Friday, August 30, 2013

breathing in grace

Recently another pastor's wife emailed me with some heartfelt questions about parenting, life, and the ministry. Her questions reflected the same ones I've had over the years, ones I think so many of us moms share.

How do you balance the needs of the church and your family's needs?  I know that I will never be enough for everyone, only Christ can be, but I feel so much pressure... that I want to crawl in a corner and hide.  Do you ever feel that way or have you found a way to see through the pressure ?

I feel this mama's struggle. I am so familiar with it, I could have written those questions myself on any given day over the course of my marriage.

I think the biggest thing I've wrestled with since getting married, becoming a mom, and entering the ministry, is finding a balance.

I don't know about you, but I have struggled on and off for years with wanting to be the best at everything that I could possibly be....and feeling like I'm falling short. Pathetically short. At everything. I'm like a circus clown, juggling way too many balls in the air, and they are flying everywhere. Every now and then I'll get two or three going at once - but it only lasts a second or two - and those few seconds can't even add up to a minute at the end of the day.

Do you ever feel like this ?

Here's an example of an ordinary day at the Rice Ranch...

I get up early enough in the morning to have some alone time with Jesus. I have time to pray, read my Bible, and gather my thoughts before life rushes in. I'm feeling ready to take on the day when my kids wake up.

This feeling of contentment and I-can-handle-anything lasts oh, about five minutes. Because as we gather for breakfast, child A wakes up in a grumpy mood and does not want what's on the menu this morning : eggs and potatoes and fruit. He wants cereal and milk, but we're trying to get away from processed stuff and switch to more whole foods... only child A does not give a hoot. Meanwhile, child B is crying because child C sat on his barstool when he ran to find the binkie for child D. To this day I can't figure out how my children determine which barstool/spoon/blanket/pencil/younameit is theirs, but I can guarantee you this much: it's the one they don't have.

So as I'm stirring eggs and reminding children A, B and C about the proverb written on our dry erase board -  people with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness - my husband calls and reminds me that child E (who is with him) is going to get his driver's permit today. And he needs his birth certificate, do I know where it is ? As I ponder this great mystery (because it is one) child F informs me that our 15 year old dog just peed in the corner of the living room because child G let her out of the laundry room and didn't take her outside. I tell Sam that I will call him back in a few minutes...because I haven't added any eggs to my pan yet and it is now smoking furiously on the stove top. 

And just about this time, child H decides she doesn't want her bowl of cheerios anymore (she hasn't gotten on the whole foods bandwagon just yet) so she carefully moves them to the counter next to her high chair. Which results in almond milk splattered all over the floor and cabinets, and now child B is slipping across the linoleum on his way to let the dog out...who is also slipping and slurping along the way.

And that was just the first half hour after my morning devotions.

For the next twelve hours I will : try to make sure six children get their school lessons done for the day, drive one child to basketball practice and another to work, squeeze some (homemade) speech therapy in for Lily, run to the store for some missing dinner ingredients, clean the sheets on our bed because Hayden threw up in the middle of the night, call someone in church who is getting ready to have her baby and make sure she's okay, find the music for one of the new worship songs we want to do at church because I feel like our song service needs some life infused into it, comfort a teenager who feels like he isn't being understood, apply medicine to a child who sliced his toe while playing outside, break up several more arguments about whose turn it is to get on the computer, call the dentist to schedule teeth cleaning appointments for everybody, and do several loads of laundry. And there's also lunch, dinner, a quick date for ice cream with Sam and grading some school reports to squeeze in before bedtime. And if it's a church night, add all the preparation for getting eight children there into the mix, and put a song list together, and you have one. very. busy. day.

So yes - sometimes I feel overwhelmed.

And I so very desperately want to do it all - all of this parenting and being a wife and being a pastor's wife and being a friend - with grace and with a smile on my face, but truthfully sometimes I just really don't.

So what's a mom to do ? I have to - absolutely have to - find a balance.

What that means in practical terms is this: I am going to drop some balls. 

It is inevitable.

I have to realize this and not continually beat myself up about it, and pray for God's grace on it all. I have to ask Him to fill in the cracks, so to speak. And there are a LOT of cracks in my life. I used to think that being the best mom meant there were no cracks - no dropped balls, no spilt milk, whatever analogy you want to use for - no mistakes. But at this stage in my life I have a deep and profound appreciation for ...


I need more of it every day.

The longer I'm a Christian the more I realize how very far I fall short, and how very much I need God's daily grace poured out on my life.

