Occupational Therapy - What's in the Bin?

How about we start off 2015 with an old (really old) Occupational Therapy post? I promise to return with a full update and account of the girls Christmas.  


As Hazel grows and masters old skills, we change the activities we do in Occupational Therapy. Here are some of the toys that are in our OT bin right now.



Hazel really does well when sitting to do these activities are part of her regular routine. We try about 3-4 days a week minimum. Sometimes we sit for 5 minutes, some times for 20. Sometimes we do all the activities, sometimes we do one. I really try to make it a fun experience for both of us. That being said, sometimes I take her out of the chair immediately after I put her in. You gotta know when to fold em'.







Hope this helps!!! Any DS parents out there that wish to share their ideas, I would love to hear them!!! Post a comment or email me!!!!


From Us, To YOU

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It's official. You can expect radio silence here on the blog until the NEW YEAR.

I love a new year. New fresh start. Time to make new plans and goals. Reflecting on the last year and how much has changed? How much was accomplished (or not accomplished if you have 2 small children 2 years apart)? Time to look forward to the new adventures you will have. An excuse to clean and purge and donate. A time to celebrate new milestones, birthdays and holidays.

I've never been one for New Year's resolutions. I really try to do my best all year round, as we all do. When the idea strikes to eat healthier or start to exercise, I start right at that moment. Cause why wait? But one that I always need to remind myself of at the end of the year, and it seems to carry me through until the next year is, "TAKE EVERYTHING AS A COMPLIMENT." I find if I try my best to do this, trust me I fail at times, but if I do succeed, everything is received with love and kindness. Challenge yourself and attempt it this coming year. If you search hard enough, there's a compliment in there somewhere.

Happy New Year!!!


In the meantime, I hope you all find peace and joy this holiday season. My wish for you is that you get a chance to recharge your bodies and hearts in the coming days. I hope this rest helps you to be prepared to conquer this upcoming year. You never know what may come your way, let's all be ready.




I hope you take a few moments to receive your blessings this year. Be present, take a minute to think, observe and appreciate. Not sure about you but I literally only have about 1 minute before my kids need something from me. But I can assure you in that 1 single minute, I will be able to recognize my gifts, praise God and remember just how much my cup runneth over. My heart will swell with love and and almost burst. If I had 2 minutes, I might shed a tear of gratitude, but I probably won't, so heart swelling it is.



Seriously, y'all thanks for reading this little blog of ours and letting us share our gifts with you. We are honoured that you have even the tiniest of places in your hearts and your homes for our little girls. We are grateful that you choose to accept that which may be different and spread the accomplishments and the joy of our girl, Hazel.

Much MUCH LOVE to you now and ALWAYS!!! We can't wait to share another year of shenanigans with you.





Wishing you all the very Merriest of Christmas' and the Happiest of Holidays.

From our family to yours. May you find enough peace in your hearts to carry you through another year of new experiences - good or bad, happy or sad. God Bless you!



Christmas is Coming...

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Ahhhhhhhh....the lights. Such fun. This is pretty much the only Christmas activity the girls have actually enjoyed so far. We all know how the Santa visit went. YIKES!

They aren't familiar with the yearly traditions yet. Santa is just a jolly old fellow they've seen in books. They have no concept of making a list and have absolutely no expectations of "getting" anything. And although I can't wait for them to be excited about waking to the treasures that Santa has left, I am kind of enjoying their ever present state of mind at the moment. They just are. I love them for that. Also, I thank them for it.

These kids are happy with anything or nothing. They were good with the lights...




Well, that's not entirely true. Nola looked like this most of the night. Thank goodness Hazel looked like this. Balance.



I think at one point I asked Matt if he thought Nola was trying to ruin Christmas. Soooooo, yeah, the night was peaceful. NOPE!

It wasn't until Mommy made one of these that we started to feel the Christmas spirit. Peppermint ice cream, rum, milk, blend. Magic!!!! If you are feeling crazy - eggnog instead of milk. But RUM!!!









Life certainly isn't perfect, usually, it's far from it. It's messy and unpredictable and LOUD. Often my kids don't get the memo that we are supposed to be spending a magical night together making memories as a family. They end up cranky, or hungry, or tired, or well, let's just say - "not in the Christmas spirit." We can only control so much.

In the end, the lights were a hit. The tree went up and got decorated. Mommy and daddy had special drinks and it felt like Christmas.




Here's to spreading Christmas cheer!!!

If your kids are "not in the spirit of Christmas" please throw on your favourite Christmas song, "I pray on Christmas," works like a charm AND see the drink recipe listed above. 100% chance of increasing the "feelings of Christmas" in your home.

