September 21, 2013

Buddy Walk 2013

Someone's been training for the Buddy Walk!

This will be our second year participating in the Greater Charlotte Down Syndrome Association's Buddy Walk. Last year we had a blast and can't wait to do it again.

If you live close to Charlotte, we would love to see you on Saturday, October 5th at Freedom Park. As I've said time and again, when Sam came into our lives, our perspective on the world changed. Prior to his diagnosis, we went through our lives mostly blind to those with special needs who lived among us. Now, I see people with Down syndrome everywhere we go. From 4th of July parades in Ohio, to kids at work who are learning to swim, to people who walk through the doors at our church. And how magnificently enriched our lives are because of having those blinders taken off. One of the reasons I love the idea of Buddy Walks is because it's simply a gathering of people who have all been touched by Down syndrome. Whether through their immediate family, or a neighborhood kid, or a kid from your school, we all come together at these walks to appreciate this community of people and the good work these associations do.

Down syndrome has brought a lot of things into our lives, but one of the most amazing has been this community of families who are on this journey with us. I don't know where we would be without the doctor recommendations or therapy tips or shoulders to lean on when it gets hard or someone to celebrate with you who really (really) gets how big a deal it is when your child takes their first real bite of solid food.

So we walk. Every year, we will walk. Want to join us? Click here to be taken to our Buddy Walk fundraising site. We love being able to give back and help support our local association, but we'd really love to have you come out and walk with us.

And if you don't live close to Charlotte, head over to the NDSS website and see if their is a Buddy Walk taking place near you.

Thanks for your support of our family and our association!

September 9, 2013

Dear Luke: Year 4

Dear Luke,

When I sit down to right these birthday letters to you, I often feel like I'm crossing a finish line. Like, YAY! We made it through Year Three! It feels like such an accomplishment every year, and I guess in some aspects it is. You are still my stubborn, sweet boy and every year brings it's own challenges. This past year was certainly easier than Year Two, for which I am very grateful. The average of time outs per week has drastically decreased and the amount of time I find myself laughing out loud at your antics has increased in equal measure. 
Your imagination really took off this past year. After Halloween, you became obsessed with ghosts. You weren't scared of them, but you pretended they were all over the house, or hiding behind the couch. You'd point out the imagined ghost and then squeal with glee that we'd "found one!" You were so good at this game that you seriously freaked out a babysitter one night when you convinced her you saw ghosts outside the windows. She got sent home with a little extra hazard pay that night. 
You are constantly coming up with new games to play or new scenarios to put your toys through. I often will find myself working in one room while listening to you line up your cars for a race or launching Curious George into space in another room. There is something so gratifying about getting these glimpses into your brain. While you still struggle with enunciating clearly, you've had multiple verbal growth spurts over this past year and are quite adept at reducing me to tears of laughter with the stuff that comes out of your mouth.
You want to be involved in everything your Dad and I do...from chores around the house, to singing Sam to sleep, to driving the car. You've become quite the backseat driver, pointing out every sign and issuing commands to driver faster or to STOP!!!! when we pass the playground. You want to do everything for yourself, from cooking to buckling your car seat. And while on occasion, it's frustratingly slow going, I love watching you become so independent. I love how you want to rock with Sam and sing him your favorite songs (ABC and Twinkle, twinkle), and how you've learned to wake him up gently from nap times. You weren't much interested in Sam for the first year, but you've slowly gotten more and more excited about playing with him and talking to him. I often find you sitting next to him and trying to show him something or advocating for him. "Mom, Sam would just lube ("love") it if you let him watch Sesame Street. He told me!" 
Just a minute ago, you stumbled upon Sam and I sitting in the back working on walking (He's so close to doing it!) and when Sam took a step or two, you clapped and said, "Wait a second! I need to take a picture of this!" and ran off to grab the ipad.  We need to work on your photography skills, but I love your joy for him.
It's bittersweet these days, as you straddle the line between little and big. You are still interested in George and Micky Mouse, but more and more often, you'll choose to watch Transformers or Sonic cartoons during iPad time. I even found you watching an old episode of Power Rangers yesterday. I just don't know if I'm ready for that level of boy-ness. Cars and trains and Legos I can handle...but I cannot at all relate to the desire to watch Power Rangers or wear Spiderman pajamas.Considering I am the only girl in the house, I may have to just suck it up and accept it as the new norm, at least for a decade or so.
I like this phase of little boy we've been in for a while, and I am sad to see it go. While sending you back to preschool last week didn't phase me at all, seeing you interested in these new toys and shows made me so sad. Because you've always hit each "phase" of baby and toddler-hood so hard, I was always rejoicing when we could close those chapters and move on to new milestones. But this one...this chapter of sweet, innocent boyhood...I'm not quite ready to trade it in for all things Transformers and superheros and things I don't understand.
School started back on your birthday, as well. Because of your September birthday, you will always be the oldest one in your classroom. So, despite turning 4 on your first day of school, you are in the three year old class. But so far, I think it's worked out really well. You love being around other kids and are learning the hard lessons of sharing and playing together. More than anything, I just love that you are getting enough stimulus on those days. All summer long, I was rarely successful at really wearing you out. You and I are so takes me forever to work up the energy/guts to leave the house, while you are raring to go on an adventure at a moment's notice. That combined with our rainy, mosquito-filled backyard, and we spent a lot of time racing your bicycle around the island in the kitchen. 
You just radiant energy all the time. Sometimes, that gets you into a lot of trouble. It certainly gets you a lot of bandaids. But we are learning, you and I, about how to harness and redirect that energy for good. How to turn tantrums into exercise and frustration into cookie baking sessions. While those strategies wouldn't have worked last year, you are growing up and there is joy mixed into the sadness of it all. 

Happy 4th birthday! Don't grow up too fast, sweet boy. There will be plenty of time for that later on.