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etst 10h ago
Potions lab today (and a super fun inexpensive Halloween tablescape coming to the blog tomorrow 🕷)
etst 1d ago
His obsession with flames and candles and matches makes me so nervous 😬. I have to turn my back when I light a match because he studies me too closely. In other news, I cleaned my room this past weekend, and now it feels so cozy. Why can't I keep it like this all the time? 😩
etst 1d ago
"Learn their language, know their loves, plot the latitude of their life. I’ve got Toca Boca on my iPhone and Shawn the Sheep on my Firestick, but I also know what Coachella is and can decipher the cryptic captions on my cool teen granddaughter’s Instagram feed...Tell them stories where they are the champions, the winners, the greatest around. Let them know of your life—your strengths AND your struggles, your big moments AND your bumbled mistakes...Keep their things in your home like you’re hoping they’ll come, and when they do, they’ll see—you’ve been expecting their visit, there’s room for them here. Buy a step stool to help them work beside you in the kitchen, reach the Oreos in your pantry, brush their teeth by themselves. Take their messes in stride, their fears as quite normal, and an occasional tantrum as a compliment—you’re family, you’re home..." Poppa's on the blog today, sharing his love of grandparenting and tips for maintaining close relationships. More, link in profile.
etst 2d ago
We lost Nella in Target today. She went running as soon as we walked in (she never does that). We couldn't figure out where she ran and enlisted the help of an employee who saw her running ("was your little girl holding a ribbon stick?" 😂) Nella ended up finding us 5 minutes later. She was running to our cart, smiling so huge and carrying what appeared to be a 5 gallon vat of Nutella.
etst 2d ago
Poppa's pups are back from Michigan. ❤️
etst 3d ago
Linus: "Are you here to sing pumpkin carols?" I just want to throw it out there that I'd be 💯% on board with this tradition. Don't be surprised if Ima knockin' on your door, passing out wassail and singing "Fall to the World," Naples friends.
etst 4d ago
Who needs iambic pentameter. Her smile is a sonnet. ❤️
etst 5d ago
For the record, I had nothing to do with these--they just arrived at the front door. I took one look at them and then one look at Brett: "Dear God, these have your name all over them."
Brett: 🙈
She's been running around outside smiling since she put them on. (I put the link in stories along with some background music I didn't realize was so inappropriate 🙊)
etst 5d ago
Chili in the crockpot, Halloween picture painting and almost Friday. ❤️ (and after searching Craigslist every single day for a month to find a credenza to hold my table linens, I walked in Goodwill this morning, and there she was. Crammed her in the minivan and drove 6 miles with a stack of drawers pinning me against the window, but that's how we get 'er done.)
etst 1w ago
THRILLED to announce I hired my first intern! I've been blogging for over ten years now and am thankful for the ways our work world has stretched to include so many new creative opportunities for people to support their families and make a living doing things they love. From blog writing and sharing on social media to writing a book and working on fun partnerships with brands I love, I've learned so much, love heading to my office to work and continue to look forward to new experiences ahead. In advocating for Nella, I think about her opportunities in the future a lot and hope she too finds fulfillment in a world that creatively stretches and offers more ways to contribute and offer her heart and talents. I applaud companies and individuals running businesses who look for ways they can employ people with special needs and realized I can be one of those people right now. I'll be assigning @kirstagraf some writing assignments with accompanying photography and will be working with her internship director and student mentor at @bethelumn to help her learn more about writing, photography, social media and sharing her story in an engaging way. And I will be paying her for her valuable contribution to the blog. I know you will love hearing her perspective about attending college (with a @rubysrainbow scholarship 👊🏻), living with special needs and the road toward independence. Stay tuned for more from this beautiful woman I'm proud to call my intern.
