Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ice-Cream Sundays

 Sometimes the best part about being a grown up is being able to choose to act like a kid.  A few Sundays ago we decided that we would have ice-cream for lunch.  Yep, just ice-cream.  Nothing organic or nutritious or balanced... just delicious ice-cream.

Happy boys, happy us.

Friday, September 24, 2010

School Daze & Team Quinn

Within a few hours of his birth, "Team Quinn" began to take shape.  From the pediatrician who first broke the surprising news, to the cardiologist who pronounced his beating heart to be "perfect" and "strong", to the hospital social worker who set in motion the wave of support from the existing Down Syndrome community, our team was already forming before we stepped foot out of the hospital.
Blessed by the love, acceptance & support of family, neighbors & friends around the globe, our little nest was nicely feathered by the time we brought our son home.  For the first three years of his life we had weekly visits from an Early Interventionist (Julie oh how we miss you!) who taught us about Down Syndrome, child development in general & Quinn's development specifically.  She would often be the first one to point out some new skill he was working on, since we were much too close to see the grass growing.  Later on, our team grew to include occupational, physical & speech therapists, each new member bringing their own expertise & perspective to the mix.
When I first learned that this safe, happy little bubble of ours would be pierced by the real world on Quinn's 3rd birthday, I began to dread the coming change.  At the age of three all services switch over to the local school district.  Once again we were lucky to have an amazing group of people on our side, and this transition was as smooth as possible as we were handed over to the district.  Quinn's first preschool teacher was kind, patient & very experienced.  When she announced her retirement last spring, the panic that precedes unexpected change showed up once again.

So far in this journey we have been fortunate to have had team members who are kind, skilled & knowledgeable, each bringing their own set of expectations & goals for Quinn.  We have seen time and again what a huge difference it makes when the person working with him knows what they are doing, how to manage his stubborn nature, and how to elicit the best from Quinn.  When we began this school year in a new program, with a new teacher, the bar had already been set high.  Sparing actual details, let's just say that unfortunately this new setting was not a good match for us.  On paper this program sounded great.  The reality left much to be desired.  As it so often does, theory trumped practice.

Emergency IEP meetings were called and my own education on "how things work" began with a fury.  I studied, I wrote letters & meeting notes and undertook learning a whole new language.  One that contains magic phrases like "most appropriate setting" and "least restrictive environment."  We rallied the troops & had our very own parent advocate by our side keeping us out of the emotional swirl & focused on the task at hand... finding the best place for Quinn to learn.

In the end, we got what we asked for... Quinn started back at his old school this past week with a new teacher.  We still have some growing pains to address, but are so pleased to say that our team is once again falling into place.

Thrown into this mix, Remy recently started his own educational career.  He & Quinn are both attending a private preschool two mornings a week.  On these two precious days I get 2-1/2 hours all to myself.  Just like on a vacation or a really great date, this time is the kind that seems to pass much quicker than regular time.

Remy loves going to school like his big brother, proudly wearing his own backpack as he picks out his name card & checks his cubby for artwork from previous classes.  His favorite part of school is, of course, snack time.  Painting is a close second.  He amazes us daily with his incredible memory, verbal skills & knack for noticing the most minute details.  He has recently discovered his sense of humor & loves to make jokes & point out funny things.  Watching him blossom is a gift of another sort... how effortlessly each stage is entered & mastered... only requiring us to watch in wonder.

I often say how much I wish that every parent had such a team available as their child enters the world & grows through different stages.  If there were only a fraction of the support we have had with Quinn, I am quite certain that this world would be a much happier place.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where the day takes you... SF style!

Before having kids, husband & I promised ourselves that we would not become one of those families... the kind where the parents constantly lament all that they can no longer do, or be, because of the kids.  And at first we did just that.  Lulled by the portability of the  newborn stage we thought confidently, "Oh yeah, we've got this down" as we flew off to France and Mexico and Alaska in the same year.

Then #2 came along, and #1 grew bigger and slowly, slowly the tentacles of habit & routine wrap themselves around your days.  And it is comfortable and safe, though not always easy.  Its borders are well defined.

