Monday, 30 April 2012

My cheeky monkey

Making a mess and loving it
I've mentioned before that every morning, Felix opens our drawers and chooses an item of clothing. He then sits in front of the mirror trying it on and admiring his sense of style (Daddy's underwear, bikini bottoms, a hat etc). This morning he tried something new. He removed nearly all the clothes from the drawer and climbed inside it and tried on some clothes while he was sitting there. He looked very proud of himself with clothes dangling off him everywhere. Such a funny little guy!

After that he 'helped' me fold some washing. I rolled up heaps of pairs of socks and then we played a game where we had to throw the socks back into the washing basket. He did really well. If one of the sock rolls didn't make it into the basket, he would reach forward and pick it up and then try again until he got it in. His persistence never ceases to amaze me.

This morning was Noah's appointment for his newborn check-up. The appointment was fairly early so I thought I would keep Felix up and not put him down for his morning sleep until we got back (not realising the Doctor would be running 2 1/2 hours behind  schedule).

Cheeky monkey!
Being the amazing little man he is, Felix was as happy as always even though he was tired. He drove everyone mad, I'm sure, playing with his toy cars and crashing them on the tiled floor. Next time I'll try and remember to take soft toys!  He had smiles for everyone and waved goodbye to a couple of patients as they left the Doctor's Surgery. I can't believe he stayed awake for as long as he did.

On the way home, Noah was crying in his car seat which is right next to Felix's. I don't think he appreciated being stripped naked by the Doctor on this cold day. The one sound which has always bothered Felix has been babies or children crying. I think it's because it is quite loud and high pitched and his ear canals are more narrow than regular kids. His bottom lip dropped and he was looking very worried.  Luckily the drive home was only short or I think we may have had two babies crying in the back seat.

Going, going....Gone!
Felix was well and truly ready for bed when we got home but he hadn't had lunch yet. I put him in his high chair and he quickly ate a banana without stopping for a breath. Then I gave him a rice cake and halfway through it his eyes started to get heavy. His head started to fall forward, then he'd lift it back up again and take another bite of his food. This happened over and over until finally he couldn't keep his eyes open a second longer and he was sound asleep (rice cake still in his hand). He rarely goes to sleep in my arms any more so I enjoyed the chance to give him some sleepy snuggles before I put him in his cot. Can't explain how much I love that kid :)

Felix and Friends

Snack time
What a great way to start the day. Felix and Noah were cuddled up on my bed with me while Joel and Mel got a bit more sleep...bliss! Felix is starting to get a bit braver now and will stroke Noah and put his face close to get a better look at him. He still pushes Noah away if I put him on his lap; he's not quite that brave just yet. He does have lots of beautiful big smiles for him, though. 
Climbing on the blocks

I could have stayed home and cleaned ALL day today, but I feel like Felix has missed out on so much because the last few weeks have been crazy. I decided that the housework could wait (and it did - that cleaning fairy I ordered never turned up) and Felix and I would go to playgroup instead. We were running late, in our daggiest clothes and I hadn't even had a shower, but we got there eventually.

Sophie looking after Felix
The Special Needs playgroup is set up with different activities each week depending on the skills the kids need assistance with (sensory, gross motor etc). Sometimes the local Speech Pathologists or Physiotherapists will drop by for a visit as well. It's a good environment for them to see how the children are progressing because they are in a stimulating environment and not just in an office or hospital room. Felix and his friend, Sophie, are the only two children with Down Syndrome who attend regularly. The other children who attend have different learning difficulties. It's fun to watch them all play and interact with each other. One little boy came rushing up to Felix this morning and said, "Hello Felix" even though he hasn't seen him for about a month. His speech has come such a long way since we first met him!

Enjoying their fruit
Felix crawled along the obstacle course which was set up at playgroup this morning. He is getting very good at balancing on the padded blocks, probably because climbing has become one of his most favourite things to do lately. I'm hoping he's not going to fall and split his chin or his head any time soon, although I think it's inevitable at some point. Unfortunately the things he climbs at home aren't nice and padded like playgroup. Hopefully I'll be wrong on that one.

