Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Friends

Just checking if the kids are scary!
Felix has had a busy day today. After we took the boys to school, this morning, he and I sat outside and played in the sandpit for a while. It was already beautiful and sunny, so it was a great chance to spend some time outside before the day got too hot. He really loves being out there, on the front porch, playing in the sand and watching the neighbour's big tree in their yard; he's fascinated with it. Every now and again he will stop playing and sign 'bird' when he hears them in the tree. He also likes to watch the cars drive up and down the street, and has a particular interest in the motorbikes. We have quite a few of them on our street so he's never disappointed.

While Felix was playing in the sand, his Speech Pathologist arrived. We packed up quickly and went inside to start his session with her. She asked Felix if he would like to look at the book she held out in her hand, or play with the bubbles she had in the other one. Felix chose the book first, but after a few pages he looked at the bubbles and made some excited "Oooooh" sounds. I think he remembered playing with them last time. I started blowing some bubbles and he started laughing and smiling. Straight away he pointed his finger and popped them as they moved towards him. We focussed on the word "Pop" again as he popped the bubbles. We both noticed that Felix has different verbal sounds when he is doing different activities. They are not words, as such, but they vary depending on what he is doing. It's a really good sign that his speech is developing.

Bailey and Felix
The Speech Pathologist brought a new toy with her today. It is a big, pink piggy bank which she showed Felix how to put chunky, plastic coins into. Once all the coins were inside the pig, Felix had to pull down on its' tail and the coins rolled back out of its' mouth. A really important exercise, for children with Down Syndrome, is repetition, so again we focussed on the words "in" and "out" as the coins went in the pig and then back out again. The slot where the coins went was quite narrow and at first Felix needed a little bit of help to put them in correctly. Being the stubborn little man he is, he kept trying and trying until, by the end of the session he could do it by himself. He made definite 'in' and 'out' sounds every now again, so we will keep repeating and repeating the words until he gets them.

Beautiful Miss Ava
Later in the afternoon Felix had his, much anticipated, play date with three of his friends (Jacob, Bailey & Ava). Their Mums read on my blog about Felix's fear of other children, and offered to bring their kids around to our place for a play. They thought that maybe Felix would feel more comfortable in his own environment while he gets used to other kids being around. I'm pleased to say, they were right. Apart from a few little 'coy' moments, and a bit of a cry when I left the room to get someone a drink, he did really well!

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to these lovely ladies. I don't know two of them very well at all, but they went out of their way to help out with Felix and try and make him feel comfortable and I am so grateful to them for that. I look forward to more play dates in the future with them and their gorgeous kids. Thanks girls x x x

Monday, 29 October 2012

More Fun at Special Needs Playgroup

Looking through the window
Felix woke up at 5.15am this morning! Seriously? I keep trying to explain to him that Mummy is old now and needs her sleep, but he doesn't seem to listen..Hahaha! Due to his very early morning, Felix was starting to get a little bit cranky by 8am, and I was wondering if it was worth going to his Special Needs Playgroup at 9.30am, or not. I anticipated a serious meltdown upon arrival there because he already seemed very tired, but decided to give it a go anyway.

Lucky for Felix, there was only him and another little baby there this morning. As with other social settings, Felix often finds the group a bit intimidating because there are a few kids there with quite 'large' personalities. Some are very busy, rushing around; and others just want to 'love' him. Being quite protective of his personal space, he doesn't want to be 'loved' too much. This morning was perfect for him. He was able to wander freely, without being worried about the other children, and he was able to let his voice be heard (very loudly!)

In the Tunnel
It was such a beautiful day today. Felix's teacher, Jackie, had set up some activities outside in the sunshine, which he really enjoyed. He loves being outside (except it's impossible to keep a sun hat on him). Every activity Jackie had set up outside, Felix tried. There were some tunnels, which Felix was drawn to straight away. He sat inside and peeked out at us with his cheeky grin. Then Jackie brought out a wooden plank and showed Felix how to walk along it. He stood up on it straight away and kept walking, even when it wobbled from side to side. It was really good, today, to see how well Felix is managing to walk on uneven surfaces; the grass, the gravel and the cracks in the concrete. He seems to know when he needs to take extra care, and when he can do something easily.

Jackie had frozen some small blocks of ice which she had coloured with food colouring. She sat with Felix and showed him how he could draw on the concrete with the ice, like chalk. He wasn't so sure about the feeling of the cold ice under his hands but, after watching Jackie for a little while, he tried it a couple of times. He quite liked the green ice so even now, several hours later, he still looks like the Grinch because the green food colouring has stained his skin. I have a feeling he may stay that way for a few days because no amount of scrubbing has made it fade. Nothing like a multi-coloured two year old.

Walking in the sensory box
Felix enjoyed some inside play as well. He enjoyed having some stories read to him and was very animated, signing the things in the picture he could see. He even taught Jackie how to sign the insect, 'cricket'.He liked walking up and down inside the sensory box again, especially the part with the prickly rice on the bottom. A highlight of today was when Felix sat up at the table and had a snack and a drink. He has refused to eat or drink anything at Playgroup for months now, and will either shake his head, 'No', or throw his food on the floor. Again, I think it's because at snack time he is surrounded by other children. Today, he happily sat up and ate his fruit bar and drank his juice. All of these things are just baby steps but to us, as Felix's parents, they are huge breakthroughs. We will never stop celebrating every tiny milestone.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Remembrance Walk

With Eden's bear
Felix and I shared a beautiful morning together this morning. HeartKids and SIDS and Kids held a remembrance walk down by the beach at 7am for families who had lost a child. Some parents walked for their babies who passed away before birth, and others walked for children who had died due to serious health issues later on. Felix and I walked for Eden, our daughter and sister who sadly, was born asleep when I was 20 weeks pregnant.

