27 January 2015

Dinner For Four


Well, it’s dinner party night at the Collins’ house. I am ready to host my husband and two children. That’s the extent of the dinner parties at this abode. It starts off with the planning stage.

 What to eat?

Let’s go with fancy tonight, spaghetti and meatballs. I know that I am setting myself up for stains. There will be stains on faces, couches, clothes, on the carpet and on Adele’s high chair. I know that I will cringe when I see the meatball hit the ground and I will point a finger at James when his children destroy my kitchen and living room with tomato sauce and oversized meatballs.

The bibs go on. Bibs usually get ripped off immediately. This mom knows that a spaghetti bath is imminent. The girls look at each other, it’s like they are joining forces, coming up with a plan to cover the entire main floor in spaghetti.

Adele is now at the stage where we allow her to try to feed herself. As parents, we need to take a step back and allow her to figure out how to get the food from her plate, into her mouth. This mom would love to place her children in full bodysuits at every meal, but it’s not practical. Meal times are a mess.

The spaghetti food fight begins. Adele loses seven out of the eight pieces of spaghetti; they end up down her shirt. It WAS a nice, clean and beautiful pale pink shirt, now I’m wondering how to remove the red tomato sauce stains, instead of enjoying my meal.

Brinley is becoming more independent and likes to use a spoon. It usually goes a little like this:

 Grab spoon.

Manhandle food.

Place food on spoon.

Food falls on couch.

Food falls on shirt.

Food falls on pants.

Food falls on carpet.

We have learned that we need to go with it. We need to relax. We need to let these girls figure out how to feed themselves without mommy and daddy making gasping noises when a meatball hits the ground, or a string of spaghetti gets flung across the room. We are learning that meal time needs to be a relaxed and enjoyable experience, with laughter and conversation.

I have thrown out clothes because the stains were permanent and some have turned into rags, which James now uses in the garage. I have used bleach and stain removers which are considered top name brand products. Products that are guaranteed to remove stains. They didn’t work.
So, this momma did some research.

I found one! I found the product that removes stains and whose reputation surpasses all others. OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover. http://www.oxiclean.ca/Products/oxiclean%C2%AE-versatile-stain-remover-powder/ This stuff is a miracle worker. It removes everything. If you are a mom or a dad and you have children or throw dinner parties, this should be your centerpiece. I’m not kidding. The original oxygen-based stain remover has over 101 uses on multiple surfaces like carpet, upholstery, kitchen and bath surfaces, and even works outdoors on gutters, unfinished decks and patio furniture.
I no longer throw out clothes. I no longer stress about stains on clothes or carpet and when the family eats spaghetti, I’m not worried. We are a stain free household, thanks to OxiClean!

OxiClean is available across Canada at Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart. Check out their Facebook Page for more tips and tricks.
This post was brought to you by OxiClean Versatile Stain remover, however the images and opinions are my own. For more information please visit http://oxiclean.ca/.


21 January 2015

A Day In The Life Of A Mom And A Special Moment

A day in the life of a mom......well, just a small part of the day....like a few hours. :)

We were up at 7:30am, which really is a decent time. Brinley always crawls into bed with me, we snuggle and we wait for Adele to start tooting and calling for dada. I get out of bed, kiss Brinley, hand her the IPad, rub Adele's head, tell her that I love her and get in the shower.
Once I'm out, I give Adele a book and Brinley is usually singing the alphabet song and I keep getting ready. We have a routine and we stick to it.
Once I'm looking presentable, I get the girls dressed and ready for the day. We eat, we laugh, we hang out. It's our routine.

Today, we decided to go to Target and were hoping for some awesome deals. We got daddy to meet us there so he could help with crowd control. I was picking up some socks for World Down Syndrome Day. Last year, I went into the local elementary school to do a bunch of presentations on Down syndrome. I have a question and answer period at the end and hand out funky socks. The whole point is to teach children that we are all different, we are all unique and we all have our own strengths. The students are so responsive and respectful towards Adele. I love the innocence.

The Target visit went a little something like this.....
"Brinley, stop rolling around on the dirty floor."
"Brinley, where did you go?"
"Brinley, put that down."
"Brinley, I'm losing my patience."
"Brinley, do you have to pee?"
"Brinley, I'm going to leave you here, in Target and mommy is going to go for coffee somewhere, with your well behaved sister."

