Author Archives: whoopsiepiggle

Childhood abuse still echoes in adult survivors’ lives

In a room recognizably located in a nursing home, a tiny lady with white hair speaks in a bird-like voice to her young nurse, “I must hide under my bed.” “Why?” asks the nurse. “He’s coming!” says the old woman. … Continue reading

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No more: All sexual assault is intolerable

On February 1, 2014, Dylan Farrow published an open letter in the New York Times describing how Woody Allen, her adoptive father, had sexually abused her. A week later on Facebook, I shared a Vanity Fair article that deconstructed, point-by-point, … Continue reading

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Simplicity & creativity need when potty training

“What about potty training?” I asked the doctor. What I was really asking was, “But what does it mean to have a child with Down syndrome?” Lyra was less than 36 hours old when we met with the geneticist to … Continue reading

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The End of an Era: 25 Years of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

“How does that make you feel?” asked my physician. My eyes suddenly burned and I gulped before speaking, my voice hoarse with emotion. “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that,” I said, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand. After … Continue reading

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Urban community comes together for schools and kids

 After the 1997 Ohio Supreme Court decision declaring the state’s school funding system unconstitutional, the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC) was established. This triggered a statewide evaluation of public school buildings. Many, especially in urban and rural areas, were deemed … Continue reading

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Getting Kids to Eat a Healthy Diet–Relax!

Mothers trying to get their kids to eat is such a universal stereotype, I’m pretty sure it’s hardwired in all women’s brains. Long before humans farmed, we were hunter-gatherers. So, too, were our direct ancestors, Homo erectus, for nearly 2 million … Continue reading

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Sometimes the best decisions are the toughest

“She has an incredibly strong hunting instinct and you can’t change that,” my vet said. “One day, her instinct will override her training and it’ll happen so fast, there’ll be nothing you can do.” I had asked the vet about … Continue reading

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Screen time: less is always more

In the 1980s, a bumper sticker that read “Kill Your Television” was common, especially around college campuses. A rather radical notion at the time, today, when most people have smartphones in their pockets, it seems charmingly quaint. For many years, … Continue reading

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Treat friendships as though your life depends upon them–for it does

Until this month, the last time my friend Jen Marvelous and I had a long, uninterrupted visit was Jan. 5, 1994. I met Jen in a plant pathology class at OSU’s College of Agriculture. She and I alone seemed to … Continue reading

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For Valentine’s Day, Send Love

Rather than chocolates and dinner at a crowded restaurant, would you like to fill your heart on Valentine’s Day? Then check out the Valentine Project. Co-founder Andrea Margida is no stranger to cancer. When she was 16, it took her … Continue reading

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January Stillness

Each December, I look forward to the frozen quiet of January. Holiday décor goes back in boxes and the boxes go back on shelves in the furnace room. It’s a relief to reclaim the living room as adult space. For … Continue reading

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Buddhist family finds joy and friendship in church choir

Those of you who regularly read this column know we are a Buddhist family. Our children learn Buddhist teachings, stories and, starting at around age 4, how to meditate. At 10, they undergo a 9-day rite of passage at a … Continue reading

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The problem with Ohio’s Down syndrome abortion ban

In many serious discussions about Down syndrome, abortion is the ghost in the room. Teaching medical professionals to give accurate and appropriate information when announcing prenatal diagnoses, state funding for early interventions, state funding for K-12 education, federal funding for … Continue reading

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Give Generously and Benefit Greatly

Give generously. While this may sound like a contradiction to my previous column on giving lightly, it is not. Let me explain. Falling prey to the Madison Avenue depictions of Christmas trees exploding with wrapped gifts from under their boughs … Continue reading

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Giving lightly is good for kids and the planet

My eldest child will turn 24 next month. This means I have been acquiring toys for nearly a quarter of a century. That first year I was a mother, we often visited friends who had a 3-year-old. In their living … Continue reading

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Giving Lightly–It’s Good All Around

My eldest child will turn 24 next month. This means I have been acquiring toys for nearly a quarter of a century. That first year I was a mother, we often visited friends who had a 3-year-old. In their living … Continue reading