This means so much...

It means when all hell is breaking loose in the kitchen I can stop everything and tell the kids I need us to work together as a family. It might mean asking my husband to come in for five minutes when he drops our boys off after morning prayer to have a quick family that involves instruction and encouragement and prayer for our day. 

It means we take the time for the absolutely critical things : like saying I'm sorry, and talking about what it means to be a Christian in the home and not just at church. 

This also means I need to carve out just a little bit of time for myself. It's just like those instructions you get on an airplane : put your own oxygen mask on first and then you can help your small children. 

Mama can't help anyone breathe if she's lying on the floor gasping for breath, right ? 

So every now and then, when I feel like I'm suffocating, I must - read MUST - get a break. Whether that means taking the baby in the stroller and going for a quick walk by myself, or running out for a coffee/tea date with Sam... or even just something as simple as telling my children it is "quiet time for one hour" - which means everyone goes to their room with a book while Mama listens to classical music by herself downstairs. Whatever my source of oxygen, I must find it. 

Because when I'm breathing better I can think a lot more clearly, can't you ?

When I'm breathing better I can think clearly enough to realize that there really is no reason to cry over spilt milk...

When I'm breathing better I can make better decisions, like delegating some responsibilities (like new worship songs!) out to wiling people... 

When I'm breathing better - breathing in grace - I can think rationally. Instead of worrying that our church isn't growing because I don't make it on time to prayer every service. Or letting my mind be consumed with what is or isn't happening in our ministry. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are good churches. And I bet the guy leading the city building project back then didn't have a perfect wife either. Heck, she probably even burned a few eggs while she was cooking his breakfast once or twice.  

If I'm going to survive this wife/mom/pastor's-wife/friend/sister/taxi-driver/teacher/woman thing.....I have to have grace.

That's the bottom line. 

Grace from Heaven, grace for others, grace for myself. I have to let it get ahold of my way of thinking, let it permeate everything I do.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Motherhood: the ultimate blessing

It's Monday night and the house is quiet.

Well, I take that back - it's quiet except for Hayden, who is squirming and complaining on my lap. He's been in a grouchy mood all day, and I think I've nursed him 49 times. Possibly less, but it doesn't feel like it. Lily is chattering in the background too - covering her doll with a maroon plastic pasta strainer and singing "wash, wash, wash." (Give that girl an A+ for creativity, because I promise she isn't reenacting anything she's seen here before.)

But it's more quiet here than usual, because the rest of my kids are dispersed throughout our town tonight....some are playing football in a park with their older brother, a few are off on an ice cream date with Daddy, and Mackenzie is staying the night with a friend from work whose husband is out of town.

So I'm here at the computer with a fussy baby on my lap, and a mountain of weekend laundry to do (deja vu??) and there is a thought that has been running through my head all day...

Motherhood is the ultimate blessing.

I read a few things online this weekend that contradicted that statement, some sentiments that ran cross-grain to that truth, and it set the wheels in motion for this post.

I don't want to create drama on my sweet little bloggy, because I feel like there is enough drama in this world, don't you? Social media, talk radio, talk shows- they all almost lend themselves to drama. Because everybody is entitled to their own opinion in this day and age, dontcha know?

So without linking to the places where motherhood was given a bad rap, and maybe stirring up the pot as a result, I just want to say a few things that I believe to be true. And if this happens to step on any toes as a result, that was not my intention.

But this is my blog, and as a mom to eleven, I do feel like I have a little room to speak. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I am...  a mother. And I've been one for over 25 years.

And as a mother, I would just like to say...

...that motherhood is the ultimate blessing.

It is an honor to be a mom. It is a privilege.

There are women who would give anything to have what I have. Anything. I have loved ones and friends who desperately want to have children but are unable to do so. And before anyone is quick to offer the solution of adoption, let me just say that I have pretty good "second hand" experience in that area. Adoption is almost never quick, and it is never easy. Having watched my own daughter-in-law struggle with infertility, and knowing she will never be able to conceive a child, has given me a profound appreciation for the gift that I once took so lightly.

But moving beyond that ability to conceive and carry children, what I really want to address is what motherhood means on a day to day basis.

I'm talking brass tacks here: changing diapers, doing laundry, serving breakfast, doing dishes, cleaning up after messes made - the list is endless.

And even beyond that, motherhood is the job - yes, the privilege - of shaping little hearts and minds.

And THAT is what I mean when I say that motherhood is the ultimate blessing.

I once read that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

That thought both inspires and terrifies me.

