Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Boo at the Zoo and a Party

I am loving cleaning off my camera and phone tonight.
Somehow, at only Wednesday, this week has been full of fun with friends and family.
And even better, Halloween isn't even here yet!

The words are few. 
The pictures are many.
Each one makes me grateful for life with these. 

We started off the week with Boo at the Zoo with some sweet friends.
Aside from the rain, it was fabulous! 
Baker loved the lights, and was mesmerized by all of the children in costumes. 

Today was Baker's Halloween party at school.
It was so great! 
My little froggy loved every minute.

Their faces are priceless.

I couldn't help but share this video.
I love the joy he exudes.
With his smile, his clap, his laughter.
His whole body, his whole being exudes joy.

Cheese Puffs and a Krispy Kreme doughnut.
Heaven on a plate for a toddler.
Every morsel here speaks Baker's love language.

Baker and his teacher, Mrs. Nicole.
We love her big time!

Happy Halloween, friends.

Eat too much candy.
Take too many pictures.
Carve too many pumpkins.
Wear too many spider rings.
Take too many hay rides.
Sing too many Halloween songs.

Sing "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat" to someone unsuspecting.
Surprise friends with bags of treats.
Throw in a few tricks.

Make special memories.
And have a very Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A missed opportunity

This is one of those posts I never intended to publish.

I have given up journal writing in the name of blogging. You can read about that decision here. Sometimes, I write posts intended as journal entries that are never published, but simply words I must get out of my head.

This is one of those.

On Saturday, Brian and I had the opportunity to go to the Alabama versus Tennessee football game. We met in Bryant Denny Stadium, and take every opportunity to go back and cheer on the Tide. Especially against a rival like UT.

We were running late, as is typically the case.
We stopped at Taco Casa before the game.
With a sweet tea in one hand and my sweetheart's hand in the other, we were walking and talking.

Our strides were quick. Our conversation was not.
I was in my element. Alabama may have won National Championships in Football, Golf, and Softball, but people watching is the sport in which I invest most heavily.

As Brian and I strode to the stadium, I was sucked into another couple's conversation. The man was loud. You could tell he prided himself on telling a good story. He had a captivating voice. His dialect was mesmerizing. As a teacher, he had everything I try to teach my students - about intonation, and pitch, and eye contact.

I listened as he spoke. He had a punch line. And it was a good one.

Then his story changed to one about his sister. Apparently, she too, is a teacher.

My long legs were on a mission.
Get us to the stadium before kickoff.
And they were far from failing.
We were moving.
But his next words stopped me.
Right there on Paul Bryant Drive.
As I heard the words of the Bear echoing from the stadium,
other words were piercing my soul.
Wrenching my gut.
The tears were instant.

I never knew words could hurt so intensely.
So instantly.
My stride, like my spirit, was broken.

He said, "She's a teacher. She teaches the retards."

And after that, I heard nothing else. The crimson and white that was clouding my vision was interrupted with visions of my Baker.

The world moved on without me.
I was reeling.
The tears burnt.
They were hot coals against my wind blown cheeks.

I should have stopped him.
I should have told him about my Baker.
I should have stopped him from using those words that hurt deep down to my very core.

As the distance between us lengthened, I replayed the scene. I practiced the words I should have said. I rehearsed with the fervor of an A List actor. I had it down. I knew the picture I would have shown him. The one with Baker's smile so sweet, his little Chiclet teeth beaming back at me. The one what causes a love so instant. The one that makes you want to jump through the phone and kiss his rosy cheeks. The one that makes you forget there is any wrong in the world. The one that captures all the sweetness and love and joy in pixels so precious.


"Lord, please. Please. Please give me the opportunity to see him again. Lord, please give me the opportunity to share with him my heart. I want him to see a picture of Baker. I want to help him understand that his words hurt. That I know he didn't really mean what he said. That there are more socially acceptable words to say now. That I know his sister is making a profound impact on the special needs community. Lord, let me save him from hurting other mamas like he hurt me."

We walked to the stadium.
In silence now.
My long steps were replaced with robotic ones.
Our tickets were submitted.
Drinks were bought.

And then I saw him.

