Thursday, March 29, 2007

New Blog Home!!!

OK folks, today is a very exciting day, we've moved to www.raisingjoey.com so be sure to change your blogrolls, bloglines and anywhere else you might have us linked in!! Check out our new home!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Frustration!

I've been trying to get Joey to start eating more solid foods and boy, is it getting frustrating!! He's been doing so well with stage 3 gerber foods that I figured it was time to try new foods. He absolutely HATES those meltable puffs, the minute he sees them, he clamps his lips shut. Same with teething biscuits, except with them, he also starts crying. I had made myself Kraft Mac & Cheese for lunch yesterday (healthy huh?) and Joey was watching me with such curiosity that I figured, "what the heck, lets give it a try". So I took some and cut them up into small pieces and gave it a whirl. He has the idea down of chewing, but doesn't do it enough or strong enough to mash up his food. This morning I tried scrambled eggs but he decided he didn't like them. I even put ketsup on them hoping that would help. There has been other foods I've tried with him but he just isn't wanting anything but his canned baby food. Also, some new foods he just gags on. It's like he forgets to chew, he just wants to swallow his food the minute it hits his lips! His OT had me go out and buy those mesh things you can put food in for the baby to chomp on but he once again, throws a fit when I try to give it to him. Tonight I'm going to make something for dinner that I can put into the food processor and chop up for him to see if that works.

I guess I'm just frustrated but I know I need to keep working with him and he'll eventually take to other foods. I just needed to vent to my fellow moms :)

A call for photos of Mom's & their kids with Down syndrome


Barbara Curtis from Mommy Life is putting together a web album of mothers and their children with Down syndrome as her Mother's Day project for this year. If you would like to participate, go visit her blog for more details.

Wordless Wednesday



For more Wordless Wednesdays or to participate, go here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Genetics visit last week

I went in last week for my first trimester risk assessment ultrasound and my prenatal lab work at Yale's genetic's department. I told them up front no other testing, no amnio or CVS. Anyways, the blood work came back fine with no elevation in my blood levels for Trisomy 21 or 18. My ultrasound showed that the baby has a thicker nucual thickening around its neck. Average is 3.0mm, my baby's is 3.1mm. When I was pregnant with Joey's his was almost double that that plus no nasal bone is what first made them suspect Down syndrome. His nucual thickening was severe enough to be classified as a Cystic Hygroma, but we were fortunate that it dissolved by the time he was born. This baby has a nasal bone. After ultrasound tech was finished, he went and got the doctor to take a look. Of course, the doctor saw that this baby's nucual thickening is a little abnormal. I was a little mad when he said, "I'm sorry", like he was sorry he was giving me bad news or something. I'm not worried what so ever, if this baby has Down syndrome too then God chose us to have another children with an extra chromosome, so what! I'd feel blessed to have another child with Down syndrome. Neither of us are T-21 carriers and the odd's of this child having T-21 is 1 in 45. The only reason for the odds being what they are is due to nucual thickening being what it was. Without the nucual thickening, the odd's were 1 in 100. I guess more than anything I'm mad at the doctor for saying "I'm sorry", because I'm NOT sorry, I'm happy! I'm 13 weeks pregnant and the baby is healthy. It has a nice strong heartbeat and has 2 arms and 2 legs. What more could a parent want?!

Celebrate a new holiday -- Disability Awareness Month

Here's a great article written by Jeff Huffman who happens to be Nash's Daddy and you can go visit his Mommy's blog at Mauzy's Musings.

Jeff Huffman column: Celebrate a new holiday -- Disability Awareness Month

Help, employ those with disabilities; making a friend easy as saying 'hi.'

Written by Jeff Huffman
March 23, 2007

When you think of March holidays, what do you think about? St. Patrick's Day? Spring break? Dr. Seuss' birthday? (It's true, Dr. Seuss' birthday is being celebrated this week at Goddard School, where our son attends after morning kindergarten at White River Elementary.) How about that Uranus was discovered on March 13, 1781? (OK, my wife Jan found that one.) But did you also know that March is Disability Awareness Month? And this celebration is one where you not only should mark your calendars, but you should also take action.

If someone had asked me about Disability Awareness Month six years ago I would've told them I'd never heard of it. Now that I am involved in disability awareness, both professionally and personally, I realize, it's about "abilities" not "disabilities."


