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Preview: Double Dose of Special - Special Needs | Parenting | Down Syndrome | Cerebral Palsy

Double Dose of Special - Special Needs | Parenting | Down Syndrome | Cerebral Palsy



An ordinary woman with an ordinary camera living an extraordinary life Special needs, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, parenting, moms, children, running, photography



Updated: 2018-03-06T08:57:30.333-06:00

 



The Long-awaited “Why I Changed My Blog’s Name” Post!

2011-05-16T15:20:51.898-05:00

Did you miss my "The Long-awaited 'Why I Changed My Blog’s Name' Post!" post?  It was on Bringing the Sunshine last week!  Please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions to my new site.


To read why I've moved, check out The Long-awaited “Why I Changed My Blog’s Name” Post!






Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too?

2011-05-10T15:24:39.495-05:00

Today I'm guest posting over at Carrie with Children. I'm the featured "Tuesday Traveler", talking about my wonderful home on the Gulf Coast - Fairhope, Alabama. Although my post is geared toward visiting, it's also a great place to call home. Be sure to head over there and check it out. But before you do, take a few minutes to see what I have to say below about Mandi Ehman's new e-book How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too.This blog is a labor of love. As nice as it would be to be able to make money from blogging, my efforts here are - first, foremost, and always - about inspiration, encouragement, education, and advocacy. When I was contacted recently about reviewing Mandi Ehman's new e-book, How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too, I was initially a little bit hesitant, as I wasn't sure that either reading or reviewing her book "fit" with my purpose. However, I've had her website, Life...Your Way in my Google Reader for awhile now, and I've gained so much from it that I decided to go ahead.First, Mandi's description of the book (emphasis mine):It’s not a list of work-at-home opportunities.It’s not about the tax or legal implications of working at home.It’s not a hyped-up self-help book that’s going to leave you excited without a realistic picture of what working at home entails.What it is is encouragement that pursuing your passion is worth the hard work and effort it takes. In fact, I believe everybody in the family benefits when Mom pursues her passion, despite — or maybe because of — the sacrifices that are made along the way.It’s a handbook to give you the tools to juggle your many responsibilities and to do it with intentionality rather than living under the burden of mommy guilt.Although the book is geared toward aspiring "mom-preneurs" who want to build work-at-home businesses, most of the lessons to be learned from Mandi's book can be universally applied. How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too, at its core, isn't really about business at all - it's about managing your family life while pursuing your passion.I wasn't sure if Mandi's book would be terribly beneficial to me, but it absolutely was. On the one hand, Mandi talked about finding your passion in a way that was both inspiring and realistic. However, she also provided real world tips for managing your home and family while doing so. Inspiring and practical are adjectives that rarely mesh well together in books of this type, so it's refreshing and it works. If you have any interest in becoming a work-at-home mom or just simply want to learn how to pursue your passion without sacrificing your sanity (waving hand wildly in the air!), I'd encourage you to check it out.The e-book is priced at $12, but you can use the link below to learn more and (bonus!) receive a coupon code for the book for $3 off:Click here to view more detailsDisclosure: I was provided with a free copy of How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too for review. The opinions expressed here, however, are mine alone, and this review was not read or edited by anyone else prior to posting. If you purchase a book through the links provided on this page, I will receive a portion of the purchase price.[...]



Just One Mom

2011-05-09T09:24:18.920-05:00

Did you miss my "Just One Mom" post in honor of my own mother?  It was posted on Bringing the Sunshine yesterday!  Please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions to my new site.Recently, my mom was asked to speak at a kick-off breakfast for National Child Abuse Prevention Month. A retired elementary school teacher, she was chosen because she has been volunteering as a Court Appointed Juvenile Advocate (CAJA) for several years.  She shared her speech with me, for reasons you'll see in a moment, but I thought it was so powerful that I asked her if I could reprint it here.My mom is just one person, but she's one person who saw a need and decided to do what she could to fill it, and she is making a difference in the lives of children in her area.  She does it because she believes, as I do, that all children are valuable and all children should be celebrated and nurtured. CAJA Speech: April 1, 2011Thank you for allowing me to share my personal experience as a CAJA volunteer.Dec. 27, 2002 was a very exciting and a very scary day for me.It was exciting because it was the day that my first grandchild was born.It was scary because Sarah Kate was born 2 ½ months early.She was only 15 inches long and she weighed only 2lbs. 9oz.The first time I saw her, she hardly looked like a baby at all.She was covered from head to toe with wires and tubes.Her little legs and arms were no bigger around than my fingers. Every vein in her head was visible, because she was so thin.She stayed in the NICU for almost 2 months and was finally discharged from the hospital at a whopping 3 lbs and 14 oz! And then WOW! When she got home and she started receiving her parents’ tender loving care, she really began to thrive!Now I know that you’re probably wondering why I am telling you this story about my granddaughter when I’m supposed to be talking about CAJA.There are 2 reasons.The first reason is because Sarah Kate was my inspiration for becoming a CAJA volunteer.  During that agonizing time, when Sarah Kate was so fragile, I begged God to save her life and I promised Him that in the future I would do something special for children. I asked God to give me a sign – just show me what he wanted me to do. He gave me an answer almost immediately.There was an article in the Sand Mountain Reporter about CAJA and a new training course that was coming up.--- It told about how CAJAs work with children – I knew I could do that, I had taught 1st grade for 27 years.--- It said CAJAs wrote reports for the court – I knew I could do that, I could spell and punctuate and make my subjects and verbs agree.--- Then it said CAJAs conduct interviews and testify in court – Whoa! I’m basically shy around strangers and easily intimidated by strong lawyerly types. I didn’t know if I could do that or not. But --- I knew somebody who could.I called my friend Jenny. Now Jenny is a retired school counselor and college recruiter who just oozes with confidence and charisma. I started telling Jenny about CAJA and she stopped me – she said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I’ve already been thinking about doing CAJA work; I have their application on my desk right now.” I had asked God for a sign – I felt like He had placed a 30 ft. X 40 ft. billboard right in my front yard with flashing neon lights that said “CAJA! CAJA! CAJA!”.So Jenny and I signed up, completed our 40 hours of training, and we have been working together on CAJA cases for almost 8 years.My second reason for telling you about my granddaughter is that I want to contrast Sarah Kate’s life with the lives of actual children that Jenny and I have worked with.You need to know that Sarah Kate is now 8 years old and she has cerebral palsy in her legs because of brain damage related to her premature birth.She can walk, but her gait is awkward, she tires easily, her balance is poor, and she falls a lot.She can not run or jump like other children.She has had surgery o[...]



