YOU’RE doing GREAT!

So the other day I walked past the bathroom mirror and almost passed out at the sight of my own grossness. Yes, it happens to the best of us. As I sit here I am currently un-showered and actively avoiding the pile of laundry over in that direction. Don’t look.

This horrific reality and my realization that Pinterest is just there to make me feel bad about myself, has prompted me to stop being so hard on myself and give me a good ‘ol pat on the dirty sweaty back….

And I’m giving you one too! I’m over on KidsGoals.com handing out virtual hugs and cookies and telling you that YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB, MOM!

A Mother’s Story: Down Syndrome

A Mother’s Story: Down Syndrome

I have always loved to have guest writers here on my blog to highlight other mothers in an effort to educate and enlighten not only myself, but all you wonderful people as well. Today we are hearing from my husband’s cousin who at exactly 2 weeks to the day after my Audrey was born, their family welcomed little Lacey into the world. This is the first time Kelley has spoken so candidly and openly about what it was like to hear the diagnosis and how it changed their family forever. At the end I am including the speech her 11-year-old daughter Sydney wrote about her baby sister for a school speech contest…and it won first place. 

I was shocked when Nicole asked me to write this post for her blog because let’s just say writing is not my thing. I was also nervous because I didn’t want people to get the wrong idea about how I felt about my daughter the day she was born.  But I feel there are other parents in the world that need to know it’s ok to have certain thoughts, feelings and fears when it comes to having a child with special needs. And know that regardless of her diagnosis, you will love your child unconditionally and take on anyone that will doubt her abilities.

Let me be very clear here, I have loved my daughter from the first time I found out I was going to be a mother for the third time, but the time after her birth was probably one of the hardest I have had to endure (with the exception of the recent loss of my father). This is my story on how I dealt with my daughter being born with Down syndrome.

March 24, 2010 at 6:31 PM I became a member of “The Club” as my friend Kelli likes to say. It’s not a club I planned to become a member of and it’s a club that caused me many tears that first year after becoming a member. You see, that night I gave birth to a healthy baby girl with Down syndrome.

To say it was a total shock would be a lie, you see 20 weeks before that night I received a call in my office from my doctor to say that my QUAD screen was positive giving me a possible 1 in 90 chance that my unborn baby would be born with Down Syndrome. At this point the doctor needed to know what I wanted to do since I had refused all genetic testing at the beginning of my pregnancy. Please know that abortion was never a thought in my mind and thankfully I had a wonderful doctor who never once suggested that I abort my baby. My husband and I had decided on genetic counseling and then genetic ultrasound, from there we would decide if we wanted more testing.

The week before Thanksgiving we went for our genetic counseling and genetic ultrasound. I had prepared myself with a list of questions I could ask regarding terms like nuchal fold thickness, cardiac abnormalities, duodenal atresia, hyprechogenic bowel, bilateral renal pyelectosis, brachiocephaly, or choriod plexus cysts. All markers that were typically seen with an unborn baby with Down syndrome.

We had already had a regular ultrasound but we never were able to find out the sex because this baby was very active. Throughout, I kept saying ‘an active baby is a healthy baby!’ And I couldn’t help but laugh when they told my husband Jeff and I that we will be adding another daughter to the two we already had. We never cared if it was a boy or girl, we just wanted our baby to be healthy and because they did not find any strong or soft markers we decided not to have a risky amino.

I wish I could say I enjoyed my last 20 weeks of my third pregnancy but that would be a lie. My gut instinct told me to be prepared even though the only thing that was positive was my QUAD screen. I worried myself sick those last 20 weeks. I was sick all the time, I gained a significant amount of weight and cried a lot in the shower.

The day I went into labor with my baby girl I had pink eye and bronchitis. I delivered via c-section and when the nurse brought Lacey Catherine into the recovery room I knew that my world would forever be changed. I would never be the same person that had walked into that hospital just four hours ago, laughing carelessly about the crazy day we had. No, I was now going to be a mother with a child with special needs and I would never again look at things the same. Words that never bothered me before would make my skin crawl because I now had a daughter with Down syndrome.

