Filthy Kids

Recently my sister, Maggie, caught her two little girls glue-handed.  They had applied glue stick to their lips like chapstick, their arms, legs, and the entire tv as well.  Their palms were nearly glued together.

My nieces:  Penelope (2), Caroline (4)

I was in hysterics picturing her walking into them covered in purple, dries clear glue!  And thinking paybacks are a B.  Which is funny because she lived with me while Everett was a full-blown hellyun & I'm sure she thought thank God my kids aren't like him - haha now she knows Penelope is him in a shrunken girl version!

But what was funnier was the Facebook conversation that ensued - the be thankful your kids never...

And it went something like this:

left a half eaten chicken leg behind your tv cabinet...
painted your house with yellow paint pen...
spray painted your brand new navy work truck with yellow spray paint...

Can you guess which one of the above was Everett????



Annie's Diet Bet

Hey friends - want to put some skin in the game & add extra incentive to your weight loss goals?????   

Check out the link below & join in a DIET BET with ME- if you lose 4% of your weight in 28 days you split the pot of CASH with anyone else that hits that goal - you invest $35 to join but may get much much more in the cash pot!  I know many of us wouldn't mind to drop some weight & to win some cash in the end sounds like a pretty sweet deal too!  

Now here is my warning I want you to do it the good old fashioned way - hard work - exercise + nutrition! It's about getting healthy & getting rewarded - NO starvation tactics or you will gain it all back and possibly then some!  Go check it out - it's all online & we can do this as a team!!  We start September 23 - October 20th!

If you want my help & guidance email me & we can design a plan that WILL WORK for you!  

Click HERE to join!!


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Back To School

Well they are back at it! 

Aubrie went to 2nd grade.  Here is what I've basically gotten out of her since she started..."Mom everyone knows it's impossible to make new friends in 2nd grade."  Really?  I did not know this.  But apparently it is so.  She's already requesting a cell phone and Ipad Touch - apparently some other 7 year olds have them already.  Seriously people - my mind is blown.  Not gonna happen Aubrie, not gonna happen!  She's again a top notch student that is brown nosing her teacher daily - it's how she rolls and she's quite good at it!

Everett is repeating Kindergarten.  Why?  Because he just turned 6 August 16th.  There are many reasons, but last year he was one of the smallest, he struggled with maturity, attention span, and impulses.  I feel like he really, really grew up and changed so much since March to now.  So this year he's going in as the big dog.  If I say he's one of the biggest he gets mad - he IS NOT the biggest, he's just bigger than some of the kids.  His teacher sent a note and said she already cried this year over his progress & that he is her go to guy!  Yep I'd say repeating kindergarten is most likely the best move ever for our little dude.  When I ask him about his day - he remembers nothing - literally nothing other than it was good & he liked lunch and recess.  

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Six Years Old

It's hard to believe how fast your babies grow up, but they do!

He started off chubby at a whopping 8 lbs 11 oz with dark black hair that laid so nice!

Within a year we knew his personality.  He was sweet, slept all night, never cried, and loved his big sister!

By 2 his true colors were coming out, he was a walking tornado always into something and taking things to a new level beyond what his bigger sister had thought up!  He was a walking concussion that always shook it off - I to this day don't know how!

At 3 he was just full of personality and most definitely my favorite little boy ever!

At 4 we saw him as an older brother that would do anything for his new baby sister - they are also the best of friends.  He is the most love able little boy I know - kisses and hugs have always been his thing!

At 5 he constantly made us laugh with his crazy antics - he loves the DS & his Wii and loves to make friends everywhere he goes.  It's true take him to the park and I guarantee you some 15 year old girl knows who he is and acts like they are BFFs - I'm not quite sure how he does it - but he does!  He also hugged everyone and kissed them goodbye - he even tried to get the mail man!  Ha!

Going into 6 is exciting!  I'm a little sad that he's so big, but yesterday he wasn't too big to still hold my hand!  It's an exciting year for him - we are doing Kindergarten again since his birthday is so late & he's really matured since this spring!  He's sweet, funny, kind - he'd do anything for anyone, he always shares, and he always smiles!  I'm very blessed to be his Mom and proud to call him mine!  He's definitely a light in our lives!