What I put into my children, good or bad, can influence a generation. The decisions that I make on a day to day basis can have effect on lives - and other lives - for years to come. I have in my power, quite literally, the ability to change the future. Every single day I'm given the opportunity to pass on my values, to infuse what I believe into my children, to impart in them a desire to do great things with their lives: to be compassionate, to be kind and loving, to be gracious, to be selfless, to serve others, to love God.

And I take that role very seriously.

Do I have moments...sometimes days...when I feel like all hell is breaking loose here?


Does it seem that sometimes the universe - at least my little universe at the Rice Ranch - is diametrically opposed to every good thing I'm trying to accomplish as a mother?

Without a doubt.

In fact, I can honestly say that most days feel like that.

Because being a good mother is a fight.

And for the most part it is a fight against self.

Because - truth be told - I really like myself.

I would rather not have to wake up in the middle of the night to walk the floors with a crying infant.

I would rather not break up an argument over which cereal bowl belongs to which child - first thing in the morning.

I would rather not have to remind my teenager - AGAIN - that getting on the computer should never happen without first asking permission.

I would like to be able to go to the bathroom - just once - without someone knocking on the door to tell me that so-and-so won't give them their pencil.

I would love to go through the day without having to stop everything many, many, many times to discuss what our house rules are. (The same house rules we've had since time immemorial do not get on the computer without asking.)

And myself is the one who has to be the enforcer of all these rules. (And yes, I realize I just used myself as a subject, which is a big grammar no-no.)

As a mother, my job can best be described as a constant - and I do mean constant - dying to self.

Which is why it is the ultimate blessing.

Motherhood is the job of shaping little hearts and minds, and in the process it is shaping me. It is forcing me - if I let it - to be shaped and molded into a better person. One who is patient and kind and selfless. One who lowers her voice when she feels like raising it. One who bites her tongue when she feels like snapping back. One who demonstrates to her children who she wants them to be by the way she speaks, by the tone of voice she uses, by the words she chooses.

Because more than anyone in this world (except for God and their dad) I have the power to influence my children. Beyond what the media or teachers or political leaders or friends can influence them with- I have the power to help my children be great.

That's a great burden, and it's also a wonderful blessing.

The ultimate blessing.

And just as I was finishing typing those words, Hayden decided he was ready for his 50th meal of the day. So I'll end my thoughts with these ancient words of truth :

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. 5How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalms 127:3-5

Saturday, August 24, 2013

pink converse and quirky prayers

Good morning. 

It's Saturday, and thus far it has been just that - a good morning.

This is in part because I decided to do something a little daughter-in-love and I were going to yard sales this morning, and one by one each of my children asked if they could join us. And how do you say yes to one and no to another ?

Answer: I can't. 

Some days I tell one child it's a date just between us - a trip for frozen yogurt or to the grocery store. Today wasn't one of those.

So we drove around town in our fifteen passenger van, scoring all kinds of goodies: a tiny pair of pink converse for Lily being at the top of that list.

I had been looking all week for a pair on eBay, because I'm cheap  frugal like that. And the very first yard sale I went to this morning had these little beauties in Lily's size - for three bucks. Now some people would say that's just a coincidence...and maybe it is. But I really did pray about finding Lily a little pair of pink converse earlier this week. So maybe it was a coincidence, or maybe God delights in showing up in the little details of life just to show us He's listening. And He cares about quirky little prayers just as much as He cares about the big ones.

Like this...

On Wednesday Baby K's birth father relinquished his rights in court. Meaning our grandson is now legally free to be adopted by my son Jason and his wife Naomi. And if you haven't been following their journey for two years, I'll put it in a nutshell for you : this was a complete miracle of God. My kids brought Baby K home from the hospital, and they are the only parents he has ever known. They became foster parents several years ago, and sometimes that means having your heart ripped out. We were facing that situation with Baby K...but God. Don't you love those two little words?

But God....

God intervened and moved on hearts and Baby K is going to officially be part of the Rice family before Christmas. We are so grateful. So very grateful. Thank you for every single prayer lifted up on his behalf. We know there was an army of prayer warriors contending for a miracle, and we got one on Wednesday. Bless you.

And speaking of blessings..

He's three months old, and somehow I can't imagine life without him. I always say this, but how is it that those last three months of pregnancy seem like forever. I mean forever. Waiting, planning, dreaming, trying to imagine who that little person growing inside of you will be. And then he arrives, and it's like he was always here. 

How was our family complete before Hayden ?

