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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Special Olympics Baseball Clinic at Princeton University

A couple of weeks ago, Princeton University Baseball hosted a two session clinic for Special Olympics NJ. This was Colin's third year attending and he was so excited to go as it was actually something he kept bringing up even before he knew he was going back. He kept asking when he was going to play baseball with the "guys" again. I honestly cannot speak highly enough about the coaches and athletes who participated in the clinic in making this such a wonderful experience for Colin and other Special Olympic athletes. 

One thing that is so evident to me in scrolling through all of the pictures is just how happy Colin is in playing a sport he loves with the "guys". It also makes me so happy to see such big smiles on many of the guys' faces as well as they worked with the athletes. 

I love all of the excitement and happiness in all of these pictures! I am so grateful to the staff for providing two great nights for the athletes! 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Polar Bear Plunge - Thank you!

Yesterday was CAT Crew's 9th time jumping into the ocean together as a team after raising just over $30,000 for Special Olympics New Jersey. Our team contributed to the grand total of $2 million dollars and we are so proud and grateful to everyone for all of their efforts in making this another successful year. Words cannot express just how thankful we are to all of our family, friends, friends of friends, and donors for all of the ways in which they contributed to our efforts. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! 

The weather was in the low 50s, the water temperature in the low 40s with some showers off and on but nothing could take away from the excitement of being on the beach with over 7,000 plungers. It was a fantastic day with some fantastic people!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

So Proud of Colin!

My heart has been bursting with pride lately for Colin because I feel like he's been going through such a period of growth lately. One of the biggest lessons Chris and I learned early on with Colin was attention to detail; we learned to celebrate ALL of Colin's progress no matter how big or small. I am so grateful for this gift because we have learned to pay attention to so many things that we have missed otherwise.

He's been doing great lately in school, with his behavior, following directions, compliance, self-advocacy, and just speaking up in general. Here are some of my favorite things I've picked up on lately...

- At bed time last night, he told me he didn't like the new juice box (grape juice) I sent him for lunch and that he DID NOT want that juice box again. (self advocacy!)

- Tonight at Karate, Master Paul (owner of the karate school) went over to Colin and said hi to him and he said hi back like he always does; Master Paul then said "how are you?". Colin said good and then paused and responded with "how are you?" back. I know this does not seem like a big deal but I was so proud of him. That is so huge! (continued communication!)

- When it was time for bed last night, Colin asked to watch the new Beauty and the Beast (which he's obsessed with); I said no and he started to get upset and said "don't talk to me right now, I'm really  mad at you!". (self advocacy! communication!)

- At basketball the other day, Chris observed a few boys bumping into Colin a few times. Each time, Colin would turn around and look at the boys. I guess it happened a few too many times because he turned around and said something (Chris wasn't close enough to hear) and then they stopped. (self advocacy!)

- He's become so funny lately and he knows it!

- He's become such a great reader and loves reading! We've been flying through chapter books!

I wish I could remember all of the little things that have been making me smile lately but I'm SO proud!