After Felix had a bit of a play it was fruit time. Felix and the other kids sat up at their little table and ate their bananas and had a drink. It's so cute watching them chatter away to each other. Felix slipped and nearly fell off his chair just after he was finished. I grabbed him and stopped him from falling but I think it scared him because his bottom lip dropped and he started taking deep breaths (but didn't cry). He was so sad he tipped his head forward to rest it on the table, but bumped it on the edge. Again, he didn't cry but the lip dropped even more. He left his forehead on the table, and little Sophie got off her chair, put her arm around him and started stroking his back. It was SO adorable! 

All worn out
Felix didn't recover too well after that. He was a little bit sad for the rest of the time we were there. He usually sleeps at that time and was very tired so, after his fruit, he lay down on the floor and almost fell asleep. I've never seen him do that before. He will usually soldier on even if he's sleepy, but he must have been exhausted today. I decided to take him home to bed. He only managed to stay awake for about two minutes after I put him in the car and then slept for almost three hours when we got home. It's obviously very tiring being a new Uncle!

Birthday girl x x x
Before I finish I would like to say a very Happy 3rd Birthday to Felix's beautiful friend, Sophie. It has been a pleasure to watch her learn and grow since we met her just after Felix was born. She is such a sweetheart and we love her to bits! x x x

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Sneaking up to grab Daddy's nose
I woke to some beautiful news this morning. Someone I met through my blog; the lovely Ashley and her husband, Barry, welcomed their precious little man, Eli, into the world while we were sleeping last night. Ashley found my blog while she was doing some research about Down Syndrome.  She received a pre-natal diagnosis that Eli had an extra chromosome and, like Nathan and I, wanted to learn as much as possible before he was born. Eli is Ashley and Barry's first child and they are absolutely overjoyed to finally meet him; their perfect little bundle. I have no doubt that Eli will enrich their lives more than they ever thought possible. Congratulations to them both from our family to theirs!   If you would like to read Ashley's story, you will find her blog at

Noah looking super cute
It has been a busy few days since Noah's birth, visiting the hospital and preparing for him to come home. The day has finally arrived and the little guy is home. Joel and Mel are relieved to finally be out of hospital and back in their own room. So far Noah has given them lots of sleep and they are feeling refreshed and happy. He is a beautiful, settled baby.

Felix enjoyed having a good look at Noah today. He was very gentle and sat stroking his arms and patting him on the bottom. He had lots of huge smiles and made sure everyone was still giving him lots of attention even though there's a new baby in the house. Hopefully he will adjust quickly to having to share the spotlight with another very cute little person.

Not too sure...
(I just had a short break from writing this and took Felix to watch Noah getting his nappy changed. It was hilarious! Noah was crying a little bit, just quietly, and Felix dropped his bottom lip and looked quite concerned, but a little bit scared too. After Noah had a clean nappy I put him on Felix's lap to see what Felix would do. He looked horrified and pushed him away! Babies are obviously a bit frightening when you've never seen one before. Hahahaha!)

Does it bite?
Felix is getting more and more confident walking if we hold him by the hands. Sometimes he will move his feet too quickly and will be a bit unsteady. Today he was walking nice and steadily, so I let go of one of his hands. He took a couple more steps before he looked up at me and then sat himself down. He looked a bit unimpressed that I had let go but I think, with a bit more confidence, he will increase how far he can walk sooner than I thought he would. So proud of little 'Uncle' Felix!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Welcome to the World

I can't even begin to express the emotions I'm feeling right now! I'm a Granny!! Our precious first Grandchild, Noah Zechariah, was born last night. He is healthy and strong and seriously, one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen in my life. My Mum once tried to explain to me what it's like to be a Grandparent compared to a parent. I thought I understood what she was saying, but I didn't until now. I have an overwhelming feeling of love for this new little addition to the family mixed in with so much pride for our son and his girlfriend. Being a parent is the most amazing thing in the world. Being a Grandparent enhances the love you have for your children tenfold. I'm looking forward to watching Noah grow and learn through a Granny's eyes!

Noah with his proud Mummy and Daddy
Felix hasn't met Noah yet, but I showed him a photo and told him all about him. Once Mel has caught up on some sleep and is feeling more rested, we'll introduce them to each other. It will be nice for Felix to have to share the spotlight and learn to play well with another little one. As they grow, I'm sure Noah and 'Uncle' Felix will be great friends.