And just as I was uploading that picture, he decided it was time for his third feeding of the day. Which brings me to another reason why this is a good morning...I get to spend it with the people who make me happiest in life. Doing the things that make me happiest. I have a house to clean, a laundry room full to the brim, and lots of little people who need me. And now we have a pair of pink converse, an antique candlestick and a $5 lightsaber to make us happy.

What more could we ask for ??

Happy Saturday.

Monday, August 19, 2013

monday madness

Today is Monday which means....

a) I'm drowning in weekend laundry (because I rarely do it on Sunday)

b) I have to go grocery shopping. Colossal task for this family.

c) It's 1:30 and I'm still in my pj's because.....

d) I always move more slowly on Mondays.

SO naturally, rather than tackling my laundry and grocery shopping, I decided to....

a) download a new app on my phone called flipagram and make a little collage (posted below)

b) text several friends complaining about how I loathe grocery shopping and have no inspiration for dinners

c) stay in my pj's to save on laundry- I'll just put them on again in a few hours, why change ?

d) drink another cup of tea and eat a few pieces of chocolate. You don't understand. I had to.

Only I'm thinking my family really needs to eat this week, and my husband gets upset when he doesn't have clean chonies (that's underwear for all you gringos), and also I don't want to scare everyone at Trader Joe's and Winco by parading around in my pj's. So I should probably get dressed and get moving.

But only after I share a little sneak preview of our weekend (more photos -- and words !! -- to come when Mackenzie gets back from the east coast with all the pictures she took on her nice camera)...

guess who ????

can't wait to share more pics !!

And here are a few photos on my phone that I'm adding to this post in the spirit of moving towards a family blog...

Jonathan and friend

grainy phone pic of the three "little" middle kids, Noah, Jack and Abigail. Daddy took them to Applebees after church last night.

look at this little smile- Hayden at three months...have you ever seen anything cuter ?!?!

Here's the app I was talking about - it's called flipagram and you can get it on your allows you to put your instagram pictures in a quick little video. You can add a song from your itunes list as well - lots of fun !

And here is the Lilybird with her morning chant for cheerios...adding her favorite word in at the end - GOSH !! NO GOSH !!!

One more thing - a big THANK YOU for all the sweet comments on my last post- so glad y'all are sticking with us at the Rice Ranch !

Happy Monday :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

moving forward

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Down syndrome and the role it plays in our family.

And I've also been thinking about my blogs, Notes From Home, and A Perfect Lily.

As many of you already know, this blog was started as a journal to my unborn baby, when I had a level II ultrasound and some markers for Ds showed up. I wanted a way to keep our relatives and friends updated on our baby without making lots of emotional phone calls throughout my pregnancy. I have always kept journals during my pregnancies, so it was natural for me to do the same with Lily...I just did it online with her rather than on paper. Those months of journaling were so helpful to me - I've always been able to process things more easily through writing.

 When Lily was born and we found out that she did in fact have Down syndrome, this blog was even more beneficial to me personally. I needed a place to sort through my feelings, and it helped me connect with other Ds mamas. My blog about Lily, along with the grace of God, is what got me through those tumultuous months following her diagnosis.

About ten months after Lily's birth I discovered Reece's Rainbow, an organization dedicated to raising grant funds for children with Down syndrome in other nations who are left in orphanages. Connecting with families who not only accepted Down syndrome, but embraced it - to the extent that they sought out children with Ds to adopt - was a pivotal point for me in dealing with our own child's diagnosis. It helped me to recognize more fully the gift we'd been given in Lily. These abandoned children, and the heroic families who rescued them, tugged at my heart in such a profound way...I knew I had to do something to help them.

Through Lily's blog, multiplied thousands of dollars were raised to aid in the rescue of orphans with Down the tune of over $100,000. Tomorrow I'm going to have the honor of meeting one of the first children I advocated for, and I can't wait to share pictures with you about that experience. I know already that it's going to go down as one of the highlights of my life, and I am so grateful that God gave me my daughter and led me to this moment.

As Lily has grown older, Down syndrome seems to have taken a back seat to events in our family, most especially the birth of this little one in May...

It's not that we don't ever think about what it means to have a child with special needs, but as she is developing and learning and growing, things have sort of evened out as far as emotions and issues regarding her extra chromosome. I don't struggle much with what Down syndrome means to her anymore. Sure there are issues that come up - and I have a feeling those issues might increase as she enters the school age years. And I know I have not experienced everything the special needs journey has in store for me...but right now Lily is just a typical little girl who just has some extra challenges as far as learning goes.

