At 15 months old, John Michael is growing up so fast in so many ways. He loves things that move, like this cute car he borrowed from his cousin. He loves to push Lego cars and trucks around the house and crawl after them. He loves to chase the cat when she taunts him with her tail. He likes to stand when I pull him up, and is working on trying to stand on his own. He loves to crawl and climb up to his knees at each chair and sofa and coffee table within reach and put toys on them. He definitely has the concept of "in" and "on". We worked with him for a while on putting things "in" and now he can do it without any difficulty. He's starting to stack 2 blocks and if I hold them still, he can sometimes stack a couple more. He still enjoys knocking towers down, especially the ones Greta so lovingly builds for him out of Duplo Legos. He plays a mean kazoo and loves to hear the sounds he makes. I bought one for him and Greta at the music store for 95 cents apiece. Best $2 I've spent in a long time! He loves to play the drums and xylophone and is very good at banging with one stick. When he has two, he usually puts the left stick down and bangs with his whole soul. He loves to shake musical egg shakers (also from the music store) or anything that makes a sound when he shakes it, as well as banging things together. He loves remote controls and telephones and usually mimics me on the telephone by putting it up to his ear. So cute. He is trying to say, "Mama" but his "B" sounds usually get in the way of "M". That's OK. I'm thrilled he's so close. There was a time when I would think he'd never say "Mama." He usually waves 'hi' and 'bye' and makes a "T" sound for tree. He says a short "a" for Anna and can say "Dada." He gives the best impromptu soft, wet kisses and will gladly give anyone a "high five." This little guy is so joyful and gives so much, it's hard not to fall head over heels in love with him.
Last week was quite a week for our family. It started out as the perfect Valentine's Day. My husband, Doug, gave me a dozen roses, a beautiful card and a heart-shaped box of dark See's chocolates (yes, very traditional, but lovely nonetheless!) He made a huge batch of homemade pancakes with blueberries and bananas in some and chocolate chips in the others. The kids were in heaven! We enjoyed our day together and looked forward to a much needed date night, sans children.
Late that afternoon, Doug's mom came over to watch the kids. We headed downtown to see a play written by Canadian Norm Foster, called Mending Fences, making its U.S. debut at one of our local playhouses. It was a 5pm show. The play was excellent -- about a strained father/son relationship that needed, well, mending. After the play, we enjoyed some nice Rodney Strong Cabernet and California cuisine at one of our favorite bistros. Feeling very satisfied, we then headed to an art gallery reception, where we chatted with a plein air artist I'd invited to our school a few years ago. It was the perfect Valentine's Day date.
By the time we got back, around 10pm, Doug's mom told us we'd missed quite the "show" at home. Nicolas had had a violent attack of the stomach flu all evening. Thanks to Doug's mom being an ER tech and being around sick people all the time, it didn't even phase her. Two days later, Anna followed suit. We weren't so lucky with her. We were up all night cleaning sheets, emptying buckets, picking chunks from the carpet, stripping the bed and washing the comforter. Two nights later, within a few hours of each other, Greta and I were on opposite ends of the house, emptying ourselves until we had nothing left to give. I was so weak the next day that I couldn't carry John Michael. Doug stayed home for much of the day to help me. We thought Doug and John Michael were safe, but by that night, Doug was aching, too. Out of the whole family, John Michael was the only one who had a flu shot in the fall. His single episode with flu was also the mildest. I'm guessing the flu shot really worked...
Today was our best day since our sick-filled week. The sheets and comforters are all washed, the towels are hung and the beds are cozy again. John Michael was himself again, being cute and cuddly as usual. He's teething very badly, which causes him distress at night, but other than that, he's my little cutie pie again. So glad that's behind us! I'm thinking this year, we may consider flu shots!
You've got to check out John Michael's squishy face when he tries to say "Mooooo." It's too cute! As he was watching this little video clip, he did all the motions again because he heard my voice and saw himself. He's such a parrot, which is wonderful opportunity to get a lot of learning in while having fun at the same time. Have a great day!
On our way home from school two days ago, there was a strange mix of rain and sunshine. The kids were drenched from the heavy downpour while waiting for me to pick them up. Once in the car, I commented to the kids that we should be on the lookout for a rainbow. Within a minute, the kids and I spotted this rainbow stretching its colors across the dimming blue sky. You could see the entire arc of the rainbow and it appeared to be somewhere in our neighborhood. On their urging, we drove past our home to find the end of the rainbow. While we didn't manage to find a pot of gold, we did find beauty in God's creation. The brilliance of the rainbow on the right was so spectacular against the strikingly clear sky, followed by a second, less brilliant rainbow to the left. The kids were all saying what a beautiful gift God has given us. That alone was a beautiful gift for me.
The other night I was reviewing my sweet 9 yr old Anna's monthly writing journal and came across this entry from January 7, 2009. I always keep her journals, but don't always make the time to read each one. Wow, am I glad I found this one. It brought tears to my eyes since for the first months of his life, she wished John Michael wasn't part of our family. She's gone through her own metamorphasis and I'm so proud of her! Here 'tis...
"I have a big family; but one of those members gave me a little something I did not expect. That member is my little brother, John Michael. John Michael made me look at life in a whole new way. John Michael has Down syndrome. I don't like Down syndrome so I call it happy syndrome! DS is something that lots of kids have. When my mom was in the hospital and gave birth to him, the first thing they (the hospital) gave her was a huge binder full of information on what could happen not what will happen. I was not so happy about this Down syndrome thing. I had a meter for how much I loved this baby.
Time went, time passed and my meter went from 2 - 100! I love John Michael. Right now he waves, claps and when you say how big is John Michael he puts his hands in the air. He is 27 pounds and 13 months old! I (heart) John Michael. He changed my life a lot.
PS: John Michael is a good piano player. :-) (smiley face)"
A couple weeks ago, I posted about John Michael flipping over Mitzi's water bowl and tasting some kibbles. That was such a mess that I moved her food and water into the laundry room, out of sight. Mitzi adjusted very quickly, even though her feeding station has been in the same place for the past 4 years. Last night, John Michael struck again! He was playing contentedly on the kitchen floor with Greta while big sis, Anna, was doing homework at the kitchen island just above them. I ran to another room for a couple minutes and then came back to check on him. All was quiet, so I thought all was well.
Note to self: Quiet isn't always good...
Greta was no longer with him -- she was playing in the living room by herself. Anna was still doing homework. I noticed a piece of dog food on the floor next to him, but brushed it off thinking Mitzi may have dropped it. I reached down to pick up the little guy and as I lifted him, water started dripping from his footed PJs onto my foot. Huh?!?! He was cold and soaking wet! I looked toward the laundry room and saw a 10-inch wide streak of water as if he had mopped his bottom across my kitchen floor. Dog food was spilled in the laundry room and the water bowl was upside down. He has seen me feed the dog a couple of times in the new location, so obviously he has no trouble with his memory! Big sister, Anna, said she didn't even know he'd scooted away... so much for keeping an eye on him! It's not her fault, but I was frustrated. I carried him dripping to his changing table. He kicked up his legs and started sucking water from his water-soaked PJ-covered feet. Yuck! Presto chango, I dried him up, changed him and asked Anna to help me clean the water mess. Not sure what I'll do if he strikes again!
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.