Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Girl Mom Box Swap

As a mom of two girls and two boys, I get to experience the best of both worlds! I can relate to girl moms AND boy moms.  But most of all, I can relate to ANY mom because we're all in this together! 


One of my most favorite things about blogging is the connection with other bloggers! I was excited to sign up for the Girl Mom Box Swap, and even more excited when I was matched with one of my favorite bloggers: Beth from Our Pretty Little Girls. I've always felt like I have a lot in common with this incredibly sweet mama, and our girls are very similar!

Girl Mom Box Swap

When the girls and I headed out to shop for Beth, Marissa and Emily, we had NO problem filling our cart, and it just reiterated the fact that we're a lot alike! And when the box arrived from Beth and her girls, I couldn't help but laugh. The gift she sent me was just like the gift I sent her...right down to the lip balm in the coffee mug!

It was so nice to get spoiled for once, and I know my girls felt the same way. In a family of 6, you don't always get to feel special, but this swap was all about the girls in our family!

Motherhood

Here's what Beth, Marissa and Emily sent to us for the Girl Mom Box Swap:


Girl Mom Box Swap

Lexie

Lexie was the main focus of the Girl Mom Box Swap! She doesn't get as many things through blogging as Lily and Liam, and I wanted her to feel special. The timing was perfect, because the poor kid just broke her wrist!

The safety pin bracelet kit was PERFECT for my craft-loving daughter, the nail polish is her favorite color and the Tsum Tsum pen immediately went into her backpack. She doesn't play with many toys these days, but she does collect Tsum Tsums!

Girl Mom Box Swap

Lily

Beth and her girls were kind enough to include Lily in the Girl Mom Box Swap, too! I couldn't help but smile when I saw her Shrink Art Kit. I used to love making those when I was a little girl!

Girl Mom Box Swap


Both of the my girls loved what they received from Beth, Marissa and Emily, and they wanted to hear all about the friends from far away that they have never met!


Sisters

My Gift

Every mom deserves a little pampering from time to time and Beth found the perfect gift for me! I now have a pretty new mug for my collection and a new lip balm, which I've been using all day, every day. Her note was super sweet, and I can tell that we shop at the same places, because I have those notecards, too!

Coffee Mug

One Last Thing

Beth, Marissa and Emily sent an extra treat for the GIRLS ONLY! I'm not sure how she knew, because I never mentioned it in our conversation, but sour candy is our favorite. I confess, though, that we did share a few pieces with the boys!

Girl Mom Box Swap

Thank you for the sweet and thoughtful gifts, Beth, Marissa and Emily! We love everything and we really wish we could say thank you in person! 


Motherhood

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

9 Awesome Playtime Ideas for Kids of All Ages with EZPZ {Featuring The Baby Cubby}

DISCLOSURE: I received some of the products below from The Baby Cubby in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

We are so excited that Spring has arrived! The longer, warmer, sunnier days are amazing, but it's also the start of our rainy season. While a little bit of rain doesn't chase us indoors, there are days that trap us inside all day long. This time of year, I always find myself searching for new playtime ideas to keep my crew busy on rainy days!


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I always encourage crafting, creating, building, sensory play, baking and perfecting fine motor skills. I love it when my kids can entertain themselves creatively, and I found the perfect item that helps promote independent play: the EZPZ Flower Play Mat! I found it while browsing the awesome selection of toys at The Baby Cubby. It's a new addition in our home and it's simply amazing!

Liam, Lily and Lexie use this 100% silicone suction play mat every single day, and they love coming up with new ways to play!

Here are a few of our favorite playtime ideas:


9 Awesome Playtime Ideas for Kids of All Ages

PLAY DOUGH


Sensory Play is so important for all kids, but it's especially helpful for Liam. Squeezing the play dough strengthens his hands, and using the play dough tools helps build his fine motor skills. I love to give him straws to stick in the play dough, too. It's a great fine motor activity!

