Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ellie the couch potato

Ellie is watching "This Old House" with Daddy. She now knows how to hang gutters and install a washing machine.

10.31.09 Happy Tama Day!

Halloween or the day of the black kitty cats has finally arrived. In honor of this fabulous, treat-filled holiday, I am posting a pumpkin cookie recipe courtesy of Jessica Nunnery. Jess got the recipe from but has made a few changes. I suggest you make these changes because she is a great cook and baker.

Ellie Bear has worn a Halloween outfit every day this week and tonight she will be dressed as Tama (you guys have all seen the pictures already). Tonight we are going to our dear friends Joe & Aida's house for a tasty dinner and good wine. Yum! I get the pleasure of handing out Halloween candy to all of the trick-or-treaters. This is my favorite part of Halloween--well that and having Ellie Bellie all decked out in costume.

Do not forget that Daylight Savings time ends tomorrow at 2am or thereabouts. Do you think Ellie will understand that Mommy gets an extra hour of sleep? I didn't think so either. Although, I cannot complain for this past week she has slept through the night ~ 6 hours until 4:30am and then she sleept another 3 hours after a feeding. Medical definition of "sleeping through the night" = 5-6 hours of consecutive sleep. Yay Ellie!

Here is the recipe (Areas that Jess modified are in red):

Un-Cakey Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup Sugar
1 cup Canned Pumpkin (that is about 1/2 can)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Chocolate chips (this is optional) Jess used butterscotch chips. Her husband Mike claims that the butterscotch chips make the cookies. I am a chocolate freak so I am debating on making half with butterscotch and half with chocolate.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheet.
Mix sugar, pumpkin, and oil (and Vanilla Extract) until there are no chunks or clumpiness.
Sift in dry ingredients and mix well (Jess did not sift but rather mixed the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then added them to the wet ingredients.)

Fold in chocolate or butterscotch chips.

Flour your hands (dough is sticky). NOTE: Jess refrigerated the dough first so that the dough was not sticky. She did not need to flour her hands. Take a Tbsp of dough and roll into balls. Then press into cookie shape onto baking sheet. The shape will not change during baking so keep that in mine. Author of recipe states that she pressed hers down very thing to be a chocolate chip cookie-esque shape.

Bake 7-9 minutes. Bottoms will brown lightly. Remove to cooling rack.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Furbabies Are At It Again

I am pretty sure Sophie and Amelie were up to something. Look at that first picture with their feigned "innocence". Then look at how zonked they are in the second picture. Whatever they did, it must be a doozy and I better find the destruction quick!

Grant & Grace Nunnery in Costume

Here are some pics of my Godson The Race Car Driver and his baby sister the Evil Witch.

Once upon a time I used to call Grant "stinkerbutt". Okay, I still call him that. Kids learn from repetition. Grant is now calling their dog Dakota "stinkerbutt". I am still working on the "Shake N Bake" from Talladega Nights.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

10.29.09 Great Pumpkin & Gremlin-like Gourds

Whenever I hear the word "peanuts" I think of 2 things:
1. How is it that my father can eat nearly an entire jar of peanuts daily and still stay so skinny? and
2. Andrew has a large round head just like Charlie Brown. Sorry baby, but you do have a nice round head with lots of brains.

Last night was the annual showing of "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" and Ellie missed it! Little sleeping beauty missed out on Snoopy going after the Red Baron, Linus falling asleep in the pumpkin patch, Charlie Brown's ghost costume with multiple eyes, and Lucy bobbing for apples. Oh well, there is always next year and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" will be on in just a few months.

Did anyone catch the Monsters Vs. Aliens Halloween special last night? Andrew and I saw the movie in the theater and really enjoyed it. However, we liked this 30 minute Halloween episode even better (sort of like how Shrek the Halls is superior to Shrek 3). The alien gourds reminded us of Gremlins only instead of getting them wet, you feed them candy.

Ellie had a big morning today. She met Aunt Laura and cousins Riley and Gavin who recently moved back from Germany. Ellie was on her best behavior. The kitties didn't claw down the hot tub room door and Sophie did not bark during their visit. She was in her "safe" place aka the crate. Riley is positively charming with beautiful eyes framed by long dark lashes (I am jealous, can you tell?) and Gavin is a super cute smiley baby. Laura is a wonderful photographer who did bring her camera, but we completely forgot to take pictures. . . there is always next time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 12-18 muffins.
Chocolate Chips Optional

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1.5 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2-1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or use muffin/cupcake liners) muffin pans.
Mix sugar, oil, and eggs in medium bowl. Add in the pumpkin and the water.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Note: Tastes even better the 2nd day!

