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!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Upliftment. Gratitude. Thankfulness. Grace. Glorious Contentment. Whatever you call it - there is no harm in indulging in some every day.

So, today I am grateful for my two boys. I am completely astounded (I feel like I get hit by a bus) when I look at Malakai and realise he's mine... *smile* He is just so absolutely gorgeous, so clever, so gentle and funny. Little Harlan is starting to grow on me too - his little smile, given when I least expect it, really lights up my day. I'm getting to understand his little personality, so different from Malakai's (of course!) and I'm grateful that today that I was able to understand him well enough to avoid a meltdown of proportions that only Harlan is able to achieve :)

I am grateful for a wonderful husband, who loves me and who thinks of me. Yes, I really love that he thinks of me, considers my feelings, considers my needs, and then tries to meet them. He makes me feel very special and I am so lucky to have him as my husband.

I am so grateful for my husband's love of his children - his bond with Malakai is just beyond words - he absolutely adores his firstborn. He also gives Harlan the kisses and hugs that I sometimes forget in the day-to-day survival of a small baby with colic. I am grateful for that perfection - what I am unable to do, my husband so naturally picks up and runs with. A beautiful dance we have - together.

I am grateful for so many things - nik naks for breakfast, Malakai's first picture, Harlan's gurgly noises, Darryl's love, my beautiful patio to which I often escape, my blogs that inspire me every day, a mother and sister who I can turn to at anytime for words of encouragement and a giggle every now and again, wonderful friends who brighten my days and lighten my load... too many things to mention!

Here's Malakai and Natalia - looking so great in matching red outfits - sharing biscuits!

Yum Yum!

More please?

My beautiful boy!

A little smile curling Harlan's lips...

Now that's a smile that reached his eyes!

All this 'happiness' is tiring!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes, when I feel like crying...

... I just remember what my mom always says -: take the most peaceful route.

No matter what our plans - and I'm not saying we mustn't plan - but sometimes no matter how hard we dream and we try and we plan, things just don't work out as we want them to. I know this, I'm an adult... but it still hurts a little.

So, last night, while talking to my mom about my failed attempts and way-laid plans, she told me to imagine a river flowing...

"The water flows around the rocks and pebbles. No fight. No trying to move the rock. Just flowing, peacefully, around the rocks and pebbles," says mom.

So - I'm going to try to be the river, flowing peacefully around those *friggen* rocks and pebbles. I'm going to try to remember and really believe that I don't always know best, and that everything is perfect as it is. I am going to try to let go of my ideas of what's best and accept what is infront of me and celebrate in spite of myself.

If this is all a bit Top Secret and makes no sense, it's because these days you just don't know who'll be popping in to read your blog... so I can't share the details.

I'll just go and print the bolded-italic words up there and stick them to every surface in my house to remind myself incase I forget and want to cry...

Friday, March 19, 2010

World Down Syndrome Day 21.03.10

So here we are - our second World Down Syndrome Day, and yet it feels like Down syndrome has been a part of our lives for much longer (like an old friend).

We know it by heart, I sometimes feel.

And then again, it just isn't the big heavy cloud floating over our lives that we thought it would be. It keeps itself very politely in the background, never overbearing, never overwhelming. Every now and again we pay it some attention - like when Malakai has therapy or we consciously make a decision to 'work on his fine motor skills', for example.

Every now again I actually catch myself remembering that Malakai has Down syndrome - how odd? We just don't allow it permeate every aspect of our lives. Our little boy is our little boy, like any other amazing, beautiful, precious child.

So, what I'm trying to say is this:

As a person who may have a prenatal diagnosis or to parents who have had a child recently with Down syndrome, it is all a matter of choice. You can choose to focus and run your life around the diagnosis, or you can choose to let your little one just be. Be gorgeous. Be loved. Be amazing. Be perfect.

At first it may be scary, but that feeling passes very quickly (quicker than you'd ever believe I tell you!). When you're over it you'll realise that your baby, just like any other, is super soft and smells so beautiful, that your baby loves cuddles and adores your attention. You'll find that your baby will develop a little personality and they'll bring such joy into your life.

And then! Let me tell you! When your baby starts to sit, crawl, walk, and eventually attends his first day at creche - well, nothing beats that feeling!

I believed once that it would take more... more effort, more love, more time to raise a child with Down syndrome. Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but my honest experience is that that is just not true. I have not spent more of anything (time, love, effort) on Malakai - no more than I would have should he have a typical number of chromosomes.

I believed once that it would be really hard... hard work, hard to cope, hard to accept. Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but my honest experience is that that is just not true. I never found anything to do with Malakai (and his extra chromosome) hard. It's just hard to not want to eat him up!

I believed once that I wanted to go to Italy... for the sports cars, the flashy clothes and the trendy shops. Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but my honest experience is that that is just not true. Holland has been the most welcoming place, filled with warmth, sincerity, and purpose. I just love the tulips, the windmills and the art.

So this is my rather haphazard post for World Down Syndrome Day - if anyone's been able to actually follow my train of thought...

