Thursday, December 25, 2008

Daddy's Little Movie Girl

When Cathleen and I first started dating we seemed to go to movies for the majority of our dates. As we have continued to spend our time together our dating routine shifted to the point that movies were rarely in the intenerary. This theme probably coincided with the lack of quality flicks to pick from. Despite this trend, I have always deep down loved movies and been in search of a new movie buddy. The long search has now ended. Cathleen, Lilly and I went to see High School Musical 3 twice in the movie theatre a few weeks ago with wonderful results. Lilly couldn't get enough of the big screen with all the action, drama, and of course music. Based on this success, I quickly looked for the next opportunity to explore Lilly's new love for movies. Madagascar 2 opened in New Zealand last weekend. Lilly gave mixed reviews to Madagascar 1 and it seemed to be a bit of a risk as there was little dancing and music in the original. However, Cathleen wasn't feeling well last Sunday and it seemed that getting Lilly and I out of the house for a while would give her a chance to rest. There could not have been a better excuse for Lilly and I to go to the movies.

In preparation for the movies, we of course had to bring the appropriate movie snacks. Like any good dad, I decided that these should be water, fries, and M&Ms. Lilly and I stopped by the local Fish&Chips shop and picked up fries. The movie theare took care of the rest. With a constant supply of nibbles, Lilly sat next to me from the previews until the credits and seemed to enjoy every minute of it. After the movie, we went to the park for a celebritory ride on the swings. I think that I am now set to have a movie pal for any of the blockbuster G-rated Disney or animated movies to come.


Sometimes I worry so much I can't even breathe.

I worry about everything. Why is the ceiling leaking when it rains? How am I going to have the time to clean the house? The economy - is my job safe? Will we have enough money to make it through? What job will Jon take when he finishes residency in 18 months - what city will we end up in? Is the fridge working right? Will our house fall off the cliff? Will it rain too much this week? Will it be too sunny so that we get burned? Should we eat in or out tomorrow, and if we eat in, what should I cook, and if we eat out, where? And what do I order? Should I be concerned about why the ants are headed in a straight line on the deck right towards the house? What if I get in a car accident? When am I going to clean my car out? Does Jon really love me even when we fight? And what is that crazy sound on the window - a bird or a burgler? Am I going to get enough sleep tonite?

Yet tonite, even with these worries playing on repeat in my head, I have a bigger worry that trumps it all. Why does Lilly's tummy hurt so much?

She's had really bad symptoms of a stomach bug for 3 days now, and I just wish I could take it all away from her. I know I always worry about everything relating to Lilly; she is my baby girl and I never want her to hurt. I worry that she's getting too dehydrated, and she won't drink pedialyte, and what if she needs IV fluids? And I worry about it being something bigger, what if this is a sign of something more serious? Because while everyone always says "don't worry about it, it will be fine," what if it isn't? It's not always fine, not for everyone. We learned that the hard way when we lost a dear friend 6 months ago, an adorable child who passed on way too early. This little boy was amazing, and although "God always has a plan," sometimes it's just not a fair plan and it just makes me worry that something might happen to my little angel.

So I worry. I worry that Lilly's tummy might not feel better soon. I worry that she didn't have a good enough Christmas because of her tummy pain, even though she loved having her cousins Lyndsey and Julianne and her Aunt Colleen here to play and dance with. I worry as she's tossing and turning tonite while her tummy hurts. I worry that she won't eat enough saltines and water tomorrow. I'll worry that she'll want to drink milk and it will upset her tummy more. I'll worry while she's not herself, until she's back to feeling 100%. And then I'll find something new to worry about.

The answer to worry is prayers, and faith that God will take care of us. Easy to say, but hard to do sometimes, when it feels so much easier to worry. So send some prayers Lilly's way, that she feels better soon! And an extra little prayer for her mama's constant worrying.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reading and Fixing

Obviously Lilly is a smart little cookie. But sometimes she surprises even me.

She watches Baby Signing Time videos occasionally to learn signs, which are taught with catchy little songs. When she flips through her dvd book, she points to the Elmo ones and signs or says "Elmo" and then points to the Baby Signing Time dvds and signs or says "Baby" and/or "Time." There is no picture on the Signing Time dvd, just the words, but I figured she's seen it enough so she knows what her favorite dvd's look like.