It was a perfect morning (albeit very early!) The sky was bright blue and it already felt quite warm. Felix thought it was wonderful, being able to run around on the grass outside so early in the morning. I enjoyed watching his smile as I wondered what his big sister would think of him if she was still here. I think Felix would have had her wrapped around his little finger! I wrote a message on a balloon for Eden, and Felix helped me carry it, along with one of her teddy bears, as we followed the other parents on a little walk through the gardens near the beach. When we returned from the walk, we all took it in turns saying the name of our child and then releasing our balloons. Felix was absolutely mesmerised by the balloons as they went up into the sky. He kept pointing and making lots of "Oooooh" sounds. It always gets me how many balloons are released at occasions like this; each one representing a life cut short way too soon. There were lots of tears!

After the remembrance walk, Felix and I went to visit Nathan at work. We went to McDonalds on the way, to pick up coffee. I must say, McDonalds have done amazing things with their advertising because I cannot believe Felix's instant reaction when he sees those golden arches!! We rarely buy anything from there, and even then Felix only
Balloons for our babies
With Eden's balloon
 has a few fries, but anyone would think we eat there every day by the way he responds. There are excited noises from the back seat as we drive in, and then lots of grumpy noises as we drive out (with only coffee). I don't know whether to think it's funny or to be horrified!!

Felix was very happy when we got to Daddy's work and, as usual, he walked around like he owned the place. He had everybody stopping to say hello and he was full of smiles and cheeky faces. I love that he brings so much joy to people. I'm sure he will still be doing the same thing when he's forty years old. I'm so proud of our little man!

Friday, 26 October 2012

New Babies

What shall I draw next?
Felix is such a funny little man. This morning we were asking him to say "Mum" and he copied us, "Mum, Mum, Mumma". Then we asked him to say "Dad". He signed 'Dad' and then clicked his tongue. Every time we repeated "Dad", he would sign it and click his tongue again. It was hilarious, like he was talking in another language. We were laughing and he was giggling along with us. In the afternoon, while I was driving in the car, I asked Felix if he could say "Dad'. The first couple of times, he clicked his tongue but after I kept repeating it, he started to say "Dad, Dad, Dad". Such a clever little man!

Drawing is something Felix has started to enjoy more and more. He is slowly learning not to eat the crayons or bite the end off the pencils. For his birthday, Felix was given a 'Mega Sketcher'. It's one of those boards that you can draw on with a plastic pencil and then erase the picture afterwards by sliding down the tab on the side. It's a great alternative to pencils or crayons for those, like Felix, who have a penchant for chewing things. During his quiet time, Felix really enjoys drawing on there and will concentrate on it for a really long time. Every now and again, we hear the buzzing sound of him erasing his picture and starting again. Today I drew a funny picture of Nathan on there and Felix sat and 'coloured' it in. The concentration on his face was adorable.
Colouring in Daddy

I am really excited to have 'met' some new Mums on Facebook, over the past week who have either just given birth, or are pregnant with a precious baby with Down Syndrome. Those who have just given birth are enjoying getting to know their new little ones, and those who are still waiting are looking forward to their new life ahead. It has been lovely to read such positive words from Mums who are brand new to our Down Syndrome family. Yes, there are some health concerns and obvious fear of the unknown, but the overriding feelings are ones of love and acceptance. I would like to congratulate all of them, and my hope for them is that those babies who are sick will recover quickly, and their little bodies will fight hard and get stronger every day. For those who are well enough to go home, that they will be content and settled. I know that every single one of these gorgeous little ones will bring overwhelming joy and happiness to their families.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Dancing Success

All smiles at dancing today
What a difference a week makes! I am beyond pleased to report that I took Felix back to dance class today, armed with some new tactics, and he had a great morning! He took his two favourite teddies this morning (his technicoloured monkey and his ugly sock cat), and whenever he felt a bit insecure he was able to cuddle them for a while. If Felix was shy about doing the actions to the songs, I made the monkey or the cat do the actions which soon had him giggling and wanting to join in.

I planned to sit, slightly outside of the circle of kids, this morning so Felix could observe them for a while. However, wanting us to be included, the circle kind of moved out towards us until we were a part of it (which was really lovely). I was surprised that Felix wasn't actually bothered by it at all. I could tell he felt more comfortable having his toys there, and a couple of dances today were to his favourite songs which made it even better. He was full of smiles and even did a few actions to the songs he knew. He still didn't stand up too much and preferred to be snuggled up against me or on my lap, but it was such a huge step forward from last week so I was very happy with that.

Quiet time with Spartacus
During one part of the morning, the teacher pulled out some padded mats to see if the kids wanted to try and do a somersault or a backbend. I took Felix over to the first mat, and put him in position to do a somersault and he did a beautiful one, with his head tucked under nicely. He looked quite pleased with himself after. I then took him over to the second mat to try a backbend. I wasn't too confident that he would even lay on his back on the mat, but he did, and even let the teacher put his hands behind him and help him up into a backbend position. He's so super flexible; one of the unique traits of people with Down Syndrome. If it's something he enjoys, then I think dancing or gymnastics could become a regular thing for Felix. He certainly has the agility for it.

