Down syndrome

Use Your Words

imageBefore I began my career as a nurse, I worked as a preschool teacher (and I still wanted children!). I said things like “use your walking feet“, “teeth are for smiling and eating apples but not biting our friends” and my personal favorite “use your words“.  I find myself using similar sayings even now when speaking to my children and sometimes even with my patients.   However, I never thought twice about requesting a child to use their words, until I realized that my son might have difficulties forming and using his own words.

The idea that I may not hear the word “mama” uttered from his sweet little mouth until he was quite a bit older made my heart ache a bit. I could remember vividly when my daughter, still small enough to be in her pack-n-play, woke up in the middle of the night to nurse.  She requested in a small but almost desperate tone for “Mama”. My husband looked startled, and asked me if I had heard that.

I had heard it, and was almost in tears, because I had heard much more than those two little syllables. I had heard, “I love you, I need you, I know who you are and you have earned the right to be called my mama”. Okay, so most of that was probably the sleep deprivation that our daughter imposed on us with her insistence on not sleeping. EVER. But there is something so special about  BEING mama for your child for the first time.


Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself with a different little one in the same pack-n-play in our room. One particular night I sat staring at his little swaddled form and wondering, when will I be “Mama” to him. What I found over the next few months is that “Mama” sounded different when said from Gabe. To him “Mama” was outstretched hands and a giant soggy grin. It was a speed crawl with head tucked under for maximum efficiency directly to my ankles. It was a wobbly walk along the furniture to be wherever I was, just so he could place his chubby hand softly on my knee and look up at me with such adoration in his eyes that it could make my stomach flip flop. Currently, it’s a blonde hair, blue eyed toddler, pulling at my tshirt hem, and saying “Ah-Mee” in his tiny toddler voice.

You see sometimes communication looks or sounds different that what we expect. For most, communication consists of the words that we can hear. The understandable things that are spoken from ones mouth to another’s ear. For some it could be their hands that communicate for them, allowing them to share their desires and appreciation. For others, it could be written word, or touch to speak apps, or taking you by the hand and showing you what they mean. The important thing to know is that communication can take on a variety of forms. It’s imperitive that we take the time to recognize that despite what you might or might not hear uttered from someone’s mouth, what they have to say is just as important to them as what you have to say is to you.

I challenge you to just take a moment the next time that you have the opportunity to meet someone who’s style of communication seems different than yours, to stop and HEAR what they’re trying to say.  It may take a little extra time for them to share it with you, but I’m almost certain that it will be worth it.

Tutorial · Uncategorized

Tutorial: How To Wrestle An Alligator (Or Suction a Toddlers Nose)


‘Tis the season. Days are shorter and nights are longer. The weather is colder and the trees have shivered off all their leaves. People are bustling here and there, gathering their goods for the upcoming holidays. Everywhere you look there signs of winter, it’s lovely and wonderful, until you hear it.

It’s a sound that as unique as the individual it belongs to, but as familiar as your childhood home. It’s a sound that any parent can recognize when issued over a mile a way. It’s a sound that can make a grown man shudder. It’s the sound of the first sniffle.

That wretched little sniffle is followed by more and more until finally the quantity of ooze that’s escaping your child’s nose can’t be ignore any longer. The reality of a winter cold is no longer deniable and the sniffle is no longer just a little noise, it’s a problem. A problem that may be accompanied with a cough, a fever, a grumpy child and will probably be followed by everyone else in the household developing a “sniffle” too.


The problem with this little sniffle is that little babies and toddlers haven’t mastered the art of blowing their itty bitty snot filled noses into a tissue, and it falls onto your shoulder to clear their nasal passageways not only for comfort, but so they can breathe (that last bit is really important). There are a variety of tools that can be used to perform this task, however, I will only be discussing one today.

The bulb syringe

Anyone who masters the use of a bulb syringe can be likened to a master Jedi. This task could be compared to wrestling an alligator, if done incorrectly one could lose a finger (the probability is pretty low, but I’m sure there is still a risk). Your technique and timing must be perfect and the element of surprise is incredibly beneficial. The less your child knows, the better….