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Thankful for Thanksgiving

This coming Tuesday, Max will bring home our pasture-raised, freshly killed turkey. I will be waiting for him in the kitchen with a bottle of dry Riesling. No, not to toast the beginning of Thanksgiving, but to mix with kosher … Continue reading

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Don’t Let Your Sons Grow Up to Be Predators

One of my favorite books by Richard Scarry is The Bunny Book. In it, family members of a baby bunny wonder what he will be when he grows up. Cowboy? Firefighter? Doctor? Farmer? No, none of these. What baby bunny wants … Continue reading

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Sweet Halloween Traditions

When I was a girl, I kept a running list. Each item on the list started with the words: “When I’m an adult I will …” Today I only remember how a handful of those sentences ended. One was “… … Continue reading

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Choosing Words to Live By

This was first published in the Akron Beacon Journal on August 27, 2017 Call them slogans, mantras or sayings. Chosen thoughtfully, they can reflect a personal moral code. If your actions, words or even thoughts don’t jibe with your moral … Continue reading

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Titles, Travel and Time

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said Juliet, referring to her lover’s surname, “Montague,” his family bitter rivals with her own, the Capulets. And while she is right—a name alone cannot change the odor of a … Continue reading

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Raising Dogs and Kids: It’s more alike than different.

This article first appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal on July2, 2017 Raising children is remarkably similar to raising dogs. I’m reminded of this anew, having taken in two puppies in the past year. For more than 30 years, I … Continue reading

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Busting the Myths on Down Syndrome

This column was published on Ohio.com on May 6, 2017. One column only scratches the surface on the topic of life with Down syndrome in the United States in 2017. For more articles, videos and profiles of adults with Down … Continue reading

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A Few Points on Parenting

Published 4/8/17 on Ohio.com A friend only a few years into her adventures as a mom posted on my Facebook wall: “You need to write a parenting manual for me.” I think about parenting a lot and have for a … Continue reading

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Learning About Lyra: Four Years into Our Journey

When Lyra was a few months old, I first wrote an essay titled, “Learning About Lyra.”  Now, more than four years later, we have traveled far down the road of our journey with our daughter. This short piece was published … Continue reading

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Where in the World Is Whoopsie Piggle?

When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Eyes at Three

Whoopsie Piggle can be found on “Down syndrome Blogs,” a site that aggregates Down syndrome blogs by category. One of the categories where Whoopsie Piggle is listed is “Dual Diagnosis” because Lyra was born with congenital cataracts in both of … Continue reading

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Mid-century Mark

“You belong to AARP?” I asked my father twenty years ago when he mentioned a discount he’d received due to his membership. A man who never refuses assistance, I figured he had pulled one over on the retired people’s lobby. … Continue reading

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Presume Brilliance

Two years ago when Max and I attended our first National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) convention, Lyra was 11 months old and I was panicky. I felt we had a small window to engage her mind, teach her body to … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Meme: People-First Language

In case you missed it on the Whoopsie Piggle Facebook wall, here is the meme created with the help of my friends, photographer Shane Wynn and text-adding queen Tiffany Stafford. Since October 1, just five days ago, it has been … Continue reading

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A Year After a Painful Week

It has been a year since I wrote “A Painful Week in the Down Syndrome Community,” about three toddlers who died. Two left suddenly: a boy who contracted meningitis, unrelated to his Down syndrome, and a girl who suffered complications … Continue reading

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That Which Doesn’t Kill the Kid

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. ~The Buddha That which does not kill us makes us stronger. ~Friedrich Nietzsche Hoping to nap for fifteen minutes in the … Continue reading

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Raising Voters

As a mother I sometimes parent by fiat, with no negotiation. There are small things–such as We never, ever buy items displayed in the check out line at the grocery store. But most are big things related to how we … Continue reading

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Why My Children Are Now Fully Vaccinated

With winter’s departure, the long-dormant mud in the meadow of the K-8 Waldorf school my youngest sons attend is back. So, too, is whooping cough. Six years ago when there was an outbreak at the school, my son Jules, who was … Continue reading

