Monday, November 23, 2015


When I stop and think what we've been up to since my last post 2 weeks ago, the first thing that comes to mind is potty training.  Yes, that's right...  potty training!  We are so proud of Grace for how well she's doing with potty training (the fact that she just recently turned three and is potty training is a huge praise in my book), but it sure is harder than I remember it being with the big kids.  I think that's in large part due to the fact that Grace is the third child, so trying to potty train when you're on the go a lot, like out at the soccer field for practice and games, it makes it a little hard.  Add to that the fact that she LOVES to go in public potties... as many times as possible, makes potty training a little exhausting.  She is only having 1-2 accidents a day and she's only really been potty training for a week or two now, so despite my exhaustion, we are so proud of her and praising the Lord for such a big milestone.
Last weekend we participated in the Houston Buddy Walk.  It is for the Down Syndrome Association of Houston and always a treat to see and talk to so many kids and adults with designer genes and their families.  They had all sorts of fun attractions for the big kids, check it out...

We went to The Rise School (Grace's school = a little slice of heaven) fundraiser this week and had a blast!  What fun it is to talk to teachers, administrators, and other parents outside of our normal everyday routine (dressed up, not wrangling any little people, running off to get to work, etc). 

Grace saw us take a picture and wanted to get in on the action too...

How cool is this, Grace's picture was on all of the invitations...  

...and in the swag bags that they gave away at the amazing silent auction fundraiser?

Two reminders of how resilient and amazing kids are and how I need to be more like them came this week when we had a "teachable moment" with Abigail.  First, a heartwarming and heartbreaking event occurred when the whole family was in the car and Abigail was crying pretty hard and Grace became very upset and sad to see her "sissy" sad (Grace seriously embodies the verse "rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn" as she gets extremely concerned when she sees anyone that is upset, let alone one of her peeps... her sissy).  Grace started to call her name and say "breathe with me sissy," as she has her arms crossed (doing what they call the pretzel at school) and taking slow deep breaths, as Abigail continued to be upset Grace took her arms out of her car seat so that she could lean over and rub Abigail's leg and say "awe sissy" and proceeded to insist that Abigail breathe with her, this time with her arms over her head (they call it the balloon at school) and she continued until she got Abigail to do it with her and wouldn't you know... it worked!  Grace was able to calm her big sister down when she was sad, it was a beautiful moment.  As usual, as the night went on I began worrying that I might have been too hard on Abigail and was praying a prayer that I find myself praying anytime I get upset with the kids, "Lord any holes that I have made in the kid's hearts or spirit please fill them in with your grace..."  I think about one of the most compelling analogies I've ever heard, its a story called Nails in the Fence.  In case you haven't read it, here it is (don't scroll past it because I promise it's good :-)

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. 

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. 

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. 

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there." 

The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said "I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you." 

"Of course I can," said the father. 

Before putting Abigail to bed that night she said that she left something on my pillow, but asked us not to read it until after I put her down.  After snuggling and praying with her I hurried off to see what she had left on my pillow, what I found was a card she had made for David and I where she thanked us for caring about her so much, promised that she understood the lesson we were trying to teach her that evening, shared that she knew in God's strength that she could do better, told us she loved us, and then said the words the make me cry again just typing it "you are great parents."  The humility, repentance, understanding, forgiveness, and genuine love that she displayed through that card did so much more than just bless my heart (and make me want to squeeze her with all my strength and smother her in kisses), but it was a tangible example of the childlike faith that God calls us to have.  I can't help but ask myself, is that how I respond when I'm corrected?  It's also a reminder of how big God is, that even when we mess things up, He can make it right if we have humble hearts and a contrite spirit.  I love how He uses the "weak" (a child) to teach the "strong" (adults)!  

Lastly, watching Andrew serve (choosing to stay with Grace in the little kids area at the gym instead of going to play with the big kids, feeding her first even if that means he has to wait to eat or doesn't get much to eat, and so much more) and teach Grace (he loves to read to her, teach her about animals, how to build a fort, etc) is just precious... although, he is also great at helping them get into mischief together too.  These two pictures that I happened to capture at the soccer field are a glimpse of their priceless bond.  

We are beyond excited for Thanksgiving this year because we have SO very much to be thankful for, especially this boy who turns 7 years old on Thanksgiving day!!!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Growing Up

First things first...  A BIG, HUGE, GIANT, THANK YOU to everyone who purchased a Grace's Village shirt!!!  When I would get an email with the name of the person who bought a shirt and/or donated, my eyes would instantly fill with tears because it was as if you were saying "we are standing with you!"  Hopefully everyone has received their shirts in the mail and those that had their shirts shipped to me, I'm waiting on an email from Booster with a list of names and sizes so that I can distribute them accurately.  Guess how much we raised for Gigi's Play House Sugar Land?!?!?

***Please don't forget to wear your Grace's Village shirt next Saturday, the 14th, for the Down Syndrome Association of Houston's Buddy Walk, and either come for the festivities at Minute Maid stadium from 10:00-12:00, the walk begins at 12:30, or just take a picture of yourself with your shirt on and post it on Facebook (don 't forget to tag me :-) or e-mail me!  

So, the excitement around Gigi's Playhouse Sugar Land continues because we are having our grand opening on Dec. 5th, so mark your calendars!!!  (insert SQUEAL)!!!

