Bath Toys and Uber too


airport 2It’s great to have Elisabeth back from college for the Holidays.  Timothy has loved having both sisters in the house.

xmas 3    t w susan

Timothy had a fun Christmas, and received his fair share of gifts and accolades.  He also enjoyed ‘liberating’ a few ornaments from our large, lopsided tree and the little figures from the toy manger scene.  The last I saw the baby Jesus, he looked like an Uber driver, in a plastic toy car with a donkey and one of the Wise Men.


xmas 2    xmas 5

Timothy is going through a ripping phase, tearing pages in some of his books (someone said that it’s a ‘tactile phase’ that he’s in, but it sure looks a lot like a ripping phase).  We’re working with him to rip fewer things, but Christmas was like hog heaven for this boy.  He got to rip and rip and rip the wrapping paper and at the end of that rainbow was a toy or book or stuffed animal.  What a good deal.


T bday w god parents 11  T bday w god parents 12   T bday w god parents

Timothy is a reluctant entrant to the bathtub, but once he’s in the water, it’s hard to get him out.  He recently decided to use his little bath scoop to try to bail out the tub (onto the bathroom floor), which was cute for a minute.

He loves to play with his bath toys.  From ducks to penguins to whales, he has a small zoo of rubber bath toys.

He recently realized that these harmless looking bath toys could be turned into a squirt gun and aimed at his attending parent.  This was also cute for a minute.

T w11 ith animals 5

Speaking of bath toys, I remember when Timothy first ‘released’ his bath animals from their natural bathing habitat.  It seemed natural to him that if they were fun in the bath, they’d be even better on dry land.

But alas, there is a reason why these toys have the word ‘bath’ in their name.  Allowing Timothy to play with bath toys outside the tub is like letting him play with water balloons, the result of which is that our hardwood floors are dotted with little puddles of water (‘Umm, did someone pee on the floor?  Nevermind, it’s just the leaky rubber penguin’).

T sledding 5         T sledding 2

We took Timothy out for the first sledding trip of the season, along with his cousins, AJ and Griffin.  T looked adorable walking around in his little snow outfit, and he loved going down the hill.  He just didn’t love keeping his mittens on, which is what he’ll need to do if he wants his next trip to the hill to last more than 10 minutes.

T sledding 3      T sledding


We think that Colon Tour 2015 T shirts are in order, as Timothy visited Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego for two days over Thanksgiving in what I’m calling the West Coast swing of his tour.

We were out there to visit Laura’s sister, Mary Ann, who recently got re-married, and her awesome kids and cool new family, the Eibels.

t and Fritz

Like when we went to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis in October, Timothy was having serious stomach pain, and once again it turned out to be an infection in his colon.

We’re big fans of Minneapolis Children’s, and we were very impressed with the staff in San Diego.  Everyone was very professional and easy to work with.

hospital hospital 4 hospital 2

We were pleased to get discharged from Rady’s on Thanksgiving Day, in time for some of us to eat turkey and stuffing with Mary Ann and her family.

The good news is that we’re learning more about this issue, and what symptoms to watch for.  And the advantage of having been in two good hospitals is that we’ve heard a few different perspectives on the issue and its possible causes.

hospital 3        T asleep 3

We still have more conversations to have with doctors, but more than likely it is a chronic colon issue that he/we will need to manage for awhile and possibly for his lifetime.

T mustache        T sledding 6

All in all, Timothy is doing great and we’re super grateful that we have the help of our amazing girls and a strong support network of family, friends, doctors, therapists and teachers who help us in so many ways our little redhead.  Thank you all!

We’re grateful for our many many blessings and wish you and your families and friends an awesome Holidays and New Year!

The Lee’s

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The Abominable Snowmonster

T on stoop2   T on stoop4

There is nothing more that Timothy loves than a good group hug.  When he’s leaving a gathering, our little rush chairman will often reach out to different people to circle up.

This is one of the cutest things he does, especially when he gives each person a kiss on the cheek (and then kisses himself on the hand).

But recently, he’s given it a little 3 Stooges twist and when it’s him and two other people, he likes to knock the two heads together and giggle.  Ours is probably the only house where there’s a fine line between a group hug and a head butt.

T in backpack 2  T on swing


Timothy spent 2 days at Children’s Hospital recently with an infection in his colon.  Timothy was a champ, especially considering that the active kid was tethered to an IV for 36 hours.  As always, the nurses and doctors at Children’s were outstanding.  He has bounced back well — after two weeks of taking the worst tasting medicine on the planet.  The doctors believe that this is a continuation of his earlier colon condition called Hirschsprung’s disease, which is what led him to have surgery when he was 5 days old and to have a colostomy bag until he was six months old.  It means that the little guy’s plumbing isn’t working as well as it should and could be more susceptible to infection, which is not ideal, and so we’re working with doctors to better understand it.

