Monday, October 15, 2007

Happily Exhausted!

Less than a week ago, Robert convinced me the kids could miss a couple days of school so we could drive to Indiana and back to meet our friends and attend the IDSF Buddy Walk. We left home Thursday and stayed at a hotel in Erie, PA that night, because we knew we needed to get some sleep before meeting everyone Friday.
I've known many of the families we were meeting for over 6 years online. This was the first time that many of were meeting face to face! Thank you to Jan, Jeff and Nash for hosting and opening your home to us. I have tons of pictures on my flickr site so I'll just share a few here~

Friday night~
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In the back row, l-r, Lisa, Marley & Nicole, Nash & Jan, Tara Marie
Front~ Beth, Stephanie, Annette, Me with Stephanie's Katie, Rhonda with Tara Marie's Emma Sage, and Beth's Patrick.

Sarah and Annette's Kurtis lead the group
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William & Ryan shake hands
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The gang at Jan's house
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Ryan & William
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Some of us were staying at Jan's so we stayed up way too late Saturday night. We went to breakfast with almost everyone Sunday and then we headed home from there, thinking we could make the drive straight home without stopping for the night. About 4 hours from home we were thinking that wasn't such a great idea, as William didn't like the lights from cars (and construction) and city areas. We got home at nearly 3am. After everything was in from the car, we plopped ourselves onto bed. That's when I realized that although drinking 2 venti caramel machiattos is great for keeping me awake for my driving shift (the last half of the trip), the caffeine kick had not worn off yet so it was another hour before I fell asleep. William was up & running at 8am.

The trip was worth every minute. Thanks again everyone who was there~ I can't wait to see you all again!!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

I've been tagged again

My friend Stephanie at A is for Aiden tagged me. Stephanie says that when Aiden was born, she started buying "Life Rings" for her necklace. One side is for the things she's learned since having Aiden; the other side are things she wishes for Aiden in the future.

I have learned from William:

Prayer
Self-sacrifice
Potential
Persistence
Unconditionality

What I wish for William's future:

Happiness
Courage
Patience (with others)
Love
Dreams


And now I'm tagging Nicole, Jan, Rhonda, Connie, Laura, and Michelle

Monday, October 1, 2007

NYC Buddy Walk

We arrived in NYC on Saturday afternoon. Not a bad drive at all. Checked in at the hotel and relaxed a bit. Rachel called once she got to the hotel and said she & Renee were going to freshen up and then come to our room. William was soooo happy to see Rachel! There were hugs all around since Doug hadn't seen either Rachel or Renee in almost 2 years, and Sarah & William hadn't seen them in a year. William promptly slipped his hand into Rachel's and down the hallway they went, with the rest of us following behind. We went to Rockefeller Center (had to stop to get some Teuscher Chocolates!) Then off to see what we could do for dinner~ we ended up at Ruby Foo's and had a wonderful dinner. Headed back towards Rockefeller Center for some window shopping, and along the way Rachel & William were signing and singing the Happy Birthday to You song from the new Signing Time series as we walked. We checked out some stores and then parted company (the ladies were off to see a show) and checked out the American Girl Place on our way back to the hotel. Back at the hotel, we kicked off our shoes & relaxed. Robert, Sarah & William fell asleep, Doug read, and I played Sudoku. Rachel called when the show got out, so Doug & I went out to meet them and have an after show bite & dessert.

There's something quite stunning about Times Square at 10:30pm. It's such a contrast to being here in Western MA. There, it's bright with all the city lights, marquees lit up, a din of voices. Here, it's a night sky filled with flickering stars and the moonlight, with the chirping of crickets, the rustle of wind through the trees and an occasional roar of the train passing by across the river.

We met up with them at Carmine's, shared some bread and Chicken Scarpariello on angel hair pasta, followed by Strawberry Shortcake. The food was excellent, the company was even better. It was probably 12:30am before we got back to our hotel, and we figured out what time we would meet in the lobby in the morning. I am not used to the noise of a city~ the cars going by, the honking, the voices in the wee hours of the morning, the really really loud voices outside at 4am!

Sunday we met in the lobby, checked out & had our luggage stored and caught a couple cabs to take us to Central Park to set up for the Buddy Walk.
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Rachel, William and Robert
It was a beautiful day! While the families were walking, I put the Hopkins costume on. Not long after, it was Showtime!!!
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That's me, signing 'Wait', as they worked out the little problem with the sound system.
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Signing Time!
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Thank you

Robert and the kids have never seen me in action as Hopkins before, but they got a kick out of seeing 'me' very animated. It's always fun to be Rachel's sidekick/mascot, and so touching to see so many people signing along with her through the songs. This time was particularly special as I watched William with a smile on his face the entire time, signing and singing along with Rachel. Whenever Rachel performs, she saves her special 'Grown Up' songs for the end. When she sings and signs them, Hopkins steps off into the background so the focus is purely on Rachel. I always take this time to scan and watch the kids and their families. Yesterday when she was doing Caterpillar Dreams, I watched William. The tears streamed down my face as I watched him sign and sing everything along with Rachel. He had the biggest smile on his face, and he signed with so much confidence. He signed words I didn't even know he knew. As I stood there, watching him, and watching Rachel, I felt so much gratitude for these two people. Because of William, because he has Down syndrome, I got to learn about Rachel and Signing Time. Because of Rachel and Signing Time!, I found a way for William to learn and to communicate. Because of the two of them, I had the opportunity to be up on stage, performing in a big green Hopkins frog outfit, watching William signing along with Rachel. It became hard to see, as the tears made my glasses fog up inside Hopkins' head. But the moment was already in the snapshot album of memories in my mind.

Family picture~
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William, Robert, Rachel, Sarah and.... uh... Hopkins, hee hee.

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William and me~ he was quite puzzled when he heard my voice~ Hopkins does not usually talk~ and he was trying to figure out where Mommy's voice was coming from. Once I convinced him it was me inside the costume, he was surprised and happy.

While there, I got to meet up with some of my T21 board buddies~ Doug kept busy taking pictures yesterday
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me, Julie & Laura. Laura has a great slideshow on her blog. I also got to see other online friends~ it was so awesome, but sadly such a short visit.

We went back to the hotel, and while Robert & William sat & took a break, the rest of us split up & went to pick up some things~ Rachel & Sarah checked out the street market that was going on outside the hotel, Renee was off shopping, and Doug & I made a mad dash back to Teuscher's for some chocolates, and dashed back, laughing all the way. Then it was time for goodbye, as Renee & Rachel had a car waiting to take them to the airport, and our car was being brought 'round.
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Renee, me, Rachel

We loaded up our car and headed home. We got home, unloaded, put the kids to bed, and showered, watched the Cowboys game we had DVR'd (even though Aaron, Rachel's hubby, had told Robert earlier on the phone how it came out) and just collapsed into bed. The quiet never sounded so good.