Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Retropost- The beach!

We had such a fun time at the beach last week and I wanted to post a few pictures.  We debated off and on for days about whether or not to go.  It looked like there might be bad weather due to a hurricane.  As it approached mid-week, we decided to go for it and hope for the best.  Well, the weather was delightful!!!

We loved being out on the beach.  All of the children enjoy the sand and water.  Even Daniel has gotten better with the feels and textures.  His favorite thing to do this week was to gather shells.  He was able to identify the ones that he found most frequently too which was fun.

We spent time playing in the sand building sandcastles and digging for fun. 

Eliana liked helping in any way she could.

We played in the ocean.  The oldest ones liked to boogie board. 

Eliana liked the boogie board too.

We tried to get a group shot.  :-)

Eliana gave our time at the beach a thumbs up!




Sunday, July 27, 2008

Real Beauty

***I wrote this about a month ago.  I'm not sure why I never posted it.  But since I had the lesson again this week, I thought I'd share.

We left on Wed afternoon to head to the beach.  As we were almost to the beach, Rebecca got very sad.  I could hear it in her voice as she was trying to soothe Eliana.  When we were able to talk, she told me that she had forgotten to pack her swimsuit.  I assured her that it would be fine and there would be choices since we were going to the beach.  I tried to convince her that it wasn't a problem.  I felt surprisingly calm given all that we both went through the last time we had to shop for a swimsuit.

Here's what I wrote about the first experience.

I was hit with the concept of beauty this week in a place I hadn't expected it.  While sitting in a dressing room and watching a tear slide down my daughter's face.  It hurt my mama's heart - still does.

We spent the day - just the two of us - going shopping.  Something that for many mother-daughter pairs sounds like lots of fun.  Neither of us are huge shoppers, but we do enjoy time together for girly things.  This day we had a goal - find a swimsuit.  Rebecca is pretty modest in her tastes and that made things really hard!  We were both hoping the Lands End suits would work, but they didn't.

After going to many stores in the mall and finding nothing that fit or that satisfied her sense of modesty, she just looked at herself one more time and her face crumbled.  My beautiful daughter was seeing herself as less than lovely.  The image that she saw made her feel a range of emotions - none of them encouraging.  Something many, if not all, women can relate to. 

I prayed for words to say to comfort and encourage.  My heart just ached as I watched her face and understood her heart.  I wanted to be there for her in just the ways that she needed.  I wanted her to know that I love her, that I care deeply and that I understand.  I also wanted to encourage her to begin to view herself differently.  I don't want her to take in the messages of the world and fall into that trap.  And how does she know any of this at her tender age?  It just hurt my heart.  I knew it would come one day, but I wasn't prepared for it to be now.  I just want to protect her so she won't get hurt.  Her heart is so very tender.  I'm finding that I have to continue to trust.  God loves her so very much!

In so many ways she is still young.  She is young at heart while being mature and reliable and sacrificial in so many other ways.  My sweet little girl is becoming a young  woman right before my eyes.

I shared with her that beauty is a struggle.  I shared with her that she is beautiful.  She is a daughter of the King.  She is hand-made by the One who created the universe.  We talked about body image and how it is important to view ourselves as God does - through His lens.  I do hope that she can learn that earlier than most of us do.  Or is it something we ever truly get?  I know I struggle ... still.

We also talked about real beauty - it comes from the inside.  Not on how you look on the outside at all.  In the most important ways - my daughter is so very beautiful.  Of course, I think she is beautiful inside and out.  I hope that she hears me, believes me.  I know I'm biased, but so is the One who made her and He delights in her,   (Zeph 3:17) just as He does in each one of us!

Well, apparently one or both of us had more to learn.  I asked God what it was that we needed in order to experience this again.  The trip wasn't as emtional - thankfully!  She found a suit that worked though wasn't one that she loved.  We talked about just making do with it so that she could enjoy the beach - and she did.  I think she looked great - and hope that she did too.

One last thought on beauty - a really sweet moment.  One day I was listening as Christopher, our 15yo, was playing with Eliana.  He was talking with her and telling her how pretty she is.  It just melted this mommy's heart.  I can't help but think that he is seeing beauty as it should be seen.  Not filtered through the "knowledge" of the world, but through a heart of love.  



Monday, July 21, 2008

A little something fun to share

 I love seeing Eliana dance.  She loves music and likes being in motion when she hears it.  This video isn't the best quality, but I still love it!  It make me giggle and smile whenever I watch it. 

