Wednesday, April 16, 2014

All Hands on Deck: Preparing for Baby #3!

And the award for most neglected blog goes to...Confessions of the Chromosomally Enhanced!
We are so sorry.  It's not that we don't love the blog - we love it with ever fiber of our being.  It's just that third trimester fatigue, coupled with two energetic toddlers, on top of two weeks of solo parenting thanks to a husband's hectic business travel schedule, etc. etc. etc...means that any remaining "free time" (oh how this concept is lost on me), is usually spent in peaceful slumber.  That is, if "peaceful slumber" is defined as tossing and turning and getting up to pee every 10 minutes. 
Please accept this extra long blog post with tons of photos as a token of our sincere apology. 
Guess who graced us with a sensational visit last week: That's right - Mama Hop and Aunt Leanne!
 Aren't they the cutest?!  And I think we can see where Merryn gets her dimples!
Oh what fun we had!  The Divas were reunited and as always, it was apparent that neither time nor distance could impact their treasured bond.
 And we all know that grandmas are at their happiest when they've got armloads full of grand kids to love and spoil. 
 We were fortunate enough to get some nice Tundra-spring weather which we took full advantage of at our local parks.
 We also got right down to business nesting in preparation for the arrival of Baby #3 next month!  I asked Travis to bring up the bin full of infant stuff.  He emerged with FIVE bins full of infant stuff.  Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I am addicted to dressing up my little girls like doll babies.  This is my daughter, Merryn.  I anticipate she will need a similar 12-step program someday.  While Mama Hop was benevolently sorting and hanging infant clothes, Merryn stumbled upon some preemie diapers and quickly swiped them for her dolls.  Dolls, whom I might add, are subjected to hourly wardrobe changes.  Yes, it runs in the family.
But in all seriousness, I am SO grateful to Mama Hop for tackling this project for me.  Most days I am completely overwhelmed by the standard demands of caring for two toddlers and a household while fighting through pregnancy fatigue.  Finding the extra time and energy to do this with rambunctious tots underfoot was beginning to look like a pipe dream.  Thank goodness for grandmas who step in and save the day!  Now Baby Number 3 will be adorned in outfits properly hung in a closet; not haphazardly fished from a Rubbermaid bin.  Thank you, Mom!!!
 Meanwhile, Leanne got to cheer Josie on during physical therapy.  Until Josie's own personal transportation butler comes along, she's going to have to keep practicing getting into and out of the car independently.
 And as always, Mother Hen was right there making her baby doll practice climbing into the car seat.
 Merryn's doll has rigorous physical therapy sessions twice a week right alongside Josie.  Merryn is quite committed to ensuring that her doll conquers her gross motor goals.
 But just as we work hard, we play hard, too.  We set aside plenty of time for leisurely trips to the park.
 It's so nice to have an extra set of hands to help wrangle kids at the park.
 At one point I asked Aunt Leanne to keep an eye on Merryn.  Little did I know what an exhausting assignment that would be.  Aunt Leanne is about as athletically inclined as Miss Josie is, but she did her absolute best to trail our little hurricane and protect her from harm.
 It's a good thing Mama Hop was back at the condo preparing a hearty dinner for us after all that fresh air and exercise!  Look at her!  Doesn't she just need her own cooking show?!  Call us Food Network!  We promise delicious food and a hefty helping of humor!
 Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and so we were forced to say goodbye to Mama Hop and Aunt Leanne.  And as sad as it was to see them go, we are comforted by the fact that we'll see them again soon...
 ...very soon!  Next month, in fact!  And just in time for the World's Best Aunt to welcome one more niece into her loving arms.  What a lucky little girl to have these charming chicas eagerly awaiting her arrival!
Let's hope little lady #3 enjoys a good hug fest!
Aunt Leanne said the sweetest thing to me.  She was telling me all about her birthday plans (yes, it is completely typical for Leanne to start planning her birthday festivities months and months in advance) and she said the best gift she will receive this year is my baby.
As I reached to wipe the hormotional tears from my eyes, she amended it with "...and Tic Tacs and Starbucks cards.  I want six Starbucks cards."
And that, my friends, is the innocent candor that we've all come to expect from the one and only Aunt Leanne!  Oh Leanne!  Here's hoping while I'm wandering around in a post-partum sleep-deprived haze, you're toasting the good life with your favorite Frappuccino!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Josie's Birthday Weekend Extravaganza

Josie kicked off her birthday weekend with a visit from Travis' parents, YaYa and Papa!  They didn't want to miss a chance to see our newly minted 4 year-old's face light up when she witnessed the magnificent surprise we had in store for her...
 Enormous singing animals!!!! 
That's right, folks.  It only took a short drive across town to our local Chuck E Cheese to elicit this if-I'm-dreaming-please-don't-wake-me-up kind of excitement. 
 It was full-on Beatlemania!  Well, Beatlemania minus the screaming, crying, hair-pulling, and fainting. 
But the smiles were plentiful and the joy was abundant.  Josie even yelled out requests - requests which fell on unresponsive mechanical ears.  But Josie didn't mind.  She was delighted with the cheesy 80's tunes that I vaguely remember from my childhood excursions to Chuck E Cheese.
Dad managed to drag our little Birthday Diva away from the stage for a little while to play some games.  You know, because no one enjoys the intense thrill of a setting a personal skee ball record like a toddler. 

