Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Olivia and Her First Princess Doll

Thanks to Aunt Becky, Uncle Mark and the kids, Olivia is enjoying her very first princess doll. She loved her right away and seemed to know just how to play with such a special little girl treasure.

Her own vacuum

Thanks to Aunt Suki and Uncle John, Olivia can now vacuum with her very own vacuum!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve photos

Just thought I would post a few photos from Christmas Eve.
For the midwest, it was a sunny mild weathered day. Sure a welcome relief!
 Olivia loved her knit Christmas Eve outfit. We think she thought it was her Elmo Costume.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Silly Silly

Olivia has had the worst case of the sillies lately. We keep trying to figure out who is giving her the silly juice. We hope you enjoy and maybe even laugh along.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Olivia is a WALKER

Olivia has been walking for about a month.  PT thought it would take another 6 months for her to get strong enough, but a couple weeks off gluten after her celiac diagnosis and she was off to the races. This is a longer video, because I wanted to share how long of a time Olivia can walk all over the house.  She very quickly learned her way around the house and all its ins and outs.

Some new photos

I know I don't post much anymore (reasons to many to list)  hopefully I will do better in 2012.
Here are a few photos and some thoughts (Olivia is 2 1/2 now and is a walker inside the home but she has not yet generalized the concept of walking to other locations, except therapy).

Here is a typical dinner or lunch plate for Olivia.  She is a healthy eater.  She will eat nearly all on her plate.  What you are seeing is pureed peas and green beans. She will not eat meat so we do this power protein puree.   Peaches, steamed broccoli, canned organic green beans,  cooked carrots.  Then she will eat about a cup of dry Rice Chex cereal  which we like because they are gluten free and fortified.  (Olivia was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about 5 weeks ago.  I will write about that later.  The diagnosis was  a God Send and her development has taken off in the past month!)  She also drinks fortified Almond Milk with her meal.

Olivia loves her sand table (we use moon sand) and she loves putting it on the floor and "cleaning up".   Funny how a toddler makes more mess when they "clean" than if they just left the mess.   No, the vacuum doesn't actually work. But I sure wish it did!

We bought this two stepped step stool for bathroom handwashing.  A small stool would have been disastrous at this point, but Olivia kept telling us she wanted to wash at the sink, so we bought this wonderful helper.

She still needs adult supervision so that she remembers which end is up.

The BIG smile indicates that Daddy did a really good thing in buying her this stool!
 Independence! With help of course!

Olivia and her New Bike

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mommy's Helpers

Everyone knows that a Mommy's life is very busy and is a lot of hard work. Olivia and I wanted you to know that we do our best to be good little helpers ... We'll let you decide who is most helpful :-)

- Daddy and Olivia

Friday, November 18, 2011


Here are a few activities we are doing at home these days

This is the Lucky Duck game and Olivia practices grasping with it.   Taking ducks off the pond and either handing them to me or placing in basket. This seems to be helping her gain control over her cup and fork and plate. Much less tossing and more handing them to me.

We are trying stickers on paper, but it is still very hard for her.

These are counting bears but I am using then to encourage her to use a pincer or tripod grasp and place them into the small hole.  She uses a palmar grasp a lot still.

We are talking about shapes.  Here is one exercise we did with circle.

This is a sand table. At first she hated it!  Now she loves to go up to it and play and scoop. We are using moon sand.  Yes it is messy, but it took her all summer to get accustomed to playing in her sand box and I did not want to loose that sensory adaptation over the winter.   We have sand all over the house some days. But we keep saying that sand box play makes kids smarter!  We believe that!   Children develop their brain through their senses.

This is a grasping transfer exercise.  Two small bowls and some pasta. She likes to do this and is rather good at it.
   She also likes to throw the pasta.  But such is progress.

Again encouraging pincer grasp. Putting penne pasta into the large hole of a salt shaker

Gee!  Guess what! Pouring!  We use pasta.  Beans and rice go right into her mouth and water gets dumped to the floor immediately.

Again encouraging pincer grasp with pasta into a small hole in a mustard jar.  She also likes to put the cap on and off.

