Monday, March 9, 2015

Why I am not a hypocrite

EDITED: The mom I refer to below has since reached out & apologized. Water under the bridge. Love it SO much. 


You did it. You pushed it over $1000. I'm actually now at $1353. Keep it coming. We’re more than halfway there!! Click here for the link.
I need to share something. Let me preface it by saying that I am anything but insincere or inauthentic. If anything, I am often too brutally honest and don't show enough discretion when I dislike something. #CharacterFlaw
I have never pretended to be overjoyed that my son Benjamin has Down syndrome. I have come to realize that there are many different types of parents who have children with DS. There are the Bumper-Sticker-Buddy-Walking-Don't-Say-The-R-Word-Advocate parents. On the other end of the scale are the Woe-Is-Me-What-Happened-To-MY-Plan-Why-Is-This-My-Reality parents. Then you have a WHOLE range in between. 
 I used to be the latter kind of parent. And in some ways, I still am. Down syndrome sucks most days. It doesn't mean I don't ADORE and LOVE my Benjamin. That I don't want him. But the reality is--He struggles. Is he cute? Absolutely. Has he changed my life for the better? ABSOLUTELY. Would I take his DS away? Ummm....maybe. But I can't. So why torture myself with the possibility?
 I'd like to talk about that first type of parent that I mentioned. To be honest, I used to resent them. I thought they were fake. Or crazy. Or both. I couldn't comprehend what they meant when they said that Down syndrome was the best thing that had ever happened to them. That they wouldn't take it away if they had the chance. 
 But the MOST IMPORTANT thing that this journey has taught me is acceptance. That my thoughts do not have to align with yours in order for yours to be valid to you. That no one has the right to judge anyone else for how they process their emotions, no matter how long it takes them. There is nothing WRONG about the way they feel about Down syndrome. How dare I judge them?
 Shortly after I announced that I was running the NYC Marathon for a DS charity, I saw something on IG that disturbed me. A fellow mother of a child w/DS posted a picture of the definition of the word "hypocrite" and stated that she's all for DS research, but if you're gonna talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. That it bugs her when people use DS to benefit themselves. For something they want to do. 
 While I wasn't named specifically, this was posted within the hour that my fundraiser that went live. From a mother who has a child with DS and who is also a runner. She then edited her comments to take out all of the part about Down syndrome. But I saw it before she deleted it.
 I was so hurt at first because I wondered if that WAS what I was doing. "Using" the fact that my son has Down syndrome to tug at the heartstrings of others to get to run the NYC Marathon. 
 And then I realized...NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. 
 The reason that charities offer bibs to racers is to raise money. To raise awareness. And guess what? The runners who run with charities, though dedicated to their cause, are not 100% selfless. THEY WANT TO RUN THE RACE just like the runners who do not run for charity.
 The specific mission of my particular charity, Research Down Syndrome, is to fund and support scientific research directed toward the development of safe and effective drug therapies that will improve memory, learning, and communication in persons with Down syndrome and address the increased likelihood for Alzheimer’s disease. 
 Did you know that studies suggest that more than 75% of those with Down syndrome aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, nearly six times the percentage of people in this age group who do not have Down syndrome? Scientists aren’t exactly sure what role the extra chromosome plays in this, AND THAT IS WHY WE RAISE MONEY. To keep my Benjamin and ALL the other Benjamins around as long as possible. To give them as fulfilling of a life as we can give them. To help them improve memory, learning, and communication. 
 And that is why I am running NYC. Not because I am using DS. Is running the NYC a complete dream and bucket list for me? ABSOLUTELY. And I am so very proud to be doing it FOR A PURPOSE. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping me to do so.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Help me Run NYC for Benjamin

Wellllllllllllll..................a LOT has happened since I blogged last.

Here's a quick run down:

I stayed off Facebook for about six weeks. It was nice. In the meantime, Matthew & I went on our first cruise. It was tons of fun. But then I got the flu and an ear infection ON the cruise. That wasn't so fun.

Then the winter turned to spring and I went back to Boston with Matthew so he could run the 2014 Boston Marathon. We were up there with many amazing running friends. While at the race expo, I signed up for my very first marathon. EEEEEEK!!!!!

In the summer, I went on another cruise. With the New Kids on the Block. Made a couple of friends for life. Yep. For real. It was AMAZING.

Then I started training for my marathon in August. I fought two injuries (and two 30-days rounds of physical therapy) during my training. It was hard. It was grueling. There were tears and one giant meltdown.

But I ran the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11, 2015, and ROCKED IT. I had the TIME OF MY LIFE. I'm still teary-eyed when I think about it.

Which leads me to my return to this blog.

I entered the lottery for the NYC Marathon lottery in 2014 and 2015 b/c it is an AMAZING experience. It's my bucket list race.
I was not drawn in the lottery, and I was okay with that. But when several people suggested that I run with a charity, I started looking into it. And I was *this* close to signing up with the official charity when Matthew called me and told me that he found it.
My charity.

Our charity.

A charity for Benjamin. And all the Benjamins.

It's called Research Down Syndrome.