After his very busy morning at dancing, Felix was well and truly ready for his sleep. I put him to bed and he waved at me and blew kisses as he sat there, with his monkey under one arm and his sock cat under the other. A few minutes later I heard a big bang and Felix crying. Poor little guy had whacked his forehead against the side of the cot really hard. He was sobbing but, after a quick cuddle with me, he reached out to go back in his cot. He lay on his belly, with his sock cat tucked under him, still breathing heavily from crying but happy to go to sleep. He is now sporting two nice big, blue bruises on his head; looking every bit like a typical two year old accident-prone boy!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Meltdown Avoided

Felix woke up with lots of energy this morning. Before we had even got out of bed, he had already dropped my deoderant into the toilet bowl, and proudly showed us how he could climb up onto our bed without help. He wolfed down an entire bowl of porridge, with soy milk and soy yoghurt, and then wanted to eat my muesli as well. He sat on our bed and did some crazy, head-banging dance moves to some music coming from the TV. He was hilarious! I was very thankful that it was Kindergym day because he obviously needed to be busy (and away from objects he could throw in the toilet).

I was thankful that Nathan was able to come to Kindergym with us last week and today as well. It's helpful for me for Nathan to see how Felix reacts, in different social settings, so he can offer his suggestions if Felix is unsettled or upset. Sometimes it's a team effort to work out what's best. When we first got there today, Felix seemed reasonably settled. He did his usual 'scooting backwards' away from other kids if they came close but, even after one little boy pushed past him, he seemed to be dealing with it OK.

After a few minutes, Felix wandered away from us a little bit which was great. I thought he still knew where we were sitting (only a couple of metres behind him) but, as kids started walking past him on all sides, I realised that he didn't know where we were. I saw his face turn from concern to panic, when he was surrounded by other children and feeling overwhelmed. We quickly called out to him to let him know where we were and he leapt into my arms, like he did at dancing last week, and attached himself to my neck. I gave him a quick hug and then tried to get him to let go of me but, even with Nathan's help, it was difficult and it took a lot of smiles and attempts at distraction before he would start to play again.

Shortly after that, Felix had a close encounter with another little boy. I quickly put on a cheery voice and told him how nice it was that the other little boy wanted to play near him, and how clever he was jumping up and down on the mats. Nathan then rolled a ball over towards Felix and asked if he could throw it to him. Phew! It worked, and Felix's expression changed from worried to smiling within seconds. Nathan and I debriefed later, about the morning, and we both agreed that we are doing the best we can and, that if we keep taking Felix to things, he will eventually get used to it. It was a nice break for me today, having an extra pair of hands too. I always enjoy watching Felix and Nate play together, and it meant I didn't have to climb up on the trampoline!!

After his big sleep this afternoon, Felix wanted to put his Play School DVD on. When I'm home with Felix, on my own, I rarely put the TV on. We're usually a bit too busy doing other things, or he follows me around while I'm doing housework. When the boys get home from school, he points to the TV, and they will put it on for him for a while. Felix can also convince Daddy to put the TV on for him too, which is exactly what he did today. He sat there glued to his favourite dinosaur episodes of Play School. It's really cute to watch him copying the actions to the songs and, his latest thing, is to make a chomping noise with his mouth when they are talking about the dinosaurs eating leaves. All good for his speech development! I'm not sure why Play School is the only programme which grabs his attention. Maybe because the people on it look like they are speaking directly to him? Whatever it is, he loves it and doesn't like the fact that I turn it off once it's finished. Such a mean Mum!




Monday, 22 October 2012

Tasty Treats

One thing Felix really loves is bath time. While he was sitting on the toilet this afternoon, he signed to me that he wanted a bath. Since he was quite dirty from lots of playing and eating, with a bit of sand mixed in, I thought it was probably a good suggestion. He can't get undressed quick enough for the bath and likes to get in when the water is still running. When I turn off the taps, he likes to play in the bubbles for a while and helps me as I wash him with the wash cloth. Today he did something I thought was quite clever. He took one of his toy boats and put it next to him in the water. He then swished his hands through the water until the boat floated up to the opposite end of the bath. Once it had reached the end, he reached out and grabbed the boat and did it again. Not once did he push the boat; he knew that if he moved his hand through the water enough, the boat would be caught in the current and would move along by itself. I love watching him as he thinks through things. It's really quite amazing!

Today I drove to the town nearest us, which is about 40 minutes away, to get started on my Christmas shopping. I always feel a bit sorry for Felix when I have to drag him out to the shops, but he is so good. I don't know why he enjoys being in the car, but he has never complained, even when we have to drive long distances. Today was no exception. He chattered away to himself and was happy to look out the window and take everything in. He loves being able to walk around the shops by himself a bit now, and it's pretty cute to have him toddling behind me. The only problem is that there is a lot of stuff on shelves which are the perfect height for him, so he tends to do a little bit of unfolding and rearranging of things. Although I think it's quite adorable, I'm not sure that the staff at the store would agree with me.....Oops!