Happy Mother's Day

2011-05-09T09:20:16.614-05:00

As I've been saying for a few weeks, I'm be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. More information will be provided this week about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions by visiting my new site.


Yesterday's Happy Mother's Day post on Bringing the Sunshine:

No Sun-Beams this week! Instead, I'm sharing a few photos of the Best. Mom. Ever. with you. Happy Mother's Day!






The Sparkle Effect

2011-05-06T21:29:00.386-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. Currently, I am posting on both sites, but I will begin posting exclusively on Bringing the Sunshine soon.  More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions by visiting my new site.Several weeks ago at our local Special Olympics, I noticed a young girl with Down syndrome in a cheerleading uniform with "SPARKLES" in bold letters across the chest.  Then, less than two weeks later, I came across a blog post by Ellen of LoveThatMax.com about The Sparkle Effect, a student-run program that helps high school students across the country create cheerleading squads for students with disabilities.I was curious.I did a little research and was very impressed with the concept.  The organization was started in 2008 by two young women in Iowa - cheerleaders themselves - who decide to form a squad for students with disabilities at their school.  They were called the Spartan Sparkles.  Word spread of this new squad and the two young women began to hear from other cheerleaders who interested in following their model.  I was pleased to learn that the first one in our state (and the entire Gulf Coast!) is right nearby in Spanish Fort, Alabama.  I had a chance to catch up with the squad's sponsor, Cali Quinlavin, and find out more about the Spanish Fort Sparkles:I was surprised (and impressed!) to find out that the only Sparkle Effect squad in the state was here in Spanish Fort.  How did you learn about the Sparkle Effect?  What motivated you to become involved with the Spanish Fort Sparkles?Actually, my Special Education Supervisor sent me a link about a squad in Tennessee and said she thought this would be a great program to start.  I am the Speech Language Pathologist for the middle and high school as well as the current varsity cheer coach.  I love cheerleading, but not as much as I love children with special needs. I thought I would put these two loves together and it has been so rewarding!I understand the organization is student-led.  What motivated these students to become involved with the Sparkles?All I did was ask my 2010-11 squad who would like to help get this program started.  Five girls eagerly said "Yes" and we began in December.  These girls are INCREDIBLE and deserve ALL the credit.  Mary Caitlin Robinson, Emily Harper, Savannah Merold, Katie Clark, and Jennifer Trenier.  They were already involved in our Project Outreach club and they are perfect representatives!!How often do the Sparkles practice?  How much cheering have they done?We practiced a few times in December and cheered and performed at halftime during home games for girls basketball.  Our plan is for the squad to perform at some of the home football games this fall.  They were also invited to cheer at the Baldwin County Special Olympics.  They represented Spanish Fort well and I was so very proud of them.  We all were.How have the athletes reacted to the Sparkles?The students and athletes at Spanish Fort are great supporters.  I hope they enjoyed us as much as the Sparkles enjoyed cheering for them.Have you seen any changes in the young men and women on the squad?  If so, what?They have always been sweet young people, but I think they have been able to participate in a social experience they normally wouldn't have been able to do before the sparkle effect came to Spanish Fort.  They have had the opportunity to meet more students and be recognized as cheerleaders and spirit leaders at school.What challenges have you faced with this new organization?Everyone, from the administration to the coaches have been welcoming and very supportive. Our parents have also been support[...]



Might As Well Dance

2011-05-06T21:25:23.566-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. Currently, I am posting on both sites, but I will begin posting exclusively on Bringing the Sunshine soon.  More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions by visiting my new site.Last night, Mr. Andi and I attended a fundraiser for the Exceptional Foundation of Baldwin County.  Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was the keynote speaker (a major coup for a startup non-profit organization located in Mayberry).  Mr. Andi wouldn't normally have tried to go (formal dinners aren't our thing, and even if they were, we don't have the extra cash for it), but thankfully, the Foundation comp'd us two tickets and my friend Dawn's mom offered us some free babysitting.  Following are a few of my observations:Her Speech:Mrs. Palin talked about her fears following Trig's in utero diagnosis of Down syndrome, and how they were immediately alleviated after his birth.  My favorite quote:  "God gave us eyes to see Trig's perfection."Mrs. Palin talked about the gentle nature and caring spirit of people with Down syndrome (and others with intellectual disabilities).  She referred to them as "tuning forks for God's orchestra".Mrs. Palin touched on several subjects that I have covered in this blog and in my recent speeches - among them, the appalling statistics on prenatal abortion of individuals with Down syndrome.Mrs. Palin didn't talk politics in her prepared remarks, choosing instead to focus on the main purpose for being there: exceptional people. (Note: Some of the attendees clearly had come to see Palin the Politician, rather than to support the Foundation, and as a result, the Q&A after her speech did cover political topics).My Impressions:Mrs. Palin appeared feisty and energetic (which I expected) but also extremely relaxed.Mrs. Palin spent a lot more time talking about God and faith than I had anticipated.Mrs. Palin believes in what she's doing.  There's a fire and a passion behind her words that's undeniable.The Rest of the Story:The invitation explicitly said "no cell phones and no cameras" and while I (sorta) tried to respect that request, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to snap a quick photo and tweet a few times.  I was intentionally benign in my tweeting, because I try not to wear my political leanings on my sleeve:But within moments, Palin haters had found my tweets and responded:And I apparently wasn't the only person in attendance tweeting (and being assaulted by haters):Many of the comments in Mr. All Caps' Twitter stream were vulgar and much, much worse than what I've shown here.  All were seeping with vitriol (ironic that the person behind the avatar selected an icon of Jesus to represent him or her - is that supposed to be a joke?)  I talked here on Monday about the dangers of seeing someone as The Enemy, but this example hit much closer to home than the celebrations following the death of Bin Ladin.  I wondered how a mother could be as bold and fearless as she appears to be in the face of such vile hatred directed, not just at her, but at her innocent young son.  I considered my own fear and trepidation in sharing my beliefs and thoughts with the world through this blog.As a segue into another topic, Mrs. Palin spoke of Bristol's decision to appear on DWTS.  According to her, Bristol said, "The haters are going to hate; the criticizers are going to criticize, so I might as well dance."  What a great attitude to have!I didn't learn anything new, become a political activist, or even get an autograph last night, but I did walk away emboldened - encouraged to take a stand for what I believe in.Might as well dance.[...]



