Wednesday, May 25, 2011

She is 10, but she is making a difference

My sweet beautiful Gabby.

ahh, where do I even begin to tell you about my child, my first born, my baby girl.
I was 19 that hot Friday in June she was born. Actually, Houston was about to be hit with a tropical storm.

I was young. And I thought I was in love. NOW I know that could have never been love. I was a lost young girl that longed for affection and my ex seemed to (sometimes) provide. Here is a lesson for you young girls.... LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS!!!! And PARENTS take better care of your kids!

... if I could only go back on time. At the same time, messing with the past would only take my  Gabby away.

I was in such incredible pain when she was born. Yes physical pain, but the emotional pain outweigh the physical. I will forever always remember that one nurse who kept giving pain pills. But no codeine pill could take the pain away I felt inside that day. To be honest, I probably hurt much more the day she was born than the day Ethan was born. Those first few days are engraved in my memory. I hate it. I wish I could think back about the birth of my first born and only remember amazing memories.

I will never forget the things I had to endure on those days. (And it all had to do with her father, not her actual birth, I was very thankful for my baby girl.)

And here we are now. She is almost 10. Next week. June 1st. My baby girl, the sweet baby with the long fingers that I would always say would be a piano player (and she is now!!), the one that opened my world into motherhood... will be TEN next week.

That girl... she is something else. Full of corny jokes and stories that I wonder where on earth did she come up with these! My baby girl.

Well my Gabby was able to take part in her school's Gifted and Talented Expo. The theme was social, global awareness. There were a ton of pollution projects and Japan related projects. They were pretty much all the same, just different creators. And they were GREAT... but what stood out was my Gabby and her friend, Monique.
WHAT did they do???

Spread the Word to End the Word. Yup.

Here are two 4th graders reaching out to whoever would listen to them. I dont think many of the other younger kids understood or cared, but from my observations, there were a few adults who agreed with their campaign. And few even pledged on the R- Word website

 And I was touched. I am so blessed to have this child. All the pain I ever felt has been well worth it.

business cards they passed out, that brought me to tears when I first read it.

And A HUGE THANK YOU TO her teacher, Mrs. Schell! She has been such a wonderful and amazing inspiration to my daughter and all of us. All her future teachers have great shoes to fill.
 Thank you for all your support and for always believing in Gabby... and Ethan as well.

and if 2 forth graders can make a difference, so can you.

The word "retarded" is dehumanizing, and just like Gabby told me, you have "freedom of speech" but don't get too carried away with that... People with intellectual disabilities also have a right.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“He’s gonna be jealous”

A couple of weeks ago I had the finest pleasure of meeting Anthony. I’ve been told he’s in his 40’s.

He works at one of our local groceries stores in our area as a bagger/cart collector/anything that is needed in the front of the store.  And he has Down syndrome. 

I’ve known about him. Apparently my father in law works with a relative of his. I’ve seen him before, but I never had the courage to talk to him. I didn’t know what he would say or do… lets be honest, I was a tiny bit scared. Especially when you have a little one with Down syndrome and you don’t have a clue as to who your child will be in 5, 10, 20, 40 years! And when you meet an adult with Ds, sometimes you cant help but wonder, will my child be like him? Sometimes it can be a bit intimidating. 

Although I am very accepting of Ethan’s Ds, and it honestly doesn’t scare me and I have the biggest and most amazing dreams for Ethan, every once in a while I have some concerns, just the way I do for my girls.
Anthony was sent to the back of the store to bring me my 40lbs of crawfish that one day. I wont lie, I was a bit giddy. I had whispered to Ethan, “look Ethan, he has Down syndrome, just like you” and kissed his sweet forehead.
Then he appears again, pushing a cart full of crawfish…. I waved him down and he followed me to the truck. Pushing the cart with Ethan along the bumpy concrete parking lot, I panicked what should I say to him, I have to talk to him… come on Erika, think of something!!! 

