Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas 2015

We had the pleasure of hosting the Christmas Eve party this year. Kent's siblings - Christine, Steve and Sheri - made the drive out to our end with their families for our annual Santa visit. We pulled together a Chipotle style meal, munched on lots of chocolate goodies (the Montierth favorite) and got caught up. It's crazy how the kids grow and change and the number that are young enough to sit on Santa's lap get fewer and fewer.

Keila was particularly sad that cousin Carly was too sick to come but Santa sent a gift home for her through her siblings. Joseph and his wife Jenny made it out from Wyoming which was a great surprise. I'm afraid it's up to this next generation to have munchkins for Santa's lap in the coming years.

Leora and Eli didn't care much for the tradition!
Isaac is in the know now when he asked us a rather direct question about it. Gratefully he was a good sport about it and didn't disclose his knowledge to his younger siblings. It's funny to me though, at times it's as if he forgets and the naturally believing and imaginative side of him starts theorizing just how Santa does it. His cousin Colette had him for a moment when he authoritatively told a group of older cousins he knew the secret when she got all wide-eyed and turned to her Mom to ask, "What secret? What about Santa haven't you told me?!!" For a split second he thought he'd ruined it for someone nearly 15 years his senior. I must admit it's fun though to have him know and help out with the magic of it but at other times I'm a little sad that he's grown up so fast. Childhood and the wonder of it is fleeting.

Santa does stockings and that is always opened first. I love that the excitement is barely contained in Isaac's expressions. Leora doesn't get what's up, but by the smile behind her binkie she just knows it's good.
The much deliberated gift she sought from Santa, either ladybug slippers or a necklace making kit. Somehow he just knew and gave her both!
Isaac and Keila's ornament gifts made at school for this year.
This year I took the oldest two to the mall for a couple of reasons: 1. I wanted to make sure we really knew what they wanted for Christmas, 2. To give Isaac (the wealthiest of the two) and opportunity to shop for a gift Keila truly wanted. It was a good experience because it gave them a sense of what money can buy. It was hard too though for Isaac, he had a hard time parting with his money but could tell that if he truly wanted the joy of giving, he needed to spend something to get his sister a gift that would mean a lot to her. Keila and I concocted a plan for her to do some chores to earn some money to get Isaac a gift. In the end they got each other the beanie baby owls, one pink and one brown. Their surprise at each other's gifts and the love they showed warmed my heart!
Leora took a bit to get use to the idea of ripping open presents but was more than happy to comply especially when one of them held a cuddly stuffed kitty!
Eli loves ripping anything but was not so thrilled when he saw the gift. "Therapy disguised as toys!" seems to run through his head as he tossed them aside. He did stop to enjoy some blocks and was willing to try out his headphones so long as he had access to my phone to listen to his playlist!
There were family gifts that the older two opened but the two largest ones were the grand prize at the end. For Isaac this was somewhat deceptive. The box was a large glow in the dark marble maze set for his engineering geared mind. It wasn't really what he wanted, but the much sought after Minecraft was on the Ipad and could not be wrapped because it was always in use. Instead after all the gifts had been open, I sent him into the kitchen to unlock the ipad to play music for Eli. It was then he discovered that we did download the game for him and loudest squeal could be heard as he jumped up and down like a yo-yo for the next 10 mins. I wish we could have caught his reaction on camera. After that there was total silence for the hour he was sucked into his game.
Keila was hard to shop for. Originally we had discussed the pet rabbit as being her gift, but you can't very well hold to that when she's allergic to it so we racked our brains for something else. Lately she's been fascinated by a guitar and plays around with mine so we got her one - a pink one at that! This girl has to be introduce VERY slowly because if she thinks it's someone elses idea, she won't do it! I've gone back to finger picking mine and dropping terms like fret, strum, etc. She now holds it right and maybe at some point she'll want real lessons ....

Hopefully you've noticed the pictures look better (if not then that speaks of our lack of skill!) but my gift was a replacement of our digital camera! I'm pleased that Kent shopped around for a good deal and we got it before Christmas day. I also hope the new shaver and the two half pound Reese's Peanut Butter Cups feel like an expression of my gratitude. Documenting these memories means so much to me and as time passes, it'll be fun to look back on. Merry Christmas one and all! May the joy of this season carry through to the next!

Symbols of Our Past Year

We have a tradition of getting ornaments annually for each person as a representation of something from the year. When (heaven help me it's not an 'if') they move out they will have something to take as their own. We also get ornaments for those we have lost this last year and it helps us renew our memories of them at a significant time.

