21 September 2014

4 things that a mom needs to hear

4 things that a mom needs to hear

Thank you. I think back to the days when my sister and I were younger. My mom worked full-time, took care of the house, did all of the chores, got us to school, made lunches every night for the whole family, walked the dog, tucked us in at night, bought us clothes, had dinner on the table by 5:00pm every day, did all of the laundry. The list goes on. What did my mom want to hear? All she needs to hear is "THANK YOU MOM."

I appreciate you. Moms work tirelessly and without complaining. They carpool, they take the kids to soccer, hockey, dance, ballet, lacrosse. Moms go to all of your practices, they cheer you on even when you are the weakest player on the team. They tell you just how proud they are of you when you walk off the field. They hug you when you lose the game. They put band-aids on your cuts and scrapes. They hold your hand and tell you that you will be ok. They cry with you when things aren't going well at school. They stand up for you. They comfort you when you need a shoulder to cry on. They are your biggest fan. All she needs to hear is "I APPRECIATE YOU MOM."

You're pretty. You've worn the same pair of Lulus for the past three days and your thighs are rubbing and you have pilling in between your legs. Your hair is pulled back in a ponytail and you haven't put any makeup on your face in months. You haven't shaved your legs in weeks, possibly months, except for the one day that you had nothing else to wear except for the capris pants that are rolled up into a ball at the back of your closet, so that day, you shaved up to the pant line, four inches up from your ankle. You haven't plucked your eyebrows in a year and by now, you have just given up. Bushy is in?!?! You have gained 15 pounds since the kids returned to school, because you keep hitting the drive-thru on your way to run errands for your kids. All she needs to hear is "YOU'RE PRETTY MOM."

You're an amazing cook. You have made the same meal twice in a week, forgot some ingredients in one of your dishes, failed at attempting a new meal, forget the veggies twice in a row, got KFC on your way home because you need to have everybody fed and watered before soccer practice at 6:00pm, a baseball game at 7:00pm and ballet for the youngest at 6:30pm. Wait!! How do you manage to be at three different extracurricular activities all around the same time? You gave your children Lunchables three days in a row and you aren't even feeling guilty. You promise to make up for it at dinner time....a nice roasted chicken with veggies and potatoes....but wait, that will have to be next week, because your husband has a work function and you need to find a babysitter. I guess it's pizza night. All she needs to hear is "YOU'RE AN AMAZING COOK."

4 things a wife needs to hear

You're beautiful. See You're pretty with the added.....although you have decided that womanscaping is no longer needed because you have been married for so many years and you are sure that your husband couldn't care a less what it looks like. You have neglected some personal grooming and you feel awful about it and it makes you feel less sexy, but you only have 5 minutes allotted for shower time in the morning, because your children will destroy the house and harm each other. All she needs to hear is "YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL."

I love you. Although there are days when things suck and she infuriates you, her every move, her nagging and complaining, her unshaved legs, her lack of creativity in the kitchen, her monthly rollercoaster ride, she managed to play, care for, feed, love and take care of your children. She had your home cleaned and organized for when you walked in the door and she promised to make up for it later that night, although, you know that she will be fast asleep by the time you shower and crawl into bed next to her. All she needs to hear is "I LOVE YOU."

Thank you for being an awesome mom. Although there are days when you feel like you have completely failed as a mom and the thought of driving off of a bridge is tempting, you still came out on top. Your children got fed and watered, they learned a new colour and shape, they took naps, they got snuggles from you, they smiled, they laughed. When your husband walks in the door from work, you hand the kids over and take a deep breath. You think about how tomorrow can be better and how you need to find new ways to deal with your lack of patience. All she needs to hear is "THANK YOU FOR BEING AN AWESOME MOM."

I want you for the rest of my life. A house, kids, activities, lack of patience, lack of romance and kissing, frustration, lack of excitement, too busy, too much to get done, forget about each other's needs, anger, exhaustion, money is tight, bills, boredom. There is a long list of negatives when you are married. There are days when you want to walk out the door because it must be better somewhere else. There are days when you feel so overwhelmed by life that you wonder what you were ever thinking, how could married life work? This is so much work and I don't know if I have it in me to keep going. You then have a moment, where you stop and look around at all that you have, your children, your husband, the man who chose you as his wife. He walks in the door and hugs you and reassures you that you can do this together. He tells you "I WANT YOU FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE."

