We are the Stow Family and this is our story. Our lives are blessed by Love, Joy and Hope. Follow our sometimes interesting stories on loving our two boys, exploring parenthood, and celebrating a little extra - two parents, two boys and an extra chromosome!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

this 'n that...

Malakai with Darryl on one of our hot summer days (hence the nappy-only-attire). They played on Darryl's bike (his second wife, really...) and then I got some pics of them just playing around on the patio.



Malakai with Darryl at the Irene Dairy on Sunday afternoon.

Malakai and Darryl at the Botanical Gardens - we found a pond and Malakai had a blast! He was soaked by the end of it, but it was worth every single drop!


Just some pictures I took one afternoon when Darryl got home from work - Malakai is always so happy to see him... so touching!


This year is now coming to a screeching halt... the days are really flying by and with Christmas approaching at a rate of knots, I'm starting to realise that my life is really about to change - forever...

Our little one (still nameless - we just can't make a decision!) is weighing in at over 2kgs and I'm really starting to feel pregnant - the little aches and pains, and the sometimes very sore back and legs! He's moving around alot and I'm starting to feel his soul around me, ready to come into this world and add to our little family unit.

I know that Malakai is going to make an awesome big brother and that Darryl will make an excellent dad - as he is with Malakai.

Malakai is doing really well - very close to taking those first steps... He's standing by himself now and can hold the position for up to 20 seconds, but he still needs one of us to hold his hand before he'll take a step. It is amazing how quickly he's progressed from sitting to crawling to cruizing to standing!

Malakai also got four pairs of top teeth at once! What a week that was! Now he has all his top teeth and I think he's working on his bottom teeth because he's quite grumpy, drooling buckets, and chewing on everything - shame, I just hope it goes quickly for him!

Malakai's communication is also improving - although he was using signs a while ago and babbling, it all stopped for a while. Now he's back to using signs for eat, sleep and something else I can't figure out. He's also waving hello! I know he understands quite a bit because he'll sit when I ask him to and give me a kiss when I ask as well (too cute)! He's also babbling again, using the 'ba', 'ma' and 'da' sounds (interspersed with farting noises, squeals and moans).

Darryl and I are loving spending time with Malakai these days, because he's really started to interact, socialise and even joke around (he'll pull faces and then expect you to do the same in return)!

On the home front, we've decided to keep the nursery as it is and give Malakai a new Big Boy room. I've eventually bought all the soft furnishings for the room, and the theme is kind of big-boy-beach, but without any obvious waves or fish... We'll be working on his room the week before Christmas, so I'll post pics as soon as we're done!

Also, we're designing Malakai a sensory garden - it is my mother's gift to him for Christmas. We'll have a little paved area for a table and chairs, under shade. A small jungle gym. A vegetable and herb patch. A sand pit. Stepping stones. Lush green lawn. Lots of pots of different sizes. And of course, plenty of flowers, shrubs, edible plants, flowering trees etc. He just loves being outdoors and this is the perfect place for our South African Summer! We're also planning on getting this done the week before Christmas...

Then, for Christmas Day, we're going to have a picnic with my mom, dad, Darryl's grandmother, my sister, her husband and their little girl. It should be fun! In South Africa, we have Christmas in the middle of summer (even though our cards and wrapping paper are of snowy white places...)!

Anyway! I forgive you all if you didn't get this far in reading the post (it has been rather long...). But I do hope that all my bloggy friends, who've become like family to me over the past year, have a very special Festive Season - Safe, Joyous, Peaceful and most importantly Love-filled!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good Gracious!

What a week!

It all started with a little 24-hour bug that took me 48 hours to recover from (thanks to Mr Malakai keeping me up all night!). Murphy's Law says that if you take 2 weeks off from work for bedrest, the day you get back to the office you'll end up with your face down the shared loo, vomiting up your left lung... It wasn't pretty...

I was at work for a total of 60 minutes and before my husband came to collect me and take me home, stopping enroute for more 'close encounters' with the side of the road. I spent the rest of the day sleeping, thankful that I could rest and recover while Malakai's nanny took care of him. That night, however, Malakai kept me up for hours, so any recovery was quickly wiped out.

The next day was the worst I've ever felt in my entire pregnancy so far! I was completely finished - feeling very very sorry for my little self! But luckily Mr. Man allowed me a full night's sleep that night and so Wednesday, when I felt human again, was the best day of my pregnancy so far! LOL!

Unfortunately, whatever I had been plagued with had passed onto Malakai, who started his own vomiting on Thursday, Friday & Saturday. And a heat wave just made it impossible to keep him hydrated enough, resulting in an overnight hospital stay on the Monday, with Mr. Man hooked up to a drip. The poor little guy was so lethargic, he just slept and slept.

