We Are All Designed to be Creative~ My Recent Trash to Treasure and Ceramic Projects

I believe we were all meant to be creative in some way.  If you don’t think of yourself as creative, maybe you’re thinking of “creative” with too narrow a definition.  I haven’t always thought of myself as creative either, and there are some ways that I’m definitely not.

I say all the time I’m not the one you want to decorate for a party, because I mostly choose practicality and comfort over beauty and I simply don’t see the point of going to a lot of trouble.  Anybody with me? I’m just not frou-frou in that way.  But I have friends that are so good at that, so I ask for their help in this area.

YOU are designed to be creative, you just have to find your niche.

There are so many different ways that creativity could be expressed and sometimes it takes us a while to find what we like.  When I have time to pursue it, I enjoy being creative in a variety of ways.  If you aren’t sure yet what you like, just get to trying some stuff.

Everything I do is as inexpensively as possible.  If you’ve been reading my blog just a minute, you probably already know that about me.  You already know I love gardening and repurposing home decor in new ways.  Although I’ve been very focused on de-cluttering and paring down, before getting rid of an item I always evaluate if it could be reused in a new way or beautified with a little DIY.

I hope that in showing you the ways I fulfill that inner need for creativity and creating beauty for my home, it will stir up in you some ideas of ways you can do the same in your own life.

I had this ugly candle holder…

Y’all, don’t judge me for having owned this ugly thing in its original state.  It was ugly.   I picked it up years ago at a thrift store and knew it had hidden beauty.  I didn’t like it gold, but I wasn’t sure at the time what it needed.  I used it gold, then I added the little bit of green (sometimes the first time is a fail, keep tryin’) and then stuck it in a closet for a very long time and forgot about it.

See, it was ugly. I don’t know what I was thinking with the green. It’s like I tried the green and didn’t finish my thought? Who knows. But I’m happy with the way it turned out this time.

I saw it in the closet.  I had the idea to paint it in a way that I’ve been loving for a while now and then put some dried flowers in the candle holder instead of a candle.  Well, I ended up changing my mind about that, but I share that with you on purpose, so you can see that sometimes a project keeps evolving.

This is painted white, till all the gold is covered and before the creme wax. I think it took 3 coats. When adding these pics to the blog I realized that all the stuff on my kitchen table was in the background. #reallife at least at my house.

I already had the paint and wax on hand from a previous project and absolutely love this combination. I got these at either Wal-Mart or Michael’s, I think it was Michael’s.  They are just your ordinary acrylic paints.  Until recently, I had never used a wax over acrylic paint, but I love the effect.  The wax is sold right in the same display with the acrylic paints.

After covering the gold with the Warm White I applied the brown wax with a rag.  Instruction on the wax say to use a lint free rag.  I didn’t have a problem with lint, but I just used an old rag I had saved for cleaning that I knew it didn’t have any chemicals on it.  I quickly wiped the brown wax off, leaving just a little color.  You can see that there isn’t the exact same amount of brown all over, that was on purpose.  I then applied a coat of the clear wax.  Even with the 2 coats of wax (one brown, one clear) it doesn’t have a truly shiny appearance, which is just what I wanted.  It’s not perfectly flat/matte but also not shiny = perfection to me.

I love the candle holder as an addition to the mantle. The candle on top of it – it used to be in a jar and our cat, Bad Buddy knocked it off and broke it.  I saved the candle and now it has a new home.

I posted here about the plants growing in the water pitcher and bottles.  The “Family Gathers Here” was a gift from my son this past Christmas. The “be thankful” was a half price find at Hobby Lobby.  Years ago, the mantle itself was a project.  It was originally a natural wood color.  It didn’t contrast enough against the dark brick to suit me.   It looks a little more yellow here, but it is a shade of ivory with a yellow undertone and I used the same type of antiquing to add some dark shading.

Even a little bowl and some dead flowers can add beauty.

Dead flowers, dried flowers, are they kinda the same thing?  Well I decided to use some flowers from a vase that had died/uh dried.

Jordan (my oldest) had given these mini carnations in a vase to Jessie at her pageant recently.  When they died I thought they were too pretty to throw them away.  Initially, I planned to put them atop the candle holder, but it turns out they weren’t quite right there.  I just snipped the blooms off and put them in this little white bowl.

I love the pretty detail on this little white bowl so I had to show it up close.  I found this little pretty at Tuesday Morning on clearance.  Less than $2, maybe $1.  I had seen little bowls of this type used to corral small items on a desk (paper clips etc.) and bought 2 of them.  I knew at least one would be used on my desk.  It could also be used for bobby pins, etc in a bathroom or rings/jewelry in a kitchen.  I bought 2 knowing they could and would be used all over my house at different times.

That first time I painted something at ceramics:

Our Down syndrome group, FRIENDS, had a mom’s night out recently where I got to try painting ceramics for the first time.  We went to You Never Know Ceramics.  If your project will come in contact with food you use glaze paints, and it needs to have 3 coats. If your project won’t be used for food you can paint it just once and they will seal it before you leave and can take it home with you. There is a variety of items to choose from starting as low as $5.

The cost for this good-sized platter was $20, including all needed supplies.  They had books with ideas and patterns you could use.  I traced this daisy pattern onto the platter using carbon paper (they provided everything) and then painted it and left it to be fired for a second time.

It was such a relaxing time just visiting with the other mamas as we all painted our projects.  There are imperfections, you can see where some of the black got smeared a little, but I’m still proud of it and can’t wait to use my platter for the first time.  I love daisies and will probably add some other pieces that can be used together.  I look forward to going back with moms again and also want to take Jessie with me sometime.

Okay, so you’ve seen my creative projects.  What can YOU do that will lower your stress level and add a little beauty to your home?  Got something ugly (like my sad candle holder) that needs a little beautifying?

Whether you know you’re creative or think you aren’t,  I hope you’ll find just the thing.  In every season of life, and parenting, what we have time for and can afford is different, but there is always at least a little something we can do.

If you have a friend that might be inspired by this post, it won’t hurt my feelings if you share <3

Till next week friends,

Josette

Motherhood: God Uses Everything

With Mother’s Day being this weekend, I’ve seen lots of profile pictures of friend’s moms and expressions of thankfulness for their mothers.  My mother died when I was six, so I won’t celebrate with my mother.  I will, however, get to celebrate with my kids.  This might not be your typical Mother’s Day post,  but everyday I think about how thankful I am to be a mother and the ways God has blessed and grown me through motherhood.

I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to be a mother.  I always knew I wanted to be a mother.  There was a time it looked uncertain that I would be.

We went through a period of surgeries, infertility medicines, monthly heartbreak and uncertainty.  But now I am the mother of 3 wonderful kids.  Well, 2 are adults now, but still.  With two of those we took fertility meds and with the third….well, we knew when she came without the help of those, and without planning, but with Down syndrome, she was just meant to be.

I haven’t always felt this way, but, aren’t you glad you don’t get to decide everything? See, I would never have chosen to go through that time of infertility and heartbreak but God has since used it for my good.  

Maybe I would be just as thankful to be a mother as I am, but maybe I would take it a little more for granted.  I’ll never know.

Maybe I would have accepted Jessie’s Down syndrome as quickly and easily, maybe I wouldn’t.  I’ll never know.

