Nathan is Hebrew and means "gift from God" - we couldn't have been more blessed than to have been chosen as his parents!

Thank you for keeping up-to-date with Nathan. We hope you visit often and enjoy experiencing our son's journey as much as we do. Please feel free to leave comments.

We love hearing from everyone!!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Elmo Visits the White House (and some other stuff)

It's extremely rare when I'm able to combine some of Nathan's favorite things with mine, but this week, on my birthday, Elmo visited the White House to talk about healthy foods in school!
As you might imagine, Nathan was elated to watch his favorite character talk with Chef Sam. I love this level of creativity in policy delivery. It's genius actually. Look, I've put it in Nathan's blog and you've just watched it. That's preciously what you want when you're marketing your victories in policy making.

There isn't much to report from the past week. Nathan's been sick the entire week and we've not taken him out to do much of anything in this weather. He even missed his last two hippotherapy sessions because of the cold. Last Sunday, we were scheduled to have brunch with Santa, but Nathan slept through the entire window of opportunity, which was fine. It's always better that he rests when he's not feeling well. We'll have brunch with Santa another time.

He did manage to make some Christmas cards for some special people in his life.

This is Nathan's favorite Christmas book. It was a gift from his Occupational therapist last year and we must read it and open the flaps 10 times a day! :-)

In our next post, Christmas snow globes and an update on Nathan's transition from Early Intervention to CPSE. Mommy's taking on a new role.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ornament Cupcakes Sprinkled With A Few Tears

The Christmas season is upon us and we're busy preparing for our multi-day traditional celebration and beginning a few new ones. Last week, while Emily was creating her Wishing Spool, she was having a hard time figuring out what she wanted and said to me, "Aunt Kandi, Christmas isn't all about presents. It's God's birthday you know." I can only imagine the smile that crossed my face at that moment and just thinking about it now brings joy to my heart. I said to her, "you're right Emily and this year we're going to make Jesus a birthday cake." And, that's exactly what we're going to do! What an amazing little girl.

Danny has been craving funfetti cupcakes, so this week we made Christmas tree ornament cupcakes. I made the cupcakes and the ornament tops out of fondant and Emily was the official decorator. She did an amazing job! She used practice sheets before attempting to pipe the frosting onto the ornaments and if you've ever used fondant, you know that you have to use water to attached anything that's not frosting. That means, Emily had to use a small decorating brush to attach each of her Christmas tree lights onto one of her cupcakes. She learned how to properly hold a frosting bag and make stars.

Speaking of ornaments, each year we buy an ornament that reminds us of something special in Nathan's life. This year, we welcomed two new additions to our collection. The first ornament was purchased during our trip to Sesame Place and the second while we were volunteering for the Make A Wish Foundation.
Our Christmas season has also been sprinkled with a little sadness. Nathan is almost three and doesn't "get" Christmas or know who Santa is. The moments are fleeting, but they serve as a reminder that our son will always be different and struggle to understand life. We're sad that he's missing out and so are we. On the flip side, Nathan might just believe until he's 15, and we'll have many more years of genuine Santa Claus fun during the season.

As difficult as it may be at times, we can't allow Nathan's challenges bring sadness into our lives. It's not sad ~ it's just a temporary state of being. This year, Nathan's enjoying dancing to Christmas music (he loves the Chipmunk's songs) and tomorrow he'll have brunch with Santa. As I write this, he's dancing around the kitchen to Jingle Bell Rock. Our life is just as it should be ~ perfect in every way!

Thank you for stopping by. We hope you're enjoying your Christmas season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Kick-Off, Make-A-Wish & Photo Shoots

Nathan and I officially began the Christmas season with some Black Friday shopping at Toys R Us! Don't judge, but Nathan was the only child in the toy store at 5:30am and he was an angel! He sat in the cart and played with a truck we bought for one of his cousins the entire time. Danny had to work out of town and that morning, so Nathan and I hit the sales, enjoyed breakfast, and sang Christmas songs all morning. He is such a great kid and I'm so lucky that he's so easy going!

After shopping, Nathan had his official Christmas card photo shoot. Here's a sneak peak ~ isn't he adorable?!! Santa's little helper....
I won't get away with dressing him in these outfits much longer, so I took advantage of it! These are actually his Christmas Eve jammies. I'll post more pictures after the Christmas cards have arrived.

