22 May 2015

"I Acted Inexcusably."

I thought long and hard before deciding to write about such a controversial topic. As a mother and a teacher and somebody who doesn't hold back or filter very often, I decided to share my thoughts and opinions.

Yesterday, Josh Duggar confessed to sexually molesting five young girls, with speculations that some may have been his sisters.

From Josh:
Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

When I first heard about it today while watching Good Morning America, I think my jaw dropped to the floor. My initial reaction was that of anger towards Josh and sadness for his victims. After I digested the information, I blamed his family for their choices. I condemned them for not allowing their children to show love towards others through kissing and touching. Because of their strict family rules and their views on how society should be, this made Josh feel like a caged animal, wanting to explore and react to normal hormonal changes that a teenage boy goes through. I blamed them for not being open to discussion with their children about sexual experiences and that as followers of Christ, you do not give in to sinful and devil like behaviour. I am not against a family setting rules and boundaries when it comes to intimate relationships, but I am against avoiding discussion and not deciding on a plan that will work for the whole family. I am against sweeping matters of a sexual nature under the rug. These were my initial reactions. Emotion over logic.

After I read Josh's statement, I was even more upset because I thought that he used Christ as an out. He used Christ as a means to excuse his behaviour and inexcusable choices. This bothered me. As I continued to read his statement, I wondered how his family could speak to the authorities but that nothing was done. Why did the Duggar family not contact the authorities right away? Why did the incidents continue before something was actively done about it? If five girls had been molested, seeking counselling was enough of a consequence? Today, are they thriving women, in healthy relationships, with no thoughts of their tumultuous past? Josh's actions were clearly illegal and those which will heavily impact the lives of the victims and their families for a lifetime. The family also stated in the police report that they all felt safe in their home with Josh. I can hear the Duggar parents educating their children on what they would say during their interrogation with the detectives. I could actually hear them saying that God forgives. For me, this is not about Christ, this is not about your beliefs, whether you are religious or not, this is about a human being who has sexually abused five girls. It is against the law. It deserves consequences. These actions are not remedied by attending counselling and receiving a verbal lickin' from your family and the authorities.

How do we truly know that he has made right with his victims and that by admitting it publicly, we should all forgive him and move on? How does this make those affected by abuse feel about their own personal situations? The perpetrator can apologize, receive counselling and all is made right. The Duggars have an enormous following, most are followers of Christ, who say that we are all sinners, he shared his mistake with all of us, he is forgiven and we need to move on. Yes, I agree that we are all sinners and that God forgives, but there are rules that society is expected to follow. We have laws for a reason.

There are many others who do not feel that the situation was dealt with accordingly or lawfully.
Some of the comments which have received numerous 'likes' and feedback.....

"Love hearing most of you defending a child molester...you would be singing a different tune if it's your child."

"What about the girls? This is a HUGE part of this response that is missing, what about the girls? I fear for his daughters. Good luck wearing those blinders.

"So anything can be forgiven except homosexuality? I'd leave a daughter with a same sex couple in a heartbeat, but never with a pedophile who's warped parents will protect him and place their own children and grandchildren at risk. It's sick."

The last comment, I read it several times. The Duggar family has been very vocal about what makes up a healthy family unit. It consists of a mother, father and children. Josh has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council, where he has preached about family and love and that we need to follow God's word.
I think about the world and all the unhealthy and volatile households, which consist of a mother and a father. What makes up a family unit? It's a home filled with love, respect, values and morals.  

The Duggar house would have been filled with fear, uncertainty and upset. I know that they do not need to admit to the public how they felt at the time, but the fact that their story has travelled all across the globe, I feel sorry for all of those who have been victimized, abused and who continue to go through this today. I feel that we are telling them that they need to move on, they should not feel that abuse is taken seriously and that going to the authorities is futile and a waste of time. An apology and counselling with make all the wrongs go away.

Josh Duggar did not make a mistake. A mistake is defined as 'an act or judgment that is misguided or wrong." It is one act, one judgement, not multiple. After your first misguided decision, it becomes a choice, one that you have complete control over. Five misguided acts is serious, it is not something that should be taken lightly nor should it be swept under the rug. With the enormity of their family and the amount of young children, why have the authorities not stepped in with rules, with consequences, with an order that protects the children? Do I believe that Josh feels remorse? Absolutely. Do I believe that he is cured of impure thoughts? No, I do not. This is why there needs to be resolution, one that involves the law, not a public apology to the viewers. This does not 'fix' the inexcusable choices that were made in the past. Putting Josh behind bars and throwing away the key is not the solution, but probation, community service, boundaries need to be put in place.

