Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Nic as the Artful Dodger, Anna as a street urchin and orphan, and Greta as a rich girl.

Last week, we lived our days and nights for the Oliver! musical. The kids had full dress rehearsals from 5 to 9:30pm 3 days in a row and then 3 performances back to back. They performed the full Broadway version, which for an elementary school, is a tall order.

The kids were excellent! Nic had several solos and some dance moves. Anna sang and danced with the other orphans and Greta came on stage for the Who Will Buy? scene. I was so proud of her getting up in front of an audience 3 times and singing with the cast.

On the final evening of the performance, Greta was brave enough to go up with Nic to take a bow.

Never far behind, John Michael was hoping to get in on the action, too.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day in Old Sacramento

If you're headed to the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention this July, you'll want to come check out Old Sacramento.
Established in 1849, Old Sac is bustling with shopping, dining, entertainment, historical attractions and world-renowned museums set within the time of the California Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railroad.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Old Sac hosted the 36th Annual Sacramento Jazz Festival and Jubilee! It featured more than 60 bands at 23 venues, playing jazz music of all types, including sixteen bands made up of teenage musicians on their own stages.
We had a blast listening in on all the free family jazz venues.

My sweet John Michael.
Definitely all boy first...
Down syndrome is way down on the list of things to describe him...
Riding in an open car pulled by an old 1860's steam engine in Old Sacramento. A jazz banjo band entertained us for the 45 minute ride up and down the Sacramento River.

These brothers have a special bond.
John Michael makes a hard "K" sound for Nick!
I just love love love this little guy's smile. Thanks to Anna for helping me get this great shot. She is the best at getting him to smile for the camera. His eyes are sparkling in this photo!
We took a coffee and ice cream break aboard the Delta King Paddle Boat. Just over the rail we could see and hear below an excellent teenage jazz ensemble play old jazz standards. On the front side of the boat, we saw a huge family of Canadian geese and goslings swimming upstream and one lone turtle sunning himself on a rock jutting out of the river.

Me and my girls, Anna and Greta.

And a very special thank you to the men and women who have served and are serving our country. Freedom comes at a great price and we are grateful for all you do. A special thank you to those who gave their lives so that we might have ours.

PS: Drop me a note if you're coming to the Convention and would like to meet. I'd love to meet some of my blogging friends in person!

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hangin' with his friends at Gabby's 1st Bday Party

John Michael and Joaquin busy playing with Gabby's new mailbox toy.

John Michael is sharing some mail with Joaquin.

The "ball" babies...

Oooh, our special gift to Gabby. Her own T21 Afghan.
I ordered the afghan from Miss E's mom, Chandos, and gave her the color scheme I was thinking -- light pink, dark pink and green. I had no idea it would be a perfect match to Gabby's bedding. How cool is that?!?! Miss Gabby loves her soft blanket and I'm so thankful to Chandos for her talent and eye for color.

It was a perfect afternoon of fun and friends (although the 100 degree temp outside was a slight bother). Us moms, including Lisa with Sheridan, hung out chatting and noshing while our little ones played together inside and the older ones played outside in the pool. Fun fun!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 15, 2009

John Michael's 18 month check up

John Michael turned 18 months old yesterday, May 14th.

Today was his 18 month check up. Hurray, my little guy is (finally) growing again. Between 12 and 15 months, he'd had a weight loss and hadn't grown in length. The pediatrician wasn't too concerned since JM had just started crawling and was no longer nursing, which resulted in a slight weight loss.

John Michael weighs 27 lbs 9 oz and is around 50th percentile on the typical kid charts for height and weight. His head circumference is 3rd percentile, which explains why his little toddler bicycle helmet nearly covers his eyes. It looks pretty funny. I'm going to put some more foam in it so it doesn't bother him so much and maybe it'll fit better.

While we were waiting for the doctor, his assistant gave me a check list of milestones for an 18 month old. First question... Does your child walk fast and walk backwards? Uh, no, but he can pull to stand and is starting to cruise... Next... Can he say 4 to 10 words? No, but he can sign 5 or 6 words... Can he climb into and sit in an adult chair? Got me there...

I started to answer the questionnaire, but I got hung up on each question and was writing, "No, but... " When the doctor came in, I asked him for a 12 month old's check list and that was much better. He had met all the milestones except for the verbal communication, which he makes up for with signs.

In so many ways, John Michael's growing by leaps and bounds. He's super-active and engaged. He loves to explore his environment. He likes people and loves to shake hands. He's communicative with body language and some signs. He's pulling himself to stand on everything around him and has recently started cruising. This week he surprised me by using the kitchen barstool as a walker to go a couple feet, step by step.

