Welcome to Our House - The Analogy ©

Having a baby is special. For some, it’s a lifelong dream, for others, a wonderful surprise. Either way, many of us have thought about taking this journey and whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, we all have preconceived ideas about what our child will look and be like. But what if it isn’t what we planned or expected? This is a short story I have written for parents who have or are expecting an exceptionally special child.

Welcome to our House – An analogy

After many months of dreaming, you finally decide it’s time. You are going to build that perfect house of your dreams. You have saved and saved, and now it’s time to put your plan into action. You find a wonderful, perfect piece of land in the city. It’s exactly what you are looking for – because it’s the plan that everyone talks about. You envision the all brick house sitting on luscious green grass, surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside is a marble foyer leading into a family room with beautiful oak hardwood floors. Granite lines the kitchen counter tops and there is an island sink in the middle. Upstairs has four perfect bedrooms and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and an enormous walk-in closet, of course. It’s truly a dream come true, and it’s only a matter of time. You purchase the land and think to yourself, in nine short months, you will have it all.

But suddenly your agent calls to tell you, the land is not properly zoned, and the city has not approved it for building your perfect home. They have instead, given you land in the country, where an old country home sits. You are absolutely devastated, your dreams vanishing right before your eyes. You know you can’t back out now, you need a place to live, and despite it not being what you wanted, you know that somehow you will manage and that you can continue on.

You tell everyone what has happened, and everyone is disappointed, some even offering their condolences. You know that everyone else has a nice city home, and that was what you had planned, but you have to come to terms with the fact that you must learn to live in the country.

You go to see the property every month until closing and something funny happens. You start to fall in love with the place. The air is fresh, it’s peaceful and serene. There’s a pond on the land, and the house, though not a new all brick home, is quaint, and has lots of hidden potential. You soon realize it’s not a awful place, it’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than the city, less noisy and flamboyant, but it’s beautiful none the less. And in the process, you soon realize you may even get to meet some new and wonderful neighbours.

Its closing day and you suddenly find yourself full of anticipation, but you are still a little worried. After all, it isn’t what you had originally hoped for, and the house may need some repairs. But you are determined to accept it, and tackle everything one step at a time. You open the front door, and suddenly you are thrilled with what you see. The house is lovely, and has lots of character. The rooms are smaller but it’s decorated with beautiful attention and detail. The kitchen has marble instead of granite, and the bathroom has a soaker tub instead of a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a walk-in closet in sight, but the rooms all come with an indescribable view. Somehow, you just know that it was always meant to be and that this is now home.

This is my analogy of what it will be like for people who discover that they will be caring for a baby with Down syndrome. For us, it is not a terrible place to be, it is a journey full of surprises, milestones and discovery like any other child. And as the story suggests, sometimes it’s only a matter of ‘point of view’, and surprisingly, once you have been there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. The journey, like all others doesn’t come without some bumps in the road, but once you find your way, it’s all about the place you discovered, in most cases - quite by random chance
Author: Sandi Graham-McWade, Copyright
©

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Journal - Week 78 (26Feb11)

GENERAL MTHFR INFORMATION
and my PREGNANCY UPDATE

So, with all that has been going on lately, I though I should really do a little update on me.  I am currently 23 weeks pregnant, things are going tremendously well.  Despite my genetic mutation of MTHFR and more recently discovered additional variant (originally it was determined that I have the common variant of C677T) but I pushed to have both common variants tested (which had not been done in Canada for over five years) for the other most common variant A1298C and it turned out that I did indeed also have that one.  What this means for me is a new title called Compound Heterozygous MTHFR and also an additional injection of 30mgs Lovenox (Blood thinner) each and every day (twice a day).  In past posts I took a bit of time to explain what exactly MTHFR is, it's treatment and it's relationship to potentially having a child with Down syndrome, Neural Tube Defects and or other Chromosomal Abnormalities.  It is very important to me (when I educate people about Ds) to also sometimes include MTHFR and its role simply because there are medical journals and studies which do suggest that a Folic deficiency or more specifically the genetic mutation MTHFR can be or make a person 2.6 fold more likely to have a baby with Ds.  I have mentioned though, there is a wide discrepancy and debate on that topic AND even more so in the specific field of MTHFR (its role in recurrent pregnancy loss and even its treatment) but to me, it's very important to have all the facts regardless of speculation, debate or confirmed studies in either direction.  Just as I do for Down syndrome, I have put together an online support group for MTHFR which contains explanations, resources and references for those curious about a topic in genetics that is not very well known at this point in time.   Anyone curious about MTHFR is welcome to visit the site I have created, read, ask questions and even join.