One of the skills we are currently working on is how to "point" or "poke".  It's a 9-12mo skill - and she can't do it.  Most of her emerging skills are in the 12-15mo range (yippee!!!).  This one however is hard to grasp!  In the video you can see an example of what she does instead of point - she uses her thumb!  Gets the job done for now, but she'll still need to learn to point.





Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Our week - looking back and a little ahead.

We've had a busy week - we'll it feels that way anyway.

Last week-end, we had sweet friends come to visit.  We stayed up too late talking and got far too little sleep - but it was fun to have uninterupted time to talk.  We hosted a year end Awards banquet for our Keepers of the Faith group on Saturday.  The children all did a fabulous job in working on the badges for the year.  Pretty soon it will be time to start up again. 

Here is a picture of Isaiah with a mosaic picture he made and earned a badge for this year.

We also enjoyed a Mommy-daughter tea party with friends.  The girls did a great job (this is one of the badge that they worked on this year for the Keepers group.)  It was fun having some girl time and the boys enjoyed having some of the treats.

This week feels full with therapy since we had none last week!  Here is a little of what we are doing.

Speech - Eliana is making good progress.  She has learned a new sign - music.  Not surprising given her interest in music.  She also signs "more", "milk", "eat", "hi" and "bye" pretty regularly.  She has signed "ball" and knows how to sign "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes".  She doesn't get all of the signs for the songs, but does a pretty good job! 

We are focusing on "biting" and "blowing" skills to try to strengthen the muscles around her jaw (that she uses to open and close her mouth).  This will help with articulation and eating.  We will continue to play games, use signs and talk about everything with Eliana.

Feeding - Eliana is doing well with eating.  She eats mainly lumpy baby foods and some table foods.  She is getting better at tolerating textures and likes a wide variety of tastes.  She is still not drinking well from a cup and takes a bottle during the day.  She is healthy and growing well.  Her OT commented that she would soon graduate from feeding and we will begin to focus on some other things in addition to eating during this therapy time.  Way to go Eliana!

Occupational - Daniel loves going to therapy!  Its a fun play time for him.  He is doing so many more things - things that he was afraid to even try 6 months ago.  It is fun to see him taking risks and learning to try things.  All of this is related to his sensory issues.  He is making slow progress with eating - very slow.  His OT told me that it will probably be a slow and long road for him. 

One of the down sides of this is that it affects his potty training.  *sigh*  I could use prayers for patience.

The things we are working on with Daniel is trying new foods.  For him this means first just smelling a food and then moving on to licking it.  Yes, licking it.  It's a step, a small one, but a step in the right direction.  We have been trying to focus on fruits and he has been willing to try a few new ones.  He is also supposed to be helping cook, spread foods and in general be around food helping as much as possible. 

Other work for him includes sensory activities involving "messes".  He does not like to get his hands messy.  Neither do I.  We've been a good match in this regard.  *sigh*  We both need to get out of our comfort zone. 

He has also started listening therapy - 15 minutes once or twice per day.  Five days on and two days off.  I don't really understand it, but a good friend has also recommended this and I'm happy to try anything that might help our sweet boy.

Physical - Eliana is learning to walk!  I know I already shared that - but  it feels so good to say it!  Today she took 10 steps.  Yes, we are counting.  Not always, but often.  We had started using "TheraTogs" to help strengthen her muscles.  Getting them on was a wrestling match.  I can't say if they really helped as we only used them a couple of times.  Here is a photo of us trying to put them on.  It took several helpers to entertain and several to help attach the many pieces of velcro!

Her PT worked with her on lots of games/activities today too.  We are needed to add more structured time to our day.  Teaching her to begin and end an activity.  Puzzles, stacking blocks, scribbling on paper, fingerpainting (yuck!), coins in a slot and more.  I'm going to get down a small chair and table that we can make into a place for her to do her "work".  Structure - something I can see benefit in, but definitely goes against my "go with the flow" nature. 

The PT is tracking her progress on a chart and told me that she has emerging skills in the 12-15mo range.  Not bad little girl, not bad!  :-) 

Other things going on here:

Preschool Activities in a Bag - I'm organizing a swap of these bags.  We have 28 participants!  What fun it will be to get all of these new bags!  I'm looking forward to having them and know that Daniel will be thrilled!  He loves the bags we have now and will be very excited to have some new ones.  I think that these will be great for Eliana down the line too.

