Christian Taylor Buchanan

Christian Taylor Buchanan

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today I Failed As a Parent

Yes, you read that title correctly. Today I failed as a parent. Being a mom, being a good mom, has always just come naturally to me. I have a wonderful mom who really influenced that nurturing instinct in me. There's a saying that a child can only give what they receive, and I must say I received a lot of affection and nurturing and love in my childhood, and so it's always come easy to me to give affection and to nurture and love. And I feel that so far, in my 2 years and 10 months of mothering, I've done a pretty good job.

But today, I really feel like a failure as a parent. Three weeks and 1 day after Christian's first palate reconstruction, I failed him. Three weeks and one day after Christian underwent major reconstructive surgery on his palate, I messed up big time. Day one into being released from wearing his arm restraints, I allowed Christian to go play in his brother's room unsupervised. This wasn't an issue or problem before surgery because our house is small and I can hear him at all times, there's nothing in there for him to get into except a toy box, and I peek in often. However, after surgery, we were on high alert. There was to be nothing, absolutely nothing in Christian's mouth for fear of puncturing or opening up his palate. The arm restraints were to prevent him from putting anything in his mouth himself by stopping his elbows from bending, but he didn't have to wear them anymore after yesterday.

Today Christian sat in his brother's room, not being watched, without his arm restraints, and it happened. He punctured a hole in his palate. I'm not sure how or on what, I just know it's there, and I am sick. My immediate reaction of "Oh God, no!" scared Christian a little bit. I guess he thought he was in trouble. As I frantically begged him to open his mouth and let me see, he became more scared. And there it was. His beautifully reconstructed palate punctured. My heart sank, I burst into tears, and my logical self began thinking what course of action needed to be taken.

There was no blood, and no safety concern for Christian, so I decided just to call his doctors office and leave a message. Realizing that it was too late in the day to get a call back from them (they are an hour ahead of me) I called Christian's Mimi who has been to all his appointments with me in Indianapolis and asked her what I should do next. She instructed me to call one of the surgeons who had operated on Christian, Dr. Costa, and email Dr. Flores, the main surgeon on his case. Dr. Costa called me back and, at least, put my mind at ease in assuring me that we probably don't need to rush to Indianapolis for emergency surgery.

I could absolutely kick myself for letting it happen. Why didn't I just make him play in the living room? Why didn't I just leave the arm restraints on him? Ugh!!!!!!!! I am so mad at myself. Today I have failed Christian. I know he won't remember this incident, but I know it will stay with me.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why I Won't Allow My Toddler to Have Cosmetic Surgery

It strikes me as odd that I have been asked many, many times if I will have Christian undergo cosmetic surgery to repair his birth defect. Apparently, it's not an odd question to most people, because I could not tell you how many times I've been asked. The number literally lurks somewhere close to 500, if I had to guess. I am not AT ALL offended by the question, and I enjoy explaining my answer, but still, I find it odd to be asked.

Imagine your beautiful child that you simply adore. Her little button nose, those ears he got from his daddy, that little smile with that one not-so-straight tooth right up front, those freckles that dot her cheeks, that bright red hair, or that jet black hair. As you imagine that, I am sure you have a few emotions that go along with it: adoration, admiration, love. You probably think that your child is the prettiest thing you've laid eyes on. Well, when I look at my child, with tissue in the place of where eyes should be, and a crooked smile that never stops smiling, those long eyelashes he inherited from me, the three scars on his face that remind me of the journey we've been on, that head full of beautiful, dirty blonde hair, and a nose that is now slightly off because of surgery, I feel exactly the same way. And why wouldn't I? Before he was born, I dreamed of this child, I imagined myself holding him and kissing his sweet little cheeks. I prayed for this child, so fervently, that God would allow him to live and me to raise him. I loved this child, with a passion that I have yet to be able to adequately put into words. I carried this child inside of my body, a bond that is indescribable.
Our perfectly imperfect family

So let me present this question to you about your beautiful child, and then explain a few things. There will be people who don't think your perfect child is as perfect as you do. What if those people suggested to you to get your child cosmetic surgery? What if they said, "Are you going to allow doctors to fix that incredibly large nose?" or "You know doctors can remove those freckles with just a few procedures" or "If you get cosmetic surgery for your child, she will fit in better and others won't pick on her." Devastating. Unreal. Who would really allow their young child (or even teenage child) to undergo cosmetic surgery to change their features, the features that you happen to adore in them? Heck, I can remember the controversy that went on a few years ago about a new trend of teenagers getting plastic or cosmetic surgery to "fit in" better and what an uproar it caused. It's just not an acceptable thing to do.

Although Christian looks different than most people, that also hold true for me. I've had to ask myself, and answer the question, "Am I really willing to let my child undergo cosmetic or plastic surgery simply so he can "look better" or "fit in?"" And my answer is no. Now, listen to this as coming from a mother. I say that because I had a plastic surgeon at Vanderbilt COMPLETELY misinterpret this statement once. He had suggested to me to put Christian through an 8 hour neurosurgery,(Warning: this part gets a little graphic) where he would cut Christian's head open from one ear to the other, pull the skin back, cut the skull open, move the skull bone down, and reattach it with metal screws and wires that would be in Christian's head for the rest of his life. And the purpose of this MAJOR surgery? Are you ready for this? To lower his right brow bone and make his face more symmetrical. I was flabbergasted. The first thing I could manage to say was "Do you really think the ends justify the means here? Eight hour neurosurgery to just drop his brow bone?" And the doctor was shocked at my question, and didn't really answer it. He fumbled and stumbled and danced around my question, but never backed down that Christian needed this surgery. With the voice of a shaky, young mother who was so unsure about so many things, I tried to explain to the doctor why I couldn't allow that surgery, and why something so cosmetic could not possibly justify an eight hour neurosurgery. About a year later, when we were at Vanderbilt for a different specialty, a nurse was reading off Christian's chart to me. She got to the plastic surgery part, and she read "Mother refuses any more surgeries for her child." My mouth dropped. I immediately stopped her and said "THAT IS NOT TRUE!!!!!! Why would he write that?!?" And then it hit me. He completely misunderstood what I had said about Christian and cosmetic surgery.