Why I'm Not Celebrating the Death of Bin Ladin

2011-05-02T09:37:37.810-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. Currently, I am posting on both sites, but I will begin posting exclusively on Bringing the Sunshine soon.  More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions by visiting my new site.All over the country, people are jubilant.  Throughout the night, following the release of the news that Osama Bin Ladin had been killed, Americans partied in the streets.  Many people probably chose to do so because they felt relief, as I did, that the enemy had finally been vanquished.  Some people may have joined in the celebrations because they were swept up in the moment by the people around them.  Others were simply celebrating the death of an evil man.The celebrations have left me feeling very uneasy.What do these celebrations say about us?The Americans celebrating in the streets didn't know him personally, and neither did I.  We only know of his deeds, as told to us by others.  Bin Ladin became a symbol of our suffering and grief, and rightfully so, because he caused so much of it.  The problem with symbols is that it's easy to applaud their destruction.  It's easy to celebrate someone's execution when we believe that the world would be better off with them.The Nazi regime turned the Jewish people into a symbol of the German people's suffering.  Hitler made the Jews into The Enemy, and we all know how that turned out.  But the Jews weren't the only people that the Nazis targeted.  They also systematically killed the mentally and physically disabled.  They justified their actions by declaring that these individuals were burdens to society - that the world would be better off without them.The Enemy.Better off without them.Osama Bin Ladin was a monster, to be sure, but he was also a human being.  From my vantage point, celebrating the death of anyone - even a wretched brute like Bin Ladin - is dangerous.  It's dehumanizing.  It's a slippery slope.I'm relieved that he'll never again have the opportunity to harm my fellow citizens.I'm grateful to the men and women who've worked tirelessly for years to help us reach this day.I'm thankful that justice has finally been done.I believe that he deserved to be executed for his atrocities.But I'm not celebrating.Further reading:The Dangerous Cliche'I Can't Be Silent[...]



Aftermath

2011-04-29T13:40:51.213-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. Currently, I am posting on both sites, but I will begin posting exclusively on Bringing the Sunshine soon.  More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions by visiting my new site.


Alabama is a beautiful state. We have mountains, lakes, beaches, and lush vegetation. Our men say "yes, ma'am" and our women are gracious. Contrary to media caricatures, Alabama is a wonderful place to live and raise a family.

I've lived in each of the four corners (and the middle) of Alabama at different points in my life, but I've spent most of it in the central and northern sections. I'm accustomed to tornados. I live on the coast now, where hurricanes are of greater concern. The massive storm front that came through this week was like nothing we've ever seen.

As of 8:00 a.m., 210 people are known dead in my state.

Approximately 1800 people were injured, and many of those are hospitalized.

Papers and other items from Tuscaloosa, one of the hardest hit cities, have been found as far as 150 miles away.

Virtually all of north Alabama has no power - few stores are open - few gas stations have fuel because pumps need powers - few restaurants are open.

The state's largest utility brought in high numbers of out-of-state crews to restore power, but they don't serve north Alabama. Those areas typically are served by co-op and municipal electric boards, who help each other out during storms. The storm damage is so widespread that there are few available to help.

Many people have lost everything, including their jobs.

Please, pray for the people of our state and the others affected by the storm, and encourage your friends to do so, as well. If you'd like to do more, please also consider donating to the Red Cross.

And last but not least, make sure to hug your kids and tell your family members that you love them.



Wednesdays Are My Mondays

2011-04-29T13:39:56.167-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. Currently, I am posting on both sites, but I will begin posting exclusively on Bringing the Sunshine soon.  More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions by visiting my new site.


Unlike most people, I don't hate Mondays.

On Monday, I've got the whole week ahead of me to do what needs doing.

On Monday, I start to regain order in the house after the chaos of the weekend.

On Monday, I am (usually) more well-rested than on any other weekday.

I don't hate Mondays.  It's Wednesdays that I have a problem with.

Wednesday is Laundry Day.

Wednesday is the day that I check my To Do List for the week and realize there is no way I'm getting it all done.

Today is Wednesday.

Today, Sarah Kate got up complaining that her ears hurt.  I told her she was fine, mumbled something about The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and sent her on to school, only to receive a phone call from the school nurse a few hours later.

Today, Mr. Andi called to tell me that because of the severe storms in the northern part of the state last night, he may need to take one of his crews and go up there to work for several days to restore power.

Today, I was smiling to myself (while I folded the laundry) because I heard the sound of the Roomba starting her cycle.  I meandered toward the sound, expecting to surprise my sweet boy, who would squeal and clap, causing me to laugh at his clever antics.  Instead, I found him sitting on the laundry room floor eating dryer lint he had pulled out of the garbage can.

Wednesdays are my Mondays.