I didn’t want to open my mouth and say anything because then I knew it would all really be true and I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t want to join “the club”. I just remember feeling like the recovery room was getting smaller and smaller with each breath I was taking and my anxiety was taking over. I wanted to get up and run away pretending this day never happened but because of the spinal block I couldn’t move. I thought if I could just close my eyes I would wake up and hopefully this nightmare was over.

All of our immediate family got to see Lacey and no one said anything so I thought maybe I was crazy and she was normal. Even Jeff had stayed quiet. But when I saw the look on the nurse’s face and the doctor came to talk with us I knew what he was going to say. At that point I just wanted to scream, cry, hit something and argue that the ultrasounds didn’t show anything.

I was in total shock and I couldn’t stop thinking about how everyone would react to the news. I remember thinking how she will be treated differently, all because she has this extra chromosome. People will not love her the way they love her sisters. Will they even want to hold her? Will she know if they are not comfortable with a baby with Down syndrome? I didn’t want people to make fun of my daughter or call her “retarded” or whatever other horrific things people say. I don’t want people to look at me with pity because I had a baby born with an extra chromosome. I remember being wheeled to my room and I kept saying to myself, “You are not going to cry” because Lacey’s sisters will not understand why their mother would be so upset.

My sister-in-law took the girls out of the room, so we could tell other family members the news. I never did cry in front of anyone, I felt I had to show I was strong and that I could handle this. I remember looking at my husband and it was the first time I saw him cry and it broke my heart into a million pieces because I feared it meant he wouldn’t love her.  Man, how wrong I was. Jeff cried because the ultrasounds never showed anything was wrong and he was angry. But he soon shook it off and from that day on he has been totally in love with his little miracle. Jeff has said we can handle anything they throw at us, so we know Lacy will be fine because we are her parents. I remember thinking all she needs is love from us and everything else will fall into place.

Soon after she was born there was a concern from the Doctor about Lacey and I remember hearing the word Leukemia being said. I was in such a daze I didn’t understand, but basically the Doctor said that Lacey’s white blood cell count was up and that she was also showing immature white blood cells in her blood and her platelet count was low.

In the end, Lacey’s body fought back and her counts went back to normal but my greatest fear is because of this my daughter now has a 30% increased risk for developing a type of Leukemia called nonlymphoid by the time she is three years old. We recently had her tested early and at this time her blood count is normal. I can deal with her extra chromosome but I can’t imagine watching my baby girl go through chemotherapy. That is a bridge we will pray we never have to cross. The other issue we had during her first 6 months of life was trying to keep weight up. She had lost almost 2 pounds and we had to go to the Doctor every week. It’s funny to say now but we would cheer if she gained an ounce. Then we went to Florida when she was 6 weeks old at which time she gained 2 pounds while we were gone and from there she continued to gradually gain weight.

Lacey was also born with a few heart defects but at 6 months of age her PDA finally closed which meant no heart surgery. There were many other tests we had to have that first year: hearing, vision, blood work to check her thyroid. These test she continues to have every 6 months. It seemed like the time we would spend that first year at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Dayton Ohio would never end. At four weeks old Lacy began seeing a developmental specialist for physical and occupational therapy and continues to receive these therapies in addition to speech therapy.

The whole first year there are a lot of things we had to learn and go through which at times were very confusing and frustrating. I didn’t join a support group, because that is not my thing, but I know for a lot of people it’s helpful. I am just not a ‘support group’ kind of person and chose my own way of dealing with what my family was going though.

One of my best friends happens to be the President of the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association and she has been an amazing support system for me. I also started to research and read different books regarding Down syndrome. One that I found that helped me with the guilt I was feeling over my own emotions was The Year My Son and I Were Born: A Story of Down Syndrome, Motherhood and Self-Discovery by Katheryn Lynard Soper.

Reading all the information you are given is a great help but honestly, I could live with out the scary stuff that may, or may not, happen to my daughter. I just wanted to enjoy her and I was afraid that maybe reading everything would take that away. It can be overwhelming all the things you need to be aware of but we have truly been blessed with the state of Lacey’s health.