Visit here:  http://www.medhelp.org/forums/MTHFR-Methylenetetrahydrofolate-reductase/show/961?camp=msc&personal_page_id=1186587

What is MTHFR?  Read here:  http://www.medhelp.org/tags/health_page/139/Genetics/MTHFR?hp_id=1131

And for those interested in a written description that I put together, I have posted my document here:

Here is the majority of the information available in one document.  I hope if you have been recently diagnosed this proves to be an effective aide to provide your health care provider(s).  

MTHFR Gene Mutation

What is it?

The gene MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydofolate Reductase) encodes the protein MTHFR. Its job is to convert one form of folate (5,10-Methylenetetrahydofolate) to another form of folate (5-Methyltetrahydrofolate). 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate is used to convert Homocysteine (a "bad" amino acid) to Methionine (a "good" amino acid). Therefore, if MTHFR is not doing its job as well, homocysteine will not be converted to Methionine and will be elevated in plasma. Elevated Homocysteine has been associated with a variety of multi-factorial diseases.

Essentially what this means is that the genes that instruct MTHFR to convert homocysteine to Methionine are mutated and may not be capable of doing this important function. MTHFR is an enzyme that converts Homocysteine to an essential amino acid (Methionine). When the genes are mutated you may be lacking this enzyme. Your Homocysteine levels can possibly climb making the blood clot. Some doctors don't check for the MTHFR mutations and rely only on homocysteine levels. This isn't as reliable as testing for the mutations, because Homocysteine levels fluctuate (if you catch your level on a normal day, you may go undiagnosed).


What Type Do I Have?

With MTHFR, there are 24 known mutations but the two most common different genes are identified here for this mutation, and it's possible to be "heterozygous," "compound heterozygous," or "homozygous." The MTHFR gene mutation has varying degrees of possible implications. The order of potential (again, note that each person's severity can be different) severity from most to least is:
    1. C677T & C677T (Two C Copies - C677T Homozygous)
    2. C677T & A1298C (One Copy of Each The C & A - Compound Heterozygous)
    3. C677T (One C Copy - C677T Heterozygous)
    4. A1298C & A1298C (Two A Copies - A1298C Homozygous)
    5. A1298C (One A Copy - A1298C Heterozygous)

It is also important to note that each of these common mutations can also be coupled with another mutation called Factor V Leiden which is known also as Antiphospholipid Syndrome.  This mutation coupled with C677T is known to cause miscarriage up to 50% of the time.  Also, of the two common mutations A1298C is the most commonly occurring in the population but C677T is the more problematic of the two with respect to health (vascular) and loss.


The MTHFR mutation is fairly common in the general population. Approximately 44% of the population is heterozygous and another approximate 12% are homozygous for the MTHFR mutation. Even though MTHFR mutations can affect each person very differently, compound heterozygous and homozygous MTHFR have the highest incidences of being linked to implantation failure, late term miscarriages, specific birth defects and overall vascular health. Whichever type of MTHFR you have, it should not be discounted, particularly if there is a personal or family history of any such incidences.


What Are the Implications?

Any and all of the mutations can affect homocysteine levels, but there is much dispute as to whether elevated homocysteine levels are actually needed in order for MTHFR to cause medical complications. Many other MTHFR patients have normal homocysteine levels; yet have had implantation problems, m/c(s), and/or stillbirth(s) due to clotting problems. So it is important to find out your Homocysteine levels (although again, normal doesn't necessarily mean all is well AND on any given day your Homocysteine levels can change making testing for this problematic). This is a serious field and MTHFR is a serious condition, so consulting an expert is wise.

Research shows that high homocysteine levels and/or those with the mutation show a higher propensity for thrombosis (blood clots), arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries), Alzheimer's, stroke, heart attack, Fibromyalgia, migraines (especially with "Aura" migraines), osteoporotic fractures, bone marrow disorders and for those of child bearing years, it has found to be connected to higher incidences of Down syndrome, Spina bifida, other Neural Tube Defects, Trisomy, miscarriage, stillbirth, implantation failure, placental abruption, preeclampsia, higher incidences of autism, amongst others. The mutation C677T is specifically documented to be linked to these.  Additionally, if you test positive consider having your parents, siblings, and any children tested, as well. There are a few positives to this disorder. Because folate is necessary for cellular division, there is support that shows having this disorder can actually help keep certain types of cancer cells from multiplying as rapidly, so there are some benefits from having this mutation.


