Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent is here....

Where did November go? It seems like just yesterday we were rushing into Halloween yet here we are with December knocking on the door. Today we welcomed in one of my favorite times of the year - Advent. Father Mark hit the nail on the head today when he talked about the state of our hearts and souls - are we really ready for Christ to come again? He talked about weariness of the heart and amongst the scenarios from the readings today was anxiousness about “stuff of the world”. Well - that is me! I have been so stressed and so anxious and always feeling for the one thing I got done there are twenty that did not! I have tried very hard to get things done ahead of this Advent season so that I can truly just enjoy, reflect and prepare - what a glorious time for Gretchen to arrive! I did pretty good today... a few borderline moments....but overall pretty good - hoping day 1 sets the tone!

As a family we prepared our house by setting out our nativity set - the same one we had out when I was just a child and my parents passed down the year Alexandra was born. One day it will be hers too! We decorated the tree and pulled out photos from last year to determine who was in line for placing the angel on the top of the tree and the lighting - this year it was Peter’s turn to attempt the angel placement (with a bit of help from John), and it was Tommy’s turn to do the official tree lighting. Once all was put up, lit and tied up the kids enjoyed a glass of egg nog with John (I’m not an egg nog person.... so I just had milk).

Just a short post to start the season! I have added pictures to our 2009 Family Album in our new website

love -



Here we are a few days after Thanksgiving. Alexandra is off at theatre practice for her upcoming high school production of Alice in Wonderland. Michael helped John bring in the boxes of Christmas decor ready to be pulled out. Jack and Tommy are wearing their matching cowboy boots (again!) and climbing all over the swing John set up in the front. Peter and I just got home from the grocery store and picked up (on sale - yeah!) our Christmas turkey to throw in the freezer for a few more weeks. And I reflect on the last week - the ups and downs, the joys and the stresses..... but here are the things I am thankful for with my family -

Peter.... I am thankful for the health he does have and the incredible amount of love and joy he brings to our family. I am thankful for the times he does eat properly and has good color. I am thankful that he is standing and taking a few steps. But, most of all I am thankful for his smiles and his hugs - and the way he so freely shares them with the rest of us.
Tommy.... I am thankful for his laughter and seemingly unending repetoir of silly jokes. I am thankful for his ability to adapt and flow with the needs of the family and his compassion towards Peter - when he can stand up and say “Peter isn’t different, he is just one of us” with conviction. But, I am most thankful that he is my child going through the “I want my mother” stage and will spend the time to quietly snuggle up when I need it most.
Jack....I am thankful for his spitfire attitude in life. I am thankful for his boundless energy and ability to keep up with everyone. I am thankful for his unparalleled ability to see the positive in life and his giving nature. When he rides the mechanical horse at the grocery store he always leaves a couple of pennies on the coin machine so that any child not as lucky as him will be able to use those pennies and have a fun ride too! Today he spent all morning making cut-outs of his hands so he could make coupon books for massages to give to relatives for Christmas... he has a special heart! But, most off all I am thankful for how he always remembers to give a compliment or pat someone on the back for a job well done. As I tell my kids “...people will forget the things you did and the words you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.... and with Jack I know he makes people feel special.
Michael.... I am thankful for his growing maturity and sense of responsibility. I am thankful for his inquisitive mind and natural curiosity about life. I am thankful for his ability to be the quiet strength when everyone else is way too loud. But, most of all I am thankful for the times he comes up and rubs my back because he just knows I need it, the little things he does to make things easier on me, and that of all my kids he enjoys spending time with me baking. We share a common love for brownies!
Alexandra.....I am thankful for the strong young woman she is growing into. I am thankful for her inner strength and her desire to do the right thing. I am thankful for when she prays for her friends, and when she talks to me about how to help others. I am thankful for her desire to make a difference in this world - and her concern for children with disabilities around the world. I am most thankful for her honesty and desire to include John and I in her life - the many times she shares what her concerns and joys are, what is going on at school, and her desires for her future.
John....well, what else can I say than he is the man that made the choice to spend the rest of his life with me - ups, downs, and everything in between - I think that makes me a very lucky woman.

This afternoon we started putting away our Thanksgiving and fall decor..... goodbye for another year to my pilgrim statuettes I love so much, and hello to our Christmas decor - the tree, the lights, the nativity and our advent candles. Hello to four weeks of soul setting much needed at this crazy time of the year.

We are thinking of moving our blog to an Apple/Mac based account and probably keep up the carepages. The link is a little lengthy therefore harder to spell out, but the ease of using our Mac technology to do updates may just out weigh the move off blogspot. Please check it out and let us know what you think!!

(along the top you will see the links to different "pages" - we have photo albums posted and hope to add video shortly)

Please let us know how you like this new site.... the name is a little long - but we hope you will save it in your favorites and visit us often!

love -

Monday, November 9, 2009

Getting Ready for Gretchen...and Peter's Steps!

Well - under T-2 months until our little gal arrives! We continued to make huge progress in getting the nursery ready. After some disappointment I had to give up on my dream of a room with red barns, farm animals, and gingham fabrics. Instead we decided to work with the old bedding we had (I still need to pull out the sewing machine and repair a ripped sheet). We had painted the walls a pretty bright blue sky color. None the less I added some white clouds and yellow stars to match the Serendipity/Noah's Ark bedding. I have to say - I'm really happy with how it turned out! We still have a bit of work to do with the room - hopefully change out the old original 70's carpet (yucky!!), finish trim, put valance up and find a white dresser (please craigslist!!). However, I wanted to share how far we have come - so check out the photos!!

You'll also see how big Gretchen has got in my tummy..... can you imagine how big I will be by the time she comes along!! Now check out the picture below - does it not look like Peter is grooving in his update/new room? Little man is moving slowly towards independent walking but we are so thrilled with his progress. He's working on standing and getting his balance more often. His max was taking 8 tiny little steps - but we are generally around three to four little steps before coming down. However, he is getting further and further with walking if you hold just one hand (minimal assistance) and he is more willing to come up and have you hold his hand and take him for a little walk. He's also - by the true grace of God - got over the aversion to having stuff on his feet. If it is just socks he will still pull them off, but he let's us put Tommy's old shoes on his feet. Thank goodness!!

He has regained his picky eating ways - so we think that will be a challenge going for a while. He continues to work on signing though, and his favorite word is TRAIN - which often is vocalized a "tttt" sound. He literally could spend all day playing with the trains although that can at times mean disassembling the track and flinging it across the room..... oh goodness! I think we have assembled it a million times in the last couple of weeks.

