Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Down syndrome ROCKS!

It's that time of year again! October is Down syndrome awareness month! I love someone who has Down syndrome! In fact I love many who have Down syndrome. This video was created by the UDSF (Utah Down Syndrome Foundation) and you will see many of the faces I personally know and love with Ds. Happy October! Happy Down syndrome awareness month! Enjoy this HAPPY video and have a HAPPY day!! By the way, Down syndrome rocks!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Love Is All You Need

There are many days when I question my parenting skills. Wondering if what I am teaching my children is sinking in. My biggest concern is are my children learning the most important lesson of compassion and love, and especially for each other? Then the Lord has His way of answering me and I am comforted by these glimmers of hope. A few of these tender mercies happened even this past week. They're small but big enough to remind me that I am doing something (even if it's just a smidgen) right. The first stories happened between Beck and Kate. I had asked Beck to do me a favor. I kindly asked, "Beck will you do me a favor and help me with something?" I gave no explanation as to what I needed him to do and I was hoping that he would just say yes, but he actually said no. So I asked Kate the same question and she willingly said yes. After she had picked up the bowls and lids that Sara had thrown on the floor because the child lock was not on the cabinet, I praised her and offered her a piece of gum. (Gum is a huge incentive in our home.) When Beck heard that she got rewarded for her willingness to help, he got upset and told me that had he known gum was involved he would have said yes. I told him that we should do things because we want to help, not because there is a reward. He stormed off crying stating that it wasn't fair. Kate was obviously pleased and couldn't wait until I gave her the gum. While I was handing it to her she said with a smile, "Can I actually have 2 pieces?" I was happy to give her 2 and soon after she walked into the room where Beck was sitting, still crying, and gave him her 2nd piece of gum. Then a couple of days later I looked out the window to check on the kids and I see Beck helping Kate tie the sash to her dress that had become untied.

The next story involved Cole and Beck. Back in February Cole got tickets for his birthday to see OneRepublic in concert. We had purchased 4 lawn seat tickets so told Cole that he could invite anyone he wanted to. He had a few friends in mind but hadn't made any decisions. The concert was fast approaching and I had asked Cole on several occasions if he had decided who he was going to take. Finally with only a few days left I asked him again and to my surprise he said "Beck". As you can imagine Beck was thrilled and on Saturday, Mark and I and Cole and Beck went to see OneRepublic in concert along with American Authors and The Script. It was a great concert, great night, great fun!! ( I kept asking Beck if he was enjoying his first concert and he kept reminding me that this wasn't his first, WWE Raw was. In fact he said he liked watching wrestling more than the concert.) (Cole reminded me that this was his third concert. The Wiggles was his first and then Bruno Mars.)

The last stories involve Liam and Sara. Ever since we brought Sara home, Liam has had typical sibling rivalry issues with her. He didn't watch my belly grow or have time to prepare for a new baby. And he was too young to understand that we were adopting. All he knew was one day he was the baby one day he wasn't. Some little girl just showed up and rocked his world. I am constantly telling him "Just let her be!" "Just leave her alone!" He seriously cannot handle when anyone takes notice of Sara or holds her. If she is crying because of him, he is right there pretending to cry to and asking me to "Hold you." He gets jealous of her and is always stealing her thunder. Now with that said, I have witnessed moments of him loving her so I know he does, and this past week he showed me again. Sara was trying really hard to get on the trampoline using the stool below her, but kept falling because she had the stool too close. I waited to see if she would figure it out and move it further away. In the meantime Liam, who was already jumping, came to her aide and tried to pull her onto the tramp. He got off to help her with the stool but by then, she had already figured it out. But at least he made the effort. Then the other night Liam brought me an ice cream bar so I could unwrap it for him. Of course after seeing he had one Sara wanted one too. I had just cleaned her and her chair up from dinner and did not want another sticky chocolate mess to clean up so I told her no. Liam didn't like to see Sara upset so he went to the freezer and got one for her. He handed it to me and said "Sara want ice cream." How could I resist, so they both enjoyed their ice cream bars together. And then just tonight, they were both sitting on one of our recliners watching the iPad. Liam was actually letting her watch it which is rare, he usually turns it away, and then all of the sudden he puts his arm around her neck and gives her a kiss and she kisses him back. (Open mouth of course, but we wouldn't expect anything less from Sara.)

So you see these small but mighty mercies showed me that my kids do love each other and they do care. Kate was able to cheer her brother up by sharing a piece of gum that she had earned. Beck stopped rollerblading for a moment to help Kate with her dress. Cole chose his little brother to go with him to the concert instead of a friend. Liam saw Sara struggling and helped her on the trampoline, he was empathetic and wanted her to enjoy an ice cream bar too, then sealed his love with a kiss. 

We may not be perfect but we have perfect moments of love!! And just like the wind, these perfect moments carry me through each season of my life. These perfect moments let me know that my children are going to be alright. My children are loved and they do love one another and love is all you need!

