Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Review

A Year in Review

This year has been very busy, filled with many firsts, exciting adventures, and full for all. We have also faced challenges, learned valuable lessons, and battling trolls.
The year started off with tons of fundraising events to help with the adoption of Veronika and Gavyn, park picnics, kite flying, Easter Egg scavenger hunts, and school events. In June, my husband and I flew to Veronika and Gavyn's birth country. After court, Mark returned home to be with our older children while I remained with the babies until we were able to fly home in mid-July. 
After getting home we had fun picking berries at a berry farm, celebrated Veronika and Gavyn's first birthday, attended Veronika and Gavyn's first Buddy Walk,  Celebrated Brandon, Tamara, and Britney's birthday, went to a Grist Mill where Brandon was able to churn butter and we all got to enjoy some delicious fry bread, went to a local state park for hiking and water fun, went to a pumpkin patch, got to go trick-or-treating, had a wonderful Thanksgiving, went to the tree farm to pick our Christmas tree, and had an amazing Christmas.
We feel so blessed. Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

First Christmas Picture Home
Big Sister and Baby Brother at the Tree Farm
First Christmas Hay Ride
Christmas Tree all Decorated

Daddy and his littlest babies
Mama and her sleepy babies
Sweet Girl

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Standing up for Yourself

I was looking through my emails when I noticed that someone had commented on my last post about our current doctor. I have the comments moderated so my older children who read my blog do not have to sit and listen to hurtful or ignorant things being said about their family.Normally, if it is something that I feel is not appropriate I will just delete the comment. Today I woke up in a slightly different mood however and I want to address what was said. You see, I made a comment that I did not feel the doctor was taking time to get to know my children. He is our pediatrician and I feel that he should be taking time to know each one of them, not to just breeze into the exam room listen to their heart, hear about their symptoms and try to diagnose as fast as possible so he can move on to the next patient. I want him to keep up to date on how they are doing, not just hazard a guess.
So in response to what I posted, I got this lovely comment...

" Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Dear....": Wow! I pay doctors to give me their professional medical opinion, not to blow sunshine up my butt. The sooner you realize that the world doesn't revolve around you, the better off those kids will be."

First off,  Anonymous, there are a LOT of doctors out there. You should NEVER see a doctor that you do not feel comfortable with or who is not addressing your concerns. While a doctor may have their own professional opinion they are not God, they DO make mistakes, hence why a LOT of people go get a second and even third opinion when they do not feel what their doctor is telling them is correct.

Secondly, we have physical therapist and occupational therapist that work with our children on a weekly basis that have done assessments about where they are developmentally. Seeing my children for 3 minutes does NOT qualify a doctor to make a realistic professional medical opinion about where they are developmentally. It is very hard for two babies to crawl all over and pull to a stand and show all their skills while being forced to lay on a table to be examined as they are being poked and prodded by the doctor. 

Also, as a parent, it is my job to stand up for my children. To be there to speak on behalf of their rights. To make sure they are being treated with respect and dignity. I will make sure my children get the best care possible.  We are paying the bill, and our insurance company has many doctors under their plan, so why would I be so ignorant as to stay with a doctor who does not take the time to get to know my children? One who is very hard to get ahold of when my kids are sick.

Maybe that is how you want to raise your kids, if you have any. But I want my kids to have the best doctor I can find them. Does that mean that I will always like what they say? NO it does not. What it does mean, is that the doctor we will see is going to take the time to listen to what the symptoms are, they will take the time to ask how they are doing, and IF they do not know what is wrong with my child they will ADMIT it and maybe refer us to a specialist or they will tell us they will do some research on it and get back to us.