So, don't misunderstand me on this. Does Christian need surgery? Yes. Will I allow him to have those necessary surgeries? Absolutely!!!! Do I want him to have unnecessary surgery? Absolutely not.

And here's why:
Christian will have many reconstructive surgeries over his lifetime. But there is a difference between reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery. His hard and soft palate were affected by his birth defect, and he will need to have that closed so that he can eat and talk properly. He will also have eye lids formed so that he can open and close his eyes, for protection purposes. He will have lots of surgery to correct his birth defect., and by lots, I mean several dozen  That is the short answer for what he will have done, and we will allow him to have these surgeries.

We, as a family, have decided, however, not to put Christian through lots of purely cosmetic surgeries to correct his facial features for several reasons. For one, we don't want to put Christian through more surgeries then he will already have to undergo. Surgery means that Christian will be in pain, scared, away from the comforts of home, missing out on being a child, friends, toys, fun. To add to the number of surgeries he will have just so he can "look better" seems illogical.

And it seems illogical because we think he is beautiful and perfect just as he is. So, we asked ourselves, if we really think he's beautiful, does it make sense to put him through tons of cosmetic surgery? We feel strongly about helping Christian to grow up KNOWING that he is perfect just the way he is, keeping his self esteem high, and teaching him to love himself. And we feel that we could not tell him those things and have him believe them if we do not prove that we believe them. And if we're constantly letting doctors perform surgery on him to "fix the way he looks," how can we prove to him that we believe he's perfect?

Now, that's not to say that when he gets older, if he decides that he wants the surgeries that we would say no. We would support him 100%. But for us, putting him through painful and scary procedures just so that the world will think he looks better is just simply against all logic and reason!

The truth is, no one is "perfect." We all have our own flaws. The secret isn't to get them fixed or hide them, it's to learn to love those imperfect things about yourself. The truth is also that there is no such thing as "normal." Who gets to decide what normal is, anyways? Ask two different people and you will get two completely different answers. In a world that screams "Fit in," I want Christian to know that it's okay to stand out!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Is This Really What Our Society is Becoming?

Is this really what our society is becoming? I had to ask myself the question when I came across this photo on my Facebook feed today. As I read, I could feel my face getting red. My heart just broke for the mother who had to open this piece of trash, and my temper flared at the thought of someone being so nasty and full of hate. This letter, so cowardly addressed with a made up signature instead of a real name, simply makes me sick. I can just see the letter's author, tiptoeing onto this mom's front porch, stashing the note, and running away like the coward she is, before anyone could see her. 

I have a pretty good sized social media following, so I do want to address the coward who wrote that, on the off chance she sees this. But, I won't waste too much space, as she just isn't worth it. To her I say this: You need some serious emotional, and possibly mental, help if you can harbor so much hate that you feel the need or desire to attack a child with a diminished mental capacity or his family. Please seek help so that you can stop spreading the blatantly apparent emotional disease that's eating you alive from the inside.

But that's not really the reason I wanted to address this. Most of you who will read this will do so because you adore my sweet child who has a very physically evident disability. I seriously doubt that anyone who thinks the way the author of that letter does will take the time to open my blog and read it. But you guys are the ones I really wanted to share with.

When I asked myself the question "Is this really what our society is becoming" after reading this letter, I was disheartened. But immediately I began thinking of all the times that I have been attacked because of Christian's disability, and how quickly so many people came to my defense, and I remembered the force and the passion with which you have stood up for me and my family. I also thought about the 100,000+ followers Christian has, and how you celebrate every tiny achievement and every huge milestone that Christian accomplished, right along beside me, as if he was a member of your very own family. I thought of the gifts he has received and the friends we have gotten the privilege to met over the last few years. And in less time than it took to read that nasty letter, I answered my own question.

And the answer is a resounding "NO!" This is NOT what our society is becoming. This is NOT representative of the majority of our population. I believe most people would agree, that letter, that mindset, and that attitude possessed by that person are NOT okay. In fact, it's down right repulsive, sick, and straight from hell. And I think many of you would agree with me when I say that I question the mental capacity of anyone who would or could find it within themselves to author and deliver such a vile piece of garbage to another human being, let alone even think it.

I take pride in the fact that people come to me with questions about disabilities stuff. I love when people ask me questions. Some of my favorites have to be "How can I teach my children to accept people who have disabilities?" and "What is a non-offensive way to approach someone who is differently abled?" Okay, so I paraphrased there, but you get the idea. When people ask me questions like that, not only do I enjoy sharing my opinions and insights into the subject matter, but it gives me hope that there are people out there who genuinely care, who would rather wrap in love, the mama and child that were the subject of this letter, then to ever cause them any heartache.

My hope is that that letter is shared all over social media, partly because I hope that this, and a LOT of other messages of disgust, get back around to the author. But I also hope that as we share that image, we can all rally together in agreement that things like that are NOT okay, and that we can let our voices be heard in saying out loud "That is not acceptable." And hopefully one day, letters like that won't be written.

I've said this before and I will end with it because it bears repeating. In some societies, those with special needs are revered so much that people will bow down when they enter a room. It is believed that they are put on the earth not to learn like the rest of us, but to teach. Oh that WE could be such a society!!!!!!!!!!

Follow up: This letter is now making the news, and is causing outrage across the country, as it should! Read this story about the letter here:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To Parents of Special Needs Children, This is For You

To all the parents out there who have children with disabilities or special needs, who endure stares and whispers, and ugly comments, who can't post pictures of their child on Facebook without strangers making rude comments about a child who lives every day with struggles that most people couldn't imagine and couldn't handle. This is for you.