Treatment?

Many doctors prescribe Folgard or other high level Folic Acid (PregVit 5 in Canada) supplements, which is a prescription vitamin supplement containing high levels of folic acid, B12 and B6. Because of the mutation, absorption of Folic Acid is hindered and anyone with MTHFR will require 200% more Folic Acid then a typical person.  These vitamins are what the body essentially needs to convert Homocysteine to Methionine. To put this into perspective, the average multivitamin contains 400 mcgs , most prenatals have 800mcgs of Folic Acid.  Any person with a MTHFR mutation are recommended taking 5 mgs. of Folic Acid/B vitamins (12 times the average multi-vitamin and 6 times more than prenatals). It is also recommended to begin taking a low dose (LD) aspirin (81 mgs) once a day, every day, for the rest of your life.

For those undergoing fertility treatments, often times the treatment includes Lovenox (low molecular weight heparin) or Heparin (both are anti-coagulants) during the cycle. If you have a history of implantation failure or early miscarriage, it is becoming more acceptable to use the protocol established by the well-respected Reproductive Immunologist Dr. Beers by beginning Lovenox (40mg/once a day) on cycle day 6 and continuing throughout the cycle. If pregnancy is confirmed, this dosage is likely increased (Typically up to 40mg/twice a day, but potentially higher doses are prescribed dependent upon blood work results since homocysteine levels tend to increase with pregnancy) and usage continues throughout your pregnancy. Approximately two to four weeks prior to birth, the patient is converted to Heparin and continues to take an anti-coagulant for another 6 weeks postpartum (typically switched back to Lovenox). During that time, you will typically be directed to take additional Calcium and Vitamin D, as anti-coagulants can cause bone loss (Heparin more so than Lovenox). Some doctors will recommend a bone scan after use is discontinued to ensure there are no bone density issues. While being treated with an anti-coagulant, you may be asked to discontinue taking the 81 mg. baby aspirin since the anti-coagulants will replace the need for the thinning property of the LD aspirin. The FDA has placed Lovenox as a category B. Lovenox is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. It is not known whether Lovenox passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use Lovenox without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. However, many doctors believe it is fine to breastfeed for the 6 weeks postpartum while still receiving Lovenox.


Note: This is not a replacement for physician related advice or for seeing a specialist educated on/about MTHFR mutations.   


An additional short note describing what the common possible versions of mutations are.  

The definition of HOMOZYGOUS, COMPOUND and HETEROZYGOUS with respect to MTHFR:

Many people might have a diagnosis of some sort relating to MTHFR but not know what they mean exactly.  I have put together a short descriptive explanation of what the common types of MTHFR are.  Hopefully this helps to clarify what they mean for you.

Each person's body is made up Genes.  Each gene has alternate pairs of Alleles.  Alleles determine distinct traits that can be passed on from parents to offspring.  Of the two copies, usually one comes from one parent and one comes from the other.  When you have a MTHFR mutation, one or both of your alleles has a variant or mutation.  

When you are diagnosed with a MTHFR mutation, you will fall under one of these categories - HOMOZYGOUS, COMPOUND or HETEROZYGOUS named with a particular type of one of the 24 known variants (likely one of the two most common C677T, A1298C both or other).

*Being Heterozygous means that you have one mutated copy of an allele which holds a particular variant and one normal allele.  (Eg. Allele one is abnormal with C677T, Allele two normal)

*Homozygous means you have two identical mutated copies of the same gene with the variant.  (Eg. Allele one is abnormal with A1298C, Allele two is abnormal with A1298C).

*Compound means you have two different types of variants, one in each allele.  Since each gene has two copies, one from each parent, in Compound situations those pairs of genes or alleles will contain different variants - One will have one kind of variant and one will have another variant.  Basically Compound situations mean that you host mutations in both alleles (both genes/alleles are abnormal) AND the mutations themselves are different from one another.  This situation (Compound variants) is the same in terms of risk, health problem and treatments as a person who is Homozygous.  In layman terms either situation means that both copies of your alleles are mutated, rather then heterozygous which means only one allele is abnormal.

