Monday, 29 October 2012

Pumpkin Patch Fiasco

Every year back when we lived in Victoria we would go to a local farm that had U-pick pumpkins and a corn maze, animal farm, hayride..the works.  It was a fun, fall family event.  I always looked forward to doing this every year.  So when we moved here to Medicine Hat, I was very sad when there were no local farms that had U-pick pumpkins.

Last year I found out that just a mere 2 hours away in Lethbridge, there was a farm that had U-pick pumpkins and all the other fun stuff that goes with it!  So last Sunday we decided ( and by "we" I mean me) to drive to this farm so that once again we could participate in a fun, fall family event.

From the get go Olivia was NOT on board with driving for 2 hours just to get some pumpkins.  She begrudgingly got in the car.  We have a DVD player in the car and the girls were happily watching Dora, so Olivia seemed fairly happy.

Movies + 2 hour car ride= quiet, fairly happy kidlets.

But then, the DVD player stopped working.


The crying and fussing began.....just from Olivia.

"Turn around!  I want to go home!  Let's just buy some pumpkins from the store.  This is LAME!"

"Once we are there, you will have fun!  It's an adventure!"  I kept saying.

We got lost.  Yeah, I am not the best at navigating...

But the good news is that the DVD player started working! Yay!  Olivia still kept insisting that we just buy the pumpkins from the store.

Mickey figured out where to go.  We were driving out in the middle of farm country, on gravel roads.  Then Mickey said,  "Do you know their hours of operation?".

Hmmmmmm, nope.  Never even thought to check.

So I checked.  My heart sank.  They weren't open on Sunday's.

Double crap!!

After spending 2 hours (if not a tad more) in the car, Olivia fussing and crying and complaining for a good portion of the way, we now had to break it to the girls that the farm was closed.

Seriously, who closes on a Sunday during the Halloween Season????

Olivia was, as expected, the one who was the most upset.  At some point in the trip Sophie had started tuning out Olivia's outbursts so she seemed OK about the fact we were not going to get any pumpkins, or pet any animals.  And Stella, well poor child was exhausted and had fallen asleep.

This family day was definitely not turning out like I had envisioned.! No happy children petting goats, crawling in the mud and picking pumpkins.  Sigh.

To make it up to our girls we took them to McDonalds for lunch....and Toys R Us to buy a toy.  All three girls loved burning off some pent up energy at the play place in McDonalds.  Sophie and Livi enjoyed climbing up to the top and down the slide. Whilst Stella enjoyed going down the little kid slide, backwards face down while licking it.  But then a birthday party arrived and the play pace got really busy! Sophie started crying and was most upset as some "mean boys" kept knocking her over.  That was our cue to leave so we headed over to Toys R Us.

Man, that place is crazy!!  Soooooo many toys, so little time.

It took awhile but the girls finally picked out a toy.  Yeesh, it would have cost us less to go pick some pumpkins.

Tummies were full, kidlets were happy with their new toys, so off we headed back to "the Hat". We stopped for the train.  It was a very looooonnnnggg train. Then the train just stopped moving.


We sat there for about 10 minutes or so.  I was starting to panic! I had no snacks left!  I only had one diaper! What if we are stuck here all night?

We kept seeing cars driving up on the side of the road and through the parking lot of the building that was beside the road.  We were desperate! The natives were getting restless! So we followed the other cars, jumped the curb and drove through the parking lot.

We did it! We were free! We took a few side roads and found the highway again.

Needless to say, we made it home.

Then just yesterday, we went to Superstore and bought pumpkins.....just like Olivia has been begging us to do all along.

Next year, we will try fall, family fun again.

Next year.

There are positives to missing out on pumpkins...getting to ride a bike in the store!

Lil poser on our Toys R Us adventure.
Poor kid, passed out after a long car ride to nowhere.

The start of our adventure to a "closed" pumpkin patch.  Notice how Olivia does not look overly enthused.

Stella rockin in the BMW at Toys R Us.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The future

The future is bright!  There is so much to look forward to with all my girls.  But since this is Down Syndrome Awareness month I will focus on Stella, and what I look forward to with her.

Of course thinking of the future gets me scared some moments and some moments excited.  

I am excited to see Stella walk.  Yes!!  She has taken a few steps here and there and these few steps will become more and more with each passing day.  So on that note I am scared to think of her figuring out how to run and then run away from me.  

