Sunday, August 31, 2008

The V - Vote

The race is on. Yes, I am aware that McCain's pick for VP is a woman who happens to have a child with Down syndrome. Since I believe that there are really 2 main reasons to pay for cable TV; Noggin and John Stewart's The Daily Show, this video clip will come as a surprise to no one who knows me. Folks, its guaranteed to offend some of my readers. Watch at your own peril (especially those with weak bladders). I'm truly sorry if this means goodbye.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
John McCain Chooses a Running Mate
http://www.thedailyshow.com/
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reece's Rainbow, 'Orphans' with Special Needs

written by Meredith Cornish

Dateline [last night] couldn't have had better timing for such a sad story but one we need to see and hear. The plight of orphans with special needs including Down syndrome in Serbia. Reece's Rainbow is currently working as well as Until All Have Homes to identify children with Down syndrome that are available for international adoption. Many children, maybe even some shown in this footage, could find their way into a home from these grants. It's not just Reece's Rainbow's opinion that this is happening, take a look at this video below. And if you'd like, take a peek at my own children adopted from Ukraine in 2008. One of whom is 5 years old and weighed 17 lbs with a fatal heart defect. Her heart is corrected through a miraculous surgery. She is now thriving as is my new little boy (11lbs at 18 months, 22lbs at 23 months!)

Reece's Rainbow made the difference for my children and it did for me as well. But it is a huge financial burden to take on an international adoption. Reece's Rainbow could do so much with your help.

Nominate Reece's Rainbow Adoption Grant Project to win a share in a $2.5 MILLION prize from American Express. Anyone can vote, just log in as a guest and help us make it to the top 25! Voting ends on September 1! Login as a guest to nominate.

WARNING: video below is difficult to watch

Friday, August 29, 2008

TGIF

Alexander's preschool orientation was today. (weepy momma). We found bows for Sophie's very thin, short hair that don't immediately fall out or make her cry. (weepy momma). We will make history with this election. (weepy momma)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

The ARC PSA - Respect

Guaranteed to make you smile this morning.

Produced by Will Schermerhorn of Blueberry Shoes Productions and posted with his permission.
Featuring members of The Arc of Northern Virginia

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tempest in a Teapot?

Google yourself today and see what you find. When I did it yesterday I found a blog post in which the writer (and middle school educator) discusses the Tropic Thunder controversy and the "R" word. He uses my name as if he had spoken with me and understood my motivations at our rally. Despite saying that parents of children with special needs are 'heroic,' he's misinformed on a number of issues (which I address in my comment) including his conclusion that activists are involved only because other organizations are. At the end of this post, he writes:

'Now it’s your turn. Is the use of the word “retard” ever acceptable? Does “Tropic Thunder” use this term in an exploitive manner or in an effort to underscore ignorant behavior? Is this controversy a valid one or a tempest in a teapot?'

It's not a new debate by any stretch and there are far more nasty blog posts about this issue out there. He's asked for a dialogue, so if you have a few minutes, feel free to go there and share your thoughts.

Here's my favorite Erin Smith image for the moment:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

They Say it Better

I ask you all to take a few moments to check out the following links. Here Patricia E. Bauer very eloquently describes the ban the "R" word movement in response to Tropic Thunder in an article in the Washington Post. Here, you can view a short clip from the documentary "Offense Taken" which was made when self advocates and loved ones stood up against the "R" word featured in a show in Minneapolis. Here in the LA Times you can read 1st Lady of CA Maria Shriver's words on the "R" word movement and TT. I've read a lot of articles and watched a lot of videos and feel that these three are ones not to miss.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What do Therapies Look Like? Pt. 2

Sophie receives speech therapy (ST) once a week at home, occupational therapy (OT) once a month at home, developmental therapy (DT) once a month at home, and physical therapy (PT) twice a month on site. It just so happened that this week she had 4 therapy sessions in 4 days. Listen for Sophie's favorite new word "baby" in DT. Here is a look at how it went.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sam I Am

Critics agree, 3.5 year old Alexander's interpretation of the classic Dr. Seuss book, "Green Eggs and Ham" is a hit, earning 4 stars and 2 thumbs up. "His use of vocal inflection and facial expressions have won over fans near and far leaving them wanting more," says Momologist JRS.

