Sunday, October 31, 2010

31 for 21, Day 31: Halloween 2010

It was a good day.  Halloween 2010.  As a family we met some of our friends to trick or treat together. As always it's an adventure with a 2 1/2 year old.  Maya wasn't into it this year.  But she was much better than last year.  It was great hanging out with our friends, going up and down the street and meeting everyone.  I am living vicariously though Maya since my Halloween years weren't that wonderful.  Really I feel so lucky to have this experience.  I loved watching our friend's kids walking up to the door and saying in that cute 2 year old voice, "twick or tweet".  I couldn't help but think, one day Maya will be doing that. 

I have to mention that I am so proud of hubby for putting on a brave face and venturous out with us.  He didn't complain once!  I often have to remind myself that Halloween is an American thing.  It may seem bizarre to people from other countries, getting dressed up in strange outfits and knocking on people's doors to get candy.  But I think hubby is getting used to the concept, and I dare say may even consider dressing up for Halloween...maybe next year?  Well anyway, a girl can dream.

Today is the last day of October, the last day of 31 for 21.  Whoohoo, I did it!  It was certainly a challenge.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Please keep checking in, I will keep posting although maybe not everyday.  oxo

Getting ready.

off we go!

buzz, buzz, buzz.
happy bumble bee and her mama.

resting after trick or treating.

two bumble bees and a lady bug.

2010 loot, including a stuffed owl from our sweet neighbor.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

31 for 21, Day 30: Buddy Walk

This morning was both the Sharing Down Syndrome's Buddy Walk and DS Network's Step up for Down Syndrome walk.  Both organizations are here in the valley and both do their major fundraising events around the same time.  It's unfortunate that they both pretty much fall on the same day.  But it is what it is. And so we just try our best to support the work they do.

We had to make a decision on which we would go to this year and the deciding factor was nap time.  The Buddy walk was earlier and better coincided with Maya's schedule.  Although we did major fundraising for the Step Up walk,  it just wasn't possible for us to go to it.  By the way, I'm happy to report that Maya and her dada are both tucked away and sleeping well.  I'm sure they are both exhausted from all the activities. 

Although we didn't get to see a ton of people we knew we did get so see some of our peeps. The coolest thing was when a mom came over to us and said, "Is that Maya?".  I was thinking, Wow,  Maya is already famous.  She's a mom that I am friends with via facebook.  I am so glad she recognized Maya.  She and her husband have two beautiful children, one blessed with a little something extra .  It was so wonderful to meet them in person.  We are automatic friends because of our little one's extra chromie.  I do feel very lucky to be a part of it all.

Maya checking out Barney

The walk starts.  Maya in her new wagon.

Waving to her peeps.

Getting a ride.

After our long walk it's time for ice cream!

A very happy Maya.

A hug for a new friend.

Sweet pea!

Hanging out with our friends.

Sandy and Maya.

Making some music.  
Maya and me chillin'.

More huggies!

Friday, October 29, 2010

31 for 21, Day 29: Book Signing

Maya and I went to our first book signing together.  I was so excited to have Jagatjoti Khalsa sign our I'm Down with You, book!  Maya was really very patient the whole time and she was hugging quite a few people tonight.  We hung out in the kids section after and Maya found a shaker she couldn't let go of.  It was really cute the way she was walking around the entire bookstore with that shaker.

If you haven't been able to check this book out I highly recommend it.  I posted earlier about the documentary that Jagatjoti is working on, but the book is available now.  When I first opened the book I was amazed by the stunning photography.  All those gorgeous faces so elegantly captured.  I haven't been able to read any of the text yet but I'm sure it is well written also.

Please do check out his site,

Jagatjoti signing Maya's book.

Maya says she's gonna me in the next book.  =)

Hanging out.

Thanks to Lily for loaning her pom pom. Maya loved it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

31 for 21, Day 28: park adventures

We went to the railroad park again today.  I am really loving this park, it has a train, carousal, snack bar and a huge playground.  We met up with some other mom's.  I'm super excited that Maya is starting to be a little more lovable.  It's always so cute to see her giving hugs.  Today she surprised me by not only hugging her little friends but a couple of the moms too.  Now Maya isn't only known for pulling  hair, she is also known for hugging everyone too. 

