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, June 23, 2012

My Journal - Week 147 (23Jun12) Blog Photo Changes


A few people have told me that WTOH (Welcome to Our House) needed an updated photo of Hunter - since he's no longer a baby.  I procrastinated, hemmed and hawed about changing the image, known affectionately to so many as "Hunter's first smile caught on camera"... but after nearly 3 years, I decided it was time for that change.

One other reason for change (besides the obvious) I am now a "PHOTOGRAPHER" and the image I had on the site was not doing my now specific talent any justice, so it was time to say goodbye to the old photo.  It's hard for me, I don't do well with letting go (of photos).  My mother and I were just discussing earlier today, how I have probably kept every single image ever taken of my children, moreover - I had processed EVERY single image at Blacks and Costco, having in the past come home with several boxes (and I mean SEVERAL boxes) of photos because I couldn't bare to just leave out that one image.  What did it do for me?  Nothing, except to ease my mind that they would never be lost or deleted, however there they sit... in those same boxes.  Poor me!  I did originally have good intentions - to put every single one of those images into a photo album or two; ya I know, more like 100....  To date, I have over 16,000 (yep, sixteen thousand) photos of my family.  It's sad.  I OFFICIALLY DESERVE the title of Mommarazzi.

Anyhow, these days - I have learned to just let go of those NOT so pretty photos.  I have started to actually DELETE while on the camera, without having ever downloaded.  It was a tough lesson to learn and follow, but the reality is, there's just not enough hard drives on this planet available to accommodate my obsessive photo storage habits!

So, go appreciate and applaud my efforts for change.  Please stare obsessively at my new title photo, and at least if that is done, I will have felt it worth while to make the change.  Just note, the photo I placed up top was chosen carefully but accidentally!  It's definitely weird, because there was no way I would change out the photo and not have a very specific and amazing progressive photo to replace it.  So - it's very ironic, because this photo happened very accidentally.  I did a mini photo shoot of Hunter today (generally I do this nearly everyday) - I took about 20 photos (not bad) just for fun in the kitchen.  It was very casual and candidly unplanned (camera happened to just be sitting there....)  I do this sort of thing each day, not knowing what will come about.  I don't always want something arranged or planned - the more candid the better.  So the fact that I ended up obtaining something that was highly appropriate for the blog was really a miracle!  I hope you all can see why I chose this one.  If you recall the original photo, Hunter as a 3 month old was wearing a pair of baby (blue) sunglasses and smiling!  How cool is it that here he is, 2 and a half years later, taking them off - to revel himself so to speak!  I highly doubt I could have planned it any better.  In fact, I know I couldn't.  I can always pretend though!

Anyhow, that sure is a whole lot to say about changing out (what seemed to be) a timeless photo.  I hope you all like it.  Next time, I'll opt for an actual family/sibling photo.  And for those of you who might ask why I didn't use a Hunter & Hayleigh photo, it was definitely part of my original plan (for when I got the nerve to do the change) to have Hayleigh in it, but there was my original thought that this blog was generally about Down syndrome.  However; in the blog's evolution, it's become more about the whole family and Down syndrome, so the next change (which will be very soon) will have both of them.  Definitely cuter that way too.

Cheers everyone!

A preview of the next possible photo:
Hayleigh & Hunter 14Jun12 Home Photo Shoot
and just for the cuteness of it all (since generally, Hunter gets a lot of attention in this blog)...

Hayleigh Garden Shoot-084.jpg

Oh and PS - For those of you fans who get this blog emailed or in RSS... YOU actually will have to VISIT THE BLOG ONLINE to SEE the NEW UPDATED PHOTO... (SMILE)!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Journal - Week 147 (17Jun12) Hayleigh 1st Birthday

HAPPY 1st Birthday to Hayleigh & HAPPY Father's Day!!!

Though Hayleigh's birthday officially is the 15th of June, we celebrated her birthday party on the 17th June which was (coincidentally) also Father's Day!  This was not really a co-incidental plan since our weekend was dramatically over busy with work conventions and my Advanced level Photography Course.  Nevertheless (with all the craziness aside), with only a subsequent small window left (Sunday afternoon) we knew that it would work out just right because when Hayleigh was born, she didn't come home from the NICU until the Sunday - which was actually Father's Day!  So it was actually very appropriate that we celebrated her birthday party on the same day.