Brinley now has pink cheeks from running through the entire sock section and from rolling around, kind of like how a sniper would manoeuver through the bushes, she was doing this around the racks. Although she had some stealthy moves, wrong place, wrong time."

I decide that I will ignore the situation. Pretend that I do not know this child.

We get to the till with around fifty pairs of funky socks. Brinley starts grabbing them, tossing them, yelling at her father, I am still pretending that I have no idea who this child is or who she belongs to. Not my problem.
James picks her up, she goes all limp, then stiffens her body and yells and kicks. James uses his quiet whispering tactics. I think he threatened her with no dinner or something.
We are at the self serve checkout, I am rhythmically scanning all of the socks, singing happy songs in my head. One pair won't scan. I want these socks. Brinley is yelling.
JUST SCAN! JUST SCAN!! After fifty attempts, it works.
"Brinley, put your coat on."
It's not like it's really super cold out. She will survive. I'm sure other moms do this all of the time. Whatever.

By this point, James is excited to be heading back to work.

We get the girls in the car, I yell over Adele and give Brinley the mom eye and all is quiet.

Three hours before this, I drank my Isagenix shake. Three hours after the shake, I was  craving rum or McDonald's. I haven't had McDonald's in almost a year. I knew that I couldn't get hammered, so we called auntie and she met us at Wal-Mart.
Target, and now Wal Mart. I feel classy today.

We meet auntie and we head up to the till. I start feeling guilty. I feel my butt expanding and my tights getting tighter. I reconsider eating fried food. I am staring up at the menu board and think about a salad. I think about a smoothie. I think about how I will feel within fifteen minutes after eating McDonald's.

I push those thoughts out of my head and order Brinley a meal, momma a meal and auntie settled on poutine. We are going to sit down, eat a 'nice' meal together and not feel guilty.

We get settled and auntie's phone rings. It's the groomer. She was on her way to the vet because she cut off almost the entire bottom half of Bacchus' ear.

Auntie leaves so that she can meet the groomer at the vet. Mommy feeds the children.

I remember that Brinley hasn't gone to the bathroom in a couple of hours. I dread going into the Wal-Mart bathroom. I sit and wonder if I can avoid it. Does it really matter if she pees on the car seat? Yes, it matters.
I clean off our table and make our way to the bathroom. I tell Brinley that if she touches anything, she will never get a potty treat again. I whip out the potty seat, Brinley sits down and pees. We are good.
When I flush the toilet, Adele gets scared and starts crying. The cries are echoing and bouncing off the walls in the bathroom.
We exit and hand sanitize Brinley.....all the way up to her elbows.

She starts grabbing her pants, between her legs and tells me that she needs to go potty again. Are you kidding me?
We go back in, get out the potty seat, pull her pants down and she's wet.
A good mother would have taken off her panties and pants and put her in a new set. I am not that good mother. I put her back on the potty, she doesn't need to go.
I pull her pants back up and have enough common sense to not flush the toilet.

We go back out and sanitize again, all the way up to the elbows. 

I think when I get home, I should have a rum n coke.

I see an older lady staring at Adele. Not a happy stare. No smile, just staring.
In my head..."oh forget that lady, you are so not going to ruin my day. I dealt with somebody like you the other day and I just managed to pick myself back up. You will not stare at my daughter, you will not treat her like she is anything less than a perfect, little miracle."

Yes, all of this was  going on in my head.

After our incident on Monday, I didn't want to go anywhere on Tuesday. I didn't want to face anymore stares. I didn't want to face anymore ignorant people. I didn't want to have to deal with those who chose to walk up that morning and be an ass. It was a difficult day because I have never experienced these feelings before. I didn't want to take my child out in public. It was a sad day.

As I looked back at this woman, I thought, it's ok, you don't know us. You don't know my child. You don't know what you are missing. You don't know our story, our journey.

