Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bye, Buddy

Buddy the Elf showed up in our house for the first time this holiday season.  He really didn't cause a lot of trouble, not like some of the other Elves we've heard about....until the final countdown to Christmas.  With 7 days remaing until Christmas, Buddy decided to spice things up and go out with a bang. 
Buddy toilet papered our Christmas tree!

Buddy added a few touches to some of our photos.

Buddy reading a nice story about Barney to some of Jayden's pez.

Barricading Jayden in her room with some of Sophia's blocks.
Ziplining his way down to the playroom.... destroy it!

Buddy turned our milk GREEN.

Buddy took all of our ornaments off of our tree.

Hang on Captain America!
Even though Buddy caused some mischief his last week with us, we still really enjoyed having him here and are looking forward to his return back from the North Pole after Thanksgiving next year! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Emotions running high today.

I'm not really sure where I want to go with this post, or even where to start.  I didn't hear about Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary until early that afternoon, when I was sitting waiting on Jayden's Holiday Sing Along to start.  It wasn't until later when I got home and started reading about what happened that my heart ached for those children and their families, for the school and that community.  How does this happen?  What kind of sick monster does something like this to innocent CHILDREN!  I don't know?  I have no answers myself, but have read over and over again these past few days about gun control and mental illness and more security at schools, but what is the answer to ending such evil in our society?  I have no idea. 

This morning I got my girls ready for school, like normal, and was feeling ok.  I got Sophia on the bus and then got in the car to take Jayden to school and that's when it hit me.  As I pulled up to the school and into the circle drive, my emotions hit me like a ton of bricks.  I'm about to let my oldest baby out of my sight and send her into what is supposed to be a safe place, but from what we heard on Friday, it isn't.  I saw the kids running inside and walking down the hall in bunches that had just gotten off the bus.  I looked over at Jayden axiously waiting for me to stop so she could jump out of the car and go see her classmates and friends and her teacher, completely oblivious to the events that happened to kids her age just a few days prior.  She was happy and excited about another day at school and all I could do was hold the tears back long enough to give her one last hug and kiss goodbye for the day.  The thought of sending my babies off to school for a few hours and then never being able to hold them again, makes me want to die inside.  My deepest condolences and prayers go out to each of the victim's families.  I can only imagine the heartbreak that is going on in that community today. 

Out of everything that I've read these past three days, one thing I know for sure is that God is with my babies each and every second of each and every day.  Just because my children don't learn about religion or say prayers at school, the God that I believe in, would never abandon them in their time of need.  God is with my children every where they go.  That's what I believe.  I have to believe that, because if I didn't, then I would never feel safe leaving my children's side for a moment.  All I know for sure today, is that getting Sophia off the bus and picking Jayden up from school today, can not get here fast enough.  I am feeling things today that I really didn't expect to feel, but my emotions are definitely running high today.     



Monday, December 10, 2012

A little this and a little that.

I'm back :)  I told you October totally wipes me out and blogging is almost the last thing I feel like doing this time of year.  But I thought I'd check in and share some pictures on my blog.  November was a pretty slow month for us, which is always nice coming out of October, which is always a very busy month for us!  Now with December in full swing and Christmas right around the corner, our calendar is filling up again, but honestly, I like it that way!
Jayden and Sophia taking a break at the park for a photo :)

Out enjoying an unseasonably nice day.

Sophia trying to ride Shelby dog :)

The good ole stomach bug hit our house a few weeks ago, HARD.  It first took out Sophia, then hit Jayden, then Randy and finally me.  Lucky for me, I got the better end of the deal than the rest of them, but it was not a pretty 4 days at the Russell house :/.  So glad that's behind us!

Jayden showing off her loot from her first WWE live event.  I don't know for sure how she got into this whole wrestling thing, but it cracks me up listening to her talk about it!

Sporty Sophia ready to play some ball out at Great Grandma and Grandpa's house on Thanksgiving.  I was so excited to get her into a soccer program this spring through the UPWARD program at one of our local churches, but unfortunately kids with special needs have to be 5 before they can start playing :(  She's one heck of a kicker now, she's going to tear it up in two years!