10.28.09 Happy 6 Weeks Ellie!

Yes, Ellie is wearing the Little Pumpkin outfit again. She likes it (okay, I like it. I am sure Ellie could care less about what she is wearing at this age, but it is going to be Halloween soon so we are celebrating all week! :-)

We have been super busy. Yesterday Ellie and I attended playgroup with the North Austin Mother's Club. These playdates are for moms and their babies born in 2009. This is the 2nd time we attended and yesterday only one other person showed up to the park. Both of our babies were conked out & it was cold so we headed to Starbucks. Yum! Ellie Bear wore her kitty costume to stay warm. Everyone at Starbucks just loved her.

Today we had lunch with Andrew at Kerbey Lane. Yay, family lunch! She of course slept through the entire lunch but Andrew and I had a nice time.

Well, I have already made my daily phone call to Aetna (well sometimes it is the billing department of doctor's offices). Maybe I should have given birth in Canada.

PS Apparently Ellie Bellie rolled over from tummy to back the other evening while I was at Mother's Night Out with church group. Andrew forgot to tell me until yesterday. Super Ellie!
I also thought everyone would like to see a baby picture of Sophie.

Monday, October 26, 2009

10.26.09 It's Raining, It's Pouring . . .

Hello everyone,

It is me, Ellie Bellie Bear Bear.

I just love my Daddy. He does all sort of nice things like turning on the Rockababy Metallica lullabies while feeding me. He also changes my stinky diapers and plays with me during tummy time. This morning he made Mommy roller pancakes. He didn't give me any. I just got formula.

Mommy says that because it is raining today it is pajama day. Mommy is wearing her PJs and I was wearing my "I love Daddy" PJs with the bear on them because I am her Bear-Bear. However, I spit up on them and got formula in my hair so I got a bath and new pajamas. It isn't my fault because Mommy put me in the bouncy chair just after eating. It is okay though because mommy made me a receiving blanket with bears on it while I was sleeping.

Tonight is father-daughter time. Mommy is leaving me for some "Mothers' Night Out". Why doesn't she want to take Ellie with her? Wah!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

10.25.09 Buddy Walk Day

Confession: We did not walk the Buddy Walk today. While we wanted to, we are just too tired caring for a hyper puppy & a newborn. However, next year we will walk and it will be fabulous.

Last night our family attended the annual Rico & Michelle Sweets & Treats Halloween party. For those who know me, I look forward to this event every year. No, Andrew and I do not dress up, but this year Ellie Bear attended the party as Tama the Kitty Cat. Her boyfriend Graham was dressed as a chicken. It was adorable. Both babies behaved very well and it was nice for Andrew and me to meet up with friends and socialize. It was also nice to eat the pumpkin-shaped cookies and enjoy Michelle's creative and completely awesome decorating. Is it bad if I copy her scary bathroom idea?

Here is an interesting tidbit. Christine's mother was visiting from El Paso and joined the party. We got talking and discovered that she grew up in Cedar Hill, Missouri and attended Northwest High School. My mother also grew up in Cedar Hill and attended NW HS around the same time! This is a rural area and it was entertaining to discover this. It reminded me of how we discovered that Megan's father who lives in Springfield, Mass. went to CBC High School in St. Louis just 2 years ahead of my dad. It truly is a small world!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

10.24.09 Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals

As most of you know, I am big Cardinals fan. I always have been and Albert Pujols has always been one of my favorite players. In fact, how can you not love Pujols? (Mommy & Mr. T have a dog name Albert after this fantastic player. ) Recently I discovered that Pujols has a daughter with Down Syndrome and Pujols is a major advocate for DS awareness. In fact, he helped St. Luke's Hospital open the Albert Pujols Wellness Center for Adults With Down Syndrome. Please note that it is Adults with DS and not Down Syndrome Adults. Is there a difference? Yes, there is. They are adults (or in Ellie's case a baby) first who just so happen to have DS. The DS does not define who they are. Okay, speech over.

Remember tomorrow is the Buddy Walk in Georgetown, TX. Each city has theirs on a different day. To read about Pujols contribution to the Buddy Walk St. Louis, click below.

One the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were photos of the prom hosted by the Pujols foundation. There is not an exact link. Go to the following:

type in "Pujols Down Syndrome" under the search section
Click on #16 story (it is on the second page)
Scroll to the bottom of the page under the entertainment section to see photos

Today's photo courtesy of Pujols Family Foundation Website on October 23, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

10.23.09 Happy 5 Years!

Happy 5 years Jessica & Mike! Because of your wedding, Drew and I were united. Thank you! Thank you for helping me find happiness!