This is her practical life box.  I just have some kitchen things in it and she loves to explore.

This is a better photo of the Lucky Duck game.

This is a splurge! A zipper dressing frame from Neinhuis!  I don't buy much at all from them but I really like three of their toddler dressing frames and could not find a comparable else where.  She will be using these for some time to come as these activities are tough ones and so very important.

This is how I have one shelf set up for her to choose her work and put things back.  I don't know if you can see the bristle blocks and duplos. She likes to work with them taking them apart mostly, but it encourages her to strengthen her hands and use them.  With Ds the hand work is tough!  I am always thinking of new ways to get her to use her hands.  I welcome suggestions!!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Walking & Squatting

Daddy made this neat video.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Prenatal testing lies ...

or, at best, is incomplete. Before Olivia was born, we knew she was going to have Down syndrome.  That meant, of course, that she was going to be sweet, smiley and a perfect angel - right ?!?  What they didn't tell us was that she was also going to be afflicted with "being a 2 1/2 year old." How possibly could the testing fail to detect that and warn us !?!  Yesterday, we were darn close to getting kicked out of Babies'r'us and Toys'r'us for disturbing the peace. Yes, despite prenatal testing, we have a 2 1/2 year old.

We are investing in yellow caution tape to wrap around ourselves when we go out in public :-) You might want to buy stock in the companies that make the stuff.

- Daddy and Mommy

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Helping our children in a tough world

I thought this was good advice in helping to prevent our children from becoming victims of sexual abuse.  We see that Olivia sets boundaries with people, yet people try to force us to make her break her boundaries. We have to put protecting Olivia above the feelings of others. Adults need to understand that helping Olivia to believe that she can protect herself for her whole lifetime begins now. Especially for a child with cognitive impairment who is going to have a hard time protecting herself.

Ironically, we also contradict ourselves at times by confusing our children or denying them the boundaries and safeguards we gave them for their protection. For example, we tell children it’s their body, yet we force them to hug and kiss a relative (yes, even their grandparents or aunts and uncles).  
Though this may be our cultural custom—to kiss and hug upon greeting or departing, it instills in children the idea that it’s their body but they have no rights and no boundaries when it comes to relatives. And since most children are abused by non-strangers, we are opening the door to possible abuse.
Instead of forcing the child to give hugs and kisses when they don’t wish to, explain to the adult that you are teaching your child to set boundaries for themselves and enlist their help. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August Photos

This Summer has been eventful :-)  and so I have not had the opportunity to BLOG. 

 My dear husband moved his home office and moved my computer also this weekend and now my computer is where Olivia and I spend most of our time, so hopefully I can get a chance to BLOG now.

This Summer has seen Olivia maturing in so many ways.  Her speech has come along well as has her signing.  Although her significant hypotonia has her still not walking solo, her supported walking has come along well. She loves to walk holding one or both or our hands and will at times use her walker. She likes to free stand and can do it for longer and longer all the time.  Her Physical Therapist always encourages us that Olivia is doing great given her starting point.

Olivia's crawling is very very good and FAST!

Olivia loves building towers!

Olivia using her walker

Olivia using her crawling tunnel.  Not too interested in crawling into it yet.

Olivia gently getting herself off of her chair as opposed to her old method of diving off head first.

Olivia has finally made friends with her sandbox.  I have been working all summer getting her to use it.  She now loves sitting in it and playing.

Olivia loves her little pool in the backyard.  Both the sandbox and pool are from Grandma and Grandpa B

Oh!!! I really splashed water in my eyes that time! Olivia loves to splash!

Olivia has also finally accepted playing in the grass. Again, I had worked all summer on this.  So nice to see all of my hard work paying off in these outdoor activities.  I had feared that we were not going to make the progress I wanted to see with outdoor textures this summer.  But she is doing great!  Today she even ASKED to go outside and walk. She walks (with help) well on the patio and grass.

