Friday, December 30, 2011

Favorite Photo Friday: My Cutie Girl

In keeping with my recent tendency for few words, I'd like to share some of my favorite photos from a photo shoot with Owls Eye Photography in October.  Although it was difficult, I kept them (mostly) under wraps until Christmas.  Here are my favorites.  With a subject this cute, it's not hard to see why.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Very Beanie Christmas

Whew. The season of excess and merriment has somehow come to a close. After leaving computers turned off, letting phones die without recharging and not touching the t.v. remote for several days, I am back to the land of the plugged in.

And oh, what a Christmas it was. Cora was a true party animal, loving up all the attention of her grandparents, aunts, uncles and little cousin. She played with paper and ornaments, got excited over new toys, blissed out in the hot tub, played dress up and had a ball. We ate way too much, cooked and cleaned for days, spent the whole time on "holiday schedule" and laughed harder than I have in ages.

There are some thoughts a-brewing and I'll post some of them soon, but for now, I want to just get some of the adorable cuteness out there.

Cora loving on her cousin Kai.  He is quite the inspiration for her with all his moving around.

These cousins got seriously spoiled for their first Christmas.  
But with all the loving silliness they gifted us all, it was well worth it.

One of my favorite plaid wearing families: Eri, Jon and Kai, 
celebrating their first Christmas as a family of three.

And of course, I have to include my little Beanie girl on Christmas morning, 
rocking her bedhead and mismatched headband with her polka dotted jammies, courtesy of the Christmas Faerie (who delivers new pajamas to all on Christmas Eve.)

One of her awesome fancy new gifts came from Favorite Auntie Erin, who gave her a selection of multi-colored silk scarves for play.  In my family, this means dress up AND peekaboo!  
Check out Cora's lovely fashion statement.
(Plus a bonus demonstration of her ridiculous flexibility-  Thank you ligamentous laxity!)

No holiday is complete without Santa's Elves.  Well, check out these little sweetie elves in their coordinated re-purposed sweater outfits, again, courtesy of Auntie Eri.

And, just for good measure, a glimpse of my beautiful nephew, Kai.

And one of my sassy little girl, giving the camera the eye while playing on my lap.

Yes, it was a holiday to remember.  Love to all my family that made it great.  Now just getting ready for the New Year and some first birthday celebrations.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


OK, so I'm not actually a slacker.  I am a busy mommy working part-time from home on less than ideal sleep, doing last-minute Christmas shopping and prepping and planning, and attending Christmas gatherings and parties.  So I've been kind of quiet on the blogging front, still.

I realized today that I haven't even snapped a picture of Cora in several days.  Wow.  I'm currently wrapping up the week and getting ready to head out of town tomorrow for my parents house, where I'll get to hunker down and celebrate Christmas properly, with holiday schedule (our code for putting something sinful in your coffee OR starting your day with a mimosa OR anything indulgent that can be safely explained by the holidays).  I'll be trying to get snuggles from my nephew Kai in between his efforts to learn to walk.  I'll be sitting in the hot-tub with my girlie (turned, of course, to a baby-appropriate temperature with Little Miss in a swim diaper to avoid any mishaps).  I'll be taking my husband out to a movie for his birthday, which will be an exciting "first this year" kind of event.

So with all that, I can't really guarantee how much I'll be posting.  Hopefully I'll be taking lots of pictures and feeling inspired.  If not, then please forgive me.

In the meantime, my slacker self will post these adorable Santa pics.  Yes, those of you on Facebook have already seen them, but for the rest of my blogger friends and for appropriate chronicling of Cora's first Christmas, I present:  The Little Beanie Girl with her first ever Santa.  And isn't he a jolly Santa Claus at that?  I am very impressed with the Northwest Down Syndrome Association Santa pics this year.  Very impressed, indeed.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas to all my bloggy friends. A little taste of our first family Christmas card.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another Year

Today I turn 34. Ah, birthdays...

As a child, I would make myself sick with excitement in the weeks leading up to my birthday.  I'd count down the days and the months with anticipation of something fantastical.  But, not surprisingly, that fantasy always left me hanging.  Every year I'd face disappointment and tears.  Because it could never live up to my crazy unfounded ideas about what my birthday should be.  Over the years I tried to scale back my expectations, but for some reason even that tended to jinx things for me.  No matter how modest the plans there has almost always been some level of disappointment.  Kind of embarrassing, really.  Always plotting a rush, as my father-in-law would say.

This year the plans are modest again, but already seem like they'll be much more fun. (Wait, is that me with too many expectations again?)  To start with, instead of trudging to the office I woke with the cutest little girl I've ever seen, snuggled into her soft little self and kissed her delectable cheeks.  After brewing my coffee and adding a little "holiday schedule" for proper merriment, I sat down to an elegant breakfast of Cheerios (for me and Beanie) and spoon-fed coconut yogurt into the silliest little face while she spat it back at me. 