Five years ago today, Mike & Jess got married in St. Louis at St. Joseph's Church in Manchester. The evening before, I stood next to my now cousin Anne and said "which one is Mike?". Yep, I didn't know what the groom looked like. The one that wasn't Mike ended up being Andrew--my partner for walking down the aisle. We only exchanged 4 sentences that weekend and the Cards lost the World Series to the damn Red Sox (sorry Megan). It was a year before Andrew and I reconnected--also thanks to Mike and Jess. Of course, I had to heavily pursue Drewbie in the beginning because he wouldn't call me. He did finally visit Philly and then started emailing and calling. Finally April 12, 2008, Andrew and I walked down the aisle for a second time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

10.22.09 Part 2

There is nothing like a short walk in the sunshine with a baby to cure frustration. Okay, it was a five minute walk because little bit got ravenous and need to eat immediately. Nonetheless, it was an awesome walk!

Our physical therapist is a kitty cat? Yesterday during tummy time Amelie decided that she needed to lay next to Ellie just to be close. Kitties have several things going for them: they are fuzzy, they meow and chirp, and they move. This meant that Ellie preferred to watch and to reach out to Amelie as opposed to looking at mommy or her baby-designed, high-tech, expensive toys. Amelie's presence seemed to encourage little Bear to lift her head up higher, to reach out for touching, and even the accidental rolling over. Maybe Amelie needs to become a regular part of Ellie's tummy time? Now if the kitty could just get Ellie to roll over purposefully? Hey, I have high expectations :-P

This morning was taken up by ECI for Ellie's official assessment. She has to demonstrate arm movement, leg movement, sucking, tummy time, response to sound and all sorts of stuff that just tired her out. In many areas she came in at a 1 month-old level which is good seeing as she is 1 month old and in some areas she registered at 2 months! Go Ellie! Of course this meant ECI said that she didn't need any services. Dr. Del Angel at the DS Clinic warned me of this and said that she still wanted her in ECI seeing as developmentally she will start to slide and develope slower, thus needing services. Being my daughter's advocate, I talked to the ECI caseworker and requested that she check back in periodically to make sure that Ellie is still on track and also to teach me ways to challenge Ellie.

Sophie returned from the vet yesterday and was already acting like her normal self. She is not supposed to jump up for 10 days. Yeah right! She already tried to jump on Andrew and she thinks every waking moment is time for fetch. If anyone has seen this puppy, she likes twist and catch the frisbee, ball, or stuffed toy in the air. So there my darlig dogs sits with big eyes with a frisbee in her mouth saying "please play fetch". She will then drop the frisbee on our feet and sit with big soulful eyes. Sigh.

10.22.09 Frustration

Sometimes I feel as though my daughter's life revolves around assessments and evaluations conducted by various medical professionals. I get frustrated because Ellie is a normal, beautiful little baby who just so happens to have 3 spindly shaped 21st chromosomes. Why can't we just enjoy this precious neonatal time without putting Ellie through all of these tests and evaluations? Why must we spend all of these hours each week in a doctor's office, meeting with DSACT, & ECI and why must I spend so much time on the phone coordinating these services rather than bonding with my daughter?

Do not get me wrong, we are blessed and truly recognize how lucky we are that Ellie is so healthy. We are not asking for pity or saying woes me. We know that many families who have children with DS and those who do not have it much worse. We are not taking for granted that Ellie is developing on tract and is free of cardiac and feeding issues. We do understand the need for all of these assessments--cardiology, GI, developmental, endocrine, ophthalmology, genetics, audiology, etc (Children with DS are at risk for cardiac defects, celiac disease, mental retardation, developmental delay, hypotonia, hypothyroidism, eye & ear problems, and leukemia [that one scared/scares me the most]). We realize that it is important to screen for all of these issues to either rule them out or to implement early treatment. We understand that and are grateful that thus far Ellie seems to be a healthy & thriving baby girl who we love so much. It is just sometimes I am so frustrated and say "this was/is not how it was/is supposed to be! This time was/is meant for bonding, playing, & enjoying these first few weeks".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10.21.09 Ellie Makes New Friends

This morning was glorious. Andrew took Ellie's early morning feed so that I could sleep in. There was just one issue or should I say two. . .the cats. Oh yes, the cats decided that they wanted out of the kitty suite (which is the hot-tub room attached to our bedroom). So I heard Tama's Texan meow (or mer-rooow). She was shaking the door so hard I thought we had an intruder. Amelie stuck to her high-pitched chirping meow. Once I let them out, they went to sleep! Those little boogers.

I guess I cannot get too angry at the kitties because while my parents where visiting us, Smokey and Sparkler (their main-coon kitties) decided to knock the phone off the hook. So every time my mother would try to access the messages on the answering machine remotely, she would get a busy signal. I think that they were calling the pet psychic at $1.95/minute.