There are so many gaps in this story. My post is based solely on what I have read and seen on TV today. I did not write this post to cause controversy or to shame followers of Christ. I believe in God but I feel that in a situation such as this, it is not about God forgiving sins, it is about the world knowing that there are consequences to those who do not follow the law and compassion for those who are victimized by others. I hope that there are more details in the future and that the victims find the peace and closure that they deserve.

11 May 2015

The Dad Bod! Ya, You Want It!

I very rarely post pictures of myself on social media sites. The other day, I posted this one of myself showing my friends on Instagram what spring soccer looks like in Alberta. It's been a very cold start to the season. Before sharing the picture with others, I mentally came up with a list of my flaws. This is what I found wrong....
1) My eyebrows don't start where they should. If I lined up a pencil with the corner of my eye with where my eyebrow should start, it doesn't match up.
2) My left eye is droopy.
3) My nose is too big.
4) I have a double chin.
5) My cheekbones are not defined.
6) My eyelashes aren't long enough.
7) My face is too round.
8) Some minor plastic surgery would go a long way.
As I dissected my picture, I was thinking about what my girls would think if they heard me saying all of these negative things about myself. How would they perceive themselves? What would stop them from looking in the mirror and pointing out all of their flaws? How would they feel about their mom if they heard the words "fat, too big, not good enough, should lose weight, plastic surgery, flaws?"
We live in a world filled with high cheekbones, size 0 figures, fake boobs, fake eyelashes, photo-shopped images; perfection. We live in a world where perfect is what is acceptable. We are teaching our young children that what we see on newsstands and on TV is how they should be; without flaws.
Recently, I came across a news segment that was talking about the 'dad bod.'
Dad-Body (Urban Dictionary)

1. A body resembling a man who lives a sedentary lifestyle, flabby, usually comes with a keg gut. Sometimes can see penis, most of the time cannot. Body resembles his personality; dull, lifeless, and very conservative.

2. Once in shape, but clearly has lost most athletic properties. Best suited for sitting at a desk chair, possibly doing ones taxes.
Ok, so, women want a man with a dad bod. We want a man who looks like a dad, not fit, but not heavily overweight. We want a man who has some flab, no six pack and who wears shirts and ripped jeans. We want a man who is not perfect. A man who will go to work Monday-Friday, come home and drink a few beers while chowing down on a large pizza. Women find this sexy. This is the new in. This is what women want, the man who isn't perfect.
Where does this leave us women? I have a mom bod. I REALLY have a mom bod. Why am I upset that this body housed two children and now I have stretch marks and a dangling tummy? Why am I not happy with my imperfections? Why are men not telling me that they think my non-existent six pack is sexy and beautiful? Why is society not telling me that the mom bod is the way to go and that men love a woman with a little extra? Why is society not telling me that the biggest turn on is a woman who works Monday-Friday, comes home, cracks open a beer and indulges in a 14" pizza and cheesy bread? What if we can't see our vagina? Is that ok? Is that sexy? The dangling man tummy, which by the way, did not house a child, the world considers this perfection?
I have to be honest, I enjoy the dad bod. I have always loved a man with a bit of a tummy, I'm not really a six pack kind of girl, but there is a fine line between dad bod and an overweight man who doesn't believe in self-care. :)
Just a side note....James thinks that I am beautiful and wonderful and perfect. BUT....I need to hear it from men all around the globe. ;) I want men to shout to all of us women "I LOVE YOUR MOM BOD!"
When will society celebrate women's imperfections? When will society tell young girls that they are to be celebrated, that they are beautiful just they way they are, that we need to celebrate our perfect imperfections? Our views are twisted and unhealthy. Our views are encouraging young girls to step on the scale, to criticize and to judge ourselves and others. We are stuck in the world of social media, where we only post the best pictures at the best angles and feel the need to look like the celebrities. We need to stick our lips in a small bottle, suck in air, so we end up with nice plump lips. I mean, come on, who doesn't want to look like a Kardashian? Seriously.
As I think about my two girls and how I want them to view themselves, I need to change how I view myself. Reality is not a magazine. Reality is not on TV. Reality is not Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. Social media has allowed us to alter our own photos, so that we can look our best. So that we can look like a celebrity. What is this teaching our children?
I am changing my views. I am changing my way of thinking so that my children grow up to be confident, beautiful, strong and productive members of society. I am going to encourage them to love themselves, to love their bodies and to feel confident when they walk out of this house everyday. It will be echoed in their ears that they can conquer this world because they learnt the tools and strategies from James and I, they heard their mom say that she loves herself. They heard their mom say that beauty comes in all different forms, colours, shapes, religions and sizes.
Let's celebrate us. Let's celebrate the mom bod! Let's celebrate our beauty. Let's celebrate with a six pack (of beer) and a pizza. Come on world, get on board.

