3 x 21: Shifting Perspectives

A mom post tonight…

We’re very lucky to have some incredible role models for Lily within our Down Syndrome family and sometimes I need those role models as much, if not more, than she does. There are times when we’re hitting a milestone roadblock or we’re up to our ears in non-stop vomiting that I find an unmeasurable amount of solace in looking at Lily’s counterparts and enveloping myself in their amazing lives.

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In 2012, the UN General Assembly declared March 21st as World Down Syndrome Day, “to reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all.” (Ban Ki-moon).

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Last year was our first year celebrating World Day Syndrome Day as Lily’s parents and we celebrated it quietly and with just the three of us. This year we chose to spend the day embracing our lives in this amazing community we are surrounded with. We were honoured to start our day with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society in opening the market at the Toronto Stock Exchange. Though it began a little rough, with an unintentional sleep-in causing us to rush to try and get out the door and then getting thoroughly turned around between the Exchange Tower and First Canadian Place, once we stepped into the broadcast studio we were quickly reminded why we were there. If you looked beyond the “official” types who were there representing different Down Syndrome affiliate groups, you would find yourself immersed in a group of parents and supporters watching, with so much pride, these individuals displaying the best parts of human nature – engaging, kindness, laughter and so incredibly supportive of one another. We had time to speak with a few of the self-advocates and I was filled with so much joy listening to them speak about their ambitions, their careers, their passions – so many of them echoing similar sentiments: that they simply want to educate people about what it’s like to live with Down Syndrome; to show people, who aren’t as lucky as we are, that having Down Syndrome doesn’t detract from you life, it enhances it.

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On this day last year I spent my time reflecting on what Lily’s life was like at the moment – what her diagnosis was bringing to our lives right then. This year I find myself picturing where her life will take her and how I really and truly believe that her life is going to be amazing. There are so many people our there right now- self-advocates standing up to be heard, parents demanding their children not be dismissed – paving the way for the next generation of kids with Down Syndrome. As time passes and each March 21st brings more awareness, I hold on to the hope that inclusion and integration will no longer be catch phrases but will actually be the norm; the hope that when Lily is ready to take the world by storm – as I know she will – the world will be ready for her and truly see her abilities.

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* Special thanks to Trina Hoadley for the amazing photos of Lily, as part of Toronto’s Circle 21 World Down Syndrome Day celebrations. You can see more of her beautiful work here.

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The Many Adventures of February 26th and Beyond

This last month has been totally and completely unreal and I barely know where to begin.  I think it’s easiest to start telling you all about the crazy day of February 26th and then I’ll fill in the rest.

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I think I told you all in a different post that the people at Momma C’s work were nice enough to name the tot pool at the new Regent Park Aquatic Centre after me. That alone was cool enough and I would have been perfectly happy just seeing my little sign each time we went swimming there, but then one day in February, Momma’s boy boss asked her to bring me swimming at Regent very early in the morning because something called “Breakfast Television” was there.  So, we woke up super crazy early (I’m talking by 5am people) and we went swimming.  I actually had a really good time, even though it took me a little while to get into it but after an hour and a half, I was just so cold that I had to get out.  Once I was dressed again, Momma C took me into the back office to see all of her work people and then this pretty woman named Jennifer Valentyne came in and started telling me to get ready because I was going to be on TV! So, Momma C and I walked back out to the pool deck, sat down beside the big camera and then this happened:

Since then, people keep telling me about how cute I looked on tv and what a great job I did, and how they especially love that I looked towards the camera and made my squishy face for the whole world to see.

Our day continued and I thought it was going to be a good one! Gramma (aka. Granny Pig – that’s Thor’s new name for her and Momma C really loves it) and Pa came over for dinner and we were all playing happily while Mommy was cooking.  It turns out that maybe Mommy should have had a little nap that afternoon because suddenly she was yelling for Momma C to get a fire extinguisher because the oven had these big yellow and orange flames coming from it.

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Now I was strapped safely in my highchair eating MY dinner, so I didn’t actually see it happen, but there was a lot of confusion because the fire extinguisher upstairs didn’t work and Momma C had to run downstairs and get that one.  Luckily she was superfast and Mommy put the fire right out.  It made our house all smoky and gross but at least we were all safe.  Gramma says that the mom’s just didn’t want to cook dinner and this is how they justified getting Wendy’s instead!  In the end the stove ended up being taken outside to the garbage people and we got a new one instead.  It was a very very crazy day!

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A few other things have been happening that are a little bit exciting.  Momma C was asked to write an article for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s quarterly magazine called 21 – it will be published in May for all members of the CDSS and at their 2013 Conference in Winnipeg.  Then, through writing the article, we were also invited to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day (March 21st – get it, 3×21 because there are 3 copies of the 21st chromosone) with the CDSS by ringing the bell to open the market at the Toronto Stock Exchange! We’ll be there with some other amazingly cool (but not as cute) people, including Dave “The Wave” Cass, who works with the Toronto Argo’s! Plus, I get to dress up and that makes the whole thing even better!

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That night, the mom’s are going out to celebrate 3×21 with Circle 21.  There is a big cocktail reception that’s going to feature some really crazy things, like the actors from the play RARE, video’s, and a photo exhibit by Trina Hoadley that may, or may not, include some very cool photos of little old me.  The mom’s have seen the pictures and they are blown away, but we can’t show them off until after the 21st.   I would be jealous about not going, but I get to hang out with MeMa, so it’s not so horrible at all!

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