Well yesterday she accidentally ran into the bike that she's getting for Christmas (not the kind with pedals, but the kind where they scoot around with their feet), which I had forgotten to hide, and she was so excited, signing and saying bike. Then she looked at the tag, which said "Baby Factory" (the NZ store that's like a tiny version of Babies R US) and signed "Baby." Seriously? She can sight read the word "Baby"?

I was kind of shocked, but she kept pointing to the tag and signing it, so I guess maybe she can read, at least that one word. Crazy huh?! Guess we're doing something, right, but wish I knew what it was so we could keep doing it!

In other news, we had a major catastrophe yesterday. Lilly's favorite thing in the whole world, her portable dvd player, died. It's not just a dvd player to her - it's her security blanket, the thing that makes her happier than anything else in her life, including her parents. It doesn't even have to be on, she just wants it near her (although obviously she prefers it on). We got it for the move over, since it has a 12 hour battery (and the flight is 12 hours, so it was for the "just in case she's so crazy that we need to entertain her the entire time" scenario). And while she has a Baby (Cabbage Patch) that she loves, and toys she prefers, this dvd player wins the contest hands down as being her favorite thing ever - she even waves "bye bye" to it when we turn it off.

Anyways, when I picked her up from school yesterday, we had to run some errands on the way home, so I brought it along for a nice surprise in the car. When we got back in the car from picking up milk, she sat in her seat, expectantly waiting for it to turn on. But all we got was an "Error Ho3" across the screen. I kept turning it off and on, with no success. Luckily she was eating a Gingerbread man and was slightly distracted, but was really annoyed when I put it away and got in the front seat. I mean, while she doesn't usually have it in the car, if it IS in fact in the car it should be on and entertaining her, correct? (In her mind, at least.) But I turned on the High School Musical 3 soundtrack and she survived the ride home.

I was seriously worried though. What would we do without this thing in her life? I mean, she *named* him. She calls him LaLa. We can't survive a long drive or plane ride without him. Plus, he's irreplaceable, at least, for now. You see, US dvd players have a region code of 1, and they will only play US dvd's with that code. The dvd players in NZ have a region code of 4, and will only play NZ/Australia dvds. So, if we got a new dvd player in NZ, it wouldn't play all her dvd's that we brought from the US. Plus, it would be twice as expensive, because everything costs more here. So I had to figure out a way to fix it.

Once Jon got home, I took apart the entire dvd player, and with the help of a few websites dedicated to fixing these things, figured out that the motor was stuck and I just had jiggle a few things before it was actually working again. Of course, I had to take it apart and put it back together (including unscrewing and rescrewing the 13 screws) about 5 times in order to finally get it to work. But wow, I can't believe I could actually fix something electronic!

So, it was a good day for Lilly and her mommy. Lilly can read (1 word) and her mommy is applying for jobs at the Sesame Street Fix-It Shop. How hard can it be to fix a toaster, anyhow?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yes, I Said Sheep World

We've been here for 6 months and by now I know the question everyone has been wondering: where are all the sheep videos? Well here you go, courtesy of our trip to Sheep World in October when my dad and nephew Tristan came to visit. Lilly & Tristan were adorable feeding the sheep... but then they had me feed something a whole lot bigger (still not sure what it is). Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 22, 2005

It was almost 3 years ago. It is the kind of day that I still can remember every detail, from the clothes I was wearing (a black banana republic shirt with my Citizens jeans), to the words that were said (there is a problem, your baby may have Down syndrome), to having to pull ourselves together for the flight to Atlanta that afternoon to announce the other big news to our family and friends (that we were expecting).

If you've never been in this position, you can't even imagine the emotions. Aside from being told that we should get an amnio (we didn't) and think about our options (which were inconceivable to us), we got no further information. At 3 months pregnancy, we knew there was a 1 in ten chance, that days later reduced to 1 in less than 5 (and was originally 1 in 1200 before the test), but we knew nothing else. Jon remembered his short lecture in med school of possible higher risks for kids with DS: possibilities of heart defects, alzheimers, etc. I remembered watching the show "Life Goes On" as a child and thought that kids with DS were isolated in special education classes and never leave home as adults. Our only additional knowledge was that pregnant women are very routinely tested to see if their child has DS, and the majority (92%, we later found out) end up aborting if the results are positive.

