Dear Bean,

Today, you are four.

At four, you are eager to learn. You love school and you work very hard. You work as hard as anyone I know. You have pushed yourself since you were a baby, struggling to hold your head up or roll over. To nurse, which was so tough for you, or balance on your therapy ball. Now, at four, you push yourself to walk up the stairs without assistance, to climb the hill at Nonnie and Papa’s. You concentrate on stacking your blocks and you work hard on feeding yourself with a spoon. I'm so proud of you!

At four, you know what you like. Your personality is strong and you let us know how you are feeling. Sometimes through signs. Sometimes through words. At other times it is through your intense laughter, or your intense tears.

You have added some words this year. One of your favorites is “horse.” When asked, you say your name, your age, and sign that you are a boy. You call out “Mama” and Da-dy” when you need something. But the word that we most often hear from you is “Papa.”
At four, your Papa seems to always be on your mind. When we get in the car you ask if we are going to Papa’s. When Nonnie comes by the house, you ask if Papa is with her. If, while out in public, you spot a man with gray hair and a mustache, you call for Papa.

You are playful. You take great joy in your brothers and initiate a wrestling match with them more often than they do you. One of your favorite positions is standing behind Spinner, when he is sitting on the floor, with arms wrapped around his neck, leaning against his back. And always with a big grin on your face. You and Tank struggle sometimes. You guys are either rolling around like puppies, laughing and playing, or pushing, hitting, and screaming at each other.

You love to be outside. You are content to sit in the grass or watch your brothers play in the creek. You love to swing, screaming, “weee” with every push. You love to take rides with Nonnie in the golf cart, snuggling up against her side as she drives you through the pasture to see the horses or up the drive to get the mail. You love to take walks with Daddy around the neighborhood and you know exactly where all the dogs live. Splashing in the pool or playing in the sprinkler is a favorite summertime activity. You stay in until your fingers are soft and wrinkled.

At four, music is your comfort. You love to dance and bob your head to the rhythm of whatever is on. When you are unhappy music will normally cheer you up.

You love “Horton Hears a Who” and laugh out loud over that elephant’s silliness.

You are almost always eager to give out hugs and kisses and you love to cuddle. When you settle in beside dad or me you throw your arms back behind your head. You have done this since you were a baby.

In four short years you have radically changed our lives. You have introduced us to an entirely new world. You have taught us to delight in the small things. You have tenderized us and toughened us at the same time. You have deepened our capacity to love. You have taught us about the really important things in life.

I love being your mom, Bean, and I wish you a very Happy Birthday!!

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An awesome day, not

Wow, it's been a super swell day at the Walden house. And because I don't like my husband to miss out on all the fun, I documented the day to share with him.

This is Tank. Moments after waking. I have Spinner and Bean in the car ready to make the drop off rounds. Tank refuses to comply. With anything. He was angry I removed him from his crib, crying "cwib, cwib, cwib," as I carried him downstairs. He cried for his 'vaffle,' then rejected it the moment he laid eyes on it. I took it back, then he screamed "vaffle, vaffle." And so it went. He refused to walk to the car so I physically wrestled him into his seat in order to avoid tardy slips for his brothers.

Moments later. This.

In addition to a disdain for being in the car, Bean gets highly upset every single morning when we go straight rather than right at the four way stop outside of our neighborhood. Why? Because going straight does not take us to Papa's and he knows this. And apparently, Papa's is the only place that makes him happy these days.

Once home, Tank sets off playing. While doing so he finds an old sippy cup that went missing weeks ago. He guzzled like he'd had no liquids in a week. Then he projectile vomited the curdled milk he had unwittingly ingested, looking at me like I had betrayed him in the worst way.

Later, while comforting Bean (who would not nap today) in the den, I hear the water running in the upstairs bathroom. I call out to Tank, who is obsessed with brushing his teeth, to turn the water off and come downstairs. I turn back to Bean and moments later find Tank behind me quietly saying, "sour, sour," (shower) while pointing upstairs.

I remove his clothes and deposit him in the den, where I have turned on 'Horton Hears a Who' in an attempt to paralyze his mind so I can clean up his bathroom. He did not, in fact, turn on the shower, but used a cup to pour water from the sink all over himself and the bathroom, amounting to about 1/4 inch of water all over the floor, making its way to the carpeted hall. I used a load's worth of towels to sop it up and returned downstairs.

To find this.

Tank, who did not want his cooked 'vaffle' this morning had retrieved the waffles from the freezer and was eating them from the bag, FROZEN. And he was NAKED. Yes, he removed his diaper. Then urinated on the rug and coffee table. But he was thoughtful and pointed it out to me, saying, "yucky, yucky."

Simultaneously, I was saying "no" to Spinner's request to call friends to come over and play in the rain. This did not make him happy. He let me know.

Then he took a stool onto the front porch to watch out for kids who had nice parents that let them play outside in the rain. Pitiful.

That, was followed by this.

Big tears while discussing the need to get a prescription for eye drops. Seems he has contracted conjunctivitis.

You know what that means. Tank and Bean will be next.

The day has been documented. Not one of them appreciated my bringing out the camera in the midst of their tantrums, but hey, what are mom's for if not to laugh at their kids? Don't worry, I doled out hugs too. I also yelled a little. It was a well balanced day.