Malakai was admitted to hospital by Daddy, as I was still trying to catch up with work from being off for 2 weeks (and 1 day...). As I raced to get to the hospital (the moment I could get away from work) the car's engine blew up. Yes... smoke from the dashboard - everything... Luckily a friend of my husband's came to rescue me from the side of the freeway, and two very nice tow-truck drivers waited with me until he got there. Being on the side of a freeway is probably the least safe place in South Africa - I would have been a prime target if I didn't have those two gentlement with me.

So? How are we all doing? I am feeling much better & Mr. Malakai is back to his old self again (except for the fact that he won't eat anything but viennas and yoghurt...). As for the car - it's still very broken...

What a week! Whew! I'm glad it's behind us!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

And Vogue!

My little man has been going through some real changes the past few weeks - the biggest being more teeth arriving - we are now up to 7 in total (and waiting for that 8th to arrive soon). With the teeth comes more sleepless nights and grumpiness - shame, I really hope that teething becomes easier for him!

Other than that, Malakai is doing really well cruising along the furniture and has started - all by himself and with NO intervention - to try and stand by himself. He can try for hours, letting go of the furniture or trying to stand directly from the floor - each and every time he tries, he looks so proud of himself!

Also, Malakai has started to feed himself by hand. Now - I know that he's been physically able to do this for some time, but he much preferred throwing everything on the floor and I just wasn't into all that cleaning. But I've taken baby-steps - first giving him the food directly in his hand, which he then puts in the mouth (and claps proudly afterwards!), and now I can put some food infront of him and he'll put it in his mouth (instead of throwing it to the floor). So we're making some progress there!

Another really exciting development is that I'm able to push Malakai's dinner a bit later so that we can eat together as a family. Often, we'll all eat the same food, or I'll make a small change to make the dinner suitable for Malakai. It's great, because it makes his mealtime less tedious, and Darryl and I can actually sit, talk, eat and enjoy the time together - whereas before it was about stealing a bite to eat while Malakai was trying to hang off my head! LOL!

It's also becoming more of a challenge to keep Malakai entertained - he really seems to get bored and frustrated easier. I think he's craving experience more than toys - so we try to plan something for both Saturdays and Sundays that are different - somewhere outdoors, and somewhere that's different, interesting with new smells, sights and experiences.

Yesterday I took Malakai to the Irene Dairy (a real 100+ year-old farm down the road from our house), where I do all my Private Photo Shoots. I decided it was time for a little photo shoot of our own! It wasn't easy I tell you - to entertain Malakai, get him to 'perform' infront of the camera, and take the shots - whew! But I got some great shots of my little model! Hope you all enjoy them!








Friday, October 30, 2009

Scrub-a-dub-dub





I've been meaning to take some pictures of Malakai during bath-time for so long now! I am so glad I did, because he really enjoys this part of his daily routine - it so much fun!
So - just a few pictures (sure to make all the grannies happy!).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pregnancy Update

So, I'm around 26 weeks now and starting to pack on the weight! Little man is weighing in at 1kg and is doing well. Other than being booked off for bed-rest for the next two weeks, due to stress, I'm doing just fine.

Physically, I've got a real belly now, and there's no "is she or isn't she??" looks anymore. I'm finding it quite hard to cope with Malakai's new habit of squirming on my lap - he just 'tucks and rolls' without any notice and I'm left trying to stop him from diving head-first onto the floor! Not easy when my arms feel like jelly and my stomach muscles are nowhere to be seen! LOL! Picking him up, changing nappies (he likes to kick me straight in the stomach), bathing and dressing are all activities that are becoming more difficult to master - so I've resorted to singing... the alphabet song... over and over again... It really holds his attention I tell you!

Psychologically, I am not really feeling very emotionally connected to this pregnancy - I'll be honest. I don't know why exactly, and I'm a bit scared to try and find out... I know that the incessant questions of 'have you done your tests?', 'is the baby normal?' etc etc are probably more hurtful than they would be if I wasn't over-flowing with pregnancy hormones. But it does bug me a bit, because those questions imply that I wouldn't like to repeat my experience of having a 'baby like' Malakai again.

So - would I? Would I repeat my experience again, knowing full and well what's in store for me? I know that nothing will stop me from loving this little boy. I know that no 'condition' or 'diagnosis' could make me choose to end his life. I know that perfection comes in many forms. I know that my Malakai is the greatest gift I've ever received, and so why wouldn't I want to repeat the experience?