Six years ago our journey commenced when our son Nash was born with Down syndrome. I sought out every bit of information I could and realized that what textbooks, brochures and Web sites left out were the personal connections -- the real people, the ones that experience disabilities daily themselves or through a family member. These experiences molded my perception. People who don't walk the walk and live the everyday life don't know, and it's up to those that do to let others know the needs, the wants, the possibilities, the desires.

Today, individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities are open to a world of possibilities. That's partly due to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that has given children with disabilities the right to attend public school since 1975, along with the Americans with Disabilities Act which gives individuals with disabilities the legal right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including employment.

So it might surprise you that 80 percent of individuals with disabilities are underemployed or unemployed. As a country, a state and a community we have to fix this final roadblock. How can we do this?

• Transportation is the No. 1 roadblock to employment, so continue to support Hamilton County's expansion of public transportation.

• Encourage everyone that your family does business with to hire individuals with disabilities -- 89 percent of Americans prefer to do business with organizations that employ people with disabilities, according to a Gallup Poll.

• Support school systems' efforts to accomplish great things for students with disabilities by supporting inclusion in classrooms and improving the transition process from school to work.

Those are just three easy ways that we can begin to celebrate Hamilton County's first "Annual Ability Awareness Month." The easiest way to start is do what I try to do everyday: When I meet a new friend who happens to have a disability I just smile and say, "Hi. . . . "

Jeff Huffman is president and chief executive officer of Janus Developmental Services.

Monday, March 26, 2007

We're home!

Wow, what a weekend!!! Let me start off by saying that we will NEVER fly using Southwest Airlines ever again! All 17 of us flew out of Islip Airport in Long Island on Thursdays and arrived in Chicago at Midway Airport. My sister in law, Eileen, and her husband's 2 suitcases, missing and NEVER arrived for the whole weekend. They had to go out and buy clothes for the wedding (which they were reimbursed for) and then yesterday, lets see.... finding out that one of Eileen's bags had been found in Florida, my other sister in law, Kerry's boyfriend's luggage not arriving with his flight, my brother in law, Christopher (THE GROOM'S) luggage not making it to their honeymoon destination and to top it off, they lost Joey's carseat!!! Keep in mind, on the way home, there was 3 different flights and on each flight, someone lost luggage. And I wouldn't have been so mad about our's, but come on, a car seat?! Thankfully, they had loaner carseats so we were able to go home and also thankfully, Joey's carseat was found by the time my in-laws flew in last night so they were able to bring his carseat home with them and Southwest Airlines is going to pay to have the loaner carseat FedEx'ed back to them.

Besides our mishaps with the airline, we all had a wonderful weekend! The wedding was wonderful, I love weddings!! And the reception was a blast! Joey got so much attention that he was so tired by the time we left. I took so many pictures, 213 to be exact! So I'll only post a few...


My two boys waiting for the wedding to start, aren't they handsome?!


The newly weds!!


Me and Joey (yes, I cut my hair off, 6 inches gone!!!)


Us girls!!


Joey with the newly weds!


"Mommy, I'm tired, can we go home now?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

World Down Syndrome Day!


As many of the other parents that have children with Down syndrome have posted, today is World Down Syndrome Day. March is the 3rd month of the year and today's date is the 21st and since Trisomy 21 is a 3rd 21st chromosome, today makes the perfect day to celebrate Down syndrome awareness!!!

Please take a minute today to try and educate someone new on some the misconceptions about Down syndrome. Heck, show them a picture of Joey... does he look like he's suffering or a burden? Heck no!!!! He's perfect!! Also, if you've not read my story about when we learned that Joey has Down syndrome, please read it.

Also, a great article on WDSD, Disability must be valued, written by Jenny Bockerstette.

Wordless Wednesday



For more Wordless Wednesdays, go here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Crazy week!!!

So yesterday was my calm day of the week. Joey's EI teacher came for her visit and that was it for the day. Thursday we are flying to Chicago for my husband's brother's wedding. I'm very excited, I've never been to Chicago before so this is going to be something new!! Not to mention that I love weddings!! So the rest of this week goes as follows...