This fact alone, made it a traumatizing day. We were the chosen couple, that surprised the doctors because of our young age (we later found out that 80% of kids with DS are born to women under the age of 35, although the risk of having a child with DS over 35 is higher), and no one knew what to make of the situation. We knew no one wanted the results we got, and were completely shocked ourselves. And yet, it somehow made sense. We had prayed since we got married that God would let us know when it would be the right time to start a family ("Dear God, please let us have the right child at the right time"), and knew we would be great parents to any child that was given to us. But it was still a complete shock, for the sole reason that we were told something was "wrong" with our child and everyone was so sad, including us.

It is the most traumatizing day of my life, but for a different reason. I get so sad, thinking of myself on that day, crying and wondering and confused and unsure. I get so sad, because on that day, we didn't even know what we were sad for. I wish I had known what our future would hold for us. We have the best little girl in the world, who is not only beautiful, but smart and funny and probably one of the most influential toddlers on the planet, except for Suri and Shiloh. She continues to amaze me with her abilities and humor and passion for life. I've learned so much from her, and because of her, and with her. She is like seeing rainbows in every situation.

So I get sad thinking about that day. That newly pregnant parents, with no information, feel devastated without even knowing what they're facing. Before they know it's a girl or a boy or a princess or a jock, before they look into their precious baby's beautiful eyes and see their mischievous smile, they know something they interpret as being "bad." And the doctors and professionals... well I know they do their best but I doubt most have had much interaction with a child with Down syndrome.

If I could rewrite history, I wouldn't have that doctor give us the news in such a depressing manner. I wouldn't be referred to a high risk ob and a geneticist. I wouldn't have that couple worry about their baby growing inside them, feeling helpless and confused.

Instead, I would take them on a tour of a two-year-old preschool class, with 10 beautiful kids and 2 teachers singing songs and dancing. They would do funny little movements that went along with the words of the music, touching their toes, stand up, sit down, shake, having the best time. Then the kids would listen to storytime, and the teachers would tell the kids to go into the bathroom and wash their hands for lunch. The kids would all do so independently, then run back into the classroom and sit at the table. Two little girls, both with long brown hair, inseparable, laughing, would look for the placemats with their pictures on them, and happily sit next to each other. One of these little best friends would have an extra chromosome, but no one in this class notices or cares. All ten toddlers would sing and do the signs for their "grace" song, before digging in to a well-balanced meal. Afterwards, the children would rest for naptime, with the most adorable kid in the class snuggling up to her Raggedy Andy doll as she falls asleep. I would tell the parents, one of these children will be yours, and the parents would not even think to be sad; all the children look so beautiful and happy and secure and well-loved.

December 22, 2005. It was a sad day, but it got better. We had faith in God that His plan for us would be amazing, no matter what. Six months later, I gave birth to our daughter, and she was so beautiful we couldn't even believe it. And her presence in our home each day since has been a wonderful adventure. But I can't help thinking, the sadness of that day didn't have to happen.

Our life is not a sad one, not one to be feared. It is so full that sometimes I think my heart will burst with love for my daughter. I laugh so much at her antics, I can't even remember how quiet life was without her. I get the most wonderful hugs and kisses from her, and of course she remembers to pat me on the back when she "cuddles" me. I wish, 3 years ago, that we had known what we know now: and if we had, instead of crying, we would have been overjoyed. She was made for us, and us for her, and for that I am forever grateful.

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
Psalm 139:16

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Let's Go to the Movies

Y'know the scene in Annie, where she goes to the movies for the first time and it is such a huge wonderful experience for her? Lilly loves watching that, and loves the song from that part, "Let's Go to the Movies." And loves watching her favorite dvds, Annie and High School Musical 1 & 2. So, it only made sense to us that when High School Musical 3 came out in NZ this weekend, that we would take her as her first movie.

We pictured Lilly having the same experience as Annie. Getting ready and all excited for the big show, getting in the car singing the whole way, walking into the theater and being so excited, looking around in wonder and anticipation for the big show. Sitting in her seat between her two favorite people, in awe of the experience, and having it be one of the best moments of her life.

Then reality hit us, and we realized she's 2. And everyone we talked to warned us that she'd want to talk too much and too loudly in movies, and she'd get restless sitting there for too long. She would be bored and last just a few minutes. While she loves High School Musical 1 & 2, she wouldn't know the music yet to HSM 3 so it wouldn't hold her attention. We wouldn't be able to fast forward through the "boring" talking scenes like we do at home. The screen would be too big and the sound would be too loud. A tall person would sit in front of her and she wouldn't be able to see.

So many times with Lilly, Jon & I want to do something with her, and then we think: are we really doing it for her, or for us? Because in a perfect world, she would go and have the best time in her little life, but is she really too young to appreciate the experience? Are we just being selfish for wanting to take her, when she probably won't enjoy it at all?

