Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

A little baby giraffe just wanted to wish everyone a very happy and safe Halloween!

Mommy's sweet baby giraffe
"31 for 21" mission complete! Can't believe I made it ... 31 (actually 32, I think) blogs in 31 days. Whew!!! Don't worry, fans, I will still be blogging as much as possible ... it just might not be everyday from here on out. Thanks again to all my followers for their support!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Being "There"

I know that I have mentioned over and over how I wish I'd known when Jack was born what I know now, but I find myself being reminded of this daily.

Today we celebrated our friends' little girl Ella's first birthday at a wonderful party (way to go, Laine ... awesome time!). It was a day full of friends, fun and laughter. A friend of ours who we haven't seen much of since Jack's birth came up to Robert, Jack, and I and asked us if he could talk to us for a minute. We said sure, of course, and he went on to tell us about how when he first heard about Jack's birth and diagnosis, he called upon an old friend of his who had four boys, two typical children, one with Down Syndrome and one with Autism. He called upon this friend to ask him advice in terms of what to say or do for us because of Jack's diagnosis. His friend told him that out of all four of his children, if he had to choose only one to have he would choose his son with Down Syndrome. I thought this was an amazing thing to say, and I of course started tearing up upon hearing this. Our friend quickly said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you sad." I quickly corrected him, explaining that I was not tearful because I was sad, but that I understood what his friend meant when he said this about his special son and about how happy I was to finally and truly be "there."

I loved reading the book Gifts so much that I grabbed the book Gifts 2 as quickly as I could, and I think this story from the most recent Gifts (by Amy Armstrong about her daughter Larkin) reiterates the feelings we go through as moms of children with special needs and the journey (tough but very necessary) we must walk in finding true acceptance. It defines how, no matter how hard it is to find our way sometimes, we do eventually get there ... to this wonderfully new and better balanced life.

"I found myself standing in new shoes that didn't fit, and suffered terrible growing pains from trying to walk in them. My raw emotions became blisters that wouldn't heal.

I continued to wear the shoes, though, because I didn't have a choice. Eventually my blisters gently healed into tender spots. And over time, I found the shoes balanced me and kept me grounded. One morning, Larkin was in my arms drinking her bottle, and I relaxed into the moment and locked eyes with her. The pure love in her eyes flooded over me. I realized I needed to have that very same look in my eye. When I look at people, I need to have the same open, loving, nonjudgmental gaze. And I began to cry with that knowledge."

I loved the moment she describes here with her Larkin because it reminds me so much of the first time I had that pivotal moment with my Jack. These children have so much to teach us about acceptance and love for others, and I absolutely can't wait for our journey ahead.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Jack" of all trades

Such a sweet face

Working out with Daddy

Such a hard worker

Ci Ci's dog Brinkley cheering Jack on

Mommy, it's a little early in the morning for therapy ... don't ya think?

being Jack

Trying so hard!

Happy little pumpkin

Sitting up like a big boy on the couch

Uh oh! Going ...

Going ...


Oh well! I'll just roll over!

In the past month, Jack has really blossomed socially and physically. He has always been a really social baby, following people with his eyes when he was as young as 3 weeks old and smiling at only 5 or 6 weeks. Now though, Jack just smiles and giggles at everything ... you don't even really have to try! It's too cute!

Since starting weekly PT, our baby has become a "Jack" of all trades! He's rolling over now, more from back to front than front to back (which is weird because he rolled from front to back first). Every morning now after putting him to sleep on his back, we find him either on his side or belly in his crib. Such a big boy! We've also been working on his core strength with hopes of him sitting soon. Our PT showed us several activities to do with him to strengthen his core (some are shown in photos above), and his core already seems very strong, especially for a child with low muscle tone, she says. Our PT also compliments Jack's straight posture while in the supported sitting position and his ability to already pivot towards a toy while on his belly, which is apparently more like a 6 month skill. Go buddy! Keep it up!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jack!

Jack is officially 5 months old today! I can't believe it ... it feels like just yesterday he was sleeping in his bassinet and now he actually "fits" in his crib! Some days I want to tell him to slow down and always stay a baby. This is probably one of the reasons we haven't started feeding him solids yet, despite our pediatrician and PT telling us to go for it. I guess I'm just in denial! I was talking to one of my girlfriends on the phone tonight whose little girl is turning 1 tomorrow (Happy Birthday, Ella!), and she was talking about how children really do grow up so fast (sometimes too fast, it seems). But, time flies when you're having fun, right?!?!

