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Typical Threes….

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Ahhhh, the joys of children.  Much particular “joy” with three-year-olds it seems.  Whoever coined the phrase “terrible twos” must not have endured the crafty and mischievious mind of a three-year-old.  And why should a child with Down Syndrome be any different?  I’ll be the first to say that Seth’s latest stunts as a blossoming 38-month-old are nothing more than typically developing….So I give you a few of his best moves, from Seth’s perspective:

I've got some really good tricks up my sleeve

The Grab and Go

I have a growing vocabulary (both words and signs) and some of the ones that my mom started to teach me long before I started talking were “share,” “your turn,” “my turn,” “please,” and “thank you.”  But with a slick move like The Grab and Go, words or signs will only slow you down.  Here’s how it works:  Simply sneak up behind your victim, whether its a self-defending sister or an innocent little brother, and take whatever it is that seems to be captivating their attention.  Then, just go, go, go!  Get the heck out of dodge with your new, fast feet!  Run to another part of the house as fast as possible, play with the object for about 30 seconds, then casually discard the item unless you see the self-defending sister chasing and shrieking behind you!  If that’s the case, start shouting “no” and prepare to hit her with the object until the Fun House referee comes in to break up the “misunderstanding” (right?).  At that point, fall to the ground in a heap of tears, as though you have been wronged by the other party.  Tip:  Good luck convincing the Fun House referee you are innocent.  Just try to shed as many tears as possible.  It helps if you stick out your bottom lip, point harshly at the other party and say, “Mama, Mama!” over and over again. Continue Reading…

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Potty Training Boot Camp Has Begun!

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Today I earned a huge salary….or at least those new appliances Joel bought me for our 10th wedding anniversary.  Potty training boot camp started this past weekend for Seth and let me tell you, this kid is a doozy!  I’ve got my work cut out for me!

If only he smiled EVERY time....

In just a few short days, he’s learned that M&M’s aren’t worth his time to “park it” on the potty chair for a few minutes.  And for that matter, neither are Skittles, raisins, Craisins, chocolate chip cookies, pretzels, Godfish, Kool-Aid (oh yeah!), Chee-tos or ANYTHING ELSE in my fridge or pantry.  He’s done with books, Imagination Movers and even Seth’s favorite Buzz Lightyear action figure was thrown from the bathroom after he demonstrated his best toileting skills to the onlooking three-year-old.  Oh, but Seth CAN do it.  He’s done it already, lots of times.  He just doesn’t want to, and I’m struggling between feeling like I should strongly encourage him to do it and just keeping things light and fun.

So, today I took the light and fun approach.

And tomorrow I’ll be going back to the strongly encouraging approach.

I know what you’re thinking and what you want to say (and probably will say) to me, “It’s on HIS time.  He’ll do it when he’s ready.  Don’t push him.  Don’t make him do something he doesn’t want to do.”  And while I partly agree with you on that thought, I’ll argue that I bet you haven’t potty trained a child with Down Syndrome. Continue Reading…

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Basketball Fun for Everyone

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We do a lot of random stuff at the Fun House to entertain ourselves and the kids.  This day, we decided to roll the basketball around to each other inside the house.  With the sweltering heat in the summer, no one wants to be outside unless it’s in a pool somewhere.  This video is particularly enjoyable because it shows Kyle squealing with joy at the sight of Ella and Seth playing with the ball.  While we are at it, is that Kyle not the cutest little guy you have ever laid eyes on?

Kyle is such a good baby


Emily and I have decided that he’s an obvious tenor as you can hear in this video with the squeals he lets out.  Emily and I can’t get enough of him.  He is soooo easy going, which is such a blessing.  I told Emily that if all babies were like him, the world would truly be overpopulated.

