Friday, December 21, 2007

Life is Beautiful

Antalya had fun playing with the wrapping paper on her presents.

Mary and Joseph

The angels

The enactment of the nativity story

Christmas morning hike in the freshly fallen snow

What a wonderful time of year. I enjoyed Christmas this year, my only complaint is that it passes so quickly that there is little time to stop and contemplate the wonderful "true" meaning of all the celebrating. I am truly grateful for and humbled by the birth of a little child so long ago in a land so far away. Without Christ's birth, ministry, atonement and resurrection there would be no meaning or purpose to our life here. No hope of a better world, no hope of reuniting after this life is through.

Several days ago I was talking with a friend about another friend of ours that is struggling to come to terms with some things that are happening in her life. "Life is so unfair. " We both agreed, but I also commented "but isn't that part of the beauty of life?" My friend didn't seem to agree, which left me pondering if I really meant what I said. Is life's seemingly unfairness part of it's beauty? I believe it is. Isn't it through our tailor-made trials that we gain the wisdom and experience we need to help others? Isn't it beautiful when people come together to help lift someone who has fallen or offer an understanding heart and a shoulder to cry on to someone who is alone? I believe our lives are all knit together. Each sorrow and each joy helps to unite us as brothers and sisters. How much of life's beauty would be missed if we lived in a 'fair and equal world' where each person received the same as the last!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Annual Grandkid Photos

This year we decided to take the annual grandkids photos ourselves in hopes that the kids would be a little more relaxed and willing to work with us. What an experience. Several hours later, we still didn't have one of all the kids together. At least the individual shots turned out alright. Here are the winners. What cute kids!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Time

I knew Christmas was coming soon, but I had no idea, until I looked at the calendar today, that Christmas is less than two weeks away. My favorite time of the year is almost past, and I feel as if I just barely started to enjoy it. Something I look forward to about this time of the year is all the yummy food. Here are thirteen of my favorite foods that remind me of Christmas.

1. Big juicy grapefruits
2. Pomegranates
3. My grandma's divinity
4. My mom's hot wassail
5. Almond Roca
6. Cinnamon Bears
7. Hot Chocolate
8. Peppermint Ice Cream with Hot Fudge
9. Shrimp Cocktail
10. Cheesy Potato Casserole
11. Red, White, and Green Jello Salad
12. Pecan Logs
13. Candy Canes

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: T21 Mom

I love reading Thursday Thirteens, so I've decided to start my own. This week it is about Down syndrome (what else would I choose for my first topic?) Lately I have really struggled as the gap between Antalya and other kids her age is slowly widening. The hardest part about it, is that it will only continue to get bigger and bigger the older she gets. Every week for the past six months or so, we have gone to playgroup with several other little girls about her same age. It seems like it happened just over night, that they all past her up, even the younger ones. While Antalya is still working on learning to crawl and recognizing and responding to her own name, the other girls are walking and learning to say words. Am I complaining? No! But I do have to be honest with myself that it is hard to deal with my emotions in such circumstances. Do I think these feelings will ever go away? No, although I do think with time it will not affect me as strongly. I hope when the day comes that all her "normal" friends are going away to college, getting married, and starting families and careers of their own I can handle it without getting so emotional.

So this weeks list is thirteen reasons why I love being a T21 (Trisomy 21/Down syndrome) Mom.

1. Before the hospital would let us take her home for the first time my husband and I had to pass off several requirements that ensured the staff we were competent in diaper changing, bottle feeding, burping, infant CPR, giving baths, taking her temperature, washing her hair, etc. This was great training for first time parents!

2. Even though Antalya will be 14 months old next month, she is still happy to let me carry her around in a sling all day.

3. Our local T21 support group that puts on the funnest activities for the kids throughout the entire year.

4. Visits from our occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists every month. They come to our home, and are such a resource with games and activities that I will also use with our other children. Not to mention the fun Early Intervention playgroup that Antalya has just started attending.

