Monday, December 27, 2010

Best Toy Ever...

When Nicolas found out John Michael had Down syndrome, he was most concerned about John Michael not being able to play Legos, ball, trains, etc, with him.

Looking back, we didn't know how John Michael would develop. The medical information available suggested he would be delayed at everything and that he would have all kinds of medical issues. John Michael has taught us to be patient and that he would do all the things Nic was hoping he'd do, just at his own pace.

Fast forward 3 years...

in previous posts, I've written about how John Michael loves to play with balls, kicking, throwing and learning to "theth" (catch). I've also posted on how he loves to play with Legos and build towers and he's starting to build out a bit, too, not just stacking.

This year...

we bought John Michael a train table (not that our living room has room for it!) and brought down the track and trains, mostly Thomas the Tank Engine and friends, from the attic that Nicolas and Anna used to play with.

I can't believe how excited he is -- it's hard to pry him away from his train table! He is having a blast watching the two motorized engines go round and round and attaching extra engines or tenders until there are so many that the engine stalls out or crashes. We also have some cool bridges, tunnels, and accessories to add to the fun. I really shouldn't have bought him anything else. I think this is it for him.

Nic just got home and is now playing with him. I love how this one thing will give them yet one more fun thing to do together. One more reminder that our kids with Down syndrome are "More Alike Than Different."
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Gift of Time

Christmas is almost here!

It's a time of joy and yet, every year, I get trapped by the culture and try hard to pull myself out of the trap before we celebrate the blessed birth of our lord, Jesus Christ. 

20 more days til Christmas, 8 more days til Christmas, buy 1 get one free, best deal of the season, don't miss out, 4 days til Christmas, free express shipping with a purchase of $100 or more, 50% from 12am to 6am... 


Who doesn't feel stress and pressure to buy the perfect gift, decorate the perfect tree, wrap the gifts as if Martha Stewart was their personal coach, and bake 6 dozen different Christmas cookies to give to all our friends?  Then there's the pressure to buy gifts for everyone, including the mailman, newspaper delivery lady, hair stylist, teachers, cleaning people, etc, etc etc...


But, it can be overwhelming even to those of us who try to be somewhat "counter-cultural" during Christmas overdrive.  It sure doesn't seem like our economy is still sluggish after the 2007 crash when I see how many people are on the roads heading to the malls and standing in long lines to buy STUFF.

So yesterday we SLOWED DOWN... and I gave the kids


my time.

No TV.

No Internet/Facebook/Email checking.

Just my time and look what happened?

I taught the girls how to make sugar cookies, roll out dough, cut out with cookie cutters, bake until lightly golden, and make some killer tie-dye style icing for the girls to get creative.

This has been one of the best 2 hours I've spent all season.
Earlier the same day, I had a little tea party with John Michael and Greta.

and watching Greta teach John Michael how to be a sweet Joseph.  I had to laugh... they used the arm covers off of my couch and recliner for head pieces...  So creative and so sweet.  This is what it's about... nevermind the mess that they made.  This is what it's all about.

 Today, I spent 2 1/2 hours with Nic... shopping, going to lunch, and the library together.  It really has been good for us to ssssssllllllllllllllloooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww  down.

Even if you only have a small amount of time to give, kids will thrive when they have your uninterrupted attention. 


Try it... you might like it  :-)

Merry Christmas from John Michael and his family...


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crumley Photo Book 2010 -- 200th POST!!!

I can hardly believe it!  This is my 200th post since I started blogging back in the summer of 2008.  A lot has changed since then... Monkey Musings now has 100 followers (I LOVE when you leave comment love!), we added a new family member, Luke, last June, John Michael started preschool the first week of December, and my 13 year old is 3 inches taller than me.  Craziness! 

Thank you for making this ride more fun by reading and commenting. If you do have a child with Down syndrome, then I pray my words have somehow helped you, encouraged you, inspired you, or affirmed how awesome our kids with Ds are.  If you don't have a child or loved one with Down syndrome, then I hope my words have helped to educate you.  I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read our blog, and especially to those who let me know they're out there.  I count so many of my blogging, cyber buddies as friends.  I hope to meet many of you at the NDSC Convention in San Antonio, TX in 2011.  I can't wait!  Until then, have a blessed Christmas and a grace-filled, peaceful New Year!

God Bless!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First week of preschool...

My big 3 year old ready for his first day of preschool!

I felt so bad that I didn't have a "proper" backpack for him (I ordered one online) so he had this huge backpack strapped on with nothing but 7 diapers and a pack of wipes in it and the poor boy could hardly hold it up.  It was pretty funny.  He was determined to carry it, though.

Daddy saying, "Bye Bye."   I can only imagine what was going through his mind at that point...

His teacher said he had a good first day.  There were some tears off and on, which is to be expected, but he played well with other kids, sat on the rug and listened, participated in activities, had lunch with the kids and even sat on the potty.  He was very happy to see me and Luke, and promptly fell asleep in the car.

I'm sure it's been a little stressful for John Michael with this huge change in his routine, meeting new faces and being away from home for 3 1/2 hours each morning. 

But, it's also been stressful for me

John Michael is my 4th child to go off to preschool, but my first to not be able to communicate what he did at school, what he ate, what he played with, who his friends are, etc.  I can ask him if he learned about dinosaurs and he'd probably say "Yah" even if he didn't.  If you hadn't guessed yet, I am a very involved mom... I care about what my kids are learning and doing in school and want to help reinforce it at home.   So when a friend asked me on Facebook what was his favorite thing to do at preschool, I got sad.  I didn't know... plus he's been taking a bus home this week Monday through Wednesday, so I didn't have that communication with the teacher.

Fast forward one week.  Today was Day 5 of preschool.  I picked him up so I could talk to the teacher.  Teacher Karen thanked me for letting him come to her class.  She said he's doing very well and he's such a joy to have!  She sent me a photo on Wednesday of John Michael playing with a little girl he calls "Lula" and another boy who is visually impaired.  The three of them were playing with blocks at a table... that is so cool!  I think "Lula" will take good care of him... like a sister.

At pickup, I also asked the teacher what he likes to do and she said play with blocks, Playdough (gingerbread scented dough this week), and play with the dollhouse (Greta's influence on him).  His speech teacher loves him and said he's doing very well.  She said he talks about his baby brother, Luke, a lot.  He's putting the ending consonant on "boat" which is also good.  And she's impressed by how well he sits on his special spot on the rug and listens.  She's going to implement a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) for him to help with his communication.  Sometimes, a picture is worth... well, you know...  It may even prompt him to say the word.  He also had adaptive PE today and Tuesday.  I haven't met the teacher yet, but I heard that John Michael had fun jumping today.

When I walked in the door today, he was with a group of kids talking with the teacher.  He saw me, shouted "Mom!" and pointed and ran as fast as he could to give me a hug.  It was so sweet.  You should see him run... it's still pretty awkward and you think he's going to fall any second, but he didn't.  I go t the hug and he turned and went right back to the kids.  Then he showed me "The Snowman" book that he likes.  It's without words, which are pretty cool books where you make up the story.  We'll have to check that out at the library.  Needless to say, he's had a great first week.

John Michael's first official preschool art project.  I'm sure it's the first of many, many projects to come and I LOVE IT!

(On a side note... it's not been totally stressful for me... I've gotten most of my Christmas shopping done this week since I only have Luke with me now.  This is definitely one of the benefits of preschool, too!!!)
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