He can nest cups and stack 2 or 3 blocks, put things "in", can find hidden objects wrapped in a bandana... He pushes cars and trains and balls all over the house. He signs "dog" whenever he sees or hears a dog and says "K" when he sees our cat. He also says "K" for big brother, Nick. He says Dada, but not Mama. He points to objects (with his middle finger!). He vigorously signs "more" when he really wants something, like frozen yogurt tonight. It was so funny, he just kept signing more... I guess it was that good :-)

Over the past several weeks, he has occasionally fallen asleep in his crib after I put him down still awake. This is so much better than always waiting for him to fall asleep in our arms first. He usually sleeps from about 8:00 or 9:00 pm to 6:30 am. If he's teething, we usually have to get up a couple times to soothe him and give him his Binky or some Tylenol.

Below are some photos from this week. In Music Therapy, he got to play a new instrument, the cabasa. It is a fabulous instrument that had him using his fingers, improving his fine motor skills. He loves his MT sessions and stays pretty focused while she's here.

In the other photos, he devoured his first whole apricot. In the last photo, I asked for a bite and he quickly offered it to me. He is understanding so much and following simple directions as well. This is a very exciting time to watch him grow and develop.

My biggest concern is whether he's getting proper nutrition from his food. I try giving a liquid vitamin, but he hates the taste. If anyone has a good website that has ideas for healthy toddler food, please share it here.

Working his fingers on the cabasa.

Loving his apricot. Mmm juicy.

Can Mommy have a bite?

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I love that smile -- even hiding behind the Binky!

Keeping up with the news...
Mom, can we please go out?
Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Does your son have Down syndrome?"

This is the question I was asked earlier today while shopping at Goodwill for more costumes for the Oliver musical.

"Excuse me. Does your son have Down syndrome? He looks like it."

Well, I thought, this could go anywhere. What do you say? "Thanks?"

I just smiled and said, "Yes, he does."

She quickly explained that her nephew has Down syndrome and he's super cute and John Michael's eyes look like her nephew's eyes. He's four, she said, and is learning to sign at a special school. I didn't ask any questions, but she felt like sharing. She didn't hesitate to tell me that "they" (kids with Down syndrome) are all sweet and loving and quiet.

To that, I smiled again, and said, "He's not always quiet, but he's certainly loving and sweet."

She quickly replied, "Oh, I don't mean to say "they" as in grouping them all together, but it does seem that way. They are such beautiful children and I love your son's eyes."

In her own quirky way, she actually touched my heart. I know it was a slightly awkward moment. For me, it was her opening line that got me. Of course, John Michael "looks" like he has Down syndrome, but honestly, that's not what I see. So it took me off guard when someone actually said it out loud.

I see a sweet, loving, stubborn, cute, strong, quick, able toddler, who's making his way in this world one step, one milestone, one victory at a time. And, I'm so glad he's taking me along on his journey.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day -- My Favorite Spring Things...

These are a few of my favorite "Spring Things" -- photos from my garden.

I wish all of you moms out there, especially first-time moms, a very special Mother's Day! I am grateful that each one of you has blessed my life in countless ways.

I want to share a very special poem written about mothers by Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty --

The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any Cathedral-a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body...The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God's creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation...What on God's good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother?

Happy Mother's Day from me, "John Michael's mom" :-) to you!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wordy Wednesday -- Bathtime Fun

I love the idea of Wordless Wednesday (well, it's Wednesday on the east coast!), but do you know how hard it is not to write something? So, I'll keep it brief...

Now that he's pulling up to stand, it's almost impossible to keep John Michael sitting. His favorite thing to do while taking a bath is to throw toys out of the tub. When he's not bathing, he throws things into the tub. He also has a newfound love affair with trains, especially Thomas trains. I'm thinking I'll have to pull out Nic's wooden Thomas set out of the attic this summer. John Michael doesn't really suck on toys, but I think I'll wait a little longer since there is probably lots of lead paint on those old trains!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ahhh!!! I'm going to Scream!!!

Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is exactly how I feel right now!!!

We just received news that the kids' school will be closed now until next Thursday due to the Swine Flu rearing its ugly head. I'm grateful that the school is taking the recommended safety measures, but I'm also starting to worry about all the work that the kids will need to make up before the (very busy) school year ends.

This seriously cramps everyone's style... I feel for the parents who work full-time and don't have the flexibility that I do.

Word to the wise... Be proactive, wash your hands all the time, stay healthy, and while you're at it, eat your vegetables and take your vitamins!!! Ugh!!!
Posted by Picasa