Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

We woke this morning to a wintery scene outside the window. Last night we got our first snow fall of the season, and all of London was draped with a good two inches of beautiful snowflakes. I was planning on keeping Antalya home from school this morning because she is still trying to get over her cold from several weeks ago, but once she saw the snow it was all I could do to get her to stop long enough to get her boots and coat on.

On our walk to school, every couple minutes she would reach her little out of the stroller and stretch as far as she could to grab another little ball of snow to munch on. Victoria quickly discovered how much she enjoys eating little snow balls too. I was planning on taking my camera to snap some pictures of our morning walk, but didnt' realize I had forgotten the camera until we were already on our way.

It's almost 2pm and the snow is coming down in little flurries. Hopefully there will still be some tomorrow so I can get some pictures of the girls playing in it. But for the remainder of today, I think we will stay bundled up safely inside.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be grateful for today! But most of all I am grateful that at the last minute we decided to celebrate this day of Thanks as a family. Normally on Thursday's Jason is in class until late - getting home well after the girls have gone to bed. since our Thanksgiving holiday is not celebrated in England I was geared up to just forget the holiday until this weekend when we could have some family time. But Jason woke up this morning and announced he was skipping his classes and was going to make a Thanksgiving dinner. He even had planned out what was on the menu. So we quickly set to making a shopping list, and the girls and I headed the store. We had a minor set back of the car not starting, but that was quickly solved by pulling out the stroller and heading to a different store that could be reached on foot.

Jason and I spent all afternoon cooking up the feast completely from scratch.

Our Thanksgiving menu consisted of roast chicken (a turkey was too big and too expensive), cornbread stuffing, cranberry ginger sauce, bacon and blue cheese brussel sprouts, cheesy mashed potatoes, and sweet potato pie for dessert.
(somehow the cranberry sauce didn't make it in the picture)

After our bellies were filled we decided to try bowling with the girls. So we bundled up and headed down the road.

Antalya loved it!
That is, she loved it for the first two frames. Then she got bored with the whole "sitting and waiting for your turn" thing and the lights and music from the arcade started calling to her.

Victoria bowled a few more frames for everyone (and despite the look on her face, loved every minute of it) until we decided we were done and left the game only half complete.

We all made our way over to the arcade and finished out our night popping coins in machines.

We missed all our family and loved ones back home, but I am grateful our little family was together today. Hope you all have had an equally memorable and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Playing Hooky

Antalya's playing hooky from school this week. I think we both needed the break. She's been trying to fight off a cold and not sleeping well at night, and I needed some time to just be at home - away from the rushing here and there, time to just enjoy the company of my little girls.

It's been awhile since we've played with toys in Antalya fashion, which means dragging every toy and book out of her room and onto the family room floor. She was so excited.

Then we used up some of our uneaten, overripe bananas to make some delicious banana bread to snack on all day. My girls love to help out in the kitchen. They get so excited when ever they see me turn the oven on and reach for a mixing bowl.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Need Your Help!

There are several people in my life that I really admire. One of them is my sister-in-law Chamie who is a mother to 11 kids, one of which was born with cerebral palsy, and a grandmother to a little cutie with Down syndrome. Several years ago herself and her husband founded Circle of Support, a non-profit group that offers therapy and dental services for children with special needs in Arizona.

Recently they were selected for a chance to win a $250K grant from Pepsi. The voting ends on November 30th, and they really need your help if there are to win the money. So, PLEASE take a minute and click here to vote. It just takes a minute, but it could mean a lot in the life of a child with special needs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Backwards Step

About a week ago I told my husband how surprised I was that potty training Antalya was turning out to be so much easier than I had anticipated. Ha! I should know better than to say such a bold statement just a few weeks into the process, right? Well, last Saturday, whatever success I felt like we were having seemed to head down hill quickly. I'm not quite sure what prompted the change, but suddenly we went from having one-two accidents a day, to having more than I could count. I was hoping as this week went on we could get back on track, but things haven't changed much.

I've felt really frustrated about it for a couple days, and several times let Antalya know how frustrated I was. That obviously hasn't helped the situation much. But, like an answer to prayers, a friend posted this link on facebook for a seminar from the Boston Children's Hospital on Down syndrome and toilet training. I feel like a new woman after listening a bit of reality. The main points I got from the seminar were that it is alright to take a step back when needed, lots of accidents will happen and it's best to just not make a point of it, toilet training can be done wearing pull-ups, and toilet training is a big deal - especially for our Ds kiddo's.

So, I've adjusted. We're taking a step (or two, or three) back. My plan is to put Antalya back in diapers or pull-ups, but continue to have regular potty breaks every 45 minutes. Once she's staying dry most of the day, I'll up it to 1 hour, and so on, until we get to two hour stretches. Then we'll switch back over to panties and see how she does.