By the way, it’s not coincidental that the kids are using a basketball as I’m a basketball junkie myself.  My goal is to get to the point where Emily HAS to learn and understand basketball because her kids love it so much.  In our earlier years of marriage, I used to bribe her to watch a sporting event on TV with me.  Even with bribes, she rarely had the desire to sit through a single half, much less the full game.  So, it is one of my goals to make the TV programming at the Fun House dominated with sports, and my methods of brainwashing my children to this end will be innumerable.  You should also check out Seth’s ballin’ video as well as Ella’s hit off the tee.  The Fun House WILL be a house of sports.  It already is and will always be a house of music and singing.  But, why shouldn’t it be both.  Who’s with me?
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Vacation now, potty training to come

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Seth and Emily will be starting potty training bootcamp when we get back from our wonderful trip in Colorado. Start praying now!!!

We need your prayers

Here is a shot I took with a cool app on my iPhone called Pano. It allows you to stitch multiple pictures together to create a panorama. We are staying at the Broadmoor. Emily has decided she likes the treatment.

This place is amazing


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The Flat Tire….(I couldn’t make this up if I tried)

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Wednesday had been a great day at the Fun House.  My parents came over to spend the day with the kids and allow me some rest.  Mom helped with lunch, laundry and even got me started on dinner…and at 9 months pregnant, I will accept any and all help!  Joel called around 6:15 and said he was headed home, which was perfect as I was just finishing up dinner (the first time I’d semi-cooked all week).  I was so excited that he’d be able to eat with us and postponed the kids a few extra minutes with pretzels to allow him the time home for our dinner together.

At 6:30, Joel called and said he’d gotten a flat tire on the way home.  Bummer!  Fortunately, he wasn’t far from home, and he did think he’d be able to change it, but he would be home a little later than expected.  Sad times!  So I sat the kids down and began to feed them a mouth-watering pork chop with mashed potatoes and all the trimmings.

At 6:45, Joel called to say that his car had all the things he needed to change a flat except for a tire iron…could I help him out?  I explained that I’d just sat the kids down to feed them and would need a few minutes to finish them off before loading them up.  He was content to wait and seemed certain that my car would have the tools that he needed in the back to finish the job.  After bribing them to eat quickly, I grabbed all the supplies that I thought were necessary…drinks for everyone, snacks for the kids and a flashlight….after all, it would be dark in an hour.  After I changed Seth’s diaper and Ella and I made it through the bathroom, we were on our way to rescue Daddy around 7. Continue Reading…

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I used to have time for this….

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This is Momma Em….you know, I used to have time to sit down and write a little something about the kids on the blog, but HELLO?!  We’ve had a lot going on at the Fun House.  I’m struggling to know where to start, so here goes nothing!

Make-shift kiddie pool

Kyle:  The boy in my dreams. Top of mind is this growing baby boy inside my belly that stretches from my ribs to my bladder, and what feels like wraps all the way around to each kidney.  The size of my tummy is amazing to me!  I continue to raise my shirt up to show Joel and then say, “Feel sorry for me!”  With just 5 weeks to go to my due date of October 19th, horizontal is about the only position that I feel comfortable in, and even that is short-lived….never mind that I’ve just endured August and September in one of the hottest parts of Texas!

Joking aside, I’m thrilled, excited and blessed to be carrying another little gift from God to Joel and me.  Ella and I were just talking this morning at breakfast about how children are a gift from the Lord and it struck my heart in such a new and fresh way.  Really, I don’t know how I can love another child as much as I love my Ella and Seth, but I believe that it must be supernatural….just like I couldn’t fathom making room in my heart from baby #1 to baby #2.  Of course, Joel and I think Ella and Seth are the best things going, so I guess pretty soon, we’ll have three best things going on around here!

I’ve been blessed this time around to have such a smooth, peaceful pregnancy.  Truly, it has been a textbook pregnancy.  Back pain, heartburn, Braxton Hicks contractions, naps, cravings….everything has been right on par with “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”  Even Kyle’s size!  Each appointment, I’ve measured exactly to date and everything has been routine.  I love “routine.”  Considering the emotional roller coaster we endured during my pregnancy with Seth, I’m just praising the Lord for the ease of this one.  So many people have asked, and if you haven’t asked, I bet you’d like to:  Aren’t you nervous about this baby having Down Syndrome too?  The answer is simply no.  We’re not at all.  It’s hardly crossed my mind over the past 9 months and that’s no exaggeration.  I’m at great peace knowing that the Lord will give us what we need.  He has done it over and over- He is faithful– He will do it again.