Now that it is cooling down I'm looking forward to getting out to the park and exploring different environments.  I love encouraging Maya to try different things.  Here are some photos of our adventure today.

Hello friend!

First time on this slide.  Ready to go...



So proud of me!

Hug for L's mom.

Found a leave in the sand.

Next stop, mouth.

Guilty as charged.

Maya giving L another hug.

Blurry but I love their expressions.

Happy playing together.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

31 for 21, Day 26: A hard day's work

Oct 1st I took these photos of Maya helping me with the laundry.  I thought they were too cute not to share.  She has been very inquisitive lately and seems very interested in helping.  When we are getting ready to leave she often comes over to us and tries to help us put our shoes on.  She also loves to push the button to close the garage door when we come home.  She won't leave the area until the garage door is all the way down.  It's really cute to watch.  These are the little things that I love to notice about Maya's development.  Hope you enjoy these photos of Maya doing her own laundry.

The whole time she wouldn't let go of her little telescope.
Hard worker.

Almost done.

One last check before finishing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

31 for 21, Day 24: the light of my life

Yeah, I'm tired, it's been a long day. I wanted to write about the fund-raising I'm doing in honor of Maya...But I'm ready to crash. So here's the link and a photo I took of Maya last week at music therapy. Even though it was taken with my phone I love the lighting.  She is the light of my life is all I can think of when I see this photo.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

31 for 21, Day 24: Pumpkin patch revised

Towards the end of our lazy day we headed down to the corner to check out the pumpkin patch.  Keep it simple,  a great motto to live by.  We kept our visit short and sweet. Here are some photos of today's pumpkin adventure.

Maya enjoyed throwing these like a ball.

We ran into a family friend while we were there.

high fiving!

Maya and Dada photographing themselves on the iphone.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

31 for 21, Day 23: pumpkin patch adventure

We went to the pumpkin patch today. Hoping for a great experience, a new experience and then we get there. The place was awesome, it had everything, a train ride, a hay ride, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, sunflower patch...the list goes on. But you know, Maya just didn't care about all these things. She was tired and ready for her nap. She didn't like the uneven ground, and the sun. It was evident that she wasn't going to last long. But I was hoping to get to pumpkin patch and the petting zoo at least. We made it to one of the tiny pumpkin patches and then she exploded. She was done and she was telling us via her screams and tears. So we decided to just bite the bullet and go home. Not one minute later she was asleep in her car seat. Poor thing was just pooped.

Today I learned that I can't plan too much for Maya. She needs her down time. She needs to be comfortable and she needs to be able to play in a place she can handle.

Tomorrow we will try the pumpkin patch down the street. The one at the church just four minutes away by foot. There only pumpkins reside. We will have a family day, no elaborate plans or major outings. I look forward to a happier Maya because to be honest when she isn't happy, I can't be either.

Taken by dada.  A happy moment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

31 for 21, Day 22: More intellectually disabled go to college

Love this article!  Thanks to all my friends that posted it on FB!  I really think this hits the spot for me.  I think it's wonderful that people are seeing that a degree doesn't have to be the end goal for higher education, it is after all about learning.  The experience of going to college can change a person immensely.  Did I ever tell you that my SAT scores sucked?  I was just lucky enough to get accepted to an art school that didn't care that I didn't know much about math and science.  They knew I had potential in other areas and because of that opportunity my life was changed forever.  For Maya she may not be strong in some areas but I'm sure there will be many things that she will do amazingly.  I hope that we continue on this path and that many more colleges will be open to having our children in their community.