While I often wish Jack would stay a baby forever, I also often find myself wanting to rush other things. I think that because everyone tells me "he will be delayed," I work so hard at making him hit his milestones (some of which he has actually hit early, even in comparison to "typical" children). It's very interesting how I feel like I want him to stay a baby forever because no one will have momentous expectations of him until he's older. If he stays a baby then I guess I feel that he will never be subjected to ridicule or unfair comparisons to his peers. On the other hand, I know that he has to grow up so I feel myself also pushing him to develop quickly so he never gets "left behind." I hope that all these feelings are normal and that I don't come off sounding like an unrealistic mother of a child with special needs, but this is just how I feel. I guess I just want to protect him and guard his feelings.

To my sweet baby boy on his 5-month birthday:

Dear Jack,

No matter how long it takes you to walk or talk or tie your shoe, I want you to know that you are and will always be my hero. You have taught me a great deal about what is important in this tangled and confusing world we live in. I didn't know how much I could love someone until you were born, and when I look at your sweet smile, I genuinely feel as if my heart could explode. I look forward to the many adventures we will have together during this journey we call life. I will always be here for you to help you be the best you can be. Please know that I am so very proud of you already, and I will love you forever and ever!

Happy 5th Month Birthday, sweet Jack!

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

"There is only one smartest dog in the world, and every boy has it."

Our dog Forest (our four-legged first born) has become a great big brother to Jack. It's so funny to watch him look back and forth at Jack and me with this panic in his eyes when Jack's crying. I love how Forest sniffs Jack before greeting me now when I come home. I also melt when I see Forest give Jack an ever so gentle lick on his hand or foot when he's on the floor playing.

My childhood memories are filled with moments with our family mutt (get this, he was named ... Poopie! No joke!). I feel that my life was enriched because I had a dog. I loved that dog so much that my parents said I would take my dinner plate to the den and sit on the floor to eat with him so he wouldn't feel left out.

Robert also grew up with a dog, a beagle named Buddy, who actually lived to be over 17 years old. Robert was almost done with college when he passed away. Robert and his parents still talk about Buddy to this day, and I have no doubt that this special dog was Robert's absolute best friend when he was a boy.

I often wish that Forest was younger than he is (he'll be 7 in January) or that he'd live forever. I look forward to watching Jack grow up with Forest ... pulling on his tail, patting him on the head, and one day chasing him around the yard. I just know that they will be the best of friends.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Buddy Walk Photos

My sister Kelly sent me more Buddy Walk pictures today, and they were too cute not to share with all of you! Enjoy!

Proud Parents

Meg and Ford (I just LOVE this picture!)

I have some of the best friends in the world!

Melissa (who watches Jack for us when I'm working), Chris and baby Reid

Meg was very proud of the poster she made for Jack!

Mollie getting Jack cuddles

Alice, Chris and Jack's Grandma

So sweet

Happy Jack!

Love this face

Hickling family photo

Charlotte toughing it out even though she was sick!

Ford with his goodie bag

Charlotte getting ready for the big walk

Jack with his cousins and his CiCi

Cousin love

The Chandgie clan

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Jack's Pack" Attacks!

The awesome onesie Aunt Kasey made Jack for his big day!
Thanks so much, Kasey! Miss you!

One of the posters my sister Kelly and I stayed up way too late making the night before.
Thanks SO much for all your help, Kel! Miss you!

Our awesome shirts ... thanks to Ashley Watkins and Genuity Concepts!

Getting excited for the walk!

One of the two "cousin wagons"

"My cousin has more chromosomes than yours!"

Love these (although they took FOREVER to make!)

Uncle Chris and Aunt Alice, thanks so much for coming all the way from DC for my big day!
We love you!

Some of my coworkers from 2300 came to "Back Jack's Pack!"
Thanks so much for your support, guys!

It's tough being a celebrity!

Cousin Ford and cousin Meg's posters for Jack (Meg made hers all by herself!)

Cousin Ford showing his support ... thanks, buddy! We love you!

Meg spreading the Jack love

Jack strolled in style

Jack with his new buddy Carter ... rocking their "designer genes" together

Cousin Reid seemed to enjoy herself!

Cousins Wade, Meg and Charlotte bringing up the rear

Hittin' the Road for Jack

Thanks so much for coming for my big day, Omar! I miss you!

Levi did too much partying with his cousin Jack

The walk is over but the memories will stay in our hearts forever

You guys ROCK!

This weekend was definitely the BEST weekend of my life! I can proudly announce that Jack had more than 65 friends and family members walk in his honor at the Greensboro Buddy Walk this past Saturday. It was a beautiful day filled with beautiful people walking for a beautiful cause. Having so many people celebrating your child's life is such an amazing feeling that I just simply cannot describe it. I love all of you who came out to show Jack and our family your support. We will never forget your kindness, and we hope to see you at next year's Buddy Walk and many more thereafter!