Friday, October 31, 2008

Roadmap to Holland Book Winners

Congratulations, Jenn and Laura! Email me at: dougndeborah AT sbcglobal DOT net so I can get your mailing addresses.

I am taking the weekend off to celebrate Halloween with my family. See you Monday with trick-or-treating photos. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Lump of Things

Just some random things to blog about today.

First, My friend Mandi brought Eleanor's longies over this week and I just adore them! They are so soft and sweet. Ella wore them one day, then I left them on the changing table. Yesterday, Sean started calling for me and I went to find him and HE was wearing them! OMG, it was too funny! Of course, thankfully he couldn't get up past his thighs so they didn't get all stretched out. I think they look cuter on Ella.

Here's the cute kitty hat that Mandi made!

Also, a couple of weeks ago, the priest from our church emailed me and asked if he could run my Sean the Episcopalian post in the church newsletter. Just got a copy of it in the mail a couple days ago and it was the headline story! He also included a photo from Eleanor's baptism, so we are so very famous now.

I want to thank everyone that has been entering my blog give away! It so cool to see new names in my comments, especially our foreign visitors. I also added a sitemeter so I can check out how people find my blog. It's been so funny to see a few of the google searches! One was a search for "hog gene" that led to this post. Another one wanted to find german chocolate advent calenders and landed here. And another lucky reader found this gem while searching for the Kitty Cat song.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

My First Blog Give-a-way

I noticed today that my last post was post #31 for October! Cool! Since there are only a few more days until the end of October, I thought I'd celebrate a successful month by treating myself to a book I have been eager to read, Road Map to Holland: How I Found My Way Through My Son's First Two Years With Down Syndrome by Jennifer Graf Groneberg. I have been following Jennifer's blog, Pinwheels, for a couple of years and I just love her writing. To share the celebration, I'm going to give a copy to one of my readers, too!

Leave a comment on this post to enter the drawing and on Oct 31, Sean will draw a winner!

Maybe now I can finally find out who it is in Pakistan that reads my blog every day.

My Thoughts on Palin as VP

Other than my venting to Doug, I haven't expressed my thoughts to others about what I think about Sarah Palin's nomination for Vice President. Not that it should matter to anyone else, I trust you all can make up your own minds on who to elect next week. However, since the Get It Down: 31 for 21 Challenge is intended to spread awareness about Down syndrome, I figured I might as well put my thoughts out there about the most-famous 6 month old with Down syndrome and his mother.

My personal politics have always found a home with the Democratic Party. As long as I can remember, I have felt more in common with liberal politics- often, the more liberal the better. Sorry Mom and Dad, it's not that I don't respect you and what you believe in, it's just that I have my own views about things.

Sarah Palin first came into my radar back in April 08, when her son Trigg was born. The Down syndrome community had a bit of a buzz about it and the contributors of the Gifts book organized to send her a copy of our book. We all thought, how hard it must be to go through what can be a trying time for anyone in front of the media. No one had any idea just how public her family life was about to become. I followed news about her for a bit and enjoyed seeing her babywear Trigg and talk about pumping milk for him while in office as the Governor. I thought it was cool that she was bringing him to work and it seemed like she had a very healthy outlook on his future.

Politically speaking, I can't disagree with her more. I am not in favor of conservative politics. I believe everyone (aside from close relatives) deserves the right to marry if they choose to as well as the right to be protected from discrimination. I believe sex education is a necessity in schools. I believe in the right to choose whether or not to have a child, though I think balanced, informed information about the child's future is vital in that decision making. I'm not a fan of hunting for sport. I think it's important to protect the environment. I think it is critical that the special needs population receive the education, benefits and rights entitled to everyone. I think health insurance in this country is horrid and destroys families, I'd love to see major reforms.

So, basically, I probably wouldn't even consider voting for a Republican ticket regardless of who's name was on the ballot.

But along comes Sarah Palin and her beautiful son Trigg.

Do I think it would be totally cool to have a female vice president or president? Yes.

Do I think it would be awesome to have a female in high office that understands the importance of breastfeeding and keeping your baby close? Yes.

Do I just *know* I would cry buckets over a video of Trigg taking his first steps on the White House lawn? Oh yes.

Would I love to see a massive public education about Down syndrome come from the White House? Definitely yes.

However, these are not reasons enough to make me want to vote Republican.

See, in spite of all of that, I look back on my son's four years of life and wonder "What would it be like for a child with Down syndrome to grow into toddlerhood in the spot light?" While I admit that I don't know what the day-to-day schedule of a VP is, I can imagine that they are required to be on call 24 hrs and put in very long days. I highly doubt that a "Bring Your Baby to Work" option exists. I think the responsibility of the job would take a huge toll on a person.

In four years, Sean has grown from a baby needing so much support and care, to a toddler that needs a lot of supervision and encouragement. I'm sure Mr. Palin can take his son to therapy sessions and doctors' appointments. No doubt they will have access to the best care in the country. Sure, Mr. Palin can work with him on his development at home, wherever that may be. But Trigg will miss the presence and support of his mother during this critical time of development. As a mother, I can't imagine missing out on that time.

I brought Sean to work with me until he was six months old, then for the next six months I did a job share with Doug so that Sean wasn't in daycare full time. When he turned one, I went to work full time for a year and Sean was in daycare for 9 long hours a day. That was the hardest year for everyone in our family. We constantly felt rushed and like we were burning both ends of the candle. Sean stagnated in his development that year. He was constantly sick from being exposed to so many germs with his weaker immune system. Finally we realized the best thing for all of us was to find a way for me to stay home. Within six months, Sean was walking. He was healthy again. I don't regret one minute of my time at home, but I do regret the time I spent away from my children.

