first time!

I had to lift Travis up and carry him to get him in the car to leave. He wants to go back very soon!

The shower turned out great! Everyone had fun and the kids had a blast! Mary has LOTS of help opening the presents. She got lots of good stuff and they have a good start getting ready for their girl's July arrival.

Before we left I had to get more pictures with great grandma. I realized too late that we should have taken a picture with ALL the great grandchildren and grandma. I think we are going back in August, so we might have another chance.

And this is just a super cute picture of Justin so I had to include it:

It's almost as good as the one of him eating strawberries and he has red from the top of his head down his bib and up both arms. But he's not smiling in that one, so this wins.

So that's what we have been doing. The wedding is next weekend and we will have lots of pictures from that I am sure. And good stories too!


Some of what we have been doing:
  • We have been in the throes of wedding preparation. I haven't had to do much on the actual wedding front, but I am responsible for clothing my family, which at times can be a challenge. Justin needed his pants down-sized from 2T to 12 mo., which thankfully my mom did quite easily. And then both boys needed ties to match the color of the wedding, so I found the fabric and my mom sewed. To my credit, I sewed on the snaps to attach them to the shirt. I think they are going to look great. I still have to find a bra for me (something that can hold up whatever is left after 2 nursing babies.)
  • Meat Day was this week. We started out 2 years ago buying about 350 pounds for the group and this time we bought over 600 pounds, so we have definitely grown! It was 12 cases of beef, chicken and pork. I seriously LOVE meat day because: 1-I love to save money. 2- I enjoy the challenge of organizing and executing the purchase and division of all this meat. 3- I get to hang out and chat with some great friends over raw meat. (Not quite the same as Starbucks, but still so fun!) and 4- A bunch of my friends stop by and visit with me when they come and pick up their meat.
  • I was talking with Travis this week about having Jesus in his heart. He was eating lunch and I was explaining how when you have Jesus in your heart he is always with you so you are never alone. He said that he didn't want Jesus is his heart. I asked why and he said," Because I am eating and he will get in the way of the food getting to my tummy." That's 3-year-old logic for you...kind of makes sense, doesn't it?
  • We are making progress on Justin's liquid consumption. The thickened liquids help immensely! He has gone from getting down about 10% to closer to 50%. And some sips ALL go down! That is such an answer to prayer. And we have been so thankful for all the ideas our friends have had for us. One suggested giving him jello, which I was reluctant to do because of the sugar. And I didn't want him to get all his liquid from a spoon. But we adapted that idea and made finger jello with fruit juice and gelatin. So he is getting juice and water, and he is eating it himself. That works much better for me!
  • Justin has had some great not-baby-food meals this week. I usually give him baby food cereal, fruit and milk mixed together for breakfast, to make sure he starts out well with liquids, but then lunch and dinner we experiment. He had meatloaf, baked potato, and mixed veggies for dinner that were only mashed with a fork, no blender! And he is really chewing! So he doesn't eat as much when he gets these type of meals because he gets tired sooner. He cut his fourth tooth this week, although that really doesn't help all that much with eating.
  • We went to WI a couple weeks ago to give a baby shower for my cousin. I will write more about that in another post. It was so cold in WI! I am not sure anyone told them it was mid-May! We went to the park and we couldn't even stay with the wind being so strong. Justin's chapped cheeks came back with a vengeance.
  • I mostly finished Justin's baby book! I have a few more pictures to add, but I had to clean up the mess I had on the table so I am officially calling it done. My mother needed the table to sew!

I have a couple more posts to go to catch everyone up. Then in June we are traveling again to Phoenix to help my mom move, and to Tennessee to visit my Dad. And we are trying to sneak in a trip to the beach with some friends too. I am not sure when I will work. Work always gets in the way of life!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I prayed for a healthy baby when I was pregnant. Don't we all? I didn't know what the sex of the baby would be, but I wanted him to be healthy. I struggled a bit with how God answered my prayer: Was it yes or no? Really, Justin is amazingly healthy for having DS. Even before heart surgery there was little outward evidence of a problem. And he did not have any ear infections his first year. But is he healthy? I have been learning some of Justin's idiosyncrasies and I think it is a reasonable assumption that nothing in Justin's body works exactly the way it should. But God allows for amazing adaptation and compensation. And we are learning together. I am so thankful that God has surrounded us with many brilliant people who have helped us brainstorm ideas and work through problems.

