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Guest Mama – Meet Olivia

I am honored to introduce you to Marina.  She is a beautiful mama with the most gorgeous girl named Olivia.  Olivia is so full of life, happiness and strength.  I’ve loved watching her grow through her mama’s Instagram feed.  She comes from an amazing family and I am so glad to share just a small bit of who she is with you!  Btw…this post made me break down in tears…so good luck IMG_20170303_201003_387🙂

I love her. I love her so much. When I look at her I speak my thoughts out loud. I tell her how beautiful she is. I squeal when I can hardly stand how cute she is. I’ll scoop her up and squeeze her and smother her in kisses. I swear that her sweet baby smell still releases endorphins in my brain. I think she’s so amazing and so beautiful and so utterly wonderful. This is what I think and feel everyday that I’m with her. And when she’s sleeping or I’m away from her, I miss her and that is what I think about.

IMG_20170302_094606_347Sometimes when I take her places I’ll notice people staring. In that moment I can’t help but imagine what they see. Her little bald head, no eyebrows, no eyelashes. Her little ears, the way they curl in, one more than the other. Her almond eyes. The way they turn up as if an artist over exaggerated their slant. Her teeth, the way they are more crooked than most toddlers. Her tongue, the way it tends to peek out of her mouth more often than not. For a millisecond I can see what they see and my heart feels heavy and beats like thunder. They see ‘imperfection’. They see a child that not only looks different because of Down syndrome but appears to be ill because she has no hair from the Alopecia. It’s a double whammy. In those moments I want to scoop her up and run. I want to turn and yell “Don’t stare at my baby!!!” But I don’t. I manage to control myself and steady my hands and my heart. I manage to adjust my eyes too. Then when that moment passes, when they walk away or better yet, smile, then I can see her again. I can see her clearly. I can see what God sees. My perfect girl. I see her beautiful round head that smells so good. I see her beautiful eyes that twinkle and dance when she smiles. I see her rosy cheeks that are soft and sweet. I see her tiny rosebud mouth and her gorgeous smile. I see her adorable ears that are so kissable and work so perfectly. I see her delicate and doll like button nose. I can see her satiny smooth skin and how perfectly pink it is. Then she takes my breath IMG_20170221_211618_978away.

How could I possibly be so fortunate to be her mommy? What good things have I done to deserve her? She brings us so much joy. She makes us laugh everyday. She makes us do and say a thousand ridiculous things because we’re all so crazy about her. We take such pride in every new word she speaks and in every accomplishment no matter how.small. When she carries her baby doll and kisses it, I want to cry at how tender she is. When she wraps her tiny arms around my neck and presses her soft cheek against mine, I’m sure this must be heaven. My daughter is smart, my daughter is beautiful, my daughter is kind and funny. My daughter loves music. My daughter loves animals and coloring. My daughter loves exploring. My daughter loves popcorn and going to the beach. My daughter loves long car rides and reading books together. My daughter rocks a hair bow like no other. Most importantly, my daughter loves people. My daughter will IMG_20170218_094816_315smile the sweetest smile at the biggest, ugliest, grumpiest, smelliest, foulest person she meets and she will exude genuine love and acceptance with every ounce of her being. My daughter is a blessing and my daughter is way more perfect than I could ever wish her to be.

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Buddy Walk 2016

img_6917This weekend was our second Buddy Walk.  This year we had almost 60 people walking in Team Jana!!  It was a beautiful morning and I think everyone had a lot of fun.

Honestly, before the walk started, I caught myself looking around at all our friends and family wearing their “TEAM JANA” shirts.  I was so proud to be her mom!  Seriously, how did we get so lucky to be this amazing girls parents?!  She has changed not only our families lives, but the lives of those around her.  Because of her, she has opened doors to new friendships and new experiences.  I’ve said it before, but honestly, if you spend more than 5 min with this girl you are in love!  She has a way of captivating others around her.  I haven’t met really anyone who did not stop to gush over how incredible she is.  And she’s mine!!!  How lucky are we that God thought we were the right choice for her?!  It just blows me away still.

This month we were able to raise $400 to send to the twins George and Grace (Read more here!).  Its not much but I am hoping it will do something to raise their spirits a little.  If you would like to still donate to this adorable family, please let me know and I will direct you on how to do that!!

Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who joined us this Saturday in support of Jana.  Your love means the world to us and we are so glad Jana has so many supporters who love her.  We are honored to have you in our lives!!

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TEAM JANA

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With an Aching Heart

FullSizeRender-2Yesterday heaven received a warrior.

I’d like to introduce you to Walt.  He was born with Down Syndrome and a congenital heart defect.  He underwent countless surgeries and procedures to keep his heart and organs working. He spent way too much time in the hospital and not enough time being able to just be the precious little boy that he was.  He endured so much pain and struggles but with his loving family by his side, he kept fighting.

Yesterday, just 3 months short of his first birthday, Walt went to his eternal home. This past weekend he was sent home to pass in peace. Yesterday morning he FullSizeRender-3let go in safe in his mamas arms and ended his pain.  Now instead of pain and struggles, he is joyously in the arms of our Lord. No more pain, no more tears, no more surgeries, little Walt is finally at peace.

Since I read the news yesterday on Walt’s Instagram page, my heart has truly ached  for his family.  Today they awoke with a part of their heart missing.  Though they are at peace because they know his pain is over, it doesn’t mend the hole that I’m sure they are feeling.

I’m not just sharing this with you to break your heart. Many kids face these same struggles Walt faced each day. Jana was born with a congenital heart defect. By Gods grace she has not needed any surgeries, but that doesn’t mean she is forever in the clear. So many tiny lives are taken away sooner than their parents were wanting, but that doesn’t mean their lives weren’t worth it!  Some people feel that this is reason enough to abort Down Syndrome babies. BecauseFullSizeRender-1their lives might not be as “fulfilling” as typical children. I can pretty much guarantee that Walt’s family wouldn’t trade a second of his life to insure they had a “healthy typical child”. I’m sure they will cherish ever smile, every snuggle, every tear that they shared with their little warrior. Even though his life was short, it was worth it!!

For the past year Walt’s family have set up a fund to help other kids facing the same struggles as Walt. They’ve helped other families who are watching their little ones struggle.  They made sure Walt’s life had a purpose and that they were able to share Gods love with others. I encourage you to visit their site. Take a look at more photos of little Walt and see how much God has blessed this family.

Warriors For Walt

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Sleep in peace sweet little Walt

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Wide Awake

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She is obviously exhausted =/

Will she ever sleep through the night?!  She did from age 2 months – 9 months.  It was heaven!!  I should have enjoyed it more… She is now almost 13 months old and I can probably count how many times she’s slept through the night on one hand.  Sometimes I get it, she falls asleep for a nap late in the evening and wants milk at 3am.  But nights like last night, have me stumped.  She only took one long nap yesterday.  The excitement of her siblings home all day threw her off.  We were outside for about 2 hours in the evening and so I thought my chances of 6 straight hours were high.  She fell asleep around 10, Juan and I went to sleep around 11.

First wake up: 11:30 pm!  I gave in and went ahead and gave her a bottle.  Even though she had one just a measly 2 hours prior.  She fell back asleep.

Second wake up: 1:00am!  This time we tried to just pat her back to help her back to sleep.  That didn’t work.  I sat in the living room with her in her swing to see if that would help.  It didn’t.  Juan got up and rocked her back to sleep…that worked for a short time.  By 2:30 we gave in and she had more milk.

Third wake up: 3:30am!  Seriously I think this child is trying to wear me down so she can destroy me.  Absolutely no reason for this wake up.  I kept her in her crib and patted her back.  That seemed to work.  She was asleep by 4.

Fourth wake up: 6:15am!  We ignored her!  Juan got up for work and I desperately tried to sleep more.

By 7:20 she was waking up and falling back to sleep every 20 min or so.  At 8:15 she finally had enough and screamed for me.  I dragged myself out of bed and our day started.

I know when she is 3 we will be doing a sleep study.  Children with Down’s have a high chance of having sleep apnea.  But does this mean this will be my life for the next 2 years?!  I’ve tried everything to help and nothing works.