Yesterday Ellie and I attended playgroup through the North Austin Mother's Club. We had a fabulous time. Well, Ellie slept through it. There were a total of 4 of us with the Ellie being the youngest and Noble the oldest at 8 months-old. Noble kept trying to give Ellie toys. I think she has another boyfriend :-P

The house was really quiet yesterday with Sophie being at the vet for her spaying. Andrew says that she barked and carried on until the vet tech gave her some loving pets. Then she went off with the vet tech and never even looked back at Andrew. We see where her loyalties lie! Of course, I was nervous all day thinking that for sure my little 4-legged baby would have a negative response to the anesthesia such as malignant hyperthermia or pseudocholinesterase deficiency. Clearly, I worry and overreact. Sophie did fabulously and will come home this evening.

Ellie Bear and I have discovered that pooping while eating vigorously at the same time is not a good idea. She turned into the exorcist baby and managed to throw up all over her front side, backside, and me. She got a lovely bath and an amazing thing happened--she didn't fuss or cry during bath time! We are making progress. Then she got a nice little baby massage with the Aveeno lotion. She smells yummy!

Today I have big plans of cleaning the bathrooms and doing laundry. Let's see if any of it gets done.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Our Niece

This is a photo of Tom & Michele's little girl. Haleigh just turned two!

Celebrating Holland

Celebrating Holland

by Cathy Anthony (follow-up to the original "Welcome to Holland")

I have been in Holland for over a decade now. It has become home. I have had time to catch my breath, to settle and adjust, to accept something different than I'd planned.

I reflect back on those years of past when I had first landed in Holland. I remember clearly my shock, my fear, my anger - the pain and uncertainty. In those first few years, I tried to get back to Italy as planned, but Holland was where I was to stay. Today, I can say how far I have come on this unexpected journey. I have learned so much more. But, this too has been a journey of time.

I worked hard. I bought new guidebooks. I learned a new language and I slowly found my way around this new land. I have met others whose plans had changed like mine, and who could share my experience. We supported one another and some have become very special friends.

Some of these fellow travelers had been in Holland longer than I and were seasoned guides, assisting me along the way. Many have encouraged me. Many have taught me to open my eyes to the wonder and gifts to behold in this new land.

I have discovered a community of caring. Holland wasn't so bad. I think that Holland is used to wayward travelers like me and grew to become a land of hospitality, reaching out to welcome, to assist and to support newcomers like me in this new land. Over the years, I've wondered what life would have been like if I'd landed in Italy as planned.

Would life have been easier? Would it have been as rewarding? Would I have learned some of the important lessons I hold today?

Sure, this journey has been more challenging and at times I would (and still do) stomp my feet and cry out in frustration and protest.

And, yes, Holland is slower paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift. I have learned to slow down in ways too and look closer at things, with a new appreciation for the remarkable beauty of Holland with its tulips, windmills and Rembrandts.

I have come to love Holland and call it Home.

I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn't matter where you land. What's more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.

Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadn't planned. Yet I am thankful, for this destination has been richer than I could have imagined!

Photos courtesy of 1. Windmill of Kinderkijk, Holland; Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam; Brouwergracht in Amsterdam

I would like to thank Jeanette from the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas (DSACT) for sharing this wonderful poem.

Monday, October 19, 2009

10.19.09 Ellie Impresses Doctors at Dell Childrens

Our little Ellie Bellie is not only impressing the family, she is also impressing the medical professionals with her amazing tone and eating skills. Yes, eating skills. She takes after her Daddy :-) Today we went to Dell Children's Hospital for the Developmental Clinic with Dr. Del Angel. She is fabulous. Ellie slept through the entire evaluation and maintained good tone while sleeping. Children with DS are known for having hypotonia or low tone. This means that they may have trouble eating, going to the bathroom, holding their heads up, and walking. In fact, I just learned that most DS children do not walk until they are 2 years-old. This might be a blessing in disguise since once they start walking, they are into everything. . .Ellie however, has almost normal tone! Super Ellie!

Ellie was weighed at the clinic today. She is now 8 lb 10 oz!!!! What a little chunky monkey. That is a 2 pound weight gain in a 1 month period. No feeding issues for sure. On the Down Syndrome growth chart, she is at 75%. On an regular chart, she is around 50%. So she is doing great. The length is questionable. Every doctor measures her length differently and at this clinic, it looks like she shrunk. On the DS chart she is at the 25%. Apparently the average height for DS female adults is 4'11". I do wonder if she will be even more petite since I am short. Hum. . .

Bear-Bear had a lunch date with Baby Grace. Actually, Jess and I met up at Pei Wei and then we went back to my house where Grace and Ellie had some quality tummy time that they both cried through and then had a very healthy lunch. Baby Grace is getting so big and she smiled at me. She has such adorable little dimples! Andrew and I cannot wait for Ellie to smile at us.

