Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

We hope you all have a wonderful day!! The kids will be going trick-or-treating with grandma tonight. I am sure they are spending their day dreaming of all the candy they can dive into tonight! I'm sure grandma is telling them that the tootsie rolls are HERS! :)

Here are some pictures of the kids from a couple weeks ago at their schools' Fall Festival. These are the same costumes they will be wearing tonight... Have fun kids and stay WARM!!! We love you SO much!!!

You've got a friend in me...

Beauty and the Beast...

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Everyone who has emailed me for access, I have replied to... if you haven't heard from me, check your spam box. I'm not ignoring you, promise! If you didn't get the email, it probably bounced back to me. Email me and let me know! . I'm trying!! :)

Carolyn, can you please email me? I can't find your email address! Thanks!!!

Today's to-do list!

1. Blog (check!) LOL :)

2. Clean out my van so my mom doesn't go crazy! haha

3. Lunch with a friend

4. Target run for everything I couldn't find last night at Wal-Mart

5. One last load of laundry

6. Get living room and dining room and kitchen CLEAN so I don't come home to a mess and MAYBE coax the kids into cleaning their rooms after school

7. Take Kennedy to ballet

8. Dinner/homework/baths/bed

9. FINISH PACKING (really, it's just little stuff now)


11. NOT sleep because we're LEAVING tomorrow!!!!

(Hey Hevel, if you're reading this, I think I have your email address wrong, so if you haven't gotten an invite to the adoption blog yet, that's why... email me. Same goes for anyone else that STILL hasn't figured it out, please email me!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adoption Blog

OK everyone,

The adoption blog has gone private, as most of you have probably figured out by now (or maybe you haven't!). I sent out emails today containing a user name and password... if you haven't gotten it, check your spam box. If you just sent me an email tonight asking for access, I just haven't gotten to you yet, give me a bit. I did have a few emails bounce back to me, I'm going to try to resend those in awhile too.

For those of you who emailed me and said it's not working for you, make sure you are logged out of you previous gmail accounts before you try to log into the blog. Let me know if you STILL have problems after that.

I got ALMOST all of the stuff on my list accomplished today... at least the important parts... doctor, bank, dinner with my family and trunk or treat! :) I am working on more tonight and the rest will be a race to finish tomorrow! :) Hang in there with my craziness!!!

Two Days!!!

Until we leave!!! I finally started packing last night... but I still have a long way to go. I obviously work better under pressure! LOL On my to-do list today?

1. Take the kids to school.
2. Take Kennedy to the doctor, I think she may have a UTI, then hopefully take HER to school too!
3. Take the kids clothes and stuff over to my mom's and go over their schedule.
4. Go to the bank.
5. Go to Wal-Mart... or maybe Target... to get the rest of the stuff I just realized I might need over there, thanks to all my facebook friends! LOL
6. Finish packing my clothes, and maybe get Frank to pack his!
7. Run dishwasher.
8. Pick kids up from school.
9. Last dinner out before we leave, then Trunk-Or-Treat with friends! YAY!
10. Home... homework... bed... (for the kids, not me! haha)
11. Print pictures for our album for court.
12. Figure out how I'm going to cram everything in one suitcase.

Anything else? Like I NEED anything else? How many hours are in one day?! LOL

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too Cool For Drugs!

This week is red ribbon week at the kids school. Yesterday they were supposed to wear a team shirt for a sports team, which was actually really hard because, well, they didn't have anything! haha Kennedy wore a shirt for their school mascot, Kameron wore a generic football themed shirt and Kassidy wore a generic shirt with a big number on it... mom kind of failed there! Next year we'll have to get them some 49ers stuff! ;)

Today's theme was "Too Cool for Drugs!" and they were allowed to wear sunglasses... too bad it was cloudy and raining! LOL They still looked cute cool though! :)

And for the record, Keeghan's too cool for drugs too... :)

Down syndrome awareness - You asked!

Here are a few questions that have come in on my blog and facebook about Down syndrome (and Kennedy) over the last couple weeks. If you have more, feel free to ask!! Like I tell my kids, there are no dumb questions! These 3 questions also tie in so closely together that I'll probably be repeating myself a lot, so bear with me! :) This post could alternately be titled: A Lesson in Genetics... any geneticists out there, feel free to correct me!

Ok a question for your questions post.. I have always wondered but never asked.
1. Why is it that some children have more facial features of DS than others?

It's really just kind of hit and miss... there are certain physical characteristics that go along with Down syndrome. Many of them involve facial features. However, not all people with Ds are going to get ALL the characteristics. Just like you get some characteristics from your dad and some from your mom, it's hard to know until you're born what characteristics you'll get from which parent. While we're on this topic, let's talk about what those characteristics are! The ones in bold are the ones that Kennedy has!

flattened nose/no bridge
flat facial profile
upward slanting, almond shaped eyes
excess skin on the back of the neck
shortened, curved pinky finger
singular crease across palms of hand
Small head
Brushfield spots on the iris of the eye
Skin folds of upper eyelid covering inner corner of the eye / epicanthal folds
Wide gap between 1st & 2nd toes / sandal gap
Short stature
Fusion / syndactyly of 2nd and 3rd toes
Small, low-set ears
Small mouth (which is commonly confused for having a large tongue)
Low muscle tone (hypontia)
Increased Flexibility

Put Kennedy next to another kid with Down syndrome and you'll find that they'll have some of the same features, yes, but they likely won't all be the same. I REALLY, REALLY wish Kennedy had the Brushfield spots! HA!

