Thursday, January 29, 2015

Motherhood Unexpected.

One beautiful benefits of parenting a child with Down syndrome is meeting the other moms of children with Down syndrome.  While I gotten to meet Deanna in person, we've exchanged messages back and forth and I've loved watching her little Addison grow up.

I've mentioned before that while I was pregnant and when Ellie was a baby, I received great comfort from reading about little girls just older than my own, and Addison's antics continue to keep me entertained.

I flew through Deanna's newest book, "Motherhood Unexpected," while holding a "sort of sick" Ellie.  Poor kid threw up on Wednesday after school, enough to scare me into keeping her home today, but not enough to convince Ellie that she needs rest.  All rest was strictly enforced by me, as I held Ellie, trying to convince her to lay her head down.  I read during pockets of this enforced rest and while Ellie finally napped, and I was drawn into the story of Claire, who is very surprised when her baby is born with Down syndrome.

Although Down syndrome plays a key role in the book, the book focuses more on perfection, loss, expectations, faith, family, and fairness.

I don't think it's a book that requires understanding of special needs parenting, although it's a faith-focused book which may impact some people's feelings in a positive or negative way.  I love that the special needs mom is imperfect, although Claire's character took awhile to grow on me.   Deanna also captures the voice of 15 year old Felicity authentically.

Read it.  Enjoy it.  And be sure to check out Deanna's blog.

And since the book is about babies with Down syndrome and I guess this is #throwbackthursday, here's an old shot of Ellie.

Affiliate links included.
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Monday, January 26, 2015

At Home Learning Activities for Kids with Down Syndrome.

I recently was going through some old posts, and found this one, in which I state my intentions to work on a few things with Ellie.

An excerpt:

A Look Ahead….

Maybe if I share this publicly, I'll do a better job of teaching Ellie some skills that are next on the list, including:* Getting dressed with more independence* Potty training (which can be really hard for kids with low muscle tone)* Cutting soft foods with a knife* Responding appropriately to questions* Counting to ten by rote* Counting objects with 1:1 correspondence

I've been diligent with some goals and a slacker with others, but Ellie has continued to grow in her abilities at her own pace.

Of the list above, we've spent the most time on questions and answers.  Verbal skills are Ellie's relative strength, but answering questions can be hard.  We model, model, model question and answer skills.

I wasn't sure how much progress we were making until Ellie and I went out to dinner Friday night. (In the conversation below, the cashier was speaking to me, not Ellie.  She couldn't even see over the counter, so it wasn't a big deal.)

Me: Ellie, do you want a turkey sandwich or a quesadilla?
Ellie: Quesadilla!!!!!
Me, to cashier: I guess we'll take a kids quesadilla.
Cashier: OK, chicken on that?
Me: El, chicken?
Ellie: NO!
Cashier laughs.
Cashier: Fruit or chips as the side?
Me: Fruit, please.
Ellie: CHIPS!
Cashier laughs again.
Me: Oh, that's a mom decision, and mom picked fruit.
Ellie: CHIPS!!!!!!! I want chips!

So at least she is making choices, even if I disagree.  I didn't cave, and we ate fruit.

Other (less verbal) skills are tricker for Ellie.  She needs a helping hand with shirts, even if they're big, although Ellie is getting better.  She puts her jacket on using the "preschool flip."  She can put her Uggs on her feet, although getting them on the correct feet is inconsistent.  Giving her time to simply play with her boots helped with that self-dressing skill, but the shirts will require a bit more work on Mommy's part.

On the list from my previous post, I mentioned counting to ten.  We worked on that skill by sending Ellie to school.  Yay, teachers!  Now we just need to work on 1:1 correspondence.

Ellie has been working on her coloring and writing, too.  She got these crayons for Christmas and loves them.  Almost every day, she sits at her little table and tells me she is going to "color on the paper."  I love that the crayons promote a tripod grasp and Ellie loves that they look cool.

Art time is also time we work on letters.  I write words, we draw pictures of the words, we point out letters, we make faces on the paper with "two eyes and two ears and one nose and one mouth."  We add stickers to promote fine motor skills.