Sophie thinks she is a cat. Earlier this year Amelie would escape through the back door. She would climb the tree and get confused about how to get down so she would just jump onto our roof. She would cross the roof and jump onto the fence and then jump down onto the ground. I guess Sophie learned some of these behaviors because I caught her trying to climb the tree. She got pretty far too. Crazy dog! Tomorrow my poor little furbaby is getting spayed. Whah! I hope that the Princess Puppy Paw Paws does okay. Cross your fingers!

Note: The picture posted above was taken this past weekend while my parents were intown. Notice how Sophie snuck into the picture. She was bringing her toy to Andrew :-P

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Best Husband Ever

Okay ladies, if your husband/significant other does not change diapers then you need to get the whip crackin'.

Andrew was being pretty slick in getting away from the diaper changing. Sure, he did do a few potty diapers but nothing too exciting. Then, things changed. A few days ago he was feeding Ellie but she had a big poopy (I am told the largest ever by any baby apparently). It stank so bad that he could not continue to feed her. I walked into the room and Andrew is standing at the changing table, mid-diaper change and goes "I am in over my head". He wasn't. She was just continuing to poop mid-diaper change. Drew-Drew was a champ and successfully got Ellie rediapered and fed.

Since then he has done a few more diaper changes, but today takes the cake. Mid-feeding, Ellie had what us parents like to refer to as "a blow out". Do-do explodes out of the diaper and up the back. Well you get the picture. Most men at this point will pick the baby up and hand her to the mother for cleaning. Andrew did not. In fact, I did not know anything happened until he told me that her outfit got ruined. He fed the Ellie, changed the diaper, cleaned her up, and changed her outfit. He then wrapped up the ruined outfit. Also, he put her in one of her Halloween outfits! Boy am I a lucky girl to have such a wonderful husband and cute (but stinky) baby!

10.18.09 Kitty Lickin's

Andrew pointed out that yesterday's blog says Friday October 16, 2009 even though my entry is titled 10.17.09. Do not ask me why BlogSpot did that, but I think it is because I had started writing the entry on Friday.

Ellie was a very good girl. She woke mommy up at 3:50am for her early morning snack. At 4:00am my parents woke up to start their long drive back to St. Louis. Because of this, Ellie and I were able to say good-bye!

For breakfast, Andrew and I decided to raid the Frisco Shop of their biscuits. Ellie had the hostess and all of the waitresses wrapped around her little finger. She did not' do anything, but sleep, yet all of the workers at Frisco's kept stopping by our table just to peek in at Ellie. Little Ellie Bear had her little hands out in front of her with her fingers spread so the hostess was sure that she would be a piano player. I thought maybe computer analyst.

I have decided that I am going to design a new hair product that I am sure will make my fortune. The secret ingredient. . . You know how Ellie has tons of hair and it is a little wild like Albert Einstein's (or mommy's)? Well, this afternoon Amelie decided she was going to "groom" Ellie by licking Ellie's hair. For the first time since birth, Ellie's hair was tame!

Friday, October 16, 2009

10.17.09 Go Hook 'Em Ellie

First, most importantly, UT (University of Texas for those who think UT is for Utah--such as myself prior to dating Andrew) beat Oklahoma in football this afternoon 16 to 13. Go Longhorns! Andrew swears that Ellie Bear made the longhorn sign when she grabbed his pinky finger this morning at Cafe Java. I, however, know that Ellie is a UPenn Fighting Quaker fan. She will be throwing toast soon during the 3rd quarter!

Today is the last day for Ellie and the furbabies to be spoiled by the Grandparents. Tomorrow they will begin the long 14-15 hour drive back to St. Louis. I know that Ellie will miss being held nonstop and that Sophie will miss Grandpa Bruns' whistling. Actually, Sophie will miss the hundreds of treats that she conned out of my Dad for doing things like sit & lie down and she will miss the special ear massage that Awa gives. Tama will probably not miss my Dad tormenting her with a paper towel, but both Amelie and Tama will miss Awa's pets.

Tonight Andrew is going to teach Little Bear-Bear how to grill steaks on the Big Green Egg. Yum! After that, who knows what the night will bring.

10.16.09 Happy 1 Month Ellie!

Today little Bear is 1 month old. I cannot believe how time flies and just how much she has changed in the past few weeks. She is getting so big and is trying to do so many things. She is trying to roll over on her own from back to stomach. When she is held up against our shoulders, she pushes off with her hands and holds her head up high. Ellie is working hard on perfecting her smile :-) She is starting to sleep longer at night. . .well some of the time. Last night was 6 hours!