 To anyone out there who feels the need to make an ugly comment, stare, point, or whisper because someone happens to look different than you or your children, or what you deem to be "normal":

You are blessed with a child that doesn't have special needs, with a child that doesn't have a disability, with a child that hasn't had to battle a life threatening disease. Not everyone gets that blessing. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child isn't blind. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child can breathe without the help of a vent. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child can hear without the help of Cochlear implants. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child doesn't know what it's like to have chemotherapy medication running through their veins.You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that you get to watch your child take his first steps, and run and play, that he doesn't need a walker or a wheelchair to get around. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child has never had to have surgery, that you don't know what's it's like to sit in a hospital room and watch your child fight for his life, struggle with pain, struggle with things that some adults have never had to deal with. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that you're healthy, that you never had to endure these struggles yourself, let alone your children.

But yet, you can't find the time to do that because you're too busy making fun of a child who's endured more in two years than you've ever had to endure in your whole life. And let me tell you something, if that's you, your soul is black. Your soul is dark. And you need to find Jesus, and you need to get down on your hands and knees and thank Him that you were blessed with a healthy body and healthy children, because not all of us get that lucky.

Before you ever opened your mouth to make a rude comment, that parent already knew her child was different. She didn't need you to tell her. That parent already knew that her child's birth defect was visibly noticeable before you pointed it out. That parent already knew that there would be people like you who open their mouth and react before they take the time to think about what they say and how it might impact others. That parent knew, long before they ever knew who you were, that there would be people like you who don't want to know the truth, the whole story, who just want to use their words to hurt and tear others down. But let me tell you something, you should be the one being stared at, because normal people don't go around trying to destroy others.

Now that doesn't mean special needs parents are not blessed. We just get blessed in different, and usually BIGGER, ways. Let me tell you something, if I could go back, knowing what I know now, knowing the struggles we would face, I wouldn't change a single thing. I would never change who my son is and who he is becoming, because despite what you might think, and despite what you see, HE IS AMAZING.

So next time that you want to open your mouth and say something rude or hurtful about my child, why don't you drop down on your knees and thank God instead that your children haven't had to go through what mine has.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Christian is turning 2!!!!

Christian's 1st Birthday Picture :)

February 18th is a huge day for us! It is a day to dance and sing and cry and celebrate the birth of a miracle child, our miracle child! Christian came into the world on that day in 2011, and boy did he ever make an impact! The world will never be the same since his first breath! I may be guilty of going a little overboard with Christian's birthday, but that is why! I am celebrating more than just a birth, I am celebrating a miracle! :)

Wow!!! This time last year, I was an emotional mess because my sweet little boy, who doctors predicted might not even live, was turning one! Can you imagine how emotional I am this year? That sweet little boy is now a toddler, he has a beautiful little brother on the way, and I am very pregnant! In other words, please expect the water works at his party this year!!!! :)

This year, just like last, we celebrate so many accomplishments, milestones, and joyous times! Christian learned to crawl at 14 months, he has learned to say many, many words, he usually meets all of his goals in his therapies every 2 months, and he makes his mommy and daddy so so so proud! Christian has traveled to 8 states in the second year of his life. We have been to North Carolina (on a lay over), Virginia (to shoot a pro-life video), to Ohio (to visit Nationwide Children's Hospital), Florida (for vacation), Alabama (on our way to Florida for Vacation), New Orleans (on a lay over), Arizona (on a lay over), and California (for the West Coast Walk for Life). He gets around doesn't he?!?! :)

And let's not forget that when Christian was 15 months old, his YouTube video went viral and spread across the world, making him a little celebrity, and gaining us so many new and amazing friends!

What a year it has been! Can you imagine if I had not chosen life for him, what this last year could've been like? This blog would not exist, and I wouldn't be telling you about Christian's 2nd birthday and all he's done this year. Many of you reading this wouldn't even know I exist. I would not have met so many of you and have so many amazing friendships that I didn't have last year. But most of all, I would not know the absolute purest joy and love in my life, my sweet Christian. :)

Everyone is asking about his birthday this year and what you can do for him. So, I have a lot of ideas that I wanted to share with you all, which is why I am putting it in blog form!

Of course, we have an Amazon wishlist where you can always find things that Christian would enjoy or that we need. The link is here:
Of course, that list does not have a ton of stuff on it, because I try to be realistic and not ask for things we don't need.

Secondly, if you find that the list just doesn't have what you'd like to send, we welcome any gifts and we appreciate them so very much! I can't think of a single thing we've ever received that we didn't enjoy! If you would like to ask me about a present before you buy it just to make sure we don't already have it, please feel free to email me at Also, if you send me an email when you are ready to send a gift, I will happily tell you our address to send it to. Our address is not private by any means and we will give it out for mailing purposes, but I do try not to post it in public forums. :)

Thirdly, if you prefer not to send a gift, but would still like to do something, my friends Mary, Candice, and Marisa are working VERY VERY hard in actively running the GiveForward website and it's fundraising campaign to help raise money for Christian's medical expenses that his insurance is refusing to pay for. I can assure you that every penny that is sent there gets sent to us. Mary, Candice, and Marisa get nothing for doing this except my undying gratitude and love! They are amazing! The link for that is here:

I have some more exciting news for anyone who may have already done these things in the past or is looking for another opportunity to give for Christian's birthday. Many of you have heard about Special Kids, where Christian receives all but one of his therapies and where he goes for daycare (aka nursing care) twice a week while I'm at my doctor's appointments, etc. They are totally non profit and run on love from others. They help kids with all kinds of special needs in all walks of life to overcome obstacles that they face. We love Special Kids with a passion in case you can't tell! They have been so so good to us and they love Christian and do so much for him that I couldn't do alone!

So, they have started a campaign for the month of February called "Do it For Love" with Valentines coming up and all.  So I though it would be neat to celebrate the Do it For Love Campaign to coincide with Christian's birthday and anyone who wanted to could give to Special Kids in honor of Christian during his birthday month! There are several things you could do!

