Thursday, April 30, 2009

Welcome, Mr. Finn'agin!

Thank you for your notes of sympathy for Mr. Fins. He really is in a better place since wherever he is (or isn't), he certainly isn't being overfed :-)

So, let me introduce our newest family member, Mr. Fins II, better known as "Mr. Finn'agin".

With the kids being home all week due to the Swine Flu hitting four students at our school, we've had to come up with some ideas to keep things fun around here. On Monday, we visited the pet store to see if they had a new shipment of Bettas.

There were so many beautiful colors to choose from. At first, we looked for a Betta to resemble Mr. Fins, i.e., same color and type, but this guy was so friendly and beautifully colored that we chose him. He swims toward the kids' fingers and shows off his glorious reddish pinkish fins for us.

Today, Day 4, he's still alive and active. The kids fed him his second meal of 3 pellets (twice a week!), and while we were at the bookstore this morning, he munched away the first 2.

Here's hoping we'll have Mr. Finn'agin for a long(er) time!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

R.I.P. Mr. Fins...

The kids got a Male Crowntail Betta fish for Easter. He was beautiful -- turquoise and pink. He was on the young side, the store clerk said, so he would grow and be with us for many years. Feed him only 2 times per week and change his water weekly. That's it.

Well... the fish food container said to feed him 2 to 3 pellets twice a day. Surely, we didn't hear the clerk correctly and I didn't want Mr. Fins to starve. So we fed him religiously -- twice a day. We even made a feeding schedule for the kids to remember. You can see 2 pellets floating above his head.

By Day 5, Mr. Fins was swimming sideways. Hmmm, I've never had a fish before, but maybe he's tired. Day 6 -- Mr. Fins! Mr. Fins! He was at the bottom -- totally still. "Kids, I'm sooooo sorry. It looks like Mr. Fins died. I guess we overfed him... I'm sooooo sorry!"

Greta cried big tears. Anna was sad. Nic was mad at me for insisting we feed him more often than the store clerk suggested. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 27, 2009

Getting ready for Oliver!

The Artful Dodger and an unsuspecting Street Urchin
Practicing the art of pickpocketing...

My two older kids have to stay home this week due to a student at their school contracting the Swine Flu!

So to make the most of their time at home, we headed to our newest Goodwill store and scored some great pieces for the school musical, Oliver! Nick is playing the Artful Dodger and loving every minute of it. If you're not familiar with the story of Oliver Twist, Dodger is a young, skilled pickpocket. He was testing his newfound skills on his sister, Anna, an unsuspecting Street Urchin. John Michael and I were having fun watching them get in their roles.
On another note, John Michael has a terrible cold. His nose won't stop running and he absolutely HATES having his nose wiped or sucked out (I would, too). He's also coughing, fussy and isn't sleeping well at night. The doctor confirmed it's "just a cold," but I'd rather be safe than sorry with the Swine Flu here in the area. Here's hoping for a better night!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 23, 2009

40 years of preparation...

It's been 9 months and 50 posts since I began blogging and boldly proclaimed "My Purpose" for the world to see.

Looking back, I wasn't sure if the blogging bug would catch on, but I just kept posting. Receiving encouraging comments has been a huge motivator for me to keep writing and I'm grateful to everyone who has read my blog and commented.

I'm one of those people who starts many hobbies and projects, only to find them lying in boxes or baskets in various stages of completion. I've always wanted to be good at something, so I tried decorative painting, beading, knitting and crocheting, and scrapbooking. My interest would stay for a few weeks, I'd buy all the supplies, but then lose interest.

When it comes to writing, I compose entire essays in my head while driving, cleaning the kitchen, watering the garden, or changing a diaper. But by the time I sit to write, often after the kids are in bed, my "Four Kids, Sleep-Deprived and Over 40 Memory Deficit Syndrome" kicks in and I forget what I've composed. Blogging allows me to quickly type and edit my thoughts. Hitting the "Publish Post" button gives me the sense of accomplishment that I don't get from other hobbies.

I was at a dinner party last weekend and saw my friend who'd asked me 9 months earlier if I knew my purpose in life. I'd just been reflecting on that earlier in the day. I told her that I found it ironic that God had prepared me for 40 years (a significant number!) before giving John Michael to me and revealing my purpose in life. Not everyone has to wait 40 years to know their purpose in life, but God in His wisdom, knew I needed time to get to where I am today to be the best mother to John Michael and my other children that I can.

Thanks for reading and sharing in our journey.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

50th Wedding Anniversary!

Dear Mom & Dad,

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary -- today, April 16, 2009!

I am so proud of you two for reaching this huge milestone -- one that few couples will achieve in their lifetime. Congratulations, Mom & Dad! We all love you very much!

As a special gift to you, I have created something special to help share the memories of 50 years together with your family and friends. Click on your wedding photo above, or on the link below, to go back to April 16, 1959.


Posted by Picasa

And the Greatest of These Is...


Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 13, 2009

Baby Goats and Happy Birthday!

