Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coffee is liquid gold

I am not sure if this goes for all marriages, or if ours is just a little different. There is an unspoken rule in the Mango house. Some things are Joe's, and some things are mine. 

There are certain foods that “belong” to each of us. Joe has the fluff, provolone cheese, cereal (I used to love cereal, but ever since I had Anthony… I feel so strange drinking straight cow milk. It reminds me that I am able to completely relate to the cow. So, I skip the cereal for now), and coffee. I have the brownie packs (you know the ones; squishy, covered with colorful chocolate chips, and delicious…meant for kids lunches), the American cheese, and the apple sauce. When either of us crosses the invisible line and eats one of the items, the other takes immediate offense to it. “Wait… are you seriously eating one of MY brownies? I was saving that for tomorrow!”

Well, recently, I have been trying to make one of those things a “mutual food” in the house, and I am pretty sure Joe is not on board.

Coffee is liquid gold, and I only recently rediscovered its magical powers. For a long time, I parted ways with coffee, because the caffeine killed my stomach. But, becoming a mom and running off of little to no sleep some days has made me want to spark up a relationship with it again. It seriously works miracles, who cares what it does to my stomach! 

Take last night for example. I went to bed pretty late for me (11:40), because I was busy trying to fit in one last Shutterfly order before cyber Monday sales were over (which- side note- I discover this morning that they tricked us all and *surprise* continued the sale today anyway. So there really was no mad rush to finish the picture book)… anyway… Anthony usually wakes up around 5:30 so I thought I would at least get a few good hours in before he got up. Wrong! Anthony was up almost every hour last night. Why you ask? Who the heck knows! All I know is the bags under my eyes in the morning had their own bags! I felt I could honestly walk onto the set of Walking Dead and be cast as a zombie with no problem, or need for costume makeup. 

It was a rough day, and I know that I was not on my top mommy game. I was groggy, cranky, and didn't have the usual energy to play. Around 5, I walked by the kitchen and saw it out of the corner of my eye. The K-cups! I knew it was my only hope for survival, since Joe was working his second job and it was my responsibility to figure out how to stay awake for Anthony. Done and done. And, a big plus that Joe wasn't there to give me a hard time about my recent move to the coffee world. "You had coffee today? My K-cup? You never drink coffee, it doesn't make you feel good, you shouldn't drink it." Now I understand why he hoards the coffee, and doesn't like me using his precious k-cups... it's amazing. Since I don't drink it that often, I feel the caffeine almost immediately

I had so much energy it was like I couldn't stop. Anthony must have thought he had a mommy upgrade because I was playing like a pro! I chased him around our house at least 50 times, and loved every minute of it! (Did I mention that Anthony is SO close to walking all on his own!? He can walk independently from one side of the room to the other, all while stopping and trying to pick things up along the way. It's only a matter of time now before he takes off without looking back!) I was in a better mood, and that made for such a good night. I owe all my energy to coffee. Hook me up to an iv of coffee and I might just be mom of the year! 

Also, coffee might be my answer to blogging more. I realize that in my last post I promised Halloween pictures. Oops. Sorry to my loyal followers. Good thing for you I had coffee, and instead of sleeping (what I should be doing) I felt the desire to write! 

Actually, a big reason I haven't posted in a while is because Anthony has been non-stop sick. He went from having the croup, to the roseola virus right after. Poor guy couldn't catch a break. I hope this isn't foreshadowing a sick winter season for the little guy!

Here are the Halloween pictures as promised (just a little late). And, I'll throw in some Thanksgiving for good measure. 

Anthony went as a cute little duck for trick-or-treating and we all did a family themed costume for our Halloween party (Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach). 


 Thanksgiving! As usual, trying to split a busy day with both families is a little tough (especially for Anthony). But, we made it work, and had tons of fun. We came home that night 10 lbs heavier each from two dinners!

 So, to close... I had the idea to enter Anthony into the Gerber photo contest, along with 165,000 other mothers. I really think it would be awesome to see a child with Down syndrome become the new face of Gerber! Please vote for my son, you can once a day until December 14th. We really appreciate it!!

The link to vote for Anthony- https://photosearch.gerber.com/gallery?entry_id=347992

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy 15 Months Anthony! -- Your present? The flu shot!