Just wanted to share some pics. Hope all is well with y'all and that you are all staying healthy!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spooky Boo!

Last week we had awful weather in the Colorado - icy roads, snow, wind, closed schools, nasty roads - just one of those weeks when you need to bunker down by the fireplace and forget the outside world for a few days. But, amazingly, despite what seemed to be a gnarly weather week, the seasons flipped completely and we had a balmy Halloween. Actually in our 13 years in Colorado I think this is the warmest Halloween I can remember having. There went my excuse for staying in doors - but none the less I retained my status as dinner cooker/candy hander outer. Disappointingly we had very few kids come by our house - we are two blocks away from the hopping spot in the neighborhood but I think all the dark houses on our block lead to us being missed. That and the news put the fear in everyone that they would get H1N1 if they went out trick-or-treating. So - you can do the basic math....not enough trick-or-treaters and my large family still knocking on doors. Not only did we have candy left over but they of course came back with a ton. As a result Gretchen is on a Tootsie Roll high right now! [For those of you reading this on the carepages please check out our blog for the pictures]

Halloween started with pumpkin carving with Tio Greg and Tia Brenda. Their persistence paid off as they finally found the last pumpkins for sale in Colorado Springs. They came truly equipped to challenge the kids - and the kids loved it! Piled around the kitchen table there was carving, drawing, sticker pasting and the trips out back to spray paint the pumpkins. Jack and Tommy decorated while Alexandra and Michael carved away! Greg & Brenda got to enjoy some of John's traditional apple cider, and were challenged to a game of Yahtzee by the younger boys. Thank you Greg & Brenda!!

So what were the kids this year? well "green" in some cosmic sense of environmental again. My husband - with the big kid heart - reused his Darth Vadar outfit from last year. He wore it to the Fall Festival at school on Friday and was "taken on" by a miniature Luke Skywalker. Darth John's light saber failed and he gracefully bowed out of what could have been quite an event the school would not be excited about. He was ready for a challenge on Halloween night in the same great costume - but I think his challenge was getting all five kids where they needed to be.

Alexandra and Tommy paired up and pulled out old pumpkin costumes John and I wore to a party when we were first married. They were "big pumpkin" and "little pumpkin". Tommy was so darn cute because the costume ate him up. But he was so excited to get to do something special just with Alexandra. As a result here we are a few days later and she is now the object of all his prayers at the dinner table (I have been replaced!) and he still calls her "big pumpkin". Alexandra accented their costumes with some fake fall leaves - and was excited to have a shared costume with little man.

Michael decided to don a "death" costume my father had used a couple of years back. He glided through the Fall Festival in it - an image in black. But on Halloween night he added a nasty looking face mask I just don't remember how it landed in our house. None the less he was pretty excited. I however had to realize how much Michael had grown to be able to use this costume. Soon he will be taller than me too!

Jack loved his Ninja costume from last year so much that he wanted to use it again. So a little snugger on him he slipped back into it. However, he pulled out the belt that went with Michael's mini-Darth costume last year and put it on. So not only was he a Ninja - but he was a special forces Ninja that was fighting along big Darth (aka John). He is my eccentric little dude - and he made the costume all his by creating a whole long story behind his character. I love his imagination!!

Then we come to Peter who by no choice of his own re-cycled Winnie the Pooh one more time. Actually all the boys have used this costume starting with Michael way back in 1998. He gracefully put it on but was not too excited about it. But here is the exciting news - Peter has grown so much that the legs weren't long enough to qualify as capri's - they were closer to shorts!! It was so great to see how much he has grown despite being a peanut compared to the rest of my big kids. Peter's favorite part of Halloween?..... unplugging the fake pumpkin with a light in it. I swear if I had plugged that thing in at 3am Peter would have woken up, lunged out of the crib, climbed down the stairs and unplugged it. He has some 6th sense ..... which leads me to believe Christmas is going to be quite the challenge!! I told John we are going to have to set up and barricade the tree or get a little one that sits atop a high surface. I think tree, lights and ornaments are not safe this year....

Well....just wanted to get some pics posted. Only other news - last but most definitely not least - little man is taking a few steps here and a few steps there!! Maybe just maybe he'll be walking before Gretchen gets here!! He still prefers bear crawling as his primary method of mobility - but he has several times stood up - gained his balance - and taken up to 4 steps. At first they were the "how many steps can I take as I fall forward" type - but lately they are the more in control "I have my balance and know what I'm doing" type. I am so excited and so thankful and so in awe of the little miracle that he is..... I can tell he so desperately wants to run. He has a need for speed and I think once he can figure it out he will be a speed demon on two feet. The moments are sporadic so suffice to say no camera around - but hope to capture some pics of him doing it soon.

Off to bed I go. Hope y'all had a spooktacular Halloween!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can I skip Halloween and jump to Thanksgiving?

We had a busy yet incredibly productive weekend. A true team effort. The combination of getting stuff finally done around the house and an increase in chocolate intake has brought me back some sanity! Actually - I think it is getting to 30 weeks that has allowed me to step out of that hormonal homicidal stage and back to normal despite still being tired - a stage I am likely to stay in for quite a while. I am so looking forward to meeting little Gretchen Anne - but daunted by the idea of no sleep, midnight feedings and everything else that comes with a little one. Today John joined me for my OB appointment and we got a see our little gal in the ultra-sound. It was a good old fashion (ie. poor quality) ultra-sound so no great 3-D pics to share - but we got to see her. The hospital had requested that we do a "size" test at 30 weeks ....I am actually 29 weeks 6 days, and that is exactly what she measured in at. Doctor estimated that she is around 3.5lbs already. It was so exciting to see little parts of her emerge on the screen - an eye, a chubby little cheek and a nose. We saw her little lips moving in what appeared to be a sucking motion and I am certain she stuck her tongue out at us!

We are getting the house ready for her arrival. Michael moved into a room with Tommy and Jack. Not his first choice, but we are limited in options. Peter moved out and into Michael's old room. The room will be turning into the nursery Peter will share with Gretchen. So Saturday Peter and I did groceries and all our normal weekend errands. John - with intermittent help from the kids unloaded our normally too packed to be used garage. He sorted through stuff, re-packed and separated out things to get rid the end of the day we can actually get the van back in the garage. Just in time as it snowed Saturday night and we were able to jump in a warm car and get to church on time. Celebration item #1!