I can't guess what the Palins' personal life is like or how it would be different for them in DC than it is in Alaska. I just hope for the best for their son.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Minner Mug Shots

Several years ago, Doug and I gave Gramma and Granpa M a similar set of glass photo frame coasters from Crate & Barrel. At the time, the only grandkids they had were Mackenzie (aka Kenzie Jo) and Aidan. Friday night, Granpa said it was high time I update the photos in the set so he had pictures of all his grankids. We did a little photo shoot with the kids yesterday and I thought I'd share the mug shots.

Kenzie, age 8 yrs, 10 months

Aidan, age 5 yrs, 11 1/2 months

Sean, age 4 yrs, 1 1/2 months

Ella, age 3 months

And all four kiddos together, the best we could do!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Pumpkinator!

We took the kids to the pumpkin patch at Harvest Farms today and had such a great time! Aidan declared, "This place is awesome! I want to live here forever!" Of course when I told him all the work everyone has to do on a farm he changed his mind. Nonetheless, it's a cool place to visit.

The kids and Momma at the entrance.

The boys loving the barrel train.

Highlight of the farm, The Pumpkinator, an air-compressed cannon for shooting pumpkins up to 1/2 mile away.

Cowboy Sean.

The King of the World.

Doug and Aidan as American Gothic.

Sean and Aidan working the farm.

We picked out a big pumpkin to carve and will probably cut into that tomorrow. What a wonderful day!

P.S. I totally forgot to add a picture of Aidan's favorite part of the farm- the mini-pumpkin launcher! For $1 he got to try hitting various targets in the field with this min-cannon. He got 2 out of 3 and totally would of spent every last dollar we had on this game.

Also, I didn't mention that we had lunch there at their little cafe barn- the best Bierocks! Yummmmmm! The night before, Doug, Ella and I got to go out to dinner with Doug's parents while Uncle Curt and KJ watched the boys. We went to the supper club and pigged out on their Oktoberfest buffet. Soooo good. I even splurged and had a St Paulie Girl.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Woolies coming soon!

My friend Mandi just sent me a pic of Ella's first pair of woolies! I'm so excited to get these! I bought the yarn a year ago and asked my mom to make Sean a pair of woolies, but she never found a pattern she liked. Along comes Mandi and her awesome needle skillz! Since she had extra yarn, she whipped up a hat, too. Woo hoo!!

Guitar Hero

I wanna ROCK!

Daddy taught me how to play a mean air guitar.

Thank ya. Thank ya very much.

Do us a favor, momma. Don't sing.

That's all folks. Show's over.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Business of Being Born

So I am probably the last crunchy-momma-with-young-babies to see this movie, but I finally watched The Business of Being Born last night. It's not that I haven't been wanting to see it, it's just that we don't have a Netflix account anymore and I just noticed it at our local video store last week. Anyhow, I watched the much discussed movie and am glad I finally know what the buzz is all about.

On the DVD cover it says "A Must-See Movie For Every Parent-to-Be" and I do agree with that statement. The main jist of the documentary is how normal, healthy births have become over-medicalized in the United States and this puts risks to the baby and mother. While I knew most of the information in this movie from my own research into birthing, I appreciated the format it was presented and the stories of the families in the film.

When I was pregnant with Aidan, I had no doubt in my mind that I'd get an epidural. I thought that I wouldn't be able to handle the pain of labor and that epidurals were safe and not a risk to myself or baby. I had a friend due close to the time I was and she said she wanted to try to go drug-free. I thought she was crazy to want to put herself through that pain. She didn't have support for her decision and did get an epidural and seemed fine with that.

Then it was my turn. I went into labor on my own, two days before my due date, got to the hospital about 3 cms dilated and had an epidural in place within 5 hours of starting labor. I didn't have any complications from the epi and peacefully labored and delivered our first son after a 10 hour labor. Never had Pitocin, but did get my bag of waters ruptured by the OB. When the placenta didn't immediately deliver, the OB said it was a serious complication, he re-dosed my epidural, then manually removed it- a very painful process. I was led to believe that he HAD to do this because it wasn't detaching by itself and if he didn't get it out asap I'd be headed to the OR for a surgical removal. All of this happened within the first 45 minutes of my son's life. I didn't get to hold him, he wasn't laid on my stomach after delivery, I didn't get to nurse right away. I was scared, crying and in pain.

Years later, after reading about the natural birthing process, I learned that it is normal for placentas to take some time to deliver. They don't all come out right away. Some may not come out for 4 hours or more, yet the mother is fine. Had I been under the care of a midwife, she probably would of given me more time to deliver the placenta. She would of had my son start breastfeeding right away so that my contractions would pick up stronger and expel the placenta. She would of given my body a chance to do what it is made to do.

When I was pregnant with Sean, the hospital I delivered at did not offer epidurals. They offered a one-dose intrathecal injection of pain medication near the end of labor that is supposed to help with the pain during the final stages of dilatation and transition. Luckily, I had a very fast labor and by the time the anesthiologist showed up to offer the intrathecal I was close to being ready to push. I panicked, didn't trust my body and didn't know what type of pain-relief he was offering. I consented to the injection, but before it offered any relief I could feel Sean's head descending through my pelvis. He was born within 10 minutes of receiving the intrathecal. I remember being so pissed that I had it done, it didn't help me when I was at the peak of pain, I felt every bit of my labor and delivery, and it cost us an extra $500! What a rip!

After educating myself more about natural birth, I was determined to have our last child drug free and was able to do so. Yes, labor is painful, but it's the only productive pain you can have. I am so proud in myself for trusting my body and experiencing this rite of passage the way nature intended. It's an amazing process and an empowering event.

