Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Rewind

Christmas time is sort of a contradiction for me. Every year it comes around and feel all nostalgic about the traditions, the whimsy....and then the storm of chaos that is the holiday season hits, and I wonder how I forgot that holidays can be just as stressful as they are magical.

Christmas was everything it is supposed to be: stressful, a bit expensive, and magical.

First, We had a small Christmas at home with Aunt and Uncle. Elina received plenty, including a toy gumball machine for fine motor skills (We loved this one, Jana) and a Merida doll (I can't help but love Brave, she is my kind of princess). Next was Denver, to see some of my family for Christmas Eve.

Elina took of when daddy took too long to get Merida free

Taking Jazzy for a spin
Elina's homemade elf dress 
Jazzy proved to be a much better pusher than Elina
 Then it was off to California. I love Christmas morning in the airport (really).

Last year was our first Christmas with Elina. We flew to Cali with her dressed up in a reindeer costume. We have made this our own tradition.

California was filled with lots of visits and some vacation-type ventures. We went to Knott's Berry Farm and to Downtown Disney, which is Disneyland for those who are not willing to pay.

So, busy, but memorable. Tonight we are getting together and welcoming the new year. 2012 was so great to us.

2013 has got a lot to live up to.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Dash of Christmas

Last weekend was amazing.

Elina and I drove out to Oklahoma for a sort of reunion. My friend Brittani and I have stayed connected since high school through our love for each other's children. This is, sadly, not easy to do and we have learned to be flexible, to not worry or get on each others case if we haven't talked for months. The good news? It's never too late.

So our old pal Mailinh flew down to see all of us. Sure, it has been a while, and we've all been through changes, but I realized that we were deep down very much the same as we were. We had sort of a craft-tacular time. We made tutus, french macaroons, and Pho.

In addition to all this, Mailinh- who happens to be a talented photographer, set up a festive shoot for our girls. The pictures are perfect.

I am proud to present, courtesy of the talented Mailinh Nguyen, Elina's Christmas Shoot 2012!

Elina's dearest friends, Noemi and Bella

Our Christmas plans will take us to Denver and California. It is going to be busy, but we are so excited. More Holiday cheer on the way!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From the bathroom floor...

I wish to share a moment.

Mikey was sick, so sick that he had to leave and go lay in the car. We were finishing dinner on our own; it had been a long day. Elina, usually a perfect eater, kept spitting out her food and screaming. The glances she attracted required my to take action.

I walked into the bathroom of the restaurant with Elina crying in my arms. I locked the door behind me and found that there was no changing table. I laid my coat on the cold tile and checked her diaper, convinced that the reason she started wailing during dinner was due to her chronic constipation.

By the time I realized what was going to happen it was too late. The stream of pee came at me and sprayed on Elina's legs and gathered on the floor. The anger welled inside of me. I spit out a harsh "NO!" and watched her tear-stained face crumple. My heart stung with guilt. I tried to tell myself Elina didn't mean to do it, she had no way of knowing she was causing a problem.

Elina's crying grew more intense. She squirmed and chewed her fingers...and then it hit me...

Teething. The two front teeth were poking out and must be aching terribly.

At this point it got worse. Elina was overwhelmed; I was overwhelmed. She jerked back and hit her little forehead hard on the tile. There was that pregnant pause, that one that happens when a baby gets hurt and they are just in shock at what has just happened, and it takes there breath away.

I scooped up Elina and held her against my chest as she screamed and screamed. Mikey was outside, I was all on my own, and there was nothing I could do.

It was in this moment...helpless, overwhelmed, alone; this is when I had an unexpected moment of clarity. When life goes wrong, I am a fixer and I am a runner. I find a way to make things better. If I don't have an answer I will search far and fast to find a solution. I tend to focus on the solution, so as to not get caught up in the problem.

But there, on the bathroom floor, in that moment, all I could do was wait. All I could do was hold her and tell her she was going to be alright.

It was just me and my girl there, and all I could give her was me.

Me was enough.

The night did not magically get better. We all had one of the longest nights of our lives, even with tylenol. I did gain something though, there on that floor. I realized that I was Elina's mother and that maybe that is worth more than all the things I can provide for her.

I can try to make her life wonderful, give her things I never had. I can find all the supplements and therapy treatments to give her developmental support. All of these things are good, but they will never replace who I am to Elina as a mother.

How is that for simplicity?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Just a Girl, at the Zoo

Yesterday was our first trip to the zoo. It was something we had been wanting to do since this summer. I had been anticipating Elina discovering new things, being immersed in fascination. Not so much. Elina was mostly preoccupied with a.) getting snacks and b.) smacking the glass tanks whenever possible. Despite this age-appropriate behavior, we had a great time.

 As we wheeled our girl around I people watched. I saw so many babies and children being pushed, carried, and chased. Instead of finding myself obsessing over how old they might be or what they could do developmentally I realized that in the end, they are all just kids. Just babies, at the zoo. It didn't matter in that moment how gifted or "normal" they were; and it doesn't need to matter anywhere else.

So much of the time I forget to just let her be a kid. Thankfully, yesterday was not one of those days.

Elina is a kid first. Her life should not revolve around concerns and preoccupations about one aspect of who she is. I have said Elina is not down syndrome, and yet it is usually the thing I think of first when I talk or reflect about my girl. I don't want her to fixate on one part of her identity, but to see herself as a multi-faceted, ever-transforming human being. If she ends up being a gymnast, then she is not just a gymnast. If she has down syndrome, she is not just down syndrome. She is Elina, and she is a girl much like any other.

...and I couldn't be happier with who my Elina is revealing herself to be.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank you, baby.

Last year I was thankful for my Elina. There were still a lot of bittersweet feelings, though. I was still going through the pain of the diagnosis, still finding my way.

This year, there is no hint of bitter, its all sugary joy.

 We are thankful for each other. We never wished for down syndrome, but it was the most perfect gift.

 Let's celebrate the unexpected.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Breathing Room

31 for 21 was a major challenge for me. After it was finished, I needed a little space from my blog, some breathing room.

With working on my book and other writing projects, taking care of Elina, budgeting for the holidays...the blog had to spend a little time on the back burner.

So I am here to make up for my two week absence with a gamut of cuteness.

What has Elina been up to?

Casual Dining (In a big girl highchair)

Borrowing her doll's new highchair...
Seen Wreck It Ralph? Well, She is my Vanellope Von Schweetz!

Friend's Birthday Parties (Elina has a balloon obsession)

...And enjoying some sweet fall weather (Finally!)

 An update is in order. She has made some great progress with her push wagon. I wouldn't say she has mastered it, but she has a lot more control, and moves easier and farther than when we first got it.

Speaking of updates, this girl may be standing on her own very soon. She has stood (starting in a standing position, then me letting go after she gets her balance) for up to ten seconds at a time!

More on that exciting news in the near future.

We are headed out tomorrow morning for some family time in Colorado. Can't wait til Thursday!

Happy Almost Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Too Good Not To Share

I was browsing one of my favorite blogs, Big Blueberry Eyes, and the first thing I found was treasure. A group in Kansas City,The Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City,
has created a video about the friendships between teens with and without down syndrome.

This video is in some ways geared towards youth, but the message is universal. My eyes were puffy by the time I got through.

Please enjoy Just Like You.

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