Good LUCK!!!

Happy Friday!!!

Holiday mode is slowly kicking in over here. Shopping is done, daycare is over, therapy appointments are done, gifts are wrapped, food is bought, and all is well. Just have to wait for Daddy to finish work. Hoping all your holiday prep is just about over so you can enjoy your family and friends. Or even just enjoy a nice cup of tea, coffee, something a little stronger perhaps.

Santa will be here soooooooooon!!!!!!!!!!



Happy Friday!!!!

Mommy Forces a Photo Shoot (with a TUTU)

I may not be a professional but who needs to be when you have the 50mm lens?? HA!!! Just jokin' don't tell Tiff from Vita Photography I said that....shhhhhhh. I worship you, Tiff!!! No seriously, I did the same exact session with Hazel when she was about 12 months old, so it's only fair that history dictate I do the same with Nola. I do very little editing on these babies, but they are mine. I love them!!!










Trust me when I tell you there are about 150 more photos from this session. I truly envy those of you out there that have mastered that fine art of "deleting" photos that are unnecessary. You know the ones that their head is tilted a little more to the left in the next picture, saying to yourself "you never know when you're going to need it." I have been trying, really I have, but seriously, you never know when you are going to need it!!!!

As a little side note, that happens to be a little on the subject. I feel a HUGE PURGE coming on. Like massive! Like an everything must go, free to a good home, we live in a world where we think we NEED too much stuff, if you haven't worn it, it's GONE type of purge. I feel it deep inside me just screaming to get out. I am literally sitting on my hands and forcing myself to wait until the new year to start rustling things up around here. But, it's coming. I CAN NOT be stopped. Matt if you are reading...BE WARNED.


I look at these pictures and can't believe that I am looking at MY 2 daughters. How did these 2 babes come from the same parents? Opposites in almost every way. At least this way we get the best of both worlds. A blonde haired, blue eyed, feisty little lamb and a brown haired, brown eyed, sassy little love.









Happy day Y'all!!!!



Happy Friday!

I'm pulling one from the archives this Friday!!! I just love this devilish grin. I get to wake up to this (almost) everyday. Sometimes they are just plain old HANGRY in the morning. What's HANGRY, you ask? Well, it's the condition that occurs when you are so extremely "hungry" you are "angry." HANGRY!!!

I wish I could take credit for the invention of this term but I have to give it to cousin Annie. You see, her and I both suffer from this very serious condition. My kids MUST have, obviously, gotten it from her. Right?!




We finally got a tree the other day and I must admit, something about having the tree up makes the Holiday feel that much more real. The scent of evergreen doesn't hurt either.

These next few pics are from our IG feed. I love LOOOOOOOVE them. They are our first Christmas-y photos of the season (besides the Santa visit that is...YIKES!)





If you come to our house any night of the week past about 6:30 - 7ish, you will almost always find naked - or at the very least - half naked children. Because, you know what? I have probably taken those pants on and off about 20 times by then. Don't judge me!


Gift Guide for Therapy Toys

Seeing that it's Christmas time, I thought I would put together a gift guide. I can't believe it's well into December already!!! We, fortunately, are done our holiday shopping. I'm feeling very thankful to have this month to spend just enjoying our family and friends. May your cup runneth over this holiday season. And I probably mean with eggnog and rum, but love and peace works too.  

For those of you who still have some last minute shopping to do, I thought I would try to help. Hope these toys will work for someone on your list. Here are some of the toys that we have been using during therapy time with Hazel. These are mostly Occupational Therapy toys.



Buying toys I always look for 3 qualities.

1. Developmental skills

2. Longevity

3. Fun


Keep this list in mind when buying for the kiddos on your list this year. These toys are not only great for children with Down syndrome but any child. These are skills all children will need to practice and toys that they will enjoy!!!


Lacing Beads

We started with the wooden spools and the big beads in the first set. Then we moved to the string lacing set. I did take some electrical tape and reinforce one end of the string to make it easier and more firm for Hazel to grasp.



Play doh

So many things you can do with this inexpensive toy. Also, make your own and it's even cheaper. We hide little objects or animals in the Play doh and Hazel digs them out.




Large peg puzzles are a great way to start and move onto the smaller pegs. We also use the puzzles that the doors open (hide and seek barn) and the latches board.



Lift Flap Books

ANY BOOK with lift flaps will do. Helps children to learn to isolate their finger to manipulate objects.



Duplo Lego Sets/Mega Blocks

Love these for pulling apart, building, and pretending.

buildabakeryMEGA BRANDS INC. - New Fall 2012 Products




These are the best!!! Can be used for building, stacking, spelling. These will be around for a while.