My best friend Christine will be over soon to share the day playing with Cora, making lunch and just having some girl time.  Then tonight when Nick comes home, we'll snack on some of our favorite things (baguette, St. Andre cheese and olives) and head to Portland's Candy Cane Lane, picking up Thai food on the way home.  Sounds downright lovely.  Are my expectations too high? Am I bound to shoot myself in the foot and go to bed hating my birthday yet again, my silly pre-school ideas once again put to rest?  I guess we'll see.

But for now, I'm going to clean the yogurt off a pretty little face and get ready to enjoy the one thing that has brought me more joy than I'd ever thought possible:  my little girlie girl.  What a lucky, lucky mumma am I.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

11 months old

My baby is growing up... (sniff, sniff!)

I have an almost one-year old.  It's just shocking, really.  And she is getting bigger.  After almost 2 months of staying at the same weight, she's been starting to look a little doughy of late.  The cheeks are bigger, the chin hangs down, and her little Michelin man arms are getting rounder.  And the scale this morning said....  16 lb 10 oz! 

I spent a few minutes browsing online yesterday, which I seldom do anymore, since I am obsessed with blogs and trying to get work done.  But instead I read a an article that says that working moms are happier and healthier than SAHMs.  For some reason that just seems a little bit hard to believe.  It talks about how isolated and depressing being a SAHM is.  And it got me wondering whether this is really true for the majority of people, let alone for me.

I do agree that being a SAHM is a lot of work.  And hard work, despite the fact that it's not physically grueling or remarkably intellectually exhausting.  We don't get weekends and evenings off, of course, and since Miss Cora wakes up often and for prolonged periods throughout the night, I do too.  I get a little antsy for big people conversation here and there, and get tired of finding different ways to run through my list of Cora's therapies and developmental games.  But am I more depressed?

At my beautiful friend's Christmas party the other day, she remarked that I seem in a better mood and happier in general since Cora has arrived.  She's also said that Nick and I seem happier as a couple, too.   And that put a big smile on my face.  Even with the very little sleep and the extra stress that having a child "with special needs" is supposed to put on my life, one of the people who knows me best thinks I am happier.  And that makes me happy.

When I look at it, I am happier, though tired and often stressed.  Even though I fantasize about going to a movie sometimes, or getting to read in the middle of the day and ignoring the house and home for a while, I really am thrilled being Cora's stay at home mama.  To get to spend my days with the most amazing little person in the world really is the best job I can think of.

I leave you with an image from yesterday's fun activity.  Well, fun for me at least.  Cora tolerated it fairly well.  I think it may be a little premature to be experimenting with pigtails.  Granted, her hair is growing, but there's still not a heck of a lot to work with. 

Mummy's big girl!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Whirlwind Update

A week has passed with me essentially missing in action on the blog front.  Not for lack of adventures, but for lack of time.  So here's a bit of an update.

During this time, Miss Cora has had two doctor's visits, which is a record number since her recovery from heart surgery.   The visit to the audiologist was somewhat inconclusive.  There is likely a small amount of fluid, and perhaps some mild hearing loss in the lower register.  It's apparently hard to tell, both because her ear canals are so small that it makes some of the testing inconclusive, and also because she's still young enough that a lack of response to auditory stimulation could be either the result of hearing loss or just loss of interest.  Who knows? The audiologist told us it's probably not a concern for now.  We'll be going back in two months.  We know Cora can hear and she usually responds to sound, but sometimes she seems to choose to ignore my verbal attempts to get her attention.

We also went to the ophthalmologist, who says she's doing great.  She's still a bit farsighted, which is typical for babies of this age.  But her eyes work together well, her vision is the same in both eyes, and her nystagmus has dramatically improved.  Yay, Cora!

This week I had a little extra work on my plate, and my mom and sister came into town so that Nick and I could spend an evening out on the town for our birthdays (which are later this month).  It was the first time he and I have gone out together without Cora since she arrived, if you don't count going to and from the hospital in the early days (which I certainly don't).  Cora had tons of fun with her favorite Grammie and Auntie Mira, while Nick and I sipped adult beverages and got to see an acapella group sing. 

We also went Christmas shopping without buying anything, visited some great Portland eating establishments, and got to see Santa and some other cuties at the Northwest Down Syndrome Association Winter Social.  (I'm hoping to get the Santa pics in the mail any day now).

Cora definitely wants our pretty drinks.
 This weekend we've got a cookie swap and two holiday potluck parties.  It's that time of year, for sure!

Little Beanie seems to love this time of year.  She has already shared one of my own favorite Christmas activities:  lying underneath the tree.

And of course, you already saw the fruits of our Christmas coloring adventure.  She's loving on the Christmas music (she's fond of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"), but I think she especially likes her silly Mumma dancing around the house singing to her.

