Sunday, November 27, 2011

Snuggled in Round the Christmas Tree

The family rolled out of town yesterday, leaving the three of us to enjoy the gorgeous day.  Excited to be able to get outside without major rain gear, we decided to start the first of our Christmas traditions as a family of three.

This is the ninth Christmas that Nick and I have shared together and the third since we've been married.  Although both of our families growing up waited until December got going to start celebrating Christmas, he and I like to get it going early.  Especially since we have seldom spent the holidays at our own place.  But we usually head to a lot to get a pre-cut tree.   Not this year.  We decided to go on a drive out of town to a tree farm to cut our own tree.

Our little outdoor enthusiast was certainly up to the challenge.

After some walking around we found our perfect tree.  A "natural" noble, not too full or bushy, but not quite a "Charlie Brown" tree either, I'd say it's our best tree yet.  And my own handy man cut it down himself by hand, despite the guy with the chainsaw at the ready.

After carrying the tree back, we stopped at the farm house to enjoy a cup of cider and make some Christmas ornaments for Cora.

Yes, classy, I know.

Luckily I am a fan of trees decked with multicolored lights and an eclectic selection of ornaments.

Today our rainy Northwest weather is again beating against the windows, and we are snugged in from the damp, listening to the "Baby it's Cold Outside" station on Pandora, cleaning up the last of the messes from the holiday, dealing with leftovers and decorating the house.

A little wistful that the weekend is ending and that we'll be starting up our routines again tomorrow. But warm and happy and ready to start celebrating Cora's first Christmas season.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey, Turkey

The bread-winner... I mean bread-maker in the family.

Auntie Tara is so much fun!

Who knew hair could be this fun to play with!  Cora loves Auntie Ariel!

Thanksgiving snacking at its best.

Family and friends gathered round.

Cora's first turkey, and first meat.  She started with small pieces, then played with the drumstick.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


If you haven't seen this lovely Thanksgiving compilation post by Patti at A Perfect Lily, please go check it out. 

If you've ever wondered what kind of perspective having a child with Down syndrome can give to people, here's your sneak peak.

(You'll even catch a first-time viewing of us in one of our top secret Christmas photos...)

 Go check out Lilybird's blog for one of Cora's favorite posts.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Goofball

So I've been slacking a bit in the blogging department of late.  The funny thing is, I've been having so many thoughts running through my head, but have been a little too absorbed in the day-to-day to delve into anything.

Scrolling through the recent pics of Miss Beanie Girl, I've noticed that she's been a little bit of a Silly Goose.

In fact, I don't have many traditionally cute pictures of her at all.  What I have a lot of, is her making crazy, goofy, excited faces.

Next we have what I call her "Hailey" face, after this lovely little cutie that I like to read about.  (Obviously, Miss Hailey did it first.)  Her mama talks about her camera face, which you can see here.  This is Cora's version.

And lest we forget about the cute and sweet...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mama's Night Out

Tonight I had a much needed night out.  This is the third evening I've stepped away from my girl since she arrived.  The first was many months ago for a quick happy hour with some other new mamas, and the other out for a movie with my family while Nick stayed at home.

This evening was another mama's happy hour.  The restaurant was dark and loud and full of people, all of whom looked childless.  But that was probably because there were no kids out.  The food was great, although it took forever.  I guess you could say that the whole thing felt like the pre-baby days, in a way.  It seemed like a world apart from my typical reality.

The conversation touched on family, life changes, raising babies and transitioning into motherhood.  I met one of the mamas when we were both pregnant, due just two weeks apart.  We'd get together with a handful of other ladies for mocktails and brunches, prenatal swim classes and long conversations about something we really knew nothing about: becoming mothers.  The other two ladies have since joined our group, each of them with two small children at home getting snuggled into bed by their daddies.  We certainly had enough to talk about to keep the conversation flowing.

We reflected on how different our lives were a year ago.  How different our lives are than what we expected.  How much harder it really is than what we expected.

Although this may sound silly, I really like hearing that from other new moms, especially new moms whose children don't have Down syndrome.  It's nice to see how similar we really are.  Sure, I know there are some differences.  Our challenges may be a little different, but we are all challenged.  And it's nice to recognize that.