If you are local, please consider signing up for the Special Kids Race, and running for Team Christian! We will be there this year in full force, wearing our Super C shirts! The race is a fundraiser that Special Kids puts on every year. Runners (and walkers) from all over come and join in the 15k, 5k, or 1 mile fun run! We will be doing the 1 mile fun run again this year considering I will be 8 months pregnant! :) The cost of the race is minimal, but the impact you can make by participating is huge! And Christian benefits from every penny that Special Kids raises! You can sign up for Team Christian and the Special Kids Race at

If you are not local and can't come run with us, but are still interested in helping Team Christian reach it's fundraising goal for the race this year, you can donate directly to Special Kids at our fundraising page also known as our "impact page" because we are impacting Special Kids in such a positive way! If you donate here, the money goes straight to Special Kids, and it counts toward Team Christian's fundraising goal! You can check out our impact page and donate here:

Another way that you can help Special Kids if these first two options don't tickle your fancy, Special Kids has started an Amazon wishlist as well. It is full of things that they need in their therapies and nursing to help the kids be all they can be and get the best care possible. If you would like to browse their wishlist, please visit here:
And if you see something that you feel compelled to send them, please do! Anything purchased on that list will go directly to Special Kids and will be used for the kids! It is very possible that some of what is purchased on this list will be used for Christian!

So, I hope I have given you all some great ideas about Christian's birthday and ways that you can get involved! Please feel free to email me if you have other ideas or questions about his birthday!

Also, for anyone who is close enough to attend his actual party, here is the Online invitation! We would LOVE to have you join us!!!!/events/330152270419702/

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Experiences with Bullying

For anyone who follows us on Facebook, you have probably, at one time or another, seen someone make a rude or hateful comment on a photo I've posted of Christian. It has been happening pretty much since he was born. In fact, much of the reason that I decided to make the video that went viral was because of all the negative comments that we would receive, whether through social media or face to face when we were out in public with Christian. And I have to say, I am tired of it. I sometimes find myself unable to deal with a hateful comment on a particular day, or exhausted with the idea of checking my email and finding another rude comment left on my YouTube Channel. So this blog is my outlet to vent my frustrations and share my wisdom on the matter. I consider myself a professional at handling bullying, after all, considering all the bullying I've dealt with over the last few years.

At first, the comments hurt. I remember the day that I first took Christian out in in public, to the grocery store, and many of you have heard me talk about that experience before. I've spoken about it multiple times in interviews. The part about that day that I remember the most vividly was the feeling in the pit of my stomach that those comments left, and the tears that I couldn't hold back as I put Christian in the car and drove home. I remember getting Christian home, wrapping him in a blanket, and cuddling him up close to me, and telling him that those people were wrong. I told him how beautiful he was, and how he was the most perfect thing I had ever laid eyes on. He was only 2 or 3 months old then. He had no idea what those people had said. Heck, he still doesn't understand things like that. He also had no idea what I was telling him. But I said those words to him, I guess, maybe as my way of responding to the hurt. I could not comprehend, and still don't,why someone who had no idea who we were felt compelled to say hurtful things about an innocent child. What could their purpose be except to hurt us? What motive could they have except hate?

I didn't tell anyone about that day for a long time, especially my husband and my family. In fact, I'm not sure they had ever heard that story until the video went viral last May. I decided that the pain of knowing what those people had said was just another burden that I didn't want them to have. We were all already so heartbroken over the last few months, with finding out Christian was blind at birth, our 4 miserable weeks in the NICU, one surgery already taken place and another scheduled for just a few weeks from then, and the struggles we had in taking him home and trying to figure out how to care for him. I didn't want to add yet another weight to my family's already broken spirits.

So I went on dealing with these comments by myself as best I could. I even did experiments. I tried different methods of reacting to the comments to see which reaction would have the most positive affect. I tried getting upset, being rude, explaining myself, questioning them, ignoring them, you name it. Occasionally the scenario would play out in a good way, and leave me feeling a little better, but that wasn't usually the case. Usually, no matter what I said, the conversation was awkward, I was clumsy, and I left with that familiar pit in my stomach.

After the video went viral, because we were in the public eye, the rude comments became more frequent, and more vulgar. Not that the rude comments were the dominating factor, because they weren't. The majority of the comments we received were so loving and heartfelt that many of them brought me to tears. But the rude ones still stung none the less.

At one point, on my YouTube Channel, I had a group of individuals who apparently banded together to attack me. Four or five people spent one entire day leaving comment after comment, unprovoked, with no replies from me or anyone else. The comments ranged from things I couldn't understand such as an apparent reference to their so called "group," to stating that they planned to "rape that baby in his eye sockets." There were dozens of comments in between that included references to masturbating to photos of Christian, threats to murder him and rape me if we were found, and you get the idea. Comments like these didn't leave that pit in my stomach. They were obviously comments made by people who were sick and unstable. They did, however, terrify me. I took screen shots of all the comments and filed a complaint with the FBI's Cyber Crimes Unit. I got an e-mail almost immediately informing me that they had received my complaint and were looking into it, and a phone call a few days later from my local FBI, getting all the information they could collect. The officer that had our case finally concluded that the people who made those threats were not in the United States, and therefore the FBI wasn't going to go any further at that time due to a lack of threat of danger, but that if anything else presented itself, they would take appropriate action.

Although I've not received any comments to that extreme since that instance, I have received plenty that were just vile and full of hate. I've had people tell me that I should be ashamed for exploiting Christian, ashamed for letting him live such a miserable life, ashamed for posting his photos on Facebook and expecting not to get rude comments. I've had people tell me that my "kid is a walking abortion." I've had people post hate comments on my photos and insist that they won't stop until I block them. I've had people who get mad at me because they saw a photo I posted. They tell me that they didn't want to see it and it's my fault. Even when I explain to them that I didn't post the photo on their Facebook page, and that they must have seen it because one of their friends liked or commented, they still curse at me until I block them. My favorite new term has to be "kill it with fire" which is apparently a "common phrase" nowadays, used by people my age and even younger as a bullying tactic. When I was younger, bullying consisted of "fart face" and if you really didn't like someone, "retard." It's a sad commentary on our society when threats to kill someone are just common place and overlooked as if the person had been called a "fart face."