5 May 2015

Let's Get A Divorce...Or Not.

The Mighty Challenge....

Marriage and special needs parenting: it’s a topic not often discussed, but it’s important, and it deserves more discussion in our community. Can you share a moment on your special needs journey that strengthened your relationship?

I've thought about this topic quite often over the past couple of years. When we received Adele's diagnosis at 15 weeks, it didn't bring us closer together, but it definitely got us talking a lot more. The discussions weren't always light and fluffy, they were usually a bit tense and at times, frustrating. I read once that having a special needs' child, it brings couples closer together and that the divorce rate is substantially lower. Lower? This truly confused me.
Adele was born one month after our town was flooded; we were living with my parents, while our house was being rebuilt. I understand that we had extenuating circumstances that led to more stress, but after Adele's delivery, we were consumed by NICU visits, getting our home fixed and the stress of being grown adults, living with my parents.

Adele spent 6 weeks in the NICU; when we brought her home, we were anxious and still concerned about her breathing. We were focused on contacting FSCD, filling out government forms and trying to keep a newborn healthy. Once we got into a routine, we made sure to contact the necessary supports in the community and began occupational therapy and physical therapy out of the home. When Adele was born, Brinley was not even 17 months old, so we had two babies, one of them required more attention and time. Some days, we both felt overwhelmed and would take it out on each other. The stress of having a special needs' child, would sometimes consume our days and nights. There were times that I would lay awake, beside my husband, who had really turned into my buddy, my pal, my friend, and I would listen to Adele's breathing. I gained more weight; eating because I was stressed and worried and sad.

Marriage success rates are higher when you have a special needs' child?? I still didn't get it.

Adele spent some time in the hospital. They were only brief stays, but James and I were like two ships passing in the night. One would spend the night at home, then we would do a switch the following night.

I remember the first time that Adele spent some time in the hospital. We had recently returned back home from our 3 month stay at mom and dad's house. Adele's breathing was a bit laboured and her colour was off. My gut was telling me to take her in. My sister came with me. Our hospital was sending Adele by ambulance to the Alberta Children's Hospital. I had to take my car, so that I had some form of transportation, as the hospital is over an hour away from where we live. My sister and I stopped off at my house to pick up some stuff for the night's stay. I was short with James, I was mad at the world, I was frustrated and worried about my newborn baby. I was angry that she was sick. I was angry that I had to spend the night away from home. I was angry that the journey was taking another turn, one that wasn't expected. My sister told me that I wasn't being very nice and that it wasn't James' fault. I knew this but he's my husband, he's the one who I take my frustrations out on, he's the one who has no choice but to listen to my fears, my anger and my upset. He is my husband.

Our schedule is full. We have Brinley in extra-curricular activities. Adele receives therapy twice a week, two hours at a time plus she has other appointments at the hospital. I also try to have a life outside of my family and manage to fit in dinners with friends a few times a month. Where do you find the time to make a marriage work? 

So here we are, 21 months into this journey. We have come to a place of comfort with Adele, which in turn has lessened the stress in our everyday lives. We worry a bit less with Adele, not completely, but it's less. We laugh a lot more and appreciate and enjoy the days with our beautiful children. We hug and snuggle and cuddle and revel in the excitement and love that our children have for each other. We stop, relax and are thankful for two healthy girls. 

James and I have found a way to become a husband and wife again. We used to fall asleep holding each other's hands; we have started doing this again. We not only tell each other that we love and respect one another, we show it. We have slowed down. We work together as a team. We both take care of our home and we show the girls daily, the importance of family, a happy, healthy family.

We are on 4 journeys in this house; one with each other, one with Brinley, one with Adele and one as a family.

