Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Feeling Sentimental... It's all in a name.

I was taking a walk with John Michael and our dog, Mitzi, this morning on the nature trail behind our house. The planes and helicopter were buzzing overhead, the finches were flitting and chirping in the old oaks, the cat was slyly following us and ducking behind each tree along the way, and the sun was bright and cheery, warming us in its glow. Perfect for feeling sentimental.

I've often thought of why we called our little guy John Michael. Always by both names, not just one.

When I was pregnant with him, we called him Thomas for the longest time. But in my 8th month, Thomas just didn't feel right. John Michael, two very strong Biblical names, and also the 2 first names of Doug's brother and mine, we knew it was the right name. The only problem was that we'd named a baby I'd miscarried before JM was conceived by the same name. We don't know if it was a girl or boy, but the kids and I wanted to honor the little soul with a name. I came to terms with the idea of naming our newest little guy with this powerful name and I'm so glad we did.

His name means "God's grace" and "One who is like God". With a double name like that, who wouldn't agree that John Michael's life is nothing but filled with God's grace and he radiates that grace to those around him? There is no doubt that he is a gift from God and since God makes no mistakes, I know he was intended to be born with that extra set of 21st chromosomes. Bonus genes. Designer genes. Heavenly genes.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lemons to Lemonade Blog Award!

Renee at My Special Ks presented me with the Lemons to Lemonade Award!! Thank you so much, Renee!

Here are the rules for the award:

1) Put the logo on your blog or post.

2) Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.

3) Link to your nominees within your post.

4) Let the nominees know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5) Share the love and link to the person from who you received your award.
I nominate:

1. The Adventures of Homeschooling Noah
2. mi2boys
3. Cause of Our Joy
4. Mothering by the Seat of my Pants
5. My Little Saint
6. Big Blueberry Eyes
7. Rivers of Joy
8. Ruby's Life
9. Three's a Charm
10. Bridget's Light
11. Down Right Faith

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday -- GUILTY!

When I found John Michael, he was happily splashing his hands in the shower and playing with his Lego truck that he'd also tossed in. The basin was still wet from morning showers. He looked up and gave me a huge smile at his newfound discovery of opening the door and climbing up and over the rim. I would love to have captured that on camera. It's only at those moments when my batteries fail! I raced to the car to get my cell phone camera, but by then he'd decided it was time to get out. He was soaking wet!
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

John Michael's ready for Spring!

Spring is still a day away, but John Michael just
couldn't wait to get outside in this gorgeous sunshine.

This is his sign for airplane.
He gets very excited when he hears the buzz of an airplane overhead.

John Michael turned 16 months old last week. He is growing by leaps and bounds, although not in the height or weight department. At his 15 month check up last month, he hadn't grown in length in the past 3 months and actually lost 2 pounds, from 28 to 26 pounds, since he started crawling and is no longer nursing. The doctor suggested I give him PediaSure for vitamins and protein. He eats well, but doesn't love whole milk as much as he should. He drinks very well from straws and sippy cups that don't have a strong valve. He learned to suck from a straw last summer when I tempted him with a Jamba Juice fruit smoothie. The icy sensation and the sweetness were great motivators.

This past week, John Michael has really blossomed in his communication. Yesterday, he said "eh-duh" for Greta and "dah" for dog several times when prompted. Today he waved and said "bah bah" when I asked him to say bye-bye. He also makes a "t" sound for tree and puts his hand up in the air to show me the tree. As for signing, I'm becoming more consistent and in return he signs "more," "eat" and "all done" more often. He crawls super-fast and loves to chase and be chased. He loves all things that roll, especially cars, trains and balls. When he gets up on his knees, he puts one foot down as if ready to stand. He really likes to stand against furniture or the windows.

Last week I bought him a FisherPrice plastic ring stacker to see if he could do it. He figured out how to put the rings on right away. Now we're going to work on size/color placement. He loves all things related to music-making. He loves to play the piano and really listens when he strikes the keys. He plays the xylophone, kazoo, drums, egg shakers and strums on his music therapist's guitar while she sings and plays. We're working on blowing into a recorder. It's a bit harder than humming into a kazoo. He'll get it.

When we're outdoors, he loves to swing and go for walks in the stroller or push car. He listens to the birds chirping, dogs barking and airplanes buzzing and makes me aware that he hears them. I'm hoping he'll like the toddler bicycle seat attached to my bike so we can enjoy rides as a family within the next few weeks.

I tend to focus on John Michael's strengths and keep a positive outlook. I want people to see the things he can do and that he's more like typical children than not. A couple days ago I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a long time at the grocery store. She asked me 3 or 4 times, in that certain way, "So, how are you?" I kept saying we're doing great and life is just busy right now and things are just rolling right along. I think she was wanting to know if I was really OK. Or if John Michael was OK. I hope she believed me.

