Monday, February 28, 2011

What's the Word?

We pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities
I have had a hard time finding the words that I want to use for this post. I actually started writing it two months ago. I have wrote, deleted and then rewrote something on this particular subject more times than I can remember and still, nothing seems quite right. Part of me wishes that I would have just saved it all, posted it all and then let you as the reader deceiver it all.
The mention of the 'r' word makes me cringe. When used in any context I can feel the anger boil from within me. I refuse to say it let alone write it. I feel as if it is just as nasty as the 'n" word but doesn't get the same respect in its usage.
Ill admit, prior to having Vada I was ignorant. I never realized that one single word could hurt so much. I used the 'r' word as I would any other commonly used English word. I would use it to describe moments, actions and people (never people who actually had intellectual challenges, not that it makes the use of the 'r' word any more excusable). I often wonder who over heard me acting like such an uneducated fool. Who went home from a store or a restaurant with a heavy heart and a story to cry to his or her significant other with, all because they had an encounter with me or over heard my thoughtlessness.

Ive cried to Justin a lot over this year about the comments that have been made regarding Vada and her having Down syndrome. I haven't fully callused over as many parents in my position have. However, I refuse to be so thick skinned that I say nothing at all. I will call you on it if you choose to speak with words that discriminate and belittle even if I do it through my tear filled eyes.

I have expressed anger and even hatred towards people who were once considered our friends because of their ignorance's. Just last week I told Justin that I understand the position that people are in. You don't know and you wont fully understand unless you are in the same position. It's been a year since Vada has been born and already I am tired of being compassionate and forgiving towards ignorance.

Since Vada has been born I can count on one hand the number of times that this disgusting word has escaped my mouth. Yes, I have said the 'r' word even as being the mother of a child who will have intellectual hurtles. Each time I have been mortified and ashamed of myself. Forgiving myself for those slip ups has been a difficult process for me. Sometimes the word still comes into my thoughts. I am embarrassed to admit that the 'r' word was such a common word in my vocabulary, so much so that even now it's s something that I really have to be aware of, but I am doing just that..., being aware.

(The 'R'-Word Store only carried youth and adult Tee shirts so we had Vada's made and designed by a local artist here in the Quad Cities. If you are interested in having your little one "Spread the Word" then you can contact Brooke here or here.)

I know in situations where you become uncomfortable you stumble for the right things to say and do. You wonder how you can help, if you can help and what the other person may need. Down syndrome still makes many people uncomfortable, more so because people are unfamiliar with what Down syndrome really is. I'm giving you a key today, something that you can use in uncomfortable situations where you are searching for the right words. The 'r' word is never the right word. Do. Not. Use. It. Banish it from your vocabulary and help others realize that what may be one small word to them hurts others. It hurts me. It hurts my family and it degrades our youngest daughter.

On March 2 2011 there is a National awareness day to promote the awareness and to stop the usage of the 'r' word. . Its called Spread the Word to End the Word. Our family has made the above pledge and you can do the same. It costs you nothing and you get to add your name to a pretty amazing list of people who care and who want to make a better world for those with intellectual differences. Please, use you voice for something great.

Some of My Favorite Things - February Edition

January came and went and February took its place. With the end of this month comes a few good "things" that I have personally enjoyed discovering.

One of my favorite purchases that I made this month was from Scentsy. It was my first time ordering from this particular company and I figured that it would be like most of the others. However, I was wrong! The quality of everything was beyond what I would have guessed it to be and the Little Lamb theme on the warmer that I bought is a precious idea. Plus, I ordered from a friend who lives in another state and still, the products were shipped directly to my door.
Along with the burner I ordered a handful of the scent bars. One scent in particular was Newborn Nursery. It smells fantastic. Like a freshly bathed and powdered baby. Perfect for a baby's room. Hence, the name? The bars smell better and the scent lasts longer than a Yankee candle (or even a Partylite candle) and coming from me, that says a lot!

I have also found a new sweet temptation this month and it had nothing to do with Valentine's Day. Hershey's Almond Joy Pieces. Have you had them? They are great! Even better than the bars. I'm not the biggest fan of things with Chocolate in or on them but the pieces are soooo good! They are crunchy and taste like toasted coconut with just a hint of chocolate and they are addictive, so I would buy two bags!

For Valentine's Day I ordered this fun deck of reading cards for Jasmine. MindWare Bella's Mystery Deck.
There is a total of 52 cards in each deck (There are two, that I know of.). Each card tells a short story and you play the detective to try to figure out the mystery. Jasmine and I read at least a third of the deck the first night she got them. They are cleaver little stories, each challenging you to think a little. Also, each card shares a bit or random information. Like, the reflection in a spoon is an upside down reflection. Or, silver wont tarnish if being worn. Fun for a child, at least for mine and it was something that we did together. I personally, liked them and I really enjoyed doing them with Jasmine.

