Saturday, January 31, 2009

Val Day Bloggy Winners

I decided to pick 3 winners, because I've just got so many cute kits to use!!

Jen (Schuster Shenanigans)
Terri (Believing in Miracles)
Brigette (Van Nice Family Journey)

You win!

Send me an email at braskasmom at gmail dot com and we'll get this party started! I'd like to get these done in the next couple days....just in case!

For those of you who are interested in the "how to" element.... stay tuned, maybe we'll do some tutorials in March.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Still in one piece

Nope, no baby yet. I've just been busy and tired and well...just not blogging, I guess. Now I'm off to bed, because Braska's asleep and I'm taking every chance I get.

Hopefully, tomorrow I'll get the winner of the Val Day blog makeover chosen and that process underway for the big reveal, and I do have stuff to post that will maybe interest at least 2 of you. So I might be able to get that done too... IF there's no baby. And we're hoping, at this point, that she just takes the initiative to show up very soon.

Anyone wanna throw out a guess for when she'll make an appearance?? Date and time, weight and length for fun? Sure, I'll throw in a prize, just not sure what yet.

Happy End of January to all. G'night.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dear anonymous...thank you

(For the non-anonymous out there...don't miss the post below for a *sweet* deal.)

To the anonymous commenter from the Choices post--Since I can't contact you directly, and please know that I am completely fine with your comment being anonymous, I just wanted to put up a little note to say thank you for your comment. I appreciate you sharing your story, sharing your perspective, and I'm glad you felt you could do so. I'm sure it was very helpful to many.

And I hope that you know that you are more than welcome to contact me, anonymously or directly by email, with any further input or thoughts that might apply as we move forward. I respect your anonymity, but I want you to know that I think no less of you or your relative that is a friend of mine in any way due to your story. I'm so sorry that you had to endure such a terrifying and painful experience. I can't pretend to truly understand. Know that I will be praying for you as May 15 approaches... I cannot imagine your pain, but I so appreciate your honesty in sharing it with me and the other readers.

Many blessings to you and your family...

Anyone want a *sweet* custom blog look for FREE?

I'll soon be switching this and Braska's blogs to their Valentine's Day prettiness. And I've found so many more adorable kits and elements to use that I feel like making more. But I don't want to get so silly as to change my background every other day...that's just excessive!

SO... instead I thought I'd throw it out and see if anyone would like to have a bit of a bloggy facelift for the sweet holiday. It will be a background original and one of a kind, with an original header, designed for you with your input on colors, design elements, etc. I know how to do them with Blogger, obviously, and I think it's similarly workable with Wordpress. I know you can at least post a header image there, but I admit I haven't played with it as much.

If you're interested, leave me a comment, and the winner will be chosen randomly. If you're not into Valentine's, don't fret...I'll do some general ones later on, if you're still interested then, but for now, I'm in the mood for love n' sweets! OH, and if by some chance I get distracted by a baby arrival that throws a snag in the timing, you'll still get the design of your choice, for another holiday or an everyday one for your blog.

Anyone? Anyone?

(PS..You can go check out one I did for Julie's birthday over at Cap'n Jack's blog. He's too cute!)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mini epilogue

Thank you for all the comments, posted here and elsewhere, emailed, etc. I appreciate that you took time to read the post and the respectful responses.

I feel the need to clarify something. I do not in any way claim that the choices that we or others face are easy or simple to handle. I know very well that there are often situations that will not lend themselves to any "win win" outcome. We live in a flawed world; there will always be hardship and painful circumstances to watch and to live through. But that does not negate the fact that there are options, whether easy or not, that will allow life to continue when in the context of pregnancy.

Lastly, let me also make clear that having an abortion does not make a woman unlovable, forever cursed, or a bad person to the core. It is not the unforgiveable sin. There can be recovery, forgiveness, and restoration with great support and love, and we should be quick to offer it at every opportunity. I have supported and continue to support organizations who provide after-care with open and encouraging arms for those that have chosen abortion, desiring to provide help to these women AND men who hurt for the choice they made and need help letting go of the guilt they feel. These are very important entities, and I'm thrilled they exist.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

About choices

I was up half the night last night pondering some more, and these things kept coming to mind. It just wouldn't leave. It seemed so strong. A burden of mind, so to speak. That kind of thing is not accidental. It's time to speak up.

