Monday, December 22, 2014

Santa Won't Be Able to Top This One

Saturday was the seventh grade year end basketball tournament.  Once a year we generally indulge Ben and let him where his referee jersey to a basketball tournament. Every game he pretends to be a referee and runs up and down in the bleachers using signs and "helping" them with calls. He hangs out close to where they generally take balls out on the sideline just hoping one of the refs will talk to him or maybe let him hold the ball. 

On Saturday we arrived a little late to the game, and had missed the first quarter. At halftime, I noticed that Ben had gone down to the referees all by himself to introduce himself and shake their hands. They thought it was so cute that he had on his referee uniform and were talking to him about it.  Soon I  heard one of them say, "hey Pal, you are missing something".  I thought "Dear Lord No!  Don't be reaching in your bag for a whistle"!  Sure enough he pulled out a brand new official referee whistle along with a lanyard and gave it to Ben. He was on cloud nine. You couldn't wipe the smile off his face.

Soon the game was about to restart and I was worried about how we were going to keep Ben from blowing the whistle during the rest of the game, or the other three games after that one.  I thought I would give him a chance and just told him not to blow it, to see what he would do. I was amazed at his impulse control. At first he did not blow it at all. Later, he would wait until the refs blew their whistle for an actual call and then he would very quietly, blow a tiny little whistle.  It was pretty cute. 

Even as cool as that whistle was, it was not as important to Ben as the boys on the team.  When one of the players got hurt, he quickly handed me the whistle and his skittles and rushed down to check on the player.  He sat with his arm around the boy, until he made sure everything was going to be okay.

Soon the game was over and Ben had gave me his whistle again so he should go shake hands with the rest of the players. He followed the team out of the gym and was holding hands with Noah. I told Noah that I needed to go to the restroom and that he needed to keep an eye on Ben. When I came out of the restroom there was a full-scale search going on as Noah did not pay attention to Ben. We finally found him sitting up on the stage of the other gym next to his favorite referee Mrs. Kuhlman.

Since we had time between games, Randy decided he needed to run to the bank, so he took Ben with him while I sat and watched the other Elmwood Murdock team play.  Just after halftime I looked down and noticed Ben was sitting next to the referee who had given him the whistle. I looked around for Randy and couldn't find him anywhere. I sent him a text and said, "Did you lose anyone?"  Sure enough a few minutes later Randy came running in the gym slightly frantic. The one thing we realized from this whole thing, is that if Ben does get lost at a basketball game, he will find the first referee and latch onto them, which is good.

But the excitement was not over for the day. There were so many junior high boys out for basketball this year, they split the b and c  teams into two even teams. Both teams won their brackets and played each other for the final.  The very nice referees realized that we were from the home team and devised a plan to let Ben help with the jump ball, and get to blow his whistle for real at the start of the game. At first Ben was a little confused, because he knows that when games start, he supposed to go sit down.  But the very nice referee held his hand and together they started the game. It was a very fun game and a great way to end the season. After a whole lot of smack talk amongst teammates, Noah's team did come out on top.

I am sure that Ben will be excited by Christmas. However, I don't think it will come anywhere close to the excitement on Saturday, when he got his first real whistle and was able to blow it in a real game.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

New Signing Time Christmas DVD

Want to get something for your little one that will be fun for them and educational too?  If you have not tried Signing Time yet, now is a great time with the introduction of the new Signing Time Christmas DVD.  I have played it last weekend at a craft fair and it was really drawing in all the little kids.  If you don't know, Signing Time is a sign language program for hearing children.  For Babies, sign language can help them communicate before they are physically ready for speech.  When your child is older and maybe already speaking, signing along with speech helps kids build a larger vocabulary.   For school age children, sign language can help kids learn information faster, retain it better and improve literacy.  With all these bonuses, why wouldn't you want to sign with your kids?

Today and tomorrow you can get the new 2 disc Signing Time Christmas DVD that has both secular and sacred play options, for just $24.99.  On Tuesday, November 18th, the price will go up to $39.99.
So don't delay, order yours today! Click here to start shopping. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Birthday!

It is official!  My hubby is old!  
To help him celebrate, I made a little poster to take to his work.  Randy's parents gave him the balloons and a few other over the hill items to make the display complete.  He is not one to do much to celebrate big days, but he was a good sport about the poster.   Now to keep Noah and Ben out of the candy!
Happy Birthday, Big Fella!

