Down Syndrome Awareness Month

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This is the 3rd year in a row that October has held special meaning for us in this house. Hard to believe that 4 years ago I would not have even noticed a reference to Down Syndrome Awareness Month (DSAM), let alone have a blog that dedicates much of its time to advocating for those who have DS.

I would never go back to the me "pre DS." There's so much I would like to go back and tell myself about the beauty that I was about to experience (not that I would have believed me). It's a very difficult thing to do - accept the unknown. And hear I am now, almost 3 years later, not only accepting but loving, living, breathing, educating, advocating, supporting, challenging and hopefully most of all...

CHANGING.

Changing not only my outlook on Down syndrome, not only our family's and friend's outlook - but YOURS. All of you. Every time you take the time to come over and visit us here on Chasing Hazel. Every time you share something on our Facebook page or like a picture on our Instagram feed, you are showing your support.

Support for Hazel - yeah sure - but also support for all those with Down syndrome.

When you look at Hazel with love in your eyes...

When you celebrate her accomplishments with us...

When you realize that she's a little girl that has learned to walk, talk, play and have temper tantrums...

YOU ARE INVITING KNOWLEDGE ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME INTO YOUR HEART.

How many of you have come across an individual with DS in the community and been a little less intimidated to speak to them because you know Hazel?

Oh - I hope A LOT!!!

Yes, this month is about raising awareness but I hope that we have been doing a good job raising awareness all year long and not just this month.

Guys I don't write this blog to make money, I don't receive any endorsements, funds or grants for the time I spend here writing. I don't publish posts because some body asked me too.

I do it for Hazel.

DSAM

I do it so that you feel a little less intimidated by her. I do it so that you know that people with Down syndrome are beautiful, just as any other person. They have a great deal to offer us. I do it so that you can experience just a little part of the joy and love that we experience everyday. We don't just experience joy from Hazel, but from all the individuals that we have welcomed into our hearts since the beginning of this journey. I know a love now that I can't even begin to explain. My heart swells with pride for all our little friends with DS. Their accomplishments, are our accomplishments.

We are in this together. All of us. We are paving the way. But first we have to take out our power tools and heavy machinery and break the very hard concrete roads that are already laid. We need to change the infrastructure and then pave a new road entirely. Our new roads bend, weave and fork in ways that we never thought possible. At the end they join together and lead us to a most breathtaking view.

I am calling on you. Won't you please help me?

Talk about Down syndrome in your homes, share our Facebook links, open your hearts up to something a little different, teach you kids about it.

If there is anything I can do to help I am IN!!! ALL IN!!!! Email me or post a comment.

"Up About Down" Buddy Walk

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It was a beautiful weekend for a walk. The sun was shining and smiles were not in short supply.

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Our local Down syndrome community, Up About Down, got together this past weekend for their annual "Walk" in support of Down syndrome. Up About Down:

  • is committed to enhancing the quality of life for those with Down syndrome and their families
  • raises money for the local association so that they can provide events and activities for individuals in the community that have Down syndrome or the support system of those with DS
  • raises awareness about DS in the community

To read more about Up About Down click here to visit their website. Also, you can check out the Up About Down Facebook page and give it a "like" so you can follow along with future events honouring Down syndrome.

This was our 1st year attending. The event was a huge success!!! The walk raised over $10,000 for Up About Down. We are really looking forward to being a part of this community in the years to come.

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A very special THANK YOU to our friends and family who came out and walked with Hazel. I have said this a million times but it takes a village and we truly appreciate you coming out to stand with us. Y'all only make us stronger. Thank you!!!

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3-21World Down Syndrome Day 2014

PicMonkey Collage First I wanna say that I am overwhelmed by the Facebook and IG love we received yesterday. WOAH!!!! We feel very warm and fuzzy over here.

 

What can I say here on World Down Syndrome Day that I haven't said before.

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It is important to say that Down syndrome is our everyday life. It's "normal" for us. Hazel just is. She is...

