Monday, October 1, 2018

Why I Share

Do you follow people (like me) and wonder...why do they share so much of their lives?  Or think, I'm such a private person, I could not put myself or my family out there like that?  Well, let me tell you sometimes I get anxiety about being the person with a public Instagram account and letting tons of strangers into a large portion of our world, but way more times than that I am reminded of why I do it! The good that comes from our little corner of the internet far outweighs the bad.  So I wanted to share with you a big part of why I share our lives so openly.  

Seven years ago, I had no idea that October was Down syndrome awareness month.  I was oblivious to the fact that there was a whole community of amazing people out there that celebrated such an occasion.  And I really had no clue that the very next month, I would be one of those people.

When Deacon was born with an unexpected diagnosis, I was completely ignorant to what that meant for our lives.  I thought it meant doom and gloom and that our life as we knew it was over.  I immediately started scowling the internet to find out what we were facing.   I discovered a blog and IG account of another family with a daughter who was a little bit older than Deacon and also rocked an extra chromosome.  As I scrolled through pictures and posts, their lives looked pretty "normal".  There was no doom.  No gloom.  In fact, what I noticed most was there was just a bunch of joy that radiated from those images.  That's when the picture I had painted in my head of Down syndrome completely changed, and I knew that we were going to be alright.  More than alright actually.  Life as we knew it was over, but in the best way possible!

I used to feel guilt over my feelings and thoughts during those first few weeks of his life, but I have come to realize that they are completely normal.  You don't know til you know.  And boy do I know now!  That little boy is the biggest ray of sunshine I could have ever imagined, and I cannot help but share such a gift with the world.  

So I share for the Andreas of seven years ago...those who are clueless as to what a blessing that extra chromosome is.  I share for the Momma who is scared to death of the diagnosis she just received.  I share for the people who tell me on a daily basis that they were going through a tough time or having a bad day, but seeing Deacon's video or picture brightened their mood.  I share for the people who don't think my son's life has value.  I dare you to look at my pictures and tell me there's no value there.  I share for the people who feel sorry for people like us.  And I actually feel more sorry for them.  I share because I feel so incredibly blessed to be walking this road.  I will continue to share and shout my guy's worth along with all of those like him, because we truly are the lucky few! And as  Deacon would say, "This is the life!"

Happy Down syndrome awareness month, Friends!

Friday, September 14, 2018

My Colorful Fall

Hey friends, it's been a while.  Instagram seems to take the place of blogging for me, but I think about it all the time and still love it.  I know I say this probably every time I post for the first time in months, but I do want to be better about sharing all the things that roll around in my head on a daily basis...Jesus, Down syndrome, adoption, oils, and other random stuff like what I'm about to tell you about.

If you know me, then you know that I am 100% a holiday freak, and I am not ashamed to let that flag fly high! If it's a holiday or a National something day, we're gonna do our best to celebrate.  I lurk the Target Dollar spot before each new season waiting for the newest season/holiday stuff to come out and have even been known to call and ask.  I also have the most random style of decorating my house.  I love so many styles that it is hard for me to pick just one.  I love color. I love things that have a story behind them.  I love unique pieces things that I find at garage sales, thrift shops, antique stores, and sometimes even the trash.  I also love me some Ross!  All that to say that there is no rhyme or reason to how I's all just because I love it for some reason or another.

The 'ber months are my favorite, so when fall comes around I can barely make it to September before I start decorating.  Ok, let's be honest...I didn't make it that far this year.  I decorated around the second week of August, but who's to judge? You do you, man!

Now that my house is full of so many bright colors, I feel like too many fall colors don't really fit, so I was trying to merge the two together.    My fireplace is one of my favorite things to decorate.  We spiced it up this year by painting it teal blue, cause why not?!  Anyway, I had an idea for a garland to put up there that I actually ended up loving when it was done, so I figured I would share it for any of my fellow color-lovers who might want to do the same.

I went into my front yard and collected a bunch of pine cones that were similar in size. I put foil on a pan and baked them on 200 degrees for two hours to get all the bugs and yuck out.  I did get a little fancy and toss them in some cinnamon oil before baking them.  It made my house smell Ah-mazing!!  But I mostly defeated the purpose of that in step two.

I had a bunch of spray paint on hand, so we went outside and painted two pinecones each color.

After they dried, I was going to try hot gluing them, but my husband is a genius and pulled out some little eye hooks that we were able to screw into the bottom of each pine cone by hand.

I laid out my twine and just eyeballed how far apart to spread them out.  (I could have gotten out a tape measure, but I suck at math, and aint nobody got time for that!) I just slid them on one at a time in the order I wanted them, and then tied a knot around the hook.  It ended up being too many after I hung it so I had to take a few off.