** The past few days have been difficult for the family and for a dear friend. My mom's best friend was diagnosed with cancer in March and was given 4-6 weeks to live. She fought hard and continued to be an amazing wife, mother and friend. She always had a smile on her face, a joke, a silly story to share. She was a remarkable woman.
I was fortunate enough to have spent several hours with her and her husband on Friday at the hospice. I sat beside her bed for seven hours, rubbed her hand, rubbed her arm, rubbed her face and her head. I told her stories, I showed her pictures of the girls. I told her how much I loved her and how I need for her to watch over Brinley and Adele.
I watched the man who had been married to his loving wife for 44 years. I watched how he caressed her hand, her cheek. I listened to his loving words, trying to get in every thought and emotion before it was her time, knowing that she had only a few hours left. He told her that he was her hubby and she was his wifey. He told her how much he loved her and how he would always love her, until forever. He kissed her lips. He kissed her hand. He kissed her cheek. He had to say goodbye to the woman who he had promised to spend the rest of his life with, forever and ever. He said good bye to his best friend, his partner, his love.

Remember to love with all of your heart.


11 September 2014

Your Child is a BULLY and it's YOUR Fault....

Well, it's that time of year, back to school.

New clothes - check
New hairdo - check
New school supplies - check
New backpack - check

Parents are ready for summer holidays to be over and for routine and schedules to start up again. The summers are long for some parents and the thought of school, it's the happiest time of the year. The children are excited to be reunited with old friends, meet new friends and find out if they got their favourite teacher. This is pretty much the same across the board from kindergarten to grade 12. We all get excited, although it is short lived with the older kids. :) As a teacher, I used to get excited to start the new year, meet all of my new students and get the year going.

Most of our schools here in Canada, on the traditional calendar, started school last week. It hasn't been long but the bullying has started. Let's be clear and define bullying.


Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Types of Bullying 

There are three types of bullying:
  • Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
    • Teasing
    • Name-calling
    • Inappropriate sexual comments
    • Taunting
    • Threatening to cause harm
  • Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
    • Leaving someone out on purpose
    • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
    • Spreading rumors about someone
    • Embarrassing someone in public
  • Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
    • Hitting/kicking/pinching
    • Spitting
    • Tripping/pushing
    • Taking or breaking someone’s things
    • Making mean or rude hand gestures

What are the effects of bullying?
Bullying makes people upset. It can make children feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. It can make them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. Children can lose confidence and may not want to go to school anymore. It may even make them sick.

Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. Some of these include:

Withdrawal from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone.

Stomach aches
Panic Attacks
Not being able to sleep
Sleeping too much
Being exhausted

I think back to my elementary, junior high and high school years. I clearly remember being bullied. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember sitting in Language Arts class and the boy sitting in front of me called me FAT, he did this many times. He has never apologized. I was in grade 9. I was 14 years old. This was 23 years ago. I remember the 'cool' girls in high school. I remember them being too cool to be kind to others. I remember all of the incidents. It doesn't go away. It never goes away. It was years of bullying, disrespect and tears.

I can hear some people saying, "Oh, just get over it."
"You know it's not true."
"It's time to get on with life."
"Don't dwell on it."
The pain never goes away.

For those who bullied, do you just get over it? Do you think back to the days when you harassed, name called, made others feel worthless? I hope that you do. I hope that you make right with others who you hurt. They aren't over it. It doesn't just go away. I remember the times that I bullied others. I did it too. I was tall, I was loud, I wasn't shy. I remember times in elementary and junior high school when I bullied others. I do remember and it hurts me to this day, that I behaved that way. If I could go back and fix it, I would in a second. This is what children need to understand, be a good person today, be kind to others today. Your words and actions will remain with others forever. A lifetime.

The saying 'sticks and stones can break your bones, but names with never hurt me.' I'm not too sure who came up with the most ridiculous saying. It is the most untrue statement that I have ever heard. Words hurt. Words hurt a lot and for a lifetime.

When I hear my niece tell my sister that she is being picked on at school because of her shoes, because of an outfit, because of an answer she gave in class, I get mad, I get upset, I feel such hurt and pain for her. She has been at school for less then 2 weeks and the bullying has started. It's not just an isolated incident, it's over and over again. It's my niece coming home crying because she was teased. It's my niece getting in the car after school and telling my sister that she tried her hardest to fight back the tears when she was the target of bullying that day at school. She's in grade 4, grade 4! These are the years to laugh, play, learn, meet good friends, learn about the good in the world. This is not the time to feel so much pain, not want to go to school, be afraid of your peers. She told my sister that she's afraid to tell the 'mean' girls to stop because then she thinks they will tell on her and she'll get into trouble. She doesn't want to tell the teacher because she thinks that she will get into trouble for being a tattle tale, so it's easier to keep quiet and to not say anything at all. She was so conflicted. Why does an 8 year old have to deal with this?

My next point. Where does your child learn how to bully others? Yup, I'm going to tell you. They learn it from you. That is it. Your child listens to all of your words. Your child watches your every move. Your child is your shadow. When you are fighting with your spouse, when you are gossiping about others, when you are bad mouthing a teacher, another child, a friend, your child is taking in every word, every action. YOU are creating a bully because you are one yourself.
I've seen parents yell at others, other adults, in front of their child and then the following week punish their child for yelling at students on the playground. I have seen a father grab his child by the throat and push her up against the wall, blood shooting out of her mouth, yelling at her, berating her. This meeting was set up because the previous day, she physically harmed a staff member, yelled at the staff member and berated her in front of others.
Your child is a product of you. Do you understand?

