Wednesday, March 21, 2012

World Down Syndrome Day (3/21).

Today is World Down Syndrome Day (3/21)!  Judah and I say cheers to all of you that are a part of our lives!  Give some love to the people in your life that have Down syndrome and help educate the world about our buddies!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spelling.

Lately Judah has really grown academically.  We have nearly all of the latest technology at our school, to which he has fully embraced.  He can find his way around on a computer, iPod, and iPad like you wouldn't believe.  He's turned into a computer nerd actually and it's hard to pull him away from sites like STARFALL.  I attribute his teachers' hard work AND his stubborn determination on computers to what you see in this video. 

Yes, my boy is spelling!  He does this all the time on his own now.  If he sees a word large enough to spell out, he'll stop and spell it.  This happened last night while he was getting ready for bed, so I grabbed the video camera. This is the first step in reading.  He's in kindergarten, and I'm super stoked.

video


Friday, March 9, 2012

Sewers of the American dream.

I found THIS ARTICLE on a certain social network that a friend posted earlier today.  Please click on the link and read it before continuing on with this post.

My initial reaction was anger.  I've tried to settle down.  It's been a few hours and I'm still pissed.  This blog thing has been great therapy for me, so I figure writing is my healthiest outlet right now.  Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you are either connected to me and my son somehow, or you are a stranger who is connected to someone with Down syndrome in some way.  Either way, you're probably unsettled (at the very least) by this news.

I generally take a staunch pro-life stance.  I think abortion is a horrible choice.  In our country it has been lawfully allowed to be a choice, unfortunately.  People are responsible for the choices they make.  I think it sucks, but I'm not going to ride someone for making poor choices.  However, I take this one personally. This is my blog, so I can write whatever I want.  Another plus to living in the United States.

We're spoiled in the US.  To a horribly sickening degree.  We are allowed to consume, abuse, and throw out whatever we want and to any amount we choose.  We can do whatever we want with little consequence until it affects others.  I don't need to go into detail for you to draw your own conclusions and ideas of what I'm referring to.  We can also file lawsuits and get a lifetime worth of cash for trivial crap.  On to my point...

The couple in this article are not hurting for money (or at least they shouldn't be).  Dudes an engineer, and she's a dental hygienist.  THEY WON the $3 million dollar law suit.

I'm angry, not so much about the abortion issue.  I'm full of sorrow that our society allowed them to win. I'm full of sorrow that only 11% of babies with Down syndrome are allowed to live.   You shouldn't have to be a person of high moral standards or faith for something like this to disturb you. I'm a teacher and the sole provider in my family.  I work hard to honor God with my life, make a difference in the lives of others, take care of my family, and sleep well at night.  But I make peanuts for the circus act I lead.  These people do not and they got $3 million for "the estimated extra lifetime costs of caring for a child with Down syndrome."  This is no different than people who abuse welfare in my opinion.  America, you should be ashamed.  The jurors unanimously voted on their behalf.  All 12 of them.  Pure disgust.  

I'm going to close with some words that I would say to this couple:

Having a child with Down syndrome is a blessing.  You don't deserve your daughter.  Life is not without struggle and trials, even heartache.  People like you think you can skate through unscathed.  God forbid something "unpleasant" happen.  

What you should have done was have a good cry, go to a support group or whatever you needed.  Then put your big boy pants on, hold your chin up, and get on with life.  Instead, you have whined and complained, and enough people listened and awarded you for it.  You live a shameful life of self-obsession and vanity.  I hope your daughter brings joy to everyone she's around and you live a lifetime of shame for your actions.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A whole lotta feeling.



I’m not an emotional person.  I usually bury my feelings deep down and never talk about them.  Having a boy with Down syndrome (plus a supportive wife, and two daughters) has forced me to be more in touch with my feelings.  As you might guess, I’m not a complainer either.  I take life as it comes to me and make it work.  Even through the struggles.  I believe everything happens for a reason, and nothing is left up to chance.  With that being said, there’s a great deal of emotion and feelings in this post.  I don’t talk about it much, so this is a way for me to vent.  Writing is therapy.  I write because I most likely won’t talk about it any other way.