 Y'all, I ain't no Martha Stewart, so I was pretty proud of myself for this one!  And looking at it makes me happy.  Also, lurking that Target dollar aisle paid off, and I found some twinkle lights (which also make me happy) on twine that I strung through the hooks right up next to the other twine so it still looks like one strand.  I just haven't had a chance to get a picture of that.  I keep those clear hooks up at all times so I can easily decorate for all the occasions!  So if you, too, want to add some colorful flare to your fall decor, here's a super simple and CHEAP way to do that.

My "Gather" picture is from Smallwood Home.  Love their stuff too, and they always have great prices.

I put the rest of the pine cones in a little basket, and they still smell yummy!  Here are the other touches I added into my randomness. :)

Now if only the temperatures outside would match the inside of my house!  Haha.  Happy Fall, y'all!  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

World Down syndrome Day 2018

In honor of World Down syndrome Day,  Deacon wanted to share a little bit about himself.  This kid, y'all!  He brightens my days, keeps me on my toes, and I love him like crazy!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Struggle is Real: Reading and Writing Tips & Tools

I'm not usually a person to choose a word of the year, but one that keeps coming to mind is "Intentional".  There are so many areas of my life where I want to work on being more intentional.  One of them is working more with Deacon outside of school.  I'm going to be real honest, homework time with him sometimes stresses me out to the max and there were some weeks leading up to the holidays that we just didn't do any of it.  But the thing is, he needs the extra attention.  Learning to read and write are a huge struggle for him.  Therefore he has pretty much zero interest in them.  So I have to get creative in ways that I work with him so that it doesn't really feel like work.  In my last meeting with his teachers I was given some tips and tools to use, and I wanted to share them with you along with some of the other helpful items we have purchased over time.  I have added all the links.

Deacon has a really weak pincer grasp which is what makes it more difficult for him to write.  In fact, they told me that he is just not ready and we need to focus on strengthening it.  Here are a few ways that we do that...

Theraputty (We bought firm and you can find it here.)

I take a small object and press in into the putty.  He has to use those fingers to pull apart the putty and find the object.  You can use whatever you have around the house.  This time we used a penny.  At Halloween, I put a tiny toy bat inside of there.  You just want it to be small so they really have to dig for it.

Another tool we use are these Crayon Rocks.

Their small shape encourages him to use his thumb along with his first and second fingers thus strengthening his tripod grip and helping to prepare him for using a pencil or regular crayon.

In this exercise I drew random shapes for him to color in.  We also worked on staying in the lines.  We made it a game, and if he went outside of them I dramatically told him he was in hot lava and to get back quick.  He thought it was hilarious and started taking it more seriously after coloring the heart.  Now he will probably go back to school doing this, and his teachers will be clueless as to what he's talking about.  Oh well...whatever works!

Also, lacing tools are good for this.  I got these from the dollar aisle at Target, but you can also find some like this on Amazon.

Apparently they are entertaining at all ages. :)

Another great tool is using some type of tweezers or grabbers to pick up small items and move them from one container to another.  This is the package that I purchased from Amazon.

When we do work on writing, I have found that these Lyra Ferby pencils work best.  A follower suggested them to me a while back, and we love them.  They are short and triangular which make it easier for him to grip them.  When he first saw them, he said, "Well that's a weird shape!"

To practice cutting, we use these Smart Loop Scissors.  I will cut out strips of paper and draw lines using a marker.  Then I will have him use these scissors to try and cut the lines.

And then there are Sight Words...Dear Lord, help me!! This child has a vocabulary and a memory that will blow you away, but when it comes to learning sight words the struggle is REAL!  Thankfully I discovered this DVD that actually holds his interest and makes him practice them.  If you have internet unlike us (country life probs!) you can also find them on Youtube kids for free.  This is the only one have right now, but I plan on buying more.

After he watches them, I try to work with him on the words in some way.  I found these dry erase dice at Dollar Tree and thought they would be good to use for a variety of things.  We throw them in the air and then have to say the word that it lands on.  He thinks it's fun, but the marker rubs off pretty easily.  (If you can't find them or don't have a Dollar Tree, ole trusty Amazon has some too.)

We also purchased this sight word pizza game.  He's not quite ready for it yet, but when he is, I think it will be a great tool! Plus, putting anything with pizza is bound to get this kid's attention!

He got this game for Christmas.  We haven't played it yet, but it looks fun!

Amazon has so many great resources.  We use it the most because we live in the middle of nowhere and it is easiest, but I also love to hit up our local dollar stores and my favorite...the Bullseye section at Target (aka the dollar aisle where most things are not really a dollar anymore).  They usually have some great tools as well like these little felt books we got to help with counting.  

I hope some of you will find these tips, tricks, and tools helpful.  I would also love to hear any ideas or products that work well for you, so please feel free to share them with everyone in the comments below.  I know I need all the help I can get!!! :)