Friday, 20 December 2013

The magic of Christmas

They say that having children re-kindles the magic and innocence of Christmas.  And this year, Ella's 4th Christmas, I have had my first glimpses of that 'magic' in action.

On Tuesday there was a special Christmas visitor to the opportunity group that Ella attends at our local resourced nursery.  

I wasn't sure how Ella would react to Father Christmas or if she would recognise who he was. As it is Christmas, we've had plenty of opportunity to point him out and she can say her version of 'Father Christmas' and do the sign too.  I had also let her watch the Mr Tumble Christmas Special that morning (complete with the man himself and his reindeer) to 'set the scene' for her.

At the end of each Tuesday session of play and craft activities, the children sit down in a circle with their parents for a singing session.  As I was busy giving Lucy her bottle, this week one of the nursery nurses sat with Ella which was lovely as I had a good view of her from across the room.  

I needn't have worried about her - as soon as he walked in I could see her do the sign for 'Father Christmas' (also accompanied by an excited pointed finger and 'oh look!'). He sat on a chair next to Ella and her face was a picture. Almost a bit start struck!...

She was the first of the children to receive her gift.  She then kept going back to him as he handed out everyone else's to say 'thank you' to him...

Something didn't quite add up for her though, something was missing - she kept going up to the exit gate, saying and signing 'reindeer' and pointing at the door.  I think she thought they were also there (maybe waiting outside with the sleigh!).  I felt a little sad that I knew they weren't, but it was lovely to see that she believed they were.   

She's definitely more aware of what's going on this year and has enjoyed the Christmas tree and its twinkly lights, singing jingle bells at any opportunity and all the parties she's been going to.  I've caught her more than once trying to unwrap the presents that are waiting under the tree and she cottoned on to mummies chocolate advent calendar far too quickly!

We're due to meet santa again at the Down's Syndrome group Christmas party later this week. I hope she's just as excited and in awe because it was truly magical...

Merry Christmas xx

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Sisters #3

Ella often asks to *cuddle Lucy...

*(replace cuddle with 'hold in a headlock and generally manhandle' which is actually a more accurate description). 

Lucy has always tolerated this interaction with her big sister really well - she really seems to adore her big sister. Ella's recently moved on from pointing out all Lucy's features to doing nursery rhymes with her which is very cute. Here she is, in action...

Birthday post is in progress, Mr tumble cake, family party and trip to Eureka to come xx

Monday, 9 December 2013

Now I am 3!

So, now she's 3... How did that happen?! 

She has achieved so much this last year and shows no signs of stopping.  She's gone from taking one or two solo steps just after her 2nd birthday to now running round the house asking to be chased and tickled.  Her speech has come on so much and she continues to use Makaton, learning new signs and words all the time.  

Most importantly, this year she's become a big sister to Lucy - which has been a massive step forward for all of us, as a family.  Ella has grown up so much and it's clear that both our girls adore each other...

With every year that passes, she continues to amaze us. I look back to her first days, sleepy and jaundiced in her special care incubator.  A heart defect, feeding problems and very little positivity or words of encouragement from medical staff.  We were told her development would be slower than children with Down's Syndrome who didn't have heart defects and I got a tut and a head tilt from the consultant when I said we hadn't had any pre-natal screening.  

I'm glad we are rational, pragmatic people and that we paid little attention to their predictions. We had the support and positivity of our family, friends and each other to get us through. It was up to us to give her the opportunity to reach her potential (whatever that was going to be) - and if we, as her parents didn't believe in her then nobody else was going to.   

Being a mum has been the hardest job I've ever had.  But I look back on how hard it's been and know that I am a better person because of these last three years.  I've said it before, but Ella really has bettered any expectation of the child I imagined I would have.  The rewards of being her mum and watching her develop, learn and grow I can't put into words.  She's a wonderful teacher, makes us proud everyday and has a world of possibilities waiting for her. 

You can tell she is three - overnight, she's become very defiant, independent and very quick tempered - we've left the 'terrible two's' behind and most definitely have a 'threenager' on our hands....!