Naturally, there are things he does that I wish he wouldn't, but I've can say that about each of my kids at every stage of their development as well. I know he'll grow out of these things and I don't think they're in any way related to Down syndrome. Right now, he is infatuated with knocking over garbage cans, opening the shower door and slapping his hands in the water, playing with (and tasting) dog food and water (which have already been moved from the first place he found them), pulling the dog and cat's tails, tossing his sippy cup off of his high chair after almost every sip, rolling the salt shaker across the kitchen floor when he can get to it, and yelling loudly when he's frustrated with something he's not getting. These are just a few things I can think of. Most of the time, he really is a super fantastic little guy with a charming personality and his Down syndrome is only a small part of him. It doesn't define him.

PS: I'll be on a road trip with my 2 girls this weekend to visit my parents who will be leaving soon to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversay in Germany on April 16th. When I return, I will post on poop. :-) I've been called the "Poop Whisperer." John Michael used to be very constipated, but through tummy massage and prompting, I've been able to help him do his daily deed. Stay tuned and Happy Spring! :-)

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Monday, March 16, 2009

John Michael's latest obsession

OK, I don't know if this is really blog-worthy, but it's a memory I want to keep, and if I don't write it down, I'll definitely forget it.

For several months now, John Michael has had a "thing" for my vacuum cleaner. Aren't kids usually afraid of vacuum cleaners? This particular one is so powerful, I don't doubt it could suck up little fingers and toes if they weren't attached so well. (Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of any particular brand and, no, I'm not being paid to advertise, but it is the most powerful vacuum cleaner I've ever had and I've been using it for several years now. It picks up everything.)

With four kids in the house, I vacuum crumbs and dog hair off the tile at least every other day, sometimes daily. On weekends, the older kids take over the vacuuming duty. I do it so often, the dog starts heading for the back door as soon as I roll the vacuum out of the closet. John Michael, on the otherhand, will crawl from wherever he is, as fast as he can, to touch it and, yes, even kiss it. It's disgusting! Maybe that's why he's been relatively healthy? Kissing the vacuum cleaner?

It's actually quite funny at times since I literally have to play "dodge the baby" with him. I vacuum and he chases me to get his chunky little fingers on the goods. It makes my job go a whole lot faster, that's for sure. If I'm not in the mood to speed through cleaning while being pursued by a 27 pounder, I put him in the high chair at snacktime. We had a little extra fun this morning since I also had to mop the floor. I use a plug-in steamer mop, which he thought was pretty cool. His jeans actually helped dry the floor in record time :-)

Oh, and yes, that's my Christmas poinsettia in the kitchen window in the distance and mini potted Christmas trees outside the window. I don't have the heart to toss them out while they're still healthy and vibrant, but I'm ready for spring!
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award!

Monica @ mi2boys (http://mi2boys.blogspot.com/) awarded me this very cute blogger award!

Thanks, Monica! How very sweet of you to think of me -- I appreciate it very much!

The way this blog award works is that I am supposed to list 7 things I love and pass the award to 7 blogs I love, so here it goes:

  1. Spending time with my family!
  2. Nature walks and picnics with the family.
  3. Blogging and reading blogs about families who have a child with Down syndrome (my creative outlet).
  4. Quiet time or naptime (not mine).
  5. Singing in an awesome vocal group for 9 years (my stress reliever).
  6. Riding bikes along the American River Parkway.
  7. My faith and church family (my spiritual outlet).

Now for the hard part. A couple bloggers already have this award, so I don't want to repeat...

Here's my Magnificent 7 in no particular order:

  1. Bridget's Light
  2. EmmaSage
  3. Mothering by the Seat of my Pants
  4. Finnian's Journey
  5. Ella Grace with the Pretty Face
  6. Party of Nine
  7. Big Blueberry Eyes

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Friday, March 6, 2009

My dream sons...

I love the dynamics of my family and each person's relationship with one another. In this photo, taken an hour ago, Nicolas was patiently holding John Michael while I filled the bird feeders. Watching these two together always makes my heart melt. It was one of those moments where I dropped everything and ran for the camera. Thankfully, they obliged with nice smiles.

