11 March 2012

Birthdays Galore!

Pleins d’Anniversaires!

The last few weeks have been birthday-celebrations filled in the Cathal & Co household. Late January it was the Mammy’s. On the 25th February it was Oisín’s first birthday…. I am just wondering where that year has gone! And then exactly 2 weeks later (thanks to the extra day in February). Cathal blew out 4 candles.  Yes! 4!

Ces dernières semaines ont été pleines de célébrations d’anniversaires chez la famille Cathal & Compagnie. Vers la fin janvier c’était celui de la Maman. Le 25 février c’était le premier anniversaire d’Oisín… je me demande où est passée cette année ! Et puis exactement 2 semaines plus tard (grâce au jour supplémentaire en février), Cathal a soufflé 4 bougies. Oui ! 4 !

Here is a little taste of my Little Princes’ celebrations.

Voici un petit goût des célébrations de mes Petits Princes.

Oisín’s was very puzzled as to why he couldn’t touch the flame….
Oisín avait du mal à comprendre pourquoi il ne pouvait pas toucher la flamme…

Yum yum yum….
Miam miam miam…

How old are you Cathal? Four! Who is a big boy? Me!
Quel âge as-tu Cathal ? Quatre ans ! Qui est un grand garçon ? Moi !

The loveliest kiss EVER!
Le meilleur baiser JAMAIS donné !

The brothers relaxing after a hard afternoon of birthday partying
Les frères se relaxant après une long après-midi de fête d’anniversaire.

15 October 2011

Sharks, Turtles and… Spiders!

Last Sunday afternoon Cathal and I went to Sealife, an aquarium South of Dublin.

The Sharks were a major hit, we spent a long time watching them and commenting on them.

The turtles were also a favourite, we had to stop and admire them twice. But the second time was the best, as Cathal proved it is possible to play Hide and Seek with sea creatures.

And to finish it all, yesterday evening I got a recital of Incy Bitsy Spider. Lovely!

PS – Cathal’s speech is coming along so much at the moment. He is acquiring many words and expressions so quickly that I do not always understand what he is saying. I am the one who needs to catch up! ;-)

02 October 2011

In their own time… whenever that may be

Cathal has never been a crawler, rather a bum-shuffler. He has developed his own very accurate and very fast style in this form of locomotion. Walking has not been that easy for him. Low muscle tones and weak ligaments in his ankles and knees have meant that standing and then walking were difficult for him. In the beginning his little legs simply could not position themselves well enough to carry his weight, and then they could not carry his weight with enough stability to enable him to walk on his own. Confidence to try and launch yourself unaided comes only if stability is there to some degree. Until now it has not been there for Cathal.

But it has not been for lack of trying. Remember this video taken around Christmas last, when Cathal was about 2 and a half months short of his third birthday? It was then such fun trying out this Walking Business.

A couple of weeks ago, after months of practising, and at the great age of 3 years and 6 & half months, encouraged by the Dad, Cathal very bravely took his first steps unaided. And it was all captured by the Mammy:

I am very VERY proud of him. It has been a long and difficult road for him to get there. Since then, as a matter of routine, he still much prefers to bum-shuffle his way around than to walk. But every so often, if in the right frame of mind, and coaxed properly, he may take off for a few steps. All in all, a major milestone for Cathal.

On the other side, Oisín seems to be a great student of his big brother. He may be only barely 7 months old, but sometimes he looks at Cathal with such intensity, you would think he is willing himself to follow him... and he is not that far. Because he is very clearly attempting to emulate the Big Bro in the house. For example, look at this, filmed only a few days ago by the Mammy, when the lure of Cathal’s garage was simply too much to resist, and when sitting still against the green pillow was not an option…

We have been wondering for a while now which of the two will be the first to walk and run around freely. And right now I still would not hazard a guess. But one thing is for sure, they are encouraging each other, and pulling each other along. God help their parents by the time both of them walk and run around!

One last little thing I wish to share here, two photos I took on Friday evening, after putting Cathal to bed (he fell asleep in my arms as I went through “our” ritual, singing him a French lullaby).

One very tired little boy, one very tired cat...

(hmmmm, no place like Mammy and Daddy's bed!)

... and one very tired big brother.

All so sweet!

26 July 2011

Sleepover Snapshots

Snapshot no. 1 – Saturday morning
Cathal is brought over to me by the Mammy. He throws himself into my arms and holds on tight, so tight, for so long.
When the Mammy leaves, he waves at her with a big smile and shouts “Byyyyye”

Snapshot no. 2 – later Saturday morning
Me: “We are going shopping now Cathal. What we will get?”
Cathal: “Milk... Shoes... Apple... Banana”
Total score: 3 out of 4 – His accuracy is very impressive!
Apparently he suggested the first three items to the Mammy the previous day. I got the lone banana as a bonus!