But I think the most poignant moment occurred as I was walking to my car.  Parked a few blocks away, I was excited to pop open my umbrella and make my way through the wind and the leaves plastered to the sidewalk as I walked under the streetlights.  Feeling a thrill of what I can only really call freedom, it was a moment where I felt so definitively "me."  That old friend, that "pre-baby me" was so independent.  She thrived on having time alone, on walking down the street with her arms swinging, purpose in her step.  And I felt that me as I walked down the street tonight.  I felt the me not weighted down by a diaper bag, not slowed down by buckling a baby in the car seat and folding the stroller into the trunk.  I felt that little lightning thrill of just walking down the street as myself, after having dinner with the girls, high on my escape from the responsibilities at home, if only for a couple short hours.  Exhausted as I was from the events of the day and my ongoing sleep deprivation, I let myself enjoy that moment of feeling so singularly like myself. 

But the other part of me got excited turning the key in the car.  As I drove down the street I imagined the little almost 16 pound bundle of sweetness tucked into her bed.  As I envisioned kissing those sweet little cheeks I started to smile.

And I was able to recognize me for the self that I am now.  Still me.  Still enjoying a few moments of independence.  But still excited to get back home to my girl.  Me as a Mom.  I like it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

That's What It's All About

The days are flying by.  The months too.  Cora turned 10 months old on Sunday and I can hardly believe it.

We've been busy with friends, appointments, naps and never-ending stuff.  Things are a little delirious around here lately.  We're still working on trying to get more sleep and are going to be exploring some medical reasons why Miss Cora is having such frequent night wakings.  We're going to check stuff out with the audiologist and ENT, maybe get a sleep study done, and go to a pediatric chiropractor who specializes in craniosacral and nutrition.  Cora's current chiropractor thinks it may be digestive, so we'll try and explore that.  But we have been blessed with longer naps in the last few days, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it continues.

My 10 month old girl has been a little joy lately. It's like her skills are exploding right now. Still somewhat reluctant to do much in the way of moving, she is now tolerating kneeling, and is doing better at moving herself down the crawling track.  We're working on upper body strength right now, since it seems a little lacking.  Last night she got majorly squirmy and for the first time tried to throw herself off my lap headfirst onto the hardwood floor.  She almost succeeded, but my reflexes kicked in right in the nick of time.

She's been doing some fun new things, like playing Peekaboo with a blanket (over her head and my head), using my finger to point to objects in her books, and sharing her toys with me (Last night she repeatedly put Sophie the Giraffe in my mouth, since thoughtful girl that she is, she thought that I would also want to chew on Sophie's legs).

She really is the sweetest girl ever, content to cuddle up in my arms and sweetly and softly sing to me with a brilliant gummy grin.  And she often mixes it up and shows us both just how loud she can yell.  Yet even that is sweet, since she gets so excited.

We're happy.  A little stressed and still quite sleep deprived, but happy.  We're excited to be planning for Nick's family to come here over Thanksgiving, and I've been busying myself with making lists and starting prepping in advance.

Happy.  And tired.  That's what it's all about.  

Foaming at the mouth.  Literally.  Life is just too darn exciting!

Tolerating having her knees tucked under her.  Big accomplishment.  Now would somebody just put her to bed?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pool Party and A Giveaway Winner

The pool is always party time for Miss Cora, so we go frequently.  It's a great place to get her to move in ways that she's reluctant to do on dry ground.  And she just has a ball.  We finally managed to bring the camera (and Nick) to capture her glee.

And the winner of the Ornament Giveaway, randomly picked out of a hat, is Laura from right here in Portland.  Laura, I'll be in touch with you to get the details for your ornament!  Thanks to all who commented and entered for my first giveaway.  I'll be having another giveaway soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So Big! Loving the Little Milestones.

This little girlie is impressing me daily.  I know, no big surprise there, right?

You want to know what she just started doing?  She's playing "So big!"  Now, it's modified, since she only wants to clap and play with my hands rather than hers.  Yesterday when I asked "How big is Cora?" she grabbed my hands and lifted them up in the air.  And she's done it consistently since then.

Also, today she took my hands but was trying something different, pushing them together oddly and looking at me expectantly.  It was then that I realized she wanted me to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider."  I then proceeded to have to sing it about 10 times, until I tuckered out and put her down for a nap.  I've also noticed that she is  now responding when I ask her (verbally and with a sign) if she wants milk. 

Now those of you with kids who are neurotypical may just think that's no big deal, that she should be doing those things at just short of 10 months old.

But the big deal of it is that until now I had no idea whether she was processing language or understanding me.  And that nagging little worry has been sneaking its way into my life.  So she takes longer to crawl and walk?  That's fine by me, since she'll get there and I know that.  But the unknown  is how she'll do cognitively.  We can expect a mild to moderate cognitive disability but for now it's still an unknown.  And that unknown stings a little, especially now that she is old enough that her delays in cognitive development are starting to show.

