Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dreams Do Come True

When Kennedy was born I was scared. I had no idea how much Down syndrome would change my life.  In the past two years I've realized that it has changed it more for the positive than anything.  We enjoyed our vacation so much.  Kennedy absolutely LOVED Disney.  She loved the characters.  She ran up to them all, hugged them and kissed them over and over.  She even hugged a few photographers.  It was a trip that we dreamed of taking long before we had kids.  Long before Down syndrome came into our lives.

There are no words to describe what a great time we had.  So I'll just blast you with a few of the 1,900+  photos that I took.

It's DISNEY, people!!!!!

How do I hug this dude?

I'm coming!

Hi Daffy!

Hey tall dude? Dance with me.

She loved the rides! Especially Dumbo!

Excuse me?

Truly the happiest place on Earth and an absolutely magical vacation for the entire family!  I'm counting down the days until we go back.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

She Amazes Me

This little girl amazes me more every day.  There were many days that I have spent worrying about the delay in her communication skills.  But in the past few months her receptive language has just grown by leaps and bounds.  She is following more and more commands and showing us how much she understands every day.  Not only that, but her expressive language is growing too.  In the past few weeks she's started saying words like dog, ball, up, and down.  She's started signing things like down and music.  When we checked in to the hotel this week I took her to see the parrot, Lisa.  She pointed at it, said bird AND signed it.  Lisa said, "hello" to which Kennedy waved and said, "hi."  Talk about melting my heart.  Today in the pool, she signed her own version of "water."  It wasn't quite correct, but I knew what she was getting at.  I could not be more proud of this little girl.  She's using about 10 spoken words and 10 other signs, as well as several word approximations.  She's made some wonderful progress lately, and I'm starting to feel like there are probably a lot of words she can say, but is waiting for the right moment to surprise me with them!  So my new mission is to find a way to bring them out.  Maybe more vacations?

Speaking of vacation, this one is proving to be one of the best, and we're less than a week into it.  That's saying a lot, because it's no secret that we make vacations a big priority in this family.  Kennedy and Caleb are at such great ages for this one.  Kennedy is really understanding all of the special things she gets to see and do and Caleb is really in to exploring and taking it all in.  Yesterday we spent the day celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the birth center where Kennedy was born.  It was great to see the wonderful women who were a part of both kids' births and who provided so much support during our NICU stay and some of the more challenging and emotional times after Kennedy's birth.  We have spent time seeing old friends and enjoying the hotel on the beach (where we got married nearly 3 years ago.)  The last time we stayed at this hotel was Kennedy's first vacation.  The month before her heart surgery.  There were so many fears in my mind and it was definitely a bittersweet stay.  But, here we are, 20 months later, and she is running around like any other toddler.  We have all come so far in that time.  This hotel will always hold special memories for us, for so many reasons.  It was really neat watching Kennedy and Marlon run around the banquet room where our wedding reception was held. Tomorrow we head to Orlando to spend the week with family, and Mickey! We have made some wonderful memories this trip, and I've already taken over 1,000 photos.  I'll try not to overload the post, but just give you some of my favorites. (Thanks to Blogger, these are in random order.)

Playing in the sand, she had so much fun and could have kept going for hours!  
(Note to self. Or Grandma. We may need to invest in a sand box or table.)

Why did we have to move out of this state?

Mommy you are silly!

Kennedy takes her kisses very seriously.
Come here J, I'm going to kiss you whethher you want it or not.

We miss "Aunt Angie" so much!

And Andrea too!

Shaking her butt (and arms) to Bruno Mars and Black Eyed Peas.

Come here Caleb I want to kiss you!  (Or pinch you!)

Daddy, you are so funny!

Too much sun, partying, good food and dancing. I can't take anymore mom!

It doesn't get much cuter than this? I love these moments between them.

Someone missed swimming outside.


I don't care how tired I am, let's dance people!

I will shake my butt to any music any place!

My little leprechauns.  Or lucky charms.  Either way, they're cute.

There's never too many kisses when it comes to handing them out to her little brother.

Uh, Caleb? Can you come play instead of just picking up sand?

What do you mean you don't want a veggie stick?  You need to figure out this eating thing, bro.

Hey dad, check out the leaves. And the dirt. And the grass.

She doesn't love the pool or anything, right?

