Friday, July 25, 2014

Life Updates

Summer is supposed to be lazy, but it's the opposite around here!  We were so excited for summer vacation, and it's more than halfway over.  Time goes by so quickly!

Here's a glimpse at life lately:

*Liam turned 11 months.   I wanted to cry.  I swear, he gets cuter and happier every month!

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*Lily is going to be THREE in 9 days.  She is the funniest kid!!!  She potty trained early,  before her second birthday, but hasn't been consistently dry at night.  Until this week.  She decided she was over nighttime pull-ups, and just wanted to wear underwear.  I agreed, and she woke up dry every morning this week. No more pull-ups!

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*Lexie is having a fun summer!  She loves having her cousin/BFF at our house 3 days a week.  She also loves to read. She is flying through the Junie B. Jones series of books.  She can finish one of those books in an hour! She's my sweetheart.

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*Dylan has grown up so much in the past two months.  Not only did he grow taller, but he looks older, and is more mature.  He's such a beautiful boy, inside and out!

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*I spend my days wrangling kids, feeding kids, cleaning, participating in Liam's therapy, and driving from one activity to another.  We're having a lot of fun!

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*Grant is about 2 months into his new job, and he really likes it.  He just had a birthday yesterday!  We celebrated with date night at Red Lobster, followed by a mini birthday party with his mom, nannie, and the kids!

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*I fell so behind on my 365 Project.  I still take pictures everyday, but I don't have time to keep up with those posts.  So I think I'm just going to do a monthly photo recap and leave it at that!  I can pretty much say I'm busy and do approximately a thousand things a day.  At least it feels that way!

*My great-nephew was born today!  Welcome to the world, Bentley!!!

*My debit card was stolen AGAIN.  Thank you, Target.  This time, $1000 was taken out of my account. Charges made in Qatar. I just wrote the dispute letter, so I'm hoping the bank is quick about getting our money back!!!

*Party planning is in full force!  Lily and Liam are having a combined birthday party in 3 weeks! I need to start shopping!

*Coming up in the next month:  Our family reunion, Lily's 3rd Birthday, a birthday party for a friend, Lily and Liam's party, Liam's first birthday, and lots of swimming and playdates!

*School starts in just over a month.  That makes us all so sad.  We love summer!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Making The Rounds

We're having a fun and busy summer!  We have a lot of playdates with our awesome friends.  We try to keep things interesting by rotating through all the fun parks and places in our area!

One of our favorite places to visit is Soergel Orchards.  The last time we went there was to pick strawberries. It is a working farm, but they have so much to do there.  They have several stores (market, ice cream, antiques, and gifts), a petting zoo, and a fun wooden play area for the kids.  

My kids love to play in the wooden houses and pirate ship, climb on the wooden train and trucks, and they love to mine for gems! It's a nice change from regular playgrounds. Of course, it's even better with friends.  We recently met Jocie, Tyler, and Braden at Soergel's, and we had a great afternoon together!

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We had so much fun!  We ended our trip by stopping in the market for candy and free train cookies. Dylan, Lexie, and Lily are already asking to go back!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Special Zoo Meetup

The hours following Liam's birth were some of the most difficult hours of my life.  Grant and I were left completely alone in a room, without our baby, and we were worried, exhausted, confused, and depressed.  There were so many unanswered questions and so many fears.  In a sense, we were grieving.

Grant turned to Google to read about Down Syndrome, while I turned to friends.

When Dylan was a baby, I connected with a group of moms online.  To this day, we stay connected.  I had the privilege of meeting several of them in person, and I wish I could meet all of them.  While we were sitting in that room, I told them all what was going on.  It was so difficult to write.  Within no time, my friend, Stephanie, put me in contact with a friend of hers who went through the same experience. 

Hearing from Troy didn't take away my pain, but it was comforting to hear her story and see pictures of her beautiful boy.  She was there for me when I was feeling completely alone in the world.  Later, hearing about Tobin's struggle to reach birth weight and her determination to keep nursing helped tremendously as I dealt with, and overcame,  the same issue. 

Troy put me in touch with her friend, Julie, who lives near me, and I got to hear her similar birth story as well.  She was the person who assured me that all my feelings after he was born were normal.  After we received the genetic test results, I publicly announced the news, and she added me to a Facebook group for DS families in my area.  I met some of the most wonderful families through that group!

A few weeks ago, Troy came to visit Julie, and I finally had the opportunity to meet my mentors!  We met up at the Pittsburgh Zoo, and another local family joined us.

We met on a Monday, so I was on my own, and I had an extra child with me.  Going to the zoo alone with 5 kids isn't as intimidating as it sounds, but I definitely didn't take as many pictures as I normally do!  My hands were full!

My crew was the first to arrive, so we renewed our family membership, took the elevator up to the zoo, and waited for the rest of the families to join us.

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Troy, Julie, and their families arrived a few minutes after us, and it was so nice to meet them in person!  I could instantly tell just how wonderful they were.  Troy has 5 children and Julie has 4 children.  They have beautiful families! 

We sat down for lunch and got to know each other better while we waited for Kelly to arrive. 
Kelly showed up just as we were finishing lunch, so we headed off to see the animals!

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Kelly, who is nearly ready to have her third baby, skipped out early.  She only lives 10 minutes away from me, so I hope to see her again soon!  Unfortunately, our fun was cut short, too.  Dark clouds settled above us, and the sound of thunder in the distance sent us running for the exit. 

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We said our goodbyes in the rain. It meant so much to me to finally meet the women who were there for me during that difficult time and meet their truly amazing families.  Troy and Julie are beautiful women, inside and out, and I'm so thankful I got to meet Kelly, too!  I can't wait to see them all again!

Throughout the trip, I was amazed by their close, loving families.  We had just met, but the older boys held every door open for us, Troy scooped up Liam like she knew him forever, Troy's oldest sons held him, Dylan was captivated by Mae, Tobin, and Donovan, and the girls were so loving and motherly. The kids were well behaved and so nice to each other.  It was evident that these families are special.

 It was a wonderful day with new friends! The love these siblings have for each other and those around them is unbeatable!

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I feel so blessed to know them and I can't wait to see them all again!