Our daughter, a sister, a 2 year old, a little girl, a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter, and a friend.

She likes...

To read, play, eat, sleep, sing, dance, walk, run, play outside, go places, be free, give hugs and kisses, watch TV (The Voice and The Wiggles) and so much more.

Down syndrome, a once very scarey thing for us, has become a part of our everyday. It is no longer scarey. It is no longer the unknown. That certainly doesn't mean that we don't have concerns for the future or worry about what challenges lie ahead. We do. Trust me we do. But why worry about the possibility of a future challenge or problem, when all is perfectly well right now.

Sometimes I lose this battle. I find myself really panicking about school, or her friends, or whatever.

Then there is a day like today.

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PicMonkey Collage2

And I remember that we are not in this alone. I remember that we have all of you. I remember that our hearts and minds have been opened to accepting that which is "different" (but not really). I feel genuine love and support. This day where I didn't have to ask you all to wear your crazy socks or your t shirts to show your unrelenting commitment to showing the world that Hazel has a place in it, as do others who share her extra chromosome. You just did it and shared it and ROCKED IT!!!! I'd like to see anyone try to disrespect Hazel in any way. They would have all of you to deal with. Our village is becoming a fortress. Again, I am honoured to be part of it.

So many things made me happy today. Thought I would share some.

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If having trouble viewing click here
 

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(yes...this 11 year old painted this for Hazel)

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THANK YOU!!!

 

Supporting a Local Family

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  A local man and his family were victimized by a fire in their rented home several days ago. Fortunately, they escaped the blaze unharmed.

Sadly, the damage was SEVERE and they have been left with NOTHING.

Having moved in just before Christmas, they had not yet secured insurance. They have a place to stay with family at the moment but will soon need to find a new place of their own. Nothing remained after the fire. They have 3 children. A 14 year old girl (size sm/med shirt - size 1 pants - size 7 ladies shoe) , a 12 year old boy (size 28 man's pants - size 8 man's shoe) and a 4 year old girl (size 4 & 8.5 kids shoe).

They desperately need your help!

 

They could use anything you might be able to spare:

  • furniture
  • household items
  • cash
  • clothes
  • food

Just imagine if you and your family were victimized in such a way that you found yourselves having to start over with nothing. They will appreciate ANYTHING that you have to spare and any duplicate items will be given to a local charity.

Spring cleaning is almost here anyway. Why not start purging early this year?

 

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You can drop off your donation here between the hours of 9 & 4:

Ground Effects
4505 Rhodes Drive
Windsor, ON
N8W 5R8
 

Or feel free to e-mail me and I will gladly arrange a pick up for your items.

Thanks again everyone for your continued support!!!

 

Haiti Reminder

Just a gentle reminder that we are collecting again for the wonderful local charity ENABLE Haiti. haiti2

Jim and his team have containers that are shipping out at the very beginning of October.

Here is the link to my original post. After reading this post I had a reader tell me they saw one of the toys that they donated in the arms of one of the kids. I was so happy to hear that she saw her donation actually be received with JOY!!!! This is a truly wonderful charity.

NOW IS THE TIME!!!!

If you are cleaning out closets and would like to see your gently used items be put to good use...

WE WILL TAKE IT!!!!

Here is a list of ideas that they would like to take, but I have never seen anything go to waste.

  • Good conditioned clothing and shoes
  • Hygiene products
  • Rice and pastas
  • Cooking oils
  • Dried black beans
  • New bedding & towels
  • Kitchen supplies
  • French books
  • Light bulbs
  • Batteries

 

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You can drop off your donation here between the hours of 9 & 4:

Seguin Financial 3200 Deziel Dr. Suite 210 Windsor, On N8W 5K8
In the Greenwood Center, just south of central off the expressway.

Or feel free to e-mail me and I will gladly arrange a pick up for your items.

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Thank you so very kindly to those of you who have donated so far. You are greatly appreciated!!!!

 

Remember Enable Haiti???