Finally we reach the truck, looking at the huge bag of crawfish, I ask “is it heavy?”

“No, it’s not heavy” he assured me.  I stared at the nasty little mud creatures  actively moving around, “Will they pinch me?” 

“No, they not gonna pinch you”…. he reassured me again.

“What’s your name?” I asked, trying to spark a conversation… “Anthony”

“Look Anthony, this is my son, and he had Down syndrome just like you, he is special, just like you!” I happily blurted out!

“No waaaaay!” he excitedly responded. “What’s his name?”
Anthony: “Ethan! What’s his last name?”
“Hey Saldana!” he told Ethan. “You like crabs?” he asked me, referring to the crawfish.

“I sure do, do you?” 

Anthony: “yeah, I like crabs, who’s gonna cook them, you?”

“no, not me”

Anthony: “oh, your husband gonna cook them?”

Me: “He sure is”

Anthony: “what’s his name?”

Me: “Sammy”

And I missed what he said as I was trying to squeeze 40 HEAVY pounds of crawfish into an ice chest, but I believe he invited himself over… because then he said “he’s not gonna like me, he’s gonna be jealous”

Me:  “who is going to be jealous?”

Anthony: “your husband, he not gonna like me… ”

He was a hoot! So outgoing and sociable. And God, it felt so good. Here I was having a conversation with a grown man with Down syndrome, granted, I think he was hitting on me, but he was such a pleasure. And I did reassure him that Sammy would not dislike him, rather love him like he was part of the family.

 I cannot wait to babble away with Ethan and all of his stories he has to share with me. 

All this time I was scared to approach Anthony, when he was one of the most approachable people I have ever come across. 

Everything is going to be ok. I just know it. 

(on another note: THANK YOU GOD!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK!!! The Supreme Court  has overturned the Judge's ruling and Kirill is now a Davis! I am sure God always intended him to go home to his family in Alabama and all the bumps in the road where placed there for a purpose. Through it all eyes been opened, hearts have been touched and awareness raised through Kirill's adoption. Praise the Lord!) 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ethan and Daddy Blog

Well guess who else has joined the blogging world????....

nope, wrong guess!

The hubs! Yes, you read correctly! Then hubby!
I had originally asked him for a post entry to share, but after some sleep, he decided that he wanted to reach out to other daddies and having his own blog would probably work.

I think it is a great idea. I am not sure how often he will be able to share this thoughts, but his introduction is a start. He is a passionate man. He is passionate about Ethan and Down syndrome and he went through a very tough time in the beginning. Even when I though he had already accepted the diagnosis, there were still many dark days that followed and I had no idea. 

It is different for a man, I assume. I hope this can be his outlet and along the way help out other daddies that might be going through some uneasy times. And I am sure us mommies sometimes wonder what goes on in the head of a man.... he might bring us some prospective.. or maybe not!

His blog is Ethan and Me  <----click on the link. 


and leave him a comment... he loves comments, he always goes back and reads the comments on here!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday -insert life happens-

Well there really isn’t much to say other that I am failing! Bleh.

I was doing real well THEN -insert life happens-

For about two weeks, I was out of commission because I was overtaken by lethargy and overeating on top of meetings, and recitals and gatherings.  <--- All that fun drains me.  I did work out here and there and I ate well (sometimes) just not enough for weight loss.

So TADAH!!! No weight loss… instead I probably gained a pound or two back. (And I partially blame the husband as well, oh Husband you know what you do… “honey you want a glass of wine” is never honey have ONE glass of wine. -oh look I just got a text from Hubby, go buy some wine for tonight!)

Now as I sit here, I think to myself what a waste of two weeks (weight wise, not FUN WISE). I could have lost 2-4lbs in those 2 weeks. Eh. 

Over the weekend I purchased a 20lb kettlebell (I was working out with a 10lb, but that quickly became too easy). I had anxiously been waiting to play with it and melt some serious fat off! But then Monday came -insert life happens- and instead my evening was spent at the girls dance banquet.