(yes dear friends, I realize I am a dorky proud parent.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baby Ring & Other Things

In the water miracles happen.

On Sunday I was in great need of some down time. A good friend knows these things, even when you don't ask for it. I accepted an invitation to go swimming and Amy let me just sit in the baby pool, too weary to hold a simple conversation. Without discussing it she knew I needed the sunshine and space just to Be. She fed Alexander when he said he was hungry and even cut the crusts off of his sandwich (which she will Not do at home) so that I could rest in the water.

In the water miracles happen. The world just watched Michael Phelps win 8 gold medals. In an article here, he describes how he spent time in the water with a little girl with Down syndrome as this was her Make a Wish dream. He talks about how She inspired Him. In the water Karen Gaffney shows the world her talent and inspires us all. In the water Larkin swims like a fish. She is a natural. She has no fear.

Water can do amazing things. It can build confidence. It can provide support and freedom to bodies that struggle to move on dry land. Only recently has Sophie begun to try and stand with assistance. On Sunday in the water she took hold of the edge of the baby pool, planted her feet solidly and stood with only my fingertips to help her. She didn't realize it, but she was doing it, pretty much on her own.

Then we tried something new in the water. I placed Sophie in a baby ring and held on tight. I was in fear of her tipping over and had visions of screaming for a life guard. Slowly and tentatively both mother and daughter took little steps away from one another. We each gained more and more confidence until I could let her go. With such joy Sophie danced in that baby ring. She stood. She twirled. She floated. She waded around in the water on her own. This was her first taste of independence.

To others at the pool that day, there was nothing much to our little scene. Parents and children all over the country enjoyed each other in the water that day. But Amy knew what it meant. She too knows the miracles and joy that can happen, particularly for our loved ones with special needs, in the water.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Radio Days and Rally #2

Yesterday was an exhausting day. It started very early with my first ever radio interview on WEFT with Vicki Niswander on her program Disability Beat. (Thank you Vicki!) You are more than welcome to take a listen as she has uploaded it here. Scroll down (not on the sidebar) and look for Disability Beat Podcasts. The interview about the Tropic Thunder controversy and the ban the "R" word campaign starts at about 8 minutes into the program. An inspirational song breaks it up and then the interview continues. NO LAUGHTER from the peanut gallery and please don't even attempt to count how many times I said 'uh' or 'ah.' I'll send you a butterscotch candy if you can tell me the quote I used at the end. Leave a comment, no fast forwarding.

The Rally for Respect continued at the Savoy 16 theater from 4-7:20pm as we staffed a table inside the theater lobby with Cathy, Paige, Betty and kids. A Saturday crowd is a bit different than what we had on Wednesday and we received lots of support. My favorite kind came in the form of moviegoers who simply pumped their fist in the air for solidarity with looks of appreciation on their faces.
I realize that we were very fortunate in getting permission to staff a table in order to come at this from an educational standpoint. Most of my heroes who are active in this movement across the country did not get such permission (although they may have sought it) and have had to take a 'protest the movie' position. Regardless of how you have taken up the call, I thank each and every one of you for standing up and being active in this Rally for Respect.

Lastly, I'll send a buffalo nickel to the first person who can name this movie.
(warning, uses strong language)

I don't actually have a buffalo nickel

Friday, August 15, 2008

I saw Tropic Thunder (small edit)

Last night I paid to see Wall-e but instead sat through Tropic Thunder. It was a small act of civil disobedience, if you can even call it that. Now that I've seen it, I stand by every word I've said about it.

TT defenders have made 3 main arguments about why it shouldn’t offend the disability community. It’s satire and not meant to be taken seriously (all in good fun). It pokes fun at itself (Hollywood and actors), not people with disabilities. If you saw the movie, you would understand and not take scenes out of context. See Stiller’s comments here.