Just clowning around :)

I found these charts and reward bucks at the Dollar Tree a few weeks ago and thought, for $3 maybe something like this would help Jayden with responsibility and keeping her attitude in check a little better.  So far so good.  The top chart is a behavior chart and whenever she starts getting disrespectful or out of line, she gets a "strike."  Four strikes and she doesn't get a check on the job chart for being respectful that day.  I started giving her 7 "jobs" to do daily.  Some of them are things she has to do regardless, like brushing her teeth and hair, but it's how long it takes her to do them after being told that I'm looking at.  We struggle in the mornings sometimes with Jayden not wanting to get up and get ready.  So I tell her once, go get dressed, brush your teeth and brush your hair.  Then I set the timer for 10 minutes and if she does it within that time, she gets a check and a reward buck for doing each in a timely manner.  Anyway, long story short, she has the opportunity to earn 7 reward bucks per day, 35 per school week.  So when she earns 35 reward bucks, she can cash those in for $5.  We started this last week and she messed around a few mornings and didn't stay on task and lost the chance for some bucks, but as of  today, she has earned her $5.  We're not expecting her to do keep up on the weekends, for right now, but we're still in the beginning stages of this and I must say I'm pretty pleased with how things are going so far :)

At the children's museum one Sunday afternoon :)

We got a cute picture of the girls before heading out to our Down syndrome playgroup Christmas party this Saturday, which was so much fun!  It's rare to see Jayden in anything "girly", but she was a trooper and I appreciate it :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It's so easy to forget how blessed we truly are.  With lifes craziness and the stresses of day to day living, sometimes I let my good fortunes slip right past my mind.  I have so many things in my life to be thankful for, and even though I am thankful all year round, this time of year just really makes me stop and think about all the blessings I have in my life..... 

1. My children.  My girls mean everything to me.  They are the best things that I have ever done with my life.  I am so thankful each and every day to have been able to be a mother....their mother.

2. My husband.  He is my rock.  He makes me feel safe and secure.  I am thankful that he came into my life and has stood by me and loved me and supported me unconditionally all of these years.

3. My family and friends.  I am thankful for the amazing support system that we have in our life.  I have so many people that I can count on and would be there anytime we needed them. 

4. Being a stay at home mom.  The one thing in life that I've always known I've wanted to be and been the most passionate about, was being a mother.  And I am so very thankful that I have been able to stay at home with my girls and watch them grow.
5.  Randy's job.  My husband works hard for our family.  He was been very lucky to have kept a steady job since he started his career 9 years ago.  He carries our family on his back financially, which is very hard to do most of the time, and I am very thankful for that.

6.  A place to live and food to eat.  As long as I can remember I've never been hungry and I've always had a place to live.  I've never went days without food, or wondered where my next meal was going to come from, or went to bed in an unknown place, cold and scared.  It's heartbreaking to hear of so many children, children that my kids go to school with, that don't know when they might eat again after they leave school.

7. My families health.  Even though we have went through some unhealthy periods in life, some worse than others,  I am thankful that right now, today, my family is healthy.

8.  Understanding and compassionate strangers.  In a world where everyone seems to be living in the fast lane and looking out for number 1, I'm thankful for those people who smile and say "hi!" to me when I walk by.  I'm thankful for the person who holds open the door and patiently waits for me to walk through it.  I'm thankful for the people who see the beauty in my youngest daughter and understand that her life is worth living. 

9. Faith.  I'm thankful for my belief in God.  I don't go to church on Sundays or pray daily, but I believe that all good things come from up above.  My faith has gotten me through some very difficult times in my life and I've come to realize that without my faith in God, I never would have made it.
10. My life.  I'm thankful that my birth mother chose life for me.  I'm thankful that my mom and dad gave me a life full of love.  I'm thankful for the education I received and for the opportunities that I have been given to make me the person that I am today.  I am thankful for the people who have been a part of my life, either for a short time or a long time, but who have helped me to grow as an individual.  I am thankful to be right where I am today. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Developmental Peds

Sophia had her check up yesterday with her developmental pediatrician at Riley Children's Hospital, and I'm happy to report that overall her doctor was very pleased!  We talked about some possible sleep issues and decided that another sleep study in the near future would be best, BOO!  We also discussed possible aspiration and since Sophia is taking everything by mouth now, we are going to schedule another swallow study to make sure that things are going down properly.  We discussed her recent eye and ear exams and I was informed that Sophia needs to continue to have her ears tested every 6 months for the time being.  We talked about nutrition and other opportunities to sneak calcium into her diet, since she isn't a big milk fan.  We also talked about the G-tube......and how Sophia's doctor is perfectly okay with it coming out, given things go okay with her swallow study and she continues to do so well!  I was pretty surprised that she was so quickly on board with it coming out, but from what I know about how well Sophia has been doing in the feeding department, I feel confident that it's the next step.  So we will get the swallow study done first, see what the results are, and go from there :)

As much as I have loved blogging this month, I'm so glad it's almost over!  Especially since our computer is down and out at the moment :/  I love the fact that blogging has helped me to educate people about Down syndrome, and the fact that our life with Down syndrome has not "suffered" but has been brighten in so many ways.  We are all faced with challenges in life, nothing is ever supposed to just be easy.  It's those challenges that make us who we are, they make us better.  Having Sophia in my life, I can say first hand that she has never been a "burden" to our family.  She doesn't hold us back as a family, but instead pushes us forward, to be better people and to see life, not just live it.  I could never imagine my life without Sophia.  I would live every bad day that we have had over and over and over again, if it meant spending more time with my sweet pea.  She makes all the hard work and struggles and fights worth it, every. single. time.  She is my daughter.  A part of me, one of the best parts of me.  She is my inspiration, my hero. 

