iPad Winner for “Sam’s Top Secret Journal” Contest

“Sam’s Top Secret Journal–book 1–We Spy” is a fun, middle reader, chapter mystery that happens to have a main character with Down Syndrome.

Get yours today!

Get yours today!

The reason for the book is multi-facited.

1.  Inspire,   trying to inspire families touched by DS by showing what can be possible

2.  Inclusion,  showing class mates, siblings, teachers what can be possible

3.  Fun, a fun story just for the stories sake

We wanted more families to find “Sam’s Top Secret Journal” so we ran a contest to Win an iPad.  Dev loves her iPad and there are soo many Apps for education, communication, fun we thought it was a great fit!

Dev Drawing the winner

Dev Drawing the winner

The contest involved answering a simple question from the book and sending us contact information.  From all of the entries Dev got to draw a winner!  Drum roll please…..  Valerie and Josh were the lucky winners!

Josh loves the iPad!

Josh loves the iPad!

Thanks to all that entered!  Please share the “Sam’s Top Secret Journal–book 1– We Spy”.  Book 2 “The Lost Puppy” is scheduled to be out this summer!


Win an Ipad!

Real life "Sam"

Real life “Sam and John”

Raise Expectations is running a contest to win a new iPad!


apple iPad


The contest will start Monday March 4th and end April 17th 2013.

Enter the contest by sending  in your answer to the question:

“How did Sam describe her dad after trying out his new bike in their driveway on his birthday?” from the book Sam’s Top Secret Journal, book 1- We Spy.

Get yours today!

Get yours today!


Send your answer in by responding here in the comments, email to sue48104@me.com or message me on RaiseExpectations Facebook page,   Don’t give away the answer on the main page, but message me :-)

All correct answers will be entered into the drawing.  To win you must come from a household that has at least one child under the age of 16 or a household with a person who has a developmental disability.  All answers must include contact information in the event they win the contest.  We reserve the right to independently verify the household information is within the guidelines of the contest already stipulated. We will be awarding one Ipad (500$ value!) to a contestant who will be randomly drawn.

Get your copy of Sam’s Top Secret Journal by clicking on this link:  Sam’s Top Secret Journal. Sam’s Top Secret Journal can also be downloaded on Kindle, borrowed from the Seattle public library or purchased from any independent bookstore!

Join us in celebrating National Disabilities Awareness Month!

And International Down Syndrome Day 3-21!




Becoming a better Hobbit, Wizard or Human

While riding my bike to work this morning I had one of those life changing moments when someone tried to run me off the rode then honked their horn at me as they did so. I was in there way and they were probably late for work.  This wasn’t some masked stranger but a neighbor who probably didn’t recognize me.

After my anger subsided I realized something.  The person who ran me off the road was someone who drove a fuel efficient car, gave to charities, and probably went to church.  Yet, when it came to getting to work, they were willing to put my life in danger?  As I approached work I was reminded of my adventure to see “The Hobbit ” with my family over the weekend.

Wise Wizard

Lets all learn to be better

As Gandalf tried to explain why he chose this little hobbit for such a pivotal role in their adventure he said: ” —….  believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That’s because I am afraid and it gives me courage.”

At the time I didn’t think too much about the exchange, but the events of my day brought it to light.  Every simple kindness, every thank you, gratitude, they are ripples in the ocean that turn into waves.  Opening that door, smiling, giving praise, these simple things build us up and come from our heart.  Being a better hobbit doesn’t cost anything, except, maybe, thirty seconds of our day to be considerate of others.  Keeping up appearances does not stave off evil, or make us better, more earnest, human beings.  The daily struggle to be happy, to think of others takes energy, but it also gives back.  When you smile and say thank and it’s returned your battery is recharged, you become lighter on your feet and ready to move on.

When we think of inclusion we think of just the special kids and forget we are all different and that the small kindnesses we give each other all small microcosms of inclusion.  Find me a better movie that touts the benefits of inclusion more then the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.  A small “half ling” joins a band of dwarfs who don’t have a home with a large wizard.  They are eventually joined by humans and elves.  All these beings are very different and it’s only as they get to know each other do they discover that through all their differences these pieces make a whole and they fit together like a beautiful puzzle.

As we strive to get though each day think not of how you can make the world a better place, just be nice.  Raise the bar for humanity by being a normal person who thinks of others.  The simple things do matter, and they matter most when we are at our lowest.

“We can all learn from Gandalf”



Thanksgiving here was not our typical holiday. We still spent a lot of time enjoying food, thinking of family and friends and watching football, but Sean and Dev also had a new experience: Being on TV!