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Seen as Sick: Conjuring Illness to Deny Full Humanity

“Is there a vagina?” I asked the midwife. After a summer of crop-killing drought, rain fell the day my last child was born. For the first time in two months, we turned off the air conditioning, opened our windows and … Continue reading

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Hiking, Dogs, and Fading Angels

“Oh, Lily, someone else is in our park!” I told my bi-black sheltie after a woman attempting to jog on the icy path startled me from my thoughts. Winter’s grip is finally weakening here in northern Ohio, evidenced by emerging … Continue reading

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Where There Is Love

“I don’t buy cartoons for Valentine’s, you know that,” I said, standing in the kitchen. Hugo snatched up my hands in his and lifted them up as though he were going to kiss my fingers. Instead, he began running in … Continue reading

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Two Years This Daughter

  The first two years with a baby with Down syndrome are a lot of work, but then it all gets easier. I have repeated that sentence, spoken by the caseworker from our county’s DD Board when Lyra was only … Continue reading

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Two Years This Family

Two years ago, I wrote about our Thanksgiving with family in northern Michigan. As has been the case for more years than I can remember, last month we again made our biennial pilgrimage up the mitten-shaped state, our van loaded … Continue reading

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Correction: Older Moms Are Having More Babies. Period.

In the essay I posted yesterday, “Some Words About Down Syndrome,” I referred to the long-cited statistic that while older mothers have a higher chance of becoming pregnant with a baby with Down syndrome, most children with Down syndrome are born to … Continue reading

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A Few Words About Down Syndrome

Dear Young Mamas of Children with Down Syndrome: As you all probably know, it is more likely for a woman my age (46 when I had my daughter Lyra) to have a baby with Down syndrome than it is for … Continue reading

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Degrees of Difficulty: Little and Big Kids

Little Kid Hard Once upon a time, I had three little boys each born three years apart. Even before the third boy arrived in the summer of 2000, many a day I could not remember when I last had taken … Continue reading

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What Suffering? The Down Syndrome Advantage

I see you and Max acting so bravely, but nobody asks for a child with Down syndrome. I recalled those sugar-coated words of sympathy, spoken by a relative of ours a few weeks after our beautiful, healthy daughter was born, when I … Continue reading

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Nothing to Fear: Human Rights for People with Down Syndrome

Sarah and I were in Pittsburgh for Quilt Market where we stayed at the downtown Westin. When the elevator stopped on our floor there was a man dressed in business attire already on it. I looked over at him and … Continue reading

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Would I Cry?

When he was a senior in high school, my eldest child, Claude, called me a bad-ass mother (which I mistakenly took as pejorative until he explained the parlance of his generation). It’s true, my parenting mantra is “push and support.” So why, … Continue reading

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Part 3: After a Dying Week

I should be packing. I leave in less than 48 hours to join my oldest son, Claude, in Spain for two weeks of backpacking adventures. It usually takes me one to two weeks to write (and re-re-re-re-re-write) an essay before … Continue reading

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Part 2: Defining and Defying: Discrimination of the Developmentally Disabled

Yesterday, I wrote about three babies in our Down syndrome community, all the same age as our daughter, Lyra, who died in the same week. One of the deaths sparked many national discussions on the issue of organ transplantation and whether or … Continue reading

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Part 1: A Painful Week in the Down Syndrome Community

Real Community, Virtually When Lyra was four months old, I met a woman at a meeting for new parents of children with Down syndrome. A few weeks later, she sent me an invitation to join a Facebook group titled “(’12/’13) … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Latest: In Need of the Next Map

Our home has been temporarily rearranged. The water bowl for the dogs and cats is now commonly found on the kitchen counter while the bathroom trash cans currently reside atop the closed lids of the toilets. A paper grocery bag containing paper recycling … Continue reading

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About (Winter) Time

The Oxford Dictionaries’ 2013 word of the year was “selfie,” which describes the now ubiquitous photos taken with one of the subject’s arms outstretched, not unlike a zombie’s, as he or she snaps his or her own photo with a … Continue reading

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