Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Thyroid Function

Big eyes!
I haven't written any facts about Down Syndrome for a while, so I thought I'd try and explain why some people with Down Syndrome are quite prone to putting on weight. A large percentage of people with Down Syndrome have some sort of thyroid condition, with hypothyroidism being the most common. Hypothyroidism means the person with it has an underactive thyroid (in varying degrees from mild to severe). An underactive thyroid can make it very easy to put on weight, and can also contribute to depression and other symptoms. Weight gain, combined with a generally shorter than average stature, means that a lot of people with Down Syndrome can appear to be quite 'short and overweight'.

These days, babies born with Down Syndrome are monitored, from birth, with regular blood tests to keep an eye on their thyroid function. Felix had his checked twice in his first year of life and has annual blood tests now. If any abnormality is detected, these children will be medicated straight away and their parents will sometimes take them to a nutritionist to talk about ways to help control excessive weight gain, and healthy eating. We're so lucky that Medical research has advanced so much over the past 20 years, and these sorts of issues can be monitored, and detected early, to give our kids the best chance of a healthy life. Felix's generation, of people with Down Syndrome, will likely have less weight gain issues due to early detection of thyroid abnormalities. So far Felix's thyroid function has been normal, but we'll definitely be keeping an eye on it.

Concentrating hard on his ipad.
Felix has been a delight these past few days; very busy, but delightful! He has been using his manners so well and nearly always signs 'please' and 'thank you'. His use of 'please' has been really encouraging because he was getting to a point where he would just point at something and grunt, and get really frustrated that he couldn't ask for it. Now that he can sign 'please', he can point to what he wants (if he doesn't know the sign), and ask 'please', but without the grunting. The sign for 'help' has also been really useful and is one he uses all the time now. If his little stacking boats, that he plays with in the bath, are stuck together, he patiently puts them in his lap, looks up at me with those big, blue eyes and signs 'help'.

I was changing the sheets on my bed this afternoon. What is usually a fairly quick job to do, turned into a fun, but time consuming one. Felix thinks it's hilarious when I shake out the clean sheets to spread them over the bed. He laughs his head off and tries to run underneath the sheets. I haven't got the heart to make the bed when he's having so much fun, so I waved the sheets around until my arms hurt. He stood underneath them and giggled and giggled, reaching his hands above his head to touch them. He was a very big helper when I had to put the pillowcases on the pillows. He pushed the pillows with all his might to get them inside the case and very proudly lifted them up and put them back on the bed when they were done. Such a cutie!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Our Kids

I'm really proud of all 8 of our kids. It's crazy that even though they have been brought up in the same family, they are all so different from each other. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and varying hopes and dreams for their lives.

This week we celebrated with our 16 year old son, Joshua, as he received awards for outstanding academic achievement in year 11. He excelled in English, Mathematics, Chemisty and Physics, and got a fantastic grade for Biology as well. He is entering his final year of school next year and hopes to get high enough grades to do Veterinary Science at University. We are so incredibly proud of how hard he has worked and how determined he has been to do well.

Joshua's success this week has made me stop and think about all of our kids, and the different things I'm proud of them for. I think it's easy to look at academic success as being more important than other things but, I can honestly say, what is most important to me is the type of people our kids are becoming. It makes me so proud to see them being good friends and looking out for other people or nurturing their own siblings. I love hearing about Amy cooking a meal for Bekah when she's sick and taking it to her house. I love watching Isaiah being incredibly patient with Felix when he's in a grumpy mood. I love how Joshua has such a wonderful work ethic. I've enjoyed seeing Joel become a beautiful Father to his little boy. Aaron never fails to make us laugh with his hilarious sense of humour; and Daniel may be nearly 23 years old but still tells me he loves me.  I love hearing Bekah telling everyone she knows, how proud she is of her little brother, who has Down Syndrome.

Whether we're celebrating Joshua's academic success, Amy winning a stand up comedy competition or the fact that Felix has consistently signed 'please' and 'thank you' all day, I'm a very proud Mum! Felix often has to try much harder than the other kids ever did to learn something new but, I love that all of us as a family, get just as excited about one of his new milestones as we do about something significant in the older kids' lives.

I thought I'd share one of our Christmas traditions with you. About a month or so before Christmas, every year, whoever is going to be here on Christmas Day (kids, Grandparents & friends), tell us what their favourite food is. On Christmas Day, we cook every single person's favourite dish and put it on the table to share. The food selection is fairly eclectic, but there is something on the table which each person loves. One year there was even a plate of Vegemite sandwiches (a 3 year old's request).  This has become the tradition the kids love more than anything else. In fact, Joshua told me today, that he enjoys our meal even more than presents! Now if Felix would just hurry up and decide what his favourite food is going to be....