Happy Birthday Everett Mason - don't wear out your Wii today with all your new games!

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When you turn 16...

Call me what you will, but the truth is I love to harass my kids!  I got it honest from my Dad!  So the other night we had a conversation about cars.  I informed Aubrie at 16 she would get an old Buick Lesabre and Everett would get a minivan because when I was 16 in 1998 I scored a 1976 Yellow Ford Gran Torino - it's only fair they receive similar gifts right?!!  Everett bawled - why?  Because he wants a big van!  Can you say pedi van much?!  



A Real Stay At Home Mom

Let's be real for a second here - and some Moms out there may gasp in shock when I say this, but as a stay at home Mom - I can't wait to see book bags on these two again and a big bus pulling up my drive daily!


Don't get me wrong - we have had an awesome summer together!


But I'm ready for routine & ready for these two to go get their learn on!


Ollie will still be with me 24/7 except when she goes to her preschool for early intervention - then you can find me at a Panera or Starbucks blissfully enjoying a coffee and some Internet time in peace & quiet and occasionally shopping the aisles of TJ Maxx and Target looking at whatever I want for however long I want!!  Whooooo baby! 14 days - but who is counting?!? 



My House

It's constantly changing & transforming, but it is my happy place full of color & collected items that I have fallen in love with.

What paint colors are in your home?
Wall Colors:
Living Room/Kitchen/Foyer: a dark turquoise - Ace Hardware Forgotten Secret A38-5
Master Bedroom: a fun green - Ace Hardware Limeheart B29-5
Master Bathroom: One shade lighter green than master - Ace Hardware Picture Perfect B29-4
Everett's Room: a perfect gray
Ollie's Nursery: a barn red - Ace Hardware Lady in Red A11-7
Kids' / Guest Bathroom: an emerald / Jade green - Color Place - Walmart - Arugula 91322
Basement: a fun canary yellow: Walmart Color Place Thai Silk 91212
Laundry Room: truly tide orange - Ace Hardware Indian Paintbrush A17-6
Basement Bathroom: Caruso Blue - Color Place - Walmart - 91433
Aubrie's Room:  a sweet turquoise- Ace Hardware - Peace River A38-3
Fitness Room:  a sassy greenish yellow - Ace Hardware - Goldendale A29-4

Furniture Redos:
Office Desk Redo - Ace Hardware Rossland A38-4
Foyer Yellow Armoire Redo - Lowe's - Fuzzy Navel



Ollie Faith

Raising Ollie Faith
The Saturday before Father's Day in 2010 I had the best surprise for Jade ever.  He was going to become a father again.  We were having a third child! 

He thought I was joking, and finally realized that no we really were having a baby.  We had debated it for awhile previous to this and decided that we thought we wanted a third, but it happened a bit sooner than we had anticipated.  We were both over the moon happy!

On October 4th, 2010, after a routine ultrasound, we were sent to a level II ultrasound.  My quad screening for Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome, came back & they thought we should see a specialist.

Jade & I drove to Champaign, IL, fully expecting nothing to come from this appointment.  We took the day off of work & planned to go to lunch & maybe even a movie.  It was going to be a date day.  We were just sure everything was fine.

Ironically a month before this I dreamt I was having a down syndrome baby girl.  I shrugged it off as nothing.

We left the appointment with shocking news.  We walked down the hall to the elevator.  Jade tried to talk and all I could say was not now, not now.  You see I don't like to publicly cry.  We took the elevator to the first floor, walked thru the lobby, outside, took the elevator to the 3rd floor of the parking garage, walked to the van, and once inside the van.  I sobbed.  Sometimes the big plans we have don't work out as we plan.  They say, make a plan and God laughs.  I was heart broken...for awhile.  I wanted to take it away - rewind time, but I couldn't.  We were to follow up in a few weeks to evaluate our babies heart.

That day we broke our agreement to be surprised with this third baby & learned our baby was a girl, Miss Ollie Faith.