 

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Remember when we did the toy drive here on Chasing Hazel for ENABLE HAITI?

It has been a while since you so generously donated the brand new toys that were shipped over to the orphanages in Haiti in February. We were overwhelmed with the generosity that Chasing Hazel supporters and readers demonstrated. You are wonderful people!

Things take a little longer than expected sometimes when dealing with a country that is volatile at the best of times. Jim and his team are some of the most determined, courageous people that I know. Going to a country like Haiti, personally, to hand out each and every item donated is something that I commend and hold in the highest regard. They are not afraid of what they might come up against, despite the civil unrest experienced in Haitian society. I am honoured to have been able to help out via Chasing Hazel and with all of you!

I hope you all know how much you are appreciated for your kindness.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

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Here is a follow up email that I got from Jim upon his return to Canada, including some pics of the experience (Jim is in the yellow shirt). What an absolutely amazing event we have taken part in...

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Hello All,

My team of 3 and I traveled to Haiti in May to host a Christmas Party for our children at the orphanage. It was an absolutely wonderful experience as our children, ages 1 to 16, opened their first ever new Christmas presents. Their smiles, the laughter and complete joy filled the entire orphanage. They sang beautiful songs of thanks to us. It wasn’t the easiest of trips as we were stuck in Haiti an additional 6 days due to some unrest and Gang Activity in the area that kept us holed up in our hotel for a few extra days. However, in the end everything worked out wonderfully for our Christmas Party.

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We collected new items including toys, hygiene products, books, clothes and shoes during the first few months of 2013. We packed them up in a 40 foot container and along with 53,000 lbs. of canned goods & pasta and we shipped them off to Port Au Prince. We brought along a lot of other much needed supplies such as cooking oil, soaps & detergents, bedding, medical supplies, bicycles, diapers, French books & school supplies, milk bag sleeping mats, towels and lines, soccer balls & uniforms and water purification drops as a result of your generous donations.

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All of these items were distributed to our 2 orphanages, our 2 remote mountain settlements, our hospital and Rehab Center. These items have made a huge positive impact in the lives of some very needy people in Haiti. And by the way, although these Haitians have no real material goods, they would gladly give you the shirt of their backs. They are truly beautiful people.

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Your heart & dedication to our cause is the reason we are able to do what we do. Without your support ENABLE Haiti, now a registered Not-For Profit, would never have been formed by us. It allows us to do some pretty incredible work in Haiti, a country that just never seems to get a break. We will continue to build schools, support our orphans and remote camps and our hospital and Rehab Center. We will continue to do the things necessary to Enable Haiti, including establishing organic vegetable farms and chicken farms. Our wish is to provide the materials and the skills for our people in Haiti to support themselves through farming, education, sewing and other trades. It will be wonderful when we can send our first special child to post-secondary schooling. That will happen in the not too distant future and it will be a wonderful accomplishment. We promise to continue to dedicate our time and efforts in Haiti to make their lives better than they are today.

WE ARE PLANNING ANOTHER TRIP IN OCTOBER AND WE WOULD GLADLY TAKE ANY ITEMS THAT YOU MAY NO LONGER NEED OR WANT.

We are in need of:

  • Good conditioned clothing and shoes
  • Hygiene products
  • Rice and pastas
  • Cooking oils
  • Dried black beans
  • New bedding & towels
  • Kitchen supplies
  • French books
  • Light bulbs
  • Batteries

From the bottom of my heart I thank you sincerely for your acts of kindness.

Haiti14

 

Haiti13

With Warm Regards

Jim

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If you happen to be cleaning out a closet or 2, please feel free to drop off any items that you think can be of assistance for the folks in Haiti.

You can drop off your donation here between the hours of 9 & 4:

Seguin Financial 3200 Deziel Dr. Suite 210 Windsor, On N8W 5K8
In the Greenwood Center, just south of central off the expressway.

Or feel free to e-mail me and I will gladly arrange a pick up for your items.

Thanks again everyone for your continued support!!!

