Friday, December 30, 2011

All that glitters...

I numbly went into this year with Fiona's heart surgery just days into 2011. And I am finishing it with my biggest worry being her bumping her head under chairs as she is trying to pull herself up to stand. My boys grew ages with the introduction to school and the independence to be on their own. Blink, another whole year gone.

I've been holding my kids a bit tighter, snuggling just a second longer, fully aware that these days wont be here forever. The tiny twin boys', that I used to hold one in each arm, now feet dangle to my knees as I carry them separately to their beds. And not too much longer, I wont be able to carry them at all. It makes me appreciate each stage we get with Fiona that much more. No rush for our angel to grow up. But, oh, how my heart melts to see her crawl her way over to me, look up at me with those big blue eyes and pull her self up to give me a kiss. She gives the best kisses.

I'm not normally the resolution-making type. I don't do the typical cliche things that most people give up like smoke or drink soda or have some big thing I want to change about myself. But subconsciously, I can't help but feel the new year- new beginnings feeling. Recognizing the things that I want to concentrate on, accomplish and change this new year.

Cheers to growing. To never staying the same. For being made out of clay instead of stone, with the capability to expand, and stretch, and transform. I am excited to see what a new year brings. What with each passing day my family molds into. For now, I am enjoying the ever-funny conversations with my boys who know more words then they know the meanings too, and watching Fiona conquer every milestone slowly, sweetly, perfectly.

Hello, 2012. I hope the Mayans were wrong. Me, I am welcoming the new year with my sparkly high heels and some very glittery nail polish. It sets the tone for the whole year. You can't help but smile when you are surrounded by sparkly things.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Adventures

Only the few lucky ones get to make a living doing something they deeply love.

I never had much of an ambition in finding a career. I had one and only goal- become a mom of kids with the man I love. And I do not think this makes me any less intelligent or well-rounded or ambitious. I was a strong student, especially when it came to the arts, accepted to every college I applied to, and truly love to learn. But in the deepest part of my heart, the only job I really wanted was to be a mom.

Leaving college and becoming a hair dresser was a decision made because it was a career that usually molds well with also having kids (pre-kids me made this decision). Its supposed to be a flexible career. My only fault was choosing to work for money-grubbing, male bosses who did not understand the importance of this. I shot my self in the foot for working for companies that did not allow me to build my own clientele- for not starting at booth rent.  My love for that career was crushed when my true love came along- parenting- one that is just too important of a job to split with another. However, our bank account was not as happy as I was about my new job. Not having two incomes is drowning us. 

So..... I am jumping on the band wagon. I am combining my love of staying home with my love for crafting and am now the ten billionth stay at home mom on Thanks to miss Ashley Allbee, my work is beautifully photographed and up for sale on the ever-popular Made-by-Me store. I am loving this. Its something I do anyway, and now maybe it will help fill my refrigerator with food. 

Obviously not professional pic, this one is taken by me

check out My Shop and like me on Facebook

Thank you for helping me have my dream job!

Monday, December 26, 2011

You know the words...

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

brother-sister gift exchange

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

making Santa cookies

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

Christmas Eve dinner (and no there was no one else there- yes, I did set the camera to auto-shoot to take pictures of us eating. Yes, I am aware this is weird, but how else was I going to get a picture of dinner?)
the boys insisted on using cookie trays as dinner plates

 "Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

our reindeer food

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

Christmas eggs and bacon
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

Christmas walk
 He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

Fiona's mad flashlight skills
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Christmas dinner

Merry Christmas! If this is anything like last year, this is a greeting that my boys will use well into July. I have already heard them threaten each other that they are on the naughty list... for next Christmas. Maybe keep Ryan the Elf out all year?

And, yes, my kids were in their undies for Christmas dinner. When its just us, and messy food, why not? We'll save the formality and the fine dining set up for when the kids are old enough to remember, or not destroy, the table. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Fiona is stunningly beautiful. Strangers go out of their way frequently to tell me this. Specifically, her eyes. They are breathtaking, spectacular, absolutely stunning, just to name a few of the comments. Not one of them sees anything different. I know this, because the few I do feel the urge to tell she has Down syndrome, their mouths hit the floor as the response is always . "Really?! I don't see it". While babies with Down syndrome are stunningly beautiful, she is beautiful in a completely normal, mainstream, non-Down syndrome type way. I have talked to moms of kids who are autistic about the struggle of people not being able to look at your child's features and know they are different. The white elephant that is in the room when people don't know why your child isn't talking, or is acting odd, or is behaving outside of their age group. While its a blessing that people don't judge at first sight, it forces you to have conversations you'd rather not have.

I chose to hold my tongue today. Another person mesmerized by Fiona's eyes made their way over to comment on how beautiful my baby was. And the ever looming question came up quickly. "How old is she?" This is the big give away. My answer always raises alarm, that, depending on how forward the person is, leads to either a white elephant in the room or them carefully asking questions to find out what is "wrong" with her. She is tiny. Even for a baby with Down syndrome.She falls in the bottom 20th percentile on the Down syndrome charts, and is a good mile below the normal charts. But this particular lady's alarm never went off. No pause, no hiccup, no extra long once-over on Fiona to figure it out. She just accepted her age and her size and told me her granddaughter was tiny like that but its nothing to worry about, she'll catch up eventually... "she is just so beautiful". I almost told her, " No she wont catch up" but I stopped myself. Why? Why unveil that Fiona is different when there is no need to. After all, she is "more alike then different" and that is how I want people to see her. And that is how people see her until I open my big mouth. My biggest motivation for telling the random stranger that she has Down syndrome is they just got done showering her with praise and I want them to see the value in her life- in all babies lives with Down syndrome. I want them to remember her face when they are confronted with their own baby's Ds diagnosis or someone close to them is told they are carrying a baby with an extra chromosome and remember the beautiful, well mannered, happy and content (other compliments frequently given) baby they were so entranced by that they went out of their way to get a better look at her. I want them to remember how normal our family was- out to lunch, laughing, scolding toddlers, sharing drinks and dotting over their baby girl. But sometimes, I stay silent. I enjoy the moment of really being perceived as normal. Of really being normal.

Life is very normal now. Except for weekly therapy sessions, there are no obvious signs of different. Life is filled with chasing 3 year olds, cleaning up messes, redirecting crawling baby, taking unsafe objects out of her path, breaking up fights over toys and who gets to sit where, cleaning up messes, changing tiny diapers and wiping toddlers butts, meeting up with other over-worked/amazing moms for play dates, strapping kids in car seats, cleaning up messes, watching Christmas movies and reading books, and tucking babies in bed. Fear of encountering the hard moments of loving and caring for someone with special needs always lingers, but its faint and far in the background for now. Right now, the only special needs I see is carrying my baby and helping her hold her bottle. I am okay with that. No, I love that.

Today I learned that I completely failed at teaching my kids about Christmas. I have spoiled, selfish kids... or, in other words, I have three year olds. To them, Christmas is about presents. Balancing the two Christmases is a lot harder then I thought it would be. I am becoming more and more aware of how palpable their minds are and how important what I feed them really is. A four year old in my Sunday school class was humming a Ke$ha song while he played with cars and I stopped in my tracks, thinking, what do I play around my own kids? What am I feeding their minds? What do I put emphasis on in our home? What do my kids see that I value? Our candy advent calendar is up to date, but we are ten days behind on our Jesse Advent Tree. We keep pouring our energy into the illusion of Santa, elves and reindeer, but rarely talk about the nativity, the miracle, or the gift God gave us. Every year since the boys where born, we have loaded up bags of under-used toys and brought them to Good Will a few days before Christmas. Last year, the boys helped pick out toys and somewhat understood what we were doing. There was a lot of whining about giving away those toys. But this year, if Charlie and I hadn't stepped in, there wouldn't be a single toy left in our house. Even after ample explanation that we were giving these toys away for ever, they wanted to give away everything. I had to go through their piles and remove things like their Thomas trains and other toys I knew they were not ready to part with. When we got home from dropping everything off, Gavin comes running to me with sad eyes and says, " I miss my big green race car" I started flipping out. He had put it back in the bag after I had taken it out, knowing that he was not ready to get rid of it. After telling him that there was no way we could get it back, he says, "That's okay mom, the other kids will love it. I wanted to share." That is what I want my kids to get about Christmas. And in between the whining for toys and begging to open presents, he got it. Selflessness.