Winter is coming - which to me means time to move around the family room furniture and getting the couch and love seat close to the fireplace, instead of the spread out against the walls that I like in the summer. In addition we are really trying to step up the therapy work Peter does. His toys often lost at the bottom of the tub that houses all toys. So now I had a double challenge - better set up for the toys and moving furniture around..... no new furniture as I just can't seem to find the bookcase I dream of on craigslist. So - now my project extended to the living room. Our house - built in the 70's - has built in book shelves in the living room. I put away the picture frames and nick-nacks we displayed on the shelves and converted it into our family library. Celebration item #2.

Once the books were moved out, Peter and I picked up a couple of baskets and Walmart, sorted through the toys and set up our old small book cases into what John describes as our "daycare corner". The toys are set up and now easy access for us and easy access for Peter and his therapists. A little too easy access as we are now picking up lego constantly as he can open the box and throw them. We also set the couch and love seat up close to the fireplace and the train table in the middle for all to enjoy. Peter could spend hours circling the table, pushing trains and disassembling the track. We also still have an open enough space for the kids to play the Wii on our old TV. I like the new layout and how we converted the family room into a functional playroom and cozy winter space. Celebration item #3.

John and the kids started to prep the nursery. We've got a way to go, but the walls are now painted! Our plan is to take the wall with the window and do a very basic mural - farm animals and red barns. I love red barns! There is something about red barns that inspire me - they remind me of simplicity - the life I dream of often. I hope that Peter and Gretchen will enjoy learning the names and sounds of the animals on the wall, and that one day red barns will warm their hearts as it warms me. So we have a bit to go - I am not going to include pictures as I want to wait until it is done .....but, finally taking steps to get it ready - Celebration item #4.

I've shared with you before that Peter has fought us like crazy to wear shoes. Well Celebration item #5 - we got Tommy's old baby shoes on his feet! Yay!! It has made it harder for him to practice taking steps - but a bit of a step back that will help us long term. Speaking of it, Peter has had great therapy sessions over the last couple of weeks. Just tonight as I was sitting here with John and Peter, Peter was trying to stand and take steps. He's not quite got his balance down as he wants to take off running - but this week we've seen him get on his feet and take three quick steps - yes, as he was falling forward, but none the less our persistence on getting him to walk assisted seems to be helping. I am so looking forward to him walking..... and hoping it is before I have to be carrying Gretchen around.

Now, Halloween is just a few days away. I have been meaning - since late September - to get out our fall decor and put some stuff up. Hmmm - didn't happen. So, as John reorganized the garage he pulled out my plastic tubs with fall stuff. The kids help me paste up some ghosts in the windows, a couple of halloween items for around the house and some pumpkins for the front steps. As I pulled the stuff out I found my favorite home decor - orange hanging style luminaries with an asian spin that we picked up for a couple of bucks at a garage sale around the corner, and the pilgrim couple I got on super sale at K-Mart after the holiday sale a few years ago. So - as I set them out in our dining room Sunday night - I found myself cooking up some comfort meatloaf and mashed potatoes, dimming the lights and lighting up the little tea light candles.... for that moment in time as I looked around at all the hard work everyone put into the house, reflected on my wonderful children and thought of our little one on the way I was reminded - I have much to be thankful for - and that is when I wished I could skip halloween and get straight to Thanksgiving.

Here is to finding the times to get things done, and times to slow down, dim the lights and celebrate our own little Thanksgiving for all the blessings we have any day of the year.

Hugs -

Friday, October 23, 2009

October - Down syndrome awareness month!!

It seems every month there is a national awareness month - but actually every month there are many valuable causes hoping for greater awareness in their communities and around the country. Well, October is Down syndrome awareness month. I had originally intended this post to be family update and get more pictures posted - but I think I will do that later this weekend. Today I want to share with you our family experience with Down syndrome and some amazing links I hope you will check out.

This December will be three years since we got the call letting us know Peter had DS. But to understand the influence on our lives we much go back to the start. Growing up I culturally would hear the term "The children pay for the sins of the parents" - so you can imagine where my natural reaction to guilt comes from. I didn't know or see people with disabilities. When we travelled and I saw a disabled individual I was uncomfortable - the child in me wanted to look and understand, but the other grown up side would say "don't stare". At 16 I had graduated high school, and went off to a two year boarding school in the UK. As part of the program we were to enroll and support a community service program. One such program supported disabled and troubled youth in the community. Guess what - it didn't even make my consideration. I admired the folks involved in that program but "it wasn't for me". Jump to 1995..... young married couple. We have one beautiful and healthy child. We thought we were done - our world was going to revolve around her and only her. Sitting on the living room floor of our 2 bedroom apartment - John at work and Alexandra had just fallen asleep for a nap. The TV was on in the background and I was pulled in to something playing around the Special Olympics. I just watched. It made no sense - in my heart I felt something familiar, I watched the families cheering on as these awkward kids with big smiles ran around the track. I felt like it was me but it made no sense. I figured maybe one day Alexandra and I would volunteer.... that moment was written in my heart and at times it would pop back up and I would wonder what about that small period of time made such an impression.

Fast forward to December 2006. We knew the odds and were waiting for the results of the amnio. I had taken the day off work after a doctor appointment and decided to run over to the mall. I needed a distraction. That TV program on Special Olympics kept coming back up in my mind - was that truly my fate? Then I see two young adult boys with DS walking and laughing through Old Navy. With them two very attractive blonde teenage girls. Hmmmm.....what??!! My motherly instinct kicked in - surely these girls were talking advantage of these boys somehow - getting them to buy them stuff? That was not going to happen under my watch. So waddling behind at a distance I kept a close watch - let's face it, pregnant women don't exactly make the best candidates for undercover work. I listened - and then I realized these young girls were mentors. These boys were shopping for their families. And together the four of them were having fun and laughing. What a long way from the days I was that age and didn't know a face with DS from any other face of disability.

Then the call - yes, baby is another boy for the Krause family and he has Down syndrome. I told John as we stood in the kitchen. Trying to get our arms around the words and what this meant. We now knew for sure - short of some miracle our fate had been declared. This wasn't something that would change in a week, a month, a year or a few years down the road...... this was our for ever now. This would be a part of our family - change our family. John finally looked at me, eyes moist and said "I used to make fun of people like that when I was a kid - now that is going to be my kid that other people make fun of...." We just stood there. I tried to say all the right things about being in the US, the awareness, the support, etc....but really? Could I believe those words? Would people really understand and support?