After much research, Jade & I thought we knew what we were up against with Ollie's heart.  Again, we were wrong.  We had figured she had a much more simple heart defect than she truly had.  We later found out the truth about Ollie's heart after seeing two pediatric cardiologists, and picking St. Louis as our surgery & delivery site..

From then, all we could do was pray for a miracle.  And pray we did.  Our community prayed, blog followers prayed, people across this country prayed.  Some knew us, some did not.  A love bomb was dropped on my blog, and Jade & I sat teary eyed as we read hundreds of comments from strangers.  The out pouring of love was never ending.  Jade & I were transformed.  Our faith was strengthened, our marriage which was strong to start, has become something I never dreamed of.  Ollie Faith, still inside my womb, had changed people in dramatic ways.  She was more than special.  So we continued to pray & waited to meet our precious daughter.  It was a long wait, full of anxiety and anticipation.

On Thursday, February 10th, 2011, I was induced.  It was a long day that took awhile to get started.  Once the doctors got me going around noon - things went fast.  It was a relatively easy day, and all of my family was present.  It was incredible to say the least.

That day God moved.  It was a perfect day!  Sweet baby Ollie arrived at 8:23 PM a whopping 7 pounds 10.8 ounces and 20 inches long.  The moment I saw her chubby face, I knew she had Trisomy 21.  My heart broke.  Then, Jade said honey she has it.  I cried, but not much.  I just watched her, and wanted her so bad.  I finally got her in my arms and she was perfect.  She was THE miracle I had prayed for.  She has a flirty sweet smile, and I fell in love, just like I did with Aubrie and Everett.  Our family was complete & we were blessed!

I don't know what our future holds, but I do know that Ollie has changed perspectives already.  My small town of 5,000 people know all about her.  They prayed for her, celebrated her, and rejoiced with my family.  She has touched so many & will continue to do so as she grows. 

Our future is bright & Jade & I couldn't be any happier with the blessings that God has given us.  His plans are perfect as is she.  We remain nervous about Ollie's future open heart surgery, but we trust in God.  Our faith is strong & the surgeons hands are able.  God will move again, and will continue to bless my sweet sweet family. 

Ollie's Open Heart Surgery Journey
At one day shy of 4 months of age, Ollie had open heart surgery to repair a complete balanced AV canal defect. 

Dr. Huddleston performed her repair & is our walking angel.  He has been blessed with such a god given talent!  Her surgery started at 7:30, we were talking with her surgeon by 11:45, and finally at 1:30 we got to see her.

She now has a heart that works effectively.  Her heart beat is no longer sloshing like a washing machine, but it sounds like it should.  That is the best thing ever!

Now we can all focus on her just being a baby.  She can grow & thrive!

Read about Ollie's surgery here:



My Girls

I'm not sure how I did it, but when Jade and I made babies I some how created two little mini mes and I love it!  Enjoy!

Ollie at 2 1/2 - doesn't her scar look amazing - I think it does!  It's so faint you hardly see it now!

Aubrie at 7 1/2 - new hot pink glasses ready for 2nd grade - yes 2nd stinking grade - time goes so fast!!




Underpants & Kittens

You know you are a stay at home Mom when....

1.  Your kids stay in their underpants most of the day.  And everyone sprints to get dressed before opening the door for the mail man around 3 PM.
2.  Posting pictures of kittens on Facebook posed with stuffed animals becomes a high point in your day.
(said photo earned almost 200 likes - a picture of Everett earned about 10 - what the heck friends?!)

3.  House slippers are definitely shoes.
4.  Getting dolled up means you are going to the grocery store & bank.
5.  Going down the road to your Moms still in your pjs to eat lunch is considered an appointment.
6.  Facebook is your "adult" time. 
7.  You sing cartoon theme songs in your free time.
8.  You stop to pick up turtles on the road to keep your kids entertained AKA free babysitting.
9.  Cleaning is therapeutic.
10.  You find yourself organizing closets and drawers for "fun"!

Now you share with me your list!!



Ground Breaking DS Research - My Minds Blown....

This week I heard about this new article where scientists have figured out how to turn OFF Down Syndrome.  Before you get all up in arms for many reasons GO READ THE ARTICLE.