Sorry the poster is so hard to read.  It says.  Turning another year older is nothing to "Sinicker" about, Do you feel like a "Butterfinger"?  Does your mind play "Twix" on you?  Do your bones "Krackel and Crunch".  Don't worry, we still think you are worth "100 Grand".  We love you to the "Milky Way" and Back.  So celebrate "Extra".  Love your "Smarty" pants wife, and little "Air Heads"


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Support Down Syndrome Research and Get Great Educational Products at the Same Time!

October is also Down syndrome awareness month. As a mother of a child with Down syndrome and a Barefoot Books Ambassador and Signing Time Instructor, this topic is near and dear to my heart.  Signing Time and Barefoot Books have played a huge roll in Ben's life.  Signing Time helped teach him to read before he turned three and Barefoot Books help keep him interested in reading.    To help give back, during the entire month of October 2014, I will donated a portion of my online and in person sales from ABC Barefoot Kids  and ABC Signing Kids to the LuMind Foundation for Down Syndrome Cognition Research (formerly DSRTF).

So why Down Syndrome research? In August 2014, our local Down syndrome support group, welcomed a special guest at our parent's night out event.    William C. Mobley is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosciences at UCSD. He also serves as Executive Director of UCSD's Down Syndrome Center for Research and Treatment. and the Florence Riford Chair of Alzheimer Disease Research.   At this event Dr. Mobley shared with us some news of his fascinating research and let us know just how close we are to having a drug available to help prevent Alzheimer's not only in the Down syndrome population, but in the general population as well.  It helped me to realize just how much research is going on that will benefit our kids, and how much funding is needed to help keep this research on track. 
I chose the Lumind foundation because it supports lots of different research opportunities to benefit the Down syndrome community. 
The LuMind Foundation founders are committed to opening doors for people with Down syndrome. They established the LuMind Foundation in 2004 to identify and fund the most promising lines of cognitive development research.
So if you would like to join me in supporting Down syndrome research and could use some award winning children's books or Sign Language DVD's, Books, or Flashcards  to help fuel you child's passion for reading or to help them communicate before they are ready to speak, please use one of the following links to start shopping now:

Thank you for Supporting Ben's Brigade!

Thank you to everyone who helped our family raise over $1,600 This was my final year of chairing the event.  The Down Syndrome Walk has grown significantly over the last 4 years that I have been involved.  I am proud to be part of a group of parents who worked together to grow the group to the organization it is today.  However, all the change and growth experience did not happen with out a lot of hard work, and I am ready to pass on my part of that job to others.  
Here are some photos showing the fun we had on Saturday.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Ben's Brigade

.  Our photographer Erica Thompson of Images for a Lifetime built an amazingly cool set just for our kiddos, and Ben got to be one of the first ones to try it out.  While the idea was to sit or lay in the circle, Ben did not want to have anything to do with that.  He wanted to do just one thing.....
What you can't see in this photo is his big brother Noah who was laying on the floor about to get jumped on.  Erica got about 10 photos just like this and Ben had a blast!  

She did get a couple more good photos, but all of them have one thing in common.  If he was not jumping, he was getting into position to jump again.  

 This one is my favorite.  I call it his surfer dude pose.  I also reminds me of the opening of one of the James Bond movies.  

Thank you for supporting Ben's Brigade!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

NDSS Time Square Video

Once again a photo of Ben has been chosen to be shown on the big Sony Screen in the heart of Times Square in New York City as part of the video that kicks off the National Buddy Walk.  It will be show on September 20th at about 9:00 am central time.  We are both humbled and honored for a photo of Ben's to be chosen again this year.  There were over 2000 photos entered and only 200 were chosen. 

This photo was taken at one of Ben's t-ball games and shows the pure joy that he displays whenever he is doing something he loves. Sports of any kind will usually bring out this expression or one of pure determination.  Way to go Ben!

One Proud Little Acolyte

Once again it took someone else to notice that Ben was ready to do something that  his peers were doing.

Let me explain.

We recently got a new interim minister at our church.  Every Sunday for the last year or so, after the service, Ben would get the candle lighters and go up to pretend to light the candles.  We would go up with him and keep him from smacking someone in the head with it.  But we did not think he was ready to light candles on his own.

So one Sunday after church our minister said to me "I noticed that Ben is interested in lighting the candles.  Can we put him in the Acolyte rotation?"  I said "Pastor, you do realize that our last church burned down?  I don't think I am ready to be responsible should that happen again".  She laughed and said let's give it  a try.  So we planned to add him to the rotation and send someone up with him just in case things did not go as planned.