The only compound situation that can occur can be COMPOUND HETEROZYGOUS, which means one allele has a mutated variant and the other allele has another different type.  (Eg. The most common COMPOUND Heterozygous situation:  MTHFR One Allele abnormal having C677T and one Allele abnormal having A1298C).  

The reality is, each person can be affected differently or suffer varying degrees of health related issues for which ever case they have.  A person who has ONE abnormal gene with a variant (heterozygous) may or may not have symptoms that cause concern just as a person who has two abnormal genes with same or different variants may or may not.  

While in the world of controversy with MTHFR (as to whether it is problematic or not to health or pregnancy) the debate goes even further when doctors debate whether to treat a person who is heterozygous or homozygous and Compound.  If you struggle with getting treatments, it is very important to discover whether your health care system tests for all variants and not just one alone.  Because some doctors do not know that Compound variants act in exactly the same way as Homozygous mutations they can miss the fact that you have two mutated alleles if they only test for one type of variant.  This is exactly what happened to myself when I was tested for ONLY C677T.  Doctors then proclaimed that I appeared to only be Heterozygous and with many doctors, they don't want to treat anyone who only has ONE mutation because they don't feel it is a risk to health as much as having TWO mutated alleles.  After demanding and suffering through the health care system, I did get a test for the other common variant A1298C and learned that I had that mutation as well.  This changed the fact that I no longer only had ONE mutated allele but two, albeit two different types.  For my pregnancy THIS changed my treatment dramatically and if it wasn't learned it could have affected the way my pregnancy continued or not.  I stress that if you are in the investigation stages of testing that you ensure you are prepared to educate your physician in case a situation like this arises.  Regardless and either way, do not allow your physicians to minimize your diagnosis if you only have one mutation.  If you have symptoms, the reality is that they need to be treated or at the very least not ignored simply because it's heterozygous. 


Sorry for the very LENGTHY in depth explanation, but I have had many moms asking me for information on the subject and I do feel it is very important to have all the information available (even if it still tends to be quite controversial in many locations).  Please feel free to email or contact me if more information is needed. 

Please note however, this information is a collaboration of much research and also personal experiences and opinion.  It is NOT a replacement for actual medical information, treatment or professional medical advice from a doctor, physician or health care provider.  All medical information you obtain should be taken up with your own health care providers or genetics specialist/departments.  Under no circumstance should anyone substitute any of my information for legitimate health care.  This information is for personal use/educational purposes only.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Journal - Week 78 (25Feb11)

"LET ME... LET ME!!!"

This is a phrase my own mother reminds me of often.  It's a phase she recalls me saying and going though when I was just a bit older then Hunter.  It's a phrase many mom's find themselves going though with a child who is at the age of discovery and exploration.  Hunter once again is no different.  Today, for the first time, Hunter decided that he wanted to feed himself with a spoon.  Self feeding is not new to Hunter, he's been popping food into his own mouth for quite sometime now but not with his own spoon or fork.  Today, he decided - he's going to show me.  I suppose I could have tried this sooner, on my own violation - but it never dawned on me that he would want to!  I am quite aware that he can do these things, I am just never fast enough to realize he's been ready well before I am to let him do things on his own!  So, it would seem that this time around, Hunter decided that he wasn't waiting on me to "let him" try... he showed me.  I wish I could have videoed the exact moment, but again a description and a few photos will have to do.  I had sat him down to give him is afternoon snack of a Gerber cereal bar and his last bottle of organic fruit in a jar and about half way through eating his fruit he literally grabbed the spoon out of my hands and fed himself!!  I was in total disbelief!  I was glad that John was home at the time and he promptly grabbed the camera to get a few snaps of the event!  Now, I would have let Hunter do it all on his own for the rest of the food but I didn't quite have him in a full sleeved bib (which looks like a toddler's painting smock) and I didn't want the extra laundry at that very moment (his and mine).  In the photos I have posted you will see me helping him with the last bit of fruit in the jar.  Oh, and for the record, Hunter really knew what to do on his own.  Even after he fed himself, he directed me to put the spoon back into the bottle to get more food out and back to his mouth!  Just made me realize how much he's absorbed and how he's ready way before I am to do just about everything!  I am so glad I had the photos to post but tomorrow however, I will put him in his full sleeved bib so that he can have fun exploring what it will be like to self feed with a spoon to his heart (most of his mouth and clothing's) content! I think I will have the video camera out for that one... and post it if all goes well - or even if it doesn't!!!

And in advance - I apologize for the poorer quality photos... (Unfortunately John is not the para-photographer professional... I am!)

