Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guest Post from Chrissy Kelly

I am THRILLED to have Chrissy Kelly as a guest blogger here today! (A friend from middle school and high school messaged me on facebook to tell me about Chrissy's blog, and I am SO glad she did.) Chrissy has a zest for life that cannot be quenched. She writes about finding joy in each day and making even the challenges of motherhood fun & interesting, but she is real and shares the good and bad through her captivating words and top-notch photography. Chrissy is the mother of Parker (11 mo.) and Greyson (2 1/2).


My life is ripe and succulent...beautiful and shiny and new. Just the other day I was driving home, 2 precious bitty boys in the back seat and I thought- This is just too good to be true... I hope something bad doesn't happen.
I had that waiting for the other shoe to drop feeling...And then I remembered- the other shoe did drop. And it hit me directly in the face- hard- and it left a little mark that helps define me now. 
A little over two weeks ago my first born, almost 3 year old baby boy, Greyson, was officially diagnosed with Autism. We had been treating him as if since last summer...but I still hoped and I still prayed that I could change the outcome of our story before they ever printed the actual book.
I believe wholeheartedly in the power and the beauty of positive thought...of like attracting like...I have always tried to focus on the good, but now I have even more motivation to focus on the good. There is so much good in the World. If you are a Momma, you are an amazing and precious soul. Chances are, you are too hard on yourself! Now I see even more goodness and kindness in the World and I am humbled by it.
Two weeks later, my life is still perfectly imperfect. I am happy. Do you want to know why? Because I think it so.
When I first started Early Intervention school with Grey last Summer, I was a petrified little bird. His teacher at the time took me under her wing, and since she was a 15 year old veteran I thought what she said was truth. She would help me walk to the car afterwards and give me her pearls of wisdom...I remember her looking at my youngest, saying, "Poor Parker. The sibling of a Special Needs child often has to go to therapy because they often feel neglected." Another day she told me, "Having a Special Needs Child is very difficult on your marriage. Many of them end in divorce."
So here I was...dealing with the realization that something was wrong with my sweet little boy...all the while being a recipient to her words. One day, I started to hear my gut instinct again... I started to hear my own voice, and my voice was much louder than this teacher's, and much more beautiful to my ears.
My youngest son, Parker will be the most understanding, helpful, flexible and protective little brother. 
He will be beautifully molded by our journey. I have met many families that contain an awesome Spectrum kid like Grey, and they have some of the best siblings I've seen on Earth. They are loyal, protective, helpful and loving. They will grow up to be better people people because their life has been enriched.
It's also a great learning opportunity for Grey.
My marriage is great. Sure, we bicker over stupid things. I am always right- and sometimes my husband fails to see that (!) but he and I have never been more on the same page as we are now. Our marriage is stronger and better...we are united because we both fight for the same cause...Team Greyson.
Sometimes it's tough, for sure...but sometimes it feels like a storybook too.
Being  Grey's moms means I have many supplemental challenges to tackle, in addition to the regular old challenges any mom of an 11 month old and 2 1/2 year old would face. When I need to vent, I do...I get it out! I talk to my Mom or sisters, I run, I complain to my husband or to a couple of close friends... But I don't really need to that often because I am happy with my life. 
We do preschool at our house on Mondays. I would be so bored without him in my life!
We get really into, "Slippery Fish". We were doing the Octupus part here.I am lucky to be the Mom of my two precious souls. If I talked a lot about the challenges, that would put additional focus on the bad...then I would certainly find someone in a similar situation and they would share their same struggles and how they felt like they could relate..and then we would talk about it together and then there would be even more energy spent on the challenges...
But when I seek out the beauty, the awe, the inspiration...I find it every single I like to share those stories and share those messages, and they multiply...and they come back to me... 
It's a beautiful thing, friend. I want you to be happy too, so focus on your good.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tomorrow is Wold Down Syndrome Day

Tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day, a day of awareness. I want to do something, and I need your help.

Many of our friends and family members have told me that Levi is the first person they've known with Down syndrome, and you know what? I don't think anyone that knows Levi is afraid of him. I don't think any of them would tell someone with a prenatal diagnosis that they should have an abortion because they think our family that is really hurting and burdened by our child with Down syndrome. I think everyone that knows Levi is glad that he is in their lives.