The simple and honest answer is No. Reactions were all over the board - from very loving support, to the very often "I'm sorry - how sad", to complete avoidance, to "at least you know early and can have an abortion". Lucky for me the very first person I called was my amazing pediatrician. His reaction? "Alleluiah! Amen Catherine!! I have been praying for your family and this is just the best thing that could happen. It won't always be easy, but I am here and we will get through it together. Your family is truly blessed". WOW!! That was when my little cause of awareness started. I told John - we will set the tone for how the world reacts to Peter - yes, Peter, our son conceived in love. If we loved him, others would learn to love him. If we smile, others will learn to smile. If we encourage and give him opportunities, others will too. We as individuals set the tone for how others will respect (or not) our loved ones every day - but that tone we set is heightened when your child has disabilities - because often we don't know what to say or how to react - and we look to the folks around us to set that tone. That night I wondered - will his heart be healthy enough for him to be an awkward kid with a big smile running around the track as we cheer on? Will we be one of those families, or will I truly just be a volunteer one day. Time will tell.

So I can throw the facts at you on DS - most common chromosome abnormality, happens in 1 of every 800 births, older women are at a higher chance but the average age of a new mom with a baby with DS is in her late 20's, there is a push to screen all babies pre-natally for DS, when there is a pre-natal diagnosis 9 out of 10 pregnancies are "terminated". Children with DS have a much higher chance of leukemia and other medical challenges, 6 out of 10 will have cardiac issues, some will talk - some won't...... but really - how much of that changes the way you look at an individual with DS? These facts give us intellectual awareness. I want us all to also have a "heart awareness". These individuals are as unique as you and I - they have their own interests and desires, they have their own strengths and weaknesses. They laugh and love more than you and I - but they also can feel sad, mad or down right stubborn. The color of their skin, eyes and hair will be like there families - it isn't determined by DS. Their shorter stature, lower muscle tone and almond shaped eyes unites them together. Why? I think it is God's way of showing us who they are so that we can learn and appreciate.

I know I have many, many, many more years ahead of me - and in those years additional challenges and frustrations will come up - as well as opportunities to rejoice and celebrate. Peter has blessed our family for almost three years now with the knowledge of his specialness and I don't pretend to have the knowledge and experiences that come to those with older children or adults. There is much more for us to learn and experience. So here (after a lot of babbling) is what I want to share with you for heart awareness of Down syndrome - this is what I have learned from my little boy and how he has changed our family..... Life isn't fair, but I still need to appreciate what I have...this one is hard!! Life can be hard and painful, but I shouldn't give up.... only imagine recovery from open heart surgery. Things can be hard to learn, but it is ok to ask for help...... we can all reach up our hand and ask for someone to hold it as we learn to walk our journey. When we feel down and want a hug, all we really need to do is open our arms and someone will fill the space.... and going along with that - short of saving a life - nothing is more important than to fill that space when someone is opening themselves up for a hug. When in doubt smile.... isn't it better to have someone smile back than frown back at you? If you try something you may fail, and fail, and fail again..... but true failure comes from never trying. There is no such thing as perfect - only perfectly you. If you truly want to make the world a better place - simplify your life - if we focus on loving, serving and embracing those around us how can we not make it better? Simply put - the world is our mirror - what we see is what we are...... Peter reminds us every day how special it feels to get a smile and a hug. He has taught us that things don't come easy - but we need to keep trying. We have learned that we are all imperfect - some on the outside, some on the inside - but we must continue to strive to be the best we can be.

Here is how our children have been changed - Alexandra wants to pursue physical therapy and work with children with special needs. She wants to marry a special man who will support her in adopting a child (or more) with DS from other countries and give them love and opportunity. Michael understands different and is proud of it. He takes pride in taking Peter out and introducing him to the world - and loves Peter the most because he knows Peter loves him just the way he is.... he too hopes to one day have a child with DS. Jack has learned that being the big brother means helping and encouraging - he has learned that a big smile, a huge hug and a lot of excitement can encourage people to do what they didn't think was possible - he is crazy loud, but full of love. His teacher just told us yesterday how during class sessions with the counselor Jack was the only child that could read people's emotions and needs by looking at their body language - and he responds with compassion. Tommy knows no world without Peter, and therefore sees Peter as anyone else in the family. It is with those eyes that he sees the world - just as the world if full of differently abled people, so is our family - so that is typical. Gretchen Anne will also not know a world without Peter - and I believe she will be blessed with a best friend who will love and encourage her as much as she will him.

I hope you will take the time to check out some of these other links. The first is a song I found by accident that I found truly wonderful. This is a youtube video/song called "God doesn't make mistakes"

For those of you football fans out there - you likely remember coach Stallings - mostly from his amazing success as a college coach. His only son (Johnny) had DS. He passed away not long ago. Coach Stallings wrote a book about the fears, challenges and eventual joy that came from his son. The link below is an interview he gave on his son Johnny and the impact on his coaching.

For those of you that are considering expanding your family I want to throw out a non-traditional thought. There are many children around the world with DS that are not as blessed as our Peter. They are left in orphanages and around age four are often moved to institutions where there life is significantly shortened by lack of care. One woman named Andrea has made it her mission to help these children find families. Single handedly she has helped hundreds of children find families to love and care for them. She is truly changing the world one child at a time. Below is a video she put together about her mission. Even if you aren't considering another child in your future, I hope you would consider a Christmas time donation to this organization that financially makes it possible for families to adopt a child with DS.

I do want to thank you - all of you - who continue to come and read our blog for your support and love and compassion. We are proud of all of our kids - and we obviously are very proud of Peter. I really do hope that traveling this road with us now has also brought you awareness on DS and the blessings we can obtain in life by embracing those that may seem most different from us.


Peter doing art on his new easel (thank you craigslist!)

Peter helping assemble the new train set - yes it is for therapy - keeps him on his feet, moving and stretching and coordinating fine motor for train movement. (thank you sale at Toys R Us)

Standing, stretching and putting dice in a cup....Disney Yatzee (thank you Tommy's friend for a fun birthday present)

Therapy on a tablet learning to draw lines (thank you Ms. Katie and fun games put together by the Air Force Academy to help special kids).

