By Francesca Pollio Fenton
Denver Newsroom, May 14, 2023 / 07:00 am
Many little girls grow up playing with Barbie dolls and wishing that a doll would look just like them. Now, little girls with Down syndrome can live this dream. The American toy company Mattel announced April 25 that the first Barbie with Down syndrome would soon be hitting the shelves.
The first Barbie doll was released on March 9, 1959. Over the years, Mattel has released several kinds of Barbies representing different shapes, sizes, races, and ethnicities. In 1980, Mattel released the first Black and Hispanic dolls named Barbie. In 2015, three new body types were introduced: curvy, petite, and tall. And in 2022, the first Indian Barbie was manufactured. Currently, Barbie features 35 skin tones, 97 hairstyles, and nine body types.
Now Mattel is making headlines with their newest Barbie, who represents someone with Down syndrome, and it has already sold out online.
Read more of this article and learn what I think of the new Barbie Doll with Down syndrome!
On September 11, 2000, I was a young airmen stationed in Germany with the United States Air Force. I
had that day off and was doing laundry in the barracks. In the common room, their was breaking news
on the big screen TV showing the planes attacking the twin towers and the planes that followed with the
attack on the Pentagon and the diversion of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. My heart sank. Selfishly, though,
I was thankful that my family was on the other side of the country and were safe. At 20 years of age, my
immaturity didn’t allow me to think that these attacks would be personal. Oh, how wrong I was. And
how fast I had to grow up.
As soon as I called my family back in the U.S., I was summoned with other airmen into the main hall. We
were told that we had one hour to grab our war gear and Kevlar. We would be departing to an
undisclosed location. At that time, I was trained to work on the weapons systems of F-16 fighter jets,
and I was the only female who could do this in my squadron.
I deployed. What I witnessed at 20 years of age was the horrors of war. I witnessed fear. I witnessed
the insane loss of life. I witnessed my friends losing their own life in service to our great country. I
witnessed Hell on Earth.
I was diagnosed upon my return with survivor’s guilt. I was also injured and retrained to a desk job as a
JAG paralegal. I was honorably discharged in late 2004 and went home to complete my college degree.
Looking back, the attacks on 9/11 were utterly senseless. Yet, our government seems to have forgotten
who did those attacks, because the Biden Administration has been negotiating with the Al Qaeda
terrorists. Since my time in the USAF, the military has gone woke. When I was in the USAF, there was a
“don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Now, the military openly allows for men who claim to be gay to use the
women’s locker rooms. As if that wasn’t enough, when Roe v. Wade was handed down to the States,
the Veteran’s Affairs Administration interfered and allowed themselves to become an abortion mill.
This is not the military that I had signed up for. This is not the military that my friends died for. The
Biden Administration is slapping us in the face and spitting on our DD214’s by allowing this wokeness to
Never forget the men and women who fought the terrorists.
Never forget the victims that died at the hand of the terrorists.
Never burn our flag – it stands for peace, victory, and freedom.
Never forget that in the United States, we don’t negotiate with terrorists.
This article was originally published on American Briefing.
"Discernment" is common Catholic vernacular. But what is it? Over the past few years, I have learned what it really means to discern. Discernment helps us to make good decisions, whether they be big or small. As Catholics, the discernment process includes prayer, understanding, and action. Discernment helps us evaluate the dreams we have and, more importantly, God's plans for our lives.
Read more at Radiant Magazine.
Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. These are the three core values of the United States Air Force. But I added a fourth, dedication. Without dedication none of the other core values would be achievable. I enlisted in the USAF fresh out of high school in 1999. My first assignment was at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. I turned 19 years old in Basic Training.
In 2000, the world changed with the attacks of 9/11. I remember being gathered in the common area of the dorms and being briefed by First Sergeants on what to prepare for and who was going into combat. There was an eerie silence on what was normally a rambunctious base filled with F-16’s and the crew that came with them. But those F-16’s left and so did I. We were in combat.
Over the years I have never forgotten those years of service. For the past 13 years I have been married to my amazing husband and we have three children who are 11 years, 8 years and 3 years. I credit my years of service during combat to being able to serve and fight on behalf of my family. God blessed me with a steadfast heart. Over the past 21 years, I have known that Jesus stands right next to me as we battle storm after storm. Each and every time, there is always tribulation after the storms. And I am thankful for this.
When Andrew was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome, I viewed it as a storm to navigate with Christ at the helm of the ship. But, oh! Andrew having Down syndrome was NOT the storm! Instead, it was the doctors that wanted to abort him JUST because of this prenatal diagnosis. When Andrew was born, it was another storm to navigate because he needed to have surgery on his intestines when he was a mere 15 days old. But the tribulation was his recovery.
Now, Andrew is a hurricane running around the house and tearing it apart just like any other toddler would do. He delights in going to school each morning and his days are made brighter when his brother and sister come home from their school days. (Sometimes I think that Andrew likes Alexander and Abby more than his mom and dad, and that’s totally okay!)
Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do and dedication. These core values that I learned during my years in the USAF certainly still apply. If I could go back in time and talk to my 19-year-old self, I would tell her that these core values will continue to play a role in the vocation of being a wife and mother. Without integrity, I would fail to raise my children in the image of God. Without having learned the value of service before self, then our days would have been incorrectly centered. If I don’t strive for excellence and teach my children to do the same, then I am not serving them well. If I am not dedicated to these values, then our days would unravel.
