Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jack's First Easter

When you think about kids and Easter, you typically imagine egg decorating and hunting, gifts from the Easter bunny, chocolate and jelly beans. Well, given that Jack is still too young for all this, we decided to focus today on what Easter is really about.

We attended our church's 11 am Easter service this morning, and as usual, Jack distracted the church members around him, smiling and laughing and babbling to them all. I'm not kidding when I say this ... this kid LOVES church! He loves to listen to the voice of our pastor Bill, and he can't get enough of the music and choir. It's too cute. Our pastor tells us all the time that he loves to hear Jack babble and giggle during his sermons, and we hope he means it ... we secretly keep waiting for someone to gently "remind" us that there is a nursery service available for babies on Sundays. But for some reason, I honestly doubt this will ever happen, given the celebrity status Jack has adopted with our church family. :)

I mean, who could resist this face?!?!

Robert and I both admit to not attending church often enough, partly due to being out of town a lot and partly due to letting other things "get in the way" of it (which we always promise to change but don't always follow through). But every time we do go, Robert and I always talk about how much better we feel for having gone and how it's such a nice way to end the week. Well, today was no exception ...

Maybe it was the fact that our pastor talked about the feeling of needing to be rescued at times in our lives. As he spoke, I thought back to a time in my life nearly 11 months ago when I sat in a hospital bed after delivering a beautiful baby boy, and professionals were already telling me that was wasn't perfect. I remember feeling angry, sad, cheated, alone ... and, well, like I needed to be rescued. I also remember just wanting grab Jack and run off with him to an island where there were just mothers and their children with Down Syndrome, so we wouldn't feel so alone and so ... different. I felt a desperate need to fit in but also a desperate need to flee all at the same time.

But something our pastor also talked about this morning was resurrection. He didn't just talk about resurrection for the obvious reason (it's Easter, duh), but he spoke of how maybe when we feel like we need to be rescued, we might actually be seeking resurrection of some sort ... a rebirth, a new start, a fresh perspective, new found faith and empowerment, an everlasting love. While I listened, tears welled up in my eyes as I looked over at my husband holding my sweet Jack (who was smiling at a nice elderly lady behind us and making her laugh, yet again). I realized at this time that I did not need to be rescued that day last May when Jack was born. Instead, I actually realized that I had become resurrected in some way that day ... as a new mother, an everlasting advocate for a child, reborn as a person whose heart was more open to difference, change, and most importantly, more open to love. It's incredible how one moment can be the most frightening and the most wonderful moment of your life, all at the same time.

Flower cross

We hope that all of you had a wonderful Easter, filled with love and family, and that today you felt at peace, believing in whomever or whatever you believe in, be it God or simply the love of a child. Today, I found peace believing in both. It was certainly a wonderful first Easter for our Jack. Church, followed by brunch at Pops and Grandma's house with family and dear friends, then a nice nap (for us all). It was a day in which everything just seemed to fall into place ...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Carter!

Tomorrow is a BIG day. It's not just Saturday. It's not just April 16th ... it's Carter Montgomery's FIRST birthday!!!!

For those of you who don't know Jack's BFF and fellow extra-chromosome buddy, please meet Carter ...

Dear Carter,

We hope you have a wonderful first birthday, little man. It seems just like yesterday that I contacted your mommy and we met at Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream for our very first Down Syndrome Network Moms' Night Out. You and Jack were only just a few weeks old then and so very tiny. Your mommy and I knew early on that she and I had a very special bond, that our families would be wonderful friends, and that you and Jack were going to be terrific buddies. It's hard to believe that nearly a year (and many playdates) later, tomorrow you are turning the big ONE! You and Jack are growing up so fast, and while it's hard for your mommy and me because we'll always see you as our babies, we love seeing you develop into the unique and wonderful people you are. And, we cannot wait to see you two grow up together and be the very best of friends!

Carter, on your first birthday and everyday, please know how very special you are ... not because you have an extra chromosome, but because of who you are, where you came from, and the love that surrounds you and your family. We love you very much, Carter! Happy Birthday, little man!