T in hospital4  T in hospital2

Sometimes when Timothy is lying on his back getting his diaper changed, he just clasps his hands behind his head and smiles.  It’s his way of chilling out and saying ‘It’s okay, man, I’m not going anywhere.’  Even when he was in the hospital attached to the IV, the kid looked like he was relaxing in a hammock.

T watering bucket3  T watering bucket2  T watering bucket4

Last weekend, Timothy demonstrated his three approaches to raking leaves.

  • While I rake, he runs into the garage and gets a watering can and adds water to the pile of leaves. Then he quietly walks away.
  • He grabs a big handful of leaves. He hauls the leaves thirty feet to the north and drops the leaves on our neighbors’ driveway.  Then he quietly walks away.
  • He grabs three smaller handfuls of leaves and carefully places each handful into the big bag of leaves. He knocks over the whole bag, and the leaves come pouring out.  Then he walks quietly away.

What a big helper.

T w leaves3 T w leaves5  T w leaves2


We all know that everything is better when covered in yogurt.  I realized this in the 1970s, when someone found a way to get me to eat raisins by dipping them in yogurt.

That might have been on Timothy’s mind as we recently scrambled to clean up for an expected dinner guest.

As the Laura and I ran around the living room removing clutter with a combination of cleaning and slight of hand, Timothy sat in his high chair, quietly spreading vanilla yogurt over everything within reach, from his hands and face and hair to the eight Matchbox cars arrayed in front of him

Within a few minutes, the Abominable Snowmonster was rushed off for an unplanned bath.



We are so saddened by the senseless tragedy in Paris last weekend.

It is my favorite city in the world by a good margin, and we have close relatives (including the family of Timothy’s namesake) and dear friends (including my Godson, Tristan, and his family) who live there.

And while it worries us a little that both of our two girls are considering studying overseas next year, we really believe that education and building mutual understanding is critical to improving so many of the issues we’re seeing in our own country as well as around the world.

We are keeping our friends and relatives and all of the Paris victims in our prayers.


The Lees

Posted in Doctor, Eating, Parenting lessons -- Don't try this at home | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Timothy and the Ten Pins

T in wagon 8T in wagon 10T in wagon 3T in wagon 7

At the birthday party of a classmate, Timothy was enjoying knocking over the bowling pins that were set up on the floor of the gym.  I would set them up and Timothy would immediately knock the pins over.

Fast forward to later that day when I carried Timothy into a liquor store (T knows just which wine to drink with different entrees).  I was talking with the owner, holding Timothy and standing next to a display of Skyy vodka.  Timothy realized that the blue bottles on display were just a prettier version of the bowling pin game that we’d been playing earlier that day, and so he took a swipe at the bottles.  Chaos ensued, and I stretched to save a few bottles and fortunately an alert store employee caught the rest of the dominoes.


Fresh on the heels of that near miss, Timothy received a large religious snow globe at one of his birthday celebrations.  It was a gift from the family of one of his Godparents, and inside the globe was a little religious statue.

But that snow globe never really got a chance to be part of the family, as the next morning, Timothy took out a broom and cleared everything off the dining room table, and that snow globe never saw it coming – hitting the floor and shattering into a thousand pieces.

It’s hard to say whether these two glass incidents mean that Timothy is getting more destructive or is just improving his aim.

T on shoulders     t on trike 2___________________________________

Awhile back, Timothy learned to put his pointer finger in the air to signal the number ‘one’.  Not long after learning ‘one’, he realized that if he was asking for one of something (one last cookie, etc), he might as well put up a second finger and try to get a second one.

So when we tell him that he gets ‘one’ more video, he immediately puts up a second finger and cocks his head cutely to the side and appeals for a double.

And not just with our family.

T was visiting his ‘extra’ set of grandparents, our neighbors Jim and Peggy.  Timothy was asking for a cracker and Peggy put her pointer finger up to signal to him that he could have one cracker.

Timothy shook his head, walked up to Peggy, grabbed her hand, and lifted up a second finger so that she was showing two fingers instead of just one.