I miss the posts where I wrote about Anthony each month. Those all ended when he turned 12 months old because... well honestly because our month stickers were done! I am going to bring it back this month, and probably just for other "big" age milestones in the future. 

15 Months Old 

*Side note- As I was writing out "15 Months" just now, a conversation I had with Joe, while pregnant, popped in my head. We used to think it was so annoying when parents continued to describe their child's age by month past one year. We thought it sounded crazy to say things like 15 months, or 18 months... couldn't they just say 1 year and 3 months? This required us to do math to figure out how old their kid really was in our terms, and frankly we thought the whole thing was backwards. We swore we would never do that.  

Yet, here I am month after month just continuing the constant counting. I find it quite funny that it is so much easier to say how old Anthony is using months, and a lot quicker. That is how I have been doing it since he was born, so why would I change my method after he turned a year? My mind has so much going on that simply spitting out the months takes a whole lot less effort- and I am all for that! I just hope I find a stopping point to this madness before the day I tell his Kindergarten teacher he is 60 months old. 

Anyway, I just figured I would share that random thought :)

15 Months

Date: 10/25/2014

Age: 15 Months

Weight: 21 lbs 8 oz (75th % on the DS chart and 12th% on the typical chart)

Height: 31 3/4 inches (off the DS chart and 75th % on the typical chart --> tall little man!)

Head Circ.: 44 1/2 cm

Eating: He eats every 2 hours, but has 3 big meals a day. He is eating soft solid foods like pasta, string beans, carrots, pancakes, oatmeal.. etc. He drinks whole milk, and was just introduced to Pediasure to fatten him up. He does not drink from a bottle anymore, and is trying drinking thickened milk with his "cut out cup" recommended by his speech therapist. 

Sleep: He takes two one-hour naps throughout the day and goes to bed at 7:30 and wakes up at 5:00 am.

Likes: reading books, signing time DVD, walking, laughing, playing in his playroom, going outside, his cookie monster, farm puzzle, playing with his cat Marshall, puffs, giving hugs and kisses, splashing 

Dislikes: being held down (by doctors), being told what to do, taking naps when he doesn't want to, diaper changes, getting his hair cut!

Milestones: taking 5 to 6 steps off the couch, drinking from his cut out cup, signing more and all done, mimics facial expressions and gestures, putting constants on the end of his "words", cruising along the side of the couch, giving people things he wants (books, puffs, balls), two bottom teeth!

We took Anthony to the doctors this past Friday (before his 15 month "birthday") because he has been showing signs of having reflux. While we were there, she told us that he needed his flu shot, and without thinking we said okay. That night Anthony wasn't himself, and woke up with a high fever. We gave him infant Tylenol for the first time ever and called the on-call doctor. She said that it was pretty typical for him to react to the flu shot this way. DUH! Why didn't we think of that? If we would have known, we wouldn't have given it to him that day because Saturday we had a family Halloween party planned! Anthony was horribly sick all day- screaming, not eating, not sleeping, burning up. It was awful as a parent to watch him go through that and know there wasn't much to help him. We gave him a cold bath (not too cold, but enough to lower his temp), and snuggled him all day. Needless to say, the party was cancelled. 

Happy 15 Months Anthony! We got you ... sick from the flu shot.

He did get much better by the next day and we were able to go to Linvilla for a family birthday party and to pick out our pumpkin! 

I will post pictures of our Halloween tomorrow- after our party! 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Growing Up

It's hard to let go. No matter what it is that you're "letting go" of, it's no doubt a difficult thing to do.

I have been thinking a lot recently about the person I used to be. Looking through old pictures, all which would be great candidates for a "throw back Thursday" pick, end up making me a little sad and I never get to posting them.

Life was so carefree then, even in college. The problems I thought were "huge" are nothing compared to the fears and problems I face now as a wife and mother. There is so much more weight attached to those titles.

Sometimes I find myself getting lost in old pictures and videos, wishing I could rewind time and live those moments all over again. I want to shake myself and say "Live it up! Don't let this moment slip by you so quickly!"

Life is ever-changing, so in the same respect, things cannot stay the same. I think that is something that is universally hard to deal with--growing older, wishing you could have done more, enjoyed your youth a little more.