Snapshot no. 3 – Saturday afternoon
Walking to the local playground during the afternoon, Cathal in the buggy, me pushing. Cathal is providing me with a non-stop running commentary on everything he sees:
- Car!... Bike!... Car!
- What colour is that car?
- Red!... Blue!... Red!... Boy!... Man!... Bike!
And all this in between various snippets of “Cathal Babble” which I cannot decipher.
When we turn off along the green that leads us to the playground, the lack of traffic brings a pause… quickly broken by signing. Old McDonald apparently has a tiger, a lion and a snake on his farm, as well as the more traditional cows, pigs, dogs, cats, ducks, horses, etc.

The return walk home is as talkative and musical.

Snapshot no. 4 – Sunday morning
5.40 am
- NaaaaNaaaa

5.45 am (standing against my bed)
- Nana wake.
- No.
- Nana! Wake!
- No.
- Nooooo...
But I did! No choice...

Snapshot no. 5 – 30 minutes later – on my bed
Cathal decides to get another book for me to read to him in bed. Positioning himself at the edge of the bed, he is talking to himself in almost a whisper:
“Careful... Careful... Ready, steady, go.”
And he slides down off the bed, ever so slowly, ever so cautiously, obtaining a perfect slow-motion landing.

Snapshot no. 6 – Sunday 8.10 am
Cathal insists that I sit next to him on the couch to watch Cbeebies. As I over bring my bowl of cereal, he asks for the rest of his own cereals he did not want to finish earlier on.
So we sit, side by side, watching TV, eating. Every so often he looks at me and smiles. No words needed.

Snapshot no. 7 – Sunday 8.35 am
I feel sorry for my neighbours: Cathal is in the bath, and exercising his vocal cords to the max, testing the match between the acoustics of the bathroom and his musical talents. And when I tell him he is very noisy he burst laughing.

Snapshot no. 8 – Sunday 9.45 am
We are on the motorway, driving to Imaginosity. The radio is on. Cathal has resumed his singing, adding some very cool dance moves I catch in the rear-view mirror. As quickly as he started singing he falls asleep: no wonder! But I don’t have this luxury, I am driving, aren’t I?

Snapshot no. 9 – Sunday late morning – Imaginosity
Cathal is totally taken by the foam bricks: first we rebuild the wall we have knocked down. As the top rows are out of his reach, he uses the remainder of the bricks to build a series of little walls around the room, each with a different pattern, yet each almost perfectly aligned. Of course, the running commentary has resumed.

Snapshot no. 10 – Sunday lunch time
As we are nearing his house, he suddenly shouts: “Daddy Mammy! Yay!”
Quickly followed by “Oisín! Yay!”

I am aware that people with Down Syndrome are said to be very affectionate and always happy. I pay no heed to such generalisations. Every single person has his or her own individual personality. If this includes a penchant for affection and positivity, as with any one else all the better, as it makes everyone’s life more pleasant.

But I must say that having Cathal for a sleepover is always a pleasure, not just because of the fun we have, but mainly because of his own, and very personal, cheerfulness, his almost constant joy, his easy excitement at everything that is proposed to him. As with many 3 year olds trying to affirm their own individuality, his favourite word is “NO!” - always delivered in a forceful manner. Yet his face usually lights up again within seconds of expressing this negativity.

If we all took a leaf out of Cathal’s Happy Book, we would have a much more pleasant day. Every day.

26 June 2011

Phone Conversation

Since Cathal has been about 4 months old, I have often spoken to him on the phone. It’s a nice way to keep in contact between the times I can see him, and can hold him, hug him, kiss him, and play with him.

In the very beginnings, Cathal heard my voice but had no idea where it was coming from and generally ignored it. Then came several stages when:
- he licked the phone - must have tasted nice!
- played with it - pressing the difference buttons is such fun
- eventually listened attentively, without a sound
- listened and answered with little baby gurgling sounds
- gave the phone a broad smile - though I could not see him, but his intentions where in the right place.

Until Cathal started giggling after every sentence I said, every question I asked. Obviously, this was highly entertaining.

And this giggling communication went on for quite some time. About a year and a half in fact.

Until last Friday lunch time.

I needed to make a quick call to the Mammy. And during our conversation I could hear Cathal in the background so I suggested that she gives him the phone once we had finished our own conversation. It went like something like this:

- Hello Cathal!
- . . . NANA!
- How are you Cathal?
- Nana!
- Are you well?
- Yeshhh!
- Are you good?
- Yeshhh!
- Did you have your lunch?
- Yeshhh!
- What did you have?
- . . . .
- Was it a nice lunch?
- Yeshhh!
- Did you go to school this morning?
- NO!
- Did you go swimming?
- Yeshhh!
- Was it nice?
- Yeshhh!
- Cathal, I must go now. Will you give me a kiss?
- *sound of kissing coming down the line*
- And here is a kiss for you Cathal.
*sound of kissing on my side, echoed by Cathal*
- Bye Bye Cathal

And the Mammy came back on the phone.

Nearly three years on, and I had just had my first two-way phone conversation with Cathal.


Signed: A Nana who got very emotional after this phone call.