Ilisa Ailts Photography
2226 County Road T
Deer Park, WI 54007

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October 3, 2013

Down syndrome Awareness Month!

I find it so amazing how 3 years ago this month was a bigger deal than it was 2 years ago, 1 year ago, and now this year.  It is not as though Calvin is very old, but I just don’t feel like this is a big deal anymore.  However, it is! Calvin is a big deal.  So are the other boys.  And, so is Joe.  We all are, and because of that, Down syndrome is.

What I mean is that this will always be a part of our 5 lives and the lives of our extended family and even our friends.  Most likely all of you reading this.  Our lives are not the same.  Thank God for that!

Calvin around here is very ‘normal’ for me.  I have accepted him.  My emotions have accepted him.  I don’t always accept other things related to Down syndrome, but that is not a reflection of Calvin.

We kicked off the week at the Step Up for Down Syndrome walk in Como Park/St. Paul, MN.  There were roughly 8,000 people according to an article I read this week.  That is huge!  Last year there were roughly 6,500.  A fifth increase is quite significant.  It is another sign to me that Down syndrome is becoming ‘normal’ to many other people as well.

My neighbor, Teresa, and I went ahead of time to help organize and distribute t-shirts.  If anything, it is fun to see how her and I can connect because of our little guys Will and Calvin (1.5 years apart).  Who would have known?!  You never know when we’ll need each other, and it is comforting knowing we can be available when needed.  I imagine as they get older we will have even more to discuss 🙂

For now I think it would be appropriate to talk about what has been up with Calvin:  Calvin picks up signs very easily.  If he is in the mood to use them or mimick them is another situation.  I made up a sign for waffle since he has his paleo waffle nearly every morning.  I put my fingers together sort of like getting ready to pray but fingers straight.  He did it right back to me.  He does pray at daycare and home (though I admit I don’t have it down as a habit enough) so I didn’t want to confuse him.  Speaking of praying, it is super cute seeing him fold his tiny hands.  I get excited to hear his ideas and interpretations of God one day.

Calvin has a good routine (though I am aware not to let him get stuck and to push flexibility).  He wakes up in the mornings around 6/7.  If Joe gets him he watches some PBS and farts (according to Joe! Ha Ha!).  Then we get him breakfast after he signs “eat”.  Sometimes if I’m still in bed he comes and finds me.  He is quite glued to me at times – I’d guess since I’m with him the most.

Calvin’s meals are mainly paleo in nature.  Some grains, but not often.  I do this in regards to inflammation and accelerated cell degeneration for people with Ds.  It is possibly one of the most immune friendly ‘diets’ for humans so why not?!  Sure, it is not easy, but things worth it never are.  Besides, he does still spit up on occasion so I avoid as much as I can that will upset his stomach.

He loves watching Nolan and Evan play on the iPad. Calvin really gets in to Minecraft!  It is funny.  He will bring the iPad to me for me to play that game but I don’t know how.  He has his own games on there but honestly he likes the older boys games.

Calvin still watches mostly Signing Times (we just watched one so I can learn too) and Curious George.  He also likes the old school Chip and Dale cartoons with Donald Duck and Pluto.

Calvin goes to daycare about twice a week.  He adjusts fine to most settings he is in.  That is nice!  He loves socializing.  He is not shy (enough) with people.  He waves ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ to people constantly!  He is very sweet.

But lately I have been joking that he has IDS, or Irritable Down syndrome, because he has been a crab.  However, his 3rd eye tooth just popped through!  That explains a lot and is also another example of how he is just like his brothers were when they were teething.

Calvin now says ‘hot’, ‘Sadie/doggie (daycare dog is Sadie and I’m not sure yet which he means as it is just the ‘ah-ee’ I hear)’, ‘horsie’, ‘all done’, ‘oh-oh’, ‘uh-uh’ (as in ‘no’), ‘that’, ‘truck’, ‘stop’, ‘go’, ‘hat’, and I think that is all.  Those words are not articulated the best but I know what he is saying and it is consistent.  He says ‘mmmmm’ for cow’s moo’ and ‘aaaaaa’ while pounding his chest for gorilla, oinks for a pig (sounds like ‘kkkkkkkk’), and ‘grrrr’ for various animals like bear’.  I feel fairly confident that in a years time we will have a large vocabulary from him.

Recently I have been able to lay Calvin awake in his crib at night and know he understands it is time for bed so he should lay there.  Probably a week and a half ago this started!

Cal uses a spoon and fork, just not consistently.  He is a very messy eater that does not like most fruits or raw veggies yet.  He will eat the veggies cooked though.   Cute story:  We have a book with strawberries and when there is food on the pages we pretend to eat it and feed each other or the characters in the story.  He will “eat” the strawberries but turns to the side, covers his mouth, and gag/coughs.  It is too funny!  At least he will “try” them!!

Calvin proves the common phenomenon that people with Down syndrome understand soooo much more than they can communicate.  Calvin’s receptive language is very strong.  When I ask him if he wants to go bye-bye he will go grab his shoes.  Or if I say we should go see Grandma and Grandpa he says bye and heads for the door.  In the same regard, I think he also knows how to pretend he doesn’t understand me.  Stinker!!

Calvin is a joy.  Sure, not all the time.  But who is?!  I am happy to share him with my readers here.  If you ever need to reach me feel free to do so!  Sometimes I have people with kids contact me about nursing Calvin still!  It is an awesome thing to be able to help or even just listen to others who need it.  Until next time….

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Ilisa Ailts Photography specializes in portrait and event photography in western Wisconsin.