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Making train noises

What a beautiful piece of encouragement I received today! A lovely young Mum I met at playgroup, about a year ago, sent me the following message today. I asked her if I could publish it here on my blog as an encouragement to other parents of children with Down Syndrome. Our kids really are changing people's perceptions, one smile at a time. I have removed her son's name for privacy reasons.

"I look through all your photos and blogs of Felix and I am truly amazed at what an amazing little guy he is! before I met you guys I thought
1- people who have Down syndrome are always chubby!
2- they are aggressive
3- they don't learn the same
4- they don't fit into society.

how WRONG am I!!!!
I'm ashamed now to think i thought this, but it's like the saying "people fear the unknown" and this was me!
Felix (as I'm sure all do!) throws this out the window! He is so happy (yes I know not all the time, but who is?!) he isn't chubby ('My son' is wayyyy bigger lol)
He is so clever! He may not be talking much, but look at his signing! How he knows nursery rhymes, etc!
And he DEFINITELY fits into society!!
what a beautiful and brilliant child you have, and I'm so lucky to have met you guys and to throw all my misconceptions out the door!"

Doing some puzzles

I feel so encouraged to know that people, who don't have children with Down Syndrome, are willing to learn and educate themselves, and have embraced Felix as one of their own. It means so much to me, and I would like to say a huge thank you to all of you who have asked questions, played with Felix and included him. I am constantly blown away by your willingness to change your perceptions about people with Down Syndrome. Thank you for loving our little boy and for seeing beyond the diagnosis of 'Down Syndrome'. Thank you also for celebrating his little milestones with me and my family!

The last few days, we have been focussing on manners, with Felix. We are asking him to sign 'please' and 'thank you'. Several times today he has signed, 'help please' instead of just 'help', so he's catching on really fast. Yesterday he was a bit grumpy and was grunting at me because he wanted me to pass his cup. I asked him to sign 'please', but he shook his head 'No'. I kept asking him to sign 'please' and he kept shaking his head. Eventually he gave me a big smile and signed 'please'. Such a cheeky boy sometimes.

Putting his photo on the board
Felix spent the morning at Special Needs Playgroup this morning. He enjoyed playing with the train set and doing some puzzles. As usual, he loved the singing and putting his photo up on the board after the 'welcome song'. He put his photo up crooked initially, so he stood there and turned it around until it was perfectly straight and then waited for everyone to clap because he was so clever. When it was time to leave, he gave his teacher and the Mum and sister of another little boy, a kiss. Talk about being charming!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Christmas Pageant

Waiting for the pageant to start
One thing I have always loved, about having little ones, is watching their faces when they experience something new. The older kids reactions were usually predictable, but Felix's reactions are often a surprise. The things I think he might be frightened off, he isn't, but then he may be a bit scared by something I thought he would be OK with.

Lots of motorbikes
Last night was the local Christmas pageant in our town of 22,000 people. I think nearly everyone in town lined the streets to welcome Santa! It was great to see so many happy, smiling faces and excited children. Although Felix went to the pageant last year, he was still pretty little, so I was looking forward to seeing if he enjoyed it this year. It was our Grandson, Noah's, first pageant and, to get to spend it with him as well, was pretty special. As soon as we arrived on the main street, pushing Felix along on his little tricycle, he started pointing at all the people and didn't quite know where to look first. It was looking pretty promising. We spread out a mat on the kerb and sat Felix down with us. He looked excited straight away.

Dog rescue float
Very hungry caterpillar
At the beginning of every Christmas pageant, a whole bunch of motorbikes ride past before the pageant officially starts. The noise is pretty loud because they ride past so close to where everyone is sitting and, straight away, I looked at Felix to see if he was going to cope with it. His face was hilarious. I could tell that part of him was absolutely terrified but, at the same time, he was totally fascinated and couldn't take his eyes off the bikes. He pointed and there were plenty of "Oooooh's" and "Aaaaah's". Every so often, he gave Aaron a quick cuddle, for reassurance, but then he stood straight back up to watch the bikes again. He was so brave, and we were really proud of him.