When I was in college I read a book called A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Van Auken. It is the autobiographical story of Sheldon and his wife, Davy and their friendship with C.S. Lewis. Lewis was influential in the couple's conversion to Christianity, first Davy and then Sheldon. Davy grew mysteriously sick and died and Sheldon wrote many letters to Lewis in his grief. Lewis wrote, "One way or another, the thing [romantic love] had to die. Perpetual springtime is not allowed. You were not cutting the wood of life according to the grain. There are various possible ways in which it could have died though both the parties went on living. You have been treated with a severe mercy. You have been brought to see... that you were jealous of God." In some ways I consider Justin my severe mercy. Since his birth I have been awed by the ways that God works. I allowed myself to be stagnant and satisfied and that was not what God wanted for me. I was blind to his call. I have been amazed by God's character. God reaches out to me through Justin and I want to reach back.

One thing that I can definitely say is that I long for heaven in a new way. I have been content on earth. It is familiar and mostly pleasant. But having my world turned over and then experiencing the awesome power and comfort of God has made me much bolder to ask, "Lord, please come quickly!" Knowing God and trusting him makes heaven so much sweeter and better than the shadows we know on earth. And heaven promises healing. I think that the same way God said, "It is good" when he made me or Travis, he said when he made Justin. He is God's perfect earthly Justin. He is perfectly formed to be and do the tasks that God has planned for him on this earth. Without DS, it wouldn't be right. But heaven, it's completely different. I wonder what that will look like, but I know without a doubt that it will be even better. And so there is my answer, not yes, not no, but later. That is perfection.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Down Syndrome Clinic

We went back to the DS Clinic today. It was a good visit. They were able to help us with some of the things with which we have been having problems. And they were very reassuring too. They were also impressed with his movement and communication. Of course, they see lots of people with DS so they have a huge base of comparison.

Physically, they of course want him to move more. They told us that we didn't need to use the shorts that keep his legs together. They said his legs don't splay too badly, and the shorts would be too binding. If we need them, maybe only at night. They weren't concerned about his toes spreading when he stands. As I suspected, he is doing it to grip and look for support. They said once he has better balance and stability he will do that less and less. We are supposed to work more on crawling, which he simply hates. He is not a fan of tummy time, except for sleeping, but they gave us some ideas to try different ways to make it seem less like work. There were even some swimming things that would help. One of the OTs used to do aquatic therapy, so she really had some useful ideas. The PT even suggested doing abdominal and lower back taping to give him support for crawling too. Of course, I really don't want to go overboard with taping. Given the small amount of skin surface area, I don't think we can cover 50% of it! Also, they attribute his lagging physical development because he is babbling and making progress with fine motor skills. And then when he does start crawling and moving, we can expect a drop in his language and verbal skills.

The Speech therapist was pleased with his babbling. She could pick out several consonants (of course, not "m"- why does that have to be so hard??) and she said he will start varying the vowels that accompany them as the next step. She also tried helped us with the drinking problem. (Hello, my name is Danielle, and my son has a drinking problem!) She suggested thickening the liquids, but the way she suggested it was new to us. She said to try thickening the drink with food. Like mix yogurt with milk, apple juice with apple sauce, etc. So logical, it escaped us! She said it is common for babies with DS to need help with drinking from a cup. Justin's mouth doesn't close enough to keep the liquid in, and it's easy to get too much, and then he doesn't know what to do with it. That makes sense, since I am the one pouring it in. The doctor did say that he looks very well hydrated, which was a huge relief for me. I have had visions for us having to take him to the hospital for IV fluids and being chastised for not giving him enough to drink. It is so hard and I get frustrated so easily. And you know what tipped them off to him having enough fluids? The raspberry-blowing! They said his mouth would be the first thing that would dry out and he wouldn't have saliva to spit. So nice to know that there is something good about that!

Both sets of therapists measured him to be at 9 months of ability, everything averaged. I felt that was probably right. All of the therapists gave us their e-mail addresses and want us to get back with them if things don't work, or if we need other ideas. That was very reassuring. We also have to get Justin's thyroid checked, and she ordered a CBC, to check for leukemia. Not that there are any indicators, but since they are drawing blood anyway, to be certain. It was a good visit, I felt more focused and like we are working together than I did after the last visit. We go back in six months for another evaluation. I am hoping he is crawling by then, and maybe standing! I have my goals and the tools to accomplish them!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Keep Pace Annual Evaluation

We have been in the Early Childhood Intervention Program here in Texas for a year now, so we had our annual evaluation today. It was mostly a whole lot of questions about what he can and cannot do, but then they score him in several areas based on the answers. I found out he can do a whole lot I didn't know he could do, and he isn't as far behind as I thought.

