21 Things that Rocked My Socks off this World Down Syndrome Day

1. Last fall the Kingston Frontenacs, our OHL team which is a level below the NHL, I think - I'm really the worst person ever to know anything about hockey...In the first meeting with them, when we were coming up with ideas, they asked if Pip & Noal would like to design their socks and brought out a gigantic sock to which I said, "I'm really sorry, I just do not understand this at all, is that just a really obese man's sock?" - To which laughing and utterly shocked they replied, "No, it's a hockey sock, the players wear them." - The fact that they miraculously still wanted to partner with us after my evident lack of hockey knowledge is awesome. So we celebrated World Down syndrome Day with them and thousands of people all celebrating the beauty in differences.

Photo by Julia McKay - The Whig Standard - Full article HERE

2. The hockey socks themselves designed by a 2 and 3 year old were outrageous and everything differences should represent - Awesome, beautiful, colourful & spirited. Seeing what my hooligans created when the players wore them, was actually quite cool.

3. My Happy Soul Project team worked it out that night - They sold shirts & signs like it was there job...I mean seriously, I am the luckiest in regards to the right people falling into my life. My girls who help at events, do so much behind the scenes, are passionate about our mission, love my kiddos and make me laugh so very much, truly are such a part of all of this.

4. Pip tried popcorn for the first time and this picture will go down as one of my favs ever.

5. Being surrounded by friends and family - Noal's little buddy, my cousins, Emma and others from our Down syndrome group...Just being surrounded in a huge hug of love & support. 

6. One of the most touching moments of the night was when students from the Hart Studio sang our National Anthem. Check out what this amazing non-profit is doing HERE...

7. Right as we stepped onto the ice and I was about to get all blubbery-over-the-top emotional, my foot slipped on the carpet and almost took me down. Thankfully this big momma didn't fall and it sobered me up to take it all in, instead of cry it all out. 

8. My little boy was beyond excited...Meeting the hockey players, dropping the puck, getting to keep it and show all his friends, being on the jumbotron, looking up and having an entire arena cheering for what he thought was him, just about might be the best day in his little life yet.

Photo by Julia McKay - The Whig Standard

9. Pip clapping so hard and literally oozing delight. At one point she was so excited when the entire arena was clapping for her, that I thought she was going to jump outta my arms...I realize she doesn't get it now, but one day I hope she knows how proudly we celebrated her. Watch this awesome video to see her delight HERE.

10. Looking around and seeing so many Happy Soul Project shirts was humbling, exciting and such a proud moment...Seeing others rock our Down syndrome Proud, Paint Outside the Lines or What Makes You Different Is What Makes You Beautiful baseball t's was pretty damn cool.

11. My husband is my support behind the scenes kinda thing. He doesn't really do any of the media side of things in regards to Happy Soul Project...But anything hockey and count him in - The sock incident had him in shamed disbelief - But seeing the pride in his eyes that night for our little girl was truly a beautiful thing. 

12. Seeing Happy Soul Project logo and video up on the jumbotron-big-screen-thingy...I mean, that was just cool - Who would have thought a blog I started thinking my mom, aunt and a handful of girlfriends would read would one day turn into what it has.

13. All the local media attention bringing awareness to World Down syndrome Day, Kick-It-Capes, and other initiatives from Happy Soul Project. My girl is becoming a pro and charms tv & radio host over within seconds. 

14. Meeting Bill Welychka a Much Music VJ from my teenager days who now host The WS Daily show and getting "church giggles" so bad I couldn't control them...During a commercial break we let Pip listen to Up Town Funk on a phone and seconds before we went live, the phone dropped under Bill's chair on full volume as he reported the news & weather...Watching him keep a straight face as Bruno Mars was blasting "Girls hit your hallelujah - Whuooo" did me right in and I had to think really sad, sad thoughts to reign er back together. 

15. This moment...I mean not being a "hockey" person I didn't think it would be as emotional as it was. But being there, feeling the love from the crowd, the excitement from my children, looking into the stands and seeing so many people there proudly celebrating their differences with us - It was a bucket-list-kinda-moment for sure. 

16. When people came over to say hi, tell me their stories, explain what Happy Soul Project meant to them or how Pip's changed their perspectives, it validated everything we are trying to do...Also seeing people rock their socks everywhere, you could almost physically feel acceptance & awareness wherever we went. 

