Category Archives: Uncategorized

Meet Benny


I want you all to meet three-year-old Benjamin! I first met Benny and his mama, Jamie, a couple years ago on Instagram when I heard about an amazing project Jamie was starting. Jamie had written the story of her early days with her son in a beautiful journal and was mailing the book to other families all over the globe. The Down Syndrome Diary is now filled with stories of families learning of their child’s diagnosis and the hope they have found since receiving that news. I wrote our story in its pages a year ago and am super excited to eventually see the finished project! The project is now gaining momentum and getting international press! Click over to to see where the journal is traveling and for updates. You can follow Jamie and Benny on Instagram as @BenThroughItAll and on Jamie’s blog.




What are some things Benny thoroughly enjoys doing?
Benny LOVES music! He is downright passionate about it. He will completely stop what he is doing and bee line towards music if it starts playing at any time within earshot. If someone pulls out a guitar and starts singing, he is in heaven!

What are his favorite games and books?
Benny LOVES to do board puzzles these days. He is obsessed! Books are big on his list of fun things, too. He loves Curious George, Mama Llama, and his favorite books ever are the That’s not my Puppy series!

What would he do if they could design his own day?
Benny’s self-designed day would consist of lots of snacks and delicious food, a park with swings and slides to climb on, his whole family there to play with, and a personal band playing music just for him!

What are a few things he’s really good at?
Benny is a great sleeper and eater…just like his Mama!!! He is also great at making people smile! He’s a super friendly little dude. Oh… and he’s REALLY good at getting his picture taken. He will smile the SECOND anyone takes out their phone or camera!

Who does Benny love to spend time with? What do they do together?
Benny’s favorite people to spend time with are his Abuelito (Grandpa) and his sister Ellie. He and Abuelito love to play with different things they find around the house. With Ellie, they like to listen to music and tickle each other.


How is Benny  similar and different from his little sister?
Ellie is 8 months old, and is definitely starting to rival Ben in the speech category. Benny is a quiet little guy, and still isn’t speaking any words or sounds consistently. Ellie is already saying Mama, Dada, and Bruh-Bruh (brother) while she reaches out for big bros hugs! I see her learning from him by watching him play with his toys, and he is enamored with the sounds she makes.

What is something you want everyone to know about your son?
Benny is an extremely intelligent, easy going, and capable little dude. He may have his own time frame for things, but he ALWAYS gets there!

What is the most wonderful part of knowing them?
The most wonderful part about knowing Benny is having the opportunity to make him laugh. When Benny laughs, his whole body shakes and his shoulders jump up and down. His little laugh is gonna change the world!!!

What have been good resources for you to learn more about Down syndrome?
My favorite place to learn has been through other parents. I love hearing and learning about Down syndrome from those who know how amazing it truly is to have that extra chromosome in their lives. Life is all about perspective, after all!

What is something you don’t think many people know about Down syndrome?
I don’t think many people know that people with Down syndrome are often of average or slightly less than average intelligence. They can do just about anything anybody with only 46 chromosomes can do!!!



Check back tomorrow as we continue celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month or click below to read all of our previous posts.





Meet Pip



You guys! It’s Pip and her mama, Tara, from Happy Soul Project! Tara has been working incredibly hard to educate others about the beauty of differences since her daughter was born almost four years ago. The two have been featured in magazines, online publications, speaking events, and on television. It’s really fun to see what Tara is up to on her blog and on Instagram. You can also check out the Happy Soul Project shop for awesome shirts, calendars, and other pieces that are spreading awareness that ‘different is beautiful.’


What is something Pip is really good at?
Dancing. This girl was made to move. I swear any song, any place & this girl is a moving.


What would she do if she could design her own day?
If Pip could design her own day, she’d wake up in our bed, call her brothers in when she was ready or when her mom & dad’s attention fully on her was enough. She’d then get to play on the tablet which in her case ALWAYS means listening to music. She’d have Popsicles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and walk to the park to have a good go of a swing for as long as someone’s arms would push her. She’d play with her brothers, read with her momma & chase her dad around the kitchen island. And she’d smile like she always does, right before she drifts off to sleep, knowing it was a great day.

What has Pip taught her brothers? What have they taught her?
Pip has taught her brothers a sweetness that only she could bring into their lives. they are aware of celebrating the beauty in differences & they see what magic someone like her holds. Her brothers in turn have taught her everything, how to be funny, how to be kind, how to be patient, how to get out of timeouts, how to drive their momma bonkers, how to tie their dad around all their fingers & how to give the best hugs.


What is the most wonderful part of knowing Pip?
The most wonderful part of knowing Pip is knowing how much she’s changed me. Knowing how much purpose she’s given my life. Knowing she is exactly the daughter I was meant to have. 