 Dad was clearly bored stiff but he played along and humored his girls because after all, it was Josie's birthday celebration. 
And what's a trip to Chuck E Cheese without indulging in a feast of their gourmet pizza and delectable salad bar?! 
 Ah but an hour and a half was about as much fun as this family could handle.  It was time to head home and open presents! 
 And what's a birthday celebration without a little cake?!  There's really no better reason to disregard your table manners and dig in, right ladies?!
But Josie's favorite part - hands down - garnered a reaction so epically gleeful that we repeated it three times.  Guess what it was... the singing!  I've never seen this child's eyes light up like when our little family began serenading her in unison to the classic "Happy Birthday to you". 
We all knew she was a music lover.  We sing to her all the time.  But this particular moment, where the whole world stopped and everyone in the room focused on Josie and united our voices in was unforgettable!
 We had so much fun celebrating Josie's birthday weekend that we started planning the next birthday.  Guess who the next birthday girl will be...
 No, not Merryn!  It's this little girl in mama's belly!  Hard to believe we're less than 2 months away.  The countdown is on! 
Speaking of countdowns, on Tuesday, we kissed YaYa and Papa goodbye and excitedly talked about how we'd see them again very soon! 
And as if the countdowns to the new baby's arrival, and our reunion with YaYa and Papa don't provide enough to look forward to, we've got one more exciting countdown happening...
That's right!  Aunt Leanne will be gracing us with her presence in 4 short days.  We can't wait!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Mama Hop

For the past 4 years, Mama Hop's birthday has become "the forgotten birthday".  It's a casualty of having a beautiful, charming, loveable little granddaughter named Josie enter the world a mere two days before her birthday, thus stealing her thunder.  But Mama Hop doesn't mind.  Even when Josie insisted on talking to Aunt Leanne when we called to wish Mama Hop a Happy Birthday this morning, Mama Hop didn't mind. 
That's just the type of kind-hearted, maternal and loving person she is.  But today it's important that she knows that we have not forgotten her.  She is a source of strength and inspiration that has guided our family for (don't worry, Mom - I won't say how many) years. 
Today, we celebrate Mama Hop!
Happy Birthday, Mom!  We hope your special day is as wonderful as you are!  We love you!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Aunt Leanne and the Fine Art of Being a Diva

Lately, Josie's awesome physical therapist, Shannon, has been working on a new skill with her: climbing into her car seat.  Since Josie is now tipping the scales at 30 lbs, Mom's back is singing a resounding "Hallelujah!"  Josie, on the other hand, isn't quite so enthused.
As is the case with most every gross motor endeavor, Josie hates it.  These twice-weekly physical therapy sessions are plagued with whining, tears, and Josie yelling her signature "No please no!!!" over and over.
Shannon, being the unrelenting professional that she is, perseveres through the toddler drama.
 Shannon even utilizes the techniques we've learned in behavioral therapy.  In order to earn an incentive, you must complete the non-preferred task.  In this case, Josie gets bubbles when she makes it into her seat.  Girlfriend loves bubbles!

God bless Shannon - she's got a tough job.  It's got to be hard to teach someone to do something that they just don't want to learn.  Josie doesn't care about climbing in the car seat.  What's in it for her?!  If Josie had her way, Mom and Dad would scoop her up and place her gently on her throne and chauffer her around town with zero exertion required on Josie's part.  The full-on diva treatment - that's a fair expectation, right?!

I was telling my mom about Josie's newest physical therapy goal and my mom chuckled and said that Leanne still demands the diva treatment during her daily transportation to and from work.  You see, there is a young man that we'll call "John," who attends Leanne's day program with her.  Not only is he a fellow  chromosomally enhanced passenger on Leanne's van, he is also her personal butler.
 Every day, "John" exits the van at Leanne's stop, gathers Leanne's belongings, and extends his hand to help Leanne descend the death-defying step down from the vehicle.
Once "John" ensures Leanne has made contact with the pavement unscathed, he hands over her personal belongings and sees to it that she arrives safely inside the house.
Is "John" on payroll as Leanne's personal staff member? 
Is "John" Leanne's "boo"? 
Is "John" and aspiring physical therapist? 
John is simply a chivalrous young man who, like so many other before him, has fallen prey to Leanne's Diva ways.  Because when you're this fetching, why break a sweat - or even a nail - when the royal treatment is just an eyelash bat away?
Hang in there, JoJo.  Her Majesty predicts there will be a crown and throne of your own in your future!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

World Down Syndrome Day 2014

March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day (chosen for the trisomy of the 21st chromosome).  It's a global awareness day in which we advocate for the rights, inclusion, and well being of individuals with Down syndrome. 
Here at CCE, every day is an opportunity to raise awareness about Down syndrome.  We are blessed to have two individuals with Down syndrome in our family.  Leanne and Josie enhance our lives immeasurably with their vibrant personalities, unforgettable humor, and loving spirits.
Today, and every day, we celebrate Leanne and Josie and the joy they bring to our world.  In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, here is a little video clip that sums it up pretty perfectly!

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!