Lovin' the beautiful day and the beautiful blue sky in her backyard.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Love this Song

We use signing with Olivia and we have found it to be a wonderful communication tool given that children with Ds have delays in their speech. Olivia is beginning to attempt to say more and more words now, but she has been communicating beautifully with us via sign language for 16 months. We rarely have a temper tantrum from Olivia that is communication related (of course she is Two years old and we get the I WANT MY WAY tantrums).

Signing has given us a closer relationship with Olivia than we could ever have imagined. We get to see a side of her that we would not see otherwise. The other day she heard me comment that I thought her godmother had some pain in her knees. I said, that I think her knees HURT. Olivia immediately started signing HURT and SORRY. As in, I am sorry that her knees hurt. I know that Olivia may not have understood what we were talking about for real, but she is trying to be a part of our conversations and is truly paying attention to what we are saying.

Maybe raising Olivia has not been "easy", but it certainly has been VERY VERY VERY GOOD!

Enjoy the video! I love this song! It says just how we feel about being able to communicate so well with Olivia even though we have to use a lot of signing at this point.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Finally a post about Olivia

For any of my Blogger mom friends who have followed my blog, I apologize for my absence.  Things have been a bit crazy around here these past months.  I have been on Facebook, so if you want to friend me on FB let me know! I miss my blogger mom friends. I think of you and your kids often but have not been up and living in blogger world recently.

Some of you may remember that Olivia's ultrasound showed a heart defect that was not found at birth.  Olivia has been cleared of all heart defects and no longer sees a cardiologist.  Now I wonder (LOL) if the ultrasound was not picking up my husband's heart defect! My husband has passed out more frequently than the average person since childhood.  Recently I had to call 911 twice when he passed out.  He spent 7 days in the hospital and after a tilt table test, they diagnosed a heart birth defect! The good thing is that a pacemaker was implanted that same day and that should solve the problem!  Now many of you many recall that only dirt is older than me and my husband. We are indeed older parents,  so it was amazing to the doctor as well as us that at a ripe old age they found a birth defect.  For any of you who know too much about cardiology, the diagnosis was cardiac inhibitory neurocardiogenic syncope.  Basically in response to average daily stresses his BP and pulse would plummet and he would on occasions pass out from his heart stopping briefly.  The doctor said that my husband died for 10 seconds during the tilt table test, which of course leads to the standing joke that he died but got sent back.  We are very glad that he did get sent back!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FrankenWalking & Glasses

Olivia giving her legs a try ... maybe these things are worth something after all :-)

Some of you have wondered how the glasses are going ... we'll let you judge for yourself. Good thing they make 'em tough :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Starting To Stand

Hot News ... Olivia has started standing on her own.  We are so excited and happy for her.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Few More Photos

Here are some photos taken in our backyard recently.  Olivia loves to play outdoors!

She has a good arm!

That newly emerged pincer grasp is coming in handy!

Two New Photos

Realized that I have not posted new photos in a while.  Here are two.

Olivia is loving trying out some cloth diapers and wool covers.  Mommy is enjoying them too!
 In addition to being soft and wonderful, they will help Olivia realize that wetting in her pants is uncomfortable and that using a potty is a good alternative. But potty training will most likely not start until Olivia is a walker. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

God Doesn't Make Mistakes

This video says it all about my life with Olivia  (only I was not the mother with the ultrasound, the message to Olivia's birthmom was the same)

Olivia is truly a fabulous blessing in my life!  I would not change one thing about her!

Watch the video.... it is my life!!!!  And a wonderful life it is!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Video of Olivia (hopefully)

Olivia washing her face.... etc

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter photos

Here are just a few Easter photos:

Blessed Happy Easter!   Rejoice!  Jesus is Risen!
All ready for Mass and playing with my Easter basket.  Raggedy Anne was a gift from my Birthday in 2010, but she was sitting in my basket this morning. Silly Annie!  :-)

Loving my soft cuddly Melissa and Doug bunny that Daddy found at Whole Foods. 