The Business of Being Born addresses how woman are being removed from this natural process and how one intervention in labor snowballs into another. While I agree that it can be difficult to find an OB supportive of a natural birth and a hospital that doesn't pressure a mother to accept it's routine interventions, I'm glad that there are still some OBs out there that do encourage women to have the birth experience they want. Not all communities have midwifes available, or if they do not all offer home births.

I would of loved to home birth Eleanor, and felt confident that I could of been successful in that setting and had a healthy birth & baby. I just didn't feel comfortable doing it without the support of a midwife as none are available where we live. I would love to see that change. I'd love to see birth centers within one hour's drive for everyone and home birth midwives available to those that want it. Even though each of my births and babies had "high-risk" situations, I still support the idea of midwives for mothers that are not high-risk.

I think that as women are waiting until they are older to birth now, hopefully they are also becoming more educated about birthing and request the least-restrictive birth experience they can have. I hate to see elective c-sections rise. The so called "Too Posh to Push" trend.

At the end of the film, to paraphrase what one of the researchers they interviewed said, "what happens to monkeys that have c-section births? They reject their young. They don't get the hormone combination and rush that occurs at the moment of natural birth so they have no attachment to their child. How are we to expect women who are denied this same combination of mothering, love and protection hormones to attach to their child?"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Pink? Pink? Is that what you think?"

"Me thinks you've got a pink kink in your think!"

-from Disney Pixar's "Boundin'" short film

I mentioned before that Sean's class is learning about colors and wearing a certain colored shirt each day this month. Yesterday was Pink Day. After searching high and low, I finally found a pink shirt for a boy & I must say, Sean looked so darn adorable in it! I wanted to take a photo of him before he went to school and he insisted that his siblings join in the photo. What a cutie pie!!

My friend Sarah sent Eleanor a couple of shirts she embellished using a process called Freezer Paper Stenciling and I am thinking that it looks like fun. I thought I'd give Sean's pink shirt a boyish design so he can get more wear out of it. Doug suggested the phrase "Rock the Pink!" I'll be sure to share my efforts when I get a chance to play around.

Little Miss Eleanor Ruby turned 11 weeks old yesterday. I put her in a sweet little dress in tights for the LLL meeting and she was just full of grins and giggles!

Speaking of the LLL meeting, it went fantastic! We had 13 moms present, 3 of them were nursing students from the local college. The learning activity I planned went well and helped bring up questions other moms had. I was very happy with how the evening turned out.

We had one heck of a storm last night, around 1 am. It apparently knocked out the power for a bit and reset our clocks. Sean came in my room and woke me up, I looked at the clock and it said 4:10 am. I told him to go back to bed, it's too early to get up. Doug said, "No, its a quarter to eight. The sun's up already." Oh crap! We rushed around getting everyone ready. Only Doug was late for work, the boys got to school on time.

No school for Sean tomorrow or Friday, it's Parent-Teacher Meetings time. Doug and I meet with Sean's teacher at 6:30 then we are going to go to the Family Fun Night at Aidan's school. Busy evening!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Today is a Big Day for Me

After six continuous years of breastfeeding, eighteen months of making time to read and learn the information I need to help others, and after making the commitment to represent the philosophies of La Leche League International; this evening I will be hosting my first meeting as an accredited LLL leader. I am excited and have a touch of stage fright, but feel confident in my ability to help others, as leaders in my past have helped me.

I first heard of La Leche League when I was pregnant with Aidan. My mother-in-law told me that when she needed help learning to breastfed Doug, she turned to LLL and found they helped her tremendously. She said, “They were such a nice group of ladies! I was so glad to have their help.” I had a friend due just before me with her first child and we decided to check out a meeting together, each offering the other moral support. I don’t know what I expected before my first meeting, or if I had any pre-conceived ideas. I guess I just thought of it like a child birth class- a place you go to learn how to do something than you never need to go again. A one-stop-shop for breastfeeding basics.

When we arrived, the room was full of mothers, babies and toddlers. The group had snacks for everyone, books you could check out and the moms gathered in a circle. Everyone went around the circle, introducing themselves and their children. The group leader had a daughter that was about 18 months old at the time. Petite, quiet little girl who kept popping up at her momma’s side and slip into her lap for a quick nursie before trotting away to play some more. I remember being surprised that a child “that old” was nursing. I thought breastfed babies weaned at 1, just like when bottle-fed babies are supposed to switch to cups. I’ve learned a lot since then!

I can’t remember what series topic the group discussed or even if there was a planned agenda. I just remember moms asking questions about what they were concerned about and other moms and leaders offering information or support. I watched with interest as mother’s fed their babies, the ease many of them seemed to have. There was a young toddler named Aidan that kept asking his mom, “Want grapes. Please!” His mom had to keep telling him “No grapes, makes your tummy hurt.” I guess he was grape-intolerant.

The leaders asked if I had specific questions and I don’t think I did, I just was there to soak up info. Before I knew it, the meeting came to an end. The leader gave me a folder with some sheets about latching on and other newborn info. She gave me her card and said to call if I needed her after my son was born. I was invited back to attend as many meetings as I could before the birth and after. I left feeling like I had found a nice place to meet moms and get help if I had any questions later.

I didn’t realize that night how much help I would need from LLL or how much the group would grow to mean to me.

I had difficulties nursing Aidan and the LLL leader came to my rescue. She made a home visit when he was just 4 days old. I felt comfortable with her, she explained our complications in ways that made sense to me and helped me figure out how to work past them. She encouraged me to continue working at our issues and gave me confidence that I could reach my goal of comfortably exclusively breastfeeding my son. I went to meetings to continue to get support, information and companionship. Gradually I changed from the new mom that had no experience and needed so much support, to the mom that could offer support and some experience.