I love my son so much it hurts. I look at him and I see it all - peace, determination, sincerity, joy, love, adoration, beauty and perfection.

plain. and. simple.

Lights... camera... action!

For a photographer-mother you'd think I'd have posted more pictures of my new little bundle of joy?

Well... it hasn't been that easy (or inspiring) up until now - I'll be honest...

For the first six weeks, Harlan's awake-time consisted of either eating or screaming (not very inspiring on the photo front). And then, when he finally fell into a deep sleep, mommy just wanted some time-out! We've had a bit of a challenge with little Harlan, who will still stay awake for 10-12 hours straight, with perhaps a 10 minute cat-nap here and there... But at least now he can be awake and not cry. We can have a bit of tummy-time, get a smile here and there... and... even do a mini photo shoot!

Enjoy Grannies!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Moving the world...

By now I think everyone in the Ds bloggy community has heard of this blog. With well over 2500 followers (yes people, I didn't add an extra zero...), there has to be reason. Kelle recently had a beautiful baby girl who happens to have Down syndrome, and the journey she has walked from birth, shock, grief, acceptance and celebration has been put out there for everyone to see... and love. Kelle hasn't held anything back, and her honesty and raw emotion is incredibly moving.

I personally aspire to have the kind of creativity & talent (for writing and pictures) that Kelle has. But if I didn't have those things... I'd definitely settle for a little of the magic dust she seems to sprinkle all over her life - in big fat doses!

Well, CNN seemed to think so too, and this past Tuesday she was featured on a program called Connect the World (previous 'connectors' being the likes of the black eyed peas, andrew lloyd webber, hugh hefner & eva longoria... and I can't remember the rest, but they're like... famous!)

Go here to view the interview and here to see Kelle's blog.

I'm proud that someone within our community, living life and loving someone with a special need, has made such an impact!

Monday, March 15, 2010

First Day at Creche :)

So, today was the day! Little Mr. Malakai had his first day at creche!

What a busy morning, trying to get Malakai ready while still keeping Harlan happy and getting ourselves dressed! Whew! Who knew it was this complicated? But I am sure that it will get more streamlined in time...

Malakai was a little shy when we dropped him off - Darryl and I sat for a few minutes in his class, watching him eat his breakfast along with the other little ones at their mini-tables. We kissed him and he waved goodbye - and then we left... It was a little difficult, wondering how he would cope.
I called the creche and they gave me an update - telling me he was sleeping soundly and that he only cried a little bit, but they think it was because he was tired and not because he was sad or anything - yay! My little brave man!
This afternoon we collected him (half an hour early...) and he was sleeping in the arms of one of the carers - they take extra special care of the little newbies (which puts my mommy-heart at ease). Malakai spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Joyce - I think she missed him more than me!
I just know this is the best place for him, and that he's going to learn so many new things!
I am proud of my little boy - I am proud that he takes Life in his small 19-month-old-long-legs-stride, almost as if he looks at the rest of us and it just comes naturally to him to be patient with our flaws. For all our fears and judgements and 'what ifs', Malakai just smiles and carries on, persistent in his thirst for experience. And along the way, as he meets new people, and they all just say - what a beautiful little boy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I couldn't resist...

... he is just too beautiful!

My little angel boy is becoming a big angel boy! Everyday I am amazed at how gentle and how loving he is with his brother (and everyone really...).

I keep looking at him and thinking to myself - how could I have cried? Little did I know that he would be the light of my life. Little did I know that I had no reason to cry, no reason to be sad.

Of course, I'm talking about the day Malakai was born and the utter devastation we felt at his diagnosis.

A little over 19 months ago, my life changed forever. I will never forget the short text message we sent all our family and friends when he was diagnosed. I was adament that there would be no rumers, no hurried whispers before we entered a room - no - we would announce his diagnosis to our world with confidence and positivity (even though I cried more that day than any other in my life).
Malakai, a true messenger from God, was born with Down syndrome. He is healthy, he is precious, he is the light of our lives. We thank you for your support and understanding as we start on this journey that Malakai has brought us.

How true - that Malakai has brought us closer to understanding the profound spiritual message that only a little boy, with a big smile and open arms, can bring us. How true - he really is the light of my life and through him my journey has become that much more rewarding, that much more amazing and that much more Hope-Filled (drenched in hope in fact...).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reality Check...

I've been on maternity leave since December 18th... so I've kind of lost track of days, weeks and even months...

I realised this week that we're in March! What???

I will be going back to work in May, so I have less than two months left at home.

We are very blessed to have a full-time nanny, a woman that I owe so much to... She's Malakai's second mother. I know that when she looks at Malakai she sees only his strengths, she believes the sun shines from his face and that he's fantastic in every way! She also lets him get away with murder, and he has her wrapped firmly around his little finger!

The reality though, is that she cannot care for Malakai and Harlan, and so I have known for some time that I have to find a creche for Malakai. I was so busy at the end of last year, and then everything was closed for December holidays and then... well... the days, weeks and months disappeared!

So, this week I made it my mission to find somewhere for Malakai to go to. I must admit I was a bit nervous. Do I tell them he has Down syndrome? Does it make a difference? What if they say no based on his extra chromosome? Can they say no?

I eventually found a place close to home that had space (obviously I don't plan far enough ahead, because the majority of places were full) to take Malakai. I realised quickly enough that they had space because they are particularly expensive... But I decided to go take a look anyway.

Joyce (Malakai's nanny) and I took a walk and paid 'Opti-Baby' a visit on Friday afternoon. I took Malakai on the tour with the lady at the creche and Joyce waited with Harlan in reception. Well, I must say I was impressed, but what really amazed me was that when I put Malakai down in the class he would attend he was OFF! He didn't look back at me once.

I've known for some time that Malakai is bored at home, that he craves interaction and that he's frustrated with seeing the same faces and same four walls every day. But this was unbelievable! It was as if he'd been set loose in a candy store! He was all over the place, climbing up the soft blocks, checking out the other kiddies, flirting with the carers...

I let Joyce go and fetch him - knowing that she'd want to see him 'in action' (her mind also needs to be put at ease - she is incredibly fond of him). She was beaming from ear to ear when she brought him back to reception and we started our walk home. She described it as if he'd been there all his life, that is how at ease he was.

So, the place is pretty much sold for me - I'll go without a few things in order to afford this place. Malakai clearly loves the place and the fit is just right. They have other children who also have 'special' needs. A little girl who is deaf and another little boy who has a condition where he has no muscles in the right side of his chest. They've also had a little boy before with Down syndrome, but his family has now relocated. So they have no issues at all.

To top it off, this place offers all meals (which are outsourced through a catering company who has set up a dietitian-approved menu), as well as two special classes a week (baby-nastics and Kindermusiek), they also do school-readiness classes, AND you can go onto the Internet and see what is happening at any time of the day through special cameras set up around the creche.

BUT - my heart just swells when I remember how happy Malakai was to be 'set loose'. It was as if he blossomed before my very eyes. My little monkey.

So, now I can go back to work knowing that Joyce will be dedicated to Harlan and Malakai will be having a ball at his new creche!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spread the word...

Today is the day...

Spear-headed by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International is a campaign to stop the use of the word 'retard' or 'retarded' in everyday speech. You would think twice about using the 'n-word' word (or in South Africa... the 'k-word'), so we want people to think twice about using the 'r-word'

I wanted to write something profound and long-winded, but simply put:

It hurts people. So please visit the following link and make your pledge:


Go on - show that you're a fan!

Change the conversation and drop a pebble in the pond...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Malakai's Durban Trip with Daddy

Monday, March 1, 2010


There have been two big "oops's" this past weekend...

Firstly, Darryl took Malakai on a holiday down to his mother's in Durban (by the sea...)! It was a bit of a last-minute decision and I was left feeling quite unsure about my little boy being away from home without his mommy for the first time... But, with a clenched jaw I waved them both goodbye on Friday afternoon as they left for the airport.

I'm told Malakai had a smashing good time - playing on the beach and doing his fast crawl (arms and legs straight out, bum in the air, squealing with delight) straight into waves breaking on shore. He let the water wash right over him and did a few nose-dives straight into the wet and slurpy sea sand. I am waiting patiently for Darryl and Malakai to arrive home now so that I can see all the pictures they took!

Speaking of waiting - they were meant to be home last night, but it didn't pan out that way and they didn't get on the flight... Oops...

I was devastated that I wasn't going to see them both safely home last night! But they were on stand bye this morning have just boarded a flight and are on their way home now - so I'll see them in a few hours time.

For my second Oops?

Well, despite all the things we tried to calm and soothe little Harlan (and we tried many many things), we didn't think to swaddle him. Yes I know I know... most basic rule of newborns... But he didn't appear to like being swaddled and Malakai was the same (we stopped swaddling Malakai when he was just two weeks old and it was fine by him).

But my sister, in all her awesome brainy-ness, told me "swaddle the child Loren, he's clearly feeling insecure...".

Duh. Aha. Click. and all the other descriptions for when the penny drops...

I have a new baby now. Swaddling him and playing womb-music and he puts himself to sleep, deeply and peacefully and for hours on end... He still gets terrible winds that shoot out of him sounding like missiles being launched, but once we're through that and he's comfortable (yes, comfortable for the first time in two weeks!), it's like he's a new little baby.

Having found the obvious error in my mommy-ways, I feel like a bit of dork. Like I've left my new baby to fend for himself in the world, with no support and no security, for the past two weeks... I feel terrible about this! It was so OBVIOUS! Staring me in the face and practically slapping me silly, but I didn't see it. Oops...

So, what have I learned? That every child is different. That just because I'm already a mom doesn't mean I have nothing left to learn. That it takes time to get to know your baby and that what worked last time will not necessarily work this time.

One Weekend and Two big "Oops's"