28 July 2010

Must reads...

Even after almost 6 years, I am often asked 2 questions concerning our life with Betsy:

1. How did you deal with learning about her condition?

2. How do you do it?

I have touched on the answers to both often enough on this blog, but have never been completely satisfied with my interpretation.  It is a difficult thing to articulate and fine tune.  Maybe it can't be done.

Concerning the first question, the closest I've come is this.

However, recently, I've read two things that have touched my soul...to the core.

The first is a response to the first question.  Back in December, Kelle Hampton wrote the birth story of her second daughter.  The happy day quickly took a turn when Kelle suspected, that upon holding her sweet bundle for the first time, her baby girl had Down's Syndrome.

Even though Jake and I didn't discover Betsy's condition until she was almost 4 months old, the shock and sadness over mourning the daughter she thought she was having is so poignant.   The sadness is followed by hope, and more love than she could have ever imagined filling every space in her soul.  

Find the full post HERE, and grab a tissue or two {or a box}. 

The second post was written by my bloggy friend, Tara.  

It addresses the second question: How do you do it?

My answer has always been, "You just do.".

No big mystery.  No real secret. 

Tara explains a bit further, and she does it oh, so well.  

image of Tara's daughter via her blog 'TMI'

Tara's comparison of the balancing act of raising a child with special needs to the careful editing of a photograph is brilliant.  

Read her post, HERE.

Grab a second box of tissues.

Really.  You'll need them.

26 July 2010


Our basement bathroom was the last of the ugly in our house.

And, I'm happy to report it is gone!  Finally!

It was clean, but dingy, dated, and depressing.

See what I mean?  {By the way, we don't normally keep our toliet in the shower.}

After a few hundred bucks, and 5 hours of elbow grease...


I don't usually do the 'theme' thing, but since this is in the basement where the playroom/rec room and the boys' bedroom is I thought it should be fun.

I knew I wanted to stick with the color scheme down there of turquoise, yellow, lime, & orange {as seen here}.  But, didn't really have a plan past that.

My momma found a white shower curtain several months ago at Target for around $8.  It was the perfect canvas for some fun applique; a simple fish and some bubbles.

50% off letters from Hobby Lobby and a bit of spray paint made for cute wall decor.  I grabbed a discounted canvas from Hobby Lobby, too, and painted a messy little sun on it.

Aside from those items and the toilet, vanity, sink, faucet, and paint {all from Home Depot & Lowe's}...everything else came from Target:  shower curtain rod, curtain hooks, towels, rugs, towel bars, tp holder, soap pump, trash can, toothbrush holder.  EVERYTHING!

Lucky for me, it's back to college time, and all that stuff is mad cheap.  $3 towels, $3.49 bathroom accessories, etc.  Hooray for me!

I didn't snap a photo of it, but I made a curtain out of a turquoise flat sheet {also from Target} and appliqued some abstract waves on it to cover the linen closet behind the bathroom door.  It matches the wall color perfectly and gives it a nice tone on tone look.

Pretty white baseboards get put in this week, and then it is really, REALLY done!

Bottom line:  this was a cheap & easy transformation that instantly updated our 1990 bathroom.  The kids love it, I love it, Jake loves it!

Everyone's happy.

The end!

23 July 2010

Bad to the bone.

Rest assured these 'hard' hair cuts will be gone by the first day of school, but it's always nice to have a little fun and not be too serious ALL the time.

Surprisingly, I think there were about 10 other little guys with the same 'do' at Vacation Bible School this week.


And, if that youngest son of mine in the last photo doesn't look like his father in old football pictures, I just might need glasses!

20 July 2010

A bandwagon you'll want to be on.

Crystal over at 'Little Bit Funky' is doing great things!
But, you don't have to take my word for it {said in my best Levar Burton voice}.
Here is what she's up to, in her own words:

I am SO excited to be writing this post.  You really have no idea...I am almost day before Christmas excited...but not why you think.  Well maybe...if you know me...if you can beleive it...the finished quilt is not the most exciting part to me.  

