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Happy World Down Syndrome Day 2015!…

Happy World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD)!

We celebrated in our own little corner of the world this morning, as our family of 5.

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Then we drove to the airport, and celebrated with a larger slice of our family and friends.

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After that, I kissed my kiddos goodbye, cried over their sweet heads, wrapped my arms tightly around their little necks and showered enough love on them to last for the next 10 days.

And now I am off to Guatemala, decked out in my “321” shirt, excited and full of anxious anticipation for what this week has in store.

The image in my head today is represented so well by this photo:

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Isn’t this the greatest picture?
Love. Security. Community. Family. Solidarity.
We are so blessed by our family and friends. The outpouring of love for Jake and for our family is amazing, and we do not take that for granted.

And that’s part of why I am going to Guatemala.

This picture stands in stark contrast to the lives of many people with disabilities in other countries; people who are not treated with dignity, respect, or equality in any way.

I have a vision.
A vision to bring reconciliation.
A vision to instill dignity.
A vision to see an outpouring of love and a new cultural perspective towards people with disabilities.
In Canada. In Guatemala. Worldwide.

One. Person. At. A. Time.
Won’t you join me?!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar…

My baby is ONE!!

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Where, oh where, did this year go?

A year ago today I was gearing up to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, much like I am gearing up for tomorrow’s celebration. But I was extremely pregnant! My life with two kiddos was quickly coming to an end, as I was anticipating the arrival of our third child just a few short days later.

Noah’s birth was shrouded in mystery.

We didn’t know if he was a boy or a girl, until that precious moment, seconds after we heard his tiny little wail for the first time, when the doctor peered her head around the curtain as I lay on the operating table, and exclaimed “it’s a boy!”

We didn’t know what to name him. We were actually so certain that he would be a “she” that we only had girl names picked out! He remained nameless for the better part of a day while we picked out the perfect name for him: Noah Brooks Slater.

We didn’t know what a perfect fit he would be in our family:)
Noah has his own very unique personality compared to his other two brothers, and complements them so well. He is doted on by his big brothers, and as he is beginning to exert his own independence, it is so cool to watch the three of them interact and play together.

So, in honor of my baby boy’s first birthday, here are a few pics from our “Very Hungry Caterpillar” birthday party!

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Happy Birthday Noah:)
We love you so much.

PS. Tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD2015)!! Don’t forget to wear yellow and blue in support of our family and of Jake! And don’t forget to post your pics and tag me in them:) Thanks friends!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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World Down Syndrome Day 2015…

World Down Syndrome Day 2015 (WDSD) is quickly approaching.

This is a day to celebrate those individuals, such as my son Jake, who were born with an extra chromosome.  It is a day to raise awareness, to call for acceptance, to promote inclusion, equality, and respect for individuals with a diagnosis of Down syndrome.  It is a day for our family and friends to be able to celebrate Jake’s life.

WDSD is on March 21.  This date was chosen with purpose:

Down syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21.
Trisomy 21 is 3 copies of the 21st chromosome.
Hence 3/21 = March 21 = World Down Syndrome Day!

This year, WDSD is bittersweet for me.
On March 21, I will be leaving on a jet plane, instead of at home with my family, celebrating WDSD together.

On the one hand, I am disappointed that I won’t be here to celebrate Jake in person. On the other hand, I am so excited to be able to celebrate while in transit to Guatemala, where I will spend the next week and a half volunteering at a school for kids with special needs.

A school that probably has no idea what World Down Syndrome Day is.
A school that is desperately trying to teach the community around them about the value of persons with disabilities.
A school whose teachers pour out their hearts (and often their pocketbooks) to push for a higher quality of life for their students.

Can you see the amazing weaving together of situations, circumstances, and events in my life?
I can’t look at the bigger picture without recognizing its providential nature.

So, whether you are near or far, would you stand in solidarity and support with us on Saturday, March 21!

The official colors for WDSD are BLUE and YELLOW.
I will be wearing my own “321” shirt, my children will definitely be decked out in theirs, and we would love it if you would wear blue and yellow with us!
We would also love to feel connected to you as a larger community.

Send me an email copy of your pics! (www.321joyshop@gmail.com)
Post them to Instagram and tag me in them: @karynmslater
Post them to Twitter and mention me: @karynmslater
Post them on Facebook and tag me in them: Karyn Slater

Thanks friends, both near and far, for the continued and unending support

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Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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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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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…!

 
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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…

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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