Felix can teach Noah crazy faces!
Joel and I were talking this morning about how Noah will probably pick up sign language really quickly because we use it with Felix. Joel is planning on learning to sign along with Noah. I'm looking forward to watching Felix teach Noah lots of things while they are small, then Felix learning from Noah as they grow older. I think Felix will benefit from spending lots of time with Noah. He will push himself to try and do the things Noah can do. Noah will be a wonderful teacher to him.

One thing which really makes me happy is that Noah will never know a life without someone with Down Syndrome in it. He will think it is perfectly normal to have a person with Down Syndrome in his life. He will know from an early age that Felix learns things more slowly than he does, but it will not seem weird to him. He will want to help Felix learn new things and will be proud of him when he does. He will grow up with an acceptance and a love for people with Down Syndrome. What a beautiful gift!

Proud Granny and Pops
So begins a new chapter in our family's life. We welcome our new Son, Grandson and Nephew, who has already melted our hearts and made us all fall totally in love with him. Congratulations Mel and Joel. We love you and are incredibly proud of both of you x x x

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Still waiting...

Kisses from Daddy
For those of you keeping up with Mel and Joel's story.... no baby as yet! Mel is hanging in there and being an absolute trooper. I'm so proud of her!

Amidst the chaos of the last couple of days, Felix continues to amaze us all with his progress. His new trick for today is that he can climb up on the coffee table all by himself. Once he's up there, he sits himself up and can reach everything he couldn't before. Nothing is safe now! Our coffee table is huge so we usually push it up against the TV cabinet to stop him touching the TV and blocking him from opening the cupboard doors. Everything we didn't want him to touch we could push to the back of the coffee table out of his reach. Those days are now behind us; and the missing 'enter' key on the computer is proof that Felix can now reach things he couldn't before. Oops!

Nathan was so excited tonight. Felix said the word 'Dad' and signed it at the same time. Usually he will do one or the other so it's awesome to hear him put them both together. It shows that he is comprehending the sound which goes with the sign. I love when Felix does things for the first time in front of Nathan. He misses him when he's at work so it's extra special when he saves some milestones especially for Daddy.
Love you Daddy!

Felix has become a bit of a celebrity over the past couple of days. Yesterday the Midwives and other Nurses at the hospital were all fussing over him. He showed off by demonstrating some of his signs and by giving them beautiful big smiles. He loved exploring the hospital room and as long as he had food to eat and was able to pull out all of the contents of my handbag, he was happy. He sat for about 15 minutes playing with an empty box from Joel's McDonalds fries, an empty tampon box from my handbag and a toy bead necklace. He's so easy to please.

Emptying Mummy's handbag
I realised today that we hadn't done any food shopping because of Mel being in and out of hospital and having family to visit, so Aaron, Felix and I headed out this afternoon to get it done. I forgot that because it is ANZAC Day here in Australia ( the shops were closed until midday. When we got there, there were hundreds of people all doing their shopping. By the time we had finished there were about 8 full trolleys in front of us; what a nightmare!

Felix with Daddy and his brothers
On the up-side, Felix was at his entertaining best. I lost track of the amount of people who came up to talk to him, or brought their children over to say hello. One lady said he was the cutest baby she had ever seen. She didn't want to say goodbye. Another lady happened to be the one who approached Felix last week. She went out of her way to come over and say, "I saw you last week. You've still got beautiful smiles for me!" These wonderful people made standing in line for ages a really positive experience, and even after all the time we had to wait Felix stayed settled and happy.

Big sister, Amy 
Well, time for me to sleep. The last week has been very draining so I think I could sleep for a month. Hopefully I will be able to blog about becoming a Granny very soon!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tired but happy

Our precious family
Rear: Isaiah, Amy, Joel's girlfriend Mel, Joel, Daniel, Daniel's girlfriend Cate, Bekah
Front: Nathan, Felix, Me, Aaron and Joshua
And the exhaustion continues....