The grab for the spoon during my feeding Hunter... "Let me! Let me!"

Hunter bravely using the spoon on his own to feed himself with Mommy helping

Can be a confusing ordeal!  "But I can manage Mommy!"

"Thank you Mommy... it's a bit easier when you help."

"I think I am getting the hang of this feeding thing!"

"However, I do believe I am better with my left hand though."

"See Mommy!  I need to dip it back into the bottle too!!"  (This surprised Mommy)

"And after it goes into my mouth!"

"Yes Mommy!  Back into the bottle again to get more!!"

"And finally back into my mouth again!  I think Mommy is really proud of me!"


Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Journal - Week 78 (20Feb11)

Splish Splash, Kick Kick & Step toddle Step!!

Look Mommy, no hands AND no legs!!  No hands??  Yes that's right, Hunter took more steps unassisted over the last few days but seriously needs to be distracted to do it!  No legs??  Yes, that's right too, today we took Hunter swimming for the very first time and this little boy is a natural water baby!  For months we have been teaching Hunter the art of splashing and kicking in our bathtub so naturally we figured the next step in water progression was to introduce the swimming pool!  I had arranged a swim play-date with Hunter's favourite buddies at our local community centre which has a wonderful swimming complex that includes a stand-alone toddler pool as well as a regular sized swimming pool with a three story water slide!  In order to make this work, Mommy did have to invest in a few swim items including a brand new swim suit for Hunter (his original one that I purchased some time ago never got used and ended up being too small), $3.00 water wings (one can never be too safe with a squirmy boy) as well a brand new maternity swim suit for a quite pregnant Mommy! 

The swim-date was a successful hit!  Our family swim time was 2 hours and Hunter enjoyed every minute of the event.  He showed us just how much swimming, splashing and kicking come naturally and even allowed me to dunk him under the water 4 times!  He swam on his front, he swam on his back!  I only wish I had video footage or even a picture to post but I didn't think the community centre would allow me to take videos or be snapping photos considering the many families and children in swim attire etc.  So I will have to do my best with wordy descriptions of the day.  One thing I do have are photos of the water wings we purchased from Zellers (like a Target or Walmart who actually did not have a single pool item yet) which despite the age indication on the package (for ages 6 years to 12 years) they worked like a charm for Hunter!  It's not like he has muscular bully arms but the wings fit where they suggest them to be.  I totally suggest these water wings (aka floaties) made by Bestway "Splash and Play" for anyone thinking of introducing their baby to water - especially if their child is squirmy or wiggly when being held or it's their first time in a larger body of water then the usual bath tub.  The only thing to consider if thinking of purchasing water wings or something similar is that at some point it becomes a moot point if attempting to have your baby or child learn to swim.  Which was our whole reason for doing the swim date... I had decided to enrol Hunter into swimming lessons because our home backs onto a conservation area which includes two ponds right behind our house.  These ponds are not fenced off and are also not monitored by anyone.  I myself know how to swim and have known since I was a young child.  I also know the benefits and safety of ensuring a child knows how to swim.  Organizing the swim date was our way to proactively ensure that Hunter would be okay with taking swimming lessons before I enrolled him into a series of classes.  Looks like we will be going ahead with the spring swimming lessons.  I am happy to say that Hunter's buddies will also be enrolling right along with him after their own successful swim-day.  The cute and wonderful thing about Hunter having his buddies with him is, they will have fun together and as an extra side - so will the Mommies!  My girlfriend Penny (buddy Vaun's Mommy) will be going with me and the joke there is, we are both pregnant!  So, perhaps the fears wont so much be on our boys but on ourselves in trying not to look like plump potatoes with arms and legs!