The five areas are: cognitive, communication, social-emotional, physical, and adaptive. They "score" him by giving him an estimated age for each of the areas. In cognitive, he is 9 months; communications-8 months; social-emotional- 10 months; physical- 6 months (duh!); and adaptive- 14 months!! Wow! He is actually ahead of the curve for that.

Overall, they were very impressed, which really buoyed my spirits because I have been so focusing on the physical delays that I missed how well he is doing is other areas. When it's not a problem, it gets ignored I guess. They think he is doing well in the cognitive area, and he really is. He knows when he is doing something wrong, and when we are pleased with him. (He cries at the drop of a hat!) And he definitely has the mommy preference. They were actually very pleased with that! Wow!

We did learn that our therapist, Lucy, is retiring the end of July. So we will be getting someone new. That is sad, since Travis loves her, and Justin tolerates her (the best we can hope for now!) And from what we have learned from others who have used ECI, therapists tend to come and go frequently, so for us to have been so consistent is rare. And for someone so experienced is also rare. We will miss her.

We also found out we can add PT through ECI after we get cut off by our insurance. That will hopefully fill the gap until we can switch to Randy's insurance.

Tomorrow we head to the DS Clinic again. I will tell you how it goes!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Two Things...

One, we bought a camera! Well, it's ordered anyway. I am hoping it comes soon. I have been video taping some things, but others just need a camera! Soon, I promise!

And two, we caught another armadillo. I hesitate to say ME because I set the trap and ALMOST caught what we think was a raccoon, but one of the doors didn't close, and he got away. So then Randy reset the trap and we caught the 'dillo. Travis loves it. It's gone, and now we will set the trap again. This is pretty fun actually. As long as we catch them before they wreck the yard, which is growing in very nicely I would say. Now we just need the new french door so we could SEE it... Soon, I have been promised!

More Than, Less Than

A couple of things got me to thinking this week. One was a friend's post about her child being 9 months old and thus his milestone of being on the outside more than on the inside. The other was at work someone asking me how long I have spoken Spanish. Eeks! I have known/spoken Spanish longer than I haven't! (Now might be a good time to explain that sometimes my thought trails are difficult to follow, so I apologize in advance.) I then thought about the other things that I have known/done for longer than not in my life, like driving a car. At 16, 32 seemed SO far away! And then I thought about my sweet friends, who have waited so very long to adopt a child, and now they have had their precious little girl for longer than her birth mother. And my grandmother, who has spent more of her life without her son Tom, than with him. And some of my friends who will be without one or both parents for longer than they had them. I am hoping there is a day when I am a mother for more time than not.

I look forward with anticipation the day I can say I have been married longer than not. When I got married I thought about how great it would be to be married: setting up our home and cooking for Randy and saying, "This is my HUSBAND, Randy." And I thought about how great it would be to grow old together and sit on a porch in rocking chairs and watch the sun set. I did not give much thought to the between time. How do we get from setting up our home to sitting in rocking chairs? If I don't consider that part, there won't BE any rocking chairs! I didn't consider the job losses, the deaths in the family, the tough financial times, the ups and downs of raising kids, and countless other aspects of the in-between. That is where I have to spend my time and work at the marriage to make it last. I look forward to the "more than", but I know that I can't just wait for it to happen. If the years pass without notice, I will come up short on the other end, and I desperately do not want that to happen.

Then I thought about the years that I have been a Christian. Already I have been a Christian for more years of my life than not. What difference has being a Christian meant for all these years? Some years, not a whole lot. And others...only a little bit. In fact, there haven't been many years that I have grown toward Christlikeness the way I feel like I should have. I want to be a better wife every day, and certainly a better mother. But some days I don't even WANT to be a better Christian. I am so easily settled into my place of comfort and I am happy there. I am so easily complacent. So I am thankful for those times of discomfort and unrest, because they remind me not to settle. Even if it would be easier.

Through it all, I am so thankful that God is patient with me! I pray I have many more years to grow in my roles. But more importantly, I pray that each day takes me closer to God's perfect picture for me. I ask for his strength to get me through each day, without worry about tomorrow. SO HARD! But I am so glad he shows his faithfulness again and again. One of these days, I will get it!