I know that many of my fellow Ds mamas have faced health issues, sometimes life threatening health issues, because of that "magical" extra little chromosome. Thus far, the most we've experienced with Lily was an outpatient trip to the hospital for ear tubes. Lily never had any heart issues (other than a prenatal scare about a defect that either resolved itself or was healed by God) and other than spending her first week of life in the NICU, she has been extremely healthy. In fact, she has been healthier than all of my children to date...I think I can count on one hand the times she's had a fever or an illness requiring a doctor visit.

So here is my quandary.

I want to keep Lily's blog going, because I receive emails on a regular basis from people who love her blog and have been helped by it. Not a week goes by that I don't connect with a new mom or even more experienced mom who tells me she enjoyed reading a certain post about Down syndrome, or was encouraged by something we went through.

I also have friends and strangers tell me they sent a link to Lily's blog to an expectant mama or friend - so I love that we can be a resource for those people.

I know too that there will be things I want to blog about as Lily gets older, and I really love having a place to sort through my feelings about issues related to Down syndrome.

I'm sure there will be other Down Syndrome topics in the media I'd like to address, and there are some wonderful causes and issues I'd like to help fundraise for (including but not limited to Reece's Rainbow.)

But I also have a family...a large family ! ... and so much of who Lily is, is wrapped up in who they are. Who we are. It's hard now for me to separate Lily's story from ours, because she is such an integral part of our family, and as I said above- Down syndrome has taken a back seat to things in our day to day lives.

I do have a family blog, but honestly it's hard to maintain two blogs (okay, sometimes it's hard to maintain ONE blog !) and honestly I don't have the readership there that I do here. (Sorry, little family bloggy- you're just not as popular;) )

So what I would like to do is continue updating Lily's blog - without hesitating to include our family's photos and stories - and address the Ds issues as they come up.

Meaning, this blog will look a little bit more like a family blog than a blog specifically related to special needs. I probably will lean more towards addressing issues regarding Ds because I know it is helpful, and also because I'm still an English high school student at heart -  I like to keep my supporting paragraphs lined up with my topic sentence ...which in this case is A Perfect Lily :)

I guess what I'm trying to say is - I hope you'll stay with me for the journey. I hope that if you come here expecting to see pictures of Lily and topics related to Ds, and instead you read a post about Hayden or Caleb or Abigail or any of our eleven children, with some adorable photos thrown won't boycott.

I promise that if you keep coming back you'll read something about therapy or speech or orphans or new research about chromosomes or something that pertains to Down syndrome. That won't change.

What will change is the that my blog will be a little more reflective of what Down syndrome means to us as a plays a part, but a small part of who we are. It doesn't dominate our lives, but it opens us up to a wonderful community of people, who I am so grateful to know.

I'm so honored to be on this journey with you, and so grateful for the gift of my little girl who brought me here...

...a perfect Lily.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

People with Down syndrome are whole

"I just love people with Down syndrome. They are always so happy!"

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that stereotype.

And it isn't a bad stereotype ... I mean, I'm not terribly upset that people have that misconception about my daughter. If there was a stereotype that went something like, "People with Down syndrome are always so rude", I would probably be a little more distressed.

Having said that...I guess the reason the always happy stereotype sometimes rattles me, is that I want people to understand that Lily is a person. She's not a grinning zombie, oblivious to the world around her, happily stumbling through life like Mr. Magoo... she's a whole person.

Meaning she has a whole range of emotions, from irritated to elated, from joyful to ticked, and on any given day we will see the entire gamut of emotions displayed. She has a personality. She has preferences. She loves cheerios and watermelon and snow peas and hamburgers and salad. She hates cucumbers and meat loaf and bananas and any kind of cereal other than plain cheerios. (Try to sneak a bowl of honey nut cheerios in, and she will spit them out and yell "NO WANT IT!". With a vengeance.)

And don't ever, ever come between this girl and her chocolate cake...

She is a person.

She gets grumpy if she hasn't had a nap, she gets mad if her sibling takes her toy away, she cries when her older sister leaves for work, she gets shy around people she doesn't really know, she is whiny when she is hungry, and sometimes she throws a fit when it's time to brush her teeth.

Okay, I lied. She always throws a fit when it's time to brush her teeth.

And she hates it when you tell her not to run in the street.....

Along with all of those other emotions, she does exhibit a wide range of happier feelings as well. And  yes, I would have to admit - I see something in my child with Down syndrome that is perhaps lacking in my other ten kids.