I saw the movie and I agree. It IS satire. It DOES make fun of Hollywood. RDJ did a fine acting job as did Tom Cruise who was side-splitting hilarious. AND it DOES insult me as a member of the disability community.

In TT, studio heads and agents are shown to be evil, disgusting creatures concerned only with fame and making money. Spoiled actors are prima donnas; demanding TiVo on location, spitting out snacks, requiring their assistants and cell phones (& drugs) on hand at all times, whining constantly, and on and on. TT also pokes fun at Oscar chasers who have portrayed people with special needs. At the end, Speedman (played by Stiller) wins an Oscar for Best Actor instead of Tom Hanks in a wheelchair or Sean Penn as a man who appears to be blind (images shown behind the podium).

In the Daily Show interview last night, Stiller says that he had been working on the script for 7-8 years and for 2 years he had worked on it full time. If I could ask him directly, I would like to know, did he foresee the public outcry that is happening? I don't think so. Frankly he has seemed somewhat stunned and bit a sad of late, but then maybe I'm projecting. Stewart defended his friend by saying Stiller had been "kind enough to come and do an autism benefit." Translation, Stiller supports people with disabilities?

Having seen the film, I'm left with many more questions than answers. Why was such care given to the story line of RDJ in blackface but not the disability story line? An article was written here on the care taken to not offend or cross that line. “It was definitely a constant process of feeling it out. But [in general] what Robert was doing was so genuine and funny, it felt okay.” (Stiller)

A scene features Speedman and his agent, played by Matthew McConaughey, in which he inquires about Speedman's upcoming adoption of a child. "At least you get to choose yours. I'm stuck with mine." A picture is shown of his son who appears to have an intellectual disability. In the theater I was in, the audience laughed, hard. This adoption conversation takes place in a scene in which the agent inquires if Speedman had received TiVo -per his contract. The entire scene didn't need to be cut to orchestrate the points, (agent = bad guy, actor = prima donna). The adoption inquiry and subsequent line is the most offensive and horrific part of the film and should have never been done. Why was it needed to show the agent's son during the end credits on an airplane staring vacantly out the window? Who was that supposed to vilify? The evil agent father?

Is it possible that Stiller does not understand how insulting the use of the "R" word can be to people in the disability community? Our society, by and large, has appeared to be unaware of this fact. That is until the recent movement to ban the “R” word. Some argue that using the "R" word is not meant to insult people with disabilities or that it doesn't refer to them. It does. Period. Regardless of the user's intentions. It is similar to saying the "N" word but insisting that it doesn't have anything to do with African American people. That argument does not hold water.

Did it occur to anyone involved with TT that it would be like a verbal pistol whipping just to hear the "R" word 16 times? Did they have a focus group to discuss it? Did Stiller really think that it would be actors and Hollywood players that would be the butt of the "R" word jokes without hurting people with disabilities? Did he imagine the public would think of Hollywood when his new phrase "Never go full retard" made its way into pop culture? Did he know that the public would take out of context lines from the film to put on t-shirts (now removed from cafepress and ebay) or to hurl at each other as an insult? Did Stiller wonder how it would feel to a person with disabilities to see how he portrayed ‘Simple Jack’ with buck teeth, stammering, institutional bowl hair cut and overalls?

EDITED: What does "Never go full retard" mean? RDJ's character decided that Speedman went 'too deep' into the ‘Simple Jack’ role as a "retard" and thus turned audiences off and lost the Oscar bid. I would argue that the portrayal was the antithesis of accuracy, but maybe that was Stiller's point. ‘It’s ok to play a person with disabilities. Just don't act too retarded (farting in the bath tub, smashing butterflies with hammers) or you've gone too far?’ What's the message? Disabled = inferior? Maybe it means that other actors have made a mockery of people with disabilities and 'Simple Jack' was over the top on purpose in order to make that point. If so, is this likely what all people in the disability community will take away from watching this portrayal while hearing the hoots of laughter from the audience? Is it possible that the message may instead be that a real person with disabilities is a person without value, deserving of mockery?