With my particular infertility issues, it didn’t seem that likely that I would get pregnant by accident and not have a miscarriage, but I did.   In the hospital, shortly after Jessie was born, all those thoughts flooded over me.  I knew right away she was meant to be here.   In that scary time, when we didn’t know yet what health issues we might face, realizing that helped me quickly accept Down syndrome in a way I might not have as easily otherwise.  I’ll just never know.

One Thing I Do Know:

Whether you’re in a season of life filled with  exhausting days with littles, trying times with teens, adjusting to your children being grown, or caring for an aging parent of your own, you can know you that God will teach you things in each season and use every difficult thing for your good and his glory.  Amen. (So be it.)

Trying times are hard (duh) but there is peace in knowing God will use it, even if we can’t see how just yet.

God Used Motherhood to Teach and Change Me:

I was shy and self-conscious; he used my kids to make me more brave.

Raising kids is not for the faint of heart; I had to learn to trust him more.

He blessed my socks off so many times (using my kids) that I couldn’t help but become overwhelmingly thankful and joyful.

With Jessie, who has Down syndrome, he opened up a whole new world of friends and experiences that I would have missed out on.

Jessie, and her Down syndrome, helped our family gain eternal perspective in so many ways.

Each of my kids, with their personalities and what they have needed from me, have changed me.  God used each of them to grow me in different ways.  I’m not the person I would have been without them.

Motherhood has been the greatest joy of my life.

Some were more trying than others, but I have enjoyed and learned from every season of mothering.  I am now embracing a phase of life and motherhood that is a bit slower paced.

I have known the joy being a girl mom and a boy mom and everything that entails.  Girls and boys, first-borns and middle children, with different personalities, they view life differently…. and my life is richer for every part of it. I’ve gotten to witness a young woman become a wife, and a boy become a man.  What a ride it has been.

If your children are younger, look forward to enjoying the friendship of your adult children.  It is a sweet reward at the end of all that hard work.

God used Motherhood to teach me about himself.  Then, I taught my children about him.  

Motherhood has helped me to better understand God’s unconditional love for us (me)  and appreciate the sacrifice of his son in a completely different way than I ever could have otherwise.

I have had the great joy of teaching my children about the Lord, whom I love. I’m thankful they know and love him.  I wouldn’t have the same level of peace about each of my adult kids if that weren’t true.

For every step of motherhood–good and beautiful or trying and hard, I am thankful. I could have missed all of this and maybe knowing that makes me appreciate it all the more. 

I am looking forward this Sunday to spending the day with all my kids.  Last year, Jordan and Josh invited us and Josh’s parents for a delicious steak meal.  Not sure what we’re eating this year, but I’m sure it will be good.  And the company, the best.  With grown up kids, any time I get to be with them, I treasure.  If you have grown up kids, I’m sure you know all about that.

God Uses Everything

If you aren’t yet a mother and you want to be, I know your pain.  It won’t be in vain; one way or another, God will use it.  Whether you become a mother ( I hope you do!) or God knows another way for you, He is good and will fill you with another purpose.

If you are a mother, I know many of your joys and sorrows.  God has or will use them all!

If you have lost or never knew your mother, God will use that too.  In his goodness, he never allows our pain to be in vain.

Trust God with your past and your future; he is trustworthy and good.

Till next week, and thanking God this Mother’s Day for the joy of motherhood,

Josette

 

Conversations With Jessie

Kids say the darndest things. Without even meaning to be, they’re hilariously funny, sometimes profoundly insightful, and other times so sweet it will make you cry.  Occasionally, it’s all 3 in one sentence.  Kids.

There was a time when Evan was around 3 or 4, we made a rule that he couldn’t say ANYTHING about how ANYONE looked without running it by us first.  Whisper it to mama first was the rule.  Yes, in complete innocence on his part, he had embarrassed us on more than one occasion.

Times have changed.  With Jordan and Evan I used to jot things down on slips of paper or the back of an envelope and hope to get it transferred to a calendar or something more permanent.  These days, I’ve started making notes in my phone when Jessie says something I want to remember.

Here are some of the recent conversations I remembered to take note of.  Each of these made me giggle or made my nose itch (how I feel right before I have to cry).  I hope they add a little something to your day too.

Sometimes funny:

Lots of times while we’re in different parts of the house, I call Jessie on the phone rather than go to her room. I call to tell her supper is ready, or get ready to go somewhere, get ready for bed, etc.  Recently when I called Jessie she answered with, “This is Jessie; may I help you?” 😂

I had a good laugh (which she appreciated greatly), and since she was rewarded with laughter, she has started answering her phone in similar ways more often.

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Background information you need to know in order to enjoy the full benefit of her response to my question:  Jessie has always been upset by the sound of a baby crying. Partly because it’s loud and partly because she knows it’s a distress signal, it upsets her. When she was younger and in the church nursery, if a baby started crying she would cry too.  A crying baby sets off alarm bells inside all of us, she just can’t ever cover up her emotions.  She handles it somewhat better now that she’s older, but it is still unsettling to her and she can’t handle it for very long before she has to escape.  Now back to our story….

We were on our way to pick Jordan up, then going together to visit a friend of ours at the hospital who just had a baby.  Jessie asked me if Jordan (her older sister) was pregnant.  I answered no and then asked if she wanted her to be. She replied with a yes. I asked Jessie, “If the baby cries, will you hold her and comfort her?” We could see multiple emotions cross her face then she replied dead seriously with, “Just a little bit.”  Gotcha, Jessie.  I feel the same.

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Jessie watches WWE wrestling every week (sometimes daily) and the girl knows her moves, the  real ones.  The moves have names and she knows those too.  She loves to wrestle with her dad and they do it often.  There’s always lots of smack talk before and during.  Sometimes when they talk on the phone they’ll promise each other a beat down.  Often when they’re wrestling, it sounds like there is a real killin’ going on in there.  And, sometimes she tries to get me involved to help her.

One night she was wrestling with daddy and he wanted her to stop. She told me to “Kick him!” and  told him, “Come onnn, let us have some fun!”  (She wasn’t really wanting to hurt her daddy, it’s just smack talk.)

Profoundly insightful:

This conversation hits every category. It is both insightful and sweet and at the time was a little sad. Jessie has adjusted pretty well to her sister getting married and her brother working out of town. Sometimes though, she really misses them (the way things were when they lived at home), especially Jordan.  Before Jordan got married, they slept together every night.

Jessie had looked at a picture I have pinned on a board in our kitchen. A few minutes later when we were in the car she mentioned the photo. She said the photo was when we took daddy to the airport. Talking about her sister she said, “This was when her name was Hall. She can change her name (back to Hall), she can be friends with him (with Josh instead of being married to him).”  She loves Josh to pieces, but she still knows he’s the reason why Jordan doesn’t live here.  Her fix:  they can just be friends.

Jordan and Josh with Jessie at a special event recently.

Sometimes, when she spends time with Jordan, instead of feeling satisfied with the time they had together, she will be sad when they part and go to different homes. For me, that happens less often now than when she was first married, but I completely understand how she feels.  Bless her bones.

So sweet:

Often I tell Jessie, especially at bedtime, that I thank God for her and that I’m so glad God gave her to me.  I tell her that I’m so glad she’s my girl and not someone else’s.  I tell her I can’t imagine what I would do without her.  I’ve told all 3 of my kids these things.  It’s important for our kids to know we love them unconditionally, exactly the way God made them.