Friday, March 21, 2014

3/21, Three Twenty One, March 21st

Today is 3/21, World Down syndrome Day. 3/21 represents the triple copy of the 21st chromosome that occurs with Ds. We always knew there was something extra special about Sara when we first saw her picture. Now we know why!! She is extraordinary and is rockin' her extra chromosome. Our lives rock having her in it! We are members of an elite club that brings so much joy and love into our lives!

One of the campaigns that supports World Down syndrome Day is "Rock Your Socks!" To show your support you can wear crazy socks today, tomorrow or even the next day and when someone asks you about your socks you reply, "Someone I know or love has Down syndrome." All of my kids wore crazy socks to school today! My teenager even gave a shout out to his fiends last night via Instagram, asking them to wear crazy socks and I have already had one mom tell me that her son wore them! It makes me so happy to know that we have the support of our friends and neighbors! It was so cute because Kate, although she wanted to support the idea, she was nervous to wear crazy socks because she has a hard time saying "syndrome". She says "Down sisom". She practiced many times before she left this morning and was pretty confident that she could pronounce it correctly if people asked.

Pretty darn cute, 3 chromosomes made out socks! The socks represent that even though they are different, they serve the same purpose.

Kate and Beck sporting their crazy socks and Ds Buddy Walk shirts. Cole had already left for school but was sporting bright pink ones with sparkly snowflakes.

I love how my kids love Sara! Just yesterday Kate said, "I love Sara so much. She is my best sister!" She and Beck still say, "I forget Sara has Down syndrome sometimes." It's because they see her as a lovely little girl who is just part of their gang! She fits in and is no different than them. I love that Cole, anytime there is a reason to support Ds is posting things for his friends to see. Just the other day when it was "Spread the Word to End the Word" Cole posted the cutest pic of Sara, asking his friends to stop using the words "retard" or "retarded". He had several friends who made the pledge to stop. We are pretty blessed and lucky to have Sara in our lives! She is teaching us and others so much, especially how to love and accept. 

This afternoon my friend Kecia and I are going into Beck, Bree, and Mia's 1st grade class to give a small presentation on Ds. Bree is Kecia's biological daughter born with Ds. I refer to her as the gardener in Sara's garden. Throughout our adoption process I compared Sara to a flower who is ready to blossom and bloom. Mia is Kecia's daughter who was also adopted from Ukraine. And it was during their journey to get her that I knew it was something we could, should and would do. So Mia is the one who planted the seed. Sara is the blooming flower and Bree is the master gardener who cares for them all. Anyway, we're going to show a video, talk a little bit about Ds and explain to the children that Bree, Mia, and Sara are "Just Like You". And then leave them with a treat (Hi-Chew) so they will remember to "chews" to love and accept everyone for who they are. Please take a moment to watch this video too! It will be worth 14 minutes of your time, I promise!

This last picture is a collage of many of the beautiful traits and qualities that I LOVE about Sara. Many of these traits are unique to people with Ds. It's part of the Ds package and what a beautiful package it is!

The first is her little hands. People usually have 3 creases in their palm. Most people with Ds have a simian crease, which is a single line that runs across the palm of the hand. Although Sara does have two separate creases, they come together to make one crease and the third crease is non existent. (But did you know that people without Ds can also have a simian crease? In fact Mark does!) 

I LOVE Sara's piggies!! She has a big gap called a "sandal gap" between her big and second toe. It's just a big space between her toes and occurs in approximately 45% of those with Ds. We love and call them her monkey toes/feet and it is very fitting because she climbs and plays like a little monkey! 

I adore Sara's flat bridge between her nose, her low set, little ears with a tiny fold and her silly tongue that sometimes protrudes! All very common with Ds.

I love that Sara is always dancing as if no one is watching! She can wiggle and move, twerk and groove and can sometimes even do the worm! She hears music and can't help herself! It doesn't matter who is watching and she is never embarrassed to shake it! Little did the Pointer Sisters know that they wrote the song "I'm So Excited" just for Sara. "I'm so excited and I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!" 

Sara is super flexible. She falls asleep leaning forward, bent in half. She can touch her toes from standing up without bending her knees. She can put her foot in her mouth and it's almost 98% guaranteed that she will eat with her foot resting on her tray. She is Miss Stretch for sure!

Sara loves without end! She loves to give cuddles! She'll back right into your lap and snuggle. And she gives the best kisses ever! We always get a little extra (wet, sloppy and open mouth). Must be the extra chromosome!

Hey eyes, oh her eyes, how they sparkle and shine! She has blushfield spots which are unique to those with Ds. They are white spots or speckles on the Iris of the eye. They make her baby blues have a marble/starry affect. Her eyes are also almond shape meaning that the outer corner of her eyes turn up instead of down. And she has an extra fold of skin on the inner corner of her eyes. All of these traits make her peepers simply stunning! 