After a day's break, our poor Mel started contracting heavily again! We stayed home for as long as she could stand it, but had to take her up to the hospital again late last night. She has been through so much already and is so sick of hospitals, but as yet, there is no sign of baby! She has a fever and is generally feeling extremely tired, but is doing a great job. If 'breathing' were a competition, she would win first prize right now! Joel is being such a good support; I am so proud of him! I hope, for both of them, that baby will arrive soon.

Our 8 babies...such a good looking bunch!
Meanwhile, we have enjoyed having all the kids here for a couple of days. The girls had to return home to Adelaide today for work and study, but I know Joel and Mel really enjoyed having their support. We had a family dinner with every single one of them here last night and got some very rare photos of all of us together (in between Mel's contractions). I treasure these photos, especially as Felix is so much younger than the other kids and doesn't see all of them often. I want him to have as many memories of him and all of his siblings together as he can.

Cuddles with the kids
Felix couldn't be happier at the moment. He's enjoying being spoilt by his brothers and sisters. After Nathan and I got up this morning, our bed was taken over by Amy, Joshua, Aaron and Felix. Felix pulled all his most hilarious faces as he jumped all over the kids and had their full attention. At lunch time, Daniel and Cate sat on the floor and sang Wiggles songs with him and did all the actions. When you're an 18 month old, you couldn't ask for more than the attention of all 7 siblings!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Why I didn't post yesterday....

Cheeky monkey
Firstly I would like to say a huge thank you to all of you who have been enjoying reading about our gorgeous little guy on my blog. I have had over 4000 people from over a dozen different countries stop by for a read. Thank you to every single one of you. You are part of the future for people with Down Syndrome; a world with a focus on acceptance and inclusion!

I apologise for not posting a blog yesterday. We are in the process of having a baby. Well, not us exactly, but our son and his girlfriend. It has been a long and arduous couple of days after she went into labor late on Friday night (it's currently lunch time Sunday here). I have been awake for the past two nights and am beginning to feel like a zombie. Mel (Mum to be) is obviously feeling a lot worse than I am. Unfortunately, after reaching 5cm dilation in the early hours of this morning, her contractions have suddenly stopped! She and Joel are now taking the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep before the contractions start back up again. I just had a doze for a couple of hours this morning so I feel like I may be able to string two sentences together now!

Playing with Joel
Felix enjoyed visiting Mel on the labor ward yesterday. I'm sure he has a bit of a crush on her. Joel is always saying to Felix, "Hey, stop making eyes at my girlfriend!" Felix has special smiles set aside just for Mel when she walks in to the room. It's a little bit cute!

Mel has found sitting on the big fitness ball to be one of the most comfortable positions for her while she has contractions. Felix stood himself up on the side of the ball and stared intently at Mel while she was doing her breathing and giggled when it was over. She enjoyed having a distraction for a few minutes.

Mel has handled everything so incredibly well and with a sense of humor, including laughing in between contractions and telling jokes. During a tough contraction last night, Joel asked her, "Would you care for an orange juice?" and she responded by saying, "If it needed me!" Hahahaha! I am so proud of both Mel and Joel. They are going to be very young parents but they are handling themselves so maturely and with a lot of love and concern for each other and their son. I'm looking forward to seeing them in their new role as parents (hopefully it won't be too far away!)

In the meantime, I am enjoying being surrounded by our kids. By tonight we will have all 8 of them in one place plus Daniel's lovely girlfriend as well. I love that, in a crisis, all our kids want to do is be together and support one another. Felix is going to be in his element being able to see all his siblings at once while he waits to become an Uncle!

Felix continues to make progress. His fine motor skills are coming along beautifully and he is able to use one finger on his hand to point or push toys along. He has been playing a game on my phone where he has to pop balloons by pointing at them. Over the last couple of days he has shown more concentration and a good ability to use one finger to pop them. He pushes his little cars along the floor by using one finger and is better able to pick up food with his thumb and first finger. He's doing so well!

