I'm So Sorry

More than a month has gone by, and if I'm honest with you, it will likely be more. I promise to get back to this calling. Please don't see this as abandonment. I'm just one person who loves her daughter and always puts family first. This whole Miss Amazing thing has taken over our life right now. This is not a bad thing. It's a great thing, especially for Phoebe. This is what is helping her in so many ways to grow, learn, and be able to broaden her platform to help others with disabilities realize their potential as well. Things are progressing and she has not only been super busy, but it has kept me ultra-busy as well. I guess you'd say I'm her manager. She has speaking engagements, dance performances, photo shoots, public appearances such as ribbon cuttings, store openings, food judging, and more! It's crazy! I would never have imagined this in my wildest dreams! 

So, I would say that this is some sort of a sabbatical for us, at least from Upside Down Wellness. Because it doesn't feel like a sabbatical. We are running like crazy with all that we're doing to get ready for the big National Pageant in Chicago this August. 

I will tell you that we are still working on Upside Down Wellness. You just can't see it. We are developing a couple of programs, developing recipes, doing a lot of planning and writing, and learning a lot! It's just all behind the scenes for now. 

We promise we will be back at it soon and you will be seeing some great things in the near future. But for now, I have to let this thing happen with her and the journey with Miss Amazing. She is learning so much and growing into such a beautiful young woman - and I mean from the inside-out! We have so many plans for this website and want to impart all that we can to our readers. We appreciate your loyalty and support for us. 

Thank you for understanding that life happens for everyone and sometimes we just don't see it coming the way we had planned. But this is a good thing, on so many levels and soon, we will all be able to see why. Please stay tuned.

Absence - Has Your Heart Grown Fonder?

This short blog is actually an apology of sort. You haven't been hearing from me as often and I do apologize. I'm not offering excuses. Phoebe is super busy fundraising for her trip in August to the National Miss Amazing pageant being held in Chicago. I'm taking her to an average of two speaking engagements a week, getting up before 5 a.m., doing hair and makeup, donning that crown and sash and putting our best out there to try to raise awareness...and money!!! It's a lot, especially during high season in dance competitions as well. She has 11 classes a week, Company rehearsals, and teaches a class for 3 and 4 year olds. She has school (our schedule is flexible with home schooling) to get done, and usually performances, competitions, or appearances as Miss Amazing on the weekends. 

Guess who drives her to all these things??? Yep, you guessed it. Oh, no you didn't. No, it's not Uber. So this is not an excuse for not writing the blog, it's a REASON!!!

I love you and I care about you and I also want you to know that behind the scenes, we are also developing a program for our coaching part of this site that is going to be super-awesome for people with Down syndrome, but also for everyone else! It's going to be tailored individually, but super simple to use and help you or your 'person' to get healthier. I promise. Did I mention that it's awesome?? Well, it is.

So, if you're not hearing from me as often, please be patient. I'm still here for you, but I'm here for my daughter first right now. This Miss Amazing pageant isn't silly. This is a movement that is raising awareness in communities all over the place, and Phoebe and I are doing our part to make it everything it can be here in Colorado. Phoebe is speaking at the Aktion Club in a few weeks, which is a place for all people with disabilities to make a difference and show the world what they CAN do. She is going to be encouraging people with all kinds of disabilities and that's why this is important. She is going to be a celebrity judge at a big food event. She is holding fundraisers, collecting food for food banks and distributing goods all over the metro area. 

But we do still love you. We are working for you, even though you may not be seeing it at the moment. Phoebe and I aren't the kind of people who sit around and complain or worry about our predicament. We go out and try to make a difference, even if it's a little difference. Please hang in there with us. We will be providing you with a lot in the future. 

So if we seem 'absent,' we really are just trying to get you to grow fond of us. Well, not really. We are truly trying to help the community and raise awareness for people with disabilities, and even more specifically, Down syndrome.

If you want something to do while you wait on us to help you get healthier, please drink another glass of pure, refreshing water and go outside and breathe deep. Pet a dog. Color in your coloring book. Turn your computer off for awhile. Call an old friend and just say, "I was thinking about you." See? That is seven healthy things to do right there. Keep staying awesome!

Down that Water!!

