Welcome to my blog!

A blog about our busy family with two amazing kids, one of whom happens to have Down syndrome!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Almost back to school. Send help.

Time is flying by. I know they say time flies when you're having fun, but dang. I can't believe it's already nearing the end of August. Lauren starts school in 2 weeks and Ryan in 3 weeks. Greg starts back to work/school tomorrow.

Yep, as of tomorrow I'm back to living a double life of being a full time working mom and a stay at home mom on my days off! The upside to being a nurse is working 3 days a week. The downside is cramming a full work week in 3 days.  It's been almost 2 years since Greg left his job to stay home. I feel so unprepared!! He seems to be a natural parent where I have to work at it a lot more.

Lauren is now walking unassisted. She's not too bad at it, either! Not too shabby for 2 and a half, if I do say so myself. It's hilarious because she wants to walk all the time now, even when it's not the best idea. And she doesn't even remotely follow directions...she walks wherever she feels like walking. Luckily, Ryan is a big helper and loves to chase his baby sister.

I can hardly believe she starts preschool in 2 short weeks. I remember getting our prenatal diagnosis and the first question I asked the genetic counselor was if she'd go to a regular preschool. Hello, overthink much? I'm so excited for her. And I truly don't at all care that it's a special ed preschool. Funny, I really thought it would matter, but it doesn't at all. It helps that Ryan will be going as well.

And Ryan. How is my tiny baby boy starting his last year of preschool? Didn't I just bring him home from the hospital, scared out of my mind and wondering why anyone would trust me with an infant? I still remember with utmost clarity the very moment I found out I was pregnant with him. I took a test to reassure myself I wasn't pregnant and the stick turned pink before I even got done peeing. The feelings of "oh shit" and "how amazing" swirled together like the best mix of terror and excitement and nausea all rolled into one.  I hope this school year lasts forever because next year he'll be in full day kindergarten and I don't think I'll ever be ready for that.

We just got back from an awesome northern Michigan vacation. It was so much fun, very relaxing and spent with 28 of the best family members a girl could ever ask for!

Ryan riding Sandy the Horse during a late night Meijer run

Lauren on a bike ride with Greg
Even the ever-popular Aunt Kristen stopped by on vacation! Sometimes friends are just as good as family...so you claim them as family. We love her!
Lauren decided to become a full time walker on vacation!

Our view from the "house". I don't really know what to call it. It was a huge 11 bedroom, 13 bathroom home on Wildwood Lake. Amazing!!
If you're thinking to yourself, "Wow, those kids look pissed to be having their picture taken!" it's because they were. Ain't nobody got time for that.
So now I have to re-learn how to parent by myself. I'm not exaggerating. Greg does everything around the house and takes awesome care of the kids while I sleep a lot during the day. Now I have to lose sleep AND start cleaning up after myself. I might even have to start doing laundry. :::shudder:::

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Why is it that summertime is so incredibly busy?! We don't have school for Ryan and we take summers off of therapy. But somehow it's even busier!

Lauren is now walking unassisted!!! She only does a few steps at a time and only if she feels like it. But it's so awesome! We could not be more proud. She is really proud too and as a parent, it's so great to watch your child do something they are proud of.

I can't believe it's already the end of July. We're going Up North on vacation in a couple weeks with my whole extended family on my dad's side. It's been so much fun in years past, so I really can't wait! Last year Ryan held a worm and touched a fish- both huge deals for my kiddo. Who knows what this year will hold?

Lauren had her wheelchair seating appointment a while back. The preschool wanted her to have one on the schoolbus since she's not a full time walker. It looks like our insurance isn't going to cover it. Good thing we pay such high premiums. I spoke with someone at her school about it and they said it's really not a big deal and we can put a car seat on a regular bus. Hallelujah!

This might make me a terrible person, but I'm actually looking forward to having both kids at school 4 mornings a week. Those mornings will often be used for sleeping due to my schedule, but just think! On my morning's "off" I can clean the house, read a book, go to the gym, go to Target...all by myself! I really will miss the kids, but dang!

Greg starts work/school mid-August and he's excited! After almost 2 years as a stay at home dad, he's more than ready to go to work. I don't blame him!

Lots of changes happening here!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Me vs He

I had the day off today, so I woke up around 2pm, took the kids to get ice cream and headed off to church. Greg was bike riding with a friend- perfect day for it!

We had a guest speaker today. Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales! His story was not one I expected to hear. After putting tons of hard work into his dream, he went bankrupt. Google him. Seriously.

He started off the talk saying that everybody has a "dream". He talked about how putting our personal dream ahead of all else isn't really the way to go. The talk was titled Me vs He, about how our dreams may overshadow what God wants for us. And we may have to give it up to reach the ultimate plan God has for us.

It might have been the most powerful talk I've heard.

He talked about dreams we might have...being a millionaire, owning a huge home, having a healthy child. When he said that I immediately teared up and felt like he was talking directly to me.

When we found out that Lauren had Down syndrome when I was pregnant I was devastated. When we found out she needed open heart surgery I was angry. See, having a healthy daughter wasn't just my dream. I felt it was owed to me. Afterall, I did everything "right". I married my high school sweetheart, started a family after we were married, went back to school to support my family, attended church regularly. I held up my end of the bargain and God didn't. We'd had our kids early so we could retire early, be "empty nesters" early. I was angry. I was hurt. I was so confused on how He could let this happen to me. I truly went through each stage of grief.

My dream of a healthy child truly overshadowed the Lord's plan for our family. I couldn't see it at the time because my heart was clouded in grief, I was drowning.

Greg and I talked about it over dinner today. God's plans for our family are so incredibly amazing, we could've never dreamed up this life. These children. This girl.

