Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cleaning House

Clara is relentless in her battle against dust.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

Every year I get suckered in by those pumpkin carving books with intricate patterns and special carving tools. What a great idea, I think to myself, until I spend an hour or more scooping pumpkin innards and carving all of the little details. I tried to explain to Owen that when I was a kid jack-o-lanterns had simple triangle eyes and jagged toothed smiles, but he had his heart set on the ghost in the castle pattern. Although Owen in not quite willing to scoop the pumpkin innards, he was certainly by my side to supervise every move and cut. Owen was also true to the code of three year old kids by asking about 5 million questions during the process.

We finished the carving process just before Owen's bedtime, and had to light it up.

A spooky masterpiece!

Unfortunately, we carved the pumpkin too soon and the recent warm weather has taken it's toll. Looks like we'll be doing some more carving before the end of the week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Owen and Clara

Clara and her "bubby" Owen.

Before Clara was born, we frequently talked with Owen about becoming a big brother and what that meant for him. He was only two and half years old at the time, so it was hard to grasp how much he understood; however, he was excited about having a baby sister and handled the transition from the nursery to his big boy room and big boy bed very well. Still, we did not know how he would react once he had to share mommy and daddy with his baby sis.

While he was not sure what to think of Clara the first time he met her in the NICU, he quickly warmed up and wanted to hold her the very next day. Since then he has had a few moments when he asked us to put Clara in the crib because she was tired or to put her in her jumparoo because she wanted to bounce so that he could have our undivided attention (or uninterrupted floor space).

Owen has been the best big brother that we ever could have hoped for. He always wants to help Clara with her "exercises". He offers encouragement when she is working hard to accomplish a new task and generously praises her achievements. Owen often tells his preschool teachers that his little sister is going to grow up to be big and strong. He is also very protective of Clara. During one of our first meetings with the local Down syndrome new parent support group meeting, Clara was laying on a blanket squiggling and squirming and one of the older babies kept trying to crawl over to see her. Owen was concerned about the baby trying to get to his baby sis and made sure that he was a barrier between the two.

It is obvious to Ellen and I that Owen and Clara share a special bond. Clara is always happy to be with her "bubby" and always wants to be involved with anything that Owen is doing. There are many moments when Owen will give Clara a hug and a kiss for no particular reason. We are blessed to have such wonderful children and look forward to observing as their relationship continues to blossom.

Friday, October 23, 2009


As you can see in the photos below, Clara's hair had gotten long enough to cover her eyes and her face. Since her hair is very fine, most barrettes or hair clips don't stay in her hair very long, especially after she discovers them. Using small rubber bands with a ponytail worked well, but was always a challenge with an extremely flexible and strong toddler that knows nothing of the concept of remaining still. While feeding Clara breakfast last weekend, Ellen finally got tired of Clara's hair hanging in her face; therefore, she decided to trim Clara's bangs. Check out the before and after results below.

I think there are some pretty blue eyes hiding behind all that hair. When Clara wants to crawl but does not want to give up her toy, she carries the toy in her mouth while crawling.

There are those beautiful blue eyes!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Clara and Chase

What can't we go out and play with the big kids?

Before the weather turned cold, Clara loved to stand at the back screen door and babble away. In the picture above, her friend Chase, our daycare provider's son, decided to join her to watch the older kids playing in the back yard. Although Chase is three months younger than Clara, he learned to crawl at the same time as Clara and learned to walk before Clara. While I am proud of Chase's accomplishments and offer my praise to him, it is sometimes bittersweet to be reminded of Clara's delayed milestones. Those bittersweet moments are fleeting because I know that Clara is making steady progress toward her milestones in large part because she is motivated by her friend Chase.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Testing Boundaries

While Owen is generally a very well behaved kid, he is rapidly approaching 4 years old and occasionally tests his boundaries. When he is tired or bored, Owen tends to develop selective hearing. In such instances, we give Owen an opportunity to correct his behavior and inform him that he will receive a time out if he does not behave. When he complies, he is praised for his choice. At the completion of a time out, we help him apologize for the specific issue (e.g., not listening, name calling, hitting, etc.) and reassure him that we love him.

During the past couple of months, Clara has decided that she should throw her honey bear or straw cup onto the floor after every single drink. Even though the dog has been pelted many times by the flying cup, he remains loyal in his spot waiting for scraps from the toddler learning to self feed. We have been trying a combination of verbal reinforcement (i.e., speaking and signing "no") while helping Clara to guide the cup back to her tray after a drink. When she returns the cup to her tray unassisted she receives vociferous praise; however, the cup still goes to the floor 99% of the time. She would do the same with plates or bowls if set them in front of her. While I think that we are using the correct approach with the cup-throwing discipline, I am concerned that disciplining Clara, especially during these early years, is going to be a challenge.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Soccer - Fall Season

The fall soccer season is almost complete and I have finally found time to post a couple of pictures. During the spring season, Owen was the youngest of the four boys on his team. This season he is the youngest of the seven boys. Owen is as tall as most of the older boys but he is slower and a bit more timid; therefore, he spends most of his time chasing after the pack. When he catches up to the pack, he is not enthusiastic about getting into the middle of the pack of kicking feet. Owen is doing much better in practice this season, but is starting to get frustrated when the older boys score all the goals during the games. The post game parent tunnel and snacks seem to erase any lingering goal scoring envy.

He has the look of a serious soccer star...

...but sometimes gets distracted and needs a friendly reminder to chase after the ball.