I started shaking so profusely. And crying big sobbing tears. The Lord answered my prayer and I cowered. I succumbed to the solace of the restroom stall. With conversation around me drowning my tears, I kicked myself for missing the opportunity that I so desperately begged for.

This is why I decided to publish this post. I need you.

If you see him, will you?
Will you tell him all of the things I couldn't?
For Baker, will you?
Will you show him Baker's picture?
When you hear that r word, will you make the difference I couldn't?
Will you?
Will you take advantage of the opportunity I missed?
Will you?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A beautiful heart

Sunday night, I wrote a post, "Be in the Moment."
And I have.

It's meant fewer tweets, and posts to Instagram.
It's meant delayed responses to texts, and lingering at the dinner table.
It's meant rocking Baker long after he drifts off to dreams, and trips out of town on school nights for time with friends.
It's meant slowing down the pace, and leaving items undone.

It's meant time spent making memories and being in the moment with those I love the most.

Being present in each part of the week instead of just living for the weekends has made it a wonderful week.
It has made me find the special in each day.
When you really engage in conversations, and walk through Target smiling at fellow shoppers, when you stop to pray with coworkers in the teachers' lounge, and write notes of encouragement, when you drop your agenda and let another dictate the conversation, each day is special.

Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of time.
Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of relationships.
Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of time to strengthen and deepen relationships.

On Wednesday, I took a half day at work to take Baker to Children's Hospital in Birmingham.
Throughout my pregnancy, the doctors monitored Baker's heart, 
especially after we learned of the heightened chance of him being born with Down Syndrome.
In the NICU, the specialists kept a close eye on all things, especially pertaining to cardiology.

But, honestly, since then, we haven't had any check ups.
Our pediatrician said it would give her the "warm fuzzies" if we saw a cardiologist.

Now, I try not to worry too much.
And many times I fail.
For whatever reason, I worked myself into such a tizzy before this appointment, sure this would be the appointment we got bad news.
My devotional the night before was about Jesus giving, and Jesus taking away.
I was a hot mess.

Baker and I got to Birmingham too early, and stopped at McDonald's to share an ice cream cup.
You know, celebrate before, think good thoughts, happy heart thoughts.
 We strolled through the Women's and Infant's Center, the same place I had the Comprehensive Level II Ultrasound the Friday before Baker was born. 
Talk about a rush of emotions.

In the waiting room, we met a little girl who had graduated from RISE six years ago and was now in a regular education classroom in a public school system.
Baker was a perfect angel.
We sang "Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee" something like 37 times.
He kept loving on me and rubbing my back.
 We read Highlights and rode the horsey down to town, down to town, down to town, careful not to let Little Baker fall down.

Then the nurse called us back.
She took his height and weight.
34 inches and 25.4 pounds.
Then she hooked up 10 electrodes to his bare belly and chest.
Then we waited some more.
We waited in the waiting room
Then we waited in a holding room.
Then the angel nurse took us to a very warm room.
I met the doctor.
I undressed Baker, and placed him on the bed, which he did not like very much at all.
Using an ultrasound machine, the doctor carefully inspected all of the nooks and crannies in his chest.
Baker got antsy.
The nurse gave him a lollipop and blew bubbles.
The doctor inspected some more.
And then some more.
And then, Baker signed "bumblebee."
And right there in that warm room, with the ultrasound machine capturing my son's beautiful heart, the doctor started singing "I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee."
And with those few words and few notes, he earned platinum status in my book.
He wiped Baker's chest, sat him up straight, turned on the lights, and said words I will forever remember.

"Baker does not have a Down Syndrome heart."
He checked and rechecked for holes and murmurs.
Both very common in children with Down Syndrome, and both very scary.

