Friday, September 7, 2018

Time for 4th Grade and The Welcoming of New Villagers

 It's already time for 

4th Grade!!

It takes a village to raise a child. You all have heard me say that so many times. And I truly believe that when a family has a child with special needs it’s not just a saying, it is truth. At least it is for us. I rely so heavily on my village. My village has taught Allie things I could never even have thought to teach her. My village looks out for her and introduces her to new experiences. My village teaches me things as well. All. The. Time. My village is there for us and there’s no doubt that Allie is a much better person and will have a much brighter future because of the amazing village we have.

We recently have introduced new members!! Very important members to our village. Allie is now attending fourth grade at a different school. With all new people; all new teachers; all new administration and a lot of new students that she had never met before.  Oh. And it’s 4th grade, which is a world of difference from 3rd grade.

I welcome new village members!  Quickly. And then I suddenly worry. I worry that I know I have a tendency to trust too quickly. To be too na├»ve.  And a little bit of panic and mama bear protection jumps in. And I question what I think I know. And I worry that Allie can’t communicate what she needs to communicate and I worry about what I don’t know. And then I worry about what I don’t know even more. And then Allie does what Allie does best in new situations. She tests the limits. She tests the boundaries. Then she smiles and gives lots of love and then throws in one of her specialties. Like locking doors. Or refusing to do work or a variety of  other things. Things that make a mother worry. Sometimes on this journey I forget a very important thing... villagers all have a special talent, gifts, knowledge or skills they bring with them to the village. Many of them bring several of these gifts. Some villagers may not even realize they are villagers. These can fall into the people we pass at the store or at the park. The people that stop to listen to Allie as she tells them something. Those that teach their chil

dren to be kind and sweet to my very interested daughter. And then their are villagers assigned to us and I pray they want to be in our village. ;-) In all reality, those assigned are usually in a field that they prayed to be in. A field they went to school to learn more so they could be in villages like ours. And, they are genuinely thrilled to be on Allie's team in her village. I'm not sure if the new villages realize, but once a villager - always a villager. We also refer to our village members as Allie's Allies... And, we are so thankful for our allies.

Now we are one month into school. And earlier this week we were able to sit down with the new village members and have a Pow Wow  because I was worrying.  I didn't mean to. I certainly didn't think I knew more than trained professionals that came widely recommended. It is just I'm the Mom and sometimes my job is to simply worry and try to figure it all out. At our meeting, I was so thankful to be able to hear and see first hand how Allie’s day looks and what to expect during fourth grade. And you know what?  This mom is no longer worried! Allie is on the best team she could be on. This team will teach. This team will push. This team will love. This team will think outside the box. This team will (and has already) introduced Allie to experiences I didn't know to suggest. And you know why? Because that is not the talent I bring to the Village. It is theirs and I'm so glad. It’s perfect for us. She has some of her friends in all of her classes. And while she is still testing the limits a little bit, these teachers are more experienced and ready for Allie!!  I’m thrilled to see what this year will bring. I love the team Allie has this year and I am excited to watch her grow.
#ItsAGreatDayToBeAWarrior #TIS #ABLtoDoit

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Special Olympics - Bowling

This year I was able to attend Allie's second Special Olympics Bowling event. It was a special community event.  Special Education students from 8 years old through high school were brought to Oak Mountain Lanes to compete amongst each other.  The event kicked off with some cheers from the cheerleading squad and one of Allie's classmates, Noah, sang the National Anthem.  It was so refreshing to see so many people in attendance cheering each other on.  I especially enjoyed that the Alabaster and Pelham police officers were also there.  Not only resource officers, but police chiefs as well.  Our kids really do get the full support of the community and it is wonderful.


This year Allie won a 3rd place yellow ribbon which she wore proudly. She couldn't wait to get back to school to show it to her teachers Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Rush.  Just like last year, I'm told that the students lined the hallways to cheer their special Olympics on the way out of school and as they returned. Next year I plan to be there for that event as I'm sure it is special.



Last year - February 2016 -  Allie also had a wonderful time.  She had just turned 8 a few months earlier and was able to attend her first Special Olympics event.  She won a 2nd place ribbon and was as thrilled as she could be. I couldn't be there that day, but she got off the bus wearing her ribbon and was excited to tell me about the strikes she had gotten.  I couldn't be more proud of her and of the school and school system and community that makes sure she succeeds.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

So Grown Up

Wow. I'm not even sure where to start.  I haven't been able to get into this blog in quite a while and have gotten out of the habit of even writing.  But, somehow, I got into it tonight and feel compelled to write something. But, what?

I loved having this blog when Allie was born. Oh my.. so many moons ago. Our lives have changed so much over the past 10 years it is hard to believe.  This time 10 years ago I was beginning to try to accept that God's plan for me was quite possibly to never be a Mom. I remember really wanting to accept his plan - in between my begging and pleading with Him to reconsider. I was - for a short time - a step-grandmother.  10 years ago I held a tiny baby boy and prayed with him. I felt his angels were still so close to us and would hear me as prayed to one day have my own baby.  For as long as I can remember I had always wanted a boy. I never pictured having a girl, it was always a boy.  So, of course a few months later when we were given one last chance and I found out I was pregnant, I was so thankful and began preparing for my baby boy. Isn't it wonderful how some prayers aren't answered? 

