Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Attack of the Birthday Girl!

You might wonder what we're teaching these girls, after looking at these two pictures! Boston turned 1 on September 21st, and we had a nice little butterfly party at Gulley Park. She loved the cake, of course, but she especially enjoyed this "butterfly candy spoon" that I made. I almost felt sorry for the little pretzel butterfly when I saw how viciously she was attacking it! Maybe she learned it from Berkeley, who apparently is training for WWF with this crazed pose!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Berkeley's Latest Accomplisment

Well, I promise that our other kids are doing great things, too...but the last few posts have definitely been focused on Berkeley. But hey - she SHOULD be celebrated, after all - these are some major accomplishments! This video shows her climbing down the stairs completely by herself (which, by the way, is actually harder than climbing up the stairs)! We're so proud of her!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm Walking in the Buddy Walk!!!


This is Berkeley (...okay, it's really Julie typing...but Berkeley is telling me exactly what she wants you to know...)

I’m taking part in the DSCNWA Buddy Walk 2011 to raise awareness for Down Syndrome!
Can you take a minute to read my story and find out how you can help?

Go to my FirstGiving page: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/berkeleysmith/buddywalk2011?fge=ask
You can sign up to walk with me at the Buddy Walk, join my team, or donate to help me raise money for the Down Syndrome Connection! Even if you can't do either of those, you can still see a SUPER CUTE picture of me! :)

Julie says:
Berkeley is such a saleswoman! Don't feel pressured by her...we just hope that you go to the site and check out her picture and bio. Don't worry if you can't donate this time, but we know that some of you would like to support Berkeley in this way, which is why we're sending this out.

The people in charge of this site say:
You can donate online with a credit card. All donations are secure and sent directly to DOWN SYNDROME CONNECTION OF NORTHWEST ARKANSAS by FirstGiving, who will email you a printable record of your donation.

Please send my page on to anyone who might like to donate!

God bless!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Living Disabled in Northwest Arkansas - an interview

Just thought I'd post this on the blog so I'll have a record of it. Sean and I were asked to answer some questions for an article being written about living with disabilities in Northwest Arkansas.

Interview with Julie:

1. Please give me a little background info about yourself (where you are from, where you went to
school, what you do now, etc.)
I'm a Fayetteville girl - I grew up here, went to FHS, then went "off to school" at John Brown University in Siloam Springs. I had a 10 year adventure in Texas, and now I'm back in Fayetteville - with the addition of a wonderful husband and 3 awesome daughters.

2. Please tell me about your daughter (name, age, interests, favorite places to go…I am not sure
how old she is, but she is welcome to give me a quote about herself to include in the article! )
Berkeley is our 3 year old. She loves being a big sister and a little sister, and gives lots of hugs and kisses to her sisters and to mommy and daddy, too! She loves dolls, dogs, pushing strollers, and yogurt! Her favorite song is Jesus Loves Me, for which she does sign language when we sing. She is a daddy's girl, and loves to be anywhere that he is. She has just recently learned to walk on her own, and this has quickly become her very favorite activity....she just walks! She walked 1/4 of the Gulley Park trail the other day! We are so proud of her. 
3. What disability is she diagnosed with? When did you find out she had a disability?
Berkeley has Down Syndrome. We found out at birth, although we knew beforehand that there was an increased chance of having a baby born with DS. 

4. What kind of schooling does your daughter receive (that is, if she is school aged… I’m not sure if
she is yet?)
Berkeley goes to the Children's Therapy Team several days a week, where she works hard at Physical, Occupational, and Speech therapy. She attends UBC's mother's day out program, where she is part of a "typical" classroom of children.

5. Could you please tell me about her therapy appointments (If you feel comfortable
recommending the name of the facility, that is fine. But you do not have to. Sean had
mentioned you take her to therapy appointments as well as do in-home therapy with her. I’d
appreciate any info regarding what she does in therapy).
Berkeley works so hard! She practices walking, climbing stairs, kneeling, and all kinds of things with her physical therapist. With her Occupational therapist she practices coloring, painting, keeping objects in their proper place (AKA NOT throwing them!). For speech therapy she practices flashcards, making sounds of letters and objects, choosing objects, answering yes/no questions, and communicating with words to get the things she needs and wants.
6. How long have you lived in northwest Arkansas?
8 months
7. Do you feel NWA has a lot to offer those living with disabilities? Any examples?
My husband, Sean, and I have both been impressed by what Arkansas (and Northwest Arkansas, in particular) has to offer for the special needs community. Berkeley has been able to receive much more therapy than before we moved here (from Texas), which has helped her progress by leaps and bounds! The community is very welcoming and accomodating to special needs, and all of the preschools, church nursery, and other childcare settings we've worked with have been loving and accepting - even eager - to work with Berkeley. It didn't take long at all for her to establish her "fan club" up here. ;)

8. As a parent of a disabled child, what is the best thing NWA has offered you and your family?
Wonderful therapists, good state-funded insurance and services. Mostly, though, loving friends, family, and community to come alongside us!
9. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in NWA in regards to having a disabled child?
   Not much to complain about! Maybe the cost of gas for transporting Berkeley to and from therapy so many times each week! Or, the endless paperwork that comes with getting special services...but of course you would have that anywhere. 

