Thursday, July 28, 2011

Three birthdays

Three summer birthdays to remember.  First came Jenn's with good friends and wild karaoke birthday songs...IMG 2497

and some new pjs!  Rob worked all day and then came home set on and ready to make dinner.   To all you guys out there--the best thing a man could do for his girl is to make dinner and buy her comfy pjs.  At least if he is married to me, that is.  Then came our Jazzy-girl with thoughtful gifts from brothers and Mom.  IMG 2556IMG 2564

Something crafty, something to play with, a Bible of her own (now that she is reading) and ending with a special green canoe paddle and flowers from Daddy.

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The big party-bash is scheduled for this Sunday.  The plan has been in the works for a long time now.  Party bags are made.  Pinata in process but we shouldn't have tried to attach the body before the head dried!  IMG 2568

Our upside-down owl holding a branch is now in two pieces.  Don't worry, it will look like an owl by Sunday!

I am off to a photography course next week so I will miss celebrating Levi's birthday on the day of.  I feel strange about that.  I enjoy reminiscing about how their birthdays actually went.  Sometimes I wonder if their arrivals into the world reflect their personalities.  Levi was in a hurry to get here, crashing onto the scene in a mere four hours.  Whereas Jazzy was comfy inside, happy to curl up and stay in her warm mama cocoon until evening.  I laboured with Jack for a long time before he decided to come late into the night on day two.  Now fast forward to 7 and 5 and 2.5 years later:  Jazzy the careful, creative observer and still an incurable night owl.  Levi the crashing, funny scientist always experimenting with balance, ropes, pieces of wood just to see what happens.  Our Jack-in-the-box boy, now you see him now you don't mischief maker who takes a little more time to reach his milestones but how beautifully he does them when he is ready.  Because their birthdays are so close together and they wanted to invite the same people, we decided to go for a combined party this year.  Littlest Pet Shop mets Cars.   I am still trying to figure out the best way to pull off this mash-up theme.  A home-made Pet Shop in a get-away Car cake topper is definately in order.  But I always like to celebrate on the actual day.  I think it is important to feel special and loved on the day of your birthday.  We typically make their favourite meal and give family gifts with cake and singing and stories.  I want each of my children to know who they are, where they came from and how much they are loved and valued in our family. Chosen. Purposed.  Loved.  Celebrated.

Do you have any birthday traditions you do with your family each year?  Please share!  We love comments.

I am still in three is a beautiful number mode.  My camera is fixed and I am looking forward to the first time away on my own in 7 years!

Friday, July 22, 2011

three is a beautiful number

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Three beautiful faces.  Three hot, action-packed weeks into summer.  Three days past a wonderfully celebrated birthday and still counting my blessings.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Speech Therapy

Jack is now doing some Talk Tool speech therapy with exercises that target his oral muscles and breathing to help him build body awareness to make some of the sounds we are asking him to make.  Right now he gives open mouthed kisses.  Like most kids he is on a "pucker" learning curve.  He loves to sing so he opens his mouth and belts out an "ahh" along to the music.  His favourite these days is the "Itsy Bitsy Spider"  with the actions of course.  But those lips don't want to do any work!  So we came home with a little horn that he needs to blow 10 times a day focusing on bringing his lips together without his teeth or tongue working to stabilize the mouth-piece.  I am excited to experience more exercises with horns and straws that will help him understand how to move and breath properly to mimic speech sounds.   It is one thing for Jack to hear me make a sound and want to mimic it but what if he just doesn't know how to make his lips/tongue/jaw/breath do what it needs to do in the right sequence?  I think this program might really help Jack to progress with his speech by helping him learn how to make all his speaking parts work together.

Here is an interesting article called The Oral-Motor Myths of Down Syndrome. (Just click the second listing on the google search which is a pdf file of this article)

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Jack also really likes to draw.  He is dangerous left unsupervised with an uncapped marker and if he runs out of paper...look out white couch.  Having older siblings around who always pick up their things, there are many markers to be found.  Jazzy has a special place in her heart for permanent markers.  So far most furniture has been spared and the only permanent marker incident occurred in her room.  As soon I hear the sound of the cap coming off of the marker I run.  Jack usually pops one off and then chucks it.  He doesn't have any more use for it!  That pop can wake me out of a dead sleep and then you have until the clatter sound of the lid hitting the ground to intercept and avoid some major graffiti!

I wish I could have snapped a photo of his emerald green mint smelly-markered legs!  Camera still out of order.


We were in looking at cameras the other day.  The new version of my camera has video capability.  But when you can replace the lens with a used one for $60  it is hard to justify the cost of a major upgrade.   Now if I could just find someone close by who wants to sell theirs to me!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Part time work?