 

 

 

 

Tragedy in Oklahoma

The devastating tragedy that is going on right now in Oklahoma really is unacceptable. There is too much loss, too much destruction, too much sadness. These candles were lit in Tibidabo Church in Barcelona when we were there. There is something about candles being lit on Holy ground that makes us feel hope, light and faith. I share this picture with you in hopes that together we can take a minute to reflect, pray and empathize with those that have faced such a terrible reality. We can hope for them to rebuild, to find peace and to overcome such horrible loss.

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I am one of those people, I really don't like to look. So I change the channel, or skip past the photos of destruction and loss.

But that's not really fair is it? Why shouldn't I look?

It's the least that I can do, really. I don't have to live it. We are fortunate enough that it is not a reality for us. We did not face this travesty. We did not lose anything. I am going to look at the very sad images and take a minute to empathize, to feel pain, sadness, and loss for the victims in Oklahoma.

I hope you will join me...

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Together we can pray and send positive energy to those who need it. I am going to spend the next little while appreciating what we have, knowing that we are blessed to have been spared.

 

Gratitude & Empathy

 

Happy Post WDSD Friday!!!

Thank you to those of you who helped us to spread the word yesterday!!! World Down Syndrome Day is a very special day in this house and will continue to be every year. It is a day to celebrate and be thankful for all the blessings we have been given. And we did just that. I spent the whole day playing, reading, teaching, kissing, hugging, and singing to my girl.

 

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Also, it is an important day for raising awareness. I can't tell you how much it means to us that you checked into the blog yesterday, sent me pictures of your socks or other ways that you appreciated your gifts yesterday.

I am hopeful for the future, in that our society will be a great deal more accepting and understanding of individuals with Down Syndrome. Every World Down Syndrome Day that passes we get that much closer to a world that will appreciate my daughter for exactly what she is and what she has to offer.

 

 

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Many blessings...

March 21, 2013

Happy

WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY!!!!!!!!

 

First off, I want to say how extremely honoured I am to know what this day means now. We are so proud to be a part of this day and celebrate difference and perseverance.

Over the last year we have met so many wonderful people. We have worked hard and overcome challenges. We have changed our ways of seeing and accepting others (all "others" not just individuals with DS). We have welcomed a warmth and a light into our hearts that will keep us cozy forever. We know that challenges will await us, but we also know that there will be a overwhelming amount of pride for our girl in the future.

Today with Hazel, there will be an underlying thread of gratitude in every kiss and a deep appreciation for the perspective she has given us in every hug.

 

Onward...

This is a very exciting day for the DS community. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness and education about individuals with DS. The following is from the World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) site. I copied their description here so that you could read what they have to say without going anywhere else, but please take the time to visit the site when you have time.

I particularly LOVE the paragraph about the "internet being a powerful tool for raising awareness."

It allows us all to do our part through various social media. Anybody can help to celebrate WDSD, if only by tweeting 1 tweet (or Retweeting a tweet) that you find interesting or important. Or by sharing a link on your Facebook pages. Even just a simple status update that calls attention to the cause. Oh, yes - and you can even share on Pinterest.

 

WDSD states:

"21 March 2013 marks the 8th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. Each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder. But there is still so much more we can do.

Down Syndrome International encourages our friends all over the World to choose your own themes, activities and events to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.

The internet is a powerful tool for raising awareness and we encourage people to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day through your own websites, blogs and social networking sites. However, we want to create a single meeting place where everyone can share their experiences and advertise their activities.

Join our cause to create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome on 21 March."

 

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Today I thought I would list my Top 5 favorite blogs that raise awareness for DS. I know I have listed some in the past but I wanted to make it really easy for you all to do some educating or to spread the word and raise awareness yourself. Click on the images to take you the blogs. Happy reading!!!

1. A Perfect Lily

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2. Enjoying the Small Things

 

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3. Little Olsen

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4. The Future's Rosie

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5. Noah's Dad

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Chasing Hazel readers have always been so loyal and supportive. We could not have gotten this far with out you!!! Thanks so much in advance for your continued support in helping us to advocate and create positive discourse about Hazel's future.