When Sean was born, I was faced with new challenges in my breastfeeding experience. I was positive that he would also be breastfed and that it was the best choice for him. Here is a link that explains why it is so beneficial to breastfed a baby with Down syndrome. It took us a long time to achieve exclusive breastfeeding, but was certainly worth the effort.

In the past six years, I have learned so much about breastfeeding and how it relates to other aspects of my mothering. I had given thought to becoming a leader, but wasn’t sure if I was needed as one in our community. Luckily, my group leaders were having the same thoughts themselves at the time and approached me about making that decision. It took me awhile to get through the education process required for accreditation, but it gave me time to carefully think about why I was doing this and what I hoped to achieve.

I originally set a goal of completing the accreditation process before Eleanor’s birth, but didn’t get everything wrapped up until she was a couple weeks old. I was immediately “throw in the fire” so to speak with a call from a new mother that needed a home visit to help her with latching on her newborn.

I had come full circle. From lost mother to guiding mother. Tonight I will lead my first meeting, and hope that I too can spark the desire and confidence to breastfeed in another new mom, as well as offer her a place she feels comfortable and welcomed.

A special thank you today, to the three people who’s breastfeeding experiences mean the most to me:



and Eleanor

I love you, babies!

Monday, October 20, 2008

So I had this dream last night...

that woke me in a state of panic: heart racing, sweaty and wide awake.

I dreamt that I went to my friend Mandi's house to pick up Eleanor's first pair of longies. When I was leaving her house, I stepped on the brake and the brake pedal broke off. The van wouldn't stop at all. In my dream, Mandi lived on a cul-de-sac so I kept turning the wheel and circling the cul-de-sac while trying to figure out if I could still step on some bit of the brakepad post and stop the car. The car kept increasing speed as I circled, so I started getting really worried that I was going to crash the van.

I saw a hill to the right of her street and thought "If I go up the hill without hitting the gas, the van has to slow down." I turned up the street and began climbing up the hill.

I looked to my left and saw a cop parked on a side street, so I rolled down the window and started screaming "Help! Help! My brakes are out!"

I turned on my hazard lights to attract his attention and warn other cars. I continued to yell for help & the cop turned on his sirens and pulled up next to me.

I had tears running down my face and yelled that my brakes wouldn't work and I didn't know how to stop the van. Just as he started telling me how to get it to stop, I woke up.

After my heart stopped pounding, I lay there trying to figure out logically how you would stop your vehicle in this case. I guessed that maybe you could put it in neutral and pull the emergency brake. Eventually I was able to convince my brain that I probably would not ever need to know this as it is highly unlikely that a brake pad would just snap off and I went back to sleep.

Nonetheless, I was still thinking about it this morning, so I Googled it and found that there are actually webpages out there to teach you how to do this! Isn't the internet amazing?! So incase, you also want to learn how to stop a moving car withou brakes, read this.

I was close on several aspects, just using my common sense. Or maybe I was told all this in junior high driver's ed class and it somehow seeped into my mind as I snoozed though one of those film lectures.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ladies Day Out

Posting from Nana's house....

Ella had her first professional photo shoot today. Nana, Aunt Tanya, and I took her to get some photos done in her baptismal gown. Unfortunately, the ones where she had her fancy dress on did not turn out so well- she kinda had stage fright. Once she had a little nursies and wardrobe change she gave us some nice photos. Of course, I found plenty to buy out of our brief session.

The ladies went to lunch then headed back to the house of boys. Doug spent the day in the sun working on the deck. His neck is redder than Rudolph's nose and he says he's feeling pretty sore. One more day of hard labor before we head home.

Hope all is well in your weekend!

Friday, October 17, 2008

"That Down Syndrome Smell"

Phew, got some sleep last night and am feeling better today. Too bad I have a ton to do, need to finish laundry and pack up for the 5 of us to go visit Nana and Papa today. Doug and Papa are taking on construction of Papa's deck. Yikes! Not another giant project!

Wednesday, Doug decided to go see Aidan at school and have lunch in the cafeteria with him. Guess he had a hankering for mystery meat. Unfortunately, he didn't call early enough to get added to the lunch count, so he couldn't eat but was welcomed to sit with Aidan. Doug arrived a bit early and was waiting in the lunch room for Aidan's class. He saw kids from the special needs resource room enter the cafeteria first. As he was standing there, a young girl with Down syndrome came up to him and gave him a hug. He said "Hello! Are you ready for some lunch?" She smiled and said yes. Then, a young boy with Down syndrome came up to Doug and hugged him also. Doug smiled and told him hello as well. He watched them get their food and sit down to eat. He said he was surprised to see that the teachers and paras did not assist the kids with eating, they all tackled it on their own. He laughed as he saw the little boy with Ds pull his hamburger apart, then sit there just licking the patty. Must be a ketchup fan like our Aidan.

Finally, Aidan's class arrived and Aidan was so surprised and excited to see Daddy at school. He had Daddy sit between him and his friend Janae. All the kids told Aidan it was cool that his dad was there, one boy said "That's not fair! My daddy never came to have lunch with me!" I have a feeling that several kids reported back to their parents Wednesday night.

SO, yesterday, Sean's preschool teacher made a home visit. The preschool kids get one home visit a semester and love having their teacher come to the house to see them. Sean gave her his "Uncle Tom whistle" (he puts his fingers by his mouth and tries to whistle like his Great-Uncle Tom did), he told Miss R to "Come on!" and dragged her around the house.