2. Also this may seem silly, I have always wanted to say, Kennedy looks just like all of you.. You can tell shes a Garcia.. However, I never wanted to say anything I guess because it would sounds funny, because of the DS features. Do parents take offense to that, or do they want to hear it like a parents with a child who doesnt have DS hears it..?
We LOVE to hear that!!! Not long after Kennedy was born, we went to a genetics counseling appointment. The point of this appointment, I guess, was to ease our minds that if we were to get pregnant again the chances of us having another child with Down syndrome was slim to none. (This makes me laugh now.) The one thing that really stuck out for me though was that they told me that while Kennedy would have characteristics of a person with Down syndrome, she would also have characteristics of Frank and me and she would look like Kassidy and Kameron, after all, she's from the same mold! I REALLY needed to hear that at that time! I was still grieving over her diagnosis and ALL I saw was "Down syndrome". Over time though as Kennedy grew into her own little person, she definitely became a Garcia and we definitely see Kassidy, Kameron and Keeghan in her (or we see Kennedy in Keeghan I guess! haha) but I love to hear that others see it too!

3. Ok Renee, I hope I'm not sounding too ignorant but if I don't ask a friend, I'll never learn. Why do people with Downs Syndrome look so similar.
Well, this really all goes back to the characteristics I listed above... people with Down syndrome share a set of very specific characteristics. As I said before, not everyone has ALL the characteristics, and there's no way to know who will get which ones, it's kind of hit or miss, but this is what makes people with Ds look similar.

Several years ago on one of my Down syndrome forums, there was someone selling t-shirts (not me, I swear) geared towards people with Ds that said, "They say everyone has a look alike out there, I have thousands!" or something like that... this ticked a lot of parents off because they said that you don't want your child defined by Down syndrome OR its characteristics, and like I said above, people with Ds also look like their families.

However, when we're walking through the mall and we see someone else with Down syndrome, we automatically stop and talk like we've known them forever even though we've never seen them before in our lives... it's like we are part of this little club... and of course the only way we can pick one another out IS because of physical characteristics. (I've used that word A LOT in this post! haha)

For me, I think it's the eyes that draw me in coupled with with the flattened bridge of the nose... that's usually how I pick out someone who has Ds, probably because that's Kennedy's most prominent feature, and I'm just generally drawn to eyes anyway. And these days, some of my favorites come in the almond shaped variety! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

21 Things About Kennedy

Every October I do a post with 21 facts about Kennedy... I do it in October because it's Down Syndrome Awareness Month and I do 21 things because Down syndrome is Trisomy 21. I'm going to list the 21 facts and then I'll look up the lists from the last 2 years and link you to those too so you can read them. I don't want to read them first so they don't influence this list, it will be a good way for you and for me to see how much she's changed - and stayed the same - in the last couple years. Most of all, I hope it helps you see that above all else, Kennedy is a little girl, first a foremost, over her diagnosis. She is NOT Down syndrome.

SO in no particular order...

21 Things about Kennedy

1. Kennedy loves to play dress up. If we're home for any length of time, you'll usually find her in a princess costume.

2. Kennedy's favorite food is macaroni and cheese. I'm pretty sure she'd eat it EVERY day if I let her.

3. Kennedy loves ballet and tap class. She follows directions better there than anywhere else.

4. Someone once asked Kennedy what she wanted to be when she grew up and she replied, "Hannah Montana!" *sigh*

5. Kennedy knows all of her letters, colors and basic shapes and is working on mastering her numbers. (Though sometimes she'll still mix up a lower case b and d.)

6. Kennedy can read about 30 sight words.

7. Kennedy learns and responds better with little to no distractions.

8. Kennedy can be very stubborn when she doesn't want to do something.

9. Kennedy sometimes talks so fast NO ONE knows what in the world she's saying... except her of course! We call this "Kennedese".

10. Kennedy has a keen ability to know when someone is having a bad day. She will put her little hand on your shoulder and say, "What's wrong?" and usually follows up with a hug.

11. Kennedy is very social and well loved around school... even beyond Kindergarten. We were amazed how many kids yelled out "KENNEDY!" the night of the school's Fall Festival.

12. Kennedy hates black olives and pickles.

13. Kennedy doesn't bat an eye or shed a tear when we have to check her blood sugar, it just doesn't phase her in the least.

14. Kennedy loves daddy's bedtime stories, mostly because he makes them up off the top of his head and they're usually really silly!

15. When Kennedy eats spaghetti, she sneezes out the noodles for a couple days afterwards... several doctors have looked into this and no one can figure out how or why this happens.

16. Kennedy's favorite toys are STILL Groovy Girls, but Hello Kitty comes in close second.

17. Kennedy loves to play with Keeghan. And she loves to fight with Keeghan. :)

18. Kennedy adores Kassidy and Kameron and looks up to them for everything.

19. When my hair is up in a pony tail, Kennedy likes her hair in a pony tail too, so it's "like mommy's".

20. Kennedy is very interested in makeup and is always asking me what each thing is... eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, lipstick. I have a feeling it won't be long before she's asking to wear it too.

21. Kennedy is smart and capable. The sky is the limit if people will believe in her. She is the light of our lives and we are SO glad that God chose us to be her family!

OK here is the list from 2008... there are a few similar things on here! And here is the list from 2007 which is also still pretty accurate! What does this tell you? That who you are is who you are... and if you like mac and cheese, it's probably always going to be your favorite... and your parents are probably ALWAYS going to love you ;).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Q&A #112

I did not realize that you will not be bringing Kellsey home when you go this time. Is this because of the 10day wait, or will it be longer than that? I hope it is just the 10day wait. LOL!! I have read some blogs that the Judge actually do not make the parents wait the 10day period, but I think it was a rare occassion. WE can all pray it happens for you guys that way. LOL!!
Yes it's for the 10 day wait and for Kellsey's region I've heard they NEVER waive the 10 day wait, unfortunately... though we can definitely be praying for that! :)

If you get the 10 day waived will you stay and both come home with her?
Yes if by some miracle that happened, we would probably both stay and bring her home... we hadn't even discussed that though as we've been told it will NOT happen.