I read it, then I read discussions online between many of my friends and you see my mind is BLOWN.  Jade & I can't wrap our brains around this.  I'm writing this blog not to start controversy, not to debate with others opinions, but to simply put out there things on my mind.  If you have nothing nice to say, please say nothing at all - warning you in advance I'm not putting up with nasty comments.

My initial thoughts were - this is the end of Down Syndrome, they will eradicate babies like Ollie. Then I started thinking more into it.  They won't be eradicated, right now they are - so many babies with DS are aborted b/c doctors are sharing outdated, misinformed information to new, scared shitless parents, and they are pushing abortion.  This is happening right now.  Not ALL doctors, but many doctors.  Insurance companies don't enjoy babies that medically cost a lot of money & some countries are pushing for NO kids with DS by 2030 - think about that a second - what doe that mean???

So perhaps this treatment may save the lives of many, many babies.  Or perhaps new parents will be pushed into this treatment option before they really know the right option for them - I can foresee that too.  I just don't know!

Further questions - right now toddlers with DS have a much higher chance at developing leukemia but also a much higher chance of beating that cancer too.  So this makes me wonder - is the key to beating cancer hidden in that extra chromosome - if you turn it off will our kiddos be less likely to beat cancer but much more likely to get it - that's scary in itself!  Is there a miracle in that mix of an extra chromosome that has the potential to save a mass amount of lives?  Again I just don't know!  All I know is there isn't enough research on it.

Then throw in the fact that people with DS have much higher rates of developing Alzheimer's at a young age, in fact it's been found that patients with Alzheimer's often have 3 copies of the 21st chromosome in some of their cells - there is a link.  If they turn off the extra DS chromosome will our kiddos be less likely to develop Alzheimer's so young because that would be a huge blessing?  No one wants their 30 or 40 year old suffering from Alzheimer's and it scares me to know it's quite possible.

Now to the part that truly blows my mind.  When we were pregnant and had this diagnosis - we accepted Ollie for who God created her to be.  We educated ourselves and celebrate every tiny piece of her.  But I never in my wildest dreams imagined that in my lifetime there would be a way to help her cognitively to a point that she could possibly function like a typical person with 46 chromosomes.  Most of you won't understand this b/c you don't have a kid like Ollie but imagine trying to make that type of medical decision for your child.  I say I'd never change her no matter what - that God created her like this for a reason - and trust me I mean all of that.  But I also read a friends comment who has an older adult daughter with DS who would want this treatment because she wants to be typical so badly.  We aren't there - my daughter is 2 - what would Ollie want?  The fact is - it's not my decision it's Ollie's.  What if this is an option for her one day, what if she gets to decide, what if I have to decide for her?  How in the hell do you know?  

It seems partly like playing God but then I look at people with huge medical gifts - her heart surgeon that repaired two major holes and a valve in her strawberry sized heart - what if this is another gift from God - that he gave someone the talents to change things?  

What if this could be used to save the lives of babies with Trisomy 18 or 13 in utero?  Or kiddos with extra pieces of chromosomes that have terminal conditions - just think about it - mind blowing isn't it!

Anyway - I had to share the article because I just am not sure what to think of it.  And fortunately we have a lot of time before it's going to be something truly available or affordable where it's even an option to our family but I talk a lot about education and advocating for my daughter and sharing this is doing that for her. 

 So say some prayers that God's hand is in ALL of this. 



Disney Recap - 4 months delayed

I can't believe I didn't ever blog about this BUT probably because I may never recover from our trip!

In March I earned a free vacation to Disney from Beachbody.  It was a partial week at the Yacht Club so we extended the week at a resort of my parents.

On the way down Ollie started puking & puked the remainder of the drive.  She sat on a towel cut to fit her seat and after blowing through clothes and a roll of paper towels she rode in a diaper with another towel for a blanket.  It was hellacious - yep that's a word!

Baby girl finally recovered by the time we got to Florida on the second day, but the van smelled like death.  She had a couple major diaper blow outs of course on the streets of Hollywood Studios but we survived!

It wasn't long after that and they started dropping like flies.  