I have spoken with parents who deny adamantly that their child bullies others, yet they have been approached by others, talked to by teachers, talked to by parents in the community, but continue to put the blame on others. Talk to your children. Listen to what others are telling you.
It starts in the home. It all starts in the home.

Please sit down with your children. Please discuss their day. Here are some good questions....

1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)
6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
7. How did you help somebody today?
8. How did somebody help you today?
9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
10. When were you the happiest today?
11. When were you bored today?
12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you've never played with before?
14. Tell me something good that happened today.
15. What word did your teacher say most today?
16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
19. Where do you play the most at recess?
20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
21. What was your favorite part of lunch?
22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
23. Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out?
24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.

Be the positive and healthy role model that you should be for your children. Be the parent who walks into a parent/teacher interview and the teacher tells you that your child is being awarded the kindness award. That your child is always willing to help others. That your child is a good friend to all students.

I'm going to leave you with this last thought....


The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming: 
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying

7 September 2014

Pictures and an Update....

Today's post is all about the girls! PICTURES!!! Just in case you missed it ;) I have set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money to buy more goodies for the baskets. I would love to keep the project going, at least long enough so that the girls can help out one day. I don't expect people to donate hundreds, $5.00 would buy a couple of onesies. I just handed out the last blanket but there may be more incentives in the next while... I would love it if we could make the baskets for families in other areas, not just Calgary. The only way that I am able to do this, is if we continue to get donations. Please share Adele's page. We appreciate all of your support. Thank you.

Go Fund Me

I have also set up an online store, where you can buy A Perfect Extra Chromosome merchandise. Profits will go right back into Adele's Baskets. It's a win win!! :)

Adele's Over the Rainbow Baskets - Online Store


A little update on Adele....she had an overnight oxymeter test and she did stellar. Her average was 96, which is pretty great. She continues to grow and gain weight at a good rate. Her pediatrician is quite impressed with how well she is doing. She recently had her yearly blood work done and all of the numbers came back perfect, so there are no concerns right now. I worried about the blood work. I have to be honest, it stressed me out. I was waiting for a phone call telling me that she has cancer. I know that I can't live each day feeling this way, and I don't, but it's tough when our little ones have a greater chance of getting cancer.
We are still working on pooping...yes, pooping. We hope for poops. I think I've even prayed for the poops. I think we will get her going on PEG and see if that gives her the boost she needs.
She was given glasses so that we could strengthen her eyes a bit, but we have not found a band that works yet. We met a little girl yesterday and it looks like the band she has, may just work for us. Going to do a little more research.
She is not sitting unassisted yet or crawling. She will roll all over the place and she knows how to get to where she needs to be. At first, it bothered me, seeing all of these little ones who are seven and eight months, sitting up, but then I realized that Adele is working so hard on some other skills, we will keep at the OT and PT and hopefully we get there soon. Adele is really verbal and makes a lot of different sounds. This makes me incredibly happy. I am learning that our little miracles focus hard on one area and this is what Adele is doing right now. We are working on signing and the whole family watches Signing Times at bedtime. The girls stay glued to the IPad. My, how my life has changed!!
Happy Sunday! :)
If you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I would love to share your journey. 


29 August 2014

The Stigma Around Mental Illness.....

I figured since I wrote a post on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I would write a post on another subject that I am all too familiar with, mental illness. Yes, two very different subjects, but the death of Robin Williams has been weighing on my mind for weeks.

After Robin Williams' death, many people took it upon themselves to criticize him and point out just how selfish suicide is, it's a selfish act. Why would a human being take their life when they have it so good? Why would somebody take their life when resources and help are a phone call away? Why would you take your life when you have a family who loves you and millions of adoring fans who are eagerly awaiting your next film, your next comedy act? Your world was perfect.

When I was in my twenties, I thought that suicide was very selfish. How could a human being take their life without thinking about their family and friends? How could you possibly not realize that there is a way out? How could you not realize that tomorrow is another day? Things always get better. There is help.

When I began my teaching career, I was a bit naïve when it came to mental illness. I didn't really understand what it was all about. I had never experienced anxiety or depression. I knew that people got sad, but that it was their job to pull themselves out of the funk. You didn't take your life because you had a bad day, or an off week. Talk to someone, get help.

When I was teaching at a catholic school in the city, I spent two years with one student who suffered from mental illness. He was also ODD, ADHD and suffered from many other conduct problems. I was learning. I was starting to understand how he was feeling. How  difficult it was to get up, get out of bed, get ready and make the effort to come to school. It was so hard for him. Most of the time, there had been some sort of confrontation with his parents the night before and several times, the police were called due to violence.
He experienced some very high highs and some very low lows. There was rarely a happy medium. Psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, they all had their roles in trying to 'fix' him, get him past this stage. It was such a challenge. There were so many times where we all threw our hands up in the air, ready to give up. There was so much pain and suffering. So much upset.

