Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Dad Sabotage

It is an annual tradition of mine to kidnap John around Father’s Day and take him (and the girls) out to the Quad Cities, where we met and attended college.  He never really knows when it is coming and this year, we got him good.

We have quite a few trips coming up in September and October and, given that is it now practically August and we hadn’t gone yet, he thought it was going to be an off year.  This is why, when I told him that it was time to go shampoo the carpets at our townhouse and asked him to please let me drive so that he could call his mom, he didn’t bat an eye.  Then, I asked him to open the glove box for some gum and he found this:

He knew.  Inside the card, a terrible little poem that I wrote on a whim, telling him that we were off on a little journey:

It’s horribly written, I know.  You can only write so well in the grocery store parking lot with a four-year-old asking 47 questions a minute in the back seat.

In any case, he was over the moon excited.  And thus, our 36-hour whirlwind trip began.

I love this.

We ate dinner in one of our favorite QCA restaurants and went swimming in the hotel pool.  Tessa loved it, Ellie was totally freaked out by the depth of the water.

After swimming, Whitey’s Ice Cream, another must-have when we visit what feels like our second home…

Where the heck is my ice cream, Dad??

 After ice cream, it was time to get the children in bed, so back to the hotel we went.  It’s always a curious thing, finding a way to stay awake and chat as adults while sharing a hotel room with the children.  This year, John tried putting on episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, but after a couple of references to testicles and a vampire commercial, we thought maybe we should try the quiet reading time method.  After about five minutes, we got a lecture from Ellie.

“Guys, no lights, no TV.  It’s time for bed.  Come on, let’s go, lights out.”

Alright then.

In the morning, we visited Jimmy’s Pancake House for the most delicious pancakes that we have ever eaten.  We come here every time we visit the QCA and are never disappointed.  This was the first time that we had brought the girls with us.  Tessa was hammin’ it up with everyone around her.  The waitresses all came over to say hello and at the end of the meal, our waitress asked if she could take her to meet some of the other staff.  It’s a small place and we have had this waitress a few times, so since Tessa was ok with it, we let her go.  She was high-fivin’ everyone she met!  Hilarious.  I asked Ellie (who was just a little bummed that she didn’t get paraded around) if she thought Tessa was being a ham and she said “No, she’s not a ham.  She’s a lover.  She just loves everyone!!”

Also, I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but if your kids are starving, jelly packets make a great appetizer.  Just FYI.



No visit to the Quad Cities is complete without a visit to the Family Museum… as long as the kids are with us, that is.  🙂  It’s one of the best children’s museums that we have visited, mostly because it’s small enough to let the kids do their thing and they can actually interact with all of the exhibits without being overrun by 50,000 people.



They have added a really neat area that is designed for crawlers and new walkers.  Tessa loved it and got a lot of PT practice that I’m sure her therapists would appreciate.  Personally, I appreciated the time to just sit and watch her safely crawl around and explore.




The real reason that we love the Quad Cities is our emotional tie to Augustana.  It’s a small school – and graduates of Augie are sickeningly devoted to our alma mater.  We can’t help it, it’s just a lovely place to be.


We also visited the John Deere Tractor Museum…



And then Ellie let us know that it was time to go home.



See you next time, Quad Cities.  We can’t wait to come back!

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Lesson #9: Mornings are far more complicated

This is part of the 31 for 21 Blog Challenge!

(John decided that he wants to contribute…. so this one’s from him.)

The only reason I’m doing this is because Maggie is going to burn out if she doesn’t get some blogging help…and because her blogs need something funny as opposed to serious.

If you are a parent you must know the joy of getting your kids out the door (especially when you have somewhere to be).  My morning is funny.  Mag is out the door before the kids are awake and to be perfectly honest, she doesn’t have a clue about being under pressure.  I know what you’re saying… Maggie was with Tessa in the NICU, Maggie was at Tessa’s ear surgery all alone, Maggie works with the therapists to help Tessa…but she doesn’t get the joy of helping these little humans look presentable before day care.  Therefore, she doesn’t know real pressure.