One night it was Jade in the middle of the night swearing it wasn't the stomach flu.  I refused to kiss him the entire trip - I'm hateful like that but I NEVER caught the bug!

We planned a full and I mean til you drop day at Magic Kingdom my most favorite place ever.  By the end of the day Everett didn't look great.  I just thought he was tired.  He slept through the fireworks, parades, all the fun, and when we got back to our condo he puked in the parking lot.

Fairly certain I did not win Mom of the year award for demanding we see the night show that day!

The next morning we were off to the Disney resort and we stopped for donuts then food supplies for the hotel.  

As I was in Walmart oblivious to what was taking place outside Aubrie puked all over the car - literally all over milk & donuts - too graphic?  Sorry!  Try to clean it up with wet wipes!  We threw her carseat cover away right then and there.  It was just a mess.

We pulled into the hotel parking lot only for Everett to proclaim he crapped his pants.  Jade (the one who cleaned up the puke as I shopped) lost his cool and shouted, "Why can't you guys warn me before you puke or shit yourselves!"  I was DYING - some adults can't even control themselves let alone a 5 and 7 year old.  Everett was promptly stripped nude in the Disney parking lot.

I did a full load of laundry in the hotel bath tub & hung the clothes on the balcony - did it help - absolutely not.  They were awful until we got home to do laundry and everything smelled.

Everyone missed the first party - which was amazing - Disney characters, a DJ, food, my family would have loved it but I had to go solo - boo!

The next day Aubrie and Ollie were the only two ready to rock so we hit Epcot pretty much on our own until Jade & Everett could meet us later in the day.  Epcot is right next to the hotel it was amazing!

Finally near the end of the trip EVERYONE was healthy!  

Not to make it sound like the worst vacation ever but seriously it was pretty touch and go but we had an amazing time!

We saw every park without puking!  And even hit the water park two days of the trip!

The last Beachbody party was out of this world - it was a Pixar party with all the characters in this huge building no one knew even existed followed by fireworks and dessert by the Epcot lagoon - is it called a lagoon?  It was just the perfect ending to our trip!

I had some time without the kids & worked out a couple mornings to Shaun T in front of the Epcot ball - it was opened to just us coaches early each morning & it was amazing!!  This is my coach Bec on the left & Veronica on the right - I love them!

All in all we had the best time despite circumstances!

And the van after several days in the Florida sun - oh my - Jade joked we'd trade it when we got home it was that bad!  And then in May we did trade it!  hahahaha!

Apologies in advance to the hundreds and hundreds of people we infected while we were there!  And these pictures were in no specific order :)



Throwback Tuesday - say what?!

I'm breaking the rules and doing Throwback Tuesday because I like it and I do what I want.

So I'm going to share with you my first blog ever!  

Here is what I wrote about the fabulous Aubrie Grace that is now 7 1/2 years old...

at the time this all went down she was going on 4...and clearly she was pretty kick A back then too!

"So to get down to it - you want some funny today? Well here is the scoop. I have 2 kids that are named Aubrie & Everett. Yes they have old people's names, but that's because we ADORED our grandparents and spread the love to our kids. Aubrie is almost 4 and Everett recently turned 2. Well this summer when Aubrie was 3 1/2 she had a good one. I seriously mean it was hilarious! I actually keep a notebook to write down these funny kid moments so I can't forget them b/c I will forget - it happens already!

Well here's the story. Jade was being outrageous about something. So when he went outside to grill our dinner I said Aubrie your Daddy is a ridiculous man & thought nothing of it. I then went in our bedroom to put away laundry when Jade comes in all worked up. He said what did you tell your daughter about me? Well this had been about 10 minutes later so I have no idea what he's talking about. Apparently when he came in the house from outside, Aubrie stated - Daddy you are a dickless man! Talk about mispronounciation! PRICELESS! I couldn't have planned it better! To this day it's one of the funniest most shocking things she has ever said. I think that is why we had kids - to make us laugh and share our stories with others!"

Still by far my favorite story & my favorite come back to him in times where I want to make him laugh!



When Life Gets Good...

It's how funny how things change.  

