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 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.)

 

 

Guest Post by Sillicone Valley Mommy!

Guest Post by Sillicone Valley Mommy!

Starting a blog is an exciting and scary process. Will they like me? Will anyone even care what I have to say? Well today I am starting my guest posting series with a brand new blog called Silicone Valley Mommy . Please take a moment to get to know her, visit her blog, like her Facebook page, follow her Twitter and even see what she pins. She’s witty, intelligent, fun and has impecable taste in friends and wine. We all know what it’s like to be the new kid on the blog block, let’s show her some love and support.

 

Without further ado…Meet Jennifer the Silicone Valley Mommy…

 

I Am Unwritten

I’m one of those girls who likes lots of different music. My iTunes collection is a crazy mix of it all – Top 40s, Reggae, Country, Rock, Oldies, Soul, Classical, Punk, etc. Mostly, I just looooove songs with a great beat. I’ll be the first one on the dance floor. I don’t care. I DEFINITELY don’t look as “cool” dancing as I used to, but don’t even try and stop me. I just love to close my eyes and nod my head like yeah…. move my hips like yeah…. I’m also not embarrassed to tell you that I can’t get enough Dirty Rap. Yep, I said it. Dirty, offensive, insulting rap. My husband looks at me in complete shock as I rattle off the words to songs like “Ain’t No Fun” by Snoop Dog. I know. I completely admit that the lyrics in that song are unbelievably offensive towards women. (Feminists, please skip the next sentence.) Still, I know the whole song word-for word, by heart and love to sing it while imagining I’m right there in, my boy, Snoop’s music video. I’ll be that 85-year-old lady sipping my cocktail in my rocking chair, nodding my head and still loving those dirty rap songs.

Right now though, as I sit down to write my very FIRST blog post, I’m thinking of a very different, equally awesome song. It’s by Natasha Bedingfield about new beginnings. Have you heard her song “Unwritten”? It starts out like this:

“I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin”

As I embark on starting my own blog, Natasha’s lyrics describe exactly how I’m feeling.

I’m unwritten.

I’m unknown.

I’m going to release my inhibitions. I’m not sure where this will all go. I recently told my Internet Wife and good friend Nicole, who already has her own hilarious, witty and successful blog, The Better Half Blogs that I wanted to start a blog as well. She offered me a guest blog spot on her site (THANK YOU, NICOLE!), and asked me to describe who I am, why I want to start a blog and what it’ll be about. So, here goes!

[Ed. note: YOU’RE VERY WELCOME JENN!]

Who I am –
I’m a mommy of two adorable kids, ages 7 and 8. They are the loves of my life and make me the happiest mommy ever. They are also the reason I’ve recently started growing patches of grey hair all over my head and need to spend $200 every six months getting my hair colored. They are my best job and my hardest job. I have a handsome husband who after (almost) 14 years of being married, still makes me laugh and still makes me blush. He also drives me crazy at times and we have stupid arguments just like everyone else, but we are good for each other. He brings out my wild side when I need it and I tame him when he needs it. We are a good team. I also have two puppies, three nieces, a close & tight-knit family who I adore, and work part time for a startup company in Silicon Valley.

Some things I love– Chocolate, Bloody Mary’s, reality TV, sleeping in, laughing, warm weather, traveling, a great book, the smell of wet paint, Rombauer Chardonnay, lots of color, planning parties, the smell of Jo Malone Orange Blossom perfume, music and shoes.

Some things I hate – Needles, blood, sleep deprivation, cleaning, being unorganized, eggplant, being pregnant, being late, people who think they are “too cool”, cellulite, and s…l…o…w… drivers. (I was named “DMV’s Most Wanted” in my high school yearbook, thankyouverymuch. It made my parents very, very proud.)

Why start a blog?
Well, I’m a serial entrepreneur who loves to try new things. I love technology, the Internet and social media. I love funny and interesting stories. I love to learn and love to share. I’m not the shy type. I won’t hide the truth and I’ll give it to you straight. But, I also realize that these are just my OPINIONS. (I can’t stand people who think they are right about everything. Ugh!) I would love to share my experiences with others and connect with mommies and women from around the world.

My blog-
“When you start a blog”, people tell me, “You need to have a hook. Your blog should be about something in particular, like being a mommy, or about technology, or about living in Silicon Valley.” Sorry folks, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Or, I should say, It’s my blog and I’ll blog what I want to!” I want to blog about current events, celebrities, mommy issues, wife issues, great deals, great styles, bikini waxes, fun DIY projects, fabulous finds, Botox, ways to save money, how to please your man, health issues women should know about, beautiful houses we all dream of, things that piss me off, great family friendly vacation spots, funny friends and stories, etc. etc. I want to interview cool people and write about them. I want to give honest reviews on recipes, places, products and destinations. I’ll tell you about experiences I’ve had and I’ll be honest. Doesn’t that sound fun? It does to me.

Fears?
Yes, I do have some fears. I actually think I’m just a mediocre writer. I’m not always the best with words or the best with my punctuation. I use far to many exclamation marks!!!!!! What if people think I’m boring? What if it’s a big flop and my only followers are my mom, my sisters and my best friends? I know there will be some haters, but do you know what? They can go start their own brand new blog and be super interesting all the time and not have any haters. DO IT, I DARE YOU! DO IT!!

So, if you are more of a lover than a hater, I hope you will come join me in this fun new endeavor at www.siliconvalleymommy.com. Come groove with me on the dance floor! Just as Natasha Bedingfield sings, “Today is where my book begins and the rest is still unwritten.”

xoxo,
Jen

Thank you Jen, so much, we can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. Gangsta rap and all. Cheers!

If  you would like to be a featured guest poster here, contact me at NicoleYontz5@gmail.com.