A few highlights from the week...

-Look who got some big girl panties!!!  Grace has been going pee pee in the potty for about a year now, but we are finally getting serious about potty training.  You see, we attempted to really potty train over the summer, but we made a rookie mistake!  If any of you know anything about Grace, she is Miss Independent and wants to feel like every decision was her idea to begin with, so the setting of the timer and going potty every time it went off quickly caused her to reject the potty all together.  Miss Grace will not be controlled by a timer!  When her super awesome teacher at school mentioned to me at our parent/teacher conference that she thought Grace was ready to start really potty training (big girl panties and all) I shared with her what a failure our last attempt was and it took her all of a second to sweetly say "I'm not surprised because Grace likes to feel like she has some control, so I can see how she wouldn't like the timer."  She proceeded to give me suggestions as to how to approach it again.  This is just one small example of why we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Rise School.  The teachers know my kid as well (maybe even better sometimes) as we do because they invest so much of their heart and time in her five days a week.  They never make me feel like a failure, but instead act as a safety net in so many ways.  They give me the confidence to parent in a way that is unfamiliar at times (since this is our first rodeo at parenting a kiddo rockin' an extra chromosome) and if I drop the ball, I know that they will be right there to help me pick up the pieces and encourage me all along the way.

Only down side of potty training this little rascal is that she wants to go potty everywhere that we go, which includes the soccer field where the potty is practically in a different country :-/

Of course she picked out Minnie Mouse panties...

-A vision that I hope sticks in my mind forever is one that happened on Monday.  Grace has speech therapy two times a week early in the morning at the Elementary school where the big kids attend.  Since the big kids had half days on Thursday and Friday, their library time schedule had to be modified, which means that as I was walking down the hall with Grace to leave therapy and take her to her school, I saw a class lining up to go into the library.  It took me a second, but I realized that it was Abigail's class (they are never there at that time, so it sort of caught me off guard) only when Grace went sprinting down the hall yelling "SISSY!!!"  When Abigail laid eyes on Grace, she looked happier and more excited than I have ever (seriously ever) seen her in her 8 years of life.  Her eyes welled up with tears (just like mine are right now), her face turned a sweet color of pink/red, and she hugged Grace as if her cup had been filled and was now overflowing.  The simplicity and sincerity of that moment reminded me (once again) of what really matters in life (it's not stuff or our circumstances that's for sure, no stuff could ever produce that sort of a reaction).

This obviously ins't a picture from school, but I think it captures the love :-)

-look at how big these kids are getting!!!  These are their school pictures from this year.

-Abigail had another soccer game in the pouring rain, so after rejecting anything that resembles an umbrella, this little turkey and I went to sit in the car to warm up.

-I got home from Bible study one night and went to kiss the big kids goodnight.  I had to snap a picture of this sweetness, I love that Andrew takes such good care of and sleeps with the bear that I had when I was little (and he still loves Buzz Lightyear).  How is it that watching your children sleep makes it seem like all is right in the world?!?!

-We had our first 3rd grade girls bible study with 10 girls from our neighborhood.  It is such a treat to study the Word with these precious 8 and 9 year old girls and their mommas!  I wish I had a picture of the sweeties, but didn't even think about it!

I guess that's about it for us, hope I didn't bore you to pieces...  Have a blessed week!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Fun!

We had a great Halloween weekend!  David and I were able to go on a date Friday night and we had a blast with friends/neighbors on Saturday night!

Halloween was always one of my least favorite holidays growing up, but it has turned into a night of celebration for our family, since this Halloween marked two years from the worst day of my life.  Two years ago on Halloween is the day that it felt as though all medical professionals (at TCH) had given up hope on Grace's survival as she laid super sick in the CVICU.  We were left feeling desperate for God's wisdom, hope, and comfort during such a scary time.  He provided all of those things in abundance, a few days later Grace remained super sick, but thanks to the heart and hard work of people at Pfizer and United Healthcare she was on her way to BCH (via a medical flight), where her amazing team would do two more open heart surgeries that would allow Grace to not just survive, but thrive.  To say the least, we are beyond grateful to get to dress up and trick-'or-treat together as a whole family!

Abigail was a Pine Cove camp counselor (her counselor from Family Camp this year made her her own special name badge), Andrew was the pilot Luke Skywalker, Grace was Yoda, I was RTD2, and David super a super swirly poop (or something like that).

Bad picture of the trick or treating crew...

Grace loved digging in the sand pit with her buddy Caroline!

The kids playing the mummy game...

Playing the game where you try to get the cookie from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands...

The kids' pumpkins...

Precious friends...

Grace had a Halloween Parade at school on Friday where she was a ladybug (same ladybug costume Abigail wore when she was 3 years old :-).

Grace's costume transformed into a sexy lady bug costume by the time she got to school :-/

The big kids had Field Day at school on Friday...
Abigail with one of her and Andrew's favorite friends at school

One of Andrew's friends at school asked me the question "why is Andrew so weird?"  At first I was taken back by such an...  odd question, however, when I asked him to help me understand what he meant, he said that Andrew is the only boy he knows that when people are mean to him he doesn't get mad or act mean back.  He said that Andrew is the nicest boy that he knows.  If that is the definition of weird, then we are grateful to have a weird kid :-).

Hope y'all had a blessed weekend!  

A few random pics from the week...