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FINE MOTOR PLAY


Liam does a lot of casual therapy at home. Fine motor play is part of his daily repertoire and we have a bunch of items in our rotation to keep him from getting bored. Dropping pieces of drinking straws into a small container with a hole in the lid is a great at-home fine-motor activity! You can see more homemade ideas HERE

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LEGO PLAY


My kids love playing with Lego sets, but the truth is, the pieces scatter everywhere and get lost, and my kids get frustrated. The non-slip EZPZ Play Mat is a game changer for this activity. Not only does it offer a great building surface, but the compartments in the flower separate the Lego pieces perfectly!

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CUPCAKE DECORATING


Lexie loves to bake! Decorating cupcakes and cookies is one of her favorite activities, and using this mat for this purpose is genius. All of the items she needs to decorate her cupcakes are within easy reach, and the BPA/BPS/PVC/Phthalate Free mat is safe for food. It gets bonus points for easy cleanup. Instead of washing a bunch of bowls that hold her decorating supplies, there's just one item to wash!

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BUILDING WITH BLOCKS


Block Play is a great activity that most kids enjoy! It also helps to build those vital fine motor skills. Magnetic Blocks are the perfect choice for younger kids like Liam. It's easy for him to get frustrated when his creations keep falling down, but the magnetic blocks keep their form, even if they tip over! (The Tegu 8-Piece Pocket Pouch is a great choice, and it's perfect to slip into your bag for on the go use. These blocks recently kept Liam entertained at parent teacher conferences!)

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See...no tears, even when your pet bunny interrupts playtime!

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PAINTING


Lily and Lexie love to paint! The flower on this play mat holds 5 different colors of paint and water for rinsing the brushes, and the mat fits a standard piece of paper. It's such a great tool to use while they create their masterpieces!

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COLORING


Coloring is something kids of all ages love to do! A few crayons and pieces of paper can spark hours of creativity!

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STRINGING BEADS


My girls love to make bracelets using beads! This mat holds the string in place as my girls thread the beads. Chunkier beads threaded onto pipe cleaners is a great alternative for Liam, and picking up the beads helps strengthen his pincer grasp!

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SUCTION BUILDING


What is it about suction toys that captivates kids? Squigz are such a fun choice for fine motor and building play. All four of my kids, from age 3 to age 12, love them!

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It's so easy to work up a big appetite during playtime! There's nothing better than a great snack after all that hard play!


The EZPZ Mini Mat is the perfect addition to snack time at home. This compartment suction tray sticks to the table and prevents Liam from tossing his plate when he's finished eating. And thanks to the awesome travel bag, it's perfect for on the go, too!

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Hours of playtime paired with delicious food is the perfect combination for a fun day indoors!


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This year, I visited The Baby Cubby for our new playtime items! All of the items available at The Baby Cubby are thoroughly researched. These items are the highest rated and reviewed items out there, so it takes all the guess work out of choosing a quality product for your child.

The Baby Cubby has a retail location in Lindon, Utah, but their great selection of quality items in every department is available online, too. Although I would love to have the store nearby, their online retail site is a great alternative. Ordering is easy, and the items ship quickly!

 I had no difficulty finding a few fun items that I knew my kids would love, and those items did not disappoint in any way. They have already provided hours of fun for my kids!

The Baby Cubby

You can see all of the "Cubby Picks" HERE, but you can also connect with The Baby Cubby on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest



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Monday, March 27, 2017

Expect the Unexpected: First Broken Bone

When I wrote this post last week, while feeling completely overwhelmed, I had no idea that life was going to get more difficult. I quickly learned to expect the unexpected while raising my kids, but I'm always stunned when the unexpected hits. 


In our 12 years of parenthood, we never had to deal with one of our kids breaking a bone. There have been plenty of ER visits thanks to our boys, Lily's knocked out tooth and Lexie's allergic reaction on Christmas, but no breaks. The complete irony is that I had just mentioned how thankful I was that none of our kids had ever broken a bone. I guess it was just time for us to add THAT to our already long list of parenthood experiences!

We just never expected Lexie to be the first of our kids to break a bone. Skateboarder/Basketball Player Dylan topped the list, with fearless and adventurous Liam coming in at a close second. But our careful, cautious, responsible daughter? No way!

