Could it be?

Are these curls forming on the head of our third child?
If this is the case he may never receive a haircut. I don't think I can bare to cut them. :)

Serendipity

James and I had hoped to make a day trip to Asheville today. It wasn't meant to be. Again.

Wil was sick yesterday so we saw the writing on the wall. I have been feeling crummy for over a week now and that peeked last night when during my 2 am coughing spasm I was certain the pressure behind my right eye and ear was going to create a nasty mess for James to clean up. So, since James had already arranged to be off today I called and begged to be seen by my doctor. After explaining my symptoms the good doctor looked in my right ear, laughed, asked how I could even hear, then proceeded to sandblast my ear in order to get a wax cork out (that's right!) and I was quickly diagnosed with a nasty sinus and ear infection and sent home with three prescriptions. Hopefully in a couple of days I will be feeling a little less thick in the head. Maybe.

So, on to our serendipitous moment. After feeding Wil and Timothy (Luke was at Nonnie and Papa's were he was no doubt having a hamburger) I was on the floor working with Wil. We were mainly working on coming from sitting to stand when on his own initiative he removed his hands from me, stood alone and took two steps toward me. The second step may be questionable as he was falling into me but I am counting it! Did you hear the screaming? James and I had him do it again and again and being the dutiful guy that he is he did so until his legs gave out.

Here he is coming to stand. Taking one step. Then another.


My body still feels crummy but my spirits are soaring. We are so proud of this little guy!

The Christmas Tree Dilemma

Over the years we have made several changes in our home in an effort to keep our guys safe as they grow and explore. Lots of little things like getting rid of the coffee table to avoid losing an eye from slamming into the corner or wrapping rubber bands around kitchen cabinet knobs to make them more difficult to get into (Luke's brilliant idea - and much more effective than all the child proofing gadgets on the market!). Really there is only so much that can be done. And most of the damage over the last few years has not been to the children, it has been to our belongings. We have lost many dishes thanks to both Luke and Wil. (James and I have certainly had our share of mishaps, too) My favorite lamp has been broken and repaired twice. My grandmother's pie crust table, which we had refinished last year has lost all of it's "crust" thanks to Wil and Timothy - they get a big kick out of tipping that thing over! Luke sprayed bleach on a brand new shower curtain and rug. Our books. Well they have seen better days. We are constantly putting the rugs back in place, moving the chairs back to the table (this is the newest fascination - using the kitchen chairs as push toys, works great on the hardwood floors), putting the books back in place, closing the shutters, putting the cd's back in the armoire drawers, and so many other things.
Which brings me to my point. The Christmas Tree. How in the world can we possibly have a Christmas tree and all that goes with it. I don't think it would last half an hour. Thing One and Thing Two here would have every ornament within reach pulled off and the tree tipped over.

The gifts beneath would be ripped open and the paper ingested. Now on a positive note it would keep them occupied. hmmm. So what to do? We are trying to figure that out. I do love having the smell of a fresh tree in the house. Maybe we will get a small Charlie Brown tree to put on top of our foyer buffet. . . it is at least out of reach of our little troublemakers. Any ideas?

Taking action

A couple of days ago I posted about the report that came out of Serbia on the conditions and treatment of the mentally disabled in the country's institutions. A fellow mom and blogger, Michelle, of a daughter with Down syndrome has come up with some great ideas for those of us that would like to find ways to help. Here's what she suggests at DownBlogger on ways to help.

Feeling Helpless

We all see and hear of things around us that leave us feeling angry, sad, helpless. Today's report on the "Mental Institutions" in Serbia has left me feeling that way. I am pretty speechless actually. Here is the link from NBC, story.

Here is the NYTIMES article. Children with special needs are seen as throw aways, having no value at all. They report rows and rows of children with Down syndrome, that are mobile but not given the opportunity to move around, confined to metal coffins (small cribs). It is unconscionable.

There are so many things wrong with this story that there is really just too much to comment on. However, I cannot overlook one thing because it just jumped off the page at me and frankly really irritated me. The journalist is telling of one young man who appears to be 7 or 8 but is really 21 and has not been removed from his crib in the 11 years he has been institutionalized, in fact he has been tied down! The journalist then notes that, "the boy, who suffers from Down syndrome and can hardly communicate, is visited by his mother." I'm sorry but he is not suffering from Down syndrome, he is suffering from 11 years of abuse and neglect.