Tonight all of us (Andrew, myself, Grandpa Bruns, Awa Grandma, and Ellie) are celebrating at Z-Tejas. Actually, I am not celebrating her one month mark but rather celebrating the return of Ugly Betty to primetime TV--just kidding!!! Do you think Ellie Bear is ready for the special Tejas cornbread with lots of butter?

Today it finally cooled off and we were able to take a nice walk without having to worry about intense heat & humidity, storms, or mosquitoes. It was a little chilly with a cool breeze so Ellie was pretty bundled up. She wore her polka dot kitty costume that she received from my Aunt Kris! I think she was pretty comfortable because she went right to sleep 5 minutes into our walk.

Tomorrow will be the last day of my parents visit. Ellie has been so spoiled by their attention and I have been spoiled by being able to take naps or leave the house without a baby in tow. I know that they will miss her terribly, but we shall all meet up again soon around the Holidays. Papa Charles, Mama Dunja, and Uncle Matt will fortunately be here during Turkey time :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

10.15.09 I Just Love My Hat

Hi everyone! I just love my new hat with matching the booties that I received from the nice ladies at Just Me Apparel. I love it so much that I am happy and dancing. Auntie Maria, I thought you would appreciate all of the pinkness.-- Ellie Bellie Bear

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10.14.09 Doctors, Educators, Case Workers, Social Workers

Happy 4 weeks Ellie!!!! Today Ellie was trying very hard to flip from her back to her tummy and she is trying to smile :-)

Some days it seems that all we do is talk to doctors, developmental specialists, social workers, case workers and whatnot. Oh and insurance companies, but that is another story. Some are in- person appointments and others involve phone tag and long on-hold times. Fortunately, Ellie does not really need to participate too much at this point. Also, this does not mean that anything is wrong with Ellie Bellie. She just needs basic assessments & evaluations because she has the DS diagnosis.

Today Jan, the caseworker early education specialist came to our house to brief us on everything ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) has to offer. Jan is the gatekeeper to things like PT, OT, speech therapy, nutritionists, therapists, support, so forth and so on. ECI is for children 0-3months. Fortunately, the diagnosis of DS automatically qualifies Ellie for all of these services. Next week Jan will come to our house to perform the official assessment so cross your fingers that Ellie Bear wows her with her skills! Today she slept through the entire information session.

In yesterday's post I commented on the need to get into the DS Clinic. It looks like the pediatrician sent in all the required paperwork because today the DS Clinic called us!!! On Monday Ellie will have a "developmental" appointment. I have no idea what that entails. In January she has a Down Syndrome appointment. Basically this is to determine what services she needs and what specialists need to evaluate her. Oh and there is labwork--whah! I still need to schedule an ophthalmology appt. to rule out any underlying issues typical for children with DS.

Andrew and I are going on a date tonight!!!!! Awa Grandma and Grandpa Bruns are going to babysit Ellie while we enjoy dinner at Andiamo's, a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

10.12.09 Grandpa Bruns is not the dog whisperer, but he is the dog whistler

Yesterday afternoon little Ellie met her Grandpa Bruns for the first time. Ellie just loved being held by Awa Grandma and Grandpa! She demonstrated her advanced burping and head control skills. She also demanded to be held by Awa during a long hiccuping session this afternoon.

While Sophie treated Awa to her special puppy pedicure, she kept her tail tucked and barked like a crazy dog at Grandpa. Grandpa would move very slowly and offer treats, but he is apparently scary. Sophie would calm a little when Grandpa would hold Ellie, but only when Mommy was next to them. If Mommy left the room while Grandpa was holding Ellie, Sophie would start barking again. We are doing better today. Tama however thinks my father is the greatest thing since kitty nip. I think it is because he once let her have brisket.

Mateo (aka Matt) bought his airfare to visit over Thanksgiving. Ellie Bear-Bear is very excited to meet her Uncle Matt!

Today I called the DSACT and the new parent coordinator will contact us later this week. I also called the Down Syndrome Clinic at the Dell Children's Hospital to set up an appt. as requested by Ellie's pediatrician, but apparently some paperwork is required. After sitting on hold for a ridiculously long time with both the Clinic and the pediatrician's office, I believe the paperwork is on its way to the DS Clinic. Tomorrow Ellie has her evaluation by ECI (Early Childhood Intervention). Fortunately, my parents will be around during the assessment to make sure I do not miss or forget anything.

Update: Well, since I wrote this post, we have discovered something. My father (Grandpa Bruns) is the Dog Whistler. When he whistles a tune, Sophie runs and behaves like a good puppy. She will follow him only if he whistles.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ellie Bellie

While this may not interest most people, aside from Andrew, myself, and the Grandparents, Ellie Bellie (Andrew's nickname for her) had a great tummy time session today. She is raising her head higher and for longer periods of time. She also accidentally rolled onto her back 3 times during this session. Meeta, note the ducky pjs.