10. Are there any changes you would like to see made around this area that would make NWA more
Perhaps a part-time preschool program within Fayetteville city limits.
11. Do you have any advice for other parents living in the area who have disabled children? (for
example: a great activity their kids should be involved in, a fun place to go, or a great school to
 Probably the best advice I can give is to stay connected to other parents who are "in the same boat." It's hard to keep track of what to do and when to do it, so it helps to talk with other parents who've done it before. 

12. Are there any programs or social groups in the area that are encouraging to families with
disabled children? (Sean mentioned you organize play-dates for other special-needs children.
Could you please include some information about that here, as well?)
We are part of the Down Syndrome Connection of Northwest Arkansas, which has helped us meet several other families with children who have Down Syndrome. Also, I help to organize play dates for some of the kids with Down Syndrome. The kids enjoy playing, but it's probably more for us moms...it's good to talk with other people who know what you're talking about...there's a whole different vocabulary and set of experiences that go along with having a child with special needs.  Also, we have yet to attend one of these, but the 99 Balloons organization hosts a wonderful respite night called "Recess" for families of children with special needs.
13. **Any additional information is welcome and much appreciated! **
We feel very fortunate to have Berkeley and to get to experience life with a child who has Down Syndrome. She is a beautiful girl who delights us in so many ways! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm excited for me, too!

I've heard there are a few people out there who have noticed our lack of blogging lately. I admit it...I'm guilty...no blog posts for 3 months!

So, here are updates on the girls, which is the same as giving you and update on me, since I hang with them all day every day. :)

~Turned 5!
~Had her first ice cream truck purchase.  She'd been dreaming about this day for weeks, just wishing for the chance. When I heard the tune of the ice cream truck, I ran outside and literally flagged the guy down and asked him to wait in our driveway while I went to get Brighton. She was excited out of her mind. She picked the bluebunny double gumball ice cream cone. I told her, "I'm excited for you!" and she said, "I'm excited for me, too!" She was starry eyed for hours.
~Had "the best week of the summer" taking art classes at the Nadine Baum Studio in Fayetteville. It was probably the best week for me, too, because she got to make tons of messy art, and someone else cleaned it up! :) Seriously, though, the girl has an artistic streak, and I was so happy for her to have an outlet.
~Took swimming lessons. She might not have learned to swim, but she is getting into the pool without a quadruple buckle life jacket, so that's something.
~Starts KINDERGARTEN in just a few weeks!

~Learned to walk!!! She is almost exclusively walking, and almost never crawls anymore.
~Decided that the smaller human in the house is actually pretty cool, and has begun to count Boston as a favorite playmate.
~Has firmly established her fan club up here in Fayetteville. I knew it wouldn't be long. If you could just hear her say "tutu" you would be hooked, too.
~Realized that naps are not as fun as mommy makes them out to be. She walks over to her baby gate and peers out, but if Sean or I catch her in the act, she really calmly and slowly crouches down behind the baby gate and lays on the floor...as if we won't know what is going on!

~Finally made it onto the growth charts! In case you haven't seen much of Boston, she's a real "pip squirt." She's really packed on the pounds lately, though, and has soared up to the tenth percentile on the growth charts!
~Has become enthralled with animals. At first I thought she was scared of dogs, since she shrieks like a wild puma everytime she sees one...but it turns out those were just very shrill shouts of joy.
~Is getting a little closer every day to becoming a "daddy's girl" like the other two.
~Bears an uncanny resemblance to Brighton as a baby. The other day I was getting sentimental about Brighton growing up, and I thought, "if only I could go back in time and just hold her as a baby again." Then I figured out that all I have to do is hold Boston and it's pretty much the same effect.

Check out our summer pictures and a few cute videos by clicking on these 2 links:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kid of the Week

 Announcing this week's "Kid of the Week" at the Children's Therapy TEAM....
our very own Berkeley Smith!!!!
Check out her bio on the Children's Therapy TEAM blog: http://www.childrenstherapyteam.com/blog/

We are really proud of Berkeley, and she is proud of herself. She is having a ball learning to stand up without holding on to anything. This week she started saying "hi" and "bye." She's probably imitating my exaggerated way of saying hi to her, saying "hi-ee!" in a high-pitched sing-song voice...not sure if I should be offended or not. ;)

Car of Happiness!