What's next?
After the motorbikes, there was a Police car with it's lights flashing and siren sounding. Felix wasn't quite  sure about the noise, and cuddled Daddy but didn't take his eyes off the car for a second. Once the Police car had gone past, the pageant started. Felix loved it! There was so much to see and so many colours and sounds. His eyes went from one thing to the other. Every so often, he gave us a little hug but he seemed to be having a really good time. He even waved to the people on the floats which was awesome!  There was a 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' float which he loved, and he also loved the animal rescue float that had real dogs on it. When Santa's float arrived, Felix waved and pointed but, as we found out later, he wasn't so impressed with Santa up close!
Santa's sleigh being pulled by

Not a fan of Santa this year!
When the pageant had finished, we all walked to the gardens near the beach to have some dinner. There were lots of food stalls set up and some activities for the older kids to do. We spread out our mat on the grass and ate our food in the sunshine. Felix was getting pretty tired by this point but, when I saw Santa walking through the crowd, I just had to take Felix over to him to see how he would react. I had a feeling it would probably be disastrous, and it was. Felix was fine until we were within a metre of Santa, and then he started shaking and buried his head in my shoulder and started crying. I couldn't help it, I had to get someone to take a quick photo anyway. It's definitely a very memorable photo and, I'm sure it will give us all plenty of laughs in years to come!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Slow down

A pinecone we found when we had a break
from driving
It's getting to that time of the year. The calendar is filling up and there seems to be countless places to be, people to visit, gifts to buy and appointments to squeeze in before Christmas. It's so easy to feel rushed and stressed out. It's times like this when I am again reminded of the sweet simplicity that Felix brings to our lives.  He doesn't care about parties or presents, and certainly isn't bothered whether we get to places on time. He just likes to stop and enjoy life. There have been so many times over the past couple of weeks when I have felt pressed for time, but Felix has brought me a book and I have sat down and read it to him. Then he has gone and chosen another book and I have read that one too. Before I have even realised, I have read several books, sung a few songs and made him giggle by chasing him up the hallway. I have still managed to get the things done that I have needed to, so far, but have also stopped to smell the roses along the way. Thanks Felix for reminding me, again, of what's important!

"This is the book I want you to read!"
In the last couple of days, I had to do a (very quick) overnight trip to Adelaide. Felix, once again, behaved like a seasoned traveller, sitting happily for 5 hours in the car each way, chatting and watching his DVD's and doing the actions to his favourite songs. He was so excited to see my parents, and walked into their house like it was his. I had to drop him off there and head straight back out again, but he wasn't bothered at all to say goodbye. He was busy stacking plastic containers with Granny. He had a great afternoon with his Granny and Papa, digging in the dirt outside and attaching clothes pegs to Papa's shirt. My Mum bragged that he ate constantly when I was out, which was awesome because he usually goes on a hunger strike and refuses to eat for anyone but Nathan, the older kids or me. Another little first for Felix.

My attempt at Felix's footprint Snowmen I
finished today. They are made the same
way as the handprint Santas.
1 cup plain flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup water
Mix well. Roll out and push hand/foot down
firmly. Make hole to hang.
Allow to dry for 4 days, turning after 2 days.
Paint as you like.
Bekah (19), was so happy to see Felix and, although it wasn't a long visit, had a play with him and lots and lots of cuddles. Felix hasn't seen her for ages, but he held his arms out to her straight away which she loved. He really does adore his older siblings, and I'm so thankful that he has the seven of them to watch out for him and share new experiences with him as he grows. Daniel and Cate, Joel and Joshua all got to spend some time playing with Felix over the last couple of days, and he enjoyed being the centre of attention.

After a busy couple of days it's nice to be home again. Felix was happy to get out of the car and stretch his legs a bit, and was especially glad to see his Daddy. He has been a little bit grumpy since we got back (ten hours of driving in two days will do that to you), so he was more than happy to go to bed tonight. He tucked his technicoloured monkey under one arm, and his ugly sock cat under the other; then he lay down on his tummy with the two of them slightly underneath him. As usual, he pulled his knees up and stuck his bottom up in the air, totally oblivious to us still standing there for one last look at him before we shut the door. Who needs Christmas presents? He is such a perfect little gift to us!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

So Much Progress

Just checking Daddy's bike
Felix was a bundle of energy at Kindergym today even though there was a huge group of kids there. He flinched every now and again when another child rushed past him, and he always inspected the thing he wanted to climb on, to make sure there were no other children on it already. Apart from that, he did so well and it was really obvious that his new found confidence is still there.

There were a couple of memorable moments this morning. At one point, Felix was leaning up against a big padded mat when another little boy came up behind him to give him a cuddle. As soon as Felix sensed him there, he looked a bit worried and quickly started to crawl towards me, across the mat. The little boy thought it was hilarious and decided to copy Felix, so he started crawling behind him. Felix realised that the little boy was still there, so he stood up and started to walk as fast as he could towards me. The other boy laughed again and shadowed Felix all the way. Felix looked more and more worried until he reached me but, after a quick cuddle, was actually OK and didn't melt down completely. Another small step in the right direction!