On Thursday evening, we headed to Lexie's school for Open House. Lexie is one of those kids who loves school, and she was so excited about showing us around her school during Open House. She eagerly led us down the hall to her classroom, stopping several times along the way to show us some of her projects and artwork hanging in the hallway. She was beaming by the time we went into her classroom.


Open House

Lexie was so excited to show us her desk, her cubby and some projects that she finished. We said goodbye to her teacher and headed downstairs to see the art project she loved the most. We took a detour into the gym before we headed toward the art room.

I sat Liam down so he could run through the gym. When I looked up, Dylan bumped into Lexie and Lexie stumbled, fell to one knee and put one hand on the ground to stop from falling completely. When she stood up, she looked really embarrassed, but there was something more in her expression. She was awkwardly holding her wrist and fighting back tears.

I immediately called Grant over to check it out. We thought she maybe just sprained it, but we weren't certain. We decided to head upstairs to see if the nurse was in her office. Lexie's art project was on our way, so we stopped to look at it, but we could tell her excitement about the night was ruined, and we felt absolutely awful. Lexie NEVER gets injured, and it hurt to see something she was so excited about get ruined.

We decided to take her to the ER. Grant and the boys went to get the car while we went to the nurse's office to get ice. Unfortunately, nobody was there. Lexie started to get dizzy and look very pale, so I made her sit down for a few minutes. She said her ears were ringing, so I knew shock was kicking in and she was close to fainting. We went to wait in the lobby, and ran into Dylan's basketball coach. She took one look and agreed we should take her to the ER.

Thankfully, we have a great ER just minutes away. Lexie started to cry in the car and tell us how much it hurt, so I gave her an Aleve. Although the drive was quick, she just kept saying she wanted a doctor to help her, so it felt like it took forever. Grant dropped us off and left to drop our other kids off with my dad. 


We didn't have to wait long before she was taken to an exam room. They gave her some ice, and Lexie cheered up quickly, and was back to her usual happy self. The doctor came in to check her and they took her for x-rays immediately after.

Broken Wrist

As the x-ray tech walked us back to the exam room, she asked if they had given her something for the pain. I said I had given her an Aleve and she said she was going to need something stronger. I asked her if she saw something on the x-ray, and she replied, "I really can't say, but yes." She told me that she was so impressed with how calm and happy Lexie was, because most adults can't handle an injury like hers. At that point, I knew it was going to be a long night.

Grant was waiting in the room when we got back and the doctor came in a few minutes later. He handed us Lexie's x-ray and pointed out the severity of her injury.

Broken Wrist

Not only had she broken her wrist, but the bone was completely off to the side. As if that wasn't already enough, she also had a buckle fracture. This all happened from her simply putting her hand down to brace herself from falling. It was unbelievable.

The ER doctor said that she was going to need to have her wrist set under sedation, but mentioned that she might need surgery based on the severity of her injury. He put on a temporary cast, then we were transferred to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. We stopped by our house to grab a few necessities, like Blankie and BunBun, then made the short drive into the city.

We got to the second ER, which was overflowing with people, and we waited. And waited. And waited. (Side note? WHY do people use the ER as a doctor's office?)  It was a hectic night in the ER and the hospital didn't have any rooms available, so the kids who had just been admitted were spending the night in the ER exam rooms. We finally got called back 2 1/2 hours after we arrived. It was nearly midnight. Surprisingly, Lexie stayed happy and calm the entire time, despite us not being allowed to give her anything else for pain.


Once we were in the exam room, things got moving very quickly. The doctor came in almost immediately to examine Lexie. She left to take a look at the x-ray, then returned to tell us what was going to happen. The orthopedic doctor would be coming down ASAP and trying to set her wrist under complete sedation. If that failed, they would have to take her to the OR.

While we waited, the nurse put on a movie, then gave her some pain medication. Another nurse came in to place the IV, which took two tries, and put monitors on Lexie to prepare for the procedure. Shortly after 1 AM, the orthopedic doctor came in to tell us that Lexie's injury was very unusual and would be very difficult to manipulate back into place. She said she was going to do her best, but if she was unable to, Lexie would need surgery as soon as possible.