We headed out to the car and a man walked passed me, he was smiling, he was handsome, he had kind eyes. I was looking at him. I was smiling. He has Down syndrome.
His smile was so sincere and genuine. His presence was beautiful. He brought this sense of peace to me at that very moment. I needed to feel this. It was like he was looking at me and reassuring me that it will all be ok. It will all be ok.

19 January 2015

Not A Good Day....

Today started off pretty great, then it went downhill.

I decided to take the girls into the city to meet James for breakfast at Tim Horton's. We've never done this before and our only others plans today are for the girls to get their hair cut.

We arrived at Tim Horton's and found a table for the four of us. There was another couple sitting not too far away, a husband and wife. She kept staring at Adele, and not one of those smiley, friendly stares, but a blank stare. Kind of like a deer caught in the headlights.
I mentioned it to James and he said that she probably has seen Adele's face plastered all over the place and she recognizes her from Facebook or the news.

He was trying to make me feel better.

I went up to the till, Brinley was with me. The lady got our order ready and looked at Brinley and told her just how cute she was and that she loved her outfit. She then pointed over to Adele and said "that one there is cute too."
She said it like it was forced, she needed to say something because she knew that both girls were with me. I felt a bit hurt.

We sat down with our food. Another lady, on her own, sat next to us and was commenting on how adorable Brinley was and that she was a busy little girl. We acknowledged and laughed a bit. By this point, I didn't want to talk to anybody else.
She looked at Adele and said "so sad." Yes, this is what she said. Before I could react, she caught herself and said that she thought Adele was cute. It wasn't sincere, it wasn't genuine.
She then asked me how old the girls were and I told her their ages. Why I was still engaging in conversation with this lady, I don't know.
There was a little gasp when I told her Adele's age. Yup, my little girl with Down syndrome is almost 18 months, she's not crawling, she doesn't walk and she's still in a car seat because we think it's the safest option for her at this point in time. Go f@#k yourself!

I looked at James and he knew that it was time to go.
The lady, who already has done enough damage, then proceeds to tell me that I must have my hands really full with two young children. I nod. She tells me that Brinley will be a lot of work but having Adele will be so much more work, lots of effort and extra time put into her.

I looked at her, I wanted to cry, punch her, kick her in the kneecaps, but instead, I told her that we love our daughter and that she is one pretty awesome kid. I couldn't get anything else out. I was stumped. This has never happened to us before. This shit shouldn't happen to us and to other families who have a child of varying abilities. Where have parents gone wrong in raising their children? What happened to teaching your children about respect, inclusion, acceptance and differences? When you teach your children all of this, they grow up to be kind, respectable adults.

James helped me get the kids back into the car. Before we left, I decided to buy some donuts for the NICU and drop them off. The NICU was a place of comfort for us and Adele was loved and appreciated. I needed to feel some peace and comfort.

I pulled away and I cried. This was the first time that I've heard some of these words, words that were directed towards Adele. I was so hurt. My heart ached for Adele. My tears continued to flow as I thought about the future and when she will understand what people are saying about her. I cried for the times when Brinley will have to defend her sister. At this moment, in my car, I mourned the loss of the 'perfect typical' child. I felt sorry for my baby girl. I felt sorry for those who don't get it. I felt sorry for the ignorant people in the world.

Some people may think that I am exposing my child too much through social media or fighting for changing the face of beauty, I am doing this all for a purpose. I am trying to educate the world. I am trying to pave a smooth road for both of my children. I am on a mission, but today I felt like I failed. This is not a woe is me speech, it was just a hard day. I know that we have so much love and support that surrounds us and we are grateful and thankful. Tomorrow is a new day.


15 January 2015

50 Things That My Child With Down Syndrome Will Do

I've been thinking about yesterday's post. I felt that I needed to write part two.

