Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lessons Learned

Earlier today I found myself running back over some of my misdeeds from years ago. I have a habit of doing that to myself, but I'm learning to stop and to remind myself of the truth in those moments. Then I thought there are probably others who need those reminders too. Plus, I usually remember things a little better if I write (type) them down. Here's to remembering those lessons learned, right?
  1. Most important! The past is the past and you either move on and learn from it or you can stay focussed on the wrongs and stay in the same place forever. I'd rather keep moving forward.
  2. Who cares who knows about what you did wrong?! If they weren't involved they probably don't know what they think they know, and if they were involved, well, then it's their misdeed too! Ahem, I think that's all we all need to know about that. Let's all hold our heads up and move on. Shall we?
  3. Speaking of holding our heads up, you are not what you did wrong. Unless you are Jesus Christ, we have all committed some type of indiscretion some where some time. You can't let it define who you are or any decisions you make for the rest of your life. Don't be ashamed, and don't let anyone else make you feel that way. 
I'm 36 years old and I still have to have these conversations with myself sometimes, but I'm getting bettter at telling the negative voice to shut up and reminding myself of the truths above. How about you? Do you have a mantra that you remind yourself when the past rears it's ugly head at you? *I'm not asking anybody to share misdeeds, just strategies to shut down negative thoughts. Thanks!*

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Beautiful Way to End a Bad Week

Today is Sunday. The start of a new week. And thank God for it because this past week has been enough for me.

Meriah, over at With a Little Moxie, is hosting a blog hop focusing on finding the beauty. So, I dug up some old photos of Liza from the first day of school, cause they never fail to bring a smile to my face.

I hope they make you smile too. Take a load off. Decompress. Let's hope this coming week is a beautiful one. And, go to Meriah's blog and check out the other pics :)

Love her face in this one! LOL

She was really excited about all the cars going by that morning.

I think this one is my favorite. She's rubbing her hands
together cause she's SO excited. How can you not smile?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

No Longer Worthless - Thanks For That

"Abuse is all about getting and keeping power and control. A person who lives in fear and who has been shamed into a sense of personal worthlessness is a person who is much easier to control. Abusers know this. They know it by nature. They didn't have to take a course to learn it. It is who they are." Pgs 75-76 of "A Cry for Justice"

I read that on the "A Cry for Justice" Facebook page the other day and the "personal worthlessness" part stuck out to me, because I had picked up that "sense" somewhere along the way. That's why I always ended up in relationships with men who only wanted to use me and/or abuse me. I know that now and I feel that I've overcome that feeling of not being worth anything. In fact, I think I had begun to overcome it BEFORE I ever left my marriage and I was shocked to realize that I have some of the people who have since turned their backs on me to thank for helping me begin that overcoming.

I'm not sure how they're going to feel about that, and honestly I don't care, because this is my story and my journey - they only played a small part in it.

So, to you, the one who taught me to play piano and constantly told me how awesome, funny, amazing, and "Christ-like" I was: Thank you for that! You planted the seeds to help me to begin to realize that I DID have worth and that my children and I didn't deserve to live in the environment we'd been in for too long.

Even though you used manipulation, guilt, and fear tactics to try to get me to return to that environment and "pray it out". Even though you turned on me, and turned your back on me, when I refused. Even though you talked about me, and others you used to love and affirm and our "mistakes", on your blog. I can see now that I owe you at least a small debt of appreciation for planting those seeds. I am 100% serious about this.

I've only alluded to one person here, but there were others. They were good friends to me - until I left on oppressive situation, and yeah, that was hard but it was their friendship that helped to begin to build me back up. I've been able to build on what they started in the two years that I've been free and I feel like I am returning to the person that I was always supposed to be.

I really do appreciate that.

*If you think you may be in a verbally/emotionally abusive situation, or if your partner has ever been physically abusive towards you/children/pets, I would really encourage you to read "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans. You may even be able to find it in your local library, I did. You can also check out this list at The Hotline - there is a number you can call to talk to someone confidentially. Even if your partner is a Christian, a pastor, a high standing member of your church, etc, abuse of any kind towards you and/or your children is NOT ok and you DON'T have to endure it. Christ calls you to freedom and He doesn't ask you to endure oppression by anyone.*

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Liza Reads a Book!

This is what I caught Liza doing today. I was so excited!! But, I managed to hold my excitement in until after she was finished cause I was so afraid she would stop if she knew how happy it was making me. I'm laughing over that last sentence but I'm totally serious. You just have to know this chick.....

I was so shocked and amazed and proud. This is a kid who had no concept of a book almost 3 years ago. I remember asking the local Librarians for book recommendations to just get her to sit and let me read to her. Now she's right on the cusp of reading to herself and has carried this book around with her "reading" it almost all day today.

She is awesome!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Morning Sermon: Running without Knowing

*Going along with my last post, in which I said I don't feel like I identify with "Christians", I also don't go to church anymore. Sometimes though, I get these little sermon snippets that pop into my head. I feel like I'm preaching to myself but I also like to share. Maybe this will become a series. We'll see.*

This morning I'm going out running without my phone/gps to tell me how fast I've gone in that last 1/2 mile, or even when I've reached a 1/2 or a mile. No average pace and total time at the end of my run. No logging my time onto Nike+ or Facebook. I'm running technology free, and it is about to drive me mad. I can't stand it. I need to KNOW. Why? I have no clue.

It's silly, right? It's just going out to run one time. Just the fact that I'm out there is good enough. I don't HAVE  to know all the details of this one run to know that I am doing a good thing for my body and my health, right?

There are so many times that I stalled on something that I knew could be good because I didn't KNOW all the extraneous details. I didn't finish a paralegal course I started because I didn't know if I could really handle it, or if I was "good enough". I've stalled on a decision about where my children and I should live because I didn't know everything there was to know about schools for them, or if the yard would be big enough, or or or or or..... You get the picture? Even though I am sure the move will be good in the long run, I've stalled for months because I didn't KNOW.

What about you? Are you stalling on something because you don't know all the answers? Do you think it's ok to leap sometimes not knowing? Or is it safer to always know everything before-hand?

Sometimes, you just aren't going to know. You just have to go.

Now, I'm going to run. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Things I Ponder: Faith in Jesus or Faith in the Church?

*I started writing this over a year ago. When I first left my marriage and was dealing with people I thought were my Christian "friends" treating me as if I were the enemy and the one in the wrong. Since then I really don't feel I identify with the "Church" at all and don't evven like to be called a Christian. Do I still believe in Jesus? Yeah, I do. But, I don't think I'll ever go back to being a "Christian" again.*

For a while now I've been pondering some things that probably won't have me too popular with "The Church" at large, but I've decided that I have to be honest with myself and stop being afraid to say what I believe. I saw a quote taken from To Kill a Mockingbird today that seemed to put my feelings on the subject into words:

They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. ~ spoken by the character Atticus 

I know that my views on some things aren't going to be shared by a whole lot of people that I've considered friends for years, but I'm ok with that as long as they are. It's when I am treated as "ungodly" or as if I have lost my love for the Lord or I'm disrespected that I begin to have a problem with us having differing opinions. And, I've come to notice that there is far too much of that going on in the Church. It makes me realize why some folks are so against going to church or getting involved with anything Christian at all. But, for me, it's not about the Church and where I stand with "them", it's about Jesus. I have to know where I stand with Him. I have to place my faith in Him and pray everyday that I'm following His heart and not mine. This next quote pretty much sums up what I mean: 

The church is human, and we make mistakes. Sometimes we don't represent God very well at all. But Jesus represented God perfectly as the incarnation of God. He loved the people his culture didn't love, he interacted with people he wasn't supposed to interact with, and he refused to distance himself from the people others called "sinners." Jesus' harsh words were aimed at the religious leaders of his day who, in their zeal for correct doctrine, were pushing people away from God. He didn't run for office or yell at sinners through a bullhorn. He loved, healed, and fed people, and then he let them beat him and hang him on a cross. - in answer to a question about why be a Christian after being battered by The Church.

This quote comes from a Q/A article with a young man who is gay but also happens to be Christian.... wait, you didn't know those two things could go together? I'd say you need to take that up with Jesus. Anyway, this young man, Justin Lee, is the Director of The Gay Christian Network, and author of the book, "Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs Christians Debate. The article I mentioned can be found on Rachel Held Evans' blog. I felt like his response was a perfect answer to not only the way he and other's who identify as homosexual have been treated by people in the church but the way that many many others, myself included, have been treated at various times. Simply because we don't look or act like the Christians that the "Church" thinks we should look or act like.

So, that makes me think and ask: Christians who are aiming harsh words at the people Jesus would be loving: who/what is your faith really in? The Church? Or Jesus? 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Almost Summer = More Time for Coffee

I am so glad Summer is almost here. I just can't even express how glad I am. Honestly. Today Liza's teacher called to reschedule the IEP (again) and I told her I'd spoken to the Principal already that morning. But, I called him by HER last name. That was awkward. So, yeah, see where I'm coming from?

Lately, I've been getting up in the morning and not making my coffee first. Because I've been getting up late and if I make coffee, Liza will likely miss the bus. So, I thought things were going ok, despite not having my coffee before starting the "get everybody ready and out the door" routine, but I'm thinking I was wrong. Wanna know how I can tell?
  1. Yesterday I was brushing my teeth and looked over to see my toothbrush still in the toothbrush holder. True story. May have gagged a bit.
  2. Today I put Liza on the bus without her shoes on. Which reminds me, I really should get a nice end-of-year gift for her "Bus-Man" and "Bus-Teacher".
  3. Liza's class had a Happy Meal party and I forgot to send the money and the permission slip. The teacher had to call me to get permission. 
And, those are just a few recent examples of my lack of coffee brain farts.

So glad Summer's almost here. No more waking up early. No more trying to function without coffee. And, no more brain farts... Maybe? Well, we'll see....

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Letters From The Closet - A Review

If you've never heard of Amy Hollingsworth I really encourage you to check her out. She's funny, smart, and open-minded.  Just the kind of person you're glad to know. Oh, and she's a pretty darn good Author too.

Amy and I used to go to Church together, her daughter was actually Liza's Missionettes teacher at one time. Neither of us go to that particular church anymore but we've stayed connected through Facebook - good ole Facebook. How did we stay connected before we had it? Oh yeah, I guess we called people and wrote letters. I've never been any good at writing letters. I had two Japanese pen-pals at one time and I think I just stopped writing to them at one point and never started again (Ladies, if you're seeing this - it was me, NOT you! Seriously....) Thankfully, for the whole World, Amy did not have that problem. She kept up a 10 year correspondence with her High School English teacher, John, and recently released a book that she wrote based on those letters. It's called Letters From the Closet and I just finished reading it the other night. I got a little teary at the end, I'll admit. I said I wasn't going to, but I did.

I started the book not really sure what to expect. I knew it was being called the story of  a relationship between "a gay English teacher and his young female student" but it turned out to be so much more than just that. It's really the story of two people living tucked inside their own "closets" only able to be real with each other, and sometimes not even each other. I've recently been learning to be completely honest with myself and not to color things the way that I want them to be, so that aspect of John and Amy's story really stuck out to me.

I'm gonna be honest and admit that when I first started reading the book I wasn't a fan of John. To me he seemed a little mean, and I felt like he was taking advantage of Amy's age and admiration of him for his own benefit. I surprised myself, though, because the closer we got to the end of Amy's and John's story the more I found myself wanting to know more about him. I even began to sympathize with him and for him. I kinda wish I could've known John myself, now that I've read a little of his story through his letters to Amy, but I think that was part of the point in sharing their letters.

Though this book is a story of the relationship between a gay English teacher and his female student, and it's been accepted by the LGBTQ community (not surprisingly, but sadly, not accepted by the Church) it's so much more than that. It's a story of the desire to be important to someone, don't we all wish for that? It's a story of learning to remove the masks and to be real with the people closest to you, including yourself. I know I struggle with that daily! Mostly, and most importantly, it's a story of how we all have our own closets, and it may even challenge you to look inside yours and decide if you're ready to come out or let some of your secrets out.
Amy said this was a perfect metaphor for her's and John's relationship.
I think it's exactly what I took away from their story.
Or, maybe those are just all my own interpretation. I'm curious to see what yours may be. So, read the book and get back to me. Let me know what you thought of it and if you think the way I see it was even close.

*Disclaimer - the Amazon link above is linked to an Amazon Associates account that belongs to the blog Author - Melissa. However, I wrote this review because I really did read and enjoy the book. Not just because I consider Amy a friend :) *

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Kid's a Survivor

I saw this picture on Facebook this morning and it made me hold my breath for a moment. Up until a couple of months ago I would have just "liked' it, thought of all the survivors I know, and then moved on. But, this time a survivor lives in my house and every time I really allow myself to think about that I either get choked up or I get angry and want to break something. I'm hoping those are normal feelings for a Mama who's faced down one of a Mama's worst fears.

I kinda mentioned in my last post that one of my boys had a serious health issue we were dealing with, but we were taking it in stride. Cracking jokes and milking it (the Kid) and just pushing thru to do what needed to be done. We're almost on the other side of it now but we still have a little ways to go.

Austin  had thyroid cancer. There, now it's out there.

Let me start at the beginning. Sometime in February Austin had a sore throat that wouldn't go away and kept him out of school a day or two. He never ran a fever so I kept telling him to just take it easy, gargle salt water, suck on throat lozenges, etc. After about five days of him complaining about it I finally took him to the doctor, thinking the whole time that he was just being a drama "queen" (king?). The doc couldn't find anything wrong, strep test was negative so she told him the same things I'd already told him.

The throat started feeling better so we went on with life and then about a week later Austin told me that he had a lump in the right side of this neck. I thought it was just related to the sore throat and would go away on it's own. When another week had passed and the lump was still there, I made another doctor's appointment. 

It was pretty obvious that this time they thought there was something to be at least a little concerned about. We were immediately sent to have blood drawn to check thyroid levels and set up with an appointment to see a surgeon, because he "could get us in for a biopsy before anyone else could". At the time I just thought we were going to learn that he had some type of thyroid issue. Like Hyper or Hypo, or maybe his levels were just off and he'd take some medicine to get it all under control and that would be it. Hoping for the best, you know? Or whatever best might be in a situation like that.

So, to whittle down this long story - we met the surgeon a week later, we had a biopsy done about a week after that visit, and about a week after that the surgeon called to tell me that my 16 year old son had thyroid cancer. Not what I wanted to hear or was expecting, at all.

So, on April 30th Austin had his thyroid removed along with the cancerous nodule. According to all the doctors we've seen he should be fine for the rest of his life now. I can't count how many times I've heard, "if you have to have cancer this is the one to have". Apparently it's almost always caught early and easy to treat. Of course, I'd much rather he never have had cancer in the first place and that he still have the thyroid he was born with. I hate the thought that he has to rely on medicine for the rest of his life now. We still have a few more drives to Charlottesville to see doctors and a Radio-active Iodine treatment to go through, but I think we're almost done with all this cancer craziness. Thank God for that!

I can't type all this out without giving HUGE props to all the doctors and nurses at UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, VA. The surgeon that we've been seeing, Dr. Kane, has been so good to both of us through this whole thing and I'm actually kinda sad that we won't need to see him after these next few check-ups. The nurses at UVA are just all simply amazing. Austin spent two nights in the hospital after his surgery and all the nurses, from post-op to in-patient, were so patient with him and treated him as if he were their child while caring for him. It really helped make the whole ordeal a little easier to bear. So, to all of our UVA peeps, if you're reading this - THANK YOU from the bottom of this Mama's heart!

If you wanna know more about Thyroid Cancer there's a really great website at with tons of information. There are also two groups on YahooGroups: for general Thyroid cancer support and for Pediatric thyroid cancer support. I found both of those groups helpful. If you have questions for me, please leave a comment and I can answer in a comment or I can email you if you'd prefer. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Sweets"est IEP Meeting I Never Had

Last night I dreamed that we were having Liza's IEP meeting for next year. Not sure why I'm dreaming about it because I am NOT prepared at all. One of my other children, one of the male persuasion who doesn't like to be mentioned much on "Mar's" (that's Mom for those of you without nutty teenage boys) blog, has a somewhat serious health issue going on and that's been my major focus for the last few weeks.

No worries about the kid. He's doing ok and they say that once he has surgery next week to remove the problem that we shouldn't have to worry about a recurrence of this particular issue. Thank God for that! But, it has added some extra stress to my already usually hectic life. I think he's a little stressed about it but mostly he makes jokes and uses it as an excuse to get out of chores. Example -  Me: What's up with you not doing your dishes? Him: I've been deathly ill Mar! Me: *eyes rolling all over the place*

This is my life.

So, back to my dream.

The school personnel, (the usual suspects: Assistant Principal, Reg Ed Teacher, SpEd Teacher, Speech Therapist, Psychologist) and I are all sitting at the table and I tell them that next year Liza IS going to be included in Reg Ed more than she was this year and if they can't figure out how to make it happen I will get an advocate to come to every meeting with me and take it even further if I have to. They all look at me like they can't believe I would say that to them. 

Then I say, "It's nothing against you all. I really do LIKE all of you but I LOVE my daughter!" then they're looking at me like I've really just  hurt their feelings. Like, why do I love Liza but not them?! LOL (my brain, she's nuts!)

That's when the School Psychologist, Lance Sweets (you know, the baby-faced psychologist from Bones) says to them, while smiling his cute little Sweetsie Smile at me, "That's actually very logical." and I know that he means EVERYTHING I just said and not just the part about liking them but loving Liza.

Then I woke up.

This one stands right up there with my All-Time Weirdest Dreams Ever. Anyone care to interpret?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Better Off Hidden Away?

 I woke up this morning at 6:00 AM because that's when my alarm goes off every weekday morning. The "problem" is, today is the beginning of Spring Break so I should have been able to sleep in. It's ok though, cause I got a shower all to myself, no little girl crowding in on me. I also got to do a little yoga and now I'm sitting here blogging, drinking my coffee, while the house is quiet except for Liza trying to decide if she wants to wake up all the way now, or later.

I also woke up thinking. A lot about the Ethan Saylor case. Mostly I just keep thinking about how it seems no one cares except for those of us with close ties of some kind to the Down syndrome or disability community. That makes me sad, but it also really makes me angry. A perfect example I can think of is a woman I had a little discussion with on racism, she thought it was racist that Trayvon Martin's shooting got so much publicity but the shooting of little Antonio Santiago didn't (according to her). I told her that what she was actually doing and saying was racist and then told her if she really wanted to get angry about an injustice she could add her voice to those of us who were signing a petition asking for an independent investigation into Robert Ethan Saylor's death. Not once, but twice, I suggested this to her. Up until that point, she was arguing back with me but once I gave her a real outlet for her righteous indignation all I got was crickets. Of course.

And, it seems like, if it's not coming from our own side, that's all we're going to get. Oh, and we're not getting a great response from some on our own side either (you may notice there was no mention of them discussing or requesting an investigation). It's really pissing me off!

Why can't people get mad about a young man being killed over a $12 movie ticket?! Doesn't it sound so simple? If that's all you heard about the whole story wouldn't it make you angry? So why is it when we say, a young man with Down syndrome was killed over a $12 movie ticket, do people just keep on scrolling and not giving it a second thought? That's discrimination, isn't it?

Now, it's 11:30 at night and I'm just tired. Angry and tired and a little worried about the World my daughter is growing up in as an individual who happens to have Down syndrome. Sometimes I think about the Ukrainian Judge who worried that, maybe, Liza was better off living hidden away in orphanages and institutions. Places where the outside World couldn't belittle her and mistreat her just because she's a little different. I'm NOT saying I agree with this judge, I'm just saying that I can see how easy it is to get to that way of thinking when you know stories like Ethan Saylor's and Antonio Martinez's (Martinez was pepper sprayed and beaten by police). But, it's not the ones who are different who need to be hidden away for their own good. It's the ones who would refuse to accept and include them who need to change. For their own good? Well, yes, and everyone else's too.

If you want to help get justice for Ethan Saylor please sign the petition asking for an independent investigation. Down syndrome did not kill Ethan, the ignorance of three off-duty police officers did. Then call the Department of Justice at 202-307-5138. The DOJ wants to "gauge the public reaction before taking the next steps", so just let them know your reaction to a man being killed because a few cops couldn't have a little patience and common sense. Then feel free to post about both of these ways to help on your blog, Facebook, whatever. Just don't keep scrolling and forget about it because "it doesn't effect you". It effects all of us. This is a HUMAN rights issue.

If you want to know more I'd suggest reading these blogs: Down Syndrome Uprising, With a Little Moxie, Green Tea Ginger, and Words Hurt or Heal. There are many more really great blogs and activists out there and you can find quite a few of them at the Down Syndrome Uprising Facebook page

Friday, March 22, 2013

Can You See My Child?

I watched this video this morning and just enjoyed watching two young people with Down syndrome do ordinary things. Then it got to almost the end of the video and the young lady said, "Even though I have Down syndrome, I still think of myself as a real person." and my heart broke and tears came.

I'm glad that she sees herself that way. It made my morning to see that she (and the young man in the video) seems to have a lot of confidence in herself and her capabilities, but she shouldn't have to even clarify that she thinks of herself as a "real person". She IS a real person, first and foremost, Down syndrome comes after that fact and is just a part of what makes her the person that she is.

Yesterday on Facebook I saw a post from an acquaintance on an encounter she'd had with a young man with Down syndrome and how it had changed her perspective. She went from pitying those with "that disability" to admiring them because this young man "prophesied" over her son and was "filled with wonder and excitement". Her post and the comments of others pointed out to me how people with Down syndrome are either seen as "less" human or "special" human. I did comment to the effect of how I hope my daughter will be seen as simply HUMAN and I was going to let it go at that. But, now that I've watched this video and gotten stirred up I just can't let it go.

*I do want to say that I don't hold anything against the young woman who posted the Facebook post or anyone who commented. I feel like sometimes people think I am just a mad Mama out to get anyone who doesn't agree with me. That's not it. I'm just a Mom on a journey. I'm learning as I go and I'm hoping that the rest of the World will want to learn along with me.*

Now, with all that said,  here's where I've been going with all my "stirring up". I'm not eloquent and my tendency towards ADD doesn't allow me to expound on all my little thoughts and ponderings like I'd want to. So, I'm gonna lay it out in bullet points and hope that others will come along and help me answer the questions or even raise more. That's how we learn best, right?
  • What if the young man my facebook friend met hadn't been a Christian? If he'd just said "what a cute baby" and then talked about other things? Would she still have had her perspective on people with Down syndrome changed?
    • My guess is no, and that makes me ask- "Why does he have to have that in common with you in order for you to see him differently that you would have?" (maybe just human nature...?)
  • Why can't people see that having the attitude that those with disabilities are "less" or "super" human is what leads to them being marginalized in education, health care, employment, etc?
    • I shouldn't have to fight against these attitudes to get Liza included in Kindergarten! Dammit!
    • I shouldn't have to tell folks who work at a hospital for kids with special needs that using the word "re*ard" is not something they should do! Dammit!
  •  What is society doing to people with Down syndrome (and other disabilities) when the messages that they get are that they are either a "special" person or a "lesser" person?
  • What is it going to take for us as advocates to change the way society sees our kids? To get them to see them as people?
I'm not by any means an expert on inclusivity (is that a word? maybe it should be.) or accepting everyone who is different from you. I catch myself at times being judgmental due to some stereotype, and I hate myself every time I realize I've done it. Or being "too nice" to correct folks when they say something about Liza like, "Oh, it's ok that she hit me. I think it's just her way of saying she loves me."

I just want to grow and learn. Is it too much to ask that the rest of the World grow and learn with me? If you're stirred up too or you just want to learn how to really change your perspective on people with Down syndrome or other disabilities please check out Down Syndrome Uprising.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

3/21: Big Hugs & BedHead

I love this picture of Liza. Her and her bedhead. This is pretty much what it looks like every morning when she gets up. It's the one consistent thing about her mornings, cause I never know if she's gonna hop right up out of bed with a smile, bat me away and pull the covers back over herself, or just stay sleeping no matter how much I poke/prod/cajole.

This morning was one of those "happy" mornings. She woke up with a smile and then wrapped her arms around me and laid her head on my shoulder. Then, after taking care of "morning business", she needed to be held some more and she patted my back as I patted hers. I really love those mornings.

Today on World Down Syndrome Day, 3/21 for the 3rd copy of the 21st chromosome, I feel like I should be posting about Down syndrome in some way or another, but all I can think about this morning is how this little girl, who greeted me with a sleepy smile and a big hug, just two years ago was a terrified, half-neglected orphan. Two years ago I was pretty sure she did not like me and I was scared that maybe she never would. I won her over, thank God!

I think for WDSD I hope that advocating for acceptance of people with Down syndrome as simply PEOPLE will mean that less children will be abandoned to orphanages or foster care because they are born with Down syndrome. That parents whose children are diagnosed in the womb will not have fear and false information thrown at them.

That's it, my hope for today. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Liza Meets Carissa

The other day Liza and I were grocery shopping in a nearby town (that has more than one grocery store) and we ran into Carissa. I was so happy to see her again. She's always got to know how I've been and how big The Boys (aka The Brothers) are now. It's just nice to run into someone who is genuinely interested in you and your family no matter how long it's been or where life may have taken you since you last saw each other.

This time I was excited to introduce Liza to Carissa. I know that they aren't going to be soul friends just because they both have an extra chromosome, but I am a silly, sappy woman and I feel like Carissa is part of the reason that I knew Down syndrome wasn't something to be scared of, and that adopting a child with Down syndrome could be a beautiful option. So, I wanted to introduce them to each other. Here's what happened:

Me: Carissa, have you met my daughter? Liza?

Carissa: yes (I didn't remember that they'd already met but if Carissa says they have. They have. I know for a fact her memory is better than mine! Must've been last time I saw her at WM.)

Me to Liza: Liza, say hello to Miss Carissa.

Liza: *throws a small container of fruit out of the buggy at Carissa's feet*

Me: Liza, stop that!

Carissa: She's being bad, huh?

And, that's what happened when Liza and Carissa met. No stars falling from the sky. No instantaneous connection.

There have been times when Liza has met someone who also has Down syndrome and seemed to immediately connect with them. Maybe I was expecting that? Or maybe those other times it was the other person who recognized that Liza was "like them" and for Liza it was just another person who she got close enough to to hug before I could stop her. My rose colored glasses do tend to help me see things the way I want them to be.

I'm kind of glad that her's and Carissa's interaction was just that of a naughty little girl meeting her mom's old school friend. That's perfectly all right with me.

I just hope next time they meet Liza can refrain from throwing things.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oh NO! Meg's Pet...

I swear I tried to figure out how to shorten this video of Liza. Not just so it wouldn't be 5 minutes long but also so you wouldn't have to listen to my annoying self as much. But, I promise, it is the cutest thing. Errr, at least I think it is.

Don't you just love the way she says "Oh no!"? I just want to squeeze her to pieces every time she says it. So cute!! LOL

Also, please forgive me in advance for the fact that the "Meg's Pet" song will now be in your head for days. You're welcome! ;o)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Did She Say?!

Pay no attention to the cluttered table.

Liza has been working so hard on learning to really speak over the last two years. In case I never shared before or no one remembers, she could say "net net net" (Nyet or NO NO NO) when I gave her a bath or brushed her hair and that was basically it when I first met her. She also did a lot of babbling and made what we called her "piggy sound" by sucking air somewhere into the back of her throat, it's actually a really cool and unique vocalization and I hope she doesn't forget how to do it. Other than that, when she left the orphanage she couldn't speak. She learned to sign really quickly and for the longest time that was her only way of communicating with us because she wouldn't even try to say words.

*And here's my small PSA for the day: If you're child is non-verbal, teach them to sign! If you're adopting a child who speaks another language, teach them to sign as you transition to your language. If your child is typical and was born to you, teach them to sign. What could it hurt?! Seriously, I am a huge advocate of signing now that I've seen how well it works in helping a child transition from one language to another. Signing also gave Liza the confidence to actually try to speak the words that she was hearing spoken all around her. Now, she repeats almost everything she hears. Including words I sometimes say that I shouldn't.... oops!*

These days Liza can say SO many words! I don't even know how many cause I haven't taken the time to actually think about it and count them up but she is learning to talk and is no longer shy about it and that's what's most important. I can ask her a question and ask "yes or no?" and she will tell me which one she prefers. IE: yes to these shoes, no to those. Yesterday I asked her if she was going to be a good girl and before I could even ask her "yes or no" she answered back, "Ess (yes)". So proud of her! She can put multiple words together and does so with a lot more frequency just in the last few months. 

For a little girl who basically had no verbal/expressive language two years ago, and only understood Russian, I think she has come a long way! And, she's still moving ahead. Gaining her confidence and determined to prove wrong anyone who may have thought that she couldn't do... well, anything "they" thought she couldn't do. She amazes me!

If you made it all the way through this, here's a funny little nugget for you that I shared on Facebook. First, the backstory. Liza has learned to say "flick", and she's also learned to flick things/people/animals but that's a different problem. So, she says "flick" but she's not really got a great grasp of the /f/ and /l/ sounds when they're put together. Are you getting it yet? It comes out sounding like a naughty word. Uh huh..... Now you're getting it, right?

Actual Facebook status from yesterday:
Remember how I shared that Liza learned to say "flick" but it sounded, ahem... naughty? Yeah well, today at CVS she said it about 5 times and I just kept shushing her. Then I looked up and this big dude sitting near us is trying not to laugh and the lady beside me is horrified. Gotta love that kid...
I swear, sometimes I really believe God gave her to me to cure me of my tendency to be easily embarrassed. And, it's working!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Things I Ponder: She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).
She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).
She'll be coming 'round the mountain, she'll be coming 'round the mountain, She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).

We'll all go out to meet her when she comes, (when she comes).

We'll be having chicken n dumplins when she comes, (when she comes).

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).
The other day I was singing the above old folk song, "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain", to the little boy that I nanny for. You ever sing a song you've known your whole life and then start listening to the words and wondering, "what the heck does that mean, anyway?" That was me.
  1. Why was she driving 6 white horses? Why not brown horses? 3 gray and 3 black? 4speckled, 1 white, and 1 black? etc, etc.
  2. Where'd she come from? Why'd she go round the mountain in the first place?
  3. Who is she? And who are the "WEs"?
  4. Who's gonna make the chicken n dumplins and are they better than mine? ;)
Google and Wikipedia came to my rescue! Hooray... I didn't know that the song was thought to be about Mary Harris "Mother" Jones and her work to promote formation of labor unions in Appalachian coal mining camps. I always wondered who Mother Jones was. That takes care of numbers 2 and 3. I guess I'll never know the answer to number 4....

The best thing that I learned was that there's a Scottish version of this song. I thought it was hilarious and I'll probably be singing it from now on. Poor granny .....
Oh ye cannae shove yer granny off a bus
No ye cannae shove yer granny off a bus
No ye cannae shove yer granny, 'cause she's yer mammy's mammy,
Ye cannae shove yer granny off a bus!
Ye can shove yer other granny off a bus
Oh ye can shove yer other granny off a bus
Oh ye can shove yer other granny, 'cause she's yer daddy's mammy,
Ye can shove yer other granny off a bus!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Today, please take the pledge to remove the word "retard", or any variation, from your vocabulary. Every time I hear this word used as a way to describe something/someone that is seen as dumb or ridiculous I cringe. I don't want to "police" the word or badger anyone who uses it. I've used it myself in the past. But, now that I know what I know I'll never use that word in that way again. And, I hope that others who learn what I've learned will decide the same.

I actually had a family member unfriend me on Facebook once over this word. She used it in a comment to me and I simply asked her not to do it anymore because I didn't like the word. She got offended and unfriended me and stopped talking to me for a while. I honestly spoke up because 1. I DON'T like the word and wanted her not to use it, and 2. because I know others who would have jumped all over her for using it and I wanted to speak up first before that happened. It's sad how words can be so polarizing and hurtful.

If you need more convincing than what I can give, I suggest reading Meriah's post, A Simple Matter of Words, on the subject. She has some links to other really well written articles on the subject, including this one, A Word Gone Wrong, from the New York Times. My favorite excerpt from that article? REasons why the word is hurtful from someone who's felt it's affects:

Here is John Franklin Stephens, a man from Virginia with Down syndrome who serves as a “global messenger” for the Special Olympics. He has written op-ed articles giving lucid voice to thoughts you may never have heard before: 

“The hardest thing about having an intellectual disability is the loneliness,” he once wrote in The Denver Post. “We are aware when all the rest of you stop and just look at us. We are aware when you look at us and just say, ‘unh huh,’ and then move on, talking to each other. You mean no harm, but you have no idea how alone we feel even when we are with you.” 

“So, what’s wrong with ‘retard’?,” he asked. “I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the ‘in’ group. We are someone that is not your kind.” 

Would you be able to look into the face of my little girl and tell her that she is "not someone of your kind"? If your answer is no then, please, stop using that word.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Music and Life: There Were Clouds in My Coffee

Way back before TSwift was even thought of Carly Simon wrote a song dedicated to some guy who is really vain and must have really ticked her off. When I was a kid I remember every time this song would come on the radio I would say to my mom, "This song makes no sense! Of course it's about him. And who is 'he' anyway? " and she would just say something like, "That's the point" and "No one knows who it's really about." I just couldn't get it. It seemed silly to write a song about someone being so vain they thought the song was about them when it was obviously about them.

Now that I'm grown, I get it. The point is that if he really is that vain he's probably been driving himself crazy all these years wondering if it's REALLY about HIM, right? And, on top of that, she could be driving more than one dude crazy at the same time. I now think Carly Simon is a freaking genius! Oh, and TayTay ain't got nothing on her when it comes to using a song to exact revenge on an ex.

I heard the song in my car the other day and the first thing I thought of was the conversations I had with my mom about it as a kid. I love how music can bring back memories - sometimes good, sometimes not. Then I realized that I really like the song now and I listened to the lyrics. For the next couple days the line, "I had some dreams - there were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee" kept running thru my head. I finally had to look up what she meant and this is what Carly herself had to say:  

"Clouds in my coffee" are the confusing aspects of life and love. That which you can't see 
through, and yet seems alluring...until. Like a mirage that turns into a dry patch. 
Perhaps there is something in the bottom of the coffee cup that you could read if you could 
(like tea leaves or coffee grinds). Carly Simon 5/17/01 

Huh?  Okay, I can go with that.

So, are there any songs that have "grown on you" as you've grown up? Any memories of your own that this song brings to mind for you? Or maybe you have a "vain" ex you secretly dedicate this song to every time you hear it?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rose Colored Cynicism

I wonder if anyone else ever feels like they have two people living inside them? I don't mean like a split personality or anything like that. I just mean, do you ever feel like there are two sides of you that don't seem to be compatible?

I'll use my own thoughts as an example. Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I feel like there are two separate Melissas living inside me.

One is a Rose Colored Glasses kinda girl who believes that there's some good in almost everyone and that this World is basically a decent place. She loves to watch "Fluff" TV and read Amish fiction. She also has a strong desire to save the World. To help the orphans and the down-trodden and to be a friend to the ones that no one else even sees.
Rose Colored Glasses Melissa
The other is a more cynical Melissa who isn't sure if you can ever really trust anyone besides your immediate family (and sometimes not even them). Who knows that there are bad people in this World and you have to guard yourself and your children against allowing those people to have a place in your life or the ability to hurt you. She likes to read suspenseful novels and watch post-apocalyptic TV. This Melissa wants to help others but sometimes feels overwhelmed by the needs and isn't sure that ANYTHING will ever really change.
Cynical Melissa
Sometimes I don't mind that these two Melissas coincide in me. I really believe that Rose Colored Glasses (RCG) Melissa is the reason that I hung in there through all of the speed bumps in Liza's adoption and how I was able to love her before I ever met her. Yet, Cynical (C) Melissa kept me grounded and learning about all of the issues that could be expected with an adopted child. So, when it wasn't what RCG Melissa expected in the first few days of meeting L, it wasn't as bad a blow and we (Liza and I) pushed on through it. Now, L loves her Mama deeply, and Mama loves her even more than she did then.

Is anyone still here? Or have you all run away from the crazy girl who's talking about herself as if she's two people? I know I'm really just me - it's just that sometimes I wonder if I'm alone in feeling like this? And sometimes my "two people" don't seem to get along so well. C Melissa tends to take over at times and make RCG Melissa feel like she's weak. That's when I  have days like I posted about yesterday. C Melissa wears me out and RCG Melissa has to take over and get us all decompressed. Sheesh! They need to learn to get along!

So, how about it? Anyone else ever feel like this? Is it a woman thing? Tell me I'm not alone people! Or just make me laugh. That'll work too.

I'll go first with the "making laugh". Cause RCG Melissa doesn't like it when we get too serious. And because it's so true....
Taken from:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Zombies vs Bridezillas

Wanna know my dirty little secret? 

I LOVE to watch Say Yes to the Dress! Seriously, I do. 
I know its crazy. A girl in the midst of a divorce watching a show about happy young brides finding their perfect wedding dress. 

Freud would love me... 
Whatever, I always thought he was a weirdo anyway. 

In my defense, I live with 2 boys who love to watch shows about zombies eating folks, Heroes saving the World/killing each other, mushroom clouds destroying U.S. cities, etc, etc.

And, ok, I like to watch most of them too, but after a while I need something to take my mind away from all the scenarios my boys' fave shows throw it into. 

I find myself planning what we would do if our neighbors suddenly became Zombie Police Chief and Zombie Teacher. Scoping out which neighbors might make good allies. If they aren't infected by "the illness". How to get to Georgia, where my Godsister actually knows how to make food grow out of the ground, if a mushroom cloud hits D.C and wipes out all technology.

Or I dream about them. For example: Last night I dreamed my kids and I were chased into and trapped in a cave by somebody's zombie ex-husband. 

Woke me up 30 minutes before my alarm. That is not cool.

So, if I need a little time with some Southern Belle brides and their Bridezilla wedding dress shopping, I think I've earned it. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I just discovered my Bridezilla friends are on Netflix and Monte's getting ready to "jack somebody up".

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Elizaveta Collette - 2+ years home

This is what I call her "orphanage Nanny" face.
She makes this face when I'm fussing at her... lol
Look at this gorgeous child! I (mostly) love it when she makes the above face at me, it cracks me up. Which makes it hard to be serious when I have to get on to her for something. She likes to think she is the one in charge and she doesn't take it kindly when I try and let her know that, in fact, I am the one in charge. You can't help but love this kid!
Look at all those first day K emotions! This makes me smile.
Elizaveta Collette is in Kindergarten now and really loves going to school. She likes circle time and anything to do with letters - because she knows them all (she's a smarty!). She has a favorite friend whose name is Trace and every time they are in the same room she has to be right next to him. Her teacher says he seems to enjoy her too. All I hear at home is "Kwace, Kwace". I think I like "Kwace", for now. We'll re-evaluate in a few years. Funny story: Trace has a twin named Chase who's in another class. One day Liza met Chase and her Aide said she just kept giving him the evil eye cause she knew it wasn't Trace, but just wasn't sure why he looked like Trace. Wish I could've been there.

Last year Liza went to Preschool at a local private preschool. The county wanted her to go to Kindergarten but I thought she needed an extra year of preschool, and it was SO good for her. I'm glad I stuck to my guns and allowed her that extra time.She loved her teachers and the encouragement of her friends at school was really beneficial to her and good for me as her mom. They would all be so excited for her when she would use a new word or when she chose to be a "nice friend" rather than ummm, a not so nice friend. Ahem....

She loved this bird we met at the pet store. I'm pretty sure he liked her too.
Summer 2012
Liza has come so far from the little girl she was in the orphanage, but yet she's still the same little girl that I met over two years ago. Sassy, sweet, bossy, and a whole lot of fun to hang out with. Every day I feel so blessed that I get to be her Mama, and yet, I still sometimes feel so sad for the ones who weren't able to parent her and experience the amazing gift that she is. I hope they know, somehow, that she's loved and beautiful. That she makes people smile and laugh everyday. She's the best girl ever!

Monday, February 11, 2013


I know you all want an update on Liza and I am working on putting one together. Here's a little preview of the little Turkey, aka Lizabelle, aka Zuka (she insists on calling herself Zuka lately- it was one of her nicknames in the orphanage). She's cute, sweet, nutty, stubborn, gorgeous, and a Supreme MESS.

I promise I will have more pics and more of an update soon. Blogger and I are getting reacquainted and she seems to be a bit miffed at me for being away so long.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Now What?

Now that I'm "Free to be Me" (Lord, I think it's gonna stick), I'm looking forward to all the things that I can do. All the dreams that have lain dormant in me that I can now bring to life without constant negativity and being told I'll never be able to do it. I used to actually even tell myself some of those things but I've learned to believe in myself.

One of my current dreams is to buy a small house on a couple-few acres and raise some goats, chickens, and kids (the human kind). We'll throw some vegetable gardens in there and be real-life farmers. I had this dream BEFORE that Super Bowl commercial, just so y'all know. And, if you've never wanted to have goats you should watch the video below. I bet you'll change you're mind!

Another dream of mine is to open an online store, Furious and Faire, that might become a brick/mortar store someday. Selling handmade/fairly traded items and working with ministries that give a hand up to those in need, sometimes by providing them with opportunities to sell their handiwork. Each month I want to feature a ministry or organization that actively works in the arena of Social Justice (orphans, human trafficking, feeding the hungry, domestic violence, etc). So far, I have a blog for my store set up and am working on getting it ready to actually do business. You can learn more about it by going to Furious and Faire's Who and What page.

I'd also REALLY like to go back to school. I'd love to someday have a JD/MSW degree (that's a dual Law and Social Work degree). Does that sound crazy coming from a single working mom of 3? Yeah, maybe, but I've decided that even if they're crazy dreams I am going to chase them down until I fulfill them or until I hit a brick wall. I've discovered though, that even hitting brick walls isn't really a stopping point. It's just a slight slow-down until I can dig a big enough hole under it to crawl through.

That's where I'm hoping to go from here. It feels good to be back.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Is it Safe to Come Out?

It should probably really be a crime for me to take a year+ hiatus from my blog and then think I can come back and just start right up again. But, as far as I know it's not. So, that's what I'm going to attempt to do. You all ready? Is anyone actually still here?

I'm gonna try to do the Reader's Diges.. (can I use that here?) Version of what's been going on in my life and once that's behind me I hope to get back to blogging on a more regular basis.


Here we go:

Sometime near the end of August 2011 my children and I left our home and my husband. I'm not going to go into the why's of it. I'll just say, if you had lived with him you probably wold have left too, and sooner than I did.

Because I left my husband and "broke covenant" most of my friends from our church stopped talking to me. Well, that's once they had told me that I was "placing my children above my husband" and how wrong that was.

It took a while to get to a place where I felt like I knew who I was again and to feel safe sharing my life with others. But, I am in that place now and I am looking forward to getting back into the community of bloggers that I left behind. I hope I'll be welcomed back.

I hope you'll come back for tomorrow's post. I'm gonna share where I'm hoping to go now that I'm free to be me! (haha, is that cliche'? I'm not sure I care!)