Lexie Loo, Lily, Liam & Dylan Too

At 1:30 AM, they gave her the medication to put her under. That was the worst part for me. Lexie was handling the entire ordeal like a champ, but to watch her get put under was completely unnerving. It was so tough to see her like that, but the alternative for her would be incredibly painful. 


Grant and I had to leave the room for the procedure, but Blankie and BunBun were allowed to stay with her. The wait felt like it took forever. I tried to read, then browse through my Facebook feed, but it didn't help. I just kept praying that everything would be okay.

Just after 2 AM, we were called back into the room. Lexie was waking up, but very groggy. The orthopedic doctor was able to set her wrist, but Lexie needed a cast much bigger than expected to stabilize her wrist. We were told that it was definitely a great sign, but surgery wasn't completely out of the question. It wouldn't be imminent, though.

We had to stay in the ER until Lexie woke up completely and was monitored for an hour, ate a popsicle and kept it down, and got another set of x-rays. By the time we were allowed to take her home, it was almost 4 AM. All three of us were starving since we hadn't eaten since noon, and completely exhausted.

It was a long night in two different emergency rooms, but Lexie blew us away with her maturity, calmness, and poise while dealing with such a painful injury. Even the entire ER staff kept saying it was unbelievable just how well she was handling it. That kid is amazing, and so much stronger than her wimpy mama! She was even smiling and waving goodbye to everyone as she left the hospital in her big cast and a hospital gown.


We ended up stopping at a convenience store to pick up some prepared food, so we could go home and eat. As soon as we pulled into the garage, Lexie got out of the car and threw up all over the floor. No food was in her future, but Grant and I sure enjoyed that convenience store food!

By the time we finished our food, it was already nearly 6 AM. Dylan, Lily and Liam were at my parent's house, so we decided that Grant was going to stay home from work and we were going to let all of the kids stay home from school. Lexie crawled into bed with us and we fell asleep quickly. The next thing I knew, it was noon!

Lexie slept until after 2 PM that day. When she woke up, she was still groggy and nauseous, and complaining of some pain, but she was in a good mood.

Cast

Lexie adapted well to having her cast over the weekend, but she is bummed about how much she can't do right now. No riding her bike, no jumping on the trampoline, no riding her scooter and no swinging. Going outside isn't the least bit fun. It's such a bummer that it happened at the beginning of Spring, but her cast will be coming off just before Summer break. She's mostly upset over the fact that she can't participate in hip hop until the cast comes off. I feel so bad for her!

Right now, we don't have too many answers just yet. Lexie has an orthopedic appointment on Tuesday afternoon, and we should know more then. Specifically, if they think she will need surgery and how long she will need to have the cast. We're praying that her wrist is healing well and that no surgery will be needed. And obviously, 6 weeks in a cast will be much better than 12!

To those of you who sent so many thoughts and prayers on Instagram and Facebook, THANK YOU. We read each and every one, and we were so thankful for all the love for Lexie. She's doing great right now and I will update when we know more!

Lexie was so excited about Open House this year. Although it didn't turn out anything like how we expected, I have no doubt she will always remember her 4th Grade Open House!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I Failed At Life This Week

I failed at life this week. I feel like I just need to admit defeat, and count down the seconds until the weekend. 


This motherhood gig is tough...times four! When I add in daily responsibilities, a blog that is starting to become a part time job, hours spent taking and editing pictures, a daily volunteer job and way too much time spent behind the wheel of my SUV each day, life becomes too overwhelming. There's literally NO time for anything else. I feel like I'm being pulled in a million different directions, and I'm giving up too much sleep in order to accomplish it all. I'm giving up myself. And when I CAN'T accomplish it all, I feel like a big failure.

Last week was a terrible week. Everything went wrong, and I'm playing major catch up this week. But instead of actually catching up, my to do list just keeps getting longer, and my weekly obligations keep piling up. I'm completely overwhelmed, and I lost my cool several times this week.

