Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Day at Bishop's Pumpkin Farm

It might be time to update our blog header with a new family photo! Check out a few of the lovely photos from Memories by Michelle. Thank you Michelle McDaid for capturing the spirit of our family...we certainly are a "wacky" group and we had a lot of fun with you on that lovely 95 degree "fall" day!!!

Check out our photos here!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...The Men in My Life

Just a Small Rant...

...About Prenatal Testing and Eliminating Imperfection

Not everything can be detected in an AFP, a CVS, an ultrasound or an amniocentesis. As far as I know, those tests will not determine if your child will have mental illness, heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, autism and the list goes on. Or do we have tests for these things in the works? Shudder...Those tests can't tell you if your child will be happy or a contributing member to society. They can't tell you if your child will grow up to be a criminal, a serial killer, a child molester or a rapist. They can't tell you if your child will grow up to be bully or a thief. They can't tell you if your child will have motivation or drive or end up being homeless. These tests won't tell you if your child will stand out, or be homosexual, or have a learning disability or be an outcast because he or she is too tall, too short, too skinny, too fat, too pretty, too ugly, too blond, too dark or too anything. I certainly know that the prenatal tests will never tell you if your child will be in a car accident or a near drowning or take a bad fall or have a birth trauma. There is NO SUCH THING as a perfect child and having those tests to rule out the forbidden DOWN SYNDROME or any other detectable birth "defect" doesn't guarantee that you will have that unattainable picture perfect human being. I'm sensitive now, more than ever, to this obsession over early detection for the purposes of eliminating "imperfect" unborn children. There is a push to eliminate children like Joaquin and Sofia. I wish people would understand that "disability" is actually very natural and it's everywhere. People come in all shapes and forms and abilities. I find it impossible to find anyone in the world that doesn't suffer from some sort of challenge or "disability". Wear glasses? Ever had braces? On a diet? Have a bad back? Ever need surgery? Need coffee in the morning? Ever had a headache? Ever need help with anything? Would you say you are perfect? Would you say you are totally healthy? My bet is each and everyone of us has some challenge or special need that they deal with regularly.

I guess this is my way of saying (and this is ONLY MY OPINION) that I don't think anyone should enter parenthood unless they understand that you take on ALL SORTS of risks, trials and tribulations, heartaches, and disappointments when it comes to having a child and you are signing up for the JOURNEY. Wherever it may take you. It's a huge responsibility. And it's a privilege.  So if you aren't up for the challenge, don't have a child. To the medical industry: Let's get off this slippery slope of prenatal testing. Let's be mindful of the direction we are headed. Let's not pretend the testing is to have more "information" or to "prepare". If that were the case, I wouldn't be ranting right now. The abortion rate after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome is staggering. 92% of babies who are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are eliminated. That sentence alone says it all.

OK...rant is over.

On to something inspiring, amazing and beautiful. Thank goodness for that.

A link to a beautiful video:
Wonderful Works

A link to the beautiful new ministry launched today:
Wonderful Works

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Day of School Jitters...for the Mama!

Joaquin has his first official day of full inclusion preschool tomorrow morning at 8:30am and I'm a nervous wreck. We have been looking forward to this day since he turned 3 in February. This is what we have always wanted for have the same preschool experience that any typical child would have. The same that his brothers had at this age.  Joaquin is social, easy going, very flexible, enjoys learning and loves people so why am I nervous?

Well, I wasn't nervous until I went to the "meet the teacher" day on Tuesday. I was greeted warmly by the teachers and everyone was very excited to see Joaquin. The teachers (all 3 of them) said they have been looking forward to Joaquin attending the preschool. I picked up the preschool newsletter and the calendar of activities planned and made sure that Joaquin would be on the roster and we happily went home. I eagerly sat down to read through all the paperwork, so thrilled for Joaquin, and then it hit me. I read that one of the first activities next week is to bring in a photograph of your family to share with the class. Oh my gosh. How is Joaquin going to share with the class? He can't talk. It hit me. I mean sure, he can identify each of us in the photograph with prompting and I'm sure he will smile and point at his family members but that's about it. Typical three year olds talk. Some talk A LOT. But I'm certain every child in that room will be able to talk about their family. Joaquin won't. I get teary eyed just thinking about it.