If you have a 4-year-old son, you have told him that he is not allowed to jump off the kitchen counter. You've told him why it's against the rules, that it's for his best, that he could get hurt badly. If he does it, he will get in trouble, because that is how you teach him to obey the rules and to listen to you, the authority. Have you removed his ability to choose to do so? Of course not. He can still climb up there, stand up tall, and leap off the counter. Maybe he will not hurt himself. Maybe he will land on his little sister who is watching this all from below on the floor. Maybe he won't get hurt *this* time. Nothing about you setting the guidelines has removed his human ability to make that choice. Now you will discipline him in the way you have previously laid out. You will remind him that what he has done is not allowed in your house. He is expected to comply with the house and family rules. But nothing strips him of his ability to choose to do it again.

If you have attended a slam-bang good party, imbibed in quite a bit of tasty spiked beverage, enjoyed a few glasses of wine, you are feeling really good, and are now ready to head home, you head to your car. You know that driving while intoxicated is against the law. You even know why, and you could tell others all the reasons, but does that mean you don't have the choice to get in the car and take off? No, the law making this practice illegal does not prohibit you from choosing to get behind the wheel. That is your innate human ability. You may have an accident, you may harm or kill another person or an entire family. You may make it home safely. If you are arrested, you will suffer consequences that were clear and understood prior to your making that choice. No matter what the outcome, what you did was illegal. But it did not take away your ability to choose to do it.

If a young woman is struggling to make ends meet, and she wants better food options than what she has available on her meager budget, she goes to the nice grocery store across town. She knows she does not have money to pay for what she wants. She knows it is against the rules of the store and the laws of her state to take items from the store without paying for them. But she chooses to go ahead and stash several items in her coat, heading for the door quickly. The signs stating the rules and promises of prosecution are very clear, but have they robbed her of her ability to choose to take things? No, she has the will and ability to make any choice, right or wrong. She may make it out undetected, or she may be caught. If she is caught, she will be arrested. Will the store manager listen to her story of living on mac and cheese for the last week and wanting something better, feel that it is valid, and give her the items willingly? Will the police who come to arrest her feel that she's been treated unfairly because she was not allowed to walk in and take whatever she wanted? No, she made her choice, she will have to then abide by the assigned punishment. But none of that took away her choice.

If your spouse spends all your money on gambling and frivilous spending, bankrupting your family and causing you emotional and possibly physical harm as well as traumatizing your children, you may be very angry and want to kill him. You know that is not acceptable according to the laws of our land. But he has humiliated you, caused sadness and pain to your kids, and been a general jerk, by all accounts. There are other options you have, but is taking his life still one of them? You have the ability to choose to do any number of things to end his life. All of them are illegal, not allowed, against the law. What he did was wrong, it was hurtful, it was horrible and unthinkable, but you are still not allowed by law to kill him. As a human, you have the ability to choose to do it anyway, disregarding the consequences. You're aware of them, you know it's called murder and will mean breaking the law. But do you have the choice to do it? Of course. Would we say that we shouldn't judge you because we don't know what you've been through? Would we say that we are improperly removing your right to choose by arresting you for murder and prosecuting you as the law states?

Guidelines, boundaries, and laws do not remove our ability to make a choice, they simply help to direct us, as a country, toward what is best for our people and right for our society as a whole. They are in place to protect all of us. Every person, man or woman, has the choice to abide by the laws or not. They have the ability to choose not to stay within the boundaries of our system of law and order, but they will suffer the consequences and be punished as the law states. That's the way order is kept, that's the way anarchy is avoided. That's the way people can live peacefully with each other. Those that choose to abandon that system will be stripped of their rights to some extent, but they still have that ability to choose to obey or not obey any given law.

If a couple has a child, takes him home, and soon finds out that they can't go out like they want, they can't sleep as much as they'd like, they are missing work more than they'd like, and they have to spend money on this child that they'd rather spend on other things, they decide they do not want this child any longer. They know that there are several options available to them. They also know that killing this child is against the law and will mean they go to jail if they are found out. Some options may be embarrassing, some may be difficult, and some may be invconvenient. Does this mean that they have no choice? Has their "right to choose" been taken from them? No, they have every option in front of them, legal and illegal. It is up to them to decide which way to go. If they choose to give the child too much medication and cause the child to stop breathing, they are humanly able to act on that choice. The laws against this act are in place to protect this child, but they cannot affect the will of the parents at their core. When they are arrested for this choice, they will possibly suffer harm in jail, they may lose freedoms that they had prior to this choice, but that does not invalidate the ability they had to make that choice. We would be outraged. We would call them selfish. We would convict them in the public instantly when the story broke. Regardless, nothing we do can will take away their "right" to choose.