SHe is one of my favorite authors! I will have to read this one!! Is this going to make my pregnant self sad?
Yes possibly, but it has such a good story line! It's so worth the read!

That brings up the question of communicating with Kellsey...have you all been doing any language studies?
No... we have learned over an over from previous families that the best thing to do is submerge Kellsey into English. We have seen other kids pick up on it SO quickly and we have no doubt Kellsey will too, though I'm sure we'll pick up a few basic words in country as well. ;)

Do you think you'll have a chance to stop in London? I mean, we'll happily travel to the airport if you have a layover. :)
I wish! That would have been SO cool!!!

Oh darn I thought you'd be bringing Kellsey home this time! How long before she gets to come home and why is just Frank going? Flip a coin on that one? ;)
We decided it would be best for a number of reasons for him to go. He's excited to get one on one bonding time with Kellsey before she comes home! :)

Why was october chosen as Downs Syndrome Awareness Month? Honestly, with all the press Breast Cancer Awareness gets, i should think a far better month, where such a high profile cause is *not* the focus would have been better.
Please don't think i am being rude(i try to write better) i am just truly curious. For such an important cause, i would think choosing a month where it could really be highlighted would be wiser.
Please don't think i am trying to be unkind in my words. I really want to know but have difficulty in saying things.

I'm not sure who chose October or why it was chosen. I agree though that we are overshadowed by Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I wish I had a better answer for you, but I simply don't know.

A word from an amsterdam lover: When at the airport try to get two things: one is the small cans of caramel filled waffers, the other one is the pink-and-white "chocolate shred". I can't remember what those things are called, but the Dutch serve them with bread and butter (the shread on top of the butter) and in other ways as well at "It's a girl!" parties! They taste quite good. YOu can also serve them with PB. They are festive and they do carry a great meaning once you have a girl, and experienced "Holland".
Thanks!!! We will definitely look for both of those! They sound awesome!

I hope you have plenty of time at the Amsterdam airport. It is huge and our international flight started boarding something like two hours before takeoff. This was due to security (additional) which we went through between the gate and the plane. We were on the return leg of a missionary trip to Uganda in 2003 when the Dutch decided we might be terriorists or something. They were VERY professional and very smart. After about ten minutes they let us go. Have all your papers with you should they ask questions. Oh, congratulations and best wishes too!
Yep we have 3 hours... hopefully that will give us enough time to be interrogated AND shop! HA! :)

Renee you look great, have you lost weight? I love how long and pretty Kassidy's hair is!!
Yes, about 10 pounds... thanks to my migraine medication. I'm rarely hungry anymore... Frank is always telling me to EAT! LOL

Have you started packing?? Have you bought anything for Kellsey?????????
Ummm NO! And NO! LOL We need to get there and see how big she is... I've heard about 2T or about 3T haha. Either way we are SET on clothes for her, though I probably will buy her a new outfit for "gotcha day". Kennedy is still wearing 2Ts and 3Ts so I'm REALLY hoping they can just share clothes! :)

Is this a national statistic or a world statistic? Just curious because I recently read it as a national statistic for U.S. and read that their is a waiting list to adopt U.S. babies with downs that's hundreds to thousands of families long!
National. I read that too, and it's true! LOTS of people waiting to adopt kids with Ds!

I think the statistics means 90% of the babies diagnosed-
Around 50% are diagnosed-
so it's 90% of 50%.
Not 90% of 100%.
So that would be around 45%.

Yep, that's what I said... 90% of prenatally diagnosed babies. ;) But with the advances in prenatal testing being made, more and more babies are being prenatally diagnosed, and therefore more and more will be aborted.

You may have addressed this before, but what is the deal with some countries adoptions being so expensive? It seems so wrong considering more of their children would find loving homes if the "ransom" wasn't $30,000. Is it all about making money for these countries? Who keeps the money the adoptive family pays?
There are several countries that cost this much... and it IS hard. A lot of our expense was state-side... Homestudy, International application stuff here, fingerprints, background checks, etc. Then we have our airline tickets of course, (Frank and I for this first trip, Frank for the second trip and Kellsey's ticket home), lodging while we're there, food and stuff, our driver while we're there, the biggest cost is our facilitator who does the majority of our work. He checks all our paperwork (countless times) gets everything ready for court, provides our translator, picks us up from the airport, makes sure everything is in order and makes sure we get where we need to be when we need to be there. He is basically our lifeline... to our daughter, to the court system, to the doctors who will do her medical stuff required to get her out of the country, and everything else. Then we need to pay for Kellsey's medical stuff before we leave, her visa and passport and birth certificate and all of that stuff. SO yes, it's a lot. It IS more than other countries, and I'm not sure why... I haven't looked at the breakdown of Kellsey's country vs. others. It is what it is, I guess.

I've been meaning to let you in on something I've learned as an international adoptive parent. It can be pretty stressful for your new child to go from what she knows to being with people that she just met and sometimes that is manifested in stomach upset. You may want to bring with you a can of dry gatorade (to be mixed with water) in case your beauty ends up with stomach issues. That can saved us when we adopted our second child and it doesn't take up much room in the luggage. Good luck with everything.
Thanks Mary! That's a GREAT tip! I have heard of other families going through this as well, just from the diet change alone. I will definitely have Frank take some with him.

