Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Gift of Possibility and an Ellie Update

This post is going to be a photo bombed update on Ellie, but first I wanted to write about a something very near and dear to my heart. 

A group of us mamas with babies with T21 have embarked on a journey together. Our mission is to help new or pregnant moms receive accurate and up-to-date information when receiving a Down syndrome diagnosis. My friend Jenny was able to explain it much more eloquently on her blog Blessings Beyond the Ordinary. The first step we are taking is sending out our personal Christmas cards to medical providers. Our hope is to give them a glimpse into what life looks like... and how it's just like any other family! If your child has Down syndrome, please join us and send your card to your medical community too! Our pediatrician, the Ds Clinic, and my OB will be receiving our card this year. This should be interesting as my relationship with my OB ended on an awkward note... more on that another time!

Our 2013 Card

I also wanted to update on what we've been doing the past couple of months.  Ellie is now 11 months old. We have had a really fun and crazy busy couple of months since my last post. Ellie has had her first Halloween, Thanksgiving, attended a fancy gala, met Santa Claus, met new friends named June and Katie, and is meeting milestones on Ellie time. 

Ellie's mentor Iris was featured on the cover of the 2013 Nike Special Olympics Youth Games Booklet. The Youth Games invited Iris and her mom to the Governor's Gold Awards. They were given the option of bringing a guest, and Ellie and I were invited to go to! All proceeds from the event benefit the Special Olympics. It was such an honor and a night I'll remember forever. We were served a nice fancy dinner and Ellie and Iris were the only children there from what I could tell. They were such good girls and sat patiently through the whole event and were adorable and smiling the whole time.  What an amazing opportunity!
Iris on the cover of the booklet, little rock star!
Our girls all dressed up!
Speaking of Iris, I have to share some fun things she has been up to lately. She had an opportunity to be in a new movie with Reese Witherspoon called "Wild" being filmed in Portland! I'm anxious to watch the movie to see if Iris makes the cut. And I am in love with this video of Iris busting a move in San Francisco a couple of months ago. Miss thang has some serious skills! It has been really great to have Iris as Ellie's mentor. I'm asking her mama questions daily and am learning so much. I am one lucky gal! 

Iris Breakdancing

Ellie is still getting bi-monthly Physical Therapy and Early Intervention. I'm lucky that my mom-in-law is here two days a week and my mom is here on Fridays with me. They help out a lot with her therapies, and it's nice to all be working on the same things with her. Ellie is working hard every day and can stand perfectly when you hold on to her hands, but isn't ready to stand on her own yet. The other night, however, Luke was playing with her, stood her on her feet, and let go. You should have seen the look of excitement on her face! She stood for a few seconds and as I was screaming for him to grab her, I snapped a picture (BAD MOM!) but she's fine, she didn't fall! Her crawling is not happening yet. She gets up to crawl and when she tries to take off she gets in skydiving mode. See below. She'll get it, it's just taking a little extra time and that's OK. She is also waving now, playing peek-a-boo, as well as "how big is Ellie" which is the cutest. Here is a video of some of her neat milestones the past couple months:

Ellie 10 Months Old

Look at me, I'm standing!
Getting ready to crawl!
Annnnd she flies instead.
Trying Cheerios for the first time. Hmm...
Family Halloween Pic!
Thanksgiving at our house was a blast. We had 20 people and our house is STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION. The remodel started in August and it's looking like it won't be done until after Christmas. I've decided that prolonging it will just make me enjoy it more and be more grateful when it's done... (keep telling yourself that!!!) Here's a pic of our table. Luckily my mom set the table for us because I have no clue when it comes to this stuff. 
The long table(s)
Jesse smoked and cooked a 25 pound turkey on our traeger and it was AMAZZZIIINNG. Speaking of my talented hubby, he made me a barn wood wall too. I LOVE IT! And it works great for a photo backdrop. Ellie was snuggled and kissed and showed off her new skills all night long. All in all, it was a great day and our hearts and bellies were full! Here are a few photos from that day.

The wood wall, and beautiful kids.
With Uncle Kev and Grandma Barbara
Grammee calls this "getting the party started" and I am loving the coordinating outfits!
This is what she does when you say "how big is Ellie?" 
We finally met my friend Kim's sister June. Kim was my friend I talked about in my last post. Kim invited us to watch June perform in her Cheer Showcase. June is awesome, sassy, beautiful and has the best giggle I've ever heard. I loved talking to her and seeing a glimpse of what Ellie could become. I have to admit I teared up a couple times watching June's cheer performance at StyleShock Cheer and Dance.  And you best believe I will be signing Ellie up for the program when she's old enough! It was so inspiring to watch the performance and meeting June and her mom made my day. Thank you again Kim!
Ellie and June at the Cheer Showcase
While I was standing chatting after the performance I met a mom of an 11 year old little girl named Katie who has Down syndrome. This woman was a wealth of information. Her positive outlook was inspiring to me. Talking to Katie about the slumber party she had the night before with her BFF made my heart smile. She seemed like any other 11 year old to me. She is absolutely gorgeous and we talked for quite a while. She was wearing pretty green eye shadow and I couldn't help but think of our girl when she is her age. I swapped numbers with her mom and am looking forward to learning from her in the coming years. Here is a photo of beautiful Katie. I also want to share an uplifting and inspiring article that was written about her last year. Isn't she just wonderful??

Article about Katie

Katie at the Cheer Showcase
Yesterday we took the kids to see Santa. I loved when Luke nervously told Santa he wanted a purple Easy Bake Oven, and how Will told Santa he wanted Pokemon cards only to realize afterward that he forgot to tell him which ones. While no one was looking he whispered to Santa all the names of the cards he's hoping for. Ellie wasn't sure what to think, but she didn't cry so that was a plus! She just stared curiously at him, and at his beard. 
I think she's questioning the beard. I know we were!
We are really looking forward to Christmas this year. It is crazy to think that this time last year I was hugely pregnant and oblivious to the journey our life was about to take. We had no idea what 2013 had in store for us. I'm especially grateful this year for our family and friends because we couldn't have made it through this year without the constant love and support from them. I'm also amazed at the magic around meeting other families who are in the same shoes as us, it's almost impossible to explain. But what I do know is that it feels right and I know we are exactly where we are meant to be.

The song I chose for this post is one of my all time favorite Christmas songs. This part always gets me misty-eyed, and this year it means more than ever. 

I remember dreaming
Wishing hoping praying for this day
Now I sit and watch them
The little ones I love so excited by the wait