Monday, December 30, 2013

Family Fun Day

Mike has had off the last week, and in between Christmas celebrations and sick kids ( has hit 3/4ths of our children thus far!), we managed to throw in a day of family fun.

First stop, Miller Park. Uncle Peter & Aunt April gave Will an authentic Brewers jersey, with a gift certificate to embroider any name he wanted on that back. We dropped it off at the proshop and had lunch at Fridays while we waited. The result was awesome, and while I don't want to post the picture of him in his new jersey on a public blog (he choose to put his own name on it), rest assured, he was thrilled.

Hanging with Bernie Brewer. 

We then moved onto the mall where both the girls had a chance to use gift cards they had accumulated. First stop, Justice, where Katherine picked out some new headphones and the world's gaudiest, teal sweatshirt. She was please with her purchases.

Then, to Build-A-Bear. Charlotte choose a pony to stuff. The process was a bit overwhelming for her, though, I can't say I blame her, that machine they use to stuff the bears is just....odd. She stood back and watched her siblings do the work. 

She did get into giving the Pony a bath, however.

And naming it. Pony's name is...wait for it...."Pony." (The older kids thought she would surely name it "Swim," but apparently Charlotte likes to keep us on our toes.)

Meet "Pony." He also has a musical foot. You press it and it sings One Direction's "You don't know you're beautiful." Charlotte breaks out the dance moves each time she hears it.

On the way home we swung by a local winery and picked up a case of our favorite wine, a belated Christmas gift to ourselves. Katherine commented that everyone in the family got to do something or get something fun...except Jack. Whoops. Stinks to be the youngest. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

A glimpse of our Christmas celebrations this year...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Catching up.

I'm a bad blogger. I realize that. I love writing and looking back on old entries, and wish I had time to update more often. Maybe when the kids are in college. Or at least out of diapers.

Until then, you will have to settle for my crazy, "what have we been up to the last month" picture post...chock full of 27 random pictures that aren't really related, but I am going to do my best to tie it all together.

Mike went to a movie with a friend tonight and all four of my children are in bed. One can only hope I get through this before Jack decides sleeping is overrated and he would rather help me.

So, here is goes....

Charlotte attended her first gymnastics party last month. I wasn't able to attend, but Mike said she had a blast. That and she loved wearing a leotard like her big sis.

Preschool pick-up as been rough lately. Charlotte loves school so much, she hates leaving. I often have to carry both Charlotte and Jack out to the car, with the former screaming her head off. Thankfully I have found a solution.... (see next picture)

Reeses peanut cups. Yep, I am that mom. I bribe her out of school with a treat. And it works. The first day, I brought it in and let her see it and carry it out to the car, all while telling her I would open it when she was buckled in her seat. Now, I don't even need to bring it in with me, but sometimes remind her it is waiting for her in the car. Most days she walks out nicely. My lower back and blood pressure have been helped by this solution. Carrying a 33-pound screaming toddler plus a 15-pound infant is no easy feat.

She loves holding Jack. She sits down on the floor, holds her arms out and says "Got you" whenever she wants to hold him. No idea where it came from, but she knows we know exactly what she means by it.

Meet "Swim." Our elf on the shelf. It seems as if everyone has an elf these days, and a question that often comes up is the name of your elf. Of course, I always have to explain the story behind our elf's name, as it isn't your typical "Sparkles" or "Elfy."

One night this past summer we were eating dinner,  and one of the older kids asked Charlotte what her name was....Charlotte is usually the entertainment at our meals, and she knows this. She has developed such a sense of humor, and we all love the giggles she brings to our family meals. On this particular night, even though Charlotte knows what her name is, she thought she would be funny to answer "swim." The older two kids thought this was a riot, and belly laughed at the answer for a good ten minutes. They then went on to ask her what her favorite color is, how old is she, etc...and each time she answered "swim." This continued for weeks after, weeks turned into months, and now, still to this day, if you ask Charlotte her name, she will answer swim, and then laugh hysterically.

When our elf made his appearance this December, he held a note, that simply said "What is my name?" To which, upon reading, Will immediately answered, "Swim!"

This is Swim. Pesky little fella.

