The oldest sister

May 2nd, 2012

Question:   Does Laura feel like she has to be the miniature mother while her mom is pumping, going to appointments, doing therapy?

Answer:  No.  I feel like the big sister who can help when the mom can’t.

I like to go along and help when the little girls have doctor’s appointments.  I don’t have to, I just like to.  We just have a few appointments once in a while, anyway.  Not very many.  And mom isn’t pumping anymore.

What I do every time a therapist comes is listen and watch and learn and sometimes help.  That is three hours a month.  Other children work hard at other activities like sports, and I work hard, too.  I’m not very interested in sports.  I like to do creative projects and to read and be outdoors.  Because I have two little sisters with special needs, I get to learn some different things than a lot of girls my age learn, like how to put in an ng tube.  I like learning how to do these things, and I like knowing how to do them.  I also enjoy teaching them to other people.

Before I had little sisters with special needs, I didn’t…

…go to therapy sessions,

…have to take as long with activities like mealtimes,

…have as much laundry to do as I do now (laundry is my daily chore and I get paid for it),






…miss going on a family vacation like we did last year when we were adopting Katie.  We had enough money to go, because it doesn’t cost very much, but we didn’t want to because other people were giving us money for the adoption, and we didn’t want to spend money on a vacation. We did fun things where we live instead and went on two vacations this year.


Now that I have little sisters with special needs, I still do things like…

…have Family Night every week,

…Girls’ Night every month,

…take turns going with Dad on errands like grocery shopping,

…go clothes shopping with Mom,

…take fun trips to the Franklin Institute, the North Museum, Landis Valley Farm Museum, the Pennsylvania Farm Show, Sight and Sound, and Longwood Gardens~




















…go on family vacations (we’re getting two this year),

…Game Nights with friends,

…spending time with friends,

…celebrating holidays with my grandparents and cousins,

…watching Courageous in the theater,

…family campfires,

…writing letters to my friends,


…reading books,

…riding bike,

…climbing trees,


…art lessons and drawing pictures,

…acting out imaginary stories,


…tea parties at home or with my grandma and girl cousins,

…piano lessons,

…playing at the creek,



…frisbee, baseball, and volleyball with my older brothers,

…having Dad read to us every Sunday night until it’s very late,

…learning English country dances, like you can see our family doing here and here,

…playing Mafia and Four on the Couch and other fun games with my friends,

…playing games like Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, Scattergories, Scrabble, Loaded Questions, Boggle, and Pictionary with my family,

…hand sewing and latchhook,

…stamping and making cards,

…doing other creative projects like this~










Because I have two little sisters with special needs…

…I don’t think people with disabilities look strange, like I used to.  Now I’m more used to them, and I’m excited if I see them in public or on a video.

…I feel protective of them and don’t want people to think bad things about them because they have Down syndrome.


…I know what I would like to do when I grow up.  I would like to adopt children with disabilities.  I adore children with Down syndrome, and I am sure if I adopt children with other disabilities, I will adore them, too.


The love

Verity and Katie are so sweet!

Babies who have Down syndrome have low muscle tone, and they melt onto you like butter.

Now that Verity knows the sign for love, she uses it a lot.  Verity has a few different ways of telling us that she loves us, and that she wants to cuddle with us.  She hugs and kisses and pats and signs “love” and says “wuv-oo” for “I love you.”

Katie can’t do any of these things except for patting, but we can tell which people she really loves.

The girls are both very cuddly and sweet.  Sometimes when they’re next to each other, they will both reach over and pat each other.  It’s really very cute to watch.

When I write all this down, it seems like the love is just a little part of the whole story.

But really, the love is all through everything and it’s there all the time.

~by Laura, almost 13 years old 






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32 Responses to “The oldest sister”

  1. Sharon Robbins says:

    Oh! Katie in the pile of laundry and brothers!  She isn’t a by-stander any longer- you can just see her interest in everyone and everything!  Gotta love it :)

  2. Elizabeth says:

    What a precious gift Laura is to your family. I love this Q&A idea for your blog. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Deanna says:


    I see you on Sundays and you are a wonderful big sister!  I think being in a big family with disabilities or not helps kids to learn to care for others, I know it has in our family.  

    You expressed your thoughts very well, and the Longwood Gardens photos are wonderful!

    Well done! 

  4. Michelle says:

    What a wonderful post! Thank you Laura for sharing your heart and beautiful pictures with us! You are a blessing to your family! I hope my girls ( and boy!) grow  up to have the same love and service to their siblings! 

  5. Molly F. says:

    Laura, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photos. You’ve been blessed with a full and rich life and are living proof that we are “blessed to be a blessing”! And two family vacations this year…how wonderful! 

  6. Love this! Laura, thank you for being such a tremendous blessing to your family and especially to your precious Verity and Katie. This was so well written and heartfelt- you have a gift! :) God bless you, sweetheart!

  7. Anne says:

    Laura, you are a very special girl. You seem to have such a kind heart and nurturing spirit. Few girls I know of any age are like you, even in large families.  But then they all are not blessed to have mamas like yours as an example or are raised by them.