I know it sounds like I'm 80 and talking about "back in my day..". But when I became a mother, I had to grow up and leave my carefree youth behind. So, yes, sometimes it does sound like I'm 80. And, sometimes I have the schedule to match- bed at 8:00 sounds fantastic, thank you very much! Quiet dinner in with my husband, relaxing on the couch in an over-sized t-shirt, catching up on our weekly shows = my perfect Friday night.

It is kind of pathetic, that last paragraph I typed. My old high school and college self would have never thought at 26 I would be this much of a home-body. But, I am. Life is just... different now.

Don't get me wrong. I am so happy! It is a happiness that I never even knew existed until I became a mom.

But, I feel as if I had to trade in somethings to get that happiness in exchange.

Some of my life trades so far-

* hour long phone calls to friends to catch up on the latest gossip ---> face time with grandparents and family members so they can see the baby

*hangovers ----> Diaper changes (I think they both suck equally actually)

*Being skinny and tan ----> not skinny or tan

*Staying out all night -----> the earlier in bed, the better!

*Going out to eat ----> forgetting to eat a meal and settling for a handful of baby puffs

*Going to the movies -----> finishing a movie two days later after having to pause it so many times

*Blasting music in the car and singing ----> singing "itsy bitsy spider" and "Old Mc Donald" on repeat

*Getting excited about new episodes of shows I like-----> getting excited when there is finally a new episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on

*Being alone- never being alone (that one is probably my favorite, I love always having Anthony around to keep me company and make me smile!)

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm doing it all wrong, and instead of exchanging in those parts of my old life I could still enjoy them in moderation. Maybe other moms have it all figured out, and I am left looking like a hot mess that cant seem to juggle it all. If you're one of those moms, please let me know your secret!

I would love more than anything to have a girls night again. I can't even remember the last time that happened. The night before my wedding? I don't know...

It's hard for me to see the distance growing between all of my friendships that once consumed me. I guess it was just a different time then, and maybe I'm not alone in feeling this change so deeply.

Most changes in life happen without you even noticing. Those gradual changes fade into something else right before your eyes and you don't realize until you take a second to reminisce about how things used to be.

Somethings in my life I don't want to fade away. And, I feel as if I am the one to blame for letting them.

I honestly had an entirely different post in mind when I had the idea to sit down and write during Anthony's nap. However, as usual, I was distracted when I first got to the computer and went to  Facebook instead. I took a good chunk of time scanning the old pictures and videos that make up my past. These pictures are my history, they are the reason I am who I am today. I think I had to go through each of those stages in my life to end up here. And, for that, I am so thankful.

All I know is, I am going to enjoy these moments and memories I am making now, with my family! And, I will try a little harder to bring back some of the old things that used to make me happy too. Balance is key! Maybe someday soon I will figure out how it all works.

I leave you with the thing that makes me MOST happy of all- my little baby man's adorable face.

Those eyelashes!! 

No big deal- just a little opera practice in the back yard. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Down Syndrome Awareness Month 2014

A little late in posting this since it's already mid-October... but... HAPPY Down Syndrome Awareness Month everyone! 

There are two times each year specifically designated to spreading Down syndrome awareness:
1. Every October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month
2. March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day (this date is significant because it is written as 3-21 or 3 copies of the 21st chromosome)

For this past World Down Syndrome Day I created a few lessons for educators to use to teach students about Down syndrome. I wanted to provide you with the link back to that post in case you were interested in using these lessons during Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Check out the lessons here

There is an amazing video that I recently posted on my Facebook page, and have seen it take over my news feed (rightfully so!). This video was so powerful. MattyB, the boy in the video, is a talented young rapper. He spreads the message of love and acceptance through his popular music videos. The reason I am writing about this video is because MattyB has a younger sister with Down syndrome. This is not his first time making a video with his sister, and I hope it will not be his last. 

The first time I watched this video I cried. 