Two nights ago, I saw a guy posting comments on a photo of mine, saying how dare I photoshop photos of my kid to get pity. I sent him a friend request and a generic message, hoping to just get the opportunity to chat and "win him over" so to speak. I found out he lived about an hour from me, so I started with small talk about that. I didn't mention his rude comments at all or Christian. His response was to call me a sick person and to leave him "the hell alone." I replied saying that I noticed that he had lived closed by and just wanted to say hi, along with an apology for bothering him. He replied again calling me evil. I explained that he was welcome to Google about Christian's birth defect and see that it was a real condition, but again apologized for having bothered him. He kept messaging me about photoshopping photos of Christian until I finally just had to block him to stop the messages. Lesson learned there for sure! I probably won't attempt to make friends with people who make rude comments anymore, not because I don't want to; but that definitely taught me that some people just don't want to understand.

I am not naive. I have come to realize that as long as Christian is seen in social media, there will be rude comments and hateful people who can't be "won over" so to speak. I have also come to realize that I can't stop it. All I can do is control how I react. God has done a MAJOR (I'm not even sure that word is adequate) work in my life in the last 2 years on forgiveness. True forgiveness, the kind where I can think of those people who said that they wanted to rape Christian and not wish harm to them. The kind where I can see a rude comment that was just posted, and although my blood immediately starts boiling and my heart starts pounding, and I want to lash out at them, I can muster up enough of myself to say something respectful. I have learned that God doesn't expect me to only show respect to people who deserve, or to be kind only to people who are kind to me.  Don't get me wrong, it's not easy! I don't just breeze through those comments and smile and feel good about saying something polite to someone who just said "WTF is that thing?!" about a photo of Christian. It doesn't feel good at all, for the moment. But later, when I have calmed down, and I think about, I am always glad when I do react positively. And when I fail to act respectfully, and do lose my cool with someone, I always regret it later. When people bully, the point is to hurt you, knock you down, and make you feel worthless. Surely they don't expect you to just agree with them! When I react negatively and lose my cool, they have accomplished their purpose, they have won, and I feel knocked down. When I stay calm and react to that hate in a way that I know I should, I have peace about it, I don't feel defeated, and the bully has not done what they set out to do which is hurt me. So really, when you think about it, what good does retaliation do anyways? It is simply giving the bully what they are seeking. Is getting the "last word" or calling the worst name really winning?

What God has taught me, most importantly, is that one day, Christian WILL know what those people are saying about him, he WILL hear rude comments while he's out in public, and I cannot protect him from that, but I am not powerless. I can teach Christian how to handle those moments, just as I have had to handle them for the last 2 years. I can show him that getting upset won't make it better or make it stop. I can show him that what those people say has no affect on his value and self worth, and does not diminish who God has created him to be, and all the good his life has brought into this world.

So, why have I spent the last 9 paragraphs on how Christian and I have been bullied and how we react to it, when you probably figured that this post was going to be about all those people who need to stop bullying? It's because I'm convinced that bullying will never stop on a large scale, because bullying doesn't happen on a large scale. Bullying is an individual choosing to act in ignorance, using misguided or skewed information, to distort the truth in an attempt to judge, belittle, or provoke another individual. We have all witnessed it, and if we're honest, we have all probably participated in it at one time or another. We know well what it is, but the solution still eludes us.

The solution to bullying lies within each one of us, and  in my opinion, parents hold the predominate key to putting a stop to bullying altogether. When we raise our kids to know that saying mean things to or about others, even if we think they deserve it, is NOT ok, we are part of the solution. When we teach our kids to be slow to anger, and to control their emotions and use self restraint, we are part of the solution. When we use that restraint and self control ourselves, and be a living example, we are part of the solution. When we make sure that our children are included in the lives of others who are not like them, and show them how to respect those people for who they are, we are part of the solution. When we speak up when we see bullying take place, and don't just turn a blind eye, we are part of the solution.  When we stop using Facebook as an outlet to say things that we would never say to someone face to face, when we learn to live the Golden Rule, when realize that it's not all about me, when we open our hearts and minds to accept the fact that not everyone is going to believe what we believe or agree with everything we say and that it's OK, we are the solution. The solution really all boils down to one simple word: LOVE. When we choose to love others, not because they have done anything to deserve it or earn it, and not because we "have to," but because we want to be the solution, the world will change, one person at a time. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best "I have decided to stick with love, for hate is too big a burden to bear."
All I have to say, is how can you NOT love this face? It melts my heart every time!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Day In The Life

It was recently brought to my attention that because I'm "famous" I treat others like nothing but "fans." As long as we get help, admiraton, whatever it is we are seeking, then I don't bother with actual relationships. So, I decided to write this blog about my life. I know that anyone who follows us on Facebook has an idea of what I do on a weekly basis, but I wanted to break it down for everyone. I think it will be interesting for myself to see a breakdown, plus, I have something on my heart I want to share with you guys!

