All About Annabelle

It's been way way long since I have even logged in to this blog account.  I wondered for a minute if they would even let me back in.  Well, here we are.  Now that we are here, let's move on....


This day means something to us, obvi.  But, over the last (almost) nine years with Annabelle, it seems days like this have slowly been less celebrated in our house.  I guess the only reason is because both Annabelle and Down Syndrome have just become so normal to us.  In the beginning it was so new, fresh, and actually kind of exciting.  Part of me feels guilty that we let big days like this one slip by without even noticing it.  But, then part of me feels a little bit of joy and relief that this all has become so normal and just part of who we are.

There's a lot of good stuff that I have to say, and some precious pictures of my girl smiling and playing.  To be transparent, and avoid coming across as all rainbows and butterflies, Annabelle and Down Syndrome can be tough. So, I will just say that before giving you the good stuff.  It almost seems like sometimes we reach this point of victory in a certain challenge, only to be faced with a totally different one.  Life, right?  That's just life.  It's life as a parent whether or not your child has special needs.  For Annabelle specifically, these victories often take a long time.  And when they take a long time, a new challenge presents itself right on top of the struggle that's already there.  Sometimes it's exhausting.  Some days we just feel so defeated.  Again, that's just life.  So, I don't feel bad for us.  Or throw the towel in and just give up.  Pursue, nurture, investigate, praise, invest, discipline, and LOVE.  That's how we get through the challenges we face with HER and with each kiddo.

Over the past year or two, we have struggled quite a bit with the environment she spent the majority of her time...SCHOOL.  Again, some days were good, some were bad, and some were just really bad.  This school year specifically, I struggled hard.  Craig and I both did.  We could see Annabelle changing in such a way that we had not experienced yet and we didn't see these changes as 'good'.  Some struggles she has already were just being magnified.  There's not a good way to explain it in words.  And to make a long story, and very long months short, I MISSED HER!  We missed her physically while she was at school, but started missing these parts of her that seemed to almost be disappearing.  Do I understand that this happens to EVERY KID, yes?  But, this felt to both of us that we needed to pay more attention to what may be going on.  And, like close attention.  Such close attention, that in late February I pulled her out of that environment for the remainder of the school year.  I almost did not bring her back to school after Christmas break, but reluctantly did.  But, I could NOT shake the feeling that I NEEDED to take her out.  The mommy gut feeling was so strong for way too long.

Before taking her out, when it was just an idea, I wondered what we would DO!  What would happen to all my freedom?!?!?!  This is the first year since Annabelle was born almost NINE years ago that I haven't had someone with me ALL THE TIME.  Sweet baby Skylar started preschool in September for three days a week.  For three days every week, I HAD ALONE TIME!   It was a magical time of life.  And I really enjoyed it.  If you are a stay at home mom, I know you can relate to how magical this time was.  ;) . But, then, something in my mind changed from "aww dang! There goes MY time!"  to "I will have at least three days a week to JUST focus on ANNABELLE! Yay! I haven't had that since Carter was born.  This is going to be so great!"

And, y'all, it has been great. Well, I mean, mostly. ;)   I am getting to know Annabelle all over again.  And THAT is magical.  To get right down to the issues of "what the 'H' is going on with our Annabelle?!?" it's going to take TIME to...pursue, nurture, investigate, praise, invest, discipline, and LOVE.  So, this is where we are now. With Down Syndrome.  With Annabelle.  With parenting.  With life.
(These two pictures) This is a morning after she would NOT get out of the car when I was trying to bring her to school.  (which was happening more and more frequently)  I said "Fine. I don't want you to get out anyway, so lets go home!"  She was pretty happy about that.  Sure, you can't make that choice for every child, and I do know that I may recieve some judgement. Like this:  "You're spoiling her" or "You shouldn't give in just 'cause she doesn't want something" or "This is going to make it harder for her to return to school next year".  She isn't their kid. She's the kid that God gave to ME.  Parent your child and make decisions for them based on YOUR parenting.  Not everyone else's.  Worry 'bout 'yoself!

