Gratitude Journal:Gratitude for a sibling…

Let me start by saying that it may seem an oddity to end 31 for 21 with a post about Zuzu- but really the intention is to show my gratitude for both of the girls and the family that they have made us. Bethany blogged about siblings of children with special needs a while ago and the post stuck with me. As a sibling of a woman with special needs I’m aware of some of the research surrounding the topic of siblings. I’m aware that it’s been said that 80% of the attention in a family with a child with special needs goes to that child. I know it’s important in a family that we celebrate everyone. That in order for us all to continue on our journey together happily we all need to each feel important. That the Quail needs to know what makes her special outside of her Down syndrome and that Zuzu need not feel slighted because of it. We want Down syndrome to not necessarily be what makes our family extraordinary, but rather just an ordinary part of our daily lives.

Part of their daily lives right now is each other.  I want to remember this time when the sight of each other brings the biggest grin to their days. I know there will come a time when they might not see each other the same as they do now. Right now their view is wrapped in love and innocence. These are some of my favorite images and memories from the last 20 plus months of the stisters together.

I know that lots of people worry that having a sibling with special needs is a burden to the family. Frankly I worried about just having a second child and how little attention my firstborn would get and how she would suffer from that. I worried about her little fall from being the entire center of our worlds and how she would handle it. And that was long before any diagnosis entered the picture. So I’m sensitive to it. I’ve been looking for it. I hope anyone that reads this and has that worry can have it abated just a tiny bit and begin to picture the good and love and compassion that can be generated because of it. This generation that gets to grow up with a sibling with special needs in their home- they have been blessed with learning a new kind of normal. One that might help to make our world a little more compassionate one day. Maybe a little less judgmental. Maybe one where the child who needs our love and support very much doesn’t have to even fathom that the people that love them best could even think of calling them a burden. We’re all special. We all have needs. We’re all unique. These girls of mine, right now at least; they see the blessing in sharing their days with each other.

1. During my barfy 5 months of early pregnancy Zuzu was insistent on following me into the bathroom while I barfed my daily contents out. She was completely unphased by this and would frequently hold my hair back and pat my back. Occasionally she even brought her snack in to eat while she watched the show and kindly offered me some to fill my now empty belly. What upset her was if I tried to shut the door so she didn’t have to witness it. That was criminal in her mind.

2. During our bedtime routine I would lay on Zuzu’s bed and read her stories. I would ask her about different baby names. She got stuck on the Quail’s real name and would refer to her as Baby Abby.

2. During our bedtime routine she would take a dolly blanket and lay it on my belly and pat it telling Baby Abby to sleep tight.

3. When we came home from the hospital she immediately went to Baby Abby- declared her by her full name: “Baby Abby Abigail Charlotte”. Said, “I love you Baby Abby Abigail Charlotte. ” and kissed her toes as she had been practicing with Gramma Char.

4. She then brought over the welcome home card she and Gramma had made her and tucked it into her carrier.

5. I was pretty nervous about nursing the new baby in front of her. Since she was still nursing I was worried it might create frustration or anger. The very first time though she very politely and quietly, if not woefully sat down across from us and watched with tear-filled doe-eyes as I nursed her little sister and was clear that sissy went first. She was so sweet about it I let her join in and our tandem relationship was born. Thankfully in hind-site I’m grateful for her graciousness in this arena. Because of Zuzu, the Quail was able to have a full breastmilk supply up until 15 months even though nursing was so difficult for her and she was never able to nurse regularly.  Without Zuzu’s continued interest in nursing throughout our dry spells in pregnancy and continuing after she was born I might not have been able to have the supply base to continue to provide for her. What a priceless gift.

6. That very first tandem nursing session, Zuzu instinctually reached out to hold the Quail’s hand. They’ve been frequent hand-holders ever since then. In the shopping cart, in the backseat of the car, while watching TV, through the fence at school…I have a photo of their little hands entwined it’s one of my happiest images.

