Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And the Award for PT of the Year Goes to...

Renee!!!! Today was a very bittersweet day for us, as it was Renee's last day as Samantha's physical therapist. We are so fortunate to have had Renee in our lives since shortly after Sammi was born. They bonded immediately (and trust me, Samantha doesn't take bonding lightly!), and though there were tough days here and there where Samantha didn't want to work, Renee was consistent, pushing Samantha to meet her goals through patience and persistence. She was always more physical with Sammi than I could ever be; tougher than the mama who would cave in when she felt the slightest little tug of resistance from baby. And she taught Steve, the primary care-giver, to be more persistent and physical with Sammi as well, taught him to be able to follow up on all of the exercises she worked on with her every week. And the results are obvious.

I remember when we had our first home visit from our County service coordinator who asked us what we wanted Samantha to accomplish in her first year. I naiively said I wanted her to be walking by 12 months. She nodded and wrote it down, probably thinking I had a lot of learning to do, but she said nothing. Although I soon learned that my goal was a little unrealistic, I saw the progress Sammi made with Renee. It seemed like every week, the day after her PT appointments, Sammi would suddenly start to do something new, like sit up on her own, pull to stand, finger-feed. She took it all in, processed what she had learned, and began to practice on her own. It was amazing to watch. Samantha began walking at 21 months, ahead of the average age for children with Down syndrome. We are very proud, and know that Renee had such a huge impact on the process, both educating Samantha and educating us to ensure she reached her full potential.

Next week is the start of a whole new adventure: school. And thus, Renee will no longer be Samantha's therapist. But I like to think of it as the passing of the baton - we were so fortunate to have her in our lives, and now we can free her up to help another family and another child to reach his or her potential.

Thank you Renee.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sweet Pea United

Our 2008 Buddy Walk team has now been registered. Sweet Pea United walks again for the 2nd year in a row. We didn't walk the year before, as Samantha had just had her OHS and was recovering. As before, I was a little late in sending out the e-mails inviting people to join our team or make donations, but I'm hoping to beat last year's total and have a much bigger team presence with slightly better outreach. My HR department at work has invited me to post information about the Buddy Walk in the September newsletter and Steve's pals down at the LA Bar and Grill will be taking up the cause. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the DSANV and has the most publicity surrounding it, ensuring better public awareness of the rich lives, potentials and abilities of people with Down syndrome. Click Sweet Pea United to join our team or make a donation.

I don't have any photos today--I've been a little remiss in the photo-taking department lately. I had wanted to take pics at Bethany's yard sale yesterday (for those of you that don't know, Bethany at Life With Bubba And Chicky is in the process of adopting a little girl with Down syndrome from Russia, and the yard sale benefits the pricey costs of the endeavor), but left my camera in the car. And seriously, it's more trouble than it's worth sometimes to have to gather her back up, go back to the car, fish the camera out, and take pics while trying to keep her curious little hands off the breakable odds-and-ends that were for sale on the tables! Samantha and Payton finally got to meet, which was a bit anti-climactic since Samantha decided she was going to play shy for most of the time we were there. Payton was the perfect little hostess, trying to give Sammi kisses! Next time...

I was also planning on getting a few photos at my friend and former colleague Katherine's going away party yesterday (she and her husband are moving to Portland, OR next month). Samantha and I went all the way out to Tacoma Park to...nothing. Nobody was home except some barking dogs. The party is on September 6th. Can you believe it? I was 2 weeks early. I have never done that, even after having received 3 E-vite notices. I think I have every weekend until the end of September already accounted for, so this one got a bit confused in the shuffle. Hahahaha. Oh well, at least I know where it is now.

My totally adorable baby brother, Josh (shown above with his girlfriend, Kate, last December in one of my favorite photos), left his home of South Jersey for the big city wilds of Chicago last week. He'll be starting his freshman year at Columbia College Chicago. Hopefully we'll make it out there to visit him sometime! Good luck, Josh!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Price of a Day at the Fair

Bottled Water = $1.00 (whoa, a public event charging less than $3???)
Gyro = $7.00
Falafel Sandwich = $7.00
Ice Cream Cones (3) = $9.00
Vintage Cloth Hairband from a Craft Stall = $6.00

Going down the BIG slide with Daddy...