It wasn’t till last night that I gave it a try. I wouldn’t say it was a good try.  I am not too sure if I was ready to jump up a 10 whole pounds.  I could do swings and dead lifts, but others proved to be too difficult. And I felt like puking. So I had to stop.  I think today I will interchangeably use both my 20 and my 10lbs until I build up my strength.

I will admit that I was a little bummed. I was hoping to be at 160 by the end of the month. That would have been 4-5lbs away from where I WAS AT… Now I have to worry about 6-7 lbs. And don’t even try to talk me into being able to do it! I will continue to do my best and workout most days, take a day or 2 off. But sometimes I am pretty good at anticipating when life will be happening… and guess what life will be happening this weekend... and Memorial day weekend!  It’s already penciled in my planner.

For those of you on the same mission to shape up, I hope you guys are doing better than I am! Stay tune for my progress (or lack of) in two weeks!

(This is my second entry on my weight loss mission, go HERE to get caught up. I figured putting my chunkiness out there for the world to see will not only motivate me, but others as well.) 

And in case you are having Ethan withdrawals, here is a pic to tame you for now. At the Changing Minds Foundation Butterfly Flutter, raising money for Ds reseach :

 and with a new friend, Parker (his momma blogs HERE)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I’ve been lying to you all

AS much as I preach that our lives are still normal,  I’ve come to realize how untrue that is. 

Having two girls, a husband, a toddler with down syndrome, going to dance recitals, brushing long hair, throwing a ball around with the little guy, dancing with the husband…. Spending time with family, spending time with our DOWN syndrome family, Ds events, therapies, doctors visits, extra concerns IS our NORM. Normal to us, yet not to those without a child with special needs. 

IF I was a mother to two typical girls and a typical son my life would indeed be different. Probably still a very good life.  But I would be oblivious to many many things. I would take for granted things that I now so passionately cherish. I wouldn’t necessarily be a bad person; I just wouldn’t be me, the Me I am today. 

This past weekend we went to watch our nephew’s baseball game. As we made our way through the crowds looking for the field he was playing on, we surprisingly ran into some of our Ds friends.  One family which was there with their daughter (Ds) who was playing on the local challenger team. 

We were rushing to get to the right field and only stopped for a few minutes and caught a glimpse of the game. And that was all I needed was an itty bitty corner of my eye view to be touched to tears. Granted a lot of friends have their children on challenger teams, we’ve never been to any of their games. Seeing this for the first time was moving. 

I felt this immense feeling inside, emotions inside that wanted to explode their way out of me. I wanted to cry and sob uncontrollably. But I didn’t. I kept it together…surprisingly. 

That’s MY world of special needs and disabilities. THOSE children on that field and their proud parents excitedly cheering on their kids. That is my world.

And I think to myself, if there was never an Ethan, or if Ethan didn’t have Ds… would I have felt the same…? I doubt it.  I would have rushed over to our nephew’s field, maybe taken a quick glance, thought to myself “aww how sweet..” and that’s it. Moved on with my life and never thinking twice about those children on that field. It wouldn’t be Tuesday and I would still be talking about THAT game. Never would I have shared the same emotions as those parents on those bleachers.  NEVER EVER would I know how special that game was to those children and their parents...   But I do know. 

Because my life is indeed different because I have son with Down syndrome. And thank God that I do. Thank God that I can stop and see what I would have never seen before and that I won’t take for granted some things that are a given to all, but only a few are able to take in. 

It felt so damn good to be part of those people, even if my Ethan wasn’t on that field. But we share an unspoken bond. Just another perk of being in the club.

No denying, when you enter the world of disabilities and special needs your life will be different, but I think you’ll see it will be a good type of different.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

It’s still Surreal (and Ethan's progress)

Like a dramatic calendar scene from a movie, where the days of the calendars furiously fly off the pad, day by day… our life has mimicked that scene. Into the unknown the days are just being tossed as a new day replaces it at a rapid speed. If it would only slow down.

