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!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ah! Da!

...am I a bad mother, or just not taking enough notice?

I have noticed for some time that Malakai wants to communicate verbally and he 'talks' all the time... just not in a language that I understand... He's using signs more often and is learning them at a rate of knots too... But speech? Well, I thought we were still months away from our first word.

Not according to our speech therapist (who we see every two weeks). In this morning's session, the ST was convinced Malakai is actually saying his first words (or approximations at words). And, when she pointed them out to me, I could actually hear them (sort of...)!

What I find amazing is the way that Malakai communicates around his ST. Where most kids don't perform in therapy or evaluation settings, Malakai was the opposite this morning. It was as if I was seeing him through the ST's eyes and his communication that much stronger and more direct.

He was telling us 'more' when he wanted something and 'finished' when he no longer wanted to play a certain game. He was signing 'more' and saying 'o', he was saying 'a' (like 'uh') for 'hello' and waving.

Come to think of it, this morning he said 'ah da' and waved at Darryl - as if to say 'hello dada' (which I always say when Darryl gets home from work in the afternoons).

How could I be so blind? He's been communicating all along and I just didn't see it. In between bath time, dinner time, bottle time, play time and everything else I try to fit into our evenings, I am not noticing that my son is actually making a go at verbal speech!

I'm feeling quite sheepish right now...

So - here I am to say Well Done Malakai! I am very proud of my little monkey boy - he's so amazing and so funny! I love him to bits!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The boys...

I'm really starting to get a feel for that phrase - 'the boys...', now that I'm a mom to not only one, but two little boys!

Before my journey into motherhood started, I never gave much thought to whether I wanted boys, girls or both... It never really mattered to me. I truly just wanted healthy children, in whatever form they decided to arrive!

I must admit though, when I found out that our second (and final) baby was also a boy, I did feel a little emotional. I realised that I wouldn't have a little girl, I wouldn't have all the pink stuff - because let's face it, girls clothes are so much cuter than boys! But also, I wasn't going to teach a little girl about life as a woman, help plan her wedding day or give her advice when her first child arrives. None of that... nope.

So, somewhere deep inside, I was a little disappointed that I would not become a mom to a little girl, but I was at the same time exceptionally excited that Malakai would have a brother, someone he could become great friends with.

Once again though, I must admit, I also gave little Harlan a job before he even popped out of my stomach, never mind reached adolescence - Protect Malakai, fight for him, watch over him, love him - always.

Isn't it just bizarre how our minds work? Here I've given Harlan a job before he's even able to speak or walk - willing him to be Malakai's protector and champion, never allowing a bad thing to happen to him.

I think Harlan is up for the job though - the lungs he has on him! Harlan cries with such a force when he's unhappy... I had to laugh when my mother-in-law was convinced he was in excruciating pain, no - I said with experience - no, he's just very very vocal, and quite dramatic with his crying... And he is... believe me!

So, they are my boys, both so different, both so amazing. I dream that one day they will be inseparable. I dream that as much as I want Harlan to protect and guide Malakai, that it is not a one-way-street, and that Malakai will be giving back to his brother in his way - creating a perfectly reciprocal brotherly love.

I know that I'll probably never have a little girl - but my boys are enough thank you. They are just what I needed and they are just perfect for each other.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Love Story

My thoughts are a bit jumbled today, and I'm finding it difficult to write this post... so please bear with me because I really want to send a message about Love. However, all the words I choose seem to shrink the concept to simply life-size, when it is actually larger than life, larger than our words, larger than us.

A mother's love is something that is bigger than the sum of it's parts. That is to say, it kind of becomes it's own thing, and like a wild fire, it cannot be tamed or tied down. Sometimes it is even difficult to try and look at the love because it's burns so fiercely. That is how I try to describe it, but like I said, words just can't seem to do it justice.

What I'm trying to explain is my thoughts about Malakai's diagnosis, and how I naively thought that I was 'loosing' something, a dream or an idea... But my goodness if I had only known! If I had only known about this thing that my love would become. If only I had known that it would grow bigger and more powerful than anything I could ever hope to control.

I held Malakai last night, as he fell asleep in my arms, so content to be close to me after patiently 'waiting his turn' while I put Harlan to bed. As he lay there, his eyes were perfect half-moons framed by prolific lashes, his hand rested on my chest, I just couldn't believe this love, this wild fire that I cannot tame - that I don't want to tame.

How could I have thought that I was 'loosing' anything? I want to scream from some primal place how naive I was, how wrong, how silly... Couldn't I see? Didn't I understand? What does an extra chromosome matter when your son is lying in your arms, completely content, completely safe and secure in your love? What does it matter?

It doesn't matter. Not one little bit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I feel like a school girl who's just been given permission to skip class... why?

Because yesterday I resigned from my day job...