People should not mistake having Down Syndrome with not being healthy.  My daughter is very healthy. She has met a lot of her milestones and in some areas she has surpassed them. She rolled over at the age of 2 ½ weeks and never stopped. She walked by 17 months. She said “love you” at seven months to her dad. I laugh because they have always said “she will be slow” but anyone that knows my daughter knows that being slow is just not in her, she has one speed; fast. Her biggest delay has been in her speech but sign language has helped with the lack of verbal skills.

Lacey is an amazing child and I used to feel guilt over the many tears I cried because of her diagnosis but in the end it was because of the ideas that society has placed on people with Down syndrome, that sadly, I also believed. Once she entered our lives and showed us a new way to live I don’t believe that way anymore and I will take on anyone that even thinks about doubting my daughter’s abilities.

I am a one Mama Bear you don’t want to mess with when it comes to my baby girl. Lacey has more determination than any child I know and she is out to prove to everyone that she is not a Down syndrome child but a beautiful little girl who just happens to have Down Syndrome. It’s so hard to believe it’s been almost three years since I received news that my daughter may be different. The thought of that scared me more than anything in this world, but since that time there have been so many other things in daily life that have changed that perception. I now realize this diagnosis is not the end of the world and no one has any reason to feel sorry for us because our daughter was born with an extra chromosome. If you could just see or hold my daughter just once, you would understand that to know her is to love her.

Lacey is our ray of sunshine and she brings so much joy and love to our family. I know there have been many people who have wondered and we have even been asked, “If you had the choice, would you take away the down syndrome?” Here is my answer; If we took away Lacey’s Down syndrome then she would not be Lacey. What I would like to take away is people’s stereotypes about what Down syndrome looks like.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Please enjoy the amazing speech that my 11-year-old daughter, Sydney gave at her school, which won her a speech contest.

Speech Topic:  A time when volunteers made a difference.
By: Sydney Yontz

Have you heard of Down syndrome?  I learned about Down
syndrome nine months ago, when my parents told my sister and me
about our 2 year old baby sister, Lacey.  When she was born my parents
never told us that she had Down syndrome.  I knew she had to go to
the doctor and have therapy a lot, but I just thought something was
wrong with her heart.  When my parents sat my sister and me down to
explain it to us, they told us that she had Down syndrome, which meant
she had an extra chromosome, and that she may be slow to learn things
like walking, talking, and reading.  The easiest way to explain Down
syndrome is to say my sister was born with 47 chromosomes instead of
46 like me.  She has 3 copies of her 21st chromosome.  I only have 2.

The Buddy Walk is a group that is working to bring awareness
about Down syndrome to the public.  The Buddy Walk was started in
1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to raise awareness and
acceptance for people with Down syndrome.  The Buddy Walk is
organized by volunteers.  These volunteers get people involved to walk,
raise money, and raise awareness about Down syndrome.  These
people do not get paid any money to do this.  The payment they get is
the satisfaction of seeing all the smiling faces from the children and
adults during the event.

My mom’s friend, Kelli is the President of the Miami Valley Down
Syndrome Association.  She said they raised over $80?thousand dollars
last year for their Buddy Walk in Dayton.  The money will go to help
fund programs like summer camp, help parents pay for therapies, and
this year they will be buying iPad’s for some families. They also give 7%of the money they earned to the National Down Syndrome Society and
this money is used for research.  Nationally, the Buddy Walk raised over
$11?million dollars last year to help provide programs and services.
Back when the Buddy Walk first started they only had 17 walks
throughout the whole United States, but last year they had over 300,
and even had their first walk in the country of Japan.

So, what has the Buddy Walk done to change America?  Last year
alone, there were almost 300?thousand people that participated in the
Buddy Walk to raise money for Down syndrome.  But more importantly,
these volunteers helped raise awareness and educate millions upon
millions of others about Down syndrome.

So, why is this awareness about Down syndrome so important you
ask?  As my mom says, “my sister is part of the lucky 15% born with
Down syndrome”.  Yes, I just said my sister is lucky to be born with
Down syndrome…  You see, nearly 85% of parents when told their baby
will be born with Down syndrome, will choose to have an abortion.
Which means that the parents will end their baby’s life before it is even
born.  I can’t imagine my sister not getting a chance to live.  And I can’t
imagine my life without my sister.  She is the best sister in the world
and I love her so much.

