Thursday, April 23, 2015

Differently-Abled Toddler Gift Guide - Three Year Old Style

As a little girl, I remember curling up in front of the fire with my brown-haired, pink-lipped Madame Alexander doll, Lucy, in one arm and the Sears Christmas catalog in the other. My hair was probably wound tightly in pink curlers and I was likely wearing some type of flannel pajamas. I’m sure I was draped with my tattered blanket and my blue pillow was tucked somewhere nearby. A parent or sibling was surely within earshot, as I often squealed in delight and shouted with glee with each turn of the silky printed page.

Christmastime was my favorite. I loved dog-earing the pages (don’t tell Mrs. Hudson, my elementary librarian) and circling (certainly don’t make her privy to that part) the items perfectly perfect for all of my people. I’ve always loved the hunt for the just right gift.

As Baker’s birthday draws near, and as he is one of my most very favorite people, I delight in scouring books and Internet sites, talking to his teachers and therapists, and determining the perfectly perfect gifts for him.

It’s hard to believe he’s almost three.

The more I research, and the more I learn; the more I observe, and the more I inquire, the more I realize he wants what every almost three year old wants. He desires what every almost three year old desires.
He desires play.
He desires unhindered, all out, hurt your belly laughing, get the hiccups for days, make you bust a move, pink cheeked fun.

Here are some things I know. Baker has Down Syndrome. He has different abilities. Baker is a boy. He is wild. He is a toddler. He loves life. Baker is silly. He loves to play and have fun. He is mine.

But that’s way out of order.

Here’s how it really goes.

Baker is mine.
He is a wild and silly almost three year old boy who happens to have Down Syndrome.
Some of his abilities are different, but that doesn’t change his love for life, for play, for fun.
In fact, I think it allows him to love them more.

When I shop for a gift, or look for the perfect toy for my boy, I go to Target.
Or Amazon.
Toys 'R Us is our jam.
And don’t even get me started on the lovefest I have with consignment sales.
We go to the museum and zoo together.
We order the same Starbucks delicacy and read the same books off of the shelves and then are distracted by the same train table at the same Barnes and Noble.
Baker is like any other child, he has just been blessed with a little something extra.
For that reason, sometimes, unbeknownst to him, our play is purposeful.
He doesn’t know we’re doing anything any differently.
And by simply watching, you probably wouldn’t either.

When I think about buying for Baker, I use a real scientific method. It’s fourfold.

I rate its fun factor. If it’s not fun, it doesn’t matter how practical or skill-building or purposeful it is. If it isn’t fun, it is not coming to our house.

I test its durability. Seriously. He’s almost three. And “childproof” has proven time and again not to be Bakerproof. I have already put a call in to a few key distributors, as he would be a phenomenal product tester. I kid you not. The kid can unscrew the unscrewable, break the unbreakable. If it cannot withstand the strength of mine, it can stay on the shelf.

I consider the price. Children are children. They break things. They lose things. They learn how to unroll the car windows and throw things out of a moving vehicle only to be squished to smithereens by another traveler on I-459. They become disinterested. They feed their toys to the Golden Retriever in the backyard whose stomach is the Bermuda Triangle.

I assess its ability to progress his mental, physical, or emotional growth. Some things we buy, don’t. But most toys, especially if you get creative, can be used to enhance a child’s development.

These are some of my favorites for my favorite almost three year old.

Click on picture for additional information or to purchase for your favorite almost three year old.
"Buster" Buckle Toy

CanDo Thera Putty

Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk

Fisher Price Doctor Kit

Melissa and Doug Farm Friends Puppets
and every puppet needs a stage

Melissa and Doug Tabletop Puppet Stage

Find Me Lap Pad

Fubbles Bubbles


KidKraft Vintage Kitchen

and if you give a three year old a kitchen,
he's gonna want some pizza to cook

Melissa and Doug Pizza Party


My Quiet Book

JC Newborn Baby

Trampoline and Enclosure

Radio Flyer Tricycle

Velcro Ball and Mitt Set

 Happy almost birthday to my favorite almost three year old.
I love you to the moon and back.

Friday, April 17, 2015

35 Weeks

Thirty-five weeks!
35 weeks!

It doesn't get any less exciting the more times I write it!

What I’m Eating
Crushed ice. And fruit. Oh, how I am loving fruit. And Easter candy. And Coffee and Chocolate Chip Talenti Gelato.

Big Brother Baker

 He’s so happy about Little Brother’s arrival, he’s busting a move!

I think we have entered the pregnancy insomnia phase, accompanied by the wildest and weirdest dreams. When I sleep, I sleep well. But when I’m awake, sleep is nowhere to be found. I have begun just getting up when sleep won’t come. I either tiptoe to James Barrett’s room and rock in his rocker, imagining a little him in my arms during the wee hours, or snuggle up with Baker in his new big boy room with a bed just barely big enough for two, cherishing the last few weeks of him as our only.
The prayers I pray for these two little boys are much sweeter than sleep could ever be.