She has, to my selfish joy, started to choose me over most other people, places and things.  Daddy is still great, of course, but she's starting to reach for Mumma whenever I'm in sight.  No matter what kind of entertainment is going on, she seems to always save the best and most brilliant smiles for me.  And it makes me SO happy.  This little girl inexplicably seems to get cuter, funnier and more lovable on a daily basis.  (Even while continuing to keep us up every night).

Hopefully I will keep the posting up this month, in the midst of all the fun and bustle.  In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite silly girlie pics from the last few days.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Good Cry

A few days ago, driving in my car, switching radio stations to find songs that suit my mood, I heard a woman on the radio give her story of the day.  I'd heard her stories a few times before.  Always a little sappy, a little sweet, a little heartwarming.  Sometimes you'd roll your eyes just a little.

She started telling a story of a little boy at a pet store looking at puppies.  When the boy saw a puppy with a limp, he told the shopkeeper he wanted to buy that puppy.  The shopkeeper tried to talk the boy out of it, and when the boy insisted, he then tried to give the puppy away free.  But the boy wouldn't hear of it and insisted on paying full price.  The man went on to tell the boy that the puppy would never learn to run and jump and play.  Then the boy revealed the brace on his own leg.  He told the man that he didn't run so well himself, and that the puppy would need someone to keep him company and love him as he is.  The woman on the radio went on to talk about recognizing value in people, things and animals that may not seem, at first glance, to be perfect.  (Her version was scripted much better than my own.)

And even though I wanted to roll my eyes, I found myself crying.

...crying because I so want my daughter to be recognized as valuable.  And I know that it may be an uphill struggle.  I know that many people wouldn't have chosen a child not viewed as perfect, and that ultimately, with modern prenatal testing, more and more people will be getting the opportunity to make that choice.  And they'll likely be making that choice based on fear, without the benefit of witnessing the beauty, joy, love and value that can exist in that child.  At that moment, alone in my car, the thought was so raw and so painful.

I turned off the radio and cried.

And then strangely, my emotions shifted, and out of nowhere I was struck with a glimmer of my initial grief:  the grief that tore through me when Cora was born, but that I didn't allow to stay.  Shocked, but unable to hold it back, I let myself cry, all the while feeling like I was somehow betraying my girl.  Through my tears I questioned how I could be feeling grief over something I love so deeply.  If I feel sadness, how can I expect others not to fear what I have, or not to have pity, let alone to recognize what a gift my daughter is?  How could I reconcile this startling sadness with the overwhelming love I have for this child that I would walk through fire to choose again and again?

A few moments later a sense of peace came over me and I was struck with gratitude.  Gratitude of course, for my beautiful girl and for the pure joy that she brings to my life.  Grateful also that I was smart enough and humble enough to recognize something good when I delivered her on my living room floor.

But grateful too, for that small moment of sadness that I shared with myself alone at a stop light: for allowing my defenses to bend for an instant, to let in my own worries and fear and sadness, still recognizing that it doesn't negate my love.  It doesn't counteract my fierce desire to protect Cora or to share her beauty with the world.  It is just a small part of me now.  Maybe a part that I didn't know was still lingering.  But it's a part I can accept for a little while at least, knowing that it'll get smaller every day, as it's eclipsed by my daughter's smile.

Now THIS is pure joy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Colors of Christmas

As an adult I've developed a Christmas tradition that I love.  Coloring.  With crayons.  In a coloring book.

Years ago, I spent the holiday season with a wonderful friend, who shared this tradition with me.  Each year she would buy a Christmas coloring book and a jumbo box of crayons.  And she would try to complete the entire coloring book that season.

Well, I have not been nearly so successful.  This could be because I bought a Jumbo Coloring Book.  But this is the 11th year with my Christmas coloring book.  It lives in a box I created, covered in Christmas fabric and complete with a two BIG bags of crayons.  Each year I pull it out and color.  And I invite all my friends and family to color, as well.

Coloring is therapeutic.  Coloring inside or outside the lines, using traditional colors or making Santa bright pink; and even making Santa a little cheeky or inappropriate... it's all fair game. 

Well this year I was extremely excited to introduce the Bean to the world of Christmas coloring.  And you know what?  It went over pretty well, I must say. 

Of course, she loved the big ziploc bag that the crayons came in.  And of course, pouring all the crayons all around her happened right away.

Then she got to touch the crayons.  New and fun and colorful!  Wow!


 But I don't think anyone prepared her for just how yummy crayons would be.

And the coloring book itself... awesome!  Pages to turn and crumple!  Lots of colors already there!  What great fun! 

I even let her color her own page.  Of course, it was assisted coloring.  I'm not sure if she realized the crayon she was holding was making marks as I helped her move her hand.  She was more interested in putting them in her mouth.  But still...  I now give you Cora's first ever work of art.  And in my own Christmas coloring book. 

Now I feel like it's really and truly Christmas.  And once I'm done with this post, I'll color my own first picture of the year.

I wonder if we'll ever finish this coloring book.  But either way, it's a tradition that I love and adore.  And I'm excited to share it with my girlie.