SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Learn at your own risk

Bryce posted this warning on the cover of his math notebook.

It says,

Math is very hazerdous to your health!!!
Apparently, so is spelling.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Family Baseball Bash Weekend

As a family grows up, adding spouses and another generation, it gets more and more difficult to get everyone together. You fall into the "holidays, weddings, and funerals" routine. But those are never good times to just relax and be together, having fun, and living normal crazy family moments.

We made the "normal" (which is now everything but normal) happen last weekend. It was opening day for Little League (and no child wants sibling fans more than a Little League player). There was also a high school double header and nothing else on the calendar for the day. Invitations went out and it actually worked out for everyone to come home!

We hired a babysitter to stay with the three toddlers at Keith's house so the adults could reminisce late into the night. We spent our first evening telling baseball stories from the past. I made a baseball memory collage for each player/fan and we passed the photos around to help jog rusty memories. When it comes to sports, and baseball in particular, these people needed no help in jogging memories. They remembered scores, counts on the batter, placements of pitches, fielder errors, opposing players, and everything in between.

Our children represented 18 years of baseball/softball, 60 seasons, and innumerable hours of fan bench time. Here are some of the memory lane highlights.

Little Troy Wanna-be ball player

Little Shane Wanna-be ball player
Keith's high school team trying to hurry spring along

Ellen, one of many family catchers

Bryce, practicing for a future catching position

Joey and Keith with coach Dad (who is in his 16 year of coaching) with their team at a Woodchucks game. Keith is sporting the stylish red shorts and Joey is immediately behind him and to his right. Those wide, flat-billed hats are coming back.

Joey, our sole south paw pitching.

Troy and his glove were inseparable
Chet, flanked by high school batboy brothers

Four boys were on one team that year, Keith and Chet as players, Bryce and Owen as batboys.
Dana, our fifth child and fifth left-handed batter. Joey taught them well.

We've decided that the high school coaches look at the last name of our kids on the roster and say, "White, OK, outfield." Perhaps for good reason. Chet showing how it's done.

Shane spent hours in the backyard pitching against the brick shed wall. He and Troy played whole series against that wall.

Lisa had her first practice and team pictures on our Baseball Bash Saturday. She's finally graduated from fan to player.

Another highlight in the lives of the spectators was to run the scoreboard, and they took it seriously!

Chet--most likely stealing home in some unorthodox situation. His favorite challenge was the suicide squeeze. A few younger brothers got in trouble trying to imitate him.

Joey and Owen cheering on Chet's state tournament Little League team.

Going to the state tournament brings the news. My older boys all know this reporter's name and said he's now a big shot sports announcer for .... a Chicago station? I love Troy in this shot. The little brother crowding in to be part of the big brother's success. In his younger days Troy was known for his "gawking"--no better way to learn than to keep your eyes open and pay attention.

Saturday's weather was cool, windy, and rainy--about as miserable as baseball weather can be for old fans and babies. Our high school field added a beautiful facility that has indoor ringside seating with huge windows and heaters for the less weather hardy. We had an indoor picnic and spread our group out between the comfy seats and the outdoor stands. The team won both games, the second win came with a walk-off double, the win being the first time we led in the game. Troy and Shane didn't have their best games but they enjoyed the motivation and cheers from all of the added voices.

We had planned to have a photographer take an outdoor famiy picture after Owen's Little League game, but the cold weather was too much for our little ones and we headed home to try to get a decent picture with my non-professional camera.

Carson was crying, the other babies and Gabe were looking everywhere but the camera, and one of the teens (wonder who that was) keeps claiming he "didn't know that was the real thing".

We resorted to having everyone clap and cheer to amuse the babies and then quickly strike a pose and see what happened.

This was about the best we could do, but with 22 people, empty stomachs, 4 babies, etc. I was pretty satisfied.

We ate, goofed around, and took more pictures.

Keith jr., the big Brewer fan, gathered everyone who was wearing Brewer gear for a photo.

Joey, a rival Cardinal fan, had his own team support.

We managed to get the four babies lined up together. I call this one, "Best used before November 2011". Lord willing we will have 2 more to add to the grandchildren photo then.

While Carson, Keira, and Vince were heading to bed a group gathered around the piano to sing. I didn't take very many pictures because I just wanted to enjoy the time. I did grab the camera and caught about a half a minute of an impromptu acappella song.

Our final activity was a game of telephone pictionary. As we finished the round and each person's stack of papers came back to them we all read through our papers. Joey started to laugh then the laughter turned to shrieks and tears. I didn't have a video camera close by but I recorded the group review of his papers later.

Joey later commented, "I don't remember when I last laughed so hard." Jamie reminded him, "It was when you were home with your family."

There's something about family that lets us "let go" and relax and be comfortable and really laugh. I think maybe my new favorite holiday is going to be whatever our last impromptu gathering was. Thank you to all of you for making it home and being together!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mom Fatigue

I couldn't help but think of my mom last week as I held my little Gabe through 20 bouts of throwing up. I held his head, rocked him, stroked his hair, and told him it would be OK. I thanked God for giving me a mom who used to do the same thing for me.

My dad was a photography school student at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, CA when I was a baby. He did this photo story of me with mom for one of his classes. Last week, I felt just like that.

Gabe, of course, wasn't feeling any better and fell asleep anywhere and everywhere he laid his head, which was always just a few inches from where I was.

Having an extra chromosome gives Gabe a disadvantage when it comes to illness and his little body always takes a pretty hard hit. This morning was the first one in over a week that he woke up in his usual way--cheerfully playing with his toys and jabbering his made-up stories to his stuffed animals. Today we begin adding normal foods back into his diet to make up for a weight loss of over 10% of his body mass.

I had no idea how much heart when into mothering when I was on the receiving end. Mom tried to warn me, though. One of her favorite quotes was,
"When they're little they're a handful,
When they're big they're a headful,
But they're always a heartful."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Got Hops

When your son comes home from baseball practice with a gash on the back of his upper arm this in one explanation you are not expecting.

We were playing basketball for warm-ups and I ran down the court and jumped up to block a lay-up and got my arm wedged between the rim and the backboard.

PS Yes, it IS a ten-foot high rim.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day

Jean Marie Quisley Sundsbo Johnson; March 23, 1939-March 27, 2002

Happy Mother's Day Mom. She's been gone for over 9 years, but left the gift of a loving example for me to pattern as I raise my own family. This is one of my very favorite pictures of her, taken in August 1980. This is how I remember her, brown hair, big smile, crooked teeth (before her partial), barefoot, doing something for someone else (in this case she was sewing clothes for me to take to England), and a cup of coffee nearby. She was also never without a cigarette, but I'm glad I can't find it in this picture. It's the one bad memory of I have of growing up with her, and it ended her life. I love you, Mom!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Short and Sweet

Gabe has learned how to pray before meals and when we sit down to eat he often asks, "Pray?"

If I say, "You do it," he typically says something like,
"God, thank you for the food, Amen."

The hungrier he is the more jumbled and rushed the prayer.

One day he must have been particularly famished because, when I asked him to pray, he simply said,
"I pray, Amen."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011