5. Big slobbery tongue kisses.

6. Feeling an instant connection and bond with other people. For example, while we were in Chile, we went to the market one day. It just so happened that I ended up standing right next to two ladies who where discussing a Ds event they had just attended. I quickly jumped in to introduce my daughter and find out who they knew that had Ds. We chatted like old friends for several minutes, then parted.

7. My baby doesn't grow up as quickly as other babies.

8. Antalya is the sweetest, happiest, most easy-going baby I have ever known (except when she's not!)

9. Antalya's cute little face. This past year has taught me that babies with Ds are the cutest babies out there.

10. I am more grateful for good health. Not only did Antalya have a rocky start in this world, but having Ds makes her more susceptible to other illnesses and diseases. Each day that I get to hold my healthy baby girl is a miracle to me.

11. I appreciate western medicine more than I ever thought I would. I know realize it a blessing when used properly. If it wasn't for skilled doctors and nurses during my pregnancy, and during Antalya's hospital stay, she might not be with us.

12. Learning to let go of my expectations and trust in the Lord that His plan for me and my family is greater than I could ever have imagined.

13. I get to be Antalya's mom! And that to me is one of the greatest blessings in the world!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

First Day of School

Things are always a little different when you have a child with special needs. One of those things is the age that your child starts school. I am happy to announce that today was Antalya's first day of school! She goes to class three times a month for an hour. I went with her today; we had a great time. We sang songs, practiced putting toys IN and ON, and pulling pegs OUT of a board, unwrapped presents in preparation for Christmas time, used a spoon to self-feed yoghurt, and then for the "messy activity" we put "snow" (whipped cream) on paper trees. Antalya did very well with everything except with the whipped cream. She couldn't be convinced to get her hands dirty. She did so well with her birthday cake that I thought she would just right in. I guess I will have to provide more messy activities for her at home to get used to different textures on her hands.

I am so proud of Antalya. She is doing so well and learning so much everyday. I am so grateful for the early intervention program that is such a huge for us. I took some pictures "school pictures" of Antalya this morning. She was so hilarious. I think somehow she knew I wanted her to pose for me. She gave me about 10 different expressions. These were the funniest ones.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful! Family, friends, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, health, freedom, the luxuries of life that I enjoy. We had a great Thanksgiving with my side of the family this year. Everyone was there except Mom who is recovering from an auto accident that happened a week and a half ago. Even though she couldn't be there, I am so grateful that she is still alive - and with time - should have a full recovery. We really missed her and are all looking forward to hopefully having her back home by Christmas. Although we missed her, Jason and I had a great time heading up the dinner on her behalf. I never realized just how much work it is putting together such a big meal for so many people. Thanks Mom for always doing such a great job each year... you have taught me so much!

Friday, November 16, 2007

We're Back!

We had an incredible time in Chile! I only wish the pictures were better at capturing it. But here are some pictures all the same. Some of the highlights of our trip include: hiking and camping near a beautiful waterfall in the Cajon del Maipo just east of Santiago, pelicans in the coastal city of Vina del Mar, spending time with Gramma and Grampa Cardon who are on a mission in Paraguay, attending the the temple in Santiago, penguins in Punta Arenas (one of the last cities before you reach the end of the world), backpacking through Patagonia, glaciers, experiencing sunshine, rain, hail, wind, and snow all in the same afternoon, spending time with my chilean friends, lakes as blue as the caribbean ocean, meeting people from all around the world, Isla Negra - the wonderful bed and breakfast we found in Puerto Natales that made room for us even when they were full, and so many other wonderful things that would take me all day to list.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Santiago de Chile

Buenas tardes! I was hoping to be able to post some pictures tonight, but since I am writing from a public computer a picture from the internet will have to do. We are having a great time in Chile. We spent a few days camping in a canyon at the base of the Andes were we had a lot of fun. Antalya enjoyed eating dirt by the handfulls whenever I wasn´t looking. We hiked to a beautiful waterfall and even found a local climbing area. We were excited to go climbing because Jason had been lugging around 20 lbs or so of climbing gear all week.