Gavin putting the green race truck in his give away pile.

I had no intention to do another post before Christmas, but I just felt like writing tonight. I realized, most of the time I don't really write, I just narrate about the pictures I post. I semi considered leaving pictures out of this post all together, but I couldn't resist a few to carry you through all the words. I get asked/told a lot I should write a book. I don't think I am there yet. I wouldn't have enough to fill a whole book. I am still waiting for my big defining moment. Both me and Fiona are still babies with this Down syndrome thing to write anything accredited about that, and my faith is also a work in progress. Plus, with a baby sister who is a linguistics and English major, I have to make sure my writing is really up to par :) At least I know who to go to if and when I need an editor. For now, I will continue to release my energy here and enjoy the writings of others who have something to say that takes longer then two minutes to read.

My Christmas gift came a bit early, and I am thrilled I will be getting to take my whole family home to Michigan with me in a month for a visit. Real snow for my boys! Forget Christmas, let the count down to Michigan begin :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Florida snow. We stand around, fueled with anticipation to see the little magic that defines Christmas time. The white dusting that covers Christmas lit houses and glistens on little ones heads in the movies. In our own childhood memories. We wait for this glimpse of magic, while enjoying ice cream and watching our kids run through sprinklers. And when they announce "Let it snow!", my boys rush over to catch the floating white magic shooting out of a machine perched high up on a palm tree, only to turn to me with pure disappointment, "mom, its just bubbles". It was at that point that I stopped swearing under my breath at my camera that had run out of batteries two minutes before the "snow" fall, and just threw up my hands with a "what are you going to do". We still danced in the snow bubbles. 

Little sister is communicating more and more. She waves like a true princess. We walk with her waving over my shoulder to any one or anything she passes. In the car, she is like a beauty queen on a float, sweetly waving to each passing car. She also is very good at making it clear when she wants something. Apparently, she was not too happy when there was no more ice cream.

We sweetened up the snow let-down with some gingerbread- and a visit to the Naples Ritz Carlton to gawk at their life-size gingerbread house. All is magic again with a cookie in hand.

Our second annual Christmas light walk made me realize this is a tradition that as long as we live in warm weather will stick. 

My kids are the best at 7 at night. Night owls like their father. Its probably the only time I can guarantee not one of the three of my kids is going to have any melt downs. So I love night activities with them. I love when they get along, when they include their sister, how Fiona so looks up to her big brothers. And I love being a witness to this piece of magic... family.

this awkward photo was taken right after the boys yelled " Lets snuggle with Fo-na!"

We seem to have a slight addiction to candy cane's in our family. Thank God that the red doesn't stain and we may possibly need sugar detox therapy after the holidays.

The Polar Express didn't make that much of an impact on the boys,which really surprised me what with their obsession with trains, but a (kinda) real train ride is always a hit. A night ride through Christmas lights on a chilly night was the icing on the cake for our festive weekend. 

I am ready. I am ready to watch my kids rip through wrapping paper and see the magic in their eyes with each gift. I am so thankful to be here, now. Three healthy, beautiful kids. Fiona's Heart Day just around the corner, I can't help but reflect on the anxiety of last Christmas. The thoughts of what if this is her first and only Christmas? But it wasn't. And her heart is now PERFECT. These three are the greatest gift I could ever receive. Merry Christmas to you and yours. May you be aware of all you have to be grateful for. 

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