What Adele and her friends WILL do. :)

1) Change the world
2) Impact lives
3) Smile
4) Love deeply
5) Join Special Olympics
6) Make friends
7) Go to school in a mainstream classroom
8) Volunteer
9) Get a job
10) Make others laugh
11) Teach the world about kindness, love and respect
12) Travel
13) Dance
14) Make the world a better place
15) Go to college
16) Date
17) Get in trouble
18) Tell jokes
19) Make us proud
20) Learn skills to live on their own
21) Talk back to their parents
22) Learn to drive a car
23) Experience ups and downs
24) Teach us to slow down
25) Show us true beauty

26) Enjoy life
27) Create peace
28) Teach us about honesty and respect
29) Hug with meaning
30) Teach us that giving is better than receiving
31) How to care for others
32) How to listen without judgement
33) Hard work always pays off
34) Just relax
35) Don't set limits
36) Anything is possible
37) Be genuine
38) Say what you mean and mean what you say
39) It can be done
40) Will encourage you to find your own strengths and talents
41) Will teach you about not judging others
42) Teach us to love with all of your heart
43) Don't doubt their abilities and capabilities
44) Life is pretty good
45) Value your family and friends
46) Teach us to be patient
47) Show others that life should be valued and lived to the fullest
48) Teach us to sit, look around, listen, talk, be a good friend to others
49) Play sports, join clubs, win awards, gossip with friends
50) Our beautiful children will enrich our lives and those around us

The world is filled with judgement, stereotypes and ignorance. Our beautiful children will encourage us to be kind to others, to love with all of our hearts and let others know that different really is beautiful. We all have our own strengths and talents, we are all unique. We are all on our own journeys.

14 January 2015

She'll Get There

Last week was a crappy Down syndrome week for me. I had a lot of moments where I was hoping that I would wake up and some of this journey was only a dream.

I don't like to compare my children to others, but I do like to know when other children hit certain milestones, just to use as a guideline. Adele is 17.5 months and is not crawling, she is not walking and she doesn't pull herself up on couches or toys. Some days it's discouraging.
Adele rolls all over the place and it's actually quite entertaining to watch. She will manoeuver herself around like a champ and it makes us laugh. When I see this, I feel that Adele knows exactly what she is doing and that she can get from A to B with no hesitation and she does it with ease.
Although I smile and chuckle when she does this, I can't help but feel a bit of upset and discouraged too. When we were pregnant with Adele, we stayed off of Google. We weren't interested in grim statistics or unhappy stories. We focused on the pregnancy and knew that she was healthy from the ultrasounds. When we thought about Down syndrome, we only thought about the delays, nothing more. Part of me wishes that I did some research on therapy and how Down syndrome affects her muscles and strength. Would it have changed anything? Probably not, but maybe I would have felt more prepared today.

We are surrounded by an amazing support system and we are eternally grateful and thankful. I have never felt sorry for myself, if anything, I am so proud to show Adele off and when I look at her perfect little self, my heart melts. It's just that I have moments. I had moments last week when I thought about the delays. She's not crawling, is this because her delay is more moderate or is it because she is so incredibly floppy? Does she not realize that she can get in four point and crawl to go play with her sister? What is related to the delay and what is related to hypotonia? I have fully accepted Down syndrome. I have not fully accepted what comes along with Down syndrome. Last week I wondered if she will get married, would she have a child? Would I want her to have a child? Yes, I think that far into the future. In a previous post, I said that I would work on taking things day by day and that I would savour all of these beautiful baby moments. I am human. I have failed. I worry.

I have heard many times over the past 17 months that Adele will get there in her own time. She will do it and just to relax. I know that this sounds a bit harsh, but I sometimes want to punch people in the face when they say this to me, except those who I love dearly. :) We are all on our own journeys. We all have obstacles that we need to overcome. I respect and appreciate that you will have mountains to climb and that you will feel defeated. I don't feel sorry for myself, I don't want to change our journey, I just have moments.

Of course Adele will get there. Adele will walk. I know that she will, but she needs the proper therapy in order for her to walk properly. This can affect her hips, her legs and her muscles. It's not just about talking, crawling and walking, it's about making sure that she gets the required therapy in order for her to be her best. Do her best. What happens now, affects Adele in the long run. This stresses me out. We receive support from two different services. We recently have added a Developmental Aide contract, where the aide will come into our home 4 hours a week and show us exercises, strategies and provide us with the necessary supports so that Adele will thrive in her environment. I don't want to overdo it, but I also want to get her where she needs to be.