I am looking forward to the time when Stella is willing to try a few more types of food.  I mean
at some point bread, peaches, cheese, has to get a bit old. I suppose I am exaggerating a bit as there are other foods she will eat, but not on a consistent basis. So I look forward to when she starts eating a larger variety of food on a more consistent basis.

Stella knows about 30+ signs.  She says "Ha", for "Hi" and "Ya" for Yes.  She is a fabulous communicator for a child who is not using many words.  She is very good at letting us know what she wants, needs or doesn't want or need.  I am looking forward to hearing her say Mamma.  Sometimes I am scared about how she will communicate when she starts preschool next year if she is not speaking verbally.  But I then remind myself that one year can make a huge difference.  Plus her body language and sign language will help her to get her needs long as her aides are watching and listening to her.

Friends.  Will Stella have friends?  When she's a teenager, will she be included in things like, going to the movies, sleep overs, parties.  My hope is that there will be some really awesome people in her life who will see her for who she is and not just see her "disabilities".  My brother in law is friends with a guy who has Down Syndrome. He is friends with him, not because he feels sorry for him, but because he truly likes him and enjoys his company.  I want that for Stella.

Stella's personality is starting to really develop.  At the moment she loves music.  If we are out in public and a stranger says "Hi" to her, she will look at them smile and then sign "spider".  This means that she wants this said person to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider."  If she is sad, a simple song will make her feel better.  As she gets older, I often wonder what genre of music will be her favourite.  Top 40,  a lil gangsta rap?  Or will she like a little bit of everything?

I love clothes.  I don't own a lot of clothes (my husband actually has more clothes than me.  True story), but I love them and I love to look good.  Will Stella follow in her momma's footsteps and enjoy a little retail therapy? Will she enjoy looking good and wearing fashionable clothes?  Or will she be like her big sister Olivia and despise any type of shopping expedition and prefer comfy clothes?

So many things to look forward to.  But at this exact moment, I am going stop thinking too much about the future and enjoy my lil bundle of energy right as she is right now.

Or perhaps she will be a technology wiz.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Celebrating Milestones

Every child, has milestones. The first smile, the first time they roll, sit up, laugh, walk, the list goes on.  Seeing my babies smile for the first time, roll for the first time, walk for the first time, has always been a happy and exciting moment.  It always made me feel proud and happy to see my children growing and learning.

After having Stella the way I look at milestones has changed dramatically.  It's the small things, the little milestones that I never even thought of as milestones before having a child who is differently abled.

Fine motor skills, gross motor skills, I am amazed by them!  Not sure what these skills are?  Fine motor skills entail the small, intricate things that your body can do, like picking up Cheerios with your pointer finger and thumb, picking your nose, writing, playing an instrument.  Gross motor skills are all the big movements that your body can do.  Crawling, walking, jumping, moshing in a mosh pit, "dropping it like it's hot" on the dance floor.

A few months ago, I was at a music class with both Sophie and Stella.  As the girls were singing and dancing, I was watching all the other little kids and smiling at how much fun they were having.  A little baby caught my eye.  She was probably 10 months old and was pulling herself up to stand.....against a WALL!

A wall, people

She had nothing to hang on to but the flat, smooth wall and yet there she was pulling herself to stand against it.....and she made it look easy!!!  My first thought, after feeling a pang of envy, was "now those are some good gross motor skills!"  The strength she had to have in her core and her legs to be able to pull her cute chubby little body up!  Before having Stella, those thoughts would have never crossed my mind.

Teeny tiny minuscule milestones that I never even considered a milestone a few years back are now celebrated with screams of delight!

For the longest time we worked with Stella to show her how to pick up a ball, move the ball with her arm, and then let go of the ball into an object (like a container or toy).  Not a big deal right? That should be easy. I have learnt that these movements are in fact very complex and can take some time to master.  So when Stella finally mastered it.......CE-LE-BRATE GOOD TIMES ...COME ON! (sing while you read this, makes it sound way better)  I was over the moon with excitement!  Who wouldn't be? After seeing your child, work on this movement over and over and finally achieve that milestone...


Have you ever pointed your finger at someone, or something?  Yes??  It takes some serious fine motor skills to be able to bend three fingers, then have your thumb on top of one of these bent fingers.  But wait, you must then leave your index finger UP!!!  Not work for you, but for Stella, this took her a bit of time to figure out.  Now?  Well now she is a pointing genius!! She points at everything!

CE-LE-BRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON (don't forget to sing while you read!)

Two small, minuscule milestones have been HUGE, MASSIVE, THRILLING milestones for this here momma.

