Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Lesson #11: Daycare is just the right thing to do (for us)

This is part of the 31 for 21 blog challenge!

There was never a doubt in my mind that I would be a working mom. Some girls imagine themselves taking care of babies and running their households. That was never me. I do all of that stuff, but I also have a job that I love and my kids go to Miss Julie’s house for their daytime care.

I’ll tell you more about Julie when I have a keyboard and I can do her justice. For now, suffice it to say that she has been a true blessing for our family. My girls adore her and her house.

What I love about daycare for Tessa is that she is totally thriving surrounded by older, typical kids. While playing with her sister gives her some exposure to words, movement, big-kid stuff, play at daycare is even more busy and complex. It has been her normal life routine for so long, since she was just three months old. It’s good for her. Case in point:


Julie sent me that picture yesterday. It looks boring enough, just four kids hanging out around the box of Frozen toys. But the amazing background story is that Ellie and the other two were playing excitedly with these toys and Tessa army-crawled her way across the room to see what they were playing with. Motivation. Example. Acceptance.

She is in the right place.

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Lesson #10: They’re different.

This is part of the 31 for 21 blog challenge!

(Another post from John tonight. It’s a short one (It’s Friday!!!). Soon, he’s going to need his own log-in name. ūüėČ )

This is a universal truth for parents of more than one child. Our children are very different. Not because of the extra chromosome, just because they are. Simply put, Ellie will make you laugh hysterically. Tessa will make you glow.

a little flashback to summer fun



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So where’s my magnet?

Oh Ellie Bean, you sure can keep your momma on her toes.

So, we’re working on thank you notes for all of those who donated to our cause when Team Tessa ran in the Rock n’ Roll half¬†back in in July. ¬†We decided to order some ridiculously cute magnets with Tessa on them to send our supporters.

Ellie takes a keen interest in helping me do most anything around the house, especially things that she really can’t easily help with. ¬†Like writing thank you notes…. ¬†There’s no clear way for her to help write letters to our family and friends, but after more whining than I could handle a little consideration, I decided that she could put the magnets into the envelopes.

At first, she was totally enthralled with these little pictures of her baby sister. ¬†But, as her interest in envelope-stuffing quickly waned, she decided to spread all fifty out across the table. ¬†“Look at all these cute little Tessas!!” she squealed, lining them all up in neat little rows. ¬†Until….

Cue dramatic music.

“So,¬†Momma? ¬†Where is my magnet?”

Not upset, not mad, not annoyed. ¬†Just confused. ¬†And my brain just started to race… ¬†What to say, what to say?

We have made a decision that there isn’t a need for a sit-down conversation with Ellie about her sister’s genetic makeup. ¬†She’s a smart cookie, she hears us talking. ¬†We read her 47 Strings, she hears the words “Down syndrome,” and it’s just a part of our life. ¬†She doesn’t know what the difference is, or how it will change all of our lives, but she knows. ¬†So how do you explain this cause that we’re connected to, without diminishing the value of the child without a cause?

“Well Ellie, do you remember when we all wore our Team Tessa shirts and watched Daddy run a race?”

“Oh, yeah. ¬†Well, I choose this one. ¬†This one is mine.” ¬†(picks up a Tessa magnet and hops down from the chair)

And she walked away.

Oooooooookay. ¬† So my freak-out was unwarranted… this time.

I don’t worry about Ellie getting lost in the shuffle of having a sister with extra needs. ¬†Believe me, she makes herself the star of her universe with no problem. ¬†As we continue on our journey of this kind of “parenting on steroids,” there will be lots of tough conversations. ¬†Perhaps Tessa, too, will have “what about me?” questions.

Perhaps? ¬†Who am I kidding? ¬†Of course she will! ¬†I’ve never¬†subscribed to the “equal is fair” philosophy. ¬†I know that each kid will require her own special type of parenting, but explaining any of that to the other is… tricky. ¬†Good thing I’m going to get lots of practice.

And now, cuteness…. (which is, somewhat ironically, pretty Tessa-heavy this time.)

photo (7)

photo 2 (2)

This is her “if you think I’m done eating my food, you’ve got another thing coming” face:

photo 2 (3)

photo (8)



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The State of Our Union: July, 2014

Midway through 2014…


Seriously, when did that happen?  Our lazy days of summer have been very, very good to us.  With the Fourth of July holiday now over, I can already feel the itch to get back to school.  Crazy as I know it is, I do miss the routine of our school year.

But not enough to rush back in already. ¬†ūüôā

Here’s an update on how we’re all doing… skip to the end if you’re only interested in our most-interesting family members (meaning: the kids. ¬†I’m not offended if you don’t care much about John and I. ¬†ūüôā )

John and I

We’re coming up on our five-year wedding anniversary (this Friday!). ¬†As we have spent every one of our anniversaries in the car and this year will be no different, on kind of a whim, we went out to celebrate last week. ¬†Hiking in a forest preserve, beers at a local brewery, Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner (because it’s within walking distance from our house), and then walking home in the pouring rain… it wasn’t exactly a romantic celebration of our love, but I think it fit our couple personality well enough. ¬†Maybe not the hiking… no part of me is a hiker. ¬†But we did it.



Why buy a card when you can just show one to your husband in CVS for free??? ¬†ūüôāIMG_5746

John is loving every minute that he gets to play with his girls. ¬†Grad school is in a lull right now before his final push to the end and Lord knows that no one is ready for that to be over more than we are. ¬†He’s also training for the Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon (donate here), which means a lot of late-night and early-morning runs. ¬†I’m so proud of him! ¬†And, our team is in first place for the amount of money raised. ¬†I can’t wait for the race!! ¬†Team Tessa will be out in full force!