Quilt Swap - I'm not participating in the swap, but just coordinating it.  It's for the FIAR curriculum.  I've participated before and help to moderate the group.  I'm hoping that all goes smoothly and quickly.

Field Trips - I'm working on scheduling field trips for our homeschool group - along with 2 other gals - for the upcoming year.  I love getting it all done now so that we are free to focus on other things during the year.  We schedule them approximately 2 per month (every other week) and work to tie them in with our curriculum.

FIAR group - Just getting things started with the new year.  Updating phone lists (someone else has this!), planning mom's meetings, and organizing our Family Event. 

Keepers of the Faith - Again, planning for the upcoming year.  At the moment, we are trying to find a date for planning and then will select topics and teachers for the year.

Family Time - We are hoping to go to the beach sometime soon.  I think that children and I will go down ahead of Roger and he will join us when he is able to.  We are planning around weather and are thankful to have the flexibility to do this.

Planning - I'm working on making my planner for the year.  I enjoyed my lovely - but huge - planner last year, but am hoping to trim it down to what I really need.  I'm going to take the day Sat for planning courtesy of my sweet husband!  I'm excited about having a day - uninterupted - to plan things out for the year.  I still need to purchase some curriculum, but hopefully will have all that done soon.

Cleaning and decluttering - Just happening in my dreams.  lol  I've made a small dent in the attic - but have a long way to go.  Now the rest of the house ... sometime.  ;-)  I did take some curriculum and books to the local homeschool store last night!  Yippee!

This is long - and hopefully not too boring.  Have a great week!



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Guess what we are learning about???

Well, here's a hint.  Yesterday, July 15th was a celebration of sorts.  In fact, the whole month is a celebration.

It's National Ice Cream Month!  We are doing a fun unit study on Ice Cream that can be found on Homeschool Share.  It's free!  My children think it is a fabulous thing to study ice cream - and what a great excuse to eat a lot of it!

On our first day we did the geography and social studies lessons.  We learned about the top 5 ice cream consuming countries in the year 2000.  Everyone was proud to be living in the country that ranked #1 for the year.  (I'm sure we've done our part.)  We learned a little about the history of ice cream and read an interesting book.

The highlight of the evening however was going to get ice cream.  I wasn't sure we were going to make it, but at the last moment decided to go for it.  We met friends at a nearby dairy and had the most delicious ice cream!

Eliana loves ice cream!  She ate strawberry.

We sat on the porch of the store and watched a lovely sunset.  It was a lovely evening.  We'll have to do it again. 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wow ... I'm behind!

Do you have days when you think you'll never catch up?  Sometimes I have dreams that if I can just get projects A, B and C done, that I'd be able to be organized.  Everything always works out so neatly in my dreams - but I always wake up.  lol

I wanted to share a little of our 4th of  July.  Tomorrow I'll try to post about our busy week-end.  Then some of our plans for the week.  I'll try probably being the key words here. 

We spent the 4th of July in Blowing Rock, NC (the mountains) with my parents.  We do this most years.  It's a wonderful place to be - cooler and lots of fun things to do!  We missed seeing my sister and her family as they headed to the beach that week-end. 

We spent a lot of time playing games, reading books and just having fun.  We had planned to go on a picnic on Fri (4th) with some dear family friends.  The site though was so very crowded that there was nowhere to park.  Also it started to rain and then we decided to stay home and cook out.  Well, the rain was a short one and we enjoyed being outside anyway.  It was fun to catch up with our friends - the parents of my best friend from high school.  They are so wonderful and I do miss seeing all of them!

The big festivities were on Saturday.  I remember that morning telling my daughter that she would not need her sweatshirt - after all, it is July!  Well, I was wrong.  The day was overcast and cool.  There were a lot of people there in long sleeves!  There were lots of games and activities going on in the park in the center of town.  Our children had a blast!  Here are some photos of the fun!

There were some large climbing/play structures including a rock wall and this one in which you could climb and then slide.

There were also lots of games, including the sack race, water balloon toss, egg race, limbo and more.  Even though Rebecca is giving great instructions, Daniel doesn't take off hopping in his bag.  I thought he did good just to get in the bag! 

The limbo started off easy - really easy if you were short. 

The casual look with hands in the pockets made us laugh.

Isaiah and his partner came in second in the egg race.  The prize was a gift card to a local ice cream shop!

Our oldest 4 also participated in the watermelon eating contest.  I wasn't sure they'd appreciate those pics being shared.  It was fun to watch however. 

Little cutie pie enjoying the day.