More intellectually disabled go to college

Warrensburg, Mo. –  Zach Neff is all high-fives as he walks through his college campus in western Missouri. The 27-year-old with Down syndrome hugs most everybody, repeatedly. He tells teachers he loves them.
“I told Zach we are putting him on a hug diet — one to say hello and one to say goodbye,” said Joyce Downing, who helped start a new program at the University of Central Missouri that serves students with disabilities. 
The hope is that polishing up on social skills, like cutting back on the hugs, living in residence halls and going to classes with non-disabled classmates will help students like Neff be more independent and get better jobs.
In years past, college life was largely off-limits for students with such disabilities, but that’s no longer the case. Students with Down syndrome, autism and other conditions that can result in intellectual disabilities are leaving high school more academically prepared than ever and ready for the next step: college. 
Eight years ago, disability advocates were able to find only four programs on university campuses that allowed students with intellectual disabilities to experience college life with extra help from mentors and tutors.
As of last year, there were more than 250 spread across more than three dozen states and two Canadian provinces, said Debra Hart, head of Think College at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston, which provides services to people with disabilities. 
That growth is partly because of an increasing demand for higher education for these students and there are new federal funds for such programs. 
The federal rules that took effect this fall allow students with intellectual disabilities to receive grants and work-study money. Because details on the rules are still being worked out, the earliest students could have the money is next year. Hart and others expect the funds to prompt the creation of even more programs.
“There is a whole generation of young people who have grown up under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to them it (college) is the logical next step,” Hart said. 
The college programs for these students vary. Generally the aim is to support the students as they take regular classes with non-disabled students. Professors sometimes are advised to modify the integrated classes by doing things like shifting away from a format that relies entirely on lectures and adding more projects in which students can work in groups. 
One program in Idaho offers classes in drama, art and sign language. Students on other campuses can improve their computer skills or take child development classes. 
Sometimes they’re paired with non-disabled students and advocates say the educational coaches, mentors and tutors who help them often are studying to become special education teachers or social workers and learn from the experience too. 
Disability advocates say only a small percentage of these students will receive degrees, but that the programs help them get better jobs. 
Historically, adults with intellectual disabilities have been restricted primarily to jobs in fast food restaurants, cleaning or in so-called “sheltered workshops,” where they work alongside other disabled people and often earn below-minimum wages, said Madeleine Will, vice president of the National Down Syndrome Society.
With additional training, Hart said participa
nts can go on to do everything from being a librarian’s assistants to data-entry work in an office. 
Much remains to be learned about what type of program works best, but Hart said that will likely change.

Besides allowing for federal financial aid for these programs, Congress also has appropriated $10.56 million to develop 27 model projects to identify successful approaches.
The infusion of federal money has generated some criticism. Conservative commentator Charlotte Allen said it’s a waste to spend federal tax dollars on the programs and insisted that calling them college dilutes the meaning of college. 
“It’s a kind of fantasy,” said Allen, a contributing editor for Minding the Campus, a publication of the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute. “It may make intellectually disabled people feel better, but is that what college is supposed to be all about?” 
Oftentimes students with these disabilities stop their formal education when they finish high school, which is usually around the age of 21. Some districts have a partnership with colleges under which the district pays for their 18- to 21-year-old students to take higher education classes. In other cases, college costs are paid for by the parents.
Their children previously haven’t been eligible for grants and work study money because they generally weren’t seeking a degree and wouldn’t have been admitted to college through the typical process. 
These programs look “at higher education for what it’s purpose in our community and our culture is — to provide opportunities for learning,” said Meg Grigal, a researcher who works with Hart. 
Back at the University of Central Missouri, Neff and another participant in the program for students with developmental issues, Gabe Savage, laugh with friends during lunch in their residence hall cafeteria. 
Savage, a 26-year-old from Kansas City, is grateful for it all — new friends, the chance to try out for a school play, brush up on his computer skills and even take a bowling class with non-disabled students looking to earn a physical education credit.
“It’s an answer to my prayer that I am here,” he said. “I always wanted to do this.” 
Please share this news with friends, family and also with your contact list on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

31 for 21, Day 21: a fun day at the park

Maya had a blast today at the park with her friends.  We rode the train twice, the carousel once, had a snack and then went to the playground.  It was a gorgeous day today, the first one in a long time.  Finally we could go outside and not burn.

The cutest thing happened when we got to the park.  When we found out friends, Maya walked directly to L and gave him a big hug.  I've really never seen her do that straight away.  It was so sweet.  Of course I didn't have my camera out at the time, but later I did get a few snaps of them hugging again.

While we waited for the train, Maya practiced going down the steps and walking around.  She was fascinated with her shadow and danced and signed as she walked.  She liked the train and carousel but not much as the other kids.  Most of the time it looked like she was just taking it all in. 

The best part was when it was just Maya and I.  Before we headed home we stopped off at the swing set.  Maya's joy just makes my heart melt.  She giggles like crazy and smiles all because I push her on the swing.  It was our little private time to just be together.  Those are the best moments of my life.