So in case it hasn't been clear, let me be very forthright... This whole talk of "protecting a woman's right to choose" means absolutely nothing in my book. It has nothing at all to do with choice. Choice cannot be taken away in this sense. A woman can choose to do whatever she wants, as can your 4-year-old son, and any man or person on the planet. But every choice has repercussions and consequences, good or bad. Does that mean we should allow and, further, pay for her to kill her child? Of course not! This is so very obvious. If you're going to defend this position, call it what it is, an attempt to protect the woman's right to kill her child. And if that's what you're willing to defend, be prepared to defend Casey Anthony, Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, and all the others who have opted to do the same thing.

Will we give a spouse who may injure herself in the act of killing her husband a proper weapon and people to assist her in doing it safely? Will we provide a bag and cart and escort personnel to the shoplifter in order that she might not hurt herself carrying her stolen items out of the store? In the same way we don't provide hitman services for unhappy wives or husbands, it is unbelievable that we support an entire industry whose sole job is to assist in the killing of the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Yesterday and today in the normal running of chores and tasks, I had several thoughts... for what they're worth...

I love my glasses. The kind you drink out of. We registered for them when we got married and we got them. They're common, nothing special to most, but they're just great in my book.

What would it be like to be able to watch Kinlee move around in there? Like what if we had clear bellies when they were this close to birth? I'd like to match a visual with what weird movements I feel.

If we're supposed to be color blind, why do we keep talking and talking and talking about color??? If it's not about race, why is it all about race?

Would it work to put some kind of pasta in beef stew? Maybe rice?

It is so darn nice to spend time thinking and discussing with people who value the same things I do and aren't afraid to stand for them. How refreshing with all the conflict around!

Since I didn't have any contractions with Braska, will I realize that's what it is when it is? Or will I just think "Ow!" like I occasionally do when she does weird things?

How did this tiny little girl get so darn funny all the sudden?

It's amazing how a little caulk can make a room less drafty. Way to go, M.

Why must people drive so darn fast just to get one block ahead to a red light?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Another Annual Hosting Day

Nothing like a day off. And M was off today, as were his three Friday Night Magic buddies from C-U. So they trekked down here last night to spend the day tapping and attacking. This is the second or third year that they've used this particular day off for gaming at our house, and it works well. Of course, this is the first one that we've been 3 hours away instead of only about 7 minutes.

It's kind of my thing to put out a spread of goodies to keep them going during their physically taxing day. This year it was much lighter on the quantity side, but still... And they came last night, so after playing until some very wee hours, they slept in and I fixed a lunch-time breakfast. I had fresh sugar cookies ready last night for their late-night snacking also. Then a crock-pot full of yummy meaty nacho dip was available through the afternoon and sandwiches this evening.

They left tonight around 8pm, and we cleaned up. Tonight the house is straight and neat, upstairs and downstairs. We're exhausted, but I'm so glad they came. M had a really good time, and it's great that they made the trip. Another MLK Gaming Day in the books...

(By the way, if this whole post sounds like jibberish...consider yourself lucky. You're not married to a geek!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Up and running

We're back, and overall, it's not too bad. The things we're missing aren't so much *missing* as just different. It's all good.

You haven't missed anything, don't you worry. Nothing much is happening that anyone would want to hear about. Just life. It's Friday evening, and I haven't been out of the house since Tuesday. I still can't believe that's NOT abnormal for me. Funny how things can change in a year! Of course, it's been dangerously cold, so who really wants to be out anyway?!?

I've got some thoughts I wanna get down for my own remembrances. I may forget before I get to it, but we'll see. Tomorrow has some goings on, Sunday may be the day. But then again, I only remembered today that I've got tax documents to get done and out to my former employee-type buddies. (Hi girls!) So "real" blogging may have to wait. Everyone's been doing such thoughtful and meaty's got me in the mood!