I told her about Doug's trip to Aidan's school and how neat it was that the two kids with Ds singled Doug out for hugs. She said, "You know, I always have toddlers come up to me when I go places. I tell the parents it's because I'm a preschool teacher and have Preschool Smell on me. You guys must have that Down syndrome smell on you!"

I hope so. :) I love meeting the angels amongst us.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

5 AM is not Pretty

I'm dragging today. Eleanor woke up at 5 with the squirmies and toots. I gave up trying to get her back to sleep and we came downstairs to avoid waking the others. After a diaper change, nursies and burps she finally went back to sleep at 6 AM. No point in me going back to bed then, since the boys get up at 7. So I read up on some blogs then tried to rest on the couch for a bit.

Sean is out of school today and tomorrow, so momma needs to find that energy boost soon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

21 New Facts about Sean

I noticed some of my blogger friends made updated lists on this topic from last year, so I decided to follow suit. I am such a sheep. Here is the list from last year. Some things remain the same (like all of the eating issues, sigh) but there are new things too.

1. Sean's vocabulary has really increased this year. He is usually willing to try to repeat words you say, though they do not always come out clearly. He calls more people by their name now, which Uncle Curt appreciates.

2. Sean's a little water boy. He had so much fun this summer whenever he could get in a pool. He dunks his head underwater and tries to hold his breath.

3. He can drive the PowerWheels Jeep in forward and reverse, but doesn't steer too great yet, so watch your shins! He also likes trying to ride the trike.

4. He's can walk up and down stairs while holding on the the rail or steadying himself with a hand on the wall. He's still timid about going down them, but is getting braver. Maybe the seat of his pants will stop getting so worn out now!

5. He is very interested in using the potty but hasn't gotten his body signals worked out yet. He is finally tall enough that he can try to pee standing up. :)

6. He discovered at school that he likes apple juice. We just drink water or milk at home, so juice is a new treat for him.

7. He drinks very well and (mostly) responsibly from a straw cup. He drinks well from an open cup or water bottle, too, but tends to dump the remaining liquid out asap after taking a sip. Therefore we stick to straws and lids.

8. He will not drink milk unless it's in a sippy cup. He tends to throw those after he's done, so it's a good thing they don't spill.

9. He's a budding actor. He loves to act out his favorite scenes in his movies. One of his favorite movies is Ice Age and he acts out large chunks of it amazingly well!

10. He also loves to shake his booty. He dances along with the tv or stereo. He likes to watch his reflection when he dances- either in the tv, glass door, or dining room mirror. If you block his view of his performance, he will tell you "No, no, no" and move you out of the way.

11. He has two favorite songs: Queen "We will Rock You" and the Spongebob Squarepants Movie song "Goofy Goober Rock" with a drop in from Diamond David Lee Roth. Sean plays a hot air guitar solo for each of these songs.

12. Another new talent is singing. He is slowly throwing in words to songs he knows. He especially likes some of the ones they use at preschool to teach things, like The Days of the Week and Who Let the Alphabet Sounds Out.

13. Sean is starting to teach his baby sister sign language. He moves her arms to try to make her sign things like "more" "bye bye" and "cow".

14. Sean likes all kinds of animals. His recent favorites are monkeys. He still loves elephants, cows and dogs too.

15. Seeing his parents and brother at the computer so much has sparked Sean's interest in them too. When Aidan plays a game, he shows Sean a button to push to make a certain action occur (like jumping) and lets Sean be in charge of that button. Sean likes to play Polar Bowler, but usually ends up with all gutter balls.

16. Sean can now make the thumbs up sign and, conversely, the thumbs down sign to which he adds the verbal "boo! boo!" This comes in handy while playing computer games.

17. Who says white boys can't jump? Not Sean! He clears both feet off the ground now and gets a good 4" of gravity defying bounce when he jumps. He loves to jump, too, will jump several times in a row whenever he sees something jump.

18. Sean still loves The Wiggles and can identify all of them. He also loves The Backyardigans and can identify them as well.

19. He is beginning to recognize more letters and knows some colors. He recognizes his written name and when I say "Sean lets write your name. S E A N." He makes separate marks for each letter as I say it and tries to spell it with me. His writing is still very scribbled but he can make lines and circles now.

20. Sean likes to take showers and identifies them with Daddy. When he wants to shower, he gets in the shower, does the bath sign and says "Daddy?" He sees Daddy take a shower every morning while I get the kids ready for school. I take my showers while he is at school so I guess he thinks I don't bathe much since he only sees me shower on weekends.

21. Sean continues to grow into the most beautiful little man, with gorgeous long eyelashes, stunning blue-green eyes, and the sweetest kisses. I look forward to seeing what new things he learns and loves in the next year!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Pitiful Sight

Or should I title this, Down Syndrome, Poor Balance and Siblings Make for a Rough Childhood?

My poor sweet baby boy Sean took a bad fall last night. Aidan and Sean were playing in the back yard, I was sitting just inside the door with Ella. Aidan came running inside and said, "Sean tripped on the sidewalk and fell down! His nose is bleeding!" I laid Ella down & rushed outside. Sure enough, Sean's face and hands are covered in blood and he is crying. I carried him inside and washed off his hands and face. I saw that it wasn't his nose bleeding, but rather several scrapes on his face, the worst one just under his nose. His mouth was bleeding too, probably his gums or upper lip. I called for Doug to come check it out. Oh, the blood! Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing my babies hurt.