To work on other pre-reading skills, we just read!  Ellie loves books. If I say "no" to reading a story, she'll give me sad eyes and say, "Can you try?"  She copies my reading, pointing to the words in her books as she makes up her own words, adorably starting every story with "Onceuponatime!"

As in, "Onceuponatime Elephant and Piggie driving.  Do you have a car?  NO!"

Elephant and Piggie fans know that she skipped straight to the end.

Finally, I decided to make Ellie her own predictable text book.  I used all images she's familiar with (as they're all photos I took.)  You are welcome to download and use as you like, but only in your own home and I retain copyright.  So print it out and have some fun!

Affiliate links are included in this post.
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Sunday, January 25, 2015


Bedhead.  Penguin jammies.  Penguin gel clings.  Sleepy girl.  Anticipating a full day.  Ready for gymnastics.  Not ready for snow tomorrow.  But perhaps, ready for a snow day if we get lucky!

This photo is one of 52 portraits of my daughter in 52 weeks, linked here.

Nikon D3100, ISO 800, f1.8, 1/200
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Dollhouse and Music.

Ellie recently received the best hand-me-down ever - a dollhouse.  The first day, she played with it for about three hours straight.  When she got in the car and spotted it in the backseat, her eyes lit up and she exclaimed, "A dollhouse!  For Ellie!"
She knows what she loves.  Receiving the dollhouse on a rainy/sleety Friday couldn't have been better timing.  Ellie is currently operating the dollhouse oven telling the dolls, "It super hot.  Be careful!"

I will credit school for doing a great job - Ellie's letter and number identification are improving.  I was shocked the other day when she handed me a puzzle piece of the number 8 and said, "Hi mama.  Here's a 8!"  No clue she knew that!

Below is her abbreviated version of the Dr. Jean letter sounds song.  If you can't catch it or you aren't familiar with the song, the portion Ellie sang is "A for apple, a a a, B for bounce, b b b b b b, C for cut, c c c c c" and then she skipped to "Z for zigzag!"

As a Kindergarten teacher, I hear too much Dr. Jean at work.  As a mom, I hear WAY too much Dr. Jean at home, but at least my kid knows her letters.  (If you want to see how the song really goes, here's a link.  Have fun.)
Stay tuned later this week for a post about some specific skills we are working on at home!
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Friday, January 23, 2015

This Week.

I keep saying to myself, "I can't believe I'm not blogging at all during the week.  Next week I'll make sure to post something!"

But I don't.

Ellie has a minor cold causing major sleeplessness around here, we had a long weekend plus a teacher workday to work on grades, Ellie has been coloring a ton.

We seem to be in the midst of a period go growth for Ellie - her fine motor and speech skills are improving daily.  These bursts come every now and then, which is nice after a long plateau.

In the weeks ahead, we have some fun - celebrating a birthday for Ellie's little zipper buddy, seeing old friends and seeing family.

And in the past few weeks, we celebrated our buddy Charlie's birthday and Matt's birthday.  Matt and I got out of town (well, to Old Town) overnight to celebrate.  We ate at a grown up restaurant and did not have to use the following phrases:

"Keep your food ON THE PLATE."
"Big girls use a fork."
"If you don't like that, don't stick that chewed up food in my mouth."

Little girls celebrating at the American Girl store.

Ellie and Daddy.

Those eyes.

Charlie blowing out her candles.
And the best news around here?  Gymnastics resumes on Sunday.  Bring it on.
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Sunday, January 18, 2015


Ellie, Matt and I went for a walk outside after the rain today.

Matt and I were semi-out of town overnight (we went all the way to Old Town) and Ellie got to have a sleepover with two of her best friends.  Matt and I were able to celebrate his birthday with a nice dinner and grown up conversation.

But it was nice to be back together with our crazy little girl.

My third weekly photo for Practising Simplicity.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015


Matt was out of town and the weather was cold, but Ellie and I managed to have a good weekend.

Ellie did some painting with this Melissa and Doug Paint with Water.

Sunday the temperatures were finally above freezing so we played outside for a bit.

Crazy hair!

Ellie fell down and cut her hand a tiny bit.  In the photo above, she's showing off her injury.

Hope you had a great and injury free weekend!

There's some affiliate links in here.  If you buy through my link, I can add to my grand total so far of something like $10 over 3 months!
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