Who is kissing who, here?

Pre-bedtime giggles and songs.  Another melt my heart moment, where it hits me just how much these two are growing up.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Updates and More Updates!

I'm a bad bad blogger.  March 6 was Spread the Word to End the Word Awareness Day.  For those of you who have been following my blog, know how strongly I feel about the r-word.  Yet, I didn't manage to find time to blog about it.  I did manage to flood Facebook with facts, photos and articles about why it's so inappropriate to use it.  I fought a few arguments as well.  Arguments I shouldn't have to have, about why I find it so offensive.  And why the word should be eliminated, even when used "appropriately" and replaced with terms like intellectual disability.  On the plus side, I'm happy to say that I haven't seen the r-word pop up on my Facebook newsfeed in a long time, so I consider that a step in the right direction.  Or everyone that uses it got annoyed with me and hid or deleted me.

In other news, we've been busy since the little miss celebrated her birthday.  Her 2 year well visit went wonderful!  She weighed in at 23lb 4oz and 32 inches, and although I typically dread the "developmental assessment" I found that this time wasn't so bad.  I recognize that she has delays and apparently I've had a pretty realistic depiction of where she is because I didn't leave with an overwhelming feeling of how many things we should be working on.  I adore our new pediatrician, who spent an unreal amount of time discussing things like nutrition and vaccines.

Unfortunately, a mere 12 hours after her "well visit" Kennedy got sick.  Our first stomach bug.  Which quickly made it's way through the house, and half the family.  The stupid germs plagued her off and on for an entire week.  Mommy and daddy learned that we can no longer call in the Grandmothers for backup, because they BOTH got incredibly sick.  We spent a lot of time reading and watching TV.  And keeping Kennedy from smothering Caleb with slobbery kisses.  Good times.  (Insert sarcastic eye roll here.)

Apparently turning two meant big things for Kennedy.  I think we're finally beginning to see the shift from her focus on physical development to her communication skills.  Don't get me wrong, Kennedy has never had trouble getting her point across.  But her signing and speaking has definitely not been one of her strengths.  However, in the past week she has picked up two new words and two new signs. She will run up to you with an iPhone, asking for music.  She will ask to be put down.  And although she's very capable of walking, she more often than not, asks to be picked up.  Because apparently mommy needs the work out of carrying a combined 46+ pounds of kid.  Her receptive language has continued to grow by leaps and bounds.  We started working with a new speech therapist who I really like.  Kennedy is not thrilled with her, but only because she makes her work.

And last but not least, Kennedy got to do something VERY exciting today.  She was able to meet Lauren Potter, from Glee!  Okay, so Kennedy didn't really understand the significance of it.  And I had a horrible time getting her to sit still for a photo with her.  Kennedy just wanted to run around, and she was over tired as a result of the time change.  But I was incredibly excited about the opportunity.  She was incredibly sweet!  And Kennedy loved her iPhone.  I'm pretty sure she was going to try to steal it.  Unfortunately, my husband was juggling Caleb, and I was trying to snap photos.  We were ALL trying to get Kennedy to cooperate, with out much success.  But at least there is a photo of Kennedy with her, right?  And we got her autograph.

Speaking of photos, here are a few of the latest, in random order.  And a few videos of Kennedy's impressive dance skills.  I would promise another blog update soon, but we're headed back to the sunshine state for some warm weather, beach time, friends, family and MICKEY MOUSE!!!  So, as usual, the updates may be sparse, but I should have some great photos coming up!

Watching Signing Times with brother! So incredibly sweet. 

Don't bother me mom, I'm reading.

I'm going to kiss you brother!!!!

Watch, this is how you throw a ball.

And this is how you play the piano.

MOM! Why won't he chase me???

Come on Caleb! Chase me!

Let me show you how this works Caleb.

Just brushing my teeth.

Uh, excuse me, I don't care if mom wants a picture, I want to run away!

No, I'm not going to look at the camera and smile.

I sure do love this horse, even if it doesn't go anywhere.

Giving daddy kisses. Poor sick baby. 

Daddy, I'll read you a bedtime story.

Hey people! 

I love this thing!

Mom fail. I dressed them both in gray stripes. And 5,000 people asked if they were twins.

My little princess doing her princess dance!

Dance Queen.  She'll get every musical toy going just to dance.