I was lucky enough to be "relieved" so to speak from my usual photographic duties for this special day.  When you think about it, having spent the entire morning at an advanced level course in the Guild - was photographic enough!  So, with great planning (and a best friend who stepped up to the plate) Godfather Oliver took over and managed a fully Manual DSLR with great ease for me!  For a person who has never shot with a DSLR, (and in manual no less) he did a fantastic job.  I only interviened to change the exposure here and there.  Everything else was ALL him! 

We invited our closest family and my best friends to help us celebrate miss Hayleigh's special day.  It's hard to believe that a year has passed so quickly and that she is nearly as tall and talking away!  She also gave herself an early birthday present and surprised us by taking her very first unassisted four steps on the 14th June, exactly a day before her first birthday!  She is always full of surprises!  Her vocabulary is constantly full of surprises also - as we work so diligently with Mr. Hunter, she has been reaping the rewards of our efforts and has been mimicking everything said.  Her first official word (quite some time ago) was CAT.  Now she says just about everything anyone says... so it's hard to keep track.  She affectionately calls her big brother, "TER-TER" and on occasion actually says HUNTER.  She always calls for her "GRANDPA" and "UMMA" for her beloved grandmother.  She yells for her DADDA, and screams for her MOMMYYYY.  She yells excitedly "CAT" every time one of our four felines roams past, and is now calling "TWIGGY" by name.  She laughs and claps with delight anytime "M-ELMO" is on television (Elmo, which she does say correctly when Hunter tells (reminds) her it's ELMO) but there are still exceptions to her verbal vocab as she will still sign "milk" when she's thirsty.

My mother used to always reminisces how fast I learned to speak (especially every time someone jokes or comments at how much/often I talk) but is more amazed at how much faster miss Hayleigh is with her speech.  I wonder where she gets it from?!!!

Anyhow, the day was so much fun - I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it is to watch your children enjoy their day, from eating their first piece of birthday cake, opening their first ever birthday presents, and shrieking with delight at all the new toys, books and clothes that they get.  Thanks to all my family and friends for the lovely and very special gifts that Hayleigh received.  I didn't forget about Hunter - I specifically bought him (what we then affectionately coined during the gift opening) the "neglected child gift".  I thought ahead, since my son is infamous for exhibiting a truly pout-y jealous look and ear splitting whine (that every parent has heard I am sure).  It worked like a charm, because he was amazed and ecstatic with his fully automated, light-flashing, crazy sounding CAT steering wheel (which for the record, nearly cost as much as Hayleigh's Busy Ball Popper).... Sigh (of relief).  It was one of those great, well planned moments that I have to give myself a pat on the back for.  Otherwise, it could have been slightly disastrous - and that would have been zero fun.

Enough talk.  Here are some of the best photos from our amazing day.

Getting ready, waiting for something to happen...
I know something's coming... They keep telling me to smile!
Boooo... How long do I have to wait?
I'll just take a peek in here while I wait...
Ah ha!  I was right, people are here!
Now that's more like it!  People my size that I can play with!
This is my cousin Ryan!  He's more my size!
Hunter is hanging out with my friend Ashur!  Ashur and I are only 3 weeks apart in age.
Mommy said it was time to open gifts!!!  Ohhhhhh!  This is fun!  I like this part!
Something called a "Tickle Monster"??!!  I don't know about Monsters but it looks like fun!
My Aunty Merlene got me make-up??!!  But Mommy said I was too young for make-up?!
Awww Grandma!  This caterpillar is soooo soft and squishy!  I love her!  I'll give her the best bug-hugs!
Hunter:  Ha!  I've got the best part... tissue paper!  Yay me!!
Mommy always tells me not to rip up paper, but now she says to rip up this paper?!  I'm so confused.
Okay, if you say so!  I've got it with both hands.
Check me out!  I'm stylin'....
My very own cake!
Blow?  I'll let Mommy do all the work... She said I can make a wish though!
Wow... and Mommy always say's not to eat with my hands.  I'll do it delicately, I don't have my bib on...
Ah ha!! I am now bibbed up.  I will just tackle this chocolate covered strawberry first....
And so what?!  Look at me go!!!  That's what my hands were made for!!
I am too smart for my own good.  I figured out this finger licking good thing, all by my self.
Check me out!  I am so sweet...  (I think Hunter is wondering what's up with me though).
My Godfather's!  They love me sooo much, and I LOVE THEM!!
Uncle Andrew is being chased by Hunter, with Aunty Raji and Ryan in tow!
Ohhh look out!  Here comes Hunter!  He's gunna get Uncle Andrew!
Hey look at me!  Just in time to have a few swings in the backyard before the rain comes!
We aren't sure what Uncle Lester is doing - so...  Hey Ryan!  How's it going over there?!
We are family!
Hunter is mighty strong!  He's got the whole blue ball in his hands....
And, kudos (and kisses) to Mommy, Hunter said Mommy did a great job for baby Hayleigh!!