17. The half hour we spent backstage with the students from the Hart Studio was very special. Watching them rehearse, interact with each other, play with my kids and just be who they are was very powerful for me. 

18. Since becoming a part of the Down syndrome community, the one thing I walk away with over and over is how fiercely proud we are to be parents, grandparents, siblings or friends of people with Down syndrome - And you could feel that...

19. Like my Happy Soul Project team I mentioned above, my friend and uber talented photographer from Eden Grove Photography, Sandra has a way of capturing these moments in my little family's life, that will always be cherished. She is such a part of what we are doing and her gigantic, generous heart is always teaching me things. 

20. The #differentisbeautiful hockey socks are being auctioned off to raise moula for our Kick-It-Capes Sewing Bee in May...The socks are signed by players and have my hooligans handprints and outrageous artwork all over them...If you want to help and buy one - check out the auction till Monday HERE.

21. It's one thing for a parent to accept, love and celebrate the difference in their child. That alone is an amazing thing proving over and over that LOVE is greater than any diagnoses or disability.

But it's completely-take-your-breath-away-overwhelming when others celebrate that with you. When others lift up your child, celebrating their difference and clap as loud as you do, for who they are.

Happy World Down syndrome Day - till next year!!!

Generation by Generation.....

It pains me to think of what Pip's life would be like if she was born generations ago..The hardships, the struggles, the unacceptance and the ignorance. I can't imagine as a momma what those mothers went through giving up their children to institutions or adoption because of the pressures of society. And I'm so very thankful for the generations of mommas that proudly fought for the acceptance and inclusion we now have.

I realize it's an ongoing fight and I gladly pick up my piece in it, for the next generation to come. Because it really is the next generation that makes all the difference. It really is about how their going to see differences and what will come from that.

So whenever I can preach our #differentisbeautiful message to a school, that's when I truly feel, I'm taking it to church...That's when I feel it's mattering the most - because these kids are the kids that are going to be accepting my daughter as she is.

These kids are going to be the ones to shatter the stigma around disability.

These kids are going to be the ones to accept people for who they are, not the disability they have.

These kids are going to celebrate differences, whether that's freckles, one arm, diabetes or Down syndrome.

These kids are who are going to change the world.

Last year to celebrate World Down syndrome Day, I was invited to a school that celebrated this beautiful little girl named Emma. It did my momma heart good, seeing inclusion first hand and also seeing the love from Emma's classmates, teachers and her mom.

It was an honour to chat with these kids this year and tell them that they can indeed change the world...That they in fact, already are.

Happy World Down syndrome Day,

All photos by the ever talented Eden Grove Photography

This part of her....

If you told me two years ago I'd be celebrating World Down syndrome Day with thousands of people cheering on my little girl, I'd laugh and tell ya to "beat it"...Two years ago I barely knew this day even existed. Two years ago Pip was in heart failure and I was just starting to wrap my head around this part of her called "Down syndrome".

This part of her that scared me oh so much and had me in such devastation thinking about what it would mean to our lives.

This part of her that I was so unsure of, simply because I unintentionally was unaware.

This part of her that invests hours upon hours, days upon days of extra care; Doc appts, therapies, speech, etc. etc. etc.

This part of her who caused other complications with her eyes & heart and left me breathless in fear and trusting in hope, surgery after surgery.

This part of her who needed braces to help her walk, glasses to let her see, tubes to allow her to hear and medicine daily to keep her thyroid functioning.

This part of her when you look at in black in white on paper seems like such a negative thing. But this part of her is now something I so fiercely celebrate and love because she wouldn't be my little Pip, without it.

On Friday thousands upon thousands of people will be celebrating this part of her...And I can't even tell you what that does for this momma's heart. 

Happy World Down syndrome Day friends...

Big thank you to the Kingston Frontenacs for helping us celebrate World Down syndrome Day and the beauty in differences....Please join us if you can. And once again the ever talented Eden Grove Photography captured Pip perfectly in all of these shots.