When I didn't have a purpose in my life other than Mommy and going to my job, I started this blog to share stories about my kids and mainly my home.  I felt so empty because I was just going through life, uninspired, wasting time, and I wanted something to look forward to.  So blogging about my house, new projects, updating things on the weekend gave me a hobby.  It gave me something to work on.

Then with Ollie's prenatal diagnosis & birth then later her open heart surgery this blog was my therapy.  It was my outreach.  It was a way to find other families just like mine.  A way to find other Mom's to ease the stress on my heart.  A way to be a fly on the wall in homes of people raising kids with Down Syndrome so life wasn't so scary, but just a new form of normal.  And it was a way for me to put it out there how I felt when I was surrounded by people wanting to throw me their own pity parties.  It was a way for me to celebrate my daughter's life before she arrived and to show the world that no matter what she was still loved & we were still blessed.

Now my blog focuses on our transformation now.  Honestlly, our life is a new normal.  We are happy.  We are in a good place.  We have three wildly beautiful kids that are healthy & strong.  We (my husband & I) are for the first time truly healthy inside and out too!  We focus on exercise & nutrition and we pay it forward by helping others change their life.

But one thing I've realized even though this blog has changed so much is that when life gets good - blogs are more far and few between!  It's so hard to sit down and right because there is SO MUCH to write about!  There is so much that I can't figure out where to start, how to condense, what to say.  Because life is so full & so good right now. 

So if you  have blog requests post them up!  More fitness?  More food?  More Ollie?  More house?



A Natural High

Well I did it!  I was asked to speak on the MGM grand garden arena stage in Vegas in June!  They wanted me to share my success story with Beachbody.

I did it!  I loved it!  They cheered for my sweet girl!  Hearing that many peole roar for Down Syndrome is something I will NEVER forget!

Here is my video!  Enjoy and feel free to share it!  I know God put me on that stage for a distinct reason and it must be shared over and over again before Ill ever know why I was one of three to speak out of 100,000+ coaches!  When God puts his hand into your life and delivers you to your passion and your purpose big things happen & I'm certain more are the come!  





Raising a Toddler with Down Syndrome

As you all know I rarely blog anymore, but today I knew I needed to write this blog, pretty sure it's a God thing.

When I was pregnant I tried to envision my future.  I always knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would love my child no matter what.  But I didn't always know if I would love living a life with Down Syndrome.  That's a harsh, honest truth that hurts me to honestly put out there, but it's true and I know I'm not alone in that fear - there are other Moms like me.  I think we all have it in some shape or form but we don't let fear consume us anymore.

Now that Ollie is here.  Now that she is 2 years old, almost 2 1/2 - living with Down Syndrome is like raising any other child.  Yes, she has things we have to overcome.  She has delays.  Delays suck.  But she's working on them with such a fierceness - I know she will whatever the heck she wants to do in her lifetime.

Some days it hurts more than others.  Seeing kids younger than her talking in sentences, saying Mama, doing all the things she hasn't yet...yep it's hard.  I dislike that it bothers me.  I wish she would (notice I didn't say could b/c she says lots of words she's stubborn mostly) say Mama and I'd be a liar if I said I didn't wish she was close to potty training.  

But then I look at my sweet girl, the girl God blessed me with and she smiles.  And I know that everything she accomplishes means so much more to us because she worked her tail off for it.  She loves everyone and I seriously mean everyone!  She hugs strangers, she laughs with her soul, she's stubborn, and ornery as the dickens.  She loves to dig through the garbage, watch Dora, dump dog food, empty all the toilet paper on the floor, climb things she shouldn't, play in the toilet, wrestle her siblings, and the list goes on and on and on of things she does like every other child.  And discipline - OYE - girlfriend has a pout lip like no other, thankfully she's rarely naughty!  But she's not like other kids her age.  She's special.  Not because she has DS, but because the personality that God blessed her with.  That he blessed us with.  I wouldn't change her for the world - I'd keep that extra chromosome!

So if you asked me, what's it like to raise a toddler with Down Syndrome, I could honestly say, it's like raising any two year old.  Terrible twos some days yes, some days it's Terrific twos.