Nathan is Hebrew and means "gift from God" - we couldn't have been more blessed than to have been chosen as his parents!

Thank you for keeping up-to-date with Nathan. We hope you visit often and enjoy experiencing our son's journey as much as we do. Please feel free to leave comments.

We love hearing from everyone!!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Life Is A Literal Gift ~ This I Believe

I belong to a tremendous book club of very bright and compassionate women. Our last book was ~~ This I Believe (hotlinked here). "This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow." Most of the ladies wrote their own essays, including me and I just submitted mine to the international project. I wanted to share it with you. I wish I could share them all. Each was such a blessing.

Everyday is a Gift

Unlike most teenagers, my most memorable adolescent experience wasn’t my first date, winning that big high school game, or even attending my prom. For me, it was the day I died.

Life literally stood still as I lay there in a ditch on the side of the road with no pulse after being struck by a car traveling over 50 miles an hour. Paralyzed, physically broken and emotionally scared ~ I survived by the grace of God.

I didn’t realize the magnitude of what happened until years later but that day shaped the rest of my life. That day, I was given a very special gift ~ life.

Writing this essay gave me the opportunity to reflect on how the art of “gift giving” is a symbol of how I live my life.

When choosing a gift for someone I do my best to take the time and make every effort to really find that perfect gift – I listen to those around me and make notes throughout the year about what they like, need, or want during casual conversation. When they think no one is listening ~ I am. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive~ just thoughtful. I believe that when compassion and thoughtfulness of others is at the top of my agenda I’m a better person.

Gifts come wrapped in all sorts of paper and ribbons and I make a conscious effort to take as much time wrapping my gifts as I did picking them out. I’ll go from store to store until I find just the right style wrapping paper. I have my favorite Christmas wrapping paper stores and my favorite all occasions stores. I even buy wrapping paper for no reason at all ~ just because I love it and know one day it will be prefect for wrapping gifts.

The ribbon is no exception. I love making handmade bows that match the wrapping paper – to me it’s the icing on the cake! I’m even guilty of ordering custom ribbon just because it adds that little personal touch that makes others feel special. In all honesty, I’m really not all that proficient at the art of bow making but as with my daily life, I believe in trying and trying again until I get it just right.

Life too comes wrapped in all sorts of different paper and ribbon ~ sometimes the package matches beautifully and sometimes it doesn’t. In life, I’ve learned that some of my most precious and treasured gifts came wrapped in the most unique and unexpected paper.

I even sweat the really small stuff ~ gift tags! I shop for gift art and have made my niece her very own Disney princess gift tags and my husband Harley Davidson tags at Christmas. In life, the small stuff matters to me. My husband tells me, I’m the only one that notices all these little details and he may be right ~ and, that’s ok.

Even though I live by the old adage that “it’s better to give than to receive” – I am super grateful for each and every gift I’m given. It’s not just about etiquette but acknowledging the kindness and generosity of others ~ I always send thank yous. But more than that, I spend time picking out just the right ones! That way, when the recipient opens the envelope they not only acknowledge my grateful heart but the really awesome little thank you I’ve sent. In my life, gratitude is an attitude!

In closing, I believe that the most precious gifts in my life have never been purchased from Macy's or any other establishment. They've always been gifts from God. We knew from the moment we were expecting our first son his name would be Nathan. On January 2, 2008 he was born with Down syndrome. “Nathan” is taken from the Hebrew and literally means "a gift from God." We have been blessed with one of life’s greatest gifts.

This I Believe ~ everyday of my life is a literal gift and for that I’m thankful.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Low Expectations ~ Are You Kidding Me?

While playing in the sand on our final day at the Lake a mother approached us and said to Nathan: "Oh what a beautiful boy ~ one of God's Special Children." I know this shouldn't annoy me but it does. God doesn't have "special children" in the bible ~ he has children. Their abilities don't factor into his love equation ~ at least not to my knowledge. Is Nathan special ~ YES. But so are his cousins Emily, Jacob, Noah, Rachael, Ben, Jack, Mairead and Lily. Am I a little sensitive ~ yes. I treat Nathan just like I would any other child and I want others to see him that way too.

Immediately following this women's acknowledgement Nathan turned to her, smiled and clapped. Now, let me make sure this scene is set properly for you ~ we're siting playing on the beach with some sand toys. A women walks over and says something sweet to Nathan and he claps. Do you know what her response was? "Oh, your Mommy must really work with you!" WHAT??? Because he clapped and smiled at her? Or maybe because he was sitting in the sand playing with a few toys?

This sweet women had very low, if any, expectations of children with Down syndrome ~ shame on her and shame on us. Those of us who are parents with children who happened to have designer genes really need to do our part in breaking down these walls and rewrite the expectation book. I need to. I did that day. I showed her that not only can babies with Down syndrome play in the sand and clap but they can WALK ON THE BEACH ALL BY THEMSELVES!!! How's that!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our Last Night at the Lake

Well we are enjoying our last night at Alpine Lake. I'm on the computer by the fire and Daddy just rocked Nathan to sleep in the fresh air by the lake. Just perfect! We've had such a wonderful time here that I'm sad to leave but am excited that our family has decided that next year our camper will be here for the entire season!!! So, we don't have to go home if we don't want to!
Nathan has been doing so well with his walking! He's walking all through the camper like a champ! I'm so proud of him! I have a collection of pictures to share and a story about something that happened at the beach today. It's just about dinner time so, I'll just say that some people have good/kind intentions toward Nathan but sometimes I just have to shake my head. I need to learn how to deal with comments that are just plain "stereo-typical" and wrong. I need to automatically respond in a productive and positive manner that breaks down walls. I'll post about it tomorrow or Thursday.

This is one of my favorite pictures from our many morning walks!