We enjoyed a free lunch provided by a local realty company - hotdogs, chips and lemonade.  Really a nice thing to do for a very large crowd.

The last event of the day - well, besides the fireworks - is the parade.  My children love this as some of the people toss out candy.  Here is a shot at the beginning.

Soon though, it looked like this.

I decided to leave and take Eliana home.  As Christopher, Eliana and I left, we tried running inbetween some of the store fronts to get a little bit of cover.  It was raining hard though and we had no umbrella.  We were getting soaked rather quickly.  At first, when the rain started to fall, Eliana touched her head wondering what was going on.  As we ran and she got wetter and wetter, her response surprised me.  She started laughing - and laughing - and laughing.  Well, this made Christopher and I laugh too.

Christopher commented that she probably had the best attitude of anyone about getting soaked.  I agreed and reflected that our attitudes were probably much better as a result of her laughter as well.  What a small thing ... laughter ... with power to turn something soggy into a sweet memory.

Thankfully, the rain cleared off enough in the evening for fireworks.  We were able to stand on my parent's driveway and get a great view!  All of the children (and adults) enjoyed the show.

Just a few more pictures.  This is one of Rebecca with my mom.  Rebecca made a flower arrangement as part of our Keepers of the Faith club this year and wanted to give it to her grandmother.

Daniel bought me a small chocolate car and was very pleased with the gift.

Last of all - a family photo.  It's hard to get everyone looking, much less smilng.  Overall, not bad though.  ;-) 

We have much to be thankful for as we celebrate the 4th!  I'm grateful to be living in the United States.  I'm grateful to the many who have sacrificed that we may enjoy the freedoms that we do.  God bless America.



Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Day of Ups and Downs

Today was a day that I hadn't really thought about as it approached - more medical appointments.  Surprisingly, ALL of our therapy appointments (4) this week have been cancelled.  It is probably a good thing since we have 3 eye appointments and 5 dental appointments.  The therapies would have been M and W and the medical appointments on T and Th - sound like a fun week for anyone?  LOL

Today was eye appointment day for Christopher, Isaiah and Eliana.  Christopher has been seen by this doctor since he was 4.  He had amblyopia and strabismus.  He needed patching, but no surgery.  At this point, it's all easy.  He wears contacts, takes care of everything himself and only has to be seen once per year.

Isaiah is young, so he is seen more often.  I didn't realize (until I started taking my children to be seen) that children's eyes are growing until they are about 8 or 9 years of age.  During these years, you can make changes to the eyes to improve vision - not just improving it with glasses, but actually improving the eye.  I'm a strong proponent of early eye screening for children for this reason. 

Well, today was a day for getting drops - for ALL three.  *sigh*  This is not a fun thing in case you haven't experienced it.  I'll just say that I had to physically hold and restrain my two youngest while they cried and drops were put in.  :-( 

Isaiah's eyes are improving!  He didn't like the way the new lens looked though, so for the time being the dr is leaving his prescription as is.  That's fine with me.  It won't harm him in any way.  He loves his glasses.

Eliana was the last to be seen.  I've been praying over her eyes for so long.  Even before she was born, I was praying for her eyes.  For those that know us in real life - or have seen pictures - you know that ALL 5 of our children have had vision problems.  Ironically, neither Roger or I do.  The boys have similar problems.  Rebecca's was mild and she wore glasses for a few years.  She doesn't need them now.  I have been hoping and praying that whatever the boys have was somehow tagged onto the boy gene and that Eliana would be more like Rebecca.  I know though that children with Down syndrome have a higher incidence of vision problems.

When I was talking with her doctor, I told her that I just wanted to hear that Eliana doesn't need glasses.  At her last appointment 6 months ago, she told me that Eliana has an astigmatism - not bad though.  Well, it's gotten worse.  This affects the shape of the eye - and obviously her vision.  I'm tearing up even as I type this - Eliana is going to need glasses.  I know that this isn't the worst thing in the world - far from it.  I've had this reaction with all six of my children.  I just didn't want any of them to have this problem.  I am very thankful that they each have the blessing of corrected vision with glasses though!!!

I've seen with a couple of the boys that some of the problems can't be fixed.  They get much, much better, but still not 20/20.  I know the difficulties of having glasses.  (I can't even tell you how many repairs we have had over the years!)  I think (and hope I'm wrong) that it will be even more of a challenge for Eliana to learn to wear them.  For that reason, we've decided to wait a little longer before fitting her. 

