Saturday, October 31, 2009

Funny Jessie

Jessie is such a funny litle girl. Even right now she is making me laugh. She has been making "fair tickets" and just brought me mine. She loves to make papers with letters (random letters and names she knows how to spell) and sometimes just squiggles.  They are always something in particular, such as fair tickets. When she gave me my ticket, I asked Jessie if she was taking me to the fair. She said yes.  I asked if she was going to eat a corndog. (I knew the answer to that question!)  She said yes.  We usually get some Kettle Corn too, so I asked if she was going to eat some popcorn, to which she replied, a very emphatic no.  If she said yes, she was afraid she would end up getting the popcorn instead of the corndog she loves.  Maybe you had to be there to get the humor in that one but she was cracking me up.

Two weeks ago at Jessie's gymnastics class, she had come out of the classroom to tell me something.  As she stood in the doorway about to go back in she said something to me and ended the sentence with, "heifer".  I was talking to another mom by this time and ignored what she said.  So, a little louder she said, "I called you a heifer!", then we all burst out laughing.  The other mom said, " I thought that was what she said but wasn't sure."  I reassured my friend that she wasn't being disrespectful, but that was an endearment of sorts.  We say it to each other all the time.  Jessie very much has the same sense of humor as the rest of our family.  We like to be silly, call names (not mean ones!), take a swat as one walks by, always teasing each other.  It has been so fun to see this side of Jessie developing more and more.  She constantly makes me laugh and she loves it when she knows she is being funny.

Tonight, Jay and I were going out to eat with our pastor and his wife, just us adults. I was explaining this to Jessie on our ride home from Target, while she was still enjoying her icee.  She LOVES to go out to eat and wanted to go with us.  When I told her no, this time was just for the grown ups she wasn't very happy.  We came in the house; I was in the bathroom and could hear her in the living room talking to her Daddy.  She was talking about us going out to eat, and said, "Don't take her."  That little heifer!

She knows that I have been blogging about her.  I took some pictures of her this week while we were doing schoolwork, that I plan to post later, when I can get my pictures uploaded.  She knew I was going to put the pictures on my blog.  Now, anytime I take a picture of her she wants to know if I'm going to put it on Facebook or on my blog.  She is quite rotten and likes to be the center of attention.

Must go to bed now....I've been up much too late reading the blogs of others that I enjoy and now posting my own.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Buddy Walk cont'd

#2 I love the fact that this day of Buddy Walk every where I look I will see someone with Down syndrome and a family that loves them. This day every person with DS is celebrated. I think we are better people because we love someone with Down syndrome; I like the idea that everyone around me that day probably thinks the same thing.

#3 10 (I think) Buddy Walk billboards were put up in our area...everyone that saw one HAD to think that kid was cute and, for a moment at least, thought about Down syndrome.

#4 Every person asked to sign up for Buddy Walk, whether they registered or not, thought about Down syndrome.

#5 Many of the 1200 people who got them will be wearing their Buddy Walk shirts throughout the year...causing people, at least for a moment, to think about Down syndrome.

#6 From the funds raised for Buddy Walk we can do many good things: In the next day or so I will order about 40 copies of Babies with Down Syndrome for new parent packets and local area libraries. Also copies of Gifts, Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives for local libraries. Several other books as well for our FRIENDS library....all this Down syndrome education thanks to Buddy Walk.

We were able to present a check for $3000 to a family adopting 2 more boys with Down syndrome through Reece's Rainbow (they already adopted 2!), to help with the cost of International adoption. In many other countries, children with Down syndrome not adopted at a young age, are placed in mental institutions. To learn more please visit

#7 Every person that was asked to donate, or was involved in the advertising, or saw the commercials and promotions THOUGHT ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME. Every person, involved in any way with Buddy Walk works with, goes to church with, or knows a bunch of people that they might influence to have a more positive view of Down syndrome.

I knew very little about Down syndrome before Jessie was born. I, because of my faith in God, never questioned that people with Down syndrome have great value simply because they are His creation. I know that not everyone feels the same way. An NDSS (National Down Syndrome Society) statistic says 90% of women who have a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome terminate the pregnancy. That breaks my heart. It is not the only reason, but is a great reason to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness month, Buddy Walk included.