I know I'm doing the right thing. I know Joaquin will learn best from his typical peers and he will learn best to TALK from his typical talkative peers. But it's still hard and it hits you.

Deep breaths as we cross this bridge into new territory. Typical peers. Peers where the difference in abilities will be VERY evident. Painful at times. But it's the best for Joaquin because this is REAL life. Not the safety bubble that special ed provides. Special Ed has a place and a time but I see now how easy it would be to crawl back to the safety net of it. BRAVE. Must be brave. Joaquin deserves this opportunity and I'm certain he will handle it WAY better than I will. Deep breaths.

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmmm"

We're not sure who is to blame here but we got a new piece of furniture and not 10 minutes after the delivery guys left I turned around and saw this...
Yes, that is Sofia inside a glass cabinet. She was all giggles and smiles and Joaquin was one foot away from it...hmmmmmm...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Healing Smile

A post from Hector:
This morning when I woke up I went to check my email and there was a message from a comment posted on Sofia's old blog. It brought tears to my eyes, it read:

hello, my name is Michelle and I saw you (Jen) today at the twelve bridges park. I was having a hard day thinking of my miscarriage and how I would be having the baby any day if nothing had happened. Your little joaquin looked at me and gave me a beautiful smile that just melted my heart. I heard you call out Sofia's name and something rang a bell. I thought maybe I had read an article about you guys on kidaround. I went home and looked you up! How amazing that little Sofia is now with you guys! You guys were a ray of sunshine in my sad day. I know God sent you guys to that park today, and He showed his love to me through your angels!
Every day when I wake up in the morning or I get back from work at night, Joaquin's smile melts my heart as well. He has that effect on people, he demands hugs from mostly everyone known or unknown. I still hold my breath for a second or two when it happens with strangers, and every time his smile wins, and he will not let anyone off the hook that easy. Moms will want to hold him until he's had enough, dads will do it for a minute or two and then as they try to put him down he will hold on for a little bit more. He needs to rub his hands on their cheeks and feel the prickly beard on the back of his little hands. And most of the time they give in to his request to be held and enjoy this little baby bear cub embrace. And I have to tell you, it is the most wonderful embrace you've ever known.

 Some of you know about the GQ fiasco that happened recently. I did my part and sent a letter to the editor expressing my opinion and telling him I won't be patronizing his magazine anymore unless they made things right. I've been a subscriber for many years and I asked them to issue a public apology and write an article or have special coverage on Down syndrome. How about Joaquin on the cover?   I understand that as part of the Down syndrome community I am constantly on edge about insensitive remarks and the use of the "R" word, but my outrage about what was printed goes beyond sensitivity.  It was probably the worst insult I've ever heard. It would take me a thousand pages to describe how wrong it was, but I'm over it. It is obvious that the guy who wrote it has never known someone with Down syndrome. Or perhaps he is plain and simple  an insensitive asshole.

Joaquin and Sofia's story along with all the beautiful children of The Sisterhood and the many more we are blessed to know are changing lives one smile at a time.

And now some eye candy...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Hope You Dance

Here is Sofia with my dad, her Grandpa, at my brother's wedding this weekend. All our kids ADORE music and dancing so we love a good wedding!

Weddings always remind me of what is most important in this life. To love and embrace dance. Life is so busy right now and hectic and stressful. Raising four kids (all under the age of 8) is a lot of work but I'm not complaining. We feel so blessed. We have four healthy and happy kids and we will never take that for granted.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Buzz Time

Every summer I BUZZ the's so hot in Sacramento and I secretly wish I could do the same with my own hair. We even got Diego and Mateo's best buddy Chandler in on the action!

Best of all, check out Joaquin's straight eyes. The surgery was a success with only some residual "outward" turning of his right eye when he is tired which should correct itself in time. That eye was probably overcorrected during surgery but it's minor at this point. His vision remains excellent so no need for glasses. It was interesting that Dr. O'Hara relayed to me during our post op appointment that they have done psychological research on how people perceive eyes. When people see a strabismus (cross eyes or a turning in of the eyes), people immediately assume the individual is not fact she used the word "dumb". For eyes that turn outward or are straight, that assumption is not made. Interesting? Anyway, this is sometimes why people push for the surgery to straighten the eyes. This wasn't our primary reason for doing the surgery. Our primary reason was based on Dr. O'Hara's recommendation that Joaquin was a good candidate and that he could have improved depth perception. But I will admit that the secondary reason for having it done was for social acceptance and cosmetic reasons. Whatever the reason, the surgery worked and Joaquin recovered beautifully and we have no regrets.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Annual Checkup!