I have no good pictures from our Christmas tree hunt. It was cold. Really, freakin' zero degrees. The entire experience lasted all of ten minutes and wasn't real memorable. But, we did it.

Christmas tree decorating was much more enjoyable. In fact, Charlotte loved it this year. She has been putting ornaments on and taking ornaments off the tree for the past few weeks. And, if she can't get them to hang on the tree, she just tosses it in between the branches. While watering the tree last week I found about ten ornaments resting on a few branches about 2 feet off the ground.

Gluten-free cookie baking. We all stayed in our jammies all day one Sunday and baked a variety. Yum.

My Christmas shopping buddy. I welcomed the two mornings a week Charlotte was in school to get all the shopping done with just one kiddo in tow. A quick Jack update: he is developing quite the little personality, and we are all having a ton of fun with him. He loves to eat (growls at you if you are eating and he isn't), getting up fours and rocking back and forth and will probably be mobile soon. He still hates sleeping, and cries if I am in the room and not holding him, but it is still a definite improvement from his early months.

Due to some craziness going on at Aunt Kate's house, I recently had to take over the gluten-free muffin baking (Charlotte's favorite food). Even though I thought I followed the recipe and made them exactly like Aunt Kate, Charlotte refused to eat them. I tried for a week; she would smell them, lick them, take a small bite, and then give it to Sophie. In an effort to keep the dog's weight down, Kate said she would make a batch for us. We are grateful. Kate is probably going to have to make a batch of pumpkin muffins each week for the rest of her life.

I got a new phone. And a new phone case. I love it.

 Hands down, Charlotte's favorite toy. She loves to "color."

Christmas shopping with my girls for my boys. We split up every year; this is the first year the numbers have been even.

MaryAnn's birthday party was last week. For two months every year Katherine and MaryAnn are the same age...not anymore!

"Got you" with Tucker, though Tucker doesn't sit still quite as well as Jack.

The obligatory yearly Santa visit. Charlotte talked about ho-ho, and pointed at him, but when it was time to walk up to him, she dropped the ground and sat five feet away and watched. We didn't even try with Jack....I wasn't up for the "crying kid" Santa picture, so we stuck to the two who we knew wouldn't scream.

Boys in matching shirts. I love it, and love them. My twins born five years apart.

Visiting great-grandma last week.

We don't get to see our friend Max very often as he and Charlotte have preschool on opposite days, however, due to his Christmas break starting early we were able to have a playdate. Charlotte doesn't often play with kids her own age yet; she still is in the "parallel play" stage...however, this isn't true with Max. I love watching them, as they converse with each other, and she plays with him like I haven't seen her do with other kids before.

No real story behind this pic, she was waiting for her PT and found this horse to ride.

Watching Katherine and Will's Christmas concert.

One of Will's Christmas presents. He is going to love it.

Enjoying those cookies we made.

 Will's school Christmas party.

Charlotte's Christmas present. She is going to love it. I can't wait. (And special thanks goes to my lovely husband who gave up three nights to put together this beast...73 steps later...)

I can't tell you how much I love these four. The Christmas season is so much fun through the eyes of children, and we are blessed to experience it with them.

We got home a few hours ago from visiting Mike's family up north for the weekend. Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, we are headed to Kate's to spend time with my family. Christmas Day we will be home, just our little fam, opening gifts, eating pancakes, and spending the day in our jammies while enjoying each other's company. Christmas pictures to come.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's coming.

A big "catch up" type blog post with lots of pictures is in the works. I just realized it has been nearly a month since I blogged last. We've been busy (shocker), which means I have lots to share. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A haircut and a half birthday.

I meant to stop by and post these pictures yesterday, but my night was spent comforting a sick Charlotte. She ate ice cream that had gluten in it by mistake; poor kid was up late vomiting. I felt awful, as it was my fault she had it; I didn't look closely enough at the label and thought it was a flavor which I knew was gluten free (FYI: Edy's Mint Chocolate Chip and Edy's Mint Cookie Crunch look identical on the label). This is only the second time this has happened in the year since she has been diagnosed, and both times she had the same reaction. Crazy to think that such a small amount of gluten can make her so sick. Poor kid. She was feeling much better after an hour or two and it was all out of her system.


