Sean and I are blessed to have 3 wonderful kids.  Parenting is the hardest job ever.  Most of us when we think about having kids we only think of the baby.  We do not think about “tweens” frustrations or adolescence rebellion.

Our oldest will be off to college this fall and our youngest moved out of elementary and will start middle school in the fall as well.  Dev our middle will stay in high school, starting her junior year…  So we’ve been parents for a little while and yet have a long way to go.

Open Heart, Open Mind

Growing up…

So when Dev gave me this poem/note last night it helps to keep your strength up.

Never Gonna Stop Me Now
by Devon Adelman

When I was little I always wanted
To be a zookeeper.
But as I grew older I wanted
To be a writer so I can express
My feelings and to show them the real me.

I always had my parents by my side
they taught me To stand on my own
to believe
I love my parents with all of my heart
Because they have been there for me
Whenever I feel sad they always cheer me up
When I have problems they help me
Also when I feel afraid of something they taught me how to be brave
Everyday I feel like I belong in this world
I’m not alone but it’s a long road ahead
My parents were always there for me
Now I’m an 11th grader
It makes my mother and father have tears to see me grow into a beautiful woman that dreams big
I am special for who I am ,
I am  famous for who I am
This is something new that I dream about
My whole life is to write stories and poems because that’s what I love doing

I had a song for my parents that I wanted to sing for them it’s called ” you raise me up ” by Westlife.  It means so much to me, because you raised me up with a big heart, that shows that you cared about me.  Without you beside me I wouldn’t be here that’s how much I love my parents with a big heart .

Parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.  Being Dev’s mom has so many rewards, being reminded of them is wonderful!


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 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!




“Pushing Myself”

Dev just started a ski team here in Seattle called “SkiHawks”.   We have skied for awhile.  First just Sean and I, then on vacations.  Now here in Seattle we can ski almost every weekend!  It has been a lot of fun for most of the family….  Dev has always been our “reluctant” skier.  She would go, and be in a class in the morning then ski with me in the afternoon, but she has never been a “big fan”

Dev and

We knew about the “SkiHawks” through a friend that works with Sean.  We were hesitant because the team races…  Dev has amazing control on skis, but she has never cared for speed, be in skis, on a bike, on a boat, in general.  So we did not think it would be a great fit, but the work mate encouraged us.  We gave in with the thought if she did not like it we would let her out of it…

As with so many things, Dev surprised us.  She LOVED her coach (an amazing person and skier). After her first lesson she was looking forward to the next weekend with a fever!  She would mention skiing at dinner, on the way home from school, just counting down the days.  The next week (just last weekend) the race course was set up.  She has never been near gates let alone want to go down them.  But…  when we met up at lunch, she said “I did the race course twice!”

We asked her coach how it went and she said there was an invitational coming up and if Dev wanted to be in it they could try the course again, but she might have to push herself a little to go faster…  We told Dev it was up to her and her coach and we would support what ever she chose.  They headed out for the afternoon part of the lesson.

We met her coach at the end of the day.  She was impressed with the change in Dev, but did not get the chance to say more before Dev interjected, “I went FAST!!”,  “I’m going to race next week”.  We were excited for her and glad she was having such a great time with her coach, but did not give it too much more thought.

Then, Dev and I were in the car heading to gymnastics practice.  She had clearly been thinking about things.  She said “you know mom, I had a great time skiing with Galynn.  I think I’m going to push my self in gymnastics today, just like when I was skiing…”  She thought again for a while then added “and in Cheer practice“.  I thought this was great and remarked that when you push your self it may be difficult, but it is a way to get better at what your working on.  Again she thought for a second or to then added “I’m going to push myself in long division too”

I love this kid.  She is determined, persistent, and usually happy about it.

Here is the video of her first Race with the SkiHawks program.  She did 3 runs and improved her time on each one!  Sean was snowboarding while filming too!