10.11.09 Sunday Brunch

Two things: First, yesterday was my cousin Michael's wedding in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Congratulations Michael & Mary! Second, today is auntie Preeti's birthday so Happy Birthday, chiquita!

My daughter is "dating" an older baby. My friend Christine gave birth to an adorable baby boy named Graham in mid-August. So technically he is not that much older. The two babies had a date at Hoovers ( ). We were there with some friends to supervise and make sure that there was no hanky panky. Graham and Ellie pretty much slept through the whole thing.

Tomorrow night Ellie will meet her Grandpa Bruns! Awa Grandma and Grandpa Bruns are driving down from the wedding that was in Colorado. It is over a 17 hour drive! That does not include driving in the snow. Safe driving!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

10.10.09 Too Much Sauce

Today Ellie Bear spoke to her Uncle Matt on the phone where she let out a rip-roaring burp that would make any male proud. It must have been all of the BBQ sauce from this morning's breakfast!

Ellie had a good night. She watched Criminal Minds and practiced lots of tummy time. She is eating 3.5 ounces every 3-4 hours and seems to grow by the minute.

This morning she road in our black truck for the first time since it had been at the collision center due to that hail storm back in April. Mommy got to sit in the back seat with Ellie since the front passenger seat belt does not work properly. The front driver's airbag light is on, the steering wheel makes a weird noise, and the stereo buttons on the wheel do not work either. I am thinking the collision center messed something up. Anyway, Ellie slept the whole way in the car as we went to Rudy's for breakfast tacos (Andrew) and coffee (Anna) and then to the NW Sewing Center to drop off my malfunctioning sewing machine. She then slept through her entire walk around the neighborhood. She is such a good little baby who is fortunate to have inherited Andrew's temperament. Thank goodness!

I think it is time for me to start reading books to Elle Bear-Bear. It is never to early to start reading! Soon (several months actually), we will start sign language! It is a good thing I took a few classes while at Penn. Of course that was medical sign language so Ellie will learn things like ambulance, doctor, nurse, hospital, and vomiting.

Recent News: "Even His Parents Were Surprised He Could Read"
Three year-old boy Chase is able to read. Chase was diagnosed shortly after birth with DS.

YouTube video of adorable little 17 month-old boy using sign language while reading words from flashcard book.

From parent Mike Lee with regards to DS "it is something she has, not who she is."

Friday, October 9, 2009

10.9.09 Ellie's Big Outing

Today has been a busy day for all of us! This morning Ellie and I went to the Mother's Group at my church. This is my 3rd meeting and Ellie's second. Yes, I went to a meeting for mothers before I had Ellie, but I was very pregnant at the time and therefore was already a mommy. We had a fabulous time! Ellie wore her adorable Halloween outfit from Mama Dunja and Papa C (see above pic). She promptly spit up on it less than halfway into the meeting. Fortunately, I had another Halloween outfit for her to change into. Today was the clothing swap. I brought in a few newborn PJs and about a gazillion newborn diapers that Ellie no longer fits into. People loaded my bag up with several PJs, onsies, pants, and dresses sizes 0-9 months. I walked out with more than I walked in with. Any leftover clothing is donated to the Gabriel project.

Today we also made friends. This woman is extremely kind and I hope to see her again soon. She has a baby girl who also has Down Syndrome. She is absolutely adorable and very friendly, but she did not escape the horrible heart defects that frequently occur in children with Down Syndrome. Nasal canula with oxygen aside, this little one was as happy and interactive as could be. I hope that she and Ellie Bear can be friends as they grow!

Andrew decided to work from home today since it was pouring and our driveway became a river and our backyard became a lake. Note: We are still in a drought. Apparently while Andrew was working, Tama decided to rub her face up against Sophie's muzzle. Go figure. Our "sensitive", leave-me-alone kitty decided to interact with our hyperactive puppy. We are still working on getting Sophie to stop barking for no reason as well as doing a run and jump onto Andrew & me.

Remember that hail storm back in April? The one that damaged the cursed black truck? Well, we are finally getting it back today after 30 days of work, a new hood, and full new coat of paint. Yep, we told them the paintless-dent removal wouldn't work.

Happy weekend to everyone. Loves & hugs, Anna

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Just Am

I have not read this yet, but it is on my booklist. I Just Am: A Story of Down Syndrome Awareness and Tolerance. This book was actually written by Bryan Lambke who has Down Syndrome with the help of his father Tom Lambke. It got stellar reviews.

