Lottery

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Patricia Wood has written a first novel with a protagonist who has an IQ of 76. Lottery is the story of Perry, who finds himself in the unusual position of holding the winning ticket to the Washington State Lottery. In an instant, he becomes a millionaire twelve times over and his life is transformed, in both predictable and unexpected ways.

I first became aware of Pat because her ex-husband’s brother has Down syndrome. Currently, she’s a Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii, focusing on education, disability, and diversity. Also, she’s a talented and generous writer with a wonderful blog about writing, Patricia Wood Aboard SV Orion.

Kristen at From here to there and back has a copy of Lottery to share, and if (like me) you want to read it, go here (but hurry, the drawing ends soon).

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Amy DeRogatis from Life According to Emma and Joe has written a stunning and beautiful essay for This I Believe, which is “a public dialogue about belief, one essay at a time” affiliated with NPR (as if I needed one more reason to love NPR: now they’re publishing writing like Amy’s!)

She writes, in part:

Rudolph Otto the German theologian defined “the holy” as a numinous experience: a mysterious sacred moment of both fear and fascination. This transcendent instant can bring either bliss or terror. After the birth of my son I have come to understand the numinous in its most vital sense: truth holds opposites in tension.

(To read the full essay, go here.)

More mamas making a difference

Get It Down; 31 for 21

Tricia at Unringing the Bell has issued a blogging challenge: she’s going to post each day for the 31 days of October in honor of Down syndomre Awareness Month, and she’s inviting others to join her. She’s calling it, “Get it Down: 31 for 21.” To learn more, go here.

I don’t think I’ve ever, in my life, written each day. I seem to go in spurts; as one friend put it, I need a bit of fallow time in between each piece of writing. But life is full of challenges, and I ask my kids to stretch and grow each day, so why not ask the same of myself?

Other bloggers who are participating include: Joyful Life, Princess Nebraska, Bathtub Adventurer, Prince Vince, Just RK, I Never Thought, Banana Migraine, Whirlwind, Saint Nobody, Our Vietnamese Ladybug, Sharp Pointy Sticks, Big Blueberry Eyes, Jaden’s Journal, and Mothering by the Seat of Our Pants (UPDATE: And many more!).

You can post about anything, and you don’t have to be the parent of a child with Down syndrome to join in. Just post everyday, in honor of DS Awareness, and identify yourself as part of “Get it Down: 31 for 21.” To grab the button code, go here.

Mamas making a difference

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The Lovely and Amazing Emily Elizabeth has recently become one of the regular contributors at Disaboom.com, a new site designed by and for people with disabilities.

Disaboom.com “is an all encompassing community that meets basic needs, but also educates its audience about their conditions and strives to improve the overall quality of their lives. Disaboom.com’s goal is to become the single most important website for those living with disabilities.”

You can read Emily Elizabeth’s new post, “But She Doesn’t Look Like She Has Down Syndrome” here.

The post reminds me of a time when Avery was a baby. Whenever we went out, I was constantly scanning faces, trying to see if people could “tell” about Avery, or not. It became a bit of an obsession, trying to make sure that he always looked tidy, and had clean eyes and ears, and a not-crusty nose, and a cute outfit. I think I had it in my head that one of the things I could do for him was to show people he was cared for, and loved, and that the way he looked might communicate these facts.

Looking back on it now, it seems a bit silly. But I think my silliness speaks to the way our society judges people, which is often by the way we look.

Humble pie

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For the past week or so, I’ve been working on the final, copyedited version of my book. All the typos and gramatical errors and style changes are noted in red pencil; it’s my job to go through them and accept or reject each change, and correct anything else I might find. It’s my last task, and after it, I’ll be ready to let go of this story.

It’s humbling, thinking of all the people who have helped me with this book. My friends and family, who blessed me twice, by being in my life, and then by letting me write about them. My agent, who believed in the story and found a good home for it. My editor, who helped make the book the best it can be; the artist who designed the cover; the copyeditor, who worked on the text. And there will be more people to come–book designers and publicists and book buyers, book sellers and finally, not least of all, readers.

More humbling even, is this: an astute reader noticed my last name is misspelled on the front cover. It’s easily corrected, but I had to laugh. It’s like finding out that you’ve had a little piece of spinach in your teeth all afternoon; or that you’ve been walking around with a white train of toilet paper attached to your shoe.

Or this: you’re packing up the car with the diaper bag and the extra diapers and the wipes and a sippy and a cup of Cheerios; a change of outfits and a bottle of lotion and wipes and the Whoozit and a binky. You’re pleased that you’ve remembered all these things, each of these little details has been attended to, until you drive off and realize, We forgot the baby!

And now, after missing the typo in my own last name, I wonder what else I’m forgetting?

A new place to inspire your creativity

Melody (whom many of you know from Slurping Life) has launched a new, wonderful blog called Wrapped Emotions. It’s a site she made to inspire and challenge her own creativity, and she’s inviting anyone who’s interested to join her along the way.

Each week, Melody posts a theme (or prompt) to inspire you to create your own project. And there are weekly giveaways, to motivate you even when your muse might be taking a break.

It’s a beautiful, big-hearted site (just like Melody herself) and I hope you enjoy it.

Winners!

Thanks for participating in the recent give-aways, and thanks for your patience! I wanted to be sure that everyone who wanted to enter had a chance.

