There is always a something that you can put your finger on, that started a change of perspective. For me, Band of Angels was one of those.
When Elise was born, as I've said. We were surprised. We went through some of the adjustments super quick. We knew that there would be some changes to our life with the addition of the Bonus Chromosome on 21. I doubt either of us realized how much. But we made a very deliberate choice early on, that she was still our daughter, still our baby, and still should be celebrated, regardless of everyone else's reaction. So we did.
But the information available to us was still fairly limited, and still VERY negative.
The generation of the 70's and 80's brought these kids out of the institutions, to be sure. The information wasn't all negative, there were huge strides in science, and they fought us out into the light and the general population. But there was a distinct lack of celebration...they had spent all their time fighting that it was all facts and little happiness. I believe the end of the 80's and 90's brought the normalcy and some joy. I hope that the 90's and 2000's will bring more hope and joy.
I was a 7th grade Social Studies/inclusion teacher when we had Elise. And the school I worked at was mind-blowingly supportive and positive. I can still never thank them enough. The administration allowed me to do some of my professional development hours in research about Down Syndrome. I wrote up a lot of information about their health, mental expectations, and some educational opportunities...and I soaked in everything I could find...
In the HOURS (weeks...months..) I spent immersed in the internet, I stumbled on to the Band of Angels website. I bought an old calendar for my heart...and then a current one...and then the Common Threads book and bawled my eyes out. It was so beautiful and so celebratory. And it felt like it was the first thing that said that my life was not only going to be okay, but it would be beautiful and joyful...and that I had every reason to be proud of my gorgeous pocket-sized baby....which was the first time that I could truly say that someone other than me didn't think I was delusional, in denial, or emotionally cracked for seeing how pretty my tilt-y eyed baby really was.
The calendars and the Common Threads books featured exquisite pictures done of gorgeous tilt-y eyed children all in black and white and hand tinted...and the Common Threads book took it one step further and included triumphs and POSITIVE statistics on children and people with Down Syndrome. What percentages of people with Downs lived independently, played instruments, held jobs, who won national art contests...and so much more! I wept with the beauty and my soul was bathed in the healing properties of hope.
I will never be able to tell you what this company did for me...Never. I adore them for their products, I adore them for their new parent packages, and I love them for the joy they have steeped their products in.
When I started this blog, my hope was to put a little more of that joy and celebration of day to day out there for others. I put some of the struggles out there, too, but not to depress...rather to allow others to see that all my celebration of my sweet girl is rooted in normal parent struggles and to understand that the successes are that much more a true triumph! The harder the battle the more amazing the victory!
A month or so into it, I decided that I was going to do a giveaway for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I would do a calendar, I thought. Just in time for the New Year. Perfect. Then I decided to ask Band of Angels if they'd like to be involved and see if they'd "up the ante" maybe sweeten it with a Common Threads book or a set of cards or something. I heard back from Cynthia Kidder herself, saying how she enjoyed the blog and they totally wanted to be involved. My heart sky-rocketed. I figured that my email would go to someone who handled "crazy lady" requests...but I heard from the actual lady who unknowingly put emotional band aids on my heart 8 years ago and handed me hope, and on a silver platter to boot.
We've gone back and forth a bit...and I now have the Band of Angels badge on my sidebar...I am wearing it so proudly, I am surprised that you can't see the big grin on my face every time I so much as LOOK in the direction of my computer!! AND they have decided to do a 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Like TWELVE items!!!! My little mind is swimming just writing that!!
Okay. SO!! Here is the deal. The first thing I am going to do here is up your anticipation a little bit....just so I don't feel alone....because I am high-as-a-kite excited!! Each day of TWELVE days there will be a giveaway. I *think* I am going to keep it on week days so all of your Christmas parties, holiday travels, and Christmas shopping doesn't keep you from getting a chance at these goodies...And you will have a chance at a Biggie Win at the end...I will tell you more of the details on Monday along with the FIRST giveaway!
But today (and until I post the first giveaway) you get a chance for an extra entry to a giveaway. It's simple. All you have to do is go to http://www.bandofangels.com/ and comment here or on the Facebook page of this blog and tell what you HOPE is in the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Stash!!! If you are right, then I will put you in an extra entry for that particular giveaway!! Cool, huh??? So, go dream shop, and come back here or on Facebook and tell me what you hope is on that List!!!
Go, Go, GO!!! :)