Friday, April 29, 2011

The Stupid Things People Say

Sometimes I wish I lived in a perfect world for Eslea. One where the r-word is never used. One where everyone can see how beautiful and special she really is. How she is just like them. Just like you. Just like me. But I don't, not yet anyway. So still I have to face the harsh words and views almost daily of those who choose to still see people who are maybe a little different as something less.
I have written before about the use of the r-word at my school. Working around teenagers you hear many things and you learn to tune them out. You also learn to develop a hard shell when it comes to the words that can flow from an impulse driven teenager. Knowing that my super mom armor springs on quickly, along with one mighty fine cape, when I am faced with a need to defend my Eslea, I was very surprised at the reaction I had to a recent incident.
It was one rainy afternoon (yes, that's how I'm starting) and I again had the awesome duty of monitoring the cafeteria. Now let me tell you, if you have not had the wonderful opportunity of "duty" in the educational system, you are missing out my friends. (cough, cough) One of my senior students approaches me to discuss his graduation plan...or lack there of. Since transferring to our school system this student has made it known that he does not intend to graduate with his class but instead desires to return for a fifth year of high school. While we were discussing this he inquires what he will have to do during his fifth year in regards to exactly where he will be taking courses. Our school has a long standing policy that if a student can not finish in four years, he/she must attend alternative school during the fifth year. This prevents us from having 19-20 year-old students in the same classes with doe-eyed 14 year-old teenagers.
After explaining the policy to this student, he started to protest that although he is nineteen,  he wants to stay on campus to study. I explained that only in rare circumstances could that happen and he must speak with the principal. Again, he probed and I explained that some students needed extra time to finish high school and were allowed to do so by the state.

This is his response....
"Oh, you mean like special ed students. I can pretend to be special ed."
He then proceeds to beat his hand on his chest while crossing his eyes and making the "dur" sound.
Yes. My armor was full on by the end of his little act. Red cloak blowing in the wind and all. I was a sight to behold, yet somehow I managed to keep my emotions and heart under control. It must have been my armor. (I did manage to mend the hole that was made from the doctor's visit.)
I just gave him a faint smile and said calmly...
"Did you know that my baby who was born this past year has down syndrome?  I can assure you that she does not act that way."
I wish you could have seen his face. For about 10 seconds he was locked somewhere between a smile and shock. It was priceless. So wish I would have had my camera.

Learning how to say and do the right things in those moments is becoming easier. I am less quick to react and more likely to try assisting the person in learning. If I would have gotten mad, he would not have listened. Instead, I'm sure that it a lesson he will remember for many years to come.

This mama is proud to use her super powers for good. I can't wait till Eslea is bigger. We are going to make one awesome super team. Fighting ignorance one person at a time.

What about you and your little super family; how is your battle going in the war against ignorance?

The weekend is here and my family is taking a much needed break. Time for some rest and relaxation. Or, maybe if I can just get a few hours of sleep squeezed in between bathroom breaks, bottle fixing and washing that darn super cape. 

I can dream anyway.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Daddy's Little Girl

-Daddy's Little Girl-

Eslea bug, my hope is that as you grow you will come to know how much your daddy adores you....

yet until that day comes...

I promise that everyday....

I will capture your moments together...

so you can one day see and remember.

- erin (that's MAMA to you little buggie)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Emma, there is no Easter Bunny

The Friday before Easter on the way home from school, Emma asked Jason if the Easter bunny was real. She said that all her friends think there is an Easter bunny but she is not so sure. She's a smart one that girl. So, we told her truthfully...No, Emma. There is not an Easter Bunny.
I guess that's it. The secret is out.
At five, Emma has officially reached the age of reasoning. You can see her little mind working. Wondering how the Easter bunny could possibly be real. How eggs magically appear full of candy. And just how does the chocolate egg manage to get all that gooey sweetness inside of it?
We took the opportunity to remind Emma of the truth of Easter. The meaning of Easter. Emma, Easter is not about the Easter Bunny. It's about Jesus. This year, she was very interested in the story of our Savior and his resurrection. Asking to read the picture book we have for her over and over. Asking if she can take it to school for her classmates to read. As proud as I am that she wants to share the story of Christ's resurrection, I'm not sure how well that will fly in her public pre-k class.
We had an interesting Easter this year. The weekend started off with a church picnic and egg hunt. I must admit that even though Emma loves to find Easter eggs, she does not like having to race with other children to do so.

Eslea's little buddy Renee came out for some Egg hunting fun.
One of the things I love most about any holiday is the gathering of family. I'm an only child and growing up I always wished for large holiday gatherings that never happened. As an adult, I rejoice in the numbers that come together for fellowship and love. I'm proud to have parents and in-laws that enjoy each others' company. So much even that we came together this Easter for a joint celebration. Even better, my oldest friend and her family came too. Happy days.

It does make me think though. Will I talk to Eslea about the Easter bunny? Or will I tell her to truth from the start? Eslea, there is no Easter Bunny.