Riding on the Carousel with Mommy...

Riding a REAL horse...

Meeting the Animals at the Petting Zoo...

And making new friends...


Friday, August 8, 2008

1, 2, 3...

Samantha is definitely getting herself ready for school. I had wanted to wait until I had some video of her before I posted this, but either I can't get the video camera together in time and she refuses to "perform on demand", or the video camera's not charged. At any rate, I'm sitting here after having put her in bed for the night, listening to her talking to herself and her toys in her crib. And I'm listening to her count from 1 to 10. I love this. She does it with us, she does it by herself, she does it whenever she sees something that needs counting--like the dirty clothes she pulls out of her laundry basket at the foot of her bed. She's been doing this now for about a month, and her pronounciation has been getting better and better. She still only says part of the words (like "s" for six and "ta" for 8), but we know what she means, and she sure does. Lastnight she sat in my mother's lap while she read her a book, and part way through, Samantha grabbed my mom's hand and began to count each of her fingers.

We started her on her ABCs a couple of weeks ago, and she's doing really well with that, too. She repeats each letter after us and sometimes says them on her own. Steve bought a set of Sesame Street alphabet flash cards, and she's begun to recognize the letters on paper, too.

Oh, I have a little gripe to put in here. We still haven't heard anything from the school about what we need to know/do/prepare for school. Actually, we hadn't even heard any kind of confirmation about the start date, either, until I e-mailed her teacher the other day. He responded that they start back to school on the 25th and would send communication by the 27th (including questionnaires about Sammi's likes, dislikes, words, etc.), when school starts on the 2nd! That doesn't seem to give us much time. I assume she'll need a backpack, so I was proactive and got her one of those already. I don't know if she's supposed to bring her lunch, or if they'll be eating school food. We don't know anything about the bus she's supposed to take to school yet (of course Steve will drive her the first day/week/year). I was also proactive and started to create a spreadsheet of Samantha's words, but that quickly started to get tedious. It's a pretty extensive list. I guess we'll figure it all out as we go...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Extreme Blog Makeover/1st Real Illness

Well, not exactly extreme, but definitely much-needed. I found this fabulous site of background codes and other blog accessories. I'll have to dig a bit deeper when I have time, but for the moment, I love this background. There were so many to choose from. There was a link on that site as well to figure out (very easily, I believe) how to write and edit your own code to custom-make the backgrounds. I'm not sure what I would choose, but maybe some Oilily-patterned background.

Yesterday was the DSANV Summer Picnic. I'd actually been looking forward to it since the Spring Picnic, since Samantha was so cranky that day that we couldn't stay long. I was looking forward, in particular, to having Samantha play with all the other kids her age and for me to meet some of the children that have been photographed for the calendar, as well as some of the other members I've corresponded on and off with over the past year.

It was not to be. Samantha has been sick since Thursday. Mind you, this is a child who has never really been sick. I think she's had one low fever in the past, one cold, a few sniffles, and a mysterious short-term rash. Oh, and surgery for a complete AV canal, which I frequently forget about (I don't actually forget about it, but she was relatively healthy going into the surgery and her recovery was very quick--how can a mother ever really forget about open heart surgery??). On Thursday night she spiked a 102.7 fever and refused to eat dinner. Friday, Steve took her to the doctor and the doctor saw blisters at the back of her throat and right away diagnosed it as something akin to a foot and mouth disease that kids get (although it wasn't that). She said it was nothing to worry about, that the fever should end in a day or so, and the blisters will last for another 5 or so days. Steve looked up the illness online (I don't remember what it was called), and it said rashes are common on the extremities (which she has--click on the photo to the right for a scary view) and that it could have come from a swimming pool. We were at the Water Mine on Sunday--coincidence? I don't think so! The worst part of it has been that she is sleeping very, very lightly and fitfully, and that she just won't eat. We've tried everything, but I imagine that her throat must really hurt when trying to swallow food. Thank goodness for PediaSure. Good stuff! Oh, and ice cream. :-)