About Me

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After being told I would never be able to have children, I am now a stay-at-home Mommy to Maddie who happens to have Down Syndrome. I've been married 16 years to my best friend, having the time of my life. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our little journey through life.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Volunteering at Hope

Thursday I was completely spent.  
It was one of those crazy, busy days but not in a fun way.
We had to pick up our vehicle from the repair shop which was supposed to be ready at 1:00.  
At 1:30, I'm still in the car with Maddie waiting as Kyle finished up inside.  
I have a meeting I'm supposed to attend at 2:00 which was at least 15 minutes away and probably more like 20.  

Finally, Kyle comes back at 1:45...barely enough time to rush to my meeting.  
As I hop in my newly refurbished vehicle, I realize I haven't had a bite to eat all day...just one green smoothie that morning that had long since depleted my satiety. 

Desperate for nourishment, I find two saltine crackers and a fruit bar stashed in my purse for Maddie.  
I dash away only to discover the stupid parking lot has cars everywhere and there's only one way in and one way out.  


After 10 precious minutes trying to get out of the stupid parking lot, I'm on my way to the meeting.  
I will now be at least 10 minutes late and probably 15, but hoped they are late getting started.  

I arrive late to find the meeting in full swing...sigh.

As I sit in the meeting, trying to get my bearings I realize I have to be at Hope Pregnancy Center by 5:15 to volunteer to take newborn pictures.  
Surely I'll have time to grab a bite to eat on the way.  

At 4:45 the meeting was still going on and I have no choice but to rush out.

I speed home, grab my camera gear and a slab of cheese and head out the door.  

As I'm driving I'm scolding myself wondering why in the world I do this.  
Life would be so much easier if I just didn't volunteer for these things!  

I'm just hoping things go easily and quickly so I can just get home and relax.  

And then...I walk in through the door.

I'm greeted by familiar, friendly, smiling faces happy to see me.

I exhale and forget all my worries.  

We pray before the clients arrive and a peace takes over.  

Somehow I am transported into a blissful, serene, state of mind and I feel right at home.  

The first mommy arrives and the flashes won't fire. seriously?

Troubleshooting as best I could, we try all of our options until finally I think to replace the batteries in the wireless transmitter and transceiver.  

We are on a roll now.  

But I had no idea what blessings were in store for me until the next Momma showed up.  

I wish I could share these pictures with you, but I don't have permission.  

She was from Ghana and as we were making fools of ourselves trying to get a smile from her precious son, she begins to speak to him.  
She speaks in her native Ghana and then repeats the phrase in English.  
He responds to her with delight in his eyes and a quick grin.

It was the most beautiful thing.  

I had to stop and express how beautiful it was to hear her native language.  

She tried to teach me a phrase...ummm...yeah.
Instead, we settled on the name Jesus.  
She repeated it, until I was finally able to clumsily utter it.

I'm so grateful for this moment I got to experience and share with her.  
I hate that I really can't express with words the impact of it.  

I drove there with a heavy heart and a selfish perspective.  
I left there light hearted, renewed, and rejuvenated.  

I think this verse says what I'm unable to...
Luke 6:38
"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

It's one of those tender moments in life that really stand out like the a bright spot of light shining in the darkness. The contrast of the busyness of the day and taking time to stop and cease the moment.  

I'm so taken by the fact that I try and give to show my gratitude and do my part (even though sometimes I don't always feel that way) 
and God is so loving and kind 
that He gives even MORE back to ME.  

What kind of God is this?

I'm gratefully awed and inspired. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Formula For Taking Great Pictures of Your Kids!!

1.  Next time you are on the floor playing with your kiddos, hold your hand up against the wall.  

2.  If you see nice, soft shadows like this...RUN (don't walk) and get your camera immediately!

This is the best kind of light for picture-taking!
It means its a soft light that won't produce any harsh shadow lines.  

3.  Next step is getting buy-in from your kids!
Maddie knows all about taking pictures. 
Sometimes she's up for it, and most of the time she's not!

4.  So, grab Nemo and begin taking pictures of him.  
Make it a game, and then announce, "It's Maddie's turn!"

Chances are they will then gladly play along!

5.  Take a few shots, and show them how pretty (or handsome) they are!

6.  Next, to keep them interested, get their cameras out, and have them take pictures of Nemo too!

Follow these steps and you should be able to hold their attention long enough to get shots like these:  

A few more details to getting that great shot:  

Maddie was about 6-8 feet from the light source.
please excuse the mess!!
The closer you get to the light source, the harsher the light as you can see in this shot.