7. Within a couple of days of the Quail’s birth, Zuzu was bursting at the seams to go back to school and relay her change in status to big sister. When she arrived that first day she announced to everyone who she passed by that “Baby Abby Abigail Charlotte is here! She used to live in the hospital but now she lives with us!” She happily posed under the announcement that had been hung up at school for a picture.

8. Bravely one night she announced that she was leaving Momma and Baby Abby’s room as she was getting ready for bed. It broke my heart that she was so accepting of it. It was probably one of the first separations I felt of her and I. Of course, I did what any post-partum, hormonal, sleep deprived momma would do. I told her she was welcome to come back in and sleep with us. We’re still working on correcting that 🙂

9. At the 1 week birthday for the Quail, Zuzu made us all hold hands (baby included) while we sang Happy birthday to her and the a few rounds of Barney’s “I love you.”

10. At an early on playdate the Quail was happily sucking on her Sophie Giraffe teether when another kid decided they wanted a turn with it. As soon as Zuzu heard the high-pitched scream of her sissy she went running to engage in a not-so-friendly tug-of-war round to retrieve it. Generally I don’t condone aggression in the girls, but I admired her instincts this time.

11. I’ve heard from multiple school mommies that their little kids have asked to get their own Baby Abby. I’m fairly certain it’s due to Zuzu’s adoration of her baby sister. It’s always come from kids in her class.

12. M is a hard consonant for the Quail. So it’s no surprise that I’ve yet to hear a regular Mom from her her. On the other hand, she’s managed to nickname Zuzu Ada as an approximation of her real name. It’s surprisingly distinct from Dada and itty-cat.  

13. I keep trying to capture on film their giggling together. Sometime in the last 6 months Zuzu has decided that the Quail loves nothing better than to be scared by her. Each time she does it I cringe as Zuzu comes barreling around a corner, stops about 2 inches from the Quail’s nose and hollers, Boo or Butt, or some other random word. I repeatedly am about to reprimand her when I hear the tiniest giggle come from the Quail. And so the sequence gets repeated. Those two seem to get something about each other that’s obviously only meant for them. They both love a silly joke and are equally delighted at the anticipation of it more than the quality of the material

14. About 4 months ago Zuzu started repeatedly announcing she wants another brother and sister for her birthday present. As unwilling as we were to oblige her at the moment I was secretly thrilled that she wanted it.

15. Zuzu doesn’t seem put out by all of the Quail’s therapies. She generally wants to use the time to watch a show or to join in cheering her on. It’s not uncommon to come in and find Zuzu initiating whatever the last activity she saw us working on with the Quail. We’re going to have to be extra watchful come stair-climbing practice.

16. Zuzu’s ability to interpret what the Quail is hollering about.

17. Her interest in signing and teaching her sister signs.

18. Since the Quail was born Zuzu has requested matching outfits. Zuzu has been an independent dresser since about 18 months. Meaning she needed to be the one to choose her outfit or you were in for a debate on the merits of polka-dotted dresses with pockets versus floral-printed skirts with pockets that held her garden rocks more easily. This then translated into her desire to be the one to pick out the Quail’s outfit. It isn’t every day but boy if there are some cute jammies in the Quail’s size, you best figure out a good rationalization as to how the orange in her jammies matches the red in Zuzu’s if you combine it with a yellow headband since red and yellow make orange. And trust me- I only wish I was making up that kind of example.

19. Zuzu’s empathetic aches and fevers that just happen to coincide with the Quails.

20. Zuzu’s insistence that she be picked up first at school so that she can come along to get the Quail. When we go into the Quail’s room she runs to gather up the Quail’s things and holler out a greeting that she’s here.

21. Their matching strawberry blonde locks, sparkling blue eyes, mischievious grins and strangley identical giggles.

Fave-O-Lit Friday

The Beatitudes of the Exceptional Child

by Andre Masse C.S.E.