Today
1. Take a shower while Joey naps
2. After Joey's nap, find a hair salon that has an opening so I can get my hair cut
3. Pick up my hubby's suit from the dry cleaners!
4. Joey's speech therapy at 3:15
5. Dig out suitcases and start packing
6. Attempt to shorten the legs on Joey's suit for the wedding

Wednesday
1. Joey's physical therapy at 12:30
2. Ultrasound at 2:30
3. Drop Joey off after the ultrasound at my in-laws and take the twins to get their fingernails painted and a pedicure for myself
4. Try to pack more
5. Buddy Walk committee meeting at 7:30

Thursday
1. Wake up EARLY, finish up any last minute packing and be out of the house by 9am to go to the airport!!!! There will be 17 of us on one flight, so it's going to an interesting ride with all of Patrick's family!

Friday-Sunday we're in Chicago sooooo, if I'm not around much in the next week you know why. Don't worry, nothings wrong, I'm just going to be REALLY busy!! And the cool thing is, I'm going to be getting another sister in law!!! This weekend is going to be a blast Steph, try not to go crazy for the next 4 days!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Snowed In!

Well, yesterday morning I woke up feeling worse than the other days. My head was killing me and I could barely breathe. I called my doctor and got the last appointment available for the day. 12:45. I knew that we had a winter storm heading our way but thought I could get back and forth before it got too bad. WRONG! I left a little after 10am to drop Joey off at my in-laws and by the time I got there, the roads were AWFUL! I slid past my in-laws driveway, slid past their neighbors, got turned around in the next street and went to pull into their driveway. My van went sideways and I slid into the guardrail across from their driveway. Thank goodness I was only going about 2mph and did no damage to my van and didn't even wake Joey up from his nap. So I back up and pull into their driveway. Almost 20 minutes later I walk in the door. I kept sliding and getting stuck in the driveway (what a mess!!). No one was home at their house yet so no one heard me trying to get up the driveway which was good due to the fact I was in no mood to talk to anyone after that ordeal. There's one thing I've learned from that experience... new, better tires on my van by next winter!!!

So needless to say, I called and canceled my doctor's appointment. There was no way I would have made it to my doctor's office. Throughout the day, I started feeling worse and worse. Thankfully I had my mother in law and sister in laws to take care of Joey. The snow was falling my the inches which followed in the evening with sleet and a lovely layer of ice. My husband got off work at 2:30 and the usual 20 minute drive to his parents house took him almost 2 hours!! We decided to stay put to see if the weather was going to let up at all. By 9pm, still coming down hard. So we decided to stay the night. It iced all through the night and into the early morning.

This afternoon the sun is finally out and melting the ice down some. We'll hopefully leave here soon to go back to our house and feed my poor little fishies! What a way to spend our St. Patrick's Day, snowed in!!!

I'm feeling MUCH better today, actually about 75% better. I felt so sick yesterday, miserable, down right miserable. Thankfully much better now!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

One Year Checkup

Joey and I just got back from his one year check up with his pediatrician. Things are looking great! He's 18 pounds, 3 ounces and is 28 inches tall! He also got 3 vaccinations which he wasn't too happy about getting. Dr. B was thrilled with how well Joey is doing.

Did I mention he's starting to stand?! He can't pull to stand yet, but if you stand him up next to the couch, he's holding himself up for about 30 seconds at a time. Joey's PT about had a heart attack today when she was working on his standing. He also wants to crawl so bad, but instead of pushing off with his knees, he tries to use his foot and falls back down. He'll get it soon enough!!

I've had a darn cold the past couple days and it's driving me crazy. Whenever I think it's getting better, I start feeling like crap again. It just stinks since I'm pregnant, I can't really take anything besides Tylenol and benadryl to feel better. I can't even take a nice, hot bath (lord, what I would pay right now to soak in a nice hot bath!)

Also, I forgot last week that I promised pictures of Joey in his new bath seat. He absolutely loves the thing! I think he'd stay in the bath for a hour if we'd let him!!




Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thanks Heather!

Heather over at Flaugh's Flaws made me this for Joey's birthday and I couldn't get the darn thing to post on here without the picture turning into one of those lovely "x" screens. Anyways, here it is!!