Through Lilly's nap, Jon and I debated and argued, trying to figure out what to do. It was a beautiful day outside, and we live right on the beach; should we walk down and do something we know she'd appreciate instead? Or maybe go next weekend to the 9 am show, where she'd be less likely to bother other people if she was a complete nut in the theater?

But Lilly woke up in a good mood, and we decided to get in the car and try it, as long as we knew that if she hated it, we'd leave immediately. We packed her High School Musical backpack (thanks to my parents!) with crackers, mini m&m's, and water. We dressed her in a teeny-bopper outfit, a pink polo shirt and green/pink plaid bermuda shorts. We turned on the HSM soundtrack as we drove over, and she danced and sang the whole way over. So far, so good.

We got to the local mall where the movie was playing, and she could anticipate something good was up. We got her out of the car, and she was excited. We kept pointing to the HSM characters on her backpack, but we honestly had no idea whether or not she understood. We got in the ticket line, and Lilly was excited, waving to everyone and smiling very big. We were going to try to go in after the previews were over, so she wouldn't have to sit so long. But, we had arrived too early. We killed about 5 minutes outside the theater, where she danced around, but then she started walking into the threater, so we gave up and decided to go ahead and find our seats. (By the way: in NZ, they assign seats to you when you buy the tickets, so you can't just sit "wherever," although you can have input to where the seats are when you purchase.) We had asked for aisle seats, because I was certain she wouldn't last more than 10 minutes. The theater is relatively new, and the seats were huge, with an armrest that comes up to combine two seats into one big one. Which was nice, for the 3 of us, because we ended up just taking up 2 seats and having Lilly sit in between us.

She was excited when she sat down - but of course, she's always happy to sit with mommy & daddy. The previews were just starting, and we knew that it would be 15 minutes before the movie would even start, and then the movie itself was 112 minutes. My panic attack was just about to begin, thinking about Lilly sitting still for 2 hours, when the first preview started and my daughter's mouth dropped to the floor - she was so impressed by the huge screen and the cartoon characters running around, and the loud music - she started dancing and clapping. At one point, something fell on one of the characters, and she did a big "Oh!" and put her hand on her cheek in surprise. She watched all 15 minutes of previews with a huge smile on her face, and I started to relax.

Then the movie began. The music started, and Zac Efron's huge face showed up on the screen. My daughter was thrilled. She started dancing hard, and smiling, and singing, and eating crackers (of course), and snapping her adorable little fingers. For the next 112 minutes, when she wasn't laughing and dancing, she was watching in awe and amazement, with her hands on our legs, or sitting on my lap, or her head on our shoulders. It was the absolute coolest moment of her life. Jon and I sat there, watching her expressions for a good part of the movie. We were so proud I think our hearts almost burst; and I was teary for most of it. It couldn't have gone better.

Life doesn't always go the way you plan it with a toddler, but when it does, it is amazing. As we walked out of the theater (and back in and out 3 more times, as she had to keep going back in to do "one more dance" before leaving for good), we felt so very blessed by our amazing charismatic little angel. The magic we felt in the theater, attributed to Lilly's enthusiasm, was incredible. I don't think a person has ever enjoyed HSM3 as much as Miss Lillian Grace Sherman.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A New Sheriff In Town

One of Lilly's latest personalities thinks she's a cop. She is in charge of right and wrong in this family, and what's wrong is that mommy leaves drawers and cabinet doors open in the kitchen. Lilly makes the rounds every 10 minutes or so, checking to see what's open and goes around to each one to shut them. It would be funny, actually, if I didn't feel like she was judging my ability to clean up! Yesterday, I opened the fridge to get her milk, and she came up from behind and tried to slam it closed, on my head!

Lilly also likes coming up to us and shouting "NOOOO" at whatever we're doing, and also shouts "NOOOO" when she peeks through slightly open doors, or between the bars of her crib. At school, a little boy was moving the carpet square, and she kept patting it down (on his arm) to get it back into place. She also checks all the light switches, to make sure they're all "off" (or sometimes "on"), and opens the dryer to make sure there's no laundry waiting. If the TV should be off, she turns it off (signing all done, by the way), and if it should be on, she turns it on. If it's on the wrong channel or setting, she adjusts it (correctly, I might add).

Lots of violations going on in this house; hopefully Lilly will let us off with just tickets.