It's the fulfillment of a promise that is making me all giddy with excitement.  

You see...a couple of months ago I felt the nudge to do more with my blog than just write and share...I felt like I was being led to use my blog as a catapult for showing God's love...
Honestly, I was like...ok...just what do you mean God?
And I waited...and prayed.  And then things started clicking...I found the quilt pattern over at Film in the Fridge. You can find it HERE.
"YES!" Is what I wanted to scream when I saw it...I knew what I was supposed to do...and how.
And quickly, because I am human and humans both chicken out AND forget easily what God tells them to do...I emailed a small group of women that I trust and love...some who I knew would kindly remind me of what I had shared with them that God told me to do. 

Basically, I told them..."God told me to do this...please call me out on it if I don't".
Then I contacted sweet Jody from Fabric Shoppe...and told her what I was on a mission to do...wouldn't you know it...she is a pastors wife and hopes to adopt from Africa one day.  She almost immediately offered to donate ALL of the fabric I would need to make the quilt.  

Thinking about it...that is a pretty crazy thing.  That is a LOT of fabric to just send to a stranger who promises to make a quilt to benefit a charity.  I cried in the parking lot after getting her email.
Then a good friend offered to pay for the batting and the shipping. 
God is SO good. 
God is responsible for all of this coming together.  God loves all people.  God loves Africa...and all those sweet people who are suffering from something that is SO easily helped...
To me...each piece of fabric in this quilt stands for a family or person...or BABY...that together we can help...and this may sound crazy...but if you are one of the many who have told me of plans to adopt from Africa...the net you buy just may save YOUR future baby.  Crazy cool, right?
Malaria kills over 1 MILLION precious people PER YEAR!!!
In fact, there are 10 new cases of malaria every second. 

Every 30 seconds, a child in Africa dies from a malaria infection.  A child that is no less precious or loved or held dear by his parents than our own children.
By buying ONE net a family of four can sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net, safe from malaria, for four to five years.
The benefits of bed nets extend even further than protecting those sleeping underneath them. The insecticide woven into each net makes entire communities safer – killing and repelling mosquitoes so that they can’t go on to bite others who may not be protected by a net.
Although $10 for a bed net may not sound like much, the cost makes them out of reach for most people at risk of malaria, many of whom survive on less than $1 a day.

Just think...to us $10 is a couple of latte's...a movie...a shirt...a lunch out...a CD...a couple of magazines...any number of frivolous things that we all throw money at...can I challenge us all to give those up for a day...or a week or a month...and give a net or two or three instead?
Can you help me show God's love to people in Africa?  And wait with me for God to show up in a big way?  Each net you buy is ONE entry into the raffle to win this quilt!
It's a beauty...if I do say so myself...considering that I only started sewing a little over two years ago...I feel so BLESSED that God would use me in this way to do something big.
It is approx 51in by 73in.  It would be cute as a twin coverlet...or on a couch...or hanging on a wall.  
And fyi--my home is smoke and pet free. :)
And as a special little touch...to help you remember what this quilt represents...I added this cute little tag. :)


And now for the begging...
PLEASE go buy a net...you can click HERE to go to our page.
If only each daily visitor to this blog bought ONE...we would more than double or triple our goal.  So YES...one net DOES make a difference!

PLEASE feel free to copy this ENTIRE post and repost it on your blog...you will probably have to check the links but feel free to post away....anyway you choose.  I would LOVE nothing more than to go through my reader and see this post over and over and over again!!

We will choose a winner NEXT FRIDAY the 23rd!!  So every net bought by Thursday the 22nd at midnight will count as ONE entry...and I have a totally unbiased judged in mind to do a VIDEO reveal of the winner!!!

 AND there will be other prizes as well.  If you would like to donate a prize PLEASE contact me...I already have several offers and I would like to extend the deadline to donate.

You guys are awesome.  And I love you...truly.  I can't wait to hit "publish" post...I feel like all of this before was like heading up to the highest point of a roller coaster and hitting "publish" will push it over the edge...