50 Years from Now....

I'd consider myself to be a pretty-easy-going-roll-with-the-punches-kinda momma. But two things in particular just about do my head in: Potty training for obvious reasons and getting children out the door, especially in the winter. I'm always running late, I mean always, so that with the added nonsense of boots, coats, hats, mitts, times two just about makes me wanna hibernate and call er a day.

Take this morning, my one day when both hooligans are at daycare and I get to actually work. Pip went up and down the stairs about 13 times, Noal refused to put his boots on the right feet, Pip didn't want to wear mitts and Noal kept distracting the whole process by singing to her which she loved.

And right before I was about to get all outta sorts, like they always do, they took me down a notch and showed me really what matters...

 "Look momma, I can even kiss Pippy through the stairs."

They kept kissing, Pip laughing each and every time and Noal beaming proudly because he made his "girls" happy...

You think that would be enough of an emotional hug today, but oh no Fate was not finished...Walking into daycare, Pip was a bit slower and having a hard time on the snow, so Noal kept pushing her along and holding her hand...

And in that moment when I took this sweet, sweet pic, it was as if this was them, 50 years from now. It was as if this was a glimpse of my sweet boy taking care of his sister, when my husband and I are gone. It was as if Fate once again was showing me, they have each other and everything will be okay. 

P.S- Noal is the King-of-Time-Outs in our household but Pippy always has to go sit beside him to make sure he's okay. 

We channel "Beyonce" and I kinda love it....

Back in the day, okay not so long ago, but before kids when the drinks were a plenty in my life. I used to get what my husband says a bit "Beyonce-ish" when I had a few too many...It was like once that over the top drink hit, I had a streak of "Miss Independence".

My girlfriends, I'm sure can back up this claim but to give an example, so y'all can picture it properly - When my husband & I lived in Ireland, we lived city centre right in the smack of one of the greatest cities in the world, Dublin. And Dublin comes with pints, music and fun just about every night of the week. For us it was Fridays with our co-workers and friends. One such channeling my inner "Beyonce" time, I thought it made sense to walk home bare-foot, because my tootsies were killing after thinking I was killing it on the dance floor all night - Obviously another trait Beyonce and I share...But when my rational-trying-to-help-boyfriend-at-the-time-I'm-lucky-he-still-married-me-husband tried to reason with me, I stormed off with my arms in the air proclaiming, "You don't own me"...Proud moment for sure.

Well the reason I'm sharing this oh so lovely tidbit of my past with y'all, is because I think the "Beyonce sassyness" has been passed down to my son...The other day he had dental surgery and everything went okay till he started coming out of the anesthetic. He was kinda like the one too many gins in his momma...

He went berserk - I mean buck wild...Trying to rip off the IV, flailing around like a wild animal, clinging to my neck one minute, throwing himself on the floor the next, pinching a nurse and then demanding new water because his wasn't "cold" enough...He let his inner "Diva" come out and I even had to carry him to the van wedding style, in just his coat because he refused to put his shirt on - And then went off, because the zipper was cold on his belly. Good times.

I tried to tell the nurses, he was actually a really funny, lovely little boy. They just laughed and said, "They've seen this reaction before and that they know he is funny." I must have looked puzzled as to how, so they told me what the Doctors and operating nurses told them. And while I was in the operating room to witness it myself, I still had to giggle that they felt it was funny enough to share.

Lately whenever Noal farts, he looks around to make sure someone is watching him and then he says, "Ooops, kiss from Uncle Two Cheeks." He then laughs hysterically and I obviously can't help but laugh right along with him.

Now I don't know if Noal could sense I was scared or sad or what, but right before they put the mask on him, as I was holding his hand and about to sing the song we had chosen together. He looked up at me and said, "Ooops, kiss from Uncle Two Cheeks momma."

To which I obviously started giggling and then had to tell the operating team what he meant...The room exploded in laughter, I mean loudly, the Anesthesiologist may or may not have snorted. It totally took the stress in the air outta the room and the size of Noal's smile, knowing he made people laugh is a story I will tell his whole life. 

So, at the end of the day I kinda love that my boy has a bit of "Beyonce" to him. He's strong, knows what he wants, is independent and outrageously charming and charismatic...

He knew in that scenario, when his own momma was trying to be brave, by making her laugh it would ease her heart. 

P.S - Here's our "dental surgery" song...I may just watch it forever because I don't think there is a cuter little boy on the planet.