So please, if only for today, TWEET, SHARE, LIKE, and PIN away about Down Syndrome. Do your part to spread the word and educate.

 

 

 

Peace, Love and Acceptance

 

A reflection on Judgement

I have chosen to do a post today about Judgement, in honor of Non-Judgement week. Visit The Conscious Perspective for more deets on Non-Judgement week.  

A wise man once said to me: "Never judge a mother - unless you know for a fact what she is going through - you are not allowed to judge." Brilliant!!!

Now that I am a mother and I have done things that are very questionable in the name of sanity, I 100% agree with the above mentioned quote. I have done things that I never thought I would.

I specifically remember a day at the mall with Hazel and my mom. At said "day-at-the-mall" there are vivid memories of me in a side hallway on my hands and knees trying frantically to make a bottle. While my mom tried to change a dirty butt diaper with Hazel in her stroller.

Yeah I said "stroller!"

We did not walk to the "family bathroom" and use the "change table" because I LITERALLY could not imagine walking all the way back there with a screaming, hungry, dirty baby. We were close to a somewhat secluded hallway in a busy, public place so, it was as good a place as any...right? We all got out pretty much unscathed, except for my dignity - but I mean - whatever. Being a mom means sacrificing your dignity...doesn't it? Please tell me it does for you too!!!

Anyway, my point is DON'T JUDGE ME!!!!

Yes!!! I changed my kid in a totally inappropriate place AND I didn't "take my screaming kid home" - but I do acknowledge that I shouldn't have done the former and should have done the latter.

Needless to say I don't judge mothers EVER - for any reason!!! That day I couldn't bring my kid home because my house was under heavy construction. That little episode took place after a day out of the house with a baby trying to keep ourselves occupied and sane. Clearly we only accomplished 1 of the 2. You just never know what is happening in someones life so please try not to judge!

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On a more serious note:

Part of the reason I started this blog was to rectify or aid in the inaccurate judgements or perceptions of those with Down Syndrome.

One of the blessings that Down Syndrome has brought to my life is realizing that judgement often times comes from ignorance.

People judge that which they do not know.

By educating ourselves, listening to people bias free and keeping an open mind we accept things that are different. We gain perspective and embrace the things that we had no prior knowledge about. Human beings have a great deal to teach us, but we must be receptive and open to the lesson they offer (even though we might not agree with their thoughts or opinions on the subject.)

I hope that reading about Hazel helps you to accept her differences and celebrate her victories, just as you would with any other child. I also hope that her message helps readers to shift prior assumptions or perspectives of those whose live with Down Syndrome. Please continue to educate or advocate any chance you get!!!

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That's so "Retarded"

This is going to be rough to read...please don't leave me. Hear me out and know that I have said the R-word. I am not judging you. I am simply trying to continue in my mission to advocate and raise awareness for Down Syndrome. Also, if you notice that this message does bother you, I assume you are one of the people who say it. I KNOW you are good people, just please think about what you are saying.

Look, I know you aren't referring to my daughter when you say the word "retard" or "retarded" so you don't need to be defensive.

I know that it's a habit.

It's happens to be ingrained in our vocabulary as an acceptable word. I don't know what happened or when it became mainstream to categorize, stereotype and use this word to describe something or someone that seems "stupid."

I mean...I tell people that my daughter has DS and they still use the word (like in the same paragraph of conversation). Honestly, I know you aren't referring specifically to my girl but someone, some day might.

Put yourself in my shoes.

Hazel hears this term being used, maybe not referring to her, and comes home from school and asks me what it means. What do I say? How do I answer? How do I protect her from being offended, hurt, becoming insecure, learning that others think that something is "wrong" with her, or worse she learns or believes that she is LESS than someone else. I'm not trying to be dramatic, but imagine that your kid is called like the worst, most offensive, name that is directly related to some characteristic that they actually possess. It's a little different than just some innocent name calling, right?

