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, August 31, 2010

In my mind's eye...

I would say that I am definitely someone who finds it more comfortable living in my head. And I often find I miss out on life (and living every moment) because I'm somewhere inside my head, either in the past or the future. This is something I'm working on changing, if for no other reason than the fact that children live in the moment and I'd so love to be in on the same wave-length as my children - how else will I come to enjoy them and relish in their lives?

Having said this - I've always been good at imagining my life, creating an image in my mind of how I wish it could be, what I would do given the chance... Now, this could be good and it could be bad.

What's great about dreaming and creating a picture in my head is that I have a bit of road-map... directions if you will... to the place where I want to go. These days my dreams are about simplifying, creating natural spaces, treading gently on the earth. I'm dreaming about my summer vegetable patch, about a new recycling bin, about writing more. I'm dreaming about playing in the garden with Malakai and watching Harlan learn to crawl over newly-moved green lawn. I'm dreaming about cooking meals (using my own vegetables and greens) to satisfy my family's hunger and watching movies after the boys have gone to bed, cuddled on the couch with my husband. 

But I've also learned that dreaming is not always practical - it often takes up the valuable time I could have spent living! And I've learned that sometimes our dreams cannot begin to encompass what is actually in store for us. If I remember back to my pregnancy with Malakai - I very clearly had no 'dreams'. For some or other reason, for once in my life, I didn't project ideas of how being a new mother would be. Even though I'd try to imagine what my son would be like - I kept drawing a blank.

Now I know that it was because Malakai would come into our lives revealing a secret that no one knew or expected. I now know that I would never - could never - have dreamed a more beautiful dream. Malakai, and his diagnosis of Down syndrome, is the greatest gift I never knew I wanted.

Two years later, I am still sometimes dumbfounded by the path my life has taken. I cannot believe that I have been blessed so fully and so abundantly. I could not have dreamed a better dream in my mind's eye...

So, my son has taught me to live in the moment - a lesson I try to apply to my life everyday. A lesson that I find most challenging because I am so comfortable in my head... I know that nothing I dream of can compare with what I have, right here, in front of me.

One amazing husband. Two perfect boys. And an extra chromosome.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Me and the boys

A good friend of mine, Lisa Reid, is building her photography portfolio. So off we went last Friday to have our own 'mini-shoot' - just me and my boys.

Malakai and Harlan were really great - it can be difficult for little ones to be placed, entertained to 'smiling point', and have a camera in their faces for an hour... I know from my years of doing this to other families! LOL!

For me it was like a gym workout - looking good amidst the chaos of two little ones is hard work! I kid you not! And as I am usually on the other side of the lens, I was a bit uncomfortable posing for the shots, but I am soooo grateful to have some great pictures with my boys!

So other than the 'workout' and an angry black swan who tried to attack us (really... it was wierd!), it was fantastic fun!

I think Lisa did an excellent job!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Splish Splash & A Stretchy Day

I am so loving spending time with Harlan these days! I'll be honest... those first six months were a difficult time. I may not be like other moms out there... I did not cope well with Harlan's colic at all...

In fact, I think I came to terms with Malakai's diagnosis of Down syndrome easier than I came to terms with the fact that Harlan screamed for almost every waking second for the first six months of his life.  At least I could cuddle and snuggle and kiss Malakai. I felt like a mommy from the word go. With Harlan however... I felt like a complete failure in the 'cuddle-department' and those times that he was inconsolable? Well... my 'mommy-spirit' would just break.

BUT - that's all the in the past now! He is a smily, engaging, content little thing these days - just eating up all the attention he gets. Amazing! I've even managed to take some 'splish splash' bath pics (not possible until now due to severe screaming through the entire bath experience).

And then - my little stinker (Malakai)! I have written before how Malakai has sensory-seeking behaviours and I've described them to his Sensory Integration Therapist, Nadine. Well, as other moms will know - our little ones rarely (if ever) play along with us. If we say they can walk... well then they 'loose' the ability for the entire therapy session. If we say they are talking... well then they only babble through therapy. And the therapist ends up looking at us like we're slightly delusional.

Well! I am so happy to say that Malakai had a Stretchy Day at his last SI therapy session! He sometimes has these days when he continually sits on his bum and stretches his legs out in front of him (sometimes he'll even pull faces and make uncomfortable sounds). He does this every two minutes - seriously.  I told Nadine this and I think she kind of brushed it off... Until our last session. She was amazed to see how much Malakai was stretching and even suggested I send him for an EEG to rule out seizures... WHAT???

Anyway - she did joint compressions on his knees and ankles - kind of like massage for your joints (instead of your muscles) and for the rest of the day he was fine. This is great news because now I know what to do with Malakai on the next Stretchy Day.

As for why Malakai needs the extra input in his legs? Well, I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that we're only going to physio therapy once a month now (instead of once a week) because Malakai is doing so well with his gross motor skills. But that means he's not doing all the physical stuff that he used to once a week. So, I'm going to investigate maybe doing a kind of baby/toddler gymnastics or tumbling class with Malakai, just to give him the extra input in his legs (climbing, jumping etc) and maybe we'll solve the mystery of the Stretchy Days!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Read it... and weep

.... in a good way!

This is so worth a read, so grab a cup of coffee and take 10 minutes - you won't regret it!

