friday fun stuff

happy friday!  i want to share a few things that put a smile on my face this week:

1. in a recent trip to the children's library in our community, i met an eight-year-old boy, his mother, and his two younger sisters. he was having a great time playing with the younger children at the library, including our little apple cheeks. when he saw emma using sign language to communicate with me, he asked what she was saying. when i told him, he said:  "she's so smart! i wish i knew how to speak sign language. some of my friends do, but i don't know how. it's so cool. how did she learn?"  then, he begged his mother to check-out some Signing Time videos. pretty awesome, right?

2. through our local Down syndrome Network listserve, someone shared this story about a 10-month-old girl with Down syndrome who is the new face of a designer swimwear ad campaign. very cool!

3. emma and i stumbled upon the most amazing park for children of all abilities. Clemyjontri Park, in Fairfax, Virginia, is designed so that children of all abilities - from those who are wheelchair bound to those with sensory or developmental disabilities - can play easily and safely. check it out!

apple cheeks' mama


on what your Google searches say about your life

after my antiquated cellphone of four years or so died a sad but expected death, my husband insisted i join the rest of the modernized world and use an iPhone.

in short time, it's become something of an addiction. i Google everything. all the time. no matter how large or small the quandry.

i mention this not because it's so interesting to know that i Google so much. but, because, i kind of think our internet searches say a little about the state of our lives in any given moment.

take, for instance, my five searches last friday:

1. how much weight can a 24 pound child lift safely?*
2. chiggers on children
3. how to tell if your dog is in pain
4. how to put out a grease fire
5. meditation demos

enough said.

*in physical therapy, emma uses weighted balls to improve her low muscle tone.



last month, in the midst of turning two years old, comandeering the necessary core strength to begin walking on her own, and deciding she was ready to eat, drink, dress, and play on her own, our little miss apple cheeks mcgillicutty was able to squeeze in some serious fun.

emma's grammy came from florida to visit and we went on a variety of adventures like picking blueberries at Butler's Orchard. emma loved helping as much as she loved eating...and helping her mama make some jam with all of those blueberries.

i hope you enjoy the photos as much as i did taking them!

apple cheeks' mama



is there anything better than when your 23-month-old scurries over to her bin of books, riffles through them to find her newest favorite, then climbs into your lap and holds your hand as you read?

happy tuesday,
apple cheeks' mama


a happy birthday wish to dada from emma


you are my favorite person. in. the. world.

you are loving, and gentle, and kind.

you share with me your love of music.

you have taught me to be a master climber.

you are the best reader-of-stories i know.

your smile makes me giggle with delight.

when you leave for work in the morning, i wave bye bye long after you are gone.

and when you come home in the evening, i smile a smile so bright, it sometimes brings tears to your eyes.

thank you for being the best daddy an apple cheeks could ever ask for.

happy birthday, daddy.



our little lady

as i've mentioned on at least a few occassions, miss emma is quite the avid eater. she likes just about every flavor profile, with the exception (ironically) of sweet. 

given emma's love of food, we've been able to integrate various skill-building opportunities into meal time. this means that we ensure her food has a variety of textures (so she masters those chewing and swallowing skills that are challenging for kiddos with low muscle tone), she is always self-feeding (with spoons, toddler-appropriate "forks," and her hands of course), she drinks out of cups to reinforce the lip closure so necessary for speech, and she learns table manners (when practical). 

we've had varied success with self-feeding, largely because emma is still working on grasping the spoon and flexing her wrist in the way necessary to eat off of the spoon. we've purchased a variety of different spoons to practice on and recently became enamored with a curved one that her occupational therapist brought to a recent session. once i figure out the brand, i'll be sure to share!

in the meantime, here's a short(ish) video of our little apple cheeks eating her pasta with tomatoes and olives. her technique is slowly improving. and, as you'll see, she's a rockstar at wiping her mouth!

apple cheeks' mama


it's iPad apps time

emma has been using an iPad for most of the past year. we have it mainly for the speech/language, cause and effect, drawing, and storytime apps that are ubiquitous these days and so good for targeted work on speech/language and fine motor skill development in all kids, but particularly those with special needs.

this week, the Washington Post highlighted the use of iPads and various apps for children with special needs, ranging from learning disabilities to Autism. in case you didn't see them, here are the links to both the article on the growing (and successful) use of iPads with special needs children and the list of the best iPad apps for children with special needs.

emma uses several of those listed in the articles, in addition to a few that just make speech/language development fun, like Talking Tom, Articulation Station, and Wheels on the Bus. There are other great apps, too, that she likes. we use Doodle Buddy to draw on the iPad, which is good for her fine motor skills.  we also started using I Love Fireworks, which is just a fun cause and effect app.

are you using any great apps with your children? if so, please share!

happy friday!

love, apple cheeks' mama


2012 on rewind, part 2

in yesterday's post, 2012 on rewind, i wrote a quick update on all things emma.

i thought, though, that it might be better to see some of her progress for yourself, than to just read about it. so, here is a (very, very long!) video for your viewing enjoyment. it's a moment we captured on video a few weeks ago. watch a little or a lot.


love, apple cheeks' mama


2012 on rewind

it took me almost four months to write our first 2012 apple cheeks blog post. so, since many have asked for an update on emma's progress - is she walking? talking? eating on her own? - i thought i'd do a quick 2012 on rewind.

2012 has brought new gains and challenges. emma is not yet walking on her own, but cruises like a champ and loves pushing her walkers. she is also an avid climber. she climbs the sofa. the stairs. the ladders at the playground. the obstacle courses at Gymboree. and, in the past few weeks, she's been standing on her own for longer and longer periods of time (read: 30 seconds or so). emma works hard in physical therapy, we go to Gymboree to climb and tumble, and we're now at the pool each week to strengthen her muscles.  we're hopeful that she'll be walking by her second birthday. fingers crossed!

emma is also quite the little singer. she likes to hum and ooo and awww and mmm and bbbb to music of all kinds, from Classical to Jazz. she plays her drums and tambourines and xylophones with vigor and loves watching her dada play the guitar for her. she even tries to strum along. she isn't yet talking much, though she tries to approximate words when prompted and has a good 15 or so words she uses with regularity. some days, she'll say a word (like lemon or duck or milk) repeatedly and then not say it again for weeks or months. but, she is working hard in speech therapy and she is a prodigious signer. she has a vocabulary of over 60 or so signs and uses them to request food items or to identify a bird outside the window. we're working on creating phrases (words and signs in combination). in the meantime, miss emma "asks" to sing her favorite songs (like Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) by signing the wheels going round and round, the doors opening and closing on the bus, the spider going up and the raining coming down, and the twinkle of the stars. it's been so much fun!

emma works with an occupational therapist to ensure she can feed herself with a spoon and fork (still working on finessing those skills) and using shape sorters and puzzles and just doing things that any kid wants and needs to do at this age.

and, we're working with a special educator to increase emma's cognitive capacity through various activities, like pretend play. she makes her fish "swim" in the bathtub, she plays with cars, trucks, and trains, and she adores her baby doll, now "feeding" her daily, rocking her, singing to her, and placing a blanket on her. it's really sweet.

emma's health has remained largely the same since last year. she's still sick with upper respiratory infections on an almost weekly basis, but such a resilient little girl.

our little apple cheeks cultivates in us tremendous strength and endurance. she is my daily hero...

love, apple cheeks' mama.


better late than never...

after a (too) long hiatus, apple cheeks is back and due for some changes and updates....stay tuned!

in the meantime, enjoy these photos of our now 22-month-old ball of energy!

love, apple cheeks' mama