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!


Devon’s Vietnam

Here are Dev’s thoughts about Vietnam in her own words.  I did add a few punctuation marks this time and lead her a bit with the ideas, but the rest is all Dev!  She had to do a power point for school too :-)

Hi I’m Devon. I would like to share my story about my experience in schools in a different country.

We flew in to Ho Chi Minh City.  We taught in Can Tho and explored the cities in red :-)

We flew in to Ho Chi Minh City. We taught in Can Tho and explored the cities in red :-)

Well, my family went on a educational trip to Vietnam.  It was our first time going.  While we were there we went to a University to teach English.  It was fun and inspirational. I was at the university for the first day with my mom, sister and brother.  My dad was teaching medical stuff.  My mom and I went into several classes to teach “conversational English”  Mainly we asked and answered questions, getting the students to speak English.

My Dad and brother taught this class.  I with I had a picture of the class I taught :-(

My Dad and brother taught this class. I wish had a picture of the class I taught :-(

This is my sister teaching English.  I do not have a picture of me teaching :-(

This is my sister teaching English. I do not have a picture of me teaching :-(

The next several days my mother and I went to a school for kids and teens with Down syndrome.  They showed us different stuff they did to teach them.  My mom talked about me and my education to teachers and students with their moms. They also gave us a tour of the school it was really helpful to see. The students gave us special gifts that they made by hand.  They sew things to sell and carve key chain charms.  There is only one school for the whole area.

Items sewn by the students are sold

Items sewn by the students are sold

The students carve charms out of coconut

The students carve charms out of coconut







After lots of play and relays we were able to get a photo ;-)

After lots of play and relays we were able to get a photo ;-)

The last day I was back at the university with Nana.  When the last class came in I was pulled out of that classroom with Nana,  into a another classroom! t  That’s when I taught a whole class english all by myself.   It was so much fun!

Conversational English at it's best!  Over dinner :-)

Conversational English at it’s best! Over dinner :-)

The next week we spent learning about Vietnam and having fun with my grandparents, yup, they went with us :-)

War sites were actually a small part of our wonderful trip to Vietnam.  Dev's grandfather had been here in 1974.

War sites were actually a small part of our wonderful trip to Vietnam. Dev’s grandfather had been here in 1974.

I hope we get to do that again!



Wow it is hard to believe, we will be in Vietnam in less than a week.

We will be having some fun, teaching some medical stuff and some conversational English.  We will also be leading by example when it comes to INCLUSION and ACCEPTANCE.

The new story about the teen with DS that made the climb to Mt. Everest base camp stated that 90% of the worlds cultures do not include/accept people with disabilities.  While in Vietnam we will be talking with educators and families about the value of all individuals and the fact that your expectations can make a tremendous difference in the abilities of a person.   Be watching, we will be posting about our experiences!



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 :-)



Can Biking really Lead to Driving??

We love to bike.  We prefer to stay on multi-use paths, but, clearly, these get busy and there are a lot of things to navigate and manage.  Dev did not learn to ride over night, but it has been worth all the effort!  Here’s her bike story:

Dev on a bike!

Rock star Dev on a bike with training wheels

First time on a tricycle with a push pole: around age 2 1/2.  Dev walked really early around 14 months, but the reciprocal movement of pedaling is so different; we did a lot more pushing than she did pedaling.  We tried attaching her feet to the pedals and all kids of stuff.

Walking around the block with Dev


First time on a bike with training wheels was around 3 1/2 years… What a rock star!  We could still walk faster than she would ride, but “Wow”.  We did not know things would not change for a while…

Training wheels with increasing size and stature, trailing bikes and tandems from age 5 till age 11ish.  It is amazing when we look back at it.  So many hours spent, so much money spent!  Bikes, several types/styles of training wheels.  The last ones were even called “Fat Wheels”.  They look like mountain bike tires and they fit on bigger bike frames.  But for real family rides, we needed more control and speed for the family to go places together, so we also had trailer bikes and finally a tandem.  For one summer I remember being on the front of the tandem, Dev in the second set, and Ian on the trailer attached to the tandem…it worked well going down hill, but a lot of work on the way back up!  I wish I had a picture!  Then we heard about the “Lose the Training Wheels” program:

What a great program.  Dev was riding with out training wheels by the end of week.  It was amazing.  We still put in many hours of practice. The amount of multi-tasking that goes into riding well is amazing.  Balance, speed, steering all at once.  Then you add in environment, bumps on the pavement, hill, people, cars…  It is not easy and it takes a long time.  Here is the video of her riding today–age 15.

After the Lose the Training Wheels program we practiced and practiced in parking lots, on family rides, every where we could.  She rode her bike to school with friends a few times at the beginning of 6th grade!  She was 12.  The girls figured out that the moms would also drive a car pool and opted for that most days :-), but what a gift to ride with typical peers!  She rode to the neighborhood pool with her friends and sibs.  We rent bikes at the beach; we take bikes with us on rode trip vacation.  She still likes to follow a leader, her brother (6yrs her junior) is a faster more confident rider, but she rides at a pace that does not drive anyone crazy.  Now we ride as a family lots of places and are considering a bike touring “race”.