I also know that I have never been a mother to a 'typical' child. I know that I don't which milestone comes when and how, anymore than I know what it's like to not have to go to therapy twice or three times a week. I know that I'm a mother to a child with special needs, so how will I fare with a 'typical' child?

I guess I'm scared that I will see Malakai in a different light. I guess I'm scared that I actually have to pay attention to what 'typical' development looks like - which I've gladly dodged these past 15 months with Malakai. I guess I'm even scared that the attention I give Malakai will be halved, or that I'm going to leave this new little guy to just 'do his thing' because I know he can and will.

And so?

Well - Humpf! That's all I can say. I know it sounds horrible, but what can I do? I am very aware of the fact that reality is always kinder than the story we tell about it. These thoughts exist and so they will be acknowledged. But they will not be placed on a pedestal and followed like gospel.

The only thing I can do (and the only thing I have been doing since Malakai's birth) is to take it one day at a time. As long as I don't look too far ahead, as long as I do my best today, it will all be ok - Love is like that!

And so, I give this little baby everything he needs, through the miracle of a mother's body. I am glad he is on the way, I look forward to meeting him and having him part of our little family. But I am not thinking of exactly how this is going to go down... because I just can't know at this point.

What I do know for sure is that reality is much kinder than the scary stories we tell about it. And I'll just stick with that - today's reality. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

National Down Syndrome Day - South Africa













Today is National Down Syndrome Day in South Africa.

To celebrate, our local association put on a fun day - complete with water slides, horse rides, face painting and good food. It was really great to get out and about and just have a fun day in the sun!

This is our first time joining in the celebration for National Down Syndrome Day - last year we were just-new parents, not sure we could cope with taking our little newborn (Malakai was only about 5 or 6 weeks old at the time) baby very far from the comforts and safety of home. This year, Malakai was crawling all over the place, eating the sand and leaves, and enjoying the other children - I could not have imagined this would be the case last year at the same time!

Malakai continues to thrive, determined to get his own way (wow - the focus is quite something)! He is now cruising along the furniture, with a fall here and there (ouch!) which makes me cringe, but I know it's part of the learning process! Malakai has also developed a half-crab crawl which his physical therapist is devastated about! LOL! Other than looking a bit strange - I am amazed at the speed at which (screaming with joy) Malakai is able to hobble/crawl down the passage to find me in the bedroom. His little squeals of delight and hands pattering on the tiles giving him away before he bounds into the room I'm in.

Because I'm not sure if I've shared all of Malakai's updates, I'll just list them below - no... ok... yes... I am completely biased and think my child is a super-star, but hey!

Malakai is an almost-15-month-old boy who loves to kiss pictures of blonde girl babies. Throwing things (anything really), is his favourite hobby, followed closely by getting each and every single musical toy to make their 'songs' at the same time - creating a cacophony of 'beautiful' noise. He loves reading, and turns all the pages by himself. He will clap, wave, dance (or all three in a close succession if he's not too sure) when asked nicely, and he fully understands (but does not care for) the words 'no', 'sit', 'come'. When he feels the urge, he'll sign 'eat' or 'sleep'. He babbles, squeals, roars, makes car sounds, and does a very convincing farting-sound - and I never knew there were so many ways to say 'ba ba ba' - there's the angry, tired, confused, determined and happy versions! He will give everything he comes across a lick - why not? Malakai also loves to stand, bounce and fly through the air, and will spend countless minutes (hours in baby-time) crusing along the furniture.

I hope I haven't left anything out?

I can honestly say that I had no idea where my little boy would be a year down the road from the last National Down Syndrome Day - I can't be more proud of my little man!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Long Overdue

Malakai and his cousin Natalia - chilling in the jacuzzi last weekend


Malakai and Dada - smiley boys!



A long overdue post... I know I know!

Firstly, Malakai is doing really well – as if I’d have a different perspective?! I think my son is the most clever, gorgeous, charming, funny little person ever – but I’m a bit biased...

Malakai is getting more confident in his physical abilities with every passing day – what was a crawl is now a blur (he moves fast!), he follows me now as I move around the house. He’s also getting very good at pulling himself up on the furniture and loves to get himself into all the places he’s not allowed to go.
Changing a nappy or getting dressed is a battle of wills – Malakai’s one aim seems to be to escape me, mid-nappy! It’s really quite funny to watch I suppose, as I have to stop him from flipping over onto his tummy and crawling away – I sing, I chant the alphabet, I make funny faces, I have toys on hand to occupy him... but with no great success!
A “no” from me is greeted by a wicked smiled and a giggle – and then he does it anyway! Whew! I didn’t know that discipline started so young, and that I’d have to repeat myself over and over and over again! LOL!
Malakai is also babbling nicely, but the sign language seems to have taken a back seat – but it’s to be expected with such an explosion in physical ability. So I’m not worried at all!
Malakai now has a total of 4 teeth, (two at the bottom middle and his top two eye teeth) – and they do a very good job of munching through a whole array of new foods (tennis biscuits are his favourite)!