Why?  Mainly to keep working on getting the message out there that the world will be a better place the more inclusive it is.

Inclusive: not excluding any particular groups of people in a society.

It seems that our society is becoming more inclusive and exclusive at the same time. We have an African American President, a Female Secretary of State, openly gay members of Congress, and a person with an Intellectual Disability on the ADA panel. Yet, the closed-mindedness of the political season was astounding. The division of past and future, good and evil and black and white seems to be razor sharp.

Raise Expectations started out as a way for Sean and I to look outward and share our experiences of “Special Education”. In the process we have come to realize that it is not just about the inclusion of kids with DS, ID or DDD (what ever DX), but it is more about celebrating differences. We do believe inclusive education is key in teaching appreciation and empathy to all.

The earlier we are exposed to different genders, races, religions, cultures, abilities (physical and intellectual) and ideologies the less scary they are; the sooner we can learn the value that each difference brings to this world. I hope we, as a society, can learn to be more open minded, accepting and inclusive.

I’m going to choose to be Thankful and Hopeful, to live in the Positive.  My new favorite quote is from Einstein: ” Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow”.  Dev seems to do this everyday, she is, as Sean said “an ambassador of possibilities”.

Dev and Sean (and a few more cheer leaders :-) will be on KING 5 New Day Northwest on December 5th at 11am! Please take a look!



“Be a Fan of Unity”

That is the slogan on the Special Olympics Blog site.   What a great sentiment:  Unity, coming together as one, working for a common goal.  It seem so obvious, why is it so difficult?

We are new to Special Olympics.  We have had limited interactions, Sean helped with physicals for a few years in Florida when the kids where little, but Dev has never competed, and we have not volunteered recently.  We have always trended towards an inclusive reality, and Dev has been able to participate.

For the most part we just signed her up, continuing with the “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” philosophy.  Pre-school- elementary soccer, softball, dance, gymnastic, basketball, swimming… You name it, Dev was on a team and loved it. As parents we helped coach or supplied snacks.  The other parents and coaches were always encouraging, the teammates played and enjoyed too, Unified to win the games/scores/play.

“hitting a home run”!

Soccer as a pre-schooler means running around in a pack after a ball :-)










Dev on the bar, looking beautiful! 3rd in line

Dev, waving at us from 3rd place!









Moving in to middle school things became harder, as skills progressed.  The middle school in Michigan had a “no cut” policy for some sports, so those are the ones she played.  Her early experiences and abilities gave her skills to be included. She played on the B teams for middle school basketball, and swam.  She also joined a rock climbing club, what a great sport!  In Seattle she also played on basketball team (#14) and enjoyed gymnastics classes.


Dev loves to climb high on the walls and in life!

If we could find a convenient climbing gym, I think she would still be climbing :-)

High school, as many of you know, she has been cheer leading.  First she joined a cheer team specifically for kids with disabilities.  It was a wonderful experience and Dev learned a lot of cheering skills, but also learned she liked inclusive teams.  So when she made the high school team for her sophomore year she was thrilled!  She has learned more cheers and dances than I ever thought she would be able too. Recently a friend mentioned the Unified Soccer Team at Hale.  The teams  have equal numbers of players with and with out intellectual disabilities.

Through the years, the coaches and the teammates have learned a lot too, not to pre-judge or underestimate. Teams work when everyone is working together for a common goal.  Each member of the team has a role, some are big some are small, but they rely on each other.  I hope that is the direction the Special Olympics are going with their Unified Team approach.

In life our lives are tied to each other.  We can build each other up or tear each other down, but we are connected.  We learn from ALL of those around us, how we treat others is how we will be treated.  “We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same” (Ann Frank). Together, unified, we can make the world a better place.


Summer Sleep-a-Way Camp!

Dev at camp, she is in the front row, second from the left :-)

The first time Dev went to sleep-a-way camp I was scared, “how many glasses of milk will she spill, with the other kids be nice, will she keep her hands off her face…”  The second time I was worried, “will the kids be nice, will she get bullied”.  The third time I wondered, ” Am I being selfish sending her to camp… Am I intruding on “typical kids” experiences”.    Now I will finally start to relax, why because of this little note the counselor sent home:

“Dear Devon,

I am so glad you were in P… cabin with me this week.  You are one of the most positive people I’ve ever met and you inspire me to be better person with a more positive outlook on life.  I loved hearing you get excited for Whatever we were about to do – from pool time to meals and Island trip.  I hope you continue to share your joyful personality with us here at camp.  Best, ……. and ……..

