Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shutterfly Card Giveaway

Last year Shutterfly ran a promotion for 50 free holiday cards for bloggers. See a copy of our card HERE. We were thrilled with the quality of their customizable cards and the speed in which they were delivered. The hardest part about using Shutterfly is that they have so many beautiful designs to choose from. I was contacted recently by Shutterfly as they are running the promotion again. This time they offered me 50 free cards AND gave me codes for 25 free cards to give away to 3 lucky readers!
I can hardly wait another month to haul 10+ boxes out of the basement to decorate for the holidays (no exaggeration). I find comfort in traditions and do my best to make these special times magical for my family. Cards are another way to honor the holidays and mark the passing of time. Many of our friends and family live 1000+ miles away and cards are a chance for our family to reconnect with theirs. I prefer to send personalized photo cards and Shutterfly has an amazing selection to choose from.
I've posted a few of my favorites above. It will be tough to choose which one to use. If you would like a chance to win 25 free cards from Shutterfly, please visit their Christmas collection HERE, the holiday cards HERE, and photo Christmas cards HERE. Come back to this blog and leave a comment telling me which one you would use. Then tell me what your favorite tradition is and why. It doesn't have to be a winter holiday tradition. Be sure that I know how to get a hold of you. Winners will be chosen on November 9th. Remember, I have 3 sets of cards to give away so your chances are good. Thank you Shutterfly!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Team Sophie! Thank you Maureen, Ras, Samuel, (and baby to be) for joining us for our 2nd Buddy Walk at VU.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. For the past few years this blog has participated in the 31 for 21 challenge. 31 for 21 is when bloggers commit to post every day in an effort to raise the awareness of Down syndrome, otherwise know as Trisomy 21. Although our lives are too busy this year to participate, you can find a list of bloggers who have taken the challenge HERE. You can also do a search on this blog for 31 for 21 and find around 100 posts from previous years.

Once again Team Sophie rallied for our local Buddy Walk. Here is Alexander with the Star Wars character Boba Fett (he's going as Boba Fett for Halloween this year). Seeing his favorite characters in person proved a bit scary, so all of the pictures are of Alexander with the Star Wars guys in the background, a safe distance away.

Grandma Paula flew in to spend the week with us and walk with Team Sophie. We are so blessed! While we celebrated near Philly, family members who could not make it once again rallied and attended the Buddy Walk in my hometown. Pictures forthcoming (hint, hint Liz!) We are touched beyond words to see such an outpouring of love and support from our family and friends.

We are grateful for our wonderful friends. I met Melissa in the C2P2-EI course that I took through Temple University - Institute on Disabilities. She brought her sweet family and signed each of them up to different teams as so many of our friends had teams participating this year. Melissa and her husband were on Team Sophie. Thank you so much!!!
This is my friend Kim representing her son Nolan & Sue representing her son Sylas. Mara, Nancy, and Cecilia were busy bees as they worked the auction tent and shot photos. If any of my C2P2-EI friends have a picture of us together, please send it to me.

I got up close in personal with these guys for Alexander. Note to self: Stuffing the sweatshirt front pocket with cameras, kleenex, etc. WILL make you look 7 months pregnant. D'oh!

Team Sophie and Alexander as close as he could muster.

The Buddy Walk at Villanova Stadium is a big event. We have bounce houses, live music, cheerleaders and football players cheering on the teams, face painting, food, exhibitors, a silent auction and raffle, games, Star Wars characters, Berenstain Bears, Elmo, a Tot Lot play area, and more. It truly is a great family fun event.

We even had a chainsaw ice sculpting artist make this right in front of our eyes.