A Good Thing

2011-04-25T17:41:24.109-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. Currently, I am posting on both sites, but I will begin posting exclusively on Bringing the Sunshine soon.  More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and email subscriptions by visiting my new site.October 1998: I returned from the pharmacy where I had filled a prescription of horse-sized pain medication; I had swallowed the first bitter pill without water as I walked up the store's aisle to leave. The doctor had said the pain of miscarriage was like a difficult period, but he was wrong. Desperate for comfort, I called Mr. Andi, even though he had just started a new job and couldn't leave work.  He didn't want me to be alone, so he called my dad to come stay with me. My dad walked out of his business meeting without explanation and drove directly to the house, where he found me in the bed, half-clothed, with my hair partially wet from the hot soak I'd taken earlier. It didn't matter what the doctor called it, I knew I was in labor. Labor without the happy ending.July 1999: In June, Mr. Andi and I were looking eagerly forward to up-sizing our family from two members to three. In just two weeks' time, we had gone from ecstatic to devastated; our baby girl was not going to survive. Triploidy. Chromosomal disorder - like Down syndrome, but much worse, they said. And then - hemorrhage. Dangerously low blood pressure. Nurse yelling to "Get the G-dd-mn doctor NOW!" Labor again - complicated and life threatening - and still no happy ending.December 2002: Another hemorrhage, this time in the middle of the night, and our baby wasn't due until March. Mr. Andi put his head in his hands and said simply, "I can't do this again." Five days later, after all interventions had been exhausted, our tiny baby was born and placed in a plastic box with a bundle of wires and tubes. We worried that she might die, like the two that came before her, but she didn't. She grew and grew and became a lively, vivacious young girl. A young girl with cerebral palsy. Labor for a third time, this time with a near miss.March 2010: I was pregnant again, unexpectedly, and due in April. Our family of three piled into the car and headed to the hospital where we would soon become a family of four. An IV, an epidural, a brightly lit operating room, and then a beautiful sound - my son's first cry - filled the room. A few moments later, a visit from the on-call pediatrician. Down syndrome. Mr. Andi was clearly devastated. At first, I couldn't take it in. I calmly asked questions, then made a phone call to my sister.Today: It's been over a year now since my son was born.  For a long time I waited for the other shoe to drop - I expected a massive workboot of Down syndrome to one day kick me in the teeth and cause me to collapse in grief over the death of my dreams for my son. But the boot never came. Yes, my baby has Down syndrome. No, it is not a tragedy. My son is happy, healthy, and beautiful.Motherhood has taught me that life is not perfect, but it is valuable. I have two angels in Heaven, and two here on Earth. Sending those angels to Heaven was painful, both physically and emotionally. But my angels in Heaven led me to this place - this wonderful, beautiful place in life - where I can more deeply love and appreciate my two angels on Earth.That's a good thing.[...]



Happy Easter!

2011-04-24T18:30:00.101-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, you can visit my new site now at http://www.bringingthesunshine.com.

(image)




Sun-Beams: April 24, 2011

2011-04-24T16:18:14.915-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, you can visit my new site now at http://www.bringingthesunshine.com.

Sun-Beams, a new regular feature, is a collection of links to stories, articles, photos, or videos I come across that inspire, inform, or encourage me, or just cause me to think (or at least smile).   Enjoy.

Touching:  Rocky Mountain coach, son born with Down syndrome, have special ties

BAM!  I loved this piece, even if it is a bit snarky:  Kurt Schlichter's response to Wonkette's inappropriate "satire" this past week

Just Plain Funny:  Beauty and Bedlam: Funny Easter Jokes

Have a wonderful Easter!



A Beach, A Booth, and a Moment of Clarity

2011-04-21T14:08:13.636-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, you can visit my new site now at http://www.bringingthesunshine.com.This week is spring break, and as luck would have it, my dad and stepmom came down to the beach for a few days for a conference. My former-school-administrator dad now works for an architect, marketing their services to schools, so he was manning a vendor booth between sessions. They came through and picked up Sarah Kate for a couple of days, and Nathan and I joined them for the day on Monday.As I was packing up all of the required baby necessities - diapers, wipes, foods appropriate for a one-tooth wonder - I couldn't help but think that this little excursion wasn't worth it. After all, I'd be relegated to a shady spot, working to contain my little Tasmanian devil so he wouldn't crawl into the pool. Add to that the fact that my dad would probably only occasionally be able to break free from his booth to visit, and it just seemed like a hassle.We made the trek over and had lunch around the pool. Sarah Kate had a hankering to go to the souvenir shop down the road. My dad wanted us to stop by his booth before we left, as he wanted to go with us but wasn't sure if he'd be able to get away.When we walked into the exhibit hall, I felt a tad bit self-conscious because I was still wearing my swimsuit, cover-up, and flippies. I didn't worry too much about it, however, because I didn't expect to know anyone, as the vendors were from all over the state and mostly people involved with construction and plant maintenance. We approached my Dad's booth, but he wasn't in it, so Sarah Kate, Nathan, and I ventured a bit further into the room to see if we could find him.As we pushed forward, I saw it - a corner booth with my former employer's logo. Several marketing people - people I'd once been - stood casually around the booth. Although I hadn't seen them in eight years, I recognized their faces immediately, and from the flashing smiles of recognition I realized that they knew me, too.There were smiles and how-are-yous all around, and one person in particular, a former colleague named Ken, came from around the table to give me a quick hug and chat for a few minutes. I told him how I happened to be there (spring break, living in the area now, dad in town, etc.), flashed my brightest "I-used-to-be-in-sales smile", and introduced him to my kids. After a few minutes, I spotted my dad, said my goodbyes, and walked away with my two kids in tow.Over the past eight years, I've often mourned the career that I left behind. I've fought the image of myself as a stay-at-home-mom. I've filled my time with volunteer work to keep my career skills up-to-date. But as I walked away from the booth - this brief snapshot of what might have been - I felt oddly relieved not to be working there anymore. Ken had joked that I could easily pick up right where I left off, and I recoiled at the thought of it. Yes, I could, but I don't want that anymore.Yes, it would be nice to have more money. Yes, I'd like to be able to hire someone to clean my house instead of doing it all myself. Yes, I do often long for adult interaction. But if I still worked full-time, I wouldn't have as many chances to take fun photos of my baby as he grows. I wouldn't be able to clear my calendar for a spur-of-the-moment day at the beach. And I wouldn't be able to take my boy and the dog for a leisurely walk down by the bay on weekday mornings.A dear friend once told me, eight years ago when I first said goodbye to my job, "a bad day at home is better than a good day at work". While I'm not absolutely con[...]



Meet Me in St. Louis

2011-04-19T20:35:25.596-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, you can visit my new site now at http://www.bringingthesunshine.com.