Additionally, her doctor told me that she is seeing some abnormalities in her optic nerve.  She thinks that she will be able to see "adequately" though and that it shouldn't be a problem.  Some things will just remain unknown for now.  The word "abnormality" just isn't a fun word to hear, kwim?

My precious Eliana has faced so many obstacles in her short little life.  As a mom, I just want to take them away - all of them or even any of them.  I had so hoped that she would not have to deal with this one.  Why does this make me cry?  (I cry far to easily these days - even at sappy movies!)  I just want to have her sweet little face uncovered.  I don't want to have to deal with the yanking off and trying to keep them on.  Selfish or lazy or proud - I'm not sure.  I just didn't want this for her.

Yet, even with the obstacles, Eliana has something that most of us long for - a joy that is so deep and not dampened by the small things (well, most of the time!).  She wakes up happy.  She laughs.  She puts up with so much - whether its rough play of her loving brothers or a variety of medical interventions.  She is such a strong and amazing little girl.

Aside from this difficulty - we had something exciting to celebrate with Eliana today.  I debated putting this in the same post as it really needs its own headline.  LOL

Eliana took 4 steps today!!!

  She did this more than once!  This is a huge milestone for her!  Children with Down syndrome have low muscle tone and hyperflexibility which both make some developmental steps harder to accomplish.  Eliana has been standing on her own for quite awhile.  She stands with her feet wide apart though.  It makes for a stable base, but not one from which she can step!  We have a contraption (I'll try to take a pic later this week) to try to help her with this muscle tone that she has worn once before we went on vacation.  We haven't tried it again this week, but it looks like she is making improvements on her own!  Way to go sweet girl!!!

I know that it will still be awhile before she is steady and really walking, but this is a start.  One of the things that is really exciting about this too is walking by 18 months is one the developmental chart for typical children!  It amazes me when she reaches any of these milestones within the normal timeframe as her cardiac condition really hindered her for quite awhile.  She is a strong and amazing little girl.

Rebecca tried to capture some steps on video - and we'll try again tomorrow.  She walks when she wants to and not necessarily when the camera is pointed at her. 

Today has been a day of ups and downs.  Sometimes I wonder when I'm sad if I'm just not dealing with things in a "mature or spiritual" manner.  I struggle.  I guess we all do.  I'm no spiritual giant - not by a long shot.  I am trying to walk in the path God has before me - failing and struggling each day.  I have so much to learn.  I have so much to be thankful for - even in the midst of trials and struggles, I know that I am blessed.

I am reminded often to count my blessings.

*A God who loves me beyond all that I can even imagine.

*An incredible family - both my husband and children and my extended family as well

*Good health - most of what we are dealing with now is pretty minor compared to last years plate. 

*So many wonderful small things throughout my day.  Today I held sweet young hands and received many hugs and kisses.  I heard the laughter of children and enjoyed the joy of playing together.  I was blessed by acts of kindness and words of love.  Too many things to list. 

Thank you for your prayers - and also for sharing our joys.



Sunday, July 6, 2008

Gone ... but not forgotten

I started writing this late last night after we had returned home from a wonderful trip to the mountains.  I'm not sure why I started pondering and thinking.  I thought I'd save the post and add pics to it today  I didn't take the pictures and I'm not sure when I'll get to it, so here are my ramblings without photos.  I'll add them if I can later.

Those of you that have walked this road, doubtless understand these feelings.  It isn't a new path for me.  It's a large sisterhood too.  I had thought that perhaps having had this experience that somehow it wouldn't be as hard - and yet it is.

It's been 4 months since we lost our little one.  Life just moves on - or seems to anyway.  Yet, not a day goes by that I don't remember.  I think about how big this little one should be, that I should be feeling movements, and that the due date would be drawing closer.  It seems too that there are reminders everywhere.  Not that I don't expect it, but some days it is just one more thing that hurts.

Tonight as I was rocking Eliana and praying, a few tears slipped down my cheek.  I just want our little one here - not in heaven.  This little one was wanted so very much.

In some ways that seems really selfish.  Heaven is a much better place to be.  I've been reading a wonderful book (rereading it really) called Deadline.  Part of the storyline occurs in heaven and the descriptions of heaven are so beautiful.  Like nothing I've read before.  I'm not sure I can even do a description justice so I'm not going to try.  (I do highly recommend this book, though it also deals with some very difficult topics!)  I wonder too if I'm selfish for wanting another child when I've already been so richly blessed.  I do think my heart has more room.