So while Doug and I are trying to check things out and comfort Sean, Aidan has a break down! He cries, "No, it isn't true! I did it! I did it! I hurt Seanie!" I asked him what happened. He said, "Sean took one of my papers and ripped it up so I pushed him and he fell on the cement." Aidan's crying almost as much as Sean. I see blood on Aidan's collar. I pointed it out to him and he said "I tried to hug Sean after he fell and said I was sorry but he pushed me away."

A two part problem here. 1) Sean does have a terrible habit of ripping or crumbling up Aidan's drawings. Actually, he does that to just about any drawing, including his own. He doesn't get that they are special to someone else and it hurts their feelings when he destroys them. 2) Aidan easily forgets that Sean isn't so steady on his feet like he is and a little push will topple Sean over.

I am well aware that siblings will fight, and it's unlikely that they won't ever injure each other. I had two sisters growing up and we did our share of shoving and hitting behind our parents' backs. Doug and his brother are just 15 months apart in age and were rough at times to each other. His brother wears a few scars on his face thanks to Doug.

We have tried to teach Aidan that his brother can't play as rough as Aidan can, that he isn't as strong as him yet. Sean loves to rough house with Aidan and most of the time it's mutual fun for them. Usually Aidan is not physically aggressive towards his brother, generally he does stuff to annoy Sean rather than hurt him.

This time, we reminded Aidan that Sean isn't very steady on his feet and he can't push Sean because Sean can fall easily. Technically, I think Sean falls over easily because of his low tone. Even while standing, his body his so relaxed that his balance is easily shifted. We also told Aidan that we are sorry that Sean tore up his paper, but that isn't a reason to hurt him. To be fair, we reminded Sean that it isn't nice to tear up Aidan's pictures, they are important to him and Aidan works hard on them.

Sean forgave Aidan rather quickly, gave everyone hugs and kisses back, as I had been snuggling and kissing on him. Aidan beat himself up about it for quite awhile and drew a picture showing how he felt about it. It depicts Sean standing by the playhouse with blood on his face and me coming to help Sean. He drew himself standing by Sean and next to a tombstone (thanks, Walmart, for your Halloween displays) with his name on it. He said, "this is were I am going to be because I am going to be dead for hurting Sean." I told him that we were not going to hurt him, no one was, that we don't want to see any of our kids hurt and we need to protect each other from getting hurt.

Later, I was catching up on everyone's Sunday blog posts and saw that several of us have some ouchies to share. Some caused by that darn lack o' balance, others caused by siblings.

Snuggles & Blood at Unringing the Bell

Naughty Keeghan at My Special Ks

Max's Black Eye at Life with 4 Kiddos

So I am not alone! Phew!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sean the Episcopalian

Every Sunday that we can, we bravely take our trio of kids to church. Our church has a children's service that runs upstairs during the adult service, but Aidan and Sean are not willing to go up there without one of us. Sometimes Doug or I will take them upstairs while the other enjoys the service downstairs. Usually we just sit in a pew near the back and hope to keep them quiet enough to last through the service.

The boys have made a several adult friends at church, one in particular is a lovely woman in her late 60's/ early 70's named Jen. Jen always is eager to see the kids and chats to them. She makes sure Aidan gets his fill of brownies at coffee hour afterwards.

Today, Aidan asked to sit with Jen at church, armed with a coloring page and color pencils. She sits in the row right behind us, so it was no problem to keep an eye on him. Soon enough, Sean wanted to join them. She was so good with him, reading him stories, helping him color. He flirted with her and the ladies in the row behind her. When the priest came down the aisle to shake hands and say "peace be with you", Sean extended his hand like a gentleman. Eventually he wandered back up to me, passing another boy on the way. He reached over the pew and rubbed the little boy's head in a fond, puppy way.

When it was time to go up for communion, Sean led the way, smiling and saying hi to everyone. Since Sean doesn't eat table foods, we don't allow him to take communion for fear he'd throw it or do something inappropriate with it. Unfortunately, he is determined to try to get this little round item that everyone else it getting. He stands there, ever so patiently, with his hands cupped. I try showing him to hold his hands folded in prayer instead, but he insists on extending his hand to receive. Luckily our priest knows that Sean isn't ready to receive yet, so he just shakes Sean's hand then says a prayer while touching Sean's head. Sure enough, when Father M moves on, Sean states "Me? Me?" while still extending his hand. I say a quick prayer with him, then guide him back to our seats.

I wonder what to do, am I doing the right thing by not letting him try to take communion? It's possible that he might actually put it in his mouth, as he seems so eager to follow what he sees everyone else doing. He has been taking a few small bites of food at school (but won't for us) so he *might* swallow it. My fear is that once it's in his mouth he will realize he doesn't want it and spit it out in front of the whole congregation. It's not like I can get one to give to him in private to see how he'd react.

I feel so bad for him about his food issues. I can see that he wants to be a part of the social aspects of eating but is just afraid to try. He loves to follow along a buffet line. Today he waited in line at church (by himself, I was sitting with E and Doug was talking to someone) for a piece of cake. He got his plate with a big chunk of cake on it and gingerly walked to our table. Part of me watched him with pride, he was so careful and looked so grown up. The other part of me thought, "people are going to think we are being wasteful, they have seen that he never eats here." When he got to the table he gave the cake to Aidan, cutting off bites with a fork and trying to feed it to Aidan. He even offered a forkful to Ella. I pray every week that he will make this leap past his food issues and move forward.

Sean has made his own place in our little church community, just as Aidan has. It delights me to see them welcomed and wanted equally. I grew up with church as an important part of my life, as did Doug, and I can't help but think ahead of today about how the boys will grow in our church. Eventually, they will be able to settle down and pay attention to the service. Eventually, they will sing and pray along with us. Eventually, Sean will eat that piece of cake himself, just as he will receive communion. I have faith that God will help Sean reach these goals, just as He will help guide all of us.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So remember how I knocked that spare tire off?