Two final thoughts:

1) God knows each of us...including those with Down syndrome.. before we are born.
Psalm 139:13-15 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place...

2)"I will act as though what I do makes a difference." Ben Franklin

*I found this quote a while back, attributed to Ben Franklin. I wasn't able to verify that, but like it whether he said it or not.

Buddy Walk, Buddy Walk, Buddy Walk

The past few weeks of my life have been consumed with preparations for and thoughts of Buddy Walk. Our lives are pretty busy anyway, with three kids there is always something going on. It doesn't take a lot extra to make me feel overwhelmed. I will confess also that I am not nearly as well organized as I wish I was. Tonight will be the first night in over a week that my precious family will get a complete hot meal! It was not the smartest, most well thought out thing to decide to start a blog in the midst of all that. That is why that have been no new posts since my blog began!

I LOVE Buddy Walk for many different reasons and I'd like to share some with you. These are not necessarily in order of importance. They are in the order that my scattered brain right now can think of them. Jordan is the kitchen cooking near me, Jessie is watching tv that I can hear and wanting to know when I'll be ready to read, Evan is walking through wanting to know when the Hamburger Helper will be ready. To top it all off Jordan realized after cooking the meat, that we were out of milk. They will have to choose something else to eat...I will finish this blog post!

Reason #1: I love the feeling of community of being a part of a local Down syndrome group. When Jessie was 11 months old, Heather and I, and our families, went to an NDSS (National Down Syndrome Society)Conference in Nashville, TN. Everywhere we looked there were families walking around just like ours, well, we had in common that all those families had a member with Down Syndrome. It was funny, I guess I had not spelled out to Jordan (7) and Evan (5) why we were taking this trip, and they could not believe how many people at Opryland Hotel happened to have Down syndrome. They thought TN just had way more people with DS! That experience and the people we spoke with there put a desire in our hearts to be able to experience that connection and feeling of community all the time at home. When Jessie was born there wasn't a group in our area, there had been at one time, but the folks that started it and kept things going had moved. Heather and I really had no idea where to begin. In those early days as we met a few families and were beginning to be a group and have a name, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (stands for Families Reaching, Influencing, Educating and Networking for Down Syndrome) as we tried to plan activities and invite new people, the money to provide refreshments, activities, or a meal was always a factor. Without Buddy Walk as a fundraiser we wouldn't be able to provide the opportunities for our families to connect and fellowship during the year with a Christmas Party and quarterly meetings, etc. To be continued....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Choosing to Homeschool Jessie

When Jessie was very young (still an infant!)I began worrying (that's just me!) about whether I should homeschool her, like I already was with my other two, or if she would be better off in school with the benefit of someone trained in special education. By the time she was a preschooler I felt pretty sure we would homeschool, but not sure about at which point. She did attend preschool at the local public school for two school years with her best friend, Joshua. You'll be hearing lots about him all along. She attended three mornings a week and was home by lunch. The first year her class was very small, with only special needs kids. The second year, the class was 1/2 special needs, 1/2 typical (if there is such a thing) kids. It was a pretty good experience for us, and I don't regret doing it, but there were things that helped convince me that homeschooling was going to be our route. Deciding to homeschool her kindergarten year, when her buddy, Joshua, continued at school was really hard for me. I agonized over the decision for months, weighing every pro and con, and cried quite a bit, and prayed A LOT. It was terrible trying to make the decision.

Heather (Joshua's mom) and I had become friends partway through our pregnancy when neither of us knew our babies would have Down syndrome. We were already becoming good friends and when they were born just 3 weeks apart, both having Down syndrome, we became the very best of friends. Our families spent a lot of time together. It has been so wonderful to always have a friend, who really understands almost without words, to go through things together with, the good and the bad. When she was leaning toward school and I was leaning toward homeschooling we both felt swayed by what the other one was feeling. It was extremely difficult for us to each make the choice about schooling that was right for each of our families. In those first months of Joshua going to school and Jessie homeschooling, it continued to be difficult comparing everything the other was doing. There were things about school that Jessie enjoyed and she would say sometimes that she wanted to go to school, that was ROUGH, but truly, she just can't evaluate all the variables. The grass always seems greener on the other side.... Eventually, we each settled in, happy with the choices we'd made.