Thank you for Peter for sharing the joy you find in your efforts and accomplishments - we all celebrate those with you!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dreams and Fears

I don't think I ever sat down and shared the dream I had a couple of months back - and if I did, you get it twice! It warms my heart when I think of it. In my dream I was standing outside of church - looking at the grassy area that separates the church from the office. There was Gretchen (our daughter on her way). I knew it was her, and her back was to me. She had blonde hair and wearing a dress. Then I see Peter walk up to her and say "I love you Gretchen". She reached out her arms and they hugged. I heard her say "I love you too Peter". Then she took a step back and put out her hand. She said "Come on Peter" - he took her hand and together they walked down the sidewalk away from me. When I woke felt so happy!! Truly in my heart it was a sign of things to come. That Peter will always remind her how loved she is.... he will teach her laughter, simplicity, joy and love. She will hold his hand and help him navigate the world, she will love him back and together they will learn. I felt like she was telling me she loves him as much as I do - and that he will be safe.

Despite the warmth that dream gave me, too many days I have not felt warm and fuzzy and safe. I have not felt like the happy mom-to-be basking in the miracle of life. Instead I have been moody, and tired and worn out. At times I have been down right homicidal - and God blessed people around me with survival. I have felt guilt for not singing to the baby, talking to her, playing Beethoven and all those other things "good" and "happy" moms do. I have been so stressed out, and then I stress about being stressed. I drink too much milk and not enough water - and wish I could sleep all day and night. Despite my best of intentions I'm not exercising and after miscalculating my weight gain realized it was 10 more pounds than I had convinced myself.

Throw in H1N1 and the fact that half of Colorado Springs seems to be sick - I feel pressure! To immunize or not??!! Do I take the risk with Peter, Gretchen and me and not immunize? What if we get sick? what if we don't? This vaccine went to market so fast - contradicting information on mercury. It was developed in 38 days.....really? I'm scared to get it - scared to find out a year or five or fifteen down the road that Gretchen was hurt by the vaccine. Will it save us? hurt us? or end up being nothing? At times the pressure in my chest as I think about it is so tight that I feel like I can't breathe! I had a doctor appointment this week and during the drive in the car I had an epiphany on my stress....

I thought back to my pregnancy with Tommy. I was stressed then and traveling like crazy. Then he was finally born. All was supposed to be ok. At three weeks we found he was lower than his birth weight. The world came tumbling down for me. I took four showers a day just so that I could cry. I wanted to hold him all day and reassure him we would be ok, but at the same time I felt like I couldn't care for him. Well intentioned support just tore at my confidence "You're too stressed Catherine.....", "You just need to relax Catherine....", "You're not drinking're not resting enough.... you're not producing're not holding him right..... your not latching him on well enough....." AHHH! I just wanted the madness to stop. Then the "Just give it up" or "Obviously you can't do it this time.." or "I'm so sorry (you're failing)" or "breast IS best Catherine ". I seriously wanted to run away into the woods and never see the world again. I ended up breast feeding and formula feeding - we alternated feeds. He thrived, and I felt a bit better - as long as I didn't leave the house. I felt now stuck once again between opposing camps in the mother world. You know what I mean - we mom's like to take firm stands on what is best and God have mercy on anyone doing it differently. Instead of being stuck between the stay-at-homes that judge my working, and the working moms that judge the size of my family - I was now stuck between the breast feeding and not. UGH! Regardless I felt like such a failure that I figured everyone was judging me the same way..... all in my mind no doubt, but none the less not a happy feeling.

Just a few weeks before Tommy's birthday we found out we were pregnant again. Another bundle of joy! My first fear - would I be able to breast feed this baby or would I go through that all over again? My confidence was shaken and I hadn't quite got it back. A few weeks later the doctor at the hospital said "The baby isn't developing normal..." and a few weeks after that the phone call I took in the kitchen. John standing there as a female voice says to me "he has Down syndrome.....I'm sorry!".... followed once again about my "choices" to solve for the problem. Here I was - worried about weight gain, breast feeding and suddenly I'm hit by lightning - none of that matters - it came down to a matter of will he live or not? how bad is his heart? and what in the world can anyone do to save him? Then in those dark sleepless nights - the crazy thoughts we all get (don't tell me you don't!!) - the "what did I do for this to happen to him?" the childish thoughts of "God is punishing him for something I did - this is all my fault". Then during the day the grin and bear it as people avoid you, walk away or move to the other side of the room and hope you don't notice they exist. I got to the point that hearing "I am so sorry" and "How horrible" was more comforting than being alone. Tack on John lost his job, my dad got terribly sick and I couldn't be there, and I wasn't sure if I would have a job or not post merger. I honestly shut down and went into auto-function mode. Checking things off my to-do list became a drug - that sense of satisfaction that I was doing everything I could possibly do before he arrived so that he had the best odds possible. I researched conditions, asked questions, called hospitals around the country for second and third opinions on his heart, I stared at ultra-sound pictures, I interviewed doctors and had plan A through Z figured out. Surely I had done all I could and this would be ok..... well, for all of you who have followed this blog, you know what happened next - almost 8 weeks in the hospital, pulmonary hypertension, kidney failure, unexplained infections, bad blood counts, failure to thrive, feeding tubes, oxygen tubes, open heart surgery, therapy.....let's just say we were as best prepared as we could be, but you sure just can't plan for everything. The world caught up with me when Peter was 17 months and taken off of oxygen during the day. So three years and two months after I thought my world came tumbling down with Tommy not eating well, I finally felt like I could allow myself to break into a thousand pieces and just cry - cry for the stress, cry for the relief that finally some things were behind us, cry for the joy of having survived. Joy that despite it all Tommy still loved me regardless of the failure I felt, and that Peter could finally breathe on his own at least part of the day.