Some day you will die. Everyone does. The old saying goes, "Two things are certain: death and taxes." I never really got that. I knew a few people that didn't pay their taxes. They died.  But you will die much sooner than later if you don't drink enough water. This is true. I'm not pulling your leg. This drinking water thing should be a priority, and for many of us, it is not. I even hear some people say they don't like water. How can you not like water??? We're made up of water! Every cell in our body! You wanna know something even crazier?? I am not making this up. I knew someone who told me that she was allergic to drinking water. Yes, she did say that. She only drank Coca-Cola. How in the H**L can anyone be allergic to water???! Well, I looked it up and there is actually a thing called aquagenic urticaria. See?! My spellcheck even says it's not real! Actually, it is a sad, but true real thing. But I know this particular person I mentioned does not have that. She's just insane, but that's for another blog somewhere else....

Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water prevents cancer. Oh yes it does! Do you need to lose weight? Drink more water. Sometimes you confuse thirst with hunger. You think you're hungry. You're actually thirsty. But drinking lots of water helps you lose weight. It helps you perform better in any activity you engage in. It keeps your skin looking nice. It clears out all kinds of toxins from your body. Water is necessary for the function of all your internal organs. Drinking a sufficient amount of water is always the first piece of advice I give anyone when they have any single health complaint. I ask, "What is your daily water intake?" Drinking enough water solves a lot of problems without having to take any medicine! That piece of advice is free!!

It is important to drink enough water before you feel thirsty. Thirst is a signal that your body is already beginning to dehydrate. This is not good, folks. You have to TRY to drink more than you feel thirsty for. And it goes without saying, if you are exercising, drink lots and lots of water! Lots!!

Drinking water keeps you in a better mood. This is enough reason right here to drink plenty. I'm starting to get a little grumpy now. I'm going to have a little.....(ahhhhh....better now). 

Drinking sufficient water regularly builds new skin cells and makes you all glowy and lovely! Drinking water keeps your body temperature at where it should be. Water is essential to carry nutrients throughout your body. Water keeps your joints feeling less stiff by keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated. Do you know someone who takes glucosamine supplements for the joint pain? It actually helps that cartilage absorb the water. 

Water helps prevent constipation. Maybe you didn't want me to say that, but I did. It helps with a headache. Next time you feel one coming on, drink a bunch of water without taking your Excedrin. You might be amazed. You were just dehydrated.

Photo by kieferpix/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by kieferpix/iStock / Getty Images

 

So here's the low-down:

  • Drink half your body weight at the very minimum in ounces. So if you weigh 140 pounds, drink at least 70 ounces of water per day. 
  • Get into the habit of carrying a bottle for your water everywhere you go. Sip on it all day long and fill it up often.
  • Preferably, drink purified or spring water. Tap water has a whole other set of issues I will address at another time. 
  • Like Phoebe says in her video, "Put a piece of fruit in it to change it up a bit." 
  • If your urine is dark yellow, you are not drinking enough water. Yes I went there. I'll be going there a lot. I talk about poop too, so get used to it.

Oh, and one more thing: I'm not Miss Perfect here. I sometimes get busy and forget to drink enough water myself. But when I realize that I'm thirsty and becoming dehydrated, I throw back a big glass of the H2O and then another, and I'm feeling much better. And people seem to like me more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kool-Aid, Pop Tarts, Jello, and Broccoli

I was a very skinny kid. I got made fun of for it, just like a chubby kid gets made fun of for being 'fat.' It was just as painful. My mom had me to the doctor's office frequently, pointing out how all my bones stuck out and I didn't eat enough. She suggested to him that I be put on 'tonic' which was something like a liquid vitamin supplement I think. It smelled like iron. It tasted like sh*t. 

I grew up in the 60's and 70's - at the onslaught of convenience foods. Everything was coming in wrappers, boxes and cans. Almost all of our food came out of cans and boxes. My mother thought it was just awesome. And I certainly didn't know any better. Breakfast was Trix and Lucky Charms with orange juice out of a can and mixes with three cans of water (I think). Lunch was a bologna sandwich on Wonder Bread and some vegetable out of a can and Kool Aid to drink (my family didn't like milk, so I wasn't forced to drink it either, unless I was at someone else's house). For dinner, it was almost always something fried, usually in some animal fat with more canned vegetables, more Wonder Bread and margarine. For snacks, I would come home from school and eat things like a half of a jar of olives or maraschino cherries or......broccoli. I know, weird. Right?!

I was sick...a lot! Throughout my childhood I had influenza, stomach bugs, and colds often. I had both kinds of measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever, and a host of others that I can't remember right now. I remember getting penicillin shots in my butt at least once a year. (Now I'm allergic to penicillin...hmmm....) I got all the vaccinations that were recommended at the time. But I was sick often. 