Another great thing about this morning was that Felix went up to a lady, I had just met, and held out his arms to her for a cuddle. She thought it was lovely when he held on for a big squeeze, and I thought it was fantastic that he felt confident enough to do it! She obviously gave good cuddles because he went back a second time a bit later.

Making a mess of the bathroom
Halfway through Kindergym, the lady who runs it walks around and puts a stamp on the children's hands. Felix loves getting a stamp but he's usually quite shy about holding out his hand. Today the lady sat down beside Felix, as she usually does, and he came over and patted her on the arm a couple of times and gave her a big smile. It was so awesome! He then happily held out his hand for a stamp, and then wanted one on the other hand as well. I was so proud of him.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

ipad Whiz!

Cutest butt ever!
It was scorching hot here today; perfect for a big play in the paddling pool for Felix. The hot weather doesn't seem to bother him at all and, from first thing this morning, all he wanted to do was be outside. As soon as I filled up his pool, he got straight in there, splashing around and having a great time. At one point he thought it would be fun to throw sand from the sandpit into the water. He was very vocal when he was throwing it in, and was telling a great story. I love the way he can entertain himself for long periods of time, and the way he is using his imagination to create games for himself. I enjoy sitting and watching him play like that.

....and back in the pool I go.
 Tonight, Felix did something which amazed us! He has an application on his ipad called LunchBox. There are several different tasks to complete; matching colours and shapes, choosing the odd one out etc. After three levels are completed, he is rewarded with a sticker, of his choice, which he can slide up onto a sticker board.   For quite some time, Felix has been able to do most of the levels with little, if any, assistance. However, he has had trouble with one level which requires him to put together a puzzle, with four pieces, by sliding them into the correct position then letting go. On the very odd occasion he has managed to put one piece in the right spot, but tonight he completed the whole puzzle not once, but twice! Nathan elbowed me and pointed towards Felix. He was concentrating so hard on doing the puzzle. He dropped the pieces several times, but kept trying again and again and again, until he finally did it. We were both so excited, and can't help but marvel at his persistence. I know that I would become impatient if I had to try so many times and would probably give up, but he just keeps trying until he has something perfected. He is such an inspiration!

Another thing we have noticed, recently, is that Felix is getting really good at kicking a ball around and will kick any ball no matter what size it is. He is so steady on his feet and just loves to kick the ball up and down the hallway. He is slowly learning to kick it in different ways to change it's direction too. Nathan and I both despise soccer, but are beginning to think we may have to start taking an interest in it because, if he keeps this up, he may want to play it when he's a bit older. The things we do for our kids! Haha!

Adding some sand to the water.
For any of you with fussy eaters, I have recently discovered something wonderful for getting some extra nourishment into Felix. He's usually a great eater but lately, at dinner time, he's not really interested in food. I have started making him smoothies with fresh fruit, soy milk, a tiny bit of soy yoghurt, and a huge handful of fresh spinach. I blend it until it's completely smooth and he drinks it down in minutes. You can't taste the spinach at all, and it's delicious! I'm looking into finding some sort of flavourless fish oil to put in there as well (he hates having fish oil), so if anyone can suggest anything, I would appreciate your help.

I better mention too, that Felix woke up this morning back to his usual self so I didn't take him to the Doctor. He must have just been feeling a bit off the last couple of days. It's good to have our happy boy back!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Not Quite Himself

Felix had a bit of a rough start to the morning. He has been a little bit miserable the last couple of days, so he has been really clingy, and woke up the same today. After some cuddles with me, in my bed, he started to seem a bit happier and had a play with his ipad for a while. A few minutes later I turned away for a second and, when I looked back, Felix was standing up right on the edge of the bed. Before I had a chance to react, he toppled off, head first! He had a little bump, but was fine otherwise. It put the poor little guy back to square one, as far as feeling miserable, and meant that, for the rest of the morning, I had a permanent attachment to my hip! I think I'll take him to the Doctor tomorrow, just to check that his ears aren't bothering him again. His surgery (for grommets) is in a few weeks, so I'm hoping he'll make it until then without an infection.

I decided to take Felix to the Special Needs Playgroup this morning, in the hope that a change of scenery might cheer him up a bit. He seemed really happy to be there until he realised that other children had arrived. He was fine with one little boy, but there was a little girl there who was very vocal (and when she screamed, he buried his head in my lap). Felix really doesn't cope well with high pitched noises still, so that set him back a bit today.