So..... I know that seems like a long way to get to my epiphany this week - but here you go.... I realized that with all we've gone through over the last four years I am having a hard time believing that all is ok with Gretchen. The stress I feel in my shoulders and back is from me constantly being in that bracing mode. Bracing myself for what I don't know.... that fear of what is around the next corner I can't see. That loss of confidence when Peter failed echos and that sense that we were being sucked back into the world of uncertainty. That need to just survive - and not feeling confident I can. Then in the darkness all those horrible little voices in my head....except I wish they would just stay at night..... but now they speak during the day too! UGH! I'm not the wife I thought I would be - happy, encouraging and support....nope, sometimes (often at times) I am the nag, the tears, the complainer. I'm not the mom I thought I would be..... I'm not at home, I don't school my kids - darn, I don't even color, finger paint or make the home made play dough! I don't do fun creative learning things (except we all pile into the kitchen to bake brownies and make ice cream when the good Lord knows if I don't get chocolate the world will end) ....I'm not the ever pulled together mom you see in the magazines with the capacity to be all things to all people and raise perfect kids. Now, to my little defense - I think my kids are great, I do get food on the table and clean clothes on their backs! None the less I dream of being so much more and I feel each day that passes is another day lost. I'm not the friend I thought I would be.... I get too tired to call, fail to invite people over, I forget birthdays and honestly I rarely go out. And yes, since I'm letting it all out...... sometimes I just want the world to go away so that for a day I can have silence!! And selfishly I wish the weight would melt away, my house would self clean, there was always a ton of money in the bank and I had an endless Starbucks gift card! I wish for time, wisdom and confidence to be the mother, daughter, wife and friend I want to be. And while we are at it - I wish for world peace and end to hunger and all the house projects to finally be done!! (All three feel like the same likelihood of being attained!).

So.... I promise I don't need to be committed.....this has been eating at me and on another sleepless night I knew I would feel better if I could just let it all out. As with all of us - I have good days and not so good. Days I feel like I can do it all - and days I feel I can't do a thing. Days I thank God for all the blessings, and other days I am so darn mad at Him that I don't feel like talking. I'm human - you're human - and sometimes I remind myself that even those picture perfect moms in magazines are just pictures and we all have our burdens and blessings. And as if to remind me of this - out of no where tonight an old set of keys I had was on my nightstand. Keys to the old PHS building in the Springs that closed some time ago (I bet I can still get in!). Attached was a keychain I thought was one with my name on it. I turned it over in expectation to see "Catherine" and instead what I saw was "God grant me the serenity to accept things I can not change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference". Yeah.....even when I doubt, He is there whether I choose to accept the grace or not. So here is to hoping for the wisdom I clearly am lacking at times as I try to change the world in all the wrong places - and wisdom to embrace and find the light in what appears the darkest corners. And since I am still on a roll - here is to going back to bed, actually falling asleep and quiet kids in the morning that won't wake me up!!

For those of you that read this far.....thank you for letting me feel like I can just let it all out in the middle of the night and that I'm not alone.
Love - catherine

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another Family Update

Ok - so I am going to quit saying I have no excuse for not updating the blog - so here is what I consider my semi-valid excuse - I'm a pregnant mom with five kids at home and a full time job - I am tired, worn out, achy and although every night I tell myself I am going to update the blog - when push comes to shove by the time I am done tidying up, putting away dinner, making lunches, cleaning the kitchen, setting out breakfast, packing up school stuff, putting away laundry and setting out little boy clothes I'm wiped out and bed sounds better. And then I guilt the next day that when memory loss kicks in I'll wish I had this blog - about as close to a journal as I have right now ....but so far every night the desire to roll my aching body into bed has outweighed everything else. Pregnancy is wiping me out - clearly I'm not the spring chicken I was when I was carrying Alexandra 15 years ago!!! Speaking of pregnancies - all is going well, the echo's and blood tests we had done all came back very positive. I chose to not have the amnio - and optimistic that all is progressing well. We did get confirmation the baby is a girl - much to the excitement of John and the kids. He's had the name picked out for many years waiting to be used - so our little girl will be Gretchen Anne Krause.....eta January 7th 2010..... however I intend on willing her into the world on December 31st 2009 - no! not for the tax credit, but because I have a PPO plan and I don't want to have to meet my deductible all over again!! Here's that latest pic of Gretchen Anne.

Working our way up the kid list - Peter. Little man looks like a unicorn right now. We don't know what happened - but he snuck away from Grandma to fight the table and lost some how. All of a sudden we hear his "I'm really really really hurt cry" - I was fighting Alexandra's hair and a curling iron - and could hear Grandma comforting him. By the time I saved Alexandra and me from being burned, poor Peter had a bump literally the size of a golf ball in the middle of his forehead. I seriously don't know how he could of done it!! However, once dinner was served he was distracted and on to new things. Our picky eater who survives on little has found an appetite in the last week or two. He must be getting ready for a growth spurt because I have never seen him eat like he has recently. He can now down a whole toasted cheese sandwich which is amazing for him - and tonight ate about a bowl and a half of mac-n-cheese!! Still will only have yogurt for breakfast - but we are going through it a lot faster lately!! He's still not walking - hints at being interested and then goes right back to bear crawling. He has however picked up quite a few more signs lately - we suspect he's doing more than we realize. Still slow on the vocalizing - but has a few times made animal sounds when we talk about animals - and has made ba sounds when signing book. So I am stretching but we have "da" for dog, "ha" for hi, "taya" for tired, and now possible "ba" for book. I am still very optimistic that one day I will hear him whisper "I love you" in my ear as he gives me his already world famous bear hug!

Tommy and Jack - well - I have to lump the dynamic duo together. They really are best buds like buds should be! They have so much fun together...... Jack is loving 1st grade and is coming along with his reading. He is doing flag football this fall - and much to my embarrassment I have to admit he's the hyperactive unfocused but extremely excited little kid on the team. He doesn't lack for energy - but is clearly lacking in focus..... just need to keep working on it. Tommy is at Corpus Christi with Jack and now has his own little group of friends. Of course he claims Jack's friends as his own too - and loves to see his big brother at school with him. Tommy has amazed his teachers with how smart he is - he was recently tested for letter recognition. While the other kids recognized 5-6 letters in the alphabet - Tommy had well over 20 almost nailing the whole alphabet. He can tell us how to spell his name and is constantly pulling out letters that others' names start with. He fights wanting to write or color or draw - but I think is ready to start working on sounding out letters and early reading skills. Tom-Tom did turn 4 just a few days ago - and we have his party tomorrow. Here is the Jack-Tommy team during one of their many play sessions.

Michael switched schools - and while I was very hesitant I must admit I have never seen him happier. He was mad about the move until about first day of school - and has since embraced the new setting. He's very excited about what he's learning and the style of teaching. Amongst his subjects is Latin which he is picking up so fast. Of course he loves to bring his book to the dinner table and test our latin skills..... thank goodness for my background in Spanish or I think I would flunk out of Michael's grilling us!!