When Sara is resting and taking a break she has a unique way to sit. She sits criss cross applesauce with her head titled up. I used to think that it was because she couldn't see but since her eye surgery, her vision is perfect! It's just a Saraism and I love it! 

The middle picture is my absolute favorite and if defines exactly who Sara is! Sara is happy and full of life! She doesn't care when she has crazy, bed head or a messy face! She doesn't care about what she's wearing or how she acts. She is true and genuine and has a zest for life.  (Yes she does cry too, it's not true that people with Ds are always happy.) But she lives each day knowing that she is a light that was once hidden and can now shine! Her smile brightens our days! Her giggle is contagious! Her spirit radiates love! Everything about her is near perfection! Her mission on this earth is to love and be loved and I'm pretty sure she is right on track! 

3/21, World Down syndrome Day is a day to raise awareness about Ds and gives us an opportunity to teach acceptance and love. Please understand that people with Ds are more alike than they are different. Sara is just like you with an extra pinch of sugar! And believe me, she is pretty sweet!! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

To Thirteen and Beyond!!

How do I even begin to express in words how happy I was on this day 13 years ago? I think I would do a better job singing my sentiments but I'll save that performance for the shower. Something extraordinary happened that changed me/my life forever. This life changing event was planned, wanted, anticipated and hoped for. Every ounce of my heart and soul was filled with a desire to become a mother and on this day 13 years ago my little man Cole made it so. At 10:38 PM on February 26, 2001 my firstborn son made his debut. And although I may have given him life, he truly gave me my life's purpose. He fulfilled a desire that has always been in my heart since I was a young girl. My little man gave me my first gift of motherhood.

I often say that Heavenly Father knew I needed Cole and I am so grateful he is my oldest. I am able to do many things and enjoy my life because of him. As a family we are able to function with him in it. He is wise beyond his years and truly one of my best friends! I can't help but tear up when I think of Cole and all that he has become. He is a remarkable, responsible, smart, spiritual, funny, caring, kind, helpful, compassionate, tolerant, considerate, handsome, loving young man. I am not sure how or why I was chosen to be his mother but a day doesn't go by that I don't thank my Heavenly Father for trusting me to be his keeper. He is helping me become and I have enjoyed mostly every moment, every lesson he has taught me over the years.

Motherhood isn't easy and it's not meant to be. Like I tell all of my children, "Hard work is good! Anything that is valuable and of worth requires hard work." Are there some days when the oil in my lamp is low and my light is dim? YES! Are there times when I simply feel like I can't be the mother that I should be? ALWAYS! But each day I am given opportunities to increase my light and most of these opportunities come from my children. Each of my children hold a special and different place in my heart and they are all my favorites but there is something to be said about the bond I have with Cole being my first. Maybe it's because he unlocked the door to what this life is all about and taught me to love unconditionally. Or maybe it's because he fills my lamp when it's burned out and literally brightens my life with a smile or witty comment. All I know is that he is amazing and he is mine and if I could be guaranteed to have another like him I would get pregnant yesterday.

There really are no words to describe or songs to sing to tell Cole how much he means to me. No amount of tears can show him how much I love him and believe me, I have shed many, many tears this week alone in anticipation of him turning 13. I am grateful to be his mother. I am grateful that my first gift of motherhood was packaged and wrapped up so beautifully in Cole. His gift prepared me and my heart for the many other gifts I have been blessed with. I guess from the beginning becoming a mother was hard work after 36 hours of natural labor but he is most definitely valuable and of worth. And so is motherhood. It has it's challenges and requires daily labor but I have no choice other than to keep on truckin and do it because hard work is good and I can do hard things!

I wanted to make a video of photos for Cole since the days of printing pics and photo albums are gone. I wanted to give him something that he can watch, cherish, and share with his posterity. It was very hard to wrap up the last 13 years in one video but after 300 pictures (many that needed to be scanned because they were pre digital), 6 of his favorite songs, 50 plus hours of work, and a 19:51 minute masterpiece, I did it. One thing that stood out over and over as I looked through hundreds of pics was his genuine zest for life. I was also reminded over and over the love that he has for Spiderman his siblings. He is such a tender boy and wears his oldest shoes very well. Not only am I a lucky mama but his dad, brothers and sisters are lucky too!  If you have an extra 19 minutes to spare you can catch a glimpse of his life. I KNOW it's long and honestly I don't expect many to watch it except his grandparents and family in the UK. But if you endure the 19:51 minute video I promise it will make you smile and brighten your day. (Can you imagine how long the next one will be when he turns 18?) COLE, you're a TEENAGER! Eeeeeeek and Ugh!! I am a mother of a teenager!! Not sure I'm ready for this and never thought I'd see the day but I will embrace it and enjoy the ride! Happy Birthday bud!! Thanks for giving me my best job ever! And even though you're taller than me you will always be my little man! I love you lots and lots! To thirteen and beyond!