So you do what you want with your health and the health of your family. As for me, I will find a doctor who actually cares about my children and will listen when we have concerns. We will do our best to make sure our children are comfortable in the doctors office and get the best care we can find.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Dear Doctor,

You are not taking the time to get to know my children. Before you try to slap a label on them, take a bit of time to get to know them. Do not assume because my 17 and 15 month olds wants to put your stethoscope in their mouth that they are mentally at a 5 month old level. LISTEN when I tell you how amazing she is doing and how much progress she has made since being home. Notice how well they are sitting up compared to the last time they were in when they could not sit up on their own. Ask how they are doing at home, do not just throw your papers at me that are to tell me about development, trust me, over the last few months I have more paperwork thrust at me than you can imagine and I really do not need 5 copies of the same paperwork.
Comment on things like how well they are doing, and how much they are growing. And for goodness sakes, get a REAL measuring device so you know how long my kids really are! I would love to have an accurate record of their height but with you having them lay down on the exam table and are having your nurse draw lines at their head and feet, that is just not working. After all, I am sure my child has not lost 2 inches since their last visit.
If you give my child a shot and they have a reaction to it, at least pretend to be concerned. As a parent, I am very against doing things that I know hurt my child to begin with. Immunizations are one of those really gray areas for me. When my child gets immunizations and then breaks out in a fever and spots all over her whole body and we take her in to see you the next day about it and you send us home saying "just watch it", I am not feeling encouraged to take her back to get more shots the next time.  When I call back and report that the spots are spreading, and request that you call me back, please understand that I am a concerned parent. My child is in pain and uncomfortable. Unless you know 100% what is the problem, shouldn't you be a little more concerned instead of just acting like it is no big deal?
When I tell you that we have a family history of something, do NOT make a comment that makes me feel like my family is a freak (because we have had different reactions to meds and shots than most of your patients)and since this child is not my biological child I don't need to worry about that happening.
WE are paying YOU! We are lining YOUR pockets. We can very easily find another doctor. In fact, We are already looking right now.
Thank you and Have a Nice Day!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Memories and Traditions...

Thanksgiving at our house is quite different from how it was when I was growing up. While it is just as special, and I would not trade it for the world, I certainly did have some very good memories of Thanksgiving at my grandparents house with almost every member of our extended family present.
If you can not tell how old this picture is by the clothing alone, let me point out that I am the little one being held in the back and that might help you guess the year. And that was only SOME of the family, I think a lot of people just refused to get in the picture because I know there were a lot more people there.
Years went by, we all grew up, but we still went over to grandma's for Thanksgiving. In case you are wondering, I am the one in the red and white near the front of the picture. Everyone would bring something, the turkey would be cooked at my grandma and grandpa's house and sometime during the day all the ladies and kids would take a walk around the neighborhood, sometimes exploring trails, other times just to burn off some of those extra calories. And the guys, they always would entertain us with a tackle football game played outside in a field by the house. We would all sit around while dads, uncles, and cousins would tackle each other to the ground and try to stop the other team from scoring a goal.
But times change, grandkids start having their own families, grandparents pass away, and somehow, it is no longer the same. I miss those years. The time spent with cousins, the time spent seeing aunts and uncles that live out of state. But, I had my own family and we had to create our own memories.
Most of my family lives on the east coast or in the south, so we have a quieter meal at our house, I cook all the food on my own, starting with the pies the night before. I love cooking and actually look forward to this day all year round. It is a peaceful time, a time to celebrate all we have, but it is us as a family, being real. We don't have to be prim and proper, we dont have to get dressed up. It is a come as you are, be as you are kinda day, with yummy foods to snack on while everyone waits with anticipation for the big meal.
We make our own traditions...
 gingerbread houses,

 baking cookies for Santa,

Cutting down our own Christmas tree at the tree farm..

And if it snows enough,  making giants snowmen with friends...

No, my children will not have the same large family gatherings on holidays that I did growing up, but we have our own traditions and are making our own memories. We are loving life, and living it to the fullest, and feeling blessed for what we do have. It isn't like my childhood,  this is my children's childhood. One with parents who surround them with love every change they get and make sure they never doubt for a moment how much they are loved.
This year, we were blessed to add two more little ones to our Thanksgiving table and can hardly wait until Christmas.
And one day, our kids will talk about their memories growing up. I hope they remember, even if their traditions become different than ours, how special and magical their holidays were when they were young, just as I remember mine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Twas the Day before Thanksgiving...