If Dev was 4-6 now, what would we do?  I think we would try one of those “balance” bikes that look like bikes with out the pedals.  I think we would not even try training wheels, just go from the tricycle to a balance bike and back and forth.  Get the reciprocal motion on the tricycle and the balance from the “balance bike”.  Her younger brother learned to balance on one of these and it was a much easier transition to the bike than Dev’s older sister’s from training wheels to a free bike.

So we have no question all of our time, sweat and elbow grease was worth it already, but other benefits have we earned?  Social inclusion, family time together, physical fitness all wonderful.  Independence, pre-driving skills… that is certainly true for “typical” teens so what about Dev?  She has learned a lot of the rules of the road, “tight to the right”, how to steer and not look at the handle bars, avoid obstacles, merge, speed matching…  So do I think Dev will drive?   I do think so.  It will take more time and more practice and the final will be more restricted (maybe just on the farm in Missouri) but I do think Dev will drive.  I know she will almost as proud as we are already.





Driving a car is such a big deal here in the states.  Independence, identity, freedom are all associated with getting a drivers license.  So.. Is it realistic for Dev to drive and get a license?

Dev is not our oldest, so we have been scared by the idea of one of our kids behind the wheel already.  Our oldest took her time getting her license and we were OK with that.  Driving in Seattle is a bit scary for seasoned drivers; amazing hills, skinny streets, big vehicles and those were just a few of my problems!  So Bren had lots of practice before sitting her driving exam.

Lots of practice is the key we have decided.  We are blessed to have wonderful grandparents for our kids.  They happen to live way out in the country with some land and “farm vehicles”.  This is where our oldest got her first practice along with classic go-cart race way tracks.  Dev has never been interested in driving the ATV’s, or go-carts or even horses until this year.

So when we were on the farm a few weeks ago she got her first chance be hind the wheel.  The vehicle is a “mule”, sort of a golf cart on steroids. Here we go:

I wish we were closer to the farm, but it takes 2 planes and a 3 hour drive from Seattle…  I think with LOTS of practice she will do well in specific settings.  So we will keep putting of real driving for a while yet.

We will continue to ride bikes.  I do think it is a great precursor in lots of ways.  My next post will review Dev’s bike riding!



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.


Rescuing and Hope

We have had an amazing January.  Everyone going in different directions, and doing well.  Our oldest is a junior in high school and is starting to have some insight and thoughts for the future…   Our youngest is starting to figure out if you work at something and it turns out well, it is fun!  Dev has made a few amazing strides too, small things are not always small.

Our oldest has always been self sufficient and fiercely independent.  Dev has always been more of a hold on to my leg, you go first kind of kid in new situations.  So we have gotten used to a see-saw mode of parenting.  Lots of space and long distance parenting for big sis and lots of hand holding and repetition for Dev.  So earlier this month when I had to change plans on the fly I was worried.  Dev was already on the city bus heading home from school, and I was not going to be able to meet her…

We had played the “what if” game and she knows the route home from the bus (about a mile) but she has not done it by herself.  So, as the tech savvy family we are,  I texted her.    I gave her the choice of walking home alone, or going into Tully’s  and getting herself a steamer, also alone…  She does not like to order or pay, we have played this game for awhile too.  We go over the order, the money, what to say… then she is supposed to go to the clerk while I stand in the back.  She almost always freezes and waves for help.  And, this was a new Tully’s, we have used it as a landmark, but have rarely ever entered it.  I thought she would choose to walk home, but she surprised me and chose Tully’s.

When I finally got to pick her up, she was so happy and proud of herself.  I do not know if she got the right change back, or if the clerk understood her order, or 10 other questions, I did not ask.  What I do know is that she is growing up and will live on her own one of these days!  So since school restarted in January she has walked home from the bus stop once and stopped at Tully’s twice.  I will keep meeting her at the bus stop most of the time, but now I won’t worry so much if I’m late.  Little steps lead to wonderful walks!

Wait for next week and I’ll tell you more tales of her independence on the slopes at summit!



Welcome to Raise Expectations.

This site will discuss many aspects of raising our expectations for kids with special needs and provides useful resources to assist you . I hope you will return often and contribute with your stories (Share page) and comments to these blog posts. Also, feel free to contact me using the information on the site’s Contact page.

This site will discuss all aspects of raising a healthy child and provides useful resources to assist you .  Many of these topics are also discussed in depth in my new book by the same name. To find a topic of specific interest, you can click on the categories (see the sidebar) or use the site search.I hope you will return often and contribute with your stories (Share page) and comments to these blog posts.  Also, feel free to contact me using the information on the site’s Contact page.