Monday, January 28, 2013

A new beginning

A new beginning

As many of you know, in December 2011, I published “I Live with Peter Pan”.  It was a book meant to help explain what Down syndrome was to young kids and to help open conversation about the diagnosis.

You see, I look at Peter Pan as this amazing character who was a leader, who loved and enjoyed life to its fullest…not someone that wouldn’t grow up…he just didn’t want to grow up because he loved his world and the way he looked at life.  A child with Down syndrome has these adventurous, childlike characteristics like Peter Pan, not to say that he wouldn’t grow up or want to…just that he enjoys life to the fullest.  This love of life he has will help families slow down a little and find joy even in the smallest things.  When I explained that analogy to my kids…they got it.  They understood what Down syndrome was in their own language.

I was so excited to get the book into everyone’s hands that I neglected to ask for feedback from the very families that the book would be helping.  Some of the words I chose in writing the book caused a few issues regarding stereotypes, which was not my intention. So, I met with several moms that have kids with Down syndrome - the “Sisterhood” - to help me correct the wording.

I couldn’t be more excited about this book!  With the help of the “Sisterhood”, Jason Batt and Earl Musick, I believe that the changes in this new edition meets the intended goal to make this book a wonderful tool for families who are blessed with a child who has Down syndrome.  With their input, I believe “My Brother Fights Pirates (well…kind of)” encompasses my original intent and desire to help educate what Down syndrome is from a child’s perspective. Thank you for your understanding and support!

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Don't buy me presents this year"

One of the funniest conversations I have had with my kids happened this morning driving them to school.  From the backseat, Asher says, “Mom, I don’t want you to buy me Christmas presents this year.  I want to see if Santa is real”.  I was surprised that this came out of nowhere.  I replied, “But Asher what if I don’t get the presents and Santa doesn’t get you presents…then you wouldn’t have any presents!”  He said, “Well, then I would Yell ‘Santa You are a Jerk!”  haha!   Jada then added to the discussion as if she was confronting him, “Yeah, I would sit on his lap at the mall and say ‘You wear red because you are evil!” 

We laughed so hard as usual about the things that come out of these kids minds.  But then a cool thing happened.  Asher said, “Yeah, he is not real cause there are no books about him”.  This is why that statement was cool…We are discussing the bible right now with our kids at Capital Kids.  Our series that we are in is about “the lego life” which is about building the foundation of God’s word.    So this last week we all talked about the books of the Bible with the big idea being “God’s Word is true”.  How cool is that- Asher thought that if there are no books in the bible about Santa Clause- then he is not real!  He got the fact that the Bible is nothing but the Truth!

I love conversations like these with them.  It not only makes me laugh but I love when my kids “get it”!  Although tempted to not buy presents this year, so our budget would get a break- I would feel really bad that the poor man dressed as Santa at the mall would be confronted by some really angry kids!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kids Scare Me

"What are those on your teeth?"
I was 16 years old and was in a Child developing class in high school.  There were about 15 small four year olds that we were watching for a grade.  I had these wonderful things called braces that automatically make me a target for selfless attacks on my soul.  A cute harmless little four year old comes shyly over to me and asked me, “What are those on your teeth?”  Awe…she wants to know about me!  She cares and has started a friendship by proving to me that even the smallest children want relationships.  I am honored.  Kids can say mean things…but you just got to get down to their level.  So I get down on the floor to be on her level so she doesn’t feel threaten by my tall 5’ 1” stature.  I start to share with her my experience at the dentist and explain, “They are called braces, and it’s to help make my teeth straight”.  She just starred.  Not at me, or my eyes…but straight at the railroad tracks in my mouth.   Her face went from smiling to confusion and to be painfully honest…utterly disgust.   She thought deep and hard and what she wanted to say and without hesitation when she found the perfect response, “I NEVER want those on my teeth…yuck!”  Ouch. 

Kids are scary.  Well, sorta.  It’s not their appearance that I’m nervous of, cause let’s face it…me and a kid in an arm wrestling tournament…I would eat their confidence for lunch.  What am I afraid of?  Is it that they are better in video games than me, which shows their quick reflexes?  No, cause I know that I could school them in a game of Pacman.   Is it that they can throw a fit in any situation immediately making it the most embarrassing moment on any given day in any given situation?  Probably that could be it too, but that is not it.  Maybe it’s that they look like a wild beast when it comes to eating.  Is that what they would do to me in a forest that we are trapped together in, and I’m their last idea for a meal to survive?  No…I mean, really?   When am I going to be trapped with a 5 year old in the woods and I’m their dinner…that’s a little stretched, so the eating habits I can put aside as non-scary.   What is it about these little three-foot beings that make me a little scared?  I mean…I have like 30 years of experience that I can release into their ever-growing minds.  Their small size should make it super easy to share my knowledge with them and how they should go.  At least I think it should.  But that’s not always the case.  They say what ever they want, they don’t hold back on telling you what they think of you. 