And now, weary as I feel, I am laughing and feeling thankful for my spunky, highly spirited boys.

boys best friend

Tank first met Zeb (beloved dog of our friend's, the Steen's) over a year ago. He was instantly smitten.

Tank and Zeb's first meeting.

It's good to know that after an 18 month separation the love is still there.

Tank joining Zeb for an afternoon nap. On the patio.

Whoa, where ya going Zeb? Wait, I want to snuggle.

Don't be afraid. Contrary to my mom's nickname for me I can be quite gentle.

But just so you know, if you don't respond to my gentleness, I will use full body force.

no phase two

I didn't realize how anxious I was about Bean's x-ray until after the doctor told me that, while the measurement is still a little above "normal," it is not great enough to even warrant putting him through the MRI. "Come back in a year," he said.



James said I am getting slack on the blog and need to post something.


Oh, and here is something else. Please pray for Bean, he goes in tomorrow morning for phase one of follow up on AAI. If you were reading last year you may remember this, followed by this. Tomorrow, another x-ray. Later, CT and MRI.

Monday Miscellany

1. I still do not have a camera. It's killing me. Well, not really, but I do wish I'd had it over the weekend to capture the arrival of spring and all that means to boys.

2. We met with a realtor today. When we moved to Columbia to plant a church our thought was that we would move downtown, where we are planting, once Wil got through a couple years of school. Early education, while vital for all kids, is especially important for Wil at his stage of development. We moved to a district that is known for their special needs programs but is a little further from downtown than we would like. We have been super pleased with the schools for both Wil and Luke but are really feeling the need to live where we minister. To establish roots in the community where we want to be long term. Lord willing, we want this to be our last move for a while so we are willing to wait on a house we really like and can make our own. So, we are beginning the process. We are not in a hurry but also don't want to miss an opportunity if the right house should come along. For the most part homes are more expensive downtown, particularly in neighborhoods that feed into good schools, so we know we will have to compromise on some things. For now, we are gathering information and trying to decide when to list our house. Spring is apparently THE time to list with most people trying to move during the summer months. We'll see what comes up.

3. Anonymity. I have been thinking lately that it is time to become a little more anonymous around here. Particularly when it comes to the kids. I don't want the boys to hit the oh-so-weird middle school years and be ridiculed because someone googles their name and finds all sorts of embarrassing stories posted by their bored mom. However, I don't want to stop telling those stories. :) So, I am trying to come up with some pseudonym's for them. Now, I am not going to go back and replace my past posts so those embarrassing stories will remain out there. Hopefully, my boys will have thick skin. Well, at least two of them. Next time I post it will be with their new names. If you have any ideas let me know.

4. A brag. If you will indulge me for a moment I would like to brag on Luke. His class was recently re-tested on reading. They do this four times a year to make sure the kids are on track, to set new goals, work on areas of difficulty, etc. Luke's level when he entered Kindergarten was a 4. By November he was at level 8, exceeding the goal of 6 set for him by December. A new goal of 12 was set for him to attain by May. This week his teacher notified us that his current level is 24. The average child in Luke's class, she said, advanced by 6 levels. Luke advanced by 16 levels! We are proud of him, not because our value is in academic accomplishment but because he has been working so hard at something that he really enjoys. Brag over.

T21 Traveling Afghan, update

The T21 Traveling Afghan has it's own blog now. If you want to follow the travels of the T21 Afghan and learn more about families around that globe that have loved ones with Down syndrome, then go here. Right now the afghan is hanging out in Iowa with The Flege Family.

winter blues

Tired of this

Ready for this

Three Things

1. I have mentioned before how valuable the on-line Down syndrome community has been to me. I have often wished I could take a road trip to meet all the great moms (and some dads) and kids that have helped me navigate the twisty and unexpected roads we have traveled since Wil's birth. I can't do that. But Little Miss E's mom has come up with the next best thing. A traveling afghan that will make many stops at the homes of families I have enjoyed getting to know in the blogiverse. A notebook will accompany the afghan with notes from families around the world. Yes, the world. This little afghan has quite a journey ahead. When it shows in our mailbox I will be sure to post a photo. Well, maybe. See #3.

2. Speaking of the Down syndrome community. Avery, son of Jennifer Graf Groneberg, author of Road Map to Holland, is about to have open heart surgery. Many of us know all too well how difficult it is to hand your child over for a surgery such as this. Remember them on March 11 as Avery goes in for surgery. You can read more about it here and even leave her a word of encouragement if you wish.

3. My youngest - by far the most destructive child of our brood - decided to play "let it float" with my camera. My camera did not float. In case you are wondering. It also did not survive the game. He also played said game with my bottle of migraine meds. It did float but he didn't like that so he submerged them, allowing water to fill the bottle and dissolve my costly, good as gold, pills. After that he made his way into Luke and Wil's room and dumped out all the colored sand Luke was using for a project. Bright oranges, blues, yellows, greens, browns ALL. OVER. the carpet. And my vacuum? It's been broken for a week. Fun times around here. And costly.

By the way. . . If you want to follow the afghan just click on the T21 Traveling Afghan button on my right sidebar. It will take you to Little Miss E's blog where she will provide updates and pictures of all those who receive it.

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