Here's how you can "homeschool" when you're out and about.  Take her to an arcade to play and receive tickets.  Work on math when choosing the appropriate prize for the amount of tickets you have.  Math time for the day! 💥

"HOMESCHOOLING".  Working on those fine motor skills with chopsticks! 😉

More "out and about homeschooling" Story Time Pottery Painting and Library time!!

So far, we have had a really great time together.  We just hang out.  She sticks by me when there are things that I just have to go do and we have made the most of it.  We have had the freedom to explore her world a little more and just see where she is at.  We play a LOT.  And we also mother-daughter fight real good.  It's a new adventure, and we have just a couple months left of it before it is summer and "Annabelle/Mommy time" becomes everyone's time.

Pray for us if you think of it.  That this time I have with my girl will be so fruitful and amazing even through it's super tough challenges.


Harvey's Got Me Thinkin'...

Been a while since a post.  But, I am feeling really passionate right now, and need to get it out! This might get long.  I don't care. I'm a rambler.

As you know, my sweet state of Texas has been pummeled by tropical storm, Harvey.  With this storm many have lost their homes, some have lost their lives and there is SO much devastation.  I have been in tears watching the news coverage, just knowing that lives have changed forever.  It's so sad.

Let me back up just a little bit before I get in to the reason I sat down to write.  My sweet little family took a little vacation a couple of weeks ago to the gorgeous state of Minnesota.  We had a wonderful, delightful time with people we love so much and left on a good note.  We headed home on a Monday morning, around 4:30 AM or so.  After a LONG day of driving, we pulled in to the driveway at almost midnight.  We were exhausted.  Exhausted, happy to be home safely and ready for our own, cozy beds!!  Craig opened the door with one sleepy kiddo in his arms, and I trailed behind with another sleepy kiddo.  He immediately turned around and said, "oh no, we have a problem".

Welp, THAT'S not what you want to hear when you come home. EVER.  Much less after a long trip.  Long story short, the ceiling in our living room was leaking in a few places.  Like a lot.  Our couch had remnants of sheetrock from a small part of the ceiling coming down.  Come to find out, the AC upstairs had backed up at some point while we were gone.  And flooded. And leaked. And gross.  The carpet in the living room was pretty much ruined and the room smelled terrible.  So, that came up pretty quick and is garbage.  We have been living on cement floors in the living room, but it hasn't really been that bad.  Not pretty, but livable for now.  ;)

This past weekend, Craig finally got the time to rip out the ceiling.  Like, the whole ceiling in the living room.  Our tiny dining room has also become living space, with a loveseat and coffee table.  Our dining table pushed up against the kitchen island, losing a few spots to sit.  The living room is off limits, with each entry way covered up with plastic to prevent dust from getting in and kids from getting out.  A real adventure over here, y'all.  We do have a playroom on the first floor, so that is where we spent a whole lot of time this past weekend.

Harvey brought rain to our part of Texas ALL weekend.  Such a good time to be "demo-Day-ing" a house right?!?!?  We cray.  While in the playroom with the kids on Saturday morning, I stepped in something wet.  Assuming the kids had spilled something, I began to ask and blame.  Then something dripped on my head.   Another leak, y'all!!!!!  And over the weekend as rain clouds just lived over our house, it got worse and worse.  (eye roll)  With the ceiling all opened up in the living room, we also spotted about 3 leaks that we didn't know about.  YAY!  (eye roll) . So, sweet Craig climbed up on the roof yesterday, in the rain, to figure out a solution.  He came back in and said to me, "Well, I think I fixed them.  I put about a gallon of it up there".  I just nodded and said something like, "ok, that's good", while in my mind I was all, " A GALLON OF WHAT?! I have no idea what he's talking about, but he sounds sure and confident, so ok, good".  Well, come to find out later last night after asking him about it, he put some sort of tar for the roof that is meant for stuff like this.  Whatever, i don't know.  All i know is that whatever my mighty man did up there fixed the problem.  Even if it's just temporary.