Allie is anything but a little boy. Oh, sure.. there was a time we joked she was as wild as a boy and we called that rambunctious personality Alex. But, she is such a girly girl. She loves dolls and babies more than anything.  She would choose a dress over pants any day of the week. She is not as impressed with hair bows these days  - she is a big 2nd grader, you know. But, there was a time when she wouldn't leave the house without her bow.  

I can't believe what an amazing journey this has been.  She has taught me more about life and myself than I learned in all the years before her. She has taught me all about patience and determination.  She has allowed me to see my faults like I never saw them before and she encourages me to try harder.  She makes me so happy. And so frustrated and so irritated at times, too.  But, almost as if on cue that patience button is hit and I take a moment to breath and I'm not so frustrated anymore.  It's not as easy as it sounds at times, but she really has a funny way about her. She is the most real person I've ever met. She has a joy to life that is unmatched.  She avoids drama (for the most part) and goes at her own pace (note the frustrated moments I spoke about earlier).

You see... for a person that is not as planned and punctual as I wish I were, having a person live with me that moves at a snails pace,  has "squirrel moments" all too often and doesn't understand to "get a move on and speed up" when I shout "hurry" "let's go!" "the bus is HERE!!" can lead to interesting moments. But, at the end of the day I am always right back to the same spot. I find myself looking at her as she sleeps and praying my prayer of thankfulness and some other daily prayers for her and I.

I thank God daily (often multiple times) for this treasure He gave me. For this angel that tests my limits of patience and tests my capacity to hold even more love in my heart (I am sure one day I'll burst due to so much love for her).

To hear her say "I love you, Mommy". Or...oh.. this one will get you.. 'thank you for taking care of me".  She uttered this the morning after she was up sick all night a few nights ago. I inquired how she was feeling and she said better, then she turned and came and gave me a hug and said "thank you for taking care of me." I mean, seriously.. who does this?? 

How did I get so lucky?  Whatever caused it, I sure hope I keep the luck.  I can't even imagine a full day without her. She gives me so much. I pray I give her enough right back.

Okay.. so, there we have it a blog post.. will it be 2 years before another? I hope not!!

 McDonalds with my Girl earlier tonight

Friday, October 3, 2014

Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Fact #3 - based on my own experiences

So, why is this important? Why do we need a Down Syndrome Awareness Month? Don’t we all need to raise awareness for something? "Yes!"

This month is an important month. Many groups raise awareness during October. I think it is fitting. The weather in most places is cooling off. We see a change in the environment and that is what we need for our groups. Change. It may be we need funding or we need acceptance or we need new laws. Each one of our groups needs something and we all need to listen.  It’s important. We are a community. A huge community.  Clearly we can’t all monetarily fund each and every group that needs help, but raising awareness does not cost a penny. Talk to a friend about someone you know that has the syndrome, the condition, the disease. Whatever it is you can make a difference.

For our family it is Down syndrome. There is a big reason why it is important to raise awareness for Down syndrome.  It means education, it means jobs, it means inclusion – it means life.  But, for today I just want to point out that this month is such an important month.  Read the posts you see on social media, share the knowledge, attend a walk, smile at these people – or just make it easy - show kindness to everyone. That is a wonderful place to start.  Everyone you see is going through some sort of battle – some big, some small, some healing, some wounded. It isn’t for you to know what it is or to even define it. It most certainly isn’t for you to judge it.  It is for you to accept your fellow mankind and to treat them as you’d like to be treated. 

Raise awareness for Down Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dwarfism, Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer.… I could keep typing. The list goes on and on of things that need our attention. As one person you can’t solve all the issues, but you can keep the conversations going that may lead to a cure, funding, awareness, or maybe something like a job offer for someone that once upon a time - not too long ago would never have been able to work to support themselves. 

Pick a cause or two or three.  Do some research, ask some questions.  Volunteer.  Raise Awareness. Be A Friend.

More Alike Than Different

Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Fact #2 - based on my own experiences

More Alike Than Different – that is what Down syndrome means to me.  For example today I wanted to get Allie to say her ABCs for me at dinner.  She knows them well, so this was just supposed to be something fun to do. But, like her typical peers, she doesn’t always want to do what a parent thinks is fun. So, she says “no”. I tease her.. “oh, you don’t know your alphabet? How sad”. Her response was delivered with so much sweetness and concern you’d think the Alphabet was a real person.   “Awww...poor Alphabet… so sad”.