Alexandra just called me to check in..... she's headed over to a friend's house for a sleep over following her first Homecoming Dance in high school. She too is really enjoying school this year - her group of friends - and playing softball. She's really picked up the sport - and we enjoy watching her play when we can make it (not always easy with conflicting schedules). She did get asked by a boy to the dance - which made her feel special. He's new to the area - but she considers him a FRIEND. All my brainwashing techniques are paying off as she let John and I know that she is not ready to date - doesn't want to date - but hopes to have a group of friends girls and boys that she can hang with. She's definitely on her way there. Here is is getting her corsage...... she looked beautiful. She reported in to let me know she was exhausted, headed over to the sleepover and will tell me ALL about it tomorrow.

Anyway - I'm pooped. John is up in the mountains fishing this weekend - and after homecoming, a softball double header for Alexandra and having a birthday party to organize tomorrow, I think Gretchen and I need some rest.

Love to all -

Monday, August 24, 2009

Echo & Buddy Walk Updates.

It is late, and I am no long stories or pictures tonight. My back is sore from taking laundry up and down the stairs....with so many of us it is quite the daily project!! Anyway good news, and great news. Good news - Buddy Walk was this weekend. A huge THANK YOU to all of you who supported us - we really do appreciate each of you!! And of course huge appreciation for Adam, Mindy and little Thad who have joined us each year. First year Mindy was pregnant, last year Thad was a wee one, and this year he was a walker!! We were also joined by my parents - and I think for them it was awesome and overwhelming to see the sheer volume of people who come out to support DS awareness. The weather was perfect again - and we had a great time! Great news - Peter finally had his follow up echo today. Following two bad echos there was a lot of pressure on the one today. Sort of that crossroads for him medically. I didn't realize how stressed I was until I was on work calls ahead of his appointment and could barely talk because I so desperately wanted to cry. It was however as if Peter knew how it would go because he was full of smiles and laughter the whole ride down. The echo took about 3 times longer than normal, followed by and EKG and regular stats reporting. But, after the eternity of tests the outcome was positive. Peter's pulmonary pressures are once again normal. Not only that, but Dr. Duster said this was the best he has EVER seen or heard Peter. He felt very optimistic - so much so that he doesn't want to do a re-check for 9 to 12 months - and hope he won't see us over the winter if Peter gets sick. Not sure I'm ready to go that long with out Dr. Duster .... but we will try! Anyway - Alexandra was hogging the computer on homework, and I wanted to get the update out. Promise to post pictures soon - but I need to get to bed. Almost 21 weeks along now and Lord knows baby and I need a bit more sleep than we are getting. Love to all - thank you for all your prayers - God continues to give us miracles through Peter!! catherine

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Peter's NICU Reunion for St. Francis (Colorado Springs)

All of our boys have been born in Colorado Springs, and all of them at Penrose St. Francis - Community Hospital. Peter being no exception. He spent one week there at the NICU before getting transferred to The Children's Hospital in Denver. While we were at St. Francis many special folks took care of Peter! We always remember fondly staff and have so often thought of visiting and taking cookies - or going on Peter's birthday.... but good intentions never followed through on. Well, then the hospital closed and moved to a new facility in town - the St. Francis Medical Center with amazing views of the front range and Pikes Peak.

The NICU team through a NICU reunion today to celebrate the first year of the new facility being open. There were four people I was hoping to see there - Dr. Prado (Meg), Susan, Birdie and Helen. Dr. Prado had just moved to Colorado shortly before Peter's birth - moving here from Miami. We felt and instant connection with her - and appreciated the very personal care Peter got. Susan, Birdie and Helen were the chief nurses that ran the NICU and covered all the shifts. Each is different and special, but we felt that to them our child was Peter - not a baby with DS, not a cardiac case, not a very sick baby - but rather Peter that happened to be all these other things too. Anyway - they have been in our hearts since the one week they cared for Peter - and it was great to see them again today and have an opportunity to thank them for the care they gave him and us!!

We would remember them always, and recognize them in a crowd because of what they did for us. But, we knew also they have taken care of thousands of babies over the years. Yet, as we walked up to Dr. Prado and Susan with her, we said "Not sure if you remember us..." and before I could finish she said "How could we forget you Catherine!". She remembered Peter by name too - asked how he was doing - and they both smiled huge to see how far he has come from the one week in May of 2007. It warmed my heart to hear them talk of Peter - they even remembered that Dr. McCaffery was his pediatrician - and said how often they thought of us and hoped Peter was well. Sniff sniff.... it is those moments in life that mean so much!

Peter & Dr. Prado

Peter & Susan

Helen, me, Peter, and Birdie

Peter has his echo scheduled for this Monday - but we think we are going to have to reschedule. Jack got a cold earlier in the week and we have been praying for Peter to stay healthy. But today he woke up with a bit of a runny nose and tonight has been more snotty. I too am starting to feel the congestion - so think we will need to reschedule to when he is feeling better. My next ultra-sound is scheduled for the 26th - so will let you know how it goes and if they can confirm baby is a girl (or not).

Buddy Walk is in two weeks - hope you can join us!! My parents will be here - so we are incredibly excited to have them be there. And in true tradition the Youngers are joining with Thad..... he was still in Mindy's tummy the first time we walked! Now he'll be walking across the finish line on his own. We hoped Peter would too - but walking is something we are still working on. Peter took two steps completely on his own last night for the first time.... we have a way to go but it is great to see him try again.

Love to all -

Monday, August 3, 2009

Please support our Buddy Walk team - Go Team Peter Bear!!

Dear Friends and Family,

On Saturday, August 22, we will be walking in the Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Assn (CSDSA) Buddy Walk to show our support for the more than 350,000 individuals with Down syndrome in the United States. I (Catherine) have signed up to be a team captain and want to do my part to make sure that each individual is given every opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

Every step our family takes, every dollar we raise, will help ensure that each individual with Down syndrome in the United States - like our Peter Bear - will be able to do just that. Last year alone, over $6.5 million dollars was raised nationwide for local and national education, research and advocacy programs.

We are asking you to Buddy Walk with us to make a difference for Peter and people with Down syndrome in our community. For just $12 you can register to join our team - this includes breakfast, t-shirt, lunch, great activities and a walk! Kids under 12 register for $3 and get all the same great benefits! We greatly appreciate even the smallest of donations by those too far to walk with us. Being on the CSDSA Board I know what we do in our community, and how much more we can do!! We know times are tight and a donation can be tough - but we ask that you please join us for the walk regardless - walking with us is a priceless support for our family!!