Ok, sigh, all of this story is to share with you my "feelies" today about what's going on in the Schmidt Castle and how all these happenings with Harvey are so heavy on my heart.  God is doing something personally in my life and in my heart because of this storm.  I told my MOPS leadership team all about our house last night as we went around the table sharing prayer requests.  While this is real and it is happening to my house right NOW, other peoples homes just south of me are GONE.  Their roof leaked.  Their carpet was ruined.  Their couches got sheetrock on them.  But, not JUST LIKE MINE.  They can't just call the insurance today and have someone come give them a quote to get it all fixed so that they can move back in next week.  Or next month.  My heart is breaking as I asked people to pray for MY situation the SAME weekend that other people are probably like, "MAN! I wish I could live in your no ceiling, no floor living room!"  Therefore, none if this will I selfishly complain about.  My heart is so crushed for those people.  They are SWIMMING out of their homes, y'all!

 I told Craig that I wished we could have some evacuees come stay with us.  Or that we could DO something.  It is so hard to watch the news and not just want to get your hands in there to HELP.  To make them a warm meal.  Or give them a hot shower and warm clothes.  Or brush their little girls wet, dirty hair.  That may sound silly, but I am serious.  (Craig doesn't know this yet, but I have even considered giving them our living and dining furniture.  We have been forced in to remodel anyways, why not just get rid of the WHOLE living room. ;) )  I am chomping at the bit to do something.  And I feel helpless.  So,  I pray.  For the right person to meet the right person.  For the safety of those who were also chomping at the bit and WENT.  For provision of necessities.  For peace.  For HOPE, new friendships, and changed lives for the better.  This looks like an awful situation, but for someone, even just one, this could be an open door to a new life.  A healing of sorts.  A new road to freedom.

 Freedom gives us room for change.  WE are free to change.  To grow.  To learn. To change our minds and our ideas.  As I look back over this dusty blog, I can see ways that I have changed.  How my marriage has changed.  Our little family dynamics have changed.  I see all of that as freedom.  Freedom to know that it is OK.  Life changes you.  Hurricane Harvey is changing my heart as I sit here and stare at my house that seems to be in shambles.  While it's not fun, I just can NOT complain about this.  The Lord is expanding my heart, He is BEING my patience, He is BEING my love, He is BEING my Peace, He is BEING my joy.  Harvey has changed many people's lives and my prayer is that through this tragedy, they will experience freedom.  And that they can also experience the God who can also BE these things for them right now.

*For real, someone please tell me where I can drop off clothes, toys, food and maybe even furniture ;)  for one of these families that needs it.  Love you longtime.

PS, I have so much more on my mind that I would like to take time to put down in a blog post.  But, I'll save it.  Maybe I've started something back up. who knows?

PPS...My kids, you guys!  I bragged about how wonderful on our trip to Minnesota.  Stuck in a car ALL day, and they were wonderful . Then, they adjusted to each adventure we were on.  Each place they slept.  While it wasn't perfect, because life just isn't, it was pretty darn near close.  THEN, Y'ALL!  This past weekend.  I expected some bad behavior. Some meltdowns.  I mean, their house is not quite homey or what it once was, and they were AMAZING.  They really do look at this as an adventure I think.  I mean, a couch in the kitchen?!?!  Sugary snacks all day?!?! Extra ipad time?!?!? Hahahaha!  For real though.  Just a small gift from God this past weekend.  Reminding me that He cares for me, for them and for the 'small stuff'!


Happy 7th Birthday, ANNABELLE Grace!

Annabelle turns SEVEN today!  It is so hard to believe that we have a seven year old.  Since Skylar turned two in September, I have loved saying, "I have three kiddos...6, 4 and 2."  If I could freeze time, it would be these ages.  6, 4 and 2.  They are all SO much fun at these ages.  But, I have no doubts that this year will also be amazing as Annabelle continues to grow and FLOURISH!  She's just incredible.