Here’s a story about real pressure:

This morning Tessa wakes up at 4:00 am because apparently she’s trying to get a head start on daylight savings time.  We have a talk while she eats her bottle.

Me: “Tessa, you need to sleep in later than this.”

Her: “Dad, you need to wake up earlier, today is a new day and you’re wasting it by sleeping.”

Me: “Yes, I understand your point, but you see, Daddy needs rest in order to have patience with your sister.”

Her: “Look, when you share a room with her then you can talk to me about patience, until then, just pass the formula.”

Then Ellie is awake.  At this point we are playing fictional character lottery.  What is fictional character lottery you ask?  Well, every morning when Ellie wakes up she is reincarnated as one of her favorite characters.  It could be Anna, Elsa, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Princess Sophia.  In any case, I begin the egg shell walk because if I get the wrong character, our little actress will be upset.  I am a lawyer during cross examination:

Me: “Good morning…Soph-”


Her head goes back under the covers and I let the anger hang in the air.

Me: “What I meant to say was…Good morning…um…Anna of Arond-”


I’m 0-2.  Third time is a charm or a strike and by now I’m going to be late as it is, so I may as well just keep throwing out names.  I say the entire cast of Frozen in 2 seconds.  She is staring with a look that says, If you think for one second that I’m going to reveal my identity this easily, you should turn around, walk to the bookcase, and re-read What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  Because in that book it clearly states that I AM NOT AN INFANT!

I let her pick out her clothes…part pajama, part scuba gear, and give her some goldfish crackers so I don’t awaken the hangry beast.  Meanwhile, Tessa needs to get dressed.  She wears something cute because she doesn’t realize she is opinionated about what Mags puts out for her to wear.

Ok, Let’s recap…Tessa is dressed, Ellie is dressed.  Here comes the hairbrush.  Combing Ellie’s hair should not be the dramatic scene that it becomes.  Never having had long hair, I suppose I am more sensitive to her “pain” when she gets her hair brushed.  She is able to avoid me at every turn.  If Ellie could move all day like she moves when she is about to get her hair brushed, I would sign her up for the NFL and put her on my fantasy football team because no one could catch her.  She’s like a greased chicken (if there is such a thing).

When I finally set her down to brush her hair we have a heart to heart.

Me: “Ellie, you have to get your hair brushed so you can look presentable”

Her: “Go brush Tessa’s hair, please”

Me: “Tessa doesn’t need her hair brushed, you are the person who needs their hair brushed.”

Her: “Can I brush your hair?”

So, of course, I let her brush my hair to be an example of courage in the face of the comb.  She begins to brush my hair and she looks at me and demands, “Cry.”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Her: “Cry when you get your hair brushed.”

Me: “You want me to-”

Her: “Cry.”

I shed a few pretend tears and we trade places.  She sits patiently now that justice and fairness has presided over our situation and her hair is now brushed.  (Although, it still looks terrible because I tried to put it in a ponytail but it never looks as nice as when anyone else puts it up).

The finish line is in sight.  We are almost to the door.  We walk to the car.  We sit.  We belt.  We smile.  We realize we have left our favorite pink fleece in the house.  We need to get it.  We will not be calmed.  We will not be reasoned with.  We will all go back in to the house together.  We are now wearing the fleece.  We drive.  We arrive. We drop off.

I realize this ranting sounds like lies and exaggerations.  This is real life.  It is our life. Well, ok, Tessa can’t really talk, but that is a minor exaggeration.  But I didn’t tell you the best part.  When I drop them off they become two great, well-behaved kids (95% of the time).   I wish Ellie a great day and tell her I love her.  She promises me that she will be more well behaved in someone else’s care than mine.  Tessa smiles…it looks like a pity smile but who can tell.

