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.

Silence isn’t a bad thing

Miss us?

Especially the blond-haired, blue-eyed, drooly-smile guy?

Sorry ’bout that.

We’re doing great. Beyond great. Things have been busy and things have been so, so beautiful, that I’ve just chosen a few quiet weeks to mull it all over in my mind rather than boring you with stories of how amazing my little man is… I mean, you knew that anyway, right?

It’s been a great few weeks.

We got through the cardiologist and urologist appointments easier than imagined. It’s still not easy watching ultrasound goo coat your 14-month-old’s round little belly, hands flailing, tears streaming, but the results were good: one of his holes in his heart has closed up on its own; the other is slowly but surely doing the same. We go back in one year for a check-up.

The urologist appointment in Pittsburgh gave us an excuse to test out another of my hotel chain’s properties and to explore the Three Rivers city a bit, a mini-getaway if you will. Zack loves his new carseat and spent most of the trip waving at us from the backseat. I got the camera out and played around with cityscape images.

And Little Man is now going to be visited by a third Early Intervention friend — an occupational therapist who will work on feeding, drinking, textures and some self-sufficiency. She seems so sweet and she will fit in with our EI family (like Miss Sheri, our special instructor who brings us rice to put our hands in and PlayDoh to stretch and pull!) just fine.

New skills include standing — everywhere and anywhere — in his pack-n-play, a good morning salute from his crib each day, the landing step downstairs, pulling himself up at the couch cushions to say “hi” to Momma. He loves the new altitude, the new view and grins from ear to ear like the little show-off that he is, which we love almost as much as the feat itself.

I have absolutely fallen for Fall. Zack’s love for leaves, his big curious eyes as we uncover local treats — covered bridges with friends and lunch dates and playdates and the beauty of a light jacket and an Autumn breeze — have given me such an appreciation and love for the season myself. He is discovering and uncovering so much. I love that he’s taking us along with him for that ride.

But there are adventures to be had indoors, too.

Visits from a favorite uncle on his way to a Southwestern Adventure.

Coming home from work to see images like this:

And there are just a thousand other “everyday moments” that I pray I remember in six months, in five years, when Zack’s 30, when I’m 90. The moments that remind me that being a mother is the most amazing thing I have ever done and will ever do in my life.

(And now a big mysterious shout-out to a someone special who let me and some others know about her long-awaited, already-loved baby-to-be news. I won’t ruin your public-place-let-it-out-there sharing… but I’m so happy for you! xoxo)

So we’ve been quiet.

But we’ve been great.

And things will only get better.

*Z-Man and Momma are off to New Jersey to visit with family this weekend. We’ll share our adventure next week when we return!

Success, Mom Style

How do you measure success?

As a working woman, as a manager, it’s about time management; organization and multi-tasking; respect. It’s about balancing the importance of small triumphs and big rookie mistakes. It’s about leaving work in the parking lot as I drive away — to return just a few hours later sometimes.

As for the rest of my life, success is all at once harder and easier to measure.

It’s mostly about making the most out of every moment — standing by the screen door to feel the mist of a springtime thunderstorm breezing by our world and equally admiring the birds building a nest in our wisteria bush on a sunny afternoon. It’s about being present, and about being thankful.

Success is making it through my first year as a mom (almost!) relatively healed and a better person. It’s about being an advocate for moms like me, sons like Zack and diseases and diagnoses like Down Syndrome — without being overbearing, annoying or obsessed.

Success is waking up to a world where new friendships are born out of memories and different walks of life… paths that lead to playdates and teary-eyed stories and everything in between. The understanding of complex feelings on complicated days without saying a single word about it all.

Success is a day like today.

A day where understanding the significance of my son sitting up on his own is not lost on me but not the only thing that moves me, either. It’s a day where I can let him fall 10 times, one of those likely resulting in a good cry from the impact of the toy behind his head. I bite my lip, hold back my hand from caressing the sore spot and watch as the tears quickly dry up and life is good again.

Yes, life is good again. One point for Mommy.

A day like today brings me a boy whose mid-morning cat nap can only be found on Mommy’s chest today. And I won’t argue with that at all.

Success is catching up with my dad, my stepmother, my Godmother and a best friend, and reaching out to the voicemails of a handful more.

I am successful today because I hugged my husband a little more, told him “I love you” a few more times and meant it with all of my heart. Where the seriousness and beauty of the journey we’ve shared makes us stronger, not weaker. And a day where “forever” sounds like a piece of cake. We’ve made it to what has got to be Hell — and back — and then a few more times — and days like this, he holds me close, tells me he’s “having a moment” and just can’t let me go.

Yes, I must be doing something right.

Success is laughing with my nearly 10-month-old son over nothing at all; neither one of us is able to stop.

Success is feeling his heavy weight on my hip as I hold him in front of his crib, the curtains drawn, pajamas on, milk in belly. I tell myself it’s OK that it’s still so hard to let go. And that it’s even better that I’m able to do just that.

I didn’t finish the laundry I started.

I only read one magazine, not the other 10 in my must-read-soon pile. (Hey guess what — Osama’s been killed!)

I am only now sitting down to write a blog I’ve been thinking about for hours; the latest in a handful that need written and shared.

I didn’t buy any more work clothes. I definitely didn’t make it to the grocery store.

But I laughed, I smiled, I rested, I thought, I prayed, I hoped, I drank some wine, I laughed some more. I loved a lot. I was loved.

I lived a good day today.

And I think that makes me successful.

Progress

I think measuring progress is a crazy thing.