When it came to song time, Felix was the only one who went and sat on the little chairs. Being a playgroup for kids with additional needs, the teacher never puts any pressure on the kids to join in, unless they feel comfortable to. All the children have different issues; physical, intellectual and behavioural and are different ages, so there is no simple routine that suits all of the kids all of the time. Felix really enjoys music, so he is always happy to participate in that aspect of playgroup. He did so well this morning, signing the words to the songs he knew and laughing when we did the actions. It was nice to see him smiling. The Speech Pathologist was there today and spent some time with Felix. She was really pleased, when she saw him signing to the songs, and heard him making some good speech sounds when he was playing too.

After a big afternoon sleep, Felix seemed a bit happier for a while. He walked up and down our hallway blowing on a recorder from his music box. I am so pleased that he is able to make it whistle now, but I am thinking about investing in some earplugs (The recorder must be the most painful sounding instrument ever invented!) I think I'm going to have to get used to the sound, because every time he blows the recorder, I tell him how clever he is, so he does it even more. After he makes some 'music', he takes it out of his mouth and laughs out loud, which is adorable. I told the Speech Pathologist about his new trick and she looked genuinely surprised that he could do it. Needless to say, she was really pleased!

Yesterday, I spent the day photographing Joel, Mel and Noah at the beach, and then took some Christmas photos of Noah and Felix together. Felix, not being his usual self, was a bit hard to photograph, but I ended up with a few I'm really happy with. I thought I'd post a few on my blog today.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Christmas Tree

Santas little helper
The boys decorating
the tree
Felix spent the morning with Daddy this morning so I could get some Christmas shopping done, without my little 'helper'. Nathan took him over to the park for a play. He said that Felix was less than enthusiastic with the small slide, but laughed his head off when he went down the big slide. He really loves being outside, so having a park across the road from our house is handy. Sometimes he likes to throw a ball around on the grass and other times, like today, he enjoys the playground. Nathan said they had a curious magpie watching their every move at the park today. Nathan was sure it was about to swoop them and was relieved when it didn't.

Here is a video of Felix dancing. Such a funny boy!

When Nathan and Felix got back from the park, they played with some of Felix's toys and looked at some books. Judging by the mess I saw, when I got home, they had a great time! Nathan told me he'd left the room for a minute and came back to find Felix standing in Isaiah's big sneakers by the front door. Knowing the first thing I would ask is, "Did you get a photo of it?", Nathan ran and got the camera and managed to get a quick photo of Felix still standing in the big shoes. They make him look so tiny!

Today we decided to put up the Christmas tree. I was pretty excited because Felix is old enough this year to join in with us. He wasn't so sure about the undecorated tree, and I'm sure he was wondering what on earth a tree was doing up on our coffee table, but he soon worked out what to do and was reaching up to put decorations on it (with a little bit of help). He loved the string of gold beads and wasn't impressed when we had to unravel them from him to put them on the tree. What can I say? He has always loved his beads!

Loves his beads!
The older boys know how much I love 'tree decorating day' and, bless them, they try really hard to feign excitement and join in, but they all look pretty relieved when the decorations are all hung. Nathan lightens the mood every year by hiding random objects (eg.plastic dinosaurs and spiders) in the tree, hoping I don't notice and tell him off. The boys think it's hilarious! So, I am super excited to have a 2 year old in the house this year, and a 6 month old Grandson. They are so much more fun than teenage boys when it comes to the magic of Christmas (no offence boys; I love you to bits). I can't wait until Christmas day to see the excitement on Felix and Noah's faces as they enjoy scrunching up wrapping paper and playing with empty boxes (which I'm sure they'll love even more than their actual gifts!)

After a very busy day, Felix was really grumpy this afternoon. It's quite out of character for him to be so moody. He wasn't happy to be playing and wanted to be picked up. When he asked to be put down, he would start to cry and not want to go down. He didn't even eat much for dinner. I noticed he has a bit of a runny nose so I hope he's not getting sick. The great thing about Felix is that he loves his bed. If we think he's unwell or really tired, we can put him to bed an hour earlier than usual and he'll blow us kisses and lay straight down. We haven't heard a single sound from his room since he went to bed tonight so hopefully, after a good night sleep, he'll be back to his usual self tomorrow.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Mr. Mischief

Sitting up like a big boy with his brothers
Felix was a bundle of mischief when he woke up this morning. Before I even had a chance to focus my eyes, he had already posted his night nappy and a tube of cream in the toilet, and it wasn't even 7am! This theme continued throughout the morning.  First, I realised that he had learnt how to unlock the ipad. As annoying as that is, I must admit I was pretty proud at how clever he can be at working things out. He can open the cupboards in the kitchen now, so he had all the plastic cups and bowls out and was stacking them on the floor while I did the dishes. I don't mind, except that if I don't watch him carefully, he tries to grab the breakable bowls and plates as well. He opened a drawer and found a roll of garbage bags which he had a great time rolling across the floor until they all unravelled. I also realised today, that Felix has grown taller and can reach his hands up onto the table and grab anything that's left too close to the edge. I'm really wishing I, literally, had eyes in the back of my head!

