I’ll be honest – this call for photos for Down Syndrome Awareness Month was kind of an afterthought, triggered by Ellen’s recent Parents post. But I am SO. GLAD. I did it, because now my blog is filled with all of these beautiful faces. How about that handsome guy, Troy (and his handsome pup), up top?


You might recognize Alec – his family was passing near Mayberry not long ago and we met for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel.


Alex is a local boy – the kids and I see him every morning when I drop Sarah Kate off at school, and he greets us out the car window.


Brunson’s photo makes me laugh – Nathan has driven his Power Wheels 4-wheeler into our fence countless times (while being followed by the dog).


Sweet Colton in the sand…which reminds me, I need to vacuum my bedroom. Nathan played in the sandbox at school on Thursday and I took his shoes off in my room.



Darcie is the cutest pumpkin I’ve seen in a long time!



You may remember Ethan, Nathan’s carnival games partner, from last year’s Buddy Walk.


What a fun-loving little dude Jack seems to be!


I hope Jackson is better at soccer than Nathan was.

Kyler and his brothers

I love seeing buddies with their siblings, like Kyler and his brothers.


I swear, Katherine Eileen could be Nathan’s younger sister – the hair, the expression, the mischievous twinkle in the eye…



Lexi and Lila are sisters – aren’t they adorable in their matching outfits?





I’m a sucker for little kids in glasses, and Mary-Lynn is rocking hers!



All babies are cute, but Olivia is ADORBS!


Nathan with Katie (2012)

Yep, that’s MY Nathan, but I’m including it because when I put out the call for buddy photos, my friend Katie shared this photo of HER buddy. It was taken two years ago (almost to the day) at her wedding.


Thank you all so, so much for sharing photos of your buddies with me and my readers. This collection of images demonstrates how diverse they really are – there’s no doubt it’s a myth that people with Down syndrome all look alike. But, of course, you already knew that. :)



Sarah Kate made her band debut on Friday night.

The sixth, seventh, and eighth grade band students were invited to participate in the pre-game spirit tunnel and first half pep music at the Mayberry football game. Participation wasn’t mandatory, so I was glad Sarah Kate wanted to join in.

Things got off to a rocky start.

Before we ever left the house, Sarah Kate was on the verge of tears, apprehensive about standing on the field with her clarinet. She was afraid she would drop it, break something, fall, or [fill in the blank eleven-year-old band horror]. Mr. Andi was out of town, but my mother-in-law, Charlotte, came for the weekend and between the two of us we managed to calm her down. The experience was the opposite of the start of softball, when I was a wreck and she was very nonchalant about the whole thing.

The next hiccup came when I went through the dozens of ribbons she has to put in her hair and discovered that she has several colors of blue, none of which were the school color of royal blue. We went with navy instead, assuming that mixed with the gold it would be close enough. Unfortunately, we discovered too late that the opponent’s school colors were navy and gold…


At the stadium, we met hiccup number three: an incredibly steep decline at the band member gate. Sarah Kate definitely couldn’t walk down it, and the wheelchair wasn’t especially safe, either. The gatekeeper looked like she wasn’t going to let us in (Band Members Only!), even for a moment to help her, but about that time Sarah Kate’s band director appeared and we were allowed to pass (with a guarantee that we would return from whence we came and go pay to get in like everyone else).


The woodwinds were lined up across the bottom few rows, so they just let Sarah Kate stay in her chair at the end of the row. The clarinet section leader, Emily, seemed to take a shine to Sarah Kate, helping her get warmed up or whatever it is that school band people do.


When it came time for the spirit tunnel, Emily had Sarah Kate hold both of their clarinets in her lap while she pushed her onto the field.


Sarah Kate had a great spot – right next to the cheerleaders and Pirate mascot. She didn’t actually play while the team ran out, because the sixth graders hadn’t learned the fight song, but she told me that she held her clarinet and moved her fingers without blowing so she “wouldn’t look like an idiot.”


