Thursday, March 30, 2017

Step by Step

This picture showed up in my memories on Facebook the other day reminding me of one of the biggest milestones Colin reached as a young child and left me feeling pretty emotional. This photo was taken a month shy of his third birthday and he had just accomplished the skill of walking independently. This particular day we were elated watching him cruise down the boardwalk all on his own. It was the culmination of years of hard work on Colin's part (and ours too) and we were so proud of reaching this point. We had waited so long for this moment and it had finally arrived. The possibilities of what this newfound independence would bring were endless.

In many aspects of Colin's life, we "walk" through the acquisition of skills, often times slowly, but with a lot of hard work and patience. Sometimes like the other day, it takes a picture memory to pop up to remind us just how far Colin has come.

We have been so proud of Colin and all that he has been accomplishing this year. He has shown growth in so many ways academically, behaviorally, socially, and emotionally and we love watching him change into the boy he is becoming. There have been times when growth seems so slow and then all of a sudden one day, the change is evident, like a picture on a screen.

You can never prepare for the unexpected, but that unexpected has been a blessing in disguise. Step by step, day by day, moment by moment; there is no one else I would rather be on this journey with than Colin. Celebrate all progress, no matter how big or small.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Adding a New Food to the List

A few weeks ago, Colin was attending the youth group at our church when our friend sent us a picture of Colin eating macaroni and cheese. We were shocked because each time he attends, we have to send with him food that he will eat since the options are not typically something Colin would choose to eat. Not only did he eat what everyone else was eating that night, but he had several helpings on top of it.

Fast forward to tonight; our dinner selection was homemade macaroni and cheese and broccoli. While I was making it, Colin told me he was going to have both for dinner. Typically, things will look appealing to him but then when it's actually on his plate he will change his mind at the last minute. Tonight was different; he TRIED the broccoli (didn't like it) and ate his plate full of the macaroni and cheese!

We have literally spent 8 years of feeding struggles and I can honestly tell you that today felt no different than when we finally got Colin to eat more than 2 ounces at a time as a baby, or to try a new food with some texture, or like today, adding a new food to the list. I am so proud of Colin! Little by little, slowly but surely, we are adding items to his list!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

World Down Syndrome Awareness Day 2017

Today on March 21st (3/21), we celebrate all of our loved ones who have 3 copies of the 21st chromosome in all cells of their body. It is caused by a random error during cell division called nondisjunction in which both copies of the 21st chromosome go to one cell instead of splitting into two cells. This error is then copied to all cells in the body.

When Colin was born, doctors highlighted all of the possible symptoms and effects that Colin could experience as a result of Down Syndrome. At the time, it was easy to get hung up on all of the possibilities of things that could go wrong or be different. However, what we have learned more than anything was that Colin wasn't just a statistic, number, "side effect" or even developmental delay; Colin was a little boy first and foremost and that still rings true today.

This boy that you see here today is happy, loving, observant, strong, independent, talented, funny, athletic, empathetic, and caring and he lives his life in a way that shows he just a boy not defined by limitations. He continues to make progress in all aspects of his life and so we celebrate all of his accomplishments, as many of them are a result of a lot of time, patience and very hard work on his behalf.

World Down Syndrome awareness day is a special day to spread understanding, acceptance and inclusion for people with Down Syndrome. They are more than a diagnosis; they are family members, loved ones and friends. See the possAbility!

Happy 3/21 day! Today we celebrate love and friendship, inclusion and respect for our special loved ones!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Happy 6th Birthday Kailey!

Today our beautiful little girl turned 6 years old and we were left wondering how time moved this fast. We are so proud of her for all that she has become and accomplished over the past 6 years. She has added so much spunk and sass to our lives and we are so grateful for all of the ways she makes our hearts happy. She is smart and funny, nurturing (especially to Cody) and caring, helpful and loving. She is all girl in that she loves clothes, accessories, dolls, Barbies, and crafts but also loves soccer and dancing too. We love our Kailey girl so much!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

2017 Special Olympics NJ Polar Bear Plunge

Last Saturday, February 25th, was CAT Crew's 8th annual Special Olympics New Jersey Polar Bear Plunge.  It turned out to be a beautiful day as the sun was shining and the temperatures got close to 70 prior to plunge time (although I think it was slightly cooler right along the water). The water temperature was in the low 40s (that may have been a record for us for plunge temps!) and the atmosphere was charged with happiness and fun! CAT Crew was feeling particularly happy as we had 45 team members raising just over $44,000 contributing to the GRAND total of $1.9 million dollars!

Many of us spent the morning hanging out in a parking lot and enjoying each other's company with breakfast and games. The kids were especially good this year which made it that much more enjoyable.

Just prior to the plunge, we had been asked to participate in an interview by a Montclair student who was doing a project for her internship. She had come to our house the night before and then joined us the day of the plunge. Colin LOVED the spotlight and took his job very seriously.

This year we decided to let Colin and Kailey come on the beach with us (they usually head back to the house a bit earlier). Unfortunately, there were some speakers that were far louder than usual and it really upset Colin (and Kailey some too). If it weren't for that, I think he would have been really enjoying himself.

Words cannot express how thankful Chris and I are for all of these "team" members who support Colin and the rest of the Special Olympic athletes through raising money and then plunging with us. In addition, our team consists of so many people who have donated to the 45 team members that have allowed us to reach these totals. My heart is full of gratitude.

....and a special thanks to Jorie for capturing these moments!