Blessed are you when by all these things you assure us that the thing that make us individuals is not in our peculiar muscles, not in our wounded nervous system, not in our difficulties in learning but in the God-given self which no infirmity can confine. Published in National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry – Summer 1998

  • Blessed are you who take time to listen to difficult speech for you help us to know that if we persevere we can be understood.
  • Blessed are you who walk with us in public places and ignore the stares of strangers for in your companionship we find havens of relaxation.
  • Blessed are you who never bid us to “hurry up” and more blessed you who do not snatch our tasks from our hands to do them for us, for often we need time more than help.
  • Blessed are you who stand beside us as we enter new and untried ventures for our failures will be outweighed by the times when we surprise ourselves and you.
  • Blessed are you who ask for our help for our greatest need is to be needed.
  • Blessed are you who help us with the graciousness of Christ. Who did not bruise the reed and quench the flax for often we need help we cannot ask for.

    Quailday: The Toddler Diaries

    I tend to wear my rose-colored glasses on the back of my head. In other words, I may be filled with worry and doubt looking forwards, I may be emotionally volatile or obsessive in the present, but I also tend to mostly remember the positives of what happened in the past and not dwell too very much on what happened way back when. I frequently and quite literally forget the bad or rough patches. Call me a romantic, an optimistic, delusional or great coper- either way it is what it is. And it never really causes too much trouble right?

    Well, just to be clear that every day in her new class isn’t sunshine and roses I’ll share this from class:

    9/21/10: “The Quail was great when we first got there and even crawled away from me when she saw a toy she wanted to play with. Another toddler going for the same toy accidentally stepped on her hand though. She was upset for a few minutes, but let me put her back down. After that she was fine and would play with me but was less interested in the other toddlers or moving away from me. I really think that once she gets walking she’ll be great over there. It’s just tough for her to be down on the ground with ten other energetic babies running/falling around her.”

    That little incident is one of my biggest fears with her moving in with the Toddler room. But it wasn’t an injury- just more of an upset and really it’s happened rarely since she’s been in there. She also seems to recover more quickly from those types of upsets which is ultimately good for her.

    9/27/10: “The Quail was in a great mood today but even more stubborn than usual. She was already in the toddler room when I got there today and she was doing great. Miss Ashleigh told me they’ve been trying to keep from picking her up so she crawls when she wants to go somewhere. She wouldn’t crawl to me though. She would start to crawl towards me then lay down like she was too tired to keep going then sit up and sign “please” and flap her arms up and down in frustration. I didn’t give in and eventually she gave up and tried to pull herself up to stand using the round tables.”

    It was around this time at home that we noticed that she would follow us into another room or if she heard Zuzu or Lovey she would perk up and ditch me to go see what they were up too. It’s so hard to not give in and pick her up at home, so it’s good that there are others with a stronger constitution to help her work through it!

    9/29/10: “When I first got to her school, the Quail was finishing up an art project so I hung out in there with her for about 10 minutes. She also tried to pull herself up using a chair, the tables, the refrigerator, my leg, and anything else she could grab.Once she came down off the block I couldn’t make her sit still if I wanted to. Today I pretty much just followed her around and tried to work different activities into what she wanted to do. I had her crawl over the foam block to get a pretend phone (she did this three different times). Then I answered the phone and told her “dad’s calling, say hi dada” and she reached for the phone and said “hi da” and then hugged it. So cute! Next, I got out her puzzle. She almost got the star in by herself, but got distracted by the mailbox of the house. I put a puzzle piece in the mailbox and she pulled it out. Then I told her “open the mailbox” and put the toy in the mailbox” She did both. Then she just wanted to “mail” me puzzle pieces so we took turns with that. After about 5 minutes of this she went back to playing with the puzzle and got the square puzzle piece in completely by herself.”

    I probably said it before but I just love how Miss Mattie seems to “get” the Quail and lets her take the lead while looking for teachable moments to get the work in. The outcome is still the same- in this example learning how to get the puzzle together, but her way of getting around to it is so much more successful than when we or other therapists have “drilled” her on a particular activity.