Somethings that I got for myself this month were Tervis cups. I bought two of them and I purchased mine from Bed Bath and Beyond.
Berry Swirl with Red Lid
I am going to be completely honest here..., Some of the cups look very cheap. However, there is a wide variety to choose from. There are fully colored ones, which are pretty. There are ones with clear inserts, which is what I purchased and obviously like. There are monogrammed ones, which are nice. I could see using them for a grill out or for a party. Then there are ones with patches (yes, patches..., like on your jeans..., patches)and these are the "cheap" ones that I am referring to. Which is kind of unfortunate because if they were to use prints like the two that I am displaying here then the cups would look so much nicer. I really dont know what I am talking about when it comes to the business side of making these things, so who knows, they may sell the patches like crazy. I just felt like I had to warn you. I could see someone ordering them online and then being very disappointed.
Cherry Blossom with Brown Lid
Here's a fun one..., Got All Your Marbles? That's the name of the store that Justin bought my Valentine's Day gift from. Long story behind this gift of choice. Short version is I saw someone wearing one and commented on it she told me it was a marble ring and I told Justin about it. I'll admit, its not for everyone. I have some odd tastes in things but this ring is fun and unique and I {heart} it. The style that I have is called the Pee Wee Lotus Ring and it uses the Pee Wee (12mm) sized marbles.
Here's the fun thing about the jewelry. You get to change the marbles! You get a baggie full of marbles with the ring and I am assuming with any piece that you purchase and then you can order more if you want to and if it's something your interested in now then you'll want to buy more marbles. Im sure of it!

Whoo..., Whoo..., just one more thing.
We have a local store called Teacher's Aid (Its one of my favorite stores when I am buying fun and educational stuff for the girls.) Recently, they started carrying Early Sign Language board books from GarlicPress! So exiting!

The books range in price but I paid only $6.95 for each book. Vada loves the pictures of the children and Jasmine and Kiliegh enjoy reading them to her. I also like that each word shows the sign and explains the hand motion that goes with the sign. It makes it more understanding and easier for the girls to figure out on their own.

February was a short but busy month full of a few fun discoveries. I get excited with all of the little things that I run across. They may not be the most exciting thing to read about but who knows, you may find them just as fun as I do.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Words Arent Enough

There will never be enough words.

There will never be the right words.

I will never be able to fully say how amazing this baby girl is. I am so blessed to be her Mommy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Her Room

We have a rule about the girls' bedrooms. They have to clean it once a week.

We used to be easier going on the girls when it came to their rooms. We would tell them that their bedrooms were their own space and that if they were going to keep them messy then they at least had to keep the doors closed. That changed however, after we began having unidentified smells lurking outside of their bedroom doors.

As of recently Jasmine has actually begun enjoying the once a week cleaning. She wont admit to it. She'll even go as far as to complain when I say, "okay, it's time to clean your room." As I think most children do.

Each week she goes in and tears it up even more than it was to begin with. Some weeks she will have her walls covered in posters, pictures and drawings and others she'll have them completely clean. Some weeks she move her bed around and others everything gets rearranged but it seems like every time she has finished she is happy and she likes what she has done with her space. Which just proves that making your children clean doesn't hurt them. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TV Time

I don't condone unlimited TV time for children. Nor, do I agree with allowing the TV to "babysit" them.

In our house, during the weekdays (while school is in session) we don't turn the TV on. No cartoons in the morning before school as well as in the afternoon when the kiddo's get home.

I know, I know..., for those of you who were like me as a child (watching Saved by the Bell before class and the Ninja Turtles afterward), not letting your children do the same, seems kind of "wrong". In the beginning, at least for me, it did.

Let me just say that since we have cut the TV out of the picture during the week, our house has become more peaceful and we do things together more often. It's nice and the "ill" feelings from the children only lasted for a couple of days. Or at least the ones that they felt like expressing verbally did.

With all of that being said, I will now explain why I have my baby positioned perfectly in front of a TV!

Vada is watching Baby Einstein's-My First Signs. Its one of the three of four videos we have on signing. I have been signing to Vada since I have brought her home, which doesnt say a whole lot since I only know a handful of useful signs. I also have a really great app on my cell called My Smart Hands and it helps me learn basic signs and I teach them to the rest of the family, who in return teach them to Vada. I {heart} the idea of knowing and teaching sign language so much that I have bought flash cards and books and I even put up a mini poster above Vada's changing table. Not for her, silly, it's for me. That way, while I am changing her I can look up and find a common sign and use it in what ever one sided conversation her and I are sharing.

