“Perfect”

 

down-syndrome-awareness

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” – 1 John 4:18

My daughter’s friends sometimes become a friend of the family sharing dinners, weddings and births. This is true of Shantal, a young mom whose recent announcement that her newborn has a disability strikes a chord of courage and perfect love. With a gracious and enthusiastic heart, she has allowed me to share her story.

Shantal Sequeira: “My story you all know is a happy one. I met my love, got engaged, married, then pregnant. My pregnancy was virtually perfect, I felt good, no sickness, no hormonal emotions, I got a really happy vibe from this baby in my belly. When my son was born the nurse showed him to me for the first time, we locked eyes and she said what do you think? I shook my new baby’s hand (because he put his hand out as if to say “nice to meet you”) as he looked in my eyes, I thought ‘he’s perfect’.

Any mother knows your heart falls in such deep love that very moment in time. In that moment in time I was told my son may have Trisomy 21, a.k.a. Down Syndrome. In that moment I was so confused yet stayed calm because I didn’t know what this all meant? I just wanted to hold him and be with him. Nothing could block the new mommy, love, excited, fascination and beautiful love feelings I had for him, not even the possibility of him having this syndrome that I knew little about.

After being told baby Julian has displayed a positive diagnosis, my husband Elmer and I were shocked and wondered what was going to happen. We didn’t know how to feel really but with a deeper sense of warmth and responsibility, we held hands and asked every question in the world. Then, off we were on this journey into parenthood of a very special child. After covering all the bases about health conditions and possibilities down the road everything looked normal in Julian (his heart, his lungs). The only difference was… now I knew a little bit more about him as a person, that’s all.

They say you are supposed to go through a process of sadness, to ‘grieve’ or ‘mourn’ this life that you imagined for your child like, him going to Harvard or whatever… but to me, I always lived in the moment because you never know what the next moment has to offer. I am so SO proud of my son and he hasn’t gone one day without making me smile. They say it’s normal to cry and think “why me” but I’m not one of those people, Julian has special needs but he has a GREAT life, he has two loving parents a house, two puppy brothers and everything he needs to strive and reach all his milestones in life.

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Mom, Baby, Dad – Shantal, Julian, Elmer

Julian has been full of surprises since week thirteen of my pregnancy when we thought he was going to be a girl. LOL. Well, there is no better or perfect family for Julian to have fallen into than with myself and Elmer as his parents.

Contrary to popular belief this doesn’t mean he has a disease, or considered retarded or whatever. No, it is a combination of characteristics that causes developmental differences than a typical child. There are so many myths out there but EVERY child is different so there is no telling when he may begin to talk or walk. The community has SO many resources that provide early interventions to help with anything we need.

Baby_Julian_Down_Syndrome

Baby Julian

Either way, Julian is a baby, I’m a new mommy, and nothing has changed my experience as a mother and the bond we share together. I haven’t had a moment to write about this since breastfeeding is an all-encompassing experience. I feel blessed, my heart never loved so hard and I’m not saying I love my son more than any other mom out there, but the truth is I was meant to have him. We were meant to have him.

The crazy thing is, I remember a year or so before I got pregnant the day my husband and I had a conversation about down syndrome kids and I specifically said I wouldn’t mind having a kid with special needs, he answered back and said you know what, me neither. I get chills repeating that because God, the Universe was listening and I feel so lucky. One out of something like seven hundred kids are born with downs and I was chosen to be one of the moms of this awesome kid. Also contrary to popular belief the majority of kids born with Trisomy 21 are young moms, not over the age of 35 like people believe. (I got pregnant at 30).

Julian is amazing, at 2 months of age he is the most courageous baby I have ever seen. He doesn’t cry when he gets poked at the doctor and he has this peace about him that I wish I could imitate. He is patient, confident, he actually never cries. Sometimes he yells and it seems as if he listens to the sound of himself yelling and thinks to himself, “I don’t like that sound” and stops. He sleeps through the night, doesn’t make a peep and he’s actually a pretty serious baby. I love his personality so far, he has his dads big serious eyes, he doesn’t smile yet, but very rarely when he does… he smiles using his eyes and his smiley lips with no teeth. My heart melts. And I don’t doubt that throughout his life he will melt a lot of hearts.”

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Perfect Love – Baby and Mommy

So Happy

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

(Song excerpt, “So Happy” by : Alan Gordon, Allan Lee Gordon, Garry Bonner)

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 It was a pleasure to share Shantal’s powerful story; it melted my heart.  I trust that baby Julian will follow in his mom and dad’s loving ways.

Speaking of melting, summer is a good time to share my daughter Marianna’s favorite summer treat. This frozen treat will melt in your mouth before or after a workout. A tasty snack for kids of all ages, it’s healthy and easy to make too!

 Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Energy Pops (short for popsicle)

Banana_Peanut_Butter_Energy_Pops

Banana Peanut Butter Energy Pops (pre-frozen)

Ingredients:

One banana

One tablespoon of peanut butter

Option: Mixing some dark chocolate chips to the peanut butter

Two servings

1. Take a ripe banana, and slice it in half (like you would when you slice bananas.)

2. Take one of the halves and slice it horizontally, so it resembles the sandwich part of an ice

3. Smear one tablespoon of peanut butter on one side; put the other side on top, wrap it in aluminum foil, and pop them in the freezer.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other half of the banana.

When the treat is frozen, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw for one minute. Then enjoy this delicious pick-me-up snack. I’m telling you, it tastes like peanut butter banana ice cream!

 

Marianna Riccio

Marianna Riccio

Marianna Riccio comes from a long line of “healthy treat junkies.”

Long before big health food chains such as Whole Foods even existed, her grandfather and grandmother who are my mom and dad, Albert and Lee Alberici raised nine children on natural, unprocessed foods and created healthy treats for the family.

Marianna is a third generation still living in the same light. Back in the 50’s, my sister and I, Alberici Sisters, were raised as vegetarians before it became popular. We wrote about being health pioneers and our entertainment adventures in our book, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams.

 

Thank you Shantal and Marianna for sharing,

Maria Lauren, a.k.a. Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio,

Your Powerful LIFE blog

~ If you would like to be an advocate for people with Down Syndrome, I suggest finding out more at N.D.S.S., National Down Syndrome Society.

~ My Website

Maria-Lauren-MotivationThis is a blog about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment. It is produced in my own time and solely reflects my personal opinions. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.

Powerful Support To Overcome Fears

Maria_Lauren_Fitness_Motivation

Maria Lauren, (aka) Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

It’s been a busy month! There’s always something! And sometimes that “something” can push us over the edge! Crash! Thank God for family, friends and sometimes strangers coming to the rescue. Every act of kindness is a gift and can be a powerful support when we are feeling powerless, anxious or just spent!

An anxious heart creates anxiety. “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25

It takes not only courage but grace to live a powerful life. This year it is my desire to give support to powerful people who have overcome obstacles and fear to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others.

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A Powerful Life…

 Heather Von St. James is a cancer survivor, who did not let fear control her. I was touched by her pro-active approach:

 “Hi there! The reason I have reached out to you is because of your blog! My name is Heather and I am an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

When I was diagnosed, I had just given birth to my little girl and was told I had 15 months to live. After undergoing a risky surgery, which required the removal of my left lung, I beat the odds and created “Lung Leavin’ Day” as a way to commemorate this day that changed my life forever…”

Heather's family

Heather’s family – Powerful living

Thank you Heather for sharing your inspirational story. I invite you to check out her interactive website and the creative, fun way in which she has overcome her fears. Join her! Lung Leavin’ Day is February 2nd; a fund-raiser for mesothelioma awareness. You Got The Power!

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A Powerful Food…

 As part of the healthy workforce at Kaiser Permanente, I am delighted to share the following studies about tumeric: The active compound in tumeric, curcumin, fights inflammation and even reduces knee pain from osteoarthritis as much as ibuprofen. It can also help with stomach upset, delay liver damage, Alzheimer’s disease and inhibit the growth of cancer.

tumeric-healing-powerful

Tumeric contains manganese, iron, vitamin B6, fiber, copper and potassium. It is used in curry recipes and has a mustard color. It mixes well with ginger and can be used as a tea. I sprinkle some cinnamon and tumeric on honey butter and then spread it on my toast. I also mix this combo in my morning coffee or put it in a smoothie.

Tumeric has been called, “The Wonder Spice” by many athletes and celebrities because it relieves sore muscles. Michael Caine boasts that it boosts his memory.

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Alberici_Sisters_fitness_motivatorsBeing an active fitness instructor, I depend on food to fuel me.

My sister Linda Eichberg is also a certified fitness instructor and shares super food information on her blog post, Enriching Your Life With Super Foods.

Enjoy!

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Fear can be immobilizing but I have found that keeping my faith alive by trusting God to be  present in my life and in the lives of those who are there for me, helps me to move forward. Now, that is powerful support!

My New Years resolution is to ponder on thoughts that make my heart smile; happy thoughts that lighten my mood and make my spirit fly! (Almost like Peter Pan, huh?)

 

Peter-Pan-quote

Smile and make some happy memories!

Love is forever,

Maria Lauren, (aka) Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

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My Website  

Contact: YGTPower@aol.com

  • Keynote Speaker: “You Got The Power”
  • Entertainer: “Showstoppers”
  • Book Signings: “Beyond Our Wildest Dreams”
  • Motivational Fitness Coach and Singing Coach

 

Maria-Lauren-MotivationThis is a personal Blog, produced in my own time and solely reflecting my personal opinions. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.