And just like that, two years have passed.

Jon and I lay in bed Friday night reminiscing about the events of two years ago. Remembering Lina’s birth is a complicated experience. Sometimes, I regret that memories of her arrival are mixed with clouds of grief and chaos. We – and I, in particular, as Jon pointed out – faced some very difficult times two years ago. As we reminisced, I asked: “What if we had received a prenatal diagnosis instead of being blindsided at her birth? What if we had given birth in a hospital instead of at home?” But ultimately, I come back to the belief that events worked out for the best. We didn’t spend months worrying about potential health problems that never manifested. I was able to have a natural VBAC rather than a repeat C-section that would have required a longer hospitalization and recovery period. And even with the chaos, we spent those days falling in love with our baby girl and finding our way to bright hopes for a future that looked a bit different than we had expected.

Today, as Lina teeters on the edge of walking and every day finds new words and ways to express herself, grief no longer plays a role. The pride and joy of parenthood is sharpened into something even keener, thrown into sharp relief by its contrast with those early fears and worries. The story of Lina at two is not about Down syndrome; it’s about the awesome little person she is. It’s about how independent, curious, bright, funny and affectionate she is, how watching her smile and laugh makes the world sing. It’s about her arms around my neck and her sweet babbling voice. It’s about hauling her away from the dog bowls and toilet bowls and picking up the paper she shredded and spread around the living room floor. It’s about watching her grow and knowing how well she is doing.

That’s not to say there aren’t unique challenges. We still spend a lot of time driving back and forth to therapy visits. I struggle to be patient with her sensory-related habits of hair pulling and throwing items across the room. Sometimes there is a stab when I see her interact with other kids her age and come face-to-face with her delays.

I used to wonder how to find the right balance between pragmatism and optimism. Did I need to prepare myself for potential pain and disappointment? The answer for me is a resounding, “No.” I have come to believe that our unbounded optimism about her future will be the single most important factor in her success. There will be challenges, no doubt, but we will deal with those as they come. We focus on today, doing our best to equip her for success, celebrating every milestone with everything we have, believing her possibilities are endless.

I will post later about where she is with specific developmental milestones. For now, I just want to say how incredibly lucky we feel to be dazzled every day by our sweet Eline Katherine. Happy birthday, beautiful girl.


A little celebration at church




Post cake, pre nap

Labor Day birthdays

We spent Labor Day weekend celebrating birthdays for two pretty awesome kids. My nephew, Benjamin, is turning four, and Lina will be turning two in just a few days. The fact that the exact date is not here yet allows me to ignore this reality a little longer.

We decided on a simple family picnic at a nearby park. Edwin Warner Park in Nashville has quickly become a new favorite, thanks in part to a nature play area where kids can dig in the dirt, make mud with water from the spigots and generally muck it up to their hearts’ content. This thrills Lina’s soul. She finds the nearest puddle, plops down in it and coats herself in mud like it’s her job. Nephew Luke discovered a shared love of mud, and the two of them ended up looking like… Well, you can see for yourself. Meanwhile, Corin and Benjamin embarked on a “paleontologisting” adventure, digging for T-rex bones at the top of the dirt hill. They made up ridiculous names for each other and generally had a great time all weekend.

The menu was easy: sandwiches, macaroni salad, avocado/corn salad, fresh fruit, and banana cream cupcakes and (very soft) ice cream for dessert. The weather forecast had been threatening thunderstorms, but we lucked out and had overcast skies and pleasant temperatures, with just a little sprinkling of rain here and there. We returned home in time to open gifts before my brother and his family had to hit the road back to Chattanooga.

There is something about these kinds of family gatherings that whispers, “Remember this. This is the stuff of life.” The squeals and shouts of little kids, the chaos of big meals, the mess of toys everywhere I look, knots of people deep in conversation, peals of laughter from the next room… This is family. There is nobody perfect here; it’s just a lot of people who love each other, celebrating milestones together and making some awesome memories in the process.

(My thanks to Ryan for taking quite a few of these pictures.)



Ben understandably felt the situation required a little observation first.














To the creek for a bath!







The vanilla pastry cream was delicious on the banana cupcakes, but trying to pipe it from a plastic bag did not make for the prettiest results. I recommend the ice cream scoop method.







That kid really hates ice cream.










Lina’s favorite part was the Tweety Bird card.




Thank you!


The new tire swing sees daily use.




Blowing good-bye kisses


I spy an airplane.


You know it’s been a good visit when you’re totally bummed about saying good-bye.