We try to get Hazel to do this often. Practice with grasping the markers, working on her grip.



Sensory Play

We have not yet attempted this sensory activity yet. Hoping to get this from Santa!!! It was recommended by our Occupational Therapist as a great sensory play toy.



Pretend Play

Baby dolls, kitchen set, cupcake making set, the list can go on. Use whatever toys your child is interested in. We use a lot of Little People toys.


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We use so SO many different toys for this skill. I feel like it takes a multitude of toys to master this skill. Each toy offering a different way to turn your wrist and put the item in the slot. We use buttons in a peanut butter jar, coins in a small plastic container, the fisher price pig, and on and on.






A Vita Victory

By some miracle Tiff from Vita Photography managed to work some serious magic and capture all these beautiful photos. I've said it many times before and I am saying it again. Her work is perfection. She gets it. She gives you all of those things that you never want to forget. Even though Hazel was having a fit because we wanted her to walk east and she wanted to walk west. We wanted her to stand and she wanted to sit. We wanted her to sit here and she wanted to sit 2 feet to the left or right (just over enough to be out of the frame). Yet, she still manages to produce works of art that I will treasure forever.

She gave us this...







And these...







And her...

















This pic makes me DIE every time. If you only knew how much we are not the couple to kiss for the camera. Yet, here we are doing it and it could NOT be more perfect. Matt and I are laughing cause we feel silly. He is looking at Hazel. She is looking at him with kissy lips of her own. Nola just finds the thing amusing. It's just perfect, in my opinion.



And then these last few that are nothing short of works of art...






Seeing the finished product from these busy photo shoots always leaves me exploding with excitement and emotion. Tiff really is the best guys, CALL HER!!!!!

So this is 35

Turning 35 is going to look really sweet on paper (family-wise, definately not age wise), I mean according to the pictures anyway. bday




But here's the real truth.

You know who didn't care that it was my birthday? MY KIDS!!!!

I book-ended the day with 2 hour of straight crying.

The morning session was Hazel, who I took to daycare for the second time. She was seriously not having it, even though I STAYED WITH HER THE WHOLE TIME. So for 2 hours I held her and tried to comfort her and for 2 HOURS she cried/whined on my shoulder. 2 HOURS!!!!!!

The late evening session was Nola. She woke up around 11pm and cried and screamed from her crib, despite several efforts from Matt and I to comfort her and get her back to sleep. So from 11 to 2 she protested sleep. So why fight it? We got her out of bed and let her do whatever she wanted. I went to bed (you know, cause it was my birthday so I got to go to bed at 2am), Matt stayed up with her until 4.

Thank goodness for all the stuff in between.



Matt came home early from work to help with the kids - WITH PRESENTS! My mom baked me a cake with a peach pie in it. My Nonna made me a lamb roast and artichokes. My Zia and Zio surprised me with cream lemoncello. A good portion of the family squished into my moms house and rubbed elbows at the dinner table. We drank, we laughed, we bribed our kids with chocolate.




It also doesn't hurt that I had a completely separate celebration the week before with the other side of the family. They all cared very much that it was my birthday. They came with gifts, food and smiles. Go figure. SMILES!!!!



Even though my kids didn't care it was my birthday, I wouldn't trade the day I had to go back to those years that my lap was empty on my birthday. A full lap of screaming children trumps an empty lap and day of the year.

35 it is!




Time passed, Life Changed

Let's just start by acknowledging just how fast time seems to go by these days. Is that a bad thing? Hmmmm? Second, go grab a cup of coffee and come on back. This is going to be a marathon.

I look back at these sweet photos of a human life that only joined us a little over 365 days ago. Then, I look back at photos of Hazel, and her first few moments and days here in this life. Something just doesn't add up.

How could it only have been less than 3 years ago? Less than 3 years that our lives have changed in such a dramatic way. I barley remember the days before tripping over toys, changing dirty butts, waking frequently during the night, battling about food and rarely sitting down. What I can remember about those days was that we NEVER laughed so much, loved so hard, cared so deeply, felt so proud or experienced such contentment.


A little over a year ago a tornado hit our home, turned everything upside down and left no survivors. We have never felt so blessed. She's still kicking up dust where ever her feet land. Her name is Nola Charlie...




Documenting my girls lives on this blog will serve as a tool to revive my memories when they are all grown and independent. As you know, if you've been reading for a while, I am not one for documenting milestones. Especially not for comparison reasons. But I am wishing that I was little more diligent in keeping the little details about Hazel's first year on record. Simply for the purpose to help me to remember who she was at those certain moments in time. I wanna remember how they made me laugh, cry, mad or sad.



