Fall 2012

Fall 2012
[learning to live a perfectly imperfect life]

The Milestones...


just keep on comin'!




Wasn't this picture just taken a few weeks ago?


Carter • 4 months old


They grow up so fast.

A Letter From Rylee (New Friends)

Another "Letter from Rylee!" (She's such a busy girl these days!)

This letter went home with all of her 1st grade classmates (for their parents) after a few days of school. (We did this in Kindergarten as well, but somehow I didn't get it posted here.)

Rylee is very lucky to have some wonderful friends with amazingly supportive parents -- parents that I now consider to be great friends of mine! I know Rylee will grow up with a tremendous support system around her at school...

Here's to "New Friends!" *glasses clinking*

*****


August 2010

I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself.

My name is Rylee.

I am 6 years old, and I am excited to start 1st grade!
I like reading books and riding my bike.
I love to swing and can't wait to play at recess with my new friends!

Do I sound like your 1st Grader? Well, I am a lot like your son or daughter.
But there is something else that makes me, me... I have Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is just a small part of who I am...
there is so much more to me than just my "diagnosis."
I am actually more alike other kids than I am different.
I have likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses
and I experience all the feelings your child feels.
(You know, happy when I can eat my favorite snack,
mad when my brother takes a toy away,
and sad when I have to come in from playing outside! Sound familiar?)

It may take me more time to learn to do certain things,
but I will definitely learn to do them!
With my loving family, supportive teachers, and caring friends,
I can do anything!

You know... some kids have brown hair and some have blonde.
Some kids have blue eyes and some brown.
Some kids are good at playing baseball and some are great at drawing pictures.
Some kids have 46 chromosomes and some have 47
(like kids with Down syndrome.)
What makes us the same is that we are all different.
And I think that's pretty cool.

I know that kids like to ask questions
and now that your child is starting 1st Grade,
he/she may ask you questions about kid
whom they perceive to be different from them.

Your child may ask you questions about another child,
like "Why doesn't she talk very well?"
"Why can't she ride a bike yet?" or "Why is he in a wheelchair?"

You can answer by saying that everyone's bodies work differently...
some kids walk with 2 legs and others get around in a wheelchair.
Some kids learn to say words when they are very young
and other kids learn a little bit later.

Teaching us that we are all unique and different
(and not making "being different" a big deal)
shows us that it's okay to be different.

In fact, if grown-ups talk to kids about these things as they grow up,
the differences we have, will have become unimportant.

And you know what your kids will be seeing?

New friends.

Thank you, Rylee



If you would like to read other "Letters from Rylee",
please click on "Letters from Rylee" at the top.
(You may then click on each letter to download a pdf file.)
Thanks for passing along and helping to raise awareness!
© 2010 Carin Griffith • Disability Awareness Alliance™


Flashback Friday (Kisses)


Every night, just before tucking Rylee and Carter into their beds, we ask them to do or say something kind to each other. Sometimes they choose a "Goodnight" or a hug... (sometimes a high-five on days when they aren't quite feelin' the love.) Other times it's an "I love you," which of course melts my heart.

And on the best of days... a kiss.

Tonight when the kids chose to share a kiss, I flashed back to one of their first kisses.

Had to share.


Rylee - 3 1/2 years old • Carter - A few days old

(These were the days when Rylee's little peeking-out tongue made us all giggle...)

Hope you had a goodnight kiss as special as this.

'Night all.

The Buddy Walk


Look who's the new face of Cover Girl the Buddy Walk!



New


New situations tend to cause a little anxiety. New things like... a new school year. A new classroom. A new teacher. New friends. A new schedule that involved a FULL day of school (instead of 1/2 day like Kindergarten.) A new morning routine. New things to learn.

New, new, new...

Because of all the new things happening, it probably wouldn't surprise you if I told you that someone had a nervous stomach the evening of Open House.

It wouldn't surprise you if I told you someone had difficulty sleeping the night before the 1st day of school.

And it probably wouldn't surprise you if I told you someone woke up extra early on the 1st day of school, just to be sure everything was ready to go in time (to be 15 minutes early) to school.

Would it surprise you if I told you that someone was Rylee Me?

So maybe new things cause a bit more anxiety in the parents than the kids.

(Alright... fine. Maybe new things cause a bit more anxiety in me... I don't recall Jeremy losing any sleep the night before Rylee's 1st day.)

*****

Taking Rylee to school on the 1st day of First Grade didn't seem to phase her too much. She was her typical self... gobbling up her favorite breakfast of peanut butter and jelly toast, taking a few minutes to play with her dolls, and detesting every second of teeth-brushing and hair-combing.

Before Dad headed to work, we got a few pictures...

With Dad -



And with Mom.



And it's off to school we go. *high ho, high ho...*

Immediately upon arrival at the playground you see different types of kids and their parents...

You have....

kids who are pros at this school-thing... they barely have 1 foot out of the car door and they're already yelling at a friend they see on the playground. They turn and give an insincere "love ya" to the parent dropping them off, and they take off, as if the summer months left them starving for socialization.

With those kids come parents who pull up to the curb, possibly desiring a hug and kiss but know there's no way on earth they're gonna get one... say goodbye to their son or daughter, and pull away with barely a glimpse back toward the school.

You have...

kids who have backpacks nearly the size of themselves... they walk hand-in-hand with their parents onto the playground, looking around at all the hussle and bussle of kids and wonder what's in store for them. They might see the playground equipment and think it would be fun to play on, but staying beside Mom or Dad seems safer.