The journey with Adele.....
She has brought peace, joy, love and happiness to our family. She has brought light and laughter to those around her. She has taught our family about respecting others, about slowing down, about appreciating the journey that others are travelling.
She has strengthened the bond between James and I, although in the beginning, I feared that this unknown journey was placing a wedge between us. She has taught James and I that our girls need us to be strong, to love with all of our hearts, to give them the home that they deserve. I watch James with his girls and it brings me to tears. Our love for our girls is equal but when I see James interact with Adele, there is always a special moment, it may only last a few seconds, but in that moment, they look into each other's eyes and you know that there is bond that will never be broken, it's a bond that no matter what, he will always be there for her and take care of her and love her unconditionally. These beautiful moments strengthen our marriage. When Adele can't sleep and James snuggles with her late at night, this strengthens our marriage. When Adele laughs hysterically and her dad joins in, this strengthens our marriage. The moments are many and are savoured and cherished.

The journey is rewarding. The journey takes work. The journey is filled with ups and downs but it is our journey and we will walk this journey together.

18 April 2015

Michael Bublé....#beautifulbumblog

Well, I decided to go there. This has been all over my newsfeed for the past few days. When I first saw the picture, I giggled and liked the post. I always love Michael's hashtags and get a good chuckle out of his sense of humour. #‎myhumps‬ ‪#‎babygotback‬ ‪#‎hungryshorts‬ ‪#‎onlyinmiami‬ ‪#‎picoftheday‬ ‪#‎beautifulbum‬

The world went crazy!

Yesterday, Michael shared a personal statement regarding the previous post:
"Anybody who knows me would never misinterpret the message of the photo my wife took in Miami that seems to have caused unexpected rage by some people. I do not court controversy. But I realize that a photo that was meant to be complimentary and lighthearted has turned into a questionable issue. For the record, it hurts me deeply that anyone would think that I would disrespect women or be insulting to any human being.. I was not brought up that way and it is not in my character. I regret that there are people out there who found the photo offensive. That was not and is not my intention. Women are to be celebrated, loved, respected, honored and revered. I’ve spent my life believing that and will continue to do so."

I read some of the comments and felt that so many people took it a bit too seriously and their words were hurtful, unkind and offensive. They personally attacked Michael and expressed their disgust and shame towards the singer. "Not cool. This is mean and degrading; even if you meant it as a compliment, I really wouldn't want to be put in her place right now. I'd also like to point out that those who have commented with victim-blaming statements (if she didn't want people to notice, she shouldn't have dressed like that!) are men. Stuff like this really shouldn't be posted, especially by someone with a fan base."

"Funny, a friend of mine last night was trying to convince me that Buble is "not a good guy to women" (her words) and I defended him say he seemed pretty decent in the media. This picture totally changed my opinion.
Mind your own damn business Michael, I wonder if you'd be smiling if someone else took this picture mocking your wife or kid?"

I read through several of the comments and began to understand where others were coming from. I have a great sense of humour. I'm fairly relaxed and truly, I am a huge Michael Bublé fan, having spent obscene amounts of money just to see him in concert. I am open-minded and 'try' to respect others' points of view.
After reading through comments, my views changed slightly. I felt disgusted by those who attacked the girl, saying that her butt is ugly, she needs to workout, she should be ashamed of herself, she is asking to be raped, she is gross and repulsive, she is asking for pictures to be taken and for negative comments to be made, because her ass is hanging out.

Would I ever wear shorts like that in or out of the house? No. If I decided to buy myself a pair from the local Wal-Mart, do I deserve to be ridiculed? No. Do I deserve to have my picture taken and posted for millions to see? No.
I understand that her back is turned and that truly, he wasn't shaming her or making fun of her outfit. He actually complimented her and pointed out that she has a #beautifulbum.
Does this make it ok? I'm not really too sure. I guess maybe, if she was asked and gave him permission to share with his 7 million fans, it would have made it ok, totally acceptable. Sharing a picture with that many followers, that's kind of a big deal.

Yesterday, I went to the CTV studios to record a segment for Alberta Primetime regarding Adele's picture being stolen by an ignorant and disgusting Facebook page.

The interview gave me the opportunity to discuss the emotions and heartache that this brought to our family, friends and community. It gave me the opportunity to share with others that shaming, mocking and making fun of others, is not acceptable. Having Adele's picture unlawfully taken was hurtful and it showed so many of us, that there are heartless, ignorant and cruel people in the world.
We live in a world where we all want to take the perfect picture to share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We want others to respond and strike up a conversation. We want people to laugh and find humour in our posts. We no longer take pictures for our family, we take them to get a response from our hundreds of 'friends' on social media.