Click on to visit our family Buddy Walk page and join our team today! Go Team Peter Bear!! (if the link doesn't work - copy and paste into your web browser)

NOTE: If you will be registering more than one person and joining our team, please go to and click on "Register Here" and then "Register A Family". You will then be able to select my team and register your family.

Please share this information with your friends and family - the more support we can raise, the greater the opportunity for the future of our community and all individuals!

Come walk with us!
Many blessings -
The very proud Krause family!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Where did June go? and most of July?

I know I sound like a broken record - but often I say - "I really should update CP and the blog tonight"... then tonight gets busy, late, tired, a work night, etc - and it slips off the "must do" list and onto the "wish I could" list. So admittedly while I am really tired and could go to bed I'm not. First, because I will be mad if I don't do this, and second because I have a pile of laundry on my bed waiting to get put away yet the laundry fairies have not yet showed up. Oh I could use some fairies around here to keep all clean, tidy and put away! But, alas until they move in I need to keep doing this :-) So.... since there is so much to share I need to do cliff notes version once again!!

Alexandra - school is over and summer ball began. Alexandra played softball for St. Mary's HS in prep for the fall. She really enjoyed it and made a few new friends going into a new school. She also took a HS prep class - which I question the usefulness of to be honest - but oh well, she is one step closer. Her schedule is set and she is itching to go shopping - this will be first time with no school uniform!!

Michael - also played ball! Baseball season followed Alexandra's. Michael had a good time, but is still certain he prefers basketball. He didn't have much luck his one painful attempt at pitcher, but did great up to bat and out in the field. He's not yet facing the new school in the fall..... i think hoping summer will last for ever! So far he has not dusted off his flippers for the pool (really not sure why) but has now got Jack into the mode of using snorkel type goggles to the pool.

Jack and Tommy - I lump them together because they are attached at the hip for all the ups and downs of summer days! Of course the matching cowboy boots are a must - but while Tommy will alternate into flip flops for the pool, or tennis shoes for playing, Jack insists on using his boots for everything. They are terribly worn out and can stink a room out. I am hoping fairies will show up in the middle of the night and take them to cowboy boot graveyard. Alas.... we still wait for fairies.

And Peter - well - there is so much to tell here! Good bad and everything in between. So let's start with the not so good and move on to better! The lowest low is Peter had his follow up echo and is still not "normal". His saturation rates were normal again - so that was good, but his pulmonary pressures while better were still elevated and out of the normal range. As luck would go there was another storm rolling into town while he was having his echo done, but two bad echos in a row didn't make the doctor comfortable writing it off as due to barometric pressures. August 10th Peter goes back for a third and final attempt. This time in the morning - hoping to avoid the chance of a storm. We hope he stays healthy between now and then for it! If it goes well, we are ok. If not then he will need to go into the hospital for a heart cath. The purpose being to get true pulmonary pressures within the heart as opposed to at skin level with the echo. It scares me to have him under sedation since we know mild sedation caused his oxygen saturation rates to drop drastically and he was not responding to increase in oxygen. Please please please - lots of prayer for Peter!! Also Peter is on another self induced diet.... hopefully just the heat - but he is not interested in eating again. Ugh!! Peter - come on little dude!! On the up side he continues to persist in his attempts to stand unassisted and walk - while admittedly bear crawling at 100 miles an hour proves to be more exciting for him! He is also starting to sign a bit more and took us completely by surprise when he looked out the car window on our trip to Montana and not only signed "cow" but also did "mmmmm" when I asked him what sound a cow makes. Totally awesome! While on our trip he took a dip in the big pool and found he liked it more than he thought he would - so that is exciting. And the up up for this week - he can now do the hand movements for his favorite song from beginning to end - The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Oh does he love that song! Replaced Ba ba black sheep as his favorite - and will cheer him up no matter what!!

Family news - first, we took our pilgrimage up to Montana. The trip rushed by and we didn't get to look up everyone we wanted, or do all we wanted - but thus are packed family trips. All in all we had a great time! John got in several rounds of golf which is always precious time for him. Alexandra made a few friends at the lake, took on a bit of rafting, got in a round of golf with John and a date night with him to the theater in Bigfork. Michael also got a round of golf in with John, ventured out in the lake on his own for a bit, but most enjoyed the family center with pool, shuffle board and a TV (let's face it - it was the TV!). Jack went on his first rafting trip which was exciting - it was Alexandra, Michael, Jack and myself - pretty mild rafting trip but he was excited we got up to class 2 rapids! Tom-Tom loved the time at the lake and playing in the pool. I think given a choice he would have spent the whole vacation in the water. Not sure Peter felt the same - but he did enjoy the pool time. He loved being at the parks and just crawling around - I think not being in the car was his favorite part!

Other family news - Peter is going to be a big brother! John and I have known for a while, but opted to not tell anyone until we could go through some of the initial screening. We know how stressful Peter's diagnosis was on us and the family, and we didn't want the uncertainty of this baby's health to put stress on our friends and family (YOU!). We are about 15 weeks along now and so far all is going well. We did the initial ultra-sound and blood test screening at the hospital and all came back very well - baby appears to be healthy and developing normally. These were the same tests that let us know Peter would have special needs. Baby seems to be following family tradition of being big as the hospital thinks I'm off by a week or so in my dates. Clearly they don't know how anal I am and that my dates are NEVER off when it comes to things ladies deal with monthly! Oh well. So baby ETA is first week of January - but likely to come a little sooner. And.... drum roll.... at first glance baby appears to be a girl!! John and the boys are dueling it out on baby names. The boys want "Annie" and John wants "Gretchen". So likely to be Anne Gretchen or Gretchen Anne. Watch it be a boy!! And, before you speedily reply to this post let me end with this. Yes, no, so far so good, looking healthy, yep we are serious, lots of prayers! That answers the a) are you serious? b) are you crazy? c) how are you feeling? d) really, how is the baby doing? e) ok... taking a breathe here.... are you really serious??!! and f) what do you need? ( hoping someone might be over the shock and asking that!). We really do ask that you keep us all in your prayers - but especially Peter and baby #6's health, and the grace and happiness we hope for all our kids.

And, I promise to do my best to update this sooner than 6 weeks! Hoping to get back to weekly or every other week. Peter is keeping John and I up tonight.... wants to party like its 1999..... so going to go relieve John and see if I can get some snuggle time in (well, after I do my laundry fairy duty!).

Love to all - catherine