I had some fantastic photos to put up with today's blog, but I have left my camera up at the hospital ready to get photos of our Grandson when he decides to arrive. Hope you enjoy some of the old ones I've posted instead :)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Life is a Rollercoaster

My Angel
Felix wakes up at about 5am, so I usually start the morning by checking Facebook while he has a bit of a play on the floor (and dresses up in our clothes- it was Daddy's hat this morning). Since having Felix, I have found the Down Syndrome groups I'm a member of on Facebook to be a lifeline for me. It is a way we, as parents of children with Down Syndrome, can share our highs and lows with each other and ask for advice if we need it. It's also a place to share so  many beautiful photos of our precious kids! It's strange how close I feel to these other parents even though some of them live on the other side of the world. We really are like a family, and literally laugh and cry with each other.

Looks like he was caught doing something  naughty
Today has been a day of mixed emotions for me. As I checked Facebook this morning I saw that one of my friends who has gone through an incredibly long adoption process, has finally had the adoption of her new daughter (who has Down Syndrome) approved. She is officially part of the family! I was so excited for her because I know it has been an emotional time for her and her family. To be able to finally hold that little girl in her arms must have been the most amazing feeling ever! This beautiful little girl will now be able to start a new life, out of an adult orphanage, and home with a family who fell in love with her even before they met her.

Sadly, I also found out that another friend, who has a teenage daughter, with Down Syndrome and many other health issues, has been told that her daughter's prognosis is not good. Her health is failing and she has deteriorated to the point where they have no option now but to make her as comfortable as possible. I have never met this girl, but tears ran down my face as I read of her Mum's love for her. I have always loved looking at photos of her and hearing about her brave fight for life. Her family are incredible!

Love how he uses his finger
The last thing I read this morning was a post by a friend who lost her beautiful baby girl several months ago due to ongoing heart problems. She is struggling to come to terms with losing her daughter and only child. She is still actively involved in the Down Syndrome Community and is a wonderful support to others who are raising children with Down Syndrome. She will be 'one of us' forever. Once your life has been touched by someone with Down Syndrome it will never be the same again.

By the time I left the house this morning, I felt like I'd been on a rollercoaster of emotion. I had a thumping headache since the night before but I had to go and have a blood test and get organised for Aaron's birthday party. I really wanted to crawl back into bed and start again tomorrow, but it was time to soldier on!

I hadn't counted on my little 'happy pill', Felix. He was in the best mood this morning. When we were sitting, waiting for my blood test, he was entertaining the whole room. There was not one single person who didn't get a huge beaming smile from him. He kept crawling across the room, and would look back wanting me to chase him. When I grabbed him and picked him up he did the biggest belly laughs which made all the people waiting there smile.

After my blood test, Felix and I went to the supermarket to grab some party things and Felix continued with his laughing and smiling. In fact, he was approached by two different ladies who couldn't help but stop and talk to him. Both of them said to Felix, "You have made my day!" Despite my headache, my mood was lifted completely. Felix brings so much joy with him wherever he goes. I thought about some of my friends who are facing so much pain and tragedy and it was a reminder again of how blessed I am.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


Ready to go and see the dinosaurs
It was such a fun day today. Nathan and I took Aaron, Bekah and Felix to see the show 'Dinosaur Petting Zoo'. We rarely do anything like this, but when we saw that the show was coming to our small local theatre, we jumped at the chance. I mean, who doesn't love dinosaurs?

The Herbivore
A lot of children with Down Syndrome feel stressed and overwhelmed in crowded, noisy places. I was a little apprehensive to see how Felix would cope with it. We took him to a friend's party when he was only a few months old and he was so distressed by the loud music we had to take him home. Other times when he has heard kids squealing he has sobbed.  Part of the reason for this reaction is because people with Down Syndrome have much narrower ear canals, increasing their sensitivity to loud noises.

Eyes wide watching the big dinosaur
Thankfully, Felix loved it the second we arrived. There were so many people to look at and different things to see. Children were laughing and running around. He thought it was great. We went and sat in our seats which were in the front row; perfect for seeing the dinosaurs up close. While we waited for the show to start, Felix discovered the  stairs in the theatre and wanted to climb up and down and up and down. It kept him occupied until it was time to start.

Just after the show started, the woman who was hosting it asked all the kids to scream really loudly like they would if a dinosaur was chasing them. Thankfully we were able to pre-empt this happening, so Nathan snuggled Felix in close and covered his ears. Good thing he did because his bottom lip dropped and he looked a bit worried there for a second.