After the incident with Adele, I am more cautious of what I post. I am more aware of what I post and make sure that when I share pictures, I place the watermark high up, so that it is touching her face. It took one incident to make me realize that people think that it is fair game when others post on social media sites, they can take, comment and spew out vulgar and revolting comments because they are sitting behind a computer screen and there are no consequences behind their actions.

So, this is the thing.....the girl in Michael's picture, she did not given consent, although many people feel that she didn't need to give permission to have her picture taken. Although Michael did not  intentionally shame her or ridicule her, many took it upon themselves to do so.
Many compared her picture to the Wal-Mart photos that we all find hilarious and trashy and pointed out that they did not give the 'photographers' permission to exploit them, so it's fair game.

I see fault on both sides here, the fans and Michael. I see an overly sensitive world, but I also see a world who is defending a young girl whose picture was taken and shared with millions without consent. I see people getting cruel and vulgar and shaming either Michael or the young girl. I would have thought that Michael would have removed his post, not because he needs to admit that he was wrong, but instead, to show the world that the attacks on #beautifulbum is not acceptable or that he is condoning their comments and harsh words.
Michael is a public figure and millions look up to him, follow his journey and is a role model to so many young children. It's imperative to think before posting. It's imperative to put yourself in the other person's shoes and think about how this will affect them. It's a fine line between being a funny, good guy just looking for a laugh and an asshole. (I'm not calling him one....it's ok)

I am a bit overly sensitive when it comes to matters like this. I have been on a journey with Adele, where I want to protect my child as much as I can but not shelter her and isolate her from the world.  I will not let others destroy our beautiful family by shaming, using her picture, mocking her and her friends because they are ignorant and uneducated.

In conclusion...yes, I am a teacher and I need to sum this up....
1) Michael should have asked her, that's the right thing to do.
2) Don't bring his singing talents into the arguments. You make yourself look bad.
3) The post should be removed, not to admit defeat, but out of respect for the girl.
4) Does she have every right to wear those shorts without criticism? Yes.
5) If you don't like her shorts, don't buy them.
6) Don't unlike Michael's page because you disagree with him posting the picture, although, you will miss him and return.
7) Don't say that she deserves to be shamed, raped and that she was asking for ridicule.
8) Don't point out how you would have liked it if your butt was hashtagged. You sound silly.
9) Do I think any less of Michael because of this incident? No, because I am an adult.
10) Let's move on.


12 April 2015

You Know You're A Parent When....

I'm A Parent.....

1) During the first year, you smell like barf, even after you use a wet wipe.
2) You get shit under your fingernails at least once a week. Is it just me?
3) You nod and smile at least 100 times a day because you have no idea what your kid is saying.
4) You never go to the bathroom alone. You lock the door, you turn the lights off, they know where you are. They will find you. They will yell and bang on the door. They will stick their hands under the door and yell "MOM! MOM! MOM! MA! MA! MOMMY! MOMMY! MOM! MOM!!
5) Your children go down for naps and you still watch Treehouse for over an hour.
6) You step on Lego and swear. You step on a Hot Wheels car and swear. Giving birth to your children was less painful.
7) You lick your finger and wipe food off your child's face.
8) You lick your finger to fix your child's hair.
9) You lick your finger and wipe off your friends' faces.
10) You stand in line waiting to pay for diapers and cereal puffs and you sway back and forth, back and forth, but you are all alone.

11) You know ALL of the words to ALL of the Frozen songs but you change them to rap songs because you think you are funny.
12) You fart in public and blame your child.
13) Make out sessions with your spouse......what are make out sessions?
14) You go out for dinner with friends, dig through your purse to find your wallet, but all you come up with is a pack of fruit snacks, diapers, wipes, a half eaten sucker and a rattle.
15) You wake up feeling hung-over at least once a week, but you haven't touched a drop of alcohol.
16) Your favourite search engines are; How to be a better parent in a week. How to keep your patience when you have none. How to compete with the 'other' moms. How to lose twenty pounds in a week. How to stop eating your kids' leftover food.
17) Your junk folder is filled with diaper coupons instead of Viagra and vibrator links.
18) Your backseat is filled with juice boxes, crumbs and toys.
19) Your cell phone sits on the table when you go out for dinner with friends because you left the children with dad.
20) You say "just a minute" fifty times a day.

