out with the old and in with the...

2011 has been a crazy year on a lot of fronts for our little family. we've laughed, we've cried, we've rejoiced, we've mourned. and, like a lot of families confronted with coming to terms with the reality of Down syndrome in their lives, we've grown. a lot.

this time last year, i was afraid of the diagnosis. fearful that emma would need heart surgery in the very near-term. scared that she would not enjoy all that life has to offer.

she's 18 months old now. and she can walk with assistance. she communicates constantly. she speaks two languages, actually: American Sign Language and spoken English. emma eats heartily. she drinks out of a variety of sippy cups on her own now. she dances to music. she plays drums. she plays at the playground. she loves Gymboree. she is a daddy's girl.

she's not unlike any typical child i know. because, like typical children, she is also independent-minded and is proud of her accomplishments (she claps each time she learns a new word or masters a new skill like stacking blocks or putting things "under" something). she gets sick. she cries. she says no when she doesn't want to do something.

emma is multi-dimensional. she is not simple.

and, it's taken us a while to really grasp that. because, truth be told, when emma entered our world in 2010, we had a lot of pre-existing notions about what Down syndrome would mean for her and for us. 

in 2011, we learned to throw most of those notions out the window.

now, we realize the main challenge is building a community for emma that will embrace her and love her as we do - without reservations or discomfort.  we've found that to be so much easier than we ever believed in some ways, and in others, much harder.  in some instances, the folks who we thought would be participants in our lives - our daughter's life -  haven't.  yet, folks we didn't even know would be in our world, have appeared. and, truthfully, i think we've pulled away some not knowing how to navigate our new world.

at the end of the day, as i reflect on 2011, i know we're tremendously blessed. emma is loved so much by so many, it often renders me speechless. and, we are so grateful for all of those well wishes, kind emails and comments, and old and new friends.

so, thank you. happy new year. may 2012 be a blessed year for you and yours.


an emma-zing month

given our silence over the past month (profuse apologies; it's been a hectic time), i thought you might like to know what miss emma has been up to.

here's the top ten in order of frequency:

1 surgery from which she is still recuperating.
2 seasonal children's train rides during which she waved at all the passers-by.
3 rounds of antibiotics.
4 plane rides in route to and from the home of her great-grandma and grandma and grandpa in Louisiana for Thanksgiving. such fun!
5 day trips, including Middleburg's most awesome holiday parade which features lots of doggies and horses; a visit to the Baltimore Aquarium; a tour of the region's art museums; enjoying a campfire and socializing with other kiddos at an area vineyard (that is super child and doggie friendly!); and visiting area orchards for seasonal fare. 
6 doctors visits completed.
7 new words spoken: under, duck, out, in, down, diaper, and hat.
8 gymboree art and play classes attended.
9 steps taken while holding my hand.
10 (times 2 plus a few more!) new words signed: thank you, please, sorry, sleepy, wash, bath, apple, horse, hat, mama, dada, grandma, brush, go, stop, up, down, cereal, banana, carrot, me, you, cold, hot, baby, signing, teeth, drink, and time.