At the end of the first quarter, I eased back down to the band section of the bleachers to check on her. She was wearing a sweatshirt I’d never seen before and smiling and chit-chatting with great gusto. When she spotted me, she waved wildly – a vast improvement over the pre-game apprehension.


A wheelchair isn’t exactly compatible with marching band, of course, but she has almost three years before she needs to be able to play in formation. It’s possible, too, that she could have the opportunity to be “in the pit” and avoid marching altogether. Of course, she also has almost three years to change her mind and ditch band completely.

One of my biggest worries as she approaches the teen years is how difficult it will be for her to be included fully – not just to be known and liked, but to truly find “her people,” the ones with common interests that will be her close friends. Friday night’s band debut was just one half of one football game on one night in one season, but when I collected her at the end of halftime and saw the genuine joy on her face, I was encouraged.

Sarah Kate may find her tribe, after all.


Don’t forget! If you’d like for me to share a photo of your “buddy” here on the blog for Down Syndrome Awareness Month, share it on my Facebook page by noon ET tomorrow, October 29 with your child’s name. No Facebook? Shoot me a message here and I’ll let you know where you can send your photo. Photos will be up on Thursday!


Sun-Beams: October 26, 2014

October 26, 2014

Sun-Beams is a collection of links to stories, articles, photos, or videos I have come across that I believe will inspire, inform, or encourage you, as well as my favorite photo posted on my other blog, Violet Film, from the past week. Alzheimer’s-Down syndrome relationship explained – Fascinating new research into the “why” Overcoming odds, MMA fighter […]

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Seven Snippets: Engine Block Biscuits, Spirit Tunnels, and a Bilingual Parrot

October 24, 2014

— 1 — Mr. Andi left for his annual Louisiana fishing trip earlier this week, which he takes every fall with his fave uncle – he leaves around 1:00 am so that he can have his boat in the water by 6:00 am. As he was finishing up packing, he told me he had spoken […]

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The Myth of the Fenced Backyard

October 23, 2014

Three years ago, Mr. Andi, with the help of a neighbor, built our backyard fence. Back then, he was in a race against time before Nathan started walking (which would lead to escaping). We opted for a wooden picket fence because we had grown used to the vast expanse across our yard and our back-door […]

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Why Our Buddy Didn’t Walk This Year

October 21, 2014

Had you noticed I haven’t mentioned Down Syndrome Awareness Month this year? Every October since Nathan was born in 2010, our family has participated in a local Buddy Walk for Down syndrome. Well … it’s kind of local. We walk with the Down Syndrome Society of Mobile County (DSSMC), but we don’t live in Mobile County. […]

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Sun-Beams: October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014

Sun-Beams is a collection of links to stories, articles, photos, or videos I have come across that I believe will inspire, inform, or encourage you, as well as my favorite photo posted on my other blog, Violet Film, from the past week. What People Can’t Tell About Kids With Down Syndrome From Looks Alone – Great stuff […]

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Seven Snippets … Or Not

October 17, 2014

I’ve got a list of snippets for you, but I was hit hard this week by the stomach flu, and … I just didn’t have the strength to finish typing them up. I’ll hold the details on Sarah Kate’s new braces, a video of Nathan the first night he got his fire truck loft bed, […]

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Yep, He Really Did It: The Fire Truck Loft Bed

October 16, 2014

Remember a couple of months ago when we dreamed of building a fire truck loft bed for Nathan? Back then I said: Mr. Andi is 100% sure he can build it, but I’m only 60% certain he can do it, so I calculate the odds of us attempting it at 80%…..Stay tuned. Well, the bed is (mostly) finished so I […]

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Could This Tiny Packet Change My Daughter’s Life?

October 14, 2014

Strictly speaking: No, because it’s a sample. But packets like it – filled with real blood, not just a demo fluid made to look like it – do have the power to positively impact children with cerebral palsy, autism, diabetes, and other health conditions that have no cure and few treatment options. My recent trip […]

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