This is an old picture of Wil that I thought I would share. It was taken in our Florida home around the time that Wil started to really get the hang of 4 point crawling, we were all so proud of him. Today he put something else together. While listening to James on the phone he said "dada, dada" while signing daddy. He did it repeatedly so we know he made the connection and he knew it too, he was really proud of himself. Children with Down syndrome, like every other child, need input. They may need a little more in one area or another but the bottom line is that they need to be loved. And they will love you back in ways that are unlike anything else you have known. The thought of children like this little guy being tied to cribs to sit in their own waste. . . well, I just don't know what to do with it. Jesus said that "what you have done to the least of these, you have done to me."

CNN interview with Congresswoman Rodgers

Washington State Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers was interviewed by CNN yesterday. The interview was not about policy, elections, or any political controversy. It was about her son Cole, who happens to have Down syndrome. He was born last May and is adorable. To see the brief interview click here.

I hope that we will hear more from Ms. Rodgers and Cole in the months to come!

A Welcome Sight

Our home was blanketed in a sea of orange and blue over the weekend as we welcomed some University of Florida students that James worked with during our time in Gainesville. They made the drive to Columbia to watch their gators, ahem, embarrass my team, South Carolina. They were gracious winners and we had a great time visiting with them and our kids had so much fun playing with them. Here are a few pictures of their visit.




We recently had some trees removed from the backyard so the guys tried out the new space with a game of softball. Sorta. I'm not sure that we actually have a softball and I am not sure if that is actually a bat but since our yard is pretty much a dirt lot right now a game of pick up stick ball was appropriate.









Timothy and Rob enjoyed some one on one together. All I know about this is that I kept hearing Rob say, "this is the coolest toy, this is the coolest thing ever. . ." I'm not sure if he was talking about the stacking stars or the dump truck. Either way I think a break from the books was definitely needed. :0)








Timothy wowed and amazed everyone with his ability to stuff as much banana as we placed in front of him in his mouth. He is indeed a talented young lad.










James and Ryan were able to grab a few semi quiet moments (until I wandered in with the camera) to catch up on issues slightly more serious than Gator football.












Brandon and Wil enjoyed a little ball










And Luke and Stephanie (his personal favorite, I believe) played a mean game of Caraboo.


Luke especially loves a house full of people. The more the better. This group seemed to encourage some very random statements, proverbs if you will, from little Luke around the breakfast table. The crowd favorite, that we all pondered, but left us a little puzzled was, "If you want peace then you must sleep with your hair squared." This was evidently inspired by Ryan's coif.

We so enjoyed the added chaos for the weekend. These guys were such an encouragment to us and left us only slightly homesick for Gainesville. :)

It's not your fault mom

That's what Luke said to me as I was backing out of the garage with everyone in the van while on the cell phone filing a claim with the insurance company for a broken windshield (honestly, having them confined in their seats feels like the only time I can get through a business call). Slam! I ran into the jeep. The jeep which had just returned from the shop. Sigh. The part that bothers me about this is not that I hit the jeep. No harm done to the jeep or van - a few more black scuffs actually makes it easier to identify among the sea of silver vans in the Wal Mart parking lot. No, what really bothers me is how quickly Luke jumped in to emotionally take care of me. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate his sensitivity and love that he is a compassionate little boy. But I do worry that, at five, he is taking on roles he should not. He tells me often that he can't wait for his brothers to walk and talk so they can play with him ( me too, I think ) and does his very best to play on their level. I have been his play mate and companion for some time now and Luke has watched me closely. He has watched me struggle after Wil was born, struggle through Timothy's pregnancy and then his birth, struggle with our recent move and the strain it has caused. I am always aware that he is watching and try to be careful about what I am communicating but I am also aware that Luke picks up far more than I realize. And somewhere in the midst of all this he is feeling like he needs to take care of me. So, this dynamic. Not good. I'm not worried, we'll get it worked out. Just not so bummed I hit the jeep anymore.

And Luke. Praise God that he has been given some desire and talent in the art department. Because Wil and Timothy cannot play with him the way he desires and I cannot sit with him without constant interruption Luke has had opportunity to develop his drawing abilities. Here are two of his recent pictures. He really does enjoy coloring, drawing, and writing. He is particularly into rainbows right now as you might notice some on the boys t-shirts. In fact today we saw two rainbows in the afternoon sky. Luke got so excited because we have not had any rain and said he thought God put them there just to cheer him up since he did not have a very good day. ( He wanted to go to the football game with James and the Gainesville crew that came to town for the USC/UF game and was very disappointed to be left with me and his brothers) The rainbows did indeed cheer him up and we had a very nice evening.

Happy Birthday Papa!