Fast forward a couple of years. My last teaching position was teaching at-risk high school girls.
The program is a specialized education program with supports for adolescent girls who are at risk of being sexually exploited. The program embraces a therapeutic, relationship-focused approach to help these girls develop skills, commit to their education, re-examine their lives and move forward in a positive direction.
I absolutely loved teaching the girls. It was a whole new world for me. I read things in their files, that I didn't want to read. I listened to stories that I didn't want to hear. I witnessed violence, I witnessed drug overdoses. It was three of the most difficult years of my life. I didn't know if my students would show up the next day at school. I didn't know what they were doing when they left the classroom. The one thing that I did know, was that they were self-medicating to ease the pain. I knew that 8 hits of ecstasy would make the night go by faster. I knew that the mickey of vodka would lessen then pain of the events that took place two years ago. I knew that violence toward others, would let them get their frustrations out, although it was not going to solve anything, but it helped, for a brief moment in time.

Girls showed up in my classroom, hung-over, beaten up, coming off a high. Another two week relationship with the man of their dreams was over. They were raped the night before. They strolled into my classroom looking for comfort and safety. They needed to be surrounded by love and support. They needed to talk. Some days, we didn't achieve our curricular goals. Some days, we didn't achieve any goals. I was all about the books when I started, but soon came to realize that we needed to get these girls healthy, physically, mentally, socially, emotionally. 
There were days where all I wanted, was for those girls to walk through the door. That's it. I worked hard, along with my other team members, to get these girls in a healthy place. We worked hard to alleviate the pain that they had experienced, some since birth. They have been neglected, used, abused and thought of as objects.

This brings me to my point. We are in no place to judge others. We are in no place to make the comment that suicide is selfish. We don't know the details of somebody's life journey. It doesn't matter if you have all of the money in the world. It doesn't matter if you make jokes for a living. It doesn't matter if you are surrounded by people who love you. Mental illness is your battle. The battle in your mind. When you have suicidal thoughts, you are not in the mind set where you are thinking about those around you. You are not in a position where you will understand the pain and agony that you will cause your family and friends. In your mind, you are feeling so helpless and hopeless and you have told yourself that it will never get better. This is your life, the struggles, the demons, the feeling of total despair. You are not thinking about tomorrow. You are not focusing on the future. You are in the moment, and in that moment, there is no way out. There is no convincing yourself that tomorrow may be better. You know that there is a stigma attached to mental illnesses. There is no help.

We all look for some sort of explanation. We all look for the reasons. We all make the comments that we never saw this coming.

I have kept in touch with several of my former students and have watched some of them walk across the stage. They got help. They accepted help. They had a support system that never gave up on them, a support system that made sure that they talked, no judgement was passed. There are signs. There are behaviours. We need to educate the world. We need to change how so many view mental illness. Reach out.

What I hope for, is that the world realizes that mental illness is not a form of weakness. It is not something that should be swept under the rug. It is not something that we should avoid. All of us have been depressed to some degree and at some point in our lives, or perhaps suffer from other forms of mental illness. You know that it was the worst feeling that you have ever experienced.

It is time that we talk about it. It's time to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness. We need to make it a collective priority. It's time.

Fast Facts about Mental Illness

23 August 2014

STOP With the Ice Bucket Challenge.....

"Stop wasting water."

"What a silly thing to do."

"There are children all over the world who don't have clean water."

"I don't even know what ALS is....."

"How is this bringing awareness to ALS?"

"Just stop posting the videos."

"I won't get involved in such a silly thing."

"You people are losers."

These are all comments that I have read on Facebook in the past week. The negativity, the comments, the refusal to participate. The grass activists are pissed because some of you aren't doing the challenge over your lawn. The plant activists are pissed because you aren't standing over a fern. The rain barrel activists are pissed because you aren't standing on top of a rain barrel. The boozers are pissed because all of those ice cubes are going to waste.

This is what you choose to be negative about? There is always something. There are always those who find negativity in everything. If you feel that the challenge has not brought any awareness, go to the ALS Association website and get educated. If you are tired of watching videos, don't watch them. Maybe you are just upset because nobody has nominated you.