Patting the baby dinosaur
The whole show was fantastic. Felix sat wide eyed, taking it all in. The dinosaurs were so convincing that it was easy to forget they were puppets. The host engaged the kids attention and there was constant noise, so we didn't have to worry about Felix 'talking'. When the baby dinosaurs were brought out on stage, they were making a noise similar to a cat. Straight away Felix started signing cat and saying "Ahh" which is the sound he makes when he knows he has to be gentle when he pats the cats at home. The biggest dinosaur was roaring and thrashing about only a couple of metres in front of us. Felix wasn't the slightest bit bothered by it at all. In fact, he couldn't keep his eyes off it. It was a fantastic experience for all of us!

The big Carnivore
I hope so much that Felix goes through a 'dinosaur phase' like the other boys did. I've already got ideas going through my head for an awesome dinosaur themed birthday party! Knowing our independent little Felix, though, he'll probably be fascinated by something completely different!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

So Many Firsts

Big boy now
Real little boy

My little man is growing up! I left the room for just a moment today and when I came back in, I couldn't find Felix anywhere. Aaron and I both went in opposite directions to look for him and found him at the other end of the house. He had found a little Hot Wheels car and was sitting on the floor holding it beautifully between his thumb and first finger pushing it along and making a noise (his interpretation of a car noise). He didn't even notice us when we came into the room he was concentrating so hard! I think his days of playing with  baby toys are numbered now. Good thing our Grandson is due in 2 weeks or I might be tempted to have another one :)

Family fun

Bekah and Aaron had Felix laughing so hard!
I took advantage of having Bekah here to stay with us, by having her babysit Felix so I could go and get a haircut today (the last time I had a haircut was September last year!) Felix was having such a fun time playing with her that he didn't even notice me leave. When I got home Bekah said she and Aaron had something to show me. She laid Felix onto the floor and her and Aaron grabbed one end of a sheet each. They lowered the sheet over the top of Felix and then they lifted it up really fast so it ballooned up. They kept lowering it onto him then lifting it up again. He was cracking up laughing so hard. I don't think I've ever seen him laughing so much.

Fork feeding

Tonight was the third night of Felix feeding himself successfully, but with a lot less mess. For those of you struggling to get your little ones with Down Syndrome to feed themselves, you may find that this works for you. I thought I would try something different and gave Felix a little plastic fork (from the 'Take and Toss' range); it is very chunky and easy to hold. I cut his roast vegetables into bite size squares and helped him stab the fork into them. It was then really simple for him to bring the food to his mouth without it falling off like it does with a spoon. He didn't get any in his lap and by the end of his meal, he was pushing down on the fork to get it into the food by himself. After he had finished, I cut a banana up the same way and he was able to eat that with the fork as well. It was one of those very, very proud moments. It also made cleaning him up so much easier!

Such a cutie
Introducing solid food can cause many headaches for parents of children with Down Syndrome. Some have a very low tolerance for any lumps and will frequently choke. Others are very fussy eaters and will flatly refuse to eat anything but their favourite food. Some will refuse any solid food at all. Finding a cup which our kids will drink from can also be a challenge, with many parents spending a fortune on different spouts, straws or bottles.

The cups and forks we use
I totally understand this frustration. I bought about 8 different cups in my desperation to get Felix to drink anything but breast milk; finally finding the cheapest 'Take and Toss' ones to be the best. I wish I'd known that first. I would have saved myself a lot of money!

Feeding Felix solids has become more of a challenge as he's getting older. I have tried to persist and try different ways to encourage him to eat until I discover something that works. If he refuses a particular food one day, I try and reintroduce it another day. At the moment he loves rice, but doesn't want vegetables (unless they're roasted), so I've started making up portions of fried rice or risotto filled with shredded vegetables. He can eat all the rice he wants, but he's still getting all his vegetables. My hubby and I have also found that Felix will eat a lot more if he's allowed to eat off our plate at dinner time. It might be exactly what we've served him, but if it's off our plate he will wolf it down (we try not to do this often, but on days when he's barely eaten anything we figure it's better than nothing at all).