I really didn't enjoy eating all that much until I became a young teenager. I started gravitating toward hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, onion rings, and vegetables! Yes, vegetables. I would come home from school and fix myself a box of Birds Eye frozen broccoli, or cauliflower or asparagus or green beans. Broccoli was always my favorite. With cheese sauce. Mmmmmm....I'm having a moment recollecting that smell and taste right now. That was heaven to me. At least I liked vegetables. But I loved sugar too. Not chocolate. Just sugar.

My mom loved food and was very overweight - obese for sure. I am ashamed to say that I was embarrassed by her when friends came around. Don't judge. I said I'm ashamed. Anyway, she would have bowls and bowls of various candy (mostly chocolates) sitting around all over the house. Just sitting out, for anyone to take at any time. This was proof that I was a very strange child. I wouldn't eat the candy. It would just sit there until company would come over (which was quite often) or my mom would eat it.  My mom would always say, "I can tell when you've had a friend or two over, because the candy level would go down." She never had to be concerned with me eating it, even though it was right out there for all to be enticed.

My dad was sick all the time. He had been hit by a car and was injured very badly when I was almost 3. He was in and out of hospitals with all kinds of problems. We spent a lot of time in hospitals while I was a child. He struggled just getting through the day most of the time. When I was 9, he became very ill and we eventually learned he had pancreatic cancer. He died when I was 10. 

My mom also was not well, She was obese and eventually got Type 2 Diabetes. She had to take insulin twice a day and still couldn't keep her weight down, even if she would begin to. She wobbled and swayed back and forth when she walked. She couldn't do anything physical. She didn't even like to walk to the car. Her knees were bad from holding up all that weight. She sat most of her life.

Watching both of my parents' health fail when I was so young had an impact on me. I wanted to be healthy and never have any of those things happen to me, but I didn't know how to even begin to learn about health and wellness. Back then, it wasn't what it is today. We are continually learning and un-learning about it.

Back then, we didn't even hear about how bad sugar was for you, so I was still taking in a lot of it. I had a soda every day - at least one, usually more.  I continued that pattern, pretty much eating and drinking what I wanted and liked, until I had my first child. I finally gained weight! Too much weight! 60 pounds to be exact. I was elated that I seemed 'normal' and actually had some weight I needed to take off. But how? I never had this problem before. I was only 21 years old. It was pretty easy by just eating less and not eating so many desserts. I exercised too, which was also pretty easy. I took it all off and was back down to a size 0. Crazy, huh? But was I healthy??? Nope.

As time went on, more kids came. I put on weight with each child that was born. My largest dress size was a 14. That was very big for me, as I am relatively short in stature and small framed. I had four kids and was a frumpy, chubby mom that didn't exercise. I could see where this was going. Remember my diabetic mom? I had used diet plans such as Weight Watchers and Adkins after the births of my children. They worked well for losing weight, but I was beginning to have more and more symptoms of autoimmune problems, only I didn't know that's what it was. I was beginning my 40's with a lot of issues. By the time I was pregnant with my daughter, I wasn't feeling all that great. My weight wasn't too bad, but I just didn't feel well.

After she was born and we received her diagnosis, I started researching like a mad woman. I became an overnight expert on Down syndrome. I wanted to help her all I could. I found out that people with Down syndrome over-metabolize certain nutrients. This extra chromosome really plays havoc with their bodies. I began to supplement my breast milk with extra nutrients, like selenium, magnesium, vitamin D, and at night, tryptophan to help her have a better sleep. 

While I was obsessing about her health, I was neglecting mine. By the time I was 45, I was dealing with type 2 diabetes, diverticulitis, thyroid issues, being overweight, tired, grumpy and feeling hopeless. In the forthcoming posts, I will tell you some of what I learned about what food can do for us and how it can be our medicine. 

I am now on a health journey that has been quite the learning experience. This journey began for my daughter and now includes me - and you - if any of this applies. I decided to get a nutrition coaching certification and at least try to help others by sharing what I've learned, not only in school and research, but just in life. I no longer have diabetes, diverticulitis, or am I overweight. I have more energy and the mood swings are gone. The thyroid is getting healed completely by diet. I am on no medication. Food IS my medicine! 

In the coming months, I'll be offering coaching packages for people who want the one-on-one experience to help them or their children with Down syndrome get healthier. Until then, enjoy Phoebe's videos and my blog and feel free to 'like', 'share', or 'comment.' 