I already knew it.
The doctor confirmed it.
Baker has a beautiful heart. 
And one that has most certainly captured mine.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 
I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, 
I know that full well. 
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, 
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
 all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!"
Psalms 139:13-17

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Be in the moment

I love to blog on Sunday night.
My heart is so full after a day of worship,
memories made with family,
rested after the much needed reprieve the weekend provides.
I have one thing on my heart that is walking with me into the upcoming week.
Be in the moment.
Ready or not, the week is coming.
It's Sunday night, but the week is coming.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
I have written about this before.
My problem with wishing away the week in hopes for the weekend.
But, this week, I am committing to be in the moment on each of the days of the week.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
My prayer is that the Lord use each of these days, His days, for His glory.
I don't give Him that opportunity when I am rushing through the days with the fervor of the weekend.
I want to be in the moment for each moment.
When I drop Baker off in the hurried mornings.
When I visit with his teachers and therapists.
When I spend the day with my coworkers and students.
When I drive down the road.
When I stand in the checkout line.
When I pick up Baker.
When I visit with friends.
When I cook supper.
When I fellowship with my family in the evenings.
I want to be fully present in each moment.
I want to acknowledge and prayerfully lift up the names God places on my heart.
I want to be compassionate to others hurting.
I want to celebrate with those in a season of celebrating.
I want to be His hands and feet.
I want to live wholly and love fully.
I want to be in each moment.
Parts of this will not be easy.
It will require selflessness.
It will require truly listening.
I will require honesty.
It will require time.
A few of my favorite "in the moment" moments with my boys from this weekend.
Brian surprised me with a date night.
It went something like,
"I know it's 8:30 on a Thursday night, but I got your mom to keep the babe. Get ready. I'll pick you up in five." And out of the bedroom he walked. True to his word, a knock came five minutes later with my Prince Charming ready to whisk me away.
I love him.
I love his commitment to be in the moment in our marriage.
To be spontaneous.
And full of surprises.
And full of wooing, even on a school night.
During the Bama game Saturday night, Baker just couldn't hang,
and I just couldn't surrender his sleeping body to his bed.
He won't be this little forever.
His body won't fit just perfectly with mine.
Be in the moment.
Rock the baby.
Whisper Roll Tides.
Count each eyelash.
Kiss the battlescars.
Trace his lips.
Memorize his breaths.
Savor each second.

Sweet baby in a Bama tee and crimson scrubs.
Sweet victory over a rival.
Sweet Sunday mornings in the fall.
Sweet sunrise peeking through the trees.
Sweet fascination with a shaker never before encountered.
Sweet smile.
Sweet love for life.
Sweet little foot lifted high.
Moments with this little one are surely sweet. 

Be in the moment.
Kiss your baby too much.
Neglect laundry.
Let the dishes pile.
The phone will ring.
The emails will accumulate.
But this, don't wait for this.
Be in the moment.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Baker and Down Syndrome and where we are now

 I am so excited to write this post!
And for a couple of reasons.
One, it coincides with Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
And I think, by talking about Down Syndrome, and sharing about our Baker Boy, we are making a very small difference on the way people view and approach it.
Two, it celebrates the many accomplishments of my precious Baker
and evidences the faithfulness of my sweet Jesus.
I apologize in advance for the length.
It combines several posts into one.
Mostly because I'm just awesome like that.
Very much kidding!
If you are a fellow parent of a child with Down Syndrome,
read this while keeping only Baker in mind.
It is very normal (a word I typically refrain from using) for children with Down Syndrome,
because of all sorts of factors,
to be in varying places in all phases of their development.
Your child is unique.
Baker is unique.
Something I learned from the very beginning was to STOP COMPARING.
To typical children.
To what "the experts say."
To what is written in books.
To other children with Down Syndrome.
Comparing will steal your joy.
It hurts.
It causes worry and anxiety.
Celebrate your child and where he or she is right this very single minute.

That's what this post is - a celebration!
On the Go
Baker has the most wonderful Physical Therapist at RISE. Her name is Ms. Angela, but we may as well just leave off the -a, because an angel she is!
A few weeks ago, I presented a concern. Baker had the tendency for his feet to pronate inward when he would stand. I was worried that this would inhibit his walking.

