Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Pudge

Miles had his 6 month check-up today.  22 pounds 8 oz, 27 3/4 inches long.  Healthy baby boy, who is working out how to bounce his way across the living room on his bottom.  And he's talking to us in these long, very detailed and punctuated sentences (well, as baby sounds go).  A happy, silly, and curious baby.

This kid just astounds me.  What a little joy he is.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Three sets of baby boy feet.

After we had our first baby, there was just an assumption we would have another.

When the second was born, we naturally understood he would not be the last.

And now a third son.  I don't profess to know God's will so far in advance, what He may place in our hearts for our family, just suffice it to say there is not that assumption that there will be more newborn babies for us.

So, maybe prematurely, but I don't really feel that way, I have been packing up the baby things that are now too small and passing them on.  My favorites I am saving for any future nephews (ahem... that's future nephews... ya know, when ev...).  The rest are going to friends, or the shops that resell used children's clothes (my favorite way to outfit my crew). 

There is one item, though, that is being tucked away in my sock drawer.  A keepsake of the baby years.  A representation of the beginning of my Motherhood, and a sweet memory of each set of little feet that wore them.


Each of my newborn boys sported these sweet little froggy shoes.

I bought them myself, for more money than I would normally spend on such a small item.  I can remember the day, the store, the way I felt.  It was a special day, actually.  It snowed.  Right here on the coast.  I drove through the snow to go buy these little shoes.

What I can't remember about that day is if we knew yet.  I can't remember if I bought them before we were made of aware of the possibility of Down Syndrome, or if all we knew at that point was that Charlie was hearing impaired.

I just remember feeling so raw.  Postpartum.  Things were not going like I, well, like I had played it out in my mind beforehand.  I was struggling with great disappointment confounded by the deepest love, and the feeling of being so small next to the mountain of Becoming Mother.

I needed to get out of the house.  Do something normal and anonymous.  So, I packed Charlie into his carseat, threw a sling in the back, the diaper bag, my wallet.  Off we drove to the Storkes Nest in McKinleyville.  Through the snow.

I probably ended up with the froggy design because it was marked down or something.  I felt absolutely compelled to buy him a pair of these fancy baby shoes.  In some way it felt like it validated him.  They were the thing to have when Charlie was an infant.  Surely if he had his own, he would somehow seem more normal.  Just another baby boy.  With trendy leather shoes.

It was cathartic to me to shop for him.  To walk around that boutique.  To show him off to the staff, who of course commented on his cuteness.  (He was so cute.)  I probably took far too long to pick them out.  I probably compared each design, worrying too much about how people might prefer elephants over the frogs.  Such a weighted decision.

Getting out of the house that day--if only to buy leather booties--it was like an initiation into Motherhood.  A declaration that I can do this.  I can pack my baby up in the car and go somewhere with him all by myself.  I can remain calm if he fusses while I drive.  I can figure out how to use the sling, and shop with my baby tucked in close to my heart.  And while a $30 pair of shoes for an infant might be pitiable in comparison to his intrinsic value, that day it sure felt lavish to shower my son with such fine footwear.

Charlie wore those shoes far beyond the 6 month mark of their size range.  His feet were so small.  Calvin wore them for a shorter time.  And Miles.  I squeezed his little sausage feet into them for as many weeks as I could.

Now it is time to put them away, not in a box in the attic, but my sock drawer.  I don't know how my sock drawer became the spot where sentimental things come to rest, but I like that as I rifle through the drawer in search of some lost sock, I come across things that represent moments of achievement and dear memories.

In you go little shoes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baby Boy is 6 Months Old

We've a six month birthday tradition in our house...


My gosh.  Six months.  Miles, these months have passed by us quickly.  Seamlessly.  Oh, life is crazy around here.  An absolute circus.  But we expected it this time.  Prepared for it, and told ourselves we would not freak out over a sink full of dishes or stray toys in the wrong places or miss matched socks on our feet.

And so, for six sweet months we've been getting to know you.  We've watched you meld into our family, and our family has formed a new spot where you fit so nice.  We have new daily rythms that involve baby-care.  We have new family rules to help excited brothers treat you gently... Though, they are doing their best to help you toughen up for boyhood, let me tell you.

Miles, we have a saying in this house when our day is going poorly.  We say, "Well, at least our baby is cute."  And it is true.  You are so beautiful, and ever willing to offer a smile.  When I wake up to you tugging my hair in the morning, I turn over in bed to find the brightest, most wonderful smiling face.

Six months.  It feels like you've always been a part of us.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

He just lets it all out there.

Charlie wears his heart on his sleeve.  There is no voice inside of him that rationalizes about whether or not it is appropriate to display a certain emotion.  Well, there is.  A touch of shyness around adults does yield more composure in public.  But in his most comfortable state, he just lets it all out there.

This is overwhelm.

If something does not feel right, he melts into a puddle of a boy on the carpet.  He cries.  He yells.  We offer comfort.  We offer juice.  Anything we can think of.  But he just cries.  He wants to be held.  Tight.  Every other thing seems shadowed by special needs for an afternoon, a day.  A week.

Ray and I have to protect our time.  Most often life is just kinda regular--you know, our own version of normal--but we never know when our "special needs" guy is gonna really ramp up the "needs" part.  We need to team up, or risk feeling raw and resentful by the end of a rough day.

No child deserves resentment from his mommy or daddy. 

