Friday, October 31, 2008


I was sitting at the dining room table filling in today's schooling for Micah and Amelia, meager amount that it was, and Amelia walked by pushing the vacuum cleaner. Now, I know that life would be much less stressful if I just gave in and admitted that she is clearly the one running this household. So I decided to wait and watch.

Interestingly, though I was in the room, one of the teens sprang into action and let her know that she is NOT in need of the vacuum and tried to wrestle it from her. My hero. I pointed out that I was right there and asked said teen to let her be. "But she has the vacuum!" To which I replied, "I know, if only all of my children would see a mess that needs cleaning and actually do it!"

Now, I don't encourage Amelia to go near electrical outlets but she beat me to it and fired up the vacuum. Apparently she only needed the hose to clean some crumbs on the couch. Unfortunately she rested the vacuum on some socks, they got partially sucked in and the resulting smell of the overheating vacuum was not pleasant. Now I remember why I don't give in and let her run the household.

It is fascinating that my seven year old who has Down Syndrome can see a chore or task being done once and immediately knows exactly how to do it and how often it needs getting done. (Whether that is true or not.) Yet my teens who have been seeing these same chores and tasks for years still don't seem to understand how it's done.

Some days though, I wish she were more like them. So does Dante, when she decides he is done sleeping and strips him in bed to change his diaper. Her heart is right, the follow through needs some work! I guess we are all a work in progress.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Show Hope

Last night I went to the Michael W. Smith/Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Lowell. It is more accurate to say I was "at" the concert, rather than that I went "to" the concert. I did not have a ticket, but they let me in anyhow! I had the honor of volunteering at the Shaohannah's Hope adoption information table. I spent most of the evening handing out information and talking to ladies/couples/families considering adoption. I was able to stand in the back for one or two songs, which was neat. It was a sold out concert!

There were two other families volunteering couple with their toddler son whom they adopted from Ethiopia, and another family with their teenage daughters; they are in the process of adopting a boy from Haiti. All of us have been blessed with a grant from Shaohannah's Hope, and that is how we came to be volunteering at the concert. It was a treat to share our stories with each other, and to be able to encourage others to consider adoption.

I pray that many families will consider adoption, and read the information we handed out directing them to the websites. They help know how to make it work; finances are what hold most people back. It is sad how many people say "We'd love to adopt but...." One woman told us she has been working on her husband for five years to consider adoption. I suggested perhaps she should ask the Father to work on her husband to change his heart.

A great website to check out: . Also
Here is a picture from last night:

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Boy and his Dad

A Dad and his boy can be symbolized in so many ways, however I like this view. Here we have a Dad and his son: there is no indication of height, looks, or ethnicity. Both of these guys could be Cary Grant look alikes and live in a $500,000 house or two guys living in an apartment on $30,000 a year. We cannot tell if anyone has Down Syndrome, all we see is a boy trying to be like his Dad. Is this not the way we should look at these two? Both individuals are made in God's image, as the Scriptures say, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them" (Genesis1:27) Thus both individuals are similarly priceless in the eyes of God and thus should be priceless in our eyes as well. We spend too much time judging people by how they look, what they can do for us, whether or not they are "useful" to society. This criteria is twisted and warped. We need to see all human beings as God's special creation with a destiny known only to God and not to man. We must respect the deep responsibilty that a Dad has to train his child in the way he will go. In our own lives, let us all walk with our children and show them the way. And let's not get in the way of others who want to do the same.

Monday, October 20, 2008


When my teens were pre-schoolers, I had the privilege of working part-time at a small independent teacher supply store which also sold toys. Zach was a Thomas the Tank Engine fanatic, and we accrued quite a lot of the wooden sets. My dad even made a table for it all.

Last week Zach and Xander pulled the table out of the basement and we introduced Dante to the trains! They have been out in a bucket, but somehow having the table made it that much more exciting. Below are some photos.

(I wonder if he realizes I am getting him to stand independently at this table?)

Thank You!

Our Stone Soup sale was a lot of fun, and quite successful. While only 45-50 people came, we had fun together. Everyone was very generous, and many who were unable to attend donated to our adoption the next day in church. Thank you! Over $500 was raised to help us bring Sunny home.
I took my camera, and promptly left it on the counter. So, here are only two pictures:
Amelia is giving some last minute instructions to the girls before we put out the soup.
Everyone relaxing and playing Twister after the event.
I did not get a picture of all nine girls sleeping peacefully because I was out long before them!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fundraiser Coming Soon!

In two days we are having the Stone Soup Adoption Fundraiser! Yesterday Meridith, Amelia, and I went shopping for supplies. We will have Chili, Chicken Noodle soup, Broccoli Cheese soup, Potato and Cheese soup, Clam Chowder (New England of course), Vegetable Beef, Tomato and Hamburger soup, and Chicken Tortilla soup. Several friends are making most of the soups, and we are also having breads and desserts made! I am so thankful for the support being shown in this fundraiser.

