I love the simplicity of this photo. I was busy cooking and monitoring my 9 year old's California Mission project and kept getting distracted by these two little ones. To occupy them I gave them "cars" (scrap boxes from my Costco excursion) and some wooden spoons to bang away. Greta added a red light and a map to her box. It helped keep them entertained as well as "contained" for a little while. I love when simple things like cereal boxes and rubber bands become the coolest guitars, empty plastic spice containers and split peas make great maracas, and Tupperware-type plastic containers turn into indoor skates. I'm curious... what kind of simple toys do your kids enjoy? If you enjoy this post, but don't usually comment, I'd love to hear from you as well. Please say "hi"!
Half fish, all boy! John Michael loves water, whether it's from a faucet, a drinking cup, a showerhead, or the bathtub. Bathtime is especially fun when shared with big sis, Greta.
John Michael, Daddy, and Mitzi taking a break along the American River after a nice long walk and picnic lunch. He fell asleep in the Baby Jogger only minutes after this photo was taken. Nothing like fresh air and sunshine on a crisp, cool winter day (68 degrees!)
One of my favorite alone-time moments with John Michael is when he's ready for his morning nap. Of course, naptime is a welcome break for me regardless of the time of day, but it's really about the process of him falling asleep that I love. It's the closeness that reminds me of the 11 months he nursed and cuddled, allowing me to really know him. This morning, we took a walk on the nature trail, looking at rocks and trees, with our dog, Mitzi, alongside. John Michael heard an airplane, but I couldn't get him to look up high enough to see it. Maybe next time. Just as we were arriving home again, I could tell he was ready for a nap. I gave him a Binky and laid him down in his crib while Vivaldi played quietly in the background. Sometimes he settles down on his own and puts himself to sleep, but this morning he needed an extra nudge. So I picked him up and cradled him in my arms, his sweet head of fine blonde hair resting against me. One chubby little hand grabbed a few strands of my hair and the other hung down. We nuzzled each other, his tiny button nose so soft and supple. He struggled to keep his eyes open. I kissed the smooth, flat area of his nose bridge a few times. I felt his body go from soft to limp and his breaths become deeper and slower. It's in those moments when we are so close that, within minutes, he inevitably falls in a deep sleep. Ahhhhhhhh, peace.
I get asked this question every Monday morning, usually by several people. I should have a pat answer by now or at least give it some thought before taking Greta to preschool or John Michael to the grocery store. I might have been Mensa material long ago, but now I must seem "Densa" to those asking -- I'll say, "Busy" or "I think it was good." I tell you, my memory is getting so bad I can't really remember that far back. I don't have any negative memories of it, so I'm guessing it must've been good. Life with four kids and an active family means our weekends are always busy. I do remember putting away the last of the Christmas trinkets that had been forgotten, going to church, and picking up mother-in-law from the airport and not getting home until 12am (yes, midnight). But I'm sure there was more to it. I'm thinking I need to start up tennis again, take vitamins and do some logic puzzles to snap back into the here and now. I'm much too young to consider dementia as a possible diagnosis. Your turn. How was your weekend?
Looks like we have a budding Beethoven in our midst. John Michael loves to sit at the piano and pound away, but sometimes it's less about pounding and more about hearing the soft rhythmic harmonies and striking disonants, carefully choosing his notes. In the first image you can see his thoughtful, quiet composure and in the 2nd, his exuberant "anything goes" excitement. Finally, the composer is satisfied with his masterpiece. Sister Anna has been playing for 3 years now and is a great inspiration. These are actually snaps taken from video clips. In the background, my son, Nicolas, is playing jazz saxophone. Have a musical day.
I hope today isn't an indicator of how our year will be. John Michael usually loves Music Therapy and gives his full attention for the 45 minutes his therapist is interacting with him. But today, he only briefly played her games, helped her play guitar, reached for the rainbow scarves, shook the maracas and then kept crawling away as if to say, "Catcha later, I've got more amusing things to do..." 15 minutes after the therapist left, it was time to load the little ones up in the car to pick up the older two at school. John Michael and Greta were playing in the living room, so I ran to the closet to get my shoes. I came back to find John Michael sitting in spilled water from the dog bowl, munching on not one, but two tasty kibbles and one gooey kibble squeezed tightly in his hand. I pried it loose and fished out the chunks from his mouth. Ick! Nutritional value and grossness aside, it's a new choking hazard I hadn't even considered. I promptly lifted him, stripped off his pants and socks and changed him before dashing out the door. Out of habit (and love, of course), I buckled him into his carseat and kissed his little mouth. I distinctly smelled dog food on his breath. Oh, good heavens! That's just gross! So I'm thinking in the car on the way to school, "Is this the start of a crazy new year?" I hope not. I hope this was a fluke, but we'll see... The adventure has begun.
Happy New Year! 2008 was a great year for our immediate family as we watched our sweet little infant grow by leaps and bounds into a crawling and spunky little boy. The changes that occur in the first year of a child's life has always amazed me -- everything is a "first" and so exciting. With John Michael, we celebrated the typical major milestones, like rolling over, sitting up, his first birthday, his first tooth, crawling, pulling up to his knees... But having a child with Down syndrome, we also celebrated every little step inbetween. John Michael has taught us to slow down and enjoy where he is in his development. Our therapists help us break down the major developmental milestones into smaller chunks which add to the joy as we cheer him on with each new victory. It was very difficult for him to reach up over his head until recently. His music therapy helped in this area greatly and now he responds to, "How big is John Michael? So BIG!" by lifting his arms up over his head. He just began waving back to us and clapping his hands when he gets excited. His comprehension of simple requests and names of certain objects and all his family members is a huge deal for us as well. We know 2009 will be an even better year as he continues to grow and we continue to grow in our unconditional love of this little guy who has changed so many hearts in so little time. It's truly amazing what God has created. We know He doesn't make mistakes and we are blessed to have John Michael in our family. 2008 was also a HUGE year for our family in terms of meeting many people, some who have a loved one with Down syndrome, who are drawn to John Michael in some way. I know God has called me to advocacy for this little guy and others like him. I'm ready for 2009. Hang on, here we go.................
I've been married for 20 years to my wonderful husband, Doug. I'm a Catholic SAHM to 5 children. Our 4th child, John Michael, was born in November 2007, and has opened us up to the amazing world of Down syndrome. We are grateful to God for the blessings He's given us and the journey He's put us on. When I'm not spending time with my family, I sing with RSVP, an amazing vocal group, educate on Down syndrome, have my own health and wellness business, and blog about our life.