Here goes...

Nola growls always. Happy or sad. Tired or hungry, always with the growling. When she's really excited she squeals. Like loooooong and loud and hard. She puckers up her lips just so and sucks in as hard as she can. I laugh almost every. Single. Time.

She's got a real thing for expressions. She has a million.






She's a walker. At 10 months she was over the crawling thing. Now she walks (or runs) around the house like she owns the place. Hates the baby gates- HATES!!! The moment she hears the click, she starts crying (they both do). Girlfriend likes to be free.



Smiles all the time. Always looking for the next super fun time. Like the trampoline for example.



Except for when I get the camera out. Then there is an immediate smile drought in effect. It usually lasts right until about the time I put the camera down.



Her vocabulary grows by the day. Mama, Dada, apple & bottle (which sound exactly the same - but I'll be damned if I don't get it right), Nonna, sissy (of course - it was her 3rd word), GO (sounds like 'do'). Oh and how could I possibly forget the most frequented word of choice, "NO" (with a pointed finger and mostly right before she's about to do something she's know she's not supposed to do), nice, play, baby, book...



When we come in from being outside. It's a guaranteed melt down every time, no matter how long we have been out there.






She's been eating pretty much everything we eat for ages. I barely remember purees with her. Always insisted on eating what Hazel was eating. Her favourite food is pasta. Favourite fruit is raspberries. And now they both come running when they hear the pantry door open, CHOCOLATE.



Still wakes up in the night occasionally, just to make sure she has access to a bottle whenever she feels like one. And yes, she gets one. #FAIL



I, also, want to remember how Nola has been loving steamrolling her sister every chance she gets. Sometimes Hazel laughs, sometimes she looks at me to make it stop. Hazel is usually pretty tolerant but every once in a while she gives her a gentle shove.



I want to remember how they laugh with each other all the time. They have this one specific sound they make that's like a nature call to the other one to repeat the sound. Ever seen "The Hunger Games"? They are like the jabber jays - no joke!

They follow each other around the house and find a multitude of surfaces to bang on. They try to pass the food they don't want to eat on to the other one's tray.

Every morning since she's been able, Nola crawls or walks into Hazel's room first thing with a huge smile that quickly turns to laughter. I swear she is trying to say, "morning." And everyday she turns to me with this smile on her face as if to say, "Can you believe it? It's Hazel!" Blows her mind er'yday.



Every night after dinner they go into Hazel's room and read book and play in the mirror.



What more can I say?

She's the destroyer of books, the spoiler of quiet, the seeker of danger, lover of people, admirer of Hazel, chaser of the sippy cup, nuturer of babies, caresser of the dog, master of the growl, nibbler of everything, kisser and cuddler extraordinaire...


She's the creater of joy, giver of love, sparker of laughter, lover of all. She is the life. She literally IS THE LIFE in our home. Her blond hair, blue eyes, cheeky grin can't be denied.

Where there is Nola, there is laughter. There is ease. There is peace. She is our constant reminder not to take things so serious. To stop and smile. To throw our hands up and have a jumping party on the bed. Or to play dolls, or to go outside and take a fresh breath of air, or to wrestle, or to read or to do anything that is fun in that exact moment. Girlfriend's got this living in the present moment thing down. She's a pro and she's teaching us all how to really do it.




Thank goodness because the other night while I was holding her, I needed that reminder. I remember having a very similar experience while rocking Hazel to sleep as well.

I was laying there with her in my arms. She had scooted her way down in my arms so I was cradling her like a new born again. The lights were so dark that I could only barley see the outline of her tiny face. Yet I had never been able to see it so clearly. Evey little detail, every bump, every crevice. The weight of her very real in my arms. The realization that even as the seconds past right then, she was getting older and older. In this moment I struggled to stay grounded, present, trying to grasp so tightly onto her babyness. All the changing and growing. But in that moment she was snuggled into my chest, breathing in my scent, feeling my heart beat against her face. In that moment she was my little baby. And in the morning she's still going to be my little baby, until one day she will be a grown women (and I will still see her as my little baby). Until then I'm going to enjoy all these little moments where I am her ENTIRE world and she is mine.

(these next 3 images are courtesy of the ingenious Tiffany at Vita Photography)





So the passing of time. Is it a bad thing? Not really.

