Thursday, February 27, 2014

Honoring my Dad

Last weekend after the plunge, we had the opportunity for my whole family to celebrate the fact that my dad has been at his company for 35 years.  It was a milestone for all of us to celebrate together because it was a way to honor the person that has worked hard for our family for many years.  My dad is one of the most selfless people I know and has sacrificed a lot for us through the years so that he could be at sporting events, support us financially, send us to college, etc. 

We are so grateful for all that you have done for us through the years dad and for working so hard to support us.  We love you so much!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014 Polar Bear Plunge

2014 marked the 5th annual Special Olympics of NJ Polar Bear Plunge as a unified team CAT Crew.  This weekend has been particularly amazing for many reasons, but mostly because I can't even begin to tell you the emotions I have been feeling as I look back at the people that were a part of our "crew".  Through the years, we have had a core group of friends and family who have plunged in honor of Colin and continue to do so every year.  On top of that, we always are so lucky to have new members to join each year and I always love to see the connections that cause them to join. 

As we currently stand for 2014, CAT Crew (all 55 members) have raised an amazing $39,580 for the Special Olympics making our grand total for the past 5 years just over $201,000.  I am humbled, I am grateful, and I think it's pretty darn awesome.   When Colin was born, Chris and I were so scared of the unknown and we had no idea what the future would hold but we could never have imagined at that time what Colin has been able to do in such a short period of time. 
 We were so lucky this year as the weekend was absolutely beautiful, especially considering the kind of winter we have had so far.  Off the beach, the temperatures were in the 50s and the sun was shining.  The ocean water was around 34 degrees which was definitely felt even just as you made your way onto the beach.  After registering and gathering our incentives, some of our family and friends were actually able to tailgate in a parking lot and enjoy the beautiful weather. 


In years past, we have always been able to gather as a team in a spot for breakfast, but due to the fire in Seaside Heights this year on the boardwalk, our usual location was not open.  A lot of our team took advantage of some of the festivities that were going on and we met some of the team members in a spot just off of the boardwalk. 

Eventually, we made our way to the beach to set up in our usual spot.  It is an amazing sight to be on the beach and just look around.  This year brought record numbers once again as there were over 5,000 plunger and 25,000 spectators on hand.  Because of some of the repairs that have been ongoing to the roads in and out of Seaside Heights as a result of Hurricane Sandy, there were actually tons of people who never made it in time because of the massive traffic backup into the town. 
Some of my most favorite moments surrounding the plunge comes on the beach as the team starts to arrive and gather together.  It is a mix of people that makes up our family, friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, coworkers, past and present STUDENTS of mine (and THEIR friends...and one girl's mom even plunged!), and this year included a special group of people, Colin's "team" from school.  Colin's former case manager, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist (who actually couldn't attend the plunge) all joined the team this year and many more from his school helped to raise money for our team.  That just goes to show you  how lucky we are to have such a group of people who love Colin and support us in many ways. 

The Special Olympics of NJ Polar Bear Plunge was another amazing year because of amazing people inspired by a pretty amazing little boy that Chris and I are honored to call our son.  


 To every single person that has supported us along this journey, we thank you.  We truly are blessed. 

** Photo credits belong to one of my closest friends, Jorie, whose idea created CAT Crew.  Thank you Jorie! We love you! **

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day Post

Last night, the kids and I celebrated Valentine's Day by having a date night at the ice cream store.  This is a treat they are always super excited for and for a change, they were both really good at pickup after school.  Unfortunately, Chris was working so we were on our own, but it was still fun nonetheless!
They had to bring their naked babies with them.

Kailey felt like sharing lots of personal information to other customers, including the fact that she goes pee pees on the potty.

We tried to have a little photo shoot last night but it was extremely challenging to get both of them to cooperate at the same time. 

Little Miss Sassafrass.

Little tough guys who think they are SO funny!

Hope you all had a very love-filled Valentine's day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fun Things

Colin's been into jumping lately.  He likes to jump off of objects (within reason) and say "to infinity and beyond" and it's funny for us to watch sometimes because there was a point not too long ago where he couldn't even jump and clear the ground.  Physically, he is coming along so quickly and nicely!  (We wish the behavior issues would come along just as quickly!)

I've recently talked about Colin's improvements with fine motor skills, particularly holding a pencil and cutting and I have some more evidence of that from our snow day today. 
While I was taking a shower today, Colin opened the bathroom door and came in and asked to take one too.  I kept saying no and that he should go back in the other room.  It got quiet for a little bit and then next thing I knew, Colin was peeing in the potty by himself after he already had taken his clothes off, put them in the hallway and then flushed.  He climbed right in and looked at me and said "I did it mom!".  How could I say no?   

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Staying Positive

When you are dealing with a particularly challenging phase, it's often easy to focus on the negatives and dismiss the positive things that happen.  While I am feeling frustrated a lot of the time lately when it comes to finding solutions for some of Colin's more difficult behaviors, I also don't want that to take away from all of the pretty great things that he has been improving upon. 
We are still working really hard at feeding therapy and while he is not consistently eating new things, he is really willing to try many different items.  What's even better, he often approaches us and asks us to try them instead of us always initiating it with him.  We've had many discussions with his feeding therapist about the fact he often likes different things, but it's as though he's afraid to really give in and release the notion that he has to say no all of the time.  

He's even added things like chicken to his repertoire at feeding therapy and admits to liking it (he pleasantly says things like "Mmmm, yummy!") but yet if offered at other times, won't just buy into it.  We feel no rush at this time and although we continue to work through this challenge, know that eventually he will just "get it".  I read a post on Facebook recently from a Mom with an older child with Down Syndrome and she mentioned that after all the years of fighting through, he was finally starting to try and eat many different things.  At this time, we are happy that Colin is eating what he does, he's growing and healthy and is willing to try different things.  We've come a long way. 

While Colin is demonstrating some "testing" type behaviors, he is still a pretty good kid.  We often overlook the great behaviors he exhibits because we are so focused on the things that need to improve.  He consistently uses manners (more than the average adult), he is loving (but on his own terms, further showing that kids with Down Syndrome don't all fit the stereotypes; he does NOT want to be hugged and touched all of the time which is a challenge with his classmates at the daycare because they DO want to do that with him), he follows directions when it comes to cleaning up, putting things away and completing different tasks (although resists this at times just like other typical toddlers), and he's a fun kid who likes to be active and try different things. 

Colin's attention span and completing fine motor skills is also making huge leaps and bounds.  Over the weekend, he spent a solid 20 minutes working on a puzzle with my mom which left me in utter disbelief.  Puzzles are frustrating and challenging for him, but he continued to work with help and problem solve to put the pieces together.  We are finding he is making nice progress in holding a pencil and tracing his name and certain shapes and letters are emerging without the need to trace.  

 So yes, things are difficult right now in the phase we are trying to get through with some of his behaviors.  However, it's always good to remind myself and see the "good" in things even when things seem pretty darn hard.  It doesn't matter how frustrating things become, we continue to work and push to find a solution that will work (even if it makes me want to cry and pull my hair out!). 



We are really proud of Colin and all that he IS accomplishing.  Check him out in this Toys R Us 2014 National Games ad!