We try and make mealtimes as relaxed as possible and don't turn it into a battle of wills. We keep things fun and offer a variety of food, and bit by bit we are working out what works for Felix.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fun Times

They suddenly stopped singing when I pulled out the camera
Love those kids

Have I already written about how amazing our kids are?? Ha ha! I know I have said it plenty, but I really do love our kids!

I could hear a song by The Wiggles being belted out in the lounge room today. Curious, I looked into the room to see Isaiah and Aaron (nearly 14 & 12) sitting on either side of Felix, singing at the top of their lungs. He was loving it! He had his CD player on and two of his big brothers there to sing and dance with him. What could be better? The smile on his face said it all!  About 20 minutes later I caught Isaiah still singing to The Wiggles, while he was on the computer, unaware that Felix was no longer in the room. Oops!

So good, I need to lick the plate clean!
Goodbye breastfeeding

A couple of days ago I weaned Felix from his very last breastfeed. It was a bit of an emotional day for me because I know he's my last baby and I've always loved breastfeeding. At the same time, it was a bit of a relief. Feeding babies with Down Syndrome can be a little bit tricky as the roof of their mouth can be higher and their tongues larger. Some have trouble using the correct sucking motion. Felix always tended to 'chew' as he sucked, which was bearable when he had no teeth, but sometimes quite painful once he got them. I always loved that time with him, though, and was sad to stop. He was quite happy to just have cuddles and a play the next morning instead and hasn't looked for it since. I think 18+ months was a pretty decent effort all things considered!

Time to get clean

Felix is going to be an Uncle in just over 2 weeks and because Joel and Mel are living with us at the moment, we have been getting the house ready for another baby. Felix has tested out the new cot and had a look at the new pram. It will be interesting to see what he thinks of another baby in the house. Yesterday he sat on the bed and touched Mel's belly, then he picked up my hand and put it there to feel the baby. It was so cute! He then proceeded to pull down her shirt and try and put his head down her top. Poor Mel! Maybe he figured since Mum wasn't feeding him any more he needed to look elsewhere?

Fun night

Tonight was day 2 of Felix feeding himself his dinner. He is doing really well at getting food onto his little fork and navigating it to his mouth, although tonight he was so hungry he picked up most of it with his hands. The result was a huge mess, but he was happy and he ate a lot which was great. For the next few weeks I have a feeling that bath time will quickly follow dinner time!

All clean again
Our daughter, Bekah (19), arrived tonight to stay for a few days. She travelled up with a friend of ours and, apart from hitting a kangaroo on the road, they got here safely; thankfully with no damage to the car. Felix's little face lit up when he saw her walk through the door tonight. She is looking forward to lots of 'Felix time' while she is here. Bekah always does lots of singing with him so he'll be loving that. I really miss our big kids who are no longer at home, so cherish the time I get with them. Felix is one very lucky little boy to have so many siblings to watch out for him.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Just What I Needed

Learning to feed himself
I took Felix with me to the supermarket to do the food shopping this afternoon. He loves sitting in the little seat in the trolley and looking around at all the colours and sounds. He especially loves all the different people we see there. By the time I'm finished our shopping, the trolley is full because of our large family. Felix has discovered it's pretty funny to take things from the top of the pile and drop them on the floor! I always rush the last couple of aisles so he doesn't have the chance to throw everything out of the trolley. Crazy kid.

Feeling encouraged

I had one of those moments at the shop today which was really encouraging to me. A lady I had never seen before came over to Felix and started smiling at him and talking to him. She told me how gorgeous she thought he was and he responded by giving her the biggest grins and 'talking' back to her. It was really special. She didn't say anything about him having Down Syndrome. She just told me he had a beautiful smile and was so clever when he was waving to her. It really meant a lot!

I can't speak highly enough of people who take the time to come and speak to Felix or give me a smile. It really does mean so much. I know I've said it before, but I really encourage all of you to be the people willing to go out of your way to show people like me that you care. It is SO awesome to know that you think my child is beautiful and worthwhile. Today was a day when I really needed it too, which made this lady's comments extra special.