One of my biggest fears for my sister is that someone will make
fun of her as she gets bigger, and the Buddy Walk is doing a great job in
promoting awareness so that one day my sister will be accepted by
everyone, and no one will call her mean names and make fun of her.  I
also hope that one day, with the help of the Buddy Walk that those 85%
of parents who are going to choose to end their baby’s life will go down
to zero.  Those babies deserve to be lucky too, just like my sister.

Guest Interview with Amanda Thomas

I’m healed! Thank God and Baby Jesus, I am healed! Just in case you didn’t know, about 2 weeks ago I woke up and felt like I had been on the losing end of a bar brawl. Yeah, it was that bad. I could no longer use my car in reverse because looking over my shoulder was a thing of the past. Makes it difficult to leave the house…or do just about anything else, for that matter.

Two weeks and two chiropractor later and I could drive all over town BACKWARDS, if I wanted. Did you hear what I said, err wrote, whatever you know what I mean….I CAN LOOK OVER MY SHOULDER!

I owe my life and the life of my neck to Dr. Kyle Collins from the Upper Cervical Heath Centers of Scottsdale. And I will admit that after extensive x-rays and some amazing scanning machine, I cried. Well it could be from the shooting pain in my neck when I got the adjustment and the fact that I couldn’t see in that moment of white-hot pain but when I finally came to…I could actually lift my hands over my head again! I might even be able to do my hair again (everyone that has to look at me is thankful of this too).

Anyway, long story short, I am healed, it was painful, I cried like an idiot but it worked and I owe it all to Dr. Collins who I am eternally thankful to. Other thankful people include my husband, my daughter and various drivers in and around the Gilbert Arizona area.

Now on to our main story…

Today we have an interview with Amanda Thomas, owner of Moxie Girl Household Assistants and Domestic CEO on QuickAndDirtyTops.com. When it comes to cleaning and organizing, she the man and today we have her all to ourselves and I got to ask her anything my disorganized and dirty little heart desired.

Since we are basking in the glow of spring I thought it appropriate we discuss spring cleaning. I also threw in a few questions of my own. Because it’s my blog and I can.

Enjoy…

The Better Half: Hi Amanda! Thank you for joining us, don’t mind the mess, I live here. So let’s get the ball rolling and jump right in. It’s spring cleaning season! Woohoo! What’s the best way to get the ball rolling and what absolutely needs to be on our to-do list?

Amanda Thomas: The best way I have found to get the ball rolling is to kick everyone out of the house, turn off the tv, play some fun music, and commit to 30 minutes of hard work before I let myself sit down. Often times, once I get going, I end up doing way more than 30 minutes, but that initial goal is small enough to get me started. Whatever you do, do NOT turn on the tv. Even if you think it is just on in the background, you will lose precious time. Every minute you stop to hear Maury say, “You are NOT the father,” takes 2 minutes away from your productivity. You have to refocus, and restart wherever you left off. Don’t even tempt yourself, just put on your favorite “kicking-but and taking names” songs and get to work!

The tasks that I see most forgotten in homes are the ceiling fans, inside the fridge, and behind appliances. If you can’t remember the last time you dusted your fans, or you can see dust hanging over the edge, that WILL affect your indoor air quality. Clean those at least once a quarter to keep your air cleaner. Inside the fridge is the job everyone knows needs to be done, but no one wants to. Take a little time and clean up the spills and hardened pieces of veggies from there. It’s well worth it, just so you don’t have to feel guilty every time you open the door. If you have cats, ferrets, or any other small, roaming animal in your home, there is an 60% chance you have feces behind your fridge. If you cook, you have a 90% chance of having food spills and remnants between your stove and the cabinets. These aren’t scientific, but they are true to my experience of working in homes. At least once a year, pull those appliances out and clean around them. Don’t be scared. Put on your big girl panties and do it. You’ll thank me for it later.