We have nights where we have Ethan come play in our bed right before bedtime. Really, we are trying to get him to go to sleep in our bed because we can’t get enough of his sweet tiny self. We try to bribe him with oodles of hugs and tickles. He won’t have it. He’ll take his crib over our bed any day (ok most days). 

Last night was no different; he resisted our cuddles and just sat up in our bed to watch tv. With much thought and concern he peacefully watched tv. Sandwiched between his mommy and daddy, the light of the tv lit up his little face. His profile facing me…I just got lost in his face. 

His tiny little ear that faced me, the roundness of his cheek and jaw… The little suckling thing he does with his tongue. I am sure that starring into heaven would have felt just about the same. THAT’S my son I said to myself. That beautiful little creature is my son.

And he has Down syndrome. 

I cant believe that I have a son with Down syndrome. It is still a dream at times. Not a nightmare, it just doesn’t seem real at times. I am in no way in denial, but in awe. 


Huh… Ist that strange. Of all the people I know, I HAVE A SON WITH DOWN SYNDROME. ME. US. THE SALDANA FAMILY has a son with DOWN SYNDROME.

I don’t know what I did, or daddy did, or how it happened or why it happened. But it happened. 

And I am not complaining. The feeling is hard to explain. It’s like we won the lottery. This WOW moment that you live in and doesn’t fade. 

It’s simply surreal and time flying by hasn’t changed that. As amazing as things have been, that adds to the dreamy feeling of it all. And if this is a dream, please don’t pinch me.

Ethan is almost 21 months already!

I sit here and shake my head. At his 18 months check up earlier this week (yes, you read that right, his 18 month check up at 21 months! oops) Ethan measured to be a real big boy! 

Weight: 29lbs 13oz  ----  DS Chart: 98%tile   ----   Typical chart: 84%tile
Height: 33.5in           ----  DS Chart: 94%tile   ----   Typical chart: 60%tile

He is pretty much running at this point, and he does the little one arm swing when he runs that is too adorable to watch. Still wears his orthotics, although not religiously. 

Not really talking. At one point earlier this year he was attempting to say “Stop it”… and that stopped.

He does say “No”. And does sound like there are attempts to say words “Jew” for Juice; “Aah” for Andrea, or at times it comes out better “Eh-Ah” since we do call her Drea.
His speech therapist has reported him to say “pop” when popping bubbles. I’ve never heard him. 

He constantly waives “Hi” to everyone. He will walk up to a person, stick his hand in their face and wave. Loves to kiss total strangers, but only applies to children. 

Signs “eat” when he sees something he wants to eat. Will also sign “eat” when he wants juice, but will say “Jew”, so I know he wants juice and not food.

He knows how to sign “more”, but he does it as his convenience. For a few days, he was putting “more” and “eat” together, but apparently just telling me “eat” should be enough for Mom to know that he wants more. 

He knows “all done”, which he will never do when it comes to food, because guess what, the boy  is never done eating!

He will however sign “all done” when at the doctors and when I attempt to clean his nose or anything that is against his will.

We are working on various other sings, but apparently Ethan only picks up on the ones he sees fit and at his convenience. Yes, the boy has learned how to manipulate the household. 

Doctor isnt really too concerned over speech since he is attempting to communicate via sign language. Overall Doc, is impressed at Ethan’s development. 

He is a rock star. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

I know true love -because I am a mother

I don’t know how many times I wrote and deleted this post.
But I simply can’t do it.
Being that Mother’s Day was yesterday I was going to express certain things about me and my mom. But I can’t. I don’t want to put labels on her, or make her seem like something she no longer is. She is my mother, and I respect that. She is a strong amazing woman, at one point overtaken by harsh circumstances, but she loved me nonetheless. 

But I will tell you about my darlings. 

They will grow up with a loving, tenderhearted, strong willed mother. 

