Sunday, September 29, 2013

6 months...Times Square...Obladi oblada...Step UP

One half year.  6 months.  I can not believe that it has gone so quickly, and yes I know I did state this same sentence in my 5 month update.  I seriously am in awe of God's goodness in what we have learned in these quick six months.  First off, the love and support we have received through encouraging words, cards, meals, gifts, and interest in how our family is doing...has meant the world to us!  Speaking of how we are doing...I have a lot to fill you in on so be alerted...this is a long blog entry!

6 month update:  He just went to his wellness check up and again no health concerns! Here are his stats:

Weight: 14lbs 7 oz (60%tile on Ds chart)
Height: 26 1/2 inches (75-90%tile on Ds chart)

Latest things he has been doing at 6 months includes rolling from his back to his belly!  Yahoo, we were so pumped to see him working so hard to roll over this way!  He grabs at objects in front of him especially his football rattle and mom's hair! :)  He constantly watches Luke!  It's fun to see them interact.  Luke goes over to hug Jack and says, "Hey are you?  Jacky!"  Precious.  He bears weight on his legs when held upright and blows bubbles with his lips which makes Luke laugh.  He started rice cereal a couple weeks ago and just ate his first green beans yesterday!  

Here is the picture I captured of him in the jumperoo on his 1/2 birthday!  Happy boy!

We went to see the ENT last week.  I am thankful that he wants to see Jack every three months to stay on top of his hearing.  Children with Ds have a greater risk for hearing loss due to fluid and ear infections.  Well, that is exactly what we found in his ear, fluid.  He will be schedule to get tubes next Friday, Oct. 4th.  He asked that since he will be 'under' that he would like to look at his trachea through a bronchoscopy because of the continued noises he makes occasionally at night. He wants to see how much inflammation is in his airway.  All of this could make his more susceptible to respiratory illnesses this winter.  The procedure should last about 1 hour and do a number on my anxiety level.  

Times Square and NYC

Our time in New York was amazing.  Honestly, the weekend was filled with so many memorable moments and I can't wait to share them with you!  We (Chris, Jack, and I) flew out Friday morning leaving Luke to be spoiled at Gram and Grandpa's house.  We touched down early afternoon and hailed a taxi for our hotel that was 1 1/2 blocks from Times Square.  Thanks to priceline, I scored a last minute 'name your own price' deal three nights before we departed.  

After our car sick taxi ride, we arrived and found a great place to eat lunch.  We had brought the jogging stroller with us and I don't know if the New Yorkers weren't impressed with it or what but we got a few weird looks.  We used it like our own winnebago and stuffed everything in it and Jack.  :)  When we travel we never check bags (even with kids) and we walk everywhere!  So...after lunch we walked a couple miles and came upon this young lad. 

Uncle Andrew, Chris' brother is in training camp in Hartford, CT so he took the train down to see us.  It was so fun to see him for a few hours and show him the sights of NYC.  We went to the Yankees game that evening and Jack was dressed in his baseball uniform and the fans loved it!  I have always been a Yankees fan and it was so fun to go to a game in New York!

Saturday morning will be a morning I will never forget.  We got up and walked down to the area our group (the other families that were a part of the video) and waited for the NDSS symbol to cue that the video was starting.  Our families were back in the Midwest watching from a live webcam of Times Square.  The area was still buzzing with people and transportation moving about but when I watched the picture of Jack and I on the screen it was as if the world had stopped and my eyes just filled with tears of JOY.  

There was my precious boy.  There was me smiling at him, gazing at him, sharing with the world that he was mine.  I told my friend, Jana, who took the photo, that this picture is so much more than a picture.  That picture captured me gazing upon our precious Jack, who God planned perfectly for our family.  As with any newborn,  you are getting to know who this precious being is, and here was that moment captured as he opened his eyes and locked them with mine.  I am forever grateful for that picture.

After the video played twice we got on the bus and went to Central Park where the Buddy Walk was taking place.  We enjoyed food, fun, and time to meet other families and friends blessed with an extra chromosome.  Kristian was a boy that found great interest in Jack and we got a great picture together!  What a cutie!

Obladi...Oblada...Life Goes On

Right before the start of the Buddy Walk Chris spotted Chris Burke, aka Corky Thatcher, from the TV series Life Goes On.  I LOVED that show back in the early 90s!  Corky was the main actor and has Down syndrome.  I asked him if Jack could get a picture with him and he was more than happy to!  After the walk he addressed the crowd in his old letterman jacket! :) 

Chris and I are all about getting the most out of the vacation so we decided after the Buddy Walk to run back to our hotel.  We figured it's not everyday that you get to run in Central Park so we went for 30 minutes until we had to turn off the park and back into street walking traffic.  We stopped at an Italian Pizza joint and had the most amazing garlic knots for a late lunch!  This girl loves bread and especially if it's covered with garlic and cheese and dipped in red sauce!  Yum!!