Twas the day before Thanksgiving, when all through the house,
The kids were all playing, thank God there was no mouse.

Mama was in the kitchen, ready to bake pies with care,
In the hopes she could produce a most scrumptious fare.

The two youngest children were asleep in their beds

While visions of pies and turkey danced in our heads.

Mama was frantic; her recipe was lost
She had to find it, no matter the cost

She searched the internet trying to find what to do
Then posted online to see if they had a clue

What if the a new recipe was the absolute worst
Why hadn’t she just scanned it on the computer from the first?

When out in the kitchen there was such a sound
Papa and teens came from all around

Away to the kitchen they flew like a flash,
Tore open the baby gates and jumped over the dog as he decided to dash.

The counters in the kitchen was covered with books,
 With mama all worried about the pie recipe crook.

When what to our wondering eyes did she do?
But she picked up the phone and called family too.

After the call mama breathed a sign of relief
The kids walked out quickly and didnt give any grief.

Papa helped peel the apples with care

Since he knew in moment mama could be pulling out her hair.

More rapid than eagles, her pies they all came,
And she cheered and she smiled and she tossed ingredients without any shame.

“Now,Apple! Now Cinnamon! Now Lemon Juice too!
On Sugar! On Flour! On Nutmeg!
To the inside of the pie! To the top of the heap!
I’ll stay up if I need to, I don’t need  to sleep!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So into the oven, the pies they all flew,
I think they just wanted to escape from her too.

And then in a twinkling I heard from the stove
Mom muttering about recipes that needed whole cloves.

As I peeked from the sofa and was just coming round,
Out of the kitchen Mom came with a bound.

She was covered in flour from her head to her foot,
And her eyes were all wild with recipes to cook.

A bundle of pie pans she had flung on her back,
She looked like a woman about to attack.

Her hair was so wild! Her eyes were so scary!
Her cheeks were aflame, her nose covered in cherry!

Her droll little mouth was drawn tight with no bow.
And the sugar turned her fingers the color of snow.

The stump of a mixing spoon she held tight in her teeth,
The smoke from the flour encircled her head like a wreath.

She was muttering to herself and consulting her books,
I could see right away she was a very good cook.

She was chubby and plump, and could be a jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw her, in spite of myself.

A wink of her eye and a twist of her head,
She told me to be smart and get ready for bed.

She spoke many words, while she went about her work,
Then turned around with a quick little jerk

And laying a pie pan along side the stove,
And giving a nod, out the door she dove.

She sprang to her car, to Papa gave a whistle,
And away they flew, like the down of a thistle.

But I heard her exclaim as they drove out of sight,
“Next year I will start earlier and not be blogging to the middle of the night!”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Monday!!

As Thanksgiving draws closer I think of all the things I have to be thankful for:

Being a Child of God.
For Freedom.

Our wonderful son who has learned how to express joy and happiness since joining our family only a few months ago!
Our super silly daughter, who always makes us smile and laugh. Who has a million and one expressions and loves to smile.

Beautiful babies who feel safe and secure in their own beds and sleep through the night

 Wonderful family outings to the Buddy Walk and Grist Mill
 Our compassionate daughter who is very involved in community service projects, the Key Club, and Natural Helpers
 Our loving teenage son who still has time to give his parents hugs before he heads off to bed and who helps out without complaining
 Our adult daughter who enjoys sweets enough to make oatmeal cookies for everyone
 Our kindhearted daughter who flew home at a moments notice while we were in country adopting Veronika and Gavyn to help watch her younger siblings. (pictured with her husband)
 My amazing husband who loves all his children very much and tries to spend one on one time with each of them
 The bond of siblings
And for quiet moments, where we can just think about our day and be thankful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Raising Healthy Happy Children

My philosophy on raising children seems to be less popular today than in years past. I draw my ideals from over twenty-two years of experience raising my own children and also over eleven years of childcare.
I suggest you stop reading now if you are so set in your ways that this will upset. We have six children. We are raising children who have good hearts and who are obedient. No child is perfect, but we do not have problems with back talking, we do not have insecure children, we have happy children who know that we love them very much. We are very proud of our children.

