Shelly Burman is a devoted mother to her biological children Madelaine, 14, and Ethan, 5, as well as her adopted children from Ukraine: 7-year-old triplets Owen, Evelyn and Hudson, who all have Down syndrome.
The night before Prepare all breakfasts, meds and clothes for the next day. My children are not the size of typical children, and they don’t have the same ability of a child with Down Syndrome born in the United States. The triplets are the size of 3-year-olds and are functioning at about 2-year-old level. Carrington is the size of a 1-year-old and is very much like an 8-month-old.
7AM My alarm goes off, and when I wake up my feet hit the ground running.
7:15AM I quickly jump in the shower, get dressed and give Hudson his medicine, get Evelyn out of bed and bring Hudson his walker so he can come get ready. Evelyn and Hudson attend Cloverleaf Academy in Arlington, which is a private school for children with special needs.
7:20AM While I’m thinking of the days’ events, I start getting Evelyn and Hudson dressed and then usher them to the table for breakfast. As they eat, I get lunches ready and put in backpacks. Sometime in between I throw the first load of laundry in so it will be ready for the dryer by the time I leave.
7:30AM Most mornings I try to put supper in a crock pot to help minimize the stress of what’s for dinner.
7:45AM Breakfast over and time to help put shoes and backpacks on.
7:50AM Run back to kitchen to get breakfast on the table for the other children, set up gastric button feed for Owen and Carrington.
8AM Head out the door with Evelyn and Hudson to Cloverleaf.
9AM If I have any errands to run, I try to do them on the way back from Cloverleaf so when I get home I can begin school with the other children. Since we homeschool children with different abilities, we have different curricula and times that we do things.
11AM While I make lunches, I try to get at least a couple phone calls made.
12PM Now it is lunch for the little ones, and I set up G button feeds again for Owen and Carrington.
12:30PM Diaper change No. 3 for the little ones, put them down for naps and make a quick snack for me to eat, return any calls, make appointments, etc.
1PM During this time I like to help Madelaine with her schoolwork, because it is usually just the two of us, and we can work without too many interruptions.
2PM This is my time to do any major housework and get ready for the children’s physical therapy.
3PM At this time my husband generally gets off duty from the sheriff’s department and brings me a much-needed Diet Coke from Sonic, and I will wake the little ones up from their naps, get snacks, change diapers and set up G button feeds all while therapy is taking place.
4PM If we do not have any doctor appointments, I will work on school with the little ones with Down Syndrome one at a time, since each of them are at a different level.
5PM One of us will start getting supper on the table for the little ones first.
5:30PM Therapy ends, and everyone comes to the table (in their own way) to eat. A lot of times dinner is when we all share a bit about the day and plan for what tomorrow brings.
6PM After dinner ends, we start baths and kitchen clean-up.
6:30PM With everyone in pajamas and teeth brushed, they can sit down to watch one show of Signing Time.
7PM One of us will start the night feed for Owen and Carrington while the other administers night medicines.
7:30PM It is finally bedtime for the little ones. We are now at the point where they can each get to their own bed, and we tuck them in, turn on the sound machine and switch off the lights.
8PM Quickly throw one more load of laundry in, and then it’s off to get Ethan and Reagan ready for bed. Sometimes we have a slight detour to read a book or two or clean up what seems like 1,000 Legos off of someone’s bedroom floor before the vacuum devours them.
8:30PM Now it is time for lights out for Reagan and Ethan.
8:45PM Most of the time, I try to clean up the house with a quick sweep of the floors, put away lost shoes and arrange wheelchairs and walkers for the kids for quick retrieval in the morning.
9:30PM Now it is usually my time, and I will try to answer emails. We have two blogs we maintain, so I keep those up and also check in with various activities we do (carringtonscourage.blogspot.com and atorchforteagan.blogspot.com).
10:30PM Depending on the night, I may climb into bed and finish projects or read a book, and then hopefully it is lights out for me until morning (that is a rarity). I have a bit of quiet time in which I have the chance to reflect on the day’s events and think of each one of my children and thank God for the blessings.