Leora chose her own, and is perhaps the youngest one to ever do so. She spotted this at Target and I put it in her hands just to keep her quiet so I could finish my shopping. Near check out time I urged her to say goodbye which didn't go over well at all! Gripping it close to her body she screamed and screamed 'bid, bid!'. I tried enticing her with other ones, sparkly, fluffy, etc. to no avail so clearly this is hers for this year!
Eli LOVES popcorn. He turns away from candy and sugar but salty stuff like chips, get him every time. Popcorn is his ultimate favorite and he will sign it and make his 'P' sounds in anticipation. We thought this was fitting for him.
While shopping for ornaments, the older two kept commenting they wanted something that would remind them of our 'Grandma Young'. Everything that attracted Keila was in a form of a butterfly. It seemed fitting for this great lady so we ordered this fillgreed one with her favorite colors as our memory of her. Keila got one exactly alike for herself, "precious" like Helen.
Isaac wanted something that was like origami (which has occupied his busy hands much of this year) and specifically an angel to remember Helen. His requests are often like this, unique and terribly hard to find but thanks to google, nothing is impossible. We searched origami ornaments and found this beauty but once it arrived we realized that it is NOT a tree ornament. It's still beautiful though and reminds us of the angel Moroni on our temples so we will simply find a place to set it each year.
Kent made some really close friends this year and his was a reminder of one of their get togethers. I often forget how much easier it is for women to find that social connection outside of the family and I'm glad Kent found some for himself.
I've always wanted a beautiful olive wood nativity but the cost is way more than I can justify. This ornament did catch my eye and will be my small version for now. Besides, the scripture inscribed reminds me so much of the reason for the season.
We also received this one from a close friend. It's been so nice to have the Phoenix temple so close by. Ever since Eli was born it's been harder for me to go but with it close by it makes it easier. It's nice to have it on our tree of all the things that have importance to our family.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Winter Fun- Pure and Simple

With the cooler weather we love to get out and play as a family. Unfortunately it's also when sickness abounds and since Eli has started preschool he has become an incubation unit for all sorts of illness that he shares generously with his siblings. Anatomically his sinus have difficulty draining and ear infections are automatic. It's a hard balance to find when I want him at school getting therapy with all sorts of skills when weighed against the endless rounds of illnesses. On the other hand the other children are stir crazy and need an outlet so we learned to simplify or be flexible.

One of these was to see Circus Vargus, a show that focuses on acrobats and has no animals. Pumpkin and Bubby were put to bed with a sitter and we had a late pizza dinner out (the BEST pizza EVER! according to Bug love) and the kids were wowed by high flying acts. Isaac's personal favorite was the motorcycles of which 3 drove inside a ball at the same time. It was definitely fun to see physics in action.

We had a rare Saturday when everyone was well so we went to Gigi's Playhouse. We got a chance to meet up with some DS friends and have some fun in what feel a bit like a second home playroom. Connecting with new friends does a lot for the soul.
Small gardening projects in the backyard are awesome learning opportunites and great fun. We're not exactly sure how well these flowers will turn out as Pumpkin managed to dig the bulbs up a couple of times! I guess she just wanted to keep the fun going.
Sometimes fun is just small things that get us laughing. This was a game Eli did with his speech therapist. If you watch carefully, he signs much of his requests and is starting to verbalize it more too. He laughed with Ms Colleen but he busted his gut when I did it with him. It's seriously the best medicine ever to laugh along with this boy.

We got another bunny - Carmel Ginger. The kids call her Carmel and I call her Ginny. It was to be a anxiety reducing measure for Keila but ironically she has developed an allergy to rabbits in the year that Sunshine passed on.
Ginny is a mini Rex, known to be the hypoallergenic rabbit and for once Isaac can love on her with no allergic response. Keila is a different matter and we spent tons of time testing everything from the hay to the food to figure it out. After all, she use to rub her face into Sunshine's fur endlessly and never had a response. Nothing was working, but when our Grandma Young passed on, I didn't have the heart to send Ginny back. Keila is careful to wash her hands frequently and not touch her face which has helped. In the meantime Ginny has won over everyone's hearts, Leora adores her and jabbers at her frequently, Isaac, Kent and I all love on her and she has even gotten Eli to giggle and play games. He will poke his finger into her cage and she will come up to sniff and playfully nip. When he quickly draws his finger back she does a little Mary Poppins leap or flips her ears with an happy hop that he loves. It's become quite the game.
Our annual gingerbread fun...
And when the flu bug hits half the family, we have some makeshift fun with a tent in the family room and some new movies.
Sometimes the simple things are better. The hustle and bustle of the season doesn't get us so much since life is simplified due to illness or sensory issues. It's made life a little more relaxing and I'm more present with the kids rather than rushing to activities or getting stuff done. Life really is found in the moments and not the bling and bang of holiday craze. It's a side blessing to Down Syndrome I would have never thought of and I'm grateful for it.
This shirt had me smiling - a little extra chromosome, a little extra love, a little extra adventure = whole lot of living!