The next week, it just happened that there were no other kids in church.  Here is the result.  You decided for yourself  if he was successful or not.  One thing I know for sure is, he was one happy and proud little acolyte that day. It was a win in my book!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2014 NDSC Convention Summary

This past weekend we were blessed to be able to drive to Indianapolis to attend the 2014 National Down Syndrome Congress annual convention.  While we were going to make it into a small family vacation, John threw a wrench into the plans by requesting to stay home to attend his district baseball tournament.  So we lined up a friend to stay at the house with John, and loaded up the car. 

When I say loaded, I mean loaded. 

The shelf in between the seats turned out to be wonderful as it kept Ben and Noah from fighting the entire trip.  Car makers seriously need to consider installing some type of safe boundary to keep kids from fighting in the car.   We had to pack tightly, because I was hosting both an ABC Signing Kids and the DSAF of NE booth at the NDSC Exhibitor fair.  Here are photos of the booths.

The Exhibitor fair was such a blast. 
 I loved meeting everyone who came around to check out all the displays.

Here are my top 10 NDSC conference highlights in no particular order.
10. There were a couple times Ben needed to be at my booth, and he did a good job of sticking around and not running away.  (Although he did take me on a pretty fast tour of 3rd floor one day on the way to kids camp. )  The main reason Ben stayed put was he had Rachael from Signing Time there to keep him company.  Loved watching him dance, sing and sign along with the iPad.

 9. Learning that Noah got to feel special when the Brother and Sister field trip busses were given a police escort to the Indianapolis Speedway. 
 8. We finally got to meet our Facebook friends Denise and Ella.  We tried to meet up last year, and it did not work, and this year I was again afraid we would miss each other, but they stopped by just as we were packing up on the last day.  It was to great to finally meet them in person.
 Ella is such a sweetheart. 

7.  One for the memory books occurred just after we got back to the room that first night after swimming.  It is a terrible feeling to realize that your 6 year old just snuck out of our hotel room and is running in the hall way.  It is an entirely different feeling to realize that he is also wearing nothing but a string backpack and a smile, and there is a large group of people getting off the elevator heading straight for him.  Luckily the sight of strangers turned him around quickly and we were able to usher him back into the room quickly.

6 Not even 5 minutes later with Ben safely in the room (but still naked) and the door blocked by a cooler, did I realize we were still flirting with getting kicked out of the hotel when I noticed that Ben was standing naked in front of the large floor to ceiling windows waving at the folks walking down the street.  Got to love a kid with absolutely no modesty.

5. Another highlight was meeting someone who actually follows this blog!  I won't reveal your identity here, but you know who you are and I was very happy to meet you!.  Thank you for stopping by to introduce yourself and I wish we had gotten more time to visit.

4.  There were so many wonderful self advocates that I was able to meet and get to know a little bit.  Curtis and Todd were two of my favorites.  The NDSC convention is billed as the largest family reunion and they do a really great job of making everyone feel like they are indeed part of one big family who is tied together by an extra chromosome.

3.  Ben meeting a little boy named Aaron at my booth and having a wonderfully tender moment.  They kept giving each other hugs and when they broke apart Ben signed friend and Aaron signed it back.  Love how sign language has opened up the world of communication for so many of our kiddos.

2.  It was wonderful getting to meet, work the booth, and present with fellow Signing Time Instructor, Cyndi Johnson.  She is a fabulous speaker and made my first (and hopefully not last) national presentation very easy.  Unfortunately, we were so busy most of the time, I did not think to get a photo of us together.  That will just mean that we need to find another excuse to get together again in the future so we can get a photo.   
 While there were many awesome moments at the conference,
the one that stands out to me the most is this:
1. The award acceptance speech given by Patti Saylors at the banquet, where she talked about all her efforts to make sure that what happened to her son Ethan never happens to another one of our loved ones with disabilities. She is working to make sure that first responders across the country are all properly trained on how to deal with individuals with disabilities.  If you are unfamiliar with Ethan's story, he was killed when some off duty policemen improperly restrained him when he refused to leave a movie theater  She is an amazingly strong woman and I can assure you there was hardly a dry eye in the banquet hall. ‪#‎justiceforethan‬
Next year's convention is going to be in Phoenix.  Not sure yet if we will be able to make it since we won't be able to drive, but I have to say I would love to get together with my new extended family again really soon! 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 NDSC Convention Giveaway

In honor of our trip to the National Down Syndrome Congress National Convention, ABC Signing Kids and ABC Barefoot Kids are hosting a giveaway!  For those going to the conference, you can sign up in person at the ABC Signing Kids both, and get even more entries by signing up here.  For those who are not able to make the trip to Indianapolis, you are still welcome to sign up to try to win.  Here is what one lucky winner will receive...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 30, 2014

Signing Time Sale Extended

The Signing Time Best Sale of the Year has been extended to July 1, 2014.  It includes DVD's, books, CD's and flashcards, and also our entire Digital line of products. The same code  2day40 will save you 40% off site wide of either the digital site or the regular shopping site.  Personally, now that I have both Regular product and virtual product, I have to say I love the digital DVD's, books, and music.  I never have to worry about lost or scratched disc's any more and Ben can get into the app and access whatever he wants to watch on his own.  Check it out for yourself and see which you prefer.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Signing Time's Best Sale of the Year!