For Better Or Worse

This was posted today on DownSyn and I just wanted to share it with everyone. I didn't know until today that the comic strip had a character with special needs. It's nice to know that the author is helping to promote awareness in the way she is.

Also, check out Shannon's character bio here.


If the comic print is too small, click on the actual comic for a larger version.

Mr. Chatter Box



Notice at times when he gets excited and talking at the same time, he gets a red line down his forehead?? He's too cute sometimes!!!

Happy Birthday Joey!!!


Happy Birthday to my sweet boy. I love you and can't believe you're already One Year Old! This past year has gone by so fast, before I know it you're going to be talking, walking and just being a big boy!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Joey's Birth Story

The FlipFlop Mamma has inspired me to share Joey's birth story with everyone since she shared both of her's last week. And since I went into the hospital one year ago today, I'm posting this today!

Joseph Patrick
March 14, 2006
1:09 PM
5 lbs 8 oz, 20 inches long

Well, I'm actually going to start out 4 days before he was born...

Friday, March 10 started out like any other day for the first couple hours, then I started having contractions. Since they were 7 minutes apart and it was Friday afternoon I figured I better go get checked out since it was Friday. I drove myself to the doctor since my hubby was still at work. Of course I was only 1cm dilated and my cervix was only 50% thinned. Sent home... barely slept that night.

Saturday, March 11, I was still having contractions about 7 minutes apart but they weren't as strong but I was starting to feel very uncomfortable. That afternoon we took our dog Chewie to his new home since he was too wild and hyper to have around a new baby. This broke my heart. I cried that whole night. Chewie had been my best friend since I moved to Connecticut and one of a few friends I actually had. Again, barely any sleep.



Sunday, March 12 was my baby shower over at my in-laws house. I was feeling even more uncomfortable than the day before. I just wanted to get the shower over with so I could go home and lay down. During the shower, I lost my "plug". Slept a little, but not enough...

Monday, March 13 it seemed like my contractions had almost gone away and I got a HUGE surge of energy. I washed all of the baby clothes we received at the shower. I put away all of the gifts. Rearranged Joey's dresser, cleaned the house, I can't even tell you what all I did that day. Around 5pm I was cooking dinner and BOOM, contractions!! About 6 minutes apart this time but the pain was much worse. Since they still weren't exactly 6 minutes apart each time, still irregular, I knew not to call my doctor. Instead, I got in the bath tub and labored in there as long as I could. By then, it was about 10 pm and I couldn't handle it any longer.

Off to the hospital, we get to Yale and the doctor on call checks me out. Still 1cm and only 50%!! I couldn't believe it, I lost it. I started bawling my eyes out telling the doctor how tired I was and how long I had been having contractions. He decided to admit me on bedrest for the night and to give me something to help me sleep.

Tuesday, March 14, about 7 am, I had barely slept at all that night and whatever he gave me to sleep did relax me enough to rest although the contractions were getting very strong and close together. The doctor came in and checked me again. 4cm!! They transferred me from the room I was in up to labor and delivery. Epidural here I come!! A couple house later, the doctor broke my water and by 10 am, I was ready to push.

I started pushing and pushing. My nurse, Indie was helping to coach me through the pushes, and was yelling at me to "focus on your rectum" (yeah, you heard me right, which my husband found very funny yet annoying)...after 3 hours of pushing, at 1:09pm we welcomed Joey into the world. I had given the hospital a copy of my birthing plan. I wanted everything to be as normal as possible. I didn't want people to treat my baby differently just because he had Down syndrome. I didn't want him to be taken away for evaluation & testing, I wanted to have my time with Joey like any normal birth. There was a pediatrician there who quickly checked his breathing and heartbeat so he was handed back to me. He was beautiful, so perfect. I didn't care about him having Down syndrome, I knew he was my child and that's all I cared about. He was safe in my arms.



But my story doesn't end there... about 1 hour after I gave birth to Joey and we were transferred to our room, I felt funny. I told the nurse I thought I was peeing. She told me impossible but I argued with her until she checked. I was hemorrhaging!! She yelled for help and after a couple minutes the bleeding was stopped, my stitches ripped out and I had no energy. The nurses checked my blood count and of course, I was low. They started pumping me full of fluids and gave me this nasty tasting pill to help my blood count raise back up. Luckily the pill worked because if it wouldn't have, I would have had to get a blood transfusion.