Whether or not he can speak, the kid is finding ways to get his point across.


t w teacher and l        T with gnome

In addition to his other talents, Timothy is quite a mediator.  Catherine and I were engaged in a healthy father-daughter exchange of ideas when Timothy rounded the corner slowly, hopping curiously up and down.  We looked down to find that both of his legs were squeezed into the same pant leg of his shorts.    Catherine and I burst out giggling and agreed to a cease fire.  I then helped Timothy reroute his legs into their own proper pants leg — which was probably appropriate since I had been his tailor for the earlier errant fitting.

t, c and l watching downton


Team TRBL The walk 2

We raised money today for the Down Syndrome Association of MN (Laura is a board member) by walking in Como Park in St Paul.  It was a beautiful day and there were several thousand other walkers, many of whom had made funny shirts (‘Keep Calm and Carry On – it’s just an extra chromosome’) to show their support for a friend or loved one with Down syndrome.

All 20 of us were wearing our blue ‘Team TRBL’ shirts, anchored by Catherine and a dozen of her friends walking with us.

T asleep      On the drive home, Laura and I were exhausted and ready for a nap, and Timothy looked sure to fall asleep in the car.  When I looked toward the back seat, he was awake, but seemed ready to doze off, and then he started smiling and very quietly saying ‘Dada’.  And then he quietly said ‘Baba’ (mom).  It was adorable.

He then said ‘Dada’ and ‘Baba’ again, but a little louder.  And then again, louder.  And by the time he lapped the track for the fourth or fifth time, he was shouting out our names and it was getting slightly less endearing and slightly more clear that this boy was not going to fall asleep.  Oh well.  It was still pretty cute.

But we had a great time at the walk, and we want to thank our donors and all of the members of Team TRBL!

Grateful (if slightly tired),

The Lee’s

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Was that Timothy who just ran past the window?

1 - smiling    b day 2

Timothy turned 4 years old last weekend, which he continues to celebrate with a series of tasteful celebrations.

2 -- t cakeb day cake b day

We all enjoyed a trip to Indianapolis to celebrate the wedding of Laura’s sister, Mary Ann and her fiancé Fritz, which added a few more fun cousins to Timothy’s family tree.

c --The Boyz


Last Friday morning, we were reminded once again of the age gap of our kids (19 years old, 17, and …….………… 4).

After spending fifteen minutes helping clean up Timothy’s very messy diaper, I walked outside before work and spent another fifteen minutes starting to clean up our very messy front yard, whose trees were covered in toilet paper after our house was teepee’d to congratulate our daughter Catherine for making the varsity soccer team (congrats, Cat!).

Teepee'd 2      Teepee'd


Timothy has a good arm.  When handed a ball, he immediately throws it.  Last week, he threw Catherine’s iPhone into the bathtub (amazingly, it still works).  And recently, he’s been throwing his little toy cars into the plants next to our patio, which means that in the Fall, when most people are looking through their gardens to harvest red and green peppers, we’ll be looking through the hosta plants behind our house to harvest red and green Matchbox cars and trucks.


pickle ball  T on swing

Laura and I were talking in our bedroom last week, and I looked out the window and saw something going past.

-Me: ‘Was that Timothy who just ran past the window?’

-L: ‘No, he should be in his room.’

-Me: ‘Well, a short red flash just went past our window.’

(whether considerate or sneaky, the flash remembered to shut the screen door behind him when he went outside)

After seeing Timothy glide past our window, we decided that it might be a good time to better secure the sliding glass door (what 4 year old has his own sliding glass door in his bedroom?  One whose parents did not expect to be converting the family ‘office’ into a fourth bedroom.)

music class    chalk 5 chalk 2

Anyway, I put a tougher lock on the sliding glass door, and used a black Sharpie to make a little sign to remind the taller family members that we’ll need to unlock the door twice.  I put the sign on the door and then walked back into the living room to find a black Sharpie cap without its pen.

Now, on its own, a lonely black Sharpie cap is no big deal.  But if the other person in the room is under the age of five, then it’s like finding a grenade without a pin.  You’d better find that pen, and fast.

In my case, the artist formerly known as TRBL had had enough time with the Sharpie to draw a map of Florida and some of the Florida Keys on our hardwood floor.

sharpie 3 sharpie  Sharpie 4

Fortunately, I grabbed the pen before he was able to complete Key West.


It’s important for us to keep Timothy’s speech issues in perspective.

We have friends who are unfortunately in serious battles against deadly diseases.

Timothy’s speech delays are a challenge, but are not even close to that level of gravity.  Not even close.

At the same time, this is a real fight for us and we would be unwise to take it lightly.