Over the last couple of months Vada has become very interested when any of us use signing with her. When I say "I love you." She automatically looks for my hands because typically, I do the sign when I say it.

There has been many occasions where Vada has done motions that resemble the sign for "Mama" or "Dada". She doesn't just do what looks like the sign, she does it at the perfect timing as well. Like, as soon as Justin walks in the door. (Not all of the time, so it could all be coincidental.) She also does what looks like the sign for milk. Were pretty confident in saying that she is doing that particular sign. She does it when she wants to nurse, when we put her in her high chair, when she is tired and also when she is nursing.

Today, I decided that since she was playing in her exasaucer I would also put the signing DVD in so that she may glimpse up at the TV and that it may possibly help catch her interest. Truthfully, it's pretty helpful to me too. It turns out that she loved watching this video. She didn't just watch a minute or so of it, she watched the whole thing and only became "antsy" when it ended! Look at her..., all interested and ready to learn. :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Searching For Spring

It's snowing again. Just two days ago there was a thunderstorm waking me instead of my alarm clock. Its beautiful but i've had enough and I welcome the warmer weather. Ive become excited with the idea of having a little garden, going on bike rides with the girls and picnics. I'm ready to take Vada exploring and i'm ready to open the windows and let the fresh air in!


Tonight Jasmine had her first board breaking ceremony for Karate.

The first technique she used was the Stomp Kick.

She sliced through that board like butter. It was pretty impressive.

In this video my trusty side kick (Kiliegh) got her big sister eagerly chopping through her second board.

I enjoyed watching Jasmine tonight (really, I always do). You could see the confidence growing within her and it wasn't the child like arrogance that this age seems to bring. It was a girl, my daughter, being good at something that she has worked very hard at.

I am proud of Jasmine and I was full of pride tonight. This was a fun event and I am grateful to my mother in law for coming over to watch Vada so I be at it.

Look at that face! Pure determination!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just a Peek

I can not believe that Vada is about to be one year old! With just eight days to go until that moment I find myself getting more and more excited! Even though I am a bit nervous that I wont get things done the way that I am seeing them in my head, I am excited about what I have planned as well as what I have accomplished so far.

Here is a little peek of what I am working on....

Monday, February 21, 2011

She Caught Croup

Last night as Justin and I were catching up on season 4 of Ugly Betty I heard a raspy noise coming from Vada and Kiliegh's room. I paused the show and listened for a moment. Sometimes, after giving Vada her medications she sounds this way. I told Justin that was probably what we were hearing. Instinct told me that it was more than that, but I waited.

The next couple of hours were tough. Vada was having a difficult time falling and then staying asleep . She was fussy and raspy and full of coughs that were clearly begging for full breaths of air. Around 4 A.M. I took Vada to our room, woke Justin up and handed her off as I began packing her a bag.

Half an hour later I pulled into the closest hospital parking lot. I sat for a minute contemplating the situation. This particular hospital didn't have a childrens floor. If Vada would need to be admitted they would have to transport her to another hospital by ambulance. I glanced back at Vada. She was sleeping better now, in her car seat, than she had been all night and I knew that the extra five minute trip to a hospital that did have a childrens floor would be better now verses taking her in an ambulance later.

Vada was never admitted to the Children's floor. Our stay consisted of 6 hours in the ER. Over all and compared to recent hospital visits, 6 hours was nothing to complain about.

Vada did show signs of struggle and her pulse ox was sitting at around 85% so she was giving a breathing treatment and a dose of steroids to open up her air way. At first they wanted to give her oxygen but with her heart condition(s) giving oxygen can sometimes cause more damage than it can good. (Something that I had learned during one of our more recent stays in Peoria.) When the treatments showed no signs of helping, the lab work began and she was given a chest Xray. While waiting on the results of everything a second breathing treatment was administered. That treatment really seemed to help and she was able to rest. I was too.

Vada and I had been laying down for about twenty minutes when in walks Justin and Kiliegh. It turns out that Justin had been trying to call me, but the battery in my cell had died. Since I had no news to give on Vadas condition, I hadn't attempted calling him. I never knew that my phone was off.

Justin, had become so nervous that he came looking for us. His first stop was also mine and after finding out that we were not at that particular hospital he eventually made it to the one that we were in.

While I was very close to falling asleep at the moment of their arrival I welcomed their company. Justin has always been a very calming aspect of my life. When I am in need, he is there. Sometimes, he will mess with me to the degree of annoyance, but its intentional, I think and either way, he has served the purpose that he sat out to achieve at that very moment. Usually, it's to help get my mind of a particular issue.

