Offensive Leprechaun Contest?


This weekend my husband and I were out and about around town and came across a promotion a local business was having for St. Patty’s Day.  It was a “Best Leprechaun” contest.

My husband and I started to chuckle and thought, “Sinny could enter and she’d be a shoe-in!” (In case you don’t know, our daughter Sienna, whom we call Sinny, is a Primordial Dwarf.)

After chuckling for a bit longer and reminiscing about how she dressed up as a leprechaun for Halloween several years ago, we got into a conversation about whether or not this sort of contest was offensive.  BTW, she picked that costume out by herself and was adorable.

Part of our conversation included a discussion about how easily some people are offended.  We feel like many times people are too easily offended as if they’re looking to be offended.  If you listen to the world with “ready to be offended” ears, you’re going to be offended and life will not be as enjoyable for you.

In our family, we are not easily offended. In fact, when we were interviewed by Jay Schadler for a feature on 20/20, he discussed with us how we have a very “honest way of approaching” my daughter’s medical conditions; so honest in fact, some people are shocked with it.  “Life is what it is,” was my response. You have to deal with it as positively as you can and not take yourself too seriously.  We feel like for most part, people don’t say things out of hate or disrespect. We have found that most often people don’t actually understand what they’re saying and don’t understand that it could be hurtful.

Let’s take a common phrase regarding “the short bus.”  This is a phrase I don’t like and while I don’t like it, I have found that most people haven’t given much thought to why they actually say that phrase and that it could be hurtful.  People use this phrase out of ignorance. Ignorance is what we should focus on rather than assuming people are hateful.

So, next time you hear an offensive term, perhaps strike up a friendly conversation with that person about why they use that term and try to educate them on how it could be hurtful. They may not actually know and you may find that they did not have malicious intentions behind their words.  As humans we don’t often like to be told what we can and cannot say, but by communicating with others the potential hurt of particular words/phrases, perhaps they’ll come to their own understanding and choose to refrain from using such words and phrases.

Yes, some people still say/do things out of hate, but we need to take it upon ourselves to decipher the difference between ignorant speech and hateful speech and, in both cases, strive to educate.

When dealing with people who still speak out of hate, you can do your best to educate them, but cannot control their actions.  Yes, words CAN hurt, but the words you tell yourself are the most important.  You are wonderfully created!

Now go give yourself a pep talk and a hug! 🙂

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Hollywood!


We had the pleasure of attending a gifting suite at The Golden Globes this past weekend in Hollywood!

It was so much fun!  We met several celebrities, had our pictures taken with them and enjoyed showing them Sienna’s Locket.  They loved it!

Sienna was so excited that we found some cute high heels for her to wear!  Unfortunately, though, it was a lot colder there than we thought it was going to be when we packed our clothes. Sienna was freezing!!

After the gifting suite, we had a book signing and Sierra had her LA singing debut that night!

One thing I did notice while we were in LA was that so many of the sinks in the restrooms were so high–even the soap and towel dispensers.  I’ve put the places we visited on my list of places to contact about my Equal Restroom Access for Little People Movement.  I was quite surprised the restrooms weren’t more accommodating.  LA seems like such an aware place where they’re very sensitive to making sure accommodations are made for people with special needs.  So, I was very surprised.

The people we met with were so excited about the message Sienna’s Locket is spreading.  Everyone is looking forward to the second book in the series!!

Special Challenge Day


Special Challenge Day!!

Yesterday was our local Specially Challenged, Challenge Day.  It’s always such an amazing event.  The Special Olympics lends the torch for the children to carry and the students get Special Olympics medals after their events.

The day always begins with the students running through a giant blow up mascot like the football players do.  Then comes the singing of the National Anthem.

Sienna had the honor of being one in a trio singing the national anthem this year!  We practiced and practiced.  After all, it’s a pretty tough song.

She was so pumped up and ready to sing.  She stood between the two other classmates and the officiate handed her the microphone.  The music began and the officiate began singing with them softly to help remind them of the words.

Then the officiate stopped singing.  The mic started squealing.  Uh oh.  The kids were thrown off focus and couldn’t remember the words.  It was pretty heartbreaking to watch.  Sienna had worked so hard on trying to remember the words and she was still trying, but the words just weren’t coming out right.

In a very touching moment, the very soldier-esque ROTC leader walked up behind them and started singing with them without missing a beat.

Voilà!  The words came back!  They finished the anthem!  That gentleman exemplified grace and patriotism.

Something else that amazed me yesterday was the kids’ spirits.  The athlete’s creed they recite just before the races begin talks about students wanting to win, but if they don’t, they pledge to be brave in the attempt.

It’s often said that there is a “wussification” of America going on right now.  Without going too deep into that right now (I’ll touch on that in a different post), I have to agree that many children now aren’t taught to deal with challenges and disappointment like in the past.  They’re now taught that everyone gets a trophy and we shouldn’t keep score.  They think everyone’s entitled to win.  Well, that’s not how the real world works.  These special kids know that first-hand.

While each student did receive a medal, there was a 1st place, 2nd place and 3rd place winner.