Honestly, I’m already at close to my breaking point.  These past few weeks with her being sick has really gotten to me.  I often feel like Juan and I are alone in this.  I have dear friends that I can go to for guidance and advice for her, but honestly, because they don’t have a child with Down’s, its often not the same.  The internet has been some help.  I’ll do as much research as I possibly can but each child with Down’s is completely different.  I don’t have a pediatrician that I even trust enough to call for advice and her specialist doctors are all 2 hours away.  I just want to make sure I am doing everything right for her and often times I feel like I fall short.  I second guess everything.  Because of her Down’s I’m never sure if it is something typical kids should go through or if something else is wrong.  There are TONS of books, I’ve read most of them, but yet I still feel so lost when it comes to her overall health and development.  Will I ever feel confident in what I am doing for her?!

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Friends fight school for boy with Down Syndrome

I think it’s my biggest fear.  That Jana will attend school one day and the kids will not accept her.  All we hear about are school bully’s and how horrible kids with disabilities are treated.  I remember being in school and honestly hardly ever interacting with any of the “special ed” kids.

This story brings a smile to my face!!  When a young boy, Brady, was told he could no longer attend the school he had grown up in, his classmates rallied round and fought to keep him there.  Why was he being moved?  Because the school didn’t feel that they were fit to give Brady the schooling he needs.  Unfortunately, this happens quite often.  Children with special needs cost the school more money than typical children do.  So a majority of students are sent to schools that focus on specialized care.

Thankfully Brady was given the OK to attend school with his longtime friends for another year.  This might be something his mother has to continue to fight for.  But it seems to me, Brady’s friendships are worth the fight!

Check out the full article here:  Friends fight school for boy with Down syndrome

“He’s one of the kindest kids in our grade,” proclaimed Owen Armstrong, 10. “Every day, I wake up and I’m looking forward to school because Brady goes there.” “He’s taught me so many things through the time that I’ve known him. … He lights up the room whenever he’s around. He helps people when they’re down,” said Ella Blakeley, 11. “He makes people laugh.”

 

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Jana’s First Buddy Walk

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A few missing...had to cover up our girl...
just a few more weeks and I can finally show her off!!
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We finally got to participate in Jana’s first Buddy Walk.  TEAM JANA was in full swing with about 41 people walking in her honor.  Juan thinks we had the highest amount of participants on our team 🙂  It was a beautiful day and a wonderful experience to share with so many people who love and support our girl.  I was able to meet other families in our area who also have children with Down’s and it was amazing to see all these great kids come together for a day of fun.

My pastor sent me this Saturday night and I really wanted to share it with you.  He closed the message with this: “For those who were part of “Team Jana” today, “The walk was part of the gift.” 


On the eastern coast of Africa there was a missionary who was serving the people in that area.
One day, on his birthday, a young man came to his front door with a gift.
The missionary was overwhelmed by the gift but also by the fact that he knew this young man had come a long distance to bring this gift.
He asked him how he got to his house.
The young man stated that he had walked.
“But didn’t that take you a long time?” asked the missionary.
In fact, it had. He started the night before and walked all night long.
The missionary said… “Well… at least let me drive you back home.”
Over and over, the young man refused.
Finally… the young man said to the missionary… “The walk is part of the gift.”

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Seeing the Home Stretch!

Day 12 of 21 day Challenge…IMG_7903

This morning Juan and I went to our doctor to get a physical.  Basically he had to sign a paper saying we are healthy enough to have a child…even though we already have 3 🙂  Luckily our doctor is also a dear friend of ours, so it was a pleasant visit as well.  These physicals were the last thing we needed to do for the adoption process.  The tons of paperwork (with insanely personal questions) has all been turned in.  Live Scan’s have been complete and our background is clear.  The reference letters from our friends and family have all been returned to the agency.  Everything on our end of the process is done!  Now we wait for November 2nd to attend court to officially start the full adoption process.  From there our home study is completed and 60 days later we should be signing our adoption IMG_7904papers!!  I can see the end in sight but it still seems like an eternity away!  I’m ready to not have to report all aspects of our lives almost weekly.  To not have numerous visits from agencies who are basically judging us as parents.  To officially add Benito to Jana’s name!

This has felt like such a long process, but I know compared to other adoptions, ours has been very easy going.  I am so grateful at these times to have our support system keeping me focused.  They have been keeping me positive and helping me see that its almost over.  I never really believed we had so many people who love our family before Jana entered it.  It amazes me how many people have fallen in love with this tiny girl.  I mean I know shes pretty amazing…but it feels good that everyone thinks she is too 🙂