Thanks for watch, I’ll let you know about the improvements in long division too :-)


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”


Looking in the Mirror

Catching sight of your self in the store window can sometimes wake you up. What do I look like to others vs what I look like to myself. And more still what do I look like compared to what I think I look like.

We just found this great teaching video about DS done by the Kansas City DS Guild.

Our family enjoyed it, we decided it would be great to send on the teachers, principle, coaches at Dev’s school. They also thought it was well done and thought it would be a great thing to show their student population through “mentorship classes”. The school strives to be inclusive and has a variety of kids in a variety of settings. Yeah! Lots of great stuff right.

Almost as an after thought we decided to share it with Dev, after all she is an expert when it comes to DS, right… Dev knows she has DS, like she knows she as blond hair and girl parts. We have talked about how it may be harder for her to learn new things, or say certain sounds; how she is super flexible and very empathetic as being related to DS, but not overly so.

9.9 times out of 10 when I see Dev I see Dev, I do not see Down Syndrome. 9.9 times out of 10 when I head to store I’m not thinking about the jean’s and t-shirt I have on… But when I get to the store what do others see… When Dev gets to school/on the bus, what do others see…

Every morning when I get up I do not think about how blessed I am to wake up in a bed, warm, with food in the fridge. I also do not think about being challenged by my serious need for glasses or my constant disorganization. I get up put on my glasses, and get going on the day. Dev is the same. She does not get up each day and say “oh yeah, I have DS, I need to work on… today” She just gets going.

Open Heart, Open Mind

After Dev watched the video, she stated, “ I have 47 chromosomes” (yep), “cool”. Then she said, “I need to find a friend with DS, because they make great friends”. She sees herself as the person able to be a good friend to a person with DS, as well as the person with DS. She identifies with both sides of the picture. I think that is remarkable. I what more people to see the world from the possibilities point of view, and open their minds and hearts.

To order the film or to donate to this great program follow this link:


“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 :-)



Cheer Camp 2012 What an Experience!

What a week!  First Dev got her new cheer uniform:

Dev in her new uniform 2012

Some how the uniform makes it all real.  It was a very nice afternoon, all the new kids on the team got together with the coaches and received their uniforms.  Lots of screams and excitement!

Then on Monday the team headed out a tour bus, off to a week long National Cheer Association cheer camp!

And the team is off to camp

I was a little anxious, I was going to meet the girls a few hours later in central Washington.  During the bus ride the girls were going exchange secret pal gifts, hang out, then change into their uniforms for pictures once they got to the camp.  Dev is very independent, but changing on the bus into a tight cheer uniform with a bus load of “typical” kids…  Of course she did well.  She is amazing.  When I found them on the university campus, she looked great!  She was proud she was able to do the button on her skirt independently!  I just put the bow in her hair and she was picture ready!

The squad at cheer camp, fresh off the bus

The plan was for Dev to spend the day with the squad, then rather than sleeping in the dorms with the girls, she would share a room with me in a separate dorm.  We were OK with this plan.  Dev got to go to camp, she would get to sleep, all would work out.  BUT…  after a great day with the squad, they offered for her to stay in the dorm with the squad and the Leadership staff.  Dev was thrilled!  She got her own room in the dorms.  She did not join in all the crazy night stuff with some of the squad, but she was included!

Dev received a “gold medal moment” tag for being inspirational, AND was invited to stay in the dorm with the squad!

What a great experience!  The camp went on for a week!  Each day they would learn new dances, chants and cheers.  They worked on stunts, team building and having fun.  I am still amazed with number of routines they all learned and performed!  What I am more impressed with though is the way the camp and especially the cheerleaders treated Dev just like any other cheerleader.

Hot and tired the kids relax and laugh together

I think the more time spent together the more we all realize we are far more alike than different.  The future is bright.

Real CheerLeading is Leading! This is what Dev and the squad are doing in 2012!


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:

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:

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!