Kiliegh's presence was nice as well. She has a fear that her and I share more than she will ever be able to understand at this point in her young life. The fear is of loosing Vada. For Kiliegh to be here, in the hospital, on this occasion was perfect. Vada was already doing much better and this would prove to be a non frighting experience for her. She needed this experience, as odd as that may sound.

I was hoping that this trip to the ER would ease some of Kiliegh's fears. I even tried to make it fun for her. We watched Sponge Bob and then her and I went to the little cafe on the upper floor of the hospital. On the way there we skipped down the long halls while holing hands and singing a little song. It was fun. I enjoyed our moment together and I think that this was a good experience for her. As good as a trip to the ER can be.

Around 11A.M. Vada was released with the diagnosis of Croup.

We are home now and Vada is doing well. She is a tough baby who in general seems to be content with her life.

Right now, I have just laid back down on a bed that I have made for myself on our living room floor, (which is a whole other story). The humidifier in the back ground seems to be singing me a personal lullaby. Vada's musical fish tank is still playing the tune which has put her back to sleep and has automatically shifted it's volume to low. Soon the house will be filled with silence and I welcome it with anticipation. Sleep couldn't come fast enough at this moment.

Tomorrow, I will take her to see the pediatrician as a follow up from today's visit at the hospital. I pray that she is able to fight this one off. It seems as if she is doing just that.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thunderstorms and Snooze Buttons

This mornings thunderstorm made opening my eyes a bit easier than the days prior. Lack of sleep is still proving to be an issue for me. Most mornings I would rather cover my head with a pillow after negotiating with the 'snooze' button, for five more minutes of sleep.

The girls, however, have become pro's at removing those pillow's and I have yet to discover a button on them that gives me those extra minutes that I am hoping to receive. Luckily, their sweet little faces that are begging me for pancakes and school lunches seems to be enough to get me up. That and a nice cup of coffee..., or two, sometimes three. This morning Vada's coo's were the only sounds greeting me. The older girls were at their dad's and Justin was working.

With my eyes barely opened I shuffled to the front door, opened it and took a deep breath in. The mist from the rain gently kissed my face as if by chance saying good morning. The air was cold and it still had the smell of winter in it. It was almost as if Mother Nature herself was confused on what was going to happen next. I stole another breath before quickly closing the door and trapping some warmth inside. I made a mental note to myself to notice God's handy work more often and to appreciate all of the changes that are about to happen with the end of winter and the beginning of Spring.

After a long morning of staying in my pajamas's and playing with Vada I finally got dressed for the day. Vada and I went to the late service at church which is now our third week in a row of attending. I look forward to being able to go back to the adult Sunday classes and to the women's class during the week that I used be involved in. However, when I think of Vada in the church daycare (or any comparable setting) my chest begins to feel pressure. I'm not ready for Vada to be so exposed to other children yet. I'm so nervous of the germs that are easily passed from one child to the next. Call me over protective.

After church, I took Vada to Justin's parent's house to visit with Grandma and Grandpa. They had both been sick for over a week and was missing their "Vada time". Grandma had called earlier that morning with hopes of having a little one on one play time. From there I came home and cleaned. Not much of an interesting day, but sometimes those are the best kinds!

Over all things seem to be settling down just fine. Actually, our home seems to be just that. A house full of people who live in it and who love each other. Life doesn't seem so uncertain and scary right now. I feel as if I am able to breath a little easier on most days and I thank God for that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hop, Skip and Bounce...

It's been quite sometime since we have been outside for any other reason other than to get into our car. The winter weather was never enjoyable for me to be in. I would practically hold my breath as I walked quickly from out back door of the house to the car. Only releasing that breath once I was buckled into the drivers seat. Which is pretty impressive on my part, since I had to buckle in a baby first... So, maybe I am exaggerating a little..., but it's almost true.

Today, was such a nice day. It was a glimpse into the near future of Spring! Have I mentioned that I {heart} Spring? I do. Fall too, but I wont jump ahead.

Jasmine wanted to roller blade, so she strapped her skates on and I bundled Vada up for a few minutes of fresh air. Jasmine took a few picks for me and then disappeared off into the neighborhood as Vada and I hopped, skipped and bounced from the back of our house to the front and then to the back again. All of which lasted about five minutes and then her and I went inside because as nice as it looked outside, it was still pretty chilly out. Jasmine on the other hand didn't seem to notice or to be bothered by the coolness in the air. She enjoyed being outside and once she was done skating she was really excited to tell me about how she cant wait for Spring. Neither can I!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Easy Entertainment

Vada has a new interest in hangers. They have become on of her favorite things to play with.

I wonder if this means she'll enjoy doing laundry? That would be awesome... because I don't!