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An Open Letter to the Target Employee We Met Today…

Dear Target Employee,

As I walked past Target today on a mission through the mall with my three little ones in tow, thoughts flashed through my mind. Your employers have been in the news a lot lately, what with the announcement of the closing of all the Target stores in Canada, and all the politics that have been dredged up as a result. Doing my best at multitasking, handing my children fishy crackers by the fistfuls, coaxing them to sit in the stroller while dashing in and out of stores, I simultaneously thought of you. Not of you specifically, but of you, the Target employee. I wondered where you would go, what you would do for work, how this would affect your life, your family, your livelihood. I felt bad for your situation.

On my way back past your store, my oldest son took a detour from the path well-traveled, darting into your store and yelling “Ready…Go!” at the top of his little lungs, as he pretended he was in a race against the fastest legs in town. And when I, having been alerted to the seriousness of the situation as I watched him travel further and further from the stroller, ran to turn him around and usher him out of the store, he proceeded to have an epic meltdown. In the middle of your store. With everyone watching, staring, judging. Since he does not have a large vocabulary, he was unable to use his words to explain to me where he was headed, but I knew. Your escalator was calling out to him, drawing him in with the memory of the thrill he had experienced on its hallowed stairs just a couple of short days earlier.

I feel for my son. He often gets frustrated that he can’t express himself better. He doesn’t always understand my decisions. He knows what he wants, and he gets mad if it doesn’t come to fruition. Part of that is natural for a 3 year old. Part of that is exacerbated because he has Down syndrome. It must be an incredibly difficult place to live. Regardless, however, it is also hard to have to deal with the fallout. Especially in public.

Enter…you.

You saw my situation. You looked at my other two children, sitting alone in the stroller, waiting for their mommy to restore order and security. You noticed the exhaustion on my face as I bent down to my child’s eye level and attempted to reason with him. You must have recognized that my son has a visible disability, one that would cause many to turn a blind eye or shy away from an already escalated scenario.

And yet you entered. You called out to my son. You walked over, bent down, talked to him, and took him by the hand. You led him over to the checkout, and let him scan the items, just for fun. You diffused the situation for me. You distracted him, calmed him down, and gave him back. You saw the situation for what it was ~ the temper tantrum of a 3 year old who wanted his own way ~ and not for what is often read into similar situations ~ the misbehavior of a child because of a disability.

And most of all, you treated him with dignity.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for superseding your own situation to step into mine.
You will never know how much your gesture meant.

Sincerely,

The frazzled woman with the runaway kiddo.

 

And…a couple pics for you too!!

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2 Comments

Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A Perfect Fit…

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Do you ever have those moments in your life?
You know, the ones that seem as though everything is coming together in a perfect fit?

Oh that we could have more of those moments in our lives! I recognize that they are often few and far between, but I have to say that I have been blessed to find myself living in one of those moments recently, and it has been such a joy to watch it unfold. Let me explain…

The Facts:

1. I will forever be an advocate for my son, and for all individuals with a diagnosis of Down syndrome, calling for respect and dignity for all.
2. I have a heart for social justice. My soul burns against injustice in the world, and I want to do whatever I can to bring justice.
3. People with disabilities in other parts of the world, specifically children, live a very marginalized life, with little hope.
4. I love travel, other cultures, different languages, multicultural experiences, and new experiences.

The Fit:

All of these facts have converged recently in my life, allowing me an opportunity to do something that I think is a perfect fit for this stage of my life. In March of this year, I am going to be leading a team of people down to San Cristobal, Guatemala. We are going to be meeting up with an amazing family who lives and works among the people there, and we are going to be working with them in a school for children with special needs. I’ve talked about this school a lot on my blog. I visited the school a couple of years ago, spending only a day with them, and my heart was forever changed. This time around, we get to spend a week with them and help with some projects that they are working on to be able to create vocational training programs for their students. These training programs have as a goal to teach the students life skills that may help them in the future work towards a higher level of self-sufficiency, and help them to survive in a country in which people with disabilities are marginalized, mistreated, and disenfranchised.

The Formula:

Okay, so here’s my plug!
I am currently selling items on my Etsy store, called 321Joy.
10% of the proceeds from everything I sell in my store is going to go directly back to this school in San Cristobal, Guatemala. This is my small way of contributing back to something bigger than myself, and attempting to do my part at fighting injustice. So, check it out! And maybe buy something!

And one more plug…World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is coming up!
So if you are an individual with Down syndrome, know an individual with Down syndrome, love an individual with Down syndrome, or just want to help out and raise awareness, my “321” shirts are a great way to do that!