So, let's start with Sunday. We get up around 7am and begin getting ready for church. We eat breakfast, take baths, etc. etc, and leave the house by 8:45am. Church doesn't start until 10:15, but we get to church at 9, because Chris runs the sound board, so he has to be there for the band's rehersal to make sure that everything sounds right before worship services begin. To save on gas, Christian and I just ride along with him instead of going in later. Because I am there early as well, I offered to start helping place the attendance and offering cards in the backs of the chairs before service. It doesn't take long at all, but the guy that was doing it does a lot for our church, so I was happy to take one thing off of him, even if it's tiny. While Chris works with the band to get the sound right, Christian and I spend the rest of our time visiting with people and working on physical therapy. Yep, right there at church! There are some stairs leading up to the stage where the band plays and Christian LOVES listening to the band, so he crawls all the way to the stage, and those stairs are the ones he learned to climb stairs on! I showed him every week how to do it, and after a few weeks, he started doing it on his own. We also practice cruising across the rows of chairs, and walking up and down the aisles. Because the band is playing during all of this, Christian is as happy as he can and just jams out! Once per month, I also do a story time with the children's class. I prepare props and fun ways to tell the story for that week, and then get to spend that service with some really sweet kids!

So after church, we usually grab some lunch or cook something and Christian naps. When that's all said and done, it's generally around 2pm. If Christian isn't awake yet, Chris and I use that time to relax, watch TV, and just spend some time together. If Christian is up, we usually go outside if the weather is nice, and let Christian play in the yard while we clean vehicles, or do yard work, or something like that. I also do a lot of laundry on Sundays because I'm home for more than a few hours at a time. If the weather isn' nice we usually work on some project inside such as painting or cleaning up a certain room that needs it, or something like that. We usually end the evening by grabbing a quick dinner or warming up left overs and then going to my parents house to visit with them.

When we get home we do our bedtime routines and get settled for the night. Once Christian goes to bed, I try to get in some reading for school. I usually get to sleep around 11 or 11:30.

Then when Monday rolls around, we are not ready for the weekend to be over! We all get up about 6:30 or 7 and I help get Chris out the door for work, packing lunch, gathering clothes or whatever he may need for the day. He leaves about 7:45 and it's just me and C. Christian usually eats around 8am, and then I grab me a bite of breakfast or some coffee. I let Christian play in his toy area while I put up all the clothes that I washed the day before. I also run all my errands on Mondays. Today, for example, it was trip to the post office to pick up a package and to the bank to make a payment on my school loan. We ran into a good friend today who also has a visually impaired child, so we chatted for a little while with her as well. We got home and Christian played in his toy corner some more while I picked up the house from the weekend. Our love seat turns into a catch all, so I clean that off every Monday and make sure the house is tidy. If there is any laundry left, I finish it up as well. I get all the dishes washed that we didn't get to on the weekend, and I usually pick one big project to tackle, such as vacuuming under all the couch cushions, or pulling all the furniture out and vacuuming behind it, or cleaning the tub, or whatever the next big project on my list may be.

By this time, Christian is starting to get tired, so I usually give him a bath and get him settled in for his naptime. While he sleeps, I have a few options. I usually work on homework during this time, but occasionally, I will use this time to pay bills, make phone calls that can't be made when there's a toddler hollering in the background, or work on my blog, like now! :)

Once Christian gets up, it's somewhere between 1:30 and 2:30. Once he gets up, I start that night's dinner and then we go to work on physical therapy. We work on everything that I can think of that he needs to be working on, such as walking with his walker, cruising between two objects, or standing.  We usually spend about an hour and a half doing that. After that I finish up dinner and put some in a tupperware bowl for me to take for my dinner. I get my school bags together, change Christian's diaper and clothes and make sure he's fed to make sure he needs as little as possible when I leave him with his Nana and Papa. Then I change my clothes and make sure I look decent, and we head out. I drop Christian off at my parents' house and I head to school. It's about an hour to an hour and a half drive to my school, so leaving between 4:30 and 5 gives me enough cushion to make it there with a few minutes to get to the classroom and get settled in. Class gets out at 10pm, and I am usually home around 11, because traffic is lighter that late at night. During class on Mondays, I study Constitutional law and then Evidence, both of which require lots of concentration and constant note taking to make sure I do well on the tests. We get a ten minute break between classes, so I usually call and check on Christian and make sure Chris made it home from work safely.

Chris gets off work at 5 and is usually home around 5:45. If he goes to the gym after work, he gets home around 8. My mom keeps Christian either way, so Chris eats whatever dinner I've prepared and does any cleaning left on the house so I don't have to worry about it when I get home.

My mom brings Christian to my house around 7:30 or 8pm, and gets him into his pajamas and ready for bed. He usually goes to bed between 9 and 10, but occasionally it's a little bit later!  My mom usually leaves around 9 and Chris gets Christian on to sleep. When I get home, I usually just go straight to bed because I am whipped!

Tuesdays are therapy day for us. The first part of the morning is the same as Monday, we get Chris off to work and do all that, but after he leaves, we get ready to go as well. We leave the house around 9:30 and get to Special Kids around 10am for physical therapy. We go straight from PT to speech therapy at 11. Speech therapy lasts until 12 and by this time Christian is exhausted. I usually have to head straight home to get him to bed for a nap. He usually sleeps until between 1:30 and 2:30, and I use that time to study. After he gets up, we do the same thing as Mondays. We work on therapies, eat lunch, I cook dinner, and we get ready for me to go to school and Christian to go to his Nana and Papa's.

On Tuesday nights at school, the class time is the same, but my classes are Properties, and Rememedies and Restitution. Remedies is one of the harder classes I've taken, so it takes all I've got to keep up with the teacher in that class. I also work a table on Tuesday nights before class, so I have to be at school about 30 minutes earlier than usual. Basically, when I graduate, I will have to take the BAR Exam to be able to practice law. The table I work at is for a company that sells a bar review exam course. The course costs somewhere around $3,000, but if you take it, you are way more likely to pass the bar. So, I decided on my first night of school that I couldn't afford it. lol. But an opportunity arose where I could work at the table for 30 minutes once per week, and I wouldn't have to pay for the course. I could not pass up that opportunity, so that's what I do. I basically just answer questions for other students, take payments, and help people get enrolled to take the review course.

I get home around 11pm on Tuesdays as well. Christian is already asleep by this time, and I just put away my school bags and head to bed!