The inspiration for this post comes from an occurrence that happened in a church service yesterday.  Prayer requests were being spoken and prayed for at the start of the service.  One request was for a couple that just found out their unborn child will probably have Down syndrome.  Of course my ears went up and I became unsettled that this was even being brought up.  I leaned over and told my wife “let’s go, I’m done, I’m not doing this anymore.”  Thankfully, she quickly reeled me in and reminded me where we were when we first found out Judah would probably be born with Down syndrome.  

There are many things that go on in the minds of parents just finding out their kid will have special needs.  I went through my share that’s for sure. I think to assume one thing or another doesn’t really do anyone justice.  There’s always a ton of assuming by outsiders, family, and friends.  We all went through different emotions and probably continue to have various ideas and beliefs about the reasons why we were given a “special” kid. 

When Judah was first born I read many articles and books that mentioned taking some time to grieve over the child I “didn’t” have.  That may work for some people, but it never sat well with me.  Judah IS the child I was given.  There isn’t one I “didn’t” have.  So most of the emotions I had to deal with came from the questioning of “what do we do now?” and “where do we go from here?”  I didn’t grieve.  But I did become very angry.  I was mad at myself for the way I responded during the pregnancy.  I was mad at others for the way they responded.  I was mad at God for throwing another wrench in my system of life.  I also took things too personal and was extremely defensive at first.  My son is now six years old and I earned a college education along the way.  I’ve grown in so many ways since he was born.  There have been many challenges and twice as many blessings.  I’m a different person now.  I’ve changed a lot.  I believe I’ve changed for the better. 

Down syndrome is a mystery.  Sure, there are many things about Down syndrome that we know, but many that we cannot explain. I can’t explain why many people with Down syndrome are full of joy and have so much love to give.  I can’t explain why many people with Down syndrome seem to lack the negative aspects the rest of us have to fight in life such as prejudice and hate.  I can’t explain why many people with Down syndrome stay child like their entire life.  I can explain how fortunate I am to have been blessed with a son who has Down syndrome.  I can explain how much joy he has brought to the lives of most people he comes in contact with, especially my family and I.

Here are the facts: my life has been profoundly changed because I was given a child with Down syndrome.  It changed my perspective on faith and life completely.  I am a better person because of my son.  I have more love and joy to give to the world because I see life a totally different way now. I get to teach kids with Down syndrome and others with special needs.  That alone makes waking up every morning an exciting adventure.  They’re just fun people to be around.

I can’t explain God’s plans or fully understand what His best interests are.  But I can say that it has been much better and more fulfilling than my own, even when we have to endure struggles.  Drastic events and changes had to be set in motion for me to find the right path in life.  I’m thankful for the path I’ve found and the life I’ve been given.  I don’t know what lay in store for my family and I but I strive to take full advantage of each day that I’m given. 

Too often people try to explain situations and God as if they’ve got the final and absolute answers for many of life’s greatest mysteries.  I say to those people... stop... cut it out.  You’re just a person like the rest of us.  You haven’t been given magical God powers and you can’t see into the future or know what’s best for your own life, let alone mine.  Unless you’re giving unbiased support and encouragement, keep your mouth shut.  Spend your time in a more worthy manner such as giving yourself to others instead of taking.  Spend your time lending an ear to listen instead of wagging your tongue with know it all answers.

I can also explain that having a person with Down syndrome in your life will not come without its challenges.  It’s hard sometimes.  That’s the truth.  But the love, joy, laughter, smiles, and life they bring are worth every struggle.  We rejoice in what used to be small things that we took for granted.  Through what some would consider an “unwanted” child, God has taught me what love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are.  Why would I or anyone else ever consider praying that away?  I’m thankful for what I have been given.  I’m proud of the boy my son has become and the person he will continue to grow into.  I’m proud to be his daddy and I will hold fast and value every day I am given with him.  If I had a chance to talk with the couple who asked for prayer about having a child with Down syndrome, I would tell them "Congratulations! Now, hold your head up and be strong, it's well worth the ride."