happy world down syndrome day

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!  Just over six years ago I rarely thought about Down syndrome, I didn't know anyone with Down syndrome and if I did see someone, I never went out of my way to interact with them.  I was uninformed and scared.  Today it's different, I'm a new person and a little bit of an expert when it comes to Down syndrome!  Beckett has changed everything, in a good way.

I often wonder if some people think I'm full of it when I say that Beckett has changed our lives for the better. In my experience, I was told so many negative things about Down syndrome and constantly reminded of what Beckett wouldn't do...of course I was sad in those early days.  Actually, I was terrified, and why wouldn't I be?  I was bombarded with so much unnecessary garbage, all the photos I looked at of children with Down syndrome in pamphlets were outdated and unflattering. I get it, Beckett won't drive, have children, live on his own - blah, blah, blah.  When people heard of Beckett's birth most were inclined to say "sorry" instead of "congratulations"...there is nothing to be sorry for, we are the lucky ones. We really are.

I can't tell you how many new parents I have spoken to over the past six years, honestly I have lost count. I have talked to women in their hospital beds holding their hours old baby, women who have just found out they are carrying a baby with Down syndrome, women crying because their husbands had one foot out the door....you name the situation - I have talked to them.  I tell them all the same thing...it's going to be okay - I promise.  

It will be okay and I really do promise. Down syndrome does not cross our minds on a daily basis, yes Beckett is a slower to develop when it comes to speech and toilet training and a few other things. We have had more appointments for this sweet boy than we ever imagined but we're used to it.  We know what it's like to be on a wait list, and I'm clear on what it means to be an advocate.  We can't imagine life without his bright smile (toothless right now), his hearty laugh and his charismatic glow.  Beckett is empathetic, smart and ambitious. We love him so much our hearts could seriously burst. 

Some may look at Beckett or another child with Down syndrome and think they are not perfect, they are flawed.  Here's a news flash, perfect doesn't exist and even if it did - how terribly boring.  If you are looking for perfect, you will be looking for a long time. What a shame to miss the real beauty in life, we are all unique - we all have a story to share.

It really would have been nice if in those early days someone told me all the wonderful things Beckett will do and what an amazing person he will become. I get why 90% of women who find out they are carrying a baby with Down syndrome terminate the pregnancy (this number is widely reported), there is so much negativity and fear. 

It's 2014 and we have come a long way. We don't throw a child with Down syndrome into an institution anymore (at least not where I live) - although it wasn't long ago in Canada that we did. A child that is loved and nurtured like their typical siblings thrives.  I find at times there is still a bit of negativity when meeting with some health care professionals, we have crossed paths with a few who are stuck in the sixties - the good news is, we just move on and find someone new.  We find someone who sees what we see, a beautiful, charming, bright boy....who happens to have an extra chromosome.   

Of course there are challenges, there always are - with every child.  I'll never forget our first meeting with our Geneticist, he said to me "Tamara, in the grand scheme of things Down syndrome is not a big deal" - it was to me and I was very confused by his comment.  I get it now, compared to the thousands of horrific diseases and challenges a person can have - Down syndrome is not so bad.  He was being kind and trying to let me know that we were going to be fine and we are. 

So today on March 21st (everyday for our family) we celebrate that extra chromosome with World Down Syndrome Day, a day to raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome and most importantly - how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.  Next time you see someone with Down syndrome say hello, I guarantee they will say hello back and smile. 

For more information on World Down Syndrome Day please click here.

bye bye 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What a year. These past couple of years I seem to feel a little blue on New Year's Eve, it's a new feeling for me. I think it's because of my traumatic start to 2012, I was so sure 2012 was going to be a great year & three days into it I nearly died. 2013 was a great year, I'm healthy, my sweet family is healthy and our home is filled with love. I realize there are challenges ahead in 2014...my father-in-law is not well and we are desperate to spend as much time together as a family. I have high hopes for the new year but deep inside I feel the fragility that is possible.

