Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

The Walker

Ok, let me level with you here.

This is Tessa’s walker.


I hate it.

We have actually had it in our home for quite some time.  It largely sat unused for several weeks, a giant elephant in the corner, taunting us with it’s slick silver bars and fake leather arm support.

Have I mentioned that I hate it?

I hated her orthotics just as much at first, though now that hate has mellowed to a slow burning irritation.  I struggle quite deeply with the fact that her disability is worn on her face.  I know that there are equally as many drawbacks to having a disability that is not visible to any Joe Schmoe, but I wish that I knew that some people, some day, would pass her on the street and not just see Down syndrome.  When there is equipment, well, it just draws attention to her challenges.

In any case, we have the walker now and while I hate it, I have had to slowly come around because it is what she needs right now.  So much of parenting is reminding myself that it’s not about me; it’s about my children and their lives and doing what is best for them to grow strong and independent.  So while I may carry my own insecurities about people having pity on the girl with the walker, the more important cause is helping Tessa get up on her own two feet.

How challenging it is to see our children fight their own battles!!

The milestone of the day for us (me, really) was that we took the walker out of the house for the first time.  When Tessa’s therapists came, they suggested a session in the park a short walk from our house.  So off they went, and Tessa, strapped into her little walker, just raced along the path, shuffling her little feet as fast as she could.

She, the child who cried at the site of her walker just three weeks ago, went about a quarter mile – all the way to the park, actually.  She made it.

It’s not about me.  It’s not about the people who gawk as they drive by us peddling on down the road.  It’s about Tessa, and it’s about getting her wherever it is that she wants to go.

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Ellie turns five

My favorite four-year-old is now five.  


Truly, this year with her has been one of my favorites.  She has always, always been an accidental comedienne, and as she grows, the punch lines just keep on coming.

There was a time last year when I thought maybe she was going to be more introverted.  She was suddenly very fearful of others outside of her immediate circle.  She preferred to play more on her own, and when we laughed at her Ellie-isms, she would get upset or cry.  

She doesn’t always understand why we are laughing now, but her concern about our response has faded significantly.  She loves knock-knock jokes and silly voices and playing pretend.


She asks a lot of big, grown-up questions these days, like “Mom, what’s sacrifice?” and “What’s your soul?”  The other day, she wanted an explanation of puberty.

That was fun.


Still, as surprising as it might be, she is a rule-follower.  She does not like to disappoint people.  I remember this year when she was very sick and missed a week of school.  The night before she was going back, she told me that she was worried that her class would be mad at her because she had been absent.

She is so much of John and so much of me that it is impossible to separate what she gets from which parent.  She loves limits, but loves to push them.  She cares deeply about people and loves to be with others, but needs urging to feel comfortable reaching out to new faces.  She seeks the thrill of risks, but waits for a detailed explanation of how it will work and then a guiding hand to make sure that she is OK the first time.  She is firmly planted with one foot in the familiar and one foot Beyond at all times.


This year, she will go to Kindergarten and branch out to a whole new set of people and experiences.  I’m nostalgic today, but equally excited to watch this little one bloom in a rich learning environment, as she has sought out information and facts and ideas since she was much, much smaller.  Every night, my prayer is that she continue to love the way she loves and continue to learn the ways she learns – and then that she use her talents for good.


The sheer terror of letting her loose in a great big world is inexplicable.  However, the joy of watching her grow is even greater. 


We love you, Ellie Bean!!  Happy fifth birthday!!

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Treetop Love

Some of my most favorite places in my Rolodex of memories are high up in the trees.  I have always loved the birds-eye view, the ability to just look out on the world and soak it all in.  As a child, I remember sitting at my upstairs bedroom window, which faced the street, and watching the teenagers walk home from our local high school, which was about 50 yards from our home.  I loved to examine their fashion, listen to their words… It intrigued me.

In the back yard, there was a crab apple tree with the perfect little notch for sitting with a book to read.  My brother and his friends preferred the big maple tree for climbing high, high toward the sky, but not I.  My love of looking out at the world has some limits – like a thick, strong window or the need to feel like even if I fell out, I wouldn’t die.

In high school, there was the hotel at Monte Verde in Costa Rica.  When most of my friends took the zip lining tour, I preferred to walk the bridges high up in the treetops, looking out on the lush forest below.

The fifth floor of the library at Augustana, my little dorm room high up in Andreen, looking out into the treetops, so many memories of the calm that comes from looking out into a beautiful green landscape.

I tell you this now because we are home and it is lovely and there are trees – so many trees.  I mean, these are the views from our bedroom windows.  


In the morning, before the chaos of the day begins, this is my first view of the world:


The flood of memories and peace it brings to me, to feel that I am waking up in a secluded retreat every morning… it’s one of my most favorite parts about Home.

Stay tuned for more Home, coming up in the next few weeks. ❤️

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Control Freak

If our children always did what their parents wanted, we certainly would not have Chicken Baby in our home.  If you haven’t met Chicken Baby, here he (it?) is:

I am uncertain who thought it would be a great, marketable idea to put a Cabbage Patch doll into a chicken costume, but there he is.  And he’s aaalllllll ours!!  (And by ours, I mean Tessa’s.)
Who would choose this creepy little creature as a comfort object??

We acquired Chicken Baby on one of our nine bagillion trips to Target in the last three weeks (because new house, of course).  If children always did what their parents wanted, Tessa would have behaved herself on that trip, and we never would have ended up in the toy aisle, searching desperately for a soothing object that cost five dollars or less.  An entire rack of cute stuffed animals were lined up in front of us and we got Chicken Baby.  

I didn’t go into parenthood with many preconceived ideas of who my children would be.  I assumed that we would get some extroverts,  because we are.  I assumed they would excel in school.  I knew, before parenthood, that I could keep my girls from having a princess complex.  No pink frills, no referring to the girls as princesses. 

Last week at preschool graduation, Ellie was the only girl in the class who said that she wants to be “a princess” when she grows up.  

So there’s that.

One of the most difficult parts of parenting for me is letting go of my desire to control the choices that my children make.  They are young – we are not grappling with major life decisions here, but sometimes John lets Ellie pick out her own outfit and it makes me twitch just a little.


Or when she refuses to dress her Barbies and I continually have to encounter Awkward Barbie Moments… 

(This is tame.)

It takes every fiber of my being to Let. Go. on a regular basis.  It’s Type A parenting, desperately hoping to be just a little Type B, for the good of their development as independent women.

I think having Tessa has pushed me, just a little, to embrace the path that my child will follow, whatever that may be.

(OK, not whatever.  Bank robbery and juvenile delinquency are off the table.  As are jobs at establishments where women wear spandex shorts and push up bras.)

In any case, my own personal preference for matching clothes and markers with their caps on correct color probably seem like small potatoes, but I’m trying to use these situations as practice for the Big Ones, like choices about college and living arrangements and buying ridiculously overpriced clothing because it’s on fleek or whatever the new phrase for “cool” is at the time.

I feel as though they are going to give me lots of practice this summer.  And I need it.

Because seriously, the markers.


(Somewhere across town, my mom is laughing quietly to herself, smiling and saying ‘hehehe, now she knows what I went through raising her…’  I have an insane amount of respect for that woman.)

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