I can’t emphasize this enough…This is not a complaint!  This is hilarious.  I truly wish you could have this experience because while the pressure is on, the time is crunching, and when everything seems like its falling apart… these kids make me laugh… They’re both nuts!  They fit right in. 🙂


4:30 am Tessa


The State of Our Union, 1st Quarter 2014

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is (almost) a quarter of the way finished. Spring is taking its sweet time arriving in our area. It’s been a rough winter!

And so an update on the family:

John and I

No one really wants to know about the adults… but it’s 7 AM on a Saturday morning and we are both showered, dressed, and ready to start the day… and yet, our small bosses children are sleeping the morning away.  John is clicking away at his laptop, working on yet another grad school project and I’m sitting here with my ear pressed up to the baby monitor, desperately hoping to catch the moment when Ellie wakes up and realizes that Tessa spent the night in their room with her for the first time.  Tessa has finally graduated from her pack n’ play-in-the-closet set up to her crib… but I digress.  I’m talking about the adults, right?  John’s at the point in his grad school that I was exactly one year ago.  He’s tired (I’M tired) and feels like there is no end in sight.  He’ll be finished in December and perhaps then we’ll have just a tiny bit of an ease in the chaos of life.  Of course then I’ll probably get the itch to go back to school or I’ll take on some project that I really don’t have time for and we’ll be back to crazy.  I think we kind of like it that way anyway.  So John is grad-schooling and coaching and teaching…. and me?  I’m kind of jealous.  I just really need to go back to work.

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Our crazy (CRAZY) child has had another explosion of language growth.  She’s already very verbal for her age, but now she’s connecting ideas and feelings, asking questions that are complex and interesting, and singing songs that are incredibly inappropriate for a two-and-a-half year old (totally my fault…….).  She’s still a total klutz.  My mom tries to tell me that she’s just too busy to really be careful where she is walking, but I’m fairly certain that she’s just the kind of athlete that I was…. not an athlete at all.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses.  She and I went out for a Mommy/Ellie date this week at Red Robin like we used to do before Tessa was born.  We even got dessert.  🙂

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And then there is the peanut.  She’s just about THREE months now.  Suddenly, she’s very smiley and engaging.  She’s making some other noises than crying.  Her first noise was an “are you kidding me??” yelp.  Now there are happy coos as well.  Her physical progress is… progressing.  In PT, we’re using some kinesio tape on her belly to help her build up strength in her core.  She’s not able to lift her head up as well when she has it on, but I’ve been assured that she’s not regressing, she just has to re-learn to lift it using the correct muscles and posture.  She also gets to start wearing “hip hugger” pants to keep her frog legs from turning into a long-term problem.  We’ll see the developmental therapist next week, but I’m sure she will be happy to know that Tessa is smiling much more, maintaining eye contact (mostly with me), and when I move out of her vision, she looks for me.  Small victories.  And then there is speech.  No progress to report here with Tessa.  She’s still feeding in the side-lying position and doing well with that.  I’m also more comfortable with it – and getting more comfortable letting other people feed her in that position.  We were working on a transition to more upright, but she has had a cold for a few days and it’s hard enough to get the food in with a stuffy nose that we’re waiting until that clears up to experiment.  For now, the focus is on holding her differently so that she gets used to being in a more upright position.  We’re still doing some mouth-stimulating and working on the pacifier (though she has found her thumb and really likes it.  


I made the mistake the other day of pulling out Ellie’s baby book and looking at what she was doing at 2-3 months.  Well,  I don’t know if it was a mistake, but it certainly hit me like a ton of bricks that Tessa is just going to take longer to do what her sister could.  I’m wondering what this little girl is going to be like when she’s bigger!!  Who will she be?  What will she sound like?  What will she do?  Don’t we ask those questions about all of our children??  I’ve been forcing my way through the book Eat, Pray, Love for months (I have no idea why it’s taking me so long) and she wrote about these phrases that you chant through meditation to center yourself.  I don’t meditate (do people really have time to do that??), but I do have my own phrase running through my head when I get frustrated: she will do it, in her own time.  Sometimes I need to say it a lot, other times not at all.  But it’s a reminder to me that we’ll get there.  In her time.

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