She forgives easily - she never holds a grudge. We can coax her out of a bad mood quite easily by offering to read her a story or having a tickle session her a cookie. She gets over things more quickly than my other children, she goes with the flow more readily, and she rarely lashes out in anger physically. There seems to be something in her personality that loves unconditionally...she's only three, but so far she seems to move from a conflict with another child to affection quite smoothly. In fact, she is the most affectionate of all my children, lavishing hugs and kisses on each of us throughout the day. She smiles more than the rest of us, laughs more, enjoys snuggling more than any of my children.

So what am I trying to say?

I think that there is some truth to that stereotype about people with Down syndrome, as far as the capacity to love more, to smile more, and be happier.

But what I hope people see beyond that, is that people with Down syndrome are people just like you and me.

My daughter has a mind of her own, she has the capacity to feel a whole range of emotions, and she is very much her own person... a whole person.

And I want her to be treated that way.

Because we treat people the way we view them, don't we ?

I want people to be respectful of Lily as she grows older, to acknowledge that she has desires of her own and choices that are her own to make, and to speak to her as a whole person. I hope that people ask her questions about how she's doing, ask her what her interests are, show her that they really care about her as a human being, and not a syndrome.

I pray that others view my daughter as just who she is - a complex, unique individual, who perhaps has a greater capacity to experience happiness, but is indeed...

a whole person.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

your words and more

Thank you so much to all who joined in the conversation on my Speech Explosion  post. I love hearing from other moms and dads about what you've experienced, and I love gleaning from what you've learned. I'm copying and pasting the comments here, as they were all excellent...even the one from my bratty brother, who does not have a serious bone in his body. He also loves Lily more than anything, and has one of the coolest perspectives on Down syndrome of anyone I know. For someone who isn't a parent of a child with special needs, he gets it. (Just a little shout out to my awesome bro here.)

And speaking of awesome family members- my sister has wanted to adopt a baby with Down syndrome from the moment she witnessed Lily's birth. So if you ever run into someone receiving a prenatal diagnosis for Down syndrome who says, "I just can't handle this".... let me know.

Back to speech...

Yesterday a friend sent me a video of her daughter - who is the exact same age as Lily - reading letters out loud from flashcards. There were no pictures on the cards, only letters - and she was nailing them. Again, she's Lily's age (three and a half) and she has Down syndrome. Her mom recommended getting Lily this app for the iPad or iPhone and I immediately got it for both...

It's called Endless Alphabet and Lily LOVED it immediately.  She instantly figured out how to manipulate the letters and is repeating all the sounds. My older children all learned to read using a similar online reading program, but this one is fantastic because a young child can use it with their fingers, as opposed to a mouse. (Although Lily is pretty good at her mouse skills as well !) I am so excited to see Lily learn her letters and sounds this way - I'll post a video soon of her learning.

Here are your comments from last week - I would also love it if you could leave some comments today telling me what apps you and your child enjoy for learning. Share away, and I'll post your answers in a follow up post !

1 – 30 of 30
Blogger Race Bannon said...
If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have taught my kids to talk, they NEVER stop! Oh, and they don't have Down Syndrome. But still....
August 7, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Blogger Megan Landmeier said...
Ellie is a pretty early talker - almost 2.5 and a TON of single words, a few two word phrases. Part of it is her amazing SLP. Part of it is that she was a late walker (28ish months) so she had to ask for stuff to get it. And part of it is genetics - her mama never shuts up.

Right now we're working on the answering questions. When Ellie DOES answer one, I don't want her to. "What do you want for breakfast?" "CAKE!" Seriously!?!?!?
August 8, 2013 at 2:21 AM
Blogger cathy said...
I am no expert with this, HOWEVER,
1.she sounds adorable
2.I love the facial expressions--she KNOWS what she is saying
3. She is speaking clearly
God bless

August 8, 2013 at 3:58 AM
Blogger ckbrylliant said...
I'd have to say for us, Bridgie being around her siblings all summer has helped the most with her speech and ability to put words together. However, she now knows burp and fart and how to use them correctly. She has also learned to make a farting noise on her arm too. I guess you take the good and you take the bad. She is 3 1/2 with Ds.
August 8, 2013 at 5:05 AM
Blogger Amy said...
Her facial expressions were priceless with each word- you can tell she's really watching those sweet siblings of hers :). Although Morgan doesn't have ds, speech has been a difficult part of our journey - so I celebrate along with you, knowing how joyous it is when God gives our babies those abilities that many take for granted :). Love y'all's family!
August 8, 2013 at 5:08 AM
Blogger Stephanie Johnson said...
She is beyond precious! At what age did she start speech therapy?