Lauren came at a time where we needed her. She was a salve for a rocky marriage. She was the personification of everything we feared and everything we needed.

I am so thankful that we relied on the faith we share that shaped our beliefs on abortion. Lauren would always have been born, there was never another option for us. She is such a huge part of our family, we didn't know it at the time but we were waiting on her to complete us.

My heart is happy.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Things I feared the most

I realized today that some of the very things I feared the most about Lauren have become her greatest treasures in my eyes.

I was so afraid that her slanted eyes would look so different from mine. Truth is that her eyes are a bright vivid blue with gorgeous Brushfield spots. They look nothing like mine but they are absolutely beautiful.

I was terrified that her tongue would stick out. When she smiles her tongue comes just past her teeth, her eyes light up and I would swear she glows.

I was sad that she'd probably walk late. She just started walking this week at almost 2 and a half. We are ecstatic! I can't imagine being happier if she'd done it earlier, what would it even matter?

I wanted to know immediately if she'd go to a special school or if she'd be able to be in school with her brother. She is going to a special education preschool, but her brother will be in a program at the same school. They'll ride the school bus home together.

I was so afraid of being "that family". Different. We are different. And I don't mind at all. Lauren draws people to her, mostly in a good way. She makes people smile left and right and we often have people stop to share stories with us about their own loved ones with Down syndrome. She makes friends wherever we go. There is no blending in with Lauren Hope! And the few times we've felt judged or stared at in a not-so-nice way, we brush it off and feel so lucky that we got her and they didn't.

I was afraid I'd never get to experience what it was like to really have a daughter. Ha. Lauren is all things girl- sugar, spice, everything nice. Add in some snips, snails, puppy dog tails, and a big helping of diva. I don't picture her teenage years being any different. Is it crazy that I want to have arguments about boys, clothes, makeup, friends and homework? Because I do. (Please remind me of this in about 12 years).

I'm finding that Down syndrome isn't scary. It isn't something I spend my life wishing away. Most days I am honestly so thankful that our Lauren is so special. Because she is. I can't explain it. If you've met her, you know. I'm not sure why I have been trusted to be her mom but I'm damn sure I'll try my hardest to be worthy.

I accept her for who she is. Abilities. Disabilities. It's all the same to me. I think most Down syndrome parents will tell you that at one point they were sure that their child would be the smartest, most advanced child with Down syndrome that ever lived. I know I did. But Lauren's not, and that's okay.

She has a couple signs. She says a handful of words. She just started walking (holding onto one hand) and two and a half. She doesn't know her colors. She doesn't know how to count, to say her ABC's.... On paper she's honestly not much to write home about. But her soul radiates love, hope and joy. Her smile can light up a room. Her personality can bring sunshine on the cloudiest of days. Her eyes show a soul filled with all things great. She is Lauren Hope. And I'm so glad she's mine.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Lauren walked!!!

She can walk now just holding onto one person's hand!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Long time no update!!

I haven't had time to write anything in months. Life is crazy here!

We had Lauren's IEP for preschool. She'll be getting PT weekly (unless she walks before school starts) and speech 3x a week! Plus they have picture boards in the classroom for her to point at and they'll continue to sign with her. It makes me feel SO much better that she'll have three ways to communicate with her teachers and classmates.

Ryan will be going to the same school! It's our district's "head start" (I think) and it's luckily house at the special ed preschool. I am so so happy that my kids will be at the same school!! I'll drop them off in the morning and they'll take the bus home together. How cute is that?! I was worried about them going to the same high school...kind of getting ahead of myself. And now they're going to the same preschool! It's 4 days a week, they'll get home around noon. What the heck am I supposed to do in the mornings?! Oh yeah, sleep.

Lauren is sooo close to walking. She's cruising on the furniture like a champ, she'll even go from one piece of furniture to another without sitting down. She walks with her push toy like she invented the idea. And she now will walk (when she feels like it) holding both of our hands! That stereotype about people with Down syndrome being stubborn? Yeah, she proves it true. But some of that might come from Grandma Pam.

I do have some sad news. Our sweet Maizy pup has passed away. It was horrible, she was only 2 years old. She was so sick and I am so glad she's not suffering, but I miss her so much every day.

By a twist of fate, divine intervention or dumb luck, we ended up with a new dog who happens to be one of Maizy's puppies! When we met Maizy she was pregnant....with Sky.

Sky is 11 months old and FULL of energy, excitement and craziness. She's getting spayed in 2 weeks and my sister suggested that it might benefit us all if they did a lobotomy at the same time. LOL!

Life is nuts here, I'm looking forward to the schedule-free laziness of summer. It will be nice to have a break before we're throw into a busy schedule of "real school" and the schedules that go along with it! I really miss blogging, maybe I'll even have some time to get back to writing.

Me and Lauren. I love that she still loves the Ergo!

Ryan and Aunt Kristen!

The Three Muskateers
Meet Sky! This will probably be the only picture you'll ever see of her sitting still.
See? They do like each other. I told them to do this.
Lauren's Easter dress!

Ryan/Batman at the Easter egg hunt at our church!
Ryan at our family Easter celebration! Isn't he just so handsome?!
And last, but not least...The cutest couple you've ever met. Us!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The last 2 months: photo highlights

This post is mostly a photo dump. I can't believe I haven't blogged in 2 months!!

 Everyone's favorite dog, Maizy!

 Lauren was not impressed with her new shoes. I think they're growing on her.

Ryan finally getting to play outside!
Everyone's favorite dog, Clifford!

And to think I was afraid she wouldn't be able to open her own birthday presents!

Proof that they actually do like each other (sometimes).

2nd birthday cake!
The best looking couple around.

Doesn't everyone brush their teeth this close to the dog?