It took me a minute to figure out what she was trying to say. She got her words all jumbled up out-of-order, which happens sometimes.  We were crossing the parking lot, meeting friends at a restaurant and I was holding her hand.  Not for safety, because we’re mostly past that, but I often hold her hand when getting out of the car and going in somewhere, just habit I guess.  And we both enjoy it.  Sometimes we hold hands when we’re driving down the road too.  Anyway, although her words were out of order, she was trying to say the same to me, that she’s so glad God gave me to her and that she is thankful to  God for me.  

I would learn to accept it if she couldn’t communicate in this way, but I’m so grateful that she can communicate not just her needs, but her thoughts, sweet and otherwise.

Jessie still has some issues communicating, but since I’m with her all the time, I understand most everything she says these days.  I remember though, when she was young, and we had no clue how much she would or wouldn’t progress with speech.  We didn’t always know what she was thinking.

When she was about 6 or so, often at bedtime it would be very clear that she was thinking about things from her day or wondering about the next one.  It became more and more clear that she was thinking about things in her own head all the time, whether she could express her thoughts or not.  Even though she couldn’t always perfectly verbalize her thoughts, it gave me such hope for the future that I could tell she was always busily thinking.

Jessie brings me so much joy.  I hope in sharing her with you, you get just a little bit of that too.

Till next week friends,

Josette

Our Journey to Becoming Accidental Unschoolers

In the same way that The Pioneer Woman, (Ree Drummond), calls herself an “accidental country girl”, I think we have, with Jessie, become accidental unschoolers.

If you aren’t a homeschooler yourself, you might not know what an “unschooler” is.   Even amongst homeschoolers it isn’t always defined the same way.  For the most part though, it probably means you don’t use a full, prepackaged curriculum (we don’t) and often it also means that what you concentrate on is somewhat student lead (according to what their interests are).

***this post contains affiliate links – if you purchase through my links I will receive a small ad fee at no additional cost to you. ***

When I was homeschooling my older two kids, we would not have been considered unschoolers.  We used a variety of curriculum that I put together, but we did use formal curriculum that followed a typical “preparing for college” way of schooling.  We followed a schedule (mostly) and if we didn’t complete the year’s work (too many extra-curricular activities) before our last “official” school day, we would work into the summer to catch up.  We weren’t super high achievers or extreme slackers.   We were, I think, kinda your average, typical homeschoolers.

Initially, we came to homeschool Jessie, who has Down syndrome,  for most of the same reasons we homeschooled our other kids and some reasons that were a little different.  I plan to share more in a future post about factors we considered in deciding to homeschool and the resources I found helpful in the early years.

Jessie went to preschool for 2 years when she was 4 and 5.  The first year her small class consisted of only kids with special needs and the second year was 1/2 kids with special needs, 1/2 “typical” students.  It was a good experience; there was nothing negative (other than being sick a lot the 2nd year) about her preschool time, but it did help confirm that homeschooling was the right route for us.

Fairly early on, I felt that I wanted us to follow whatever seemed to be OUR best path in homeschooling, whether that was or wasn’t what is typically taught in whatever grade she’s in.  Typical homeschooler way of thinking 🙂  It was helpful that I had already homeschooled one kid who required me to think outside of the box.  I tend to speak in emojis a lot in texting these days, and my mind just went to all the emojis I would use after that last sentence (imagine laughing till you cry emoji and wide eyed emoji here)!

We used an all in one adapted curriculum for kindergarten. After kindergarten, each year I pulled together a variety of sources to teach from. For quite a few years now we haven’t used much regular curriculum at all.

Jessie relatively easily learned her alphabet and letter sounds by about age 4.  She learned her colors and numbers and began to sight read by around 5.  She learned her letter sounds long (years) before she was ready to blend them into words.  I mostly followed the way of teaching sight reading first, then progressing to read phonetically, as is laid out in Teaching Reading to Children With Down Syndrome.  This is a very good resource for teaching reading to a person with DS at any age.  Later, Natalie Hale taught at one of our DS group meetings.  Although I have not read this book, based on having learned from her, I am certain that her book,  Whole Child Reading: A Quick Start Guide to Teaching Students With Down Syndrome and Other Developmental Delays would be good as well.   Jessie was reading pretty well by the time she spoke to our group or I would have bought her book then.

In the early homeschooling years we concentrated heavily on reading above all else, other than your normal everyday life stuff.  I wanted Jessie to read well, and made my efforts toward that end top priority.  If you can read well, other knowledge is accessible to you.  We did some math, she learned about her body and health.  In the earliest grades we did more of what is considered typical school stuff, just not as much of it and not at the typical pace.

I haven’t done any kind of testing to know what her reading grade level is, but Jessie reads well, what I think is really well. Her comprehension though is a good bit behind her reading ability.  She can read many things that she might not understand.  If it’s a subject she finds extremely interesting (all things WWE wrestling) she is more motivated to understand more complicated words or concepts.  With life experience and continuing to read though, I see her comprehension growing, just slowly.

Jessie’s in the 9th grade now, but she isn’t doing typical 9th grade work.  As she got older, what was usually being taught in her grade just weren’t things that were going to be the most helpful for her over the course of the rest of her life.  Over time, our schooling evolved into what I consider more like unschooling.

I don’t think Jessie is ever going to “typical” college.  I don’t think who our past presidents were, or a study of  history, is ever going to be meaningful for her.  She is capable of learning those things, but I would rather concentrate our efforts in areas that will serve her better.

We work on reading and spelling (in a chill kind of way) and don’t study grammar.   We study in science mostly what seems will have interest or benefit to her in her life.  We prioritize time for her to be active, physically and socially, in Special Olympics and other activities over a heavy emphasis in academics.  I am purposeful to notice any things that happen in everyday life that present opportunities to learn.  We focus a lot on life skills.

As for life skills, what do you need to know how to do in order to live as independently as possible?  It isn’t really our goal that Jessie live on her own, but we want her to be able to take care of : her own body (as much as possible), her own needs (food, house cleaning, laundry), relationships (family and friends, communicating well ) as much as is possible.

If you caught on to my use of “as much as is possible”, that’s really our goal.  In all things, as much as is possible. There’s no exact fixed end in mind.  Jessie will be, as we all are, a life-long learner.  We will just keep working, learning and improving in every area.  When she graduates (she wants to in the same way her siblings did) the only thing that will change is we won’t  report grades or attendance or be part of a cover school.

This way of thinking and feeling and living happened very gradually.  I don’t think we’re short-changing Jessie in any way.  She is smart, capable, learning and happy.  While some might feel our way of doing things isn’t “doing enough”, I find everything about our current lifetstyle to be so freeing and although we have our moments (as everyone does!) really joyful.  I am so grateful to God and my husband for making it possible for me to be with Jessie and enjoy her every day.

Not everyone who homeschools their child with Down syndrome feels the same, so please don’t assume I’m speaking for any other families or other homeschoolers.  I know there are families homeschooling their child with Down syndrome who use a more structured approach and teach more subjects than we do.  It works well for them.  This is just what we do, and it’s working for us.