Hugs and kisses every night, encouraging words even when they gleam of confidence… compliments just because I think they are beautiful as they sit on the couch reading a book. I will twirl them across the living room floor for as long as my feet are mobile. I will praise them for their achievements and even for their failed attempts. They will respect themselves, because I respect them. They will love deeply and genuinely because that is the way I love them. 

I will be their mother first and foremost … until one day we can be the bestest of friends. I will be their backbone when the world laughs at them and their knees began to wobble, their voice when their own voice crackles and fears… I will be their army when it’s time to take on the world. I will drop everything if they ever call out for me.  

I will celebrate my children on Mother’s Day. Because of them, I am everything I am today. I am strong, I am fierce, and I am thoughtful and wise. I know true love.

I love you Gabby, Andrea and Ethan. Forever and ever and ever.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Totally AWESOME Thursday - Megan and Sophia

You know what (or should I say who) I think is totally awesome…
This lady that I don’t really know. She is my Facebook friend and I follow her blog but haven’t really had a chance to get to know her.But she fascinates and inspires me. 

Her name is Megan, she is 36, single and in the process of adopting a sweet precious little girl with Down syndrome from Reece’s Rainbow ( Reeces Rainbow is a Down Syndrome Adoption Grant Ministry that helps many children with Ds and other disabilities from Eastern Europe and other countries find their forever families).  You can follow her blog HERE. (Check out them beautiful pics of Sophia! She is gorgeous!)

While I dont know all the details and specifics about Megan and her situation, what I can say about myself is that before Ethan (and my other children)… I don’t know if I would be as courageous as Megan . I can image myself being selfish and living for myself…  and not thinking twice about an orphan… How great is Megan’s heart to so eagerly and passionately want to adopt this child from overseas. 

I know the joys of being a mother… I know the joys of what a child with Down syndrome brings. I know what it is to lovingly hold my children. Kissing them through the tough nights and laughing through the good days. I pray that Megan can soon be able to do this with little Sophia.  

Please pray for Megan and Sophia that they can soon be a family.

And if you could please consider making a donation to Sophia’s fund. - Today I was having a tough day… I said to myself, “I could really use a margarita today…” well for the price of that top shelf margarita, I instead donated those $10 to her fund. You can easily do the same today. One less cup of coffee, one less fast food meal today… one less anything brings Sophia one dollar closer to meeting her mom.  

You dont have to adopt to make a difference.
(you can make a donation by going to her blog or on Sophia's RR page HERE)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Weight loss Wednesday

I decided to dedicate a few Wednesdays to ME and my (attempt) weight loss. I know weight is something many woman struggle with especially after children and especially after 10 kids. Ok I have 3 kids but who knows the difference. 

AND yes I do envy all of you super tiny moms of 12 kids, but I guess if I really did have 12 kids to run after I might also be tiny.

 (get ready to read an outrageously LONG and boring story about my diets and workouts)

Pre-Ethan, I had reached my ultimate in weight and shape. I don’t think I had ever been in better shape in my whole life.  5’7ish, 134lbs, sz 4.  Oh yeah, I was one smoking momma.
I reached that level of fitness with a  carb cycling diet and weight training. I did some Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and Bravo’s Jackie something DVD, along with some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training – look it up, with a good diet this can kick some serious FAT).

Then came the jelly bean in my tummy. That boy craved every type of potato. I was eating mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, French fries, tator tots , hash browns. And everything breaded and fried and or sweet was my comfort!  By the end of my pregnancy I was at about 170something. And Ethan was only 7lbs of it! 

For the first 10 months after Ethan, since I was nursing (pumping, Ethan refused to latch on unless it was to pacify himself) I tried to not restrict my calories too much or workout too hard. I maintained a weight the whole time. Finally I could not take one more pumping session and I was overly tired of feeling like a cow and I stopped. 

