The year that was…

… a journey.

… an adventure.

… throat-clogging lows.

… heart-pumping highs.

It was the year that was understanding. And acceptance. Both long overdue.

Where small triumphs yielded loud, triumphant applause.

It was the year that was risky. Whose risks brought rewards. And peace. Risks that showed us who we were and taught us never to think we were at where we were going to end.

This. This was the year where “what if” was brought up once, maybe twice, (and maybe 200 times) as we contemplated expansion and the future of our family.

There was loss. No more travel logs from Asia, but still I hold tight to the memories. The memories, the photos, the love and all those newspapers from places far away. The last stares at a nephew in his first swim, soaking it all in.

And then, as that circle of life will do, after loss came growth. A positive test, met not by the excited screams we had two years ago, but instead the hold-your-hand-through-this-roller coaster embrace; the in-it-no-matter-what familiar kiss.

It’s been a year of risks. Because that’s what you do when you start seeing all of your rewards, your blessings, your gifts… you thank your lord, you cross your fingers, you hold tight to faith. Take two deep breaths, wink at the one you love and jump into that deep end.

Because the good stuff is hidden.

Because it’s buried deep beneath everything else you’re too busy seeing.

It’s there.

And we found it, slowly but surely, this year.

No one knows what 2012 holds in store for us all.

If we’re really, truly, unbelievably lucky, there will be a little brother or sister for Z-man. There will be tiny fingers that won’t stay small all that long. There will be long, exhausting nights and days and definitely a lot of laughter. Because that’s how we roll ’round here.

2012 is a mystery. But it wasn’t so long ago that 2011 was its own little secret.

And I’m almost sad to see it go.

But so ready to put my hands up in the air and feel a fast breeze roll through my fingers. I’ll close my eyes tight and then I’ll be a brave lil girl and open them up wide so I can watch every second of the ride. And I’ll smile a time or two when it’s all over, amazed and proud that I made it; that I even attempted it.

One day at a time.

Ready? We’ll do it together.

Here we go…

Ho, ho, ho… and going home

We survived Santa and now it’s time for holidays and home. A symbolic trip, me and my carpenter husband traveling with an unborn baby (and hopefully a sleeping big brother in the carseat) through Bethlehem (PA) in the middle of the night at Christmas time on a journey to our homeland (OK, the place where a lot of my family lives now) for finding the true meaning of Christmas. (And to lose Z-man to a plethora of kisses and snuggles and gleeful big-cousin games).
We leave for Massachusetts and New Jersey Christmas night and will be back in time to ponder the last year and plan (but not too much planning) the next one.
May you find the meaning of your Christmas and ponder the past just enough to get you excited for the future. And may there be kisses and love.
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Sooooo big!

Time flies… when you’re raising a toddler?

Our little 16-month-old is not so little and it’s becoming more evident by the day.

Nothing puts it all on display quite like a haircut — The Dude’s fifth haircut!

Before, with Daddy (and Eva the Cat):

After, past bedtime but lookin’ oh-so-handsome:

But it’s more than just the physical things. There is the exploring, the crab-crawling, the grabbing, the laughing, the burst of babbles, the messes, the tickles, the beauty of any given simple moment.

There is the exercising, the practicing, the standing, the self-feeding; the thousand clues that hard work really does pay off if you just don’t give up.

Zack had his most recent check-up at the pediatrician yesterday and all went well! Dr. D. was impressed with his mouth full of teeth (at least five have poked through!), his quick crawl, amazing appetite and our many other exciting moments we can’t help but brag about — including Dr. D’s newest patient next year, Baby Z2b 2.0!

We practice the word “baby” and the phrase “big brother” with Z-Man, but Dude would much prefer to try “ball” or “book.” At least he’s not crying when we say “big brother” to him like he did at first.

It’s hard not to get a bit sentimental and reflective this time of year, but I’m overall really happy with our little world. We are in a better place than we were this time last year and we have an incredible year and future ahead of us.

But it’s still just one day at a time.

One precious moment at a time.

One.

Thanks for reading!

Wintertime Cozy

I was really hoping our snowstorm last night would turn into something productive so that Z-Man and I could get bundled up and frolic in the snow today. Alas, there’s barely a dusting on the ground and so we’ve settled for an abundance of holiday movies, a Peppermint Swirls candle and oogling over the lights on the Christmas tree.

Oh, and the new socks game.

Zack has a thing about socks. The thing is he hates them.

His therapists, especially our OT Miss Charity, are working on de-sensitizing his hands and feet. Part of that is the never-ending battle to keep his socks on.

