This one’s mostly going to be photos – just bits and pieces of life at home with the arrival of spring. The kids are wearing Easter-season finery to church, the trees are in bloom and nature is feeling downright frisky. I know this because today, that big tom turkey made it in the back yard with one of the ladies he’s been courting for days. The kids were thankfully in school. (I can just hear the questions…)

Also, a male bluebird is obsessed with his reflection, meaning he is pecking at our reflective-coated windows beginning at 6 a.m. Ah, nature.



We’d just read Robin Hood, so he would only let me take his picture with his “bow.”









First bonfire of the season


Being woken at 6 a.m. by a delusional bird (oh yeah, and the hundreds of dollars of vehicle damage caused by gnawing squirrels) aside, having this front row seat to spring has been a dream come true. Corin is now comfortable enough out there to take full advantage of the play opportunities. We have spent hours and hours outdoors, no badgering required. The hammock is hung, we’ve had a few bonfires, and Lina is improving at navigating the uneven terrain. I am so grateful.

School decisions in Reality Land

Things are getting all kinds of real around here.

Today, I pre-registered Corin for kindergarten at our local public school. (He now has a nap mat and official Scales Elementary canvas bag!) I also met with Lina’s TEIS (TN Early Intervention Services) coordinator for her six month review, in which we updated her therapy goals and discussed her transition to the public school system in September. (Kids under three who qualify for special ed receive therapies through the state early intervention system and then transition to the local school district on their third birthdays.)

I’m thankful to still have five months to prepare for the fall; it’s going to be something. In August, I will be putting my firstborn on the bus for his first taste of full-time school (and the first taste of public school for all of us – but that’s a different subject). A few weeks later, I will begin driving Lina nearly 20 minutes one-way for a four day/week, three hour/day preschool. In addition to her highly-qualified teacher, she will have speech, physical and occupational therapists in the classroom all day. Her class will be 50 percent special education preschoolers and 50 percent “peer models” (typically developing kids her age).

This may not sound like a big deal to a lot of parents, but to this “let little kids run free and learn by reading cereal boxes and digging in the dirt” mom, it really is. My instinct for as long as we’ve been thinking about the subject has been that the ideal early education for very young kids happens mostly in an unstructured home environment, with educated and engaged parents. I’ve read some pretty solid research along those lines, particularly related to the key role of play in early learning. I have concerns about increasing academic pressure on kindergartners, who are still at an age when a highly-structured environment can backfire.

But life is life, and we don’t dwell in the ideal. We live in our own complicated reality, as does every other family on the planet. We don’t make decisions based only on research and ideology; we make them based on our unique kids and our specific life circumstances.

That’s why my kids have been in a Mother’s Day Out program. It’s how two church school-educated parents moved to the other end of town, to a painfully expensive housing market, to access the best public schools in the region. It’s how a “less structure is better” mom is enrolling her five-year-old in a public kindergarten and her three-year-old in a four-day-a-week preschool. Jon and I have spent a lot of time wrestling with competing needs and priorities. We’re working to find the right balance of what’s best for the entire family. We’ve prayed a lot, researched a lot, talked a lot to other parents and therapists, and this is where we’ve landed. I am (mostly) at peace.

Just don’t ask me about it as I’m putting Corin on the bus in August or dropping Lina off at her classroom in September.

And, just for kicks, I will leave you with this gem of Corin dressed for Dr. Seuss day at pre-K. (That would be my belt as a tail and a hat I stapled and glued together this morning, between packing his lunch and combing his hair for school pictures.)


Hair pulling, continued

Today, I dropped Lina off at Mother’s Day Out with more nervousness than I’ve felt since her first day there.

She was wearing a mini backpack, purchased at Toys R Us for $9 and loaded with two books weighing almost exactly two pounds. (I know, because I weighed them on the kitchen scale.) A textured ribbon was tied to the straps. She had calming essential oils massaged into the soles of her feet. I had quickly run through our sets of 10 joint compressions in the car before coming in. I’d forgotten the nubby chew tube I ordered to help with molar teething and oral sensory input, but we’ll remember next week. Just before I left, the program director took a drop-off picture to finish out the visual schedule they’ve been preparing for her.

ALL of this is an effort to address the chronic hair-pulling that has become such a pervasive problem every Tuesday. We’ve seen a resurgence everywhere, but it is by far the biggest problem at school. I observed for a half-hour or so from the window recently, and the other kids in the room were clearly terrified of her. They cried and held their hair every time she got close. It was awful.

Thankfully, this Mother’s Day Out program has a mission to include kids like Lina. They have a special education teacher on staff – not Lina’s classroom teacher, but available for support – and one of the program directors herself has two kids with special needs. They get where we’re coming from, and they are willing to work hard to address the problem. My sit-down with the director, special ed teacher and classroom teacher a couple weeks ago was really hard, but so constructive. I am hopeful that the plan we created together will help Lina work through this.

I don’t know what the report will be today. I don’t expect an immediate cure. I’m just hoping that we can find constructive ways for her to channel the frustration and sensory needs that she currently expresses by yanking the hair from innocent children’s heads. If anyone out there has experience with this, I am open to any and all suggestions. 

Happy World Down Syndrome Day

It’s 3.21, which means we celebrate all the awesome people in the world who rock that third copy of the twenty-first chromosome!


If you’d like to join us in celebrating, we encourage you to visit Kelle Hampton’s blog and take the 3.21 pledge. Your donation goes toward funding grants for college students with Down syndrome. That’s right, I said college students. Read the blog – this is awesome stuff!

A cold day at the zoo, or, happy birthday, Corin

Five years ago today, my son, my precious firstborn, made me a mom, and life has been so rich and full ever since. The pictures pretty much tell the story of how we’ve celebrated his actual birthday. Still to come: his favorite dinner of homemade mac and cheese.



They really do love each other.







This photo cracks. me. up.


Licking the frosting off the chocolate cupcake he picked out at Ivey Cake.

The boy who would grow up

So, it’s only been… how many weeks since my last post? Let’s just call that a blogging dry spell, shall we?

And now we’re moving on to talk about the fact that my eldest child is turning five on Wednesday. He’s spelling words – sounding them out, by himself! – and real, honest-to-goodness, five-days-a-week school is just a few short months away. I’m not entirely sure how any of this has happened, but it’s here, and I’m doing my best to keep up.

We celebrated with family today, and it was fantastic. Corin chose Peter Pan as the theme for his party. We kept things relatively low-key, but we did dress in costume, which was way fun.

I had to work to ignore the irony of planning a birthday party based on the boy who wouldn’t grow up. I tease Corin sometimes about trying to keep him little. “What if I put really heavy books on your head?” “What if I stopped feeding you all those healthy vegetables?” And he laughs and says, “No, I’ll just keep growing.” I feel keenly the shortness of these days. They are slipping through my fingers, and all I can do is snap photographs and say a prayer that I can hang on to the memories. These days are often hard and not at all glamorous, but they are precious to me.

Today, though, I have been reminded of what an incredible experience it is to watch a child grow and learn. It’s happening before my eyes. He’s taller, his face is leaner, he’s obsessed with superheroes and sword battles, he can spell “table” with minimal help. This year, I watched him anticipate and appreciate his birthday party in new ways. It is bittersweet, but there is joy in it.

For better or worse, our Peter Pan will grow up. It’s happening right now. (They Might Be Giants, anyone? “You’re older than you’ve ever been, and now you’re even older. And now you’re even older. And now you’re even older…”) I get my brief window to try to teach him things, to shape his character, to point him to the God who made Him and gives him a future. I’ll take it, and call it the privilege it is.


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