But you know what, after the days of labor, 3 hours of pushing and the hemorrhaging, it was all worth it. I love Joey and would go through it all again in a heart beat!! (I just hope this next labor isn't as long!!)

Monday, March 12, 2007

I've been tagged!!!

ok, I've been tagged by Rhett's Mommy. It seems I'm suppose to list my 5 favorite things about feminism...

1. PURSES! I can own as many purses as I want!

2. PREGNANCY, as much as it stinks sometimes. It's something that you can't share with anyone else. The bond you have between yourself and your babybean is wonderful!

3. MOTHERHOOD, you don't realize how great it is until you're a mom!

4. GIVING BIRTH, seeing your baby for the first time is priceless. Knowing that you had a living being inside of you and to see it for the first time...

5. BEING A WIFE, meeting the man of my dreams and saying I do, need I say more??

Who am I going to tag, lets see, how about Jaymi from The FlipFlop Mamma, Heather from Flaugh's Flaws and Michelle from Big Blueberry Eyes.

A couple articles to start off the week!

Written by James Burger, "Man with Down syndrome opens his own retail shop" Coby Short opens his own gift shop at Bakersfield Heart Hospital in California.

Another great story, this one written by Karen Meyer, "Couple With Down Syndrome Takes Up Ballroom Dancing". Blake Peacock and his girlfriend, Carly Ziesemer have been taking dance lessons and MAN are they good! They're a heck of a lot better than I can dance!

I love stories like these. Be sure to check out the videos with each story.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Joey's Birthday Party

Just a couple pictures and videos from Joey's Birthday Party on Saturday. As you can tell, Joey had a great time!!!











Saturday, March 10, 2007

Busy, busy weekend!

Well I started off this morning driving a hour out to the Navy Base at Groton to pick up my friend for the weekend. He's being transferred next week to Virginia so this will be our last time with him for quite some time. Anyways, we got back to our apartment at 12:00 only to have to get Joey ready to go to his birthday party at my in-laws house at 1:00. So off to Grandma & Grandpa's house we went. Joey had a blast! Lots of great gifts and we even let Joey have a piece of cake. Of coarse he didn't really eat any, he just played in it and got REALLY messy. He tasted the icing a little and I don't think he was too crazy about it. Kinda surprised me... and of coarse I left my camera over at my in-laws house so I will have to post pictures and video later when I can get them uploaded onto my computer.

Tomorrow we're going to the New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade, I'm very excited about it. I didn't get to go last year, it was my baby shower and I was in no condition to stand outside at a parade (I went into labor the next day). Well, I guess that's it for now, I will hopefully post pictures tomorrow night!

Oh yes, also, here's a great find. "They'll Do It Themselves" written by Michael Winerip. It's the cover story for tomorrow NY Times Connecticut Section. Way to go guys!!!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Favorite Ingredient Friday- St. Patty's Day Edition



Since my husband's family is Irish and into Celtic music, Irish Step Dancing and Irish food, I figured I would post a recipe of something I enjoy snacking on whenever we go to the local Irish Club to hear some of our favorite Irish musicians. Some people say that Irish Soda Bread can be very dry, but I love it especially when I put a nice glob of butter on it and enjoy it with a nice cup of coffee!


IRISH SODA BREAD

Ingredients
1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
2. 1 tablespoon baking powder
3. 1/3 cup white sugar
4. 1 teaspoon salt
5. 1 teaspoon baking soda
6. 1 egg, lightly beaten
7. 2 cups buttermilk
8. 1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in butter. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor.

For more Favorite Ingredients Fridays, go visit Overwhelmed With Joy!


Previous Favorite Ingredient Friday recipes:
Baked Mac & Cheese
Stuffed Peppers
Chocolate Pancakes- Valentine's Day Chocolate Edition
Skyline Chili Dip- Super Bowl Edition
Cheesy Potato Soup
Peanut Butter Cookies
Saurkraut and Pork Roast
Candied Nuts
Mom's fudge
Peanut Brittle
Beef Enchiladas
Snicker Doodle Cookies
Pecan Pie
Burrito Pie
Apple Crisp

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The R Word DOES hurt

Katie Couric spoke out tonight during her notebook session of the news about using offensive words. Still to this day, I hear friends and family use the R word and don't even realize what they're saying. Like many other parents who read my blog, to me and them, it hurts when we hear it. I admit, before Joey was born, I was one who even used the R word occasionally and it haunts me everyday.