See you very soon, Korey (and Jack :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Week Off

What a wonderful week this has been. My sister Kelly and her husband Stan were in town until Thursday with their three adorable kids, Ford (almost 6), Wade (3) and Reid (16 months ... going on 16 years ;). It was a beautiful week here in Greensboro with some of the most wonderful weather we've seen yet, with the highs in the 70's and 80's. It was just too pretty to be cooped up inside ... or do therapy. On Monday, Jack and I decided to "play hooky" and skip Music Class to go to the NC Zoo with my sister and her family. It was nearly 85 degrees and sunny, and I have to admit it got a little too hot at times, given we were pushing two strollers up and down hilly footpaths all day. For those of you who have never visited the NC Zoo in Asheboro, it's absolutely wonderful, minus the fact that it's very spread out and hilly. I think we probably walked about 5 miles that day! Thank goodness my sweet nephews toughed it out and were able to walk the whole time, despite one having a "tummy ache" and the other having a "foot ache" (and me getting sunburned!). Jack took it all in with his permanently grinning face. I tried to get him to look at the animals at the exhibits, particularly the giraffes and monkeys (my favorites), but I think it was tough for him to see them all because they were so far away. He did, however, LOVE the Streamside exhibit where he could see close up the underwater fish and the seals who swam by many times to "perform" for us. It was really cute ... I held Jack up to the underwater glass and he put his hands on the glass, kicked his legs in excitement, and cooed at the seals. It was too dark in there to get any decent photos, but the memories are lasting. Jack also got to go on his first carousel ride! Kelly and I took all four of the kids on the ride, and they LOVED it! Jack rode a giraffe (the safest one for babies, because it doesn't go up and down like the others), and he really enjoyed the movement of it all and the gentle breeze in his hair. Stan got some great photos of this big moment, which I will gladly share after they send them to me. On Tuesday, I had to work, and my sister Kelly wanted to keep Jack for me so she could spend some quality time with him. She loves him so much and treats him as if he were her own, which really makes my heart melt. I feel so fortunate to have Jack surrounded by so much love and support. Jack and Aunt Kelly had a really great day, and she reported that he didn't cry one bit (not surprising). Wednesday, we went to the Little Gym in the morning, which Jack always enjoys. Jack's aunt Kelly and cousin Reid met us there for the fun, too! Then, after a nice long nap (for both of us), we joined my sister and her kids again at the park for some swinging and games of tag. It was a really nice day, a little on the cool side but with bursts of warmth when the sun broke through the trees. Jack really enjoyed the baby swing, and just smiled and giggled the whole time! Thursday, I worked again and Jack went to stay with our dear (Godsent) friend Melissa for the day. They always have a great time together. Jack just LOVES his "Lissa," always giving her hugs and the sloppiest kisses! I couldn't ask for better childcare, and it makes my days away from Jack so much easier knowing that he is in such good and loving hands. As for today ... we're heading to the Outer Banks again for a little R&R! We were going to have Annette come this afternoon for some developmental therapy, but Robert wants to leave work early and hit the road to the beach sooner than later. Annette is always so flexible, and agreed to reschedule. Robert's parents, aunt and uncle, and cousin and her fiance will all be the beach with us. I look forward to just relaxing and not worrying about all the things that we worry about here at home ... housework, yardwork, work work, (therapy). We'll take beach walks, maybe do a little outlet shopping, go out to nice seafood dinners, laugh a lot, and (try to) sleep in. Again, it's been a great, stress-free week. And, I realized just last night that it's been a week without therapy!!! More often than not I find myself worrying ... Has Jack done enough "therapy" today? Have we worked on self-feeding or crawling enough today? Did we practice signing enough today? But not this week. I'm really starting to let myself relax more and stop worrying so much about all this stuff. Jack will do all these things we want him to do when he's ready to do them, and in the meantime all we need to do is LOVE him, and feeling this way makes our days just so much easier for me. This week, Jack was just a typical kid, doing what typical kids do. We took the week off, and man did it feel great ...