My Easter LOOT!!!!!  Books!!!! I LOVE books!!!!  And bath toys and a HOLY CARD!!! I LOVE Holy Cards!!!!!
 In lieu of Birthday cards, please send my laminated Holy Cards!!!!
This morning I was sitting looking at my Blessed Pope John Paul II card from my godmother and I was saying PaPa!!!!  No wonder my mommy loves me so much!!!

Mommy and Daddy insisted we color Easter eggs.  I was not happy about it at all. They would not let me throw them. Give me the plastic ones any day!  I can throw those and put them in the dishwasher.  And then Daddy tried to get me to eat a piece of white egg this morning at breakfast. I put it in my mouth and spit it back out. He should not trick a cute little girl.  Last night at dinner, he took me and Mommy to a nice restaurant in Granger and tricked me with sweet potato fries.  I spit them back out too. I like the baked sweet potato only when it was baked whole.  This other way will not do!  I have my standards. The waitress loved me and brought me broccoli and bananas.  Bless her!  She also was learning how to sign so she could talk to me better.  Such a love! Hope Daddy tipped her well!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Measurements for Olivia

We went to the endocrinologist yesterday, so we have some new measurements for Olivia.
Olivia will be two on May 5.

On the Down syndrome chart:
 25 - 50 percent for length at 31 inches
75 percent for weight at 23 lbs 6 oz

On the Typical chart  she is:
10 percent for weight
3 percent for length

Doctor was impressed by her good attention span, communication, sociability and how "smart" she is!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Olivia photo in glasses

Hey! I really like seeing things in my cool glasses!
Hi everyone!

Olivia is doing well!  So much is coming together to making her a great two year old!  Hard to believe, but May 5 she will be two!  She is sooo much the two year old! And we could not be more pleased!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gross motor update (and glasses)

Olivia is doing so much better at getting to standing these days. She can pull up in her crib with ease (but no cruising yet). In fact, she can pull up to standing just about anywhere she wants to these days!  This week she mastered holding my hands and pulling to standing. She is loving this, and we do it a million times a day!  (yes, I have counted! :-)  )   She is still not taking steps, but is interested in taking climbing steps on me.  I am trying to interest her in the main staircase, but no interest so far.

The other thing of note is that Olivia has been working on creeping on all fours for about a month now and can creep on all fours for two feet before her hips give out from under her.

She seems thrilled by her new abilities and is all about practicing her gross motor skills these days. The cats look at me as if to say, "what happened to the kid who just sat there and left us alone?" Yet the cats still love her and are very interested in her. We think our youngest cat will be thrilled when Olivia is able to carry her around.  She is a sweet cat who loves kids and is very tolerant.

Glasses???? Yes.... someday.......patience is a virtue.....  Olivia loves the girls at my eye doctor's office...  they are just down the road from us, so they save us when Olivia needs her glasses fixed. Olivia communicates beautifully with them and always blows them kisses bye-bye.

Olivia is back to being a people lover, just in time for Summer!   She is also loving to have the shower nozzle spray her face gently, again, just in time for Summer splashing in the Lakes!

Oh... Olivia outgrew her PJ bottoms while she slept.  I could not believe it. She went to bed with them fitting nicely in the length and woke with them too short.  Can you say basketball player?!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sign Language - Why we use it

I found this a good explanation of why we use sign language with Olivia in addition to speech:

Confessions of a Montessori Mom: Montessori and Sign Language Question: "If Dr. Maria Montessori were alive, would she suggest sign language? I used to ask myself that question a lot! I do not think she would be..."

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Good Samaritan Reflection

Recently, I have been rereading Pope John Paul II's encyclical on the Meaning of Human Suffering.  As I read the following passage, I thought about the many people we have met who have adopted older children with Down syndrome from Eastern European orphanages and other poor institutions. These children with Ds did not stand a chance and had already suffered greatly from a lack of care. These brave and loving families stopped by the side of the road, spared all they have, and take action with all their life to give these children  meaningful lives.  So many of these families adopt more than one child from these institutions and give up so much financial security and take on the unknown medically and otherwise with these children. This passage it a tribute to these Good Samaritan's who do not pass by or throw a rug over the suffering of others, but are like Simon of Cyrene and willingly take up the cross of Christ and walk their entire life with the Love of Jesus, no matter the price.  (I think this applies to families who raise their own children with disabilities and to foster parents etc, but for some reason the international Ds adoption situation really came to mind)  As we celebrate St Joseph Day tomorrow, let us ponder the care of our neighbor that Christians are all called to fulfill.