Also, this week, many other blogs have had this speech posted but since I'm on the subject, I too am posting it. It is written by a young man in high school named Soeren Palumbo who has a sister with special needs.

"I want to tell you a quick story before I start. I was walking through hallways, not minding my own business, listening to the conversations around me. As I passed the front door on my way to my English classroom, I heard the dialogue between two friends nearby. For reasons of privacy, I would rather not give away their race or gender. So the one girl leans to the other, pointing to the back of a young man washing the glass panes of the front door, and says, "Oh my gaw! I think it is so cute that our school brings in the black kids from around the district to wash our windows!" The other girl looked up, widened her slanted Asian eyes and called to the window washer, easily loud enough for him to hear, "Hey, Negro! You missed a spot!" The young man did not turn around. The first girl smiled a bland smile that all white girls - hell, all white people - have and walked on. A group of Mexicans stood by and laughed that high pitch laugh that all of them have.So now it's your turn. What do you think the black window washer did?

What would you do in that situation? Do you think he turned and calmly explained the fallacies of racism and showed the girls the error of their way? That's the one thing that makes racism, or any discrimination, less powerful in my mind. No matter how biased or bigoted a comment or action may be, the guy can turn around and explain why racism is wrong and, if worst comes to worst, punch 'em in the face. Discrimination against those who can defend themselves, obviously, cannot survive.

What would be far worse is if we discriminated against those who cannot defend themselves.What then, could be worse than racism? Look around you and thank God that we don't live in a world that discriminates and despises those who cannot defend themselves. Thank God that everyone of us in this room, in this school hates racism and sexism and by that logic discrimination in general. Thank God that every one in this institution is dedicated to the ideal of mutual respect and love for our fellow human beings.

Then pinch yourself for living in a dream. Then pinch the hypocrites sitting next to you. Then pinch the hypocrite that is you. Pinch yourself once for each time you have looked at one of your fellow human beings with a mental handicap and laughed. Pinch yourself for each and every time you denounced discrimination only to turn and hate those around you without the ability to defend themselves, the only ones around you without the ability to defend themselves. Pinch yourself for each time you have called someone else a "retard".

If you have been wondering about my opening story, I'll tell you that it didn't happen, not as I described it. Can you guess what I changed? No, it wasn't the focused hate on one person, and no it wasn't the slanted Asian eyes or cookie cutter features white people have or that shrill Hispanic hyena laugh (yeah, it hurts when people make assumptions about your person and use them against you doesn't it?).

The girl didn't say "hey Negro." There was no black person. It was a mentally handicapped boy washing the windows. It was "Hey retard." I removed the word retard. I removed the word that destroys the dignity of our most innocent. I removed the single most hateful word in the entire English language.I don't understand why we use the word; I don't think I ever will.

In such an era of political correctness, why is it that retard is still ok? Why do we allow it? Why don't we stop using the word?Maybe students can't handle stopping- I hope that offends you students, it was meant to - but I don't think the adults, here can either.

Students, look at your teacher, look at every member of this faculty. I am willing to bet that every one of them would throw a fit if they heard the word faggot or nigger - hell the word Negro -used in their classroom. But how many of them would raise a finger against the word retard? How many of them have? Teachers, feel free to raise your hand or call attention to yourself through some other means if you have. That's what I thought. Clearly, this obviously isn't a problem contained within our age group.

So why am I doing this? Why do I risk being misunderstood and resented by this school's student body and staff? Because I know how much you can learn from people, all people, even - no, not even, especially - the mentally handicapped.