What's with the line by RDJ "he eased up on the retard throttle?" This is while watching Speedman being forced to recreate ‘Simple Jack’ by his captors. RDJ's character apparently feels that his acting job was better than in the actual movie because he was acting less retarded?

This isn't the first movie Stiller has made with the “R” word. (Something About Mary, Dodgeball). Many other films are guilty of using it too. Why is this one so different, or is it?

“Once upon a time, there was a movie.” It was the giant straw that broke the camel’s back. The nation cried Foul and sparked a movement.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"A" is for Advocacy

RALLY FOR RESPECT, Savoy 16, Wednesday, August 13th
Setting up our table to educate movie goers (opening night of Tropic Thunder) on why the "R" word is hurtful.
my littlest 'self advocate' at her 1st advocacy event
beautiful girls

In partnership with the Savoy 16, we were given a table and chairs inside the lobby. We were asked not to approach moviegoers, but could talk to anyone who approached us. Out of respect for that agreement, we did not use signage that protested the movie, but rather focused on education. We used materials from the ARC, Special Olympics, and my personal favorite, buttons made by 13.5 year old Paige and sister of Dom who has Down syndrome.

We can all take a lesson from Paige who has worked tirelessly to educate people about the "R" word, who has in the 7th grade gotten the "R" word classified as hate speech that comes with consequences when students use it, who has distributed countless fliers about the movie, made buttons, got her peer group talking, and stole the show in the tv interview. Cathy, I know you're proud and so am I.

My favorite moment at our Rally for Respect:

A group of tween girls (not seeing Tropic Thunder) wanted to know what we were doing. "What's the "R" word?" When we told them and explained our position they GOT IT. We had copies of the pledge to not say "retard" as an insult and to speak up when you hear others use it. The girls all took the pledge. I guarantee they will be talking about this with their friends and this is truly a victory.

Of course there were a few moviegoers in the demographic that the film targets (young males) that gave us interesting looks. Some even went out of their way to go the long route around the concession stand to get to the movie (which made me giggle). I guess Sophie and the rest of us were big and scary. We may not get through to everyone, but that's not our goal. One at a time we are making people think and that's just alright with me.

Local Media Coverage of our Rally for Respect;

Amy's Letter to the Editor here. (archived, no longer available)

WCIA Channel 3 coverage Find Top Stories, click on Families Fighting the "R" Word here

Print Media, News-Gazette, (click to enlarge)

Radio interview on Disability Beat on WEFT with Vicky Niswander (my 1st radio interview, scheduled for Saturday, August 16th, 7AM)

And, an article worth reading (not local), which gives a history of the word, Not "Just a Word"

In case you can't get the link to work, here's WCIA 3 coverage, 8.13.08

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"R"evolution

Tropic Thunder premiers on August 13th. The movie trailers are hilarious and it promises to be a box office hit. That is, unless you know or love someone with an intellectual disability. That is, unless you are a person with an intellectual disability.

The movie relies heavily on the theme of insulting people with the use of the word retard, the "R" word. It features a film-within-a-film in which Ben Stiller insultingly portrays a man with an intellectual disability named "Simple Jack." Already, before the release of this film, t-shirts featuring the line "Never Go Full Retard," have been made. Teenagers have been overheard using this phrase.

You don't have to agree with me that misuse of the word retard is hate speech (which it is). You just have to be a thinking, feeling human being to know that it is wrong, cruel, and should not be tolerated to throw around the word retard or retarded as an insult. School will begin soon. I ask students to help make classrooms and hallways safer for people, like my daughter who was born with Down syndrome, by no longer accepting the misuse of the "R" word. Educators and parents, please speak up when you hear it.

It is a sad day when people in Hollywood decide its acceptable to make money by insulting the most vulnerable in our society. It's an even sadder day when the public decides to support the movie after learning what its truly about.

More information about the movie and the disibility community's response can be found here and here.