Remember as well that it's one thing that kids say it, but another thing entirely when an adult says it. You should know better, right?

The major problem that I have is that if you are here - on Chasing Hazel - reading this, chances are that you probably try your best to not say the R-word. If you do happen to say it, you are probably very conscious of the fact that you said it and realize that you could have chosen a different word.

That is, LITERALLY, all I ask. That you think about it, consider why you chose that particular word and maybe try to bring attention to the fact that it could be very offensive to someone who might not be considered to be as "intelligent" as another person based on the simple fact that they have an extra chromosome.

Moving forward, please don't feel guilt about what has or hasn't been said in the past, and just simply try to choose a different adjective to describe something. There really are so many other more intelligent ones to choose from.

 

 

Thanks for reading all the way down here and sticking with me. Know that if I hear you say the word I do not get angry or offended. I send you love and hope for that might be the last time you ever say that word.

 

Here are a few relevant posts that have been written to raise awareness about "ENDING THE WORD"

From Catharsis - "Just Another 'retarded' post"

Unfortunately, what people don’t realize is that intent and perception have nothing to do with one another.  One may not intend to hurt another with his choice of words, but the reality is others may perceive the words as hurtful because of the way they’re used.

To read more here is the link:

http://www.findcatharsis.com/2013/02/just-another-retarded-post/

From Shannonigans - "R is for Reason. Let's show we have some"

You can actually carry it and pass it to people and and not even know you're doing it. If we want to eradicate this word and the disease that it is leached onto, we have to make sure our childrens' comfort zones and social circles expand well beyond that which they see in a mirror. We have to make sure that they know other children, ones who aren't abled as they are, ones who aren't colored as they are, ones who don't dress or eat or pray or talk as they do.
Click the link to read more:

http://networkedblogs.com/IYz7T

 

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Happy "END THE WORD DAY!"

 

 

Visting young minds...at the U

There are some photos. They aren't great but, at the very least, they prove we were there. We very much enjoyed our experience as guest speakers in this class at the University of Windsor. It was a great platform for us to further raise awareness and educate others about people with Down Syndrome. Now...I will tell you all what I told them, a disclaimer of sorts (I believe there were a few disclaimers before the chat started):

I am by no means an expert on Down Syndrome, I am only an expert on Hazel. We set forth to share information that could be helpful to those who are interested in learning more about DS. This information is solely based on our personal experiences with Hazel, and what we have learned so far.

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The students were very interested to hear about some of the challenges Hazel has had to face with her health. After elaborating on Duodenal Atresia and her VSD, SHOCKED is a more accurate description of some of the facial expressions I saw as I scanned the crowd.

We went on to discuss the milestones that she has mastered and the ones she is working on next. More importantly, we talked about their futures. The future doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, teachers and where ever else the wind may blow for these students. We tried our best to give an accurate description of what we expect as parents in any of these fields when dealing with a baby that has special needs.

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We tried to create an environment of empathy and compassion, hope and positivity. All qualities that are important to me as Hazel’s mom. These are all qualities that Hazel’s therapists have. We went through some specifics about Hazel’s therapy.

We tried to foster thinking “outside-the-box” and being “open-minded”, when assessing a child that is a little different. Not all children with DS are the same and accomplish the same things at the same time. Just as with any child.

We cautioned the consumption of negative information about DS that can be found on the Internet. I tried to give some positive, helpful resources to help them to educate themselves and others.

I explained OUR role in the DS world – to ADVOCATE and EDUCATE and ultimately, aid in societal ACCEPTANCE!!!

 

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I have to share 1 part of the presentation here with you all. You are all such faithful, loyal, accepting supporters of Hazel.  You will SO get this about her…

(this is actually on the PowerPoint presentation)

So…Is our girl WEAK?

After facing:

  • Down Syndrome
  • Surgery at 28 hours old
  • Failure to thrive
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Open heart surgery at 5 months old

Low muscle tone maybe…but WEAK is not in her genes!!!