Tonight, we went to my best friend's house for a yummy dinner. It was a little bit later than Felix's usual dinner time, so we took him a little picnic to eat while we were waiting for ours to be ready. He thought it was great. He had lots of delicious things on his plate, but he also got to share some of our pre-dinner nibbles as well. He enjoyed dipping his crackers into some spicy capsicum dip, and when our laksa had finished cooking he managed to eat some of that even after eating his own dinner. He seems to love things which are a little bit spicy, or have a lot of garlic and strong flavours. I don't know if that's because we introduced him to those foods at quite a young age, or if it's just genetics and he's like his Mummy and Daddy. Either way, it's pretty cool to be able to share blue cheese and olives with a two year old!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Weekend Antics

So cute!
I haven't written about how Felix's toilet training is going, for a while. I used to be able to 'catch him' in time to do his number two's on the toilet because he was so regular but, unfortunately, over the last couple of months he won't do them on there any more. On the positive side, he is signing 'toilet' when he wants to do a wee and when I sit him on the toilet he does a big one every time. I'm encouraged by that because it means  he is listening to his body signal when he needs to go. I also have to remind myself that he has just turned 2 years old and is doing incredibly well to be doing anything on the toilet. I'm looking forward to the weather heating up so he can run around in little jocks instead of nappies. It will make his toilet training so much easier. I bought some awesome underwear for him from eBay. They are made of towelling and have a little bit of extra padding so if he wets himself he won't soak through straight away; saves me cleaning up too many puddles. Some have fire engines on the bottom and the others have a police car. So cute!

Kisses from Chaos
We had a lovely, lazy weekend. Felix was happy to wander around and play with his toys and read some books. Nathan and I sang a lot of songs to him and had fun signing different things. As usual, Mr. Bossy made sure that we were doing the actions to the songs correctly, and signing properly. Nathan made the mistake of only using one hand to sign something instead of the required two. Felix was very quick to rectify the problem by grabbing his other hand and moving it to the right position. Nathan couldn't stop laughing. We were shocked, again, at Felix's memory for signs. He was looking at a book and saw a picture of a spider and signed it straight away. I haven't used that sign for at least 3 months! He remembers them better than we do.

Just Daddy and Felix
Another funny thing Felix has started doing is picking up my container of moisturiser with one hand and then touching his cheeks with his finger. It's his way of telling me he wants me to put some on his face. I open it up and put a tiny bit on each of his cheeks and rub it in; it's so cute. He must have seen me put it on my face so many times that he knows what to do with it. Nothing wrong with a boy taking care of his skin, but if I don't hurry up and get his hair cut soon I'm going to have everyone thinking he's a girl, with his long hair. I was running my fingers through it today and I think I could quite easily get it into a little pony tail. I better book him an appointment with the hairdresser first thing in the morning.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Super Signer

Our little man is so clever. This afternoon, we thought we would ask him to sign random words and see if he could do them without us signing them first. He is amazing!! I can't believe how much he remembers; even words we haven't signed in weeks, he knows. We listed off heaps of words, one after the other, and he knew every single one. I thought he would get confused because of how quickly we were asking him to sign different things, but he didn't skip a beat and did them perfectly. I am so proud of him, and it has definitely given me extra motivation to learn more and more signs. To be able to communicate with Felix means so much to me and, although I am looking forward to him speaking more verbally in future, I am enjoying learning with him at the moment.

Since seeing the Speech Pathologist last, I have been trying to listen more carefully to the sounds Felix is verbalising. We have played lots of games where we put things 'in' and 'out' of containers and he is definitely making sounds which sound like 'in' and 'out'. Yesterday I was making the sound 'moo' when we were looking at pictures of cows, and he did a really good job of repeating the sound back to me. Sometimes I can see him trying so hard to say a word. His little mouth moves around and I can see him trying to put his tongue in the correct position, but he can't quite get it. I love his determination and I know, with time, he will be chatting away. I have a feeling I'll probably be asking him to be quiet because he's talking too much!

Yesterday, when the other kids were at school, Felix 'helped' me decorate the house for Halloween. The kids have always enjoyed dressing up and going trick or treating, even though most homes in Australia don't celebrate Halloween.  I don't need much of an excuse to decorate because I love holidays, so we decorate the house as well (nothing like the homes in the States though). Since we moved here, some of the other families on the street have got into the spirit of things and send their kids trick or treating too. We always have a lot of kids come to our place because they know we have LOTS of lollies for them. I'm looking forward to dressing Felix up this year. He had fun pulling all the decorations out of the box yesterday, and enjoyed chewing on a squishy 'zombie brain'. He loves the cobwebs we have hung up with plastic spiders in them, and laughs when I carry him through them and they brush against his face. Holidays are always that little bit more fun with a toddler in the house.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

No Dancing Today

Sobbing :(
You know those days when life just seems a little bit overwhelming? Situations arise which usually wouldn't phase you, but they do? Today was one of those days.

I was really excited this morning because I was taking Felix to his first dance class. I was pretty sure he would love it because he really enjoys song time, at playgroup and kindergym, and this was going to be non-stop music and dancing.

Before we went to the dance class, I had to quickly stop at a shop to pick something up. Felix was Mr. Confident! He walked around the shop in his little shoes, getting lots of smiles and comments from the other shoppers. He found a shelf with rolls of fabric on it. There was a gap under the shelf which was just the right size for him to crawl through, like a tunnel. The problem was that he crawled about two metres under it before I realised he could go that far, so I had to lay on the floor and grab his ankles to pull him out. He thought it was hilarious and crawled straight back under there again. The shop assistant, waiting for me to pay, couldn't stop laughing at me with my butt in the air, chasing Felix under the shelf.

