Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Break 2013

We love going to the Mayan Palace near Puerto Penasco! There something about going to a place with wonderful amenities, great food and best of all the beach is just a few steps away. I just wish we had the chance to use the three weeks we have avaliable here. With so much going on in mexico with the cartels, we were scared off from going last year and regretted it. In speaking with a close friend who's mother travels back and forth regularly, we were convinced it would be safe so long as we were careful to only travel in the daytime and on main roads. So I prepped a few meals and we took off for spring break.

As always, my thing is the long walks by the beach shell hunting and watching sea life. The ocean is the 'circle of life' in a single glance. There is wonder in the strange mollusks and their beautiful shell 'homes' and once their life passes, their real estate is passed on to crabs and other animals such as a crab or a tiny octopus that dropped out of one of my treasured finds. (I found a safe place for the little fellow but he was rather angry and the chromatophores in his skin blushed such alarming colors I desperately wanted to take him back just so I could show him to my kids for my typical biology lesson - once a teacher, always a teacher!)

Ah ... sunrise ....

Stranded jellyfish scatter around the sand...

Anyone want to pet a sea slug?

Lots of live mollusks and I was lucky to find 4 of these shells intact and empty of life.

This guy fell out of one of the shells I had collected. I had no idea he was in there and it was too shallow for him to get anywhere. I tried to get him another shell to hide in until the tide came in ...

and he got mad and changed all sorts of colors in seconds! Crazy creature! No worries, he's safe now.

Even when their shells are not in use the detritus of the sea is another mans treasure. Gradually even these are broken down and worn till it becomes the soft sand underfoot, sparkling microscopic jewels everywhere.

I love the sunrises. I love the quiet. I love the company of rolling waves, growing quieter and disappearing altogether when the tide reaches its low. Then there is the squabbling of sea birds for their morning breakfasts -my comic relief from my pensive thoughts. All these things feed my soul and I come back lifted for the day.

Sunrise again ...

and again! All these shots with a handy dandy iphone. Wish the second wife were handier and it could do justice to the colors.

Isaac and keila don't fall far from the tree. They too love shell hunting, although I'm forever trying to convince them to pick only the best ones. For a child anything and everything is beautiful and worth keeping! Funny how that is, perhaps judgement is learned with age and sometimes we should be more like children.

Kiddos loved the tiny sea snails and would collect them by the handful to feel the buzzing tickling they'd make as they tried to figure out their soft new substrate.

The ripples of the water, echoed in the sands as the tide went out.

More sea life, these beautiful shells were more common than we first thought. I managed to find a few empty shells for my own collection.

Of course there swimming. Even Elias took a dip nearly daily. He loves the water and splashes happily in it. He wanted to put his face in it constantly! Perhaps he will be my little fish.

Happy little man getting ready for his swim. He really loved the water, but could only take the stimulus for a little bit before he was screaming. I wished it was quieter so he'd be able to swim a little longer. Despite that he was all set to dip his head in and loved kicking his little feet behind him.

Isaac won one of the competitions in the pool by diving under to bring in dominos that were spread by one of the children's camp leaders. His reward, a tamarindo salt and chile lollipop! Definately a cultural experience for him! At least he didn't inhale his candy and despite the burn, he went back to it again and again eating it over a few hours.

Isaac and keila made a turtle in the sand. A turtle has been their reoccurring obsession and this one they created with great love and care. They chose shells just to beautify him. When the tide came to take him back to sea Keila cried great big tears. Here's a shot of them lovingly touching his back and bidding him a fond farewell.

Of course there is the customary piƱata which the children helped to make and decorate as well as open. It was obvious who was a veteran at it, no matter how small the child, they were rather lethal with that stick! The fellow pulling on the rope was extremely kind to our children. Keila was poking at it more than anything, I think some code of ethics made hitting head rather difficult.

Kent's favorite activity was beach ball volley ball and was able to get out to it twice. The comradiere was great as well as the exercise. He played nearly two hours one day and came back a little rosier than before. Thankfully it's turning into more of a tan so he blends in better with the restof us now!

We also enjoy the Bakal restaurant there. There are themed nights and the seafood night was heaven for me. I love ceviche ! It's the crazy Asian in me to go for raw fish cooked in lime juice. Thay also had an area where you could have them cook the seafood just the way you want it. We had the shrimp with a garlic mango sauce, lime tequila (thoroughly cooked through!) and tamarind sauce. We were so stuffed and then we heard it could be done with coconut ..... If only we had the space to try it!

The following night was Viva Mexico and they held it out on the beach complete with a dance show. Unfortunately it was all too foreign to Elias and we couldn't stay for the whole show but we filled our bellies to the brim. Kent loved the sopes, chimichangas, meat for tacos cooked right before your eyes. The dessert were amazing, hot chocolate with cinnamon, fresh churros, flan, Mexican rice pudding and many other pastries. We filled our eyes as well with the beauty of the sunset. It was a little surreal and Kent and I joked of very romantic it would have been if we could some how mute the sound of our children in the background!