It was time for our annual check-up and we are happy to report that we are growing and thriving! Only 3 pounds separates the two of us (despite being almost exactly one year apart!) so we are often mistaken for twins. We LOVE each other so very much and get into constant trouble around the house! Thank goodness one of us is in school almost every day otherwise mama would be going crazy by now chasing and cleaning up after the two of us.

Mama says she PROMISES to be better about posting! Life sure is busy with 4 rambunctious and very busy kiddos! Having three boys ages 8, 6 and 3 is a handful and add one feisty 2 year old princess and well...we have a FULL house.

Check back in again soon! So many new things going on with the Sanchez Six (yes...mama and papa round us out to 6 silly Sanchez family members!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

So Far So Good!

Here is Joaquin moments before surgery. He was in SUCH a good mood and as charming as ever. FULL of grins and giggles. Surgery went smooth and quick. Both eyes were done and now we let it heal and wait and see how successful it was. They sent him home without any special medication and no patches or guards so I'm a nervous wreck about it. The only precaution is for 2 weeks we need to keep him away from playground sand and putting his head underwater. His eyes are really swollen, sensitive and totally red. I can barely look at his eyes without it totally hurting me and making my stomach turn. We know that this was a procedure totally recommended by his doctor/eye surgeon and that there are many benefits to doing it but there is a teeny tiny part of me that feels like I am messing with my boy and his beautiful eyes. They are one of my most favorite things about him. His beautiful eyes are the windows to his soul and I just don't want to do anything to hurt him or those precious peepers. I can't tell yet if the surgery worked. They look pretty good but it's really deceiving with all the red on the eye. We will know in 6 weeks. We have a quick post op appointment tomorrow morning and then in six weeks we go back to evaluate the results.

Thank you everyone in blogging land, text, facebook, phone and in person for being so supportive. We love you all. Now back to snuggling my boy and helping him heal!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eye Surgery on Monday

Joaquin is scheduled to have eye surgery on Monday and check in is at 6:15am at UC Davis Medical Center. We are hoping and praying that the surgery to correct his strabismus is successful and that he has no complications and that this will be the only surgery for his eyes that he'll ever need.

We welcome prayers and good thoughts leading up to the surgery and on the day of surgery! We hope he heals quickly and that his eyes are straight therefore giving him better depth perception. We have every confidence in his eye doctor/surgeon. It is an outpatient procedure and he will be able to participate immediately in all his activities except for playgrounds with sand and underwater activities for 2 weeks.

PRAYING all goes well!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bring Kirill HOME!

Be a part of something a part of HISTORY!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy World Down Syndrome Day! 3-21-11

All these beautiful children I am happy to know and love...the babes of the Sacramento Area Sisterhood. This is a preview to a DSIA 2012 Calendar fundraiser and photos were taken by the talented team at Benton Photography. Enjoy! 

Celebrate that special extra chromosome!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Photo taken by my friend and photographer Michelle Marrone

My Favorite Face

Photo taken by Michelle Marrone (dear friend and photographer)

This face and this smile makes my world. This is Joaquin in his true love. Oh how blessed we are to have him in our lives.

Our Little School Boy

Joaquin has been in preschool now for a little less than a month and I thought I would share an update. He is THRIVING in school and I don't know if it's his age now or his going to school or what it is but he is soaking up the world around him. He is obsessed with letters, numbers, picture cards, manipulative puzzles, throwing/catching/kicking balls, and anything musical.

He will recite the ABC's on his own with very little to no prompting. He grabs magnetic letters off the fridge and 8 out of 10 times he accurately identifies the letter. He wants to count things all the time. He LOVES books and asks to read books more than any other activity. He is using scissors on his own. He is potty training. He is exploding with his language. He is so HAPPY.