I know this because every morning I wake up and I come downstairs and I sit across from my sister, quietly eating her cheerio's. And as I sit down she sets her spoon down on the table and she looks at me, her strawberry blonde hair hanging over her freckled face almost completely hides the question mark shaped scar above her ear from her brain surgery two Christmases ago. She looks at me and she smiles. She has a beautiful smile; it lights up her face. Her two front teeth are faintly stained from the years of intense epilepsy medication but I don't notice that any more. I lean over to her and say, "Good morning, Olivia." She stares at me for a moment and says quickly, "Good morning, Soeren," and goes back to her cheerio's. I sit there for a minute, thinking about what to say. "What are you going to do at school today, Olivia?" She looks up again. "Gonnasee Mista Bee!" she replies loudly, hugging herself slightly and looking up. Mr. B. is her gym teacher and perhaps her favorite man outside of our family on the entire planet and Olivia is thoroughly convinced that she will be having gym class every day of the week. I like to view it as wishful thinking. She finishes her cheerio's and grabs her favorite blue backpack and waits for her bus driver, Miss Debbie, who, like clockwork, arrives at our house at exactly 7'o'clock each morning. She gives me a quick hug goodbye and runs excitedly to the bus, ecstatic for another day of school.

And I watch the bus disappear around the turn and I can't help but remember the jokes. The short bus. The retard rocket. No matter what she does, no matter how much she loves those around her, she will always be the butt of some immature kid's joke. She will always be the butt of some mature kid's joke. She will always be the butt of some "adult"'s joke. By no fault of her own, she will spend her entire life being stared at and judged. Despite the fact that she will never hate, never judge, never make fun of, never hurt, she will never be accepted.

That's why I'm doing this. I'm doing this because I don't think you understand how much you hurt others when you hate. And maybe you don't realize that you hate. But that's what is; your pre-emptive dismissal of them, your dehumanization of them, your mockery of them, it's nothing but another form of hate.

It's more hateful than racism, more hateful than sexism, more hateful than anything. I'm doing this so that each and every one of you, student or teacher, thinks before the next time you use the word "retard", before the next time you shrug off someone else's use of the word "retard". Think of the people you hurt, both the mentally handicapped and those who love them. If you have to, think of my sister.

Think about how she can find more happiness in the blowing of a bubble and watching it float away than most of will in our entire lives. Think about how she will always love everyone unconditionally. Think about how she will never hate. Then think about which one of you is "retarded".

Maybe this has become more of an issue today because society is changing, slowly, to be sure, but changing nonetheless. The mentally handicapped aren't being locked in their family's basement anymore.The mentally handicapped aren't rotting like criminals in institutions. Our fellow human beings are walking among us, attending school with us, entering the work force with us, asking for nothing but acceptance, giving nothing but love.

As we become more accepting and less hateful, more and more handicapped individuals will finally be able to participate in the society that has shunned them for so long. You will see more of them working in places you go, at Dominicks, at Jewel, at Wal-Mart. Someday, I hope more than anything, one of these people that you see will be my sister.

I want to leave you with one last thought. I didn't ask to have a mentally handicapped sister. She didn't choose to be mentally handicapped. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have learned infinitely more from her simple words and love than I have from any classroom of "higher education". I only hope that, one-day, each of you will open your hearts enough to experience true unconditional love, because that is all any of them want to give. I hope that, someday, someone will love you as much as Olivia loves me. I hope that, someday, you will love somebody as much as I love her. I love you, Olivia."



Also, this was a bulletin that was posted on myspace today and I wanted to share it since I'm on the subject...

"Apparently , it has become a trend to poke fun at the mentally disabled on National TV and in movies. Last week I was watching one of my favorite shows on TV, SNL. And one of the skits was about 4 guys sitting at a bar listening to a song that made them reminisce on childhood memories. One of the guys began to tell his friends about his Dad taking him to the park and he watch his father run , jump around , and play in the sand, and for the first time he thought "I have a Dad" not " I have a Dad with Down Syndrome"....audience laughs. Then last night , I watched the premiere of "The Winner", and the main character was confessing to his girlfriend that he had lied about where he worked. He told her that he wasn't some big shot executive or something but that he worked in a video store. The girl said that's ok and that there's nothing wrong with working at a video store and he replied " No, there's nothing wrong with that unless you're over 30 and have Down Syndrome"......audience once again laughs.