In school, you take midterms and get progress reports. At work, you get reviewed every so often.

I can’t tell you how a “regular” parent measures their baby’s progress, because I’ve never known any type of parenthood other than this journey we’ve been on since August. Our little man’s progress is measured in homework and checklists from his therapists’ weekly visits and from the watching of a clock’s second hand, and then, if progress is good, the minute hand when a new task or exercise is being tested, or forced, upon our wiggle worm.

Sometimes progress is hard to find.

The ‘maintaining skill’ code on the therapists’ sheets instead of “I” for ‘improvement.’The screaming of a frustrated baby who wants to play. The silent tears of a mother who wants to play. The milestones on Facebook, photo albums and shared stories — milestones we haven’t met.

And I know…

…”Every baby develops differently…”

…”You can’t worry about that…”

…”You just wait and see what he does…”

But I can’t wait. We can’t wait. So we trudge forward, sometimes with excited zest. Sometimes with tired discouragement.

 

Then there are those times when progress, real progress, sneaks up and slaps us across the face in one excited accomplishment.

 

Tummy Time used to be absolute Hell on earth. Screaming. Tossing our head onto the floor and bawling from our little man. Or lying motionless and killing my heart even more.

 

Now it’s just about impossible to keep Zack on his back. Dude goes on floor. Five seconds later, Dude on belly! Smiling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now he’s started flipping from his belly over to his back, easy-peasy.

Sleeping? Now on my back, thank you very much, Zack says to the video monitor every night. When I open his nursery door, a smiling face looks up at me every morning.

 

 

This afternoon while I was working, my little co-worker fell asleep on his stomach — and stayed there, peacefully, for nearly two hours.

 

 

 

On Thursday, we had a three-month home visit by our Early Intervention coordinator. She watched Z-Man’s interaction with his physical therapist, who was so thrilled with the baby’s progress that she just kept exclaiming over and over again: “I can’t believe he’s doing this… he didn’t let me do this with him before… he’s never tolerated this before…”

I tried to keep a cool exterior, but inside I was beaming from head to toe with pure joy and pride.

After three months with EI (one of the best decisions I could have made in those first few numb weeks), Zack’s already accomplished two of his five sub-goals underneath the main goal of being strong enough to roll, crawl, sit, stand, walk and play. (Sounds SO much simpler than it really is.)

So we added a couple of new sub-goals and he’s cruising for success in two other categories any week now.

But it’s a long way to go. Even with all the excitement, it was only a “slight improvement” type of comment day for our physical therapist’s sheet.

This is not a finish line. I’m not sure there ever will be a finish line.

But there’s a right-now line. And we’ve left it in our dust, excitedly scurrying toward our told-you-so and knew-he-could lines.

 

 

We sit (with support)!

 

We have neck control. We track noises and sights with our eyes, back and forth. We roll and roll. We *almost* have that crawling motion down.

 

 

Oh but there is so much more. Just as we accomplish this week’s homework, next week’s session will come, bearing some sort of code and leaving us with yet more homework to humble us down. But Down is the new up, you know.

We parents, we progress real nicely, too. I almost wish someone had a code to assign to us, because some weeks (like this one), I can’t help but feel like I’m kicking butt, too.

And Scott is becoming a better father by the minute. To see him kiss his son and call him “my boy”… well, there honestly are no words for that one. That’s a special feeling I prefer to keep in my heart as I lean against a doorway watching my two guys interact with funny noises and smiles.

 

 

 

We rejoice. And we celebrate progress with our awesome, awesome SuperBaby.

Things (and babies) are looking up

One of Zack’s physical therapy exercises right now is practicing his head and chin lifts. By putting him on his belly, whether on the floor or a pillow, he’s forced to use his shoulders, his chin and other muscles to lift up his head. Once he masters this, which takes a lot of daily practice, he’ll be able to roll over easier and will be able to move forward eventually and crawl his way away from his parents.

 

The Little Man is beginning to really master the exercise that would formally cause him to scream after only a minute or two. He makes funny faces, kicks his legs behind him and grabs at everything he can with his hands — if he’s not too busy sucking on his arm, that is.

Zack’s looking up and, as cheesy as it sounds, so am I. I don’t know what it is, but I woke up today feeling really positive, upbeat and invigorated. I got two stories done today, cleaned the house, had great fun with Zack in between and now we’re ready for a fun weekend of visitors.

 

 

My new friend (thanks work, Facebook and blog!) B is bringing her two kids over tomorrow morning for a little visit and I’m so excited to meet up with her outside of a courtroom, especially since we’ve both entered a difficult variety of mommyhood this year.

Then, our friends A, P and J are coming out from Baltimore for a weekend stay. It’s honestly been since Scott and I got married that we last saw them, so it will be fun to catch up. It’s always a good time, especially if there are Moose or Jersey songs involved (inside jokes!).

And on Sunday afternoon, our pastors are coming out to the house for a long-awaited visit to see Zack (and us too I suppose). Pastor Wayne offers us great comfort and the spiritual awakening we’ve felt this past year or so makes us appreciate what a fantastic church family we have even more.

Tonight is relaxation.

The baby is sleeping. Here Comes the Sun is playing on repeat on my laptop (seriously, does anything beat “doo-do-do-dooooo?). The Thanksgiving linens are washed and on the table. Scott started a brilliant fire and I’m leisurely sipping a glass of red wine.

 

I’m sitting in my favorite red chair in a comfy pair of sweatpants, my camera manual on my lap and suggestions on improving my photos from my Uncle Joe.

 

I look around and yes, yes life is very good indeed.