As another interesting side note, I discovered something while at the end of our swim date.  Since the location we were at (the McLean Community Centre) has the separate toddler pool and which has a gradual declining slope (from nothing to 4 feet of water) it allowed me to stand Hunter up in the water at a level that would keep the water at just his tummy height.  Since Hunter has been walking and also taking steps unassisted, I encouraged Hunter to walk around in the water.  I know that water does not have much gravity and also causes us to be somewhat buoyant - but it is also a workout for anyone walking or moving because it adds resistance to movement.  I figured that walking in the water would help Hunter with walking in general (despite the fact that he doesn't necessarily need help with walking but more so with confidence) and he seemed to enjoy doing it.  Later on it was apparent that doing "water walking and standing" had definitely given Hunter a boost in confidence that he needed because he was able to stand up and dance with Grandpa unassisted.  It wasn't his usual stand for a few seconds and sit, he managed to dance standing along for quite a long period of time.  Later after that, he managed to walk 3-4 steps toward me without any help whatsoever.  Was it the water that was so beneficial?  I have no idea, but if it works, why not do it.  As another note of interest, I also discovered that holding a piece of string (such as the string-ties from the necks of my sweaters or waists of my pants) and giving it to Hunter to hold, gives him the MOST craziest self-assured confidence to walk.  He literally thinks that he is holding something that will hold him up!  Going back - Hunter has always had a fixation for the neck strings on my sweaters and waist ties on my pyjama pants and so for the last few days I decided to use those same strings as a lure.  Little did I know he'd actually think they were something to hold him up!  I am pleased (SO PLEASED) to report that Hunter can officially walk on his own!!  BUT, we have to work on more than 4 steps and also, GET IT ON VIDEO.  (The problem with that is, since I work with on the walking during the day, by the time someone is around to help me video the event, he's really sick of showing me he can do it.  My next plan is to try and set up the camera to record while I work with him if no one is here to help.)

REVIEW: So, as promised - here are some shots of the water wings (sans Hunter who was asleep at the time of shooting):  Note - the arm bands are to be worn at the top most part of the child's upper arm or Humerus (bicep part) with the flat portion down and triangular portion (or point) up.  The wings do have listed on the back of the package different sizes and weights and ages but these particular ones I have here were the only ones available at the store.

Package of two arm floats - blown up

Shown here on my arm (NOT IN THE CORRECT SPOT) but upright.  To be worn on upper arm.

The many warnings listed on the back of the float

Both arm floats shown here (again to be worn on the upper arm or humerus)

The package they came in for $2.99 Cdn.  Comes in Purple and Orange!
These arm bands were a source of comfort for me more then Hunter.  While I know they defeat the purpose of teaching a child "how" to swim, they gave me the added reassurance that if Hunter got out of my arms (during our test swim) that he would not go below the water and me be unable to grab him.  For a very first time in a pool, it was an additional safety that I could live with.  But it never gave me a false sense of security.  I know very well that a child can drown in less then 3 inches of water. 

Keep posted for some photos or videos of Hunter walking and or swimming!  (If I can get them!)


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Journal - Week 77 (09Feb11)

STEP STEP!!!!  HE DID IT!

Today, 9th February 2011 at 6:00pm, Hunter did it.  He took a step all by himself, unassisted!  We were watching television when he cruised from the table to the foot poof with his hands up in the air... taking two steps without holding onto anything but the sky!!  I was watching him the whole time and I couldn't believe what I had just seen!  Unfortunately it wasn't like I was holding the video camera when he did this, but it is now permanently imprinted in my mind!  I called John right away then my parents.  I know it wasn't a fluke because about 5 minutes later Hunter did it again!

I am not sure if I will be able to get it on video but I will try my hardest and it seems that since I was so happy when it happened, Hunter has been trying to do it over and over again.

Keep posted for any updates on videos with Hunter taking this step!  Hopefully soon it will be a walk!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Journal - Week 77 (06Feb11)

Tiny Taekwon-do Tot!!!

The interests are now surfacing.... 

After taking and then teaching the martial art of TaeKwonDo for several years, and also becoming a 2nd degree black-belt many assumed that I would not only be teaching the art to my future children but that since it was such an enormous part of my life and obviously ran so deeply in my blood - those same future children would likely come out already practising kicks, punches & blocks.  I guess some could have said they would be "genetically engineered" to know the art!  I even had one friend tease me during my entire pregnancy with Hunter saying, "I bet you will have Hunter doing TaeKwonDo before he even walks...."  I guess it wasn't far from the truth - in all aspects.  I have never taught Hunter a single TaeKwonDo move, yet these past few weeks Hunter has proven the art is definitely running in his veins.  I am certain my Master Instructors Mst. Porter and Mst. Jong Park would be proud!  I definitely am, as is Daddy!  Now, whether or not the moves themselves are correct (which for now is beside the point) the mere fact that Hunter is showing an interest and thinks it is so much fun, proves to me that I should cultivate it and see where it goes.