Following a well deserved nap, Nathan and I headed to my families Holiday Kick-off party! Nathan made his 2010 Wishing Spool and his hand print Santa card. Both are keepers! We've decided to do yearly Wishing Spools. It will be fun to see how the wishes change from year to year. Next year, I'll paint them green and use red ribbon.

(Notice the card is backwards? Yeah, that was my fault! lol I turned it over to write his name on it and forgot to turn it back around. Oh well, it just makes it that much more special!)

As I mentioned last week, Nathan and I participated in the Make-A-Wish Foundation's, Adopt an Angel campaign yesterday with friends. For those of you who don't know about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, it "grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions." I am truly blessed to have so many friends who have a genuine compassionate heart for others and believe in giving back.

We also had another photo shoot with Emily. I can only share a few pictures because they're also for Christmas.

It's our sincere hope that your Holidays are a blessing....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Counting Our Blessings

I know this may sound like cliche', but this is the really the most wonderful time of the year! It's that time of year where we count our blessings, think of others first, and spend time with our families. We also recognize that it's a difficult time for many. As is tradition, we delivered meals on Thanksgiving morning. This year, we welcomed two new additions to our crew ~ Nathan and my friend Maria's daughter Sarah. Nathan served as the official door knocker and he did a great job! It was quite funny to see the surprised faces of those who opened their doors to this little guy in his wagon! Not just any kid, but Nathan Terry. An adorable little boy with Down syndrome delivered their Thanksgiving dinner because he and his family are so thankful for their blessings and believe in giving back by serving of others.
This year, I also spent time volunteering at the Capital City Rescue Mission for the homeless. What a wonderfully humbling experience. I've told the Executive Chef that I'll return to help with their Christmas dinner and can't wait! I'll be adding this organization to my regular volunteer activities. Nathan and I will also be volunteering for the Make A Wish Foundation a week from today! We'll be helping with their Adopt an Angel campaign in Wilton Mall with a few of my friends.

I'm thankful to now share these experiences with Nathan.

In preparation for Thanksgiving, Nathan and Emily made some yummy Pilgrims hats. They had a great time dipping their marshmallows, liking their fingers, and eating cookies! It was such a simple, fun, and delicious idea!

Nathan spent Thanksgiving afternoon at his Grammy's, where we enjoyed dinner and the company off family.

We hope that you had a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving as well....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Doorway to the Soul.....

Some say, that music is the doorway to our soul. Others contend it's the medicine of the mind. Either way, the influence and benefits derived from music are immeasurable.

Like most children, Nathan loves music! We are a musically inclined family. I grew up playing musical instruments and singing in choir, Danny listens to every musical genre available, and we attend Broadway musicals like it's our job! :-) It's not unusual to find us having a kitchen dance party while we're preparing dinner or doing dishes. And, we love singing silly songs for no reason at all.

Nathan loves to dance, sing, and play with toys that make music. He has loads of musical instruments: a floor and upright piano, a guitar, musical bath toys, electronic and standard drums and much more. If Nathan becomes upset, is struggling with an activity, or just needs help learning something ~ we use music.

We currently use music when our unruly toddler doesn't want to brush his teeth, have his diaper changed, or sit on the potty. We use it to help Nathan learn his ABC's and letter sounds and increase his language skills. We sing all the typical toddler songs and a few that we've been taught by his therapists. Songs like his new favorite: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, Old McDonald, Open Shut Them, On Top of Spaghetti, If You're Happy and You Know it, and Amazing Grace (just to name a few). We also make up our own songs ~ we have a song for brushing his teeth and one for going on the potty. Additionally, we always try to incorporate sign language into our songs.

As a result of the positive impact that music has had on Nathan's life, it made sense to place him in a regularly scheduled individual music therapy session. That process was easier said then done, but he now receives music therapy at home once a week and is really enjoying it. They sing, play musical instruments and work on increasing his language skills. As you'll see from the below pictures and the video that accompanies this post, his therapist also works on increasing his muscle tone. There is overlap in all therapy sessions at this stage of development.