For three years I've been a 'round peg' trying to fit myself into a 'square hole' - uncomfortable most of the time, and downright painful some of the time. But, in order to remain financially stable, I've done what I needed to do for my family.

Now, hoping that I could one day be at home to see my boys grow up, I've been setting up a photography business for the past three years (that is finally starting to give me some rewards as families return year after year and send their friends and family my way as well). And I've been freelance writing for a parenting and lifestyle magazine for the past year (and I am now receiving an income from that).

At the end of last year, I was between 30 - 38 weeks pregnant, working during the day, writing articles at night, taking photos on weekends, while still raising Malakai and trying to be somewhat of an 'average' wife, I was completely exhausted! But it was for a good reason!

So that yesterday... I could resign... yip!

Now, my income isn't going to be the same, but we've decided that quality of life is more important.

Seeing my boys grow up is more important. Being able to take them to swimming lessons is more important. Being able to hold them when they're sick is more important. Being 'there' so that they know me as their mom is more important. Eating ice-creams before dinner-time on hot summer days is more important. Finding bugs in the garden and getting full of mud is more important. Singing songs and dancing in the lounge is more important. Unpacking the Tupperware drawer and repacking it is more important. Bathing my babies myself is more important. Having time to actually cook dinner for my family is more important. Having a job that I actually like is more important.

I have no delusions about just how lucky I am, considering that many parents cannot choose to work from home. I feel blessed, absolutely and completely blessed.

I also feel like I've been given a 'get out of jail free' card - not quite believing that I don't have stick my round-self into a square-hole anymore... I almost can't believe it...

I feel now as though I can hope again, I can paint pictures in my mind again of how I wish it could be and try to make it real.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Every now and again I read something and the words speak to me - they literally pull me out of myself and demand that I awaken from my subconscious-mind and take them in.

These kinds of words are like water, replenishing my internal reserves, fighting against any famine that I may find myself in.

These kinds of words are meaningless on their own, but when strung together, they leap out and embrace me urging me to remember why I'm here and what I'm trying to do.

Words have always had that effect on me, and these are no different:

"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. The most you can do is live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides." - Barbara Kingsolver

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm a Rock Star

Today was my first day back at work after four and a half wonderful months at home on maternity leave.

I was meant to go back last week, but because both boys were so sick, I extended my leave by one week - so glad I did that!

After a hair-raising morning, we managed to get Malakai ready for school and keep Harlan happy the whole time! The morning run really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

And Work? Well, things are pretty much the way I left them last year. Only I seem to have changed. Did I love it? Well, I wouldn't say that...

Let's just say, on days like these I need to force myself to remember why I am blessed.

In a country that has a very high unemployment rate, I still have a job.

In a world where a recession has forced families out of their homes - their safe places, where they raise their families - we still have a beautiful home that meets all our needs.

In a time when divorce rates are high and parents are doing this on their own, I have a loving and devoted husband who walks by my side, really pulling his weight and supporting and loving his wife and children.

In a world where children get sick and fight every day for their lives, both my children are well again.

So - when it gets tough at work tomorrow (which I'm sure it will), I will just remind myself (in the wise words of a fellow blogger that I admire), I am a Rock Star... and I'll imagine myself wearing killer heals (not that I even own a pair...) that make me invincible. And you know what? It'll be ok.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What I love...

...about being a mother (in no particular order):

Kisses. Smiles. Love. Grubby hands. Hugs. Tentative words. Humour. Quiet time. Play time. Trust. Adoration. Sleep time. Lessons. Giggles. Tickles. Sharing. Teaching. Toys. Exploration. Perspective. Priorities. Cuddles. Bubbles. Walks. Caresses. Magic.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action


We're famous. Yes, you heard me. Famous... ;)

Well... at least with all those people who have nothing to do on a Saturday morning but watch TV!

Darryl and I were asked to go onto a parenting show (as part of the magazine that I write for) to talk about life as parents of a child with special needs.

I was excited to advocate for Down syndrome, and after some convincing, Darryl agreed that we could do the show - and 'do it' we did!

I don't remember exactly what we said, but I know it came from the heart and was positive. I do remember them asking if we'd have more children to which we answered "already done and 12 weeks old!" and then they asked if we were scared that our second child would have Down syndrome... Our answer was instant - "we weren't scared because if it happenend again, we'd be completely cool with it." We explained how Malakai was amazing and wonderful and light of our lives.

Maybe one person out there watching has a decision to make, and maybe we've opened the door ever so slightly - the door to acceptance and giving a little one a chance at life. At the very least, I hope we've shed a more positive light on Down syndrome - never a waste of time!!

Oh yes - and if I don't look quite like myself... you know... it's because the make-up lady lost the plot with the eyeshadow and the lipstick (two things I never wear...), but they assured me I'd look 'normal' on screen. *hold thumbs*

Oh yes, so be on the lookout for Mamas 'n Papas (the show) on SABC 3 at 11:30am on Saturday morning (8 April).