Easter bunny. No Easter bunny. It all comes down to the same thing.
Love and the sacrifice that was made so that we can truly know what it means to be LOVED.

Holiday over.
This mama bunny is out.

Happy Monday everybody!

Edited to add: Yes! We told her not to tell her little buddies. I don't need no mamas calling up in this house! The funny thing is she knows there is no Easter bunny and yet, she likes to pretend that there is one. Go figure.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Technical Errors

For the past week, I have had Technical Errors. Realizing that those words could also be used as an analogy for life events and given my life sometimes it would be appropriate. In this regards though, I am referring to those two words as they are truly defined...I have been having technical errors with my camera. More specifically, I stepped on my card reader. Shhh. Don't tell my husband. He bought it. And yes, there are other ways to get the pictures that are waiting ever so patiently on my Cannon to my computer but...I also lost the cord that allows me to transfer images directly from my camera. I call it a "cord thingy". I'm sure there is some technical name for it that my sweet husband would happily share with me IF I wanted to tell him that I lost the thingy to start with, but I don't. So, maybe this post shouldn't not be titled Technical Error, maybe a more appropriate name would be...Erin Error.
Not to be defeated, I will instead take this opportunity to share with you a post I have been holding on to. One that includes pictures I already have stored and have been looking for an excuse to share.
If you remember, about a month ago I wrote about the article our local paper published about Eslea. In that same Sunday paper, the newspaper also printed an article about the Down syndrome support group that is forming in our area. Although Eslea's story was also linked to the newspaper’s website (Eslea: Reserved of God), the article about our support group was sadly not. Yet, as I mentioned in a previous post, I very much want you all to be able to read the article even if I have to retype the entire thing myself. And well, since I am currently having Technical  Erin Errors, it would be the perfect time.
Oh and just a warning, try not to cringe when the wording "Down syndrome children" is used. Just letting you know.

(Legal mumbo first:
The following was published in the Valdosta Daily Times on Sunday March 20, 2011. Copyright is the property of that publication.)

"Sharing Joys, Struggles"
by Elizabeth Butler
Valdosta Daily Times
Print Date: March 20, 2011

            Valdosta- What started as three moms getting together for play dates with their Down syndrome children in the last year has grown to adding several new families to the mix.
            "We want to involve even more people in our area who want to have the support that we have,” said Donna Johnson, one of the founding moms of the Down Syndrome Association of South Georgia. Other moms meeting to form the support group are Polly chase, Jennifer Gay, Erin Kelly Gaskins, Rebekah Odell-Matheson, Amy Reaves and Emily Smith.
            "It is so much easier traveling this path with others than alone," said Polly, whose 3-year-old daughter, Emily, has Down syndrome. "Positive support is key."
            Donna Johnson said she never even gave the words Down syndrome much thought before Kaitlyn was born. “Having my daughter, Kaitlyn, three years ago certainly has defined my life and reshaped it in ways I never knew possible,” she said. “I want people to know that our family is just like every other family. We do all the same things we did before she was born.”
            Donna built a network by talking on the Internet with other moms first. “I was able to find some other moms here through a general special needs support group,” she said. “We enjoy the time we get to spend together. These moms understand my joys and struggles of raising a child with DS.”
            Donna said there is a need for a locally run support group related directly to DS because the closest groups are in places such as Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Albany and Macon.
            “We want information and educational opportunities to exist for these new parents right her in our area as well as education and receiving support form our community,” she said. “I certainly know that the friendships I have made her locally are invaluable and I am proud to call them my friends. I feel very fortunate to be raising my daughter in a community as loving as this one. I am proud to have my daughter as on e of the faces of Down syndrome and am proud to be a supporter and advocate for those who voices are least heard.”
            Anyone interested in being a part of the DSA of S. GA can email Donna at or Erin at
            “We are planning to meet on Saturday mornings,” Erin Gaskins said. “Our website and blog can be found at”.
            Erin’s daughter, Eslea, turns 6 months old on Monday, World Down Syndrome Day. “World Down Syndrome Days 2011 is actually on March 21, but we had a celebration Saturday at McKey Park,” Erin said.
            Balloons were released to honor children, friends, and relatives who have Down syndrome. The party was held to “celebrate differences in all people” she said.
According to Erin, “World Down Syndrome Day is an idea from Down Syndrome International as a way for the voice of those with Down syndrome to be heard. The goal is for everyone to become aware of the contributions a person with Down Syndrome can make to our world.”
            Polly Chase advises new parents of Down syndrome children to “learn all you can about Down syndrome. You will be amazed at what you learn. Think positively and believe in your child. He or she will surprise you beyond your wildest dreams. I always like to say Emily has Down syndrome, but Down syndrome doesn’t have Emily.”
            Those who want to learn more about Down Syndrome can go to the following: (National Down Syndrome Society) (Down Syndrome Association of South Georgia)
            Amy Reeves is the mother of two children, including 3-year-old Lily with Down syndrome: “I want the same things for Lily that I do for Silas”, she said. “I want for her to love Christ, be respectful, kind and thoughtful to others and to have all the opportunities in life that other children have. I would not change a thing about my sweet girl; Lily is exactly who God intended her to be.”
            Jennifer Gay agrees with that assessment about her 1-year-old son: “Griffin has shown me that the things in life that I thought were so important are really not important at all. His beautiful blue eyes and sweet smile make my day. He has shown me the true definition of determination as he worked so hard to sit, crawl and pull up to stand. He has taught me that I no longer need to sit back and enjoy each precious minute. First and foremost, Griffin is a child like any other. Yes, he has Down syndrome, but Down syndrome doesn’t have him. He is truly my precious gift from God.”