 

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Thank you so much Professor Martindale for providing and allowing the opportunity to celebrate our daughter and educate those that may just be part of her successes in the future.

 

Grateful for this experience,

Enjoy your Monday

 

 

How about a Group Hug...

Here's a Group Hug for Family Day from Hazel's cousins. I think Group Hug Apparel is at the Devonshire Mall today. Be sure to get your t-shirts and e-mail us pics to post on the blog.

E-mail to chasinghazel27@gmail.com with subject line Group Hug.

Would love to post any of you who want to raise awareness and support those with an extra chromosome!!!

 

 

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Enjoy your families today!!!

 

 

Group Hug Apparel

Do you have your Group Hug Apparel t-shirt yet? a

 

It was such a pleasure to meet Andrew and his mom, Karen. They were selling t-shirts to raise money for a little girl in need of a heart transplant. Hazel instantly fell in love with Andrew. She immediately outstretched her arms to him and was trying to kiss him on the mouth. It was pretty cute.

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Their booth was set up at Colasanti's, a local Tropical Garden. So we went out to get our Group Hug Apparel ON... (literally - we put it on while we were there).

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Part of Andrew's inspiration to sell t-shirts is to help "sick kids." Andrew knows what it's like to have a heart surgery or two and wants to help kids in any way that he can. He says that it is "important to help people."

This video tells a little bit of their story, including a history of why they started Group Hug Apparel. Every time I watch the part where Karen says that she is proud of Andrew, tears well up in my eyes. It is an overwhelming feeling to know that your child can accomplish so much, even though the odds may seem stacked against them. You make us all proud, Andrew!!!

Also, if you have a Group Hug shirt and would like to send me a picture of you wearing it, I would love to post it on the blog. You can send it to chasinghazel27@gmail.com, with the subject line "Group Hug". Also, I know Andrew always wants to see where his shirts ended up. Feel free to jump over to his Facebook page and "like" it and share your pics with him.

Congratulations Andrew on all your accomplishments!!!

 

Click here if having trouble viewing
 

Embracing difference is so empowering.

 

Acceptance & Peace...

 

 

 

Grace Nightingale needs help

Hazel is hoping to head out today and lend her support to little Grace, who is awaiting a heart transplant. Andrew of Group Hug Apparel is going to be there donating the proceeds to Grace for her upcoming surgery. If you are in the neighborhood try to stop in and check it out. We are hoping the weather co-operates so that we can go too!!!

Good Luck Grace!!!

 

Here is the ad...

Date
Saturday February 2nd, 2013
Time
10:00 AM
Location
Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens
1550 Road 3 East Kingsville Ontario Canada N9Y-2E5
Kingsville, Ontario
More info:

Grace is in need of a Heart Transplant and Andrew will be selling his shirts at Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens Feb 2nd 2013 to help support Grace Nightingale and her family. Read more about Grace by clicking on the link. If you are interested in stopping by that day, we would love to see you.

Happy Birthday Hazel!!!

Today at 9:55am our girl turned 1!!!

 

 

A time to celebrate and reflect on how much has happened this year. Reliving all the moments of the exact same 24 hours this time last year. So much growth and shifting perspectives, its overwhelming to think about. So much has changed, I barely recognize this little face that struggled and fought so hard in the beginning.

 

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If I am being honest, I just can't find the words to express how I feel now. I am staring at the screen with my fingers over the keyboard and nothing will translate. My mind is racing...

For now, here are some pics of Hazel this morning at exactly 9:55am.

Hazel has come so far and overcome so much!!!

 

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Love, love, love...

 

 

 

Skating Party 2013

  Daddy had his annual Seguin Financial Group skating party.

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This was the first year Hazel could attend. Last year we were in the hospital in London trying to do everything we could to keep her growing in my belly as long as possible.