Showing Love

We believe that love should NEVER be withheld as punishment. Children should know that no matter what their parents love them. They should be secure in the knowledge that their parents will always be there for them. We enjoy doing things with our children and want them to know it. We talk with our children, make sure that we are there for them when they need us and sometimes even when they think they don't. We enjoy family vacations with our children, we enjoy sitting around and just playing board games with our kids. We are a very affectionate family. Babies are rocked to sleep and we believe our children are never too big to hug. Because of this, our older children are very good at showing affection to their younger siblings.

Family Bed

Unless there is a medical reason a child should not sleep on their own, then a child should be in their OWN bed. By keeping a child in a parents bed, you are preventing a child from learning their first step of independence. There are countless times during the day for loving and cuddling. If a child is hurt or just wants to cuddle we will sit together in the rocking chair all snuggled up together. While a child is still an infant, I rock them to sleep them put them into bed. Once a child is out of a crib, I will sit with them on their bed, read a book with them, and then rub their back for a little while. Then I LEAVE the room! If my child has slept in bed from the time they were a baby, they should not be afraid to sleep in their own bed. When a child is sick, we have allowed them to sleep with us in our bed. However, on those nights hardly anyone gets sleep.
My husband works all day. When he gets home we want to be able to look forward to our own time. We get that time once all the children have gone to bed. It is so nice to get to climb into bed, pray about what is on our hearts and minds, talk about our day, and then cuddle together. Knowing the kids are all in their own beds means we do not have to schedule intimate time.
The day is devoted to making sure our children's needs are met. Nighttime is a time where we can ALL be comfortable. Our children are free to move around in their own beds, finding that comfortable spot, without having to worry about being crowded in a bed, and we as parents do not have to worry about moving around and rolling over on a child or a child falling out of the bed.
Another reason we believe a child should be in their own bed is because our children love having sleep overs.
Our now sixteen year old daughter had her first sleep over when she was three and a half years old.
Tamara (the little one with the white pjs) was so excited that her friend was allowed to sleep over. Both girls had a great time baking cookies with me, reading stories, and then at their bedtime snuggled under the covers and went right to sleep without any problems. If they had been use to a family bed, this sleep over would have never happened.
We raise our children with the knowledge that their bed is safe. There is nothing to be afraid of. Because of that, they are not afraid to sleep in their own beds. They sleep well, and if they wake up, they can easily fall back to sleep on their own until morning.

Being your child's friend
We believe that a parent is suppose to be their child's parent. NOT their friend. It is OK to tell your child no. It is ok if your child gets upset when you tell them no. There will be times when you do things that makes your child cry. For instance, Veronika HATES getting dressed. Every single time she gets dressed she cries. We do our best to help her see getting dressed as a good thing, but right now she sees it as a time when she has to be still and she is doing what babies do and expressing her dislike over the idea. But it is cold outside. Playing in the house in a diaper is no longer an option. She needs clothes on during the day so she does not get cold, so as much as she hates it, she has to get clothes on.
A child needs to know that there is someone in charge. That is the parent's job. We are here to train a child in proper behavior. Why do we use the word "train"?? We follow Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
In life someone will always be there telling you what to do. If a child is allowed to think they are equal to the parents and can argue about what they are suppose to do when they are five, what will they be like when they get their first job?
Another problem today is children who have never been allowed to suffer disappointment because their parents go out of their way to make sure they never have to deal with that. I would rather my children understand disappointment while they are little than have their first dose of it when they do not get hired for that job they were hoping for.
We have a rule in our house, if it is not your birthday and it is not Christmas, do NOT tell me you want things when we go to the store. We are going there to get what is on the shopping list, nothing more. If my child NEEDS something (clothing, new toothbrush, etc) they will certainly get it, but children do not need a new toy or candy every single time they go to the store. Because our children know this rule, I have never had a temper tantrum in a store. I have never had begging for candy or a toy or even them asking. That isn't to say that they never get things through out the year. Sometimes I would go shopping on my own and come home with kites and announce we are going to the park for the day to fly them. Or maybe I would get some candy and popcorn and rent a movie and we would all sit together and enjoy it. We do special things, but we want our children to be raised with respect for who the parents are. By trying to be their friend, we lose that parent child relationship with them.