That night we were so tired!  We walked to the World Trade Center (picture above with some NYC firemen) from there to Chinatown, Little Italy, and stopped off at Union Square.  We made it back to our hotel after getting some amazing Mexican burritos and crashed early to make the most of the next day.  Sunday was filled with some shopping, Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, and lunch at Carnagie Deli!  Jack was the best traveler and was quite the charmer on the train.  We experienced a few glances and stares, but mostly smiles at our little Jack.  I will leave that explanation for another post when I can share about our 1st awkward question about Jack and what the response was.  Yikes!  

We continue to be hopeful about our life with Jack and so blessed by him!  I have to share that the low moments I have are NOT because he has Down syndrome.  My heartache comes from how the world views or assumes what my son's life will be like.  The pity and the expression that his life will be a burden to us is what hurts my heart.  I could write another long post on this too...but at this point of my emotional state I will take a deep breath, bite my tongue, and tell myself that we are ALL learning along this journey.  

Step Up for Down Syndrome

On this beautiful Sunday morning we gathered with 7,500+ people in Como Park as we celebrated people with Down Syndrome.  Here are a few of our pics from this morning!  We were honored to be apart of Team Drew, Walking with Will, and Walking with Grace.  These amazing families have impacted ours in more ways than they will ever know!  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Everybody Matters

It's the second week of school and we are all settling into a routine.  The boys are doing a great job at daycare and I am so thankful for the love and the learning environment they are in 2days/wk.  I am amazed how quickly the days at work have gone and get very excited to pick them up!  Thank you so much for those that continue to lift our family up in prayer.  We are getting geared up for our trip to NYC to see Jack's picture in Time Square!  So excited!!

So the phrase Everybody Matters has been posted around my gymnasium for the last 5 years.  In early September 2008, I had heard this phrase many times at the funeral of one of my college roommate's mother who was an ECFE teacher in St. Paul and devoted her life to educating children.  Her family and friends talked about how she loved and cared for her students and their families, that everybody mattered.  I left that funeral encouraged by a woman that I didn't know very well, except through a few conversations, and the friendship of her daughter.  Through her family, career, life, and death I was inspired by how she educated everybody.

As I have headed back to school this year I couldn't help but think of that simple phrase.  Everybody Matters.  Everybody.  What does that mean?  Even the student that constantly interrupts me while teaching?  The student that says hurtful words to others?  The student that is always helpful? The student that never stays on task?  The student that is easily motivated? The student that can't afford tennis shoes for class?  The student that doesn't speak English?  The student that doesn't understand my directions? The student that defiantly misbehaves or has a poor attitude?  The student that answers all the questions correctly?  The student that is developmentally delayed?  The student that is athletically gifted? The student that has a hard home life?

When I became Luke's mom in 2011 I had this overwhelming understanding of this amazing is a portion of what I wrote in Luke's baby book when he was 1 year old...

Luke, you have helped me realize on a much deeper level that everybody matters.  If I looked at others the way I look at you, I would be much more patient, kind, forgiving, and compassionate.

Through this experience of teaching and motherhood, I have understood that each student I have matters to someone. More importantly, each child was created in God's image.  Ultimately as a Christian I have been told this many times.  He made us, loves us, refines us, molds us, forgives us, and guides us.  If I have this type of love for my own children, I can't imagine the love that God has for all of us.  In a society where we are constantly being told that we have to earn love, we don't deserve love, that love and success is earned by our accomplishments, and many other lies.  I am thankful to have a Heavenly Father that says you were created in my image and I love you because I made you.

At each start to the school year since 2008 I have told each of my classes this...

"Everybody matters.  Each person in this space matters to me and matters to those around them.  If you hurt one of my students with hurtful words or actions you are not only hurting them, you are hurting me because I care about them.  You are also hurting the people that love them.  Your actions affect others and everybody in here matters.  This will be a safe place.  Your classmates may look different than you, talk different than you, run different, throw different, but ultimately they matter.  You have a choice with your words and actions and they are powerful.  They are either either helpful or hurtful.  You decide because EVERYBODY MATTERS."

Ephesians 4:29
Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those that hear them.  

So I ask myself this today...who do I need to give more patience, kindness, forgiveness, and compassion to and realize that they matter to someone?

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About Me

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The name of this blog was inspired by Kristin Armstrong's devotional book, Strength for the Climb. I am a midwest girl married to a handsome, hardworking, God-fearing man and the mother of two boys. My eldest son, a social butterfly that has enough energy and excitement to make anyone tired and a personality that will make you giggle with laughter. My youngest son, can cuddle like no other, and his eyes will speak right to your soul. Both of my sons have taught me more about God's grace and goodness. We are blessed to have an extra chromosome in our family as our sweet Jack was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome. With that, I am reminded daily to trust and rely on God's perfect plan on this journey called life. I am a child of God and grateful to my Heavenly Father for His continued blessings, guidance, wisdom, and most importantly for saving my soul.