Now...pretty, pretty, PLEASE...go BUY A NET...and spread the word!!

19 July 2010

Summer Bucket List.

Progress on our summer list is not going well.

We've only done a couple of things on it.

Yet, I feel like we've done tons of other stuff.

What's the point of a list then?

In the next two weeks we WILL do the following:

1. Make custom bleach t-shirts

2. Have a lemonade stand

3. Paint 'hot' rocks

4. Turn in our summer reading logs to the library

5. Make cardboard tube bracelets

6. Have an English muffin pizza buffet

Am I the only one this is happening to?

How's your summer list going?

16 July 2010

She's done & some other stuff.

Betsy is officially done with preschool.

Her last day of summer school was yesterday.

And, boy, did she know it.

I think she gave everyone from her bus drivers to her teachers to her therapists 342.8 hugs each.

Kindergarten...well, let's just say she is ready!

Lucky for my psyche, I don't have to officially say good-bye to her teachers because I will see them all next year when I drop-off and pick-up Rosie.

Since Ro isn't in St.Louis County Special School, no bus for her.  Boo! Because, she would totally love it.

But, the good news is she will be in a classroom with typical AND special kids.  I think it is such a good learning opportunity for both groups of kids.

Wow, I am really deflecting from the fact that Betsy is going to kindergarten!  Totally and utterly done with the safe haven that is preschool.  Maybe because my feelings about all that are so complex.  Much more than with the boys.  Can you imagine?  Is that even possible?

Avoidance is the only way I can deal right now.

I normally don't avoid, but I've found with Betsy, it's best to deal with things as they come.  One step, one day at a time.  And, let's just say it took me a long time to get here.  So, for now, that's the best coping mechanism I can manage.  Take care of what needs to be taken care off, and quit worrying about the rest for needless amounts of time.

Aaaaaaaaaaand, I will see these lovelies tonight...{maybe more of the cousins, too}

which is always a good thing, and a fabulous distraction.

We are going to stuff our faces with dumplings and plantains from here.
Then, on Saturday morning, we're gonna kick back and enjoy a show...

Not to mention, birthday parties, baseball parties, some house projects.  Ahhhhhhhhh!

Yea, summer!  Busy, busy. {I know I'm not alone in this.}

Special times.  Good times.

Have a super-duper weekend, even if it's crazy busy!

14 July 2010

Because I like it...

Cousins: Betsy {5}, Kate {5}, & Rosie {3}

12 July 2010

Biker chicks.

The girls have learned a new skill.


Betsy's tone prevents her from going up-hill, but she's pretty darn good.

I cannot believe she finally learned to pedal!

On the opposite end of the spectrum...Rosie is a machine.

Obviously, based solely on this photo, her safety {no shoes, no helmet} is our top priority.

I jest but, I can assure you, dear readers, that isn't the norm around here.

It's crazy, hectic when we go outside because all they want to do is go, go, go.

Baby, they were born to run ride. {sang in my best Bruce Springsteen}

09 July 2010

The lake of mom guilt.

1st annual lake trip, July 2009
Don't we look like frat boys & sorority girls?
Sh'yeah, right.

This evening, we leave for the lake.
It's the second annual 'no kids' lake trip.

Typically, we are not ones to leave our kids.
But, I've been thinking that, for appearances sake, it sure looks that way.
Within the last couple of months, this will be our second trip without them.

I must admit, there's a little guilt involved.

You see, I was raised by two people who instilled in us that
once you choose to have kids, you are a parent.
That's that.
No leaving them, no dumping them off with random sitters.
They're yours.
Of course, my folks went out here and there.
Of course, we spent the night with our grandparents on occasion.
Of course, it wasn't all mom & dad all the time.
But, I don't recall being away from them much, if at all.

So, when I think about the fact that our 10th anniversary trip
{which lasted a bit over 24 hours},
and the fact that our lake trip falls a mere month-and-a-half later,
it makes me feel more guilty than usual.

