Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cody's End of Year Show

Last night was Cody's end of the year show that his daycare puts on every year. It is usually set to a theme and involves the oldest classes in the school. They spend many days practicing with the students to prepare for the night and always put on such a great night with all of the kids. We were SO PROUD of Cody for how great of a job that he did and once again were reminded of just how thankful we are to have found a place that cares for our kids the way they do. Last night was their 32nd time they put on an end of the year show! I was also reminded last night just how much Cody has grown and changed over the past school year. Ages 2-3 with him has been pretty challenging to say the least but we are very slowly seeing how much he is maturing and how much this added maturity is changing him into a different person. 


The show last night was an "I Love the 80s" theme with some of my favorite 80s songs. The kids came walking in and then started the show with the pledge, "Proud to be an American", "I Want Candy" and "Walking on Sunshine". We could tell right away how much Cody was into the show and his personality was shining through right from the beginning. I was honestly expecting more of a timid/shy Cody but he very pleasantly surprised me and he was so much fun to watch.





Cody's class then did their song to Flashdance "What a Feeling" and it was so much fun!




Cody also came out walking the sign to introduce one of the next classes that followed his group.


Finally, to end the night, each student in each class was announced and then they ended with "We are the World" which they exited the stage to. It really was a fun night and I greatly enjoyed watching Cody have his night to shine, especially since he is always attending everyone else's events. 







We were so proud of Cody and we celebrated him with ice cream!





Sunday, June 3, 2018

A SURPRISE For Colin!

Last year for the spring musical production, my high school put on Shrek the Musical and we brought the kids to watch. Colin became so enamored with the show that very shortly after, we had the soundtrack from when it was on Broadway and he was requesting to sing and dance to the songs every day. In addition, we found the Broadway show on Netflix (we now actually own it, just in case it ever goes off!) and he has since received the lyrics book as well. We thought his obsession would eventually die off, and although he did take a slight break from it when the new Beauty and the Beast movie came out, his love of it has never truly gone away. Months ago, my sister in law shared with me an email in which the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown advertised their spring production was going to be Shrek the Musical. I was so excited that I checked regularly for the posting of the tickets and finally got them more recently. We didn't tell them until we got there and Colin was SO excited! 


Before the show started, we let Colin and Kailey take a peek down under the stage where the orchestra was going to be playing and we had to remind Colin several times that although he could recite the whole show, he was going to have to sing to himself. We even reminded him that he was going to have to stay in his seat and wouldn't be able to stand up to dance because he would be blocking people behind him. 


Leading up to the start of the show, Colin read the production book at least twice so that he could learn the names of the actors that were playing the parts of his favorite characters. At one point he even got up and hugged Chris and me to thank us for getting him tickets to the show. 



It was so much fun to watch him watch the show. He had so much fun and I think his favorite part was "Freak Flag" because the full ensemble is on the stage at that point. What I love the most about this show is the underlying message; acceptance, inclusion, tolerance and being happy with who you are! 



Dancing in the aisle at the end to "I'm a believer!"


We had SO MUCH fun! 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Colin at the Talent Show

Colin loves to read and reads everything he can these days. All of the flyers that go into the folders from school get read by him before they even make it home. This usually means he wants to participate in every sport sign up, PTA activity, town events, etc. When the flyer for the school's talent show first came home, he immediately asked if he could participate and I'll admit that I hesitated for a second. It was his idea to do something from Shrek the Musical and knowing that there was a 2 1/2 minute time limit, I looked at what song that was sung by Shrek would fit those guidelines. With the amount of times that he's watched the musical and sung the soundtrack, he already knew the song "Build a Wall" when I suggested it to him and he was excited. 


We continued to practice leading up to the talent show and explaining to Colin that it was an audition and there was a chance he might not make it. We told him that if that was the case, then we would go and watch his friends in the show. When the audition came, he was really excited and he ran right into the room when his name was called. I was so nervous for him and even more so when I realized that he was given a microphone and we didn't practice with one. It did throw him off because he ended up just standing there singing instead of doing the routine that went with it. However, all of the kids that auditioned made it and so we made sure to practice for the show using a microphone. 


This talent show was a major highlight of an already amazing year for Colin. We had had his IEP meeting just before the talent show and the positivity surrounding that meeting was so great. He continues to make meaningful progress in a classroom in which he is accepted for who he is, his teachers recognize his strengths and utilize them throughout his day, he has meaningful friendships, he transitions easily through all parts of his day, minimal to no behavior concerns (just typical 2nd grade boy ones) and our favorite part we love to listen to are all of the ways he is just a regular 2nd grade boy (those stories are the best!). To follow this meeting up with the talent show filled my heart with so much pride and love for this little school community who has truly embraced Colin and all contributed to his successes to date. 