It allows our relationships to grow and evolve. It allows us to watch our children learn the things we teach, and transfer that learning to their lives. It provides opportunity for us to saturate them with our love. With the passing of time, our children experience our nurturing. If the time stopped passing we would never experience the pride in watching our children grow into the people they will become. And I'm not sure about you, but I am way to curious about who they will grow to be. I am WAY to invested in making sure that I provide them with the tools they need to meet their full potential.

An entire lifetime of time passing would never give me enough kisses, hugs, smiles or cuddles with my girls to be satisfied, so I say - bring it!





Happy Friday? It's early...

Lucky for you none of my other posts are ready to go just yet. You get an early Happy Friday. Happy Tuesday or Wednesday depending when you see this!!! I saw this pic of Nola and I had to do a comparison. You remember the Blueberry Post right???




Love their messy little faces!!! Also, I don't think my kids could look any more opposite each other in these pics.

Have a great week everyone!!!

Ho Ho HO!!!!

I just had to share this on the blog. For those who don't follow us on Facebook or Instagram. It's not a smile for Happy Friday this week. Well not the kids smiles anyway.

Let's just say the visit with Santa was a lively one.

It all started the INSTANT I tried to hand Nola off to Santa. Her little body stiffened and she screamed her loudest, most horrified, someone-just-ignited-my-clothes-on-fire scream that she could muster. Well, Hazel got one look at that and she was convinced that danger was imminent. She too began to scream her loudest, get me-the-heck-outta-here scream. If Nola was out, there's no WAY Hazel was sticking around to see this thing through. And on and on AND ON they went. Dispite the fact that we were holding them. We reassured them and we DID NOT even try to attempt to hand them back to Santa again, they still carried on. It was really warm and cozy. Like seriously, I was sweating.

Anyway, a little poem, if you'll indulge me...

We decided to visit Santa and get out of the house, Upon our arrival, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse. When suddenly there arose such a clatter. Everyone walking past had to see what was the matter. And what to their wondering eyes might appear? Two tiny humans stiff as a board, flailing their arms and yelling from fear. With Santa in the middle, chuckling with glee. And I on his right trying not to flee. The elf behind the camera through her arms up in defeat. All I can hope is there was no live Tweet (#insanesantavisit) So with my red face and sweaty arm pits, I collected my children, and gave my humblest of apologies. We exited the area and exchanged a look of terror, while we laughed and declared that this make for good stories.

The END.


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Happy Friday everyone!!!!

Nola's 1st Birthday Celebration

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Ok so somehow it's Thursday. Well then...

Here's some pics of the big birthday celebration, which is quickly becoming history as the days keep flying by. I must admit I really, truly enjoyed planning this party. I generally enjoy entertaining but since I've had 2 kids, I find it so difficult to find the energy to really PLAN a party. Like put 100% effort into every detail. For this party, I was all in. I am really happy with the final product. It was a really inviting, calm atmosphere. The kids got to see some cool nature displays and adults got to sit, talk and enjoy each others company.



Nola, however, had this face....ALLLLL DAAAAYYYY!!!




I just had to add this pic of my father-in-law eating lunch with all the kids. His choice, of course.



Literally....ALLLLL DAAAAY!!!



The only photo I have of the 2 girls together #fail.



Smash cake. She really was gentle with the cake. Not a messy smasher at all.



While Nola was having her moment, this adorableness was going on right in front of her. I absolutely LOVE how much Hazel loves her big cousin Owen. Imagine the smile on his face too. Ughhhhh...



Actually she looks happy here. Interesting.



Cutest ever!!! She saw the candle lit and was totally obsessed with the cake. Wouldn't take her eyes off of it.

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Love was in the air...



The best gifts are the homemade ones. Stella really outdid herself with an album just for Nola. A picture from each month of her life. Such an amazingly thoughtful gift. Of course Hazel got one too. All 3 of our nieces bring so much love into our girls lives. I can't wait to see how their relationship grows and how close they become.



So thankful to have been able to celebrate all of your 365 days baby girl. You bring life to this house every single day.



Happy 1st Birthday Friday Nola!!!

I did warn you that November here on the blog was going to be dedicated mostly to Nola on account of her turning 1. October was Hazel's for Down Syndrome Awareness Month, so it seems only fair. Without further adieu...Here is the happiest baby in the history of all babies to be receiving a cupcake and a song on her special day.





Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!! Happy Friday!!!

French Fries and Popsicles

Before I post that really annoying "look-what-we-did-for-our-baby's-first-birthday" post. Here is a little of our everyday reality. This was Nola's actual birthday celebration. The day after the "look-what-we-did-for-our-baby's-first-birthday" party.  