We are starting speech in the next month. Will Adele be verbal? We don't know for sure. She babbles a lot now and makes a lot of sounds. We work on Signing Times, but it's not a guarantee that she will be verbal. I met a young boy and his dad this past summer, he was going into grade six. His dad, educated, articulate and loving, told me that his son is non-verbal. I asked him if they had worked on signing. He said that they never took the time. He mentioned that it's frustrating for all of them because his son is unable to express himself, he in unable to ask for things or have a conversation with his friends. I don't want this for Adele.

Years down the road, I want to look back and feel good knowing that James and I did everything possible for Adele. I will also look back and probably tell myself that I needed to relax a bit more and that I should have worked harder on taking things day by day.
Some things will be easier for Adele and some things will be more challenging. She works hard every day and you can see the determination in her eyes. I am happy that Adele was our second child, she has Brinley to use as her guide. She follows her sister around and sees her playing, walking and listens to her talking. I know that Brinley will work hard with her sister in future years. There is a special bond.

My friend Danielle (Baskets of Love - Down Syndrome) sent this message to me this morning...

I was thinking last night how we all have our own stressors. Each of our little ones are so different which makes each of our experiences different. We are all part of the same club but every journey is different. Conor may be doing well in the gross motor area but all I want is for him to eat. Whereas you're worried about Adele and crawling. There's always something to worry about. We are human. Only thing we can do is be there for each other when we each have our "I dislike Down syndrome" moments and I thank you for doing that for me.

I wonder if in a few years, when Adele goes to school, if all of this will be so minor. I wonder if she will come running through the door and tell me that she has lots of good friends and that she loves school. I wonder if my focus will be on her good health and how she has made our lives so wonderfully complete. Brinley and Adele are two beautiful miracles who were given to us, we were meant to be their parents. What a gift.

Krista, Adele is surrounded by love and support and she kicks ass. - Adele's daddy

10 January 2015

I'm Going To Date My Husband

Our lives are so incredibly hectic, filled with appointments, diaper changes, feedings, therapy, snuggles and kisses. All of our attention is focused on our children. We neglect our partners, we forget what it was like so long ago. In our home, we have two little ones who are 16 months apart and we have devoted all of our love and energy towards our children. We have completed neglected each other's needs and wants, but have not done this intentionally, but rather, we just kind of put the other person to the side because we have two sweet girls who need our attention. They need us twenty four hours a day. This mommy/daddy job doesn't stop, even when they are sleeping.
James and I lack affection. We lack excitement. To be honest, we lack a lot of things. I knew that being a mom would be a lot of work, but I didn't realize that I would lose myself. Some days, I feel like I am only a mom. Just a mom. I have lost my identity. I used to be a teacher. I used to more than just a mom.

I promised myself that I would work on balance and my well being. I continue to fail miserably. It's actually funny how terribly I fail in this department. I feel some days that I have hit a wall, a huge, gigantic, brick wall.
Get up.
Feed and water kids.
Change diapers.
Sit on the potty.
Change diaper.
Sit on the potty.
The monotony of the day can be grueling. Yes, that word is pretty extreme, but it can make for a long day if it's -30 and we are not leaving the house.

So.....the other day, my mom called and offered to watch the girls while James and I go out on a date. I hesitated because mom doesn't have the best luck with Adele...there are usually tears and barf involved. Mom never complains, but I feel bad when things don't go smoothly. Because of Adele's needs as a baby, we didn't leave her with others, so now she is adjusting to having other family members take care of her.
So.....I thought, screw it. Mom can do it! She's been around lots of barf and shit! We are going out on the town! A nice romantic dinner, maybe we'll hold hands, kiss each other deeply while sitting in a corner booth, surrounded by candles and cloth napkins. I am going to wear a pretty outfit, add some extra mascara and give these lips an extra coat of gloss. Lip gloss can make any date better.
James would be home at 5:00pm, we will run out the door, laughing and singing and soak in every minute of the two hours that we had....all alone...no children.

James walked in the door. I got dinner all set for grandma and the girls. I got the plates out, the rice was ready, the chicken was in the oven. I didn't avoid cooking a meal, but that's ok, I was going out on a date with my husband.
We get in the car, I didn't change. I am still wearing my Lulu Lemon pants and would you look at that, I'm wearing a shirt that is from Wal-Mart, no it's not a shirt, but I wear it as a shirt, it's actually a pyjama top. It's ok, I fluffed my hair and put on lip gloss. I look decent.