I went to bed last night thinking about that exact night seven years ago.  In labor with my first child and having NO CLUE about, well, anything.  Parenting, labor, babies, Down Syndrome, life with kids, etc...  Within minutes, our lives changed for ever and our world was shaken.  Annabelle came in to this world easily and perfectly. With a room full of nurses expecting a challenge, and two brand new parents only expecting a precious baby girl. She came in to this world around 5:25 am on a Thursday morning and this crazy, overwhelming love covered Craig and me in a REALLY powerful way.  If we could see the spiritual world around us, I imagine that it would look like this...
Craig standing next to the hospital bed, me laying in the bed and Jesus standing over us. Above Jesus, a waterfall that is being held back by a leaky gate.  He just has to pull a string to release the water that is continuing to just press into this gate so hard that he is almost having to physically hold it closed until the right time.  Little bits of this water keep seaping through little cracks and holes and falling on to our heads, almost giving us a tiny taste of what this is about to feel like.  He is ready to pull this string that would release a flood of love that almost drowns us.  Then, she comes.  He opens the gate. And we drown.  Drown in this love that is almost crippling.

If you have ever become a parent then you know exactly the love I am talking about.  It is CRAZY.

This is the picture I thought about when I woke up this morning. We are so young and unknowing. Tired, but in love with this precious baby. We knew in this picture. We knew she had Down Syndrome. That didn't change our love.

Today, we will celebrate our special girl. And today and every day will thank Jesus for the gift of ANNABELLE!!!


Here we are...

Seems like every post on this dusty blog includes a sentence that sounds like this... "well it's been a while!" OR "Does anyone even read this?!" Well, here I am again, asking the same question and saying the same thing.  I just don't have time. OR just don't make the time to actually do this.  But, I have the urge.

I have been sitting here staring at this blank "new post" page wondering where to even start.  So, it's summer.  Yadi Yada. This summer started out strong for the four of us.  The four of us meaning, Me, Annabelle, Carter and Skylar.  I LOVED having Annabelle and Carter home all the time and really loved not having a busy morning schedule. The first week, I wrote up a 'plan' on how to spend our days.  Each week with a theme and we would do things that week around that specific theme.  We actually did awesome the first few weeks.  We were creative, busy and had a lot of fun with it.  Then, I slacked a little around the busyness of the Fourth.  Then, last week, all four of us were involved in VBS.  So we haven't really kept up with our creativity or really done much at all. SO, confession... I am TIRED and have lost all motivation.  The TV has been used as a babysitter for hours a week. Some moments I am sick of hearing my name.  Some moments, I can't immagine how they could still be hungry or still need a drink.  And why do they have to go potty?!?!?  Like I said, I am tired.  I feel like there's not a minute a day that I get to myself.  It is CONSTANT.  NO lunch breaks.  NO coffee breaks.  And, often, no potty breaks.  For real.  It's constant.  By the end of the day, I am so spent.

As REAL as I know this is for mommas, it still makes me feel guilty to 'complain' about it or be honest about it.  No, I am not ungrateful.  No, I don't hate my job.  No, I am not resentful. But, summer 2016, you're wearin' me OUT!

I have had some deep, wonderful moments with Jesus this week begging for His strength to help me get through the days.  NOT just to get through the days, but to thrive through the days.  Love and nurture these kiddos.  Bring back my JOY in mothering.  Help me to be creative and challenge my mind and theirs.  Every morning His mercies are NEW and I literally FEEL His newness in the mornings.

I "plan" to get back to this whole 'theme' thing next week. It really is such a great idea because it gets my mind rolling with fun ideas.  It's a good place to start.  For example, one week our theme was CAMPING.  We made 'smore' pictures, campfires with tissue paper, went to REI, and made animal sponge paint prints.  Another week was SPORTS.  We qtip painted basketball pictures, rolled balls covered in paint down the slide and learned a little bit about diffrent sports.  (I should do this again for the first week of Olympics).  Next week I plan to do DINOSAURS.  We have toy dinosars we will learn the names of.  We have a couple dinosaur books to read.  There's a park we can go to where there are dinosaur bones and a huge sandbox where we can also dig for some bones.  As far as art, im not sure.  Maybe dip the dinosaur feet in paint and do prints?  I dunno.  I am rambling, but these theme weeks seriously excite the kiddos. When I have plans and direct a small portion of their day, they behave better.  And I kind of behave better too.