The mission of Research Down Syndrome is to fund and support scientific research directed towards the development of safe and effective drug therapies that will improve memory, learning and communication in persons with Down syndrome and address the increased likelihood for Alzheimer's disease.

Within a matter of hours, I was ON THE TEAM. An official entrant into the 2015 NYC Marathon, which I will run proudly as my second marathon on November 1.

I made my fundraising link live last night, and my WONDERFUL friends have already given about 13% of my $2500 goal.

I am honored and floored.

Here is the link, in case you would like to donate or just share it with others.

Look. I know that I am not always the biggest advocate for Down syndrome. I am often mad at the chromosomal abnormality that crushed my dreams and greatly affects my life. It's hard to see the silver lining sometimes when I am dealing with a non-verbal seven-year-old in diapers.

But then he comes up to me and plays with my hair. And calls me "Memmy." And smiles. Or learns something for the first time.

And I know that he is my heart. And whatever plans I had in life don't matter. That he is my heart. And that is why I want him with me as long as possible. me run NYC for Benjamin.

Click HERE to check it out! Even $5 or $10 can help me reach my $2500 goal!

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Broke Up With Facebook

I did it. I broke up with Facebook. It was as easy as clicking a button. Or three. 

It had been on my mind for awhile, and I finally just did it. I am not sure how long I will stay gone. I am not sure how long I want to stay gone.

I was just tired of the constant pull. To check my notifications. To reply to others' comments/questions. To check up on my 1200 "friends."

And then there was the internal pressure. To be funny. To be real. To be all things to all people. I had to reevaluate why I was posting things. Why did I need/want all these people to approve of my life? Should I post a picture of the beer I ordered? What if someone is offended? If I put on there that I'm going on (yet another) vacation, will a few people say, "Vacation? Again? Are you ever home?"

I've been gone for a week. About 15 people have reached out to me to ask me where I went. (I'm still on Instagram & Twitter.) When I explain why I've taken a break, the overwhelming response is: "Oh, yeah, I've thought of doing that, too." One friend did the very same thing a day or two after I did.

It's like I lost 20 pounds. Pressure is off. I don't feel the need to be the "Angela" I think everyone expects me to be. I can just be there for my husband and my kids.

It's simple. And nice.

(But I do want to say that I do plan to rejoin FB again. Maybe soon. Maybe not. I don't want people to think I'm a hypocrite once I do rejoin. FB is not evil; it's not bad. I just needed a break.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unexplained Mysteries

I don't understand how everyone on television goes around chugging these giant cups of coffee all day, and no one gets the poop shoots.

I mean, I know it's probably not socially acceptable to talk about this, but this is my blog. Please tell me I'm not the only one? 

I don't understand what possesses people to run a full marathon dressed like this: 

Or this:

Or this:

I don't understand how Monica Braverman can go from this 

to this 

in just a matter of months. 

I don't understand how my husband can run 26.2 miles at a 7:10 pace, yet I struggle to get a sub-30:00 PR for a 5K!! (That's 3.1 miles at roughly a 9:30 pace.)

Oh, yeah...I *do* understand that one:

I don't understand how Thomas can fearlessly ride in the front seat of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 

yet have a giant meltdown whenever Big Jet threatens the Little Einsteins. 

But what TRULY blows mind is how this man 

has stuck by my side for all these years. Yesterday, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. THAT'S A LONG TIME. 
Yet it feels like yesterday that I said "I do" at Patten Chapel on a chilly (it snowed that morning!) November day back in the year 2000. 

This is where a normal person would post a few pictures from said wedding. But since we got married before the digital age and all my pictures are buried upstairs in a junky closet (and covered in Christmas wreaths that will soon be hung once again on my windows), I will instead post pictures of our dinner at Hennen's last night. 

It's practically the same thing anyway. 

Have a GREAT week!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Amicks Who?

Remember me? I used to blog. A lot.
Then the third kid came along, and my DVR is about all I have time for.
I used to read and keep up with multiple blogs daily.
Now, I cannot even remember the last time I read a blog.
But we are still here in North Georgia, just south of Chattanooga, TN.