Seth:  My little joy.  You may know by now that Seth started walking in August.  Yes!  At 27 months, Seth made up his mind to walk everywhere!  Immediately, he was pretty good at it too- after all, we’ve known he was capable of it for about 9 months….we were just waiting on him to decide it would be his best option.  Now he’s trying to run and I still get so tickled to see those little legs get in gear whether it’s snatching a toy from his sister, chasing her, spinning in circles while playing the harmonica or running into his daddy’s arms.  He loves to blow kisses, wave and say “Bye” as he leaves the room…oh and he ALWAYS shuts the door.  What is it about doors and toddlers that is so fascinating?

Seth is starting to talk more and imitate sounds we are making.  He loves to fold his arms across his chest, throw his head back, scrunch his eyes and laugh when I say, “Seth you’re pullin’ a joke on me!”  He’s a book worm and I think is most satisfied in a big pile of books or snuggled in someone’s lap with a good read.  Seth loves music and is still quite the little drummer and pianist…also pretty good with the shakers.  Truly, I’m pretty impressed with his ability to keep a beat…there may be a hidden talent there!  He loves to sing along with me…..on HIS terms….as he’s started to turn around and quickly “SHHHH!” me if it’s not something he wants to hear.  (I love it!)  “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Twinkle Twinkle” are his favorites because he loves to do the hand motions.

He does great at following directions and according to his Sunday school teacher, he’s the most obedient one of the bunch!  Joel and I aren’t surprised…he really is a good little fella.  My how he loves his daddy!  Truly, his worst moment can be turned off in an instant at the sight or sound of Joel.  (And I think the same could be said of his daddy…)  When Joel walks in the door, I’ve lost Seth for the evening.  He is immediately scooped up and whisked away to help Joel unload his work stuff and change clothes.  He loves to grab daddy by the cheeks and just plant a big long tight-lipped kiss with a “Mmmmmmmm!”  Wrestling, basketball, “super hero” and puppy dog are just a few of their favorite games together.  I can’t emphasize it enough.  Seth loves his daddy.  And his daddy loves Seth.

Ella:  My lady bug.  I love this four-year-old!  What fun we have together and such lively conversations we share.  I’m amazed at how much she picks up on and how she never seems to forget anything!  She’s started back to preschool this year and walked confidently into that classroom without even looking back at me.  I practically had to stand on my head to get her attention to wave and blow me a kiss goodbye, but the art table had a strong pull for her attention.

Joel tells me all the time that Ella is just like me.  For the most part, I’d have to agree (and I secretly LOVE it).  She is a performer for sure, wants to be the center of attention and is confident with a capital “C.”  I’m not sure that I was completely like this as a little girl, but I’m interested to see where she’s headed.  As Dr. James Dobson describes disciplining the strong-willed child, we’re doing the best we can to “steer the ship.”  At the same time, Ella is a good friend to others, very loving with Seth, tender-hearted, a people-pleaser and has a great sense of humor.  Her greatest fear right now is having to grow up one day and leave her momma.  I haven’t told her yet, but I feel the same way.  I think my mom did a great job of modeling to me what it is to first be the parent and second to be the best friend.  I think Ella and I are on that same path and my relationship with her is one of the most special things I’ve ever known.

She’s excited about meeting baby Kyle, but not thrilled about being away from me while I’m in the hospital.  We’ve talked about it enough and I think praying about it is all I can do now!  Grandmothers, please bring her some gifts!!!!!  Ella loves to talk about how she and I get to do things as “just the girls.”  And she LOVES to imagine scenarios where she and I take off on an adventure to leave Daddy, Seth and Kyle at home….because they can’t do girl stuff with us!  We love to paint pictures together, work puzzles, paint our toes, play baby dolls, dress up and spray ourselves down with “smell goods.”  We love to sing together and I applaud/encourage every little song she makes up.  She tells me that she’s practicing so that one day she can be ready to stand on the stage and worship God like I do.  Be still my heart- I have nothing more to say!

