Friday, July 29, 2011

Our Extended Ds Family

i know i've said it before, but i have made some amazing friends since wyatt was born, both in real life and cyber friends.  friends i never would have met had he not been born with Down syndrome.  friends i would have missed out on.  life experiences i never would have had.  a friend posted the other day "Before God can use a person greatly He must allow that person to hurt deeply."  (A.W.Tozer)  i know that to be true.   what i believed was such a tragedy with wyatt's diagnosis of Down syndrome  (honesty here) turned out to be such a blessing!  God is good ALL THE TIME.  even when we don't understand what HIS plan is.  

when we were in louisiana last week, we were able to visit with my cousin cindy and her husband bob.   i have always been particularly close to her, she has a daughter just a year younger than me.   we are so thankful that they always open their "family hotel," even if they are not at home, for us to use as we travel back and forth to texas!   they love our children dearly, which is such a blessing.  cindy plays tennis with mary, who is in her late 70's....yes, you read that right!   an avid tennis player and a beautiful woman!   mary's daughter, giselle, is 47, and she shares that "little something extra" with wyatt as well!  we met them last summer, and cindy invited them over to see us again during our brief visit last week!   cindy says that mary asks about wyatt EVERY WEEK.  and she and giselle pray for him FAITHFULLY.  what a blessing mary is to me....she is such an encouragement, such a beautiful woman of God who is quick to tell you what a blessing her giselle is!   she hugs and kisses us, and tells cindy "we're family....."  we are part of a special family....all of us who share that extra 21st chromosome in one of our family members!  

i have friends all over the world, literally, who share that with us.  i am welcomed into homes in louisiana and jacksonville, and have standing invitations in austin, kokomo, and the chicago area anytime i can make it there!   i have many friends on facebook who keep close tabs on wyatt and our family.  i have a small group who consider wyatt one of their "cyber nephews"!    we pray for each other, cry for each other, and laugh with (and at) each other!  

i can only hope and pray that God will be able to "use me greatly" for HIS kingdom purposes.....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Playdate in Southern Louisiana....

the whole gang!
sorry this is so late in coming.....don't know where the time has gone!   while i was in southern louisiana, cassie arranged a playdate for other families who share that "little something extra".... in 5 short day, she pulled together a fun day that three other families were able to join us for!   we had a blast!  the first family arrived about 11 am, and the last family left about 9 pm!  what a fun, full day we had!  needless to say there was NO NAPTIME for wyatt!  

brennan entertaining with her ukelele!

typical wyatt...reading a book!

"what is that?  it's so pretty!"
did i mention that we ate?

wyatt and john hanging out!

this is emma....wyatt's birthday buddy!  born the same day...july 6, 2009!
and her mama too....angie!
william telling wyatt...."i think we can make it!"

us guys gotta hang together!

forrest is a kid magnet!    don't you love william's hair...
complements of the girls!
 this was such a fun, relaxed day!    what a blessing to be able to meet so many new friends!   thanks again cassie, april, angie, and april for such a fun day together! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Sleepover in Southern Louisiana....Almost Wordless Wednesday!

fast friends.....
we're back to the real world of home....yesterday we had to leave louisiana to come home....too bad!  as i reflect on the time that we spent with the walthers, i know exactly why it was so "magical".....cassie and i "GET IT" with each other! we didn't have to explain our feelings, our fears, our joys......we just got it! as parents of children who have Ds, we understood each other! it was such a comfortable visit... and to think that prior to this weekend, we have spent a total of maybe 3 hours together...EVER!!!! when we first met, we were instantly bonded! it was just a natural, easy friendship. and it was that way this weekend as well..... it was so nice to be able to stay up late talking about life, and to spend easy days together visiting, watching the kids play, cooking, eating..... and touring the great city of new orleans!

about as close as brennan would let wyatt get!
cute little sea lion and starfish!

aquarium of the americas....

enjoying the fish!

the saint louis cathedral....

hanging out at cafe du monde for beignets....

big sister logan and big brother forrest....

wyatt with ms. cassie.....
 if you ever have the opportunity to have a "sleepover" with a fellow "holland mama".....DO IT!!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Sleepover in Southern Louisiana.....

i'm blogging from the southern louisiana kitchen of my dear friend cassie, surrounded by her family pictures....she's quite the photo-bug.....and one of those pictures is of my sweet wyatt kissing her sweet brennan.....remember this one?    so precious!   

unfortunately, the honeymoon is over.....wyatt would now rather "smack" brennan than "smooch" her..... he gets so very excited to see her that he has a hard time controlling his hands....he wants to touch her, and ends up swatting her.  she is not impressed.....and she can RUN away!!!!   

anyway, these two are the "friends connected by an extra 21st chromosome!"   without that extra chromosome, it is unlikely that our families would ever have met!   cassie and i connected through babycenter and facebook, and became fast online friends.  it was an added bonus when we realized that she lives in the same town as my cousin who we normally visit and stay with as we travel back and forth to see tim's family in texas!   we met last summer, about this time actually, and that's when this "love connection" was forged between wyatt and brennan!  we saw each other again during the Christmas holidays, and have stayed in touch.