Don't miss out on the Best Signing Time Sale of the Year.  The discount is good off EVERYTHING that even includes digital.  But hurry, the sale will only last 2 days!
I can not begin to say how much the Signing Time program has meant to our family.  It helps us daily to communicate with our 6 year old son, with Down syndrome.  It help teach him to sight read when he was only two.  And it is something that every family can use to quickly learn ASL signs that can have a huge impact on your children. 
Teaching sign language to babies, toddlers and school age children can help build vocabulary, reduce frustration, increase IQ, promote whole body learning and  boost working memory.  WIth all these benefits, why wouldn't you want to teach your child to sign?  With 40% off there is no better time to check out Signing Time for yourself. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 NDSC Convention


YIKES!  I seriously thought I had 3 weeks left until the NDSC 2014 Convention, but as of today there are less than 2 weeks left to go.  How did time go so fast?  I realized it was getting close when I downloaded the super cool NDSC Convention app today and it told me there were 14 days until the event started.  Wow this app is really slick.  Already I know that ABC Signing Kids will be at booth 38 and the DSAF of NE will be right next door at booth 39 in Griffin Hall and there is even a handy map to tell me where to find those spots. Here is a list of all the Exhibitors 

So if you are going to Indy and you have a smart phone, I highly recommend you download this app.  Then look me up and say Hi at the Signing Time booth, or at the Signing Time Workshop "Jumpstart Your Child's Speech and Language Engine Using Sign Language in room 313 on Sunday July 13th from 10:30 to 12.   It is going to be a great trip!
See You in Indy!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Ups and Downs of T-Ball

Ben enjoyed playing t-ball with his class again this year.  He loved hitting the ball and running the bases and he tolerated standing in the field waiting for a ball to come.  Here are some photos from a game where he chose not to follow the rules and hopefully learned an important lesson.

Hitting the ball is lots of fun.

 So is running the bases.

 Playing in the dirt can be lots of fun too!

 So can pretending to catch the ball with your hat and pretending to sweep your arm down to tag a runner out.  (even when you are playing short stop and no where near a base).  

 When Mom and Dan notice when you are messing around with your hat and not paying attention to the game,  Mom and Dad take will take away your hat and make your really sad.  

Coaches can help feel better about losing your hat (and protect you from balls being hit your direction.

 Brothers can help you feel better too.

 And sometimes it takes brothers and friends to cheer you up. 

 But in the end, playing t-ball with your friends and getting to run on the field makes you forget all about your mean parents who took your hat. 


Friday, June 13, 2014


I have boys and I live on a farm.  For those of you who live in the city, boys who live on farms where the yard is far away from the road and there are lots of outbuilding to hide what your are doing......pee outside.  They don't bother to come in from an exciting baseball game, or from working on a tractor to relieve themselves, they just step around a building and get the job done. 

About a week ago, we were out working with the goats and Ben was with us when he grabbed his pants and said. "Mom!  Potty!.  I knew we would never make it back to the house with dry pants, so I hauled him over to the barn, pulled down his pants, pointed to a spot on the wall and said pee.  Now, first of all, I have to say the boy has to do a little work on his aim, cause his pants still got plenty wet, but he was able to hit the "spot" at least a couple times.  After he was done, we went in and changed, then went back outside.  And I kind of forgot about it. 

Until tonight.

Once again we were back outside.  Ben was hitting golf balls, right next to the house when he said, "Mom! Potty! and he threw down his club, and took off trucking, all the way across the yard to the barn where he whipped down his pants and proceeded to pee on the exact same  spot on the wall.  Working memory issues?  Not today.  It cracks me up that he was right next to the house!  It would have have been way faster to just go in there!  For the record, he still needs to work on his aim.:(

Just one more in a long line of things that I wished I had never taught my boys!  Any guesses on how long it will take him to un-learn it? 

It's T-Ball Time!

Ben loves playing t-ball.  Just like a lot of the other kids he likes to hit the ball, field the ball and play in the dirt.  He has a good sense of how to run the bases and even has a pretty good arm.  His catching needs a little work, but all the kids could use some help in that department.  Enjoy some photos of Ben's first t-ball game.