I failed at parenting this week. 


Instead of building Dylan up, I criticized. I could hear myself nagging, and I knew it was wrong, but I just couldn't stop. I completely missed the signs that he was dealing with an issue at school, and when it finally hit me and I asked him, he opened up. All I felt was guilt.

Due to timing, I was unable to meet Lexie at her book fair for the last time. Next year, she will be in the "big" school and will be attending her book fairs alone. I also completely forgot she wanted to buy her favorite lunch this week and sent her with a packed lunch instead. She just kept smiling, and I just kept failing her.

Lily and I log in at least an hour each day working on reading, sight words and writing. It takes up so much time, and when I have too much on my plate, the frustration builds up. I completely snapped at her today when she mixed up a nickel and a quarter. I failed to focus on the fact that she read more words than she ever has before and that she was tired after being at school all morning and following it up with an hour of work at home.

I don't feel like I was able to honor Liam on World Down Syndrome Day.  I managed to write a post for my blog and a post for Pittsburgh Moms Blog, but while everybody else was doing some amazing things, I was too overworked to accomplish much at all. Instead, I got not one, not two, but THREE messages accusing me of making up his Down syndrome. Sometimes I feel like I'm completely stuck in between the regular world and the Ds world, because the traits aren't as noticeable.

I completely failed at marriage this week. 


I was so stressed out due to having three major sponsored post draft deadlines within a 12 hour period that I wasn't even able to enjoy having Grant work from home. Instead, I found myself getting irritated. And when I was able to spend time with him, I was completely distracted. It led to him lecturing me about doing too much. He wasn't wrong, but the responsibility of school, activities, bills and maintaining the home falls squarely on my shoulders. This week, I was just extra stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted.

I completely failed at exercise this week.


So much for running three times a week. The only running I get in these days is running out the door in a rush. And when I put on a swimsuit on Sunday, all the negative feelings I used to have came rushing back, and that's a scary thing.

I completely failed at blogging this week.


I had a big goal of posting on my blog Monday-Friday this week, and I failed last night. I almost failed again tonight, before I decided a real life post was in order. I can't even focus on the fact that I literally worked for 12 hours straight to meet three deadlines on Monday (miraculously, I did), or that I just turned in drafts for some big sponsored posts, or the fact that I was just offered my most exciting collaboration ever. All I can focus on is the fact that I didn't finish a post last night, and opted for 3 hours of sleep instead.

Don't even get me started about not being able to read any of my favorite blogger's posts this week or visit the link parties I'm involved in yet.  And even though I'm writing now, all I can think about is the post that's sitting in my drafts, that should have been posted last night.

I completely failed at checking items off my to do list this week.


Clean house? Nope. 17 loads of laundry put away? No! Emails sent? Not at all. Yearly forms for Liam filled out? The deadline is tomorrow.  New camera and lens ordered? I haven't even decided. Brand rep work done? Not even on my radar right now, and the guilt is consuming me. Easter pictures taken? HAHAHAHA.

Instead of checking off items, I added another page. Never mind the fact that we also added two school open houses, dinner out and weekend plans to our already overbooked schedule. And tomorrow I have to be three places at the same time. It's totally going to happen, because that's what I do.

There were many things I did right this week. I read to my children. I spent time with each child individually and made them feel important. I submitted 3 posts that I felt really good about. I worked really hard on an upcoming post, and it's almost done. I spent some time taking pictures and ended up with some beautiful shots. I managed to wash and fold 17 loads of laundry. I lined up homes for 5 baby bunnies. I completed a few good deeds. I made a new friend. I loved my family fiercely. But sometimes it just doesn't feel like I did enough.


I failed at life this week, and I'm sharing it with you because I know I'm not alone. I know we all have those days. And I know that one of the biggest struggles most of us face is dealing with the guilt over not being able to do it all and the exhaustion that comes from doing too much. I failed at life this week, and it's likely I'll fail tomorrow. But I'm going to get up after 3 hours of sleep, look at it as a fresh start, move forward, and hope for a better day! Because truly, it could be so much worse.