Book review - Little Earthquakes

I haven't done a book review in awhile, so I thought it was time! I finished Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner about a week ago. This book is about 3 women who are pregnant and meet in a yoga class... one who has a famous basketball player husband, and realizes that fame comes with a price... one who's husband just got laid off and would rather stay home and watch soap operas rather than look for a job, and another who has a fabulous husband and a mother-in-law from... well... you know. HA! Then there's Lia, the mysterious woman who just seems to be everywhere and has a tortured past. As the women become friends and their babies are born you'll find yourself laughing, crying and relating to their marriage and baby woes. It's a great, easy read and it makes you very thankful for your children... and possibly your mother-in-law. :)

Watch for more reviews soon! I bought lots of books to take with me to Eastern Europe! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Cruel and Unusual"

I have slacked off on my Down syndrome awareness posts lately, and I apologize for that. I really wanted to keep the information flowing throughout October, but with our travel date just over a week away, we have been trying to get things organized... or at the very least, we're pretending that we are getting things organized... because let's face it, anyone who knows me knows I won't be packing my suitcase until AT LEAST October 28th! LOL But still, there are lots of OTHER things we need to be doing before then!

Still though, there are some things I still want to say about Down syndrome awareness, and I know October will roll around again next year, but well... that's so far away. SO if this is the LAST post I do for the month about Down syndrome, what is THE most important thing I can tell you?

Did you know that 90% of babies with Down syndrome who are diagnosed prenatally are aborted? Seriously? Seriously. 90%. That's HUGE. 90% of parents decide that their children don't deserve to live. They don't deserve a chance to be happy or to thrive. Better yet, they are probably told they CAN'T be happy or thrive. Which is a lie.

My friend Michelle recently posted that she read this comment on another blog: " belief that Down's is a cruel and unusual sentence to visit on a child."

The commenter went on to say this: Far more Down's children live miserable, suffering lives than these individuals (meaning us parents) want you to believe. Viewing the lives of affected children, and simple education tells me that I could never force a child to endure what they would should they be born with Down's."

WOW. Really? I wonder how many lives of individuals with Down syndrome this commenter has actually "viewed". Because let me tell you what I see. I see kids and adults who are happy (except when someone or something makes them sad), and loving, and live life with an innocence and lack of prejudice that I wish ALL people could have.

More intimately, I see a little girl in my home who instinctively knows when I'm having a bad day and will come up and wrap her arms around my neck and give me a kiss on my cheek and tell me, "It's ok, mommy." I see a child who takes extreme pride in her every accomplishment, and who can be the most stubborn child you will ever meet! I see a child who's laugh can brighten a gloomy day. I see a sister who fights with her siblings over toys, who loves macaroni and cheese but hates black olives and adores playing dress up and going to "ballerina class". Sounds "cruel and unusual", huh?

We did NOT know prenatally that Kennedy had Down syndrome, but I can promise you 100% that she WOULD be here today, no matter what, had we known. In fact, I wish we HAD known so we could have researched. It would have made the day of her birth SO much less traumatic. However, I grieve for the advances that science is making in prenatal testing because I know that the goal of MANY OBs is to eliminate the birth of children with Down syndrome altogether... and SO many families are going to be missing out on such a HUGE blessing.

90% are already being aborted... how long before it's 99%?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tips for the Terrible 3's of parenting

Our Pastor had this posted on his blog today and it made me smile... because we've been through it, and are going through it, and are going to be bringing home a 3 year old soon!

"It goes something like this: One day your precious angel; the one everyone thinks is so cute, who was hardly ever a problem before, suddenly becomes a holy terror at times. You have never dealt with such temper tantrums, back-talking sassiness, and outbursts of anger. You may have entered the terrible threes."

I'll never forget when Kassidy turned 3 and I was pretty sure she had become demon-possessed! She was whiny and demanding and stubborn and bratty and I thought, "What the HECK!? Who stole my kid and replaced her with this evil alter-ego twin?!" But, after a year of battles of will (most of which I won!) she turned 4 and things got better. WHEW! I think God does that to trick you into wanting more kids! He reminds you how cute and fun they are in hopes that you'll forget the terrible 3's (or 2's in some cases). It worked for us. Obviously! ;)

Anyway, Ron gives 7 tips for surviving the Terrible 3's (or 2's... or TEENS! haha). You can read them all right here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Babies Babies Babies

I've been feeling all nostalgic lately... looking through baby pictures... look at my sweet babies... they're all so big now. *sniff*




Kellsey :)
(This is the first picture we ever saw of her)

All my beautiful babies!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009


My friend Lynn found a bunch of pictures she had saved of my kids over the years and sent them to me in case she had any I lost in my computer crash from last year... there were several in there I didn't have anymore so that makes me happy! :) I ran across this picture of Kassidy from March 2005. She was 6. She's grown up so much since then! I just love this sweet smile!

Monday Moment for Down Syndrome - If Dr. Suess Had A Special Child

It's been FAR too long since I've done one of these, SORRY!

If Dr. Seuss Had A Special Mary Beth Northrup

Dear Mom-I-am, dear Mom-I-am, we have a problem, Mom-I-am.
Your son won't do what he must do. He drives me crazy, yes it's true!
He will stall and squirm and hum, and leave all of his work undone.
He dreams and will not pay attention, have you considered medication?
With other kids he does not play, he is alone much of the day.
Something does not seem quite right, because I know he must be bright.
He seems to learn, despite the rest, but the work is not his best.
He is disruptive, yes it's true. He just won't do what he must do!
Yes, teacher, I can really see, how frustrating all this must be,
A child who does not meet the norm, a child whose mold won't fit the form.
I've had him tested on WISC-III, by your approved test agency.
He scores far higher than the mean, there's more to this that can be seen.
So help us, help us find the way, to teach this child best if we may.
He is not like the rest you see, he acts and thinks far differently.
We need another way to teach him, another way to finally reach him.
Not the normal thing you do, but something altogether new!
What! Something new - go bar the door! We've not done it that way before!
If we do this thing for you, then all the rest will want it too!
Change our ways, that can't be done. Same for all, not changed for some.
All children are gifted, yes it's true! Just MAKE him do what he must do!
Please, please, teacher, hear me through. The laws say you must help us, too.
His needs are different than the rest, we CAN help him to do his best.
We can make this easy too, it will not be more work for you.
This can work out, you will see. Try it, try it, please, for me?
All right, all right, if I must. I still maintain this is not just.
But first there is red tape you see, tests and checks and IEP.
And after weeks and months of proving, finally we can begin moving.
Then I'll try it and we'll see, if this method is the key.
Hey, I see something, yes I do! We have found something he will do!
No more fiddle, squirm and hum, no more worksheets left undone.
He's zipping through, he's learning fast, he's doing his best work at last.
Why did I put up a fight? I guess dear Mom, that you were right.