Update on Brighton:
Age: 4 3/4
Favorite Color: Pink and Purple
Favorite book: Harry Potter
Favorite food: sugar

Brighton has been very interested lately in mixing liquids. I keep telling her, "you better be a chemist when you grow up!" ...Otherwise, all these messes and spills will be in vain! She is also trying out the guitar, as you can see in the picture. Her gymnastics class is one of the highlights of her week, and she's looking forward to swimming lessons this summer (well, by "looking forward to" I mean "kind of freaked out about trying to swim"...but we'll get there!).
She has a whole slew of playmates here, and has been making plans without me, which is funny. Sometimes I'll have to tell her, as we are about to enter a social setting, "okay, now don't make any plans with the other kids without talking to the mommies first!"
She is still a great cheerleader for Berkeley, and now for Boston, too. She encourages them to work for whatever goal they're trying to reach. She demands their affection, and gets more than a bit huffy if they don't give her the loving she's after. She was ecstatic last week when I put Berkeley in the car after her therapy session, and Berkeley voluntarily leaned over and gave Brighton a hug and a kiss. Brighton exclaimed, "this is the car of happiness!"
In the picture below, the girls are playing with a toy that Brighton bought for her sisters at a garage sale. She had a few coins with which she could purchase anything she wanted to at the garage sales, and she decided to spend her money on a toy for Berkeley and Boston. 

Sitting Up!

Boston has really been changing! She's been sitting up for almost a month, which is fun...I've always felt sorry for my babies when their only "activity" consists of laying on a playmat or a bouncy seat. A change of scenery and posture must be nice for the girl!
She is eating crackers, puffs, and usually 3 servings of solid foods a day. I guess that full belly helps her sleep at night...so I'm happy to make sure she gets fed all she wants!
Even though Boston is meeting her developmental milestones at average times, I'm always surprised when she learns a new skill. To me, it seems like they happen so quickly and without much effort. I realized that I had become accustomed to waiting long stretches (and working hard) for Berkeley to reach her milestones, and forgot how quickly typical kids pick up new skills. I guess I should just enjoy each stage while it lasts...which apparently isn't long!
Another big achievement is that Boston can now spend time with other humans besides myself. Previously, such an attempt would result in ear drum bursting shrieking. Thankfully, I can now leave her with mom and dad, who are thrilled that she's calmed down enough to enjoy her time with them. 

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sweet Pea (Strained, that is)

So, this is Boston at 6 months.
She's graduated from her cry/scream/eat/sleep/scream/scream/scream routine and moved on to developing some personality.
Sean and I just love her smile. It actually begins somewhere in her forehead region as the entire area lifts upward, which pulls up her little eyebrows, then gives a little sparkle to her big round eyes, wrinkles up her nose, then finally pulls the corner of her mouth up into a little smirk that pushes up the apples of her cheeks. But the smile hasn't finished it's work until it stretches into a full gummy grin (which is sometimes accompanied by a cute little gurgle).
Ah, it's good to see her smile...especially since the more she's smiling, the less she's screaming. And if you've been around Boston much, you know what I'm talking about.

Check out some more pictures of Boston, Berkeley, and Brighton in our new surroundings this Spring (which is much nicer and less north pole-like than it was in the winter):
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Berkeley's Progress!

With 3 physical therapy sessions under her belt, Berkeley is ready to tackle new challenges! Her therapist told me that during her session today she stood up, with no support, for 12 seconds! We are thrilled. You can tell she's proud of herself. She hasn't started speech therapy yet, but she is making all sorts of new sounds, trying out new words, and doing more sign language. Her favorite sign at the moment is "cracker." She's getting so good at it that I sometimes have to tell her "no more crackers!"  or else she would be signing and eating and signing and eating all day long. :)
Here are some pictures of our family from February (maybe a few January in there, too):
February photo album

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snowiest Snow Day EVER!!!

This has been a record-setting snowfall! We've been in awe of the massive pileup of snow around us! I ventured out in the snow...up to my knees at some points...and got a few pictures of the house and neighborhood.

If the video works, it is of Berkeley eating snow off her mitten, "bear"ing an uncanny resemblance to Pooh Bear eating honey off his paw. Oh, and Brighton is in the background speaking in her own made up language. Could this be a sign of genius, or just another way to confuse her mama?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saturday Night Transplants

The Smiths are officially relocated. It has been a pretty wild ride, and it's not really over yet, but we're functionally settled in our new house and getting the hang of living in Fayetteville. 

Here are a few things that have changed for us:

1.Church on Sunday morning...that's weird! It turns out that doing something consistently for 8 years can be habit forming. We felt a little restless on our first Saturday night here...missing Restoration Community Church...we loaded up the whole family and went to the mall, of all places! The next day it just didn't feel natural to wake up early for church. The 9:30 service at potential church #1 slipped by with us still in bed...followed by the 10:15 service at potential church #2...but we finally rallied the troops and made it [30 minutes late] to an 11:00 service. After all that effort, we thought we'd try out a local restaurant (Fayetteville has some really great local places). After driving to four different places, and finding them all closed because it was Sunday, we ended up at a little place called Chili's. Anyone heard of it?  ;)

2.Berkeley switched to sleeping in the toddler bed. The first night, she slept in the bed the whole night. Hooray for Berkeley! The second night, she slept in...the hallway. No one quite knows what happened there.

3. 1° Fahrenheit...nuf said.

Here are some pictures from the last couple of months...some from Texas, and some from Arkansas, including a few of the new house (yet to be properly decorated, you understand!):