Joel:  My main man.  What to say?  I’m not one for mushy, romantic stuff…and Joel and I still joke with one another about why I’ve yet to pour my heart out about how fantastic he is in some sort of creative acrostic for the world to read.  (So honey, let the pregnancy hormones speak for me at this point to tell you how much I love you, because I’ll probably never declare it so plainly for all the world to read again!)  I don’t think I’ve ever loved him more than today…and tomorrow, I’ll say the same thing.  I’m thrilled to get to love these little blessings with him.  I’m proud of him for all that he does for our family, but I’m most proud of his character.  He is a servant-leader in our home.  He knows how to love me and does a fine job of it.  Joel is my best friend….he has been for almost 13 years now.  He is irreplaceable.  I can’t think of anyone I’d rather sit in a quiet room with- just being near him puts me at peace.  So in a few short weeks as we welcome another little fella into our home, I’m so, so thankful that Joel is his daddy.

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Tiny Dancer- Update for Becca

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So, a few days ago, Joel posted a “pregnancy update” with the down-to-the-minute stats of how long until our little one is due.  Becca, you wanted more info and several others have expressed their disappointment in lack of information, so this one is for YOU!

First of all, the baby is nicknamed “Tiny Dancer” for now.  I don’t know why, it just came out one day and kind of stuck.  I’m right around 15 weeks and am starting to feel little bitty movements just all over my lower abdomen.  What a miraculous feeling!  Though this is baby number three, it feels like something new every time.

Cravings:  pickles, mayo, sour cream, McDonald’s sausage biscuits, melted American cheese on something, hot dogs and MEAT: beef, turkey, pastrami, salami, sausage….the richer and fattier, the better!  (Becca, I know you are cringing right now because a nutritionist wouldn’t feed this kind of stuff to a growing baby, but what can I say??)  But to any preggo mommas out there, let me recommend a turkey, mayo and pickle sandwich on any kind of bread.  WHOA- yummy!

Are they ready for a brother?

Continue Reading…

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And Baby Makes…..5!!!

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Joel and I were blessed to hear a strong heartbeat for Baby #3 this morning.  Yep, we’ll have a 5th wheel after all (and we couldn’t be more excited).  I’m 11 weeks along, nauseated, worn out and joyful all at the same time.  This little pumpkin is due October 19th, exactly the date of it’s Mimi’s birthday.  However, my babies tend to come a week or two early, so we’ll see what happens in late September/early October.  All I know is that I’m looking for a very small pumpkin cap that he/she can wear while in the hospital.  Wouldn’t it be darling?  Shopping friends, keep your eyes peeled…..

Ella is very excited and already checking on “our baby” throughout the day.  I really don’t think she has a preference- she just keeps saying, “It’s a boy or it’s a girl!  We’ll just have to wait and see…”  Seth can sign the word “baby” and he, like any other 2-year-old, has no clue what may soon be entering the picture.

Thanks for being excited with us and thanks for praying for our new little one.  I think the shock of having a new baby has worn off and I’m starting to settle in to the “we’ll be just fine” train of thought. Mothers of more than two children, do not leave a comment unless you have something encouraging to say about having a third child!  😉

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Parenting kills brain cells

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Parenting kills brain cells

Much love here

Today, without thinking, Emily cut up her OWN waffle into small pieces. Just 10 minutes ago, I almost put Seth’s pajamas on without a diaper.
In other news, we went to the Katy Rice Harvest Festival today. Fun time.

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School, Speech & Signing

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Seems my updates are not as often, but we’re on the move over here! I just look at Joel sometimes and say, “It’s these kids!!!!”

One sweet girl!

Ella girl started preschool this week. It was totally not a big deal for her–she’s a total sanguine and doesn’t seem to be bothered by new situations or new people. She met lots of new little friends, though we can only remember about 3 of their names, but I’m sure that will all change by the end of the month. We got to decorate a little paper doll to look like her that the teacher stuck up on the bulletin board. We also colored her “take home” bag (I’m new to all of this….) with paint pens. It’s a beautiful work of art for a 3-year-old! She got to take her beloved Banjo (a stuffed koala bear brought from our friends when they lived down under) for show and tell the first day. So far, all I’ve gotten from her is that she gets her arm stamped whenever she’s been a good singer in music class and that they walk to and from their classroom “like one big snake instead of a bunch of little worms runnin’ all over!” She’s having fun and learning things with a great curriculum- I’ve got great expectations for the Christmas program!!!