As a kid, I loved hanging out at the baseball park. While a college student, I supported my college's baseball team and occasionally drove up to Atlanta to watch a Braves game. A classmate of mine from middle and high school got called up to the majors in 1994, and I followed his progress through that season - until the strike, anyway. After that, I stopped following major league baseball for a number of years, opting instead to attend the SEC tournaments, until the Sammy Sosa/Mark McGwire/Barry Bonds home run drama piqued my interest. The cloud of controversy over doping turned me off again.

It's no wonder, then, that I rocked on for so long largely unaware of Albert Pujols. One of the best players in the game today, Pujols has been nothing if not consistent during his ten years playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. His achievements in baseball are phenomenal. But what sets Pujols apart from other baseball greats isn't his athletic ability - it's his heart.

When Pujols was still a teenager, he married his wife, Deidre, and instantly became the father to her young daughter, Isabella, from a prior relationship. If that wasn't evidence enough of his generous spirit, add in the fact that Isabella has Down syndrome - not a tragedy, by any means, but a scary proposition for most young men his age.

Fast forward to 2005: Albert and Deidre Pujols started the Pujols Family Foundation, which seeks "to help those living with Down syndrome here at home and to improve the lives of the impoverished in the Dominican Republic", Albert's birthplace. Their tagline: Faith. Family. Others.

(image) Pujols is a committed Christian, a philanthropist, and, in an era where sports figures engage in outrageous behavior as a matter of course, he's a breath of fresh air. Pujols is an outstanding example of an individual who is using his God-given gifts to make a tremendous positive impact on society.

Albert Pujols makes me want to start following baseball again - the Cardinals, anyway - or at least take a little trip to St. Louis sometime. Who wants to join me?

For more information, visit the Pujols Family Foundation website, and be sure to take a few minutes to watch the 60 Minutes feature on Albert (link below).

The Incredible Albert Pujols



Circle of Moms - Inspiring Families

2011-04-18T10:00:03.762-05:00

I want to take some time today to thank everyone who voted for my blog on CircleofMoms.com's Top 25 Most Inspiring Families. I received an email over the weekend letting me know that I made the final list!

The Top 25 Most Inspiring Families blog list will be featured on Circle of Mom's new resource, The RoundUp, in a few weeks. All of the Top 25 blogs will be showcased on The RoundUp with a short interview and photo of me (speaking of which, does anyone have a good photo of me that I can send in?!?!?)

I am so appreciative of your support. This little blog is a labor of love for me, and it's just icing on the cake to be able to share it with others.



Sun-Beams: April 17, 2011

2011-04-17T14:36:48.249-05:00

In the coming weeks, I'll be migrating this blog over to a new site with a new name, Bringing the Sunshine. More information will be provided soon about why I'm making this change. In the meantime, you can visit my new site now at http://www.bringingthesunshine.com.

I'm introducing a new feature today that (I hope will) be a regular feature on the blog: Sun-Beams.   Sun-Beams will be a collection of links to stories, articles, photos, or videos I've come across that inspired, informed, or encouraged me, or just caused me to think.   Enjoy.

Utes' coaching aide leaves lasting impression - Kurt Kragthorpe

Would You Welcome a Child With Down Syndrome? - Amy Julia Becker

The Incredible Albert Pujols - 60 Minutes



Set Apart: A Primer for The Typical Folks (Full Text)

2011-09-06T20:58:19.250-05:00

After the surprising response to my guest post on Beth's page, I've had a number of people contact me asking if they could link or repost my article. Because of that, I'm reposting the piece in full here. Feel free to link up, share, or quote if you like (I'd appreciate a nod to my blog if you do). The full article can also be found on my new site, Bringing the Sunshine.Set Apart: A Primer for The Typical FolksUnless you had the benefit of growing up with a disabled friend or family member, I bet you can relate to this scenario: you spot someone in a wheelchair, using a walker, missing a limb, or (fill in the blank).  You want to be nice, so you try to make sure that you don’t give the impression that you’re staring (which often means you look away), and then you are, of course, mortified when your child points and says “What’s wrong with her?!?”  You turn red from embarrassment, panicking because you don’t know what to do now, then shush your kid and give them an impromptu lesson in politeness that they almost certainly don’t understand because they didn’t think they were being rude – they were just curious.  Can you relate? Both of my children are “differently-abled.”  My daughter, Sarah Kate, has cerebral palsy.  Although she’s made great progress over the years, she still has a distinctive gait that isn’t “normal”.  My son, Nathan, has Down syndrome.  Although he has yet to miss any developmental milestones, his distinctive facial features announce to the world that he is also different.  We’ve encountered a broad range of reactions from people over the years, but the scenario I described above is pretty common. So if you’re in that situation, what should you do? I can’t speak for all parents with special kids, but I always like it when people ask questions.  It gives me a chance to advocate for my child, and educate kids on disabilities.  So if you’re ever around my differently-abled kids (or others), I want you to remember something:  You don’t need to feel awkward.  Feel free to ask questions about my children’s conditions and the progress they’re making.  If you know us, invite us to do things – we’ll let you know if we can’t.  Don’t worry that you have to figure out all the details for us – we know the drill. And while we’re on the subject, don’t look away when you see someone who is “differently-abled.”  Instead, look us right in the eye and flash us a big smile.  Many people don’t take the time to look at our children and see the person instead of the diagnosis.  And that goes for us moms, too – people try not to look at us, either, which means that we often feel invisible, and are often lonely to boot. Don't look away.  Smile.  Ask questions. But that's the easy stuff. Now I want to dig a little deeper. From my experience, and from talking with other parents of children with special needs, there are a few other things that a lot of people do and say that we aren’t so fond of.  Actually, some of these we hate. Really hate.  I’ve prepared a list for you of the Top 5 things I’d rather not hear. 1.  “God only gives special children to special people.  You must be really special.”That’s really nice, and I appreciate the sentiment, but… What exactly makes me more special than another parent? I’m kinda lazy. I swear. Often. I avoid my daughter’s school field trips like the plague. Room mom? Never!Everybody loves a compliment, but the truth is that I’m not special and I’m not amazing.[...]