Found on The Narretto Family Blog

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cross Street Live!

Tonight was our monthly Cross Street Live! at Grace Community Church. Tonight was extra special because earlier this week they put out a call for boys from first through third grade to help out on stage. I asked Kameron if he would be interested (DUH!) and he was chosen. He and a few other boys played super heroes! They didn't have any speaking parts, but they were so funny and all did such a GREAT job!!

This month's virtue was Individuality... finding what you're good at and using it for God's glory... or something REALLY close to that! They gave us cards to hand out to our kids teachers, family members and friends to fill out and tell something that makes them uniquely THEM. I am curious to see what people will say about Kam! haha

When we were walking into practice today, Kameron was in his batman costume, and he said, "Well... this is something you don't see everyday!" LOL Silly kid!

Anyway, here's a picture of Kameron on stage. We were sitting in the back. Kennedy doesn't like the loud noises so we stick to the back so we can cover her ears and make an escape if we need to. She didn't do too bad tonight, thank goodness. Keeghan was SO excited to see Kameron on stage! He kept yelling, "There's KAMERON!" haha Thanks GCC for giving Kameron this fun night! He had a blast! :)
(Click picture to enlarge... Kameron is the little Batman... NO that is not his Halloween costume!) ;)

Haven't I seen that someplace before? Part 3

A first for the boys! ;)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Buddy Walk!!!

Today was the annual Buddy Walk for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. We have missed the last two years due to Kennedy being sick, so we were VERY excited to be able to go this year, even if we WERE freezing! haha Here are a few pictures from our day. Frank was there, I swear! Usually it's me who escapes the camera, today it was him! Sorry babe!

Kennedy with Curious George and the Rain forest Cafe Monkey... Keeghan liked them from a distance! LOL

Kennedy with some of the Vanderbilt women's basketball team

Kameron having fun on the inflatables (this one is from Frank's phone)

Keeghan enjoying his 2nd or 3rd bag of popcorn...

Kameron during the walk

Silly Kassidy

Kassidy and my mom

Me and Kennedy

Buddy Walkin' :)

Stopping to pet a puppy... priorities, you know! ;)

Getting her medal at the end of the walk - She did it!

It was a VERY cold but very fun morning! :) We look forward to next year when we can walk for BOTH our girls... and our team name will be... ???? I have no idea! LOL

Friday, October 16, 2009

Brandon McLilly

Brandon McLilly is one of the many who have lost their lives to the nasty strain of the H1N1 flu (also known as the Swine Flu). Brandon also had Down syndrome. When I saw his story posted on a friend's facebook page, I wanted to read... I wanted to learn about this sweet young guy, and I'm so glad I did. Here is what I learned...

I read the usual things that are said about kids and adults with Down syndrome... Brandon was sweet and mischievous. His parent had to fight HARD for him in a school that didn't quite know how to teach him. He had a rough start, medically, and had to fight for his own life several times... He loved music, and dancing and people. All people... even the ones who didn't love him back.

What stuck out to me though, were his siblings. Brandon has one sister and one brother: Briana and Brian. They cherished Brandon with everything in them. Briana opened a day care center for children with special needs - because of Brandon. He was a mentor there and held a lot of responsibility. Briana & Brian's lives were changed for the BETTER because of their brother. Sometimes I think this concept is lost on people, and it makes me so, so sad. Brandon has changed his small corner of the world. Just ask any parent who has a child at the day care center. I bet they'll tell you. Their lives are better because he was here. The McLilly family will tell you the same. I'm willing to bet there are hundreds more who will say so too. God bless you Brandon, I can't wait to meet you one day in Heaven.

Read more about Brandon here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 Galleries!

Every October, does photo galleries for Down syndrome awareness! Kennedy is in round 5 this year! (Thanks Lori for the heads up!)

If you have some time to kill and want to see some of the CUTEST kids you've EVER seen... well, here you go!

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Round 6

Down syndrome awareness!

When was your "aha" moment? Go check out this video and be sure to vote for it! The videos with the most votes will be seen in commercials next year!

AHA Moment

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Q&A #111

I have a question.. Did you ever figure out why they pulled your TV episode and will they ever air it?
Yes and yes. LOL They said that the show (the other episodes) weren't getting very good ratings in the time slot it was in, so they're looking for a better time slot for our show. Eve, one of the other moms on the show, has been in communication with them often and they said they would let us know when it will air... hopefully we'll be in the country to see it! I will let you know as soon as we hear anything!

I feel like I have visited your blog before but somehow lost track. Is you husband deploy now?? My son is going for his first time. I am going to take more time to read.
Frank is home right now. He's been deployed 3 times, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. He'll be going back to Afghanistan sometime next Spring. We'll be praying for your son's safe return!

did you know that kennedy is pictured on the Indiana Down Syndrome site?
Actually, I did. :) My friend Rebecca built that site and asked several of us if she could include pictures of our children on it. Thanks for letting me know, though!

So, this question has NOTHING to do with your post, but I've been meaning to ask; how come on your pictures, there isn't a little sign that says "property of Renee Garcia" anymore? For some reason, I was looking back at posts the other day, and noticed the little sign, but then noticed that it's not on your pictures anymore.
I stopped doing that after my computer crashed and I lost a ton of pics... I still haven't been able to get the writing off all the pics from before. I figured it wasn't worth stopping the people from stealing them.