We decide on Original Joe's...no kids allowed. We pick a small table right by the teacher staff party table. It's ok, we can still make this romantic. James mentions if he should sit beside me. I laughed. That's cheesy. I make fun of people who sit side by side at restaurants. No, we won't do that.
I ordered a rum and coke.
We are so used to inhaling our food because we are usually feeding two children at the same time. I think our plates were cleared in five minutes. We forgot to hold hands and look madly and deeply into each other's eyes. Damn. I forgot to savour the food and the moment.
I contemplated having another rum and coke. I may get a little frisky if I have one more. Remember those moments in the car, when you were in your twenties, you were more flexible and you weren't on a schedule? Remember those days?
I opted for an iced tea.

We decided that Wal-Mart would be a good choice after our romantic dinner. We needed a potty that we could take out with us and some more potty treats. Of course, since we didn't have any children with us, we spent more money and actually took the time to look at items on the shelves. We didn't have to rush. It was a relaxing shopping experience at Wal-Mart. We waited in line, we were relaxed. What is this feeling that I am experiencing? What is this calmness that has taken over my body? I feel like I could take on the world right now. I laughed at people who had kids running around and who were dodging their parents. HA! HA! I remember those days. I laughed at those who were waiting in line to pay and their children were misbehaving. I was savouring my Wal-Mart experience. I was in heaven........at Wal-Mart.

Our time flew by. The two hours was not a lot of time, but it was nice. We talked with each other. We talked about our day. We took the time to ask each other questions. We went on a date. I love dating my husband. For a moment in time, we experienced what it was like six years ago. It was fun. For two hours, we focused on us. I think I will go on another date with my husband, after all, he is the father of my children. I should at least make an effort to call him again. :)

We walked in the front door and it was back to mommy/daddy mode. Adele barfed up her squash and managed to get it into every little crevice on her high chair. James started stripping it all down. I picked up all of the toys and finished cleaning up the dinner dishes. Brinley needed to go on the potty and grandma was yawning.

I am a mommy. I am a wife. I suck at balance, but I love my family.

5 January 2015

New Year. New You. Naked Hot Yoga. All Over The Place With This Post.

As we all know, being a mom is the hardest job in the whole world. We want to throw the towel in at least once a week, well, once a day, we lose our patience, more easily some days, we swear, or maybe it's just me. I have sworn. I still swear, sometimes. We leave our children in their pyjamas all day long, we give them Kraft Dinner for lunch, we hand over the IPad just to get a ten minute break, we give in, we text daddy and tell him that we are done. We are spent. We want to curl up into a little ball, in the corner of the room, with a bottle of rum. We postponed potty training because for the love of Pete, it takes work. We eat on TV trays in the living room.....the TV is on. We sigh. We take deep breaths all day long. We count to ten. We snack on junk food because it will make us happy. We add an extra nap for the kids, so that we can sit down and relax and find more energy for the rest of the day. It's a damn hard job being a mom.

When Brinley came into our room this morning at 7:30am, she tiptoed quietly to her dad's side of the bed, she climbed up, got as close as she could to me, looked at me and smiled. I whispered to her that she needed to be quiet because her sister was still sleeping. She had her two Minnie dolls, pulled them close to her and closed her eyes. I stared at her. I looked at the shape of her eyes, the shape of her nose and her ten little fingers up above her head. She was so content. We stayed in bed until Adele woke up at 8:00am. As soon as Brinley heard her sister stirring, she yelled "Adele is up!"
Brinley's excitement to see her sister is the exact same every day. She acts as if it is the first time she's seeing Adele, every time. She ran over to her crib, put her hands through the wooden posts and rubbed her head, touched her face and they both giggled.
This is why I love being a mom.

We came downstairs and as I was getting breakfast ready, the girls were giggling. They were playing with their toys and playing so nicely together. Adele idolizes her big sister.
This is why I love being a mom.

Adele gets close to the stairs and Brinley yells "ADELE FALL! MOM! ADELE FALL!" She is so protective of her baby sister. She brings Adele a toy so that it will distract her from going near the stairs. "Adele play."
This is why I love being a mom.