She had noticed it also. In true RISE/wonderfully proactive/we think they are the best thing since string cheese form, she fitted him for itty bitty orthotics (shoe inserts) that help alleviate, and hopefully will correct the issue.
I sent off the form, and wham bam, like the magic shows show, with an abra cadabra, ala kazaam, the orthotics were here! Our angel PT also fitted Baker for the most precious little New Balances. These are especially great because they come in wide sizes, which allow for his inserts, and they also have a roll bar, which is ideal for children with weak ankles (which, for Baker, is a result of his low muscle tone).
They're so tasty, too!
Baker is cruising and tracking around furniture. He is doing a lot of crawling. He has finally transitioned from army crawling to traditional crawling and bear crawling. And let me tell you, Little Man can go!
He pulls up on everything. And I mean everything!
Don't look too closely at yours truly. He has surely added some wrinkles to what used to be a glowing youthful appearance and I keep waiting for the gray hairs. He is always on the go - climbing and moving about. And quite frankly, life was much less eventful, and a little easier before this transition to mobility. Not that I am complaining. Not even a little bit. I love every single hair raising, bejeesus scaring, wrinkle adding, on the go, exhaustingly blissful minute.
We are working diligently, very purposefully, alongside his teachers and therapists to promote walking.
Talking and Signing
Baker speaks Bakerese, and quite fluently. In English, he says a few words.
He still uses "Mama" and "Mum" more often than any other.
He says "Bye Bye" on command.
He knows the cow says "Moo." Although, when asked, Baker says, "Boooooooo" without ever really opening his lips, just pursing them out far enough to emit sound. This is one of the things I hope he never changes. It is the cutest little Baker trait.
RISE has been a integral part of incorporating sign language into our vocabulary.
Each week, in the weekly newsletter, there are words for the week and the signs to accompany them. Talk about helping a mama out!
Baker uses them more often than spoken language and many a meltdown are prevented with simple signs.
He uses eat, drink, milk, water, more, all finished, bath, cow, horse, daddy, school, friend, love, dog, table, hi, bye, kiss, help, wash hands, fish, please, and friend.

Drink Water
We have found several picture books and reference books to help with incorporating sign language into our daily language.
Also, I use Google a lot. There are also videos on You Tube. "Signing Time with Alex and Leah" makes frequent appearances on the iPad.
Picture the pearly gates. White and glorious, euphoric and magical. And now, you can envision The RISE School.
It is a dream environment.
Baker has four teachers. But everyone there invests in every child there. That is obvious every single day. And something, as a mother and an educator, that I absolutely love. It truly takes a village.
All of Baker's therapies occur within the day at RISE. Each day, the Music and Speech Therapists visit his classroom. Somehow, someway, they corral all seventeen one year olds into a circle, onto stools, for this time. It is nothing short of amazing. Also during the day is playtime in the commons (an indoor play place that is most certainly a child's dream with foam blocks, trampolines, and riding toys). This is where all of his physical therapy occurs. Lastly, they have naptime. On little kid nap mats. Again, how they get all of those one year olds to stay put on nap mats is way beyond me!
They have weekly units, complete with letters of the week, themes, book they are reading, songs they are singing, and signs to accompany their vocabulary words.
I love the books they make to accompany each unit. 
Here are some evidences of his work. To some, these are refrigerator art. But I know, each activity serves a purpose. Holding a crayon, feeling a feather and then a sponge, cutting and pasting, sorting, identifying - each promotes motor development. Each creates a foundation which will be built upon for years to come. Each makes him more knowledgeable. Each makes him more aware of the world in which he lives. Each is treasured. Each is a gift to serve as a daily reminder of Baker's progress, of Baker's potential, of the blessing of these teachers investing in his life.

I get teary thinking about the path that brought us here. And how fortunate we are for these men and women whose passion is serving children. Good, good stuff.
Let's just say he is his mother's child. And by that, I mean, the boy enjoys food.
Some of Baker's favorites - apple cinnamon oatmeal, Eggo waffles, Goldfish, Cheerios, Cheetos (as of yesterday), grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese sticks (I'm noticing a pattern - CHEESE EVERYTHING), spaghettios, ravioli, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, applesauce, rice, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, among others.
We still haven't introduced peanut butter. I keep thinking we will. And then the thought - if Baker were allergic, is now a good time for him to go into anaphylactic shock? Is now a good time to go to the hospital? And the answer is always a resounding NO! So, I wait. And if that is the thought that continues, I guess I will continue to wait.
At RISE, they are big on instilling independence. Eating is not excluded. Baker is now holding his cup on his own, and is trying is hardest to use utensils. This makes mealtimes a time when I enter into an attitude of worship. Be near, oh God, please, please, please be very near. He, bless his baby heart, has gotten his mother's perfectionist tendencies and gets incredibly frustrated when he cannot do it just right. When his body will not perform his mind's commands.
I am sure there is more to tell. There always is. For now, that's enough.
This is where we are.
We are blessed to be here.
I could write all day, everyday about Baker. I could write about his progress. I could write about his smile. I could write about his nonsensical babble that, to us, makes perfect sense. I could write about his tight squeezes and open mouth kisses. I could write about the incredible privilege of rocking my baby to sleep every night. I could write about how being his mother is one of my life's greatest joys.
Instead, I soak it all in. I savor each day. I reflect, and I am thankful.
Do I get discouraged? Do I worry?
But, this morning's Jesus Calling spoke right to that. Funny how that happens.
"Anxiety is a result of envisioning the future without Me. So the best defense against worry is staying in communication with Me. When you turn your thoughts toward Me, you can think much more positively. Remember to list, as well as to speak, making your thoughts a dialogue with Me."
Then, the author provides two rules for considering future events. One, "Do not linger in the future, because anxieties sprout up like mushrooms when you wander there. Two, "Remember the promise of My continual Presence; include Me in any imagery that comes to mind..."
Instead of living in a world of worry, a future world full of uncertainties, we live in the now. Trusting His with Baker's future.
We celebrate today. The present. It is a most precious gift.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Rachel Green Kind of Mom

I confess.
I am Rachel.
Jennifer Gaines Bell and Rachel Karen Green.
The same person.
Except for the whole Bloomingdale's buyer, great fashion, fabulous hair, married to Ross, "we were on a break" thing.
This Rachel. We're the same.
Every other time of the day, every single day, I'm all Monica.

And excuse the subtitles - it's the only one I could find.

I called his doctor's office a total of seven times this week, and visited twice.
It's neither here nor there that "the week" started on Wednesday at noon.
So, seven times from the middle of Wednesday until Friday afternoon.
For all of you wondering, we are not eating this week,
as all of our grocery budget has been donated to our lovely doctor's office in the name of co pays. It's also neither here nor there, that the office has now purchased a Caller ID system to screen my calls.
Baker came down with a nasty fever on Wednesday.
One hundred three to be exact.
And off to the doctor we went.
No strep. No this. No that. No answers. Just wait and see.
I stayed home with him Thursday, and then left him in the care of two precious girls on Friday. When I got home Friday, he looked much like he had been planted smack dab, right on top of an ant bed. He had little red dots everywhere.
And oh, sweet Jesus, at the whining.
And off to the doctor we went.
Hand foot and mouth.
When you hear those three, err four, words.
Hand foot and mouth is for the birds.
I'll spare you all the bumpy, rashy, blistery details.
He's on the upswing now, but still not back to his silly self.
Praise all things good and holy for Tylenol, Taco Casa ice, and caffeine (for me and the hubs since little sleep is being had).
The new face of Taco Casa?
 I think so.
If you are from the fabulous Casa, have your people call my people, and we can work out some sort of agreement.
When he's good, he's really good.
But when he's bad, he's so very pitiful.
Send prayers.
And patience.
And while you're offering, my favorite drink is a skinny caramel macchiato, Chick-fil-A has my favorite salad, and I like Philosophy bubble bath.
I kid.
When the Tylenol was doing its oh so wonderful thing, we enjoyed some sweet Baker smiles.
I love how he smiles.
Through it all,
my Baker Boy can always find a smile.
To brighten days, and warm hearts, and spread joy. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Seventeen months

Happy seventeen months, my sweetest Baker.

We love you to the moon and back,
more than all the stars in the sky.
We'll spend our days showing you how much we love you,
how deep and how long and how high.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

One big truth

I feel extremely vulnerable posting pictures of myself.
Any pictures.
On the blog, on Instagram, on Facebook, even on my desk at work where my face in the frame is situated neatly between the smiles I love the most.
My hair is a little too stringy, my legs a little too long, my face a little too wrinkled, my waist a little too squishy.
But, in the name of capturing memories,
I take them, and sometimes, I even share them.
Especially if my hair is cooperating, or the lighting and I make an under-the-table deal and my imperfections are camouflaged just long enough for the flash to do its blinding thing and the shutter to make its magical click.
But in this one, the lighting is not just right.
I am wearing no makeup, I have three day hair, my face is stained with tears.
But this picture is different.
It's not about me.
Or how I look.
It's about His truth.
One big truth.

Courtney DeFeo is hosting a blog linkup today in which contributors share two pictures (one before, one after) and one big truth.

I have never felt as weak as I did before God showed me His truth.

I would imagine this is how men and women on The Biggest Loser feel.
Standing on a scale comparable in size to the Statue of Liberty for their weight to be plastered on billboards, shouted from megaphones.
Before pictures emphasizing their flaws, their flab, their imperfections for all the world to see. For all the world to judge.
Everything, every part of them, fully exposed.
Even when the challenge is over.
The weight has been lost.
Victory over their battle has been declared.
When the before picture is again shown, you can see the vulnerability, the insecurity, the emotion arise. Erupting from the place where they shoved it underneath their hard fought physique.
That's me.
The before was taken on Mother's Day.
My very first Mother's Day.
Exactly two days after my Baker Boy was born.
Baker was scheduled to arrive on June 4, 2012.
We planned, I planned, in very Type A fashion, for him to arrive on June 4.
But he had different plans.
Better yet, He had different plans.
I would love to share Baker's Birth Story with you.
You can read it here.
It shares very special details from that most incredible day.
It shares about how Baker made is debut earlier than expected.
How he was born with Down Syndrome.
How he was whisked away to the NICU.
How he was warmed under bili lights.
How his eyes were covered with a mask.
How he was tangled beneath cords and tubes.
How after his birth late Friday night, I didn't get to hold him again until Sunday.
This before picture captures that moment.
That moment when Baker and I were reunited.
When they turned off the lights, and removed the mask, and untangled the cords just so for me to hold my precious baby.
That moment, with diagnosis in hand, my world slowly shifting from the one with my hopes and dreams, to the one in which I live out His plan to bring Him glory.

The before.
With my fears.
My worries.
My weaknesses.
His one big truth didn't come in a bolt of lightning.
I didn't sit up straight in bed one night because of a dream.
It wasn't an epiphany.
I am certainly not saying God cannot work like that, He can work in whatever incredibly big way or extremely small fashion He chooses.
For me, he has made this truth known again and again.
His faithfulness evidences it daily.
When I am weak, He is strong.
In Matthew, He declares, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest."
He is strength in my weakness.

He is wide awake when I am fatigued.
In my slumber, He supports.
He is my ever present help in times of trouble.
He stands when I lie down.
The after.
 He meets all my needs according to His glorious riches.
When I am weak, He is strong.
 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 2:9-10

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Raining on Sunday

My sweet little love is napping,
my sweet big love is scouring the Internet for the perfect house to make our home,
my sweet four legged love is playing in a mud puddle.
The rain is falling rhythmically on the roof.
Chili is simmering on the stove.
Praise songs from a morning of worship are dancing in my head.
Memories from time spent with those I love the most are creeping up, causing an embarrassingly goofy smile to take up residence on my face.
Life is good.
In the rushed weeks, the busy days, the deadlines, the piles of mail, the mounding laundry, the emails, I fail to reflect on that enough.
Life is good.
And I am thankful.
I am thankful for the good, but I am also thankful for the not so good.
The struggles, the worries, the trials.
The patience builders, the faith strengtheners, the hope growers.
Today, on this rainy day of rest, I am reflecting on the "I'm thankful fors" in my life.
These pictures capture some of the sweetest memories of the week with some of the ones for whom I am most thankful.

This angel brightens my every day.
I love the joy and excitement with which he approaches everything!
He is so curious right now.
And animated to the max (see video below).
I love me some Baker Bell!
Tis the season for fall appliques and blue jeans!
Even his pouty face melts me.

Brian and I took some us time this weekend.
Date night at the wine bar at Gianmarco's in Homewood.
So good! 

Oh, you know, just a typical car ride with this cheeseburger.
I love his little personality!
"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalms 9:1
We love rainy Sundays 'round here.
You can see another rainy Sunday post here.
I cannot believe how much bigger my little is!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A special month for a special boy

Deep breath, Jennifer. Deep breath.