Happy at home
When we got to Felix's dance class, I was feeling confident. I put him down on the ground, just inside the door and he walked behind me for a minute. There were only a couple of other kids there with their Mums to start with so there wasn't too much noise, but as people started to arrive I could see Felix becoming anxious. By the time everyone had arrived, Felix had attached himself to me like glue and didn't want to budge.

The class started with a couple of Felix's favourite songs. The first one had actions which require lots of jumping and wriggling around. As long as I kept Felix facing me and with him hanging on to me, he seemed happy and was smiling. Then we sang 'twinkle, twinkle' little star, which he loves. All of the children were sitting quietly for that one so, again, he was OK. As the morning progressed and the dancing became more active, Felix started to cling on to me tighter and tighter. By the time there was a break for a quick drink, he wouldn't even sit on my lap; he just had his arms around my neck and his face buried in my shoulder. I sat him on the floor while I walked a short distance away to get his drink. I turned around to see him, face down on the floor, sobbing his eyes out. He was really upset. He refused his drink and reattached himself to me as quickly as he could.

Worried face
From that point on, Felix was a permanent fixture around my neck. I don't think he's ever held on that tightly before. I kept moving to the music (feeling like a Mother monkey with her baby hanging from her), but didn't push him to participate. I hoped that if he could see me enjoying myself, and peek out every now and again to see everyone having fun, he would come around. He didn't. He started to shake and quietly cry by the time the class finished. I had to put him down so I could put on my shoes but he lay, face down again, on the floor and cried and cried. His little body was trembling and when he looked up at me, he looked so frightened.

Thus began my soul-searching. Should I have cuddled him more? Should I have cuddled him less? Do I keep taking him to dance classes in the hope he will get used to it? Do I stop going so he doesn't get too anxious? Is this common for a child with Down Syndrome, or is it just a regular 'kid thing' I have somehow managed to avoid with our seven other children? After quite a few tears when I got home, I decided to call Down Syndrome SA and have a chat with the Early Intervention Coordinator there. She was wonderful and was able to point out a couple of things. Firstly, that kids with Down Syndrome are often very sensitive to noise and can find it overwhelming, especially specific pitches. Secondly, it sounds like Felix may also just have a bad case of separation anxiety, which is quite normal for kids his age. She suggested a few things to me which I will try including, taking his favourite teddy to dance classes with us; leaving part way through the session if he gets too distressed and taking photos of the class on the ipad so we can look at them and talk about them before we go there. I was really thankful for her listening ear and am happy to take her advice on board.
Happy at Kindergym with no kids around

After feeling quite miserable for a while, I received a phone call from Jacob's Mum asking if they could come over for a play with Felix. I agreed, but as I hung up the phone I was wondering what on earth I was thinking. The last time Felix saw Jacob, he freaked out and got really upset and he had already gone to bed  unhappy. I had a feeling my day might be going to get worse. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. Even though Felix's bottom lip dropped when Jacob touched him, I stayed upbeat and told him how funny it was that Jacob had touched his hand. Slowly, but surely, Felix looked a bit more relaxed and by the time Jacob went home he had been sitting, reasonably close to him, playing with his toys. It was a tiny little thing, but seemed so huge to me today!

I'm going to stay hopeful that, over time, Felix will be less stressed around other children. I'm looking forward to the day when he will happily interact with other kids and be able to show everyone his hilarious personality. He brings us so much happiness and I can't wait to see him come out of his shell and really enjoy being with his friends.




Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Lots of Fun

Cuddles with his sock cat
We had so much fun at Kindergym this morning. Nathan was able to come with Felix and me, and I could tell that Felix was so excited to have Daddy there. There weren't as many kids there today as they were last week, so Felix seemed a lot more relaxed and happily wandered around. He was still pretty hesitant when other children came close to him, but the other parents are starting to get to know Felix and have been so lovely, encouraging their kids to come and say hello. Felix had his eye on one little girl for quite some time; every time she walked past him he kept looking at her and smiling. It was a bit cute. Her Mum brought her over to introduce her to Felix. He quickly jumped up on Nathan's lap, but then looked back over his shoulder at her and had a little grin. Such a ladies man already!

video
Felix having fun at Kindergym today
Isaiah and Aaron have just had new beds delivered. They came in flat packs, complete with incorrect instructions and really terrible illustrations. I think building something from a flat pack can either make, or break, a marriage. Thankfully, I have a very patient husband and we managed to construct them without any arguments. Felix loved 'helping' put the beds together. I was kept busy removing giant screws from his mouth. He must have thought they felt pretty good on his gums because he kept wanting to chew them all the time. Felix is going to be pretty disappointed tomorrow morning when he goes to wake the boys up. They have been sleeping on mattresses on the floor for a while now and he has been able to walk in there and jump on their beds. Their new beds are loft beds, and quite high off the ground. I wonder how long it will take Felix to work out how to climb ladders?

