Friday, July 3, 2015

What is Your Super Power? My First DS Convention

My mom, my BFF Jos and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend my first ever Down Syndrome convention, thanks to our amazing local group, the Down Syndrome Network of Oregon!!!! The National Down Syndrome Congress was holding it's 43'rd annual meeting and I have only three words to describe what it was like...
IT. WAS. AWESOME!! And the best part? The people. Let me explain.

My first goal of the weekend was get a hug and a selfie with the famous Tim Harris, owner of Tim's Place. If you haven't watched this video yet, you really should. Tim is a rock star, owns his own restaurant, started his own foundation and could literally quit his day job to be a motivational speaker. I remember shortly after Ellie was born my whole family huddled around my phone and we watched his video with tears in our eyes. Tim is a true inspiration. He was a keynote speaker Friday night (making everyone cry tears of joy, of course) and we learned so much from him. These are Tim's Tips for an Awesome Life, take note, they are really great:

1. Love people
2. Work hard
3. Believe in yourself
4. Believe in others
5. Be happy and show it
6. Use your super power

So that first evening, as we headed back to our hotel with our hearts full, we met him! My goal was accomplished- I was giddy can you tell?

I also had the absolute pleasure of meeting some of my Rockin' Moms in REAL LIFE. These gals have been there since our girl was born and I owe so much to them. We have been through thick and thin together, and I am so looking forward to meeting more of our Rockin' Moms in September at our first retreat. Here's a group picture from the dance on Saturday night, along with some of my dead relatives (orbs) haha, roll your eyes it's OK.

During the convention I sat in many sessions that were informative and eye opening. I learned about apps that are helpful as well as Speech therapy tips from Libby Kumin, who is wonderful. I already own her book and seeing her in action was awesome. She genuinely loves the kids she works with and she had some great tips for working in speech therapy tricks during everyday life.

Lastly, I have share with you about my new friend Casey. As we were waiting in between sessions, us girls decided we should sneak in a cocktail. As we sat at the bar a handsome guy with Down syndrome sat down and ordered a Bud Light. Jos immediately sparked up a conversation with him. We learned that he has a girlfriend who he is planning on proposing to, he is a proud uncle of his nieces and he was going to have a new nephew any day. Jos asked him to describe what a typical night would be like after he's married. He said he would come in and ask his wife to get him a beer. We all giggled but then he started talking about dinnertime. He said he would turn the music on while they made dinner, and twirl his wife in the kitchen, just like his dad did to his mom. Jos and I lost it and had huge tears in our eyes. So then we asked him for a picture and were laughing at how his debit card, Bud Light and his shirt all matched!

I ended up finding Casey's mom on Facebook and had to share the story of how he was the highlight of our whole trip. She is an awesome lady! And now I'm friends with Casey on Facebook too! Casey's mom has a company called Wordy Worm Reading. With our girl being such a book lover I am looking forward to learning more about this program! It's amazing to me how life connects us to others, I truly believe all of us were meant to skip our 3:30 session that day! 

Being in a place with hundreds of people with Down syndrome was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was inspiring, exciting, and gave me hope.I am so grateful to the DSNO for the scholarship to attend this year. I look forward to sharing everything I learned at a mom's cocktail hour at my house! :)  I look forward to being able to attend another convention someday, Florida in 2016? We will see!

No other song could sum up last weekend like this one can, so here it is:

Happy - Pharrell Williams