Every student needs to learn from the strength these kids have.  They have accepted that not everyone wins 1st place, but that the important thing is that they did their personal best.

They are the epitome of learning to be happy with the person God made you to be and of giving it your all, all the time.

They are shining examples of beautiful souls.

Sierra & Sienna’s Vocal Showcase!


The girls had their vocal showcase this past weekend.  I could not have been prouder!

They practiced and practiced.  I have to admit, I was a bit nervous they wouldn’t remember their words.

Their vocal coach was so wonderful.  He discussed with me what points I’d like for him to say about each of the girls when they were on stage.  He wanted to make sure to say something non-twin related about Sierra.  I found it very profound that he recognized that Sierra is often overlooked as being “just Sierra” and not “Sienna’s twin.”

Sienna often gets so much attention because she’s so cute and she’s certainly one-of-a-kind.  So, Sierra sometimes feels like she’s over looked.

We watched the first half of the vocal showcase and were entertained by the amazingly talented students.

Intermission.  The girls were up next!

Sienna confidently sashayed on stage.  She was so excited to be wearing high heels!

She answered her vocal coach’s questions and blushed as he sang her praises.  He introduced her song and started playing.  It was the moment of truth.  Would she remember her words?

She did!  She did great!! Her voice cracked a bit during a couple parts, but she just kept going without missing a beat!  Of course, the crowd was thoroughly amused and thought she was so cute.

Then it was Sierra’s turn.  It was amusing for me to hear people behind us say, “That’s the twin?” They couldn’t believe the height difference.

Sierra glowed as her vocal coach introduced her.  He asked her a few questions to which she had answers that made the audience chuckle.  He asked one question in particular that had the audience clap in approval.  He asked her if she’s ever nervous when she’s on TV.  She said, “No, people either like me or they don’t.”  Proud Mama Moment! J

As she began to sing, the audience fell silent.  She nailed her words and nailed the notes.  The audience was moved.

After Sierra’s solo, they had the opportunity to sing a song written specifically for them by Marla Martin, a college friend of mine.

Side-by-side, the girls sang the song “Sinny-Sized”.  It’s such a cute and touching song about the girls being able to take life head-on as an unstoppable duo.  The audience was in tears!

It was an unforgettable night for the girls.  They felt special and they were able to entertain and touch people’s hearts.

Cheerleading Woes


So, I’m faced with a dilemma and I’m looking for honest opinions to help me process my decision.

Sienna has dreamed of being a cheerleader for years.  Because of her obvious size difference and physical limitations from being a Primordial Dwarf, I’ve always been hesitant.  The last thing I want to see is her being the “flyer” of the team.  Which, I’m sure she would inevitably be.  (I admit, that’d be awesome to see if I were an on-looker.)  I know there are other dwarfs who are cheerleaders, but the ones I know have had gymnastics training and Sienna has not.  In addition, those dwarfs do not have a learning disability that I know of.

As she’s gotten older, the delay in her cognitive and emotional development is becoming more apparent.  So, I also wasn’t quite sure if she was mature enough to handle cheering with girls her own age.

However, there are times that she grasps such deep concepts that I challenge any adult to be able to master.

Many things with her are a mystery.

So, here’s the situation.

Sienna came home from school a few weeks ago with a flyer for a Special-Needs Cheerleading class.  She enthusiastically handed me the flier while exclaiming, “It’s cheap, too!”  I couldn’t help but chuckle as she has learned that Mom is quite frugal.

She was right.  It was cost-sensitive (as opposed to many cheerleading programs) and the times the class meets fit well within our schedule.  So, I e-mailed the director for a bit more information.

I felt confident about the director and the program and was willing to give it a shot.

I took Sienna to the first class.  She was so ecstatic.  She was a bit nervous, but went right in.

The cheer helpers and director were fabulous.  It seemed like a wonderful establishment…but I was still hesitant.

On the way home, Sienna said, “I can’t believe I’m an actual cheerleader!”

You’re probably asking, “What’s the dilemma?”

I’m known for shooting for challenges…For not settling for easy…For not allowing “handicaps” to be excuses…For pushing people (including my kids) to be nothing than their absolute best.

So, by allowing Sienna to be in a modified cheerleading class, am I saying to Sienna that she’s not capable of being in a non-modified cheerleading class when we haven’t even tried a non-modified class?

Looking at safety and actual physical capabilities, I know Sienna would be best in the modified class, but does that feed her spirit?

If she goes into the non-modified class and can’t keep up with the other girls, is she going to get even more frustrated?

Being pretty unfamiliar with cheerleading, I have to guess on what to expect.  So far I’m leaning towards checking into enrolling her into a younger aged class that might closely match her physical abilities, but will challenge her to keep up with those who are more advanced than she is.  However, putting her around younger girls isn’t going to inspire her to mature.

Now do you see why I’m stuck?  Do I put her in the modified class and allow her to help the others and be a leader in the class; do I put her in a younger aged class to test it out; or do I put her in something else altogether? (I’ve always tried to get her to opt for the dance team rather than cheerleading, but she doesn’t seem too excited about that alternative.)

Suggestions?