Seems like the perfect fit to me…!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Where I’m From…

For Christmas this year, my amazing husband bought me a writing course!

It is a course called “Find Your Writing Voice”, and it is facilitated by a writer named Allison Vesterfelt.
I am thoroughly enjoying it so far, although I am going at a slower pace than the rest of the people in the course (must be the munchkins slowing me down!).

For the first assignment, we were required to think back to some memories of our past, and then write a poem (yikes!) based on the model of a poet named George Ella Lyons, who wrote a poem called “Where I’m From“. The point behind the assignment was to get at the fact that everything that we have lived already impacts our writing, whether consciously or subconsciously. By consciously remembering aspects of the past, we can knowingly bring them to acknowledgement when we write.

It was a cool assignment, and made me think. A lot.
So, although this is much different than what I usually blog about, I am going to post what I came up with, in a constant effort to be transparent and to improve this thing I do called writing!

Where I’m From

I am from music and missionaries,
from expectations exceeded, promises unbroken,
and the family piano, fusing generations.

I am from frozen mocha cheesecakes,
from olives at Christmas and rows upon rows of pickles.
I am from pink dog and French braids,
from underwear-clad hair curlers and underwater exploration.

I am from competition.
From drive and desire to please, from perfectionism.
The sapling offshoot of the old family oak tree, firmly planted, rooted in stubbornness.

I am from snaky-snakes and criss-crosses,
from girlhood giggles and laughter, anger and tears,
from make-up hugs and driveway sleepovers.
I am from Monopoly,
from hand-squeezes during prayer and the feeling of complete security and belonging (even lipstick-less).

I am from memory, from reality,
from family.

And as always, I’d love to share some pics of my kiddos too! They have nothing to do with the poem or the assignment, they’re just cute!

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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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#ChangingTheFaceOfBeauty…

I love movements.
I love it when small groups of people decide to make a difference in their spheres of influence.
I love seeing an idea grow, flourish, and become something that touches many, and changes the world.
I secretly (or not-so-secretly) hope that I too, one day, can spearhead something bigger than me.

That’s why I’m excited about this movement: #ChangingTheFaceOfBeauty“. It might not be my biggest passion, but it is something I can get on board with, something I can get behind and become excited about. It might not be where I spend all my energy, but it is something I will support and give credence to.

The mission behind the campaign is simple: “to encourage the integration of individuals with disabilities into general advertising and the media” (taken straight from their website, which can be found here). They want to do this to send a message to society; a message I think is well worth the sending ~ namely, that it is okay to have disabilities and challenges, and this does not make one any less worthy, any less beautiful, or deserving of any less respect. They hope to show that beauty is far more than the shallow, superficial spin that our society often puts on it; that beauty can be found everywhere.

Like here…

View More: http://looktwicebykelli.pass.us/slater-family

And here…

View More: http://looktwicebykelli.pass.us/slater-family

The campaign is simple! The folks over at “Changing The Face Of Beauty” are hoping to get 15 major retailers in 2015 to include people with disabilities in their advertising. They are driving this campaign through social media, calling retailers to a higher standard of inclusion.

Here’s what you do to take part alongside them:

Step 1- Share a photo of your little model, or yourself, if you have a disability on your favorite social media outlet. (I am sharing here on my blog, but will also periodically be sharing on my Instagram feed, which can be found here (I am @karynmslater if you are looking for me on Instagram)

Step 2 – Tag the photo with #ChangingTheFaceOfBeauty #ImReady #15in2015

Step 3 – Tag a few major retailers. Pick ones that matter to you.

Step 4 – Tell a friend. Tell lots of friends!

Here’s me, putting my little drop into the big bucket, hoping that with enough drops, we will see a deluge and the face of beauty will begin to change.
So come on:) Share, share, share! Share this blog post! Share pics of your little ones (or mine!). Let’s do this…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Seeing the Unseen…

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I love this picture.

I don’t love it because it is a picture of amazing quality.
I don’t love it because I put a lot of effort into capturing the right lighting, angles or perspective (I didn’t).
I don’t love it because of what is seen.

I love it because of what is unseen.

What is unseen in this picture is an invitation. An invitation to me, an invitation to you. The unseen behind this picture invites us to stop, to be fully present in each moment, to experience wonder and mystery in the experience of the ordinary.

