Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Milestones, Surgery, and a Positive Feedback Loop

Christina has been so clever lately! She is so motivated to do "normal things" like sit up and stand up. Because of her mental retardation and low muscle tone, these milestones have been delayed. Also we believe that her hatred of the light has impeded these developments, to an extent, because she avoids lifting her head to shade her eyes. But even with all of these disadvantages, she still has a strong desire to reach normal physical milestones.

She uses the bed frame to hold her head up against for support. She did this all on her own! She's brilliant!

In conjunction with the downward dog yoga pose to which she is partial, she also likes this sitting position. From this position, she will put her hands on the ground and push up -- lifting her head as high as she can, and holding the position for as long as she can. You can see how much she is straining to be able to do this! She is so motivated and hard working! When I work out at the gym, I always quit before it gets that hard for me! 

This is her version of downward dog. Her balance is amazing! She is balancing on one foot and her head and putting that other foot in her mouth! She recently had another eye surgery for the glaucoma in her right eye. Both eyes have glaucoma, but her right eye seems to be the eye that struggles the most. (The right eye is also the eye that my brother James ended up having removed. Clearly a trait of our Trisomy 2q.)

She's not always fond of her stroller. It helps her develop core strength and sit up right. 

Brian got her to calm down and enjoy her stroller! 

This was a huge milestone. She was able to stand a few times! We placed her here against the ottoman and got her legs stable underneath her and then she held this position for about 30 seconds.

Christina's grin with double dimples is just so delicious. I could eat her up! 

I love these two together! Since Claire was born it seems that Brian and Christina have created their own positive-feedback loop with each other. Before Claire was born, Christina preferred me over Brian. It wasn't that Brian did anything wrong or wasn't attentive, but more like how a nursing baby clings to their mother. But once Claire was born, I actually had a clinging, nursing new baby. And Christina must have realized that the attention I could give her was much more limited. Because of this, it seems she started to take more of a liking to Brian. And in turn, she became much more fun to Brian. Who in turn could get her to laugh more, and then Christina would be even more adorable and Brian would then find her that much more delightful and the cycle continues! They have become such peas in a pod!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Claire from 1 to 3 months

We feel so blessed to have sweet Claire in our family. Her personality is already shinning through at just a few months old! She is a very content and happy baby. She does, however, cry more than James and Christina ever did. But on the other hand, those two like never, ever cried, so I think we had abnormal expectations! She loves to be in the Björn like her big sister, but Claire likes to face outward and look all around (unlike Christina who burrows her head into my neck to hide her eyes). Claire loves to be held, but not really cuddled. She likes to be held facing outward, like in the Björn. She only cuddles when she's nursing. And nursing is also something she really loves! (As you will see by how progressively chubby she's gotten in the photos below!) Claire is such a chatterbox and she squeals and sings like she has very important things to say! She must get her chattiness from me! She is an amazing little sleeper, I almost hate telling other new moms when they ask about how she sleeps because she sleeps so well! She averages between 10 and 13 hours of continuous sleep in the night, which has been such a saving grace for me because I get especially crabby (crazy) on little sleep!

Is that a double or a triple chin?

We got Claire's ears pierced! I knew I was going to get them done, since I love little pierced ears. I was planning to wait until she was about 6 months old, but we had her in this super frilly dress at church and I just kept looking at her in this dress and all I could was James in a dress. And I felt she needed some feminizing! 

Oh that grin just kills me!

And that belly! But surprisingly, she is slender compared to James as a baby. This is James and Claire both at three months. They look awfully similar! James was fatter of course!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

We're too Poor

Several months ago I wrote a blog post about our finances, so I thought I'd try out another one! Since we are forging our way toward being debt-free (and/or moving and buying another house) money is a common topic in our household. And lots of these conversations have been teaching James about money and it's value. What started off as partly a joke and also a matter of convenience was Brian and me telling James we were poor and that's why we can't buy "x". It made it easy when we'd be at Costco and he wanted that cool new toy and we'd just say, "Oh, that looks super fun, but we're too poor." And it worked, James would nod and move along. But as time went on James would tell other families we were poor and even go as far as to ask my mom if they were poor too, like his parents! Part of me was so proud for our successful indoctrination of our child! But this also got me thinking.

Along with teaching James we are poor, we have also been trying to teach him about work. We talk about how work allows us to buy things that we need and want. We talk about how working harder and longer equals more money. We talk about how dad goes to work and works very hard to provide for our family. We ask James about what he'd like to do when he's older to make money. We give James chores to help him develop a work ethic. (This still needs a lot of work on our part! He whines a lot about chores!)

So my point in all of this is that I am now a little worried that we are teaching him mixed messages. James sees how hard Brian works at his job as well as with his church assignments. I try to make a point of this to James so that he appreciates what Brian does and to explain why Brian gets home late or has to leave again to go to church after getting home from work and so on. By showing James how hard Brian works and then saying we are "too poor" are we showing him a negative correlation between hard work and money? Am I overreacting and this is going over his head since he's only four years old? Is it a bad idea to trick your kids into thinking you're poor to help them not be spoiled? Brian and I are by no means rolling in the dough. We make a comfortable income where our needs and some (if not many) of our wants are met. I do think that being spoiled and entitled is more a matter of gratitude that can occur at any income level, rich or poor. So are there better ways of teaching children an attitude of gratitude rather than just telling them you can't afford it?

As a funny aside, there is a quote from Napoleon Dynamite that we say all the time in our house. To set the scene, Napoleon and Uncle Rico are shopping at some sort of grocery or corner store. Napoleon tries to get a box of assorted chips. Uncle Rico yaps, "Napoleon, you know we can't afford the fun pack. What, do you think money grows on trees in this family? Take it back!" Brian and I have abridged the quote to be, "We can't afford the fun pack!" when referring to anything that is out of the budget, whether it's a nice handbag I want or even more serious things like a house that is too expensive!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Be still and know that I am God

With the birth of each child, it seems our life has progressively gotten busier. Currently I am usually busy on the merry-go-round of feeding, changing, cuddling babies. This of course was expected, but no less hectic. One of my favorite passages from the scriptures is, "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalms 46:10). I love this scripture because it reminds me to take a step back and pause. My natural pace tends to be fast, busy and on the brink of neurotic. Remembering this scripture helps me to actively search for quiet times for reflection or at least grasp onto the moments that do happen. You can't avoid all the chaos --- like the craziness we have on Sunday mornings since church was changed from 1 PM to starting at 9 AM!

The other day I took the kids to the park and James ran around from thing to thing and I stood by watching with the girls in their covered car seats in the stroller. It was such a beautiful, warm day with the sun shining. I also don't get out much in nature because of Christina's light sensitivity, but she was tolerating it on this day. (I cover her stroller completely with two blankets so no light can get in and even with that she is annoyed by the light, but can at least deal with it.) I remember standing there with the sun shining down on my face and I put my hand under Christina's covers to check on her and she reached out and held my hand. This experience was a seemingly sweet and simple one but its impact on me was much greater. I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and love. In this moment I felt the love of God in my life. I am so grateful I was able to slow down and enjoy this moment that could have easily passed me by.