Each of my children have changed me.  God has used each of them in different ways to grow me and teach me, both practically and spiritually.   Parenting Jessie has taught me to slow down and smell the roses, and then smell them again.

I hope you’re having a great week, smelling all the roses, and thanking God for all the good things.

Till next week friends,

Josette

Using Phone Alarm and Timers to Keep Jessie On Track

Currently, the clock app on Jessie’s iPhone is my favorite tool.  It is definitely helping keep Jessie out of trouble and reducing my stress level.  We need both of those things to happen 🙂  While having a phone of her own has been a huge distraction, it has also given her independence and been used as a helpful tool.

I’ve used timers over the years for myself and all of the kids in a variety of ways.  In recent weeks we’ve put to good use both her iPhone alarm clock and timer in several helpful ways.

Jessie doesn’t have a very good concept of how much time has passed. When we need to get dressed and ready to go somewhere, telling her you can watch tv a “few more minutes” and then get dressed just doesn’t mean much to her.

She will often say, “I’ll be ready in 15 or 30 minutes”, when really we’re leaving in five minutes.  In addition to helping us get out of the house, I’m hopeful that over time using the timer for varying amounts of time will help her have a better idea of how long 5 minutes or 15 minutes etc., actually is.

In addition to her lack of concept of time, she would just rather be watching videos, coloring, or playing until the very last free minute. I would tell her to get ready and then once I’m ready would find that she wasn’t.  For a while,  this was causing us a lot of stress as we then had to really hustle to get out the door on time.

In addition to using these tools, I did one time make her miss going to church when there was someone she could stay home with.  Along with the threat of missing out on something, we’ve stepped up our use of alarms and timers and it’s helping a lot.

Ways we use the timer and phone alarm:

To wake up in the morning:

  • As part of our bedtime routine, we discuss the plans for the next day and set her alarms.  If she already knows the plans for the next day, often she has set them on her own. She leaves some preset that she just has to turn on.
  • Jessie sets her alarm for the time to wake up. THEN, she sets a second alarm for 30 minutes later. She can lay in her bed and watch a video until the 2nd alarm goes off, then she makes her bed (she started this on her own recently!) and comes to the kitchen to make her breakfast.

Because we homeschool, this system works for us.  If she had to be up super early, she wouldn’t have as much time to watch a video.  She does still watch a video most days for a shorter time even if she has to get up early (which isn’t often).  She absolutely can get up and get ready without the video but this gives her a minute to shake the fog and be more alert when her feet hit the floor.

Transitioning from one activity to another:

Jessie is grumpy about transitioning from her free time to whatever is next. I go in her room and tell her she has x minutes. Often I give her 15 minutes. She either sets an alarm for 15 minutes later (I tell her what time to set the alarm) or sets a timer for 15 minutes. Most of the time this helps her transition more cheerfully to the next (less fun) activity.

Taking a break from a work activity without “forgetting” to start back:

If she has several chores to do that require standing, bending etc, she can’t do that for long without needing a break.  We are working on this (that’s another post) but for now, she does some chores then she can set a timer for a 15 or 30 minute break, then finish whatever she needs to do.

Doing an activity for a set amount of time:

If Jessie’s room has gotten really out of control, it feels overwhelming to her to tell her to clean it all on her own.  But, if I tell her to set a timer and turn on her music or video and clean her room for 30 minutes, that feels much less overwhelming.  Sometimes, when the timer goes off if she isn’t finished she will keep working.

I use this for other work type activities too.

Help us get out of the house on time:

On swim practice days she sets an alarm for 12:20, which gives her 25 minutes before time to leave our house. When her alarm goes off she puts on her swim suit, brings me a brush and pony tail to put her hair up and puts on her shoes. Ideally, she also brushes her teeth.

Setting an alarm for the time she needs to stop doing whatever else and get ready has been such a huge help.

We don’t have a perfect system and we do not have it all figured out but this is a tool that has been really helpful in making things run more smoothly.  Yes, I could just make her do these things, but this makes her much more compliant without as much nagging or fussing and I’m a fan of that.

I’ve had a chance to spend time with friends this week and bought some pretty new things at a garden center today.  I’m having a great week and hope the same for you!

Till next week friends,

Josette

What’s Going On In The Garden (And What I’ve Learned)

This year Jessie’s baseball season is starting later than usual.  This has allowed me to have more time working in the garden and the yard. Jessie hasn’t been happy about the delay but I have been gratefully soaking up every minute I can of this beautiful spring weather before it’s crazy south Alabama hot.

Each spring for the last 5 years I’ve done a small vegetable garden. Each year I keep wondering will this be the year I tell the hubby he has to build me a raised bed?

The first year I planted in containers and the containers were on my back deck. The deck gets too hot to walk on with bare feet and I wondered if their location was why it didn’t do as well as I hoped.

For the last few years I’ve planted in the ground.  Since my prenancy with baby #2 (22 years ago!), I’ve had a sciatic nerve issue that flares up pretty regularly, and especially when I do a lot of bending. By the end of the summer garden, I always feel unsure if I can do it again.

I’m trying a couple of things that I hope will make my life easier (and my back less painful) by keeping the weeds down as the season goes on.

Newspaper/Paper Bags for Weed Control

This year I put down newspaper as a barrier for weeds.  When I ran out of newspaper a friend gave me lots of brown paper bags. This layer of newspaper or brown bags prevent weeds from getting sunshine and helps retain moisture in the soil. Here’s a link to read more.

The layer of paper will break down over time and disintegrate into the soil (and that’s good for the soil) so the process will need to be repeated next year.

When I talked to an experienced gardener, he said either will help with weeds, but he prefers newspaper because of the way it breaks down.

Although you can put paper over existing weeds, I had pulled the weeds and then tilled the garden before I put newspaper down.  I’ve got my fingers crossed this is going to save my back some weed pulling.

After you put the papers down you cover it with a layer of soil.  I didn’t want to have to buy that much soil (I did buy some) so I raked some soil away, put down the papers, wet them really well and raked the soil back over to cover the newspaper/bags.

A Different Way of Fertilizing

The same experienced gardener mentioned above (that I’m convinced knows almost everything about everything in the garden!) told me how he fertilizes.

I had already bought a different fertilizer but after talking with Bob, I bought chicken manure compost and fertilized my vegetables the way he does.

Per his recommendation, I used a cup to distribute (he says a handful) of chicken manure compost around the base of my plants and then watered it in. He said as long as it doesn’t touch the leaves I’m good. This is not straight chicken manure, which is too “hot”, but chicken manure compost.

Chopped Leaves as a Mulch for both Moisture Retention and Help With Weed Control

I’ve been dissatisfied with the mulching options I’ve tried in past years.  Pine straw worked fairly well, but I had to use a lot and I was afraid I wouldn’t see a hidden snake.  I tried cypress mulch (it was on sale and I hadn’t researched it) but its prickly when planting or sitting on the ground for weed pulling and I just didn’t think it worked that well.

I read that chopped leaves was a good mulch and also FREE.  Because we have a pool and purposely don’t want to increase our work load there, we don’t have big trees of our own, just crepe myrtles.  But neighbors on one side have a row of trees beween our two yards.  My daughter also had leaves she had bagged so we got some from her and used the lawn mower to chop them all into smaller pieces.   If they’re too large that can cause a problem.  