etst 1w ago
Earlier this fall, when we got to be a part of @kirstagraf college send-off, one of my favorite things she packed for her dorm was, of course, her shoe pile--a small mountain of shoes her sisters helped her select with everything from comfy flats to some Wowza! leopard print booties. I couldn’t help but smile, completely relating to the fact that for all the uncomfortable firsts in life--the exciting new adventures, the hard days, the big challenges–the thrill of heading to a pile of shoes and choosing the most fabulous ones to face those days somehow makes them better. Thrilled to have @bornfootwear helping us celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month by encouraging friends to donate to @rubysrainbow (any amount helps!) and giving away an entire fall shoe wardrobe to one lucky winner. Head to the blog to enter. ❤️ (and thank you @bornfootwear for once again using your sponsored post to support a cause near and dear to us)
etst 1w ago
Dancing at home before class to warm up. Ballet is a hard start this year--she's excited to go but then doesn't want to participate or make eye contact with anyone once she gets there. Which I totally get because I signed up for adult ballet once just so I could wear a leotard and ballet shoes and those cool slouchy tee shirts but then got to the studio and realized ballet is HARD, and my mirror reflection doesn't look near as cool as I imagine I look. The reality of this all is a bit of a shut down, so I get it. I lasted two classes. But we're here, three classes in, and I'm trying to figure out how to support her, push her, provide her socialization opportunities and inclusive learning experiences while recognizing her needs and respecting the dynamics of the class and studio. With a studio kind and open to accommodation suggestions and a conversation with a mentor mama who gave me wonderful ideas for a new bag of tricks next week, we're creatively moving ahead. In the meantime, dining room ballet is going splendidly. ❤️ (and a huge thank you to @aliciagraf90 😘)
etst 1w ago
I loved this night so much. Our Potter party family night on the blog.
etst 1w ago
Harry Potter Movie Night. ❤️
etst 1w ago
Throws all the stems on the floor. 🍓
etst 1w ago
I just realized my kids have never seen E.T. Do you ever watch movies now that were the best thing you'd ever seen when you were a kid and feel like a grandma because the special effects are, like, obvious looped reels of cars driving by in the background? 5 Ways to Celebrate October on the blog today with our fall bucket list, spooky picture editing and a list of the best family movies for October. 🍂🎃🍁
etst 1w ago
My October Devotional this morning from a late discovered chapter of Isaiah never published:
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"Thou shalt not wait for the sun to calm its heat before thy partake in tights which bringeth thee a smile. Go forth, beloved child, and celebrate what makest thou happy; for the years are short, and the simple pleasures of this earth are abundant. Selah." .
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Happy Friday!
etst 1w ago
We need more stories shared of the joys and contributions of people with Down syndrome; more videos, more headlines, more positive information pulling up in Down syndrome Google searches and landing in people’s Facebook feeds. We need more doctors delivering news without a pitiful slant, more accurate up-to-date information about Down syndrome and the joys of families raising children with an extra chromosome placed in the hands of expecting parents. We need to continue to fight and advocate and share what we know to be true…that we are the lucky few.

Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month on the blog and discussing the value of life, inclusion, our greatest challenges right now and our best advice for raising a child with Down syndrome...and some of our favorite pictures of Nella over the past seven years. Link in profile. xo
etst 1w ago
My dad came down from Michigan for Irma, and now we're trying to convince him not to go back up because we'll miss this. ❤️
etst 2w ago
Something I realized tonight: when I was Nella's age, the average life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was 25. Do you know what it is today? 60. 60 and creeping up. That's dramatic progress thanks to CHANGE--in the way we view disability, in our approach to support challenges with disabilities and in the resources that are now available. There's more changes to be made, and it is a damn privilege to be on the front lines with so many other moms and dads and friends and grandparents and sisters and brothers, teachers and believers, all marching proudly, shouting their worth, fighting for acceptance and inclusion and opportunities. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and there's so much I could tell you about what I've learned and what I want for Nella, but tonight I'm thinking about that statistic and looking at this picture and remembering my first question to my pediatrician in that delivery room..."How long will she live?" Because I want her forever. And I'm so glad time and progress and relentless efforts from fighters before us have changed that number because this little package of joy has only begun to unwrap, and I can't wait to see what's in store. There is more, there is more, there is more.