Apraxia of speech is condition where the brain seems to be fine and the mouth seems to be fine, but the connection between the two is not working, and so the person has trouble speaking words.  It’s a really stubborn condition that requires a lot of work and focus to overcome (and some people never really overcome it), and it’s a much tougher fight when the Apraxia is paired with a disability like Down syndrome.

When talking about Timothy’s speech challenges, a friend asked me ‘are you scared?’ (about the possibility that Timothy may not ever really speak).

First of all, I’m confident that we’ll make progress and that he’ll communicate well.

But the reality is that we thought he’d be speaking well before now, and we don’t know what will happen, and so yes, that is scary.

But we’re Irish, and so we like a good fight.

And as a redhead, Timothy doesn’t give up and has more fight — some would say ‘piss and vinegar’ — than your average bear.

t orange  T at playground

T tongue  GREAT T eating w glasses -- 1-15

And I love the words of Nelson Mandela, who said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

Our fears may be with us for awhile, but we’ll focus on our hopes for the bright future of one of the world’s newest four year olds.

We just need the little redhead to be as tough on the Apraxia as he is on our hardwood floors.

Grateful and Four,

The Lee’s

Posted in Communication, Down syndrome, Parenting lessons -- Don't try this at home | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dancing Zeus meets the monster

T in cowboy hat  According to Greek mythology, Zeus used to throw thunderbolts down to earth.

I thought about that when we had a loud thunderstorm a few nights ago.

In the summer, our daughters usually sleep in the basement room right below our bedroom, because it’s cooler downstairs.

T with rocks 3  T with rocks 2  T on shoulders 2

Maybe Timothy was disappointed that his sisters had likely missed the loud claps of thunder while snuggled in their basement abode. But the next morning he was in our bed at 7am when he started dropping his toy cars, one by one, behind our bed.

As each Matchbox car hit the hardwood floor, it made a loud sound in our room, and I can only imagine the resounding ‘boom’ that the girls heard down in their bedroom below. Probably sounded like a thunderstorm (or like an energetic little brother just trying to wake them up).

It was sweet of our little red headed Zeus to recreate the drama for his sisters.

T at slide 8T at slide 5T at slide 3T at slide 2 Speaking of drama, in any good horror movie, there is a climactic moment at the end of the film where the heroes have finally dispensed with the monster, and look at one another, exhausted but relieved at their victory.  Happy music begins to swell in the background…. but all at once the picture of calm is shattered as the monster suddenly appears to once again menace the heroes.

T dance 2T dance 5T dance 7T dance 8 Now, I would never call Timothy a ‘monster’ and I certainly don’t believe he’s seen many scary movies, but he knows the script…

It was a dark and stormy night at a Hampton Inn in Connecticut in April, where we were staying as part of a college visit for Catherine.  Timothy was not going to sleep easily.  So Laura took on the task of lying down with him while Catherine and I huddled together in the bathroom watching on my iPhone as Notre Dame lost at the last second to Kentucky in the NCAA basketball tournament (I told you that this was a scary story).

After an hour, the bathroom door cracked open and an exhausted Laura snuck in to take refuge, having succeeded in her quest.  We hugged and high fived her, as she breathlessly explained that Timothy was now safely asleep in his portable crib, secured by the forbidding three foot high, reinforced nylon crib walls that he had never been able to scale.  We were safe.  Our long Connecticut nightmare was finally over.

At that moment, I realized that I needed to get something from the other room, and so I quietly opened the bathroom door, but turned back toward the bathroom to whisper something to Laura.

Suddenly, I froze as I felt something touch the back of my leg and then heard those chilling words —  ‘Da da’.

He was back.

T dance 12T dance 10T dance 16T dance 17 Whether he’s throwing thunderbolts at his sisters, escaping a porta-crib to scare his Dad, or dancing with his refection in the mirror, this boy certainly has a flair for the dramatic.


The Lees

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Every day is kids’ day

GREAT  t w Cat 8 -- 1-15  Last Sunday, on the morning of Father’s Day, Timothy had a very dirty diaper and lived up to my last blog entry by bringing his hands in to help with the diaper clean up.  That diaper was so dirty that we decided to put him in the bath for a final clean off.  He was in a great mood exiting from his short bath, and our naked red head walked into his room and motioned to me to take a seat in the rocking chair and replied with an enthusiastic ‘yesssssss’ when asked if he wanted to read some books.  We read some of his little books and he was being quite the charmer, and then he gently grabbed my right arm, brought it up and bit down hard on my pointer finger like it was a hot dog at the ball park.

t in sweater 3  with glasses 1-15

I quickly set him down on the floor, said ‘no bite’ and walked out of the room to show Laura the revised version of my right pointer.