The last couple of days, the socks have gone on and within seconds, they’re off, two tiny pieces of color flashing in the air as Z-Man waves them around in his hands excitedly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He even pets his feet as if to say “Don’t worry, I’ve freed you!”

Then, there is the scurrying, mostly via crab crawl, to the basement door, where Zack takes his socks and one by one throws them down the cat door, which then turns into a game with Rocky the Cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hysterical to watch it all unfold.

Speaking of therapists, Zack’s therapy is going really, really well. He’s been playing in buckets of rice with some of his toys buried inside, buckets of beans (all to help with the desensitization of his hands and feet), eating better on his own and standing so strong. He’s also taking as many as 20 or 30 steps while you hold his hand and he’s gotten brave enough to let go a handful of times, usually resulting in a face plant for now, but success for sure in the near future.

In therapy with his Special Instructor Miss Sheri this week, Z-Man helped make a snowman! It was so darned cute, even if all he really did was help push the pieces into the right places. It now sits atop our fireplace next to the little handprint we made with him last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We may not have gotten our snow last night, but that beautiful wintertime cozy still winds its way around our home. I’ve been so grateful to have two consecutive days off with my Little Man and so absolutely content with our wintertime world, snowmen and socks and all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you find your own Wintertime Cozy. Enjoy every smell and sight and sound.

And snuggles. Get yourself some snuggles.

Oh, these cuddles

Z-Man came down with a bit of a stomach bug; his first real one, too.

When I came home from work last night, Scott looked exhausted and said he and Zack had both lost their cookies a bit. Sorry, honey, I feel bad for you, really I do, but the poor Little Man!

Needless to say, I ventured into a screaming boy’s room many, many hours ago, to find a truly disgusting sight, one blonde-haired boy sitting in the middle of it all looking oh-so-happy to see Momma in this crazy war zone.

I scooped him up, cleaned him from head to toe all the while humming to him. Once he was all tidied up, I set him down, cleaned the space formerly known as his room, (I’m pretty sure we have to burn it in order to get the smell out of the house), and finally, oh finally, I could do what Mommies were made to do in situations like this.

I  wrapped him in a soft, fleece candy cane blanket, held him in my arms in the recliner in the living room and just rocked him. At 4 a.m., it was a caress on my hand with his soft little fingers. Within minutes, the petting stopped, the breathing grew deeper and two little fingers stayed wrapped around one of my own for several long beautiful moments.

We stayed that way for hours, until Daddy and the puppies woke up to start their day. All the while, I just sat there thinking about this handsome child in my arms. The hair that is so blonde, so silky, so shiny. The little ears that hear me whisper “I love you,” imagining the day my own ears will hear those same sweet words from him. I thought of holding him like this all those many months ago when he was just an infant with a rough cold. I thought of how he would fall heavy in my arms during feedings those first few weeks and of our incredible journey in that time.

And as his chest rose up and down over my own, I thought of his little brother or sister inside of me, thought of the Big Brother Z-Man would be, the impact this younger sibling would have on his life and all of the colds and stomachaches and earaches and injuries and sad times to come. And how each of those offers a chance to grow stronger and to fall into the arms of someone they love… hopefully their Momma though.

It’s what I thought being a Mom was all about; it’s why we put our bodies through what we do; it’s why Scott and I aren’t suffocated by thoughts of Down Syndrome or diagnoses or special tests. It’s because we have cuddles and snuggles and cries and laughs.

We’ve been referred to a specialist doctor for my pregnancy and go there Jan. 3. I feel like we’re being shaken loose because of Zack’s diagnosis and Baby Z 2.0’s chances of a diagnosis. I feel betrayed. I wonder if Baby 2 will always be the younger sibling of a man with Down Syndrome; I wonder if my heart can handle judgement and pre-conceived notions.

To me, I’m carrying another opportunity for snuggles and cuddles and early morning Momma days and mid-evening clean-ups. Because that’s what it’s all about. But I know Scott’s right when he reminds me that the doctors have to think about heart defects and “what ifs” even if he and I choose not to. So we’ll start the new year with a trip to a doctor I never wanted to see. But it comes with a nifty 4-D ultrasound and answers to very important questions…

… like pink or blue?

… Alfonso or Esmerelda? (My father-in-law’s picks of the week)

… Love with all of my heart or love until the end of time, no matter what? BOTH.

I wrote a Thanksgiving post that had pictures and funny stories and warm, mushy feelings about family and friends.

And then I deleted it somehow and couldn’t get it back.

So, just know that it was a great week last week and that I’m thankful and happy and oh-so-content.

And now I must go spy on a blue-eyed boy who’s got me wrapped around his finger. Even if the finger smells like puke.

It’s a Mommy Thing.