Now, for the STARS of this post:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Little Girls like Bugs Too

-Little Girls Like Bugs Too-

Hey Emma Grace! What do you have there?

A lady bug.

We are going back inside, so let it go now.

But mommy, it's so cute. Can I keep it?

But mommy, I already found it a house and a leaf to eat!
I will love it forever and ever.


Maybe I should keep her away from the other little buggie in our house...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Breakin' for Spring

In the world of education there are many things that both students and faculty find themselves in disagreement...dress code, wearing of IDs, the validity of the excuses given for missed homework. But for many years previous and many years to come, there is one thing that most everyone can agree is a much anticipated event in our microcosmic world in which we live eight hours a day..Spring Break.
Unlike most of my coworkers and students, I did not venture out of South Georgia for my spring break fun. While others were soaking up the sun and tanning their skin to a nice toasty shade of red that matches my favorite lipstick, I was at home enjoying my kiddos.

Emma turned five. FIVE. There is just something about that number. A feeling of toddler days fading forever to the past and young tween years approaching. Sigh. My "big girl" (as she now likes to be referred) has the pleasure of sharing a birthday with my beautiful maternal grandmother. Eslea shares her name (Margaret) and Emma gets to share her birthday. This was the first time my grandmother (aka "Mamaw") has seen Eslea since the open heart surgery. Of course LOVE at first sight. We basked in each others' awesomeness while taking an excursion to the local strawberry patch. Strolling through mounds and mounds of brightly colored strawberries, one can not help but smile. Oh the tranquility of it all.

Just can't properly enjoy the berry picking process without knowing the rules.

The strawberry that jumped out of the basket to escape. It JUMPED I tell ya.

Every year Emma's (oh, sorry...big girl's) birthday falls close to Easter Sunday so this year we took advantage of that and fully embraced the Seasonal theme of eggs, rabbits, and chocolate. In an effort to save some of my sanity, I opted to have the party at a location that would bring joy into the hearts of the other pre-Kers that were present. Emma had been wanting to see the movie "Hop" so I decided what better way to celebrate a monkey turning FIVE then to watch a bunny playing drums.
Movie + Cake + Ice Cream + Presents + Video Games = One happy birthday girl

Pretty sure all her little bunny buddies had fun too.

Birthday cake- $60
Strawberry Bucket- $8
The everlasting memory of my Mamaw saying she is PROUD OF ME- Priceless

Excuse me. Had a little happy tear trying to escape there.

Rounded out the week by celebrating our one year anniversary with my hubby. As cheesy as it may sound, he is my best friend. To finally find the missing piece of my soul puzzle is totally worth all the crap and heartaches I once had to go through. Love.

The wedding cake on the day we were married.

The cake today.

 Emma wanting to get in on the picture taking fun...

and the cake eating fun, of course.

Although there is a tiny bit of jealousy inside my bones that wants to creep out when I hear of the beach going fun of those around me, I am rather proud of my spring break. If I do say so myself. And I do. Besides, the beach is only an hour away and I do visit her often enough.

Now, a wonderful announcement if you don't mind.
As most of you know, I am one of seven families who are working to form the first Down syndrome support group in our region. We are working to set up a website, a facebook page, apply for non-profit status, etc. One of the many areas that we are aiming to address is bringing awareness to our organization. Because unless our organization is out there, how can we spread our message of acceptance and awareness?
In order to make this happen, I will begin offering giveaways on this blog. These giveaways will be solely to drawn attention to our support group as we begin building our foundation. I am so excited and can not wait to get started. But..wait I must. I am still accepting prizes but I assure you that when it starts, you will be the first to know.
What kind of giveaways am I talking about? Well how does a gas card sound? Or a mud pie outfit for your little cutie? What about a super store gift card? Or perhaps even a vacation getaway?
Yep. That's right. Good stuff. Stuff I want myself but I can't qualify. Shucks.
Oh well, you'll get the prizes and the Down Syndrome Association of South Georgia will reap the benefits.

Now, I have work to do and prizes to sort.
Catch ya on the flip side.
(yeah, I don't know)