We are working on potty training and it's going great. We play educational games on the IPad and Brinley shocks me with all that she knows. She navigates on an IPad better than her father and I. She loves puzzles, colouring and Lego. She loves imaginary play.
This is why I love being a mom.

Our lives are complicated. Our lives are busy. We take care of our children the best we know how. We have made mistakes. We will continue to make mistakes. We will apologize to our children numerous times and I'm ok with this. I'm ok with admitting fault to my children. I thought about how much work it would be to have children but truly didn't fully think about all that it entails when we were planning on starting a family. Does this make sense? You know that it will be hard work. You know that you will be responsible for this new life, but there are also so many things that you don't think about. You never think about if it will be difficult to conceive. You don't think about if there will be complications. You don't think about if your baby will be diagnosed with Down syndrome. Autism. One less chromosome. Asperger's. You don't think about delivery and if there will be complications. We are sometimes faced with more challenges than others. We are sometimes faced with extra worries and concerns. What I have come to realize is that we are all in this together. We are all moms. We all love our children unconditionally. We would take a bullet for our children. We advocate. We teach our children to be the best that they can be. We try our best.

I feel that as moms, we compete with each other. We feel that we need to best Pinterest mom that we can be. We need to have it all together, all of the time. Our lives are perfect. Make sure that when you post pictures of your child's second birthday, you include the $200 piñata and the Perrier water that you strategically placed right beside the loot bags that are filled with $100 worth of goodies. My god, social media has turned you into a lunatic.

This year, I will focus on a few things. I am going to slow down. I am going to appreciate the days. I am going to wake up, thankful for my family. I am going to be present. I will continue to love my children with all of my heart. I will continue to provide a safe, happy and healthy home for my children. I will not compete with others. I will not get down on myself for making mistakes. I will forgive myself.

I am not one to make New Year's resolutions but I came up with a list of things that I will do this year and I hope that some of you will join me.

1) Meditate - now when I say meditate, I am not saying that you need to sit on a fluffy cushion, palms up, make humming noises. Meditation comes in many forms. Alone time to gather your thoughts.
2) Don't worry about what others think of you. You are you and you are amazing.
3) Do things that you have wanted to do. Stop putting things off. You want to go kayaking? Do it! You want to take a yoga class? Do it! You want to try naked hot yoga? I think you're weird.
4) Give yourself credit. Pump yourself up. Tell yourself that you are worth it. You ARE worth it!
5) Forgive, forget and move on. Forgiveness can be easy, but forgetting can be difficult. Let go of all that has been holding you back from being truly happy. Let yourself be happy.
6) Don't feel sorry for yourself. At some point, you need to move on and step up to the plate. Don't compare your situation to others. Don't hide in a corner because you had a shitty childhood. Do what you need to do to heal.
7) Have fun. Do things that make you laugh. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Surround yourself with love and those who show you support, especially in times of need. Don't give into those who bring you down. Don't spend time with those who cause you heartache.
8) Don't email, text or send Facebook messages, when you should pick up the phone and call. If your good friend is celebrating a birthday, call them. You soon come to realize who your friends are.....there are texting friends, Facebook friends and those who call and make the time to see you.
9) If you make a mistake, admit it and move on. We are all allowed second chances. Give yourself a break.
10) Listen to your gut. Do what is right for you and your family. You need to be selfish sometimes and that's ok. Nobody else is in your position. Nobody has the right to judge somebody else's journey.


3 January 2015

Dear Renée,

Dear Renée,

I attended your husband Dan's, celebration of life yesterday. As I walked into the auditorium, immediately, the beautiful picture of Dan caught my eye. You are instantly drawn to his smile and really awesome hair. It was an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for all of his friends and family. I knew from the moment I walked through the doors, we would be celebrating a man who has impacted the lives of so many. A man who made a difference in this world.

We sat near the front, I looked around and could feel all of the love, respect and admiration in the room. Dan had a lot of friends, whether they were family, business or drinking buddies. He was loved.
You asked Dan's voice coach to share songs that meant something to Dan and his family. They were all beautiful. I laughed. I cried. I knew that each song had a special place in all of your hearts. Hearing Dan's voice, that is something that you get to share with Audrey for a lifetime, she gets to continue to sing with her daddy night after night.