Leaves changing.
Soup stewing.
Colors vibrant and colors brilliant.
Brisk mornings.
Fall Festivals.
Tailgate parties.
Skinny jeans and bulky sweaters.
Haunted houses.
Spider rings.
Witches brew.

I love October for all of those lovely things.
But since a memorable call on December 16, 2011, I love October for something else.

Some of you know the story.
I was leaving my school on a Friday afternoon. My room cleaned, leaving no evidence of Christmas parties and presents regifted with love from children whose names will forever be imprinted on my heart. I was full in every sense of the word. A growing baby nestled comfortably between the sausage balls and sprinkled cupcakes I couldn't refuse, and staying toasty warm from one too many cups of hot cocoa. He wasn't a he yet. Well, we didn't know he was a he. Teachers said joyful goodbyes, as we wouldn't enter the doors of the school house until the next year.

I stopped abruptly at a red light, with thoughts of sugar cookies, gift wrapping, and mentally preparing my Saturday agenda. "One quick call," I thought. I had gone in a week prior for my quad screen, and had pushed it to the back burner, with the hustle and bustle of a busy week clouding my thoughts. But before I began my holidays, I wanted to hear for sure that everything was just fine with my little baby.

I called, expecting to hear a standard "Everything looks great, we'll see you next month." Instead, stopped at that red light, with Chick-fil-A across the street and my school close behind, I heard something very different. My precious nurse, who I always admired for speaking in such an articulate tone, confident in herself and her knowledge, stumbled. Her voice quivered, and she implored me to call back once I returned home. I don't remember the drive. Somehow I maneuvered my car the eleven miles from school to home. The thoughts of pending errands a blur. Brian wouldn't be home for another hour, and knowing I couldn't wait all weekend, I called the doctor back. Through shaking hands and already tear filled eyes, I sat hugging my knees, planted firmly on my plush bedroom comforter in my dark room, willing the doctor's words to be anything else. The words he spoke plunged fear into the depths of my being. He conveyed the results of my test - my baby had a 1 in 6 chance of being born with Down Syndrome.

The next minutes, hours, days, months were a mixture of emotions. We celebrated, but we also worried.

We knew there was a chance, but never confirmed this speculation.

On May 11, 2012, our baby boy, Baker, was born. He was 5 pounds, 13.9 ounces of pure joy. Almost 19 inches of delectably soft skin. He had long skinny legs, the most kissable lips, a smell I can still remember when I close my eyes and breathe in deeply, bright blue eyes. And he also had Down Syndrome.

It was there. It was obvious to us. But it was not the first thing we noticed.

Those first few days were scary. There were cords tangled across his teensy body. The beeping machines pierced the stark quiet room. Bili lights and masks made it impossible to gaze into his eyes. And not getting to hold my baby was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Tears well and threaten to spill over even now.

Those first few days were overwhelmingly wonderful. There were first feedings. And first burps. First gowns. First kisses. And pictures of everything. Oh, those first days were sweet.

We have loved him all along.
From our dating days when we dreamed about getting married and starting a family, to the days we were praying oh so hard for a baby, to the day in late September when two pink lines appeared, to the day in December when the news tumbled in, to the day we found out he was a he, to the day the ultrasound picture revealed a little baby with arms and legs and not just a big blob, to the sweetest day in May when he was placed on my chest for the first time, to the first time he rolled over, to the day he ate his first food, and first said my name, to the day he sat up and crawled and signed his first sign.
We have loved him all along.

In October, in addition to all of the other wonderful things about this month, we celebrate Baker. We celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness.

I will do a few more posts in honor of this month about where we are now, Sign Language, therapies, milestones. I will do a few more just because posts, and smitten with love posts, and posts to make you aware. That Down Syndrome is a thing, but it's not the thing. It's an okay thing. It's not who Baker is, but it is a part of who he is. It is a part of us. Our everyday, but not something we think about everyday.

We celebrate you, my sweet Baker Boy. And we celebrate the other families who have been blessed with this gift. Cherish it. For every day, every milestone is a gift.