Wednesday, January 21, 2015


          I have read a few blog posts recently on the topic of labeling someone as "special needs" vs. "disabled". I am certainly no expert on this. Anyone who really knows me is probably aware that I'm not always the most politically correct person. I can't speak as a person who has a condition that would require a label...but I do know what I prefer for my son. How about we just say he has Down syndrome?

        Down syndrome is a diagnosis. It can be proven. When Bryce was born, we had chromosomal testing done that determined he does in fact have Trisomy 21.....three copies of the 21st chromosome....otherwise known as Down syndrome.

       Having Down sydrome is legally considered a disability. Having that "label" allows Bryce to recieve services and benefits that otherwise would not be available to him. Someday, I will be grateful for that. In fact, he is already benefiting from the 'label' with his early intervention services.

       As a language person, though,  I dissect that word in my head, and I don't care to think of my son that way. The prefix dis- means apart, away, or having a negative or reversive force. So, if we really look at the word disability, it is saying my son is the reverse of able? He is apart from having abilities?

       Will Bryce have some disabilities? Probably. I doubt he will ever be a professor, or play in the NFL. Do I have some disabilities? Absolutely. They are called higher level math and organization :)

     But is Bryce the reverse of able? Absolutely not. He is ABLE to brighten a person's day. He is ABLE to form an opinion. He is ABLE to feed himself with a fork. He is ABLE to break stereotypes with a single interaction. He will walk, he will read, he will move out of our house and break his mama's heart someday.

    Will he HAVE special needs? Of course. He will always need someone to check up on him. He will need more time and patience. He will need modifications in school. Is he special needs? No. He is Bryce, and he has Down syndrome.

     Having Bryce has taught me so much about the special needs/disabled community. I never thought much about what to call someone. I realize now that I need to call people who they are....their name first, then maybe, if necessary, their diagnosis. It is called "people first" language. Labels are sometimes necessary, and I am not in denial about what struggles Bryce's future likely holds. I just don't like to think of my son as anything other than who he sweet, sassy second born.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Highlights

        It's always hard to believe another year has passed. I usually get a little depressed on or around New Year's Day....maybe because time is passing, maybe because I feel like I didn't accomplish much.....I don't know why. For whatever reason, I don't feel it this year. Maybe because 2014 was an exciting year, and there are big things to come in 2015 as well. I have been reflecting back on the year, and realized how bad I was about blogging, so I need to get some of these memories recorded! Here is my Larsen Top Ten of 2014 (in no particular order):

1. BACK TO TEACHING! This was by far the biggest thing that happened to our family this year. I was a miserable stay-at-home mom and I am so much happier now that I'm back in the classroom. The school I am teaching at is awesome, the kids are awesome, the commute is awesome, and my colleagues are awesome. I am more fulfilled as an individual, which makes it easier to be a better wife and mother. It's been a win for everyone, I think.

2. CONNOR STARTS SCHOOL. Okay, I guess he technically started school in 2013, but going for a few hours two mornings a week is nothing compared to the full-time preschool he is in now. He has adjusted well (with a few rough, tiring days, but that's to be expected), and I'm so proud of how well he is doing. He's a leader in his class, and has so much enthusiasm for learning. I hope he doesn't lose that. He also really started reading in 2014, and I am obnoxiously proud of what a little reader he has become. You really take being able to read for granted until you see how much more of the world opens up for your child when he/she starts reading.

3. BRYCE STARTS DAYCARE. In February of 2014, I started a long term subbing job three days a week. We had to find a daycare for the boys to go to two days a week. Contacting people and arranging things like this has always been difficult for me. I'm actually quite awkward when meeting new people, and have a phobia about making phone calls. Adding Bryce's Down syndrome to mix when looking for daycare made me that much more nervous. We are so blessed that he really doesn't have any special medical or dietary needs. Really, other than needing more time to figure things out, I don't really even see him as having "special needs". But, I was worried the Ds would scare people away. Our provider was not only willing to take him, but excited. Her mother had worked in a group home (or something) with people with special needs, so she knew that they deserve to be treated like anyone else. She is now completely in love with him, and does a great job working with him. We are lucky to have her, and he has grown so much since starting full time this fall.

4. BAUER MOVES TO OMAHA. We said good-bye (kinda) to our dog, Bauer in February. With Mike's travel schedule, I just wasn't able to handle everything. Bauer was neglected, and it was a lot of work for me--especially because I was still working evenings and weekends at Cub. He is much happier with the large fenced-in backyard and walks that he gets with Molly and Brett. I'm not so sure they don't regret the decision at times, but I am grateful for the new situation. It was hard for the boys (especially Mike) to say goodbye to our sweet doggie.

5. CONNOR PLAYS SOCCER. This past summer, Connor played a team sport for the first time. It was definitely....interesting. We're hoping for improvement this summer, and I fully expect that he will be much better with a year under his belt. He's finally showing a bit more interest in sports, and I think 2015 will bring us T-ball AND soccer.

6. EASTER IN OMAHA. We decided to head down to Molly and Brett's house in Omaha for Easter. It was the first holiday I had ever spent out of town, and it was really nice. The weather was beautiful, and it was nice to have more than a rushed two-day weekend down there.

7. QUICK TRIPS TO DULUTH AND FLORIDA. It was only about 24 hours total, but we had a nice family getaway to Duluth in July. Since becoming parents, Mike and I have taken advantage of our few chances to go on vacation withOUT the kids. It's just not really a vacation with little kids....especially when they're so young they won't remember or appreciate it. Because of this, Connor appreciates any little trip he gets to take. Now that he is getting older, we will try to include the kids on more vacations, but thus far, I'm proud of how much he appreciates the little things! Mike and I also managed to sneak away to Jacksonville, FL for a weekend in December and it was great to have some quality time together. Very relaxing!

8. BRYCE GETS ORTHOTICS. You wouldn't think this would be a highlight, but Bryce's orthotics have helped his large motor skills tremendously. He is two and a half and still isn't walking. Since getting his cute little braces, he is showing so much more confidence, is bending his knees while walking and getting down from a standing position, and can walk holding just one of our hands. He has also started showing more interest in walking (and frustration in not being able to), so I'm hopeful it will be soon. He's getting awfully heavy to carry around!

9. MIKE'S CRAZY TRAVEL SCHEDULE. With something like 35 flights totalling 64,000 miles, Mike's work travel schedule really picked up in 2014. It seemed like he was going to Panama every two months (and during every snow storm last winter) last year! And of course, the two dreaded Philippines trips were the worst. We have all gotten better at handling things while he's gone, and getting back on a regular day time work schedule has helped tremendously. 2015 should be even better because.....

10. MIKE GETS A PROMOTION AT WORK! Just in the last month, Mike has started a new position at work. It is on the same team, and he is still dealing with call center vendors, but he now has a manager position. He will still be traveling (and still has the Philippines account), but they will hopefully be shorter trips....and mostly domestic. No more Panama....and hopefully shorter Philippines trips. He worked hard for this promotion, and I am very proud of him. The raise doesn't hurt either :)

     It is nice to start a new year without the usual "funk". 2015 will be another big "babies" will turn three and six. Connor will start kindergarten, and Bryce will start preschool. I feel like I officially won't have a baby anymore! I am so looking forward to a summer without working evenings and weekends and hopefully being a little more comfortable financially. Things are looking good for a great new year.

     I hope 2015 brings nothing but good things to all of you, my friends! Cheers!