As I sat and listened to all of the speeches that were given by friends and family, I realized that Dan was somebody who people looked up to. He was the organizer. He was the person who kept up his friendships. He valued the importance of being a loyal friend, a loyal husband and a loyal son and brother. He lived his life to the fullest and made sure to include those who were most important to him.
The love that he had for his young daughter is a love that you know is unbreakable. I'm pretty sure that Audrey was Dan's hero. Dan was 40 and Audrey is 5. The bond and connection that they shared, is one that no other will be able to match. He will continue to take care of Audrey, he will watch over her and protect her. He will always be her daddy.

I have only ever met Dan a couple of times. It's unfortunate that I wasn't able to get to know this amazing man. Yesterday, while listening to others share their stories, I realized that I have missed out. He was a mentor, a best friend, a go-getter, a thoughtful and kind-hearted man. He was generous, stubborn, a perfectionist, a business man, a son, a reliable and trustworthy friend. The qualities that Dan possessed, were qualities that most of us work on all of our lives, but don't always acquire. He was one of a kind.

My words to you my friend.

Your journey ahead will be difficult. You lost your partner, your lover, your best friend. You are left with raising your beautiful daughter, but this will be what allows you to heal. Audrey will keep you grounded. Audrey will still want to play, dance and go places. She will force you to be present. This is the time where people return to their lives, while you sit and try to find the reason, why cancer took your husband's life. I don't always understand why God calls some home earlier then others. Always remember that Dan will be with you forever, in your heart, in your dreams. He will watch over you and your family.
You will heal. You will find the strength to move on but you will hold all of the memories and cherished moments close to your heart.
Talk about Dan, share stories with others. Keep his memory alive. Let your friends and family support you. Lean on others. Cry when you need to cry. Get mad when you feel anger. For most, what you are experiencing, is not our reality. We don't know what it is like to lose a spouse at a very young age. It's sometimes tough coming up with the right words to comfort you, but remember that you have an extensive support system that surrounds you and will always be there for you. You will find strength within yourself that you didn't know existed. You will find courage within yourself that you didn't know existed. You provided your husband with a loving and caring home, filled with laughs, support and family values. Dan is proud of you Renée. 

"...the most important thing is, even if we're apart....
I'll always be with you." - A.A. Milne


1 January 2015

A Look Back On 2014

A Look Back On 2014!

New Year's 2013
Our first donations for the baskets
Mom and dad think that the bear pictures are coming to an end
Working so hard
My first love
Mom walked away
Just one more month
EEG - I loved it
My first love
My mom is on a mission
First basket
Brinley's second birthday
Funky sock day
Getting rid of the soothers - it was working out well
What is this white stuff?
And....we're done!
No more night oxygen - April/14
My second love - Disneyland - April/14
Sometimes you need to eat ice cream for breakfast
I'm always happy ;)
Matching pyjamas :)
My best friend
Grandpa retired
A fun vacation to Radium
Dad got a speeding ticket and mom laughed....hysterically!
Adele's first birthday
Brinley became a Jedi Warrior
Sort of learnt how to ride a bike
I have a sense of humour
I'm gorgeous
Making a difference
My second love and forever love
My second Halloween
Stronger and working so hard
Music Therapy has been one of our best decisions for the girls
Our baskets have grown :)
I'm not too sure....
Loved Santa
Potty training
Thank you to all of our friends and family for the love and support over the past year. We are blessed, thankful and grateful. It has been a great year for our family. We have delivered 12 welcome baskets to families who have a baby born with Down syndrome. We have received donations from all over the world. Thank you! We have been featured on Global News and in several magazines. We have done presentations at our local elementary school and we were recently asked to submit photos of both girls to a major clothing company who is taking part in Changing the Face of Beauty. It's been a busy and wonderful year. Our goal is not fame, our goal is to get the word out, to educate, advocate and bring some comfort and joy to families. If you would like to donate or if you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email -
Have a wonderful 2015! We are looking forward to making an even bigger difference in the year to come. Stay tuned! :)
The Collins Family xo