Friday, February 27, 2009

Growth Spurts

Lidia predicted it, and she was right: Nathaniel and Carter--just a few days shy of being three months old(!)--are each going through another "growth spurt", which accounts for their nocturnal restlessness and shortened intervals between feedings.

Tonight, the boys were surprisingly well-behaved during bath time (smiling, even!), although I'm sure the presence of their marine friends Mr. Turtle, Mr. Octopus, and Mr. Crab contributed to the aquatic revery.

Once dried and dressed, it wasn't long before both of them were crying out for another dose of Good Start formula, which cut the planned "tummy time" antics short for the evening. They'd had plenty of exercise during the day, so they'd earned a night off from boot camp.

Nathaniel was particularly chatty--cooing and gurgling away, clearly with a lot on his mind. Carter was a bit more serene than usual, but in a disturbing development, he seemed particularly entertained by my terrible rendition of Trans-X's 80s synthpop nugget "Living On Video", thanks to a new Pepsi ad...which we will both endeavour to make sure the boys never hear again...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bungle In The Jungle

Nathaniel's one popular little dude--today, he had another visitor: Paula, from Centennial Infant And Child Centre, who will also be coming by every two weeks to take part in physical therapy and playtime. And like everyone else, she's super-impressed with Nathaniel's energy, awareness, and irresistable charm...and she's only known him about an hour!

Paula was very helpful in guiding us through the centre's various programs, ensuring we were on the right waiting lists, and gave us plenty of info for various funding programs that we might or might not need, and might or might not qualify for(depending on income level and the usual brouhaha...).

She also offered a few other suggestions for "tummy time", in addition to Joey's regime, which gave the boys an afternoon of fun that continued into the evening once I arrived home from work.

The jungle playset is a huge hit--Carter and Nathaniel wiggled around with the blue monkey and weird pineapple-headed dude until it was time for bottles and long-overdue naps...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Critical Mass

Quick, what weights 10 pounds? A bag of sugar. A bowling ball. A 32-inch LCD television. Our two cats Minnie and Maggie (each, that is...approximately, anyway). And my wallet, some would say, thanks to my expanding collection of ATM receipts and expired health benefit cards from whomever owns my employer these days...

(forgive my dated use of English units, but remember--Canada didn't go officially metric until 1973, and being in Grade 3, I was far too old to change my ways...)

Oh, and two other things: our boys Carter and Nathaniel. Can you hear my spinal ligaments tearing? I'm not a big guy--save me Baby Bjorn!

Today was the day for the boys bi-weekly checkup and weigh-in (plus another round of RSV shots), which found the dynamic duo had more than doubled their respective birth weights in just under three months! Dr. P was very impressed with their progress (and presumably, good spirits), and was pleased to hear that Nathaniel had already been visited by people from Surrey Place.

The official numbers are as follows:

Nathaniel clocks in at 10 lbs, 5 oz.

His older brother (by two minutes) Carter is just a little behind at 10 lbs, 1 oz.

Needless to say, I'm no longer in any great hurry to introduce them to the charms of Dr. Seuss' "Hop On Pop"...not without a paramedic on call...

Bright lights during a dark time

On February 13, 2009, my father, Augusto Ferrari -- otherwise known as "Nonno" to Carter and Nathaniel -- passed away after a tumultuous year-long battle with cancer.

Dad was diagnosed just before I became pregnant. He had a massive tumor on his right kidney and, last August, the kidney and the tumor were removed, only to find the cancer had spread to his lungs. Two month-long rounds of chemotherapy later, he complained of pain in his pelvic area, and cancer was found in his bones. A week of radiation therapy got rid of the pain, but by then it was too late. As January 2009 crossed into February my father became too weak to fight this most insidious disease.

He only got to hold his grandsons once, on New Year's Day, in a memorable visit that brought tears to his eyes and mine. My biggest regret is that he didn't get to see them at least one more time before he left us.

My parents have an amazing network of friends, people they've known since they came to Canada, as well as their fellow parishoners at St. Martin of Tours Parish in Mississauga. We had two visitation on February 16th, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, to accommodate the expected mourners. I didn't know anyone we could leave the boys with that wouldn't be with me and my mother at the funeral home, so we brought them with us.

As I sat with my mom in the viewing room, the boys were quietly sitting in their car seats in an anteroom, watched over by my mom's neighbor Norma Sabadin (who did daycare in her home until 2 years ago when she started caring exclusively for her very cute grandson Ethan). And as friends, acquaintances and work colleagues came in to give us their condolences, their sadness soon turned to smiles as they visited with the boys.

We were constantly complimented on how beautiful and how good they were being, and it felt good. It felt good to know that a little bit of Nonno lives on in them; perhaps his musical or artistic talent, or his easygoing and friendly nature, or his sense of humour and love of life.

Whatever happens, Carter and Nathaniel will always know who their Nonno was. They now have his Alpini hat, from his days in the mountaineering branch of the Italian army, a stylish adorned cap with a huge feather in it. And even though they don't understand it now, we'll tell them what their special role was in the days when we had to bid him goodbye. And wherever he is, we know that Nonno is watching you grow into bright and beautiful young men.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pal Joey

Last week, we were introduced to Joey Abrenilla, an occupational therapist from Cota Health referred to us by Surrey Place Centre, who will be working one-on-one with Nathaniel out of our home on gross motor skills--in short, basic (but important!) stuff like lifting his head, grabbing with his hands, lower body strength and balance which can be slow to develop in some children with Down Syndrome due to (generally) weaker muscle tone.