What I Planted in the Garden

My humble and beloved garden. You can see the grass needs cutting. Y’all see it all. The good, the bad and the ugly 🙂
In the wheelbarrow are Calendula planted from seeds. I’ve wanted to plant something in this old wheelbarrow and can’t wait to see it full of blooms! I placed the wheelbarrow beside the garden to attract pollinators.

This year I went with less tomato plants overall but more varieties. Although I want the other vegetables too, tomatoes are my very favorite. I LOVE them. I bought 1 plant each: Better Boy, Pink Brandywine Heirloom and Homestead Heirloom. I also bought 2 Heirloom Spoon Tomatoes.  I’ve never seen or tasted them before.  Dothan Nurseries posted about them on facebook calling them the World’s Smallest Tomato. They shared a picture showing about 15 fitting in a tablespoon.  I was intrigued and had to try them.

I  planted several (don’t remember how many, 6 or 12?) squash plants and several bush (rather than vining) cucumber plants.

The last several years I’ve planted the small variety of pickling type cucumbers. They’ve done ok, but I haven’t gotten what I thought was a big harvest so I wanted to try a different variety and bush type were recommended to me.  I haven’t known anyone else in our area who grows the small cucumbers and I’ve wondered if they aren’t well suited to our insane summer heat.

I planted one jalapeño pepper plant, which I’ve never grown before, because I’m dreaming of some yummy salsa from homegrown tomatoes and jalapeños. I’m also planning to add cilantro to the garden soon for salsa making.

I added some flowers to the vegetable garden. Do you know why?

At times, my cucumber plants have had many blossoms that don’t become cucumbers. I read that sometimes this is a pollination problem. So, I added two lantana plants to my garden, one on each side, to attract pollinators. I transplanted them from other places in the yard before they started to bloom so neither are blooming just yet. I fertilized them and hope they will soon.

Having learned that marigolds have a scent some pests don’t like,  I hoped that planting some near my tomatoes would help keep pests off of them. I’ve been trying not to resort to using chemical pesticides (and haven’t so far) but bugs have been a big problem with my tomatoes every year. After I planted the marigolds, I learned I probably didn’t have enough of them planted to be a big help. I still think they are a pretty addition to my garden and I notice them every day.

I don’t think marigolds, in general, are pretty. I  had never seen this cream color before and I really took a liking to them. I found these at Dothan Nurseries. I’ve not ever noticed them before at other places where I shop for plants. Dothan Nurseries does seem to have some pretties that I don’t see everywhere else.

New Flowers I Planted This Spring

Last year I wrote in Just Start, how I started a flower bed in my back yard and how I built my flower garden frugally by adding a plant or two at a time.

This spring I’ve added a “Darling Daisy”. Twice before I’ve bought one of these off a clearance rack and they didn’t make it. This time I bought a regularly priced healthy plant and made sure I added some good soil to the planting hole and it’s doing well.

I love all daisies! I’m loving seeing this new addition each time I water the flower garden and when I enjoy my coffee outside in the mornings.

I went to Lowe’s with the hubby for some other man-purpose and although in a hurry, I found this verbena on the clearance rack for $1.00. I knew it had to go home with me. It’s an annual and I won’t spend a lot on annuals, but $1 fits the I’m-poor-cause-I -owe-the IRS- budget. I just transplanted it last night so it will look fuller and healthier soon.

Flowers For My Shady Spots

I love having something flowering on the front porch but it doesn’t get any direct sunlight. Last year impatiens did well there so I’m going with those again. Begonias have done well on my porch too, but this year I’m feeling impatiens.

I bought a six pack for 1.98. Four of them went in a planter for the front porch. I planted two in individual pots for the table on the pool deck that is shaded by an umbrella. Part of the day this area gets direct sunlight and it may be too much for them. I’m going to try them there and move them to a better location if it’s too much direct sunlight.

These impatiens were just transplanted the day before this photo. They will fill out soon and cover all (or most) the space in each pot.

I want a lot of bang for my buck.

I mostly plant perennials (plants that come back every year) to be frugal and not to have to replant everything each year. Some perennials will also spread, or seed new plants that will give you plants you can move elsewhere in your yard or to share. Most of the flowering perennials seem to need full sun.

I usually plant just a couple of annuals (plants that don’t come back, when they die, they die) each year.

The impatiens I bought are beautiful color, inexpensive annuals and give me blooms in the areas where I can’t grow a flowering perennial.

For $1.98, the impatiens are a lot of bang for my buck. Two separate areas have flowers in 3 separate pots. $1.98 folks. That’s as frugal as it gets.

That’s what’s new this year

I’m so hopeful that the paper, leaves, and chicken manure compost will have a favorable outcome for my garden. I get so excited when I see the plants growing and look forward to picking anything that grows there.I’m convinced that watching something you’ve planted live and grow is just plain good for the soul.

Hope you’re having a wonderful spring! I would love for you to share pictures of your vegetable gardens or flower beds in the comments.

Till next week,

Josette

A Day With Friends

Jessie had wanted to get together with some friends. We chose this week because her friend Gracie was out for spring break. It’s not that often that I let her have more than one friend over at a time, so this was a real treat for her.

These. Girls. They’re a mess. I’m so grateful for the friendships Jessie has and how they continue to blossom into something beautiful.

About an hour before we met for lunch, I had gotten the news that we owe the IRS. It could be worse, but to us it’s a lot of money. It was weighing on me when we met at Chick Fil A to start our “girl’s day” as Jessie says.

I think it’s every day, but I’m not sure, that each employee taking orders can choose someone to bless with an act of kindness, a free meal. Jessie and I have been the recipients of this kindness one other time.

Today, there were 5 of us, and we were all treated to lunch! It couldn’t have happened on a better day. I had been looking at my bank account online right before we arrived and thinking about the whole tax thing. This random act of kindness just felt like a hug from God, a confirmation that he sees, he knows.

After lunch, we headed back to our house for a few hours.

Jessie has this game she has played with her dad (and sometimes her brother) ever since she was a toddler. Sometimes she goes in the closet, but most often she gets one of them into our walk in closet and turns the light off and cackles and cackles. It doesn’t happen quite as often now,  but it used to be a daily game they played.  Daddy makes a lot of fuss about, “Let me outta here!” and the like. The banter and negotiations go on for a while before she lets him out. It sounds a lot like the smack talk from the wrestling Jessie so loves to watch.

Well, Gracie was not fond of being in the closet with the light out. Jessie has done this once before, she always thinks it will be fun, but her friends think not so much. I think this time Jessie understood (afterward) that it really did upset Gracie and knows now that daddy is the only one she can play this game with. I know if tables were turned, and she were at a friend’s house, and hadn’t been there a lot, she wouldn’t think it was fun either. Sigh. Hopefully, she understands this now.

The girls just couldn’t get into a groove at first. Some wanted a movie; some wanted a tv show. Two of them wanted to sit in the only chair in Jessie’s room rather than on the bed. (The chair is more comfy and closer to the tv for tv watching.)  I suggested they could be more comfortable in the living room, but they wanted to watch in her room.  They were watching tv but seemed a little bored with it. I offered suggestions of games they could play but every suggestion I made was shot down.

After I helped with negotiations, the girls settled on a show, seating arrangements, and had something to color while watching. I think they had all seen the show before and were a little bored honestly. Once they had something to color while they watched, they chatted with the tv going in the background and had a good time until time to eat and go to church.