He now asks for the bus when he wakes up and wants to put his backpack on and get out the door to wait for the big yellow school bus. He gets on and just SMILES now. He loves it. We blow kisses to each other and it's the cutest, sweetest goodbye I have ever experienced with any of my children.

I have no doubt that this is the absolute BEST thing for Joaquin. I'm so grateful for our school system and for the teachers and for the therapists, friends, and family that have helped prepare Joaquin for this next BIG step in his growth and development and independence.

I found out today that he is starting OT and PT at school every week in addition to the ST he gets twice a week and all of these therapies will be "pushed in" to the classroom setting. Our team would like to do another IEP in May to prepare and revise his plan for the Fall. Joaquin will be starting full immersion preschool this Fall with all the other incoming neighborhood 3 year olds two days a week at our home school down the street. On the other days, he will continue to take the bus to attend his Special Day Program where he will receive all his intensive therapies to continue to help him thrive in "typical" preschool. So all in all, I feel like I've hit the lottery with this team of teachers and therapists and professionals. They care....they really truly care and love my child. We are so blessed. I'm going to stay positive and believe that there is every chance that our experience will continue to be positive. I know it's a long and difficult and challenging road ahead but I feel like we've got a terrific start!

Friday, February 25, 2011

iPad Giveaway

Please enter this drawing for a new iPad and help bring Sofia's newest little friend home! Lydiah is being adopted by a local family who just brought home John David from Ukraine last Fall. They fell in love with Lydiah while visiting JD at the orphanage and now they are going back to get her and bring her home. This family is AMAZING and deserves our support! have a great chance at winning this HOT new gadget! We LOVE our iPad and there are so many useful applications for adults, kids and even babies :)!
Love for Little Lydiah

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Turning Two!!

Sofia turned 2 yesterday and we celebrated with a tea party for all her friends. Everyone was asked to come dressed in their party dresses and ties!

It was a beautiful celebration and we had so much fun. The pictures say it all. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Sofia! We love you and can't imagine life without our little girl.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus

And he's preschool. Oh my goodness, a mixture of emotions bottled up inside. Pride, excitement, hope, joy, nervousness, sadness, fear. All of them at once bubbling up to the surface. Proud of my big boy. Excited for this next new step. Hope for a wonderful first experience with school. Joy at seeing his smiling face. Nervous about letting go. Sad seeing him get worried. Fear for all the unknowns.

We talked all morning about the bus and sang one of his favorite songs "The Wheels on the Bus". We got his backpack ready with some pull ups and wipes. We got a nice big brunch inside his belly and got dressed for the morning. The bus arrived promptly at 11:00 and as the wheels went round and round toward us Joaquin yelled out "BUS!" My voiced cracked a bit and tears welled up inside my eyes but I kept it together. I think it helped that I had to rush to pick up Mateo at 11:10 from Kindergarten and had Sofia to take care at the same time so those things served as great distractions.

Hector followed the school bus to pick up two other preschoolers and then followed the bus the 1.5 miles to Joaquin's school (he felt like a stalker!)  I was able to get there in time to see Joaquin being walked to class with one of the main teachers Miss Kelly (who is a DOLL!!!) and she had plenty of hugs and snuggles to give him when they greeted. It was only when he saw me that he gave us his sad face so it was then that I realized I needed to let go and let him grow from this experience without me distracting him.

I pick him up at 2:20pm so we'll see how it went. We decided not to go into class with him because everytime Joaquin saw us he got a little sad. PRAYING he has fun today and that he enjoys school and that the classmates and teachers love him as much as we do.

I'll try to upload the video of him getting on the bus later! SUPER windy day here today. He almost blew over a few times with the backpack on his back! My teeny tiny sprite.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I'm THREE now and I'm starting preschool tomorrow. A yellow schoolbus is going to pick me up and I'm going to take my backpack and spend three hours away from home with my new school family.  I really have no idea what to expect but I know my mom and dad are really excited and a little nervous too!

Here are some pictures of me on my third birthday last week! I had so much fun but in the middle of the party I came down with a big fever and didn't feel very well. It was still so much fun spending my birthday at a gymnastics center with 31 of my buddies!

I'm a BIG boy now! Watch me grow and learn and soar! The sky is the limit for me!