This year we spent the afternoon introducing Hazel to those who were extremely supportive to us last year when Daddy couldn't be there to entertain his guests. We were so blessed that Matt's clients, who feel a lot more like family now, were so understanding and empathetic towards his absence last year. Thanks so much to those who sent positive thoughts and prayers our way during the most scariest time in our lives.

 

Most importantly, THANK YOU from the bottom of MY heart for supporting my husband while he was being a rock for both Hazel and I.

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All making the same face....this picture is the best!!!

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Chattin' it up with the other babies...

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Lovin' her Auntie Paula, as usual.

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Cuddles for some new friends...

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No comment...

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We celebrated all our skaters.

Those who have been practicing and are getting very confident on the ice...

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...and those who are just learning.

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Some who leaned on their families or friends for support, even if it was just for a second...

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And I promise you there was a moment. These 2 made it happen as they were doing laps around the rink.

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It was a split second in time. One of those moments that you will NEVER catch on camera. One that you witness, one that you feel.

Like you know on the movies, when the boy and the girl fall in love and the background fades away and the world seems like it's spinning around them - for them? Refer to ANY chick flick EVER, and you will see what I mean.

That was it...the moment between Hazel and Daddy. The world fell away and it was just them gazing and smiling at each other, doing laps around the rink.

It was magic. She ADORES him!!!

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Thanks to all who could attend the event this year. We were so glad to share some quality family and friend time with you!!!

 

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Until next year...

 

 

Little N3lla's Triple Crown

I wanted to share something with my Chasing Hazel family. If you have been reading a while, you might remember my mentioning Kelle Hampton (once or twice, or three times - whatever don't judge me). She has been a huge influence in the Down Syndrome community since the birth of her daughter Nella. Her charisma and passion for raising awareness for individuals with Down Syndrome is admirable.

If you have not yet visited her blog, wait until you have some time, grab a coffee (or whiskey tea - whatever- I won't judge you) and enjoy.

 

For now, Nella is trying to raise money for the National Down Syndrome Society.

Every year for her birthday, Kelle celebrates by reaching out to her readers and asking them to support the cause. Over the past 2 years, they have raised over $200, 000. This year they are at it again with a new goal. They would like to have a grand total of $300,000. Anything helps!!!

 

Click HERE to find out more about how you can help support...

N3lla's Triple Crown

 

Nellas triple crown from ETST on Vimeo.
 

 

Gratitude & Peace

 

 

 

 

Meeting Enable Haiti

The holidays allowed us just enough down time to go and shake hands with the exceptional man and women that started the ENABLE Haiti charity here in our local community.  

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Jim and Heather Scott, started this charity in hopes to make a difference in the lives of 400 orphans living in Haiti. These children have nothing. Their villages are impoverished. There is not enough food, clean water, or supplies to sustain any quality of life for its inhabitants. When Chasing Hazel readers heard there was a need for toys for these orphans, you all stepped up and gave generously.

Jim and Heather were ecstatic about the contribution from Chasing Hazel readers. They were extremely thankful for our help. I was like a proud mamma in there, proud of more than just Hazel, but of all of you.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!

 

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While we were there, Jim and I had a brief conversation that had me choking back tears.

He told me about a girl in Haiti who was born with a club foot. Poor thing was dragging herself around on the ground to get from one place to another. Jim happened to have a few leg braces to try on her, just to see if one would fit. Lucky enough for her they found one that worked. He said, it was by no means a perfect fit. Jim explained to me that, as she was practicing walking with her new support, her smile extended from ear to ear.

She looked up at Jim and said,

"Thank you so much, now I can go to the bathroom all by myself!!!"

(start choking back tears now)

Then she looked at him and said, "Do you think next time, maybe, I could have my own tooth brush and tooth paste?"

(cue feeling like a brick landed on my chest and start swallowing back tears)

We are blessed my friends, we are blessed.

 

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ENABLE Haiti, if you are ever looking for somewhere to bring those extra items that are piling up in your homes.

Contact me anytime.

Anything goes.

Everything is appreciated!!!

 

 

Love & Peace