Yesterday, I took Charlotte for a haircut. She loved it and keeps walking up to us and saying "haircut pretty?" while touching her hair.

It was also Jack's half-birthday. We usually don't celebrate half-birthdays around here, but this one was special as there have been days during the past 6 months that I didn't think I would make it! But, we did, and so when Katherine asked if we could make a cake for Jack, I agreed (however, it was a spur of the moment decision, so we settled for GF brownies).

Happy half-birthday baby Jack! We love you!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wrapping it up.

31 posts in 31 days. 31 for 21.

Is anyone still out there (besides my mother, who informed me that she waits for these posts every night, hah!) and not bored to tears?!

By posting about the every day happenings in our lives, I hope I have illustrated how normal out life is. How at times Down syndrome does play a role, it isn't the main focus of the chaos around here.

Down syndrome awareness isn't just important during the month of October, and hopefully you will be back to see what we are up to in the months to come.

Now, for a few last pictures from the month.

Happy Halloween, y'all.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Inclusion...done right.

I am am whole hearted supporter of inclusion...done right. Inclusion in the special ed world is a huge buzz word these days. It is a word that can mean many different things depending on the ideas of the person using the word. An older post (pretty sure I have shared this before) on one of my favorite blogs encompasses so much of what I feel about inclusion; you can read it here.

We pushed for Charlotte to be in a typical preschool. We wanted her in a class with typical peers, some whom she will someday go to elementary school with. We believe this is the best choice for Charlotte, and for her peers. Inclusion is not just beneficial for children with special needs, it is beneficial to ALL kids. It teaches acceptance, tolerance, and appreciation of difference.

This video has some good information about Down syndrome and inclusion. I particularly liked the teacher interviewed at the end.

I am incredibly grateful we made the choice we did. Charlotte is in a good spot, with wonderful teachers and peers who are flexible and accepting.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Grinding Years.

A wise man once told me (and continues to tell me) that ages 30-50 are the grinding years. Meaning that during this time of your life you work the hardest and play the least. Not to say that you don't enjoy life, but at times responsibilities may seem incredibly overwhelming.

When I complain to this wise man about the craziness of this life we lead, he often responds with, "You just got to grind it out, it will get easier."

I know he is right, and I try not to wish time away in order to get to an easier spot. I have talked often about how hard the past 6 months have been; though I don't want to overshadow the fact that even though it has been hard, it is worth every sleepless night and minute I devote to raising my children.

Today I blew off my entire to-do list. The laundry I started last night still sits in the washing machine and will need to be run through again tomorrow morning. I have work emails piling up, messages to respond to, and there is more toothpaste on the kid's bathroom mirror then there is in the tube. Nothing got done today. No grinding for me.

Kate and I bummed around the mall while Charlotte was at school this morning. We picked up Panera for lunch. I spent the afternoon watching "The Chew" and holding Jack while he slept, rather than putting him down for a nap and doing the above mentioned laundry. With the exception of taking Katherine to her piano lesson, I really didn't attend to any of my regular responsibilities. Mike made dinner while I was gone at piano, and when I returned, I quickly gathered up Jack and went and to meet my mom and aunt for dinner. While the conversation wasn't exactly uplifting, it was nice to have a change of pace from regular activities.

Tomorrow I go back to grinding. We all deserves a break every now and then.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Writer's block.

I  have got nothing tonight. Eek. Hoping a good night's sleep with help me come up with something creative tomorrow.

"What?! You have nothing left to say?"

"Oh no!!!"

Saturday, October 26, 2013


It's hard to believe that last year during trick-or-treat Charlotte was so sick she didn't move off the couch, much less put on a custume. This year was a different story. 

She loved it. Walked up to every door and said "treat!" 

Then, when a treat was dropped in her bucket, she said "thank you! Have a good day!" 

It was a fun night. I love watching the kids having so much fun. The older kids made sure that Charlotte chose the gluten free option when it was available. I think she ended the night with about 50 peanut butter cups, much to her delight! 

Round two tomorrow. More to come.