Check back tomorrow as we continue celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Click below to read all of our posts celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month!





Last Week of Summer

We looove to travel in our family, and that’s what we had planned to do the last week of summer before jumping back into the swing of school. The thought was to rent an RV and drive around our favorite enormous body of water, Lake Superior. Doesn’t that sound great?! But as the time approached, we felt like we had been traveling and camping enough through the summer, and a week at home doing fun things in our own city would fill our need for adventure. Because, for real, this is where we live. Gorgeous. And plenty to do in the warm weather months. (I may not say the same during the frigid winter months.)



We’ve got a pretty great water park near the lake that Ella asks to visit nearly every time we drive by. When we decided to stick around town, I packed a bag, grabbed the swimming suits, and we “went to get gas” at a station near the water park/hotel. While Pete was “paying for gas inside” he was actually running across the parking lot to check us in at the hotel. When he came back, we moved the car to the hotel parking lot and asked the kids if they’d like to stay for a night. Their response?


Yup, that about sums it up! We spent every hour possible in the water.


And then we spent lots of tokens in the arcade. Obviously, Pete is working on passing off his riding skills to Ella.


We also played mini golf outside after dark with two lovely friends who were in town and also staying at the hotel. Sam crawled from hole to hole, picking up our balls and dropping them in each hole. I think he wanted to make sure we scored well. I needed all the help I could get. No joke!

At some point during the week, I took the kids to Target just to spend time in the toy department. We must have walked up and down every aisle looking at all the toys and games and play sets for at least an hour.


This guy thought it was pretty great. I so wanted to buy that snail for him. But I didn’t. Good job, mama.


One gorgeously sunny morning, we hopped on the train and rode it up the shore.


No matter how many times we take the scenic train, we just love it.


Ella found a stash of books on board all about trains.


And the boys took a nap. Well, Pete did anyway. Sam munched on crackers. Nom nom nom.


After our train ride, I suggested we get ice cream. In Silver Bay. It was an hour drive up the shore, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We talked about what we had done through the summer and what the new school year in a new school might look like. And then the kids ate Superman ice cream on a porch in the sun. (Do you spy their blue lips?)


At the end of the week, we spent an entire morning having brunch at a park with friends and the afternoon at another park with friends. Pretty much a kid’s dream, but it was so great for the adults to spend time catching up while all the kids played. Whenever we get together with friends like that, I feel that’s how life is supposed to be. I so easily get caught up in the need to check everything off my to-do list and forget to make time to spend with the people around me. I never regret a moment of the time I spend with them and, seriously, I could care less about my lists when I get to sit and really connect with other people. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. That day at the park was so very good, investing in friends and letting the lists wait. That’s something I’m really trying to focus on this fall, especially before we take off for Africa. Spending time with other people is really like nothing else.





This is Summer!

We love us some summa’ time!

At the very end of Ella’s school year, she went on the annual Park Point hike with her school. My friend was along on the hike and sent me this photo. I just love it.


This girl and her style.


Since he now knows how to blow, he’s been loving the dandelions.


A visit to Grandma & Grandpa’s to play with cousins!


Ah, my hometown water tower. The bobber.


My sister and I took our girls to Dru’s Park in the middle of town. Dru was a beautiful young woman I sat beside in choir and was on student council with in high school. Her life ended tragically when we were in college, but we remember her here. IMG_8441

S’mores with Grandma and Grandpa. A favorite, or course!


And hugs with the cousins.


Luke & Hannah got a puppy! Ella and Sam are completely in love with little Bailey. Though she won’t be little much longer!


Sure do love our Hannah!


This is the first summer in our current house, and we were wonderfully surprised to find lots of lilac bushes next to us. Ella took it upon herself to gather jars of them for our table and to deliver to the neighbors.


Summer simply cannot exist without ice cream. It’s a fact.


I’ve taken the kids up to Gooseberry State Park multiple times in the last two months. It’s a quiet hour or so up the shore from us, so the kids watch a movie while I listen to an audio book. Then we have a picnic and hike to the falls. God’s creation is absolutely breathtaking.


Sam is always enthralled by the water.


One of the things we’ve most been looking forward to this summer has been Ella’s lemonade stand. She worked on various jobs throughout the winter so she could have enough money to buy supplies to start her little business. We live on a great road for a stand this summer. We hope to be out many more days as the summer progresses.


It was pretty exciting to have a sweet friend stop by for a cold cup of lemonade!


And Ella voted Pastor Michael as the coolest customer of her first day. A clear winner, indeed!


We’ve really just begun summer here in Duluth, so we’re looking forward to many more adventures! What are you most looking forward to this summer?




Design by: Bumble + Buzz Design // Copyright © The Mango Memoirs