This whole potty training thing has made me realize some of my own faults. One of my big ones is that sometimes I forget Antalya has Down syndrome. I get so caught up in wanting her to be just like her peers that I forget to leave room for that extra chromosome of hers. I forget how much harder she has to work at things that just come naturally to other children, I forget that she learns differently, I forget that she needs to do things in her own way and in her own time. And in forgetting about the Down syndrome, I get frustrated and sometimes even angry when I think she should be able to do certain things and she's not. It's good that I feel the need to push her, but today I realized that more than someone always pushing her to do more and go faster, what Antalya really needs is someone to walk by her side. Someone who will be patient when she stumbles, help her up each time she falls, and cheer her on through each success. And so folks, that's exactly what I'm going to be! Because this cute little one is relying on me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coping Strategies

Neither myself, nor Jason were very easy children to raise. So, it's only fitting that we would have two very independent, strong-willed children as payback for all the stress we caused our parents. And boy, are they strong willed! Thankfully Antalya is mellowing out a bit as she gets older, but Victoria flat out refuses to be restrained in any fashion - this includes car seats, strollers, shopping carts, and holding my hand. Over the last few months I've discovered ways to work around for those times when I need her cooperation. One such event, is our trip to Costco. They only way we make it through is follow a set pattern that includes stopping at the food court first to get Antalya a hotdog, and a jacket potato with baked beans for Victoria and I to share. I quickly scarf my food as fast I can to get something in before the girls decide they can longer sit at the table. Then we head back to food counter and buy one ice cream to share. I whip out the cones I bring from home and fix up a cone for each girl, and keep the rest of the ice cream as reserve for when we need it. Then I quickly buzz around the store throwing what we need in the cart feeling as if there is a timed bomb strapped to my back that could explode at any given moment. We get a mixture of odd looks and smiles from the other customers. And by the time we make it safely back out to the car I feel as if I have accomplished something great.

And so, if you ever happen on a scene such as the one below with a mother who instead of frantically reaching for a napkin chooses to pull out her cell phone camera, do yourself and her a favor and let her skip to the front of the line. It's not that she doesn't care that her child is covered in ice cream, it's just that she knows that if there is anyway of making it through the long check out line and to the car, she must make sacrifices.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For You, Mom

Our favorite part about Wednesdays is Antalya's speech therapy session, because after she does her "work" we get to stay and play at the children's center for awhile. There is an amazing sensory room with black lights, lava lamp like objects, and tons of tactile things, plus there is a great softplay room with the biggest ball pit I have seen. The girls always have a great time and hate when we have to go. Here's a little video I took of the girls playing in the ball pit last week. It's pretty long and boring, but I know my mom will appreciate it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Potty Training Update

Well, it's been over two weeks since we jumped back into potty training mode. This is our third attempt in the last 12 months. I'm happy to announce that we are having success. Lots and lots of success! When we are at home I let Antalya run around with her bottom half naked and when she needs to pee she will sit herself down on the potty and do it with no prompting or reminding from me. And she has very few mistakes when we stick to this routine. Unfortunately, she can't always be naked, and as soon as I put pants on her she seems to forget all about the potty, but with some prompting we sneak by with just a few accidents. At school she has done really well the last few days. She won't tell her aid when she needs to go, but her aid is diligent in taking her into the potty every 35 minutes, and that seems to be working to keep her dry. Today was our best day yet - no accidents, except for one poop in her panties. I'm so happy she is doing so well.

In other news, it has been a very cold, dark, rainy last couple days. The kind of weather that makes you want to cuddle up by the radiator, make some yummy soup, and read a good book. So tonight we tried a new recipe for Chili con Carne. It was excellent! So thought I would pass it on.

Rich Chilli con Carne with Spiced Butter
For the Chilli:
6 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 whole star anise
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 can diced green chiles
2 T tomato paste
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced

For the spiced butter combine the following:
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup butter, softened

Add 3 T olive oil to pan, add ground beef and cook until evenly browned. Drain and remove from pan. Add remaining oil to pan, saute onions and star anise until onions begin to soften. Add garlic and diced chiles and cook for another 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir and cook 5 more minutes until everything turns a brick red color. Add the ground beef and lemon juice. Simmer for a minute. Add tomatoes and beef stock. Simmer on low heat for one hour or until it has reduced to a thick sauce consistency. Add the kidney beans and red bell pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir in 2 T spiced butter. Remove the star anise. Serve topped with sour cream, spiced butter, lime juice, and cheese.

Hope you enjoy as much as we all did!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Buses and Ice Cream

As promised, we had a little bus excursion last week. Antalya loved it! We rode up top of the double-decker bus. Antalya loved looking down at the people and cars. My only complaint was that it was too short. We need to plan longer than a 5 minute ride next time :)

Victoria wasn't thrilled about the bus ride, but then again, she's not happy with anything unless it involves running free with no constraints, or eating something sweet. Lucky for her, she gets plenty of both!