Happy Birthday to my Wonderful Dad! A man who has loved and served well his whole live. He has served his country with commitment and honor as a Marine, he has served his community for three decades in law enforcement and now has the often thankless job of keeping kids safe (and in many cases keeping the community safe from the kids) for a local school district. Most importantly, at least to some of us, he has sacrificially loved and served his family with consistency and strength. And now that he has three demanding grandsons down the street he is back in the business of putting together toys, pulling out splinters, and flipping burgers for birthday parties. Not to mention providing handyman services for James and me.

So Happy Birthday to Dad, Papa, Pop (Luke's new name for papa - evidently at 5 it becomes much cooler to shorten everyone's name to one syllable. I am no longer mommy but mom, James is now dad and my mom, previously called Nonnie is being called Non.) Anyway, back to Pop. We pray that this year brings you much joy. You know you won't get any peace with us around. :)

Please bare with my indecision

I have kissed and made up with blogspot - this blog - and am sticking with it. The kinks have been worked out and I have too many other things going on to get used to a new blog host and all its funny ways.

Thank you for baring with me as I test drove wordpress.com. I am happy to be back where I am more comfortable here at blogspot.

On the home front I sense another round of doctor visits on the horizon as Timothy can be heard from all corners of the house barking a painful sounding dry cough. Wil has been crying on and off all day for no apparent reason apart from the fact that he has not been sleeping well the last week and is likely fatigued. And Luke just came out of his room and told me "his body feels like it needs medicine." He couldn't point to anything in particular that was bothering him, just a generalized ickiness. So, I am thinking tonight might be the beginning of another round of the sickies.

And on an embarrassing note, yesterday we had some time to spare before church so were enjoying the brisk afternoon air while walking around five-points when Luke started fussing about a rash on his bottom. This happens from time to time. Luke, having very sensitive skin, must be very careful to clean up well after using the restroom otherwise he gets rashy. And being five and all he just doesn't want help in this area any more. On the other hand being five has done very little for his ability to control himself when he is feeling discomfort. So I grabbed W and T's diaper ointment and headed into the Starbucks bathroom to take a look at Luke's bottom. He was indeed red. As I was trying to clean him up he screamed like I was sticking red hot needles in his eyeballs saying, "get that out of my bottom!" Now, I am certain that everyone on the other side of the door could hear us. I try to calm him down by telling him that someone is going to take him away from me if he doesn't stop screaming. Naturally this doesn't help. I tell him to just let me get the ointment on, it will feel better and we can go. He is still crying heavily but agrees. When I apply the ointment he lets out another wail, "it burns, it burns, take it off!" Oh my. We get a few glances when we emerge, most keep their heads down and give a quick look over their books as we scurry out. I don't have to wonder where James is with Timothy and Wil, I just follow Wil's screams.

Church at 5 pm. After "falling back" for daylight savings time, fun times.

Luke's Spider Web

I went up to put Wil down for his nap today and this is what I found. Luke’s spiderweb. Of course I couldn’t get Wil to bed without removing the web because much of the string was wrapped around his crib. Luke managed to use an entire ball of string that I have managed to hold onto for years now. He also managed to wrap it around every possible fixed object in their room multiple times. I was going to get the scissors and just slice right through it but some obsessive part of me wanted to keep this ball of string in tact. Sooo, I took Wil back downstairs, delaying his nap, Luke’s quiet time and mine, in order to find the end of the string and weave it in and out and through the web until I had my ball of string back. Luke was awed and amazed when he walked upstairs and saw that once again the string was back in a ball. It is now beyond the reach of five year old fingers.

Happy Day After Halloween




Remember the Halloween scene from ET? Kids coming out of the gutters, around the corners, out of the trees, and God knows from where else, swarming the streets of the neighborhood, lining up at homes begging for candy? That was our experience last night. Pure madness I tell ya. It was fun. Luke loved it and had as much fun sitting on our front porch rockers handing out candy when we returned from our jaunt around the neighborhood as he did knocking on doors. And Wil and Timothy seemed mesmorized by the sites and sounds of Halloweens and there were plenty. Our neigbors go all out, it is really remarkable. Some of these folks clearly have more time on their hands than we do.
If you can’t tell from the pics Wil was a Monkey, which suits him because he is the best climber in the house and it is his best animal noise and Timothy was a dragon. Doesn’t really suit him but the outfit was super cute. Luke actually dressed as a pirate for the second year in a row, giving up his desire to be a ghost when his craft-challenged mom couldn’t get the eyes to line up properly. He was a great sport about it though. We have already decided that next year our two little guys, who will be walking, are going to be Thing One and Thing Two from Dr. Seuss. I think I better start on those costumes now since I had a hard time making a sheet work.

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