This smile is amazing!
I haven't done any of Felix's handprints for a while, so I got out the paint to do them today. Felix thought it was great, squelching the paint in his hands. He even got the hang of opening up his hand and putting it flat onto the paper, and was a little bit annoyed with me when we were finished and he had to have his hands cleaned up. I think he would have been happy to sit there all day.

Some of Felix's favourite toys are his musical instruments. He absolutely loves his tambourine and his maracas, and will sometimes sit for ages and play his xylophone. He's been so good at sharing with Noah and, even if he takes something off him, he will give it a quick shake and put it back in Noah's hand. Felix has a whistle in his toybox and will often bring it to one of us to blow. Yesterday I blew the whistle and handed it back to Felix. He put it in his mouth and actually blew it for the very first time! I was really pleased because I know that some kids take a long time to learn how to use the correct position with their mouth to blow into a whistle, or blow out candles. I'm sure his Speech Pathologist will be very impressed!

Mel & Joel with their precious little man
We have had Noah visiting our house quite a lot over the last few days and it warms my heart to see how much more comfortable Felix is getting with him. Not only is he sharing really nicely with Noah, but he is stroking his head and giving him lots of attention. Noah has even picked up on a couple of Felix's crazy faces. Today, for the first time, Felix gave Noah not one, but two kisses! As the Mum of one, and the Granny of the other, it was one of those memorable moments that will be with me forever.

Tonight I was very proud to take some photos of Joel and Mel, all dressed up for their school formal. They both looked amazing, and had dressed Noah up in a cute little shirt for some of the photos too. They are beautiful parents to their precious little man, and there's no doubt that Noah knows he's loved to bits!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Give me a kiss, Noah
Today would usually be Kindergym day, but we've had a fairly hectic week so far, so I decided that some time at home would be a good idea. I like Felix's and my days at home together. It gives me a chance to really pay attention to all the new things he is learning, and to spend lots of time with him, one on one. Our quiet days are some of my favourites.

Felix showed me how much he is learning about helping, and following instructions. He is fascinated with our recycling bin because it is often full of empty bottles, jars and boxes; quite appealing to a two year old's eyes. Very often I catch him pulling an empty soft drink bottle out of the bin, and walking away with it. Usually if I take it away from him and put it back in the bin, he will take it straight back out again. This morning I tried something different, and asked him to put the bottle back himself. It worked. He walked back over to the bin and put it inside. I clapped my hands and told him he'd done well, and he was happy with that and walked away. Job well done!
Yes.. you've got water in your bucket!

I came back down the hallway, after putting some washing on, to find that Felix had pulled a pile of his books off the book shelf. I don't mind because usually, he does actually read them so it's a 'creative' mess! Today he wasn't terribly interested in looking at them, and had pulled them off the shelf because he was bored. I started to put the books back on the shelf when Felix came over and began to help me. He picked up a book and put it on the shelf, in the correct spot, and made sure it was up the right way and pushed in nice and straight. I was pretty impressed, but thought it might have been a fluke. I pointed to another book on the floor and he picked that one up and did exactly the same thing, putting it perfectly on the shelf. He continued until all the books were neatly put away. I could get used to this tidiness!

I'm making some of these with Felix and Noah's handprints.
I hope they turn out just as well as these!
Felix helped me with a few other things today. He passed me the wet washing so I could hang it up to dry. He helped me push our big, heavy coffee table to get it ready to put the Christmas tree on (giggling the whole time). He even turned around in the trolley seat at the supermarket and passed me all of the groceries he could reach, so I could put them up on the counter. It sure beats what he used to do, throwing the shopping out of the trolley and onto the ground! One thing he wasn't so helpful with was wrapping up a Christmas present. He seemed to think it was great that his head fit underneath the wrapping paper. A few repairs later and the gift was finally wrapped up. I'm enjoying my new little helper. I hope he still likes to help even when he realises that it's something he has to do all the time!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Uncle and Nephew Fun

Look Daddy!
Felix's confidence is still going from strength to strength since we've been away. We are so proud of him!

This morning, Nathan and I took Felix outside to spend some time with the dogs. In the last couple of days, we have done a lot of work on our backyard and have made it a lot more 'toddler friendly', so Felix had lots of room to roam around without being covered in red dirt (got to love outback Australia!)