10.8.09 Andrew Has Veto Power

As it turns out, Andrew does read the blog and has vetoed the new kitties. I argued that animals are good for children and that Ellie wants one. Of course Andrew replies with "when Ellie can say 'Daddy, I want a kitty cat.' then we can get another". Hum. Ready for Operation Ellie Speaks. I am going to try and maximize the chance that Ellie Bear's first word is cat or kitty or gato or meow.

When my adorable and extremely intelligent Godson Grant turned 2 yo he started using the word cat very frequently. He would say things like "Auntie Anna has cats." or "Hi Tama!". He would also explain that kitty cats meow. Additionally, he now likes to say "CATastrophe" which is from a book titled "Cats" by Michael Van Fleet--obviously a gift from his Godparents. So I have high hopes that Grant-Man will also teach Ellie. Of course, this is also the same toddler who said "Auntie Anna, what's this?" when he first saw Ellie. Goodness, Grant just cracks me up sometimes.

Moving on. I found this article very exciting. A teenager with Down Syndrome scores a touch-down! Remember, children with Down Syndrome are just like other children. They have the same emotions and feelings we do and they meet the same developmental milestones in the same order as other children. They just might be a little slower at reaching those milestones. This article proves that.

Grandparents: Papa Charles & Mama Dunja

This is one of my favorite photos. It is amazing how much joy this little bambino can bring to others. Ellie Marie is only a few days old in this picture.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

10.7.09 Happy 3 Weeks, Ellie!

Today Ellie is 3 weeks old! You know what that means. Bring on the baby acne! Okay, it actually isn't that bad. She still is beautiful :-) It also means that babycakes no longer fits in most of the newborn-sized clothing anymore (except for some onsies and the pants from "the aunties"). Yay! She is growing!!!

This morning Ellie surprised me by turning herself onto her side while sleeping. Yes, I do follow the AAP guidelines and place Bear-Bear on her back to sleep in order to decrease her risk for SIDS, but what is a parent to do when the little stinker starts trying to roll? Ellie is also lifting her head during tummy-time and tracking with her eyes very well. I think she even tried to smile at us last night. Her favorite past-time is grabbing Andrew's or my finger and trying to put that into her mouth. Yum! Its like she knows we just ate BBQ or Andrew just ate Mexican food. Maybe we should just feed her Rudy's BBQ sauce straight from the bottle.

Well, I am thinking of giving her a bath now before Andrew gets home seeing as her screaming during naked baby time makes Andrew think I am performing cruel acts of baby torture. Obviously, I am just kidding! Our hearts just break when our baby cries. Squeaky clean!


PS Andrew does not read his wife's blog. Therefore he has not commented on previous post's comments on adopting new kitties. Because he has not said no, I will assume new kitties are okay. Off to the kitty cat rescue!

Also, why is it going to be 90 degrees tomorrow with a heat index of 100? It is October!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

10.6.09 Sophie the Guard Dog

It all started on the day I went into labor. Sophie decided to bark that day non-stop. She barked at me and at the cats. I put her outside and she tried to climb the door all while barking. This was all very unusual seeing as Sophie only barked at strangers prior to this eventful day.

She still has not ceased her barking. She barks at friends, neighbors, our reflection in the glass, cars passing, neighbors conversing across the street, and at nothing (you get the picture--she barks A LOT). She does NOT however bark at Ellie. Ellie has become her baby. When Ellie cries, Sophie runs to Ellie's room and sniffs under the door. Sophie then runs to find me as if to say "hurry up, Ellie is crying".

Then, a miracle occurred. . . last week my mother aka Awa Grandma came to kidnap, I mean visit baby Ellie and we discovered that Awa Grandma is actually the dog whisperer. Sophie did not bark whenever Awa was around. In fact we all became chopped liver in comparison to Awa. She would sit for Awa and in anticipation for that special ear massage that Awa gives. If Awa did not give this massage, Sophie would then lie down as though that would entice my mother to put Ellie down and rub Sophie's ears. When not receiving this ear massage, Sophie would give my mother her special puppy pedicure.

How did the kitties react to the new baby you ask? Well, maybe you didn't ask but you are going to find out anyway. Amelie has taken to sitting next to the bouncy chair while Ellie is in it. If allowed access to Ellie's room, she thinks the crib is her new fort. Hence why all animals are banned from Ellie's room. Tama, on the other hand, still believes that she is the Queen of Sheba and that nothing has changed. She sniffed Ellie once and then the diaper pail before returned to sleeping on boxes and playing with ribbons.

Maybe since the kitties are behaving so well Andrew will let me adopt another one or two or three?

A mask for kids with Down syndrome

Do you hear crickets?  Yes, we are here!  We are alive!  We are safe and healthy!  We haven't been inside a restaurant or store since m...