BH: OKay I’m liking the kick everyone out of the house part. Do I have to let them back in when it’s clean, haha. Kidding. (Kind of.) So I often hear about people tackling one task a week or a day in order to keep from getting overwhelmed. I am a super scheduled type of person, I just need someone to tell me what to do. So tell me…what to do…

AT: You CAN do that, but I don’t recommend it. The chances of you losing steam after the first week are pretty high. I advise getting as much done in as little time as possible. Make a list of the tasks you want to tackle. Then, order them from most to least important. Start with the tasks you rated as most important first. That way, if you do give up (and I’m not saying YOU would), at least your most important things got done. The other stuff is just kind of a bonus!

BH: I love lists, this might work for me. Now I have to make a hard admission, in my house, we have a bad case of the “junk drawer”. It’s so bad that are starting to multiply. I think we are on 3 and a 4th seem eminent. What are some great tips for organizing and taming the junk drawer?

AT: Oh good lord, Nicole. STOP shoving stuff in your drawers! :)  The best way to avoid having a “junk drawer” is naming your drawers. If all your drawers have a purpose (ie- the silverware drawer, the cooking utensil drawer, the sharp stuff drawer, the crayons and coloring book drawer, the batteries and tape drawer, etc), then they can’t become a junk drawer. Why would you put batteries in the crayon drawer? You wouldn’t! No more junk drawers!

BH: I should probably stop calling drawers “Misc. drawer” then too. That might be my problem. And “sharp stuff drawer”? Good grief, might as well call it “stuff that will get me a visit from CPS drawer”. So now this question is purely selfish in nature but since I have you here I’m going to ask you. (And I’m guessing since I have this problem, I can’t be the ONLY one.) Please, for the love of Baby Jesus, what can I use to clean the stand up shower in my bathroom? The cleaning lady made it look brand new and I can’t get it to look anything other than semi-gross. What am I doing wrong?

AT: Elbow grease. Just kidding, sort of. A great natural product I like is Tub and Tile by Melaleuca. If you are looking for something you can buy at Target, the best thing I’ve found is Ka-BOOM Foamtastic. Use either of those with a scrubby sponge, grout brush, and a little elbow grease, and your shower can look new again. Just make sure to have your bathroom fan running and DON’T close yourself into the shower if you are using chemicals. Unless you like to get high and pass out. If the soap scum is thick on the walls, you may need to use a plastic scraper to chisel the hardened build-up off too. It’s not the best of news, sorry!

BH: Hmm, sounds like it’s easier to call you guys as Moxie Girl because that sounds like a lot of steps. Well, last but not least lets talk floors. Swiffer? Steamer? Bucket and mop? What’s the best way to clean floors when you have toddler, kids, dogs and dirty husbands to contend with? (Both wood and tile.)

AT: In all my (and my Moxie Girl team’s) experience, I have yet to find a floor steamer that isn’t a pain in the butt. In theory, they are wonderful. In practice, something always goes wrong. Either it takes 20 minutes for the steam to appear, it only steams for 15 seconds, or it just pushes dust around. I recommend a string mop and bucket to clients who are convinced they need a mop. Otherwise, I prefer using a microfiber floor pad with a spray bottle of cleaner. Just spray the spots, and wipe up. It’s the same principle as a Swiffer, but works a million times better and costs a hundred times less over the life time of the tool.

BH: Is there anything else you think we should know?

AT: My biggest advice is to not wait until something is gross to clean it. As soon as you see something starting to get dirty, clean it. It’s much easier, less time-consuming, and you never have to feel guilty about the nastiness if you just wipe up the little stuff when you see it.  :)

There you have it and if you have any questions that I didn’t ask, feel free to contact Amanda Thomas yourself! She’s super nice and as you can see, there’s no such thing as a stupid cleaning question. Amanda can be reached on Twitter, on Moxie Girl’s Facebook page,  at Moxie-Girl.com  and read all of her best cleaning and organizing tips at QuickAndDirtyTips.com.

Thank you Amanda for your time and expertise! You rock!

Was there anything we should have asked? Comment below and I will get you an answer!

Guest Post by Clumsy Crafter!

I am really loving this guest posting series we have going on here. You guys were all so welcoming and sweet to the new kid on the block, Jennifer from Silicone Valley Mommy. I hope you guys all checked out her new site and read her second ever post about Peyton Manning, where she breaks down his new salary and begs for money. It’s worth the read. And Peyton, dearie, if you’re reading this, I too would like a few things…if you don’t mind. 

Today’s guest poster is Bobbie Byrd from Clumsy Crafter. (If you recognize her name it’s because she’s the lucky little bugger that won the ErinCondren.com giveaway!)

I have to say, I’m really excited about this one. I loves me some easy, n0-sew crafts and today she is teaching us how to make a super cute cape complete with pictures of her oh-so cutie pie daughters. If you like this post, please go check out here site where she has many more just like it, along with stories about her kids, her husband, her new dog and life in Texas. 

(Personal message to Mrs.Byrd: Thank you so much for always being so supportive of my piddly little blog. You da man. Or da woman. Whatever. You know what I mean. You rock.)

Please welcome, Bobbie the Clumsy Crafter…

Hey guys, my name is Bobbie Byrd and I try to write a blog named Clumsy Crafter. Somedays I really think I should rename it to, “Mommy’s Gone Crazy, the laundry pile is now in charge and the dog is eating diapers again” but it won’t fit on my business card. I’m a homeschooling, minivan rocking, mom jean wearing, uncoordinated and slightly crazy mother to three beautiful girls and married to a sweet guy, Mr. Byrd, who puts up with it all. Most days on Clumsy Crafter you can find anything from cute craft ideas to the horror stories of motherhood.

If your kids are anything like mine than they love to pretend to be super heroes. I secretly wish they had super powers so they wouldn’t take five hours to pick up 10 toys. If they could move faster than a speeding bullet can you only imagine how many chores they could do each day while I sit on the couch and eat bon bons? Or they would just whack their sister and then run away so fast that I couldn’t put them in time out?

Every child deserves a super hero cape to live out their dreams and the good news is that now you don’t have to buy one from a high priced children’s store. Today I’m sharing a no sew super hero cape that everyone can easily find the supplies to make. This one is even easier that trying to rig some way to keep the pillow case tied around their neck like a cape.

TShirt to Super Hero Cape. It’s easy, no sewing required and cost about $6 per cape if you use new t-shirts.

To make one cape you will need a t-shirt several sizes larger than what your child is currently wearing, two coordinating patterns or colors of craft felt, scissors and fabric glue. Use new t-shirts or raid your husbands closet.

I also printed out the letters that I wanted on the capes from my computer to use as a template.

You can just hold the letter in place, tape it, or pin it over the top of your flannel and just cut it out. I also cut a diamond shape from the coordinating piece of flannel that was a little larger than the letter.

Using your fabric glue, attach the letter to the diamond shape and set to the side to dry.

Now it’s time to work on the actual cape using the t-shirt.

Lay your shirt out flat on a large surface with the front facing up. Follow the pattern show up above to cut only one layer of the shirt starting at the bottom edge and going towards the back, behind the arms, and over the shoulders.

Once you cut behind the sleeves you go up over the shoulder, around the neckline and back down the other side of the shirt in the same manner.

Then you will have something that looks like this;

When you’re finished it should look something like this. (The backside of the shirt is now pointing up.) The edges of the shirt might seem a little ragged, depending on how bad your scissors are and how many times your kids have used your fancy scissors to cut their Barbie’s hair. There’s an easy way to solve this….. wash and dry the shirt/ cape. When you wash raw edged jersey fabric, the edges get a nice little roll and you won’t see the jagged edges anymore.

After you wash and dry it, it’s time to glue on the super hero symbol that is hopefully dry as well.

Wait until the glue is dry to give it to your kids or if they’ve already seen it, let them have it and keep the glue bottle handy.

Then when they are dry, let them fly. (forgive me)

These capes are pretty safe since jersey stretches when pulled but as always when a child has something around their neck, it’s best to keep an eye on them.

Yes, they had fun, so much fun that they had to have baths before we could leave the house! I really hope that your kids have fun with their new capes too.

Thank you for letting me barge on in and make myself at home Nicole!

 

Oh you’re so welcome! Mi casa es your blog. (Hey, I got a D in Spanish, get off my back.) I have a few t-shirts of my husbands that I cannot WAIT to take scissors to. (Not because I want a cape, especially, but because they are totally ugly and need be put out of their misery. AND I look dashing in capes. Win-win.)