June 24, 2013


The kids had their last day of school.  (Deep breath.  You can make it through the summer.)  As I took some photos to compare to the first day of school, I was floored at how much they have grown.

Here's the First Day of School:

My buddy wasn't going to school until the afternoon but wanted to wear his sister's backpack anyway.

 Monkey bear was so scared and excited.  Rara was so little.  My buddy still had some baby chub.  Fast forward 180 school days (that's about 500 times I drove to Snow school!).

I really want to have a summer of fun.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and cancelled my buddy's speech therapy for the summer.  He's only made a tiny bit of progress in the last year but more importantly, he hates going.  He refuses to work - only doing maybe 10 minutes of actual work.  He comes out like a bear - throwing things, pushing kids, kicking me.  The usual exit is rara under one arm and a flailing my buddy under the other arm.  It's not fun for any of us.

I will work with him and he will get a few weeks of summer school with speech therapy and then before I know it, it will be the fall.  My buddy will be in full day kindergarten with speech therapy every day.  Hopefully he will start the year fresh and ready to work.

I am still trying to figure out where I can take the kids myself and keep them all safe and happy.  I'm sure we will have some adventures.  I do know that wherever we go, this one will be all smiles:

June 17, 2013


This weekend we had a family birthday party for monkey bear and rara.  I love that monkey bear was excited to share her special day with her little sister.  I think she likes not having all the attention on her.  Monkey bear declared that since rara is now 1, she is no longer her baby sister and now just a sister. 

This one opted for her fanciest party dress and pearls.

Monkey bear is getting so big.  My shy little one is slowly coming out of her shell.  She was so nervous going in to Kindergarten.  She started by only talking to a couple little girls and now she shouts greetings to her classmates.  Monkey bear had a speaking part in the Kindergarten play.  She spoke her lines loudly and proudly (even though after she said she liked doing the play better when no one was watching).  She stepped up to the challenge of Kindergarten and kicked its a**.  I couldn't be more proud.

Little rara decided to take her first steps the day of her birthday party.  She is still a ways away from walking, but soon enough she will be a Toddler and no longer a Baby.

cup cake was a big hit

My buddy did a good job at the party.  He actually sat down and played ball with his cousins and took turns.  He lost his mind a little when he was helping the girls open presents.  In the end, he had enough but instead of a complete meltdown, he took himself into a corner with his trucks, turned his back to the party and quietly vroomed.

I didn't get a video of singing Happy birthday and my only candle blowing out photo is blurry but it was a great day... if only they would stop growing so fast.

June 6, 2013


My little rara is about to be 1.  This last year has been the fastest year I have lived so far.  It's funny, I struggled so much with the decision to have a third child and now I can't picture my family without her.  My husband wanted 4 kids, I wanted 2, so he decided that 3 would be a good compromise.  I was so against it ... until those little words entered - Down syndrome.  It made so much sense to add more support for monkey bear and an extra set of eyes to look out for my buddy as an adult.  Plus I love being a mom and really feel like it was my calling.  I knew I would love a baby and never say, "Well, I guess I shouldn't have had THAT one."

Then I had a miscarriage.  Then I had another.  First Down syndrome, then two miscarriages.  I felt like my body was broken.  I gave up on the idea of a third, sold or donated almost all the baby things (but saved a few meaningful ones) and moved on.  There was no mention of a baby for almost a year.  Then one day, it hit me that I really wanted another baby.  Not for my husband, not for my children, but for me.

I found out I was pregnant the day we returned from a vacation in Disney World.  We told no one for the longest time.  I spent the first 20 weeks on the lookout for signs of miscarriage and the last 20 weeks paranoid that we would be hit with a surprise diagnosis and the joy of this birth would be ripped from me like it was with my buddy.

It was a textbook pregnancy without a problem in sight.

My brother laughed out loud when he saw me this big.

The only problem was little rara did not want to come into this world... or rather she wanted to enter this world on exactly the right day.  When monkey bear was born, we knew her name regardless of the gender.  At that time we also came up with a perfect girl name - the name of the island where my father was born.  We saved it in our back pockets with hope that we would be able to use it some day. 

My doctor decided that they would induce one week after my due date if I didn't go into labor before then.  It just so happened that one week from my due date was the anniversary of the day my dad came to America.  How perfect.  Little rara did her part and stayed put.

I really was looking forward to giving birth one more time.  It is such an amazing moment where the life you created is suddenly in the world.  There is nothing else like it.

one of my all time favorite pictures

I worried so much about having a third and debated it nonstop with myself.  I wasn't sure if I could handle it and if it was the right choice for my family.  Ultimately, adding little rara to our family is the best decision I ever made.  She makes our family feel complete and we all love her in our own way.

June 2, 2013

the beach

We enjoyed a warm day at the beach.  There is a fabulous beach that we gain access to because my buddy has Down syndrome.  It is free and has some necessary beach amenities along with fewer people.  Both my husband and I have on and off reservations about taking advantage of the beach and other things like the special pass at Disney World.

It feels like - no really, we are fine... we don't need your hand out.  I'll admit - I LOVE bypassing all the lines at Disney and I will never go without my buddy in tow.  I like a beach that isn't jam packed with people and has an actual bathroom.

But then I think about the reality of life with my buddy.  There is no way we could have ever brought him to Disney without that pass.  I like that he can totally melt down when it is time to leave the beach and no one looks twice at us.  The reality is that life with my buddy isn't always easy.  Every aspect of our day is a little more of a challenge.  But, of course, there is that unbridled joy.

Who doesn't love a game of chase the wave?

And this little one.  Man does she love doing new things.  She didn't complain even once at the beach.  I could just stare at her in that little bathing suit all day.

She loved every time the waves hit her feet.

I read things about raising a child with special needs and how hard it can be.  I think to myself - it's not all that hard.  I've got everything under control.  Then I think about the therapy, all the doctors appointments, the PPTs, the special chair, how the house is rearranged so it is safe for him, the hours I spend on my knee looking him in the eye trying to get him to listen to me and follow directions and I realize that no one without a special needs child will really understand.  It really is different.  It adds a whole new level to the challenge of parenting.  Much like the beach is exhausting, so is being a mom of a child with special needs.  If only I could nap in the car on the way home...