Wednesday, July 27, 2011

He's Making a Difference!

Every Wednesday morning, around 7:30 am, the garbage and recycling trucks blaze through our neighborhood. For John Michael, as with all our kids, this is an event you don't want to miss :-)  Before the truck is even on our street, we hear a low rumbling sound from a block away, followed by the high-pitched screech of the brakes, and finally, the loud machine grabbing the can and lifting the garbage up and over the top.  It's truly a magical sight to behold when you're a 3 year old boy!

And every Wednesday, Doug or I do our best to race John Michael out the front door to watch the garbage truck do its business and also to wave to the driver, who always waves and smiles back.

Today, Doug raced John Michael outside, but the truck had already passed.  It was about 8 houses up the street when the truck came to an abrupt halt and started going in reverse... all the way to our house!
The driver told Doug that today was his last day on this route and he had hoped he would see them.  He had something for John Michael.

The driver got out of his truck and handed John Michael a brand-new baseball cap from Sacramento County's Waste Management department.  John Michael became shy, but took the hat and held on to it.  Later on, inside, he modeled it for me.  It has a green garbage truck embroidered on it.  Very cool!

Doug shook his hand and thanked him.  When Doug told me about the exchange, I was so touched by the gesture that I had tears.  Obviously, John Michael made an impact on this man... a man we only saw once a week for a meer 20 seconds or so.  But somehow, John Michael made a difference in this man's life and touched him in a way that prompted him to think of JM before he went on his last route passing by our house this morning.  I don't know if it's because John Michael has Down syndrome.  I'll never know.  But I want the truck driver to know that he made a difference in our lives, too.  And we're grateful.

On a final note -- I had a number of comments on my last blog post regarding having another child after having a child with Down syndrome.  Thank you for your kind words.  I know the struggle that exists in that decision, but if you look at the photo of my 3 boys, I'd say Luke fits in perfectly, don't you?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eric Carle's art and John Michael update...

Ever since I first saw Eric Carle's artwork, I immediately fell in love.  The use of color, the patterns, the simplicity (and complexity) of his animals and people, his German heritage, his Euro-style images...  What's not to love about his books?  Last September, we even had a Brown Bear, Brown Bear book embellishing party at my house that was so much fun.

When John Michael was still doing Early Intervention, most of his therapists would often bring Eric Carle books to integrate into the therapies.  His music therapist would bring the embellished Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? for sensory stuff and colors, and his speech therapist used From Head to Toe by Eric Carle for moving your body and following directions. 
Recently, I was inspired to create some hand-painted ceramics and I decided to focus on Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar as my art inspiration. 
I painted this plate, sort of as a snack plate for special occasions...

My good friend, Jen Sanchez, also painted an Eric Carle-style butterfly plate that is super cute!

Speaking of super-cute!  I LOVE this new photo of John Michael.  It shows such confidence and his huge, adorable smile.  He is changing so much, it's hard to keep up.  He is becoming a very caring, compassionate big brother to Luke, often putting his hand on Luke's back and saying, "Matter, Luke?"  or "Happened, Luke?" when Luke is not happy (which isn't too often).

John Michael is also putting more words together, using some adjectives, and modifying verbs by telling me "Mom, swing higher!"  I got so excited the first time he said "higher" as opposed to just saying "high".  He's getting the subtle differences in language.  He's also saying things like "big truck" as opposed to just "truck".  New words that I haven't heard him say, like "door locked" or "big lake" are also more frequent.  In the car, we listen to the Cookie Monster song (ad nauseum) on the Sesame Street CD.  He tells me "Mom, music up!"  Stinker wants it louder... so funny.

For Luke's 1st Birthday in early June, I also painted a special plate for all birthdays (below).  I used a Sharpie and wrote Luke's name at the bottom and then in the dishwasher, it washed away, ready for the next birthday child.  I plan to pull this out for many, many birthdays to come.  Eric Carle's art is so perfectly imperfect and so colorful.  How can you not love it?
You can sort of see Luke's name underneath one of his cupcakes  :-)

Speaking of Luke...
I am in love with this boy! 
He is the sweetest, cuddliest, kissy-est, happiest little guy EVER!  And that says a lot, since all of my kids were happy babies and toddlers for the most part...

Why on earth did I ever worry about you so much?  You fit right in, little man!  And John Michael will be so much better for it. 

I think many people are scared to have another child after they have a child with Down syndrome.  A part of me can understand the fear... but you never know what you'll get with ANY child.  But somehow, it all works out...