We are the Stow Family and this is our story. Our lives are blessed by Love, Joy and Hope. Follow our sometimes interesting stories on loving our two boys, exploring parenthood, and celebrating a little extra - two parents, two boys and an extra chromosome!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Can i have a side-order of chalk...

...with that cheese?

My mother-in-law calls them The Angel & The Emperor... I call them chalk and cheese... Malakai (aka angel) and Harlan (aka emperor) could not be on further ends of the spectrum!

Malakai is a sensory-junky! In fact, he'll give anything a lick (bricks, the dog, even Harlan gets a lick whenever Malakai gets the oportunity!)... While Harlan is a sensory-phobe. Everything seems to be too much for his little system - just waking up is difficult for him and often (in fact the only time) he'll have a 'freak-out' session within 5 minutes of waking up - it's beserk I tell you.

Malakai LOVES to sleep. At 20 months old, Malakai still has two daytime naps (about 3 hours in total).... While Harlan is ALLERGIC to sleep. I am lucky if the little tank sleeps for 45 minutes 3 times a during the day.

Malakai is so relaxed, chilled out, easy going... Harlan is very fussy, very high maintenence, super sensitive...

I think that our journey is just about to get more interesting - with Harlan in our lives, adding his little bit of spice to the mix.

Chalk and cheese I tell ya!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A portrayal of beauty

I wanted to steal a blog post from another blogger - Ruby's Life - and post it here.

Alas... I am just not that technically advanced - LOL!

So please, if you'd like to smile and appreciate something truly beautiful - please go visit this post - it's just breathtaking!

My two favourite things - an extra chromosome and a camera! :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

We will not stop...

I recently wrote an article about the Special Olympics, and as usual, as I researched the content, I came across things that I never knew. Things that made me pause and think for a moment.

The Special Olympics Africa website is so inspiring! Each page starts with a thought-provoking quote, like this one:

"Every day on dusty fields and grassy tracks across the region our athletes strive, overcoming obstacles, trying, succeeding, and exceeding our expectations. Reminding us of the can in every can't, the ability in every disability." - Dr John Dow Jr. (regional managing director)

However, there are also quotes like this one:

"Do not hide your special children. They are part of us, and denying them play, exposure and association is violating their basic human rights." - Thomas Gathu (Special Olympics Kenya athlete)

I live in a beautiful country - South Africa - that I am very proud of. It is part of the African Continent and this continent is filled with loving and friendly people. BUT, this continent is also filled with poverty, disease, illiteracy and lack of resources to fulfill basic human rights.

As the quote above indicates, in Africa, those born with intellectual and physical disabilities are often hidden in back rooms, away from the community to which they should belong. Their parents are ashamed, scared or just not educated enough to understand that there is hope for their little children.

Because home birth is an African tradition, and access to hospitals and clinics are so rare, no one even knows these children exist. I heard a story the other day of a woman with a mental handicap that has already had several abortions because she's been raped by men in her local community. Her daily job? To go fetch water two miles from home, every single day. She walks, unprotected, uncared-for... all this way. every. single. day.

Perhaps her mother does love her? Perhaps her mother knows of nothing else that she can get her daughter to do? Perhaps she even likes to fetch water, to feel as though she's contributing? But this is it - the sum total of her life, so far from what I would imagine her potential could be if she had access to resources.

For every story we hear, there are another 10,000 that we don't hear. According to the head of the director of Special Olympics South Africa, Annamarie van Wieringen, we have a total of 1.3million people with intellectual disabilities in SA, of which only 10% have access to resources such as therapists, schools, training workshops etc. That is only 130,000 people with mental disabilities... only 130,000 that actually have the resources to help them to reach their full potential.

Another shocking discovery? That children with Down syndrome are put last on a very long list of children who need heart operations in our State Hospitals. Why? Because they are seen as a 'lost cause'. So, if you are not one of the very few lucky people to have medical insurance, and your child has Down syndrome and a very common, very fixable heart condition, your child will most likely die.

When the Special Olympics team tour Africa, one of the things they do is offer free medical checks to the participants. For most, it is the first time they have ever been seen by a medical doctor.

So - why am I talking about this? What's the point? Can one person make a difference?

I think so. If I talk about this, maybe someone else will start talking about this, and then maybe a few more people will start talking and so the ripple grows wider. We have to start talking, we have to share hope, we have to educate, we have to expose the truth, because the truth is often hard to swallow, but as the old adage goes - it will certainly set us all free.

Free of prejudice. Free of stigma.

I will end this with a noble vision from the Special Olympics Africa website, which talks about Africa and the success stories they have told so far:

"showing courage, overcoming obstacles, trying, succeeding, and exceeding our expectations. And we will not stop. We will not stop until we have reached the estimated 190 million individuals [in Africa] with intellectual disability that are hidden in our neighbourhoods and communities. We will not stop until we have told 190 million stories that end in victory."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pictures speak a 1000 words...

Go here to see Mencap's Snap Photography Competition - they have chosen 14 of the best photography entries that have something to do with celebrating a person with special needs.

Those who know me know that I LOVE photos - I think pictures are far more powerful than words at times... My favourite of the 14 pictures is above - a STUNNING picture taken by a Chinese man called Kwok.

Go and enjoy!

Monday, April 5, 2010


I sometimes have to pinch myself to remember that I'm a mother... never mind a mother of two boys! How my life has changed from a mere five years ago, when Darryl and I were living aside a loch in Scotland, working in a hotel, with no responsibilities at all! We now have a house, cars, and insurance, we own a washing machine and tumble dryer, we work from 9-5 and submit tax returns, and we have two little souls who depend on us.

Dependents - wow.

I wouldn't change it for the world though - life is certainly more complicated and our time is not our own, but as much as our lives have become chaotic, for every busy moment there is a more love, more understanding and lessons learned.

Malakai is just adorable with Harlan - he'll shoot over at a speed (sometimes I get a fright and think he's going to hurt Harlan) and stick a wet, sloppy kiss on Harlan's face. Harlan is getting cuter every day, giving out many more smiles and even little gurgly noises (like he's actually trying to talk!).

Life certainly is different, chaotic and a tad messy. I'm putting my very own washing machine and tumble dryer to good use these days (LOL!). Our floors at home are filled with toys, stray socks and Malakai's un-eaten biscuit crumbs, but our home is also overflowing with Life, Love and Learning.

As I write this, Malakai is at Granny Leslie (a friend's mom) for the morning, Darryl is off getting his 'bush therapy' on his offroad bike, and I'm at home (still in my pj's) doing some washing, watching Harlan sleep and updating my blog while sipping on a hot cup of coffee. The house is in a rare moment of quiet...