Wednesdays start out just the same as every other weekday. We usually have Early Intervention come by on Wednesdays, sometimes at 9, sometimes at 12. She comes for an hour and we discuss any new advancements with Christian's development, new ideas that I can be using to help Christian, or things that I may be concerned about and how we can address them. If we have to go to Vanderbilt for any appointments, I generally try to schedule them for Wednesdays because the traffic isn't as bad as Mondays or Fridays, and it's the only other day we don't have therapy.

We don't have too many appointments to Vanderbilt, so Wednesdays go pretty much just like any other weekday. I clean in the mornings, Christian gets a bath, and I study while Christian naps and then we work on therapies. I also do my coupon organizing on Wednesdays if time permits. It usually takes about an hour to clip, bind, and print my coupons for the next shopping trip, but it saves us a TON of money, so it's worth it to help make ends meet!

I don't cook on Wednesdays because instead of school, we go to a thing with our church called Lifegroup. It's where several families meet at someone's house and everyone brings one part of the meal. Chris gets home around 5:45, and then we load up the car, take the trash to the road, (because it's picked up early the next morning and we get home late), and head to Lifegroup. We get to Lifegroup around 6:30. We eat dinner, talk, and do a bible study lesson. Then we clean up, pack up, and head home. We usually get home around 9 and I already have C in his pjs. I usually get things ready for the next day, pick up anything that needs to be, and get ready for bed myself. On Wednesdays I usually let Christian lay in the bed with me and Chris before he goes to sleep. He rolls around and plays and climbs all over us and giggles before he falls asleep. I take him to his bed, and then I study until I pass out as well.

Thursdays are just like any other weekday except we have more therapy. I cook some dinner that Chris can warm up, we do some therapies before Christian's nap time, I study during C's nap, and I clean up around the house or do whatever needs to get done that day. I try to get Christian to nap early so he won't be tired for therapies. If I am successful, and we have time, I run to the grocery store before therapy and grab what I can. I do a little couponing during that time too.

Music therapy starts at 3 and lasts for 30 minutes. Music therapy is through Bolton Music Therapy, not Special Kids. So once that's over, we head straight to Special Kids for feeding therapy at 4. Feeding Therapy lasts until 4:45 or so, depending on Christian's tolerance for it that day. Now, I have to leave Woodbury no later than 5:15 to make it to school on time, so getting Christian back to Woodbury and then making it to school on time is impossible because Woodbury and Murfreesboro are about 30 minutes from each other. Even though Chris would usually get off at 5 and could meet me in Murfreesboro to pick Christian up, he works late on Thursdays, until 7, so that's not an option. I was late to the first 5 classes because of that. But a wonderful friend who lives in Murfreesboro (where C's therapies are) offered to watch him for me! So I drop Christian off with her right after therapy and head on to school.

Chris picks Christian up after he gets off work, and brings him home. I get lucky on Thursday nights with school. I only have one class, Civil Procedure. It lasts from 6:30 to 8:10, and I usually end up getting home around 9pm. My mom usually comes over to check on Christian on Thursday evenings before I get home. Christian is usually not asleep when I get home, but ocassionally he is. If he isn't, I get him to sleep. After that, I usually just study until I pass out on Thursday nights as well.

Fridays are our relax day! We don't schedule anything on Fridays unless we absolutely have to, because it's the only day we get to stay home! Our routine during the day is the same, working with C on therapy stuff, naps, lunch, homework, cleaning, etc. BUT, on Fridays I cook a more extravagant meal, because all week long I've had to cook frozen lasagna, or crockpot soups. So, I usually try to go all out on Fridays and cook something that takes a little longer but is way more yummy! I also cook a lot more because I invite my parents over on Friday evenings to eat dinner. It's a little known secret that my mom hates to cook (just kidding, she'll tell anyone how much she despises it lol.) And she is usually worn out from watching Christian so much for me through the week, so this is the least I can do for her! After they leave, we usually just spend the evening at home doing family time. Occasionally we will do something crazy, like go to the mall or to a friends house if we feel the need to get out of the house for a little while. :)

I dont' typically do homework on Friday nights after Christain goes to bed, as my reward for making it through another week! lol

Saturdays at the Buchanan home are CRAZY!!!!!!! We usually have at least one pre-arranged engagement for the day. Now, mind you, it's always something fun, such as dinner with my aunt and uncle who drive an hour to come down to see Christian and his cousins, or take Christian to the pool or the pumpkin patch. But we almost always have something planned. When we do have some free time on Saturdays, Chris and I like to get projects done that we don't have time for during the week. Just recently we decided to turn our den into our bedroom because there is more living space in the den and the den wasn't being used to it's full potential. We spent two weekends moving furniture and selling some old furniture from the den that we didn't need and cleaning and getting everything set back up. One saturday I spent 3 or 4 hours going through Christian's clothes and getting out his fall and winter stuff and putting away his summer things.

There is always one unplanned thing as well that pops up on Saturdays. A call from a friend wanting us to come do something, or a last minute plan that sounds fun!

We usually end the evening by visiting my parents again. My parents are amazing people, whom Christian and I adore. They are not elderly, but they are 54 and 63. I know they won't be around forever. Everytime I'm tired and don't feel like visiting them, I remember that. I watched my grandparents go from independent living when I was little, to moving to a nursing home and eventually passing away when I was a teenager. That was hard to experience, and I know that some day I will have to watch my parents go through that process as well. So I refuse to waste time doing unimportant things when I can be with them and let Christian be with them. Some of my fondest childhood memories include my grandparents. I loved them and still do so very much.  I don't want to deprive Christian of that sweet relationship that he could have with his grandparents. We see my parents a lot, and that's how I plan on keeping it.

If there is some down time on Saturdays, I try to do some studying there too, because what I do through the week is nowhere near enough. It usually isn't the best studying because there is usually a rowdy kid and a husband who need attention mixed in with my studying time! But I don't mind!