That is why I am calling it the Stone Soup Adoption Fundraiser--and true to the moral of the story, we are working together to bring Sunny home.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


We have been enjoying some beautiful New England weather. Since Jamie was home yesterday, we decided to all go for a nature walk. I wanted to collect some colorful leaves to scatter on the tables at our Stone Soup fundraiser this coming Saturday.

Unfortunately, we also collected some ticks. Alexander, Nikita, Zachary, and Dante each had one, and Pattie the puppy had two! I had Amelia take a shower while Jamie checked over Micah, but they were both tick-free. Thankfully none of the ticks had attached, so there was no trauma- or drama. Dante would not have done well with that.

There is a pond near our house that we walked by. Micah decided there is a whale living in it. I told him that whales are too big for a pond. So instead he told me there are penguins living in the water. Amelia told me he is silly. She signed it as she said it; she loves to call people silly. It was really quite appropriate this time!

They both love using their signs to communicate. Dante is starting to use more signs also. The other day I gave him an M&M and taught him candy, which he was quite motivated to learn quickly. Then yesterday he found a bowl in the living room, showed it to Daddy, and signed "ice cream"! Yeah Dante!! Of course, he was promptly given a scoopful.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 13

There is no Day 12, so I guess that means I am no longer making it on the 31 for 21. Yesterday was Sunday, and we did not go online.

I did learn a little rhyme at work last night. Jamie told me I should not be repeating anything I learn at work, but this time it is worth repeating:

"When in a fix, Philippians 4:6"

If you don't know it, look it up and memorize it! Thanks MaryBeth!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 11

Yesterday was beautiful; here are some pictures. Dante and I went for a walk, and then Amelia used the playset to practice gymnastics, followed by her and Micah playing. Also, the kiddos playing the piano.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 10

It is already getting hard to come up with a daily entry for the 31 for 21. My life is just not that exciting despite home schooling 6 kids, three of whom have Down Syndrome!

I am going to use an essay that I wrote for our church's weekly bulletin insert over the Summer. I was asked to write something because of my involvement with the Christian Life Committee.

Here it is:

"It is one of the tasks of the Christian Life Committee to find volunteers that will spend time teaching our faith to the children of this church. We endeavor to instill in them the need for daily Christian habits beyond just Sunday morning church.

What are your Christian habits throughout the week? I know my daughter Amelia has better ones than I do. Most mornings, she has gone to the computer and turned on her Praise & Worship music before she even has breakfast. (I gave up telling her not to touch the computer.) Then she stands on the chair and sings. Amelia insists on taking a turn praying at the dinner table. She lines up her children's Bibles and reads them to Micah. Amelia teaches Dante to sign "Jesus", although he does not always appreciate her repeated hand-over-hand technique. She serves her community once a week when she helps deliver Meals on Wheels.

Amelia is not content to worship Jesus on Sundays only. She lives the life everyday. I need to be more like her. After all Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little chidlren, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3,4). I think we all could be a little more like Amelia...simple, unashamed, and loving her Jesus...every day of the week."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yes, She Can!

Sure, there are lots of things Amelia cannot do. But there is so much more that she can! Here are some pictures Amelia kayaking, taken during our Summer vacation this past August. This was the first year we let her out in her own kayak, in the past she was always on my lap or Jamie's. We attached her kayak to the back of the one I was in, and she was quite proud of herself.

I look forward to next Summer, when Sunny will have the chance to do all the things Amelia now does!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Special Olympics

Amelia might get to join a team! The gymnastics coach called me back today, and we go on Saturday to see what Amelia thinks of it. She is only 7, but will turn 8 in March, well before the June competition. She has done gymnastics since she was 3 and absolutely loves it, so I really do not think I am pushing her by getting her onto the team now.

They practice every Saturday, and it is about 45 minutes away from us. We would still keep her in her weekly class nearby, since it is all girls her age and that is important for her too.

It is always interesting to see the progression each year--- in the Fall the girls are all eyeing Amelia like she might sprout a second head any moment, but by Spring they are all making sure she gets her turns and keeps up. Obviously in a perfect world she would be accepted from the start, but it is a growing experience for everyone in the class.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Good-Bye Anita

Today Dante had to say good-bye to Anita, his physical therapist. He turns three on Sunday, so this is his last week of in-home Early Intervention services.

Anita was absolutely wonderful, and Dante was usually pretty good for her. Amelia was a self-designated therapy assistant; whenever Anita walked in Amelia would run to Dante and start doing his joint compressions while singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". Micah loved it whenever Anita brought her therapy ball; he decided that meant she was actually here for group therapy.

We will all miss seeing her every Tuesday, she truly was a blessing to this family.

As I type this Dante is sitting on the couch giggling hysterically at nothing, which he often does in the evening. Perhaps tonight he is remembering the good times with Anita.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Today is Amelia's 5 year Gotcha Day anniversary! I cannot believe it has been that long; yet it feels like she has always been our daughter.

Some highlights from that day:

We had to go to New York City (JFK Airport) to pick her up. It is three hours from here, and I was so nervous about traffic that we ended up being more than an hour early. Our Pastor drove us down, which was absolutely wonderful of him.