Craig can totally tell when I have had a day.  He is SO wonderful to love these kiddos when I feel like I can't.  He is wonderful to love me on days when I just don't deserve it.  He has been amazing to me.  He knows I have had a tough couple weeks and just pours out affection, mercy and grace ALL the time.  Yall, he's the best.  Some days, I don't feel like I deserve him.  I pray that Jesus loves that man through me in ways that I just can't.  I hope he knows how much I appreciate him.

As overwhelmed with summer as I have gotten, I KNOW without a doubt that I will cry the day that Annabelle goes back to school.  I will miss seeing her ALL day. As I scrolled through some of this blog earlier, I came across a post from exactly a year ago, and I remember feeling the same sorts of feelings as I do now.  As soon as August comes, it will fly by and our life and schedules will change a whole lot.  waaaaaaaaaaa.....

Welp.  Here's to tha rest of the summa.
And to hopes to more posts in the future.


come on..................

It's almost SUMMER!!!!!!!
Carter is all done with school, and Annabelle has like a day and a half left.


The Third

Been thinking a lot about my sweet third child, Skylar.  How different she is than the first two, how different we are as parents, and the dynamics of a family of five vs. two, three, or four.  She is not a 'baby' any more.  She is RAPIDLY growing out of her baby-ness (?) and IN to a toddler.  It's a mix of incredible JOY and sadness to see the youngest pass the milestones and stages of infanthood.

I have known that I just HAVE to write a post about all of this, as the memories of your kids at this age very quickly fade.  Skylar started walking on October 28.  Exactly 13 months and one week old.  She has not looked back since.  It's killin' me.  I can't get over how dang cute she looks toddling around the house.  The other day, she turned the corner into the kitchen, holding a little mini tin lunch box, and Craig and I just melted all over her.  Every time we see her walking, it is still so new to us.  She waddles.  And her cute high pony tail waves back and forth as she waddles.  Ya'll, she's so cute.  And she's growin up!

Poor third kid.  The third kid....Has less boundries and more freedom.  Has no schedule.  Like, NO schedule.  Is much more easy going, go with the flow.  They kind of just have to be, right?  Her big siblings have school, events, and do not nap.  Therefore, Skylar has to just go along with whatever is going on that day.  Annabelle is in school full time, and Carter goes only on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a short period of time.  I LOVE my time with Sky.  LOVE it.  I get to run errands, OR just come home and do mommy/homemaker projects and jobs during that time.

Today, I ran to Kohl's.  She does NOT like to be in the shopping cart any longer. I either have to hold her and push the cart, or let her toddle through racks as I try to look for deals.  Today, I spent a lot of time in the kid section.  Looking for the changing season and growing kid sized clothes.  Make sense?  Anyways, she would grab something from the bottom rack, and try to 'run' off.  It was so cute.  She just waddles a little quicker, almost losing her balance, while holding a size 3 month onesie.  I love it.  I'm soaking it up.

I could just write forever about how everything she does is so cute.  But, you get it.  Right?  She's growing up. It happens SO fast.  TOO fast.  Even though I know I will forget, I don't WANT to forget.

The only thing I want is....SLEEP.

(Will post pics or videos of the incredible cuteness of my kiddos SOON!) Glad you still read this.

For now... My cuties on Halloween



It's been such a long time since I have posted anything here, that now I am wondering if I still have any readers?  I have a lot to do this morning, but wanted to stop in and ask....Anyone still read this? Anyone interested in still reading this?  Cause I would like to try and write again when I can.  I miss using this space to reflect a little.  Let me know!