Of course there are fears that go along with raising a child with Down syndrome, and acceptance is probably my number one. This video brought these fears to life for me, since they currently only live in the back of my mind. I don't have to worry much about Anthony being bullied or hurt right now, but I know that I will most likely have to face that fear in a few years. I just want to be able to protect him from everything in this world that isn't good. But, I know that I can not attend Kindergarten with him, or be there every time he meets someone new. So, at least I am hopeful that these young generations will be even more accepting and kind than the ones before them. MattyB is influencing so many young minds with his music and sending positive messages out there that I hope will stick. There need to be a lot more people like him to show others that it's not cool to bully and exclude others because of how they were born; whether it be their gender, the color of their skin, or how many chromosomes they have. We can't change how we were born, it's not a choice-it's who we are. But, we can change how we act and how we treat others. So, please, this month spread awareness about Down syndrome. The more people are educated, the more accepting they will be. If we don't make the effort, nothing will ever change. 

I personally know two amazing teachers who showed this video to their class during a bullying lesson. The video was so powerful for these students, and it sparked so many wonderful conversations not only about Down syndrome but about bullying in general. If you're in the educational field, or work with kids, show them this video. I know it will make a lasting impact on how they treat others. 

I posted the video below- but if it does not work for some reason you can find it here

To shift gears a little, I wanted to talk about the Buddy Walk we attended on October 5th!
Our team, Anthony's Avengers, raised $1,115 this year for CHOP's Buddy Walk. Wooho!! A big thank you goes out to everyone that joined us that day to walk, and those that couldn't be there but donated to a cause so close to our hearts. Thank you! Together we helped raise a total of $239,985 for the Trisomy 21 Program at CHOP.

I took a screen shot of the Buddy Walk website today to see the total amount raised- and the picture behind the numbers made me smile! It is a picture of last year's walk, and team Anthony's Avengers is front and center in our white shirts! You can even see me holding my little superhero in his red cape! It's crazy to look at that and think how much has changed in one year. This year, Anthony "walked" during the buddy walk, and had a blast. Last year, he was only 2 months old and slept most of the time. I don't want to rush this next year, but I'll admit, I am excited to see how much he will grow, change, and accomplish by our next walk!
Where's waldo  team Anthony's Avengers?!

I decided to pick only a few key pictures from the walk this year instead of posting the over 100 that I took. 

Anthony's Avengers! The best of the best! 


My little munchkin! 

Captain Anthony to the rescue! 

Geeking out with my superhero sunglasses. 

On the move! 

And, of course I had to add in pictures of Anthony with his girlfriend! We were so excited she was at the walk this year! 

Cheese! Two awesome team captains! Antonella's Admirers and Anthony's Avengers.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Spread Thin

I don't even want to look at the last time I wrote here, it was probably last month. Ugh! Sometimes I wish I had the power to freeze time so I could get everything done that I need to during the day and still have time for the things I want to do. I'm sure this is a problem that everyone can relate to, but it is one that has currently taken over my life.

When I used to go on interviews I would brag about my organization and time management skills. HA! I hope those people never catch a glimpse inside my house. I wish I could run my household like I used to run a classroom. Time management- that's a thing of the past with this little guy in my life!

I feel so all over the place lately, and this post will probably mirror that too.

These days seem to speed by and when I lay down at night, I always try to figure out what exactly I accomplished for that day. Usually its nothing. I'm a huge list person, and I love the satisfaction of crossing finished things off. However, lately it seems that more and more lists keep popping up around the house with only a measly line or two through them. So to summarize, nothing is getting done!

This school year, I am staying home with Anthony. Paying for daycare did not equal the pay I would have gotten as a substitute, and I wasn't offered anything more than that. But, guess what? No complaints on this end! I have always wanted to be a stay at home mama until my kid(s) go to school. This year, I get to try it out! Financially, we need to save up if we want to move to a bigger house in the next few years. So, that means I can't simply stay home and enjoy every second with my son. I have to contribute too, and that's fine! I actually like bringing in my own money. I am babysitting, with Anthony, three days a week, and then hopefully subbing the other two days.

With that being said, things have been a little  very hectic around the Mango house. We are trying to get into a new routine and so far it has been a big adjustment for everyone. We have so much going on: all of Anthony's therapies have been moved around, doctors visits are piling up with the time of year, my  physical therapy, Joe's two jobs (and him getting a new LTS Counseling position!! Yay Joe!!), making time for family, starting a Teachers Pay Teachers store, writing, Beautiful Beginnings, getting things together for the Buddy Walk.... and the list goes on.

I wish I could give 100% to everything I have on my plate right now, but I am finding that I am not a superhero, nor an octopus, and cannot set such high expectations for myself in one day. I am stretched sooooo thin with everything going on and I probably need to focus on a few main things instead of a million.