Have a great weekend, and try to stay warm!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Technical difficulties

We are having the switch made today... leaving Charter for AT&T and Dish.  We're doing a major downgrade for financial reasons, and of course, there have been glitches.  Hopefully we'll be back online and running smooth soon.  For now, I'm borrowing a signal from someone nearby.  It's iffy though... I'm having withdrawals.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Princess Eliana

We have about 40+ blogs that we keep up with for kids and families with DS. I often say that the blogs have been our lifeline, and I have most definitely learned more from them than any medical or "official" site. So many of you have become like "real" friends, and it feels like we just never get to really hang out! I appreciate all the emails and behind the blog stuff that we share with so many of you... that makes my days brighter every single time.

I could list all the adorable kids who make me smile and it could go for days... but today I want to pick out one little gem. Miss Eliana is a princess who has traveled much the same road as Braska, and her mom Leslie is a marvelous example of a great mother and a kind and caring friend, it's clear. Eliana was born about a month after Braska, she had similar heart issues, she had a G-tube for a while, but she has blossomed into just an absolute doll who is wowing lots of people and especially her family who adores her.

Yesterday, Leslie posted a couple of pics, both are beautiful, but one of which just stole my heart. It captures what I imagine is Eliana's wonderful personality and obvious spunk. Even though I've never had the pleasure of meeting them in person, I really am thankful for the influence they've been on me in the logistics of the things we've been through and the encouragement it is to watch Eliana do so well.

Take a minute and go see Princess Eliana. She is one very special gift from God. And please give your little ones a hug for us too... we wouldn't be nearly as sane without all of you blogging buddies!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Prego update: Week 35

I'm exhausted. Braska's been getting up in the night for no apparent reason, unhappy and won't go back to sleep. Two times one night, three times another night, for a few hours at a time... I thought I had a few more weeks for sleeping through the night!!! So this will be short and simple...

As an FYI...there is conflicting data on my "dating" as they call it. Like when I'm actually due. My timeline is as you see in the side bar on the blog and the timing in these updates. The OB seems to think I'm figuring it a week too early, that I'm actually due one week later. So they think I'm 34, I say 35. I told her it would only be a problem if the baby is getting bigger than I would like or if they think I'm hanging on til 41. No deal. We came to an agreement, so that's good.

~~I've lost 2 lbs in the last two weeks. No surprise to me. It seems to be my weird thing. Total weight gain in 35 weeks...6 lbs. I can deal with that.

~~Overall, everything's fine. I'm having no issues. The achy stuff is still around, but it's just life at this point, so no big problem. Kinlee's moving PLENTY so no concern there.

~~She said I'm measuring a little big (like when they put the tape over the do they really know where it--the uterus--stops and starts...I'm amazed) so maybe I'm right after all! Whatta ya know?!? We'll keep an eye on it.

~~My blood pressure was high, for me, but still in the normal range, just caught her attention since it's the second time. 130ish/80ish when my norm is in the 110/65 range. I also am spilling protein (means it's showing up in the lovely urine samples we have to give every time) as I have been for a while, not alot, but combined with the weight loss and the BP, she wants to keep tabs.

~~I go back in 2 weeks, then weekly. We talked about the logistics of labor and delivery, like making sure my plan and hers are congruous. She's not a stickler about a few things that some of my OB doc clients have been, so that's good. We have a plan in place, kind of plan A and plan B, so I am glad about that. I reviewed all my do's and don'ts of delivery, as I'm doing each time to make sure there's no confusion, and we're all kosher.

~~I may have another ultrasound to check for size if things are still of any minimal concern next time in her opinion. That's fine with me... if it means they find that she's ready to come earlier, then so be it.

That's it for today. 40 minutes of waiting for 8 minutes of talking. I don't care for that, but it'll be over soon. She's really nice and very open and flexible, and I like that. So I'll wait when I need to.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Since you asked: Kinlee stuff

Several people in blogland and in our "regular" world have asked if we're ready for Kinlee to be here, and that's usually followed by "Do you need anything? Do you have everything for her?" The quick answer is that we do have what is necessary to bring a kid home when it's time. And that's generally where I like to leave it, as we don't *need* the other items. But the longer answer is that there are a few gaps, and a wise person reminded me that many people like to pass on things they're not using to those who can use them, so I thought this was the best way to communicate where our gaps are.