To all of my mom friends failing at life this week: Solidarity, sisters! We're in this together! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Your Questions Answered: The Real Truth About Down Syndrome {Tuesday Talk}

Happy World Down Syndrome Day! I can hardly believe that we have been celebrating this day for four years. Our surprise baby is growing up far too quickly!


World Down Syndrome Day

People often question why we celebrate something that causes widespread fear. The truth is, you can never really understand something until you live it. We've been on this journey for 3 1/2 years, and I can honestly tell you it's nothing to fear! Today, we are celebrating the beauty of Down syndrome and all of our fellow human beings who are rocking an extra chromosome, including our beautiful son, Liam!

Many of you were reading my blog when I was pregnant with Liam, and were there for the shocking announcement after he was born. There are some new readers, so for those who are interested, you can read the full story HERE.

One of the things that surprises me the most is how many people reach out to me after finding my posts on Pinterest. Emails and questions come in weekly, and one of my favorite things is helping the scared moms who are beginning this journey. I was that scared mom once, and I love being able to give them some hope!

I firmly believe in open conversation about Down syndrome, so I do my best to answer every question that comes my way. Sometimes people feel awkward and are afraid to ask, but I welcome questions and love to discuss it. In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, I'm sharing the most common questions I receive about Liam, a Down syndrome diagnosis, and life with Down syndrome. 



Did you know before birth? 


We had NO idea! We were told our baby was textbook perfect, so that's exactly what we expected. To say we were surprised is an understatement! I had no idea that a birth diagnosis is actually quite common.

World Down Syndrome Day

When did you find out the news?


Right after Liam was born, two of the four doctors in the room suspected Down syndrome while the other two did not.  There was some debate between them, but they decided he needed to be thoroughly examined and they ordered a blood test. We were supposed to receive the results in 24-48 hours, but we ended up taking our newborn home without any answers.

Every single day I called, and every single day I was told they were having trouble getting accurate results. As the weeks went by, we began to worry that it was something worse. Finally, when Liam was nearly a month old, his pediatrician had enough. She called the lab on the spot and demanded answers within an hour.

One hour later, I received the phone call. As I cradled my tiny 3 1/2 week old baby in my arms, I listened to his doctor confirm the news that I had known since the moment my eyes met his for the very first time.

How was it missed?


Down syndrome was not detected during the initial blood screening or in all the ultrasounds that followed. Just like his two sisters, Liam had a white spot on his heart which can sometimes be a soft marker for Down syndrome, but that's almost always present with other markers, which are spotted during ultrasounds. Every ultrasound showed a perfectly healthy baby with normal measurements.

Even if we HAD known, it wouldn't have changed anything. We just would have been better prepared. Our chances of having a baby with Down syndrome was 1 in nearly 900. Just let that sink in!  It's obvious why it was never even on our radar. One important thing to remember is that unless it's an amnio result, prenatal screening is not fail-proof!

Aren't you too young to have a baby with Down syndrome?


This one is a fair question, because I once thought the same thing. The fact that only older mothers have babies with Down syndrome is one of the biggest misconceptions!  Although the chances of having a baby with Down syndrome increases with age, more babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers UNDER the age of 35! I personally know many teenagers, and first time moms in their twenties, who gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome.


Will it ever go away? 


Many people confuse genetic condition with chronic illness. Down syndrome is a genetic condition and it will never go away. No miracle vitamin, pill, or magical therapy will take it away. Liam will always have that third copy of his 21st chromosome.

What caused it?


I think this answer scares people the most. In almost all cases of Down syndrome, it occurs by chance. There is absolutely no way to prevent it, other than by not having a baby. It happens by chance at conception, and nobody is exempt.

When Liam was conceived, I was young, healthy and fit. I exercised several times a week, ate a healthy diet and took a prenatal vitamin. I don't drink any alcohol, smoke, or take any pills other than the occasional OTC painkiller.  I did EVERYTHING right. I couldn't have done anything to prevent it.

What was your reaction?  