I am now about 21 weeks pregnant with another little boy! Have I said that already? Not sure, because I know I’ve been repeating myself, and sometimes I even KNOW that I’m about to repeat myself but I’m too brain-tired to stop myself... so I just do it anyway!
This second pregnancy is very different from Malakai’s, the obvious reasons being that I’m already a mom and don’t have time to dote on my belly like I did with Malakai! I’ve also gained alot less weight this time, in fact I’m a whole 9kgs lighter than I was with Malakai at this time! OK yes, I was a bit of a hippo last time around...

I’m also very tired – my husband says that it’s all I ever say!
How are you? Tired.
What do you want to do? Sleep.
How was your day? Tiring.
Good morning... I’m tired!

But I am working three jobs (four if you count growing a baby as a job... five if you count being a mom as a job... six if you count being a wife as another job, although I’m not very good at that at the moment – poor husband!). But we have much to be grateful for, especially the additional income which is going a long way towards securing a financially free maternity leave for January 2010!

Otherwise, summer is finally here – I am sitting on my patio after dark writing this post. The air is fresh, I can hear the crickets and bullfrogs in the distance, mosquitoes are attacking my feet (itchy!) and I am waiting patiently for our first thunderstorm (my favourite) – not tonight though!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Clapping Hands

video

Friday, September 4, 2009

Spring Flowers

On my patio - my favourit summer hangout - sits my favourite table, an old farmhouse piece bought from a tiny shop in Parys. On that table sits a set of four white-and-green coated tin pots, all in neat little row. I bought those pots before Malakai was born, with the intention of having a Living Table Centerpiece... I never got around to it.



When I got home from the hospital after Malakai was born, my mother had taken the time to stop by a plant shop and bought beautiful flowers for the pots on my favourite table. It was such a kind gesture, one that made my home feel well... homely.



The flowers have started blooming again, sitting pretty on my favourite table, calling me out to enjoy our milder evenings, wafting fragrant with the smell of jasmin and other spring flowers. It is just so beautiful.



What I didn't expect was that just by looking at the flowers I am transported back to last year. Returning home from the hospital with a baby boy that I was both in love with and completely afraid of. Like a piece of music or a smell, I'm literally transported back to a time when I was different, a time when my world had just changed in ways that I had yet to completely comprehend. I remember the thoughts, the worries, deep dark abyss of the unknown. But I am also reminded of another very vivid thought of that time - my son is a miracle. Clear as day. I knew that Malakai was a miracle, a gift, a great teacher come to show me some very important lessons if I could open myself to see them.



When I look at my beautiful Living Table Centerpiece now, I'm sure of one thing. Malakai is my beautiful boy, I have nothing to be afraid of, he's a miracle unfolding before my eyes every day.



I am blessed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Clap Hands for those Teeth!

Well, Malakai has not been the best sleeper for a while now - and after 8 months of a full night's rest, every single night, I must say I don't know what to do with myself! Getting up once, twice or sometimes 4 or 5 times a night is a real killer (of already pregnant brain cells)!

At first I thought it was teeth, but no. It was a cold, flu, runny noses, coughs, some more runny noses and the list went on and on, week after tiresome week!

So after three trips to the GP, antibiotics, nebulizers and the works I was still dumbstruck as to why Malakai wasn't eating or sleeping... Back to my original idea? Maybe? Teeth?

And yes - his top eye teeth are coming through! At last, another reason for sleepless nights! We now know why he hasn't been sleeping this last week - and that does help! It really does! It makes all the tiredness seem ok, because at least we know why!

So, yesterday, after many months of trying to teach Mr. Malakai how to clap hands he just did it! Yay! It's the cutest clap as well (believe it or not) because he keeps his right hand still and claps with his left, like those posh people you see at operas or fashion shows - except cuter than them of course!

I just say, "Malakai, clap your hands for mommy" and he does it! Which is also great news because it means he understands me and can follow instruction. Not that I think he'll follow all instructions because 'no' is still a bit of joke to him - resulting in a smile and the determination to do whatever I'm saying no to!

Anyway - I close with some pictures taken while we were on holiday recently - ful of Mr. Cuteness!