A Few Good Friends

2011-09-06T20:58:09.975-05:00

Last April, Sarah Kate decided she wanted to do the Bookin' for Books 1-mile Pun Run to benefit her school library.  She trained by walking around our neighborhood with me, listening to her iPod Shuffle.  The race was held again this past Saturday, and she wanted to do it again.  She didn't train this time, but I was hoping that several months of swimming would be enough to get her through it without too much trouble. We gathered at the start line with a few of her friends, but I knew that once the race got underway we'd probably be on our own.  When the field took off, Sarah Kate tried, as she always does, to go with it.  This time, however, a girl I'll call CW stayed with her.  CW is one year older than Sarah Kate and her parents are friends of our family.  I was touched that CW had decided, on her own, to walk with Sarah Kate.  After a few minutes, the girl who lives next door to us, who was not far ahead, checked up and she and her mom joined us. L to R: Neighbor Girl, CW, and Sarah Kateon the course during the 1-mile Pun RunThe three girls plodded on together.  CW's older brother ran by (it was an out-and-back course) and we all cheered him on.  CW and Neighbor Girl continued on with Sarah Kate until the half-mile turnaround point, then they picked up the pace and headed to the finish.  I was happy that they had stuck with us as long as they did, but knew that we still had a good distance to go.We continued on our way with Neighbor Girl's mom.  It's been in the 80s here for a couple of weeks and the Gulf Coast humidity is like nothing else.  I was pleased that Sarah Kate didn't seem to be as tired as she had the previous year by this point, in spite of the steam bath we were experiencing.A few more minutes passed and I noticed a boy about Sarah Kate's age coming toward us.  He came right up to us and told Sarah Kate that he had already finished but wanted to come back to help her.  To be honest, I wasn't even sure who this boy was (Sarah Kate told me later that he is in her class - clearly, I am not very observant, and you know of my aversion to field trips and being room mom).  The fact that an eight year old boy would do that completely amazed me.Sarah Kate with my Potential Future Son-in-LawPotential Future Son-in-Law stuck with Sarah Kate all the way to finish line, where CW and Neighbor Girl were also waiting to escort her in.  Her time was 23:35 (last year she did it in 24:57).When Sarah Kate was a baby, I used to worry that kids would make fun of her when she was older.  Certainly, that has been the case on occasion, but more often than not her specialness has been embraced by her peers.  Before she started school, I would have expected the girls to be the ones who would be most nurturing, but there have been a few boys along the way who've been her protectors, as well - at least one in her class in every grade so far.It's days like these that remind me not to worry so much about whether or not my children will fit in with their peers.  They don't have to fit in with everyone; they just need a few good friends to support them.  It's a lesson I've learned in my own life as a special needs mom.  I have lots of acquaintances - good people that I know - but only a few close friends, because not everyone can relate to my non-typical life. But that's okay, because I appreciate those friends all the more, and I have faith that my children will, like me, always have a few good friends.This blog has moved! To continue reading, please visit us at Bringing[...]



Four Things I Learned While Spring Cleaning

2011-09-06T20:58:05.894-05:00

Three years ago, Mr. Andi accepted a job here in Mayberry, about 350 miles from where we were living. We moved our (then) family of three into a rental house with just the essentials while we tried to sell our house. Several months later, we did sell it but closed the week of Christmas, which meant extremely rushed packing and very limited purging. Several weeks later, in early 2009, we moved into our current home. I spent the first few months getting things in pseudo-order, and not long after became pregnant with Nathan. Nine-ish months of nausea and reflux transitioned into an infant's first year, so the purging was delayed further. A couple of weeks ago I decided that now that I was finally feeling well enough and the baby was "easy" enough I could get to work decluttering, purging, and adding some "final touches" that I hadn't gotten around to yet. I've accomplished a lot (with more to do), but in addition to having a New and Improved living space, I've learned a few things along the way. My freshly decluttered closet1. Old clothes that don't fit anymore don't inspire me - they just depress me. I'm 41, not 21, and I think I look pretty good for my age (when I actually fix my hair, put on makeup, and wear something other than T-shirts, anyway). My body didn't change a lot when I had Sarah Kate, mostly because I missed most of the third trimester, but it did with Nathan. There's no sense in making myself uncomfortable or sad over a little pooch in my belly. My boy's sweet smile is worth having that pooch.2. My life has changed drastically since I became a mom. In our file cabinet I found old work evaluations, grade reports from graduate school, and my LSAT score report. In December of 2002, I was working in energy marketing, part of an executive mentoring program at my company, and applying to law school. By May of 2003, I had put aside all of those things to stay at home with Sarah Kate. Occasionally I do miss my career, but I've never regretted leaving it behind.My new "cloffice"3. Cluttered surroundings equate to a cluttered mind. I've been struggling for a few months most of the last year to keep up with what I need to do and when I need to do it. I've chalked it up to new baby + old age, but I don't think that's the whole story. It's been frustrating at times because I've felt like I was never acting, only reacting, in my daily life. Now that I've decluttered and reorganized, I feel like I've got a better handle on things.4. Giving doesn't just feel good - it's also really easy. I know lots of people prefer to use a yard sale or consignment shop to help clean out their closets and make a little money back (and there's nothing wrong with that). As for me, I'd rather drop my things at the crisis pregnancy center or the Goodwill and know that I've done something for people in need. Have you done any spring cleaning lately? Take a minute to tell me what you learned (or found!) when you did.This blog has moved! To continue reading, please visit us at BringingtheSunshine.com. [...]