Thank you all for following along with me this month, I appreciate your desire to learn more about Down syndrome and about differences in general.  I hope that Sophia has changed your heart and mind just like she did mine!  Wordless Wednesday tomorrow for my last post in October!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Have you learned anything?

Blogging every day is A LOT of work!  It's hard to find the time each and every day to sit down and think of something valuable to say and put it into words that hopefully people will read.  October is the only month where I commit myself to do this, because it's that important to me.  I spend most of my free time in October researching, writing, taking pictures and piecing it all together in the hopes that someone will learn something new about Down syndrome.  I don't have all the answers myself.  I learn new things about Down syndrome, and just about respecting other people's differences, all the time.  My hope in posting for Down syndrome awareness month, is that people realize that more than anything, it's ok to be different.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses and just because someone doesn't fit your definition of "normal", doesn't mean that they don't deserve the same respect that you would want as a human being. 

Sophia is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to me.  She has taught me more than I could ever teach her.  She is exactly who she was meant to be.  She has a purpose in life.  She brings more smiles to my face and laughter to my voice then I could ever imagine.  She loves me for who I am, not for who she wants me to be.  She is full of life and carefree.  She has an innocence to her that I'm sure will stay with her for a very long time.  She is beautiful both on the inside and out.  She is non-judgemental.  She has a heart that is way too big for that little chest of hers.  She is a lover through and through.  She can forgive and forget and allows people second chances, even when they don't deserve them.  She is my angel here on earth.  She was purposefully made to change the minds and hearts of people who can't see past this false definition of perfect.

The Creed of Babies with Down Syndrome
My face may be different, but my feelings the same
I laugh and I cry and I take pride in my gains
I was sent here among you, to teach you to love
As God in the heavens, looks down from above
To Him I am no different, his love knows no bounds
It's those here among you, in cities and towns
That judge me by standards, that man has imparted
But this family I've chosen, will help me get started
For I'm one of the children, so special and few
That came here to learn, the same lessons as you
That love is acceptance, it comes from the heart
We all have the same purpose, though not from the start
The Lord gave me life, to love and embrace
And I'll do as you do, but at my own pace
- author unknown   

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trick or Treat

We had such a busy weekend!  Friday night Jayden had her school's fall festival that we went to, and it was fun, but didn't go like I thought it would....typical.  It was cramped and crowded.  Jayden wondered around not really knowing what she wanted to do, just taking it all in I think, but leaving us walking around in circles while I'm trying to get her to pick a game.  Then we had Sophia, who automatically turns into a runner when put in any public setting.  She wanted to roam, through the crowd of people, touching, grabbing, swiping, dumping anything in her sight.  When we snatched her up, crazy Soph came out with her signature move of dropping to the ground and going limp, causing us to man handle her dead weight.  It's quite lovely and leaves a lasting impression on people I'm sure!  But we did leave the festival with a mother load of chocolate candy that I won through a raffle. Just what we need, more sugar to keep my kids all jacked up :/

Saturday started off early with Jaydens first basketball game of the season, where she made the first basket, AND scored two more baskets after that!  She was SO proud of herself, even did a little dance after one of the baskets (wish I had that on video!) , and we were super proud of her as well!  

Jayden's biggest, and smallest, fan :) 

That's our girl, the blur dribbling the ball :)

After basketball, the girls got flu shots.  Well Sophia got a shot, Jayden got the mist, but out of the 
two, Jayden was by far the biggest baby!  There is one perk to a child with some intensive medical history, she knows her way around a hospital, doctor's office and the getting poked, prodded, and shot routine.  She's a tropper, always :)

After our busy morning, we headed home to get ready for our Halloween party with our local Down 
syndrome play group, the Wabash Valley S.T.A.R.S.  Mario and Lugi had a good time.  Sophia 
mingled with some old friends and wrestled with a few newer ones :). It was a great time with a 
wonderful turn out!  Sophia even got to ride a pony, which she enjoyed very much! 

Then we made our way back up to Indy for a fun filled night with cousins and friends for another 
Halloween bash.  Any time the girls get to spend with cousins is fantastic!  We love them so much!!! 

I'm wrapping this up now because I'm about to throw this IPAD across the room trying to get this 
post ready to publish :/. Our desktop broke the other day and blogging on this thing is no fun!  Sorry 
for any duplicate pics or weird spaces or anything else that may appear out of place or funky.  Happy Sunday!   Enjoy the rest of the pics :)