I leave you with the words of the great Margaret Cho who inspires us all to have self esteem in the face of discrimination and in doing so spark a long overdue revolution.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hi Heaviness

In light of recent events, this is my video response, dedicated to my good friend Amy A. She may put ice in her wine, but I'll have a bottle or two with her any day.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Defining Retard

Long before my daughter (born with Down syndrome) came into my life, I knew - I knew it was wrong to use the word Retard (the "R" word) because I am a thinking, feeling human Being. That is not to say I've never used it. I have. I'm guilty too. I am human and I've made plenty of mistakes, but I can learn. Back then, using the "R" word was not PC, not nice and it did not really affect me. But, I made the decision to stop using it and then not too much later Sophia was born. Now the use of the "R" word is more than just not PC, not nice and you can be darn sure it affects me.

Unbelievably there are those in my life that do not understand my passion to educate others on why misusing the "R" word IS IMPORTANT. People who know and love Sophia and who (at least in my presence) do not misuse the word. "It's just a word," they say. "It's everywhere in our society and culture. Don't get worked up about it." "It doesn't mean anything." "It doesn't have anything to do with Sophia." And then there are people who have loved ones with an intellectual disability that have no problem with the "R" word or jokes about short buses. Folks, I just don't get it. I think, in my little world, that maybe, just maybe a redefinition of the word Retard is in order.


Let's start with a look at the classical definition of retardation. To provide distance from pejorative terms such as imbecile, moron, and idiot, -mental retardation (often shortened to MR) has, in recent history, been the terminology most often used in the medical and educational communities. Merriam-Webster definition:
an abnormal slowness of thought or action; a: less than normal intellectual competence usually characterized by an IQ of less than 70 b: slowness in development or progress.


Mental retardation is defined as: subaverage intellectual ability equivalent to or less than an IQ of 70 that is accompanied by significant deficits in abilities (as in communication or self-care) necessary for independent daily functioning, is present from birth or infancy, and is manifested especially by delayed or abnormal development, by learning difficulties, and by problems in social adjustment.


It is because of the misuse of the "R" word that today intellectual disability and cognitive disability are being used more and more. So, what do I mean when I say misuse of the "R" word? It's not necessarily that the popular culture definition is any different then Webster's. In fact, (in my opinion) the popular culture version includes the definition above. Then, it goes a bit further.


Re-tard n. (redefined):
a person with mental retardation, who may have a different or abnormal; physical appearance, manner of speaking, walking, or ability to do any activity that a 'normal person' is able to do. Such persons may be born this way due to Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or have other health related etiology such as autism. Other Retards may be eccentric or just nonconformist. A Retard may be born this way or become retarded due to accident, illness or drug abuse. A person deemed to be retarded has subvalue, that it to say they are less than worthless (without worth). Retarded people are often seen as disgusting, drains on society, or at best should be pitied. They are often ignored, abused (directly and indirectly), and terminated before birth --with the approval and encouragement of society and promotion of Hollywood.


Insulting another person by calling them retarded is immediately recognized as a descriptive term encompassing all of the above and is decidedly Not something any 'normal' person would want to be which has lead to its popularity as an insult used by children and adults alike. To describe a frustrating situation or a strange or defective object as retarded is also socially acceptable and immediately understood. Further misuse of the "R" word has coined the term Celebutard, or a person with celebrity (often an actor, athlete, reality tv personality, or socialite) who is in the public eye for consistently behaving in a way that is seen as dumb or stupid.


Have I changed anyone's minds yet? Do you now understand that the pop culture use of the "R" word is a statement of value? Regardless of whether or not people are consciously thinking of my daughter Sophia or anyone else that has an intellectual disability when they use this word (or stand by saying nothing when they hear others use it) it IS EXACTLY my daughter that they are speaking of. That line of thought is akin to believing that using the offensive "N" word has nothing to do with people of African descent.