Maternity Clothes

Yes, please. And bonus points if they are cool and comfortable, as in they don't touch me anywhere, all while being semi-fashionable. I have discovered an all new, head over heels, New Kids on the Block level of infatuation with maxi skirts. God bless the creator of the maxi skirt.
Size of Baby

A pineapple. And just as sweet, too.  

Baby’s Name

James Barrett

I have started receiving all of the monogrammed goodies I ordered, and seeing his name on gowns and blankets just makes my heart smile. Also, Dreft. Ahh, the sweet smell of Dreft.


A baby BOY!

What I Miss

At this point, I think I have begun thinking about the things I will miss about being pregnant when Barrett arrives more than anything. Each roll, kick, and hiccup is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and perfect plan for our lives. My belly is getting rounder, my toes are becoming less visible. My body is morphing into something so perfectly created for housing a growing baby and then welcoming him into the world. It’s hard to complain about, or miss things being another way, when this way has been so flawlessly designed.

Best Moment of the Week

I have officially begun the week countdown. Either that, or my doctor really likes me and wants to see me every Tuesday.  When I went for my checkup on Tuesday, Barrett’s heart rate was 149! The sound of his little rhythmic heart beating in such perfect sync never fails to brighten my day and calm that angst that seems, somehow, to sneak up every now and again
"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation."
Habakkuk 3:18

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend has come and gone.
The eggs have been hunted.
The chocolate has been eaten.
The bunny cakes have been delivered.
The frocks have been worn.
The chicks have hatched and the bunnies have done what bunnies do best.
The resurrection story has been told.
The festivities have been finished.
But, the tomb is still empty.
The grave could not hold my King!
For that reason, even a week later, we are still celebrating Easter.
Easter weekend began on Thursday, when Baker had his school's Easter Egg Hunt.
What a wonderful celebration!
Almost overnight, two families turned his entire preschool into an Easter Eggstravaganza!
They threw an incredible party and hid hundreds of eggs for the children.
It is spectacular the way others pour love and generosity into our school family.

On Friday, Brian was off work, so he let Baker play hooky from school and they had a boys' day.
They did some major damage to a few dozen chicken minis, worked on Baker's big boy room, and left their mark on Target.
I love the way these two have turned into best buds.
We spent the rest of the weekend enjoying family.
Easter Sunday was the most special day.
We eagerly dressed for church and loved celebrating our Risen Savior.
As I sat in the service, with my husband beside me, a precious little boy just a few feet down the hall, and another kicking rhythmically to the praise songs, I became acutely aware of the magnitude of the day.
My heart threatened to burst right out of my chest.
As I sang along with the worship team, I was reminded that Easter isn't about egg dyeing or matching outfits.
It's not about the perfect meal or chicks and bunnies.
It's about the cross, the sacrifice.
It's about a love so fierce not even a stone could secure it.
It's about grace.
It's about a living Jesus.
It's a single day worth celebrating all year long.
"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
and life is worth the living just because He lives."
And just for fun,
Baker's First Easter
Baker's Second Easter

Baker's Third Easter
Next year will be Baker's Fourth Easter and James Barrett's First Easter.
I am positively giddy at the thought of celebrating with two little Bell boys!




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Baker's Big Boy Room - Oh, the Places You'll Go

My little boy in a big room.

When we found out our family was growing by two feet (get it?), we began planning for our new baby to get all of Baker’s nursery furniture and for Baker to get a big boy room.

I never knew how difficult it would be to plan for my baby to transition to a big boy room.

I began pinning all the things.
I originally thought we would do a baseball theme, but Baker cares nothing about baseball, at least not any more than throwing every single little thing in sight. Then I thought we could do a rustic theme, with deer heads and faux fur (insert Tim Taylor grunt), but I never really liked dead animal parts on my wall. In addition, neither of those spoke of Baker, of his character, of his interests.

I walked into Hobby Lobby one afternoon for inspiration and found a cutout of the United States of America. The wheels started turning.
From the time we learned of Baker’s diagnosis, we prayed specifically for his future. As an expectant mother, I remember crying as I read the Dr. Seuss book, Oh the Places You’ll Go, over my growing belly. I cried, not because I was sad, or thought Baker wouldn’t go places. I read it and cried because I was inspired. I knew, that regardless of limited capabilities, my boy would be limitless.

                       “You have brains in your head.
                         You have feet in your shoes.
                         You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
                         You're on your own. And you know what you know.
                         And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”

The inspiration continued. I walked through that store adding things to my cart that spoke of Baker’s potential. That attested to his character.
                      “And will you succeed?
                       Yes! You will, indeed!
                       (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

                       KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

                       be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
                       or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
                       you're off to Great Places!
                       Today is your day!
                      Your mountain is waiting.
                      So...get on your way!”

I love that part the most…Kid, you’ll move mountains.

As I sat in Baker’s room last night (thank you, pregnancy insomnia) and watched my angel sleep, I thought about all the mountains Baker has moved.

All the lives he has touched.

All the hearts he has inspired.

All prayers we have seen answered in his life.

Kid, you’ve moved mountains.




 Oh, the places my Baker Boy is sure to go!