Some days it can seem like this little one is gone and forgotten.  I can feel so alone in my grief.   Yet, God reminds me otherwise.  I know that He knows and loves this little one that He planned before the dawn of time.  I know that He loves me more than I can even imagine.  I am thankful for the sweet reminders of this.  

Last week I received a box in the mail - from a friend I met more than 5 years ago.  We've never met in real life.  We worked together on a FIAR quilts yahoo group.  When I had a miscarriage in 2003, she sent a gift - an ornament.  She didn't know that one of our family traditions is an ornament for each of our children.  I loved that even though I hadn't planned for it, that this little one has an ornament too - an angel.  The box I received this past week contained a gift for our most recent little one born into heaven.  It's a willow tree figurine - Angel of the heart.  It's a precious reminder of where our littlest one is right now- in heaven and also in my heart.

I have mentioned before that sweet friend sent me a book, Griveing the Child I Never Knew.  I have read through some of it, but I'm not one that really likes to process tough emotions.  I guess that's probably true for many of us.  I wish I could just move on and be done with it, but it's just not that easy. 

This same friend - with an incredibly sensitive heart toward grief - recently offered to go through the book with me.  Reading and sharing thoughts and processing my grief.  What a sweet gift of her time and friendship.  I'm starting it again from the beginning tonight.  I do want to learn from this and let God have his perfect way with me.  I'm afraid of the pain, but know that healing will come if I just fall into God's loving arms. 

Shortly after our loss, a group of friends sent a beautiful tree in memory of our little one.  These same friends sent roses at the loss of our first baby.  We have all of them - roses and tree - planted in front yard.  We added another rose this year too.  It's a beautiful reminder to me of love, sweetness and friendship whenever I see them - and of life.

I am thankful for friends who know my tender heart - and know when things happen that will hurt it.  I had a phone call last week from one sensitive friend and it was a balm just to know that she understood.  

I'm not really sure why I'm sharing all of this.  I'm not sure if any of it will be of help to anyone reading this.  I hope that maybe it will help others to understand that pain of this loss.  I would appreciate your prayers as I try to work through this grief.  I would also appreciate prayers for my sweet daughter as this continues to be hard for her too.  I am so thankful for her tender heart, yet mine aches to see her hurting.  I pray that God would help us both to learn, to trust and to follow Him as He walks with us on this path.



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Local Down syndrome group

I wrote this out a few days ago ... lost it ... and haven't had the energy to rewrite it until now.  I wanted to share a little bit about a fun day I had on Tuesday.  First let me share a little background. 

Eliana and I attended a workshop sponsored by our local Down syndrome group on literacy last month.  I met another mom there with a daughter just 4 days younger than Eliana.  We talked about how it would be fun to have a playdate.  Well, she set it up!  We met at a local park and there were 6 families there. 

It was a fun time to talk, share and learn from each other.  It reminded me of being a mom long ago when Christopher and Rebecca were little and we used to have playdates at the park.  I've done many since then, but not with a group of people I didn't know.  It also reminded me of being a new mom as we discussed some of the same things - even though none of us are new moms - just new to having a child with Down syndrome.  So many things to learn - and what a blessing to have other from whom to learn!

Here is a photo of all of the moms and babies.

Here are some photos of my children at the park.  They enjoyed playing and riding the rides (carousel, boats and train).  Eliana had her first ride on the carousel - and of course she liked the music and the motion. 

Later that evening, I attended a Mom's Night Out sponsored by the same group.  I've only attended one of these in the past.  I'm glad I went.  There was a large group there and we had dinner and talked.  I saw some gals I've met before (and even a couple from the morning playdate).  I also saw a gal I met at our local homeschool conference last month and am very excited about the opportunity to talk with someone that is homeschooling her son with Down syndrome.  It was also a blessing to see a friend I met via this blog - that ended up being local.  We haven't seen each other much and it was so nice to just be able to talk and catch up - and see pictures of her precious child.  I was blessed to hear her talk of what a joy her son is to her.  I hope that this is the message that I convey about our sweet Eliana too - she is a joy and a blessing!!!

I'm thankful for this day and the time to meet with other women who are walking a similar path.  I'm thankful for the encouragment, the laughter and the hope that I receive from hearing their stories and from meeting their children.

Our local group has a recent newsletter with some fun and helpful information.  There are also pictures from a recent picnic - and Eliana is in there twice - once on the cover.  Thought you might want to check it out


As always, I have so very much to be thankful for -  God is good!