Felix has always been pretty good with the dogs, if they were laying down, but if they were walking around he sometimes looked a bit worried. Most of our dogs are pretty huge so, to him, it would be the equivalent of a horse wanting to lick us in the face, rushing towards us and whipping us with its' tail. Today, however, he took it all in his stride. All four dogs (Joel's massive doberman is staying with us at the moment), wandered around with Felix giving him the occasional lick or swipe with their tail. He was completely unbothered by them. He did a lot of pointing and "oooohs" and "aaaaahs", and looked like he was telling the dogs what to do. It was really great to see him so relaxed with them all. I'm sure it helps that he is much more steady on his feet now, and a lot more sure of himself!

Checking out the Christmas goodies
Our gorgeous little Grandson, Noah, came around for a visit today. Joel and Mel had some things to do, so Noah stayed with us for a play. I had just got back from doing some Christmas shopping and had a couple of bags full of wrapping paper, ribbons and Christmas decorations. Noah and Uncle Felix sat together and pulled everything out of the bags; it was like an early Christmas! They played with plastic cups, empty boxes and gift bags (which now have a little bit of Noah's slobber on them to make them extra special). They had a wonderful time and the best bit was that Felix sat right next to Noah, happily playing with him, without a care in the world. He's normally so wary of him, but today he looked so comfortable with him and even took turns sharing things with him. It was a very precious Uncle and nephew moment!
Noah mesmerised by the butterflies

After the boys had got tired of the Christmas things, I took them outside to play in the sandpit. Felix played with the sand, and Noah sat in the empty half of the clam shell and played with some buckets and spades. I didn't think his Mum and Dad would appreciate coming home to find him covered in sand, and he didn't seem to mind. Felix thought it was pretty funny to see someone else sitting in his sandpit, but he seemed quite happy to offer Noah some things to play with. We recently put a couple of solar powered butterflies in our garden, next to the sandpit, and both boys were fascinated with them. Felix signed 'butterfly' and pointed to them to show Noah. It was pretty adorable. I love our boys!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Master of Funny Faces

Felix and Chaos
When we were on our holiday, I didn't worry too much about toilet training. Felix was unfamiliar with the house we were staying in and wouldn't have known where the toilet was, so I thought we'd leave it until we got home. When we got back, we had barely walked in the door when Felix walked straight in to the bathroom, picked up his potty seat and put it on the toilet. He signed 'toilet' and then sat on there and did a huge wee!! By the sound of it, it was almost as if he'd been saving it up all week! He used the toilet a couple of times after that and has been the same today. I was sure that a six day break might put him back a bit, but he picked up exactly where he left off before we went away. It was a nice surprise. The weather is starting to warm up so, hopefully, we'll be able to try him in his little jocks soon and leave his nappies off.

Felix has always been the master of funny faces and he's recently added a couple more to his repertoire. I mentioned the face he started to make when he looked at our friend, Brent. We have nicknamed it the 'Brent face'. He squints his eyes really tightly and then does a big cheesy grin. He started doing it whenever he looked at Brent, but he's continued to do it since we got home. He even does it when he's walking sometimes, and nearly walks into the walls because he can't see. He's so funny! It's almost as if he's experimenting with what he can see when he squeezes his eyes shut. I wonder how long he'll keep doing it for? He sure keeps us entertained!

He's also started to make a face if he is trying to push a block into a shape sorter and can't quite get it in. It's a bit like his 'crazy face', where he sticks out his bottom teeth and opens his eyes wide. When he's pushing on the shapes to try and get them in the hole, he makes the face and shakes his body. We can't help but laugh at him, so he does it over and over again. I'm posting a video today of him doing this face, because I thought it might make you smile!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Home Sweet Home

Who needs toys?
Looking at the cows
We have just got home after a wonderful 6 days away. I still can't get over how well Felix travels. We drove for close to 20 hours over the last week and he didn't even grizzle once! He doesn't sleep much in the car, but is happy to munch on some food, drink his juice, watch his DVD player and read his books. Every now and again, whoever wasn't driving would reach around and tickle his toes and make him laugh. For the first time ever, Felix looked out of the window and noticed when we pointed out the cows in the paddocks. I can't wait until he's older so we can show him more things along the way. He would have loved all the animals we saw on this trip; cows, alpacas, sheep, a brown snake, lizards, two koalas, a fox and even a turtle, who ambled across the road and was lucky not to get run over! There were plenty of kangaroos, but they had already become victims of passing cars :(