My daughter is just 1 year old and is not yet able to understand what this is all about. I, as her mother and biggest fan, have a responsibility and a passion to do something about this now. To eradicate the misuse of the "R" word by the time she can understand its full meaning is not out of reach. You can help. Start by taking the "Sophie Challenge" that we introduced last October in honor of the Buddy Walk in which I asked everyone I knew to STOP misusing the "R" word. Go further to educate anyone that you hear misusing it. Do it because it doesn't cost you a thing but can effect change in such a big way. Do it because you love Sophie. Do it because you or someone that you love could be in a car accident today or contract an illness that could cause you to to have the MR label.


Still unconvinced? OK, so maybe my definition makes sense, but does it really hurt anyone? Should we all just get over it, roll over and accept it because its just too wide spread? I'd like to send you to 2 stories. The first is about a courageous young man, Soeren Palumbo, who has a sister with an intellectual disability. I look at him and I see Alexander's future. Click here to watch how the misuse of the "R" word affects him. As the audio is hard to hear, a transcript can be found here. Or how about the story of how a teen girl with Down syndrome overhears a group of teens insulting each other with the "R" word here?


Lastly, it is often wrongly believed that all people with Ds or other diagnosis are always happy, loving, simple people who are incapable of defending themselves. Trust me, just like anyone else, my daughter can be whiny, demanding and impatient. She has a full personality and shows a wide range of emotions. It will not surprise me if someday she scores higher than 70 on an IQ test as there ARE people with Ds who have an IQ within 'normal' range. (Not that I put that much stock in IQ tests and certainly NOT that a higher score would change my pride and love for my daughter). Do not make the mistake of putting this little firecracker in a box. It is my greatest hope that she will grow up to be a self advocate like Jessica Green. Her latest post on her blog is about standing up to a room of doctors. Jessica, you are my hero.


Have I offended? Probably. Gone too far? Not far enough I think. Speak up even if your voice is shaking.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Great American Pit Stop


or Good Bye Mt. Zubba Bubba. It's been fun!

On our journey home yesterday we made an unusual (but planned pit stop). Having lived in WI (booooo Brett's a Jet Favre) for many years, we are Brewers fans. They were playing in Cincinnati against the Reds in the Great American Ball Park yesterday at 12:35 and we just so happened to be driving through there then (nice grammar, I know). So, we stopped, got a couple of cheap nose bleed seats (but still a good view of the field), the requisite popcorn, hot dogs, ice water and took our places. At one point a man with Down syndrome passed us by and I mentioned this to Mark. His reply was, 'ya, they all have Ds.' I looked again and the man was with a few friends who all had Ds. A few minutes later I looked up and over a few rows, and lo and behold, there were even more people with Ds. We bought our tickets at the gate but managed to sit with our people. How cool and unplanned!


I say we were in our seats for 40 minutes. Mark says 20. It was long enough to eat the dogs and slather everyone in spf 50 sunscreen. (which I should have done in the car). Although I had on a Brewers shirt, Soph was in red and white and her skin was the bright tomato red of her outfit. Her lethargy and coloring freaked me out so we boot scooted to the first aid station. Despite our Brewer apparel, they let us in. We all cooled off in the air conditioning and watched the game on a 14 inch screen. After a little while the boys took off while Soph rested. Eventually her skin color returned to normal and after a nap she woke up with her usual personality and a decent temp. Whew. We caught the last 10 minutes of the game and headed back to the car. Here's what the temp gage in the car read:


If there had been even a slight breeze or 1 spot with shade, I think we would have been ok. It was just too hot with that direct sun. We did have a little fun though. Alexander and Mark found the mister thing and cooled off. Not sure how much of the actual game we watched. But, the Brewers won 6-3 and Soph was OK. That's all that matters in the end.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prayers & Very Special Gift

Prayer Updates:
Kennedy is in the hospital and is REALLY not doing well according to her mom. She has a lump on the side of her incision and has an infection 'somewhere.' The doctors are talking about needing to take her halo off as they don't want her getting septic.
Emma's OHS went well. She has a long road of recovery ahead of her. Her mom asks for prayers that she is able to come off of the vent (today) and to not need the pacemaker.