My son is nine months old, and I have tried for months to get him started with speech. We did one evaluation a couple months ago, but we're still waiting. Not sure if it's an insurance thing or if the clinic doesn't want to take him... I'm getting the runaround.

I asked our state's early intervention program about speech, and they told me my son is "too young".

We did a private-pay consult with a SLP who specializes in oral-motor development. She is a day's drive away from us, though, so we're left on our own to implement the things she taught us. I figure anything we can do, though, is better than nothing!
August 8, 2013 at 5:59 AM
Blogger Judee Albert said...
Starbucks???!!! ROTFL!!!
August 8, 2013 at 6:32 AM
Blogger Jaime Peña Álvarez said...
Hi Patty :) Congratulations for Lily's speech!!

My 18 months old Ds daughter says things like "mamama" "papapa" "tatata", but she knows perfectly who is mama and who is papa :) In addition of that, my daughter Emilia yells for expressing her happiness, anger, hunger, etc, and she can recognize certain songs, yelling in response. I hope she could learn to talk as soon as possible, but with patience C:

There is a photo of my family

Blessings for all your family!!
August 8, 2013 at 6:46 AM
Blogger lovemy3 said...
I needed to see this today. Some days speech is so frustrating with Hailey and other days it seems to flow freely. I just like seeing there is a light at the end of the tunnel :-) I feel like we are on the "verge" :-) Way to go Lily!
August 8, 2013 at 6:56 AM
Blogger Liz/happymommy said...
She is too sweet and I just love her little voice! So happy for her that she is able to communicate more, I bet that feels so great to her as well to have you be able to understand her better!!
August 8, 2013 at 7:08 AM
Blogger Heather said...
Can't wait to see the comments on this. Daniel is 2 and does not really talk. He does have around 30-40 signs. He makes lots of noise - mostly animal noises - and a couple of sounds that we know have meaning. That's it. I want more than anything to hear him speak.
August 8, 2013 at 7:16 AM
OpenID babypelly said...
Abby has had a bunch of words for about a year now but she started REALLY talking in May, when she moved up to the preschool room at daycare. It was literally an overnight change in her and her speech has just taken off since. I am continually floored by the things she comes out with!
Thats not to say her speech is very clear - I can understand her a lot better than most others. This is where speech therapy has been most beneficial for her.
She turned 3 in June.
August 8, 2013 at 7:23 AM
Blogger Crystal Kupper said...
Love the nose scrunch!
August 8, 2013 at 8:20 AM
Blogger Mary said...
Mine did't have DS, but third child had major speech delays, no real words until after three, and then mostly only vowel sounds. Therapy to add in consonants, finally done by six, mostly because he didn't see the point: he'd say what he had to say, and that was it, whether we understood or not. Thankfully his older sister usually knew what he wanted, but that probably didn't help his speech progress. :)
At 14, he still doesn't talk much, because of the rest of us talking so much and has so much going on in his head. I was so happy when he volunteered to recite a part of Shakespeare's Caesar at a homeschool function. He did clearly and confidently. (I had worried about therapy lowing esteem, it didn't, it actually was time he enjoyed having for his own). He's come a long way!

I am thrilled with Lily's success! I love the sass she adds "seriously?!" - just adorable. I know that fills your heart.
August 8, 2013 at 8:48 AM
Blogger Elizabeth Clark said...
Thanks for this post! Lily is making such huge progress. But most importantly she is loved and she knows it!! I'm beginning my graduate program in speech therapy next week so I'm excited to hear input from parents in your upcoming speech post.
August 8, 2013 at 9:16 AM
Blogger Cindie Bass said...
oh that video melted my heart. She has so much personality, I wish I could hug and squeeze her forever ;-)
August 8, 2013 at 9:52 AM
Blogger Tommie said...
My daughter doesn't have Down Syndrome but she does have 5p- Syndrome (Cri du Chat) which also very much affects the ability to speak. Old research says that people with this syndrome will never speak. My daughter was three years old when she started babbling and now, at six and a half, she holds conversations with us, tells us long, detailed stories and amazes us every single day.

She started therapies when she was year old (we didn't get her 5p- diagnosis until she was two and a half, at the time we started therapies, we were treating her for global delays and looking for answers.)

She continued st, ot and pt until she aged out of the early intervention program at three. She then started therapies through the local school.