ALS Society of Alberta

Adele's buddy, Brooke! Dedicated her Ice Bucket Challenge to ALS and Down syndrome Awareness

My opinion, the person or group who started all of this, you are genius. You are wonderful and amazing and obviously have a great sense of humour. The Ice Bucket Challenge has taken over Facebook. It has taken over You Tube. This has been one of the most uplifting and positive crusades that I have ever been a part of....(ok, I have been challenged, but have not stepped up yet, but I will).
The world, seriously, the whole world has come together and has brought about a whole crap load of awareness for ALS. Celebrities, presidents, common folk :) have all participated in this worthy and amazing cause.
The Ice Bucket Challenge has so far raised over 41 million dollars and you are telling me that this is silly and ridiculous and a waste of resources?!?! Give your head a shake. Before the Ice Bucket Challenge, the world didn't know what ALS was, just that it was a disease but if it hadn't affected your family, it just didn't matter. Do you have any concept of the awareness and the education that has come about because of the challenge? The research, the hope for a cure, the lives that this has impacted is beyond what families and what the ALS Association can even comprehend. There is no cure, but with 41 million dollars and growing, this brings about some light, some hope for those who are suffering. The amount of people affected by ALS is small in comparison to those who have cancer and other diseases. Does it make it any less worthy? Does it mean that we shouldn't be trying to find a cure? No. The answer is, NO.

Instead of posting negative comments on Facebook and commenting that this is annoying and a waste of your time, you need to realize that social media has once again risen to the occasion and for a moment in time, the world has come together to participate, to show support, we all want to find a cure, we all want to have a little fun, we all want to have a laugh. Most importantly, we have all shown those who are suffering from this horrendous disease, that we care. Your child who doesn't quite get why they are pouring a bucket of water over their head, this is your time to be a teacher, explain why they have been nominated, explain what ALS is, let them know that although they are pouring ice and water over themselves, it is about awareness, donating money to the cause and trying to help those who are suffering.

Good on my friends and family who have participated. Good on the celebrities for stepping up. Good on those who are suffering and who are living with ALS for participating in the challenge and for also adding a little education in your video for the rest of the world.
The challenge has attracted so many people because it is fun, it has made people smile, nobody likes to be challenged and  then not follow through on the nomination. Some videos have been simply pouring ice and water over yourself, while others have performed raps, dressed up, poured money over their heads and of course the many bloopers that are all over the internet.

I hope that the challenges continue and that we choose many different causes and continue to educate the world.

17 August 2014

Jenny's Post....

My friend Jenny writes a blog that is wonderful and amazing. She recently wrote this post and I asked if I could share it with all of you. Made me think....
I still added pictures of the girls :)

 This whole "inspiration porn" thing has been bothering me lately. When Russell was born I needed to see the positives in raising a child with Down syndrome. I needed to see happiness...I needed to see kindness. And back then in Russell's first year, my FB feed was full of people passing around "feel good" stories. Stories that left you with a warm feeling and a big smile on your face. Stories that made you a little less scared of your child's future...Stories that gave you a little hope.

And then there was a shift. Then the term "inspiration porn" came out and everyone shyed away from sharing anything that might be even remotely nice, or kind, or "too inspirational". Because you know, that is damaging to our kids and all. Those feel good stories cause more harm than good. We don't want people to show extra kindness to our kids because that takes away their dignity. Ug...*sigh*....Sorry, I'm being a little snarky here, I can't help it.

It's just now days all I see are those horrible, gut wrenching, awful stories being passed around. Children with Ds being abandoned, aborted, mistreated....And I guess I am stumped really as to why everyone is so damn quick to share these stories and not the ones that are...well, nice? I guess I don't understand why it is better to show stories of people abandoning children like ours instead of showing people being "overly" kind to them. My FB feed use to be full of positive inspirational stories...Now it's all pretty much filled with anything shocking or negative. It sucks.

So, an article
 is floating around the Internet. And the whole shady surrogacy thing aside, this article really broke my heart. It's just so sad to know that many people in this world still view Down syndrome as something to be scared of. Ashamed of. That some people would think a child with Ds is not worthy of love. Something they wouldn't want to "take on", so to speak.
It got me thinking...It got me thinking about what changes a persons perception of what Down syndrome really is? What helps people to see that it is not something to be feared? That those living with Down syndrome do not lead horrible, wretched lives...That it is not the awful existence they think it is.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am not against inspiration porn...I think it plays a role. I think it is still needed to help push change forward. I don't think there are enough good stories out there. I don't think we are anywhere close enough as a society to do away with it altogether...yet.
If we are still hearing stories like this in the media...If we are still hearing about people abandoning children with Ds...Letting them rot away in Institutions...If the abortion rate for babies with Ds is still as high as it is...Then how can we possibly say we need to get rid of inspiration porn? How can we say that we no longer need it? That it does more harm than good? 

Doesn't all this scream that there is not enough good stories and experiences out there being shared? Doesn't this scream that people still don't know enough, that they are not educated enough to not fear Down syndrome? Doesn't this tell us that there have not been enough "feel good" stories out there for people to view Down syndrome in a positive light?
So inspiration porn...What is it that actually bothers people? I think for many parents it's that they don't want their child being treated "special"...They don't want people being kind to their kid out of pity. They want their children respected and treated as equals. But that doesn't mean that all inspiration porn is bad...That all acts of kindness are really just pity and taking away a persons dignity. Sometimes kindness is just that, kindness.