Kids say the sweetest but yet most hurtful things.  Not sure if your child has ever said that they “don’t like you”.  I know…it only happens to the bad mom’s right?  Nope.  You could be Rachel Ray and make the most amazing meals.   You could be J.K. Rowling and be the richest woman in the world and shower them with gifts.  You could be Cinderella herself as their mom and clean and sing while working all while having birds chirping on your shoulders.  You could be best friends with Justin Bieber and it still wouldn’t matter.  They could still say the most hurtful things that take away everything you tried to do for them.
I think I figured it out…I know what it is!  The only thing about kids that sometimes scare me…is their tongue.   The just not knowing what will come out of their mouth.  Sometimes they say the sweetest things ever but the situation isn’t going in their favor…they say the most bizarre things.  Whether it’s to scream, “Mom, you just farted” in a grocery store, or tells a lady that her breath stinks, or asking why someone looks so weird.  I mean, not that this has ever happened to me…just “theatrically” speaking, of course.  We can’t control it, we can teach them the way they should go, but the words that come out of their mouth is their choice.  They can determine if that choice will be a good or bad one.  I realize though, that most of what comes out of their mouth is mirroring what they see or heard in my tone.  Wait, what?!  Stop the cassette player right now…I can help my fear of what will come out of their mouth?  Sorta, kinda, yes, not really, sure, nope, maybe.  What I can do is help them understand what to say, when to say it, how to say it and more importantly in the tone to do it.  It’s not easy to control your tongue when you are carrying groceries in one hand, balancing a child in the other, kicking a sippy cup out of the way, holding the door open with your free leg, and resting a phone on your shoulder finishing a conversation with a friend, all while arguing with your child that it’s not time for TV right now.   Been there, done that.  But it only takes a few breathes to make sure you approach a situation with much needed respect for our kids and to talk through their frustration which in turn teaches them to talk with respect, grace, love and patience.    So challenging myself to listen…no, not just listen, but to really Hear my child’s voice today.   And the fear of what comes out may be a little more tamed and manageable!  So no…I’m not scared of kids…thanks to that little girl that destroyed my confidence and for giving me thick skin.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A new experience

I was so pumped to get the opportunity to share the book in Michele's 3rd grade class! What an exciting first experience it was for me. I couldn't believe the good questions they asked..."who illustrated your book", "How many did you sell", "How long did it take you" were just some of the questions;).

I sat there and couldn't believe that this was really happening- it was so cool to sit there sharing a God Ordained project helping them better understand what my son is blessed to have. I only hope and pray that they will get to experience a true "Peter pan" in their lives one day!

But one of my favorites was when I was sharing in the book how Logan loves hugs but sometimes doesn't like to let go... A girl raised her hand and asked in a very serious tone, "When you are done hugging him... How do you get him off!?". Haha... I love kids;)

Monday, November 21, 2011

The All So Familiar Hallway.

We had been so excited to get the unexpected news that we were adding another crazy Vaughn into the world.  Although a complete surprise, it was something we felt that God obviously wanted for our family.  We found out super early in the pregnancy and Jada happened to be with me when I got the news from the Doctor's office.  She immediately began telling random strangers that she was going to be a big sister again.  We knew right away that we were not going to be keeping this a secret for any amount of time.

So we announced it over facebook the exciting news...and the response was to be expected..."No way!!!"  "Serious!!??"  "Four?!?!"  Yep...that is what we thought to!  Excited, nervous, but ready if that is what God had planned.

We had no idea the due date and on November 7th we had an appointment for an ultrasound to figure out when number 4 would debut.  The lady doing the ultrasound was beyond quiet and seemed standoffish even with us trying to engage a conversation.  She said that my doctor would contact us and she wasn't allowed to give any information.  Um...okay?  The Doctor called and asked us to go in.  I wanted her to tell me over the phone, but she didn't want to.  I knew something wasn't okay.  I had to wait a few hours for me to see her and we then waited a horrible 45 minutes for her to come in and tell me news I didn't want to hear...ever.    She explained that the baby had died at 7 weeks, and we needed to schedule a D & C.  I didn't believe it and wanted a second opinion and blood work.  So the whole week I went in for blood work and another ultra sound.  The baby was now measuring 5 weeks and there was no heartbeat or any signs of blood through the baby.  I knew it was a reality now.  I was so confused.  Not sure why God would allow this to happen, not only to us...but mainly Jada.  You see, when you tell a little girl that she is about to be a's a comparison of us winning the lottery- everything didn't matter, cause she was going to be another sister!