As a side note, another interest that seems to have surfaced besides the inner "Karate Kid" is Hunter's passion for music.  This really isn't anything new but last week and again today Hunter has decided and shown he loves to play my piano.  He sat with me and played for over 1/2 an hour.  For me, playing the piano through the Royal Conservatory was a skill that both my own Mother as well as myself, wanted me to do.  I personally love playing any instrument with Piano being my primary instrument.  I believe wholeheartedly that learning and playing music enhances education and general skills.  Once you can read music, any instrument will do.  Only problem for me was, I loved and preferred to play by ear.

With these new interests peeking, and noticing Hunter's preference to martial-ly maim his Father, I busted out the camcorder to video it in all its hilarity!  Not only was it a humorous spectacle, but it was definitely high on my cute and cool list!  Take a watch!

Part One...


Part Two... (The best part is when he stops and literally shows he's asking... "So or Well???!!")


Part Three...


Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Journal - Week 76 (03Feb11)

Standing, Laughing, Playing... it's all so much fun!

Today we had our monthly visit from Jenn (Hunter's Early Intervention) and we wanted to see how well Hunter is doing.  As usual, he's doing excellent and the only things that we can think of to work on are the normal things like walking and speech.  One thing that is extremely consistent with Hunter is his laid back personality which leads to the sit back and take it easy strides.  It's clear that ever since Hunter was little, despite the progress he has made, if he doesn't feel confident with something - he wont attempt it.  Case and point is his walking.  This child can motor around our home in a few seconds flat using his V-Tech Train walker, and doesn't even really require it to walk.  BUT don't tell him that.  He really believes that he needs his walker to walk.  How do we know it's not true?  If ever you have watched Hunter walk, or hold onto anything, you will notice that it's simply a "crutch" for support.  If Hunter becomes distracted or busy he will completely not realize he's not even holding onto whatever he's holding - all the while continuing to walk or stand up.  The hard part of all this is convincing him he doesn't need things to assist him.  Take for instance standing.  We have caught Hunter standing up holding on to his straw cups with both hands, and not bracing anything while doing it.  As soon as he realizes that he's not actually holding anything but the cup, he immediately plops down onto his butt.  The same thing happens when it's his books or toys.  One would think then we should just distract him... well that is always the plan but he's so smart to figure it out that we have to come up with newer and newer ideas on how to keep him completely distracted.  The saddest thing is, I can't prove or show Jenn just how far he actually gets because he is literally become audience shy.  So, today after our home visit I decided to video Hunter doing what he does best... standing without paying any attention.  Next time it will be showing off the walking without the walker.... (or at least walking with my one hand - which he currently does but not on command!)

It can be puzzling for anyone who doesn't see what happens with Hunter on a regular basis.  To wonder perhaps why he isn't walking or doing something else but the truth of the matter is when we catch him actually having balance when he's distracted only goes to prove that he is quite capable of using it for walking.  It's actually amazing that he has fooled himself into believing he can't do it, when we have seen him do it.  An example of this is when we watch him with the walker, walking with literally a finger on his train and then remove the train and hold his hand and see him miraculously turn into a non-walking boy!  All we can do is find other ways to help him gain his confidence.  Jenn has recommended removing the train (and I completely agree) and forcing him to walk with things (such as a tea-towel or hula-hoop) that will make him use his balance but fool him into thinking it's all the other items.  As for the talking??  Well when the body is focusing on Gross motor skills such as walking, speech can take a natural back seat.  I am not worried at all about this because I know Hunter is still working on talking with his sometimes "one-time" words and his newest word "ADAT or AT" which is what he calls each and every cat he sees... be it in book, TV or for real - not to mention we have four in our home.

So for now, here are a few clips we took tonight which I thought were just simply great.  Not only is he standing on his own, but he's laughing, playing and actually says "Bye-Bye" at the end of it all.

Part One 
It was quite the plan to figure out what to use to distract this boy so that he would forget that he was actually able to stand up all by himself unassisted.  But just when you think he's forgotten, he quickly remembers and plops back down!




Part Two
Here Hunter is less distracted and while still standing, he's having a bit more fun now that he's figured out that it's not all about standing!



Part Three
Standing has obviously become more of a chore but sometimes it's just more funny to laugh and play!  How about making Mommy and Daddy laugh... and even a "bye-bye" at the end to finish it off.


So for now, we are just trying to come with all kinds of newer ideas, staying one step ahead of Hunter in order to distract him.  Crazy thing is, he catches on so fast that we have to change "ideas" everyday.  No worries here, we know he can do it, it's all just a matter of time.


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