I hear people bitch about the cute pictures with inspirational quotes attached to them being passed around. How we shouldn't waste time on stuff like that...You know,  because sharing pictures of cute kids with Ds doesn't bring about real change. My response to that is...

Um, so? Why does every one have to be only worried about making real change? What about those new parents? What about them? They're still scared to death. They still don't know what to expect. They aren't anywhere near ready to tackle real change like the ABLE Act or Sheltered Work shops, or anything like that. They are taking baby steps into this new world...They need to see those cute pictures and inspirational quotes. Who are you to say they have to jump in head first into all this advocacy and disability rights movements? Just because you are there...Just because you are ready to fight for change does not mean everyone else is at the same point in their journey as you. And you don't get to tell people how soon they need to get to that point, or how to get there. You don't get to deny them those baby steps. So those cute pictures of kids with Ds...Don't like them? Don't look at them! But they still play a small role in creating change and shifting peoples perceptions, so they are of some use, they do some good, some people need them. So if you need an issue to complain about, find something more important than this to focus your energy on, cause in the end it just isn't that big of an effing deal.

Those inspirational stories in the media where it is also mentions the person has Ds. I know some parents have a problem with this. I hear the grumbling of "Why do they even have to mention he has Ds"...Why? Because some people out there still aren't as educated as you are, that's why. Some people are not aware of what people with Ds are even capable of.

I shared a story of a man with Ds running a Marathon once. He was the first person with Ds to complete that Marathon...Instead of celebrating, I heard many in the Ds community grumbling over the fact that Ds was even mentioned. They didn't think this man should be singled out for running this marathon because you know, he only did what all the other runners did, what's so special about that?

What's so special about that?

Russell is almost five and he is not a good runner. His movements are still abrupt and choppy and all out of sync. It makes for the cutest little run you have ever seen. But it's difficult for him.
And there have been times it made me a little sad. Sad to see kids younger than him move their bodies with so much more ease and effortlessness than Russell. So if one day he runs a damn Marathon and the news paper also wants to add the fact that he has Down syndrome. Fine by me! Because Ds made it more difficult for him to accomplish it. Because his body was something he worked to overcome...And I know many parents have a problem with what I just said about Russell "overcoming" his body. But how else do you word it? The struggle to fight past the fact that your body does not function as smoothly as others? Isn't that overcoming? And what's really wrong with that?

Anyway, onto more inspiration porn...

Homecoming. Every year I see parents get all bent out of shape when they see someone with Ds has been nominated homecoming king or queen or whatever. And I always wonder why such a fuss? To me when I see people get outraged at this type of thing I think they are sending a pretty powerful message. A negative one. They are saying to the world...No way this kid got nominated simply because people like him. No way can anyone else see how awesome he is, this is all out of pity. This is only to make them feel good about themselves....

Well, I can tell you this. Here in Canada we don't have that homecoming nonsense. But if we did, and if Russell was nominated, the last thing I would think was it was out of pity. I would think he was nominated because people thought he was a great guy. That he earned it. That he had made a positive impact on people and they wanted to recognize him. And ya, maybe Ds would play a little role in that, and so what if it did?! Maybe his peers, the ones he grew up with...The ones he went to school with since Kindergarten, would want to recognize how awesome Russell is. How much harder he has to work for things that come naturally to them. What a positive attitude he had. I guess I just feel like when we bitch and whine about these stories and how they are just inspiration porn,  we are really telling the world that our kids would never be worthy of such an honor because they have Ds...And that to recognize them in such a fashion is just fake and terrible and all out of pity because no one can possibly see our kid for who they are. And that it's wrong to single them out...To admire them...To feel inspired by them.
People can't really win though can they? If people with Ds were never nominated or given that honor, the Ds community would be all outraged over it. And then when kids are nominated the Ds community is still outraged over it. What a confusing message to send to people!

About those sports stories. 

You know where the kid gets passed the ball in the last few minutes of the game? You see a crowd full of people cheering, people in tears. Well, this is a personal story. It is about that community...That child, and that child's parents. If you are not the type of parent who wants your child on the team because he didn't earn the spot or isn't good enough and you feel it is all out of pity...That's fine. But you don't get to call the shots for other parents. If a parent knows full well their child is only on the team because he is being "allowed" because people are being nice...If they know he is mostly benched, but that child loves the feel of being a part of that team...Well that is their business, not anyone else's. You don't get to tell other parents how to raise their children. If allowing a child with a disability to be on that team is what the child wants, what the parents feel good about, what the team embraces...Then so be it. Why put a negative spin on it?

And here is something else people need to keep in mind. All our children may have Ds...But all our children are different. They are all capable of different things. Ok, I hate that I am wording it this way but I don't know how else to put it. I'm going to use the "functioning" word.