No, not the one around my waist, that one's still there. ;)

The one on the car. Turns out, those are pretty handy to have.

Thursday afternoon, Doug pulled up to the school to pick up Aidan and whacked the crap out of the front tire on a curb. He hit that sucker so hard he popped a hole in it! Talk about impressing the teacher. Since Mommy knocked the spare off the van, Doug and Aidan had to walk home to get it. Our house is only a few blocks from school, but Doug drives from work to get Aidan because I have to stay home with the napping youngins.

Doug gets the tire and walks with it back to the car. After awhile, he returns to get various other tools because he says he can't get the hubcap off. He thinks he needs a pry bar. This worries me. I don't think you are supposed to use a pry bar to remove a hubcap. I ask him to please look in the owners manual before he attacks the car.

For once, he took my advice. Seems there is an easy way to get the hubcap off without using brute force. He gets the tire changed, then drives home to clean up. By now it's after 5, but he goes back to work for another hour or so.

He made an appointment for Friday evening to get a new tire on the van. Of course, you can't buy just *one* tire. They won't be balanced and will pull to the side, so we have to buy two tires. Fine. We also ask them to check the alignment because I assume it's out of whack after that beating.

Doug, the kids and I wandered around the mall a bit while we wait on the repairs. Sean loves this toy shop that has these plush animals that walk. They have an elephant one that rears his head back and trumpets. So Doug and Sean hang out in there and Aidan, Ella and I pop in to the shoe store across the hall. I'm not finding anything I like, but Aidan sees a pair of patent leather red stiletto ankle boots. He rips off his shoes to try them on. I said, "Aidan, those are for girls." He replied, "I don't care! They are AWESOME!" He gets them on, stands up and falls over after two steps. Guess those won't be his new favorite rock boots.

I convince him to put his drag queen desires on the back burner so I can head over to Dillards to look for a pink shirt for Sean. I swear I am not trying to turn all my kids into girls. Sean's class is learning about colors and they have to wear certain color shirts on certain days. One day is Pink Day. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a pink shirt for a boy in October? I had no luck at Dillards, so we headed back to get the van.

After picking up some dinner, we drove home. Do you think Doug made sure to park far from the curb? Hell no! He ripped right up against it and Aidan and I both gave him a hard time about it. Poor van!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm a Kick Ass Blogger???

Kick Ass Blogger Award

I was awarded this title and inducted into the Kick Ass Blogger Club by Jennifer at Elliot's Nest. I'm honored she feels that way, especially when I am feeling like I have stuff I'd like to blog about but don't have time to organize my thoughts and writing. You know, like when I am laying in bed nursing Ella at night, wishing I was sleeping instead of pseudo-writing posts in my head. Thanks for enjoying what I do get time to share!

Now, the rules:* Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are "Kick Ass Bloggers"* Let 'em know in your post or via email, twitter or blog comments that they've received an award* Share the love and link back to both the person who awarded you and back to Mammadawg, the inventor of this award.* Hop on back to the to sign Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ Mr. Linky then pass it on!

I'm sure some of these blogs have already been nominated, but I'll pass it on again:

Melissa at Banana Migraine
Jenny at Life with 4 Kiddos
Kim at What Charlie's Up To
Sarah at Class of 08
Susan at Aloha Life, cuz I LOVE your photos!

An Oldie but Goodie

Last night, while up late begging Ella to, I popped in on the Gifts website. I came across the page that has photo montages by the contributors. One I made for Sean was on that page and I watched it again. I hadn't watched that one in a long time. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it has been viewed 800 times since I made it! I thought I'd add it here in case anyone else wanted to reminisce about Sean's first 18 months of life.

My favorite one I made, it actually has had even more views- over 1000, is a collection of photos and video showing Sean progress to walking. This one is over a year old now. Man how time flies by!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why Blog?

Today I will answer another one of RK's Random Questions.

1. Why did you start to blog (either your own or reading mine!)?
I originally started my blog so that I had a blogger ID to use to reply on friends' blogs. When the first 31 for 21 challange started, I decided to make my blog public and start writing. I think it's an easy way to keep my long-distant relatives up to date and also a way to speak out on things I am thinking about.

I started ready Just RK during last year's challange and enjoy it so I keep on reading. :)

2. How many hits do you get in a day, if you have a blog and a SiteMeter or something like that?
I have a map feature that I added last spring and it says I get about 20-25 a day. I'm over 10,000 views now, so that's cool. I'd love to have a SiteMeter like Renee has. I love her Google Search posts!

3. If you lost your ability to read blogs or post on you blog today, what would you miss most?
I would dearly miss reading and seeing photos of my blog friends! I have laughed and cried so many times in the past year over something I read in a blog. If I couldn't blog myself, I would miss the ease of sharing stories and photos with my family. I don't like doing mass emailing updates because I never know if someone wants all that info or not. This way they can read if they'd like to.

4. What is something you've learned from another blog that you'll always remember?
Most recently I learned about apraxia from Emily at Wonderbabe. Sean's gaining vocabulary but it is slow, so I like to learn more about speech development. I learn new things daily, though, from bloggers!

If any of my blogger friends want to answer these questions, send me a link so I can read your replies and send the link to RK, too.