To Ella, who is still unaware of what a birthday is, the actual 'big day' was to her just like any other.  Except there was a big pink balloon to play with and presents to open (she's certainly got the hang of what a present is!)...

We celebrated Ella's birthday with family this year.  A lovely reason for both families (and all 4 generations) to get together.  She was well and truly spoilt - lots of presents, loved having everyone around and her favourite person 'Mr Tumble' made several appearances throughout the celebrations... She also loved being sung to and having the candles blown out - we had to sing happy birthday 4 or 5 times!

Mr Tumble cake

Spotty bag 

After the weekend family celebrations, we had a birthday trip to National Children's Museum 'EUREKA'.  I've been wanting to go for ages now - I have fond memories of visiting when I was younger both with my mum and with school.  The museum is great - like a giant kids playground that all ages can enjoy.  The highlights for Ella were the mini high street (complete with bank, supermarket and post office) where she loved filling her mini shopping trolley with food and then proceeded to do a 'trolley dash' around most of the ground floor area... 

I was pleased to see that my favourite part of Eureka was still there, although it's been recently updated.  The interactive, sensory exhibit 'All About Me' -which is a walk through of the human body, incorporating all the senses, bodily functions, our health - including dentists chair and equipment (plus a giant set of teeth!), a pregnant woman complete with moving bump and ultrasound, body scanner, the importance of excercise and (Ella's favourite) the chance to hold your own baby clinic...

Just like Granny!

Luckily the exhibit was fairly quiet, as Ella took quite a liking to the doll provided and insisted on taking it with us as we explored the gallery...

Lucy enjoyed herself too, especially the tactile, sensory exhibits. And Ella had a ball dancing to the music in the sound booth...

I was also on the look out as we explored, for a little boy called Jack.  I heard all about Jack via the Huddersfield Down's Syndrome Support Group (HDSSG) on Twitter. When Eureka re-developed the All About Me exhibit, they wanted it to echo the diversity of our society and represent the people and families they hoped would visit the museum. As part of this vision, they asked Jack who has Down's Syndrome to model for the project. A massive thumbs up for inclusion. I was worried due to Ella's random approach to looking around that we would miss him, but we did see him dancing and on the feature wall outside the exhibit...

(Picture from HDSSG website)

We had a lovely few hours and will definitely be using our annual pass again as there was too much to see and do in just one visit. 

Happy Birthday little Bean (stop growing up so fast please! xx)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Everyday is a Rainbow Day...

Ella has always had a keen desire to learn. I feel massively responsible to nurture this wonderful trait and provide lots of opportunity for her to learn new things, introduce her to new experiences and (probably most importantly) allow her to use the skills and understanding she has already.   

My lovely friend and primary school teacher Suzanne recently helped me to create a 'weather station' for the girls.  I wanted to help Ella learn about different weather -she knows most of the signs, understands hot/cold and knows when it's raining/sunny etc so I wanted to put her knowledge to good use by creating something with pictures and a process for her to follow.  I knew a pictorial way of displaying this would enhance her understanding (Children with Down's Syndrome are visual learners) and allow her to choose and display the appropriate picture to match the weather she sees outside.

We included all the common weather elements and Ella is still enjoying 'doing the weather' a few weeks later.  

She is getting the idea of the exercise now but I still have to prompt her and simplify the process slightly. I've found that giving her a choice of two or three pictures to choose from rather than all of them helps her and generally she can pick the appropriate picture to match the weather outside.

However, most days after we've picked and displayed the correct weather picture, some time later I notice that mysteriously the 'rainbow' picture will have been stuck in its place instead... 

Maybe it's just her favourite picture but I like to think that maybe, to Ella, everyday is a rainbow day. 

Seems a good way to view the world to me xx

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Happy Birthday Ella xx

Very busy 3 year old... wouldn't stay still for any photos!  

Birthday post coming soon after the weekend's celebrations with family xx

Now you are three xx

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