An amazing day, amazing photos, amazing family, amazing kids.  What else can I say?!
Thank you once again - everyone, for making it so special.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Journal - Week 145 (04Jun12)


I took (sorry - let me rephrase this).  I take so many photographs on a daily basis, it's hard for me to keep up with my blogs (I have three).  I often forget to publish what I have taken over time - really it, (the reason for not publishing) comes from a lack of having the time.  BUT sometimes there are just those certain photos which, when I take them - I know immediately that I want to publish "those" photos right away... despite not having much content or the time to write an entire post to accompany those photos.

So, without having much else to say at this moment (3:45am) I wanted to post these few photos I have taken over this past week.  They were just too sweet/cute not to share with my Blogger fans & friends.

Kisses for the photographer B&W 03Jun2012
I love my Mommy SOOOO Much -  I give her kisses all the time.

Okay, clearly not ALL the time.

Hayleigh & Daddy 03Jun2012
Hayleigh loves tickles from Daddy!

Fill 'er up? 2012-05-29
I don't get it.  Mommy said that she was tired of pushing. 
She said if I wanted to go faster, I should get a better fuel source - so why is everyone looking at me so funny...?

Portrait of Hayleigh in Stroller 2012-05-29
Even Hayleigh gets "pushed" everywhere....!

Okay, I've changed my mind - it's always a good time to write.  Just so I can't say I haven't spent a little quality time blogging about Hunter's triumphs, I'll post a quick short note (ya right) about Hunter's speech.  We have just officially finished our first full block of six sessions for speech therapy through Grandview.  Wouldn't it just be ironic that on our final day, final session (one hour each) that Hunter made leaps and bounds during his session, talking up a storm today.  He hugged up to his Communicative Disorders Assistant therapist Krista (don't let me kid you, this child loves her much more than his official Grandview case therapist - Jessica) - every five minutes asking her for a hug.  His word use today was phenomenal.  Shake, Stop, Up, Down, Pull, Please, Open, Bye, More, Head... the list goes on. 

I haven't been keeping up to date writing about just how much this child has been talking and mimicking just about every word he hears.  I definitely blame (in part) his baby sister's new mimicking of vocabulary.  Which we anticipated would happen.  Though Hayleigh isn't really talking a whole lot just yet, Hunter is quick to make sure that he out does his sister by picking up the pace with his speech.

With that in mind, we have decided to work heavily on his cognitive skills and abilities, (the occupational side of things) so that we prepare him for school next year.  Did I say school and next year in the same sentence?  Yes, Hunter starts Junior Kindergarten in September of 2013.  That's next years school year.  My stomach just did a huge flip flop.  I don't even think I will need to hold him back a year - at this rate he's flying (his birthday is August so I originally thought I might hold him back so that he's not the youngest in his classes but... probably not.). 

So, Jenn (Hunter's EI) and I are working to put together several colour matching and various other skill set items for Hunter to work with.  Since his speech seems to have blossomed, we always keep things moving along so that his mind doesn't get lazy.  Hunter's usual fashion is to work heavily on one topic and then once mastered, move to the next.  So move on we shall do.  Picture matching, colour matcthing and other types of puzzles are what Jenn and I will be "GLUING" together tomorrow.  I plan to take photos of the different types of creative (AND CHEAP) ideas of learning tools.  I spent all evening running about the city purchasing (from Dollarrama and Walmart) the glue sticks and gun, the pom-poms and adhesive magnets, lamination machine and the rest so that we can power through making these occupational therapy home items to teach my stubborn little man how to excel with his super-ly active brain!

See you on the flip side... when I am anything but awake to create a colour button matching tray....

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