Wednesday, October 19, 2016

31 for 21 Days 17, 18, and 19: Court

I know, I'm cheating. I am lumping 3 days worth of posts into one but there is so much on my mind and I'm having a hard time organizing my thoughts into a semi-legible post. Those that have read this blog already know the journey we have been on in our attempts to include Colin in our public school system.

On Monday, Chris and I were in court for the 2nd time to start a hearing because we have been unable to come to a mutual decision on what the best placement should be for Colin up to that point. We were very close to agreeing to a settlement much like we did last year because a placement option that was proposed to us was something we felt would be of benefit to Colin (although we would have to concede a bit on what we felt overall was the best). When we came back together as a group, the district changed the proposal back to a self contained setting. In addition, my "respect for the staff" was questioned simply because we don't agree with the placement of self contained for Colin.

Next month we will be back to begin the hearing.

Monday, October 17, 2016

31 for 21 Day 16: Colin is a Dancer

After several weeks of standing at the doorway of Kailey's dance class last year, her instructor (pictured here) invited Colin to come in and dance with them one day and it just stuck. He enjoyed himself and wanted to continue dancing with the rest of the girls week after week. He was excited to finish the year up with the dance recital, especially considering how much he loves the stage and performing.

It was natural for us to sign them both up again this year and the class now includes both ballet and tap. During class one week, Chris caught the video below of them dancing and I think it speaks for itself how much Colin and Kailey are enjoying themselves.

We are so thankful for another community program that is welcoming and inclusive of Colin.

31 for 21 Day 15: Colin Attends Church

After years of not attending church other than holidays, Chris and my journey back started just before we were engaged. We were looking for a place that we would feel comfortable in and so one day, we decided to try the "one on the hill" which was close to Chris' apartment at the time. It was right around Christmas time and the church was beautifully decorated. I knew from that first visit that we had found the right place.

Through the years, we then got married there, baptized Chris and Colin, became members of the church and then baptized Kailey and Cody. We were happy with the family we had found and so we continued to involve our kids in other aspects of the church like the nursery, Sunday School and now that Colin is old enough, HillKidz (youth group).

We are so thankful that all members of our family are welcome and included despite some of our differences. People have taken the time to really get to know our family and have accepted all of us for who we are. Sadly, this isn't always the case in many churches. The Sunday School teachers have worked alongside Chris and I to form a place that Colin feels accepted and included and so he has been very successful in the process.

And so many Sundays, you will find this little guy in his pew singing along the best he can as a member of his church family. We are grateful for that...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

31 for 21 Day 14: Kailey's Fashion Show

Kailey was invited a few months ago to participate in the American Girl Fashion show which has been a fundraiser for Special Olympics New Jersey for 12 years. Kailey was really excited at the prospect of modeling different clothes and so we decided to sign her up and have her participate.

With all of the talks of "walking the runway", Colin was adamant that he participate as well, so the organizers of the event gave him a job of being the greeter and passing out star wands to all of the kids as they arrived to the event.

She was a little nervous in the beginning of the process as she wasn't quite sure what it would involve, but once she had the opportunity to attend the fitting and try on many outfits, the idea really started to grow on her and she was really excited.

We could tell on her first trip down the runway that she was a little nervous/shy because even though she was smiling, her tongue was sticking out in the way it does when she's feeling that way.

However, with each outfit change, we could see her confidence building and by the end, she was strutting her stuff down the runway.

It was fun watching her doing something she enjoyed and knowing that it was also supporting Special Olympics New Jersey in the process.

What a fun morning!

Friday, October 14, 2016

31 for 21 Day 13: Colin Has a Baseball Card

Colin was one of the lucky few who was selected to be on a baseball card for the Special Olympics as part of a fundraiser with TD Bank (a huge sponsor of Special Olympics). We were excited as the card was part of a card pack with various other athletes from the east coast and spread among many TD Banks.

In conjunction with this, Colin and Kailey made TD Bank visits this summer to talk about their involvement in Special Olympics and it's impact on our family.

Because of one of our visits, we were invited to a BlueClaws game with one of the TD Bank branches we had visited and the kids were given the opportunity to throw out first pitches.

The kids were really excited to be so involved in a place they love so much and were loving the extra attention from Buster (which is usually someone Colin is fearful of!).

 It was such a fun experience for Colin to be on the card and to be invited to the game!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

31 for 21 Day 12: Colin is Part of a Family

Something that often comes up with families who are facing a new diagnosis of Down Syndrome is questioning how the rest of the family will be impacted. Chris and I wondered that very same thing but the bottom line is, Colin is such an important part of our family.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

31 for 21 Day 11: Colin is Scheduled

One of the things we have known for a long time about Colin is that he functions best, is happiest, and his behavior is the best when his day is scheduled and he can anticipate what's going to happen next. Because of this, I feel I have become a bit obsessive about our schedule and making sure we stick to it the best we can every week. We have created daily visual schedules, visual schedules for smaller chunks of time, we talk a LOT about each day and what will be in it and we even schedule out an chunks of our days for Colin so he knows exactly what he will be doing. When we are all at our best and things are going as planned, Colin is also doing his best (for the most part). However, we are finding this week and last that because of extra days off, it is throwing him off and he is having a harder time returning to normal routine, especially since he has mostly been home with Daddy on these extra days off. Today was the most challenging so far after school because he was exhausted and off routine and was really showing it through his behaviors. As nice as it is sometimes to have time off, it is really hard for someone like Colin who depends on regular routines to feel at his best.