We wanted to make sure that Nola had a very special day. Including a very special dinner, just like we did for Hazel. For Hazel's first, we took her to our favourite Italian restaurant. We had some wine, some great pasta (her favourite), and great service. It was such a nice night. A special dinner for our girl, Hazel. Of course we wanted to make sure that Nola got the same treatment on her 1st birthday as well. Nothing but the best...

They had Popsicles and French Fries for dinner. IN THAT ORDER! Then they had cupcakes, soooooooooooooo...



PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage1

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I Looooooooove when Nola looks at Hazel like this...




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Moral of the story...

What's good for the goose is NOT necessarily good for the gander? RIGHT?!!!

Oh and also...

Once you have the 2nd child, forget about going to fancy restaurants to eat #justsayin





Nola Charlie - A Birth Story

NOLA HA!!!  I am writing another birth story.

I can hardly believe that I am doing this. Hold on...I can hardly believe that I have "kids" or "daughters" LIKE IT'S PLURAL!!! I NEVER take it for granted EVER. I GET to write another birth story. What an honour, a privilege to tell another babies journey into the world. I have a feeling this one won't be another ten pager, like Hazel's birth story was. Nola wasn't as high maintenance as her sister.

Even though this birth story might not be as many pages, it might not include as much drama, you won't find any medical jargon, there wasn't an imminent threat of surgery or death upon arrival. It still has enough power and strength to have changed my heart in a completely different and utterly necessary way.

I hope you enjoy!

(I am so thankful that Tiff, from Vita Photography, was there to capture these sweet moments. I look at them often and treasure them deeply. I am not sure this would have been possible had her and I not been so close. It helps to have extremely talented and supportive cousins. There are not really any before shots cause she literally walked in RIGHT before I started pushing. No fault of her own. What can I say? My babies come fast)


I'm 41 weeks pregnant, which is great.

No not great!!! NOPE - NOT AT ALL!!!

Couldn't sleep, couldn't walk, couldn't move, COULDN'T DEAL!!!! Trying to be a good mother to Hazel felt completely out of the question. Trust me when I tell you, that added emotional failure to the daily routine was productive. I literally felt like this baby was never going to come.

NO I wasn't enjoying the lasts days of my baby and I sharing one body. Not one bit. I prayed so hard. Every. Single. Night, for her to come OUT!!! Let's just say I am not my "best-self" anywhere from 35 to 41 weeks pregnant. Do NOT judge me!

So after a few very, VERY uncomfortable visits to the OB and still no baby we decide that it's time to induce. Naturally, I went diving head first into panic mode.


This really wasn't expected. I had no knowledge of what being induced would entail. I didn't want to start looking it up on the internet and I had a hard time asking people for their experiences, as it's so different for everyone. All I knew in the back of my mind was that being induced is generally "not ideal". I immediately became so afraid of labour. A feeling that I never had prior. Fears like, was it going to take longer? Would it be more painful?


I got a few opinions. Some were great, some not so much. Anyways....

We decide on the day. Saturday (not realizing at the time that it was November 9th - my sweet Allie Belle's birthday). As good a day as any. I got into bed the night before praying to go into labour. NOPE!

I got the call at 6:30 am. They had a bed for me. No rush. Have a shower, something to eat and come on in whenever you're ready. The whole morning was pretty chill. I walk into the the OB wing of the hospital at about 8ish, only to be greeted by what seemed like the entire nursing staff and doc. Lovely entry to arms-a-wavin' and happy, smiling faces saying...

"Good morning!"

"Your having a baby today?"



By 8:30 I was in a gown and my water was broken. I immediately started contracting on my own. No drugs necessary. Nurses started taking a history. Wondering what my last labour was like. "Hmmmmmmmm, so you went from 4 to 10cms in 20 minutes?" The wheels were turning. Contractions were getting very intense, very fast.


The plan quickly turned into, "let's just see where these contractions take us" before we start the Oxycontin. My body started to command the stage. I was in some serious pain. It came fast and furious and was holding nothing back. It was too MUCH, TOO FAST!

9:30 was the limit. I need drugs now please. PLEASE!!!!!

Oh, there's no anesthesiologist available right now? AMAZING!!!

The nurse took one look at me and said, "I think we'll call someone in for you."


By 10 the epi was getting put in, still at 2 cms. Hmmmmmm...I don't think so. Not with these contractions.

Matt was kicked out into the waiting arms of the family. Of which there was no shortage of. Same crazy bunch that were there for Hazel. We take over. That's our thing. We fill waiting rooms to the brim with family. Sometimes, my father-in-law's thing, is to offer money to other awaiting family members for the "boy" that they are waiting to meet. I guess he's pretty determined to get his grandson (don't think I didn't hear that little tidbit Pip!!!)