Since when did it become ok to make jokes about people with disabilities? Why are they being portrayed as less than human? And it seems to me that anyone that has Downs is a target. Why are they being singled out? I bet if you were to substitute the word Down Syndrome in that joke with African American, Hispanic or Jew, there would be an uproar and this guy would be sent to rehab. There is no reason what so ever to make mean spirited jokes about the disabled. It's not only arrogant but also ignorant. And I'm shocked that NBC would even allow a joke like that to be aired. It shows how ignorant people are about Down Syndrome and disabilities in general. I guess it's really great to be so perfect. Who is going to stand up for them? Who is going to defend them? Apparently no-one, since I haven't seen any of these actors being publicly reprimanded or sent to "sensitivity camp". Or maybe is because the ones making the jokes are not as popular as Mel Gibson or Michael Richards. We must be their advocates. Down syndrome children/people have to fight hard and struggle to do the things we take for granted, but they can do it. They are not incapable. And this type of bullying has to stop.

I'm sick and tired of everyone making fun of these loving kids/people. They are human just like we are. they have feelings like we do and the fact that we even have to remind people of this is appalling."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

One year ago this week...


For more Wordless Wednesdays, go here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New Blog!

Be sure to check out the newest blog I've added to my list, Kwisteena's Kwaziness. Christina is the mother of two beautiful daughters, Brittany and Kallie (who just happens to have a little extra chromosome too!)

Tooth #2

Today while taking the new video of Joey, I took a couple new pictures too and I even was able to get a new one of his teeth!



For Joey's Grandma C.

Since my mother called a little while ago and was requesting a new Joey video, here it is!!

Weekend update...

Sorry about the lack of posts the past 4 days... I didn't feel very good most of the weekend (gotta love the first trimester!!). Not to mention my allergies have been KILLING me! I was such a mess on Sunday, I didn't even go to church with Patrick and Joey! Our landlord has been remodeling his apartment upstairs and I think a lot of the dust is making it's way down here and doing havoc on my sinuses.

Yesterday, I had my 10 week OB appointment. Things are looking great! The baby has a nice strong heartbeat. Joey stayed at his Grandma's house while I went to my appointment and I just stayed over at my in-laws all day and you know what?! My allergies didn't bother me one bit! So it does seem that I'm allergic to my house! So far today, I've been sneezing and blowing my nose what seems like all the time and I'm ready to go insane! I broke down and took a benadryl so as soon as Joey goes down for a nap, I think I will do the same!

Joey had a pretty good weekend. On Saturday, we went to Babies R Us and I got him a new bathseat. His baby bath no longer holds him and he can't sit up in the water very well so I've been searching online and found this. He absolutely LOVES it!! I'll be sure to take some pictures during bath night tomorrow night. He was so funny in the bath, he was talking up a storm and splashing water everywhere!!

I can't believe Joey is going to be a year old next week! So, this week is going to be full of planning his birthday party which is going to be this Saturday at his Grandparents house. I just need to decide what to get on his cake...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

CAN'T STOP

Ok, someone really needs to take these potato chips and french onion dip away from me!! I've not had an appetite all day until I remembered that the dip was in the fridge, and I can't stop eating it!

Gotta love being pregnant!

Mr. Attitude

Last week I started giving Joey stage 3 fruits and veggies and the other day I gave him stage 3 meat for the first time. The first couple bites he gagged on a little, then after that he actually did really good. So yesterday, Joey's OT wanted to watch him eat and was very happy with how he was chewing and swallowing the stage 3 meat. I had bought some biter biscuits and meltable puffs at the store last week so she wanted to see how he reacted to them. To put it mildly, he doesn't like them at all. We put a puff on his tongue and he got sooooo mad and started screaming! So, after it melted and he swallowed it, he went back to being happy so we tried giving him a biter biscuit. He liked playing with it, but the second it touched his tongue, no way! Started screaming again. Joey's OT warned me it might take multiple tries to get him to eat more solid food, but I didn't think he would react the way he did. My little Mr. Attitude.



This morning, he once again wasn't in the best of moods. He would play for a little while, get mad and would start crying. I'm guessing either his teeth are bothering him or he has a tummy ache. So, I just gave him prunes in case he's constipated again and Tylenol in case it's his teeth. Either way, it'll help him out in the long run. Right now he's crying to sleep in his crib and I'm patiently waiting for him to fall asleep so I can take a nap too! It's only 10 am, and I already need a nap!

I hope after his nap, Mr. Attitude has gone for a vacation and my Mr. Happy Joey is back!