So the BOB books (winner picked from a plastic fireman hat by Bennett, the most recent beginning reader in the family) go to Stephanie, congratulations!

And When God Steps In (chosen by Carter, picked from a baseball cap) goes to Melissa. Hope you enjoy it!

Please send your snail mail address to me at jennifer (at) jennifergrafgroneberg (dot) com and I’ll get them out to you.

Good things give-away

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Bonnie Bruno, writer and photographer, has recently completed an uplifting and hope-filled book, When God Steps In: Stories of Everyday Grace (Standard Publishing, 2007).

A story about Avery is included, called “Lesson of the Button,” and for the quote at its beginning, Bonnie chose one that’s new to me, that I love: “Faith makes all things possible. Love makes all things easy.” (Dwight L. Moody)

As you might guess from the book’s title, it’s a collection of fifty stories of ordinary, everyday experiences of the sublime. My favorite is “A Different Answer,” submitted by Carrie Paup, which is a loving tribute to her beautiful daughter Macey.

I have one copy of this book that I’d like to share; leave your name in the comments if you’re interested!

Ripples in the water

One of my favorite things about the Internet is its fluidity–and by that I mean, you can create a post and publish it, then it moves through time and space and reaches other people, who think about what you’ve said and add their own thoughts, either in the comments or by creating posts of their own, in response. It’s a vibrant, and amazing dialogue.

Each time I write a post, it feels as if I’m tossing a stone into still waters. The circles radiate out, and it’s a pleasure when they reach other shores.

This month’s “Off the Beaten Path” column, “Baby Belly,” at mamazine has brought posts from Karen at StrollerDerby, and from Katrina at Logorrhetoric. Thank you for the conversation, and thanks to all who added their perspectives in the comments, too!

Grocery shopping after the Buddy Walk

Pushing the little boys around in the cart, Avery sits in the seat near me and Bennett is in the front with the groceries–a gallon of milk, yogurt, cheese. Bannanas, apples, tomatoes. Bread. Both boys are wearing their white T-shirts with the blue and yellow Buddy Walk logo on the front.

Families pass us and without even realizing it, I scan faces. I see Down syndrome everywhere; I can’t help it. A child laughs and squints his eyes and giggles and I think, Hmmm? I see a little tongue dart out of a baby’s mouth, and I think, Maybe? Or a white T-shirt, Is that blue and yellow on the front?

And then I remember, no. We’re not at the Buddy Walk anymore; we’re back to real life. But it’s like a pleasant little dream I don’t want to let go of: a time and a place where families like ours are expected, and accepted.

MotherTalk Blog Book Tour: BOB Books

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As many of you know, I’m writing this from a fast-food restaurant in a small town in southwest Montana. We’re on vacation, and even when on vacation, the kids still “do school.” It’s one of the advantages of homeschooling…we can pack it up and take it with us.

This particular trip will stay in my memory as the week Bennett began learning to read. I think the accomplishment belongs entirely to him: but two things helped him along the way. His big brother Carter, whom he emulates in all possible ways, loves to read; and at the last minute, I thought to bring along the BOB Books, to see if he might be interested/ready for them.

It’s a bit of a mystery how Carter came to love reading. With him, I used a book that promised to teach reading in “100 Easy Lessons.” I was a beginning homeschool mom and I liked the idea of the easy lessons. Everything was set out for me and Carter; all we had to do was one lesson each day. It was a phonics-based program and while there were many things that I liked about it, there was very little that Carter liked. To this day, he calls it “that big yellow book that made me cry.”

He’s right. It was a big yellow book, awkward for his little hands. And it often made him cry, which no mama likes to see. It made me cry a little, too.

When we had the twins, and we later decided to continue homeschooling, I knew I wanted to try something different. I’d heard that children with Down syndrome didn’t respond well to phonics-based programs, and I’d had some early successes with Avery using a program called “Love and Learning.” Both Avery and Bennett became disinterested in L&L, though, and I needed something new.

My sister-in-law, and my homeschooling friend Phyllis, had both recommended the BOB Books. They are a series of short, child-sized books that introduce reading through simple pictures and gentle stories. The books are easy to read, and the black-and-white illustrations do not cause any distraction from the words.

I began reading these little books just a few days ago, with both Bennett and Avery. Each boy enjoyed sitting in my lap, and paid attention to the words and the stories. But with Bennett, I saw a little light in his eyes. One that I recognize from Carter. Bennett is beginning to understand that the squiggly lines we call letters can join together to make words that a person can understand and even say aloud. He’s learning to read.

I am confident that Avery will follow. My life as his mama has shown me that he accomplishes his goals in his own time, and I don’t think he’s realized yet that he wants to read. But he will. As soon as Bennett has mastered it, Avery will want to, too. Like in all things, Bennett is Avery’s sun and moon.

And more: when Avery was first diagnosed, there was a comment made about how sad it was, that Avery would never be able to read any of his father’s or my books. After I got over the initial sting of that comment, I resolved to do everything in my power to make sure that it didn’t come true. The BOB Books are a powerful tool to help me and Avery.

Because of this, I feel an overwhelming mama-gratitude to the good people at Scholastic, who have reissued the BOB Books. At our house, they have replaced the big yellow book that made everyone cry.

I have a set of BOB Books: Set 1, For Beginning Readers that I want to share. If you’re interested, leave your name in the comments and I’ll do a drawing when we get home.