Friday, October 30, 2015

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

A letter to our sweet little friends Lauren and Kate,

I've been wanting to write a little bit about Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and I thought I'd share with you two girls how you became such a special part of our lives.

Dear Lauren, 
We met your parents when they were walking around the neighborhood, introducing themselves to neighbors and asking if they could pray for us. That right there shows the kind of people they are! We were approaching the open heart surgery of our little boy Steven, and you had already experienced this same surgery yourself. Although we didn't know each other well, your generous parents drove up to the hospital after his surgery, brought us a meal, and showed us around. I remember just how comforting that was during one of the most difficult experiences of our lives. 

Now that we have moved back to the area, we have been able to share so many special times with your family this past year. They are what neighbors should be...dropping off a meal when we are sick, watching children on the spur of the moment, lending a hand during our move, and sharing many fun evenings together. Your family has kept us in prayer during difficult seasons and big decisions, and we are so grateful. 

You love our two big girls, and our baby Katie Grace with such a fierce love. You have those big girls wrapped around your little finger, and they will often let you boss them around! Your sympathetic heart gets so upset when Katie cries. And your feelings get hurt when the big girls are gone to ballet or doing schoolwork. You love generously and confidently, and you have such a tender heart. We are blessed that you are a part of our lives!


Dear Kate, 
I met your mom when we were both honored at a group baby shower for our homeschooling community. From our first conversation, I was immediately struck by her bright smile and warm words. Even though we hadn't yet moved back to the area, we kept in touch and I started reading your mom's beautiful blog. Her poetic words and spiritual depth always strike me in a profound way. Her commitment to motherhood and making a beautiful, happy home is an inspiration to me. Her texts and encouragement when I need it have been balm to my sometimes-weary soul. Your dad also has a generous heart and has spent many hours helping our homeschooling group in our online communication. I know that both of your parents are committed to faith and family, and they are witnesses to life as they welcome children lovingly from the Lord!

I wish we lived closer, because I'd love to spend more time with your sweet family and I know my girls would thoroughly enjoy babysitting and playing with you and your sweet siblings more! We do get to share time together every couple weeks for homeschooling events and play dates, and I'm very thankful for that time to get to know your family. You seem a bit reserved and take awhile to warm up to the crowd. You and your sister are always together, and you can tell there is a deep closeness between you two, and between all the members of your family. It shows that the heart and center of your family life is your home, which is where you are most comfortable, and that is so very beautiful.


Lauren and Kate,
Each of you has made a special impact in our lives. Although you both have Down syndrome, you are so very different and show us how unique God makes each of us. You have helped my children to learn more compassion and love. My big girls have a heart for children with Down syndrome, likely because of how important you have been to them. Your parents are true advocates for both of you, finding the resources you need to succeed. But most importantly, they are forming your hearts to love others and be a shining light of God's grace to the world. I wish that more families would welcome beautiful children with Down syndrome like you sweet girls. You make our lives so much richer and sweeter!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Seven Quick Takes

Not much time for blogging these days! We are still settling into our new house and trying to make it more of a home. There were quite a few furniture items that needed Craigslist replacements, so my part-time job has been scouring the online classifieds to find the best deals! I'm generally pretty savvy at this, but I've still lost 3 or 4 desk deals for Mary Clare, who is currently using an upside-down moving box in her room as her desk! Overall I've done pretty well with scoring couches, bedroom furniture, a fridge, and a buffet for a very good deal! We also went ahead and got a set of IKEA chairs and compensated our friends with dinner and wine to help us assemble them!

Another reason I haven't been blogging is that my amazing friend Beverly isn't doing so great. She just spent a few days in the hospital, and we are all praying that they find the right treatment to manage her cancer. She's still so positive, her kids are showing great kindness and courage, and we got to spend a whole weekend with her youngest, our goddaughter, last weekend!

A weekend away at the beach has also kept me away from my writing. We've had some warm October weather and were blessed to spend two nights at the family beach house with friends. It was just what we needed to take a step back from everything going on at home. 

Aside from unpacking, moving, decorating, and settling into our new home, we've also been renovating our old home for my parents! We are very happy with our contractor, and he's almost finished with the updates in the kitchen and bathrooms. It looks amazing, both inside and outside!

We have continued our normal ballet schedule which is pretty manageable. They dance for about 3 hours twice a week, and we just drop them off and pick them up. Piano is once weekly, and currently it's just Ellie and Thomas taking lessons. We also have 4-H, museum classes, and park days once monthly, and the boys and girls homeschool clubs twice monthly. we are back doing little league baseball for Steven Joseph, and it is a challenge! 3-4 days a week of practices and games, and every week the schedule is different. The two youngest don't handle the driving well, and I am exhausted! I'm hoping we can find a better solution this spring!

After I blog about our beach trip, I'll be sharing some wonderful photos of our big boy Steven who will have his First Holy Communion this coming Sunday! He had his First Penance this past Sunday, and we were so proud of him even though he was very scared. We are very excited for him to receive these sacraments. We're preparing for a busy weekend and a big party to celebrate!

Today we have a large group of our 4-H club over here to make meals for Beverly's family! The kids shopped together and are now washing, chopping, and cooking without much help at all from the adults. Katie was ready for a nap so I'm getting her down and starting to think about the rest of the errands of the day. A big weekend, but we will be blessed to share it with family and friends!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Moving days...

Where do I begin? Life has been a whirlwind the past few weeks, but I finally feel like we're settling into our new home. We had a lot of emotional days leading up to the closing of our house, but now we are here, it's a joy, and we are so very grateful to God for this gift of a new home!

I have so many more words, but there is just never enough time to sit and share here. Now I have a laptop to use, so hopefully once we figure out how to transfer photos to that computer, I'll be all set for blogging! For now there is so much to do...decorate a new house!!! Oh, and continue to move things out of the old house, clean it up, plan more renovations, and then pack and move my parents!  And that pesky little thing I'm responsible for...schooling all of my children!

Here are some iPhone moments of the past few weeks until I can share more...

Top row: babies schooling, little ones reading amidst the boxes, museum baby friends, little siblings during museum classes, and dinosaur buddies!
2nd row: a little moment at Barnes & Noble, MC and our sweet neighbor friend, Katie owning the world, Daddy walking the littles into mass, and kiddos at the zoo
3rd row: Daddy and Tommy in the reptile room, Tommy by his favorite animal--Komodo dragon, his new microscope in the closet "science lab" his sisters made him, SJ playing with water balloons one morning in the driveway (in 24mos swim trunks, the day before his heart surgery anniversary), and our first 4-H meeting with games outside
4th row: My little getaway for a mom's night, Katie enjoying the new house, kids on moving day, friends at the moving in pizza party, my mom hanging with us in the new house, Ellie with a new used furniture find, Katie at Old Town Spring after Sunday mass, Tommy reading his new favorite reptile book, Ellie my shopping buddy, and our new front door!
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