wyatt's first tea party......
last weekend as i was planning our trip to ethan's orientation at the university of west florida, i had a wild and crazy thought about driving on over to visit cassie and their family.  it was only 3 hours from pensacola, and i knew that the younger boys and i could do that.   so i passed the idea by tim, got his stamp of approval, and contacted cassie to see if it was "do-able" on her was!!!   she immediately said "yes," and here we are!   having a blast!  
can't wait to share more.....too tired tonight!   maybe a few pics will hold you over!  
brennan visiting with wyatt during bathtime!

"now wyatt, scrub good!"

beautiful brennan!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Guest Post: "Seeing into Josiah's Mind A Bit At A Time...."

one of my dear jacksonville friends, bethene middleton, shared this note last week on facebook, and i asked her permission to share it here!   we got to spend a little time with josiah and his family last month, and he is a sweetheart!  as we were leaving chick fil a, and our visit with them, our forrest said, "that josiah is one of the sweetest kids i have ever met...."  

This morning, I was awakened by Josiah blasting his lungs singing. I came out to find him on “Saddle Ridge Ranch” (VBS from last year) complete with cowboy hat and stick pony. Giddy up! He then went on to talk and sing about “Big Apple Adventure” and “Game Day Central” (themes from other years). Music is Josiah’s deep love. Lately I’ve also heard him singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in his bed, nearly word perfect.
Sometimes I wonder what is in his mind and how much sinks in from what he hears and sees and is taught. Then there are moments that I realize, he is constantly listening to us… observing and learning. The song “Oh be careful little eyes, what you see!” reminds me he may not share all he thinks with us, but he sure is taking it all in. Be careful Momma what you say and do!
So, I have learned a bit more from him about how much VBS is impacting him. And it isn’t just the theme songs. Every year two of our church staff members get a pie in the face as a reward to the kids for their offering brought for missions. On the 4th of July made a no bake lemon cheesecake. My mom was showing around the berry made flag cheesecake “pie” to people, and Josiah so badly wanted to carry it himself. It’s a good thing she kept helping out because, before long, we found out he really wanted to “pie in the face” someone. Disaster narrowly avoided! Phew!
However, I got to thinking… this could be a great motivational tool. We could set a goal for him and when he reaches it, Dad could get a pie in the face (yep, dad, not mom!).
Along comes evening when we have friends over for dessert and games before fireworks. Josiah takes his piece of cheesecake dessert and talks about “pie in the face” again. I encouraging him that sometime we will have to do that, but not with this pie. It wasn’t long and… yep; he puts his piece of dessert in his own face and laughs up a storm, making sure everyone sees it! And the next day? He grabs a left over cupcake, and it goes into his face too (thankfully, mostly only around the mouth).
Yep, he “gets it” on lots of levels. Tucking him in last night he sang “Zacchaeus was a wee little man” to me… including how apparently Jesus sternly pointed and told him to “get out of that tree”. Another window into the brain of Josiah! We took some extra time to talk about what Jesus told Zacchaeus about being born again and about God’s love for Josiah. He is getting more and more interested in talking about Jesus’ death. Before, we couldn’t really go there, except to immediately talk about how Jesus isn’t dead now, He’s ALIVE! Last night we had a great conversation about how Jesus’ death was to pay for our sins, all the things we’ve done wrong, so that we don’t have to pay for them ourselves. We talked a lot about my hope that he will choose to ask Jesus to forgive his sins and let Him be the boss of his life and that Jesus can help him choose to obey.
Lately I’ve really enjoyed listening to his prayers after our conversations. Last night he prayed about Jesus death and how he is alive; that it is glorious; and how it is a happy day! (His long time favorite song is “Oh, Happy Day” by Tim Hughes… check out the lyrics and you’ll understand his prayer more.)
Last week, in the middle of the night he woke me up. He told me he was scared… that he had a dream with loud screams. He loves to watch the comic shows… Iron Man, Batman, and Spiderman. But it seems they get his imaginary world going and often he has a hard time coming out of that world. Plus it brings the scary dreams. So every time I weaken and give into the shows, I regret it and stand firm again. That night he was able to realize it the scary dream screams were related to Iron Man. I told him praying and asking Jesus for help was a good thing and so was choosing not to watch Iron Man. Then I prayed for him to know Jesus was with him so he could go back to sleep and have sweet dreams. I got up to leave and he said “Wait, Mom” and immediately began to pray on his own. He prayed that Jesus would help him, and that he would watch good shows like “Backyardigans” (which he has worked really hard on saying in an understandable way). My heart melted.
I so long for the day he lets Jesus be his boss, but I’m so encouraged by the glimpses into his heart, mind and soul. I sure do love my little guy! He reminds me so often about how joy filled life really and truly is. There are so many things to give thanks for that I way to easily just glimpse at and move on. He meditates on and celebrates them again and again!

and i look forward to the day that bethene shares with me that josiah has trusted Jesus to "be his boss," as his own personal Lord and Savior!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday Wyatt!

oh my, what a busy day we have had.....hard to believe that just 2 years ago (30 minutes ago!) God blessed us with our precious bonus baby, wyatt!   just a few pics from today as we celebrated his precious life.....
happy boy....

pouty faced boy....
tired boy...

hard working boy....

chick-fil-a eating boy....

playing boy....

birthday party boy....

swimming boy....

