Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Making The Rounds

We're having a fun and busy summer!  We have a lot of playdates with our awesome friends.  We try to keep things interesting by rotating through all the fun parks and places in our area!

One of our favorite places to visit is Soergel Orchards.  The last time we went there was to pick strawberries. It is a working farm, but they have so much to do there.  They have several stores (market, ice cream, antiques, and gifts), a petting zoo, and a fun wooden play area for the kids.  

My kids love to play in the wooden houses and pirate ship, climb on the wooden train and trucks, and they love to mine for gems! It's a nice change from regular playgrounds. Of course, it's even better with friends.  We recently met Jocie, Tyler, and Braden at Soergel's, and we had a great afternoon together!


We had so much fun!  We ended our trip by stopping in the market for candy and free train cookies. Dylan, Lexie, and Lily are already asking to go back!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Special Zoo Meetup

The hours following Liam's birth were some of the most difficult hours of my life.  Grant and I were left completely alone in a room, without our baby, and we were worried, exhausted, confused, and depressed.  There were so many unanswered questions and so many fears.  In a sense, we were grieving.

Grant turned to Google to read about Down Syndrome, while I turned to friends.

When Dylan was a baby, I connected with a group of moms online.  To this day, we stay connected.  I had the privilege of meeting several of them in person, and I wish I could meet all of them.  While we were sitting in that room, I told them all what was going on.  It was so difficult to write.  Within no time, my friend, Stephanie, put me in contact with a friend of hers who went through the same experience. 

Hearing from Troy didn't take away my pain, but it was comforting to hear her story and see pictures of her beautiful boy.  She was there for me when I was feeling completely alone in the world.  Later, hearing about Tobin's struggle to reach birth weight and her determination to keep nursing helped tremendously as I dealt with, and overcame,  the same issue. 

Troy put me in touch with her friend, Julie, who lives near me, and I got to hear her similar birth story as well.  She was the person who assured me that all my feelings after he was born were normal.  After we received the genetic test results, I publicly announced the news, and she added me to a Facebook group for DS families in my area.  I met some of the most wonderful families through that group!

A few weeks ago, Troy came to visit Julie, and I finally had the opportunity to meet my mentors!  We met up at the Pittsburgh Zoo, and another local family joined us.

We met on a Monday, so I was on my own, and I had an extra child with me.  Going to the zoo alone with 5 kids isn't as intimidating as it sounds, but I definitely didn't take as many pictures as I normally do!  My hands were full!

My crew was the first to arrive, so we renewed our family membership, took the elevator up to the zoo, and waited for the rest of the families to join us.


Troy, Julie, and their families arrived a few minutes after us, and it was so nice to meet them in person!  I could instantly tell just how wonderful they were.  Troy has 5 children and Julie has 4 children.  They have beautiful families! 

We sat down for lunch and got to know each other better while we waited for Kelly to arrive. 
Kelly showed up just as we were finishing lunch, so we headed off to see the animals!


Kelly, who is nearly ready to have her third baby, skipped out early.  She only lives 10 minutes away from me, so I hope to see her again soon!  Unfortunately, our fun was cut short, too.  Dark clouds settled above us, and the sound of thunder in the distance sent us running for the exit. 


We said our goodbyes in the rain. It meant so much to me to finally meet the women who were there for me during that difficult time and meet their truly amazing families.  Troy and Julie are beautiful women, inside and out, and I'm so thankful I got to meet Kelly, too!  I can't wait to see them all again!

Throughout the trip, I was amazed by their close, loving families.  We had just met, but the older boys held every door open for us, Troy scooped up Liam like she knew him forever, Troy's oldest sons held him, Dylan was captivated by Mae, Tobin, and Donovan, and the girls were so loving and motherly. The kids were well behaved and so nice to each other.  It was evident that these families are special.

 It was a wonderful day with new friends! The love these siblings have for each other and those around them is unbeatable!


I feel so blessed to know them and I can't wait to see them all again!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Liam at 10 Months

Dear Liam,

Well, it's here.  The day I was dreading. The day you hit double digits.  Your first year of life has been the fastest year of MY life! 


You are a blessing, a joy, and a gift.  Your beaming smile greets me every morning and instantly improves my mood. I adore your awesome baby toupee that often stands up in a faux-hawk, your bright blue eyes, your beaming smile, and your tiny toes. Your beauty takes my breath away and your smile serves as a constant reminder to enjoy life. 


 I am so proud of you, my sweet boy.  You are so strong and determined.  You always try with all your might.  You are so social and captivate everybody with your amazing smile and joy. When you are playing alone, you search the room with your eyes until you spot a loved one, and when you see them you smile so big!  Your joy and spirit is evident to everyone that is lucky enough to meet you.  You love life and you love the people that surround you!


The past 10 months have been quite a journey. It was very much unexpected, but I am so thankful to be on this journey with you and so blessed to be your mom!  


I love you with all my heart and soul, my sweet Liam.

Love, Mama


MILESTONES:  You mastered sitting on your own and you can stand for long periods of time!


TOOTH COUNT: NONE! Based on your drool factor, they're on their way!


COMFORTS: Nursing, having your back patted, riding in the car (you almost always fall asleep), chewing on your tongue, and being carried around in the Ergo.


FIRSTS:  Between 9-10 months, you celebrated your first Memorial Day, met some of your extended family members, went to the zoo for the first time, rode on a horse for the first time, and celebrated daddy on Father's Day.


EATING:  You still nurse several times a day.  You eat pureed foods twice a day and yogurt once a day. You self feed a few times a day with finger foods. You drink water out of a sippy cup and straw cup, but you prefer the straw cup.  That's okay, because your OT said straw cups are best for you because it helps with speech later on!


FAVORITE FOODS: Fruits, yogurt, sweet potatoes, cheese, pasta, homemade macaroni and cheese, puffs, and yogurt melts.  He's a big fan of eating grass, too! 


SLEEPING:  Ahhhh, sleep.  You sleep 12-14 hours at night, but it's very interrupted. You don't wake up, but you whimper and thrash around in your sleep. During the day, you still take 2-3 good naps and short naps on car rides. I really shouldn't complain, but your restlessness keeps me awake at night!


SOUNDS/WORDS: Mama, Dada, and tons of babbling! You love to blow raspberries...which is awesome during meals!


LIKES:  Taking baths, eating, nursing, playing in your jumperoo, playing with your friends and family, being carried in the Ergo, and swinging.


DISLIKES: Having your face wiped and getting water in your eyes.  


FAVORITE TOYS: Sophie the Giraffe, Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, Oballs, your generic music and lights boombox,  the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Bird Bath, and your toes.


NICKNAMES:  Miam, thanks to your big sister, Lily.


HEALTH: We are incredibly fortunate that you have excellent health!  Your laryngomalacia (floppy airways that caused you to squeak) went away, as the doctor predicted.  You have mild reflux, but it doesn't bother you.


EARLY INTERVENTION: You get OT once a week and PT once a week.  It's plenty for you! 


STATS: This is just an estimate, but I'm guessing 14 1/2 lbs and 28 inches based on the fact that you did grow a bit since your 9 month appointment!


WEARING: Size 1 diapers, some 0-3 month clothing, some 3-6 month clothing.


PERSONALITY: Happy, happy, happy.  That sums you up!!!