Having a child with Down syndrome is not a life sentence. It is an eye-opening, beautiful experience. I constantly wonder what I can do to help a new mom that is beginning this journey or how I can encourage someone with a prenatal diagnosis. I think the only way to make a person less afraid is to know someone with Down syndrome because if you have ever truly KNOWN someone with Down syndrome, you probably fell head over heels. I have had the pleasure of knowing a few individuals with Down syndrome when I was growing up, and I really think that is what helped me quickly accept his diagnosis and to focus on the joy.

MaterniT21 is a new test expectant mothers can take at ten weeks. The name of the test is a play on words. T21 is short for Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome (a triplication of the 21st chromosome). The test is non-invasive, nothing like amniocentesis. Just by giving a sample of blood from her arm, a mother would know possibly before she has made her pregnancy known to others, if her unborn child has Down syndrome. Over 90% of people who currently find out when they are 20 weeks along (via amniocentesis) that their child has Down syndrome chose to end that child's life. It is not a stretch to guess that even more children like Levi will be killed before they even have a chance to breathe because of this new test.

If you are unfamiliar with the MaterniT21 test, here is a news video.

So I need you to share Levi with others. Help others fall in love with him. Help others see that he isn't someone to be afraid of. Share his story. Share his video. That is all I need from you today. Help me make a difference. It will only take a second of your time. If you are here because you clicked on my facebook link, just click "share" on your facebook page. Email a link to someone you know. Spread the word that these children are VALUABLE. They should be given the chance to LIVE. Who knows, you may touch the heart of an expectant mom who is secretly struggling with a decision about her unborn child. A new mom who was surprised by a diagnosis may find encouragement through our story.

If you haven't seen it yet, here is Levi's video entitled "I Do Not Have Special Needs."

Thank you in advance for sharing and being a part of World Down Syndrome Day.

Monday, March 19, 2012

This and That

Sorry, no Tuesday Tidbit from me this week. We have been dealing with a stomach virus at our house since Friday, and I am happy to simply be posting some pics for you before going to bed extremely early!

THIS is an empty toy storage bin in the playroom. Adam took the drawers out while getting toys, and Levi chased the beach ball into it. He got stuck! Wes took these pics and said that Levi was only marginally unhappy. The fact that he had the beach ball seemed to balance out his discomfort.
THAT is the huge Buzz Lightyear Adam got in the mail from someone special. Thank you!!

And THIS is the set of books that arrived for Levi.
Notice anything "special" about the children in the photographs? All the kids in these books have Down syndrome. Pretty cool!

THIS is how Addy (the little girl I've been taking care of during the day) woke up from her nap on Friday.

Levi was ready to play, so he went and woke her up! Their expressions speak for themselves!

THAT is one happy boy! It has been warm here lately, and he sure has enjoyed being outside!

And last but not least, THIS is a video of Levi reaching some speech milestones. You'll see him tooting his own horn (and meeting one of his speech therapy goals...blowing!) and saying "tickle, tickle, tickle" and "bubble." I am learning that he doesn't talk much unless we work INTENSIVELY with him. It takes several minutes before he will mimic most of the time. I can't just encourage language. I have to do mini-speech therapy sessions to get much out of him. Our speech therapist uses prompting techniques, which really seem to help. I sure wish this didn't require so much effort, but that is just how it is, and we will do what needs to be done to help this little guy! Can you believe he will be two in May?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Introduction to PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a new, FREE online photo editing program that works right in your browser. You don't have to download anything. Just drag and drop your photo to get started! It is surprisingly easy to use.
You can crop, rotate, change exposure, etc.
You can choose from lots and lots of effects. I am especially lovin' the "cross process" effect right now (since I don't have an iPhone or Instagram).
You can add text, too! I especially like this feature. I have a watermark for my photos but it is a pain to add it to them.
There are fun overlays and frames you can add, and the touch-up tools are top-notch. Here is Adam's pic before using the eye-brighten tool...
And after...
Here are some photos to tell you about what we did at our house yesterday. All have been edited in PicMonkey with the cross process tool.
Adam loved seeing yellow & blue make green and helped scoop the filling into the eggs (as you can see in the picture).
This is the "yestercolor" effect...
And here's a pic from last week of our snowman after he melted.
Want to give it a try? Click here to get started. Just drag and drop a photo from your computer into the blue box that says "edit your photo," and you are ready to roll!