Our final night we wandered the beach at sunset. The children were very sad to go and I dearly wished we had a beach as our backyard that I could send them out wandering and exploring everyday.

We can't wait to do it again but are hoping to take some other families with us next time around. So if the pictures seem tempting and you and yours are up for a good few days at the beach, let us know, we'd love the company!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

World Down Syndrome Day 3/21

We love the activities hosted by Sharing Down Syndrome of AZ but struggle to get out to them since many are in Mesa, at least 45 mins away. March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day (3/21 or in other words, three chromosomes on the twenty first pair of chromosomes) and they held a Glow Walk/Run last night and will have activities on the 21st but we were disappointed we wouldn't be able to make it to any of them. I wanted to do something to celebrate Elias' birthday as well as all it's taught us.

When we first heard Elias possible diagnosis I called a friend in the ward, Tara Larsen within hours. Her son Porter also has DS and she was able to allay many of my concerns and fears. We've talked about how we'd love our boys to grow up together so it was only fitting I should call her and arrange our own little DS walk/run in our neighborhood.

I had spoken to her about it weeks before but was to busy to advertise it except the Wednesday before the event. Honestly I would have been happy if it were just our two families, but was thrilled when so many friends responded including so old college friends who were once in the ward.

Bubby was a little tired!

Our lovely helpers that took pictures and guarded donuts from sticky little hands until the run was done.

Everyone walked or ran the mile distance in around Mountain Shadows Elementary. While Our family walked with Jordan and Natsume Inoyuye we got caught up on all that's passed in the last 5 years. Afterwards we had donuts and juice to celebrate.

There were suggestions that we ought to do it again next year and include a few other families touched by DS. It was truly touching for both Kent and I that so many came out in support. Thank you one and all, we truly feel the love!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

One Year for the Little Professor

Elias, my baby 'baby' will be baby no more all too soon. In just over a week he'll be a year old, how quickly time flies! It always amazes me when that rolls around for any of my children, but it's been particularly deceptive in Elias' case since he just delayed in development enough to still seem really young. It was just the other day when I glanced at him on his quilt playing that I suddenly realized he was half its length! Then there are other times, especially when he lays curled up in sleep in his bed this the looks so tiny, so young.

But in reality he is such an old soul particularly when he looks intensely at your face. We had a good example of this the other morning. While he may not be able to communicate verbally, but he definitely understands what's being said to him. Ever since I stopped pumping milk for him he's had one sinus infection after another after another. It drives me nuts since his passages are narrower and it makes everything harder for him. Any parent knows that when you go after a kid with a bulb syringe you'll have screaming and crying, after all, who wants snot sucked out of their nose?! While struggling one morning with Elias, I finally sat him up, explained what in was doing and why and asked that he be a helper. I've looked at me with his old eyes, gave a deep sigh and didn't struggle one bit! No head turning, rubbing of nose, no crying or even growling. He even smiled and clapped his hands when I pulled a good amount out! It made me laugh. It's been that way ever since.

There have been other times where he's amazed me with his empathy and compassion. We were on the floor in my bedroom playing one day when Keila ran in crying about something. She was laying on the floor while he sat next to her telling me of all the injustices she suffered at the hand of her older brother that day. He had stopped playing with his toy and watched her carefully and at the end of her narrative leaned over and planted one of his famous open mouth kisses on her cheek and patted her hair. It cheered her like nothing else could.

Developmentally, he sits like a champ with and has great posture. He can stay on his knees for almost a minute but lacks the core strength to begin crawling. It's been really helpful to have other children around who are crawling and gives him the incentive to work at it, otherwise he yelps for help. What his Cuteness wants he often gets! He loves food and has astounded the speech therapist with the quantity he consumes despite having no teeth whatsoever. I love t hear him babble "mama and baba" and he is quite the chatter bug when his siblings aren't around to compete with. We're not sure, but he seems to be able to sign "more" by almost clapping his hands. This happens a lot around food! (SO my child!). He gives the best hugs by relaxing totally into your shoulder and 'rubbing' your back and loves to give is open mouth kisses and will suck on our chin or cheek when given the chance. (Hickies from my bubbie!).

We're delighted with him and all he brings to our family. I can't imagine my life without him, or even without the Down Syndrome. It's not as if the DS defines him or IS him, but that our experiences around it has brought us together. The kids help with his physical therapy, we all cheer when he accomplishes something, we all work together to get things done since I'm busy with so many other things ... It's hard to put it into words, but I'm grateful to have him in our life this year and for all the years to come, just the way he is!