Putting a medicine dispenser into a coffee cup. Just working on her fine motor skills, no biggie.

The big milestone that I am quite honestly waiting on with baited breathe is seeing Stella take her first step, unassisted, all by herself.   Yes, of course I want to see her walk, but the first step, the most important step, this is what I am most looking forward to seeing.  Once this is accomplished, it will just be a matter of time before she is walking and then running away from me.

I can see that she is not far from this momentous event and when it happens I plan on singing (CE-LE-BRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON) and dancing and posting a video on facebook. 

But in the meantime I will enjoy her taking her time (even though sometimes I would reeeeaaally love it if she wouldn't) and cherish the adorable little leg, shuffle crawl thing that she does.

Stella's leg shuffle crawl. The fastest in the West!

PS. Usually it takes me about a week just to type up one blog post.  I type, retype, edit etc.. until I think it is perfect and then I pulish to my blog.  So I began this post last week.  Today while Stella's aide and I were chatting, lil miss Stella took THREE steps unassisted!! I cried, screamed (but forgot to sing!) and clapped with much excitement.  She took us both by surprise so sadly I did not get it on video.  But have no fear, once I capture her taking steps, you will see it for sure!!!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Hindsight is 20/20

If I knew then what I know now......

Her big blue, sparkly eyes

Those eyes.

Her beautiful smile.

That cute button nose.

Those rosebud lips.

Her petite little body.

Her soft, smooth, fair skin.

Button nose, rosebud lips.

The smile she has for me every morning.

The hugs she has for her sisters everyday.

The eagerness she has to learn.

The curiosity she has for the world around her.

The quickness with which she can climb up a flight of stairs.

Her cat like swipe as she scratches you in the face out of nowhere!!

Wow!  I wish I knew back then, back at Old Navy, when I got that phone call from my hubby(.,
Her petite little body

My reaction would have been totally different. 

Perhaps more like this.

Me: "So let me get this straight, we have a 1 in 200 hundred chance that our baby will have Down Syndrome?

Hubby: "Yup."

Me: "I hope we hit the jackpot!!"

Nuff said.



Turn your head for a moment...and she's at the top of the stairs.

Friday, 5 October 2012

A Defining Moment

I have been wracking my brain for the past four days trying to think of one defining moment in this new journey that our family is on .    Many moments have popped into my head, but two seem to stand out for me.

The first moment.

Stella was 1 day old.  She had been breathing funny pretty much all day. Her nose sounded stuffy and I had informed a nurse in the morning.  She checked her oxygen levels and they were fine.  As the day progressed I was getting a little more concerned as her breathing still seemed very stuffy and "off".  So when the evening nurse came in I told her my concern.  She looked at Stella and wanted to take her to get her oxygen levels checked.  

"Ok, let me just change her shirt".  

She looked at me and said "don't worry about changing her, we'll take her".

Her body language, her facial expression..... something was wrong.  And off they whisked her.

I sat down, my dinner was in front of me. Macaroni and cheese.  I had a few bites.  The food went down in lumps.  Tears streamed down my face.  

I truly thought that Stella was dying!

I sobbed on the phone to my dad.  I so badly wanted my mommy.

A little bit later the nurse came back.  She told me Stella was in the NICU.

I lost it again.  I wailed, sobbed, cried "why me? why does my baby have to have Down Syndrome? It's not fair! She's dying! She's dying!"

The nurse (Nancy, is her name but I honestly can't remember for certain.  And I wish I did because she was my rock at that moment.  She helped me more than she will ever know).  The nurse just hugged me and told me that Stella wasn't dying.  Her oxygen levels were very, very low and she just needed some extra oxygen. They needed to find out if it was because of her heart.

Damn those "I just had a baby hormones!" I know they weren't helping!

So eventually I did calm down and I got to go see Stella and instantly could see how much pinker she looked. She was all swaddled up and was on oxygen and looked just down right comfy.  Almost like "Ahhhhh, that's better!"

A little later Mickey was able to come to the hospital.  Poor guy had to listen to me sob on the phone as I incoherently explained how Stella was dying (or so I thought).  All the while he's trying to deal with our bigger McG girls!  But once the girls were in bed and the sitter was there he was able to come to the hospital and see his baby girl, and see she was in fact very much alive and OK.


Her low oxygen levels had nothing to do with her heart!

Thank you GOD! Seriously, THANK YOU!!!!

They believed that her teeny tiny little sinus tubes were swollen and that was making it hard for her to get in oxygen.