Thank you Renee for your Monday Moments for Down syndrome. I really liked this one:

Very Special Gift
By S. Guevara

Once upon a time, three angels were busily working in the miracle factory. They were responsible for wrapping up all the little miracles and sending them on their way. Normally they wrapped each one in bright, sturdy paper with big, shiny ribbons. They stamped it with a delivery date and away it would go to the parents who eagerly awaited its arrival. Things usually ran pretty smoothly.

One day, however, down the conveyor belt came a little miracle that made the angels pause.
"Oh my," said the first angel "this one's uhm...well...different."
"Yes, he is unique" said the second angel.
"Well I think he is quite special," said the first angel "but I don't think he will quite fit our standard wrapping procedures."
And the second angel added, "And we know he's special, but will everyone else?"
"Not a problem," said the third angel "obliviously a special miracle deserves extra special wrapping; and of course we'll send him off with our most heartfelt blessings. Then everyone will see how special he is."
"What a wonderful idea!" replied the others.

So they searched the shelves high and low for their finest paper, and their most delicate ribbons. When they were done, they stood back and admired their work.
"Beautiful!" they all agreed.
"Now for our blessings," said the third angel "for it is time for him to go."
"I will bless him with innocence and happiness," said the first angel.
"And I will bless him with strength to face the many challenges that lie ahead," said the second angel.
"And I will bless him with an inner beauty that will shine on all who look upon him," said the third angel.

Before sending him off, the third angel, who was very wise, gently tucked a note inside.

And it said:

Dear Parents,
Today you have received a very special gift.
It may not be what you were expecting,
And you may be disappointed, angry and hurt.
But please know that he comes with many blessings,
And, while there may be pain, he will bring you much joy
He will take you in a very difficult journey,
But you will meet many wonderful people.
He will teach you patience and understanding
And make you reach deep inside yourselves to find a source of strength and faith you never knew you had.
He will enrich your lives,
And will touch the hearts of all who meet him.
He may be fragile,
But he has great inner strength.
So please handle him with care,
Give him lots of attention,
Shower him with hugs and kisses,
Love him with all your heart,
And he will blossom before your eyes.
His spirit will shine like the brightest star for all to see,
And you will know that you are truly blessed.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

King Smellsalot


Today we drove to our family's summer residence in Asheville, NC. It was built in 1895, has 250 rooms, and thousands of acres. More about the castle can be found here.

When we arrived, Alexander announced that there would be a purple dragon and the king was named King Smellsalot. I wonder what George Vanderbilt would think about that?
After a long day, our limo arrived to take us on a tour of the grounds and then we headed back to our real summer home on Mt. Zubba Bubba at Papa and Grandma Paula's.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Be Still, for Emma


Emma, a little girl with Down syndrome that I've gotten to know through her mom Meredith needs your prayers. Emma was adopted from the Ukraine in March. Emma has a very serious heart condition and is having surgery on Monday, at 7 am. Please pray for a successful outcome and that Emma is able to come off of the bypass machine and the vent.

The other day I wandered into a P. Graham Dunn store in Gatlinburg. They sell beautiful inspirational wood art. I found a wall hanging for Sophie that made me bawl like a baby in the store. In case you can't read it (see below), it says, We Prayed for This Child, And the child grew and became strong; she was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon her. Luke 2:40. My favorite color combo for Sophie is pink and green. "Sophia" is Greek for wisdom. It is perfect. I think that this sign is perfect for Emma too. Some of their other art that spoke to me were about the message "Be Still." So, these pictures are for the Cornishes:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Anne Boleyn had 6 fingers

or so the legend goes. That is to say that the 2nd Queen of Henry the 8th of England may have had 6 fingers on her left and 5 on her right hand. Why do I mention this? Cuz I finally had a chance to watch the Other Boleyn Girl tonight. It made me think of the line about Anne's fingers in Steel Magnolias, so I looked it up on the Internets.

Guess what else I did today? Nothing. And it was all I imagined it could be.