Here's Sue and Sylas. Sy is currently hospitalized with Croup (mama has it too). Please send up a prayer for healing.
Buddy Walks are always a highly emotional time. There are great joys to be sure and each year there are fewer tears. Yet old wounds that never fully heal can easily be broken open. Memories of past events collide in my head with thoughts about our family's future, about Sophie's future. I wonder about her siblings and when the day will come when one of them asks why we have a Team just for Soph. We don't hide the fact that their sister has DS, but our discussions are purposefully age appropriate. To them, she's just "Sister."
We had a prenatal dignosis of our daughter's DS. We were scared and hadn't a clue as to how incredibly lucky we were. We needed the gift of time to see with new eyes. Having a child with DS has its challenges (as all children do), but the overwhelming joy far exceeds the hard times. Sophie is a gift and our family is blessed. Life is good. Go Team Sophie!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Prohibition Documentary Review

Mark is a featured blogger today where he reviews Ken Burns' newest documentary on Prohibition. Check it out HERE.

Friday, October 7, 2011

American Horror Show Pilot Review

Down syndrome, the macabre, a new tv series, a stellar cast, you have my attention.

When I learned of a new tv series on FX that would not only be scary, but feature a character with Down syndrome, I was thrilled. All too often actors with disabilities are cast in one-dimensional roles where their disabilities define their character. In the previews we are given the hope that in the case of American Horror Show, the character with DS would have a quirky personality that would contribute to the spooky theme. I could get behind that.

According to the official website on FX, "American Horror Story revolves around the Harmons, a family of three who moved from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish. The all-star cast features Dylan McDermott as “Ben Harmon,” a psychiatrist; Connie Britton as “Vivien Harmon,” Ben’s wife; Taissa Farmiga as “Violet,” the Harmon’s teenage daughter; Jessica Lange in her first-ever regular series TV role as “Constance,” the Harmon’s neighbor; Evan Peters plays “Tate Langdon,” one of Ben’s patients; and Denis O’Hare as “Larry Harvey.” Guest stars for the series include Frances Conroy as the Harmon’s housekeeper; Alexandra Breckenridge as the Harmon’s housekeeper; and Jamie Brewer as Constance’s daughter."

If you feel like you've seen this show before, it's because you have. American Horror Show goes beyond paying homage to fright films that we are familiar with. The writers lifted bits of plot points from classic horror films and threw them all together like stone soup without even an attempt to show us something original. If you are interested in a full review of the story line, camera work, or strength of the acting, do a google search and you will find a plethora of reviews. Yet while I am interested in these aspects, it is the character Adelaide who happens to have DS that has my attention.

There are spoilers so, X out now if you must. Clips are for mature audiences only.

The following clip is the opening scene to the series. Despite the thumbnail image, Dylan McDermott is not nude, though if you want to see that, he obliges many times in the pilot episode. Please watch as we are introduced to Adelaide for the first time.

Opening Scene

The next embedded scene takes place at present day with the Harmons newly moved in and Vivien stripping wallpaper. Please view but be forewarned that this scene contains horrific dialogue.

Present Day

Finally, this clip is after Addy (Adelaide) breaks in the house again and Vivien deals with her.

Last Clip

In the first minute of the show we watch as the doomed preteen twins call Adelaide a freak and then make a sexual overture to her. Clearly in the case of her mother Constance, the writers were going for shock value delivered by a truly hateful villain. She refers to her own daughter in ways that are so evil that I felt verbally pistol whipped while listening to the dialogue. She insults "brown" people and people who are homosexual as if it's normal conversation.

So, I'm in a quandary. I will watch the series, in part because I need to see how it ends. I need to see if my theory plays out that Constance and Addy aren't actually living humans but are a part of the haunted house. Yet, I am horrified by the treatment of Adelaide and I was utterly unprepared for what I saw.

In the case of the movie Tropic Thunder which garnered such backlash for its mocking of a person with disabilities and repeated use of the word retard, writer and actor Ben Stiller defended the plot as satire, which fell short of an acceptable excuse. So, how can American Horror Show be defended simply because they needed to develop a character as heinous as Constance? Even if she "gets hers" in the end. How is it that I'm the only person besides my friend Nadina that is taking about this?