No Kool-Aid for these girls! No Pop-Tarts either! 

No Kool-Aid for these girls! No Pop-Tarts either! 

Chew Your Food

I'm one of the few in this big world that has not jumped on the Smoothie Bandwagon. Believe me, I tried. I would frequent Jamba Juice with my kids and try their many concoctions (trying to keep on the healthy side as much as possible!) and could never even finish a small size smoothie. I never enjoyed milkshakes either. When I was a kid, my mom would try to get me to drink fattening milk shakes to 'fatten me up." It didn't work. And they always gave me a stomach ache, probably due to an intolerance to dairy. 

I did however, try a milkshake the other day at Crave Burger (one of the best buffalo burgers I've ever had) and it was the very best milkshake I have ever had. It was a New York cherry cheesecake milkshake with a real slice of cheesecake, a graham cracker, sour cherries and caramel swirled into it. OMG! No, seriously. OMG! It was amazing, but I still was only able to finish half of it, which is a good thing I suppose, because it's nearly a billion calories. I'm surprised it's not more. They even have 'adult' milkshakes. The burgers are BURGER PORN. I kid you not. This place could ruin me. And I digress. Because this place is not even my point here.

My point, just so you know, is I like to eat my food, not drink it. I don't like protein shakes or smoothies or whatever the next health drink is. Nope. I want to chew my food. That leads me to another small digression: Bobas. If you have not tried Boba, you must at least try it. Many of you probably have. It's a fruit smoothie or cold tea drink (Vietnamese) with large tapioca pearls in it. These tapioca pearls sink to the bottom of the cup, but you are given an extra fat straw to suck them up into and then play with in your mouth. This is where the 'chew' comes in. I drink the drink, but I get to chew too! These little guys are fun! It's a party in my mouth! I got hooked on these for awhile, but knowing about the sugar content in a smoothie, I had to quit -- and it wasn't easy! I love those things. But see, I'm chewing too, which makes me very happy.

I love chewing gum too. But then I found out that isn't the best thing for you, either. Sugarless gum, even with xylitol, is still not the best thing for me. It makes too many juices for my tummy, and then my tummy doesn't want to digest the stuff it SHOULD digest as well. So, I had to quit that too. Plus, I just read the other day that chewing gum makes you fart more. Enough said.

So, as you have gathered I'm sure, I like to CHEW my food. I love to eat, so this makes sense. So why are all those wellness/nutrition gurus out there touting the protein drinks, shakes, and smoothies? Probably for those who DO like to drink a meal or feel they are short on time. It's easy, you don't have to cook, just throw it in a blender or shaker bottle, and there you go! But not me. You're not going to sell me one of your awesome protein powders that's better than the other guy's. I want to chew my food.

Instead of a protein drink, if I don't have time to cook, I can grab a piece of leftover meat and some raw veggies and some avocado. See? No cooking. I can grab some nuts or a boiled egg for a snack. There are lots of options for people like me that like to eat and not drink a meal. I guess once in a while, after a workout maybe, I can tolerate a protein shake, but then, I don't really workout. I play. Just like a kid. But that's another story for another day for another post. 

Do you share this with me? Do you prefer not to drink a meal? Share your comments. 

Once Upon a Hospital Bed - Part 2

As I spoke of in Part 1, my hospital experience during Phoebe's entry into this world was less than acceptable. The staff was so negative about everything. Apparently, we were too happy for their liking, after having a baby with Down syndrome. We just wanted to take our baby home and get to know her. We already loved her. But alas, they dramatized everything and made us stay in the hospital 5 days, checking her over and over again, looking for all kinds of 'problems.'

She was cold, they said. I said, "Well, give her to me and she won't be." They kept taking her to the cold nursery for this and that, never really letting me know what this or that really was. They did an x-ray and said her spine didn't look right and that I should take her to a specialist to see what was wrong. I later took her to my chiropractor and he said she was perfect. She still is. She dances in 11 classes a week, has been in basket tosses for cheerleading and done gymnastics, swimming, horseback riding, etc. One of the nurses said she was 'retarded.' What an archaic word for even back then (17 years ago)! They said she wasn't gaining weight fast enough and that maybe I should reconsider the breastfeeding thing. If they knew anything at all about babies/children with Down syndrome, they would know that they are slow at gaining weight. They are slower than typical children. It was if I had to educate THEM on these things. Another nurse called her the "Downs baby" as my midwife walked into the nursery. My midwife laid into them and asked, "Do you call that baby over there, the 'black baby?' or that baby over there, the 'big baby?' They just didn't handle things well at all. It was if they had never had a baby with Down syndrome there before. And I know they did. They were campaigning during that time about how great of a birthing hospital they were. Hmmmm..... I guess anyone can say anything in their advertising campaign, regardless if it's true or not.