I share these details because I think it’s important in the conversations about Down syndrome that we be honest  These are NORMAL situations, but if we don’t share them it can look to other parents in the same phase that we don’t have any struggles.  It isn’t all just about Down syndrome either; I remember advising my older two with friend relationships, it just happened on a little different time line.  I see Jessie having the maturity to maintain friendships now, with a little parental oversight to help with compromises and negotiations over where to sit and what to watch 🙂

 

At church I was filling in as teacher for a friend. My preferred way to do the lesson is to go around the room and each teen read a portion of the scripture.

We were having a lesson from Luke 5 where a man’s friends carry him to Jesus. Because there’s a crowd, they lower him through the roof of the house, believing if they can get him to Jesus, he’ll be healed. Part of what we talked about was that friends help friends get to Jesus.

One of the guys in the class helped Gracie find the verse she was going to read.  I had helped Ashley find hers.  Jessie likes using the Bible app on her phone as it is easy for her to find the verse she’s looking for.

These 3 girls were in the class with other kids around their age. They each read a verse from our lesson, just like everyone else. Something about that just warmed my heart in a way that stayed with me the rest of the night.  I think some of the other teens might have been surprised that the 3 girls could all read so well.

At the end of class when I asked if any of the students would like to pray for the requests we had talked about, Jessie volunteered. Most kids in her class feel self-conscious about praying in the group but she doesn’t seem to.

As I reflect on this day with these three girls. I am thankful for many things.

Jessie’s friendships

  • I’m thankful Jessie has good friends. It has been a challenge to get to this point and I’m SO grateful for where we are now.
  • I’m thankful for the ways I see her continuing to mature to be a better friend. A couple of years ago, she would have struggled with the compromises I saw her make today without complaint. She understands that to be a good friend that’s what you have to do.

Jessie’s grateful heart

She thanked me for being a good hostess 😊. She said in roundabout ways that she appreciated having her friends over and the little ways I accommodated all of them. She appreciated that I took them to lunch, made food for supper that they liked and that I had bought and made them pink lemonade.

She has such a tender and grateful heart and that makes this mama really happy.

Jessie’s prayers

Almost every time she prays, she prays for people to come to know God. She says they need God. It doesn’t seem perfunctory, it seems to come from a place of understanding. I’m thankful for the simple and heartfelt way she prays for what people need most…to know God.

This week, let’s remember to be like the fellas from the Bible story and be confident about where all true healing comes from.   They knew Jesus was the answer and they helped their friend get to him.  After their friend was healed it says “And amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God.”

And like Jessie, let’s be grateful for every little thing.

Till next week friends,

Josette

Your Children Will Survive Your Parenting Imperfections

People always laugh when I share this first story.  Probably because it’s something a lot of moms would want to do, but wouldn’t actually do it.  And, secondly because it seems an odd thing for a homeschooling mama to do.  But it best represents how as mamas we do all have our limits and our children will survive them.  Keep in mind that Jessie was very young then and we had a schedule full of therapies and normal baby/toddler stuff going on too.

At some point in their elementary school years,  I made a rule that Jordan and Evan couldn’t ask questions after 3:00 pm.  Yes, I really did.  Y’all, we were homeschooling and I was with them 24/7. From the time they woke up till their last waking breath they were non-stop with the talking, the requests and the questions. I just needed a break from the constant questions ALL DAY LONG.

So, I instituted a new policy.  Talking was all good, but sorry, no more questions after 3:00.  Okay, so we didn’t enforce it all the time,  but during this time period when I was overwhelmed and needed a breather I would remind them that there was such a rule.  They both still remember this and now they think it’s funny.

We all have our limitations, what feels manageable to us.  What makes me feel crazy might be totally different from what pushes another mama over the edge.  We’re all different.   God didn’t use a cookie cutter when he made us.

Your God-given personality affects how you parent.

The personalities we were born with affect what we enjoy with our children and what feels more like absolute torture.  Being able to stay home with my kids has been the greatest joy of my life and also the most stretching/growing and difficult thing I’ve ever done.

I know now that keeping an inner feeling of peace is really important to me.  I can handle difficult things with grace as long as I have that deeper feeling of peace (Enneagram #9).  I don’t do well with situations that make me feel out of control.  So, some of the limits I set as a parent were ones that helped me not feel crazy.  I found too that I needed a little time to myself after the kids were in bed.  I needed a time of brain rest from being “on” every minute that my kids were awake.  That made me a better and happier mama when I was with them.

I encourage you to accept that God made you with your personality.  Whether that’s loud and rambunctious, physically active and playful or quiet, reflective and more still.  God uses us for good for our kids (as he made us) and uses them to grow us too.  My goodness does he use our kids to grow us.

When I was a kid I more often preferred reading on the front porch swing to playing in the yard.  I was a more serious kid and I had zero imagination. These things about me didn’t suddenly change when I became a parent.

Perfection isn’t required.  Thank God!

Every mom has their God-given strengths and we all have our weaknesses.   It’s so much easier to see the strengths of others and our own weaknesses.

When we see strength in a friend or acquaintance that is an area of weakness for us, we might feel guilty that we aren’t good at that particular thing.  I can assure you though, there’s something effortless for you another mom wishes came naturally to her.

I know I’ve been a good mom; but in real life and online I see there are lots of mamas much better at many things than I am.

But, my kids turned out just fine. Perfection on my part wasn’t required.  I tell you this to encourage you.  Perfection on your part isn’t required either!

I’m kind of glad Instagram and Facebook wasn’t a thang when my kids were young.  I had fewer people to compare myself with and find myself lacking.

I enjoyed every phase of my children’s lives. But, there were periods where I felt was just barely managing much of the time.

There are moms 20 + years younger than me that are better at homekeeping, know tons more about gardening and can manage to do those things well with young kids underfoot.  Some bake bread regularly while homeschooling and running a home based business.  It’s just something normal for them to do…in the way that I made sure my kids were bathed and had clean underwear. These women seem like superwomen to me.  I simply didn’t have the capacity to manage that.

I’m just now learning some of the the things above and often from women younger than me.  I could look back and wonder if something was wrong with me that I’m just now learning things women much younger than me already know. I’m choosing not to do that.

As a mom,  I….

I ate my kids pretend food when they “cooked” it, but that was the extent of my imagination.  I played with them, but I preferred for them to play together without me, especially if it involved imagination, cause I just don’t have one.

Once my kids were mobile and able to climb and play at the playground on their own, I wanted to watch and not have to participate.  I was paying attention to them.  I might give them a “Yay” or word of encouragement.  I was sometimes guilted into it, but I mostly preferred to watch than play.

I enjoyed teaching my kids to swim.  To the point at which each could swim on their own, I enjoyed being hands on and teaching them.  Then I wanted to let them do their thing and me watch from a spot further from the splashing.

I enjoyed doing crafts with my kids (sometimes) or cooking with them (occasionally) but I hated board games.  I always felt so guilty about that.  It’s not that I never played games with them, but I didn’t do it nearly as often as they would have liked.  It felt like a chore to be completed and checked off.