Bye Bye Baby

Jan 1996 - April 2010

Bye my girl - you really had a good run and 14 years of dedication to our family is worth mentioning and being thankful for.

I remember when I first adopted you - I couldn't decide on a name, so I called you my 'baby'. This name just stuck and that is how you will remain in my heart - my first baby.

This weekend I will go buy you a tree my girl, and your collar will have it's place on the branch. There is a spot right outside the front door, that I pass every day, that is perfect for your tree. And I have a tree in mind - it's fast growing and strong (like you were), it has light bright green leaves (like your spirit) and the most prolific little purple flowers (for my girl). It is simply a beautiful tree.

I will miss you and I am sorry that you are gone.

One day, my girl, we will meet again and I look forward to seeing the spring in your step and many wet kisses.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Too much to say!

I don't know what to title this post, because... well, there's just too much to say.

I've been very quiet in bloggy world because my real world went into overdrive for a while there - and today, finally, I have found a space to breathe.

So - where to start?

The Sickies
Here we are, barely a foot into winter's corridor and my little ones are terribly sick. Malakai got a cough last week that rapidly turned into bronchial pneumonia. He was as sick as I've ever seen him - not eating, drinking or even moving for a good few days, temps up real high and a chest that sounded like it hurt to breathe. Thankfully, after a coarse of antibiotics, a concoction of other meds and nebulizing every 3 hours for the last five days, he's on the mend.
Only thing is - now Harlan is also sick, coughing like a veteran smoker and blocked up real bad. We're doing everything we can to stop him from getting worse (never mind better) at this point.

The Holiday
Every year we have an annual family holiday with my sister's family and our mother, booked and paid for months in advance. It fell slap bang in the middle of our fight to beat the sickies - and we naively thought we could actually go away (with two sick boys) and kind of, sort of enjoy it... What?? "It's be like home, but with a better view," we tried to convince ourselves beforehand. No. It sucked. Really bad. Seriously.
We left a day early and I don't have even one photograph of 'holiday'.

Saying Goodbye
While on holiday, having a really horrible time, my sister-in-law called to say that she found my eldest dog (one of three little mongrels), in the bushes after a night out. She wasn't walking. OK, so Baby (her name) is 14 years old, so I thought it might be a stroke. When the vet examined her, it was evident that one (or both) of the other dogs had fought with her and given her a really nasty bite on her side.
Baby, a little fat fluffy dog, had been with me since I was 16 years old. Ever a feisty little thing, she was always up for a rough-and-tumble game.
It was through Baby that I had my first epiphany - that love didn't have to said, it had to be done... love was about touch, about a stroke on the head, about a wagging tail and bright eyes peering back at you. You didn't talk about love - you did love.
We were home two days later and we weren't sure if Baby was going to make it. She showed signs of alertness, but wasn't drinking or eating. I hoped for the best (especially since she was too weak to operate on) but I expected the worst. In amongst this, Darryl and I were battling to care for our two sick babies, never mind having time to care for Baby. Luckily my mother had returned to our house with us after the mishappen holiday.
On our first night home I was already in bed, alseep, when my mother sat with Baby, holding and stroking her head while she took her final breath. My mother didn't wake me, and she gently wrapped Baby and put her outside. The next morning I noticed that she wasn't in her soft bed that we had made for her to recover in and my mother broke the news to me.
I cried because I will miss this little fluffy fat dog. I cried because Baby's been part of my life for 14 years. I cried because in the end she slowly died over 3 days, and this hurts my heart.
But, I am grateful for my mother, because after a week of two very sick children and a holiday nightmare, I was completely exhausted and I don't think I would've handled Baby dying in my arms. It would have killed me. But for my mother - I am so grateful.

My mother...
...the woman who picked up all the flack over the past week and a half. My mother helped administer medicine when Malakai cried his little eyes out. My mother sat up with Malakai when both myself and my husband were too tired to carry on. My mother cooked meals and fed us when we hardly had time to shower. My mother cared for and acknowledged my Baby dog when she most needed it, something I am not sure I would have been able to do.
Thank God for Moms!

And! Now! After a hellish week and a half, I am going back to work next week. I've been on maternity leave for 4,5 months - I don't even know if I remember how to do my hair and dress up respectably! LOL!

Such is life.

Sometimes everything comes crashing down and life spins on the very edges of our control, threatening to engulf you in utter chaos. This happens more often than it used to, with two little ones in the house. At least, in the midst of it all, I am conscious of the fact that it too will pass and calm (or rather a two-small-baby-version of calm) is not too far away, if I just hold tight, focus on what needs to be done, and do it.

So, I guess I'm trying to say - I hope my boys get better soon, I love my mother for her utter strength and support and my heart hurts because my Baby dog is no longer with us.