PicMonkey Collage

I digress...


So epi is getting put in, Matt is out of the room, contractions are getting very strong, but I felt great! 10:30 things are happening, nurse decides to check again, just in case things happened to change. HEEEEEELLO...10cms. HA! It creeps up on you that elusive 10cm cervix. FAST!



Drugs were in full effect, I was thinking this pushing thing was not going to be productive. The doc came in, checked the baby's heart print out and made a call. We need to get her out. Right now. She's having some stress and he was not comfortable waiting for the drugs to wear off a bit. Turns out when a doc tells you that your baby is in distress you figure out pretty quickly how to push her out.




Within about 4 pushes, out came her little head. I watched her first seconds entering the world. Still very much a part of me. I let out a huge gasp of amazement. I cried in awe, "Oh My God...There's her head!" There she was. Her perfect little grey head. How is this even possible? A couple more pushes and she was free. She was here. We were two bodies.




She filled the room. Her smell, her cries, her squeaks, her new life.





And there it was. It came barreling over me. Consuming me, flooding me, like water that breaks free from a damn, coating everything in its path. That feeling...

That feeling when they put this brand new baby on your chest and nobody is quite ready to take in what has just happened. It doesn't matter. There's a baby. Her face is super crunched up, she's crying and flailing and covered in that last little bit of mama. The world fades away, all the pain is gone, the anticipation is exchanged with love, the fatigue turns into nurture, the stress turns into joy. All in a split second - an instant - a snap of the finger. That's how long it takes for this little tiny person that was growing inside you, to change your soul forever. In those first few moments, when you exist only for this little being, only to provide for her. She rests so desperately there on your bare chest. Her skin on your skin. Her senses take over and she searches, wiggles and crawls her way down your chest, staking her claim. This is where she eats. This is where she lives. This is where she feels safe, cared for, and secure. Drinking in my scent, it's all she knows. Both of us clinging to each other aching to feel our bodies, our skin, her weight on my chest.





These moments were taken from Hazel. We didn't have these first few moments that are driven purely on instinct and love. This time, we got to truly appreciate the birthing process. I got to literally watch her come out of my body. Not worrying about her health, her heart, her belly. With each push, focusing on bringing her into the world and meeting our second daughter.



This is the story of how this girl healed me. It's my birth story.

From the moment I learned that she was growing inside me, until this very present moment. She took a broken, grieving woman and turned her into a completely satisfied, completed mama. She sewed up wounds that I didn't know I had. I thought Hazel cured me. She made me a mother. But the soul knows what it needs to feel peace. And my peace came with little Nola. I never dreamed of her. I never thought she was possible. And yet she is here. She just came.



I still look at her everyday and wonder how the universe got it sooooooooo right?

How the universe knew that my soul still needed healing?

My girl Nola, let me abandon all of those grieving, infertile moments that I had no idea I was still carrying around with me. She allowed me to believe, the absolute truth is, that God will provide. I struggled with this truth during our years of infertility. Nothing ever made sense and I felt abandoned. I could spend my entire lifetime providing, nurturing, loving, and supporting Nola and I still would NEVER be able to repay her for how she has given my soul peace and my heart contentment. She erased so much pain and replaced it with hope.

Not to mention how important she will be for Hazel in the future. Something my mama heart can't even begin to comprehend. If I focus on it I get all goose-bumpy and heart-fluttery. It's TOO much. Entirely, TOO much!

Looking back now, Hazel's birth/arrival was about healing Hazel. It was about forever changing the way that we view life, people and society. It was about teaching and allowing Hazel to send her message to the world. It was about accepting things that seemed like challenges but ended up filling our hearts with pure love. She allowed us to see everything with LOVE in our hearts and therefore letting us accept real LOVE into our lives.

Nola's birth/arrival was about healing us ALL as a family. She made us complete, whole. She brought balance and peace. She was exactly what we needed and she came at exactly the right time.



Baby Nola,

You were not planned for, you seemed impossible. You are a miracle, a little gift from God. You are welcomed, you are loved. You will never know the weight of your presence in our lives. We owe you baby girl and we plan to spend the rest of our lives repaying you in unconditional LOVE and support. You filled in all the cracks and made us impenetrable.

Gosh - I love you.


Nola46_bw     Nola44_bw


God is good.


I told you it wasn't over...

Look better Halloween pics. I wish I could take the credit but my sis-in-law is the one who has rightfully earned a pat on the back here for a job well done. A lot of sweat, high pitched noises and signing songs goes into getting a photo like this. And yet, all but 1 are smiling (NOOOOOLLLLLLLLAAAAAA....grrrrr).

