Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life Is Therapy

It's been about eight months since Antalya has had any formal therapy. I try to make up for it with activities at home and encouraging her speech and practicing new sounds. Despite the lack of therapists in our life lately, I think she is still progressng and learning so much everyday.

I recently found this post about Life is Therapy (thanks Michelle) I couldn't agree more. There is so much to be learned everyday and so many new skills our little ones with special needs can be working on and perfecting without a "therapist" helping them along. Don't get me wrong - therapy has it's place, and I am anxious to get going with a regular program again (we had an assessment with a speech therapist just this morning).

So along the theme of Life is Therapy, here are some of the fun things we did on Saturday at our family outing to the Museum of Childhood..

Played with sand and was fascinated (like always) at the way it moves through little fingers.

Used gross motor skills to climb up into the ambulance and pretend drive it.IMG_6631

Practiced good cooking skills.IMG_6644

Learned about colors, mirrors, and lights.IMG_6647

Experimented with different textures and sensory input.IMG_6660

Sat a table in a public place and ordered food to eat (this was a BIG one - we haven't taken Antalya out to eat for a very long time, but we decided since the cafe was right there and there wouldn't be much of a wait for food, it would be good practice for her to have to sit at the table and eat whilst surrounded by people and distractions). Sorry there is no picture of this one - I was so impressed with her good manners that I was afraid pulling out the camera to document it would ruin the moment :)

And Victoria had a great time too!IMG_6646

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Common Thread

One the greatest things about having a child with Down syndrome is the connection you instantly have with over 1 million other families throughout the world. Although each one of our children are an individual and different in many ways, the path we walk as parents is very similar despite differences in race, religion, or politics. I love that a child with Down syndrome is recognized immediately and without having to say a single word, two mothers who cross paths on the street can form a bond with no more than a glance to both children and a big smile to one another.

We had one such encounter this morning on our walk to school. We passed a mother and her handsome elementary aged son. A quick glance at Antalya and her face lit up with a grin. Mine followed suit. Although she was engaged in a conversation with another mom, she stopped to say hello to Antalya and tell her what a beautiful pink coat she was wearing. We in turn shared a few words and then waved goodbye.

Albeit brief - our small interaction made my day. Without saying more than a few words, I felt connected to someone. And not just anyone - but a mother who understands what I feel. A mother who has fought for the education and acceptance of her child, a mother who has spent nights worrying about the health of her child, a mother who has been to appointment after appointment to make sure her little one is getting all the care they need, a mother who understands about sensory issues, eating issues, and sleeping issues, a mother who has felt indescribable joy when her child learned to clap their hands, or sit up on their own, or take their first step, or use their first sign, a mother knows words like OT, PT, T&A, CPAP, ENT, IEP, EI, a mother who knows how frustrating communication can be sometimes. A mother who knows all the love I feel for Antalya because she feels the same for her son.

Today I am reminded that the common thread of Down syndrome that I share with so many is one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Grains of Gratitude

We have had a great week and I have so much to be thankful for!

My parents bought their plane tickets to come visit us in June. I am excited to have them come stay for a couple weeks, but even more excited that me and the girls will be flying back with them to spend a few weeks with family and friends back in Utah. I'll be flying back to London by myself - anyone interested in coming to London the end of July? I could really use some extra hands on the flights since I'll be alone with the girls.

Victoria slept from 8:00pm - 5:00am last night. Luckily I still had to get up with Antalya once, and make a couple trips to the bathroom. I'm afraid if I were to actually sleep more than 3 hours at a time I might not ever wake up again:)

Victoria is almost crawling! We started the week with her not knowing how to get on all fours, and we ended the week with her on all fours rocking back and forth and moving herself backwards. This might not be good news for some moms - but in my mind the sooner she starts moving around, the sooner I won't have to protect her every waking moment from her adoring (deathly smothering) sister.

I have started working out again and am feeling great. After I finished the marathon back in 2008, I quit cold turkey and have had one excuse after another not to start a regular workout program. My mom bought me the 10 Minute Workout trainer for Christmas and I am loving it!

I am on Day 15 of my 100 Day Book of Mormon read. Thanks to Tammy at Praying for Parker for inspiring me! It makes such a difference in my day when I spend a few minutes in the morning focusing on Christ.

We spend a fantastic day at the Museum of Childhood yesterday (pictures coming soon). Not only was the museum free, but we also managed to find free parking (unheard of in London). It couldn't have been a nicer day out!

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"She's Not My Friend"

This morning I took Antalya to preschool as usual. We were hanging up her coat in the bathroom while another cute little kid was washing his hands at the sink. Antalya went over to say hello to him. He looked up at me and quickly said, "she's not my friend!" I politely reminded him that all the kids in preschool were his friend. He didn't seem to agree and was quick to tell me once more that Antalya was not his friend.

I could've been very hurt by his words, but come on - he's three! And chances are he wasn't saying it based on anything that had to do with Antalya. She's been in his class for less than two weeks. I'm sure he was merely stating a fact that he has many friends at school, and that Antalya just didn't happen to be one. I get that.

He may not have meant any harm by his words, but I know that one day someone will say something similar and they will mean harm by it. Will I have to teach Antalya how to not take offense at others words and actions, or will her innocence carry her through all the hurtful things out there?

And really, how anyone (even a 3 year old) could not completely adore this sweet face is beyond me!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Mother's Gift

Being a mother is hard work! I'm sure every mother out there would agree. Every day is such a balancing act. And every day it seems I struggle with the same things - loosing my patience when I really shouldn't, getting upset over spilled milk, worrying that I'm not doing enough, wondering if I am becoming the mother they both need me to be, and trying to find the balance between disciple and just go.