Expect. Don't Accept

(link stolen from Stephanie from Our Daily Smiles... who stole it from Rene at My Special K's... who stole it from Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes... don't you love the sharing power of the blog-world?)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

South African Blog Awards - Nominations

I have been nominated this year again for SA Blog of Year (Best Parenting Blog Category) - last year I came third.

Currently we are in the 'nomination' phase and the top 10 nominated blogs in each category will go through to the 'voting' phase.

Please, if you feel this blog is at all an inspiring/interesting/nice place to visit... please nominate me by clicking on the 'nomination button' on the top left hand side of my blog. Please follow all the prompts and respond to the email that they will send you to confirm your nomination.

Thanks for nominating me!

PS - someone asked if the current order has anything to do with number of nominations and I must say I don't know really? I think it may just be random placing at this point (or the order in which nominations came through).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Words, Sleepless Nights & Licking the Dog

Yes... you read right!

So much has been happening around the Stow Household and I've had so little time... something I've realised - with two little boys - is not about to change anytime soon...

So - I've neglected to post about Malakai's first words, which have been making their appearance here and there of late. I suppose they're not like first steps or the first time he clapped (definite and difficult to miss) - his first words are more like cotton candy... they're wispy and fine, they disappear quickly, but they are oh so sweet...

He's been talking for a while now - in his own language!  But recently I've picked out words that he's using often and with intent, like baba, dada, mama, bird (for everything he sees), bahni/barney (he's an addict I tell you!) and his two favourites - more and no...

Other than his words, his signing has really blossomed too and he loves to go through his pack of signing cards, diligently looking at each picture and signing each one.  My favourites are the ones that he's decided need a sound effect too - like elephant (with a nasal sound), pig (with a piggy sound of course!) and bear (with a growl).  I just want to eat him up when he does these signs!!

Malakai also loves to be sung to - especially with actions and he'll try to imitate all the hand moves and he even anticipates the end of the song and gives the singer a round of applause...

As for sleepless nights - little Mr Harlan has his first tooth and is getting more so there go the nights... right out the window! I've been spoilt with Harlan because he's always been a good sleeper at night - so now I'm trying to make it through the day with sometimes only 3,5 hours sleep... sheesh!!

As for licking the dog... the culprit? Malakai of course!

We've just starting Sensory Integration Therapy because Malakai has a lot of behaviours that suggest he's seeking sensory input. He's still putting everything in his mouth (including parts of the dog!), he's throwing everything, banging everything, grinding his teeth and sometimes he'll sit on the floor, flexing his legs in front of him (really stretching them) for ages and ages - like he needs the sensation of knowing where his legs are. From what I understand, being a sensory-seeker means that he's not experiencing his world as fully as he should - almost like trying to read braille with gloves on (its possible... but not really ideal). So SI Therapy should help to integrate his senses properly, and so improve his experience of his world. I'm hoping it helps, because I would hate to experience the world as though I'm wearing a huge glove over my body.

And that (as they say) is it... for now!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Malakai's 2nd Birthday Party

Malakai's 2nd birthday party went off without a hitch - the theme? "On the Farm" because Malakai just loves singing (and signing) along to 'old MacDonald'. I really had a lot of fun with the theme and even sewed the table cloths (made from red gingham and blue denim). Last year I was working three jobs, so I had very little time to plan his first birthday party - so this year I had so much more time and put in so much more effort.

We are so thankful for everyone who came along to celebrate with us - Malakai is our beautiful boy and the day of his birth will forever signify the day our Life-Paths changed forever (in the very best way!).

If you missed it, here is my letter to Malakai for his special day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Two years ago... I cannot believe it has been that long... or this short...

It feels as though you've been part of my life forever - and perhaps you have.

For two years I've been blessed by your smiles, your laughs, your love. For two years you've stolen my heart, my love, my everything. For two years we've grown together, and you've become part of everything in my life - my decisions, my thoughts, my prayers, my hopes.

For two years we've travelled 'the road less trodden', side by side - and you've shown me that life is perfect, we are blessed, and that every moment counts.

You are my beauty, like a sunrise. You are my heart beat, my breath, my food, my water.

I love you Malakai - more than I ever thought I could love another person.

Happy birthday little big man. Mommy is very very proud of you and I love you with all my heart.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pass me the butternut...?

We started Harlan on solids with cereal for the last 4 weeks and he LOVES it to bits. This last Monday I introduced butternut at his evening feed and this was his response... I doubt he would describe butternut as 'delightful' at this stage.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Plettenberg Bay

So... my dear little blog, you may be wondering where I've been for a whole month? Well, I can't explain the first two weeks of July (other than the fact that I just didn't get around to updating). But I have a perfectly good explanation for the second two weeks - Holiday!!

We went down to Plettenberg Bay in the Cape for two weeks and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves - the sand, the sea, the kids, loads of interesting places to visit - we had a really great time.

Here are some pics (I feel quite bad that they are almost solely of Malakai and not Harlan - but I suppose Malakai is doing things that I just have to capture on camera!)

Mommy & Malakai

All my children and the things we did

Malakai on the beach

Malakai and aunty Sheri

Malakai and Dada on the beach

More of Malakai!
This weekend heralds Malakai's second birthday - I cannot believe my little man is almost-very-nearly two years old. I will be sure to update with pictures of the party (theme: oink! moo! baa!).