What a gift from the counselor to me.  I know Dev teaches me daily, but she really teaches others too, at least those willing to learn.

Enjoy, Learn and Teach!

Pool time! Dev is 3rd from the left in the pink 2-piece :-)



Wow, Still Up and Coming!


Dev on the lava rocks in Hawaii

It is a big world out there

I’m so blessed to be too busy!  3 kids, 3 schools, 2 dogs, one wonderful husband and all that comes with a family!  I’ve been blessed to be a “stay at home” mom, a never ending, wonderful, crazy, unscheduled “Job”, since Dev was born in 1996.

In my past life I was an Occupational Therapist.  I’ve looked into going back at different times but life has always intervened: 1) When Dev was doing really well in preschool-August 2001, Sean was active duty in the Air Force… and sent overseas directly after September 11, 2001.  2) The birth of our 3 child–June 2002 ( I will attest we through cation to the wind as he was sent off to war)  He was back before Ian was born (thank goodness).  3) Getting out of the Air Force–moving from Florida to Michigan.  4) Getting Ian ready for school.  5) Economic downturn… move from Michigan to Washington… 6) getting kids settled in new schools…7) NOW??

I do not really want any more life changing events, so I’m not looking into going back to OT right now :-)…  Instead I’m working on navigating the new world of collage for our oldest and getting ideas about secondary education for Dev. I’m working on volunteering in my son’s elementary school room.  I’m working on marketing my husbands children’s book that includes a child with DS.  I’m working on this committee and that committee to improve inclusion/opportunity/… for kids with special needs.  I’m working on organizing the bills, the house, the garage, the garden, the…..  continually.

My ADD life compounds my ADD personality, I’m always willing to leave the house work to play lego’s, go to the pool or help with home work.

I guess this is all an excuse for why I have not posted as often as I would like.  I do have several posts in the works: Biking Independence, Driving…, Swimming, Reliving the Prom, Cheer leading, Sam’s Top Secret Journal.


Up and Coming!

Wow so much has happened since the last post!  I’ve have been posting on Facebook, and will continue to while this site is being up-dated.

We have so much to discuss!  IEP’s, Cheer leading, the Prom, Summer camp ideas!

working out

Dev loves to stay in shape

Dev also has a new blog of her own, the plan is for her to blog weekly!

Hope you like the new look!



Friendship Circle of Washington

Friends make life wonderful

The Friendship Circle program is amazing.  The main mission is to make a better world one friendship at a time.  This is furthered by facilitating friendships with individuals that have a difficult time making friends–kids with disabilities.

There are chapters around the country.  The original one started in Michigan and they have an amazing program, one we can all hope to have in the future.  Here is a link to their web:  http://www.friendshipcircle.org/

We also have a local chapter here in Seattle.  We are working to make it fill all of Seattle’s needs, but we are new and small, so take a look and Donate if you can!  There is so much to do and so many great people involved take a look.   Here is a link: http://www.friendshipcirclewa.org/

Our local chapter is having a Dinner to thank all of the Volunteers this weekend, May 6th!  Dev is both a volunteer and a friend!  They meet 2-4 times a month and hang out and work towards peer to peer interactions and fun!

I’ll post more soon with more information after the dinner!

Friends make life wonderful

Open Dress Rehearsal for Shooting Star Cheer Team

Evergreen Cheer Team in Portland

GO Shooting Stars!

Hi everyone!  Sorry it has been so long, I have so much to write and catch up on!  School, Skiing, New Ideas, Looking forward to 10th grade, Nathan Hale Cheer, the Prom, Best Buddies and the Friendship Circle…and Shooting Star Cheer Team.

So for time constraints I will tell you about the Shooting Star Cheer Team’s Schedule!  We have our last official meet on Sunday March 25 in Tacoma.  We will be scored at this meet! (another blog in the works about this…)  To get ready we are having a Dress Rehearsal for family and friends!  Please come join us for a fun look at our team, you may decide to join us next season!

Where:  Eastside Gymnastics Academy in Woodinville: Eastside Gymnastics Academy
When: Saturday, March 24th around 9:30am.  This will be informal, we are also taking team pictures, but it should be a lot of fun and you can see what the program is like!

Our next fun event is Northwest Special Families fundraiser:  Can Do Race  The Cheer team will be on stage to cheer on the runners, some will run the kids dash and we will cheer on the runners as they come to the finish line!  This is a great event!  Please check it out!

More to come, more often!  Check back soon!