Thursday, May 31, 2012

Heritage Vineyards for Mother's Day

Francisco treated the entire family to a Mother's Day brunch at Heritage Trail Vineyards in Lisbon, CT where we sampled the wine with Chef Harry's amazing array of dumplings, crab cakes, barbeque beef, tuscan chicken breast, couscous, baby greens salad,  and for dessert, homemade brownie topped with raspberry gelato.
Vinter Laurie Schwartz was our hostess and her warmth and  thoughtful service made us feel like her personal guests even with a fidgety Christina.
Gabbi and I  took a walk after the delicious meal in the vineyard.
We can't wait for an excuse to have another bottle of wine, and a meal at the vineyard.

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Our Visitation Garden

Our Mary Garden is flowering in time for the Feast of the Visitation, Isabella Maria's feast day.
Last year, I planted a couple of wildflower daisies, and they took over with rampant blooms, and a beautiful blue clematis vine took over the trellis behind Our Lady. I never planted clematis, in fact I spent nearly a decade trying to grow one on Long Island, with a paltry two or three flowers. Suddenly, there are a dozen big blue flowers behind Our Lady from a vine I never planted.
I suppose Our Lady figured my garden needed a little help from above!
This is the same garden you see in the blog header above, where there was nothing but grass.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Mother's Day Surprise

  I often think how much fun it is for the ladies whose babies are being born in the Facebook age. They have a vast audience to oohh and aahh at their baby's first photos, an instant birth announcement.
 I never sent out birth announcements for my children, nursing a new baby was about all I could handle, especially with my youngest child, Christina who was born in spring of 2002. I had her a month early because my gestational diabetes endangered her life. Giving birth early made my milk slow in coming in, giving her jaundice, which required an extra hospital visit. Add to that my c-section scar and the fact that Christina had Down syndrome, and you have one very frazzled mom, spending day and night trying to breastfeed a tiny five pound baby.
We eventually succeeded, Christina was an ardent nurser once my milk came in. My friends were wonderfully supportive, I didn't cook a meal till after her Baptism, which took place in the pouring rain on Mother's Day. Over one hundred people attended, and I felt very loved.
However, a precious opportunity, to photograph her as a newborn had passed me by. Or so I thought. Last Saturday I was speaking at the Connecticut Right to Life Convention, and Dr Brian Clowes of Human Life International was waiting his turn to present. We had met before, in 2002, when Christina was one month old. He asked my permission to take photographs of her. I was flattered because, by taking her photo,  he treated Christina, the baby with Down syndrome so often rejected by society,as evidenced by the 90% abortion rate,  as a celebrity. She was sound asleep in the baby sling, and we walked over to the window to catch the afternoon sunshine.

I never got to enjoy these amazing photos, as didn't see Dr Clowes for a decade. I mentioned his taking photos of Christina in my talk, and how that helped me understand that this little girl was going to be a light in this dark world, as Blessed Pope John Paul said, a sign of contradiction. To my utter shock, he said he knew where the photos were, and, true to his word, he sent them to me, on Mother's Day.
I was thrilled to gaze upon my newborn daughter's face again, and happy memories came flooding back. How that little pink preemie outfit was bought by mistake, and I gave it to my 8 year old to use for her dolls. When Christina was born prematurely, I asked for it back, and only fit her with the sleeves rolled up. How her sleeping smile lit up her face, and my Salvadorean in-laws said it meant she was dreaming of the Virgin Mary. How her little tongue used to protrude, and we taught her to keep it inside her mouth. How utterly delicious it is to have a newborn babe wrapped next to your heart.

I had had an amazing Mother's Day last Sunday.
My husband took the family to brunch at a local vineyard cafe, my daughters made me an exquisite card and bought me luxurious rosemary mint soap and tea spice scented candles from Old Sturbridge Village. My in-laws gave me a nectarine tree and a tiny white rosebush. I thought this was going down on record as the Mother's Day to remember. I had no idea how right I was!
How generous God is when you give your life to Him!

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Monday, May 7, 2012

The gift of speech

Be grateful like blogger Kellie Dolin for your children's gift of speech, it truly is a gift. She shares on Faith & Family Live:
Sometimes I struggle with volume. “I’m standing right next to you,” I repeatedly tell one of my kids who seems to have one volume and that would be jarringly loud.
Sometimes it’s the sheer number of words. One of my kids is going to be a rapper one day. The words pour forth without pause.
But then I sit in church behind a woman whose son clearly struggles to have a voice, any voice.
Although I don’t always appreciate the message, I am so very blessed that he has a voice.
 I might be that mother in front of her in church. My ten year old daughter Christina has Down syndrome and hardly speaks. If she does, its in a whisper, or in her own particular sign language which I struggle to understand. We are doing all kinds of therapy, using Ipads and sign language, but her speech has diminished when most kids are adding to their vocabulary. It hurts me to the core.

 Recently I viewed a home video from when she was five, answering questions from daddy, with much more speech than she has now. This happens with Down syndrome, and though we have hope in many of the clinical studies being conducted now to improve cognition in those with Down syndrome to give her the connections she needs in her brain to process speech, until then,  each day is a struggle to communicate.

My constant prayer to Jesus is for Him to tell her "Ephphatha!"(be opened)
If that comes when we are both in His presence, so be it. It will be worth the wait.

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