21) Your 'extra' money goes into education funds and not on tropical vacations.
22) You spell out swear words to your friends.
23) You carry Smarties in your purse just in case you need to bribe your offspring.
24) Your back always hurts and your biceps are beautiful from lugging around children.
25) You offer to wipe another child's bum. This is never ok.
26) You use your children as an excuse so that you don't have to go out.
27) Grocery shopping on your own is like going on a vacation.
28) You've thought about how much fun it would be to party with Anna and Elsa.
29) You've heated up your coffee five times in an hour.
30) You can sniff out a dirty diaper like nobody's business.

31) You wipe boogers with your bare hands.
32) You catch another child's puke in your hands.
33) You hope that it was a raisin that your child just ate, but you aren't too concerned, they need to build up their immune system.
34) You drive around the community for an extra hour because your children are napping. There is peace.
35) You say "because I said so" and you don't care.
36) You hear your mother in your own voice and realize that it's not so bad.
37) You allow your toddler to wear pyjama bottoms, a rain coat and a crown because you want to avoid a full blown meltdown.
38) There's a Happy Meal toy in your purse.
39) You threaten your child again and again but never follow through.
40) You don't even flinch when you tell your child that they need to keep their clothes on in church.

41) You've put your cell phone in the crisper.
42) You stuff a chocolate bar in your mouth without even enjoying it, but you are so tired of sharing with the leeches.
43) You say "oopsie daisy" and you aren't even embarrassed.
44) You over analyze cartoons. You wonder if Max and Ruby actually have a mom and dad.
45) You need to plan out when you can shave your legs.
46) You know 'Goodnight Moon' off by heart.
47) Three second rule...that's a bunch of crap.
48) Quiet children = a whole lot of trouble!
49) You cut your spouse's food into bite sized pieces.
50) You have never felt a love so overwhelming and beautiful and perfect.


6 April 2015

The Beauty of Down Syndrome

Recently, I decided to completely clear off my personal Facebook page.
I read a blog post not too long ago; it talked about how important Facebook is to stay connected to groups, friends and family. It talked about how the special needs' community relies on Facebook groups for support, guidance and reassurance.

In the beginning of this journey with Adele, I searched out the groups on Facebook, I added myself to medical groups, I liked page after page, to stay connected. Part of me relied on these groups to take me through the ups and downs of having a special needs' child. They are communities filled with love, pride and way too many opinions. Some of the groups offer medical advice, shame parents for not doing things the 'right' way and criticize others for their thoughts and beliefs.

I was scrolling through my newsfeed one day and came across a post. 
"When did your child start crawling? My little girl is a year old and she has no desire to crawl."
 I stared blankly at the post for some time, wondering if I would comment. I wrote a comment, I deleted it. I rewrote it and deleted it again. I scrolled through all of the comments and realized that most of the children were crawling by 15 months.
I commented on the post and proudly said that my daughter is a healthy 20 month old and she isn't crawling yet. I talked about how we have begun to focus our attention elsewhere, on making sure that we encourage speech and verbal development. My comment received the most likes. I didn't really care if it had one like, I was clear that we were content with Adele's development.

In the beginning, I was focused on milestones and when my children should reach each one. How many words. When they should crawl. When they should walk. The charts, the diagrams the curves, the way it should be.

I was a part of all of these Down syndrome groups on Facebook, groups that should be celebrating achievements, yet so many parents were drawn to these charts and milestones. We live in a competitive world where we ask our friends and neighbours when their children achieved certain milestones and then grumble and show disappointment that our child is developing at their own pace. What's wrong with this? Celebrate each milestone and achievement, instead of focusing on when they should be reached. Relish in the beauty of each moment that makes your heart swell with pride instead of the disappointment that it was achieved months later then expected.

I have decided to take a huge step back. My 20 month old is not crawling yet. My 20 month old isn't close to walking. My 20 month old is behind according to the checklists. I have come to the realization that I am so incredibly blessed that we have a very healthy child. We are thankful that she has a healthy heart and that she looks at us with loving and beautiful eyes. Adele is very verbal; this is where we like to focus a lot of our attention. We love the sounds that she makes and how she laughs with all her might and how she plays so lovingly with her sister. We no longer focus on that she is not crawling. We focus on helping her build up muscle strength and teach her how to achieve these wonderful milestones. She will absolutely get to where she needs to be, in her own time. I used to get frustrated when people would say "oh, she'll get there." It was annoying. I don't need to hear from a mom of a typical child that my child with Down syndrome will get there in her own time. Actually, I still don't want to hear it.  HA! HA!!! Let's move on. :)