For example: I wanted to stay involved with teaching so I created a Teachers Pay Teachers store, and I am obsessed! I can't seem to get enough but it is so time consuming to learn the in's and out's of TpT! I only have a handful of products up for sale, but my mind is always running with new ideas. I want to post them all, and I want to do it very quickly! I read about these great success stories of teachers selling lessons, and clip art, through TpT and making good money, very good money! So far, I have only had three sales, which is pretty typical but it is driving me nuts. It makes me want to put out more and more products and find time to fine-tune my craft. The problem with that is... time. I don't have it! And that is exactly why this blog has been put to the bottom of the list so many times. So many things have happened and I have mentally stored those times in my "to blog about" section, but it is overflowing currently since I haven't written in forever.

-shameless plug: If you're a teacher, or know a teacher, check out/pass on my TpT store link! It may be helpful to you! Click here. Don't forget to follow me on there too!

Since I have been rambling on, I am going to try to summarize everything that has happened since I last blogged in a list:

1.Ladies and Gentlemen, Anthony Joseph cut his first tooth!! It is probably the sharpest thing ever, but it is adorable! Right in the middle on the bottom. He is still teething like crazy so I am hoping that more pop up soon!

2. Anthony is an even more advanced walker! He can now walk just by holding one of our hands! That is a lot of core strength! So proud of my bubby! Watch the video of him walking by clicking here

3. We have a new best friend situation in our house: Our cat Marshall and Anthony! The word "gentle" is not in Anthony's vocabulary yet, and so it is very surprising that this cat just can't get enough of Anthony's tough love! It is so cute to watch them together. I mean, honestly, look at them together.. so stinkin' cute:

4. Anthony is doing so well with eating. I know that I am the reason he has not advanced in eating as quickly as he should have. Well, me and his aspiration... but mostly me! I have a huge huge phobia of choking, and it scares the crap out of me when he doesn't chew something and just swallows right away. So, I've been getting better and the pieces have been getting bigger because I need to trust that he will know what to do. He has been doing a fantastic job, and I must pat myself on the back and say I have too, ha! 

5. We went on that mini-family vacation to OCNJ and it was perfect! Pictures to come at the end of this blog. 

6. Anthony passed his hearing test with flying colors!

7. Anthony had blood work done to test for lead levels, hemoglobin and thyroid- and he passed all of that too! I have to add that we were so nervous to bring him to get 3 vials of blood taken. The last time he put up a huge fight, and he was only a little dude! To our surprise, he was amazing with a capital A! He didn't flinch once. Such a big boy. Joe and I had prepped all of the nurses saying sorry in advance for everything we thought he would do. We walked out of there stunned looking at each other saying "what in the heck just happened?!" It was great. 

8. We went to the Delaware County Down Syndrome Interest Group's annual summer picnic and it was such a fun time! We met a lot of new families and kiddos too! Can't wait to watch them all grow up together. 

9. We have welcomed 5 babies with Down syndrome into the world so far with Beautiful Beginnings! It is all worth it to make these families happy! If you haven't already, like the Beautiful Beginning's Facebook page to follow everything that is going on with that aspect of my life. Click here

10. Anthony has just been so much fun lately. I can't pin-point anything specific that has changed, but I feel like he understands us so much more now. That makes play time so much more fun too! We just crack up at each other most of the day and I love it! He also started using the first volume of the Signing Time video, and he is obsessed. He is such a great observer and soaks it all in. I can't wait to see if he benefits from it soon!

As promised, here are the ton of pictures from our beach trip:

"Oh hey Mom, is that you there?"

Walking to the water with daddy

Sand in the mouth, again. It must be a right of passage for babies...

Can't get enough of that face!

Wild man! 

"Mom, I'll take it from here, let me have the camera!"

"Hmmph, I never get what I want"

Walkin' the boards

My guys! 

Always on the move!

One of my favorite new family photos!

Not very impressed with the swing.

But Daddy makes everything funny!

yay for a pool day!


Boys will be boys

My love!

And now for the professional pictures taken by Monica Jones! She always does a fantastic job, even with a cranky baby at his bed time! We love them.

I love my family!

Hope you enjoyed this extra long post!