I can't sugar coat this answer in any way. I was devastated, and my feelings were UGLY. I can't even talk about it without feeling guilty. I didn't want this baby. All I wanted was the perfect baby I expected.  I felt as if life as I knew it was ending, and we were doomed to living the rest of our lives in depression, secluded from the rest of the world.

What I soon found out was that every feeling I had at that time was justified. Thankfully, I started to accept our new normal within 24 hours and was able to move forward.

What surprised you the most about Down syndrome?


Honestly, how normal life can be. We are doing everything a "typical" family does and most days, we forget Liam even has Down syndrome!

What were your struggles?


Getting Liam to gain weight was incredibly difficult! He ended up hospitalized at two months old, because he was still under his birth weight of 7 lbs 11 oz. The doctors checked for every possible cause during that stay and they couldn't find a single thing wrong with him.

Liam was just high energy from the start. He rolled over at 3 weeks old and never stopped moving. (Just FYI, he still hasn't stopped!) He burned off more calories than he took in, and the result was a baby that was so scrawny. He didn't reach 10 lbs until after he turned 6 months old and even now, at 3 1/2, he's only 27 lbs.  He's just a lightweight dude!

What do Liam's siblings think of him?

Dylan, Lexie and Lily adore him and they are so proud of him! They fell in love with him right away. We were open with them about Down syndrome from the start, and immediately started exposing them to the Down syndrome community. Watching them grow into compassionate, accepting, loving human beings was a beautiful thing. I can't even adequately describe the love that they have for Liam. It literally brings me to tears. The moments I capture on camera speak volumes about their love for each other. They are all so blessed to have each other!

World Down Syndrome Day

Are you sure he has Down syndrome?


This question always makes me laugh, and it has even been asked by parents who have children with Down syndrome! I understand, though There are times when Down syndrome completely disappears from his face, and even I questioned it at times. Yes, we are sure, but we will never know for certain which type he has. 

All of Liam's medical professionals believe he has mosaic Down syndrome, in which the extra chromosome is only found in a percentage of cells in his body instead of every cell.  It's still Down syndrome, but the physical traits are less noticeable, there's usually a lack of health issues, and the delays aren't significant. It describes Liam perfectly.

In order to find out for sure, we would need to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to get a test done that checks 500 cells for the extra chromosome.  While it would be awesome to know for sure, it truly doesn't matter. Down syndrome is Down syndrome, and he's still going to have it whether that extra chromosome is in every cell or only in a few.  The only thing that matters is that Liam is happy, healthy, thriving and completely rocking it! 

I hope you learned a little bit more about Down syndrome today, and we hope you will join us in celebrating World Down Syndrome Day by wearing blue and yellow, and rocking crazy socks in support of those who are rocking an extra chromosome! 

World Down Syndrome Day

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me or leave them in the comments. I'm an open book! 


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Monday, March 20, 2017

Let Them Be Little {Featuring Spring Style from Carter's at Kohl's}

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Kohl’s.  I was paid for this post and received the included Carter’s clothing as compensation.

During my 12 years of motherhood, I learned one very important lesson: kids grow up far too quickly. I took all those little moments that make childhood so special for granted. I naively believed that time was on our side, but the harsh reality is that the magic of childhood was gone before I even realized it.



Thankfully, I learned that lesson with my two older kids. I can’t get those moments back, but I did get a second chance. I now embrace all the little moments with my toddler and kindergartener. I know from experience that childhood is fleeting, so I remind myself daily to live in the now and enjoy watching my little ones play. 

Carter's


I truly believe play is crucial for childhood development. Allowing kids to explore and use their imaginations is every bit as important as their education.  When my little ones aren’t in school, we make crafts, do science experiments, have fun with sensory play and block building, visit zoos, parks and museums, and spend plenty of time outdoors. Not only are they learning, exploring, and building important skills, but they are making memories together along the way!

Carter's


Childhood should be fun and full of happy moments. I’m working hard to ensure that my kids have a childhood worth remembering and I’m savoring the moments spent with them. Allowing them to be little is the most important thing I can do for them right now!