At a Loss for Words

2011-09-06T20:58:00.742-05:00

This morning, I'm speechless.  Yesterday I did a guest post over at Our Typical Life, based on a portion of the speech I gave in Atlanta a few weeks ago.  The response to it was astonishing.  As of this moment, the post has over 70 comments, and a few people also made their way over here to comment or email me directly.  The post was also featured yesterday on Wordpress.com's "Freshly Pressed" page.  The reaction to "Set Apart: A Primer for the Typical Folks" has been overwhelmingly positive.  Some of the commenters are individuals who either have disabilities themselves or are the friend or family member of someone who does.  Also among the commenters were advocates and educators, "typical" moms, and at least one childless individual.  There were also several people who feel "different" - including someone suffering from mental illness and a graduated homeschooler.  Here's a sampling of what people had to say:Oh, this post. The top 5 things…I hear them practically every day and they annoy me even more every time. I love this post so much. I could have written every word of the list and how you feel about it! So great to know those feelings are shared. - j's mommaI love this quote from you:“Differently-abled children (and their parents) have dreams, just like you do. We also need friends and love, just like you do. We are more like you than we are different.”So Profound! Keep up the good work with this blog because it will help others to look at things differently! - LisaThis post speaks to MOMS, all moms, period. There is no mother who doesn’t want her children to be accepted and loved, for them to thrive and grow. Thank you so much for sharing this, and speaking to the heart of women who love their children  - Tori NelsonYou tell ‘em! You have said everything I often have thought and felt when in the presence of differently abled children and their parents. They are blessed to have you as a mother as much as you are blessed to have them as children. - atticannieI will completely confess…I needed this post. I am really in tune with connecting and sensitivity to ethnic and racial cultural difference but I don’t have a clue about the culture and community of the disabled. This was excellent in it’s practicality and helping those of us who are willing but clueless. - MarilynAll I can say is I wish you had been my parent when I was growing up!As a child the worst was the pity stare, or its counterpoint being ignored. People would often make me feel as if I just wasn’t there because they refused to “see” my disability. I like and have used the term differently-abled for years., I am glad to see it get some press. As a differently-abled mother I thank you for seeing your children this way. Let me tell you the best is when people ask me about my hand or leg( I have CP). Education is the best way to dispell the myth surrounding the differences in people and it starts with children. My daughter(now an adult) never stopped being my advocate to her friends-which was so often touching-so it can work, people can change. Thanks for that. - ancientfoodsThis has made an impression on me…and has helped me in realizing how to relate to people who have special needs or have children with special needs. Thankyou - Bonnie MarieYour children are BEAUTIFUL and thank you for enlightening well-meaning others. I grew up with a seriously disabled and disfigured younger brother [think Elephant Man and you get an idea]. I feel for others when their children ask [...]



Set Apart: A Primer for The Typical Folks

2011-09-06T20:57:53.992-05:00

Today I'm guest-blogging over at Our Typical Life.  Beth and I have struck up an unlikely friendship this year (unlikely because she's a good bit younger than me and lives in Minnesota - BRRRR!!!)  based on our love of photography and children with Down syndrome (not in that order).  Following is a taste of what I'm saying over there:Unless you had the benefit of growing up with a disabled friend or family member, I bet you can relate to this scenario: you spot someone in a wheelchair, using a walker, missing a limb, or (fill in the blank).  You want to be nice, so you try to make sure that you don’t give the impression that you’re staring (which often means you look away), and then you are, of course, mortified when your child points and says “What’s wrong with her?!?”  You turn red from embarrassment, panicking because you don’t know what to do now, then shush your kid and give them an impromptu lesson in politeness that they almost certainly don’t understand because they didn’t think they were being rude – they were just curious.  Can you relate?Both of my children are “differently-abled.”  My daughter, Sarah Kate, has cerebral palsy.  Although she’s made great progress over the years, she still has a distinctive gait that isn’t “normal”.  My son, Nathan, has Down syndrome.  Although he has yet to miss any developmental milestones, his distinctive facial features announce to the world that he is also different.  We’ve encountered a broad range of reactions from people over the years, but the scenario I described above is pretty common.So if you’re in that situation, what should you do?I can’t speak for all parents with special kids, but I always like it when people ask questions.  It gives me a chance to advocate for my child, and educate kids on disabilities.  So if you’re ever around my differently-abled kids (or others), I want you to remember something:  You don’t need to feel awkward.  Feel free to ask questions about my children’s conditions and the progress they’re making.  If you know us, invite us to do things – we’ll let you know if we can’t.  Don’t worry that you have to figure out all the details for us – we know the drill.And while we’re on the subject, don’t look away when you see someone who is “differently-abled.”  Instead, look us right in the eye and flash us a big smile.  Many people don’t take the time to look at our children and see the person instead of the diagnosis.  And that goes for us moms, too – people try not to look at us, either, which means that we often feel invisible, and are often lonely to boot.Don't look away.  Smile.  Ask questions. But that's the easy stuff. Now I want to dig a little deeper. From my experience, and from talking with other parents of children with special needs, there are a few other things that a lot of people do and say that we aren’t so fond of.  Actually, some of these we hate. Really hate.  I’ve prepared a list for you of the Top 5 things I’d rather not hear.To read the rest of my guest blog post, click here.This blog has moved! To continue reading, please visit us at BringingtheSunshine.com. [...]



