Q. Who designs the product?
A.My business partner Paige and I do.
Q. Your Hooray for Sunny Instagram account is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. What prompted you guys to begin it? How has the success of this account impacted your lives?
A. Hooray4sunny has brought connection, friendships, and support to our family. Sunflower was born with a rich testimony the very second she entered this world. Sunflower has Down Syndrome and was lovingly given up for adoption. We ( Andy and I) get to help Sunflower shape her life story as well as tell it in a positive inspirational way. We want Sunflowers life story to be viewed as BEAUTIFUL. And we feel Instagram is one really rad way to do it! I mean come on she's gorgeous and the camera loves her!
Q. One of my favorite things has been seeing how you celebrate Sunny’s individuality all the while bringing a positive light to Downs Syndrome. How would you encourage other moms, such as myself who have children that stand apart from the crowd and may struggle with different developmental delays etc?
A. Hmmm I am still learning this. But what I have learned for myself that as a mom I am so sensitive when it comes to my kiddos. I feel it so deeply when they hurt themselves or another child hurts them. I cringe and become defensive if an adult has a rude/ nonsensesicle comment about Sunny and her having a disability. My flesh becomes instant mama bear! But I have also found that when I am clear headed and not clouded by my emotions I can gracefully be Sunny's advocate, I can clearly articulate her needs or explain why she is doing whatever she is or isn't doing that is not "normal" to society. The way we handle positive or negative situations as parents of children with disabilities is so crucial! The way we treat our children in public for other people to see is so crucial! It's hard to be on All the time. I know. It's also our calling, whether we asked for it or not. For example I try to dress Sunny in cute clothes like her peers, Sunny wears foot braces I don't try and hide them I incorporate them into her look. Kids ask me about them and I answer in a positive upbeat way that these are foot braces that help Sunny to walk, run and jump better. I explain that Sunny has week ankles that are getting stronger everyday by exercise and her foot braces. I even ask if they would like to help Sunny walk up the playground stares or help her get on the slide. I have found kids LOVE to help and be in charge. They crave it! I give them different words to use when talking about the foot braces instead of weird I say aren't they cool. Isn't it rad that Sunny can wear these and now be able to play with you. I let them touch her braces and as best as possible take away the awkwardness. Another Example that's not so easy or pretty haha. Sunny has a constant runny nose and her tongue out which at times can cause a drooly boogery mess. I've had kiddos say "ew!" "She's dirty and messy!" I clean her up and explain to them that Sunny is still learning how to talk and how to help herself. I often turn it around and ask the concerned kid to please let me know if boogies start to come out again. I give them a job and ownership about how to handle the situation should it happen again. Taking personal sensitivity out of my knee jerk reaction to come to the defense of my "helpless" child, I am able to give others the more appropriate and kind way to approach a peer with special needs or a family member of a child with special needs. Breaking the awkward is one of our biggest battles. From ages 2-100 years old everyone is wondering how they should approach our kiddos and how they should approach as the parents. Let's try and give them a road map one conversation at a time. Don't shy away from awkward.
Q. You live an extraordinary life, what motivates you?
A. The pursuit of God's will in my life, not missing a blessing, not being ordinary, and the joy in helping others.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A. Easy! Jesus, Andy, Sunflower and my mom!
Q. Favorite Musician?
A. Golly this is hard! Tay-Swif (lol!) and James Taylor
Q. Coffee or Tea?
Q.How would you define your style?
A.Versatile, comfortable and welcoming. I strive to be
approachable and relatable. I hope whatever I am wearing sparks positive conversation and shows that I enjoy life :)
Q. What are your hopes for the Lara Family in 2016?
A. First that our faith in the Lord deepens. Second our bond as a family deepens. Thirdly, I hope we each individually grow in a new and scary way. And lastly travel, I love to see a trip whether big or small on the calendar.
I mean honestly....are we all not in love with Mercedes Lara now? I love how her cheery persona is felt throughout this interview. The girl is pure JOY! Follow her journey @hoorayforsunny and @thatmrslara on Instagram. Support her by shopping Little Messengers.