I definitely saw Kennedy 2 or 3 times in the "L is for Love" section; is she anywhere else?
Oh yes, she's in there A LOT... she's a lot younger so you'll have to look for her, but she's there! :)

That was wonderful. I think that I saw Kennedy for at least 8 different letters. Loved the one with least I think it was Frank & Kennedy. If not, they've got twins out there.
Yes, that was them, that's one of my most favorite pictures of them!

Kennedy was all over the place. :) I haven't watched this since it was first made (I forget, did you make it?). I can't believe how tiny some of the kids I "know" and some I've met online over the past few years were! It made me smile. Would it be OK if I shared this? (I think I already know the answer, but wanted to check).
I did make it. One of these days I want to redo it with updated pics of all the kids... you know, when I have some down time! haha Seriously though, one of these days! Absolutely ok to share it! :)

I almost posted this last week, I love it. I think you should do another one too...I can hook you up with some pictures of a precious little boy, say 3 years old or so, lol :)
LOL We will definitely get him in there! :)

Bedtime or Ice cream...or both?
Well I was talking about bedtime, but I could have gone for ice cream too! haha

I'm with Kass and Kam, so exciting WOOHOO!!! Do you know how long you will have to be there?
About 2 weeks, depending on red tape of course. We have our tickets set for 2 weeks after our appointment date and then we can change them if need be.

YAY!! Great news! Will you be bringing Kellsey home with you at this time?
No, we'll have to make 2 trips. Frank will be making the second trip on his own and he'll bring Kellsey home at that time. :)

Congrats. Three weeks and you can see that precious girl. Just wonder is the private thing a permanant thing?
Just temporary... once we are home we will be public again. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ukraine's Got Talent

These kids are amazing! I wish I could understand what the judges are saying!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's almost that time!!!

More alike than different...

Sorry for no posts Friday afternoon or yesterday... I've been processing. Lots going on here. Anyway, I didn't want to skip too many days without continuing the posts for Down syndrome awareness month! This is a great, SHORT video! Check it out! I'll be back soon!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I've been tagged!

Maureen tagged me in the name game to tell the story of how my kids got their names. She said, "Who's crazy idea was it to have children with K names and with only 7 seven letters? Please, tell us where that came from?!)" hehe It goes WAY beyond CRAZY!!!

Fortunately, I've already done a series on this, but if you haven't read it yet, and you'd like to, read the links below and learn how the Special Ks got their names! :)

The Art of Naming My Kids - Part 1
The Art of Naming My Kids - Part 2
The Art of Naming My Kids - Part 3
The Art of Naming My Kids - Part 4

This is an open tag, if you'd like to share how YOUR kids got their names, feel free! Let me know if you answer on your blog so I can go read! :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

D is for Down Syndrome

I know most of you have seen this video, I've posted it here before, but since it's Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I thought it would be good to post it again! If you've never seen it before, take the time to fall in love. If you HAVE seen it before, watch it again! You'll love it! :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What do all of these people have in common??

Charles Darwin (naturalist)
Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals first baseman)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Washington Congresswoman)
John C. McGinley (actor)
Eva Longoria (actress)
Gene Stallings (Arizona Cardinals headcoach)
George Will (journalist)
Arthur Miller (American playwright)
Jamie Foxx (actor)
Jim O’Brien (Indiana Pacers coach)
Emily Perl Kingsley (Sesame Street writer & author of Welcome to Holland)
Heath Bell (San Diego Padres closing pitcher)
Charles de Gaulle (French military leader)
Roy Rogers & Dale Evans (actor & actress)
David Ragan (NASCAR driver #6)
Sarah Palin (Alaska’s governor)
Julie Newmar (Actress- original Catwoman)
Lowell Weicker (the former Govenor of Connecticut)
Rex Hudler (retired baseball player & Angels Baseball announcer)
Damon Hill (Formula One Racecar Driver-1996 Champion)
They all have a family member with Down syndrome!

# Charles Darwin- son, Charles Waring Darwin
# Albert Pujols- daughter, Isabella
# Cathy McMorris Rodgers- son, Cole
# John C. McGinley- son, Max
# Eva Longoria- sister, Elizabeth
# Gene Stallings- son, Johnny
# George Will- son, Jon
# Arthur Miller- son, Daniel
# Jamie Fox- sister, Diondra
# Jim O’Brien- daughter, Caitlyn
# Emily Perl Kingsley- son, Jason
# Heath Bell- daughter, Jordyn
# Charles de Gaulle- daughter, Anne
# Roy Rogers & Dale Evans- daughter, Robin
# David Ragan- brother, Adam
# Sarah Palin- son, Trig
# Julie Newmar- son, John
# Lowell Weicker- son Jonathan
# Rex Hudler- son, Cade
# Damon Hill- son, Oliver

*If you know someone else famous who has a family member with Down syndrome, let Jessica know and she'll add them to her list!*

Thank you Jessica for all the hard work behind this post!!

Q&A #110

That is one fine looking pizza. Is that your little guy falling asleep after a big meal? Such a guy.
Yep! LOL Apparently baking wears him out! LOL I should have gotten pictures of the kids EATING the pizza, but we were ALL eating and I didn't really think about it! Then when I saw him falling asleep in his chair, I couldn't resist snapping a couple pics!

Joe Corbis fundraiser pizza?

Kennedy always has the cutest Clothes. Where do you shop for her? I have a TALL 2 yr old (38 inches) and I like her dresses not short.
I can't remember where that particular dress came from. I mostly shop at Target and Children's Place though. They are my favorites! :)

So what books did Kass and Kam get?
Kassidy got a book called Sheep

Kameron got a book called Cyberia

and Kennedy got this one... which she calls the kitty book. :)

What a great idea and wonderful for the children to learn to give back to the community. Can I get more into on this some how? I would love to have our church do this.
Let me get back to you on this :).