"center of attention" boy....

enjoying presents boy....

excited boy......

worn out boy.....

thank you God....we are so very blessed....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

True Confessions of an Impatient MAMA!

today will be my "sad" birthday post.  tomorrow will be my joyfilled post, on wyatt's actual birthday!

 i wish wyatt was walking. 

we've thought that he would walk for the past 6-9 months...

he walks holding our hands;
he walks with the "moonwalker" harness with no problems;
he walks holding onto the parallel bars at the pt office;
he walks in the pt office walker;
AND he can take 3-4 steps unassisted when he wants to!!!! 


it makes me sad to see all the other children who are now up to a year younger than him walking.  i KNOW that i should not compare him to others.   i KNOW that this is "normal" for kids with Down syndrome. i KNOW lots of facts, but that does not make it any easier for ME!!!!    ethan walked at 9 months, forrest walked a little later.....i never would have imagined that wyatt would not be walking by now.    his legs are STRONG.   he COULD walk if he wanted to.   but he does not have the confidence to do it, apparently.   sure, he's a big boy.....i know that makes a difference; a big difference.....

and i wish that he was talking more.  what is he thinking?   oh i know that he is making great progress in his communication, and he's signing more and more too!   he's getting better at letting his wants and desires be known....sometimes a little too forcefully when he pitches a fit.....ha ha!   but it's just so hard to wait.....

it's so hard for this impatient, prideful, competitive person to wait for these things to happen.  yes, i know they will i've said before, in wyatt's time.....

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July Lucy!!!!!

as we celebrate the 4th of july this year, a little girl half way around the world has gained a freedom that she never knew she was missing!   little lucy marie sader (melanie in my sidebar) was granted her adoption to rob and deanna sader today in a court in the ukraine!    we are praising God for this answer to our prayers!   her parents, who she only met a little over a week ago, have been on the journey to adopt her for the past 10 months, and are so excited that the judge said "YES!" today! 
"kind of loud, mama!"
their adoption and the other adoptions that i have followed and supported reminds me of how blessed we are in the united states.  especially on this day that we celebrate our freedoms, freedoms that we often take for granted!   i am particularly thankful that our wyatt was born in a country that accepts him, where we can give him every advantage.   there are so many little ones born in other countries who are not accepted because of their disability.  and that is heartbreaking.....

so how did we celebrat the 4th today?  we attended our local parade and then enjoyed a steak dinner at home as a family!  a relaxing, low-key day.....
forrest and caleb
"those sirens are too loud!"

"hi kate!"
"finally, some music!"

me and my dad!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Say "YES" to the Fireworks!

i'm we're getting better at saying "yes" in our old age!   what is this, twice in one month?   around here (panama city, florida...if you didn't know!) there are fireworks just about every night surrounding the 4th of july celebration!   my friend reminded me that our navy base would be kicking off the fireworks season last night, so i asked forrest if he wanted to go.  now forrest has never been a big fireworks fan....the loud booms and all bothered him, and i really expected him to say "no"!  i was wrong!   he said "yes!"  UGH!!!!   it had been a L O N G day around here, and i really didn't want to drag wyatt out to watch fireworks!  

so after karate and supper, i we were hopeful that forrest would just want to stay such luck!   so we headed out about 8:15 and stopped by to pick up a little chick fil a ice dream (YUMMY) to help us tolerate the heat! 

i'm so glad we said "YES!"  

as we crested the embankment to go pick our spot to watch the fireworks from, we saw kids running all over with glo sticks glowing in the dark....and a cute young boy ran right up to forrest and offered him his choice of colors from the fistful of glowsticks he held!   he even gave wyatt one as well..... what joy he exuded as he shared his treasures with others!   what a blessing he was to us!

we picked our spot and spread out our blanket, and within 5 minutes the show had started!   there was a wonderful breeze coming off the bay, and sounds of happy chatter, laughter and "oohs" and "aahs" filled the night air!   as we sat in the shadow of the hathaway bridge, with the scents of the salt water and the sulphur permeating the air, we had such a great night enjoying the fireworks (even wyatt enjoyed them!), and i was reminded that it's OKAY to say "YES!" more often...these days of forrest wanting to see the fireworks with us will be gone FAR TOO SOON.....peace!