Teaching Independence
 We do our best to help our children learn independence. It makes for a happier child when they know they help out with things and even do some of their own problem solving. We try follow Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." We want them to try to work it out first on their own. If they are still unable to resolve the conflict, then we will help them, but we do not want them to tattle. Sometimes it is easier to help get that coat on rather than taking the time to teach your child how to put it on themselves. By teaching your child to help themselves you are giving them something to feel proud of. We believe that by teaching our children how to do things on their own, we are lifting them up so they can be proud of their own accomplishments. I remember how proud our daughter was when she made her very first meal.

Cell phones

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as cell phones. Somehow, we managed, our parents managed, and the world kept spinning.
I remember a day when people would talk to each other. I am brought to near tears when I see parents on their cell phones while they pick their child up from school or childcare. Instead of being able to tell their parents about their day, they have to wait because their parent is on the phone. I do not understand, can not even comprehend why people feel such a need to call other people all the time.
I do not have a cell phone. My husband does, he has a long commute into work and needs to be able to get ahold of his boss if he gets caught in traffic and knows he will be late. But when we are home, he puts his phone away. When he is home it is family time and family time does not involve a cell phone.
We want to spend time with the people we are with. We want to show our children that we are there for them. That we are more interested in them, than we are with talking on a cell phone.
So many people are so addicted to their cell phones that they do not know how to go a whole day without using one. For you, I offer a challenge... go an entire WEEK!!!! without using your cell phone while in the presence of your child. We have a house phone for the school to call if one of the kids are sick and need to be picked up. But we do our best to stay off all phones unless it is really necessary.

Being Consistent

When you say something, stick to it. Do not make threats. Do not punish when angry. Have house rules, make sure your child understands them. Make sure that they understand the consequences for not following the rules. When children are very young, we will give ONE reminder when they are not following the rules. When they are older, they are expected to know the rules and they do not get a reminder, they will get a consequence. Our children are well behaved kids, who know what is expected of them and know what will happen if they do not follow the rules. They are not afraid of us, they choose to follow the rules because they do not want a consequence. We also want to make sure the consequence is one they will remember. For instance, our children have their own laptops. It is a privilege to have the laptop. One of the consequences for not doing chores when asked is they will lose their laptop for the rest of the day and then the following day as well. I am not afraid of making my children miss events either. If one of our children decided to talk back to us and they were going to be going to a sleep over or to a friend's house that day, they would not be allowed to go. By knowing we are serious, they listen and follow directions and we have a much happier house hold.


As parents we expect certain things from our children. We want them to know that we are the ones that are in charge. We expect them to follow directions, and we expect them to have good manners. We try to teach our children that when they are not at home, we expect them to be on their best behavior. They are not to run in stores or touch things that do not belong to them without asking. We expect them to wait quietly for their turn when the grown-ups are talking and not interrupt. We expect them to say please and thank you. We expect them to take care of things that belong to them, and when at a friend's house to use things appropriately. When I see teenagers trying to climb on the baby swings or the little rocking toys at a park it is very upsetting. Those are not meant to take the weight of a teenager and are likely to get broken. It is very sad to see kids throwing their trash on the ground and not having respect for our environment. In all we do, we hope to teach our children respect. Not just for us as their parents, but respect for others, themselves, and our community. 