Just a happily-married couple in their mid-30s with three sons.
Here's a quick recap.
Matthew is a runner. A bonafide marathon runner. He ran Boston this year & will be running again next year. He ran the NYC Marathon as an Achilles International guide to a disabled runner. He is SUPER fast, and is in the best shape of his life. (See also: amazing six-pack) He works for Cigna Healthcare. He *loves* his job. There is something wonderful for a wife when her husband loves his job. It makes for a peaceful and fulfilled marriage and home. The one downside to his job is that his busy season (roughly March through June) means we don't see him a lot. He's either out of town or working super-late hours. BUT the good thing about all that travel is that he racks up tons of Delta miles & Marriott points.
So, yeah, we travel. A lot. We're homebodies when we're in town, but we're often leaving for trips. We go on solo trips, couple-trips, and whole-family trips. There is just something exhilarating about seeing new and familiar places with and without our children! We especially love Disney, Myrtle Beach, New York, Boston, and California.
I am a stay-at-home mom to our three sons. I absolutely love being at home. I love predictability. I love "running the household" even if I don't do the best job of it. It is especially nice now that the two oldest boys are in school full-time! I am still running. As of Nov 2013, I have run nine half marathons and various other shorter races. I can finally say that I think I *might* run a full marathon ONE DAY. I'll get back to you. I still struggle with a love-hate relationship with food. I am currently about 15-20 pounds heavier than I was about 18 months ago. Clothes don't fit like I want them to. I can't wear the jeans that are collecting dust in my drawer. It is all up to me to stop putting so much crap in my mouth, but I love it soooooo much. UGH.
Andrew is 7.5 and in the 2nd grade. He is in the gifted program, and especially excels in reading. He is such a NEAT kid. He isn't into sports or video games (though he loves to play Poptropica on my laptop), but he loves to play with his toys, read books, and watch Phineas & Ferb. He enjoys school and baked goods. :) I love that he is a friend to everyone.
Benjamin is 5.5 and is still in preschool at the same school where he's been since the day after his 3rd birthday. If he could stay in this class FOREVER I'd be a happy momma. He loves the bus, he loves school, and he is doing well there. He knows all his ABCs and numbers up to 10. He says a few words, and remembers songs & routines well. Sadly, he still is not talking, nor is he really communicating. He stays relatively healthy in the spring/summer, but now that it's full-on fall, heading into winter, we're constantly on our toes. He just recovered from being sick for a full week from a tiny stomach bug. BLAH. But his laugh & smile are infectious, and I simply love the stink outta him.

My feelings on Down syndrome are still very complicated. Do I believe it's God's will? Yes. Has it changed me for the better? Yes. Would I wish it away in a heartbeat? Hell to the yes.
Thomas is my baby, at 3.5. Long-time readers of the blog (hey, there, JILL & Queen!) will remember that up until he was 13 months, Thomas was TPB (The Perfect Baby). That alllll changed, and remains unchanged. He is all boy in one minute, running full-force into a lamppost while trick-or-treating yet then collapsing into a heap of tears the next minute because his Tigger is in the washer. He has such a sensitive heart and is genuinely sweet. He is my only cuddlebug. He loves to sing and play and RUN. We are holding out hope that he may be our only runner. The other two seem to have zero interest. The most frustrating thing about Thomas right now is that he is WILL. NOT. POTTY TRAIN. I have given up for now. I had to change (twice weekly) preschools b/c he just simply will NOT poop on the potty. I'll try again more hardcore in a few months. Ain't nobody got time for that.
We still have Frank & Nancy. They're 10 years old. They're fat and lazy. They're all I want to be.
Here are some pictures from this month. 

Dinner with friends in NYC the day after Matthew ran the marathon.

New hair. Style courtesy of my friend Taryn. :)

Trying to be cool. Just vanity glasses. My vision remains perfect. (Other than my thin wrists/fingers, it's all I have going for me right now!!!)

Matthew running with Kai during the NYC Marathon. Love this man so much!! (Matthew, not Kai, although he was awesome.)

Matthew and I just started drinking coffee this year. Where has it been all my life?

I think these two are a big part of the reason I drink so much coffee...

Breathing treatments: Twice daily during the fall/winter.

Love my first-born.

I love his innocence. He still carries The Big Red Dog (yes, that whole thing is his name--that is NOT Clifford) all around the house and in the van. Every. Time. we go somewhere.

So glad to see this smile after he was sick.

This is the misery we deal with when he is sick. PITIFUL.

This boy has my heart. He is FUN.

I'm a goofball.

Frank has had bad gas lately. I am not impressed.

Yep. Our tree is up. Before Thanksgiving. Deal with it.

Nancy making a brief appearance. She tends to stay hidden sometimes. See: Thomas.
So, that's it for now!!!!!!!! I'm hoping to blog a little more frequently. PLEASE feel free to leave a comment and let me know how YOU are doing, and let me know that you're still out there!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Throwback Thursday--June 13, 1999

I had just graduated from college & moved into an AMAZING house with two girlfriends. I had a job teaching 4th grade waiting for me in August. 
But this was June. And the fun summer was just beginning. 
On this particular Sunday, after church, these guy friends & I decided to eat at all of their houses. 
But their parents weren't expecting us, and they all lived hours away in different Tennessee towns. 
But we were hungry, poor, & gas was way cheaper then.  
So we took off from Chattanooga and drove first to Brass's house in Oak Ridge for lunch. (109 miles)
I'm pretty sure he called his mom first. I don't remember what we ate, but it was good Southern food. 
From Oak Ridge, we drove to Greeneville, TN, to eat dinner at Lloyd's house. (94 miles)
Again, I don't remember what we ate except that it was good. 
Then we drove to Athens, TN, where we had dessert at Matthew's house. (127 miles) (Notice: I didn't say it was good...)
Then it was back to Chattanooga late that night. (59 miles)
We were in Matthew's ginormous Lincoln Continental with no air conditioning. 
Matthew & I spent all day (389 miles total) in the front seat of that hideous car, talking, laughing, & listening to music.
He had had a crush on me for a few months, but I was oblivious to that fact. (And, really, ladies, wearing those sunglasses wasn't helping his case any...)
Little did I know, however, that this was just the beginning of our journey in life together.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013