    You seem to be such a jewel of a person and very talented. Katie, Verity and your family are very lucky to have you. God bless you always.

  8. Holly F. says:


    Thank you for sharing your life with us.  You write very well, and I enjoyed learning more about you. 

    For all the blessings you are receiving in your life, you are blessing Verity, Katie, and the rest of your family just as much!  I can tell in the photos just how much Katie and Verity adore you.  Y’all will always have such a special bond….even beyond just regular sisterhood. 

    I like learning how to do these things, and I like knowing how to do them.  I also enjoy teaching them to other people.

    This is a great quality to have.  A person can learn many things from reading books but KNOWING how to do something and knowing it well enough to teach others is a mark of true knowledge, experience, and independence.  Those functional skills are what matter day to day.  I think schooling should always be more doing than memorizing or just learning concepts.

    To your beautiful scene around the light fixture:  Are those Bendy Straws?  Wonderful job!  Very creative and pretty!

     LOVE the second photo with the hug.  His eyes are closed and I know Katie has just melted into him “like butter.”  Touch is so important to growth, bonds, and emotional well-being. 

  9. Laura,
    Thank you for sharing your heart!  God has big plans for you, that’s for sure!!!  Your family is so blessed to have you in it!

  10. Susan says:

    Laura, your life sounds so very full and interesting – and better yet, you are both a giver and a very gracious receiver of life’s gifts. So many blessings!

    I also love English country dancing, and am so glad your family got to participate – that Titanic party looks and sounds wonderful! I hope you’ll find a local dance group so you and your family can continue to  be involved. Take a look at the Country Song and Dance Society of America’s website – they list groups all over the country and you just might find one near you! 

    Best wishes,
    Susan in Ky
    Cousin to 2 from EE   

  11. Blessed says:

    Laura, you are clearly a blessing to your family. God knows exactly what He is doing when He gives us certain children in certain orders!  It made me cry to read all the love in your post, and to get another glimpse into your beautiful family life.  God is using you, dear girl, to be His hands and His loving face to others, specifically your little sisters.  I pray that you will continue to be blessed as His willing tool throughout your life!

  12. Valerie says:

    What a blessing to hear from a wonderful young lady.  Should be putting many things into perspective for a few of us (eehem, me) :)  LOL.  I like hearing from a person much younger than me who doesn’t mind hard work!

  13. Hollie says:

    Laura: you are a GREAT kid and person. Your parents are teaching you well to be responsible and kind and loving. The world needs more people like you, my dear.  I think I may have enjoyed this post the most of any I’ve read on this amazing blog. And, that, my friend, is saying a LOT. Keep up the great work!

  14. C Family says:

    Wow, that is a very special daughter you have.  

  15. Julia says:

    Laura, love your post!! You have had so many different experiences, than when I was 13 (I’m 22 now.) and I know for a fact that I didn’t have the same view of life that you hold.  (I was much more concerned about *ahem* myself).  Your writing conveys such attitudes of joy, love, willingness and peace.  The comment about wanting to adopt children with disabilities into your own family one day made my heart smile SO big :) Keep pursuing the Lord’s passions for your life, He will work wonders through you. 

    ~Julia Elliott 
     Southern CA   

  16. Vicki says:

    Beautifully stated Laura!  I love reading about your wonderful family, and can “feel” the love coming through in your words and your beautiful pictures.  Thank you so much for sharing your feelings with us.  May God continue to bless you and your family.

  17. Praise the Lord for a daughter like Laura!  What glory He receives from the beautiful results of the love and training you have given your children.  Thank you for sharing!  

    p.s. love those Katie smiles!!  

  18. Laura you have a beautiful heart.  It’s great to read of your love for individuals with special needs.  God has started a great work in you and I’m excited for your future.  I can tell it’s going to be amazing! Thanks for blessing us with your sweet words.  

  19. Ilisa says:

    Great photos and Laura, you are amazing and what a blessing!

  20. Jaclyn Belflower-Mitchell says:

    I am truly impressed by your sweet spirit!! I have a question for you all. Would you mind if I asked what faith you belong to? I am just curious more than anything. I believe the Lord has blessed you all with an amazing family!!! Continued prayers for all of you!!!

  21. Rita from Spain says:

    oh Laura, what a mature, brave, charming, unselfish person you are! You sound like the sister everyone would want to have and a blessing to your Mom……I wish you only happiness and joy throught out your life…..
    Love, Rita
    P.S: and without a doubt, your parents did SOMETHING right for you to turn out this way!! No…ALOT right….: )))

  22. Rita from Spain says:

    Btw, AWESOME lamp project!

  23. Kenna says:

    What an amazing young lady you have!!

  24. sabrina says:

    I just LOVE the picture of Katie with the boys and the laundry. Just one of the family, hanging while laundry is folded. How much her life has changed!

    Laura, I really enjoyed reading what you shared. It is a beautiful testimony of growing up in Christ.

