Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Sep '08

Wesley’s Debut in San Francisco

This week I flew to California with my dad and Wesley to visit my dad’s parents so they could meet their great-grandson Wes.

Wes was a natural flier. On our flight there he fell asleep as we were taxiing for take-off and slept for over half the flight. When he woke up I fed him a bottle and then he was bouncing around on my dad’s lap in the best mood ever.

As we prepared to land at the Oakland airport we got a great view of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. It was remarkably clear.

We got our luggage and took the shuttle to the car rental place. When we got there we realized we had left the car seat at the baggage claim and would have to go back. We had to sneak Wes into the rental car (which was illegal with no car seat) and drive back to the terminal. I was so nervous that the car rental officials or the Oakland airport security (who are wandering all over the place) would catch us out. But the car rental guys hardly even glanced at us as we drove off with Wes in the backseat on my lap, nor did the lady in the booth who took our ticket as we left the car rental area.

When we got to the terminal Dad pulled over and I hopped out with Wes and walked right past a security guard who had seen that we were sans car seat. As I went inside I saw him hollering towards my dad, who was about to pull out. When I came back outside with Wes (in the car seat at last) I asked my dad if he had gotten in trouble. To my surprise, he said that the security guard had realized we were returning to get a car seat and was telling him he could stay parked in the no-parking zone since the terminal wasn’t very busy just then. I thought that was really nice and human-like of the security officer. And how nice of him to notice we were breaking the law but trying to fix it, even though the car rental people were blind to the whole thing.

On our way to Concord, where my grandfolks live, my dad took me to the Oakland Temple.

He and my mom were married there in 1976. I had only been there once when I was seven and only vaguely remember standing by a fountain out front. This time we walked through the Vistors’ Center and strolled through the garden terrace that encircles the second level of the temple. It was a beautifully clear day, and from the temple we could see all the way across the bay to San Francisco. Wes was asleep the whole time.

Our hotel was the Summerfield Suites in Pleasant Hill, which was pretty much The Most Perfect Hotel Ever. I booked us a two-bedroom suite so my dad and I could each have our own room, and Wes slept in a crib in the living room between us. We each had our own bathroom and television sets, so we didn’t see each other much. Just kidding; one time we actually congregated in the living room and watched The Fresh Prince of Bel Air together on the flat screen there while Wes ate a bottle. (Side note: I found out recently that my 18-year-old brother has never heard of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Am I that old already?) The hotel also had a large outdoor swimming pool and hot tub that I looked at longingly every time we passed it but, sadly, never had time to actually use.

After we checked into our hotel my dad and I went across the street to get a snack at Coco Swirl. It’s a frozen yogurt place that has a brilliant setup and would absolutely make a fortune if it came to Provo, Utah. There are five self-serve frozen yogurt machines lining the wall, each with two flavors and a swirl. You grab a cup, fill it with as much yogurt as you want in any flavor you want, then add all the toppings you want. The cup is weighed and the price is by the pound. I got Ghiradelli chocolate, cookies n’ cream, cake batter, strawberry…and a few others, I think. I topped mine with strawberries and M&Ms. It was super delicious. Wes, as you may already know, is crazy about ice cream, so we had to share.

On Friday we wanted to do something touristy that my grandma would enjoy, too, so we went to Pier 39 in San Francisco and took a 2 1/2 hour tour of San Francisco on a motorized trolley. Just before we got lunch at the Boudin Bakery (egg salad on sourdough slices), which was tasty.

Here’s what our tour bus looked like, and that’s the Golden Gate Bridge behind it. That is all we could see of the entire bridge because it was so foggy.

Wes was strapped to me in the Baby Bjorn, and he slept for most of the tour. We stopped at three places where we could get out and walk around. The first place was near the Exploritorium, which was also the site of the 1915 world fair. A lot of tours stop here, so a lot of tourists–especially foreign ones–were milling around with cameras and camcorders in hand.

One of the first things I saw when I got off the bus was a man, obviously a local, with headphones on and six dogs in tow.

It’s not something you see every day, so I grabbed my camera and snapped a photo. The two Asian girls next to me did the same. Then they turned and saw me and Wes and started smiling and exclaiming in their language. I think it must have been something like, “Oh, how cute–that woman has a sleeping baby strapped to her chest in some weird contraption we don’t have back home.” And then they snapped a photo of us! As I walked further on there was a Japanese man videotaping the architecture. When he saw me walk by with Wes he zoomed the camera in on him. Wes is now a Japanese superstar.