She has a funny sense of humor; a silly sense of humor. She is so unique it amazes me and she is so typical it amazes me as well. In fact, when I have to leave her with new people now I find myself telling them she is a “very typical 6 year old”. She is. She loves to read and play and will watch TV until I have to force her away from it. She wants the music on and she wants it loud. She wants to sing along. She wants to hear it again.  She wants to do it her way and will find a way to get you to agree.  She loves anything and everything Disney – except the Disney movies I suggest. See a pattern? Independent, free spirit, fun-filled little girl.

Oh… and I can’t leave out compassionate. She cares so much for other people it really does make you stop and wonder just what is in that extra chromosome. She teaches others how to love and ease up on life with a single hug or sometimes a wave.  She is first to hear a crying baby from anywhere in the vicinity and will look at me with all the seriousness she possess and lets me know that she needs to go take care of it.  She has literally almost pulled babies out of their Mother’s arms – with a gentleness and confidence that makes us all wonder how she learned these behaviors.

She is a true gentle spirit with an independence she is learning to control - with the help of all those adults around her who I’m sure pray daily for patience like I do.

Yes, we have our hands full, but our hearts are even fuller.  Down syndrome – I must have done something right to be rewarded so greatly.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Happy National Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

I want to congratulate the state of Alabama and Governor Bentley on the decision to declare October 1st officially as Down Syndrome Day in Alabama. It is an honor to be a resident of a state that recognizes the importance of promoting awareness for those with Down syndrome. This, of course, leads to acceptance and is an excellent way to advocate for them.

Fact #1 - based on my own experiences
Having a child with Down syndrome will mean that your heart will immediately grow at least 100x its initial size and you will find yourself documenting every amazing moment as your child amazes, blesses, entertains and teaches you new things each and every day. You will go to bed exhausted but filled with love and more thankful than you could have imagined.

I know I am blessed...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy 6th Birthday, Allie!

Allie on Hat Day, October 11th
It seems like only days ago we were about to celebrate Allie's 5th birthday with her and all of a sudden we are at the 6th birthday.  She is feeling a bit under the weather lately and yesterday had to go to the doctor to get her thumb "stuck".   She seems to have one of those dreaded "fever viruses", but we are thankful it isn't anything worse.  She was rather rambunctious yesterday, so I ended up rather tired and I seem to have taught her the lesson of sharing quite well. I'm not sure if it was the sneezes in my face or the coughs or just all the together-time, but I went to sleep feeling a bit worn out and woke up wondering how a truck hit me in the middle of the night. I can't imagine how bad she has felt!

We are all surprised at how quickly the last 6 years have gone.  I guess every parent says that and I should just accept that time is going to fly past, but I can't do that. I seem to know it is going to happen and so I take pictures... lots of them.  I think I used up an external drive just with the pictures from the NICU!  I know someday she will be out on dates and at her friends' houses and I'll be up worrying, so I figure I will do something creative with all of my pictures at that time.  But, in honor of her 6th birthday, I put together this collage of memories.  We have always referred to Allie as our "Amazing Allie" because - well, she has been and continues to be amazing. 

Before she was born we had so many ultrasounds we have a whole photo album of her development. There were so many scary findings during those ultrasounds and we were lucky that God led us through them with positivism and courage.  We set the record straight after the first in depth ultrasound that despite the list of a dozen things "concerning", we weren't concerned. We believed she was just too small to really see all that they needed to see. We introduced her as Allie and everyone continued to be amazed as something fell off that dreaded list each visit. 

She is still growing - at 6 years old she has now reached the 29.4 pounds. I swear she was at 30 not too long ago, but I suppose fluctuation is okay.  She is about 37 inches tall, but I haven't measured her in a little while, so that could have changed, too. She is chattering non-stop - even more today being under the weather. I think she has a determined soul. She isn't feeling herself, so she goes the extra mile to tell us every story under the sun. Some we understood.  She is a very fun little girl. She is sweet and a good friend.  I found out the other day she is a good shopper, too. I didn't even realize she was paying attention since she was watching herself in a mirror. I tried on a pair of boots and she immediately looked at me in them and said "ooh, those look good".  She keeps me laughing all the time. And not, just a little smile here and there.. often belly laughs. I can't help it. She cracks me up. 

Tomorrow we will sing "happy birthday to Allie" probably more times than I'll be able to count. It is her favorite song especially when it has her name in it.  And we will say goodbye to our little 5 year old. The age I was particularly worried about. We changed schools during that year and she began "real" school. Kindergarten. I was worried. Now, I have no idea why. She is fitting in wonderfully and has some wonderful friends that look out for her, but give her space and time to do it on her own.  She has become rather independent and I hear "I do it" more than I thought was possible. Oh, and she has become quite managerial, too.  For example, today at the doctor's office, the Nurse asked Allie to step on the scale.  Allie looked at her and pointed to the chair and told her to "sit down". I've never seen someone move so quickly to sit down before. I looked at the nurse and said "it works on  you, too, huh?" She commented, "she was so authoritative I had to do it."  I see leadership qualities in our girl.

Here is the compilation of the last 6 years. She is amazing and since you are following this blog, I guess you know it, too.  Thanks for loving our little 6 year old angel.