She still receives speech, occupation and physical therapies at school and does well with one on one therapists. We're working on getting her to actually talk to her teachers, though. She gets intimidated when in a group setting.

Lily is simply beautiful and her speech is a glorious thing to behold. Thank you so much for sharing her with us.
August 8, 2013 at 9:53 AM
Blogger The Holt's said...
Patty, I need this post today! Izzy is a babbler- all the time. She says a few words but I can't wait for the day that she speaks to where I can understand her. Sister has a lot to say and I am ready to have some conversations!
August 8, 2013 at 12:51 PM
Blogger nicole said...
What a little cutie pie!
August 8, 2013 at 3:21 PM
Blogger teal915 said...
Kamdyn is 3, and she started mimicking sounds after she got her tubes replaced in February. That has made the biggest difference for her, because she couldn't hear before that. Since then, she has developed a lot of simple, single words, and she says "my mommy" and " my daddy" and "I love mommy/daddy". I think that speech therapy can help given the child tools and give parents ideas in how to encourage speech at home, but I think it mostly depends on the child.
August 8, 2013 at 6:06 PM
Blogger Wendy Talley, Portsmouth, VA said...
That's so exciting. Our son is blossoming in his speech too this past year. Its amazing.
August 8, 2013 at 6:48 PM
Blogger Faith Kopp said...
My Dear Mr. Bannon, the apple does not fall far from the tree. :)

Lily, you keep those words coming. Say GRAMMI I LOVE YOU!!!
August 8, 2013 at 7:15 PM
Blogger kate kopp said...
Love that little voice!! Thumbs up to you and Lily!!
August 8, 2013 at 7:27 PM
Blogger Beckey said...
So fun to see her talking! :) I'll be interested to see the speech therapy post. We just brought our little guy home from Hong Kong, so he'll have to learn the language before he begins talking that we can understand. He's 2 now and I just recently have heard him making the "b" sound when I tell him we're going bye-bye or taking a bath. He understands many of the signs we use, but rarely uses them on his own. I enjoy all of your posts (even the picture ones that you asked about awhile ago!)
August 8, 2013 at 8:05 PM
Blogger cara said...
That is the cutest video I have ever seen!!!!! SO proud of Lily talking like this! She is doing wonderful!!! :)

Very encouraging. Benji has few words. Praying for the day he can speak like this.
August 8, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Blogger EnidV said...
Lily's expressions are priceless! I too love her "Seriously" face - very amusing! I am so looking forward to a verbal explosion with my daughter!
Hope is 27 months and can say Dada (which is sometimes used for "that" instead of Dad), hi, and Hope. She also has a few animal sounds, which she started saying about 2 weeks ago. She does have about 50 signs, so she can communicate what she wants pretty well.
We started speech therapy because of her feeding issues (mostly eating from a spoon correctly) and then drinking (she quit the bottle at 16 months but didn't figure out the open cup until 18 months - after refusing the sippy cup and the straw).
I'm glad we're doing ST - she's given us great ideas on how to work with her on making sounds. And then it's up to us to keep repeating those lessons over and over. Having older siblings is helpful too, I think. Hope has an older brother who loves to tell stories, so I'm hoping that he rubs off on her in that manner - like he has in the past with walking and climbing.
Thanks for sharing your life with Lily with all of us readers. I gain great encouragement from your daily walk. Thank you.
August 8, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Blogger Leslie said...
That video was too, too cute! :) Way to go, Lily!
August 9, 2013 at 1:21 PM
Blogger Ann Ehlert said...
Thanks for posting this! My Ada who has DS is 20 months and I'm always wondering about kids just a little older,. I love this video. She reminds me of my little Ada with her blond hair and cute expressions.
August 9, 2013 at 4:10 PM
Blogger AngelaF said...
Ian is a week younger than Lily and we've been seeing his speech really take off in the last couple of months. He will be getting yet another set of ear tubes later this week, which we hope will allow him to hear more and make some huge strides in speech. Oddly enough, we've noticed he pronounces two-syllable words ("purple", "turtle", "daddy", "yellow") better than some one-syllable words. He hasn't seen a speech therapist, so I'm not sure how much difference it would make. (We've been fighting the school district on this one...)
August 10, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Blogger Jenny said...
Oh that video was too cute!! And yay for Lily! I have noticed Russell is just recently, like in the past week or so, beginning to step it up with his speech. We are finally starting to hear two and three word phrases more and more. It's hugely exciting!!