    And the grand finale for this week’s post and her busy Toddler Room days in September….

    9/30/10: “The Quail pulled herself up to stand two times in a row today! We stayed in Ms.Patti’s because the toddlers weren’t doing anything specific. First I worked on the wheelbarrow position with her for puffs and she crawled over my leg and I held her up in wheelbarrow while she reached with one arm (always her right I think) for puffs. She was able to hold her self up for a good 15 seconds each time before she would rest. She did this four times. Then, I got out her toys and she wanted her Puppies book. I read it once and she signed “book” and “please” so I read it again and then again. She kept signing “book” and “please” so I put the puppies book in the red toy bucket. She crawled over to get it. She tried to lift herself up but didn’t quite get it so she sat down and I heard her say “doggie” and then she signed “book” and “please” again (Ms. Patti heard doggie too). I told her to go get it and that’s when she pulled herself up. She grabbed the book and plopped back down so I read it to her again. Then, she wanted something else in the bucket so she pulled herself up again!”

    It was the Saturday morning after this that she pulled herself up to stand in her crib with the only assist being our wild crowd cheering of her efforts! We’re so proud of her.

    Up next month is her saintly ongoing battle with the wheelbarrow position and the start of the Toddler Shuffle!

    corner view: pondering

    This week’s Corner View subject was what are we thinking about these days. Those who follow our little story along would probably say I could have just left off with the photo above. What’s in my head is fairly self-evident when you look down to the two little starfish shaped hands I’m typically found holding.

    It’s funny to think that a few years ago they were barely on my mind. I was more interested in- well, myself. Also food, gardening, travel, TV and books, music and live shows, the world, my family and friends that already existed in front of me. I’m sure to those without children my incessant and seemingly redundant stories must get to be a bore. I get that. It’s shocking how consumed you become with your own children and their world once they exist. And sadly it’s hard to explain how small your world shrinks and yet simultaneously, how full it becomes. 

    I remember being so surprised in the year after Zuzu was born that I had no interest in planting a summer garden. That was one of those coupley things that Lovey and I did. Not well mind you, but we did it and we enjoyed the time together. When that first year came to a close and indeed I had not gotten back into my BC (before children) routine even a little; I was disappointed in myself. It wasn’t like I wanted some rock-n-roll, of-the-moment lifestyle. But I found I had little energy or focus for all the domestic bliss-filled activities that had filled our hearts and days BC and had led me to think we’d make great parents. I was lucky to get fish-sticks cooked and the fruit cup drained let alone go fishing or grow a small fruit tree. I think it was even during this timeframe that a number of our precious plants that had traveled with us from the early 90’s gave up the ghost.

    There was some talk of postpartum depression and anxiety and just plain ol’ exhaustion. I cut a lot of regular activities out of my routine and pared it back to basics. I needed to nurse the baby, pump milk, go to work, clean and feed the baby, take a few photos of her and sleep. I felt really fancy when at the end of a week I had managed a daily shower.

    And then Zuzu started nearing age 2 and Lovey and I started estimating the life of our reproductive years and considering the difficulty we had getting Zuzu here, we figured we best start again now. Tired or not. The Quail managed to become more than a twinkle in our eyes right off. I hadn’t even managed to wean Zuzu or move her out of the family bed before I could feel the tiny kicks from inside. So out she came with all her mysteries and hidden secrets and off we went on a new research tangent trying to understand how best to nurture her and her stister. Our world became more full and yet even smaller and focused.

    We worry that there isn’t enough “us time”. We heed the warning from everyone around us. To me this time with small children is intense and presses us forward so rapidly (at least in hind-site). But it’s just that- a moment in time. Moments that I already find myself sporadically wishing I could have back with each growing sigh of relief as a worry passes and we survive another day. But there are no do-overs with our blessing of new knowledge gained from our days We can only move forward with time. Now and hopefully forever more though, the definition of us- well it isn’t just 2. It’s all of us. How to find peace in daily ordinariness is what I ponder most resolutely now. How to continue to want what I have already rather than wonder what could have been, should have been, could still be.