Carter's


Over the past two weeks, we traded our days spent with play dough and indoor toys for hours spent outside burning off pent up energy! Spring came early to Pittsburgh this year and we are loving it! We didn’t expect the warm weather streak to last, but it has, and I quickly discovered that my kids needed new Spring clothes.


Thankfully, my go to store had us covered! Kohl’s had all the latest Spring fashions, including the new Spring line from Carter’s. 

Carter's


Carter’s has been with us every step along the way on this parenthood journey. I vividly remember when I found out I was expecting my first child. My husband and I weren’t planning on starting a family for 7 more years, so I was in shock.  I roamed the baby aisle at Kohl’s on my lunch break, and picked up a white sleeper covered in ducks.  It was Carter’s, and I ended up leaving Kohl’s with it tucked safely in a bag. It was the first thing I bought for my baby, and it was the first thing my son wore on his very first day of life.

Carter’s has been with us to welcome four babies into the world. They were with us for their first holidays. And they were with us for their first days of school.  Carter’s is a quality brand that I have always trusted. Their clothing is adorable and comfortable, and perfect for every occasion. Even more important, it’s a brand that’s durable enough to keep up with my active kids as they play!

Carter's


This Spring, Lily and Liam are going to look extra cute thanks to Carter’s!  The pastel colors and fun patterns in the Spring collection are PERFECT. We’re thoroughly enjoying this early Spring weather and making lots of memories. So many exciting things are planned for the next few months, and Carter’s will be with us for each adventure!


Here’s how my family has lots of fun in the Spring:

I firmly believe in spending time outdoors almost every day, so we go to the playground several days a week. Carter’s clothing comfortably keeps up with my little explorers while they climb, slide and swing!

Carter's
Carter's
Carter's
Carter's
Carter's


We never let a little bit of rain ruin our fun! The adorable Carter’s raincoats protect my busy kids from the wind and the rain, so they can keep playing.

Carter's


World Down Syndrome Day is coming up on March 21st, and my homie with an extra chromie will be rocking his designer genes AND rocking his blue and yellow for Down syndrome awareness! 

Carter's
Carter's
Carter's
Carter's


Now that it’s warm, we’re having lots of picnics outdoors. We often pack up a bag of books and toys, hike into the woods behind our home, find a clearing, and play on a blanket. Sometimes a simple change of scenery can be so refreshing, and make a bad day better again!

Carter's


I believe in surrounding our kids with pets and introducing them to a wide variety of animals by visiting farms and zoos. Caring for a pet and loving them can be an incredible learning experience for children.
We accidentally welcomed baby bunnies into our home almost two weeks ago, because our two pet bunnies were NOT both girls. Instead of treating it like a burden, we decided to make it a learning experience. Our kids get to watch the babies grow and help prepare them for their new forever homes! And one of them just might be staying with us!

Carter's
Carter's


Easter is coming up soon, and Lily is practicing for the big egg hunt and trying to teach her little brother the ropes. He hasn’t caught on just yet, but there’s still time! The excitement is building, and Lily and Liam are going to look SO cute in their coordinating Easter outfits from Carter’s!

Carter's
Carter's
Carter's


Finally, it was time to dust off those scooters, bikes and outdoor toys and get active! Making daily exercise a regular part of our routine is key for forming healthy habits that will last a lifetime. An added bonus is that they have so much fun that they don’t even realize they’re working. And they certainly look cute will doing it!

Carter's
Carter's
Carter's


If there’s one thing I could tell new parents, it would be this: Enjoy life with your kids right at this very moment. Let them be little. Encourage them to play and use their imaginations. But most important, enjoy THEM and capture the little moments that you’ll always want to remember. Childhood is something you can’t ever get back.

Let Them Be Little - Spring Style from Carter's at Kohl's #PlayAllDay #ad @kohls

Thank you to Kohl’s for sponsoring today’s post and helping Lily and Liam celebrate Spring in style!


Shop the entire Carter’s Spring collection at Kohl’s! From 3/17 - 4/2 get $10 off a $40 purchase with promo code KIDSALE10!



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DISCLOSURE: These affiliate links are not associated with Kohl’s.