With those kids come parents who have a tight grasp of their children's hands with one hand, and their camera in the other hand. They speak reassuring words..."You have such a nice teacher... you'll meet lots of new friends... school is going to be so much fun!" And all the while, they are blinking back the tears created by the "my-baby's-going-to-Kindergarten" thoughts. They stand closely to where the children line up, making sure they will be ready to go when the bell rings.

And then you have... well.... me.

Though the "my-baby's-going-to-Kindergarten" thoughts weren't there, I surely had the
"I-can't-believe-she's-in-First-Grade" thoughts.

Though not a parent new to the school playground, I still had my camera hung around my neck. (I know... I hear you all gasping with shock. I figure, I'm gonna get as many years worth of "going-to-school" photos as possible, because I know one of these years, Rylee will give me that, "Oh my gosh you are not going to follow me with that camera, are you?")

So we find the new "Mrs. Nuebel's First Grade line", and Rylee sets her backpack down. "Hi, Rylee!" I hear a few of her classmates from last year greet Rylee, and she gives a little grin. Just as I start to ask Rylee to pose by her new First Grade line, I turn to see this.



Off to play. Light on her feet, she takes off for the playground.

I'm sure she would have been fine with us leaving at that point. But, it was the 1st day of First Grade, and you only get this day once.

Carter and I follow Rylee over to the playground, and see some familiar faces from Kindergarten. For a few minutes, there's time to play, and then...

"RRRRIIIIINNNNNGGGGG!"

Just as she had taken off to the playground, she headed back toward the school.


Carter and I follow her... (he's the little guy in orange trying to keep up.) Now, I am fully aware that if someone were to be watching in on this situation, their thoughts might be something like this... "Geesh, look at that Mom! Obviously her daughter is completely comfortable heading to school on her own, but yet she's following her around anyway! Wow... that Mom needs to just let go!"

Yup. I'm totally okay being "that Mom."

So, she finds her backpack and stands in line... no hesitation, no fear... full of confidence.

Big girl. Big First Grader.


As I visit with another Mom I know, the teacher on playground duty welcomes the kids... making sure everyone was in the correct line and had their own backpacks. (I pity the kids who all got the same Spiderman backpack... their Mom or Dad will be getting out the Sharpie marker tonight for sure.)

I "whisper-yell" to Rylee... (you know, what you do when you are trying to be discrete but still need to say it loud enough to get a particular person's attention so you might as well have just forgotten the "whisper" part and yelled...) She turns and I mouth "SMILE!"...




Her line begins to move toward the door, and I want so much to run up and give her a big hug... tell her I love her and will miss her and that she has such a nice teacher and she'll meet lots of new friends and that First Grade is going to be so much fun....

but she doesn't really need to hear all of that.

Because, from the looks of it -- her confidence, her courage, her certainty --

she already knows.

And hopefully, that's nothing new.

As A...

As a Kindergartner, she walked in to Open House with a little hesitation and unsureness in her step.


As a 1st Grader, she walked in with confidence and certainty.


As a Kindergartner, she opened the big heavy door with slight difficulty.


As a 1st Grader, she flung that door open with ease.


As a Kindergartner, she stood by her classroom door, posing with a smile as if to say, "Mom, I'm not quite sure what to expect walking through this door."


As a 1st Grader, she stood by her classroom door, posing with a smile as if to say, "Mom, please hurry and take the picture... my friends are watching and I really want to go in and find my desk!"



*****

And find her desk she did! Rylee was quick to find her name, and she climbed right into the chair as if 1st Grade was beginning -- right then and there!


Of course, not to be out-done, someone else had to try out her desk as well.


We did some school-supply distributing ("Crayons and glue here... folders here... tissue boxes there") 1st-grade-room-exploring ("Calendar here... computer here... bathroom there...") and posing-with-the-teacher-picture-taking ("Mrs. Nuebel here... Rylee here... and SMILE!")



And that was that.

I mean, really, what time is there to waste when you are already a seasoned school-goer?

So we headed home to get a good night's sleep.



But before hitting the pillow, we had to read this...




because we are all about preparation around here...

And we needed to prepare...

because the next morning, she would wake up...

not as a Kindergartner,

but

as a

FIRST GRADER!

Countdown


Remember our countdowns?

Well, this is our current countdown... as of today.





I don't know if she's I'm ready.

Found

I've found myself.

But then again, I look back on the last few months and wonder if I am any more "found" than I was before I took a little "blogging break."

Seems like each day I am learning how to navigate through this life...

... how to balance laundry with writing thank-you cards with spending time with my husband with reading books about preschool to our excited three-year-old with calling sponsors for our upcoming Buddy Walk with scraping last night's spaghetti sauce spatters off the stove with paying the bills with writing our six-year-olds' name on 24 pencils, 48 crayons, 3 bottles of glue, 2 big pink erasers, and 2 folders for 1st grade... (2 bottom-pocket folders to be exact...)

I guess what I need to get used to is that I may never have things figured out. And what's most important for me to realize that it IS the journey in figuring things out and not the having things figured out that really matters.

I realize this is not a new concept. There's a beautifully-worded saying eluding to this very concept in some famous journal... there's a song about this sung by some famous country singer...

and there are some adorable little kiddos in my life reminding me that it isn't so much this...


but this...


and this


that matter.

It isn't this...


But this...


and this


that matter.

I definitely didn't come up with this concept.

But what I am definitely doing is attempting to really believe it.