Loving being outside
A precious new life

Speaking of beautiful....  Someone I know is in the late stages of her very first pregnancy. She is only in her 20's and had a hard time getting pregnant. She had to go through the rigors of IVF before finally finding out she was having a baby. Earlier in her pregnancy, she found out that her precious, and much yearned for baby boy, has Down Syndrome. She hasn't allowed his diagnosis to crush her. Instead, she is excited to talk about him and educate others and has the most precious, overwhelming love, for this little life.

I enjoyed looking at some amazing 4D ultrasound photos of her son today. They are incredibly clear and his face is just adorable. They reminded me so much of Felix's little face when he was tiny. I am so looking forward to sharing her new, incredible journey!

Spaghetti Monster
Felix's new trick of today?

Felix decided tonight, for the very first time, that he didn't want me to spoon feed him any of his food. He wanted to do it entirely on his own. Every time I spooned some into his mouth, he spat it out; but when he spooned it in he ate it. I was very proud of how well he was able to get some of the food onto his little fork and put it in his mouth.

Of course, he picked the night when I served him spaghetti to try his new talent! Needless to say, it was incredibly messy, but perfect for camera-happy Mummy!!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

My Kryptonite

Naughty? Who Me?
I've been thinking a bit about discipline today. I am a member of various different online support groups for parents or family members with children/siblings with Down Syndrome. The issue of discipline can be a contentious one as there are so many different opinions on the subject, as there are with parenting 'regular' kids. The following are just some of my personal thoughts on the matter. I am in no way saying this is how it should be done.

I have witnessed different extremes when it comes to parenting kids with Down Syndrome. There are those who feel that their children already have enough to deal with, being born with a disability, so they should be allowed to get away with more. Yet there are others who are very rigid and strict because they want their children to be able to fit in with other people as much as they can and not stand out it any way.

This is Felix's biting face...Imagine your finger between those teeth!
Felix is getting to the age where he will deliberately do things, knowing he will get a reaction from us. The two things he does, which have made us think a bit more about discipline lately, are biting us and grabbing our noses. He thinks it's hilarious. He grits his teeth, shakes his head and his face goes red as he clamps down on our fingers or grabs our nose. We have to try so hard not to laugh because it does look so funny, but it hurts! We have probably created a monster because, until recently, we have laughed instead of correcting his behaviour. Part of the reason for that is because he's so cute, but the other part is because it's easy to forget that he is 18 months old. He is smaller than the other kids were and obviously more delayed in his development because he has Down Syndrome.

Bit of a tantrum
This got me to thinking. Felix is very smart. He knows exactly what he's doing! He knows that by behaving in a certain way, he will get some sort of a reaction whether it be a laugh or a 'No!' He knows he's being naughty because of the little glint he gets in his eye just before he does it. If we do tell him off (we've found placing him on the floor away from us and ignoring him to be most effective), he will sometimes crack a bit of a tantrum in protest for a few seconds. So much for the myth that people with Down Syndrome are well behaved and happy all the time!

I've read stories of people with teenage children with Down Syndrome who will actually say when they are told off (with a grin), "I didn't know that was wrong. I have Down Syndrome!" What smart kids! I can see Felix twisting us around his finger in the same way already. His eyes say, "But I'm so little and cute. I have learning delays and don't really understand what you're asking me!" We're onto you Felix!

I think, with Felix, we are going to be as strict as we were with our other kids; possibly slightly more so. We would like him to grow up with nice manners and be polite. One Mum I've chatted to (who has an adult son with Down Syndrome) told me that she wasn't as worried about whether her son scored as high as he could on a Maths test or if he knew all the states in the US. She pointed out that everyone appreciates a person with nice manners and social graces, so that's what she's focussed on with her son. She believes that correct behaviour in social settings is one of the most important things in order to be accepted and included. I tend to agree with her.

My Kryptonite
We are nearing the 'terrible twos' and although Felix is a very easy baby, we know there will be times when he will test us. Our plan is to be as consistent as possible with him, giving him rules and boundaries (most people with Down Syndrome appreciate structure). We will try hard to teach him nice manners and the acceptable way to behave. It's going to be tough because I'm certain he will try and get away with what he can. I'm sure he has super powers in those big blue eyes; they are my kryptonite!