Once things had settled down and I had fed Stella, Mickey and I went outside of the hospital for some fresh air.

As we sat outside, I ate a really yummy chocolate cookie (from Timmy's) and just exhaled for a moment.  As we chatted, my first defining moment hit me.

We may never have all of our children leave home.  Stella my never leave home.  Stella may always need us.  Our retirement may be not as we had originally envisioned.

And my heart hurt.

For Mickey.

For me.

For Stella.

Of course life went on and I decided to just enjoy my baby, my family and our life day by day.  Which was easier to do on some days then others.

The second moment.

I was sitting on my couch watching and filming Stella play.  She was on her belly trying to pull herself forward to reach a toy.  Just doing the typical stuff that babies do. 

It hit me.

She was doing EVERYTHING my other two McG girls did.  Just on her own time... and I was truly cherishing the slower pace!!!

Her future is bright and is full of potential just like her big sisters!  There is no limit to what she can do!

Of course along the way there have been many more moments but those two stand out to me.  Those two are the big AH HA moments on my journey to acceptance. 

A journey I am still on.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Sisterhood of the McG Girls.


Sisterhood of the McG girls. Not always a happy time.

What is a sister?  As far as my oldest is concerned, sisters are annoying creatures who grab, hit, scratch and cry.

"I wish I didn't have any sisters!" She says this mostly after confrontations with her "old little sister" Sophie.
She will sometimes say it regarding her "new little sister" Stella.  Mostly after Stella has scratched her numerous times on numerous parts of her body.

Poor kid.

Being the oldest can be tough.

But then 5 minutes later she is running around laughing and giggling with Sophie or singing and cuddling with Stella.  So, as annoying as they are and as much as she wishes that she was an only child, I can see she loves her sister's very much and would do pretty much anything for them. 

What is a sister? To Sophie, I think that a sister is someone to play with, grab things from, hit (or throw plastic tea pots at) when frustrated, kiss and hug, and just plain ol annoy sometimes.  For Sophie, being the middle child can be tough for her.  Olivia is getting to the age where she is just not as interested in playing with her.  At least not the way Sophie would like her to play.  So she happily will play with Stella.  My favorite thing that she does with Stella is that every morning, as soon as she hears that Stella is awake, she climbs into her crib and will giggle and laugh and jump and cuddle with Stella.  It is so cute to hear (usually I am half awake in bed trying to will my tired body to move and get up).  But it always ends with Sophie getting some sort of scratch or even some skin removed due to her over zealous, very excited, baby sister.  Then the fun comes to an end. 

Poor kid.

But she's an independent tough little cookie and she always, in the end has lots of hugs and kisses and silly jokes for both her sisters.


What is a sister?  For Stella sisters are just the best thing to have EVER been invented!  She is always welcomed every morning with hugs and kisses and singing from BOTH her sisters.  There is always a sister around to play with.  There is always a sister beside her (well almost always) when driving in the car to make her giggle and distract her when she is crying and feeling sad.  There is always a sister to give her her blankie and suckie when she so desperatley needs it.  And there is always a sister just so happy to show her off to their friends. 

Olivia is honest and innocent and loves to inform strangers that Stella has Down Syndrome.

"This is my sister Stella.  She's not walking yet cause she has Down Syndrome".

Usually this is met with an awkward smile and I usually don't hear what is said next. I think I tune it out.  But I do look at the person she is talking to and smile.  You see, I LOVE when Olivia informs the world of Stella's extra chromosome!  I love the honesty, the innocence and the matter of fact way she says it.  Makes me feel good knowing that she is so proud of her sister.  I hope she always feels that way.

Sophie is still very young and really just sees Stella as she truly is...a cute baby.

"Hi, baby!, How are you today baby?"   She says this to Stella every morning.  Just melts my heart.

I was talking to her preschool teacher the other day asking her how Sophie was doing in school and she mentioned that she talks a lot about Stella.  Awwww! They are little buddies and I just love it!  I hope she always feel that way.

As for Stella, well she won't realise that she is any different from anyone else until she is much older.  When that time comes I hope that her sisters and her daddy and I have shown her enough love.  I hope we have shown her that we love the differences in ALL of us.  I hope that when she discovers that she has Down Syndrome, that she'll love herself even more.

I hope as my three girls grow that they will remain close and be there for one another.  I hope Olivia and Sohpie look at Stella and think she is the best thing to happen to THEM and that they are the best thing to happen to her.

My McG girls rock!!