Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Change in the Weather

For those of you who live where the winters are very cold and very snowy, you know the hope and and sense of rebirth that comes with the first hints of spring. Change is in the air, and it's exhilarating!

Max and I are finally well--rather, he is, and I'm on the mend--after more than a month of virus after virus after virus. We both got really good at sharing.

The Conference

On one of my better Saturdays, I met two of my mom friends, Sherry and Bonnie, at the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress conference.

We're so lucky to have boys all about the same age and live within a few miles of each other. We missed our fourth, Kerry, that day though. Poor Kerry couldn't get child care.

This was a repeat visit for both Sherry and Bonnie. For me, it was the first. I'd been advised as a brand new parent to avoid the conference. It can prove to be quite overwhelming for the newbie. Awash in my pregnancy hormones I expected to fight back tears a few times, but I guess I've grown. It was a welcome breath of fresh air.

A few (among many) things I learned in the breakout sessions I attended:
1. There is no such thing as a communication or reading plateau.
2. In theory, Max could learn to read before learning to talk.
3. Max is at the pre-potty training stage and we should encourage a lot of sit time.

We got an immediate payback from this last one with Max's first pee-on-the-potty just last week. Woo! Oh the things we parents find exciting.

Walking down the hallway I got a nice surprise. Half a dozen or more banners with photos were hung along the rails. Can you see Max?

He's that smiling boy pushing up on chubby arms right in the center. It was taken when he was about eight months old.

Love Is in the Air

Along with rebirth, spring brings love and it's come it to Max. It seems Max has a little girlfriend. At pick-up last Thursday, Max's teacher told me that he and said little girl spent the day giving each other kisses and hugs. Awww.... Oh, and Daddy, eat your heart out. She's a twin!

A Walk in the Park

This weekend was so beautiful--sunshine, blue skies, and new growth on the pussy willows. Max and I took advantage of the change and walked over to the park. It took about 15 minutes for this 7-month pregnant woman recovering from a massive sinus infection. Despite all the contractions, however, the exertion was well worth it.

It was the first time Max was really able to play on the playground, having begun to walk at Christmas. It was also the first time I didn't get funny looks from other mothers who suddenly became uncomfortable when they asked me how old he was. With no siblings and no friends in town to cushion the blow the park had become a bit of a downer, for me anyway. This trip was refreshing.

Gone Hunting

This morning was Max's first ever Easter egg hunt. Sean and I colored some real ones last night, and while Sean distracted Max this morning, I "hid" them around the living room.

Once he got the hang of it he did quite well, considering, but we now have a bowl full of cracked and crumbling hard-boiled eggs. "Gentle" is not a word Max pays much attention to yet. Despite the carnage--Max's first find was Sean's Irish flag colored egg that he promptly smashed onto the coffee table--it was exciting to experience our first holiday tradition together, as a family. I'm looking forward to many, many more.

And now this tired, pregnant, and contracting mom must head to bed. But guess what, the weather tomorrow is supposed to be even better!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Revelations and Nonsense

So tonight I'll be posting twice.

At least, that's what I'd like to do. But alas, always a perfectionist I have struggled, but finally come to terms with the fact that teaching full time and raising a toddler while pregnant and married to a man who works some nights and every weekend makes publishing regular posts, well, challenging. So tonight I really feel like posting a meandering piece about life recently, but I've also been preparing a more serious and very timely piece. I fear that if I put it off much longer, life will intervene and it will go the way of all the other started but never finished projects I had every intention of completing but never did.

Hopefully I've guilted myself into completing that post later this week.

So...Friday, about ten minutes before leaving for work I got THE call. That most marvelous of calls: "There will be no school today." Oh, the joys of winter in New England.

That was early morning, and the snow continued unchanged until evening. We were buried under close to 20 inches. So what is a girl to do when she's cooped up inside? Photo shoot!

What perfect subject matter.

And then came...the weekend.

This pathetic display was followed shortly by a high fever, harsh cough and enough snot to glue together all the pages of Oxford English Dictionary.

My nephews did their best to lighten the mood.

Max wanted nothing to do with it. He even refused pizza. So today he got to spend the day with Grammy.

As heartbreaking as it is to see my baby feeling so badly, I take rather guilty pleasure in all the lazy snuggles that come with no interest in regular activities.

On a lighter note, my nephews were over with their parents--my brother and his wife--dropping off the hand-me-down furniture we are using for the baby. And great timing too. I'm deep in the throws of hormone-induced nesting frenzy, aggravated very badly by the fact that we haven't yet finished unpacking from our October move. I even found the time to work on the artwork I've designed for the nursery. I'll post some pics when it's done.

While they were over I was reminded of that vast chasm that exists, at times, between men and women. Admiring my very round belly, my brother, seven years my senior, said to me, "Wow. You are big." Just what every woman wants to hear. But it gets better. He continued, "You are so much bigger than two girls on my staff, and they already had their babies!" Awesome. Then just as the sting from that blow started wearing off Sean, who was not present for my verbal beat-down, said, "You look so much more pregnant than you did at the end last time." Oh, really?

The nail in that coffin was pounded in this morning by my student who said, "SeƱora! You look so pregnant in that shirt!"

So I wear it like a badge of honor, and indulge in the fever induced toddler caresses across my mammoth middle.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Max can't see. Well, at least not very well. He's been several times to see his ophthalmologist (quoted here in detail on the National Down Syndrome Society website), but it wasn't until his most recent visit that I thought to ask what his vision actually is. Being a distractable toddler without speech (yet) calculations are only approximate, but even so, I was shocked by the news. The vision in Max's right eye measures at 20/130. This is considered low vision. His left eye is worse, measuring at 20/190, ten points from legal blindness.

Vision problems are common in Down syndrome. Among the most common are strabismus, or crossing of the eyes. Max doesn't appear to have this. Another common problem is difficulty controlling focus up close. Max does have this, which is why his ophthalmologist recommends bifocals when he begins preschool in November. For now, however, he has a sharp-looking pair of  strong, single-focus lenses.

Max constantly amazes us. We knew he couldn't see well, but he is so resilient it was often difficult to tell. He could point to specific images on the page of a book and pick up a small cracker that had fallen onto a patterned rug. But if someone came into the room without speaking, Max wouldn't react. He needed to hear a person's voice to know who they were. But now, his eyes light up from across the room when we enter. He pours over books, analyzing the details he was once unable to see. For the first few days he fell down quite a lot, spending too much time taking in his surroundings, paying little attention to where his feet were taking him. Now, however, he is a pro.

Here are a few of my favorite new-glasses shots: