Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Upside of Down (Syndrome)

When I tell people that Jack has Down Syndrome, I get a myriad of responses. Some people get quiet, some become speechless. Some even say, "I'm sorry" (Grrrrr), while others just smile. I used to get nervous before telling anyone new about my Jack man, but lately I've found myself wanting to shout it from the rooftops. Why? I'll tell you why ... Because Jack is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me or my family. Because I, for first time in my life, see the world as God wants me to see it. Because I now believe in true love, and I believe in miracles. Because I see all the hopes and dreams of our future when I look into my son's eyes. Because I now know that my family can get through anything we may face, as long as we are together. Because I believe in the innate goodness of people, despite their misgivings. Because I now understand why "bad" things need to happen to "good" people. Because I know that God has a plan for us all, especially for my Jack. Because I now know in my heart that all we have to do to make it in this world is just LOVE.

And finally, because all I see is the Upside of Down ...

... since there just simply is no downside.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy 10-Month Birthday, Jack!

Wow ... 10 months!!! I can't hardly believe that my baby boy will be a year old in just two short months. I can't believe how fast he is growing up. These past few weeks, Jack has really blossomed ... "talking" nonstop, being a social butterfly, and making everyone fall in love with him. So, to commemorate his growing up and becoming a big boy this afternoon, Jack joined me at my hair appointment and got a little snip snip himself! I was hesitant to get his hair cut all this time (even though his mop top was starting to get a little scraggly :), just because I felt that cutting his hair would make him a little boy and no longer a baby. And, I just wasn't quite ready for that. But today we just went for it, and he looks even more adorable than ever! And, I didn't even cry when my stylist Jaime started cutting!!! (Thanks for the wonderful haircut AND the wonderful conversations, as always, Jaime!)

Jack (aka Mop Top) before ...

And, after ...

Stylin' and profilin' ... "Whatcha think of my new do?!?!"

Just when we thought he couldn't get any cuter :)

Happy 10-Month Birthday, Little Man! Might I say... you're more handsome than ever!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Today is not just March 21t, it is also a day that represents equality and acceptance. It is World Down Syndrome Day. The date 3/21 represents the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome that makes individuals with Down Syndrome so unique. I am the proud mother of one of these incredibly unique and special people, and my world is so much better because of him.
Please join me today in celebrating our differences and promoting equality and acceptance. Wear blue and yellow today (for Down Syndrome) if you feel moved to do so. If you see someone with Down Syndrome today, smile at them, as you know they will undoubtedly smile right back. If you know someone with Down Syndrome, show them you love them. And, if you have a family member with Down Syndrome, tell them how much you care for them and how your world is different ... and much better, because they are a part of it.
If you have a few minutes, please check out the beautiful video "Let Us In" on the World Down Syndrome Day website at Finally, make a promise to let these wonderful individuals into your lives, and help open ALL the doors of the world for them ... and live up to that promise today and everyday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lucky Charm

So, Robert and I made it home from Vegas safely late on Sunday night. And well, as for the saying "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," the only thing that I am glad stayed in Vegas was the darn stomach virus I had THE.ENTIRE.TRIP. Yep, that's right. I went to Las Vegas to celebrate my 30th birthday, and all I got was a lousy stomach bug. Not really, though ... I tried my best not to let it get in the way of my fun, and we had ourselves a blast ...

Apparently, the surprises didn't end with a trip to Vegas for the big 3-0 ... nope. It ended up that BOTH my sisters AND their husbands met us out there too to celebrate! My sister Kelly's birthday is the day after mine on the 14th, so we all got to celebrate together. So much fun! And while I missed Jack terribly and despite the stomach flu, we still managed to make it a weekend full of poolside lounging, fruity concoctions, delicious food, interesting people-watching, a tiny bit of gambling (and subsequent money losing), a nice hour long massage, some humorous entertainment, a little sightseeing, and a WHOLE LOT of laughter and wonderful memories! Thank you to my wonderful sisters, their husbands, and my dear sweet Robert for making my 30th birthday so much fun and one I'll never, ever forget.

While turning in "early" one night due to my ailment (well, it was 10pm, not early in my book, but definitely early in "Vegas time"), I found myself thinking (self-pitying): This is just my luck. I thought, Why does this have to happen while I'm on vacation trying to have fun? And, while I lay on the hotel bed by myself while (it felt like) the rest of the world was having a great time downstairs in the casinos, I began to miss Jack so very much more. If I couldn't physically enjoy Vegas, then I at least wanted my baby. Soon enough though, I decided to put my big girl pants on and stop wallowing in pity. I quickly realized that it was probably good that I wasn't around Jack during my bug so that he wouldn't get it, and I felt lucky for that. I also felt lucky to have a family so caring and loving that they would go out of their way to plan such a spectacular surprise for my birthday. And, when we got home on Sunday, I felt so lucky to have a sweet, smiling baby boy to come home to and a warm, comfortable home to lay my head at night. I felt lucky to not have to work on Monday and to be able to spend all day with my baby boy. While I didn't have much luck in Vegas, I sure do have all the luck I could possibly ever want right here at home. It felt good to be back home, back to normalcy, back to my old (healthy) self again, and back to my little 20-pound ...