I homeschool Jessie mostly for the same reasons I homeschool our other kids. I am able to target her teaching to exactly where she is. We don't spend time, except for more occasional review, on things she already knows. Nor am I teaching above her level of ability, things that don't have any meaning for her. Jessie is a good sight reader (not as good as others I've read about!), but she's got a very good visual memory. Second year of preschool she could read all her classmates names and wouldn't wait for them to answer when the teacher held up their names. I am able to teach to this strength at home and am constantly searching for new ways to teach Jessie things. While I know some special education teachers do an excellent job, it is hard for them to know and teach to the different strengths and weaknesses of each child in the class. I don't know much about all other disabilities...but I eat, sleep, read, live Down syndrome. No matter how much a teacher might have her best interests at heart, all of our teaching is one on one with only Jessie's learning style to consider.

Also, I realize I have control issues where my kids are concerned, but I think that is a good thing. I like knowing all of the things that influence them and choosing which influences are acceptable and allowed. As they mature, they have more freedoms and are exposed to more and make more choices on their own. Right this moment that applies more to the older two than Jessie, but is true for her too. I haven't said anything at this point about spiritual reasons why we homeschool only because at this point they apply more to Jordan and Evan than to Jessie. They each have Bible teaching on their level as a part of their school day, as well as "teachable moments" that happen nearly every day!

With all 3 kids, we have so many wonderful memories of hours spent reading together, cuddled on the couch, or propped up on pillows reading in my bed. Teaching them each to read....truly priceless. I will never forget the excitement or the phone calls to Daddy. When Jessie was just beginning with homeschooling her siblings would fight over who could call him and tell Dad what new thing she'd learned or done, now she calls him herself. She LOVES the phone.

There is plenty of time in the day for dancing in the kitchen together (she watches way too much "So You Think You Can Dance"!), she loves to "help" cook, and I really enjoy so much the more relaxed lifestyle of homeschooling. Although we are very busy, I think the homeschooling lifestyle allows for more family time and though hectic enough, is less stressful in many ways. For example: we never have homework...when we're done, we're done.

At one point, I considered letting Jessie go to school for the social reasons she wanted to go and supplement her teaching at home after school. After seeing how tired she was after 1/2 day of school during preschool, I really don't think I could get a lot of value out of her later in the day, after having gone to school. As hard as it was initially to make the decision, I have no doubts or reservations now that we are doing exactly what WE should be doing, what is right for OUR family.

About My Blog

It seems funny to type, About My Blog. Until a couple of months ago I'd resisted even having a Facebook. As a very busy homeschooling mom to three, very active in our church and our local Down Syndrome group there just wasn't time for such as that. Finally, I gave in... I have enjoyed so much being able to know what is going on everyday in the lives of people I care about, but don't get to talk to every day. So often I am inspired by something written by someone on their update, or touched, or made to laugh. I might get the update while helping Jessie read, or sitting at gymnastics, or in the grocery store. Homeschooling and all our activities means that I can't always talk at the same time someone else is available...but I can get their quick update via text and know what is going on with them. I only recently realized several of my friends & acquaintances have blogs and have enjoyed reading them tremendously. It's amazing to me what you might read/share/write and learn about each other, that you wouldn't as quickly learn about someone in a conversation you might have in person. I'm a person who likes to know others story, and when telling my own, never knows how to use the few words allowed in a facebook update, thus, my blog.

I have loved finding the blogs of other moms of children with Down syndrome, especially those that homeschool. Other than online, I don't personally know anyone who homeschools their child with Down syndrome. Reading the blogs of others has encouraged me, given me specific, helpful, homeschooling ideas, and made me not feel alone in this journey. I have a special fondness for all people with Down syndrome. I have been amazed by that almost instant feeling of connection with their families.

I hope that by sharing my thoughts, someone else might feel encouraged, inspired, made to laugh, or just not feel alone in their journey.