Eleanor's 2 Month Check Up

Just a quick update on baby E. Yesterday I took her to the doctor for her well-child visit. My chunka monkey is 12 lbs 4 oz and 23 1/4" long. She is just growing too fast! Our doctor said that she is doing great. I brought up the red mark on her eye and the doctor said it appears to be a Capillary Hemangioma. She said usually they are harmless birthmarks, but because of the location on Ella, we will need to watch it's growth to make sure it doesn't obstruct her vision. The usual treatment for this type of birthmark is to do nothing, they grow the first 10 months of life, then begin to shrink and eventually disappear. However, if it becomes a problem, there is oral steroid treatment to shrink it or when she is older it might be able to be removed with laser therapy. Steroid treatment causes irratibility and sleeplessness, laser therapy is painful. If it becomes a problem, we would have to see a pediatric dermatologist at Children's hospital in KC.

Of course, when I got home I looked up info online to learn more about it. One of the things I read is that while it may not cause physical damage to her, it may cause psychosocial issues. Feelings of insecurity about her appearance and self-consciousness. I can already see how this is possible because in the past 6 weeks that it has been visible, it is rare that a day goes by without someone commenting on it. Children at Sean's preschool are always saying "Your baby scratched her eye! Her eye is bleeding!" I'm sure it won't bother her as a baby, but if it is prominent as a toddler I imagine she will understand questions and comments about it.

If you have had a child with a similar birthmark or had one yourself, can you tell me about your experience?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

She's One Chatty Momma!

Renee at My Special Ks is celebrating her one year anniversary of blogging. She has written over 500 posts in a year! Wowsers! She's doing a gift basket giveaway to celebrate her anniversary, so go check it out!

It Never Ends

Laundry, the beast that tries to consume my life! After taking two days off of my washboard and rocks chore, I am now fighting seven rounds with the beast. I thought it would be fitting to answer Just Rk's Random Questions while I sift through the mountain.

1. Who does the laundry in your house?
Ha ha ha! You are kidding me? You mean there's another option besides moi?

2. Are you/or they a sorter? What's your system?
Yes, I am a sorter. In fact, I devised a sorting system when we moved into our current house 3 yrs ago. In the upstairs landing, I have 3 large canvas hampers along the wall. One for colors, one for whites, and one for darks. I put it there with the idea that everyone could sort their own clothes into the correct hampers as they undress. Well, apparently the clothes can't make it allllllll the way from the bedroom to the hamper so they lay on the floor until mommy carries them to the hamper. Now that we have a little one in the house, with her tiny little items, we have a forth hamper for just her things, in her room. Of course, I also have a separate diaper hamper next to the changing table.

3. Do you fold at the dryer? Dump on the couch? Not fold at all?
I fold at the dryer because if I were to attempt to sit down and fold a basket of clothes, Mr Sean would be sooooo much help I would get the luxury of doing it twice. I don't fold Doug's shirts or socks. Shirts get hung up and socks get stuffed in the dresser drawer. I detest folding socks more than anything in the world.

4. Do you have any "laundry quirks"? Things that *can't* go in the dryer, dry in a specific manner, hung on a specific hanger, only get washed by hand--no matter what the care instructions say?
Doug has laundry quirks that I try to accommodate. Being as tall as he is, it is hard to find shirts he likes and fits. We have to make sure they don't get over dried in order not to shrink. Of course, he still accuses me of shrinking his things. Also he likes certain shirts folded in a certain way which is not the way I fold my folded shirts. I also fold the boys shirt in a third way because that's how they fit best in their dresser. All these methods apparently make it impossible for anyone but me to remember and recreate.

And my cloth diapers get very special washing routines and folding/sorting so I don't even attempt to teach anyone else.

5. Do you have any great tips for stain removal?!? Please share!
My favorite tip is sunning out stains. You wash the item as you usually would, then lay it out or hang it outside to dry in the sun. It's like voodoo magic, the stains disappear! However, Aidan is my chocolate ice cream addict and his ice cream drips require a scrubbing with Shout gel prior to washing.

Fascinating post, isn't it? :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Eleanor's Baptism

Just sharing a few photos of her special day. She was such a good girl for the service and rite. She didn't cry until we put the heirloom baptismal vestment on, and even then she only cried briefly. What a doll!

Buddy Walk Recap

Ahhh, what a day. What a huge event this year's Buddy Walk was! The group hasn't released final head count, but it was well over 1000 walkers. It has grown so fast, which is wonderful, from the 500 walkers that attended the first one we went in Wichita 2 years ago.

Unfortunately, Sean did not handle the large crowd so well this year. He was frustrated, overwhelmed and pretty uncooperative for the walk part of the day. Although, I must say, this is the first year that he was actually willing to walk during the walk. Maybe only short bits of it, but he did give it a go a few times. Uncle Curt suggested we change our team name from Strolling with Sean to Carrying Sean. Luckily, Aidan did much better this year, thanks to his cousin Adam. I thought I'd be carrying Ella most of the day, but I guess I forgot that it was highly unlikely I'd hold her much all weekend thanks to her two aunts, cousin Kari, and grandmas.

After the walk portion, we trudged thru the long line for lunch. Sean and I made a potty break while Doug made a plate for me and Sean found his lunch on the bathroom floor: an empty TP tube! I originally let him play with it as a horn, but after awhile he decided it made a better snack than instrument.

Aunt Ann was the only lucky winner in the basket raffle this year, she won a shape-sorter cookie jar that she gave to Sean. Tanya's friend Joan, who flew out from NY to attend the walk, tried her best to win a basket this year. Sadly, she ended up with just a cramped hand from filling out the tickets. Darn! I was crossing my fingers for her, too.

Eventually we made our way home and enjoyed a relaxing evening at home with the family. Sean had more fun playing at home with his cousins than he did at the walk, but I am still glad we went. Thank you to everyone who joined us this year, in person and and thoughts. We enjoyed sharing the time with you.