I had been getting a little worried about whether she was understanding spoken words.  She doesn't really mimic things that we say or sounds that we make, but she will mimic gross motor (for example:  if I splash in the bath or hit a pan with a spoon she will copy me.)  This gross motor mimicking is really important too, since it's a precursor to speech.  Children with Ds may not be ready to make sounds or mimic verbally but by having this kind of gross motor "conversation" we have the opportunity to take turns and to repeat one another.  It's like having a pre-verbal conversation and is a really important part of Cora's development.

But now I suddenly have a baby that seems to understand!  I know that kids with Ds usually understand much before they can verbally express (or even express with signs).  But I also know that we're working with a different kind of cognition, one that isn't likely to be as strong with auditory input, and one that may have difficulty with certain kinds of memory.  The fact that she can remember "So Big!" without me showing her shows that she is understanding and retaining that comprehension. 

Of course I don't know whether she understands the concept of big yet.  But I do know that when she hears those words, she knows the appropriate physical response.  And that is huge.

So I'm a little over the moon right now.  Happy that she is progressing and that she can demonstrate that to me.

It's intense, this whole process.  I always heard how extraordinary milestones are for the parents of children with Ds, simply because our children work so very hard to achieve them.  And because we wait ever so patiently (or not so patiently) for these same milestones.  So even the little ones seem huge.  If you have a child with Ds I'm sure you can understand this.  And if you don't, maybe it'll give you a little something to think about as you watch your own neurotypical kiddos develop and fly through milestones.

But today, I am proud of my little girl.  My so big, little girl.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Of Mended Hearts

This time of year it is natural to reflect on the things we are thankful for.

And today, I got to do just that with a visit to Cora's cardiologist.  She was last seen 6 months ago and had her heart surgery 7 months ago already.  Her doctor confirmed what he said the last time we saw him: that her repair is ideal and that she looks wonderful.  We don't go back for a year, and then probably every 5 years or so beyond that.

Quite the amazing transformation from the little pale baby who could barely eat or breathe.

And I am so so grateful to her cardiologist and to her incredible surgeon, and to everyone else who has cared for our girl.

I am also happy to report that Miss McKenzie, who had her own open heart surgery yesterday, is doing well. Her mother says that everything went very well with no complications, and that she is wiggling around today.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for this little sweetie.  Now we just hope that she continues to heal and recover with no significant hurdles along the way so that she and her family can head home soon.

No new cute pics since yesterday, due to our super busy day, so how about an oldie but cutie?  This one's from 4 month old Cora, just about 6 weeks after her surgery.  What a pretty girl...

And if you missed yesterday's post, you can still go there to leave a comment and be entered to win a super-cute customized Christmas ornament.  The winner will be announced on Friday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ornament Giveaway

I've been watching some great blog giveaways for months.  Miss Cora even won some adorable little barrettes from a giveaway at A Perfect Lily.

So I figure it's time for me to post a giveaway.  And since we're coming up on the holidays... how about an ornament, customized for your family?

My beautiful friend Christine has a lovely Etsy shop, This Fine Day, which specializes in handmade wooden pieces for weddings.  She mixes it up a little come Christmas-time and last year surprised us with this beautiful little piece, as we waited for Miss Cora's arrival.

Mommy To Be Ornament 
Mommy To Be Ornament- Can Be Personalized

So I was thinking that maybe one of you would like a similar ornament.  Whether you're expecting, have a new baby, or a small family (I imagine it may be challenging to create one with a LOT of kids, but I wouldn't put it past her...)

Wouldn't this be a sweet addition to your tree this year?  You can choose any of the ornaments from her shop.  She will customize with the year and your family or baby's name on the back. Like "Cora's First Christmas 2011," for example.

Baby's First Christmas
Finch Baby's First Christmas Ornament -  Can Be Personalized

And for those who want to place an order in time for the holidays, she's willing to give 20% off orders, if you apply the shop coupon code "corabean" in your order.  And if you prefer jewelry gifts, check our her jewelry shop, Teenie Birdie.

To enter, leave a comment on today's post.  I'll announce the winner this Friday.

And just for the cute of it, a little bit of the Bean for your viewing pleasure...

"Ha! Ha!  I tricked Daddy into taking me off my tummy!"

"Wait!  Where is that Daddy?  Is he hiding behind the camera?"

"Woo hoo!  This is way more fun than working out on the crawling track."

"Hey Daddy! I've got YOU figured out!"