    Those other trains of thought and activity, they’ll find their way back into our lives eventually. The fish sticks will eventually morph back into some version of a parchment wrapped filet and the fruit cups will become more exotic, if not home-grown. Maybe our end results will be more basic but we can hope they will still hold some blessing ala Alice.

    Perhaps the real difference in what I pondered a few years ago and now isn’t so vast. A few years ago I had the luxury of wearing my heart properly tucked inside my chest. Now, I am blessed with the luxury of it beating outside of me and all the beauty, worry and vulnerability that comes with that small luxury and privilege.

    See what everyone else in the world has on their minds of late:

    jane ianbonniejoycekimkaytrinschritvafrancescastate of bliss cabrizetteisabellejaniskarijgylisecateotlidortebsophiemcgillicuttysunnymamadaanibbpienduzzkelleynninjasammitheresacherry bjulietteshokoofehcolegrey lemonlucylainelynnskywritingannadoritconnyl´atelierkamanaanne marierosamaríavictoriatikjewitjuniperannabelandreavaleriemerel soissesmlle paradiscacahuetewander chowbarbaraemilytallynadinematildadon flowtopssusannataniadanaingridmaryhinke

    Zuzuday: Anything you can do…I can do better….

    I can do anything better than you! Unfortunately the spotlight that the girls are vying for is the medical one. As I mentioned yesterday, the girls both got sick a couple of weekends ago rather suddenly. Generally speaking; October through April, we have to RSVP maybe to most of our invitations.

    The end result of that Saturday afternoon of fevers and goop was the start of regular maintenance breathing treatments for the Quail and an ear surgery for Zuzu. Her ENT had said last spring that if her tube in her right ear didn’t come out on its own by fall we would need to schedule surgery to remove it. Well that bloody goop that came gushing was actually the result of the tube being in her ear too long. She got a routine infection, as she’s prone to, but this time the goop pressed the remaining tube up against her eardrum. Generally it’s never a happy feeling when your MD looks at his intended and says, some version of, “Oh, that’s not good.” No, indeed. It’s not. So she was given oral and eardrop antibiotics and the removal surgery was scheduled.

    Do you take your 4-year-old to the doctor? If so, then you won’t be surprised by this little tale. When the kind MD started describing the procedure to remove her tube (or tooth* as she insists he said); Zuzu interrupted him with the following:

    Zuzu: “Momma, is he a real doctor?”

    Me: “Yes, Zuzu, he’s a real doctor. Go on Dr. B.”

    Zuzu: “Momma, how do you know he’s a real doctor?”

    Dr. B: “Well I didn’t pick up my license at the Holiday Inn Express!”

    Me: “That’s enough Zuzu, quiet please. Go on Dr. B”

    Zuzu: “Ewwwwwww….. Momma, he prescribed poop! That’s a butt word! We don’t say butt words!”

    Me: “No he didn’t prescribe poop Zuzu, please be quiet. Go on Dr. B”

    Zuzu: “Yes he did! It says poop right here! We don’t say poop!”

    And on it went until Dr. B finally left and said that the nice nurse would come finish up with us.

    So tomorrow we’ll head over to the hospital for what should be a fairly short and routine procedure. The doctor said she’s welcome to show up in her jammies and with a lovey. I’m thinking I might follow suit.

    *Oh and that little “misunderstanding” of tube vs. tooth. Well the conspiracist in me is fairly certain she understood what he said but is opting for pushing the tooth version. Just the other night as she was going to bed she explained to me that she has to go have her “tooth” removed this week and that she’s going to put it under her pillow and then the Tooth Fairy is going to come and leave her a surprise! She explained it so earnestly that I didn’t have the heart to explain that the Tube Fairy isn’t so widely believed in these days.