We also stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge, which was FREEZING, and amazingly foggy even though it had been clear and warm half an hour earlier. We couldn’t see much of the bridge for the fog, but it was interesting to see the fog roll in (it moves fast) and to learn that there are 1300 confirmed suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge. (I thought it was ironic that after telling us this fact they stopped the bus and encouraged us to get off and walk up to the bridge ourselves.) My dad bought us a nice hot chocolate to share, which hit the spot.

Following our tour we drove to Heaven on Earth, more officially known as The Bittersweet Cafe. I’m kind of a nerd, in that when I travel I have to find at least one cool local place that is non-touristy and will leave me with good memories and satisfied taste buds. This was that place.

(That’s my grandma standing and looking at the merchandise.)

This place has chocolate confections, pastries, drinks, and–oh, yes–hundreds of chocolate bars from around the world. I already mentioned that this place is Heaven on Earth, didn’t I?

After perusing the selection I picked out a few bars of chocolate for my chocoholic husband back home and bought myself a drink to go: peanut butter hot chocolate. No mixes here. This was real chocolate melted down and blended with 2% milk and peanut butter. It was rich and creamy and warm. Pretty much, if I could pump it directly to my bloodstream, I would.

That night we got together with my cousins and their spouses. It was delightful to meet my cousin’s wife Coila, whom I’ve talked to in the world of blogging but had never met. Plus I got to hold the newest addition to our family, the 26-day-old son of my cousin Melissa. It was a fun get-together and was over too quickly.

Wes handled the flight home fine, falling asleep about twenty minutes in and not waking up again until we were halfway home in the car on I-15.

Sep '08


Saturday I did something super fun and exciting: got certified to teach Zumba!

Zumba is a dance fitness class inspired by Latin and international music. I stumbled upon Zumba totally by accident (ended up in a class I don’t usually go to) and was intrigued. I went to a second class on purpose, and was hooked. Zumba is so different from normal aerobics (which I also love). It’s fast, fun, and doesn’t feel like a workout. You get to the end of class and can’t believe the hour is up. Also–and this is significant for me, who truly can’t dance–anyone can do Zumba and love doing it.

When I heard a certification workshop was coming to Utah I jumped onboard and am so glad I did. The workshop was so much fun, and now I’m prepared to teach basic Zumba classes.

I was already planning to start up an aerobics class at our church in the next month or so with hi/lo (floor aerobics) and cardio kickboxing. Now we can Zumba too!

If you live nearby and want to join in, the classes will be FREE and kid friendly. If the classes are in the mid-morning hours the kids can play together in the back of the gym and hopefully no one will kill each other while we’re working out up front. I might do an early morning class (5:30 or 6 a.m.) for people who have to go to work.

I’ve been an aerobics-monger for 8 years and Zumba is the most exciting thing I’ve done in all that time. Check it out. (Obviously in my class there would be much less of the bikini-clad scene you see in the videos and more of the everything-vital-is-covered-up look.)

Sep '08

Wesley’s 12-month checkup

I took Wes to the doctor today for his one-year appointment. The receptionist remembers Wes from when he was teeny-beeny (I had to bring him in every week for weight checks for the first two months), and she always comments on how big he is.

“Big” is a relative term, though. Wes is growing for sure, but I’m sorry to say that he’s stuck in that rear-facing car seat for a long while still. He has to be 20 pounds, and so far he hasn’t quite tipped 16 pounds. Today he was 15.95 pounds and 27.5 inches long (up from the 3 lbs 15 oz and 16 inches at birth).

His checkup was fine. The doctor said if Wes doesn’t get teeth in the next three to six months that he’ll order x-rays, but it’s not uncommon for kids Wesley’s age to still be toothless. We talked about Wesley’s eating habits. The short of it is that Wes will pretty much eat anything that comes in contact with his mouth–and like it too–but we always get the encore act of everything he eats when he spits it up again later, sometimes over and over again. I recently started giving him whole milk but stopped when I realized the smell of curdled, partially digested milk is way worse than formula or breastmilk. I mean, waaaaaaaaaay worse. When I asked the doctor when I could expect Wes to get over his spitting up, he shrugged and said, “I don’t know.” Although he did say that a lot of babies show marked improvement between 12 and 13 months. He wasn’t sure if that would apply to Wes since he’s much smaller than other kids his age.

Speaking of size, the nurse couldn’t get the computer program to print out the growth charts specifically for kids with Down syndrome, so we got Wesley’s stats on a regular chart instead. And he doesn’t even make it to the Zero Percentile for any of his measurements. You see all these lines zig-zagging upward, showing the range of growth progress, and then there’s Wesley’s little dot plotted a half-inch below all the lines. Poor kidlet. But I’m pretty confident that on the DS chart he’d probably be somewhere around 20% for most of his stats.