So when we noticed that one of our favorite musicians was hosting a free concert in the city we decided to go for it.  To pack up our boys, sharpen our sherpa skills and head off for adventure.  Today was one of those epic weekend days... the kind where you sort of have a plan to go somewhere & then you actually make it happen & it is amazing.  And then you decide spur of the moment to go do some other thing too & that leads to more amazing.  You get the idea.  Amazing times were had today.

Started out with a slow morning & waffles & errands... next stop Golden Gate Park for a free concert by Michael Franti.  Huge crowds of young tattooed dreadlocked hip hoppin hippies... the people-watching was top-notch.  We spent most of our time in the kid zone.  Couldn't get Remy out of the bouncy house!  Never actually got to "see" Michael Franti, but boy did we hear him.  Danced our booties off, up on a hill overlooking the crowds.  Moves were busted, groove things were shaken.  There is nothing like a sunny day in the city to make you want to celebrate.  The music was a cherry on top.

Made our way from the park out to Ocean Beach.  Realized when we got there that the boys really haven't had much beach time.  They loved taking their shoes off to walk in the cold sand.  Remy couldn't get over the size of this "sandbox."  The fog was in, but that didn't stop the beach lovers today... lots of bonfires & kids & dogs... celebrating the day.  

Love this one... will use for Quinn's first album cover.
And what San Francisco day would be complete without a drum circle?

The boys were still wild from the day, but we managed to make it through a meal without losing our welcome at the restaurant.  On the drive home in the dark, there was a beautiful, fat crescent moon.  Remy saw it first & announced, "Look, there is MY moon!"  Quinn was out a few minutes later.  Remy fought sleep for as long as he possibly could, but finally gave up the ghost a few miles from home.

There is something so special about days like this... when the boys are still young enough to want to be with us, but old enough to really enjoy an adventure.  Days like this to help get through the ones that are not so much like this.  The ones that involve IEP meetings, hard decisons and diaper explorations with disturbing consequences.

Feeling... grateful, happy, salty & sleepy.

Goodnight Remy's crescent moon.

Monday, September 6, 2010

In & out of the Mother-Hood

One of the biggest challenges for me since having kids is the struggle to find balance. It is not always possible to find more than just a fleeting moment for myself with two little creatures who require such attention & daily care. I can see how dangerously easy it would be to forget who I was before these two little monkeys rocked my world. To wake up one day & wonder where "I" went.

Thankfully there are occasionally times like this past weekend... when husband heads out of town, the boys go to camp Grandma & I get to be just me. (Well, almost just me... Dewey dog was around to keep me grounded.) I had a lot of time to think about how to find that elusive balance. Allowing the different sides of who-I-am to co-exist happily... wife/mother/self. Have decided to attempt thinking of it as a liquid thing rather than a solid. Something that can flow easily between each part of who I am & not be so clearly divided into pieces. Finding those moments of 'self' where I can, & yet still being fully present as a mother. (Sounds good in theory doesn't it?)

Being a realist, I am practical enough to know that the "perfect" balance simply does not exist... but I am grateful to have the luxury of striving for it. Having a few days on my own to spend with friends at grown-up dinners, tackling projects & napping if I wanted to was such a gift. A big thank you to the Grandmas for making this possible!

Thank you also to Honey for my fabulous birthday dinner. True friends are such a rare & wonderful thing.
Yesterday afternoon I headed up to get my two little guys.

Remy playing "pirate" using an ice-cream cone as his telescope...
Silly Remy...
One of the boys favorite activities at camp Grandmas is to gather the eggs in the morning...

One of my new favorite things is the hipstamatic ap on my iphone... makes these cool old-fashiony kind of pictures...

The Grandmas made one of Remy's wishes come true... he loves this snowman that usually only makes an appearance in December... so they put it up for him. Now he wants to know when Santa will be here.

Happy to be back in the mother-hood.
Now we await the safe-return of Daddy-O.