A parent with a "higher functioning" child may have different expectations for that child. They may not want their child treated special because they know their child is fully capable of doing things everyone else is. But what about the children on the other end of the spectrum? What about the ones who are not talking, reading, writing...The ones who struggle way more? Why is showing them extra kindness so horrible? Yes, as parents we all hold high expectations for our children...We all work with our children to help them reach their potential. But the bottom line is, no matter how much work or therapy you do with them, some kids are simply not going to be capable of achieving the same things as others. And that's ok, that's just the way it is. It doesn't make any one more important or more valued than another. But it makes it so that what may not be ok with some parents with how their children are treated...May be welcomed and appreciated by other parents.

And this all kind of ties into the next topic...


About the child playing the last few minutes of the game, or being passed the ball?  Ya, um so what. *gasp* Oh the horror of it all, a bunch of kids finding a bit of heart and wanting to make some one feel good or have an awesome moment. This is sooo terrible and awful. I can't imagine anything worse! How degrading and dehumanizing. Ug...Really?

The thing is what you never fail to see in these stories is people being moved emotionally. You often see the crowd going crazy, clapping, smiling, maybe brushing a tear or two away. Because they are touched by the whole thing. And who is to say the community watching something like this cannot feel that way? Who is to say it is so awful and wrong? Again, I feel this is a personal story to those people who are actually there and involved.

Maybe this community has watched this boy grow up. Maybe a lot of people in this community had a hand in raising him. Maybe in that stand full of people "pitying" this child, there are therapists who helped teach this boy to walk, or toss a ball...Perhaps there are teachers who helped this boy learn to read and write...Perhaps there are store clerks who have had daily conversations with this boy and have watched him grow from an infant. Perhaps there are bus drivers who personally cared for the child and made sure he got on and off that bus safely everyday for years. Perhaps there are babysitters who love that boy. Perhaps there are Nurses or Doctors who in the beginning didn't think that boy would even walk or talk....Maybe there are people in that crowd who genuinely love and care for this child. Who have watched him learn and grow...Who have been touched by all he has overcome, all he has worked for...Maybe this boy has made a difference in all their lives...And they want him to have this moment. And who is anyone to tell them that this is wrong. That this is damaging. Some may see this example as a community using this child as their feel good mascot...While others may see it as a community coming together and celebrating and embracing this child. Whose to say which is the right way to look at this situation? It's a personal story.

What I described above is what I want for Russell. I would much rather have him embraced and loved by his community than ignored...I would rather him be surround by a bunch of teenagers who would want to be kind to him, than not. Not every form of kindness and compassion is out of pity. In many ways it is simply a celebration. That's how I choose to see it anyway. I choose to not be horrified by people being overly kind to my kid.

So why do I feel that these stories are still important? Because when Russell was born I was completely devastated. I thought of his life being absolutely miserable. I thought of him being taunted and made fun of and being treated cruelly. If I had seen a news clip of a boy being passed a ball by teammates that cared about him and were inspired by him...If I had seen a crowd jump to their feet and cheer him on...I would have been less scared. To see a news clip of a boy with Down syndrome being embraced and supported and valued by all those around him, even if they were all being *gasp* overly nice...Well, it would have given me hope and made me feel like everything was going to be ok.

There is a need for all  types of stories. There is a need to share more good. I guess I just wish people would get over that "inspiration porn" term and go back to not being afraid to share some of the good out there in this world. I wish I saw more people sharing stories that left a smile on your face instead of the ones that make a person want to throw up and hide their child away from the world to keep them safe. I just don't think inspiration porn is as damaging as people think it is.

So that's my opinion. Like I said I know some disagree with this way of thinking, and that's ok. We each need to raise our children how we think is right...And there is no one way, no "right" way. We all love our kids and want the best for them...What may feel right to one parent, may not to another. So if you don't like inspiration porn, skip past it...And if you do like it, don't be afraid to share it.










6 August 2014

Don't Wear a Bikini....

Today's post has nothing to do with an extra chromosome, it has to do with a couple of posts that have gone viral in the past week.

Both women wrote about their bodies and how they have been shamed lately by others. My opinion....

One woman was hurt by comments that were made to her by others at the beach, hurtful and unkind words. Women have babies and some of us women get stretch marks. Some women call them stripes that they have earned and they are proud of them. They show them off by wearing tube tops and bikinis and then when the world comes and attacks them, they get offended and write blog posts about how insensitive society was towards their bodies and their stretch marks. Is it fair to be verbally attacked by others, no, it's not fair. Do I think you made a poor choice in what you wore to the beach? Yes, I do. Did it warrant a verbal lickin'? No, so don't attack me! These are my thoughts.