I haven't blogged about Nicolas because it would be easy to get on the bragging bandwagon with him. At 11 1/2, he stands at 5' 5", is a model student, a born leader, altar server, 2nd class Boy Scout, and sax player to name a few. He's kind and caring (although 9 yr old sister Anna may disagree) and makes us all proud. He is a dream son. I could go on, but I don't want this to sound like one of those over-the-top Christmas letters where the font on the page gets smaller and smaller to include every accolade and achievement EVER. :-)

When John Michael was born and we shared his diagnosis with our kids, Nicolas would often share his sadness with me at our nightly prayertime. He wasn't concerned about John Michael being different as much as he wanted him to be healthy and do things "normal" kids could do, like play Legos and ball. The two boys share a room, and as John Michael's personality developed, so did Nic's love for him. In the early morning hours before I would pick up John Michael to nurse, Nic would often get out of bed to give him a Binky to comfort him. Nic still does this, but on the rare occasion that Nic is still in bed when John Michael wakes up in the morning, the little guy will sit up on his knees, throw his Binky on the floor and reach out to Nic. It's so sweet.

Before Greta and John Michael were born, I used to have a recurring dream about a little blonde boy that would walk behind our family. At the time, I thought our family was complete, but always wondered if this was a message from God that He wanted us to welcome another child. Greta, being a girl and a redhead, didn't fit that particular dream, so I tucked it away. (That being said, Greta is a wonderful, joyful addition!) After John Michael was born, I wondered if this was the little blonde boy God wanted me to have -- the one who would walk a few steps behind, but always be part of our family. I'm now convinced that this is that little guy. I can still see the face of the little boy in my dream and I think it's symbolic that the little boy walked behind us to indicate John Michael's Down syndrome would perhaps slow us down a bit. In a good way. John Michael is literally my dream son -- a special and unique gift from God.
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Premio Dardos Blog Award!

Cheryl at Ruby's Life has awarded me the Premios Dardos blog award.

“Premio Dardos means ‘prize darts’ in Italian." This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.

So, first, I graciously accept. How very nice of her!

Step 1: Respond and rework -- answer the questions on your own blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, add one more question of your own.

Step 2: Tag - eight other bloggers to do the same.

1) What are you wearing right now? A spring green cardigan over a white v-neck t-shirt, jeans, and my old Adidas casual tennis shoes.

2) What is your biggest fear? Rolling down a cliff or off a tall bridge while driving.

3) Do you nap a lot? Huh? No, but I love when the little ones are napping :-)

4) Who is the last person you hugged? My hubby

5) What websites to you visit when you go online? Lots of blogs about Ds and a Catholic Ds Facebook "ning" social network.

6) What was the last item you bought? Groceries for the week. Sad, but true...

7) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Carmel with my hubby or on a pilgrimage to Rome

8) If you could go to the Oscars, who would you want to sit next to? I'm not one to get starstruck. I'd be happy sitting next to someone whose work I respect .

9) Has a celebrity's hair cut ever influenced your own hairstyle? I had a Dorothy Hamill cut when I was in 6th grade.

10) What is your most embarrassing moment? Let's just say... in 2nd grade I had to go to the bathroom sooooooooo bad during class but the teacher said NO! You can guess the rest...

11) What was the last movie you watched? No Reservations.

12) What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you? Meeting and marrying my husband.

13) If you had a whole day to yourself with no work, commitments or interruptions what would you do? Get a pedicure, drink a Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks and read a book by the pool (that we don't have) or going for a nice long walk in the woods with my husband and a picnic lunch.

14) Is there a major goal you have that you haven't yet achieved? Getting back down to my pre-mommy weight :)

15) Where did you meet your spouse? At a jazz club -- he and his friends sat down next to the table where I was sitting. When I wasn't looking, my girlfriends bought him a drink with my money. He turned to thank me even though I had no idea what he was thanking me for. We started talking and one of my friends told me later that evening that we would be married someday...
16) What is something that those in blogland might not know about you? I'm the daughter of German immigrants and played accorion as a child and I have a BA in Applied Math and Statistics.

17)What States and Countries have you visited as an adult? Native Californian, toured New Orleans w/ my singing group in 2007, so I've been to Louisiana; Also been to Oregon; Washington; Nevada; Arizona; New Jersey; New York, Vancouver, BC; Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Hungary, Holland, Belgium, France. Some of these were from a choir tour in college.
18) What do you do to relieve stress? I sing in an awesome mostly a capella vocal group, called RSVP, which stands for Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace. We are all professional or semi-professional college-trained singers that use our talents to raise money and awareness for local charities.
Now for the fun part. I enjoy many blogs out there, and only choosing 8 is hard for me. If you've already been tagged, consider yourself extra special -- If you don't want to pass on the questions or blog award, I won't be hurt, either.
I tag:
My Catholic friend at The Pondering Catholic
Leticia at Cause of Our Joy
Jennifer at Pinwheels
Jeanette at DownRightFaith
Renee at My Special Ks