  25. Becky K. says:

    I believe I see roses from the Titanic event in the background.  These photos are so awesome.  My favorite is Katie getting a hug from her younger brother.
    Such a lovely group of kiddos and what a special girl, Laura.

  26. Katie says:

    Hi Susanna,
    Can you pass on a comment to Laura for me?  :)

    What an amazing big sister you are!  You can tell you really love your family  and you don’t do things because you have to, but because you want to.  My friend M, who just turned 13 last month, is sometimes very frustrated with the little people in our lives.  We have an almost 9 year old girl and a 2.5 year old boy who both have developmental delays, which is kind of like special needs and kind of different.  Basically, they’re different from other kids their age, but there’s not really any word for what they have.  M helps with them so much though, and as the grown-up in this house, I can tell you it really does help a lot!  Your Mama – and God – are SO proud and SO pleased with you.  What a blessing to have found a calling so young (although, I know that ‘age’ thing is just a number – I’ll bet people are always telling you how mature you are – they told me that too!).  I’m ten years older than you and God only told me this past year what my calling was, and I haven’t been lucky enough to have near the experience with special needs kids that you have.  He is going to work through you in big ways, girl!  It sounds like you have so much fun with your family and friends and I want to think you for writing this for us!  It really made me smile today.  Love on those precious sisters of yours for me – every time I see a picture of you with them I just want to give you all a big hug!
    <3 – Katie

    Susanna – Can I just say that I LOVED the pictures of Verity and the kitty in the last post?  My two littles scare off our kitties way faster than I can even get the camera, haha!  Also, do you know who little Sarah’s family is going to be?  Are they planning to go public?  Just curious, as I wrote about her on my blog I realized just how invested in her I had become, and I keep checking on RR but haven’t seen anyone yet… just curious if we have that to look forward to.  

    And tell me about Gingko (sp?)  How is it for kids with ADHD?  A (9) has ADHD and currently takes medication for it, but I’m not entirely thrilled with the results, and it decreases her appetite (while she’s already very small) so I’m thinking of taking her off it for the summer.  However, something to help her focus is almost a must-have all the time – she just gets so lost in thought that she forgets what she’s doing half the time no matter what it is, school, fun, dinner alike.  Maybe it’s something I should try with her?  I’ve heard there are a number of herbal/mineral remedies that help kids with ADHD but it’s hard for me to separate the good information from the bad.  All I know is the adderall isn’t helping as much as I think it should, and it has an awful lot of undesirable side effects.

    I know I had something else to ask you, but I completely forgot.  If I remember I’ll comment again.  Now that I’ve written one book.  Ha.  Loved hearing about Laura!  Can’t wait to hear about her siblings! 

  27. Sabrina says:

    Have you ever tried quilling? I’ve been doing it for years. It’s an absorbing and fun craft.  

  28. Dawn Wright says:

    I LOVE THIS SO VERY MUCH!!!!!!  Our daughter who is about the same age feels the same.  We don’t have children with DS …..yet ;)  but we have other special needs and she doesn’t see it as torture, or even a big deal at all.  She loves her brothers and sisters so very much!!!!!  AND I LOVE that all our “olders” LOVE the “youngers” and love being able to help with them.  I am the MOMMY!!!  And I TAKE CARE of our children :) but I think it is AWESOME that my olders learn how to be a family by helping when I allow them too :). 

  29. Monica says:

    Thank you Laura for sharing! It will help and bless many people who are wondering about how their other children will feel if they adopt a child with special needs. I have tears in my eyes from reading your story! I am the oldest child in my family, and my three siblings are all adopted and much younger than me. I spent a lot of time taking care of foster babies and my adopted siblings when I was 12,13,14 etc. Sometimes I was sick of it and wished my mom had more time to pay attention to me (and that she wasn’t so tired from always having a newborn in the house!). But…  Guess what? Now I’m married and my dream is to have a BIG family and adopt as many children as we can! :) My siblings were and are a wonderful blessing in my life and God used them change me and grow me and put me on the journey I am on now. 

    Thank you for sharing! You are awesome! Love Monica 

  30. Joleigh says:

    I’m lying in a hotel bed in Sofia with my own Bulgarian beauty (finally) sleeping next to me and crying my eyes out (very quietly.)  It was so much fun to catch up on everything, but Laura did me in.  Please give her a big hug and tell her thanks for being herself.

  31. Jane says:

    I have read your family’s blog for over a year and have been so honored to learn about your family, and your collective journey to get Katie.
    My little girl is only 3 now, but I pray that she and her older brother grow to have as loving hearts as you do.  Being of service, loving others, being creative with art and colors and people…such gifts you have. I hope they turn out like you someday!  (We are working hard on it!!!)
    God Bless you Laura.  Thank you for being a teacher to me.
    Jane in CA

  32. Colleen says:

    Laura, What a blessing it was to read your post! You have a servants’ heart and are mature beyond your years. God has richly blessed you and your family. 

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