Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Joys of Christmas Break

-Andrew FINALLY lost his front tooth!  This thing has seriously been loose for about 3 months and we have all given our very best effort to get it out, but to no avail, until the day that he left for Winterfest and I was finally able to yank it out.  The timing was perfect because it gave the tooth fairy an extra couple days to get her act together...  too bad he's been home for 3 nights and the tooth fairy still doesn't have her act together :-/.  Lucky for me, Andrew has forgotten about it entirely and he knows and loves the tooth fairy, so he and Abigail both are good about extending the tooth fairy grace when she drops the ball :-).

-We had our mid year meeting with Grace's teacher and therapists to discuss her progress and set new goals.  We are so grateful for all of the goals that Grace has nailed, we continue to be blessed by the encouragement and hope we receive from her team at the Rise School.  I'm sure it comes as no surprise but the area that she continues to score the highest in is her social skills.  It's been so fun to watch her speech explode too, in fact my new favorite thing that Grace says when thinking about something is "how about..."  This may not sound like a big deal to most, but to hear Grace's little personality come out in the words she chooses to use is such a treat.  We were playing a game where we were naming animals and as she was thinking of another animal she put her hand on her chin and said "howwww abouuut..." and then said another animal.  The thing making it so special is that it is outside of just communicating a need or observation.  She has also been saying "NO MA'M" when someone does something she doesn't like; it's hard not to crack when we hear her say it. I wonder where she got that from :-/.

Jingle, the class elf, had all sorts of tricks up his sleeve, but this is the one Grace is still talking about...  when the kids woke up from a nap, Jingle had given them all a red nose like Rudolph!

She loved their Christmas party breakfast...

Grace practicing her reindeer skills...

They were visited by the Texas Medical Center Police Department, who dressed up as Blue Santa...

Grace got to bring home Scout the class pet over the Christmas break, so she has enjoyed playing with him, reading to him, etc...

-Grace had another round of hematology labs and...  they all came back normal!  PRAISE THE LORD!!!  What a wonderful Christmas present!

-The big kids had Christmas parties at school!

-The kids went to Pine Cove Winterfest this weekend!  They had a great time and we survived (Grace barely) them being away for two nights at camp :-).

Abby and her counselor OG

Andrew and his counselor Thinkster

Dropping Sissy off...

Grace really thought that she should stay with them...

A and A and their buddy, Christian (a friend and neighbor)

One of the counselors texted me this picture of Andrew, I knew he was having a blast when I saw him wearing his counselors sweatshirt.

The reunion between the three amigo's when camp was over was pretty awesome!

-We celebrated Christmas with my Dad and Step Mom...

-LuLu is in town, which is always a treat! She watched the kids while David and I got to celebrate the birthday of two dear friends, who had an 80's roller skating party!  I forgot how fun roller skating is and how competitive David and I can be when it comes to skating races!

**Anybody who knows us knows that David and I are terrible at keeping surprises a secret, so despite busting at the seems, we are doing our best to keep a huge Christmas surprise for the kids a secret until Christmas day...  It's a last minute vacation we are taking that in their minds is way better than Disney World, etc.  I will post the video of them opening the gift :-).

***We are loving getting your Christmas cards!  I feel terrible that I didn't get my act together in time  to get Christmas cards out this year, so please know that you weren't kicked off our list or something crazy like that.  I hope to get back on my game next year :-).

We hope that y'all have a blessed Christmas and experience the joy of Jesus!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Oh dear, entire post lost...

Kristi had an awesome post composed this weekend, but sadly, somehow the post was deleted after she had spent many hours working on it.  Since she didn't have time to redo it before the craziness of the week started, I thought I would go ahead and give it a try in an effort to help her out.  The blog has been a good way to keep family and friends up to date on what's going on in the Ross household (especially with Grace), but also a great way for us to document our journey so that we don't have to risk forgetting so many big and small milestones.

Going back a few weeks now, we were blessed with celebrating Andrew's 7th birthday over the Thanksgiving holidays!  We started the birthday bash with Andrew and Kristi going to paint a turkey together.  It was a lot of hard work, but they both really enjoyed it and did a great job!

On Thanksgiving, which was his actual birthday, we met up with all the cousin's and Kristi's parents at my mom and dad's house in The Woodlands.  It was great to get together with the family, but even better to celebrate Andrew's birthday.  I am so thankful for God blessing us with Andrew and the little man that he is becoming.  He knows and loves the Lord; he takes his role of being a big and little brother seriously and strives to be there for his sisters; he is joyful and almost always creating some sort of fun; he loves his mommy in a way that only a son is able; he is sensitive when he falls short and sins and is truly repentant in these situations; and if he ever sees Kristi and I having a disagreement, he intervenes to remind us of what is important.  He is a tremendous blessing and I am so thankful that I get to have him as my son!  