At every age, I loved snuggling up and reading aloud to my kids.  I enjoyed it the most once they were older and we were reading chapter books, historical fiction or true inspirational stories.  Even in high school we had reading aloud times and this was my favorite time of the homeshool day.  Sometimes we would skip other subjects and spend a long time reading together.

I found my kids having sleepovers really stressful. Sleepovers often resulted in grumpy lazy kids the next day (which I have a low tolerance for ) so I just preferred for everyone to get a good night’s sleep. Everything about life seemed better when we were all rested.Therefore, I didn’t say yes to every sleepover request.  I said yes more often than I preferred and less often than they did.

Ah, kids birthdays.  We kept birthday parties fairly simple and small. (Remember my low tolerance for feeling crazy?)  We made a big deal of their birthdays every year, and after a certain age most years they had a “friend party” as well as celebrating with family.  I set limits to the number of people they could invite most years. If there was a sleepover, other than a couple of exceptions, it was a small group of closest friends.

There were also financial limitations…

My kids never once had a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese or any event place like that because it cost more than we could afford to spend. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on birthdays. By the time we had two parties and two cakes they didn’t always get a gift.  I don’t think my now adult children feel cheated that they never had a party at one of the cool birthday places.  Maybe they did at some point as kids, but if they did that feeling didn’t last.

I was always pretty honest with the kids about finances.  I explained that me staying at home with them was more important to us than “things”.  Because I was honest with them, when we did special things for them that they knew were out of the norm and a stretch for us they were sweetly appreciative.

The one most important thing…

If we can only get one thing right… lets always point our kids to Jesus.   He is the perfect parent.  My kids knew they were loved ginormously by their parents and by God.  If you get this right, they can survive the other ways that you are less than perfect.

Till next week friends,

Josette

On This World Down Syndrome Day; Hope!

World Down Syndrome Day is a day set aside to raise public awareness of Down syndrome.  It  is celebrated 3/21, because Down syndrome is caused by having 3 copies (rather than the usual pair) of the 21st chromosome.

For parents who will in the future receive the diagnosis that their child has Down syndrome, it is so important that the “awareness” shared is a more complete picture of what it is like to have a child with Down syndrome, rather than just the cold medical facts many parents are presented with.

Parents desperately want to know if their family is going to be okay.  I want to share with you that our family is more than okay! As I gave a lot of thought to what I wanted to write for World Down Syndrome Day, I knew what new parents and family members need most when their baby is born with Down syndrome is HOPE.

Sixteen years ago, when our third baby was born we didn’t really know what Down syndrome was. When we learned shortly after birth that the doctors were pretty sure she had Down syndrome, we had no idea what that meant for our family.

My husband especially felt blind-sided and grieved.  Even early on, once we got the diagnosis,  I could see that God had been preparing me for what was to come.  Even in our fears in those early days, it was so clear to us that Jessie was meant to be here.

If you or someone you love has recently found that their baby has Down syndrome I want to address the major fears we had at Jessie’s birth and the way they have worked out.

Health Concerns

There are some pretty scary sounding possibilities that you are faced with when you receive the diagnosis.  With my other two kids, most of those things could happen to them at some point in their lifetime, but I wasn’t made to consider that when they were newborns.

The way I came to view this was like the pamphlet you receive from the pharmacy when you get a new prescription.  Any of those side effects could possibly happen to you, BUT, no one person experiences all of the possible side effects.  The same is true with Down syndrome.

Your child/loved one could experience any of those health concerns but will not experience all of them.

Jessie was born with two heart defects, ASD and VSD. Her heart defects  were diagnosed at 2 weeks and she had open heart surgery at 3 months old. It was a struggle for her to gain weight until she had heart surgery.  Those weeks before heart surgery were emotionally and physically draining as we tried hard to help her gain weight and anticipated heart surgery.  While they affected her before surgery, hers were the easiest kind of heart defects to repair surgically.  She came through open heart surgery like a champ.  Her heart is healthy now, and she’s otherwise been mostly healthy.

Jessie had two sets of ear tubes (I mean, my son without DS had one set), she has not had any hearing loss.  She had eye muscle surgery (elementary age) and wears glasses.

Will she be able to feed herself and behave in a restaurant?

This seems so silly to me now, seriously, so please don’t judge me to be crazy.  It shows my complete ignorance of Down syndrome at the time. You might rightly decide we think too highly of eating out if this was one of my first thoughts.  Of all the possible questions on my mind, one of the first things I wondered was whether our child would be able to function independently enough to feed herself.  I wondered if she would behave well enough for our family to eat out in restaurants.

She learned to feed herself at slightly behind the age of other “typical” babies. Not only can she feed herself, she can make herself biscuits in the microwave for breakfast, and recently made sandwiches for herself, her dad and me after he and I had been out doing yard work.  She would rather watch tv or play video games but she sometimes helps me bake.  She has chores, earns an allowance, and is pretty independent in many ways around the house.

She has eaten in restaurants almost from birth 🙂 She was taught to behave and was disciplined when needed.  She behaved better than most kids her age when in restaurants as a baby and toddler.  Although sassy, she is  kind, thoughtful, and very  appreciative.  She was taught to be this way in the same way her two siblings were.

How will our other two children be affected?  Will they still be able to do extra curricular activities?

I worried how our other two children would be affected.  Our oldest had just turned 7 and was starting gymnastics. They both played t-ball.   I wondered if Jessie would have health concerns or other factors that would restrict our family activities.

Our other children have been affected, but mostly in positive ways.

Jessie had physical, occupational and speech therapies in the first few years of her life. That was a challenge for me as a mom of 3 and homeschooling.  But, it helped Jessie, we made it through, and it wasn’t an issue for my other kids at all. They enjoyed the therapists that came to our home at first. Sometimes they were interested and helpful; other times they went off to play.

Before Jessie’s heart surgery, we were under some stress trying to help Jessie gain weight.  This did feel like a stressful time in some ways for all of us, but lasted a short time.  The other more minor health concerns didn’t drastically affect our other children.  We did have to make some trips for check ups a few hours away, but they kinda enjoyed the day trips. Parents, not so much, but the kids just watched videos and got to eat out.

Because of their exposure to all the therapies Jessie had, our oldest daughter later decided to become a PTA (Physical Therapist Assistant). She decided not to work in pediatrics; but she loves her job as a PTA. This is a direct result of the positive impact she saw the therapists have on her sister and our family.

Our older two kids weren’t restricted in participating in any of their activities because of Jessie having Down syndrome.  Being the third kid, when Jessie was little she was plopped in a stroller and drug everywhere we needed to go.  T-ball, softball, baseball, dance, gymnastics, football, soccer…they did it all and she was along for the ride.  Once she was older she was cheering for them.  When she was old enough to participate in gymnastics and then Miracle League baseball and  Special Olympics they were cheering for her.

How our other kids were affected in positive ways:

Our kids at a young age were around not just Jessie, but other kids with Down syndrome and other disabilities.  They learned that different isn’t bad, it’s just different.  They saw Jessie as their dearly loved baby sister.  They had anticipated her birth and loved her before she was born.  She needed extra help sometimes and they were happy to give it. With or without a disability, that’s what you do for your sister.

They volunteered with Miracle League and helped with me with mailings for our Down syndrome group or whatever was needed.  They learned to serve others through these activities and other volunteer projects that weren’t disability related.  It was all good for them.