When we walked back into Timothy’s room 30 seconds later, he had already found a way to top the bite by peeing on the floor of his room.

What’s more, he had positioned himself so that he peed only on his red shag carpet and missed the hardwood floor entirely.  Impressive.

t at comm center  4  -- 1-15   t at comm center -- 1-15

Long ago, when I was a little kid myself, I asked my mom why there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but there was no ‘Kids’ Day’, to which my mom didn’t miss a beat, replying, ‘Every day is Kids’ Day’.

Happy Kids’ Day, Timothy.

The Lee’s

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T in pool 2    The human body is a perfect creation, and yet, if God had a suggestion box, I would scribble him a note about shortening the length of toddlers’ arms.  Timothy’s arms are the perfect length for reaching down into the ‘diaper area’ and complicating the diaper changing process.  (note: probably not a blog entry you want to read while you’re eating).  TRBL has a sense for when it’s a really messy diaper, and that’s when he decides to be ‘helpful’.

T at school  T at school 5 T painting

Having too many cooks in the kitchen is nothing compared to too many hands when changing a very dirty diaper.  It gets even more exciting if the visiting hands leave the backstage area – what I like to call ‘when Mr Brown gets out of town’.  That’s when your small fire could quickly become an out of control wild fire, as Timothy waves his (now dirty) hands like he’s wielding sparklers on the 4th of July.

T giggling  T giggling 3  T giggling 2

He can also tell by the suddenly panicked look on your face that this could be a really fun game.   And hopefully you’re not dressed for a night out, because chances are good that you’re going to need a change of clothes.  But that’s the least of your worries.  In trying to apprehend and clean the offending and dirty hands, you’re just hoping to avoid a larger cleaning bill for the nearby carpets and upholstery.

T and Boden driving  T and Boden 10  T and BodenT and Boden 9T and Boden 8T and Boden 7T and Boden 6T and Boden 3 T and Boden 4T and Boden 2___________________

Although we live in Minnesota, we’re not the biggest hockey fans in the world.  But I was following the recent Stanley Cup playoffs recently and was admiring the goalies’ ability to react quickly and stop the puck from going into the net.  Maybe I appreciated these goalies because of the skills I am developing during Timothy’s bath time.  Once the water is in the tub and T has gotten undressed, but before he’s plopped himself into the tub, he often decides that his discarded clothes would enjoy testing the water temperature.  And so he tries to fling a sock or a onesie into the tub, which is when I use my goalie skills to try to block the article of clothing from the deep blue.  Naturally, any scoring by him is followed by a small celebration (‘Goooooooooooooooooool’).

T in seat  T in seat tilted


My Dad is one of the kindest, most personable and helpful people that I know.  But it is another of his traits that I’d like to mention on Father’s Day.

I was 15 years old, and I was starting to learn to drive, but for some reason I had been driving very tentatively.  So one day my Dad goes out driving with me and says, ‘You know, driving is just about being a good athlete and you’re a good athlete, so I know you’ll be a good driver.’  From then on, it clicked.  I looked at driving differently and I quickly became a good driver.

As in my driving story, I always knew that Dad loved us and was there to help, but I also knew that he had confidence in our abilities and he also challenged us to do well — to work hard at school and to do a lot of work around the house.  And we grew from it.

Challenging kids is a delicate topic these days, and is often associated with parents who push and overschedule their kids.

But I believe that challenging our kids – in a healthy way — to work hard, to stretch to their potential and do their best is one of the greatest things we can do for them as parents.

My Dad’s Father grew up in an orphanage and left at the age of 14 to move across the country, and he ultimately rose to be a successful chiropractor and a leader in his community.  And so I’m sure my Dad heard stories when he was growing up about the importance of good, honest hard work and self reliance.

I’m certain that the words and lessons we heard from our Dad were watered down from the stark stories he probably heard from his Father (I can imagine that my Grandfather might have had less patience and used saltier language to get his son to drive with more confidence).  But the message sunk in with me, and whatever success I’ve enjoyed personally or professionally, my Dad’s lessons of hard work, ethical behavior and self reliance have played a very important part.

My Dad is one of those guys who downplays his role in helping to raise four reasonably well adjusted kids — he says, ‘that was mostly thanks to your mother’s good work’.  But Dad had and continues to have a very positive influence in my life and in the lives our family members.  I know that I am extremely, extremely fortunate to have him for a Dad. And I’m grateful for him.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  I love you.


Posted in Parenting lessons -- Don't try this at home | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments