Right This Minute

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

So last Wednesday, on World Down Syndrome Day, I shared a video that Ace and I made for Archie. Ace worked super hard on this video and was really excited about the finished product. It will be something that Archie can watch in a few years when he really understands, and know just how much his sister loves him.

I had never edited or created a video before, but had a ton of fun doing it. It is one of those things that could easily become addicting.

When we shared the video, we thought it would just be a cute deal for friends and family to see, but pretty quickly, a lot of people were watching and sharing it. It was quite a humbling feeling to read all of the incredibly nice comments and see all of the people sharing.

The next morning I had an email with the subject: MEDIA REQUEST: "For My Brother on Down Syndrome Day" By Ace
It said:
Hi there!
Just saw your incredible video of "For My Brother on Down Syndrome Day" By Ace. We would love to use it on our new TV show/website called "Right This Minute" and wondered if that's cool with you. I assume that it's Ace's parents that I'm addressing--we need your permission for Ace and her brother to appear on television, as they are minors.
Let me know. Thanks so much.

I was pretty weirded out. A good weirded out. I figured why not spread Ace's message to as many people as possible. Her voice seemed to be being heard. Anything we can do to spread awareness about adoption, Down Syndrome, or just equality in general, we are happy to do.

So what I thought was going to happen was just that they would share our video on their site. But it turned out they actually wanted to interview us also. I immediately felt pretty uncomfortable as I am super awkward in those types of situations, but agreed to do it. So a little while later Ace and I did a Skype interview with the people over at Right This Minute. They were so cool, and it was not as scary as I had anticipated. Ace, of course, loved it!

So here is the link to our little segment on Right This Minute:

If you have not seen the full video, check it out in my previous post.

Lots of Love!

WDSD '12: A Sister's Big Love

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today is World Down Syndrome Day. 3-21-12.
It is celebrated on this day because people with Down Syndrome have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. So they have three copies of chromosome 21, instead of two. So 3-21.

Last night we stayed up late making matching T-Shirts for the kids.

(These are their rock star looks)

I had to get creative on the back because we ran out of letters. R's are upside down J's, the D's an upside down P. All of the numbers are made from letters. I think it works though, right?

Ace has been super into making videos with our Flip camera lately. It is pretty hilarious how serious she is about it. She wanted to make a movie for World Down Syndrome Day. She actually worked really hard on this. She came up with what to say, what they would wear, where each scene would take place. I am so proud of my sweet girl and her heart.

Raising a child with Down Syndrome is challenging.
But it is so worth all of the incredible blessings that come along with it.

Lots of Love!

R-Word Ramblings

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March 7th was official Spread the Word to End the Word Day. The word being the R-Word. The R-Word being "retard" or "retarded".

I grew up in a generation where the R-Word was very common. Everyone said it about everything. About themselves, about things, about other people.
"Oh no I forgot my homework, I am such a retard."
"Dude, did you see Billy's new shoes, those look so retarded."
"I can't believe Mrs. Smith gave us a pop quiz. She is such a retard."

And I still hear it all the time. Even worse I read it all the time-- on Facebook. Pretty much every day I will see a comment on someone's picture or wall saying, "you are so retarded", or "you are such a retard".

In fact, just a few minutes ago I read this on Facebook- "Memorial Hermann Hospital is freaking retarded!" Really? A hospital?? Come on now.

I get far more frustrated when I see it typed out than when I hear someone say it. You had time to think about this. You had to type it out, and see the word written, and click a button to share it. You could have thought for a second, deleted it and changed it to what you really meant. Because what you meant was- "frustrating", "stupid", "annoying", "dumb", "irritating", so on and so forth.

I do still hear friends use the word quite often. Friends who have supported us on our journey to Archie. Friends who love Archie fiercely. On a handful of occasions, people have even said it in Archie's presence. People have even said it to me in conversation while I was holding Archie.

But here is the thing, in none of those cases did the R-Word sayer mean any harm or malice. They said a word, that unfortunately over time has become the most common substitute for words like "stupid" or "dumb", without thinking. And so many of those times the person has either quickly apologized and changed their word choice, or apologized later when they realized they had said it.

I get it- I said the word myself growing up. Not even thinking that it had anything to do with a person with disabilities. Of course now, I do think about my son whenever I hear the word. It has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

Then there are the people who do say it with malice.

There is a huge difference.

Either way, it does need to change.

I really should probably just shut up now and let Ace do the talking. She says it much better than I do.

That about sums it up!

Lots of Love!

Spring Break 2012: Go Hard or Go Home

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Every night this week before Ace has gone to sleep we have had a conversation that goes like this:
Ace: Mom, is tomorrow still Spring Break?
Me: Yes, sweetie, it sure is.
Ace: Wahhoooo, Spring Break!!

Excuse me, aren't you three?

It has been pretty wild. Not Spring Break '02 Cancun Style.

But we have been having a blast.

The kids broke in our new pool. We are pretty excited about having a pool right outside our door. Archie has been begging to go swimming since the day we moved in here in October.
The original plan was to let them dangle their feet in. (It was pretty cool out)
But before long they had stripped down and were all the way in.
Next we were on our way with our good friends', the Settles, to San Antonio. Jake is one of Ace and Archie's best friends. And quite the little Romeo I might add. I overheard this convo between Jake and Ace:
Jake: We're friends, right?
Ace: Yeah
Jake: Then we should kiss

Three Amigos!
My kids were in heaven at this amazing heated indoor pool.

We got this awesome new digital camera. An Olympus Stylus Tough. It is basically indestructible. And waterproof. We had so much fun with it.
Since neither of our kids would go under water well enough for us to snap a good shot...
We borrowed this kid. Thanks, dude.
Isn't that pretty dang sweet. A camera that is waterproof, and Archie proof. Can't beat that.

The next day it was off to Sea World!

We met Shamu

In front of the Sea Lions

Hangin with new friends
Ace and Abby

Archie is extremely afraid of anything in costume. He stood way back for a long time just staring at them and every once in a while shouting "no thank you!" at them. (Meaning "stay away from me") Then finally he told me he wanted to shake Grover's hand. He walked up to him, stuck out his hand and said, "nice to meet you!"

And after the handshake he went in for a big hug

We fed dolphins
Well, hello there
Unfortunately the weather wasn't too nice to us. It was cold and rainy. But we still had the best time and the kids were such troopers.

Back in Houston....headed to the Rodeo!
Ace and Archie decided to wear their Woody and Jessie jammies.
Happy little cowboy!
About to get on a little kiddie roller coaster. I was shocked that Archie wanted to go on it.
Once it came time to actually get on, he flipped out. So he and daddy watched from the ground where he was very happy to be.
Then we headed to play one of those shoot-the-water-at-the-target race games.
We won.
And we were stuck with a giant minion.
Not the easiest thing to lug around the rodeo.
We have never gone through $20 faster in our lives than at that carnival.
Here is what we did for 20 bucks: Me and Ace road a kiddie coaster. Ace and Archie played the water shooting game. That is all.
That was one expensive oversized minion.

Archie: Mommy, mommy, Archie touch COW!!!!
Ace road a pony.
Archie almost rode a pony, but again, had a panic attack when it was time to get on. Wasn't gonna happen.

What could be better?

This will be a tough Spring Break to top next year!

Lots of Love!

Two Moms in One

Monday, March 5, 2012

Since the very first day Archie came home, I knew that I was going to have to tweak my parenting style quite a bit. Ace has become such a mature little preschooler. She has always seemed a little bit older than she is, and everyone always comments that, "wow, Ace is so mature for her age." Sometimes I worry that she is becoming a little too mature for an almost 4 year old-- like last night when we were getting dressed to go out to dinner, she was picking out her outfit, and I was making suggestions that she really didn't like when she finally told me, "Mom, I just wanna feel like an adult." Lord, please help me.

Although then she has these total baby moments at times where she literally starts saying things like "goo goo ga ga". I have no idea what that's about, but it's totally annoying. She does it when she is being shy or embarrassed around other people. Cannot wait until that phase is over.

But anyway, other than that bit of weirdness, she has always been such a mature kid, that I have been able to reason with her pretty well, and she has always really understood so much, that I haven't had to spend a lot of time repeating things. I have studied Love and Logic quite a bit, as a teacher and a mom, and I really LOVE their principles. Joey and I have tried to follow them with Ace. It is totally not easy. It is dang hard. We do our best. We have always been very straight forward with her, and she has always been a well behaved (for the most part) kid.

Then came Archie.

I tried to anticipate before he came home, what parenting him would look like. I knew that it would inevitably be different. He listened to us pretty well at first, but then there would be these moments where I would ask him to do something, or to stop doing something and he would just look at me with this, "you can't tell me what to do and I am not gonna listen to you" look. Or when we would try to get him to come somewhere with us and he didn't want to and he would just sit down with his legs and arms crossed. It was like he was challenging us. Well, he was challenging us. And it was challenging.

"Who you tellin to move?"

Then there were these few times when I would pull out what I like to call the "cheese factor". I am not a cheesy person by nature. My sense of humor is pretty dry, and I am not overly cheery. I mean, I am a cheerful person, my voice just doesn't get squeaky and I don't tend to use words like "golly gee!" and "super neato!" Don't get me wrong, I love a good cheese ball. I have some cheesy friends who I absolutely love. In fact, I am married to one (love you, Joey). It's just not me.

But it is what my little man needed.

For example, if I were to say, "Archie, come on right now, we are going to the car." He would sit down on the ground ready for a battle. If I were to in that exact same moment put on the cheesiest grin and say (in a hard for me to reach, high-pitched, practically singing voice), "Hey my sweet little Archie Bear! Will you come with Mama to the car now please? It's gonna be so fun!" His little face would light up and a smile would stretch from ear to ear, and he would jump up and run to the car.
"Well, why didn't you just say it like that the first time?!"

It took me quite a while to remember that this was how I needed to be with him. It was what he responded best to. I think it made him feel very safe and secure.

With time, and as he learned to fully trust us, I have had to pull out the cheese factor less frequently and less dramatically. In the beginning he needed it all day every day, and "super dee dooper!" cheesy. I really had to be a good actor.

But ultimately, I have become what feels like two different moms at times. Love and Logic doesn't usually work on Archie, but Ace really thrives off of it. And it is hard to remember which kid, at which moment, to be which mom to. Often times when we are out and about, say at that mall, I am okay with Ace walking a few feet in front of me, or beside me but not holding hands. I know that she will stay with me and keep moving in the direction we are going. But I can't let Archie do that. If we aren't holding hands, and something catches his eye in a store we passed, he is going to run as fast as he can (which thankfully is insanely slow) to get to that shiny object. But of course, Archie doesn't understand why he can't have some of the freedoms that she can have. It is just a tricky line that I am trying to balance on.

While I like to let Ace figure things out on her own, and make a lot of choices, which might lead to failure or a not-so-happy camper, Archie needs to be told very clearly what to do. He needs a ton of instruction, repetition, redirection, and reminders. Ace LOVES choices. She is even starting to throw some Love and Logic back at me now. We were at a playground a few days ago, and out of nowhere she said to me, "Mom, I am almost ready to go. We can leave in 5 hours or 6 hours. Your choice." (Clearly she hasn't mastered the concept of time, but she is obviously catching onto my ways).

I have been trying for the last six months to figure out how to blend these two moms into one. I have been desperately trying to find ways to be able to parent them the same so that I don't get so flustered and confused.

But I have finally come to realize that it is okay to be two different moms at times. At my core, deep down, I am the exact same mom to both of them. They get the same cuddles, they get the same ridiculous amount of kisses that leave them both saying, "alright, alright, that's enough, mom". They get the same wanna be singer who also thinks she has some serious dance moves, when in reality I can't hold a note and I probably dance a lot like Elaine Benes.

I embarrass them both equally (already).

Two kids with BIG personalities. Both very stubborn. Both very much unique individuals. Both with their own opinions.

Archie does love to make his own choices-- and I am thrilled when he can successfully make a good choice on his own. Or at least one that I can live with. So if you see him out and about looking like this......

Know that I let him make some choices of his own that morning.

Lots of Love!