Now my husband and I have tried a variety of approaches; the two man, the under the leg, the football hold and the pretzel. None had proven effective, until we tried the COCOON. The ease with which the copious amounts of goo was able to be removed from my sons nose left me awe struck. It is so easy, that I had to share it.

How to successfully use a bulb syringe to clear noses using the cocoon method:


Gather supplies: you will need bulb syringe, saline spray or drops, tissue or wipes and a blanket

Lay blanket flat and place child in the middle of it. Wrap one side of the blanket across child and tuck under (make sure the arm is tucked in). Wrap the other side across and secure it under the now swaddled child. Both of the arms should be tucked inside (now those grabby little hands can’t “help”). Drop a couple drops of saline in each nostril, use bulb syringe on each side to pull out the yuck, and voila! Clean nose, happy baby, hand with all it’s fingers.


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Mommy Lessons · Tutorial · Uncategorized

Operation Save the Dream Lite

Siri, please define Poop-tastrophy

This is a surprise event that typically occurs within the confines of your child’s crib, car seat, or whatever other location said child happens to be in at the moment of occurrence. This is most often associated with detailed fingerprinting murals with a substance that resembles chocolate, I assure you that this is not indeed chocolate, please refrain from testing my knowledge. Most often there is a gag inducing smell involved.

Interventions should include donning a hazourdous waste material suit. Proceed to remove said child from the event location and wash thoroughly. Feel free to vomit as needed, but remove hazmat mask first. After said child is scrubbed free of debris you may turn your attention to the event site. This is best dealt with by retrieving offended items with kitchen tongs (to be thrown away after) and placing them gently in a garbage bag never to be seen again.

Practices to prevent poop-tastrophy from reoccurring: NEVER put said child to bed in two piece Jammie’s again.

Scout didn't survive :-( NO amount of "gentle scrubbing by hand" was gonna save him...
Scout didn’t survive 😦 NO amount of “gentle scrubbing by hand” was gonna save him…

So after finding my sweet cherub cheeked nudist playing in his poo, I freaked out.  I had to scrub every inch of his crib, and inspect each and every toy that he may have included in his excrement excitement.  I will admit that several toys did go straight into the garbage can, including his favorite buddy Scout  (He was quickly replaced by one of his loving grandmas).

Scout was not the only participant in the poo party, little man had also included his second favorite toy, his Dream Light.  This is a lovely pillow type stuffed animal with an electronic battery operated light that glows in the middle of it.   There is also a little tag that says HAND WASH ONLY in menacing letters.  Great for bedtime snuggles, nightmare for mommy to clean.  Yet I was determined.  What’s a determined mommy to do when she has no idea how to do it?  Grab a screw driver a hammer and have at it!

Cue mission impossible music 



You will need a screw driver, but you won’t need a hammer, unless you get frustrated……

Steps 1 and 2
Steps 1 and 2

1. Pop dream lite top off. Difficulty rating 1 out of 10, unless being helped by a know it all four year old
2. Unscrew screws, there are 8 of them. Place these in a secure location. Do not, I repeat, do NOT let four year old hold screws no matter how much she begs. Or you will spend the next 20 minutes on your hands and knees.

3. The top frame pops off the bottom frame.  Gently tug the two tabs inside to release it.  If gently tugging doesn’t work, feel free to take it pent up aggression and rip the sucker off.  I cant guarantee success if that route is chosen.  Once it’s free, flip him on over.

Step 4 and 5
Step 4 and 5

4. Unscrew screws, there are 6 of them.  The four year old has probably disappeared and been replaced by little brother.  Do not offer screws to him to hold or you will be waiting a loooong time for them to reappear.

5.  Pull light box out!  Pat yourself on the back, do a happy dance, eat a cookie or 6, however you want to celebrate the completion of a successful mission!

Follow the steps backwards after washing and drying to put him back together again? It is VERY important to make sure the fabric is caught between the top and bottom frame.  Here’s you a photo of the easiest way to do it.


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