Here are some photos from the past year...it really was a good one...I sure do love my babes.

beckett's 6th birthday party

Friday, December 20, 2013

This post is incredibly late....Beckett's party was in August, it's now December - time sure flies. Our boy loves HotWheels, so the theme this year was easy. It was a beautiful, sunny day & we shared it with friends and family. I loved that some of Beckett's friends from school were able to make it.
The photo in the middle is Beckett & his best friend Finn. Seriously, how cute is that? Finn is in the other grade one class at school, the boys find each other at lunch & they love spending time together. Finn also happens to have Down syndrome. My heart is full when I think of the boys going through their school years together.
My sweet friend Denise made the cake (again), she really is the queen of cakes. Sonia at Sugary Sweet Things made the cookies. We set up two major HotWheels tracks in the backyard & the kids raced cars all afternoon.
It really was a great day. Beckett had the best time, he loves a party & party he did. Our kids like to blow out candles, over and over and over again. So we light the cake, sing and relight it. Then we light a cupcake, sing and relight it. It's quite the process & there is pure happiness with every candle that gets blown out.
The only chance we have of getting a family shot is during the cake...we have til the end of Happy Birthday to sneak in a five-shot. There are lots of hugs, many kisses and too many smiles to count. It was nice to do this post five months after the party....such a great reminder of a fantastic day. xx



zoë is five

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Zoë Frances Noriko Genn is five today. I remember the day she came into the world so well. Born at 8:55am, ZoZo (as we like to call her) was 8 pounds, 1 ounce and 21 inches long. Dave & I were so excited to have a baby girl join our family. It was an emotional day for a number of reasons, I was grateful to also have my best friend Saleema in the delivery room. There were tears of joy & a sigh of relief - she was healthy.
Beckett was very intrigued...I love this photo of Beckett inspecting his little sister. I knew in this moment that the relationship between Beckett & Zoë would be intense and important. My biggest fear when Beckett was born was that he would be alone once Dave & I were gone...he needed a team and I was going to build him one.  Zoë was the first person on his team, Poppy would follow two years later. Our boy has his little sisters to love him and he loves them back with pure joy.
Zoë was an easy baby, she ate and slept like a dream. She always looked at people with her brows scrunched up, as if she was trying to figure out who they really were. Dave always joked that he hoped Zoë looked like me but acted like him. Personality-wise, she is my clone. It's unbelievable, she opens her mouth to talk and my words and attitude come out. I'm secretly overjoyed.
Beckett & Zoë are 13 months apart in age, ZoZo quickly caught up to Beckett - she walked before he did, she talked before he did. Zoë doesn't know that Beckett has Down syndrome, it hasn't come up yet.  We'll talk about it one day, maybe soon - maybe later. I love how Zoë sees Beckett just as he is - perfect.
It was difficult to choose just a few photos of Zoë...These are some of my favourites. As you can see the girl has a sense of humour, a zest for life and the ability to create an atmosphere of love and happiness wherever she may be.
Everyday is a new adventure with all three of our children, the experiences are unique as they are each so different. This morning at 6am,  Zoë climbed into our bed...I whispered Happy Birthday (she giggled with excitement) and I asked her if she felt different.  She replied "Yes, I do". "How do you feel different?"...."I feel five".
Happy Birthday my love. Thank you for filling my heart.  

poppy is three

Friday, August 16, 2013

My baby. My baby is three today. I have been thinking about this day for weeks, trying to hold onto Poppy's last days as a two year old with all my might. I'm not ready for her to be three. When we have our bedtime story and our nightly song and cuddle together I remind her that she is my baby.  She says "I not a baby, I a girl". True. But she will always be my baby.
photo by ka davidson
Poppy came into the world at 8:17am weighing 8 pounds 15 ounces, she was 20.5 inches long - born on my grandparent's wedding anniversary. Her shock of black hair was amazing, we were convinced that our third baby most reflected Dave's Japanese heritage. We were wrong.
just a few days old with my childhood teddy bear
We were so excited to bring Poppy home to meet her big brother and sister, imagining our household as a family of five. It was an exciting time and still is.  I love the relationship that has developed between these three.
photo by ka davidson
photo by mika inokoshi
This photo is of Poppy when she was 6 months old, as you can see she doesn't have her dark hair or eyes or olive skin. Dave and I never thought we would have a blue-eyed babe...I love staring into those baby blues.
photo by ka davidson
This is Poppy on her first birthday. Her personality is sweet, her laugh is infectious and her cuddles are addictive. 
photo by kyrani kanavaros
This is my favourite photo of Poppy. It was taken in our backyard, I look at this photo and see magic. This is a girl who will do great things, she will dream big and light up the world with her spark. Her love for Beckett and Zoë is pure joy, I know they will be best friends for life.
photo by kyrani kanavaros
This is Poppy at two years old, taken in the same park as her portrait on her first birthday. Sweet.
photo by kyrani kanavaros
Christmas 2012. They hold my heart. 
photo by kyrani kanavaros
Happy birthday sweet Poppy. You are three today. You are and always will be my baby. Thank you for filling my heart with so much love. xx