Sleepy Head
Tonight when I tucked Felix into bed, I couldn't help it. I had to run and grab my camera to take a couple of photos of him. He looked so adorable in his pajamas, with his multi-coloured monkey and his ugly 'sock' cat tucked under his arms. Why is it that kids always choose the most unusual toys to be their favourites? Lately, every time I get my camera out, he shakes his head at me because he doesn't want me to take any photos. Tonight he was quite happy and had his cute face on for me.

I haven't written a fact about Down Syndrome for a while. Today I will dispel a myth about people with Down Syndrome. I have heard, so many times, "They are always so happy!"  People with Down Syndrome are not always happy. They have feelings and emotions just like you and I, and can get angry, upset and frustrated just like the rest of us. Felix can sure 'crack it' just like any other two year old if he doesn't want to do something. At the moment, he doesn't want to sit in his car seat straight away. He wants to climb over into the back of the station wagon, so it's like wrestling with a wriggling eel trying to get him clipped in and safe to drive away. Sounds like any other typical kid really, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Brothers

Watching the dancing
Felix was so cute today. He really misses the older boys when they are at school, and will often knock on their bedroom doors to see if they are in there. Today he was knocking and knocking and, when he got no response, he pushed on one of the doors until it opened. By the time I got up the hallway to bring him back out of the room, he was already laying on Isaiah's bed. When I told him he had to come out of the room he shook his head and lay back down on the pillow. I think he might have actually gone to sleep in there if I had left him, but I wasn't taking any chances. The boys wouldn't have been too happy to have their room trashed by their two year old brother. I might have been in trouble if that had happened.

With his HUGE
Buddy Walk tshirt
I took Felix over to the shops today and it was the first time I had let him walk around, wearing his little boots. I wasn't sure how he would go with his boots on, but he did such a great job and I only had to pick him up a couple of times. He was very stable on his feet; he's definitely getting the hang of this walking thing. I bought him a little pair of sneakers to wear at the Buddy Walk, because I thought it would be too hot for boots. The only problem was, the sneakers didn't support his ankles and so he struggled to walk with them on. Kids with Down Syndrome have very flexible joints and, as I've discovered with Felix, sometimes require some extra support when walking. I might try the sneakers again when he's been walking for a bit longer.

Here we are heading off on the walk. Isaiah is pushing Felix
in the pram (he was asleep already)
Joshua (16) has just walked in the door after getting his haircut. His hair was extremely long and he's just had it cut really short. Felix is looking at him very suspiciously, wondering who this person is who is talking to him. Every time Joshua gets close to him, Felix is burying his head in the floor, like he does with people he doesn't know. It's pretty funny to watch, although Joshua is trying really hard to convince Felix that it's really him! Hopefully he'll recognise him soon!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Buddy Walk 2012

I don't even know where to begin... what an amazing day!! Foundation 21, once again, put on a fantastic day for all of us who were lucky enough to go to the Buddy Walk, here in South Australia, today. The weather was perfect, there was a petting zoo and rides for the kids. There were performances by a couple of different dance groups, made up of kids of all ages, which were wonderful. There was a band, and plenty of food and drinks to be had. It really was a day of celebration; a day when people, from all walks of life, came together to show how proud we are of those we love, who just happen to have Down Syndrome. I felt so lucky to be Felix's Mum today.

Our day started just before 5am, when that awful thing called an alarm went off. Nathan, Isaiah and I all grabbed very quick showers and somehow managed to get dressed with our eyes half shut. Felix was already stirring, so we changed him quickly and then jumped into the car and we were on our way. I must say that even McDonalds coffee tastes pretty good at 5.30am in the morning! We had a really good drive down and, although we saw plenty of kangaroos hopping along the side of the road, we managed to avoid them all. We arrived in Adelaide just after 9.30am, with plenty of time to spare.

We are so thankful to our friends and family who came to walk with us today. It really means a lot to us to know that we have the support of all of you wonderful people. Some of you, Felix already knows well and some he met for the very first time, which was fantastic. I hope you all had as much fun as we did.  I want to say a big thank you to those who, because of work commitments and sickness, were unable to make it today. We know you would have been there if you could have been, and we appreciate your love and support for Felix so very much. We are planning on doing this on an annual basis, so there is always next year!

One thing I really enjoy about Buddy Walk is the feeling of belonging. It's like a big reunion where there are Cousins and Aunties and Nephews you don't know well, but who you know are family. We were able to catch up with people we have known for years, people we have only met since having Felix and those we met for the first time today. The other thing I love is the dancing. Kids with Down Syndrome can dance with an excitement and joy I have never seen before. Most are completely uninhibited, and dance with such freedom and passion that it makes me quite emotional to watch them. One boy was smashing out the dance moves all by himself, in front of the band, as if he was the only one there. He didn't care who was watching; he was just into the music and loving it! I think we, the general population with one less chromosome, could learn a lot from observing those with Down Syndrome. I know I, for one, could learn to be a lot less self conscious and a lot less inhibited.

Felix had a wonderful day. He went in the petting zoo, although it was Daddy who touched the animals because he was a bit wary of them. He put ping pong balls into the clown's mouths very easily, without dropping any of the balls. He even went on the giant slide with Isaiah (and had a look of sheer terror on the way down). He was so tired, because of our early start, that he slept for all of the actual walk, but he woke up happy and ready to entertain everyone after that. He was absolutely exhausted when we got home and was asleep as soon as I put him to bed.