    Mommaday: reflections

    The other day both of my girls became suddenly sick. The Quail developed a fever of 103 and Zuzu’s ear suddenly started gushing forth goo. Both seemed to come on suddenly and out of nowhere. That morning we had been playing and planning our afternoon. The first post-nap cries told a rewrite in the script. It most likely was just a bad cold for both. But it struck me how differently the same apparent virus seemed to have settled in to both. The Quail woke up raspy. Which is her m.o. Zuzu with a goopy ear. Which is her m.o. Same virus- two different paths. Both required care- similar but different.

    This is a well-worn path for both the girls and us grown-up caregivers. The first year of Zuzu’s life she was sick with ear infections from 7-13 months. They required fairly continuous medication, much missed school, many tears and even more sleepless nights. The first year of the Quail’s life the colds tended to head downwind. She didn’t require as many MD appointments and meds, but did land herself in the ER 3 separate times with two week long hospital stays. After she was released the second time a decision was made to keep her on maintenance breathing treatments throughout the rest of the RSV season. Since then the girls have been fairly healthy. But the season is back and I feel a little tick starting in me worried about how this season will go. The difference being we know better what to look for with both girls to treat them more thoroughly before either reaches the need for a hospitalization. Or so we hope and pray.

    So when the cries started; the calls to the on-call MD started as well. The  decision was to start Zuzu’s eardrops and assuming no fever or worsening she could wait to be seen on monday by her regular pediatrician. I went ahead and started the Quail’s breathing treatments as well. The other big difference with the girls- the Quail rebounds faster. When she woke up Sunday morning she was fever-free! Zuzu managed to remain in good spirits throughout the weekend. I think after the last year of dr visits for the Quail she was secretly thrilled to have the care and attention focused on her. She started listing off in addition to her impending ped appointment, the need to go to her real ear dr for the “tooth” in her ear and the need to see a dentist for the teeth she has never had come in.  To be clear- it’s a tube in her ear but she repeatedly calls it a tooth. Talk about enthusiasm.

    The other night while I was doing the Quail’s breathing treat (and yes- the reference to it like that has caused a series of requests from her stister for one of her own and the Quail’s giggling through it did little to convince Zuzu it wasn’t a treat in the true sense of the word), I found myself reflecting on how different the girls are in such quirky ways. In some ways they are so alike. Most people will remark what a mini-me Zuzu is- from the smile, to the eyes, to the continuous talking. Her dad get’s credit for the hair, but really- that’s mine too. I have a lock from my infant head to prove it. It’s easy to see the similarity between Zuzu and me. Just watch her pack her bag for the day, or cheer her sister on for her latest milestone, make a grocery list or turn on my Medela PISA when no one is looking.

    But with the Quail- I’ve had to look harder. It’s taken till now when her little (and yet so very big) personality has had time to emerge in all it’s glory to see it. Yet in a lot of ways- it’s more basic. Zuzu actively tries to emulate me. The Quail innocently does.

    Within minutes of her birth I asked the nurse who had taken her for apgars if she had Down syndrome. The nurse responded, “You know about that?” I knew it was a possibility. Early on I had been sent to the MFM/high-risk OB when Zuzu’s ultrasounds showed shortened femurs and hydronephrosis. I was monitored a couple of extra times but when she was born, no one questioned if her soft markers meant Down syndrome. Four months later she shocked us with a rather dramatic and sudden fever onset that turned out to be a UTI. Most likely a lingering effect of the hydronephrosis we had not seemed to need to remember.