And by the way, I know it seems odd that we wouldn't have everything since we have a barely-2-year-old girl and we're expecting another girl. I mean, where did everything go?!? Well, we didn't really think there was going to be a follow-up kiddo, so I gave away lots of stuff to others who needed it, most of it actually, and therefore, we kind of started from scratch. We're most of the way there...just a few things left.

So if you've got something you wanna get out of your attic, that's dandy swell. We'll be fine either way, but I appreciate that some of you do want to know. If you have questions about other items or thoughts, drop me a comment or email.

Things we could use...
~Winter infant seat cover (I'm not sure what it's name is but it covers the kid in the seat like going from car to building.)
~Bouncy seat
~Clothes 0-3 months, especially sleepers and warm items.
~Bumbo seat (I have the tray)

Thanks for enduring this post. It makes me uncomfortable, I admit it. I do appreciate all that we've been given/loaned so far!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A late (and maybe petty) Christmas miracle

If you know me, like for real, or if you've been around here long, you've gathered that I don't cook much. It's not because I can't, it's because it's generally a waste of time in our house. (Now that I think about it, Friday I made sloppy joes for lunch and lasagna for dinner, and M ate both! That's a very impressive day in our house.) I do felt like I've lost alot of whatever skills I might have had 10 years ago, kind of a "use it or lose it" situation. It just seems when I try things lately, rarely do I have success.

Not sure why, but I've been in the mood for sugar cookies lately. They are not my favorite cookie, but still... they're yummy. I made some last week, but the recipe was apparently too healthy for it's own good, and they were marginal at best. Last night, I wanted them again. (Thankfully, weight gain hasn't been an issue with this pregnancy...update here if you missed it.) So I looked online for a recipe that looked better and decided on one. I'm sure it is good just as it is... but here's the cool part. I made some changes, partially because of ingredient availability and partially because it sounded good and made sense to tweak a little. What? Did I really say that? I made changes to a recipe for something? That just never happens anymore... but the MORE awesome part is that they ROCK!!! I'm so excited that they turned out well, and exactly like I hoped they would.

Here's the finished product. I'm no food photographer, that's for sure. (There is a combo of white sugar and red and green sugar crystals on top. I know...I'm late for Christmas cookies. Who cares, though?? Cookies!) They are soft and chewy cookies, no chilling or rolling out dough. Nice and simple.

Here's the recipe as I actually made them. I'm calling it mine because there are several changes to the one I looked up online. And since it kind of fits, I'm calling them RK's Sweet Cravings Sugar Cookies. Surely someone's up for a trial run at some sugar cookies, right?? Try it out and let me know how it goes for you!!

RK's Sweet Cravings Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup butter, room temp/softened
1/3 cup margerine
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar for topping (can use colored crystals if desired)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, margerine, shortening, brown sugar and white sugar. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, stir into the creamed mixture until dough comes together. Roll dough into medium-sized balls and pat slightly to form cookie. Dip one side of cookie in topping sugar and/or crystals. Place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart with the bare side down.
3. Bake cookies 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until bottom is barely golden. Cookies may not look completely done on top. Allow to stay on cookie sheet for about 6 minutes. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Now THAT'S a true friend

All this talk of giving and making sacrifices... and here's a classic example that blew me away. It does my heart good to see that there are those out there who are not afraid to do the right thing. Please take a few minutes to watch this very encouraging story.

GMA Thank You to Ralph

Counting My Blessings: 2008

To counteract the deep and vague elements of the grouchy post...time for gratefulness!

I'm surprised I haven't done more posts about the things I'm grateful for. Obviously, it's my blog, I'm the only one to blame. And I'm generally all about being grateful, saying "thank you," showing appreciation for thoughtful gestures and I'm not sure what my issue is forgetting to include that in my blog life. Ah well, no need for excuses. Just fix it!

So here's a smattering of things that I feel like are highlights of 2008 and just a few of the blessings that we are so very grateful for. God is, as always, very good to us.

