Welcome to my blog!

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

Contentment

Time is flying by. I can't even believe it's the middle of September already. The kids are both really enjoying school and making friends. Today Lauren didn't even cry when I dropped her off! They said she stops crying as soon as I'm out of sight but it makes me feel a million times better to leave her in a happy mood.

Since school started September 2nd she's said grandma, spoon, fishy and red (while correctly identifying the color!).

Ryan is flourishing as well. He does great with the classroom routine. He's been such a sweet heart. The parapro on the kids' bus just loves him and has told me twice how sweet he is and how lucky we are. All awesome things to hear!

My twin sister is due any minute with her second. We were over there today and Ryan noticed some baby items and asked what they were for. My sister told him they were for the new baby. Ryan turned and told his cousin, "These are for our brother!". Melt my heart! How on earth did I get so lucky to get these kids?!

Greg and I started a bible study with a few other couples. Our Young Marrieds class at church has kicked off. We're both working/school full time.

Life is going well over here. It's busy. It's wild. But it's so much fun.

I am content.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Preschool Progress

Lauren's been in preschool for 2 weeks now. Today is the end of her second week.

So far, so good! She really seems to love it. She cries at drop-off, which surprises me. She's never cried when we leave her at church! Her teachers assure me that as soon as I leave she stops crying and waits with her friends on the bus bench.

Two of her teachers have children with special needs! This makes me so happy to know, I feel great knowing that her teachers are also parents who "get it". One of these teachers is Lauren's clear favorite, she's the one Lauren will go to when I drop her off.

This morning they told me that yesterday she was "the most verbal we've seen her yet"!!! She really has been talking more just in the last couple of weeks. Yesterday she said spoon and grandma. This morning she said baby. What a smart girl!!

Today was Ryan's first day riding the bus. Yesterday was the first day, but parents stayed. He just got home and said he loved the bus!! He told me he'll tell me about school "later" because he has to "work" right now. This means he's way too busy playing with all of his trains!

Man, I missed them!! It was a nice morning to myself and I got a lot done, but I missed them more than I thought I would.

Last year vs this year. My, how he's grown!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Preschool

Lauren started preschool today!! Isn't that insane?

She's going Monday-Thursday from 9-12. She'll take the school bus home.

Today was mostly a meet and greet, we met her teachers. There are a TON of teachers for her classroom. 2 teachers and 2 para's plus PT, OT and ST teachers. PT/OT/ST will be push-ins throughout the day.

She's the only kiddo with Down syndrome in her class. She's actually the only kid in her class with a visible disability. The classroom is mostly SLI kids (speech language impaired). She's also the youngest (I think) and definitely the smallest. They were passing out the bus harnesses and seemed kind of panicked when they got to Lo. Luckily I jumped in to reassure them that she's getting her wheelchair next week for bus rides! She'll be in a car seat until then. She's much too small for the harness.

She really seemed to enjoy it! It was only an hour long today and parents stayed the whole time. She played with the toys, sat at the chairs and true to form, licked a couple of the tables. The teachers seem really awesome.

I'm sad to actually leave her there tomorrow and trust strangers to get her home. But I'm so, so excited for her at the same time. Preschool was one of my biggest worries when we got her diagnosis. I'm so glad she gets to have this experience!!

Don't worry, I took pictures!

Walking into school! WALKING!!!

Sitting at the table playing.

Playing with a classmate.

Loving preschool.

Bye, mom!
 
My heart is glad.

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

Summer

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.