A few weeks ago, we were invited by a couple from our church to see their baby goats. Being suburbanites, our kids haven't experienced much country farm life. And while these goats live only about 7 miles from us, it felt like we were transported back in time -- to a sweeter, slower time.

John Michael loved petting the "kids" (baby goats), but was a little nervous around the protective mother. She stepped on my foot covered only by a thin ballerina flat and boy, did I feel it! Yikes!

On a separate note -- it's my sweet Greta's 4th birthday today.

For her birthday, she really wanted some Moon Sand, so I got her a play set and a couple books. She brought cupcakes to preschool today and will have her party with friends on Saturday.

Happy Birthday, Big Girl! I can't believe you're 4!!!!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This is the Day...

that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Alleluia!

Happy Easter from our family to you and your families! I've enjoyed blogging and getting to know some great (mostly) moms who have a child with Down syndrome. I've learned so much from your collective wisdom.

What a difference a year makes! I thought it would be fun to take a photo of the kids in the same place as last year. The May 2008 photo has been one of my favorites of all four together, so I tried to re-create it. Greta was giving me the dramatic "I don't want to smile" look and John Michael at 6 months old was too busy with the rope on the swing to notice. Nicolas and Anna keep growing up!

Easter 2009
May 2008

Posted by Picasa

Happy Easter!

from John Michael and his family to you...

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Part of Spring am I?

I am "Chirping Birds"

"You are a very caring person. You especially feel for innocent beings, like animals and children.
You are keyed in to the world and very peaceful. You believe that everyone is connected.

You remain focused and in the moment. You are not easily distracted.
You have a good memory, especially for things that you hear. You listen carefully."

* * *

I love the little bird image and hearing chirping birds in my backyard!

I love spring and being outdoors.

The 1st paragraph is right on, but the 2nd is pretty off at this stage of my life. While I can be focused, I tend to be easily distracted, I can't remember past 5 minutes ago, and I learn best by seeing and hearing.

Oh, well... What part are you?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

"It is accomplished; and bowing His head He gave up His spirit." [John 19, 26-30]

As Jesus hung on the cross, he forgave the soldiers who had crucified him, and prayed for his mother and friends. Jesus wanted all of us to be able to live forever with God, so he gave all he had for us. Jesus, let me take a few moments now to consider your love for me. Help me thank you for your willingness to go to your death for me. Help me express my love for you! (from

Lord, by shedding his blood for for us, your Son, Jesus Christ, established the paschal mystery. In your goodness, make us holy and watch over us always. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Look who surprised me just now by pulling himself up to stand and supporting with only one hand! Thank goodness I was camera-ready!

Way to go, John Michael!

Big sis Greta and John Michael sharing a sweet kiss!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 6, 2009

John Michael's New Friends

Yesterday afternoon our family met some new friends at a local park. These four little cuties, all chromosomally enhanced, spent a couple hours together while we moms chatted and got to know each other and the sibs and dads played soccer and baseball in an adjacent field.
From left to right: Sheridan 7 1/2 mos. (mom Lisa), Gabrielle 11 mos. (mom Sheree), John Michael 16 1/2 mos. (my guy), and Joaquin 14 mos. (mom Jennifer). Three of us are blogging moms, so it was fun chatting about that as well.

John Michael is responding to, "How big is John Michael?" "Sooooo big!" He had a blast trying out everyone's toys. He especially loved playing with Sheridan's ball with the shaking beads in it!
Thanks for sharing, Sheridan. Everyone loved the sounds it made.

I love this photo! Joaquin gave me a huge grin. He's so cute! He's sporting a handsome outfit his stylish mom designed! You can order your own at Jennifer's other website: Gabby was the lone female of the bunch, but she didn't seem to mind. She is such a beauty and that outfit -- darling! John Michael was flirting with her by trying to yank out her pretty white bow. He is so into hair these days and, apparently, hair accessories, too. Sheridan has some beautiful hazely greenish/blueish/brownish eyes. I can't describe them, but he gets them from his mom. He's also sporting some super long curls on top which John Michael couldn't resist!

The afternoon was great for connecting us moms and allowing us to talk freely about life with our little ones. Without a doubt, all the moms there feel blessed to have their children. There was another bigger guy at the park, Thomas at 3 yrs old, with his mom, Dawn. He was super busy playing on the climbing structure and keeping his mom on her toes, so we didn't get to visit with her very much. Hopefully another time.

After the park, our family headed to an old ice cream fountain with Jennifer's family for diner food and ice cream. It was great to see the kids interacting and it felt great to connect with another family who is on a similar journey as ours.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weeds! Long post, but there is a point!