Awesome

2011-09-06T20:44:11.039-05:00

Last year, when Nathan was less than two weeks old, the police of our little Mayberry-ish town asked Mr. Andi to join them for the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises money for Special Olympics. Here in Mayberry, area law enforcement run together, carrying the torch, from our high school to the city stadium. Individuals with intellectual disabilities come from all over the county to compete. Now Mr. Andi is a swimmer, not a runner, and actually bought new running shoes the night before, but he was enthusiastic about the run. The experience was very meaningful to him. It was the first time he recalled having heard the Special Olympics creed before:"Please help me win, but if I can not, let me be brave in the attempt."The assistant police chief asked Mr. Andi to do it again this year; the event was this past Friday. He asked if it would be possible to push Nathan in the baby jogger during the event. The chief checked and confirmed that it would be okay.I met Mr. Andi at the school with our precious cargo and stood on the fringes with my camera at the ready. The leader of the group prepped everyone for what to expect, and introduced Mr. Andi and Nathan. Shortly thereafter, the entire school came out for a Special Olympics pep rally.My friend, Jennifer, and I leap-frogged the runners in our cars as they made their way across town, taking photographs and clanging cowbells. My friend, Dawn, and her mom, Cathy, also came out to cheer. Upon arriving at the stadium, I watched as each school's athletes paraded around the track as part of the opening ceremonies. And then came the entry of the torch...Mr. Andi had moved to the front of the pack of runners and was gripping the bottom of the torch in one hand and the baby jogger in the other. The police chief from another local town was to his right, also holding the torch, with all of the other runners lined up behind them. They made their way into the stadium. The emcee, a local radio personality, announced to the crowd:"Future Special Olympian, Nathan, and his father, Scott, an employee of the city of Mayberry*..."The spot where I was standing was chosen just because it was easy. But as I watched the runners enter the stadium and pass the torch to the first of four athletes who would carry it around the track, I suddenly realized what a Big Deal this event was. Many people were positioned in the bleachers while the athletes and volunteers stood on the field inside the track. Tents had been set up at one end of the stadium. Food and T-shirts were being sold to spectators. And this event was on a weekday!It took me back to my years in high school during the 1980s. We had a Special Olympics event - I remember only because I worked it as a volunteer - but it was a much smaller affair. Back in those days, kids with intellectual disabilities went to our school, but they were segregated from their peers. At Friday's event, I saw an entire elementary-aged class who had traveled over 30 miles to cheer on a classmate. When Sarah Kate arrived home from school, she told me that all the kids at her school had lined the halls cheering, clapping, and waving posters for their five athletes as they were departing that morning for the competition.What a long way we have come! And just think - Special Olympics came into being because of one mom, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who was inspired by her child to Do Something. As our friend Joey said on Friday, it's "&*@#$* AWESOME!!!!"*We don't really live in Mayberry, and the emcee [...]



Serendipity

2011-09-06T20:44:03.895-05:00

serendipity (ˌserənˈdipitē): the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

Love. This. Video.

I met the young woman featured in the video, Julie Tennant, at my recent talk in Atlanta. She just happened to be visiting her sister from out of state that week, who asked her if she'd like to come along. They had no idea that I would be speaking or what the topic of the meeting would be.

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="295" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/-tNCFsPAQ94?fs=1" width="480">


Be sure to also check out their website, thelovechromosome.com.

This blog has moved! To continue reading, please visit us at BringingtheSunshine.com.



Different

2011-09-06T20:56:28.499-05:00

There's a widespread belief that people with special needs are "different" from the rest of us typical people. That belief leads people to stare, ridicule, discriminate, or worse, against the differently-abled.

I know, and freely broadcast to the world, that Sarah Kate is more like her peers than she is different. She is more like ME than I care to think about, in fact - some of the very traits that drive me most batty are the ones that I know are Just. Like. Me.

Nathan, on the other hand, is different. As much as I love him, I don't understand him. He is foreign and unfamiliar to me. Sometimes I look at him and think to myself, "I don't think I can handle this. What is life going to be like when he is older?"

Nathan isn't like me.

Nathan isn't like his sister, either.

Nathan is...a BOY.

I should have known he was different before he was born. He kicked and squirmed like nobody's business while in the womb, and never let up once he was out. He's into everything these days - the dog food, all manner of things in Sarah Kate's bedroom, DVD cases, and (as of yesterday) the bathroom trash can and the water in the toilet.


(image)

It isn't Nathan's diagnosis of Down syndrome that scares me. It's his raw, unbridled, rough-and-tumble maleness.

And so the adventure begins...











This blog has moved! To continue reading, please visit us at BringingtheSunshine.com.



Andi Speaks

2011-09-06T20:43:52.925-05:00

Several months ago, I was asked to speak at an Atlanta-area Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meeting. I accepted, feeling that it would be a good opportunity to spend the weekend with my sister and a chance to educate people about the challenges of special needs parenting. Many times over the past few months I've given thought to what I planned to say, but I didn't sit down to prepare my written notes until recently. I've never had a problem with public speaking, so I never had any doubt I could do it. Committing my thoughts to paper was, in a word, challenging. My mind was incredibly disorganized and I just could not pull my thoughts out of it. I was paralyzed. Typically, when I'm under deadline pressure, Mr. Andi takes over so I can get down to the nitty-gritty, but with a week to go before my speech, Mr. Andi's world fell into chaos, as well. I'll spare you the details, but it involved work, a (now former) friend, lies, and the media. Not a good combination.I finally managed to get something down on paper, however disorganized, and went to work editing. On Monday, I was reduced to tears, feeling that it was never going to come together. My message was important, and I needed it to be good. On Wednesday, I continued my editing, as well as doing laundry and preparing to leave for Atlanta on Thursday morning. My last load of laundry was diapers (yes, I use cloth and no, I'm not crazy!) During the pre-wash cycle, the washer died. Wouldn't drain. Full load of pee-and-poo water. Sigh. I made it to Atlanta without incident on Thursday. When I got up on Friday morning, I checked my email and saw that I had two new anonymous comments on my blog (you can read them here and here). My heart sank as I read them. I could very easily have dismissed them if they had been hateful or nasty, but they weren't. They were just negative enough to get under my skin and make me hesitate for just a moment and wonder "Should I be doing this? Am I opening up my children to something damaging or setting them up for more difficulty by speaking and blogging about our lives?"Looking back on it now, it all seems pretty ridiculous that I would have been so disheartened by a single major appliance failure and a couple of anonymous comments, but I really felt that Someone was working against me. Not knowing what else to do, I emailed Mr. Andi at home, talked to my sister, and reached out via Facebook and Twitter for support. I got it - tenfold. So many people lifted me up, but one Facebook friend in particular hit it out of the park:It takes passion and truth to change and inspire others. That is something that I think you have. You will do well, there are many people who just don't get it. It's not your job to change them but yet to inform and inspire those who are open to hear.I was buoyed by the support (mostly from afar) and emboldened to speak. I had something important to say.As I sat in the room, waiting to be introduced, two ladies came in, just a few minutes late. I immediately noticed that one of the ladies had Down syndrome. My son, one member of a shrinking population, was the reason I was there. My daughter, who faces a lifetime of physical challenges, was the reason I was there. I walked to the podium and did my talk.*Although I changed a few things on the fly, I stayed pretty close to my original notes. If you'd like to see my speech, you can find it here.This blog has moved! To continue reading[...]