Yes, there were times it was a little hard for them.  In the end, even those hard things served them well.  God can use all things for our good and will for those who belong to him.

Those two kids that were 7 and 5 when Jessie was born are now 23 and 21.  Having a sister with Down syndrome helped them to become kind, compassionate, and patient.

We all thank God for Jessie and can’t imagine our family any other way.

If you have a baby with Down syndrome, you will one day encourage another family.  Your specific experiences will be different.  The health concerns or level of difficulty might not be the same.  But one day you’ll look back and won’t be able to imagine that your life had gone any other way.  And then you’ll tell some other mama that she can have HOPE.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day, ya’ll.  Wear some crazy socks. High five or hug someone with Down syndrome.  Hug a mama whose kid has Down syndrome.

This year,  World Down Syndrome Day coincides with our Special Olympic Track and Field Day, so we will be hollerin’ like a bunch of lunatics at our kids and friends that are racing.  Good times.

Till next week friends,

Josette

PS: If you want more info about Down syndrome there’s a lot of good stuff to be found on the NDSS (National Down Syndrome Society) website and NDSC (National Down Syndrome Congress).

Mamas, Look Forward to the Joy of Parenting Adult Children

Us mamas, when our kids are young we often have this dread of them growing up.  We try to savor every moment, cause we’ve been told (and it’s true!) we’ll blink and our kids will be grown.  (I’m not there yet with my kid with Down syndrome, so I’m talking about my other 2 kids in this post.)

We know that’s going to be so hard for us, so throughout our kids’ childhoods, there are bittersweet moments ripe with that knowledge.    And it’s true too, it IS hard when our kids grow up.  The transition period when a child leaves home is just hard.

BUT,  I’m here to tell you that are is also great joy to look forward to when your kids grow up!

Mama still in the trenches, ponder for a moment how sweet it will be if one day you get to enjoy a sweet friendship with your adult children.  And, it’s different with each kid, but hopefully you’ll have some shared interests.

You’ve spent many years putting their needs ahead of yours.  As an adult, they now have a better appreciation for what you’ve been up to all these years.

I remember talking to a friend a couple of years back when Jordan was engaged.  At the time, this friend had a married daughter and one grandchild.  She assured me that there were sweet times ahead, that after an adjustment period I had good things to look forward to.  She wasn’t wrong; and I’m here to encourage you as she did me.

Jay, me, Evan, Jordan, her husband, Josh and our little punkin’ Jessie is in the middle front.

When our kids are little, a lot of our time together is caretaking or doing things they find enjoyable.  I enjoyed my kids more and more as they got older because they enjoyed more of the things that I did.

Can I just say that I mostly didn’t like kid movies, even some of the Disney ones?  It was sometimes torture, thinking of all the things I needed to do as I sat between them watching a movie.  As my kids got older I have really liked that we could enjoy the same tv shows and movies.

I LOVE that I can sit and talk with my adult children, have coffee outside with them, float leisurely in the pool talking or not (just relaxing, no antics required!), take a walk with them, and not have to spank or threaten anyone while eating dinner out.  Go shopping for clothes (no whining) or plant shopping.  You know, the things you like to do with your friends.

Those people you gave yourself up for daily, teaching and training and taking care of for years have turned out to be pretty good company.

Recently, I was sitting watching tv and suddenly got a wild hair to jump up and run to a local nursery. I called my daughter spontaneously to see if she would want to join me. I had just finished watching a movie and in the movie there was a scene with a pretty window and plants in it that just set me off.  I had known I wanted to go soon and that scene made me decide it needed to be today.  Does that ever happen to you?

I knew she too had been wanting to find some plants for her front yard and we had said  that we should go together soon.  I love that she’s getting to be more and more like her mama in this way.  Gives me hope we’ll be able to enjoy this together for a long time to come.

Before I could leave, I had to clean up a Bad Buddy (our rambunctious and curious kitten) mess.  Buddy has reached a new level of skill and destruction.  He’s never gotten on the mantle before, but I saw him, and couldn’t get there quickly enough before he knocked off a pretty white glass candle off the mantle.  This required me to chase him around the room a good minute with the spray bottle hoping it would deter him from thinking the mantle was a good idea.

We arrived at the nursery with two hours before closing time and we stayed till the last minute.  We enjoyed leisurely looking, sometimes together, sometimes separately.  I was able to tell Jordan about some of the plants I knew about.  There was a fella working there who was extremely knowledgeable about shrubs, fruit trees, and organic gardening.   You name it, he knew about it.  He was a walking almanac! We had questions and he had answers, for about an hour 🙂

It was such a relaxing time, being with one of my favorite people doing one of my favorite things. There’s not much I enjoy more than a spring day leisurely lolligagging at a nursery.

Later that same day the kids had asked us to all eat dinner together.  It had been a few weeks since Jay’s birthday.  He wasn’t suspicious since his birthday had passed.  Evan and Jordan had been scheming together for weeks.  They had bought their dad a gun they knew he wanted, and Evan wanted to present it to him in the same place and in the same way he had been given his first hatchet on his 12th birthday.

We had been eating dinner at Things and Wings, (somewhere we went to eat a lot) and Daddy had slid the hatchet (had a leather cover on the blade) under the edge of Evan’s leg.  It took a minute before he felt it and looked down.  He was thrilled with the gift and the fun way we surprised him.

Now, some 9 years later we sat squished, 6 of us in a large booth.  It took some sneaky work getting Jay to go along with us all in the crowded booth. It wouldn’t work if we sat at a table.  I pictured the gun slipping off the chair and folks freaking out.  Evan sat between Jay and me and slowly slid the gun under the edge of Jay’s leg so he would reach down.  Jay was really surprised and excited and of course said the kids shouldn’t have spent that much money.

It was really sweet that, obviously, the hatchet surprise was something Evan thought back fondly on since he wanted to create the same experience for his dad.  It was awfully sweet too that the kids bought something for Jay that he wouldn’t buy for himself, at least not anytime soon.

Some weekends when Evan is home, although he sleeps here we might not see him much.  This Sunday, Evan was around the house most of the day and preparing for his work week.  He grilled enough chicken to take for his lunch for several days and studied for the paper portion of a crane test (learning to operate a crane).

I had asked if he wanted to watch a movie and he had said he didn’t really have time.  I decided to put the movie on anyway while I folded laundry and matched socks.  He couldn’t help it, he got interested in it too.  Maybe that’s cause the movie had Jennifer Anniston in it 🙂  The movie was Mother’s Day, and although it is a chick flick we had a good time laughing together watching it.

This particular weekend I had time individually with each of my adult kids and we had time together as a family. That isn’t something that happens all the time and the joy of the weekend inspired this post to encourage those of you that aren’t there yet.

It IS hard when I watch Evan drive out of the driveway after a weekend at home.  Often,  I’ve been fine all week and then my heart aches fresh when he pulls out. When he knows I need it, he lets me have the long hugs and extra kisses.

Sometimes it’s still the same when I hug Jordan at the end of a good time together and we go to separate homes.  I am enjoying more than words can express though how fun it is to have a daughter for a friend.

There are, of course, no guarantees with parenting.  There is no certainty it will end up this way.  There’s a good chance though, after all those years of parenting you’ll get the sweet gift of enjoying their friendship as adults.  It’s the best! Look forward to it.

Till next week,

Josette