A few weeks ago, Greta and I were taking inventory of the backyard to see which flowers were growing and where the garden needed attention. She spotted a dandelion "flower" sprouting up in the wheelbarrow and decided to transplant it to a more prominent flower bed. With shovel in hand, she carefully moved the flower to my rosebed across the yard and watered it. She was so proud of her gardening efforts that I left it and didn't tell her it was just a weed.
While working in the garden this afternoon, I noticed that her flower had grown to about 7 inches tall and its florets were getting ready to bloom. I pulled it out of the ground and showed it to her. "Look how big it's grown! Time to pull it out... since it's just a weed."
She gave me that serious look of disappointment. Instantly, I realized the message I'd given her was that undesirable flowers were called weeds and were not worthy of being in my garden of real flowers.
I replanted the dandelion.
I apologized and told her the yellow flowers would look nice among my pink cyclamen, pale yellow roses and bright red snapdragons. She seemed very pleased.
It was then that I was struck with the thought that our society views people with Down syndrome as weeds among us flowers -- often plucked before they are allowed to bloom. It's shocking that 9 out of 10 women will choose to terminate their baby after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
I'm not saying that every "weed" in my garden will now be blooming, but I thought of how ingrained we are with the idea of perfection, even when it comes to flowers in a garden. Have you ever seen dandelions blooming en masse? They make a beautiful, fragrant carpet of yellow in a grassy meadow which are adored by bees and some butterflies for their sweet nectar. Once the flower has withered, children pluck the fluffy white seeded heads and blow to make wishes. But it must have more purpose than that!
I looked up "dandelions" on the internet.
"The dandelion is one of the most common and recognizable weeds. The official name for the dandelion is Taraxacum officinale, which means "official remedy for disorders". There are many common names for dandelions, including priest's crown, Irish daisy, monk's head, telltime, blowball, and lion's tooth."
Here's something more...
Dandelions can be beneficial to a garden ecosystem as well as to human health. Dandelions attract beneficial ladybugs and provide early spring pollen for their food. In a study done at the University of Wisconsin, experimental plots with dandelions had more ladybugs than dandelion free plots, and fewer pest aphids, a favorite food of the ladybugs. Dandelions long roots aerate the soil and enable the plant to accumulate minerals, which are added to the soil when the plant dies.
OK, now I'm starting to feel bad...
Not only are dandelions good for your soil, they are good for your health. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a serving of uncooked dandelion leaves contains 280 percent of an adult's daily requirement of beta carotene as well as more than half the requirement of vitamin C. Dandelions are also rich in vitamin A. Dandelions are also used as herbal remedies. The white sap from the stem and root is used as a topical remedy for warts. The whole plant is used as a diuretic and liver stimulant.
So my point in all this is... and there is a point...

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 KJV
That single dandelion has a purpose, as do all dandelions. They may not look like other flowers and may not be as fragrant as other flowers, but they are more like flowers than different and they have a great purpose in life's garden. So, I'm not pulling that dandelion out. I'm going to let it be a dandelion. And at the right time, I will pluck it up, but probably not before it gets a fuzzy little seeded head and I let Greta blow her wish across my yard.
People with Down syndrome may not look or learn the same as most people, but I know for certain that each one of them is here for a "purpose under heaven" and they have special gifts to share. This is the message we need to spread. They truly are more like us than different if we just take the time to look.
Posted by Picasa

First Bike Ride!

I love riding bikes with the family along the American River bike trail. The trail is shared by serious cyclists flying by with their colorful jerseys, joggers, dog walkers, and casual riders like us. Whenever we have a new baby in the family, though, we have to put family bike rides on hold until the newest member can safely sit in the seat on the back of my bike, or ride in the bike trailer.

Well, John Michael made his debut in the bike trailer today alongside big sis, Greta.

As the six of us headed out to the river, it didn't take but 5 minutes before he fell asleep. He missed all the sights, sounds and smells that accompanied us on our ride -- the purple wildflowers, the sweet smell of fennel, black butterflies flitting from bush to bush, ducks and seagulls sailing in the water, bluebirds flying from tree to tree, swallows swooping over the river, dogs on leashes, wild turkeys in the meadow, and the cutest little pug being petted by everyone down by the river's edge. After a 40 minute ride and a small detour to a kayak launching pad, we rounded the corner to Starbucks. (Yes, wildlife and nature mixed with suburban convenience.) John Michael woke up and enjoyed the sunshine and shared Jamba Juice with his siblings while Doug and I pumped ourselves up with some dark roast coffee. The ride home lasted no more than 10 minutes, but he enjoyed every minute of it. Yay, we're mobile again!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I couldn't resist! An April Fool...

Monica at mi2boys inspired this idea for April Fool's Day.

Greta loves getting attention and playing with makeup, so this was perfect! She's such a ham. I wonder if her siblings will believe she really got punched at preschool. They are even more gullible than I am :-)

Last year the kids froze a spoon in a bowl of milk overnight and in the morning poured cereal over the top with more milk and served their dad a nice April Fool prank. This year, Nicolas thought it would be funny to put Saran wrap over the toilet bowl. But after explaining why it would be disgusting if it actually worked, and adding that he'd have to clean up the mess afterward, he changed his mind. Good thinking...
Posted by Picasa

Wordless Wednesday -- "What's Up?"

Posted by Picasa