But at the end of the day, when I tuck my girls into bed and watch them drift off into peaceful sleep, all of the worrying, wondering, and frustration melts away. When I am cuddled in bed, reading stories with Antalya, or when Victoria is nestled in to my chest, it doesn't seem to matter how many times I lost my patience during the day, or how many mistakes I made. I know that they love me, and they know that I love them - and everything else falls into the background. I like to think of these quiet moments as God's gift to mothers. As I watch them sleep I feel renewed energy and determination to be better the next day.

Lime Chili Tacos

As requested, here is the recipe for the Lime Chili Tacos. I'm going to be posting some more recipes in the days/weeks that come. I am on a quest to find meals that are quick to get on the table. For me, that means anything that I can do all the prep work for while Antalya is at preschool in the morning. This recipe is compliments of my friend Emily Lillywhite.

Place in crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until tender.
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 T chili powder
Remove chicken and shred. Place back in crock pot and add:
  • 1 c frozen corn (or a can of corn)
  • 1 c salsa
  • 1 can black beans
Cook for another 30 minutes (or until all hot).

Serve with avocados, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, and whatever else you like on tacos.

This turned out great. Although I should add that because it was such a wet mixture it turned my crunchy taco shell into a mushy one pretty quick. For that reason I think it would be great as a base for a taco salad.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Grains of Gratitude

This week I am grateful:

that the snow and ice has all melted - no more walking Antalya to school on a sheet of ice, and Jason can start biking to school again instead of having to take the tube.

that Victoria has finally started sleeping 6 hours at night without a feeding.

for our humidifier! Antalya has another head cold, but thanks to the humidifier and some peppermint oil she is getting some sleep at night.

for my new crock pot. I made some yummy Lime Chili Chicken for dinner tonight in it.

for the delicious Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream Jason bought for me.

that Antalya had so much fun her first week at preschool.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


2009 was a year of changes for our family. The biggest ones being the addition of a child to our family, moving overseas, and Jason's return to school. I don't think we can top that for this year, but already 2010 is proving to be an eventful year for our family.

We just got notice that Jason has been accepted at London School of Economics starting next fall. We are thrilled that he got in and excited that we will be staying another year in London. So any of you that wanted to come visit, but didn't think there would be time before we moved back home - now you've got a little extra time to plan a trip :)

Some other smaller changes that have happened (but still just as noteworthy) are:

Victoria is eating solids. I have some great pics on the camera, but unfortunately the flash drive I use to transfer them has been broken (any guesses who might've had a hand with that one?) She still trying to decide if she enjoys the odd flavors of food.

I finally have enough hours in the day to do laundry, clean the house, read the scriptures, blog, and do the shopping thanks to the extra two hours I get every morning while Antalya is at school. It's great to have a quiet morning to get things ready for the day.

The last 20 minutes of preschool is storytime. I anticipated that eventually Antalya would learn to sit quietly with the other children and participate, but I didn't expect it so soon. This morning when I went to pick her up I found her doing just that - sitting, waiting, and listening for her name to be called to be excused from class. I love little miracles!

I've decided to run a half marathon this summer back in Utah. Anyone want to join me? I need to find one during July. There's nothing like a lofty goal to motivate me to get off the couch and start training (and now that I have a little free time each day I can't come up with a viable excuse anymore).

So, here's to 2010 - a year of good things to come!

Here's a few pics of Antalya from my phone:

IMG_0492Walking to preschool. London is still getting abnormal amounts of snow (notice the snowy roads and sidewalks? I don't think there is a single snowplow or snow shovel in all London).

Walking in the door to her school

IMG_0497Playing in the "post office"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Antalya's 1st Day of School

We are still battling jet lag. Some of us worse than others. A certain 5 month old in our house has hardly slept a wink the last two nights. I'm blaming it on a mixture of jet-lag, teething, and a cold.

Somehow we still managed to make it out the door this morning for Antalya's much anticipated first day of preschool.

She loved it!

She will go five days a week. She is the only one in her class of 30 that has special needs, and has a great teacher assigned just to her to provide one-on-one support the entire time. And one of the best parts? It's only three blocks from our flat - just the right distance for her to walk without insisting on being carried.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Welcome Surprise

When we left three weeks ago it was a gorgeous 50 degrees. When we returned home yesterday this is what I saw out my kitchen window:IMG_6523
London got dumped with so much snow that they had to close the airport and basically shut down the whole city. The good news? It all happened two days before we arrived. So now, we can just enjoy the snow without any of the hassles it caused.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Homeward Bound

Our three weeks back in the states have passed like a whirlwind. Tomorrow morning we board the airplane home and it's back to real life once again. No more playing with cousins, drinking rootbeer, shopping at Target, or sleeping in. While here we did much celebrating.

There was a 30th birthday:IMG_6488
A 50th wedding anniversary:group at 50th
A babe in a manager:
Toys on Christmas morning:IMG_6418
A 5th wedding anniversary:IMG_0276
And a wedding:IMG_0290

And I learned that my mom makes Christmas eve magical, my mother-in-law makes an amazing Yorkshire pudding, I love cheese fondue, parking stalls here are huge, I prefer driving in England, I wish I had set aside more time to visit friends, I can get by on very little sleep, I have the most amazing family in the world, and Apple Jacks with cream taste just as good as they always have.