beckett is six

Friday, August 2, 2013

On this day six years ago at 8:21am I became a mother for the first time. It was the most glorious moment of my life, followed by some dark, scary days. Thankfully the fear was short lived and we have had six beautiful years filled with love and pure joy. Beckett is six today. I can't believe how fast it has gone, I'm desperate to hold onto each day and savour every second. These are the best days of my life and it's because of my children. Here's each year of sweet Beckett's life so far...
This is Beckett minutes after he was born, 6 pounds 14 ounces and 19 inches long. It's also the moment I fell hopelessly in love and my life changed forever. This photo means so much to me, there's more here than I can ever explain.
photo by KA Davidson
Beckett is seven weeks old in this photo, his first photo shoot.  We were getting settled at this point, we knew Beckett had Down syndrome and had been to numerous doctors appointments. Our boy was healthy and happy. Dave and I were in love with this boy and so was everyone who met him.
photo by KA Davidson
This is Beckett at 1 year old, getting cuter and sweeter by the second. I could get lost looking into those big brown eyes.

photo by KA Davidson
Beckett is two years old in this photo, he had just started to walk and we were thrilled.  As you can tell from this photo, he liked to laugh a lot - and he still does. His laugh is one of my favourite sounds.
photo by KA Davidson
I love this photo. This is Beckett at three years old, playing the drum set Dave bought him when he was born. We had the drums in the back yard, which he was pretty happy about.
photo by KA Davidson
Oh those eyes, how I love them. Beckett is four years old here. A beautiful boy and a great big brother to Zoë and Poppy.
photo by Kyrani Kanavaros
At five years old Beckett loved trains and dinosaurs, not much has changed in that department - but we can now add Hot Wheels to the list! This would be the year Beckett entered Kindergarten, a big step. He loved his first year at school and even lost his two bottom teeth, his new chompers are still growing in.
photo by Kyrani Kanavaros
And this is what six looks like. I still can't believe it, our boy is six. We had a birthday party for Beckett last Saturday, the theme was Hot Wheels (of course) and we had a great time. I'll post more pictures of the party soon. I love that some of Beckett's friends from school came to the party, he was so happy to see them. This boy has grown a lot in the last year. We started an intense food therapy last November and now Beckett is eating the same foods as his sisters. He has his favourites, he loves peanut butter, cucumbers and cherries! Beckett is continuing with his reading and speech therapy sessions and improving each month. It's been a big year of growth. It has also been a year of love. This boy has brought us more happiness than we could have ever imagined.
photo by Kyrani Kanavaros
Happy Birthday Beckett. We love you. xx

celebrating 70

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I love surprise parties, especially when I get to throw them and it's for someone I love. My mom just turned 70, a milestone for sure. My brother Frank and I were trying to figure out what we could do for her birthday, he lives in Panama so our first idea was to take her on a trip - just the three of us. After weeks of thought I began to imagine a small party with her closest friends and family. It would be a surprise, in seventy years she had never experienced a surprise party. What fun we had.
There were fifteen of us for dinner, we hired someone to come in to make dinner - it was Italian and it was amazing. I had never done this before but a friend suggested it, they worked with our budget and we were able to visit and not worry about what was happening on the stove. I also asked my friend Kyrani Kanavaros to come to take photos, I knew she would capture the evening for us and we could have the memories forever.
The best part of the night was that our kids were there to experience it. They had no idea what a "surprise party" was but once explained they loved it. My mom was so happy to have her three treasures with her.  Of course the biggest surprise of the night was that my brother snuck into town, the look on my mom's face when she saw him was priceless. 
When I was little my mom would throw me the greatest birthday parties. Lots of friends, cake and family. I was so happy to do this for her, to give her a night with her most loved that she will always remember. The cake was from Butter Baked Goods and it was delicious.
I had to light the candles on the cake about five times, the kids love to blow out the candles and everyone needed a try. I love this picture, I know our kids will look at this decades from now and remember this time with great happiness. xx