Guilt is good, right?
If I didn't feel a tad guilty,
what would that say about me as a mom?
I don't have the answer to that, 
I just thought I'd throw it out there.

I think the bottom line is...
there is a happy medium between NEVER leaving your kids,
and leaving them too much.
My hope is that we have struck the balance.

So, I will go.
After the 2.5 hour car ride, I will feel better about having gone.
I will have fun.
After all, we go with other 'mommy & daddy' couples.
Everyone has at least 2 kids, if not more.
We end up talking about our parenting woes,
our kids,
our lives as something different than crazy college students without real responsibilities.
There's great food, beergaritas, good company, sleeping in, outlet mall shopping for back-to-school.
I feel like it's a bad episode of that old show 'Thirtysomething'.
And, I wouldn't want it any other way.
We even have a breastfed newborn coming along this year.
Holy cats, we are wild and crazy!

on Sunday,
I will come home to happy, spoiled-by-Grandma-all-weekend kids
who are as happy to see me as I am to see them.
We will cuddle on the couch that night with freshly popped popcorn,
and talk about everything we did over the weekend.
And, the best part is...
I won't leave them again until next July.

08 July 2010

My sister's babies...

Sam is 7.

Kate is 5.

Aren't they cuties?

We're not sure where Sam's orange locks came from.

Oh, the fun we have that.

There is no joke we all haven't heard.  

Red hair, and freckles.  

Personally, I think both make a deliciously squeezable situation.

Kay-Kay didn't get the red hair, but oh, those freckles.

They're in full effect.

And, let me just say, for the record, that glasses are quite challenging during shooting and post-processing.

I know I'm an amateur, but geesh!

I love those guys!

Can't to see how they all turn out.

07 July 2010

Back in the saddle...

I have been at my sewing machine again.

And, it feels real gooooooood.

I started small, by embellishing my deal of the summer...a lil' frock from the Gap for $7.

I had some Anna Maria Horner scraps from the scarves I made for a couple of Christmas gifts last year.

They were already perfectly cut, so I figured I'd whip up a patchy ruffle and sew it along the bottom.

I love it!

It gives my 6 foot frame a little extra length, and it's just pretty.

Oh, it makes me happy.

Next, I attempted a loftier endeavor.

I bought some fiesta-ish fabric from Hobby Lobby a couple of weeks ago for Betsy's 6th birthday ensemble.

For those of you that weren't aware, she has a special relationship with Dora.

It runs deep.  Real deep.

So, a fiesta it will be with small 'Dora' touches here and there.

I wasn't sure what I was going to make for her to wear, but then my momma found that lil' t-shirt for $1.

The smocking had a Mexican flavor, so I thought I'd applique some simple papel picado and, of course, a big ole #6.

I wanted to make patchwork ruffle pants, but lost patience and made a little skirt instead.

She thinks she is the cat's meow, twirling all over the house.

Next up, I want to improve my pattern reading abilities.

I would love to start working on something like this....

I think I'll have to wait until school starts up again.

I'm not sure why, but I just have this feeling it would be best.  ;)

06 July 2010

That guy.

That guy is our introspective, sensitive kid.

He takes things to heart.

He is his own worst critic.

He loves to tell stories.

That guy is artistic, imaginative, and deep.

He is a huge sports fan and is waaaaay competitive.

His heart breaks easily, so tears are shed often, but typically, quietly and privately.

He is the first born, the care taker, the peace maker, the old soul.

That guy is the bomb.

I love that guy!

04 July 2010

A little peanut.

Babies, babies everywhere.

I feel like so many of my friends and acquaintances are having babies.

Lucky for me, I get to visit often and smell that new baby smell whenever the mood should strike.

Here's the newest little one to join our group...all 6 lbs. 7 oz. of her.

Congrats, T & J!

She was an angel!

P.S.  I hope everyone has a safe & fun 4th of July!  It's one of my personal favorite holidays!  Enjoy!