Our trip home was a little bit frightening. We had been following a convoy of ten Armoured Personnel Carriers on their way to the base. They were travelling very slowly so, bit by bit, we managed to overtake the first eight of them. With only two to go, I was excited because we would then be able to drive normal speed the rest of the way home. Suddenly the driver, of the one in front of us, fell asleep at the wheel and veered into oncoming traffic. I braked, because I could see it about to hit the van travelling in the opposite direction and was worried that our car was going to get caught up in the accident. I don't know how, but the vehicles missed each other by the tiniest of margins. The driver woke up as he hit the dirt on the opposite side of the road, straightened up and drove back over to the correct side of the road, in front of us. To say that my heart was racing would be an understatement. I still can't believe he didn't kill anyone. Needless to say, I was very thankful to pull into our driveway tonight. It's good to be home safe and sound!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

One More Sleep!

It's the green 'Where's Wally!'
Yesterday, Felix had one of his therapy sessions. The Speech Pathologist and the Physiotherapist came to our house to check in and see how he was going. He was a little bit shy at first, but he quickly warmed up and started showing off all his new tricks. The Speech Pathologist brought 'Mr Potato Head' for Felix to play with, and we did lots of talking about body parts, and where to put his eyes and his arms etc. We were all really impressed with how well Felix managed to push Mr Potato Head's arms into the correct hole, even though it was really small. At times, it took him a little while, but he persisted and was successful each time. He correctly identified the body parts when we asked him to pick up a particular one too, which was great.

Not too sure about his nephew playing with his ipad.
The Speech Pathologist was curious to know what words/sounds Felix was able to make, so she got him to play with his hammering bench, and focussed on the words 'in' and 'out'. Much to my surprise, Felix said 'in' nearly every time and made a sound very much like 'out' when he took the blocks out. After that, I blew some bubbles and we all said the word 'pop' over and over. Felix was shown how to point his finger and pop the bubbles whenever he could. The Physio used the bubbles to try and get Felix to work on his balance. He's fantastic at balancing when he's walking, or looking straight ahead or side to side, but looking above his head and reaching for the bubbles was pretty hard. He tried for quite a while to pop the bubbles while he was standing. When he lost his balance, he got straight back up to try again. After a while, he realised that sitting down was much easier though, so he happily sat and giggled while he popped his bubbles.

Today we took Felix for a ride on his new little tricycle, which has a parent handle so we can push him. He thinks it's fantastic. It has a little cup holder so he can have a drink whenever he feels like it, and a toy mobile phone attached for him to play with. A lot more snazzy than anything I ever had as a kid, that's for sure (although my Dad did help Santa fix up a second hand bike for Christmas once and, as a result, it was the most popular bike on the street on Christmas Day!). We took one of the dogs for a walk at the same time, and Felix loved being able to reach out and pat the dog while we walked along. He loves the sunshine and the trees, and was constantly pointing out different things along the way. It was quite warm today so Felix needed a hat on, which proved problematic in the wind. Nathan had to run back a couple of times to pick it up as it blew away. I think Felix was thankful it kept blowing off because he hates wearing hats, so the wind did him a favour!
This is the way you squash the cat...

Well, tomorrow is the day we have been looking forward to for a really long time; it's Buddy Walk Day! We have everything ready by the front door for our 5.30am departure in the morning. All up tomorrow, we will do about 9 hours driving there and back, but we wouldn't miss it for the world! It looks like being a beautiful, warm day; absolutely perfect for a walk. I am so excited to be part of such a wonderful community of people, all joining together out of love and support for those with Down Syndrome. Last year we enjoyed watching dance performances and singing by some of the kids, and I'm really looking forward to that again. The crowd was really involved and the kids were all so enthusiastic! We will be meeting up with some beautiful people who are coming into the city to walk with us and celebrate Felix's life. We are really thankful to all of you who are coming in to be part of our special day tomorrow. Can't wait to see you all.

That smile, those eyes :)
Every now and again, I look at Felix and I feel overwhelmed with emotion. I look at him and marvel at how incredibly gorgeous he is. Today was one of those days. I was up in my room when I saw a little shadow moving up the hallway, and knew Felix was on his way up to see me. He walked into the room and tears welled up in my eyes. I looked at his mop of sandy brown hair, all shiny from the bath he'd just had, and that beautiful smile, so huge that those unique almond shaped eyes narrowed completely, giving them a slanted shape. Perfect! We couldn't have asked for a more precious little boy. How does that saying go? 'I never knew I wanted a child with Down Syndrome until I was given one!'  How very true..and we wouldn't want him any other way!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Very Observant

How can you argue with that face?
Nothing like being bossed around by a two year old who can barely even speak yet! Felix was sitting on the bed with me this morning, playing with his ipad. I was on my laptop, trying to put off getting up for a few more minutes because it was so cold. Felix was signing different animals as he pointed to the pictures of them on his 'Sound Touch' app. He would get my attention, sign the word and I would say things like, "Yes Felix, that's a cat" and I would sign it back to him. When he touched the picture of a donkey and signed the word, he looked at me expectantly and waited for me to sign it back to him. I was typing at the time, so I only signed with one hand (so the donkey only had one ear). Felix looked at me with his cute, little, impatient face and picked my hand up off the keyboard, and let me know that he wanted me to sign it properly.....with both hands! I dared not argue with him. I lifted both my hands above my head and signed 'donkey' correctly. With a satisfied look on his face, Felix went back to playing his game.