As special needs parents, we hold onto various values to fight for and defend our family in the best way we know how. But we are not fighting alone. I didn’t serve in combat by myself, I served with others. Now, the Down syndrome community and my parish community are my new “brothers in arms.” Christ was at the helm of my ship 21 years ago and he will remain there. He is there for you, too. Let him take control.
Happy Veteran’s Day to all the veterans who have paved the way to the freedoms that we now enjoy.
I watched as my 11-year-old son took away a small piece of napkin from his little brother so that he wouldn’t choke on it. Little brother is Andrew. Andrew is 3 years old and has Down syndrome. Andrew did a fake cry when Alexander took the piece of napkin away from him. He then immediately smiled and hugged his big brother tightly around the neck. It was pure joy to watch my two sons smile out of love for each other.
This interaction reminded me about Dia de los Muertos. We are not from a Latin American family, but I greatly admire their customs and culture. Dia de los Muertos celebrates the feasts of All Saints Day and All Souls Day by teaching about the communion of Saints and the souls in Purgatory. On All Saints Day and All Souls Day, families will place photos of loved ones on a small altar called an offrenda. The deceased loved ones are honored when their photo is placed on an offrenda. So, what does Dia de los Muertos have to do with my two sons hugging after big brother rescued little brother from choking on a napkin? Plenty.
Dia de los Muertos encompasses honoring the saints and praying for the souls in Purgatory. But what if every day was Dia de los Muertos? When we celebrate this great feast, we celebrate the love of deceased loved ones. In doing that, we can also honor our living relatives. When my children hug each other and smile out of pure love, then they are honoring each other and the God that created them. The saints that have gone before us consistently preached the message of the importance of love in the family.
On All Saints Day, we remember and honor the triumphant saints in Heaven. It is trouble that always proceeds triumph. Each saint had their own bit of trouble to overcome, leading to their triumph in Heaven. Alexander stopped Andrew from choking on a napkin. This was the trouble that led to the triumphant hug between brothers.
On All Souls Day, we pray for the souls in Purgatory. We remember that our prayers and participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments can be used to help the poor souls in Purgatory. By consistently doing a daily Examination of Conscience, we recall our words, thoughts, and actions in hopes to make reparation with God and thus join him in Heaven when our time on Earth has come to an end.
As Catholic special needs parents, we know that our patience can be tested at great lengths. May we make a good Examination of Conscience at the end of each day and participate in frequent confessions so that we can find internal peace. May we be strengthened and renewed by the saints who have gone before us, paving they way in overcoming lack of patience while setting the example of overcoming trouble with triumph. May we remember our deceased relatives and honor them with fervent prayers during these days of Dia de los Muertos, all while never forgetting to pray for the souls in Purgatory.
In one month, this little angel will be three years old. Oh, what a journey it has been and continues to be. I have shared our story countless times bringing awareness to the medical community that pressures women to abort just because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Now, we leave that story behind and look towards the future with full hearts.
Almost three years ago, I was heavily pregnant in the summer heat that Northern Virginia is known for. I was preparing a nursery with Alexander and Abby. Alexander helped to assemble most of the furniture and Abby designed the layout. Jason and I had our hospital bags packed.
Looking back, so much has happened. Our lives pivoted. I left my beloved teaching job only to find that God had an even bigger audience to share my story with. No… to share HIS story with. For it is in living as one with Christ that we realize our true freedom and our true joy.
Andrew taught me that. Yes, he has limited vocabulary, but his smile, hugs and snuggles says it all. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the past three years.
I am working on a great-big writing project right now and the blog will be on the back burner for a little while longer.
However, I am STILL available for speaking engagements and am booking into Spring of 2021. Please email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please know that I continue to pray for all of you. Please keep me in your prayers as I endeavor on this writing project. I hope to see you at speaking events in the coming months, be it virtual or in-person!
May God bless each of you.
The other day, I was giving a practice spelling test to my 10 year old. He had to spell the words, "cease" and "seize." To differentiate the sound, I used them in a sentence. "Seize the day!" and "Pray without ceasing." Alexander asked, "what does it mean to pray without ceasing?" I embraced the parent teaching moment! (I love these moments.)
However, I was stumped. How do I explain what it means to pray without ceasing? I began by explaining how we had already built prayer into our lives: before meals, on the way to school, and praying a Hail Mary every time we go up or down stairs. Then we brainstormed ideas on how we could add more prayer into our lives. I told him that this meant we would 'pray without ceasing' because we prayed throughout our day.
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When I look at this verse, I am struck not just by the constant necessity of prayer, but by the emphasis on giving thanks. I graduated high school over 20 years ago, but I still remember my high school teacher teaching us to pray in ACTS.
A - Adoration (praising God),
C - Confession (confessing our sins/admitting that we are a sinner),
T - Thanksgiving (giving thanks to God), and
S - Supplication (asking God for what we want/need in accordance with His will.)
This form of prayer is one that can guide even the weariest of souls to build prayer into their days. In Luke 11, one of the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. This is when Jesus taught the Our Father. "Praying without ceasing" can seem daunting, but if we build it into our routine, then it will become manageable and bring an unparalleled sense of joy and peace, removing anxieties.
During this time of Advent and Christmas preparations, let us not forget to acknowledge our established routines of prayer - even if it is only praying before meals. I challenge you in these last weeks to brainstorm new ways to add prayer into your day. Joy and peace will come out of prayer, and isn't that what we all need a little more of these days?