I look back at the past 20 months and truly, if I could tell myself one thing, it would be to relax. I feel like I have missed out on some beautiful moments because I was worried. I missed out some beautiful moments because I was so focused on charts and how things would take so much longer with Adele. I forgot to sit and savour the baby moments. I looked at the calendar and planned out vision appointments, hearing appointments, cardiology appointments, respiratory appointments and therapy appointments. I looked into the future with angst and worry instead of watching my baby develop into this amazing and beautiful child.

I am no longer asking others when their child started to crawl. I am no longer focused on when your little one started to walk. I am focused on my child. I am focused on working with Adele to take her to a place where she needs to be. I am working on staying in the moment and being receptive to what my child needs. I am being the best mom that I can be for my children. Adele is this wondrous and remarkable miracle that has shown us that we need to take a step back, take time during the day to breathe and relax and savour these moments. Time goes by so quickly and I am no longer going to let worry and fear take up my day.

Adele will do it all, in her own time. This is the beauty of Down syndrome.

25 March 2015

WARNING: Vaccines Cause Autism. An Open Letter To 'Father Embry.'

The past two days have been frustrating and difficult and amazing all at the same time. Adele's picture was used on Disciples of the New Dawn, which is a Facebook page that promotes hatred and ignorance. At first, I found it to be slightly comical because it was so far fetched and ridiculous. It didn't make sense, it was absurd and completely false. I thought that I would share the picture and ask the community to report it to Facebook as well as send the administrator of the page private messages, requesting that it be removed.

The community stepped up and I was floored by all of the support that we received. I sent the administrator a message and told him that he was messing with the wrong group of people; this is one community that you don't want to **** with; not our children. Yesterday, he replied to the first set of messages, then he decided that it would be better to read them but not give any response. Yesterday, he thought that this was all fun and games but now he is starting to feel the pressure from all over the globe. The amount of messages and screenshots and posts sent to both of my pages has been overwhelming. This is the time to make a difference. This is the time to let people know that we will take a stand and we will defend those we love. We will not back down.

This is not the only Facebook page that is associated with 'Father Embry.' He has at least two others; The Dawn Guard Militia and Junior Disciples. The pages all promote violence against children, it is vulgar and is making a mockery of our loved ones. Adele's picture was not the first one that was used on his page.

The page has been reported by hundreds, if not thousands of people over the past two days and every time, Facebook states that it does not violate their Community Standards. It is perfectly acceptable to post pictures of child abuse, violent punishment, posts that bully others, posts that target a certain group, posts that attack those of varying abilities.
A picture is shared of a woman breastfeeding and it is immediately removed because is it inappropriate and pornographic. This confuses me and angers me.

I have been told by a couple of people that I should let it go. He wants a response. He wants to stir the pot. He loves the negative attention. This is the thing, her picture was used not as intended, which is illegal. He altered it, which is illegal. He does not have the rights to the picture. It belongs to the photographer and the clothing company. Will I sit back and ignore it? No, I would never do that. Is this feeding the animals? No, it's not. This is defending my child, my family and others who have been negatively affected by this low life. Letting it go, which so many do, this is telling him and others, that it's ok, it's acceptable behaviour and we will allow you to discriminate against our children. I would like to see the reactions of others, when it's their child being exploited. When we post pictures on Facebook, people can share them, they can post them on other sites, I get that it is a public forum. The picture of Adele is not his property. He is not allowed to alter a photo that belongs to the photographer and the clothing company; he has no rights. The clothing company is reaching out to their intellectual property lawyer to seek advice and legal counsel.

A while back, Tom Leykis shared a vulgar post. The community came together and after numerous complaints and messages, he removed it. He did this not because he had a guilty conscience, not because he felt bad, he got a verbal lickin' from the Down syndrome community. We do not tolerate ignorant and hurtful people. We do not tolerate those who disrespect our children and families.

Please continue to send him messages and report the pictures and page to Facebook. Keep fighting for what is right.

I choose my battles wisely. I do not let everything bring me down. I know what needs to be fought for and pursued. Letting an animal unlawfully post pictures of our children and use them to mock and degrade is the lowest form of humanity. Let's take a stand. Let's work together as a community. Please sign the petition and help us create change.

Thank you,