Politically Correct

I grew up with the "old fashion" nursery rhymes. I remember reading about Georgie Porgie, and Three Blind Mice, and An Old Woman in a Shoe. I did NOT grow up to think it was ok for boys to take advantage for girls, I did not grow up wanting to cut tails off of animals, and I did not grow up thinking I should beat my children and then put them to bed. 
I grew up reading Peter Rabbit and did NOT get emotionally traumatized when Peter and Benjamin were spanked with the willow switch for not listening. 
I think parents today over think things, alot, they think we should change the wordings to the nursery rhymes so Georgie Porgie does not seem like sexual harassment, and that Three Blind Mice does not encourage animal cruelty, and that An Old Woman in a Shoe does not encourage child abuse. WHAT?? For ages these poems have been around and they did not encourage that at all. In most cases children do not analyze poems. 
We want our children to know the bible and I can tell you now some of the stories in there are WAY more intense than what you will find in a child's nursery rhyme or Peter Rabbit. For instance, David killed Goliath with a stone, Jesus was nailed to a cross, Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. These are stories that were in my children's bible when I grew up. I think my children can handle a nursery rhyme if I expect them to be able to handle their own children's bible stories.  If my child has a question on something we are reading, they know they can ask me about it, but I do not believe changing the stories is the answer.

Encouraging Service to Others

We want our children to have a servant's heart. We want them to take pleasure in helping others. We try to find ways to help out and encourage our children to do the same. We are so pleased to see our children taking it upon themselves to do this own their own now.
Our sixteen year old daughter joined the Key Club at school. The main focus of the Key Club is community service. On Thursday, our daughter worked with the American Red Cross during a blood drive at her school. She also is part of Natural Helpers that is a peer-helping program that assist other students with a range of issues, from everyday problems such as difficulties with a boyfriend or girlfriend, to more serious issues such as drug use or depression.

In everything we do, we want to make sure that we are teaching our children about living with JOY. They are NOT the center of the universe. They are an important part of what makes the world better, but only as long as we train them in the right way to go. It is our child to teach our children to care about others. JOY is an acronym that stands for:

By following these simple principles we are raising our children to be happy and obedient children of God.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Just the same...

I thought that maybe raising a child with Down syndrome would be a bit different than raising children who did not have DS.
I expected some challenges but I had planned on meeting those head on and doing my best to make sure that we would never treat them any different. And maybe it is because they are still so young... but...
Veronika and Gavyn are just the same as my children without DS.
We have some behaviors that we have never had to deal with before, such as Gavyn twisting his wrists and staring at his hands, or Veronika feeling like she never gets enough food, but these are from the orphanages, NOT because they have DS.
In just a few months time, we went from having two babies who had never been able to play on the floor for tummy time, and one who could not even hold his head up, to BOTH of them crawling, and even standing up!
Veronika regulally pulls to a stand, and today, with the help of a step on the floor she was able to climb up onto the sofa all on her own! She also learned how to drop the ball into one of her toys so it comes out from another area, after being shown only a few times!
Gavyn has been smiling because he is happy lately, and not just because we are tickling him or tossing him in the air. He is starting to notice things and wants to grab and touch things, just like a regular little baby!
Every single day they amaze me!
They have enriched our lives, and I guess if anything, they make us realize there is nothing we can't do with love, care, and prayer.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Little Princess

From the day we met her, we knew that Veronika was a diva. She was always very expressive and never for a moment left you wondering what she wanted. She has always had a way to get her point across.
She is spunky, and fun, but she can certainly scream loud enough for everyone to hear her. She is always on the go, doesn't like to sit still much, and is sensitive to others. If Gavyn starts crying, she will burst into tears as well or try to make faces at him to get him to stop crying.
I have been able to catch so much on camera and I am very glad, because unlike Gavyn, Veronika is very aware of people outside of our family.
When the physical therapy team comes around, she does not give them her sweet smile, or her little giggles like she does for us all the time. My dear friend took pictures of Veronika and Gavyn and could hardly get any smiles out of our little Miss V.
Veronika is very aware of others and likes to make her family smile and laugh. She makes all kinds of faces just to be silly.
She was blessed to be in a better baby house (orphanage) than Gavyn. However, it was not until she was home that she had ever had real tummy time. Since being home, she has learned to sit up, army crawl, rock on all fours, stand with support, walk with support, eat from a spoon, sign "more" and drink from a straw.
She seems to pick up on things so easily, and just WOWs us every day.