So, I sat there in our room holding her, really looking into her eyes, her soul...and deciding not to believe a word the staff and 'experts' said about her. "She IS going to do whatever she sets her mind to," I would say to myself. She is not a label. She is not limited to what others think. And that still goes today.

I began right away researching. I was told kids with Down syndrome can get sick a lot more than typical children. I decided that wouldn't be true, either. I started supplementing my breast milk with extra nutrients that I read they over-metabolize. As she began to eat solid foods, I made sure everything was organic and that she would eat only real food, no junk at all. We had very little canned or packaged food in the house anymore. I studied as much as I could about nutrition and Down syndrome. There wasn't much out there, but I would study both subjects independently - nutrition and Down syndrome - and then I would start writing down things that came together for me. What we have done nutritionally has seemed to work. I'm not saying I've done everything right, but I was willing to learn and adjust. I wasn't going to listen to those 'voices' any longer about what she wouldn't be able to do. And she doesn't get sick. She's not catching all those things that other kids seems to always be getting. Kids that are eating neon-colored macaroni and cheese and drinking sugary drinks. That's just never been an option. And I believe it has worked.

Phoebe doesn't drive a car, but she knows how to drive a golf cart and ride a bike and take public transportation. She dances in a Company for competitions, she has been a Junior Denver Bronco cheerleader, she has competed on the national level for cheerleading. She has made her own YouTube videos dancing. She has big dreams. She's ambitious and she's not going to give up...and neither will I. She has been to prom. She is planning to own her own businesses one day. Yes that word was plural. She has BIG DREAMS. There is absolutely no reason not to. 

Once Upon a Hospital Bed Part 1

As I sat alone on my hospital bed the day after my daughter was born, allowing everything that had just happened in the last 24 hours attempt to sink in, I ignorantly began the list of 'she will never...' You know, "She will never drive a car"..."She will never go to a prom"..."She will never marry"...  

This was ignited by the hospital staff just hours after she was born. Hospital protocol was not followed (I checked into that later) and it was announced to us by a nurse taking my daughter's vitals and checking the APGAR score saying, "She looks as if she has Down syndrome." Just like that. Nobody gently breaking the news to us. Just blurting it out minutes after she was born, almost as if talking to herself, but in a loud announcer voice. Our entire family was there - all four of my sons, my husband, and my sister. We had no words.

We were a little shocked of course, but still happy that she was here. Soon, a doctor was summoned (I had a midwife delivery) to explain to us that they would be taking my new baby up to the NICU to check for heart (over 50% of people born with Down syndrome have heart problems) and other issues. We were still happy. And that seemed to bother some of the hospital staff. 

Soon, I had several nurses and a couple of doctors bringing in the negative, even after it was discovered that my daughter had no heart problems or respiratory problems. They began with, "You need to understand what this all means..." and "In all probability, you will not be able to breastfeed her, as babies with Down syndrome have low muscle tone and large tongues, which makes it nearly impossible for them to latch on and suck hard enough." I replied, "Give my baby to me." And that's when I started my own "She will never..." list in my head. (I did breastfeed her for 2 1/2 years!)

I really hadn't done a lot of research on Down syndrome, though I did know that my chances for having a child with DS were almost as high as they were for me miscarrying. I had 5 miscarriages throughout my child-bearing years, and at my age, I thought having an amniocentesis would secure that fate. I did however, have an ultrasound, but they were not sure of the gender, due to her position at the time. Nothing showed up on that ultrasound to lead them to believe there was any issue at all. I was as prepared as anyone could be, knowing those chances.

My hospital experience was very negative, but we were so happy for our surprise-later-in-life baby girl. I was more scared about having a girl than the fact that she had Down syndrome. I had four boys and I knew how to do boys. There was absolutely no pink that existed in our home until we brought her there. 

I will continue the rest of this story in the next blog. If you have a child with Down syndrome, I'm sure you can relate with at least some of what I've shared.  Why is it that the world seems to want to tell us our children are so different and can't do certain things? 

 

 Yes, I have Down syndrome. And I can do anything!  

 Yes, I have Down syndrome. And I can do anything!