The doctor also said about Wesley’s reflux that it’s possible his Down syndrome is making it hard for him to get over it by the way his little body is set up inside. Maybe his stomach tissues are more sensitive or something.

Also related to his DS, I have to take Wes to get his thyroid checked annually. Wes is at a higher risk for thyroid problems because of the Down syndrome. Our doctor treats other DS patients, and several of them are on medication to help regulate their thyroids. The thyroid test involves a blood draw at the hospital lab, but I couldn’t bring myself to take him today since he got three shots and blood taken from his toe for an iron check. (It turns out Wesley’s iron level is low, but not anemic, and the doctor suggested we feed him more meat. Every man’s dream!)

Sep '08

Ear, Nose, Throat Visit

It’s routine to take kids with Down syndrome in to see the ENT (ear/nose/throat) doctor by the time they’re about one year old. That’s because kids with DS have smaller ear and nasal passages than other kids, which can mean trouble (like frequent ear infections). Wes has been super healthy and hasn’t had any ear infections, and I know he can hear just fine. But I took him in anyway just to make sure.

Wes made fast friends with the receptionist and doctor by smiling at them like crazy. But when the doctor put the lighted tube into his ears and the tongue depressor in his mouth (which made him gag), he might have regretted his earlier friendliness and he had no more smiles for the doctor. The ear thing was cool for me to see, though. The lighted tube has a camera on it and I could see on the TV monitor what was in Wesley’s ear. It was done quickly, so Wes wasn’t uncomfortable for long. When it got to the ear drum the doctor froze the frame on the TV and pulled out the lighted tube and Wes could relax. Then we looked at the ear drum together, the doctor knowingly and me pretending to know what I was looking at, and the doctor declared that both of Wesley’s ear drums appear healthy. He said this is pretty remarkable for a kid with Down syndrome and congratulated me (not like I had much to do with it…).

The doctor did say that as Wes gets older and interacts more with kids in the world he’ll be more prone to picking up ear infections, so we’ll have to see how things go. I’ve talked to a lot of moms whose kids with DS have tubes inserted to help drain the fluid and prevent ear infections. It seems not uncommon for DS kids, but if Wes continues on track hopefully we can get away without the tubage.

On another bright note, I always thought Wes has a lot of ear wax, but the doctor said it’s actually not too bad. Which made me feel better because, wow, his ears seem dirty to me. Maybe that’s just part of being a little boy.

Sep '08

Birthday Boy: Wes Is One!

Last week we had Wesley’s picture taken professionally (I’ll post some pictures later), including some pictures in his Halloween costume from last year. Then he weighed only about 5 pounds, and the costume is size 0-9 months, so last year he was pretty much drowning in it.

But this year it fits him much better. I think he weighs around 16 pounds now. Anyway, I brought him home from the shoot in his costume and let him play in it a while until he spit up all over it and necessitated a change. It’s not everyday you have Superman in the house.

Wesley turned one on Friday the 12th. It was a quiet affair. We gave him a cupcake, just to see what he’d do with it. I wasn’t sure he’d know how to eat it, but he dug right in. I wonder, in retrospect, if I should have left off the frosting. It kept sticking to his hands, which he kept shaking to get the sticky stuff off, which meant cake pieces were flying around everywhere and John was frantically pulling over extra blankets around the high chair to act as protection to the carpet.

For his birthday we ordered three toys online, but none of them have come yet. But on his birthday we did give Wes two balls. Apparently until now he has led a seriously underprivileged baby life without any balls to play with. I didn’t realize they were The Thing to have. I’m really glad we got him the balls; he loves it when we roll the ball to him and he tries to roll it back. I’m loving that he’s getting so interactive.

Sep '08

Fall Cometh

I pulled this outfit from Wesley’s closet today, put it on him, and about died from cuteness overload. It was a gift from my visiting teacher last year. When she gave it to him I was worried he wouldn’t be able to wear it because the outfit is size 3-6 months, and when Wes was actually 3-6 months in age he was wearing sizes newborn and 0-3 months. But hooray, he’s finally big enough and it’s finally cool enough that I got to see him in it today. (The stuffed fox is part of the outfit. It’s like his little pocket friend.)

As a side-note, Wes has started to crawl towards our cats, who have quickly learned to run far away as fast as they can whenever they see Wes starting towards them. It gives him good motivation, and them good exercise.