Thursday, October 30, 2008

First snow

There has been snow in the mountains and frost here since September, but today was our first real snow. Only 8 more months before it melts!!! No, actually I love the winters here. They are much more enjoyable than Chicago winters. People are so surprised that it is colder in Chicago than here in the Arctic Circle. The winter temperature hovers around 25-30F and fortunately there is no "wind chill" to factor in. With lots of snow and "mild" temperatures, it is perfect for playing in the snow!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phoenix's day today

Today when i picked up Phoenix from daycare a boy came up to me and said, "Guess what Phoenix did?". For every parent I'm sure this is a tense moment, "Did he bite someone? Get in trouble? Spill something?". I held my breath. The boy told me that Phoenix took his hat. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing so I just said, "Phoenix loves hats!" (which he does!). Then the daycare provider chimed in and told me that Phoenix was playing with a few kids, "chasing them" (he doesn't run, but does a fast walk) and pulling their hats off. She said that the kids and Phoenix had a ball playing and laughing together. Ah...a sigh of relief! That was a good story that made me smile! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

sleepy, sleepy- maybe its the darkness

i took this picture when i picked up the boys at pre-school today. it was 4pm! i had to wear my reflector vest it was so dark! the light is actually one of many street lights that they have on the playground so that the kids don't have to play in complete darkness. hilarious! still, i really appreciate that no matter the weather, the kids are outside playing at least once a day. its nice not to hear kids complaining all the time about it being cold or rainy. as the norwegian saying goes, "no bad weather, only bad clothing". but, when you live in the arctic circle and have winter 8- 10 months a year, i guess you have to tell yourself stuff like that! 

Monday, October 27, 2008

rio's first trip to the ER

yup, the kid isn't even 1 yet and he's already been to the ER (phoenix was 2 1/2 before his first visit). we were about to eat a very norwegian dinner, pannekaker and beta soup, when first phoenix put his hand in the hot soup on the table and then rio. rio is getting so big, he's constantly walking so he gets around a lot faster than we're used to and he has very long fingers. so the hot soup fell right in his face. thank the lord that he wasn't burned badly. it was worst on his hand instead of his face. ben was a super hero reacting quickly and putting him under freezing cold water in the shower. our dear friend let us borrow her car so we could drive him the ER. in the end, they made us run lukewarm water over him and then sent us home. the burns weren't as bad as they initially looked. rio just needs some extra TLC. still, it was emotionally exhausting. i've been passed out on the couch ever since. now i'm off to bed...god natt!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Norwegians and their porridge

Phoenix stirring the oatmeal

Turning on the fan

Rio tugging on Mom's leg, "Jeg vil hjelp!"

Norwegians love their porridge, whether it is made of oats, rice, semolina, butter or sour cream, its all good!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

down syndrome t-shirt slogans

this is the first time i've come across these shirts. personally, i think they are hilarious. although i understand if you find them offensive. my favorite slogan was "DOES THIS SHIRT MAKE ME LOOK RETARDED?". its so raw, to the point, direct, in your face, that I think it could actually make people think about how they use the "r-word" and how it affects the people around them. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

my junk

i have some serious junk, not necessarily in my life, but inside me. i'm just so insecure these days (or for the past year). i just feel like CRAP all the time. so i stuff myself with food to make myself feel better. it is a horrible habit. so far it hasn't really affected my weight but it will soon if i don't get control.

i don't know where to begin, but i really think the move to norway took me over the edge. having a kid with DS really wasn't that hard for me to deal with. honestly. i had such a huge community of friends and family who poured out so much love over me, ben and phoenix, that i got through the "shock" and the first-time mom stuff pretty well. plus, all the doctors, nurses, medical staff and AMAZING THERAPISTS encouraged us so much...

...then we moved to norway and i had NOTHING. 

NO ONE. i haven't met anyone who really knows anything about DS or recent research. there is NO EARLY INTERVENTION here (at least not that i am aware of) so i have no experts to help me. ok, so that was hard...

...then rio came.

rio is the sweetest little thing. he requires so little of me. he just needs to nurse and then he's off exploring on his own. he's so content. but having two kids, moving to a new country, no friends, in the middle of "the darkness" really KICKED MY ASS! it did. the "terrible 2s" kicked my ass too. motherhood and all this other stuff led to so much SELF-DOUBT. arg, i just can't handle it anymore. i can't just "get over it". it keeps coming back. 

now i have insecurities at work. i enjoy my job as a special ed aide, but i'm working in a foreign language which makes things so hard. i don't feel like myself because i can't express myself. i LOVE people but now i'm just quiet and laugh when everyone else does. my co-workers must think i'm such a wierdo! and i so yearn "to be known" by them, but i just don't have the "language" for it.

its all so frustrating. it leads to self-doubt as a mom and a wife. i feel so lost...and now that i try to eat myself back to happiness i just feel fat and gross and unhealthy and like a bad example to my kids...then i feel even worse. it is a bad, bad cycle. 

that is my junk. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

too busy to post...I FAILED!!!

i failed to write anything for the last 7 days. sorry. i'll do better next year. but like i said, i was tired BEFORE marissa arrived and after "partying" every night i just had no energy to post. i promise i'll do better next year!

highlights of the past week...
-being lazy and chatting it up with a dear friend
-girls night out
-karaoke with friends of friends from seattle (so random!)
-road trip without the kids!