Nathaniel charmed Joey right away (really, who can resist that sly smile?), and promptly demonstrated what we already knew: that he's a ready-steady bundle of energy and so far has yet to reveal a single indicator of any physical delay. Joey was pleased that Lidia and I had already instituted a daily routine of simple games and exercises that were clearly doing him some substantial good--after spending only a half hour with him, Joey found him to be not only right on target, but a bit more advanced than expected for his age and condition...

Today, Joey was back to demonstrate a few more exercises for us to adopt, and was once again thrilled at Nathaniel's ability to lift his head, respond to visual stimuli, and overall independent movement and strength. Nathaniel clearly enjoys the company of his own personal trainer--so it's too bad that soon Joey will be leaving his post and will be replaced by someone as-yet-unnamed.

Tonight, during a particularly noisy episode of "24", Nathaniel and I did some more exercises on the inflatable pillow downstairs, and I was amazed that Nathaniel was able to not only lift his head and hold it for several seconds (many times), but that he tirelessly worked to pull himself forward several this rate, he'll be crawling sooner than later! Inspiration, too, for his old man to stay in shape...someone's gonna have to keep up with this little dynamo!

Splish, Splash...

Gotta show up to those bi-weekly doctor's visits smelling like a rose...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's Not The Tale, But How You Tell It...

Tonight, while watching "Jeopardy" with the boys, Lidia and I thought we'd aced the "Kid Lit" category (after yours truly cleaned up on "Superhero Movies", of course) until we tanked on the $1000 question--the answer for which turned out to be Eric Carle's 1969 classic "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".

Turns out we HAD the book upstairs, but hadn't actually yet read it to Nathaniel and Carter, who until now have had to make due with their father's meandering ramblings about whatever occurred to him at the moment (I'd attempted to read the boys the latest issue of "Astonishing X-Men", but even I had no idea what was going on). We've got a near-complete collection of Maurice Sendak, some choice Munsch titles thanks to Jackie, a Beatrix Pottery anthology, and a smattering of other titles that we'll soon expand into a library of Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, and other essentials. And if we run out of material, Dad can aalways read the boys the screenplay he was commissioned to write at the age of 23 that still hasn't been made into a movie...

Lidia read while I snapped photos. The boys seemed to enjoy the tale of the gluttonous insect, but I doubt we were any match for the soothing intonations of Alex Trebek...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekend Warriors

Mobility is overrated--these guys know how to have fun without ever leaving their spots...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

V For Vaccination

It was a banner day for the boys: for exactly two months now they've squeaked and drooled over this mortal earth since being "untimely ripped" (as ye olde Bard put it so eloquently in "Macbeth") last December. And while they're definitely growing and developing an awareness of their surroundings and their hapless servants (like yours truly)--oddly--their sleeping habits haven't evolved in the least. In fact, one could argue they've devolved, if the circles under our eyes are any indication--at this point, I take comfort in knowing I'll have several hundred hours of videotaped blackmail to use against the boys during their teenage years...not that I would...maybe...

This morning, it was back to Dr. Papadouris' clinic (through the usual miserable Toronto weather) for another check-up and trying round of important shots. Lidia dressed up the duo in a matching set of snazzy Pooh attire (dig the little socks), and as if we needed any more evidence that the boys have gained some girth (our humble downtown abode is nothing but stairs), we found we no longer needed to reinforce them into their car seats with support blankets.

Given it was an earlier appointment, the wait wasn't nearly as long as in previous visits, and soon enough, we were behind closed doors for the bi-weekly weigh-in. Believe the ads: milk does a body good, all right--Nathaniel has gained more than a pound at 9 lbs, 2 oz, with Carter not far behind at 8 lbs, 10 oz! It might be time for me to investigate cheap steroids if I'm expected to hoist these boys around for the foreseeable future--I certainly reside in the right neighbourhood for easy access to "controlled substances"...

The otherwise agreeable mood was shattered when Dr. P produced a pair of needles for each of them. A series of pinpricks later, and the boys were now protected against diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Hib, and pneumo conjugate. Hell, I don't even think I'm safe from half of these...

Back home, it was time to enforce a new sleeping position at Dr. P's suggestion, to alleviate some of the pressure on the side of the head they favour. Can't say it was a "hit" exactly--they've preferred this arrangement since the womb--and Carter's expressive hands have lead to more than one unwelcome recreation of a classic Three Stooges bit. But Carter'd better watch those fingers--Nathaniel has already figured out "The Steamroller"...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Cure For The Winter Blahs...

Who needs a tropical vacation or a winning Superbowl pool when you've got finger puppets?

These boys have got their priorities right...this weekend welcomed Mr. Dragon and Mr. Chimp, and everyone got along just fine as you can see by Nathaniel and Carter's enthusiastic responses...

(Daddy bought himself a pricey "Rorschach" statue from "Watchmen", which suffice to say won't be ending up in the boys' hands any time soon...)