I was so proud of Colin at that talent show for getting up in front of so many people and confidently singing his heart out. I am also so incredibly thankful for Colin's peers, his teachers and staff and the school community for demonstrating the true meaning of inclusion. THIS is what we have always wanted for him and our hearts are so happy for a fantastic year for Colin.




Friday, April 20, 2018

Happy 9th Birthday Colin!


It's so hard to believe that today will mark 9 years of life with this little man. He has made our life so filled with awesomeness and I can't imagine it any different. He's growing and changing every day in all ways but most especially, with his personality that becomes more fun every day. We are so blessed to call him ours and so proud of this handsome, funny, and amazing little boy. Happy 9th Birthday Colin! We love you so much! 


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Daddy Daughter Date

It has become a tradition now for the past few years for Chris to take Kailey on a date around her birthday. It is something that she looks forward to every year and it is very clear to me that she recognizes how special it is. She talked about it for days leading up to it and then smiled so much following the night. 


This year, Chris came home from work and while he was getting ready Kailey told him she wanted to dress him for their date (this was after she picked out her outfit herself; she INSISTED on wearing high heels).  He had mentioned to her he already had an idea but she thought it would be best if he wore church pants, a church shirt, and a tie (all of which she then proceeded to pick out). 


He then snuck out of the house and came back around to ring the doorbell (which she loved) with the flowers he had picked up for her.


They had a  great night together and I love the fact that Chris is teaching her just how she should be treated...



Monday, March 12, 2018

Happy 7th Birthday Kailey!


Today we will celebrate our beautiful daughter Kailey on her 7th birthday. After we had tucked her in, I saw her come back out and said that she couldn't sleep because she was just so excited about her special day. We have enjoyed watching her grow and change so much over the past year in so many ways. She loves to be in charge (I think her brothers can attest to that) but she can also be incredibly accommodating to make sure that everyone is happy. She is so creative which we are seeing in all of the pictures that she draws. She loves to be active riding her bike, running around outside, participating in karate, basketball, soccer and dance. We are so proud of her in all that she is accomplishing academically in school and thankful that she has found a nice group of friends. 

We love you so much Kailey! Happy 7th Birthday!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Use of the Word "Retarded"

I hate to actually say this out loud because I am incredibly embarrassed to do so (not to mention, it hurts my heart), but when I was younger (my high school years) I said the word retarded enough that my mom used to correct me when she heard me use it. I can vividly remember my responses; "I'm not being mean", "I don't mean it like that", and my excuses went on and on. Eventually my use of the word was phased out (it just seemed to be a common thing at the time) and I (albeit very slowly) realized that it was not something that was appropriate to be used. Not that I can use this as an excuse, but I honestly didn't know anyone personally at that time with a disability, even in school.
Then, THIS guy came into my life and EVERYTHING changed.


Colin has Down Syndrome which is an intellectual disability. This means that although he will learn everything any other 8 (or almost 9!) year old will do, sometimes it takes longer than his typical peers. One of the most prevalent things we have learned in the almost 9 years of having Colin is that he WILL accomplish all of the same skills that other kids are mastering in the same phase of life. Sometimes these skills are more difficult for him because of physical features that are unique to those with Down Syndrome, or due to muscle tone that is weaker or simply because his processing speed is different than his peers. 

I have realized that sometimes people perceive a slower speed at acquiring skills, or a difficulty, or an inability as them lacking something that other people have. When I have heard the word "retarded" used, it is often used in a phrase that assimilates words like "stupid, dumb, etc.". In our society, a medical term that once referred to those with an intellectual disability (mentally retarded) ended up getting inappropriately used as a slang term. 


There are so many milestones that stand out to me in all of Colin's years like the first time he could hold his head up, roll over, make a sound, sit unassisted, pull to stand, crawl, walk, talk, recognize letters, read, etc. and they have all been accomplished exactly when Colin was ready to do so. We have been so incredibly proud of him for all that he has been able to do in his 8 years of life but just because he hasn't done them on the "right" timelines doesn't make them any less important.

Using the word retarded is incredibly hurtful to those living with intellectual disabilities. By using that word, it implies that they are less of a person than you and that is just not right.


Colin astounds us every day because with incredible patience and keen observation skills, he is able to do all of the same things his typical peers do. We owe a lot of this to his typical friends and his siblings who have walked beside him on this journey and give him the time he needs. 

I beg you to recognize the fact that we all work on our timelines and some of them are much different than others; that doesn't make them any less of a person than you and I. 

Please consider your use of the word retarded (if it is a part of your vocabulary). It is offensive, it is demeaning, and it should not be used. 

We thank you.