    Then along came the Quail. She had the same soft markers. At each visit the OB would suggest I go back for a more detailed ultrasound with the MFM OB. I asked what would happen after that and they said depending on what he found an amniocentesis would be recommended. I explained rather hormonally that with my previous history of miscarriage I had no intention of increasing those risks now. So we would go on with the exam and the next visit a similar conversation would ensue. Eventually the more brusk of the OBs said it was time to go get checked. So I went for the level 2 ultrasound at 37 weeks. Unfortunately by this time she was too big in-utero to be able to complete all of the measurements. And a bit obstinate in moving the way they would have liked to try to get a better view. The one addition at that ultrasound was an absent nasal bone. With that finding we read that only 1% of the population has it without also having Down syndrome. Still when the OB then met with me to discuss the findings I reminded him of Zuzu’s stats and that these weren’t even as severe as hers. He agreed and said he couldn’t make a conclusive statement about whether or not it was Down syndrome. The shortened femurs could just mean she was a genetic match for Zuzu. And maybe she just wouldn’t be overly tall. I had to laugh at that, Zuzu has never been called diminutive by anyone.

    After birth the doctors asked if she looked like us or other family members. I don’t remember what I answered. I really couldn’t focus. Those first few weeks when I would scan the pictures for verification of a diagnosis or not I would tend to avoid the ones that looked like Ds. After her final diagnosis came 3 weeks postpartum by FISH Analysis, I wished I hadn’t spent those first few weeks wondering so much about all of it. Ironically the very day the pediatrician called with the news I had finally gotten to a place where I enjoyed not knowing. Not having a label to define what I saw.

    I know some parents get to the point where they don’t see the Down syndrome anymore. I’m not there yet. I see it. I know so much about it and know there is still so much to learn. The difference now is it doesn’t matter so much. The Down syndrome doesn’t hurt her. She’s a well-loved little squirt if ever there was one. She has more people amazed by her then the average kid. She’s lucky.

    And so am I. When I look at her face, I can’t always see myself in it right away. I still see those lovely blue almonds that sparkle and crinkle up at the ends. I know that it is that little extra 21 in her that causes it. But that little extra- it’s extra me, and Lovey and Zuzu and all of those family members that have come before her. I see the soft slope of her shoulders and belly and know that it’s that little extra 21 that is responsible for her little sack of sugar body that I love to cuddle. Some say it’s that little extra 21 that causes her love of cuddling. I don’t- that’s me. I get to take credit for that. They say that little extra 21 will mean she’ll have to work harder to achieve the same results as other kids her age. And I see it now, how much harder it is for her to learn to sit, to crawl, to eat, to talk. But it’s that little extra of each of us that drives her to keep at it with full-on enthusiasm. She may have to work harder. But the drive that eventually get’s her there- well that’s familial.

    She doesn’t have to work harder though to show us what she loves. She is a bookworm through and through, like both of her parents. She loves music like her father. She loves food like her mother. That sweet strawberry lock of a quail’s bobbin- well it’s arguable which of us gets to take credit. She’s strong-willed like her sister. She’s full of wisdom, kindness and good humor. It just takes a person spending a few extra minutes with her to get to see it’s glory. Because right now, she doesn’t shout about it from the mountaintops. But someday she will, I don’t doubt someday.

    Some days the labels put on this little girl, they filter out what people are able to see in her. When I look at her tiny face, I haven’t always seen myself so readily in it at first glance. But when I take the time and really soak her in- I see it. I see my heart, my history and my future grinning ear-to-ear back at me.

    Gratitude Journal: 21 things we love about the Quail

    My Cherubim Putti

    So last year in the lovely month of October I posted 21 things I love about the Quail. I’ve thought about starting from scratch with an entirely new list but decided to go back to last years and update it to see what’s changed!

    1. that bobbin of hair at the top of her head Her strawberry blond locks have caught up in length to that sweet bobbin. I expect by this time next year she’ll have had a day playing beauty shop. But for now her version of Kate Gosselin’s do will have to do.

    2. the way her eyes crinkle up when she grins ear to ear Now there is audio that goes along with the grin- I love her little heh-heh-heh. And I love how it matches and twines in with her sister’s giggles.

    3. the way her eyes stay trained to Lovey waiting for him to notice her. She’s still a big fan of Lovey, but these days Dora gives him a run for his money. And as much as she craves his attention. She also craves a speedy get-a-way in the middle of diaper and outfit changes.

    4. the way she gets our attention by saying, “Uh!” when she has waited far too long. It’s more of a pterodactyl impression these days.