Nathan will have the opportunity to receive these types of sessions at home until next August. Once Nathan officially transitions into CPSE, I'm not sure if he can continue to receive music therapy. Good thing is, I have about nine months to figure it! Until then, we're going to keep getting our grove on!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our Little Cowboy

For the past few months, Nathan has really been enjoying his hippotherapy sessions (physical therapy on horseback). He and his horse Babe, have become fast friends. It's amazing to see the improvements in core strength that have been made since the beginning of his sessions.

Take a look at Nathan's posture in this first picture. Notice how poor it is? He is literally sitting at an angle. That's what they're working on correcting. The goal is for Nathan to have enough core strength to sit up straight and the therapist uses a lot of different techniques to accomplish her goals. As you can see from this picture, they've turned Nathan sideways to give him a little added challenge. Notice his posture? Not so great. He's not yet strong enough to sit completely backwards, but it's coming. But look at his posture here ~ he's sitting up great and even holding on properly! Way to go Nathan!! You should also be able to see he's wearing a special belt. His therapist holds on to this belt from behind, which help him to remember to sit up straight and stay on the horse. He's still a little boy who likes to just jump off things without thinking. Yeah, he tries! When he's "all done." When the weather is nice, they take Nathan and Babe outside the barn, which is a nice change of scenery and it presents Nathan with an added challenge ~ uneven ground. Although Nathan absolutely loves riding Babe, it's very fatiguing and he's not a fan of his riding helmet. It's bigger than his little head!

Funny story ~ a few weeks ago, Nathan and Babe were outside and the therapist stopped walking, which happens frequently (it's the communication component of the therapy). The therapists and I began talking and after a few minutes, Babe scraped his left foot twice on the ground. The therapists started to laugh because this was Babe's way of saying, "let's go!" However, before they begin, they make Nathan say, "go" or have him do their sign, which signifies go (he taps Babe twice). When they asked Nathan to say "go," he imitated Babe and rubbed his left foot twice along the saddle! I didn't even know he was paying attention! It was super cute and we all got a chuckle out of it. At the conclusion of each session, Nathan feeds Babe a treat of carrots and apples. He's always a little skittish at first when his big horse comes in for his snacks, but calms after a minute and enjoys the experience. Nathan's sessions end in mid-December and won't continue until Spring. He'll miss Babe, but I'm glad he won't be riding in the winter!

Nathan, Daddy came to see you ride Babe this week and you kept waving to him and throwing both arms up in the air like when we do "hip hip hooray!" He was so proud of you up on that big horse!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween (Part III) ~ The Final Chapter

On the actual day of Halloween, we attended a great party hosted by aunt and uncle, for all the kids; big and small. It was a great party! We played Halloween BINGO, made spider lollipops and finger bats, read a Halloween Mickey Mouse story, listened to some festive music and enjoyed lunch.
I'd love to show you all the pictures!!! I have tons of them, but I'm not so sure that Wonder Woman, or the rest of our cast, would appreciate their pictures on Nathan's blog for all to see! When I turn Nathan's blog into a book, I'll be sure to add them!! I really want him to see how awesome everyone looked!! Aren't these the cutest kids!!!!
Yes, even Mommy & Daddy got into the spirit! We really wanted to compliment Nathan's costume and I think we did a great job! Every little dragon needs some cave parents!
We have such a competitive family ~ next year we're having a costume contest! The pressure is on!!!

We ended our day in Oz ~ the Wizard of Oz that is. We stopped by to pay a visit to the cutest Dorothy this side of Kansas! And, would you look at that ~ Nonnie was there too! What a great day!

So cute!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Great Pumpkin (Halloween Part II)

On Halloween morning, we enjoyed breakfast and Nathan had his first experience with pumpkin carving! We had two pumpkins and given my Type-A personality simple pumpkin faces just wouldn't do. I had two ideas and Daddy acquiesced by free handing two of Nathan's favorite characters ~ Elmo & Mickey Mouse!!

As you may suspect, Nathan wasn't the biggest fan of the slimy pulp and seeds inside the pumpkin! We all thoroughly enjoyed watching him have this new experience.
In this picture he's asking me for help! We was a little trooper and as grossed out as he got, he kept going back for more! Way to go Nathan!!
I really have to tip my hat to Danny, he did a great job free handing these two designs. The only tools he had were a picture and a single cutting tool. He doesn't even recall the last time he carved a pumpkin! Way to go Daddy! Next year, I'll be more prepared with instructions and better tools.