Then came Ethan’s birthday party in Aug followed by Andrea’s birthday, Halloween, my birthday, Daddy’s  birthday, Buddy Walk celebration,  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and many things in between… and by the end of it all, I had added about –gulp-  15 additional pounds. Yikes

While physically I was miserable and my self-image suffered, overall I was very content and happy with life. My kids were healthy; my marriage wonderful, life was great. I was able to eat whatever I wanted; life had never tasted so good. And who had time to workout when my spare time was spent loving on my kids and Daddy. It was simply not a priority. 

Till the scale almost reached the same number as that same day I went into the hospital back in August 2009.  Then it was an eye opener that I could not continue anymore.
I tried a few times to diet and workout… never lasted longer than 2 weeks. I re
ally had to sit myself down and have a heart to heart with myself (talking to yourself isn’t that bad…) 

I am happy to announce that we are finally getting somewhere.  I’ve lost about 10lbs so far in the past 4-6 weeks.

Once again I am doing the carb cycling diet. Its pretty much what it sounds like, one day low carb, one day zero carb, one day all the carbs you want. Of course you are limited to what the carbs you eat. Brown rice, oats, lentils and starchier veggies are the only allowed carbs, even on the high carb days. Thankfully I happen to love brown rice, oatmeal and black beans. So the diet works perfectly with me. You are suppose to eat 5-6 times a day, unlimited amounts of lean protein at each meal. A small pc of fruit with your carbs when you do have carbs. Simple eh?
No not quite, it takes a lot of planning and eating. I don’t have time to eat 5-6 times  day. Or to make sure what lean proteins I am going to eat. But I am trying the best I can.

And I cannot get into the same workout routine I used to have. I hate running now! I HATE IT! I hate my treadmill! SO HIIT hasn’t worked for me this time around. In case you didn’t google HIIT already and are curious: You do a 3-5 min warm up on the treadmill, at a comfortable pace followed by 30-45seconds of an all out sprint as fast as you can possibly run (without passing out!) then you take it back down for about a minute or two to a moderate pace and repeat. Sounds simple - once again, NO! It is a killer! You cant do more than 15 mins the first time. It’s a great workout for busting fat on limited amount of time. Theory is your body goes in oxygen debt and works harder to replenish the oxygen, thus your burning fat throughout the day.  You want proof - look at sprinter’s bodies and how lean they are. If you like running and have a limited amount of time, this is for you! 

AND I cant stand Jillian this time around.. and dumbbells have lost their shine. I needed something new this time around. Someone on Facebook mentioned Kettleworx and I gave it a try. I was off and on with it. I couldn’t even complete an entire 20 minute session. I used to think Kettlworx was SO impossible. Yes, even the lousy 5lb kettlebell (don’t laugh at me!) was difficult to work with! BUT I felt I needed a heavier KB.

Cruising the workout aisles are Target one day looking for a new KB, all I could find was Bob Harper’s KB’s. So I grabbed the 10lb Kb and gave it a try. It came with a 30 min video. Once again I huffed and puffed at the video and was never able to finish the video. For some reason, back to Target I go and buy Bob Harper’s Kettlebell Cardio Shred (or whatever it is called).  Well I’ve stucked to that 50 min video, doing between 20-40 mins of it a day (most days, the most I have gone without was 4 days during Easter and I still  lost weight that week). Now I can easily do a KW and that 30 min Bob video. Them KW DVD’s are actually a joke now.

I love that I get my cardio out of KB as well as getting some great definition on my legs and rear –thanks to all the squats and lunges. 

After doing some research on KB I have come to realize that that both Bob and Kettleworx are horrible for KB training. Forms are off and instructions are lousy.You can really injure yourself, so please be cautious! If you are tempted to do either one, I would go straight to Bob’s DVD. Actually, if you are REALLY tempted I would go straight here: On the Edge Fitness 
She also has a blog: Lauren's Blog.  I am fascinated with her body! I know I will never have a body like hers, but she is definitely an inspiration (she is also the mother of two little ones). 

I hope you continue to follow me in this journey and watch me shrink! hopefully inspire some of you other momma's out there to join me!