Actually those are great odds. I'm impressed.




Still, we couldn't manage to get Hazel to hold the staff but, low and behold, we got her to keep her bonnet on for more than 5 seconds.




Here is proof that there was a staff. Handmade by "dada"



Consider this your Happy Friday post this week. Next post will be Nola's birth story as I continue to plan a celebration for her first year of life. I can't even.


Happy Halloween Friday!!!!

I present to you.... Little Bo Peep and her little wondering sheep.


I learned that it's super easy to #FAIL when you piece together your own costume. Especially when your plan comes together pretty perfectly and your child (in this example Little Bo Peep) refuses to wear the parts of the costume that make her who she is. The bonnet and the staff. Oh yes, they exist. In fact, they are adorable. However, Hazel really didn't see the point in either and refused to even let me take ONE PICTURE of her in the full gear.

This is not over. I WILL try again.

It's a good thing she's cute...seriously. Nola completely stole the show at the Halloween party. I am obsessed with this costume. Thanks amazon.com for making that easy for me.




PicMonkey Collage

PicMonkey CollageN


Closing out Down Syndrome Awareness month. It was a great one!!! I have truly enjoyed reading all the interesting links people have been sharing on their social media channels. Thanks to all of you who took the time to read about DS this month. And an extra special thanks for sharing Hazel on your Facebook pages and blogs. We had over 200 shares on that DSAM pic. GUYS!!!!! That's insane for us!!!!!

Thank you!!!!!!!

October was all about Hazel. November will be all about Nola. In honour of her first year, I will share her birth story and a general update about her (which will include lots of pics). Then, of course, I will post pics of her birthday celebration. It's unbelievable that my little baby is turning 1.

And with alllllllllll that...

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!!

Happy Friday!!!!

This Girl!!!!

Down Syndrome Awareness Month continues with this little angel. There are so many little ones that I would just love to share with you. This month I happened to only choose a few. I can hardly wait to share the rest of them with you. I have met some wonderful families on IG, that just so happen to be sharing and documenting their path with DS. It feels so good to have a virtual family that understands, supports and loves my family for all our differences and commonalities.

This little girl is nothing short of a miracle. She has been overcoming some serious challenges ever since the day she was born. From health concerns that she just made disappear, to being cognitively advanced for ANY child of her age, to being the best big sister to Cameron, and to being just about the sweetest, cutest little doll that there ever was. This girl is the whole package. She is breaking down stereotypes, paving the way for littles with DS. I am honoured that her mama, Lauren, shares her with us virtually.

We had our first Facetime date last week and plan on meeting up ASAP in Michigan. I can hardly wait to lay my eyes and my arms on this sweet girl and her family.


Meet Ellie.



Here is what her sweet mama has to say about her,

In a recent FB post, a friend and fellow Ds advocate asked her FB audience, "Ds mamas: We always talk about what we like about Ds, but what do you dislike?" My immediate response, "Nothing!" I truly do love everything about that extra chromosome.

As I sat and pondered my reply, however, I realized that what I dislike the most is the negative societal stigma attached to those two words - Down syndrome. Sadly, when most people think of Down syndrome, the thought of moderate to severe developmental delays and low cognition come to mind. Well, my friends, Ellie is living proof that, that stigma is old and outdated. Today during testing, her new therapists touted her as "brilliant," "amazing," and "remarkable," saying that she is "going to do huge things in life." Little do they know, she already has. She is the most incredible big sister, daughter, and friend. We still pinch ourselves in disbelief that she is ours. What a life she has ahead of her! As far as that stigma is concerned, Ellie continues to break down stereotypes, as do many individuals with Down syndrome. In addition to being cognitively advanced for her age, according to her IFSP/IEP testing, (After all, how many 2 years olds do you know that can nail first-grade reading comprehension questions; recite all of their letters, numbers, shapes, colors; and sight read more than 150 words?) the experts say that she has only a mild speech delay. Again we were encouraged to push full steam ahead with regards to full inclusion when it comes to preschool a year from now. Breaking down old stereotypes, smashing negative stigmas, and promoting both acceptance and inclusion of individuals who happen to be rocking an extra chromosome, that is what Ellie is all about. The sky is the limit and we couldn't be more proud of our amazing Ellie!

Ps. Her mom says that when she's wearing this outfit, she really does believe she is Cinderella.

Such a sweetheart!!! I am so SO SOOOOOOOOO proud of this little girl and her accomplishments.

Much love to Ellie and her wonderful family...xo