Fun with Darcy
While we were away I took Felix to visit my cousin, who I haven't seen for ages. She has a gorgeous little boy, Darcy, who is a bit younger than Felix. I was really pleased to see that, after being a bit unsure at first, Felix actually interacted really well with Darcy. He wasn't frightened of him, like he can be with other little ones sometimes, and he even reached out and stroked his head when we were taking some photos. I couldn't believe it! At one point, Felix and Darcy were throwing a balloon back and forwards to each other. It was really cute and was certainly a big step for Felix. It was great to see them playing together so well. Felix gave my cousin a quick cuddle, and gave her and her husband a high-five when we left. It was fantastic to see him responding so well to people, in unfamiliar surroundings, and looking really comfortable!

Bubbles with Granny
When we arrived back in Adelaide, for a quick stop over with my parents, Felix seemed really relaxed and happy. He's had so many new experiences this week and seemed to cope with all of them well. He appeared to have a new confidence and wasn't the slightest bit clingy when we arrived at Granny and Papa's house. He sometimes looks a bit suspiciously at my Dad for a couple of hours before he 'warms up'. This time he walked in, like he owned the place, and happily sat and played and 'chatted' with Mum and Dad. What a great week for his social development. He let our friend, Ann, get him out of bed in the morning. He went out to play with the dogs, with Brent and Ann, without us. He was happy to be held by other people, even with us there. He went outside to look at the trees with Papa and loved it that Granny gave him a bath.
Watering can fun!

I had been telling my Mum that Ann had been blowing bubbles for Felix with the soap, when he had a bath, just like she used to do when I was little. Mum decided to fill up a bucket of water outside, and let Felix play in it. As soon as he put his hands in the water he started to rub them together, just like Ann had done, so Mum went and got some soap and started blowing bubbles for him. He loved it! He kept laughing and popping the bubbles before Mum had even finished blowing them. It was beautiful and sunny outside, so she let him splash in the water. She gave him a sponge and he filled it up with the water and squeezed it all over his clothes. When he was completely soaked, Mum got the watering can and poured it on his hands over and over again. I think he was loving being out in the hot sun after having a week of cooler weather. I know I was!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Hungry Boy

Enjoying the park
Felix has had an enormous appetite since we have been here on our holiday. It must have something to do with the cooler country air because I don't think I've ever seen him eat so much food. He has been eating his huge bowl of porridge with yoghurt in the morning, and is ready for a snack an hour later. After his sleep, he has wolfed down his lunch and then snacked all afternoon and still eaten dinner. The friends we are staying with didn't know how to sign before we got here but, after two days, they both know how to sign 'more' and 'eat' because Felix is signing it every few minutes! Actually, to their credit, they have both been asking how to sign various things and have picked it up so fast. It's great to see Felix being able to communicate with other people, through sign, and have them understand what it is he's saying.

Our friends have been taking Felix out to their backyard to play with the dogs. One of their dogs can catch a large ball if it's thrown up into the air, and Felix thinks it's hysterically funny. He has developed the cutest giggle whenever one of us picks up the ball to throw it for the dog. Even if we kick the ball, or just chase the dog with him in our arms, he laughs his head off. He knows exactly where the back door of the house is now, so he has been going up to the people we're staying with and signing 'dog' and then almost running towards the back door. He is speaking the word "up" really well and asks to be picked up and taken back outside again. I don't think he's going to want to go home again after having extra people wrapped around his little finger.
Getting brave on the slide

There is a massive bath tub at this house and, although he was a little bit wary of it at first, Felix is really enjoying having his baths in there (although he's scared of most of the bath toys). Our friend, Ann, has been blowing bubbles with soap at the edge of the bath when he's in there, and he has started to copy her. When she rubs her hands together to make them all soapy, he rubs his hands together. When she rinses her hands by swishing them in the water, he has been doing that too. Tonight, she asked if he could blow like he was blowing bubbles, and he did it. He's getting so good at mimicking things!

One of the funniest things that happened today was with our friend, Brent. Felix has been a little bit wary of him since we arrived. He smiles and makes funny faces at him across the room, but watches him to make sure he doesn't get too close if he walks nearby. Felix had been a little bit braver today and was giving him 'high-fives' and lots of smiles so, when Brent held out his arms to Felix to pick him up, I told him to grab him to see what he would do. Felix immediately put his head on Brent's shoulder and snuggled into him without making a sound. The funny thing was that he wasn't doing it because he wanted a cuddle, he was actually too scared to move! He stayed that way until Brent walked him close to somebody else and then he leapt out of his arms as quickly as he could. It made us all laugh. He's such a funny little thing sometimes!