Friday, August 21, 2009

Updates!

So, it's been a while since I've had the time to sit down and write a post - so much has happened... is happening...

Winter is almost behind us - Oh how I long for summer days! I am dreaming about being outside, lounging on the patio after the sun sets, relaxing with friends around a braai, and the end to (hopefully) the coughs and runny noses!

Malakai has never really been a sick baby, until now that is. Since his birthday and his first fever, he has hit about 10 serious fevers, developed a cough (shame, poor monkey) and yet another runny nose! I didn't know just how horrible winter can be for the little ones! I have visited the doctor more often in the past two weeks than I used to in 6 months!

Despite coughing like a smoker, Malakai is crawling all over the place and has started to scout out every available surface to pull himself up on. He's getting better at it every day, and this is one milestone that I haven't had to 'work hard' to motivate him to do - he wants to stand at every oportunity. Also, Malakai has started to babble and will go 'ba ba ba' in the cutest way! And then tonight, my dear husband was convinced that Malakai signed 'eat'. I watched and I think he may be right. Malakai clearly put his hand to his mouth while we were eating dinner (on the floor in his play-area... long story). Malakai did it over and over again until we gave him a little of what we were eating! Our imagination? Is he actively communicating? I'll keep everyone posted.

Other stuff that Malakai is doing:
He loves to read his picture books and insists on kissing all the pictures of babies (too cute).
He will come and find us if we hide and call him.
He will laugh when I play peek-a-boo.
He will have a 'conversation' with us, giggling when we repeat his sounds back to him.
He loves other babies and will make a bee-line for them and give them a kiss (off course)!

What Malakai isn't doing:
Pooing in the bath! Yay!

On the new-baby front! I am now about 16 weeks pregnant and it's a boy! I am very excited that Malakai will have a little 'partner in crime'! We will probably keep the nursery the same and just move Malakai into a big-boy room when the baby comes. Although, not like my first pregnancy, we are not 100% focussed on the new baby, because we just don't have the time! I am starting to look pregnant, which is great because then I don't have to continuously explain my very pregnant behaviour! I have done everything from going to the shops without my purse, leaving my cell phone on the roof of my car, forgetting to brush my teeth before leaving for work, thinking it was Valentines Day on the 14th of August (yes. I know.) and much much more! My brain is just not functioning on a level that is at all productive or even logical, and I am trying really to get it to, but no avail!

Life is good. That is feeling I have most of the time (when I'm not completely overemotional because of my hormones). I am so grateful for my life, for my son, for my pregnancy, for everything. We really have been blessed and I am acutely aware of how this is not the reality for many families out there.

Well - it's getting a bit late (past my bedtime for sure)! So off I go to bed and get my rest!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Red Hot Birthday Party





Where do I even begin?
I was so excited about Malakai's birthday party - I had planned, done invitations, made decorations, created party packs and generally drove my husband insane... And! I am NOT like this... I am not a party planner type person. Frankly I find it really daunting and quite stressful... But for my boy? Anything of course!

So bring on Friday night - I am finally 'almost' prepared for Saturday's party. All I need is my beauty sleep. Malakai had different ideas, as he spent the night awake, crying and feeling very hot. And (confession), I had misplaced his thermometer, which I blame completely on the porridge brain I have since becoming pregnant again. I looked and looked in the middle of night, and couldn't find it.

At last Malakai went to sleep and Darryl and I managed 3 or 4 hours before getting going on Saturday morning.
At last we were ready and guests started arriving, but my jovial, happy, easy-going son had morphed into a crying, screaming, red-in-the-face, get-out-of-my-face baby... After taking his temperature (with the thermometer that I had managed to find in daylight), I wasn't too concerned.
After a few more hours of constant crying, which is so contrary to Malakai's usual nature, I decided to use a friend's thermometer and it read 37.8 degrees Celsius. Not an emergency, but definitely the start of a fever.

To cut a really long (it felt like an epic in the day) story short - Malakai came down with a horrible fever that peaked, twice, at 38.9 and 39. This was our first experience of fever (in a whole year!), and all on his birthday! We managed to break the fever for long enough for him to enjoy his cake and open his presents - for the rest of the day either Darryl and or I were consoling him in his state of complete despair.

My poor monkey is better now - the fever is gone, but he is still a bit under the weather with a runny nose. I hope that he's all better soon!

As for everyone who shared Malakai's birthday with us - thank you! He was truly spoilt rotten and your generosity left us speechless! We are so happy that you could spend the day with us (even though we weren't around much of the time, and Malakai was literally in and out!).