Unfortunately my camera took a little tumble off of the dining room table the other day.  My regular lens is completely unreparable and I feel totally lost without a camera ready to go.  These photos were taken earlier this summer with the boys on our back swing set.  Levi is happy being the big brother.  Jack is in his favourite place.  He even knows the sign for it. IMG 2030IMG 2041IMG 2043

Speaking of signing...we just got our two Signing Time DVDs in the mail.  I have never seen Jack engaged like that with something he was watching.  He was so happy to see all the different children signing.  When he saw a baby he would sign "baby" and then they were teaching the sign for shoes and he signed right along.   The next day he was signing some of the words by himself.  It is amazing to see how quickly he is able to learn and start communicating more with us.  We are learning colours and food now.  Tomorrow we are joining a Signing Time instructor in Bracebridge to visit a farm and learn some more signs for animals.

I thought this summer would be a little more relaxing but I am quickly learning that I need to keep my eyes on Jack at all times, even if he is "safely" tucked away in our back yard.  He gets into the smallest places and into things you could never image.  One second he is in the sandbox, the next under the back deck or up to his waist in mud in the neighbours newly seeded back yard.  One day he got his head wedged between the two composters at the end of the garden.   The next incident involved him being stuck between our wooden fence that overlapped the neighbours chain-link fence.  Rob was trying to pull him out from the neighbours side but his knees were folded under the bottom fence board.  I finally managed to wiggle his legs sideways one at a time an lift him out.  Once we got him out we saw the blue ball he must have been trying to get, about three feet in from the fence edge.  I suppose there are some advantages to being a determined, petite two year old...just not for the parent-rescuers.

Jack basically runs me off my feet.  He is so busy and active and inquisitive that I am hard pressed to get the housework done some times!  I know, you all wish you could have this kind of excuse to fall back on!  But I am serious...I think it is time to bring in some help in the form of a teenager in need of a part time job!   I need an extra set of hands AND eyes!  Remember the last time I left him in his siblings watch, I ended up with a gallon of paint down the staircase.   I think I need someone more professional, someone older than say...6. IMG 2045

But you know when I look in this beautiful face, I am so thankful to be sharing my life with you, Jack.  You are wonderful and each day you amaze me.  We need people like Jack in our lives to inspire us.  Why are we so quick to reject babies with Down Syndrome?  Their light shines so brightly in this sometimes dark world.  I don't know one person who has encountered Jack that is untouched in a positive way by his warmth and affection.  I am so glad that I didn't miss out on you, Jack.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

To work or not to work

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Whatever happened to Jenn's art teaching?

Sorry I haven't been posting in the last couple of weeks.  Some major decision making on my part has taken up all the brain space I have right now.  Once we got Jack out of surgery and the other kids finished school, I was hit by some major work changes.  I am scheduled to go back to work to teach in September.  At first I was looking forward to it, thinking it would be great to go back to teach high school art again, a job that combines a real passion to create artistically and working with teens which is something I have always loved to do.  Now come the BUTS.  As of the first week in June, I was scheduled to teach art.  On June 16th a lot of what I was scheduled to teach suddenly changed because the principal thought I could better meet the school's needs elsewhere.  I have had a meeting with him and a couple of discussions, emails but we seem unable to come to an agreement.  And since he is the boss...I am now supposed to be teaching 2 art classes and a geography first semester and a sundry of other classes not including art second semester.

Needless to say this dramatic change and difficult start with my principal has brought on tremendous stress and a period of questioning for me.  To work or not to work?  Maybe the question should be more clearly:  to go back to my job as a teacher or not?  At different moments in one day I can be ready to resign or go forward and just do it.   I wish that I could be one of those moms that could just choose to stay at home with the kids, but I find I need something more: an outlet for creativity and professionalism that does not revolve around children, play dates, therapy appointments, laundry, cooking meals, etc.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom.  I love my children and my husband more than life itself.  It is about striking the right balance for me to continue to love and serve my family but also be renewed in my own person by doing the things that feed my soul.  Either way, I need a vision for the way forward and I need it quick.  I want to enjoy this summer with my kids being fully present in heart, mind and body.

That being said, I am not sure going back to teaching is the answer.  There are many ways I could begin to pursue my career as an artist and teacher.    But this job has been waiting for me.  Held for me.  Should I just decide to go ahead and try?  Or do I decide this is too stressful for me and my family and not try at all?  Will I regret my decisions?

At the same time,  I feel like we take everything so seriously.  Don't you?

At the risk of being to serious today, I will end my post here.  Just wanted to let you know why I have been so silent.

Jack is doing well with his eye pressures.  Rob took him to Sick Kids last Monday and his pressures were high at 27 but we have now started him back on some pressure lowering drops.  His doctor seems unconcerned and that his recovery is right on track.  The stats say that 50% of children usually need to start drops again after implant surgery.  So maybe Jack falls into this statistic.

When I haven't been ironing out work issues, we have been having fun keeping summer hours riding our bikes, swimming, learning to sign and doing some new oral motor therapies with Jack.  Jasmine is now riding her bike without the training wheels on the road out in front of our house.  Only when one of us parents can have eyes on her and the road as well.  Levi can ride without training wheels but prefers the comfort of having them still.  He wants a skate board for his birthday.  We are a family with lots of summer birthdays so it should be a happening summer!

Hope you are having a great summer too!

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