(i'm trying to post pictures but it is taking way too long!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

he's come so far

i was just thinking about how far phoenix has come...

joy, peace, proud, thankful

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

still sleepy, happy birthday to me, when will he start talking?

local down's group

my birthday present-
MARISSA arrives from san francisco

marissa came bearing gifts- 3 kilos of finnish chocolate,
an ipod charger, cointraeu for margaritas, and lots more!


ok , it is midnight and rio is crying so we made our guest from san francisco go in to him!!! she rocks!

so life...i heard rio cry last night at 4:30 this morning and i just couldn't sleep after that. i started worrying about phoenix's biting. and how it relates to his delayed speech. he bites because he has no other way to communicate or initiate play. i think he really just wants to get their attention so they can play. he usually bites the kids he likes best and, naturally, they won't want to play with him if he keeps biting. so i'm worried. i got up and read, tried to find some answers, some way to make him HURRY UP AND START TALKING! but, ugh, patience, patience.

the rest of my day...woke up SUPER TIRED because i was up all night reading, busy day at the daycare...disco ball, ABBA, practicing cutting, a hike to the lavvo. then ran home, tried to nurse rio, he refused, i'm sad, took a cab to a downs meeting. fun to meet up with everyone, especially parents of 6 month old. came home, gave the boys their fish oil, threw them in their beds, tried to pick up AND THEN MY FRIEND ARRIVED FROM SAN FRANCISCO! all the way up here in the arctic circle! what a great birthday present!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I didn't write last night because I went to bed at the same as the kids...yup, I went to bed at 8pm, got up at 11:30pm to brush my teeth, and then went back to sleep until 6:30am. And you know what? I STILL woke up tired and I AM STILL TIRED! Honestly, I'm still recovering from the weekend! :)

The in-laws have been here so that meant BABY SITTERS! And we took full advantage. Last weekend we out for our anniversary. This weekend had wine and cheese at a friend's house on Friday (ok, LOTS of wine and some cheese) and on Saturday we went to our block party. Coming home at 3am and then waking up at 6am takes a toll on an old fart like me (my birthday is tomorrow...I'm just getting older!), although Ben took the kids so I was able to sleep later.

Still, its Tuesday and I still haven't recovered. This weekend I'll be out too. Marissa is coming to visit from the US (YEAH!) and of course we'll have to celebrate my birthday too!

Oh well. I can sleep in November. The darkness will be here then anyways so not much else to do.

Good night!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Phoenix turns 3!

And mama makes a cheezy little film of the past year. 
(not sure how to improve the quality though????)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What happens when Mom isn't home

For some reason my husband decided it was ok for Rio to sit in his high chair and eat lunch without a diaper. Of course, he peed! While Ben was cleaning up Rio's pee, Phoenix decided it would be fun to pour his milk all over himself. His diaper was soaked so Ben took it off and started cleaning up the spilt milk without putting a new diaper on Phoenix. While he was cleaning the floor he started to smell something terrible and looked up to see Rio smearing his poop all over the floor and himself! He ran to the bathroom to get Rio in the shower while Bestemor tried to keep Phoenix out of the poop. Instead, Phoenix decided to pee on the rug. 

Moral of the story- put the diaper on the baby!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I love these guys!

Rio obviously lost this round!

Friends again...

Our beautiful Phoenix

No amount of money in the world is worth the job. I miss Phoenix and Rio so much when I'm at work. My heart really ached for them today. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lost in translation

Tomorrow at daycare they will be celebrating Phoenix's 3rd birthday (which is actually on Sunday). I was excited to use his birthday as a way of spreading Down Syndrome awareness. I decided to recruit my graphic designer husband to design a card to hand out along with some candy. I planned on writing the text. 

Ben designed a beautiful card...the problem is that when translating from English to Norwegian my whole point got totally lost and I was very disappointed in the final product (a friend at work helped him translate it) and then he thought I was rude and ungrateful and threw all the cards in the garbage so I pushed him as I lunged for the cards and then it was full crisis. All in front of the kids AND the in-laws! UGH!!! Tears too.  

But I am very passionate about the point that I wanted to get across. 

I was inspired by this Archie's Room post and decided on a theme of "the same but different". That 3 years after his birth, after being depressed about diagnosis and praying for a "normal" child we were finally at a point of ACCEPTANCE (ok, not every single moment of every single day but close). So after writing a little about his birth, I wanted to write At that time we still wanted a child like everyone elses, but it is his differences that make him Phoenix. Today we celebrate Phoenix and his differences. What I got was It is his differences that make him special. He is Phoenix in all his uniqueness. 