I didn't have stretch marks on my belly before I got pregnant with Brinley. It was all smooth, beautiful and at one point, fairly flat.
At 7 weeks, yes 7 weeks, my first stretch mark appeared. I went into a state of shock and knew that eventually, my whole tummy would look like a Snakes and Ladders board game.
It took almost the entire pregnancy, but my god, it happened and I didn't like it, I actually detested it and couldn't stand looking at them. Of course, James didn't care or he just knew better then to actually say something. :)
The stretch marks did not go away.
I got pregnant with Adele and more appeared. My body didn't have enough time to get back to its 'normal' state after Brinley, so now, I had stretch marks and dangly, dog jowl type skin. Did I love knowing that I was growing a baby inside of me? Absolutely. Did I love what pregnancy did to my body? Not one bit! 

Ok, my point...would I go out into the world and show off my dangly, flabby skin that is covered in stretch marks, because dammit, I grew two babies in there and I deserve to show it off. I am proud! I love my body. It is a temple.
Hell no!
It's not appropriate and nobody wants to see it. Should you be damn proud that you housed your five babies, your three babies? Absolutely! Be proud!
Do you need to wear a bikini and show off your stretch marks to the whole beach? To the whole pool area? No, you don't.
There is a reason why designers make one piece swimsuits. There is a reason why there are bandeaus and skirt type bathing suits, so that us women who have the stretch marks and dangly skin, can go to the beach and feel semi comfortable.

When you go to the beach and you are not dressed appropriately for your body type, you will get judged. Do I think it's harsh for others to criticize you and make you feel less worthy? Yes, it is harsh and it's not ok, but for the love of the lord, don't run home and write a blog post/letter about how you were so incredibly criticized and have a boo hoo moment when all you had to do was cover up a bit. Yes, it's important to be confident and to be proud of our bodies and wear clothes that compliment our figures, but seriously, when you put your string bikini on and look in the mirror and see highway lines all across your abdomen, do you not think that maybe you could have made a better choice in bathing suit designs?? We are a judgemental society, it's sad and unfortunate and I wish that we could all just get along, but this is not the case.

I believe that your body should be shown off at home. If you want to do jumping jacks for your husband at bed time, go ahead. If you want to play a board game on your stretch marks that you are so proud of, go nuts. Your body is for you and your partner. If you want to wear your string bikini in your backyard, go ahead. If you have company over and you wear your string bikini, go ahead. It is your house, but when you go out in public, as I said before, some people are cruel and mean and will attack you, save yourself the upset and embarrassment and cover up! You can still be sexy and confident while dressing for your body type.

I am getting tired of reading posts by women who think that this world just isn't fair. They can't post pictures of themselves on Instagram showing their weight loss, because they are told that it's inappropriate. I think it is inappropriate when you post a picture of yourself in your bra and underwear and share it with the world, whether you are skinny or overweight, but you get all pissed off when Instagram removes your photos but not the skinny girl's photos, then you blame it on the fact that you are fat. I'm pretty sure that Instagram has removed trashy pictures of the skinny girls too, but you get on a rampage about how unfair life is and that you are going to close your account because the world is against you.
Why do you need to share those pictures? You know what? Good on you for taking the steps to lose weight and to be a healthier you, but I don't need to see your week by week pictures. Save it for your partner, your spouse.

Social media has become a place filled with hate and criticism and judgemental a-holes. I get it, but I feel that some women are making it harder for others. I saw a video once of a woman who was probably a good 400 pounds, wearing a bikini, running down the street, because she wanted to show the world that she was proud of her body.
You made yourself look like a fool. You are a heart attack waiting to happen. Your cholesterol levels are through the roof. How is this ok? How does this make women look good? How could you possibly think that by running down the street, the world is going to look at women differently? More people will respect women after watching your circus act?
It was a sad video and I was embarrassed for you and for your friend who filmed your jog!

When I see a woman dressed in beautiful clothes, it doesn't have to be designer, just nice clothes that compliment your figure, you are showing your confidence, you are telling the world that you have healthy self esteem. There is sexy/classy and then there is sexy/trampy. It's too bad that we, as women have taken social media and turned it into a pornographic, whiny, trashy portal for others to be sucked into.

Don't take this post and dissect it. I am not against women in bikinis. I am not against sexy clothes. I want women to have confidence, whether they are a size 2 or 14. You don't need to be a size 2 to wear a bikini, but use some good judgement.
I am on a weight loss journey of my own right now and working hard to get back to where I feel confident wearing a bathing suit. I share my goals with my friends and they support my journey by offering words of encouragement. Pictures of my body and measurements are not on the internet because I respect my body and I respect myself. The world doesn't need to see me in my bra and underwear, nor would the world like to see me in my bra and underwear. ;)

Make women look good. Be proud of your accomplishments. Love your body and cherish the moments when you were pregnant with your babies. Love your stretch marks if they make you happy. Love the dimples on your thighs because you earned them. Love the flabby skin that you were left with after child birth. Love all of you.......but stop telling the world that you will wear the bikini because you earned it.

Next blog post.....how I feel about Speedos. :)