Enjoy the smile, excuse the crumbs

Seffy boy is changing so much, so quickly, as all babies do. He waves and says “HI!” to most everyone we pass at church, the grocery store, the parking lot….you name it. He loves to smile and say cheese whenever a camera is pointed in his face! This little guy is a social bug too, I guess. He’s really working on talking and we’ve now added a speech therapist to jump start the talking. I’m sure you’re thinking, “A speech therapist? What do they do with babies?” Well, I’ve got a pantry full of sticky james, jellies and marshmallow cremes to slather on his lips and inside his cheeks to encourage the tongue to “move independently of his jaw.” And I bought an electric toothbrush, a $40 whistle kit from a specialty Web site, stuff to make Seth’s own personal “look book,” and installed a full-length mirror in the playroom to encourage us to sit in front of it and make faces, sing, laugh, etc. Speech therapy has proven to be very involved, but very fun indeed! We’re taking pictures of all of Seth’s favorite objects, places, toys and foods to compile into a book where we’ll label each thing and start working on building his vocabulary. I’ve heard that if it takes a child like Ella 10 times to learn something new, it will take Seth 100 times to learn the same thing. Repetition is key, as are pictures of literal objects, rather than sketches or cartoons. SO! Off we go…..you can do it, Seffy! He’s signing a lot to Joel and I, which is so great to give him some way to tell us what he wants. What a smart cookie, that little one. We’re proud of them both.

Special news for our family: Joel is being ordained as a deacon this weekend in our church. It’s an honor for him to be selected as a “servant leader” within the body and he is humbled to serve God and the body of Christ in this way. I’m so proud of him and can think of no one who better fits the description of a gentle leader. He is bold in his faith, ready to defend the Truth, yet tender-hearted in the way he loves others and cares for their walk with the Lord. Joel is a man of integrity who does the right thing. He is not hasty in making decisions that may affect our family or even the lives of others. I’ve known him to be very deliberate and prayerful in his response toward others. He is sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s callings on his heart and moves forward in boldness with complete peace in the Lord’s will. I am so proud of him and blessed to serve under his leadership in our home. Ella and Seth wanted to chime in that he’s the best daddy ever…..His dad and brother will be praying over him during the service Sunday morning- and that means more to him than words can describe. As the Lord brings us to mind, pray for Joel that the Lord will guide and direct his steps as he serves in this way.
We’ve started back into a new year with the worship ministry. I’m directing our contemporary choir again this year and loving every moment that we get to come together to worship. The Lord is drawing new people to the ministry, which is so exciting and so welcomed. I still can’t believe sometimes that I’m part of something so big for God- so unique. I was just talking to my dad about it this weekend and said that if you’d asked me even 5 years ago if I’d ever be directing a choir, I would have QUICKLY said, “No way! I’m not qualified to do that!” I still feel inadequate in so many ways, but “His strength is made perfect in my weaknesses.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) People keep coming back, and I still feel called to it, so I know the Lord has plans in how He’s using us week-by-week in worship. Again, I must say how much worship has changed for me now that I’m a mother, but particularly since Seth’s arrival. I see the Lord’s plans as I continue to walk the path He’s laid ahead of me. People that I don’t know have mentioned that they know my testimonyour story with Seth- and they are blessed to see that I can joyfully serve, love, honor the Lord in my worship. My response to that is and always will be: His is my only hope. Apart from Him, I am nothing, I have nothing. I cannot place my hope in Joel, my children, my family, my community, my job, my ministry. None of those things will ever satisfy and every one of them may fail me yet. But my hope is in the Lord….I have a lot of reasons to praise Him.
“Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again, rejoice!’ Philippians 4:4

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