CAN YOU HEAR THE DIFFERENCE? First, I really hate the word "special" in the this case. It focuses too much on the special ed, special needs theme and I don't want to talk about Phoenix in that way right now. Secondly, ALL KIDS ARE SPECIAL so I think it is rude to call my kid special and hand out a card to a bunch of parents telling them that my kid is special. 

I'm over it though. Their getting the card and candy anyway and now there is peace again in our house...I think.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Daycare in Norway

The Norwegian word for daycare is "barnehage" and translates literally to kindergarden. However, nearly every kid in Norway begins barnehage when they are only 1 year old and they continue until the first year of elementary school at age 6. So in American terms it is a mix of daycare, pre-school and public education. 

Daycare= babysitter... The only stay-at-home-moms that I have met are immigrants. Here in Norway they have a very high standard of equality and most women have a desire to work outside the home. 

Pre-school= pedagogical platform...Each classroom has a pre-school teacher and they base lesson plans on educational standards. 

Public education= special ed services...If you're not in barnehage it is very hard to have access to any services. (However, "Early Intervention" barely exists here so you're not really missing anything! I'll save that for another post!)

ADVANTAGES...Phoenix's physical therapist (who's job is to simply evaluate him every 6-12 months) signed him up for a swim class on Tuesday afternoons.  The barnehage part of this is that his aide takes him there! It is part of her job! The government pays for a taxi to take them to the class and the class is free! He loves swimming and it is a great work out so we're very pleased about this. YEAH for daycare in Norway!

When I'm crabby one day I'll write about the DISADVANTAGES...may be a looooong post!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Today at Open Gym

Wow, this 31 for 21 Challenge is already getting to me...I should be in bed now! I'm lucky if I post once a week! But in honor of Phoenix and all his friends and Down Syndrome awareness here we go!

Our big event today was Open Gym for 3 and 4 year olds. Today was the first day and I still get a little nervous about having the only kid with DS and wondering how he'll tackle the activity. Of course, HE ROCKED IT! He loved running back and forth with the kids, he is awesome at walking backwards (thanks to the Wiggles) and crawled faster than the other kids! He liked trying to jump on the trampoline and was great at crawling through the tunnels. 

Its so different having a special needs child. I often feel this huge responsibility to "show him off", show what he can do, make sure that he's well-dressed and has all the things as the other kids. Its probably the same with a typical kid too though? I guess a part of me wants him to be EXACTLY like the other kids although he never will be. Its hard for me often to just let him do what he wants, to let him roll around on the mats instead of walking in an orderly fashion across the mat like he is "supposed to". If I don't let him enjoy Open Gym by doing his own thing then he won't want to go and 1) he won't get the exercise 2) he won't get to socialize 3) he won't be seen in the struggles...still, despite "me", I think Phoenix had fun!!! 

I will say one thing good about myself. I used to get embarrassed in situations where Phoenix was taking too long and kids were waiting. I would often let the kids cut in front of Phoenix or I would hurry him through the activity myself so that the others wouldn't have to wait. SHAME ON ME!!! That was so disrespectful to Phoenix and to the other kids, who missed an opportunity to practice patience. I love to praise those kids who do wait patiently for Phoenix. It's a practice in patience for me as well. I'm his advocate after all and I'm glad that I'm becoming better! Most importantly, I enjoy seeing Phoenix having fun and having time to learn new skills. 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

31 for 21

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. I'm taking the 2nd Annual 31 for 21 Challenge and blogging everyday this month (I just heard about this, thus the late start) in honor of my son Phoenix. 

Phoenix is now 3 years old and thriving. He started walking at 21 months and he understands two languages and uses sign language. He is an active little boy who has not stopped us from living, but rather enriches our life in a way we never could have asked for. 

Here is his birth story...
Phoenix was mom’s birthday present, born 3 days before her 29th birthday. I had a wonderful pregnancy. I looked and felt great!!! And was very proud of having a 100% natural birth. We had opted not to do any prenatal screenings.

A few hours after Phoenix’s birth, our midwife and nurse tenderly told us they suspected our son had Down Syndrome. I was on a high from the accomplishment of the delivery so I was not extremely distraught over the conversation, unlike my husband who cried and prayed all night that what we had been told was not true.

The next day the doctors told us they were 95% sure that Phoenix had Down Syndrome. He was then admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and that same week a genetic test confirmed that our son had Trisomy 21. He spent 5 weeks in the hospital and used supplemental oxygen for 9 months. Still, he was able to nurse.

We could have never made it through this period without the love and support of our friends. Phoenix had over 40 visitors while he was in the NICU. Thus, we chose Amado for his middle name, which means "loved" in Spanish.

12 year wedding anniversary

Outside the courthouse in Vardø, Norway, where we got married. 

We celebrated 12 glorious (so cliche!) years of marriage yesterday. Pretty amazing considering we only knew each other 3 weeks before we got married! We celebrated with cake and margaritas and then went bar-hopping in Tromsø.