Just hanging out with his big brothers.
The same thing happened when Nathan got home from work. 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star' was playing and Felix was enthusiastically doing the actions. He always stretches both hands so 'high above the sky' that he could almost touch it. It's adorable! Problem is, we have to do the actions too; which is fine except that he studies us to make sure we're doing them properly. Heaven forbid if our fingers aren't 'twinkling' enough or if the diamond isn't high enough 'in the sky'. Felix will physically grab our hands and demand (without words), that we do it properly. We feel like the naughty school students with a really strict teacher. He's such a funny little man!

Much to our older boy's horror, I have been dancing around the house to the song 'Gangnam Style'. There is a lot of eye-rolling every time I'm singing it too, which makes me want to do it even more (Hahaha..sorry boys!) Secretly, I've been teaching Felix how to do the dance and today, in the car, on the way to school he gave his debut performance. The boys thought it was hilarious; there was Felix, sitting in his car seat, doing the hand movements and saying "Oo, Oo, Oo, Oo." I think they forgave me for doing it so much when they saw how cute he looked. We laughed all the way to school.
Fun in the sun.

Felix didn't have a sleep during the day today. He was still in his cot 'chatting' away an hour after I'd put him to bed, so I got him up again. I took the opportunity to rearrange his bedroom and give it a good clean. I put some brand new bedding in his cot and decorated the room so it looked completely different by the time I had finished. When I brought Felix into the room later he didn't know where to look first. He pointed at everything that was new, or was in a different place. He wanted to get into his cot (which I'd moved) and look at the cars and trains on his sheets and quilt cover. I was really impressed with how much he noticed. He was quite excited to get into bed tonight.





Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Back to Kindergym

Felix's favourite thing at kindergym
Felix and I went to Kindergym this morning. I was really excited to take my little walking man and see all the new things he could do. He was a little apprehensive at first, because of the other kids, but once he got used to the noise and busyness he was fine. His climbing skills and his confidence have come on in leaps and bounds since last term. He was even able to walk up some of the soft ramps and, being the daredevil he is,  walked across platforms which were about a metre off the ground. I stayed close by 'just in case', but he seemed to be very aware of where the edges were and was quite cautious. A couple of times when he couldn't quite reach to climb up onto something, he looked at me and signed "Help". I gave him a little bit of a push and he was able to scramble the rest of the way up by himself.

As you know, Felix loves music and singing. Today was no different. When we had song time at Kindergym, he was so excited. He shook the little bells he got out of the instrument box, and bounced himself up and down to the songs. His eyes were big and wide and he loved watching the other kids jumping and singing. He was disappointed when the songs finished and signed "again". He hates it when it's time to finish, but was ready for a big drink and something to eat, so he didn't complain too much this time.

Climbing
At Kindergym this morning it was interesting to observe different parent's reactions to Felix. When I'm at home with Felix I forget that he has Down Syndrome. To me, he's just Felix; our busy little two year old who is into everything. When I go into a situation where there are people who don't know Felix, I am reminded very quickly that he does indeed have Down Syndrome, because of people's responses to him. I have found that people react in one of two ways. The first group of people are drawn to Felix; they engage me in conversation, and talk to him. Some give me a smile from across the room, or make sure their kids are gentle when they play with Felix (sensing that he gets a bit frightened). The second group of people are evasive. They avoid eye contact with me and they quickly redirect their kids in a different direction if they start moving towards Felix.

Too clever, little man!
I was speaking to our oldest boys about my observations from today and, as always, they had some very interesting input. Like me, they agreed that to us Felix is just Felix. However, they did point out that sometimes when they notice someone who is different, they face a bit of a conundrum themselves. Do you make eye contact and smile? Do you go over and speak to them? Do you walk straight past them like you would any other person? The boys pointed out to me that some people probably do feel uncomfortable when faced with Felix, because they are unsure of how to respond. It doesn't mean they think he's awful, but they may actually be worried about upsetting me, as his Mum, if they respond the 'wrong way', so they avoid it altogether. I know I have had some people apologise for asking me questions about Down Syndrome because they thought they may have upset me (they didn't; I love questions). Some eye opening thoughts from our boys tonight, I think.

Having lots of fun!
Felix had a lot of fun this afternoon. When Nathan got home from work, he made him a 'cup of tea' with his tea set, and fed him some of the fruit from his toy fruit basket. They read some stories together and had a big play. When Felix was sitting on Nathan's knee, listening to a story, he kept looking over at me and signing, "Daddy" (with a grin from ear to ear) and then leaning his face up and staring at his Daddy, as proud as punch. He loves having Daddy time, and it's pretty precious to watch!

Tonight we had all six of our sons here for dinner (a pretty rare occurrence these days). Felix loved having all the boys around and wasn't quite sure who he wanted to 'talk' to first; there were so many choices. He wasn't sure about Daniel's new beard but, by the time he had to say goodnight, he was happy to stroke his face. I think he'd finally worked out who he was. Lucky for Felix, he got to go to bed at 7pm while the rest of us had to sit and endure the movie, Rocky 3, thanks to Nathan. He has told the kids that their childhood will be incomplete without watching a list of movies he has written down. The kids all groan initially, but I can tell they love it that we're doing something funny together. I wonder what the next torturous movie will be...Hahahaha!