(Just a side note: God is good no matter how blessed we feel. He is good when we are miserable. He is good when things are very bad in our estimation. He is good no matter what. He doesn't change. How we view our circumstances and what we choose to do with our opportunities changes. But he is always good and doing what is best for us. Just want to be clear. :o)

~~ I'm so very thankful that 2008 was the first full year in a new era of our lives and our marriage. A difficult period is behind us. We'll not become complacent or think that we're "safe." We will continue to be vigilant and purposeful about what's important, and we will not forget what we've learned. But, wow... it's nice to have a clean year under our belts.

~~Braska has had a surgery-free and healthy year. Well, there was that small granulation tissue removal in January. Technically that was a surgery. But it was 8 minutes, people.... I don't really count that. She's been well all year, up until December, of course. But as kids and sicknesses go, we have been WAY fortunate. She's 2 and has never had an ear infection. She's had a sinus infection twice this fall, and that's all. What kid, DS or not, is as non-sick as this girl?? Very few, and for that we are very thankful!

~~We had a big year with big changes....and we have survived! May was pure chaos with deciding to see what jobs were available here in StL, finding a couple possibilities, scheduling interviews, dealing with offers, accepting one, packing the house, listing the house for sale, finding an apartment, and moving. ALL IN LESS THAN 3 WEEKS!!! I can't believe we got through it all. We wouldn't have been able to do it without ALOT of help from family, friends, coworkers, and even a few people we barely knew. Oh yeah, and apparently I managed to get pregnant that month too. Wow. It's still amazing to me that everything worked out as it did. God made all the pieces fall together in the right way, even though we didn't always agree with his timing, he was right...surprise, surprise! And we sold our house in 28 days. That's just plain cool!

~~I am so VERY thankful that my husband has accepted, adjusted, and actually been helpful in working through all these changes this year. He's not a fan of change. He's not a fan of the city. He was not at all excited about leaving C-U after he'd been there for 10 years. It had really become his home even more than mine, and yet he made a big move for the sake of Braska's care and my sanity in not having to make those long drives so often. He was extremely well known and well loved at his job, as was clear by the outpouring of support when he put in his notice. It is no small thing, and I've probably not been as clearly appreciative as deserved. This move has been smooth in some ways, enough to show us without a doubt that it was the right move for our family, but yet it's also been difficult as we've struggled to connect and kind of find our new place to be... and to be comfortable. We'll get there, but so far, M's been pretty great about the whole thing. And I know good and well how much it's stretched his patience and his comfort zone.

~~Along those same lines, it is a very big deal that we've survived this long on our new and decreased income. We're still finding ways to cut back, and we still will need to find more as the months come and we add another little mouth to the family. I'm constantly aware of what a significant thing it is that M has supported us completely for the first time in our marriage. And that he allows me to stay home with Braska, no longer contributing to the family income, even when we're finding ourselves living on a five-figure income that begins with a couple of 3's. I never thought we'd be in this position, but we're doing it, and I am hugely grateful that he's not making me feel less-than because of our new roles. Even though it's smaller, we have a great place to live, and we've adjusted well to it, I think. We have great cars, warm beds, food to eat, and have been able to avoid credit card debt throughout. God has provided everything we need, through people around us, wisdom to make good financial choices, and a stable job for M. There are SO many people who have less, and we are thankful for every last thing we have. We want to make the best use of every resource, because no matter what we have, we're responsible for being good stewards of it.

~~Lastly, for now, I'm thankful for all of YOU. Yep, the readers who keep coming back, or just pop in here and there. It's so encouraging to know there are people who have no obligation to me or to us yet you choose to keep up with what's going on with us. You offer words of cheer when we celebrate, you offer words of encouragement when we're frustrated, and you offer a highlight to my days just by coming by to say hello. I tell people often when they ask about how we've adjusted to life with Down syndrome that a big--probably the biggest--part of our sanity has come from what we've learned and how we've come to know so many great people through this big, wide inter-web. I love watching all your families grow, learning from your trials and successes, and just knowing that there are so many friends out there who are just living life to the best of their ability like we are. Thank you for sharing in our lives and for sharing yours with us.

I live in a great country, serve a mighty and gracious God, and wake up every morning with the opportunity to start fresh again. What's not to be thankful for???

I hope you have had a wonderful year. I hope you'll take the time to look specifically for things to be appreciative of as we move into the new year. Many blessings to your families as we jump into the excitement that is 2009.