I'm not sure which I like better, the fact that Kameron wanted his stuff on your blog or the fact that you posted a disclaimer about his toys. Heehee. You crack me up!
Just saves me from having to address the issue later in this post now! LOL

What are Tots?
Tots are given out in Sonic kid's meals (hence my disclaimer on my post). We went there once and the kids got them and fell in love with them. They are basically little soft toys resembling tater tots... with legs. They each have a cute name to go with them. They had the original set and then came out with a Halloween set and then a zoo set. They don't DO anything, but they're great for playing pretend!

We had a lot of those but I donated them since they kids have SO much crap and barely played with them. I'm guessing that Kameron already has the ones we did! He has A LOT!! We got one yesterday at Sonic-- I think it is dressed for Halloween. I really didn't look at it though. I opened it and handed it over.
Yeah they have them ALL. (Uhhh until Sonic comes out with new ones anyway lol.) Kass and Kam got them last year for their birthdays and Christmas and they play with those things ALL the time. We have had Tot parades, they have played school, house, had tot wars, and a million other things. It makes me laugh because they would rather play with those than all the electronic stuff we have in the house! Best present we ever bought!

I'd forgotten it was also called Trisomy 21....subtract 3 genes and Kennedy wouldn't be here. Have friends who lost their children to Trisomy 18.
This is very true... kids with Trisomy 18 and 13 usually don't live very long. Sweet babies...

I don't know what TYPE my son has but it does really matter to know something you can't change? for me i really don't care to know what type he has i just love him the way he is...
That was kind of the point of the post ;). It doesn't matter. You either have it, or you don't. However, for educational purposes, I think it should be stated that there ARE indeed three TYPES of Ds. I happen to know which kind Kennedy has because of her Karyotype. Does it matter? No. Is she any better or worse off than someone with a different type of Ds? Nope. I probably won't know which type Kellsey has. I'm totally ok with that, because really, it makes no difference. I apologize if I didn't convey that in my post.

Here's a karytotype of translocation Down syndrome... this isn't a TRUE karyotype, but it at least shows how the extra chromosome attaches to another chromosome. Here it is attached to the 14th chromosome. I just said the word chromosome A LOT in that sentence! haha

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy Blogoversary...

To me!! Today I have been blogging for 2 years... it seems like I've been here a LOT longer than that (in good ways and bad LOL). I have been watching my little ticker work its way down on my side bar and I kept thinking that I should do something GRAND like last year, but I just couldn't think of anything to top it!

SO anyway, thank you to everyone who has hung in there with me for a very crazy year!! There have been lots of ups and downs and ins and outs and I appreciate your kind comments, prayers and support more than you'll ever know! I hope that you will all stick around for another year as we add to our family by bringing Kellsey home, as we face another deployment, and as we learn more about life, love, and our Lord every day!

Welcome to year 3 of Life With My Special Ks... Bring it on! :)

A "little bit" of Down syndrome

Obviously, I've been addressing many of the common misconceptions associated with Down syndrome the last couple days. I plan to continue throughout the month... Hopefully by the end I can cover the good, the bad and the ugly of it. Here is one that always makes me laugh, someone once looked at Kennedy and said, "Oh she's so cute! She's just a little bit Downs."

Umm... WHAT?! LOL Down syndrome is very definitive. You either have it or you don't. Just like you can't be a "little bit pregnant", you can't have "a little bit of Down syndrome."

There ARE three different TYPES of Down syndrome.
1. Non-disjunction Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) occurs in 95% of all babies born with Down syndrome. Like the karyotype posted below, it is basically an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, affecting every cell in the body. This is what Kennedy has.

2. Mosaic Down syndrome occurs in 2% of all babies born with Ds. This is when not every cell contains the extra chromosome. Some do, some don't. There is no rhyme or reason. Studies show that kids with Mosaic Ds may not have all the physical characteristics that a person with Non-disjunction Ds does, but every person is different, that includes every person with Ds. Just because a child has Mosaic Down syndrome, it does not mean he/she is immune to the issues associated with Ds. (Another somewhat common misconception.)

3. Translocation Down syndrome occurs in 3-5% of all babies born with Ds. This is when all or part of the 21st chromosome is translocated to another chromosome. I was trying to find a Karytotype of this for you to see, but I'm not finding a good one. Basically a piece of the 21st chromosome is connected onto another chromosome, like the 14th chromosome. This can be an inherited type of Down syndrome, coming from one of the parents, but this is not always the case.

In any of these cases, you cannot have a "little bit of Down syndrome". Down syndrome affects individuals in different ways. Some people may have higher cognitive functioning but struggle with gross motor skills or writing. Others may excel at sports, but struggle with speech or reading. Children with Down syndrome, just like typical kids, are individuals. They have their own strengths and weaknesses and you can't define them by their disability. If you have a baby with Down syndrome, he/she will let you know who they are and what they are capable of in their own time. Cherish every moment and rejoice in every milestone. Each one will be sweeter than the last! :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

But you're not OLD!!!

After Kennedy was born and we started letting our family and friends know that she was here and that she had Down syndrome, one thing we heard over and over is, "but you're not old!" or "but you're so YOUNG!" And it's true. I was 25 when Kennedy was born.

I had the triple screen test done during my pregnancy (also known as the AFP test) and it came back showing basically NO risk for Kennedy having any "problems". Little did I know then, that test is wrong more often than it is right. Since then I have heard story after story after story of women who's AFP test came back with a false positive saying there WAS something wrong with their baby, only to find out they worried for nothing and everything was fine, or like in my case, the test showed everything was fine, when it fact, it wasn't. I didn't bother having that test done when I was pregnant with Keeghan. What's the point?!