Make sure you are not blocking the light source when you stand in front of kiddos to snap pictures.
Your pictures will look like this...

So that's it...easy peasy!
Go get those awesome shots and let me see em when you do!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lacing Beads? Mastered!

I had to share this video to show you how excited Maddie gets when she's accomplished something!

And speaking of accomplishments...she went potty in the potty the other day! : ) 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hyper Sensitive: Learning to Live Without Gracie

We're still dealing with the loss of Gracie, but it does seem to be getting better.  
For me, it's times when I drop food in the kitchen and think she'll be there to eat it up.
Or as I'm heading down the hall and turn the corner to wonder if she's left a little present there (she always chose the same spot to do her business when she had an accident)
Suddenly I remember she's gone.

For Maddie it's always coming home.  
She still calls out for her, running into the living room to find her. 
The first few times she just stood there looking confused.  
The last few times she's ran in and then put her hands to her head and said, "Oh no!"

She's pulled Gracie's albums out to look at pictures.
She's very confused and while I thought we were doing the right thing to try and prepare her by telling her Gracie was sick, every time one of us coughs or sneezes she immediately begins to cry.  
I think in her mind every one whose sick leaves forever.  
I've tried to explain that Gracie was different but I'm not so sure she gets the concept of same/different yet.
Every time we drive by CVS Pharmacy she yells, "Chicken!" 
Because both signs are red and white she thinks it's Chick-fil-A.  

Maddie is also suddenly realizing what it means to be scared.  
She's been scared of shadows and a few other things we couldn't quite make out. 
We told her that it's just the light making the shadows and that the light is good.  
She repeats the same phrase over and over to help herself get through it.  She nods her little head and says, "issok...light...isssgood...issok."  
She's had to process a lot lately but, poor little thing, but she's strong.

And it's getting better.  
She prompted a conversation about Gracie yesterday and we talked about how Gracie was with Jesus now in heaven and feeling much better!!
And she repeated, "isssok...Gace good...isssok." 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Framed: I Heart Photography Photo Challenge

This was such a great photoshoot.
 I actually have several favorites from this sesssion, and this one of them.
Such a great family!!
Love them!
The challenge is framed.
 This actually wasn't my original vision for this photo, but as I backed up to get the perspective I wanted, I noticed the tree leaves created the perfect frame and I knew it would be awesome!
It helps to have beautiful subjects to pose too.  

Photo Challenge Submission

Monday, March 4, 2013

Maddie's Education: Big Lesson Learned

It's that time of year.  
Where parents plan to camp out in front of schools and do whatever it takes to get their little one in the best schools and stress over whether they've made the right decision or done all they could. 

Luckily, we don't have to camp out.
Maddie has a spot with her name on it in the developmentally delayed preschool class at public schools.  
To mainstream or not to mainstream? That is our question. 
Could she handle a normal classroom environment and keep up, or is she best served in a class where everyone needs some extra help?

It's a tough question.
You don't want to hold them back in any way, but you also want to be realistic and assess her current abilities and her future potential.  

A month ago the decision would have been simple...keep her with qualified professionals trained to meet her needs. 

But then the results from her IEP (individualized education plan) came home and she hasn't made hardly any progress towards her education goals.  

Now we have to discern whether this environment is setting high enough expectations for her.
And if it's not, what do we do?  
Jump ship?
Demand change?
Cross our fingers and have faith?   

I've been in research mode the last week or so. 
I've brushed up on reading the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
(a riveting piece, let me tell ya)
I've checked into our options at private schools.  
I've been to her class to observe.  

And I've come to a conclusion...

I have been so foolish to hand over the reigns of Maddie's education.  
It's ultimately up to me, her first teacher in life, to teach what the schools are not.  
It's still important to collaborate with Maddie's teachers and expect they will raise their standards for her potential; but if I want Maddie to reach these goals (which I KNOW she can), I'm going to have to do whatever it takes. 

One of her goals is lacing 5 beads on a string.  
We began working on this Thursday and I have to admit, it didn't go very well.
I really thought she could already do this.  
But she couldn't, and I had to walk her through each and every step.  
We would work on it for awhile, and she may have a little success, but her attention span was gone.  
We'd take a break and try again later...
and it was back to step one!!
I was sad and dejected.  

Maddie won't get things on the first try, or the second, or the third.

But guess what?  

Today, she laced not 4, not 5, but SIX beads in one sitting...ALL BY HERSELF!!

She's smart and bright and has vast amounts of potential.  
Without effort to bring it out though, it will remain hidden.

I am a
 Dream Maker.
and best of all...
 Potential Finder.