Telling Jada was the worst experience I have ever had to do.  There was a lot of tears, questions that she wanted to have answered, confusion of what this really meant.  She did understand, not that she wanted to, but she got it.  Asher didn't.  He was still praying every night that the baby would grow.  He will though, it just wasn't real to him yet.

The day had come that we scheduled the D & C.  We arrived at the hospital and began walking down the very same hallway that we did just 3 years ago with Logan.  The wall was covered with pictures of new born babies.  The halls echoed of small little cries from the babies and laughter coming from the new parents and families.  The smell was even recognizable to me.  It was so surreal.  We checked into the room that I would then recover in...this was not what I had expected when the Doctor told me 10 weeks prior that we would be having another baby.  It was somewhat quiet between Jody and I...which is not normal.  There wasn't too much to talk about I guess.  We felt sad.  I was brought back to the room that I actually delivered Logan through a C-section.  That same room had brought me life had also ended it.  It was a routine procedure to them with no emotional tie, I get that, but I would have loved a hug in that moment.  I was so glad that the anesthesia happened so quick cause I started to cry.  It was over so fast.  I had told Jody to make sure he recorded me coming out of the anesthesia...I knew it would be hilarious.  And yes, it was!  There is about 15 minutes of pure comedy...let's just say it involved- an elephant, umbrella, knock knock jokes with no ending, tears and songs- possible a new YouTube sensation.

I then came out of a 30 minutes deep sleep, and when I came to- it wasn't what I expected.   I felt a peace.  Not sure why, but I felt relieved that it was over.  I didn't want to be consumed with this anymore.  It was a new day.  There is nothing I am more thankful for, than my 3 amazing kids I get to go home to.  This was not what I would wish on anyone, nor do I understand why this has happened, but I got what I was praying for...Peace.  When you loose something, it really helps you appreciate what you still have.  I really have never had trouble with this department...I have always loved my kids every second of the day...but now, there is a new outlook.  I am more Thankful than I have been for the blessings that God has given us here on earth.  And now we have a little one in heaven waiting for us!  Then tonight at dinner Jada prayed, "God I pray that you would be with the baby in heaven".   I truly believe that she has that peace now to.  We may never know why we experienced it.  I think sometimes you go through things to give other people sympathy going through the same situation.  Maybe it's just to   have an attitude of gratitude.  And now being the week of Thanksgiving and looking around with what God has overly blessed us with...I will not question why, but I know that God Always has the best life planned for us and sometimes gives us opportunities to see that.  Maybe you are sitting at home and going through something difficult and you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I would encourage you to look around and start thanking God for the smallest of things, and you will start to see things a little different.  This difficult time will pass and He will give you the strength for the next day to come- but enjoy it...cause a new day is a blessing as is.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Here!

I am so excited to release my first Children's book "I live with Peter Pan"!  Click to purchase "I live with Peter Pan"  This has been a year in process.  My son was born with Down Syndrome exactly 3 years today.  And boy, has it been an amazing 1,095 days that we have learned more each and every second.  Questions came into our mind every now and then - Why us?  What's next?  How can we do this?  It was never "we don't want this" or poor us.  It was just a challenge that we knew God had wanted for us to grow from...and we have.  Logan has brought our whole family together.  Everything about him is unbelievable and we couldn't be happier!  I do believe one of the reasons that God had placed an extra chromosome in Logan was to order the steps of this book.  My kids asked me what Down Syndrome was.  I tried to explain it to them, other than the obvious features of the characteristics that come with the diagnosis...but I was failing.  The questions came back a little harder and needing more details of what their brother had.  And then I thought of the analogy that helped them understand it.  Logan is like Peter Pan...he kinda always wanted to stay young [referring to the song "I won't grow up"], everyone loved him, and he was a lot of fun to be around.  And that was it...they got it!  Which then started the idea of the book.

It was a complete God thing that I had bumped into an illustrator at a Comedy conference.  I happen to sit with my sister at this one table in the morning.  We were introducing ourselves when it became Earl Musick's turn to introduce himself.  He stated that he is a cartoonist and was a Disney illustrator at one point and is a stand-up comedian!  I was anxious to ask him if I was able to use the word "Peter Pan" in a book.  He stated that Peter pan isn't copyrighted, just the actual character and Never Never land.  He asked why.  Telling him about the book idea, we exchanged information and the rest was history.  Earl has blessed me more than you will ever know with his gifts God gave him to illustrate and brings things to life with a  picture...and I thank God for my sister, Dorie, pushing me to go to this convention...or I would never have met Earl.

I am so thrilled that there will be siblings, schools, peers, families, that will read this book and help them understand what an amazing fulfilling life that comes with the words Down Syndrome.