We have also spent a few days in Santiago staying with my friends the Bastias-Guzman family. We enjoyed lots of yummy homemade Chilean food. I think I have already gained 5 lbs in the week we have been here. Jason´s parents arrive last night. It has been great seeing them again.

I don´t want this to be anymore a travel log so I will just highlight some of my most favorite things so far (in no particular order):

1. Antalya´s reaction to the airplane - on take off during that moment when your stomach drops to your toes her face lit up with the biggest smile I have ever seen!
2. Hermana Mercedes´ homemade lentil dish.
3. Greeting everyone you meet with a kiss.
4. Once - this is the Chilean evening snack consisting of bread, cheese, and tea.
5. After 7 nights of sleeping in between Jason and I, Antalya got to sleep in a pack-in-play just like the one she has at home. When I set her down in it she started giggling with excitement.
6. Walking the same streets I have walked so many times before.
7. Rides in the colectivo - a multi-user taxi. The driver takes you for a set rate, picking up more people along the way until the vehicle is full.
8. Introducing my beautiful family to the wonderful Chilean people.
9. Hearing the gospel taught in the celestial language!
10. Completos - a standard Chilean food. You won´t believe this but it is hotdog smothered with tomatoes, avocado, and mayo, and it is SOOO delicious!

Tomorrow we head for the coast for the afternoon. Tuesday is full of site seeing in the city, and then Wednesday morning it is off to the south to the Torres del Paine National Park. I can´t wait!

Monday, October 22, 2007

As A Man Thinketh

Jason just introduced me to great book entitled As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. I spent the morning reading half of it. It talks about the power of our own thoughts on our actions and ultimately, our lives. There were several quotes that I just loved! I thought I would throw a couple of them up on this blog, mostly to help me remember them.
Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony with himself, with the Law of his being. The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure. Suffering ceases for him who is pure. There could be no object in burning gold after the dross had been removed, and a perfectly pure and enlightened being could not suffer.
What an incredible truth. It makes so much sense, but yet I had never thought of it quite like that. As I look back and recall times when I have suffered, it was all a result of my own thoughts. And eventually what ended my suffering was when I reached a change of thought and saw my circumstances differently; realizing that I may not have the power to change an event, but I had the power to change the way I looked on that event. The most recent example in my life was hearing the news that our daughter would need surgery immediately after her birth and would require a lengthy hospital stay to recover. If that wasn't hard enough, the doctor then told us she had Down syndrome. Jason and I both suffered for several days as we tried to bring our own thoughts and desires in line with what was happening. As soon as we corrected our prideful thoughts we ceased suffering.

I'll end with one more line: "Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Precious Moments

Instead of reading stories at bedtime tonight, I just wanted to cuddle with my baby girl. So I gave Antalya her bottle and we sat down on the rocker for some cuddle time. Usually that means I sing a few songs and she falls asleep, but tonight we just sat in silence having a conversation with our eyes. After awhile I would smile, then Antalya would lower her bottle as her face broke out in a smile that spread from ear to ear, which would then turn into a little giggle. We went back and forth like this for about 30 minutes. I didn't want to put her down, and she didn't want to be put down. I was in heaven! It is moments like these that remind me what being a mom is all about. Isn't it wonderful! Thanks Mom for being my mom! And thanks to all those moms out there who spend so much time loving their children.

On another note, we leave for Chile in nine days. I can't believe it! I finally found something to keep Antalya warm while we are backpacking in Patagonia. It's a down-filled snowsuit/sleeper. I hope she stays toasty warm in it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Birthday Cake

On Antalya's actual birthday we gave her a little mini muffin to practice for her birthday party the next day. As you can tell from the pictures as soon as she realized it was there she didn't hestiate to pop the whole thing in her mouth.

The next day at her birthday party was hilarious the way she jumped right in and enjoyed every bite! I think she ate almost the entire cake. P.S. Sonja - I put the recipe for the oatmeal cake on the link to my recipes on the side.