Anyway, contrary to popular belief, babies with Down syndrome are born to young mothers more often than they are to older mothers. Your chances of having a child with Down syndrome do increase with age, but more children with Ds are born to younger moms because they are having babies more often. Down syndrome does not discriminate against age, race or social status.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Extra Chromosome

Most of you reading this blog know that Down syndrome is caused by an extra 21st chromosome. If you didn't know that, it's true! This is why you may also hear Down syndrome referred to as Trisomy 21.

When Kennedy was born and they told us they thought she had Down syndrome, they told us they would have to do a Karyotype to confirm. After pointing out all her characteristics though, this was just a formality to us. We already knew it our hearts it would come back saying she did indeed have Down syndrome. We were right.

Here is a picture of a karyotype. This is not HER karyotype. I have hers somewhere, but I don't really want to dig for it right now. See the extra 21st chromosome?
Crazy how that one little line can cause so much ruckus! :) More on Down syndrome throughout the month!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Larisa Hertz

On September 25, 2009, sixteen year old Larisa Hertz was driving to her best friend Emily's birthday party. It was raining hard and Larisa hydroplaned and hit a utility pole. The pole broke, crashed through the top of the car, which electrified it and burned Larisa badly. 23% of her head, neck and chest area is burned.

Since then Larisa has undergone surgery and a lot of tests and immeasurable pain. Her parents say that she has been a cooperative patient through it all. Since her surgery though, Larisa has taken a turn for the worse. She has developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and the next 48 to 72 hours are extremely critical. Larisa and her family need your prayers. Will you please go visit and pray for them? Life can change in an instant... she was on her way to her best friend's birthday party... and now her life will never be the same... you just never know.


Kameron spent about an hour this morning up in his room creating "Tot-ville" which we then got to go see the ribbon cutting ceremony for... then he instructed me to take a picture and "put it on your blog! Put it on your blog!" So welcome to Tot-ville... population: about 50 or so (I think some are missing here)... thanks a lot Sonic.

***Disclaimer*** We did not go to Sonic this many times to collect all these Tots. When the kids decided they REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted the WHOLE collection, they got them for their birthdays and Christmas via eBay.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The book fair

This morning I took my kids to the book fair at school. Kassidy and Kameron already knew exactly which books they wanted. They had been pouring over the list they sent home, debating over which books were best and why. Kameron actually made a chart... because he's thorough like that. Kennedy's teacher gave me a recommendation for a book for her, full of Kindergarten high frequency words.

SO we got into the book fair and Kass and Kam ran to find their books. I found the book for Kennedy with a cute little kitten on the front. She said, "Awww!" Then she put it down and wandered around looking at other books... pretty soon she came back to me with the books she REALLY wanted: High School Musical, Jonas Brothers & Selena Gomez. Seriously? Seriously. The ladies running the book fair were cracking up. Ahhh yes, my pop culture princess! I should have taken pictures! LOL

After a little debate (on my part), she got the book with the kitten... I think she'll be happier with that in the long run. I hope. Kassidy and Kameron gave me a hug and kiss and went happily back to class. Then I went to hold Kennedy's hand and walk her back to class and she pulled her hand away from me and said, "Mooooom! GEEZ!" Miss Independent. She's going to be SO fun as a teenager! LOL

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Customer Service

Most days when people mention customer service, they are doing so to complain. I'm no exception to this. I've become very adapted to the "I want it right, I want it fast and I want it now!" mindset. I'm not saying this is the way I should be, I'm just admitting that often this is the way that I AM. I don't like it. Knowing this about myself though, I try hard now to go the extra mile to be understanding when things happen (because really, I'm a master procrastinator), to always lend a smile, especially when someone seems to be having a bad day, and to be patient. (By FAR one of my worst virtues!) I try to thank people for working hard, and doing a good job, and going the extra mile so they know their work doesn't go unnoticed. I've gotten a lot better at it over the last year or so.

Yesterday I needed to pick up a prescription for Kennedy. It was a medication that had to be compounded so it couldn't be filled at Walgreens where I usually go, so I had her pediatrician call it in to a local pharmacy called Medicine Shoppe. We've used them a few times before, but because of their limited hours, we usually only use them for this particular medication.

Last time they filled this prescription, it was filled as a pill instead of a liquid, so when I had Kennedy's pediatrician send it in I made sure it was written as a liquid and she said it was. When I went to pick it up, they handed me pills. Again. The pharmacist came to the pick up window to talk to me and we figured out what happened and why it wasn't filled right (the email didn't come through the right way and some information was missing) and he told me he could re-make it into a liquid but it would take some time. I said ok and told him I would just come back for it a little later.

He looked into my van and saw the kids and asked where I lived. I told him, and he said, "You know, I go right by there on my way home, I'll just bring it to you." And my jaw hit the floor.

"REALLY?!" I asked. "Are you SURE?!"
"Sure!" He said. "No sense on coming all the way back here."

Wow. So I thanked him profusely and drove off in a daze. Do people really DO that for one another?! Sure enough, the pharmacy closed at 6:00 and about 6:30 a girl who works there dropped it by my house informing me that she lived literally RIGHT behind me and offered to bring it by instead. I signed the slip, handed her my co-pay, thanked her again, and that was that. Amazing!

SO here is a public thank you!

Thank you Medicine Shoppe! Thank you for going the extra mile when you most certainly didn't have to! Thank you for helping me figure out why the prescription wasn't filled right in the first place so I could let our pediatrician know there was a glitch in the system and save other patients (and you) extra time and work! Thank you for being family friendly, for always wearing a smile, and for helping me be a good customer! OH AND Thank you for including a medicine dropper!!! That is always helpful! :o) You were very, very much appreciated yesterday! :o)

Down Syndrome Awareness Month!!!

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!!! I asked on facebook last night, I'll ask here too, what one fact can you tell me about Down syndrome? Watch for your answers in an upcoming post!