Each year, the Calgary Zoo puts on an event called “Zoo Lights”. They put up 1.5 million lights, and invite people to come and experience it. They have big bonfires, skating, kids games, hot chocolate and cookies, and anything else you could want to make the night a smashing success. This year, we took our kiddos for the first time, and they had a great time! (except for a couple of meltdowns because they were cold…)

As we were walking through the zoo, we came across these carolers. They were in the middle of a performance, and Jake wanted to stop and watch. We all stopped, did our “due diligence” to listen for a few seconds, and then we were ready to continue on our way, anxious to get to the “next thing”. All of us, that is, except Jake.

Jake was enthralled by these carolers.
He stood there, little mittened hands reaching up to help him balance on his tip toes, eyes wide-eyed, just barely peering over the wooden railing, unmoving. For one, two, three, four, five, six songs he was rooted to the ground, taking in every lilting melody, every voice working together in harmony. Without fail, after every song he would clap vigorously, and yell “yay, yay” at the top of his lungs. And then, as the next carol started, he would settle into the music, drinking in the scene with delight. He would have stayed there all night, had they not taken a break and stopped singing.

To me, watching intently, it was so poignant. The joy of being in the present moment, of listening to something that he loved, and of enjoying what was taking place before him, was a teachable moment for me. For Jake, it wasn’t about seeing all the lights. It wasn’t about getting to every part of the zoo. It wasn’t about making sure everyone was having a good time. It was about the music, it was about the present, it was about living in the moment.

In that instant, I saw what was unseen.
And my perspective was changed.

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Juxtaposition…

Ask me what’s new. Go on, ask me!

I mean, after all, it has been an incredibly long time since I’ve written anything, since I’ve expressed any thoughts, emotions, feelings, or ideas through the medium of the written word. And as I lie here on my bed, contemplating what to write about, thinking about “what’s new”, one word comes to mind:

Juxtaposition.

Nothing is new. Yet so many things are new.
Juxtaposition.

On the one hand, life goes on! Routines are followed, timelines evolve, day-to-day schedules occur. At the end of each day, it does not seem as though there is much to report. Life is good! Family is amazing, my kids are growing and thriving, we are having fun together (and sometimes we are at each others’ throats!), and not much is new.

On the other hand, however, so much has changed since the end of October (which those of you who actually read this consistently will know that the last time I updated my blog was at the end of October). Milestones are being met for all three of my kiddos. Jake has made incredible strides in many areas, especially in the area of communication. I have entered into the realm of “Etsy”, unlocking another creative side of myself by doing some sewing. (“321Joy“).

In the spirit of brevity, I will just say this: it’s good to be back!
I have missed writing, expressing myself in this form, and allowing myself the opportunity to unpack thoughts, ideas, and opinions. I have some topics that have been rattling around in my brain for a while now, which I will share in the coming days and weeks. But for now, thanks for having me back!

I’ll leave you with the promise of more, and a few cute pics of my kiddos from our Christmas decorating day (which for those of you who know me, was way back in mid-November!). Enjoy!

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Cole climbed right into the Christmas tree box…

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…and then so did all our kids! (okay, Noah had some help..!)

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This snow globe plays Christmas songs and shoots out “snow” on top of Santa and his reindeer. Very. Loudly. And my kids adore it!

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Noah just tried to eat them the whole time!

 

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The 3 Little Minions…

So, 29 isn’t bad, right?
29 days. I made it 29 days out of the 31 day challenge.
This blogging challenge is one of the highlights of the blogging year for me. It gives me a chance to reflect, write on a more consistent basis, and hopefully spread some awareness and acceptance. Thanks to those of you who journeyed through the past month with me:)

And now, may I present to you, the 3 Little Minions!

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I won’t say a ton about Halloween, except for this…we had a GREAT time!
I was so incredibly proud of Jake. He stayed with us. He didn’t try and run away. He walked on the sidewalk (as opposed to running on the road). He climbed up and down every person’s front stairs by himself. He said “eeeeee” for “trick or treat” and then always said “thank you” for the candy. He was priceless…all three of my kiddos were.
This was the first year that Cole really understood what was happening too. The very first candy that got dropped into Cole’s bag was like a light bulb moment for him. He actually squealed out loud, yelled “candy!!” and then after every house, proceeded to exclaim “more candy, daddy!!” It was adorable.

At the end of the night, Curtis and I both turned to each other and exclaimed “that was fun!”, which to be honest, was sort of a new feeling for us, as we usually feel like our experiences are fun but with a good mix of stress and being on high alert added in.

All in all, a great night was had by all:)

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3 Comments

Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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