Jack, you're my lucky charm .... my "Jack Pot" of gold, my rabbit's foot,
my four leaf clover ...

... and, without you, I feel sick (literally :) Love, Mommy
Happy St. Patty's Day to all my fans out there,
and Happy Birthday to BOTH my Aunt Kelly's!!!
(Yep, I'm so LUCKY that I got two!)

Love, Jack

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Big 3-0

Yep, that's right ... I'm turning 30 this Sunday. But, what's important is not that I am turning 30, but how my sweet husband, who is the kindest person in the world, has chosen to celebrate it.

Months ago, Robert got in touch with my boss at work and arranged for me to be off for a long weekend so we could go on a surprise trip, just the two of us. We've both been so busy with work and our personal lives that Robert felt we both deserved a little break from all the running around. He made all the arrangements (flights, accomodations, plans for Jack's care while we're gone) without telling me a thing ... for those of you who know Robert well at all know that this was extremely difficult for him. He's not the best surprise-keeper. I'm telling you, the man can hardly contain himself around Christmas time, always giving me my gifts early. :=) He has the kindest heart, that one.

So, a few weeks ago Robert finally let it slip that we were in fact going on a trip for my birthday, but that he was going to keep the destination a surprise. My sweet mother-in-law, Mary, who will be taking care of Jack while we're gone, wisely counseled Robert on the subject, telling him that he needed to at least tell me that we were going somewhere without Jack, so that I could emotionally prepare myself to leave my baby for 3 nights. (Thanks, Mary! Very wise of you.) It's hard for me to even leave Jack in the mornings on days I just go to work, so this is going to be tough!

Well, after a few more weeks of my guessing where we were going (Is it Wine Country? Is it somewhere in sunny Florida?) and Robert holding his ground by not telling me, a certain someone (whose name will remain anonymous :) accidentally spoiled the surprise at dinner last weekend. It turns out that we're going to ... VEGAS, BABY!!! How fun!!!

So, tomorrow morning (after much packing), Robert and I will be dropping Jack and our dog Forest off at the Hicklings' home and then heading to Charlotte to catch our flight to Las Vegas. The Hicklings will actually be taking Jack to the Outer Banks this weekend to meet up with his aunts and uncles, Chris and Alice and Matt and Kelly. (I have to admit that it feels weird that they'll all be together at the beach with our baby, without us there. I sure will miss my little man, but I know he'll be in great hands, and I'm also happy and thankful to my husband for this much-needed vacation!)

Thanks to my loving and thoughtful husband for planning such a fun trip for my 30th birthday (and for at least trying to keep it all a surprise!). I love you so much, Robert!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Tongue is Mightier than the Sword

Today is Wednesday. It is 3-2-11. It is also a day that I join forces with many other mothers like me out there who have held their hurt inside one too many times. It is the day to Spread the Word to End the Word. That word I speak of is one that is used all too colloquially in modern, everyday conversation. Now, I've never claimed to be a saint and I fully and outwardly admit that before Jack was born, I used this word a few times myself. I didn't even think twice about it. I used it casually when speaking of something a friend did that was "dumb" or "stupid," and some of my friends used it rampantly and, unaware of its piercing effects, still to this day use it in my very presence. The word I speak of starts with an "R" and ends with a "D" ... the word I speak of is: retard (or retarded).

So, falling in line with a few of my fellow blogging mommies, I have taken on the challenge to spread the word to end the word: the "R" word, that is. I pledge to no longer just bite my tongue and turn the other cheek when I hear this word being used inappropriately (or at all for that matter), but to point out it's derogatory nature, to stand up for the people it truly hurts and demeans (namely my son), and to educate the word's abusers about the origin of the word and the pain it incurs within individuals who are in my eyes more capable of love and genuity than any other people I've met. Upon hearing the "R" word, I now pledge to remind people that, although once used to describe individuals with certain intellectual disabilities, it is now no longer culturally acceptable to just throw this word around, and that doing so negatively impacts public perception of individuals who do have such disabilities (and minimizes the many a-bilities they in fact have.) I pledge today to stop acting like I don't take it personally ... because I DO. And, you should too.

So, tonight I ask that you visit and take the pledge with me to Spread the Word to End the Word not just today, but everyday. Be a fan of respect.

"I pledge and support the elimination of the use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities."

For more inspiration, please visit the beautiful blogs of two other blogging moms and dear friends, Erin ( and Kristin (, who have made me feel less alone in this new world I've joined, all the while making me feel more empowered to help change it.