So we usually end our Saturdays just the same as any other. We do our bedtime routines and off to sleep we go, getting ready for Sunday!

So there you go, just wash, rinse, and repeat, and you have our basic routine for every week.

Now let me just mention all the things that I deal with pretty much weekly that I didn't mention in there because they don't fall withing a routine time.

*Insurance and the mess that it is - I've been through 2 appeals and working on a 3rd with Christian's insurance to get him into Special Kids nursing program two days a week between therapies. The insurance says that he doesn't qualify, but we know that isn't true because he was getting 54 hours a week of nursing when I was still working. I am constantly having to fight them over something that they don't want to give Christian. Social Security Disability is the same. Christian is 19 months old and has never gotten a full SSI check. In fact, I think he's probably received less than $1,000 total from SSI in his entire life. It's a constant fight with them as well to keep him on it when we know he should be.

*Nationwide Children's Hospital - I speak with someone from NCH almost weekly on Christian's next surgeries. I have spoken a lot with the actual doctors on their plan of care and exactly what the next surgeries will entail. I have been back and forth with the financial department trying to make the financial aspect of it work out. I also get a lot of mail from them that all hospitals send out after you have appointments. Exam synopses, or letters from the doctor explaining their findings, etc. That doesn't include the entire week we took to actually fly out and visit.

*Other medical issues - I have to speak with Christian's medical supply company regularly, and keep up with what he is getting low on and when. We have a box of medical supplies delivered to the house once a month. We still go to Vanderbilt for several specialites, such as gastro for him Mic-Key button. I have to keep up with paperwork, appointments, doctors, procedures, etc from there. Christian's other medical issues require lots of time and paperwork!

*All things vision - Everything we do with Christian has to take into consideration his vision impairment. I don't just change his clothes. I tell him what I'm doing, I encourage him to help me by pushing his arms through the sleeves. We discuss his dirty diaper and giggle because it's shewy. I ask him questions. I take his hands and show him how to brush his hair. I make him lift his arms before I pick him up. I encourage him to use words to tell me what he wants. We talk about where we're going when we're in the car. We sing songs to pass the time he's stuck in a car seat because he can't look out the window and be entertained. It's constant. It's second nature to me now, but it's never not going on. I use every single opportunity I can to teach Christian something about whatever it is we're doing. Because he can't watch me and learn. He has to touch and hear about it.

*Friends - My friends that are not FB exclusive,and who were here before FB, still like to be friends with me. lol. Although I don't get to see or talk to any of them as much as I'd like, I do try take some time for them. One of my best friends is getting married in 2 weeks. We've been on the phone a lot lately discussing wedding plans, and ordering my bridesmaid dress, and deciding where to have the bridal shower. Another really good friend is having a baby is a few months. I've been buying for her little girl, and checking on her a lot. I have another firiend who has a little boy with a vision impairment. We talk often about developmental progress, resources, swapping ideas, National Federation for the Blind, and what it's like to be the mama to a child who is blind. She is so awesome to talk to. There are way more, but these are just some examples.

*Facebook - Christian's fan page has somewhere around 34,500 fans, and my facebook profile has 5,000 friends and around 12,500 subscribers. That's over 50,000 people to one me. I have somewhere around 1300 unread messages on the fan page right now because I just can't get to them. I get around 20 messages per day on my personal FB profile. I answer messages and posts while Christian is in therapy, while waiting in line at the grocery store, in class when the teacher is on a topic that isn't important for taking notes, while I eat lunch, while I'm rocking Christian at night, before I fall asleep at night. That's literally when I get a chance to do those things, as you can see from my post above.

*Marriage - Some of you may know that my marriage has struggled since Christian was born. The weight of a special needs child is hard on a marriage. The divorce rate of parents of special needs kids is 80%. That's 20% above the already ridiculously high national average. Chris and I have recognized our struggles, and are working toward meaningful changes that will help our relationship and our whole family. It takes time, and effort, and prioritizing. We make it a point to purposefully work on our relatioship daily. And sometimes that means putting down the phone and just being present with each other.

*E-mails and speaking engagements - Because of Christian's popularity, I do speaking engagements and interviews often. One week last month, I spoke 3 seperate times. It is time consuming to write, perfect, and practice speeches. I want them to be good. I also still do a lot of interviews. Many are now by phone or e-mail, but still take time to sit down and answer. I had someone come to my house this past Saturday for 3 hours just to ask questions and shadow us. I get some sort of fan or interview email at least once per day. Finding the time to respond to all of these is hard.

And finally, I want to end with this. This is for everyone who has come to know us since that video went viral in May, everyone who has sent us gifts, kind messages, donations, love, and friendship. I realize that I am not good at responding to messages or posts, or emails. I realize that sometimes you may send me a long message and my response is one or two sentences, or you may post on my wall and I only "like" the post and not comment. I also realize that I rarely reach out to you guys unless you reach out to me first. And sometimes, I never do get to respond to you. But I want you guys to know that I think about you all daily. I think about all the people who love Christian so much and who can't wait to hear how he's doing. I think about you guys when I put on a shirt that one of you bought him, or when we talk about a state where "hey, so and so lives there!"Or when Christian is playing with a toy that someone sent, it makes me think of them! I never stop thinking about all the amazing people who take their time to send us well wishes and love, who take their hard earned money to send Christian gifts, who are ready to defend my son no matter what against anyone who wants to be mean!

The fact that I can't respond to everyone well bothers me immensely! I wish I had the time to answer everyone and respond to everything! To express my gratitude adequately!

 My life would not the be same if you were not all in it, and neither would Christian's. I cannot wait until he's old enough to understand. I am going to explain to him all about the people all over the world who love him. I can't wait to read him some of the sweet messages you have sent, or let him open a package he got in the mail and explain to him that you all love him just because he is Christian!!!!The fact is, I will simply never be able to express my appreciate to each and every one of you adequately. But none the less, I want you all to know how very sincerely I love each and everyone one of you.