Of course, having less of an emotional filter works the same for happiness.  And that is the plus side of it.  Spontaneous and indiscriminate Joy.  To experience a tackling kind of hug, and an "I wuv you, Kimma!" and kisses.  To hear him tell his little jokes and just laugh and laugh until tears come to his eyes.  "That's si-wee!" he says.

Did you ever see a smile so bright?

There are moments when Charlie does something we did not yet know he understood.   His little face shines and shines at his own learning.  Ray and I glance at each other as we witness this cleverness right before our eyes.  It feels like a miracle every time, and the thought comes to mind:  What would we do without him?

Not sure exactly what I am trying to say here.  Just, I "wuv" these boys so.  I'm ready for the return of more cheerful days for Charlie (he's been sick... and needy).  And if the baby's two top teeth would just pop through those swollen gums already.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Rhoddy Parade

Catching up on some happenin's around here.

A couple weekends ago we packed up the kids and headed to the front lawn of good friends who live along the parade route for Humboldt County's Rhododendron Parade.

The Firetrucks going by with sirens blaring.

He obviously saw "two" of something.

Now whenever I see a tear on his cheek I think "Blepharitis".

The finale for us was to see the Timber Heritage Crew Car go by.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Do you know what this is?

My very first piece of pottery made by a child of mine.

It feels like a milestone for me.

Charlie brought it home from school all wrapped up.

He told me this etching here is a ladybug...

Or, alternately, a dancing cowboy or a baby rabbit.

I think it is magical.

Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 6, 2011


We ask this boy to be so big.

And then a moment like this happens, and I'm reminded

He's still just our little guy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

On the Down Syndrome Path to a Home

It's funny to say that.  It still feels kind of wild to think that I have a son who has Down Syndrome.

Wait.  What?  I know.  Where have I been, right?  But seriously.  Down Syndrome is one of those things that we all have our preconceived notions about, good or bad.  And Down Syndrome is something that happens to other families... not our own.  It's rare.

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself we are on a different path.  There is a reason I have to be more patient with Charlie, more creative, more steadfast and headstrong and full of wit and, to be honest, willing to change my life plans.  Regularly.

Charlie is so amazing.  I know I say it all the time.  I love him dearly.  And he poses some interesting... Hm.  Considerations?

Tonight I am thinking specifically of home.  A home to dwell in.  We will be moving soon to a larger house.  Why?  This one is not Charlie friendly.  The new one will not be perfect either, but better.  An environment where Charlie will be safe, and out of trouble, and fairly independent is going to be a big thing.  For all of us.

We make an awful lot of family decisions with this little boy in mind.  We are on the Down Syndrome path.  We research and calculate and plan and try to find the best situation for Charlie, because it is what is best for him, and when he is supported, quite frankly, our lives are simpler, too.

This is challenging for me, though.  To want the best for him is natural--second nature.  I barely think about it.  Our other boys, they will do well wherever we land.  But the house hunt?  It leaves so many things up in the air.  Yes, we are moving into a better place soon, but we can't stay there forever.  So the hunt is on, in earnest.  It's for real this time.  But there are so many logistics:

Do the elementary schools have the right kind of support and programs for Charlie (and do we like it)?  Is the house on a busy street?  'Cause we can't have that with a runner on our hands.  Is the backyard secure?  Is the bathroom easily accessible?  Can the kitchen be blocked off or otherwise baby-proofed long-term?  Are there stairs?  Are they steep?  Is there a landing, or do they go top to bottom straight down?  Can the car be parked off the street?  Is the front door able to be secured?  Will the neighborhood allow a fence in the front yard, in case the front door does get opened?

And those are just the things on the Charlie list.  Our family list is complicated as well with a limited budget, and well, our preferences.

I keep thinking, "God, you have given us this Charlie boy, please provide what is best for him."  I know He will, and I'm excited!  But I have this idea that everything needs to be in place by the time he begins kindergarten a year from next fall.  That is a while from now, so that is what I keep telling myself.  It's just hard to have a laundry list of logistics, and feel deadlocked on it all.  Either the house is perfect, but in the wrong neighborhood.  Or the school is just right, but the houses surrounding it are all wrong.  Not to mention this is all sort of intimidating.  Are we doing the right thing?

If there is one thing a parent of a child with Down Syndrome learns to do, it is perform.  Do stuff.  Work at things.  I'm making the phone calls.  I'm searching the listings.  Researching our options.  But in the end it is about God opening up the right home in the right place at the right time.  I pray daily.  It is hard to wait and trust.  But I suppose... 

I suppose after all these years following Jesus' lead, it would be dumb to toil without him now.  He is the one who gave us this miraculous little boy at a time in our lives where it just did not make sense, and helps us daily as we love and raise him, and indeed all our three boys.  We thrive by Him.

I think I just talked myself into some patience.  Thank God.

Monday, May 2, 2011

He Takes His Bottle Hamster-Style

So you know how hamsters and rabbits have that bottle with the metal spout hanging upside-down in their cages?  They sort of lick or bite the end of it to get a drink.

Case in point.

I am the mom that could not teach a baby to use a bottle.  I'm great at breastfeeding.  I kick some serious breastfeeding butt.  But the bottle?  Well, it's never happened for me or my guys.

With Charlie, we chalked it up to Down Syndrome.  For Calvin?  Bad luck, I guess.  With Miles?  Well, I think it must be me.

Never-the-less, Miles thinks a bottle is great fun.  He is entertained through an entire meal by a bottle with a half-inch of water in the bottom.

Of course, when it comes to real hunger, there is only one way that satisfies.  And drinking a bottle hamster-style just won't do for that.
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