Here is Andrew's pilgrim project from school.  It's a good depiction of the kind of kid Andrew is. 

Kristi really wanted to make a turkey cinnamon roll for Andrew's birthday since he loves animals and requested a turkey on his birthday cookie, but it may have been more of a Pinterest fail (but Andrew loved it, I guess that's all that matters).

We also celebrated cousin Joe's birthday!

To finish up his birthday celebration, we went to play laser tag with another family who has a son the same age as Andrew and a daughter the same age as Abigail.  We had a great time playing laser tag and someone in the family, I won't mention any names, was even successful in winning the first game we played.

Last weekend, Kristi and I went through a whirlwind and somehow are able to remember everything that happened.  Saturday began with Kristi and Grace leaving the house at 5:00 am to be at the Fox 26 Houston TV station to be interviewed for the morning news, as they were sharing about GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land grand opening that was going to be happening at 2:00 pm that day.  Kristi did a great job and Grace.... well, Grace was cute, but perhaps a little too rascally for live TV.  

***I don't have a link, but here is a video of the TV interview

Abigail had a soccer tournament, so she had two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday.  In between her two games on Saturday, we had the GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land Grand Opening.  Abigail was speaking at the grand opening and Kristi is on the board for GiGi's, so we were all hands on deck.  It was so great to see all the handwork that has gone into making GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land a reality.  We can't wait to see and experience all the blessings that will come from having a down syndrome achievement center in our own community.  The grand opening was a huge success and there was roughly 350 people who turned out for the event.  

***Here is what Abigail had to say (in her own words) about what life is like having a sister with Down Syndrome!

Immediately after Abigail got done with her speech, I whisked her away to her soccer game and the made it just before the first half was finished.  After the game was done, we headed home (as Kristi was leaving from the grand opening with Grace and Andrew) and made it home with about 20 minutes to get ourselves all gussied up to leave for a wedding that night.  On Sunday, Kristi taught children's ministry at church, while I took Abigail to another soccer game.  In the afternoon, Andrew had a birthday party to attend and Abigail had her last soccer game of the tournament.  Her soccer team did great and they got second place in the tournament and missed first place by only one point (that last game was intense to say the least).  We finished the weekend with an end of the season soccer party before heading home and trying to prepare ourselves for the start of another busy week.

Grace wearing Papa's hat while cheering Abby on at soccer!

I know that Kristi has shared that Grace has been in the process of potty training and I am happy to report that she went three days at school last week without having any accidents.  Slowly, but surely, we are coming along on this potty training thing and I know it will only be a matter of time before we get to celebrate having no more diapers in the Ross household.  

"potty training is my Christmas present to mommy and daddy!"

Santa came to visit Grace's school last week, so in preparation for Santa's arrival, one of the therapist's at Grace's school dressed up like Santa, in order to give the kids some practice of being around Santa before the real deal came later in the week.  Grace did great when the therapist dressed up like Santa (although she made it very clear that she didn't like the beard) and she talked a big game with us and told us how she was going to give Santa a high five and sit on his lap.  

We even practiced at home...

However, when Santa arrived Grace did not want to get too close to the big guy, so she pulled off an air high five and blew him a kiss (from a good distance away), but she did not want to sit on his lap.  That did not, however, hold her back from telling everyone she talked to that she got to sit on Santa's lap.  At least Grace's school had a trick up their sleeve, they had Santa leave the room, sat Grace on the bench, and had Santa sneak up behind her so she didn't even know he was anywhere near her.  You can tell by her face in the picture though that she knew her teachers were up to something and she was not buying what they were selling.

Abigail had her 3rd grade performance last week and it was so much fun to watch that when it was over Grace was heart broken and pleading "more show!" 

Andrew had Polar Express day at school last week

Another fun, but crazy busy weekend...  Life Group Christmas Party, Hi-5 children's ministry Christmas party, 3rd grade girls Bible study, and Ugly Christmas sweater family church service.  We got to watch the big kids sing in the children's choir during the service, but the highlight for us all was watching Grace in the petting zoo after the service.  She couldn't get enough of these animals!

I think the bunnies were her favorite

Polish chickens

Grace was certain that she was speaking duck and that the duck totally understood her because he would talk back to her

More bunnies!

PRAYER REQUEST-  This is Kristi, I need your help!  The big kids are going to a two night sleep away camp called Winterfest with Pine Cove (the same amazing Christian camp organization where we go to Family Camp each year) from Friday to Sunday of this week.  Will you please pray that they are (and stay) healthy, make great godly friends, connect with their counselors, grow in their faith, don't get home sick, and are safe?  You know a momma's heart, sending your kiddos away to camp for the first time is enough to make me want to cry as I type this.  Thank you!!!

Christmas is in the air!