I’m settling into a new position at work this summer, which has been a (good) whirlwind. ¬†I have also made some good connections with mommas in the Down syndrome community and I, like John, have really enjoyed time with the kids. ¬†My travel bug bites are sufficiently calmed for a little bit from all of our mini-excursions, though my recently-renewed passport is just dying to be used…. someday….


Can I tell you again how much I despise potty training?

The child is a nutcase and I adore her. ¬†She’s smart as a whip and fiercely in love with all things Frozen. ¬†We have seriously watched the movie at least 5 times a week for the last month. ¬†Now if we could just get her to take a break from her imaginary universes¬†and start listening to her bladder, we could move all move forward. ¬†Ellie loves her sister to pieces and we haven’t had a single issue with jealousy or regressing to baby behaviors. ¬†What a blessing! ūüôā


There is no filter on this picture. ¬†Those eyes are going to break hearts someday….IMG_5778


We had Tessa’s six-month IFSP review yesterday (her IFSP is the document that outlines her goals for development). ¬†She is almost seven months old! ¬†Her occupational therapy evaluation was yesterday as well. ¬†On the positive side, she rolls like a champion and is actually “advanced” for her age at that skill!! ¬†However, she is struggling to use her hands to do more than swat at toys or put things in her mouth. ¬†When she was evaluated today, we learned that developmentally, her fine motor skills with her hands are around the two-month range. ¬†So, going forward, we’re going to add in occupational therapy once a week. ¬†We have to work on her core strength. ¬†It’s difficult for her to do much of anything until that tummy strength improves. ¬†It will help her move, play, eat, breathe, interact… it’s a huge focus for us right now! ¬†As our developmental therapist (DT) explained to us, she’s going to keep developing cognitively and if her body won’t do what her mind really wants to, we have to worry more about her behaviors (which, by the way, happens in classrooms all across the world all. the. time.). ¬†In true Tessa form, as soon as she heard her DT say this, she started to improve. ¬†I swear to you that as soon as this child hears that¬†she isn’t doing what she should be and we’re going to add more therapy, she hurries up and “gets” the new skill…

This month, we also started solids with Tessa. ¬†She seems to be indifferent to it really. ¬†Can I also mention how much easier it is to do things like start solids when you just have one child? ¬†I don’t know why, but we have been really inconsistent in feeding Tessa at the table. ¬†Weird. ¬†Anyway… right now, she doesn’t eat a whole lot by spoon and she’s slow as molasses, but she doesn’t spit it out! ¬†While we can’t always tell if she is interested in more or not, she will let us know when she is done. ¬†With great joy, she spits it all in our faces by buzzing her lips. ¬†The joys of parenting… ¬†I have started using a few signs with her (“more,” “all done,” and “eat”) and I’m sure that once John reads this update, he will, too. ūüėČ

Tessa’s emerging personality is¬†sweet and easygoing but has a flair for the dramatic,¬†she¬†loves¬†people and being held, adores her sister and daddy (and most other people)… ¬†She sleeps well, is now eating well and provides great balance for us and her goofy sister. ¬†She is such a great addition to our family!




As our summer dwindles (but not too quickly!), I can’t help but feel so blessed for all that we have right now. ¬†Our family, friends, and coworkers have been overwhelmingly positive, supportive, loving, helpful… I could go on and on. ¬†For now, I just want to say thanks. ¬†If you are reading this, you have been a part of this… of us and we can’t thank you enough.

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Tubes, Take 2

I think a lot of my readers are Facebook friends… but for those who aren’t, or those who are and want more details of today’s events…. here we go:

We are home after successful tube placement and bronchoscopy.

The morning was, as usual, not without it’s fair share of drama. We have a family history of some complications with general anesthesia. ¬†As the anesthesiologist explained, “it’s very rare that someone would have any type of reaction, but if they do, they usually die. So we’re going to go with a slightly less safe type of IV anesthesia that takes a little longer so that we don’t run the risk of the other reaction.”

Well, that’s comforting.

John was not able to be there today, so very thankfully, my mother-in-law came to keep me company… and to calm me down. She is awesome at chatting away the time and before I knew it, the doctor was back to let me know that Tessa was doing well.

So, the tubes are in and should fall out on their own in (hopefully) a year to 18 months. She doesn’t have to wear ear plugs unless she is in a lake or river, but I don’t see that being an issue for her. ūüôā The bronchoscopy didn’t show any abnormalities, which is good. This means that Tessa’s airways are formed correctly. She had a bit of redness on her vocal cords, which he explained could be from crying or reflux. He said that a swallow study would be a good follow-up to check out the mechanics of how she eats.

It took a little while for her to wake up following the procedure. One of our nurses told us that “people with Downs love their sleepy drugs!” I think some people might not like that kind of generalizing statement, but I am totally OK with it. ūüôā

Tessa is in good spirits, happy to be reunited with her bottle, and is her happy self already. Ellie was thrilled to come home from daycare and find her sister back in the house again. She immediately requested to hold her, something that she almost never does, so I’ll wrap up with some sweet pictures of these two little buddies!







Ellie lives in her own little world and we are just characters in the game. Lord help you if you wake her up from her occasional nap and call her Dora on a day when she is actually Doc McStuffins. I found myself in that situation late this afternoon.

It wasn’t pretty.

With no TV to distract us these days and John working late coaching track, Tessa and I have been at the mercy of Ellie’s imaginary play. Today, we were Doc McStuffins. Or, to be more specific, Ellie was Doc, Tessa was Stuffy (a goofy blue dinosaur), and I was Hallie (a chubby purple hippo with a southern accent. Lucky me!).



Tessa isn’t quite sure what just happened to her, but she’s glad it’s over. ūüôā (These last two pics were just too cute not to post!)