On the way down we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for dinner. It was a Monday, and the kids were 7,8, and 9 at the time. The day before the boys had watched football with Jamie, complete with all those funny beer commercials. When the server asked us for our drink orders, Nikita (7) asked without hesitation for a Bud Light. Like she has one all the time!! It was so embarrassing, the boys had told her it was a soda. Who knows, maybe they thought it was.

And then the plane finally arrived. It was after 9pm, so the airport was not very busy. We were let a little farther along, watching the people come out of the tunnel. We were starting to get REALLY nervous, because so many people came off but still no Amelia. My only clue that it was the right plane was a few ladies who walked out of the tunnel, went a little ways past us, and then stopped and kept watching us like they were waiting for something to happen. And then the flight crew and captain all came off. I was ready to panic at that point. But they all lined up, and then off came Amelia with her escorts, Amy and Bob. They had put her hair up in two pigtails, and she was wearing a red silk Asian outfit. Oh was she scared.

We spent some time getting information and paperwork from her escorts, and getting Amelia comfortable (as much as possible after 24 hours flying and being handed off to strangers), before we headed back home. The kids had made signs to hold up for her, so we took lots of pictures...none of which are in our computer unfortunately.

So, that's the short version of Amelia's homecoming. Five wonderful years later we still go to Cracker Barrel every year on this day to celebrate her homecoming. Happy Gotcha Day Amelia!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Quiet Day

We do not usually turn on our computers or electronic games on Sundays. Jamie said I could tonight though, since I am trying to do the 31 for 21. However, I just got home from work and am just not thinking of anything to write about. Maybe I should not have broken my own rule, and just left the computer off.

I'll list a few of my favorite websites that have been helpful to me, and to my kiddos with Down Syndrome. First, is . Amelia loves to visit this one and go through the alphabet. Zach taught her how to use the mouse, so when she is getting antsy and needs to focus on something, I just set her up at this website. Another neat site if you are looking for therapy-type toys is . If you like to print out picture cards or have activity ideas, try . And finally, has toys for children with special needs. I was only recently told about this website, and have not had time to explore it too much yet.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Tongue Myth

I took Dante to his first orthopedic appointment a little over a week ago. He will be getting Ankle Feet Orthoses to help him on the road to walking. The doctor was very nice, despite keeping us waiting for one hour and forty-five minutes. He was very slick actually, he came in and immediately commented on Nikita's earrings, which were the Blue note symbol for the St. Louis hockey team. So off we were on a conversation about hockey without even getting a comment in about the long wait!

But, what really surprised me was this specialist saying to me, "Are you going to do anything about his big tongue?". Excuse me? I told him Dante does not have a big tongue. He does have a small jaw, thus the crowded teeth. He also has very lax muscles, and since the tongue is a muscle he does find it easier to simply let it stick out.

There are many myths and stereotypes about people with Down Syndrome, however we cannot expect everyone to know facts versus fiction. So when circumstances like this arise, perhaps we should avoid our gut reaction and not smack the person upside the head. Instead, it is our opportunity to educate someone about the reality of Down Syndrome. Maybe we should look forward to these opportunites, because they are the only way these stereotypes will be eliminated.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sunny's Birthday

Today was Sunny's birthday; she is 7 now. It is interesting how the new seven year old will be the seventh child that we welcome into our family. She has lived on the other side of the world for so long waiting for a family and now we stand ready to have her come home as soon as may be. Of course, it is not that simple. The paperwork needs of the governments of this world need to be satisfied and we can only hold on, do our part and go when we get the word. Until then, Happy Birthday Sunny, the next one will be here!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

She chose life

I love the new t-shirts I just got in the mail for Amelia and Micah, thank you Amy!! It seemed appropriate for today, since there is a debate tonight that a lot of people will be watching.

Yes, I am voting for Trig's mom. No, not just because she has a baby with Down Syndrome and I have three, almost four, kids with Down Syndrome. It certainly helps though! She knew, and she chose life for her baby. That tells me a lot about her.

Here are Amelia and Micah in their new shirts! One posed, one getting the giggles....I just love Micah's sweet smile.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Down Syndrome Awareness

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month and I am going to attempt the 31:21 blogger challenge: For each of the 31 days this month I will post something that brings awareness about Trisomy 21. You can read a little more about it at ...and every day this month they will highlight an orphan with Down Syndrome who needs a family.

Personally, I find having adopted internationally three times a child with Down Syndrome, just going grocery shopping spreads Down Syndrome awareness, let alone anywhere else we go! Amelia is definitely an ambassador in that respect, saying "morning" to everyone we pass, no matter the time of day. We walked to our library the other day and there were two men from a correctional facility doing painting. She said "morning" as we walked in, and again as we left. I told her we already said good morning, now we say "have a nice day". So she did. I am really not sure if it was her obvious difference, or the fact that she spoke to those men at all, but they were pleased she greeted them. Even if she had known where they were from, she still would have done just the same. That's my girl!