"The parable of the Good Samaritan belongs to the Gospel of suffering. For it indicates what the relationship of each of us must be towards our suffering neighbour. We are not allowed to "pass by on the other side" indifferently; we must "stop" beside him. Everyone who stops beside the suffering of another person, whatever form it may take, is a Good Samaritan. This stopping does not mean curiosity but availability. It is like the opening of a certain interior disposition of the heart, which also has an emotional expression of its own. The name "Good Samaritan" fits every individual who is sensitive to the sufferings of others, who "is moved" by the misfortune of another. If Christ, who knows the interior of man, emphasizes this compassion, this means that it is important for our whole attitude to others' suffering. Therefore one must cultivate this sensitivity of heart, which bears witness to compassion towards a suffering person. Some times this compassion remains the only or principal expression of our love for and solidarity with the sufferer.
Nevertheless, the Good Samaritan of Christ's parable does not stop at sympathy and compassion alone. They become for him an incentive to actions aimed at bringing help to the injured man. In a word, then, a Good Samaritan is one who brings help in suffering, whatever its nature may be. Help which is, as far as possible, effective. He puts his whole heart into it, nor does he spare material means. We can say that he gives himself, his very "I", opening this "I" to the other person. Here we touch upon one of the key-points of all Christian anthropology. Man cannot "fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself"(92). A Good Samaritan is the person capable of exactly such a gift of self.
29. Following the parable of the Gospel, we could say that suffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one's "I" on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love which stirs in his heart and actions. The person who is a " neighbour" cannot indifferently pass by the suffering of another: this in the name of fundamental human solidarity, still more in the name of love of neighbour. He must "stop", "sympathize", just like the Samaritan of the Gospel parable. The parable in itself expresses a deeply Christian truth, but one that at the same time is very universally human. It is not without reason that, also in ordinary speech, any activity on behalf of the suffering and needy is called "Good Samaritan" work."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wearing glasses

Here is our one week update on Olivia wearing glasses. A little progress, but it is a slow process getting her used to them. She likes how she can see, she just doesn't like how they feel on her face yet.

Stringing Beads

We have been taking the Sensory Processing Disorder approach to Olivia for over a month now and we are seeing wonderful results.  All of the bean throwing, rocking horse, car riding, messy play, ball pools, ball tent, throwing balls, playing on big balls, climbing, bouncing, dancing etc has paid off!  Olivia has become much more focused and calm and able to concentrate and work on her quiet fine motor activities, and she can do so without Barney music playing in the background! 

 It brings tears to my eyes to sit in the background and watch her quietly work on stacking rings or a simply puzzle, over and over again and with great concentration!  This is what Montessori teachers love to see! Repetition and concentration!  Good signs! I thought I would never see it in Olivia. But thanks to doing all the "crazy" stuff, and using crazy Fisher Price toys too! We have seen amazing progress. 

 As I was buying Fisher Price type toys this Fall and Winter because all my "Montessori" type ideas were not reaching Olivia, I cringed. But I knew I had to do what my child needed.  Now I am seeing the benefit of "sitting on my Montessori albums" and doing it another way.  I did go back and read some Montessori theory. So I went about being a Scientist, studying Olivia and following what I believed Olivia needed.  What Olivia needed looked nothing like what I had ever done in a Montessori setting, but it worked and now we are getting to the sort of activities I had hoped to see Olivia doing. So in some ways, my "Montessori meets Fisher Price" activities was very Montessori in theory, which was my belief all along.  No matter and theories aside, what matters is what is right for Olivia!

Here is Olivia stringing beads. She still needs help holding the stick, but other than that she is doing such  beautiful work it brings tears to my Montessori trained eyes.