Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

5 years

Love is friendship set on fire.

It has been five years since this monumental day:


When I first met John, he was stumbling into our 8:30 AM introductory Education class, decked out in his wrinkly pajamas, looking like he hadn’t bathed in a week.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but he was certainly intriguing.


We were friends for a long time.  I liked him because wherever we went, whatever we did, we had fun.  He liked me because I bought him breakfast when he was low on cafeteria points.


 As our friendship grew into forever, our friends joked that they couldn’t believe that it had taken us so long.  And when he proposed, on one knee in front of 300 students and faculty at the prom that we were chaperoning, there was not a doubt in my mind that this is right.


 We had one argument in the wedding planning process.  I wanted a nice car to transport us to our reception.  Mindful of budget, he suggested a bus.  I’ll let you in on a little secret here: while 99% of the time, John likes to let me be the boss (something I appreciate tremendously), when he puts his foot down, I listen (no one in my family will believe this).  We got the bus.


 We vowed to love God first, then each other.  We laugh every day.  We argue.  We pinch pennies.  We complain about each other.  We bond over America’s Got Talent and the amazing Jon Stewart.  We have grown our family in the desire to love every minute of our life and we do.


5 years.  1,825 days.  43,800 hours.  2,628,000 minutes.  1 mortgage.  4 different jobs.  1.75 Master’s degrees.  2 beautiful girls.  2 sweet angel babies.  21 states.  3 countries.  75 viewings of the movie Frozen.  1 NICU stay.  1 PICU stay.  3 half-marathons (those are all him, but I’m a great spectator).  1 mission trip.  4 anniversaries in a car.  Approximately 200 rolls of sushi and Lord knows how many ice cold beers.

It has been a wild, crazy, beautiful, wonderful, roller coaster ride.  I’m so thankful that, through it all, he is my constant.  We are not who we were when we said our vows five years ago.  Praise the Lord for that.  Stronger, closer, fiercely in love with each other, with our family, with our life.  Whatever comes our way, we walk together.

0812Happy anniversary, Jefe.  There is no one better for the celebrations, no one better for the trenches, than you.  What a beautiful life we have been given to lead together!!!!  (Did I get enough exclamation points in there for you?  Maybe I could add a couple more?!!!?)  I love you more than the sun and the stars.  Thanks for sticking with me.  Love, Mags


Will Run for Beer?

I am not a runner.

John participates every year in a half marathon at the end of August and it kind of makes me crazy.  I’m glad he takes the time out to keep himself healthy and moving, but the race at the end of the training costs money and I hate paying money so that he can do something that he could do for free.

But tonight, John found a cause.


Here is his letter to our family and friends:

Hello Everyone,

I want to let you all know about a charity race I have decided to join.  This summer on July 20th I am running the Rock “n” Roll Chicago Half Marathon for the Ups for Downs Down syndrome foundation.  As many of you know, my daughter Tessa was born with Down syndrome earlier this year.  Since Tessa was born, Maggie and I are on a mission to help people see the ability in all people with Down syndrome and not just the disability.  Needless to say, I thought this race is one small way I can help the cause (and maybe lose a few pounds while I’m at it).  
How can you help?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  There are three ways you can help.  
1) Prayers, encouragement, and well wishes.  You can even go watch the race if you want! 
2) Financial support for the Ups for Downs Organization.  Think of it this way: Any small contribution you make (from $13.10 and up) is like paying to put me through 13 miles of running! It’s almost like getting back at me for being a smart aleck all these years by making me run for two hours and supporting a great cause at the same time!  Below is the website you can use to make donations if you are moved to do so.  
3) Join the team!  You may also sign up as a part of our running team (Team Tessa) and do some fundraising of your own.  I have a feeling this option will get the least positive response, I mean who would be crazy enough to run 13 consecutive miles? 🙂 I digress, but let me know if you want to run and I’ll give you some information. Just know that the sooner you sign up, the less expensive it will be and the more time you have to raise funds, so let me know sooner rather than later. 
I can’t tell you all how much Tessa has taught all of us in just a short time and she can’t even really do anything yet except smile!  Let’s help spread the love and start to change the way we think!  God’s blessings to all of you! 

Now there is a race that I can throw money at.  🙂

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Happy birthday, Love!

(This is my second post in a month dedicated to my husband.  My apologies.  He’s embarrassed, which is kind of why I do this.)

The past weekend was so incredibly busy for our family, but also so joyful!  We celebrated my husband John’s 29th birthday.  I love his birthday because every year, I am reminded of how wonderful our friends and family are.  We are so blessed!!!  We always celebrate with a night out at a favorite bar that serves a variety of craft beers (as well as vodka cranberries…. which is why I’m still tired today).  So many of John’s friends come out to have a drink with us.  We were even joined this year by one of his best friends and his girlfriend, Aaron and Kim, who flew in from Kansas as a surprise!!  So cool!  I love Kim because she’s in a PhD program for child psychology and even when I tell her the craziest of stories about my children, she assures me that they are just fine.  🙂

As for the birthday boy…. for whatever reason, it seems that his birthday, March 10th, tends to bring great weather to the Chicago area each year.  It’s probably very coincidental, but for as many years as I’ve known him, his birthday has been a take-off-your-coat-for-the-first-time kind of Spring day and today is no different.  Tessa and I are soaking in some great Vitamin D today!!  I think I pay such close attention to the weather today because of the story that John’s mom tells us every year about his birth…

When Judy was pregnant with John, he was quite a surprise.  She did not even know she was pregnant until about four months into the pregnancy.  As is common practice, they had an ultrasound to check on John’s development.  At that visit, doctors could not detect any arms or legs on their precious little baby.  When the doctor shared with them that John would have no limbs, he encouraged them to consider terminating the pregnancy.  My in-laws were astounded, but took no time to decide that this was their child and that he would be born as God intended.  Whatever he was at birth, he would be loved and cared for by his parents.

John’s birthday was weeks earlier than expected.  It was a cloudy, cool day when Judy went into the hospital.  After laboring for only a couple of hours, John was born weighing 5 and a half pounds, with arms, legs, 10 fingers, and 10 toes.  Literally, when he was born, the sun came out, the temperature soared to 62 degrees (20 degrees above normal) and, as she tells us, all the nurses were taking off their sweaters and going outside to soak in the warm sunshine.  This may be cheesy, but he has been bringing sunshine to all of our lives ever since!!  I am forever grateful to my in-laws for their faith in God and in each other, that they would trust in Him and His plan for their family.        

So to my wonderful husband, happy birthday.  Thanks for being such a light in my life.






Happy Valentine’s Day!

I adore my little girls… but today isn’t about them.  So humor me here while I take 5 minutes to pay homage to my partner in crime (in pictures):


(thanks, http://www.snotm.com/ 🙂

In our childfree days:


We laugh, a LOT.


He’s a wonderful, supportive, loving, helpful, fun, funny, kind, and caring husband and father… and I am thankful to have him in the trenches with me.


Love you, Jefe!!