    5. the way she grabs our face with two hands and pulls it to her to taste our noses. Awwwww, that makes me sad, the face grabbing is no more. Now she dives in for an open-mouthed, full-on, wet, gloopy kiss. Those are the good ones. When she burrows in to a limb beware though, those little teeth are sharp and prone to clamping on. 

    6. the way we leave her in one spot, go to get something, come back 30 seconds later and she is somewhere else. Now she follows you. Unless you are with her, then she scurries away with whatever she can grab on the quick to claim as her own with it tucked into her little arm crease and a giggle and grin as she leaves you in the dust.

    7. the way she nuzzles her bunny lovey to her face. She still nuzzles her warm fuzzy friends and blankets. She also feeds, hugs and coos to her baby dolls.

    8. the way her eyes light up when you bring out the cereal bowl. Again with the pteradactyl impression here. Patience may be a virtue, it ain’t hers. She does continue to love food though. Her first real table food (read: not baby puree) was curried potato salad. She is more than willing to try almost anything you give her….except water and broccoli. She will attempt to rip her own tongue out of her mouth to get the broccoli back out when she realizes she has been duped. And I can’t blame her with the water- if you had Thick-it added to your water you’d be grossed out too. It’s also not lost on me the irony that the kid who will eat everything won’t eat broccoli, but her sister- who will hardly eat anything not already designated personally into her toddler 4 food group pyramid scheme of cheese food, nugget, sugar or whole-milk yogurt loves her little trees “all day” as she so sweetly puts it.

    9. the way her eyes stay trained to yours when you look at her. Both in her glee to see you and in her measured estimation of your level of anger. If she thinks she’s in trouble she locks eyes waiting to hear the reprimand. And before you feel too sorry for this little rascal, I can assure you the reprimands are few and far between for her. She’s clear on the no-nos which at this stage include no biting and no full-on clean swipes of your dinner from your tray to the floor.

    10. the way she lets you know by screaming when she’s had enough “affection” from her big sister. Um, no change here.

    11. the way she nuzzles into your neck when you hold her up on your shoulder. Now she lays her little head down on your shoulder and offers up a little pat on your back.

    12. the way she lifts her legs when you pull out a diaper to change her. Now she says diaper and all done when you are finished.

    13. the way she laughs (heh-heh-heh) when you press your face into her belly and give her a raspberry. The big change is you don’t have to physically touch her to elicit a giggle anymore. A sound, a look, a joke, your laughter any silly attention from Zuzu and she’s cracking up!

    14. the way she lifts her little arms up overhead when she wants you to pick her up. That was really the first sign. The most frequent these days are drink, up, book and please. I’m fairly certain those cover her world at present.

    15. the way she concentrates so fully on the television when Baby Einstein comes on. She likes some Baby Einstein- mostly the Baby Wordsworth, some Signing Times and any Dora. Otherwise she’s a book girl these days. The TV can be on and she’ll crawl across the room to pull  a pile of books down from any shelf, chair, bench,  or coffee table in eyesight. You may think you only want to read Blankie a couple of times but this girl would prefer you keep up the recitation.

    16. the way you can feel her heart beat as you kiss the soft fontenalle on her head. Still open and still sweet. The more mobile she gets though the more anxious I am to have that close!

    17. the sweet baby, milky, yeasty way she smells. Um, the poopy, curdled milk, dirt from the playground smell is a little less appealing. But you know- when it’s your kid it’s still all good.

    18. the way she splish-splashes in the tubby. Hmmmm….not so cute now that it goes everywhere and the usual activity involves repeatedly throwing wet toys out of the tubby. I’m proud of her skill and persistance but still….

    19. the way she hollars a reminder to come get her if everyone has congegrated in a room that she isn’t in. Unless she’s over tired or over hungry she’ll come find you.

    20. the community that she has brought us along into with her. We are so blessed to be a part of this “family”.

    21. her, just her. I heart her.