Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cousins Reunion and More...

We had a blast at the Aurther Cousin Reunion in Branson, Missouri.  Here are some of the highlights...

10 hours in the car is a little much, but everyone did great!

Family bonding through a Jazzercise class!

David and Grace joined us for the strength and conditioning at the end ;-)

Fun with cousins...

Zip lining with cousins...

One of my favorite thing about the Aurther Cousins is that they are all good sports, bring some serious fun, and they are a talented bunch!  I had the pleasure of being the MC for our Family Talent Show.  

We did Grace's favorite song "Who Let the Dogs Out!"

My favorite...  Grace's ending pose!

We also led a little family worship to Mercy is Falling (another one of Grace's favs)!

All the crazy cousins!

After the talent show Grace, was inspired to lead her own talent show with some of the cousins.  They were all such good sports and Grace told everyone where to stand, what song to sing, etc.  We also learned that she LOVES using a microphone. 

A bunch of us went on bumper boats and go-carts!

Linda (love her!) and I took one for the team and didn't participate in the bumper boats because there weren't enough boats for us all to go on at the same time, so we didn't get to get soaked from head to toe...  bummer! 

Grace loved the kiddie rides with her Bestie!

They even had a go-kart track where the kids could drive their own cars!  We were able to confirm that there isn't anything Abigail's competitive drive doesn't come out in.  You should have seen her determination to pass everyone on the race track.

It was boys against girls.  Here are three of the girl cousins (Abby, Mallory, and Evie)

The littles got to ride with the adults on the giant 3 story go-kart track!

We went to Dixie Stampede where the big kids were selected to compete in the chicken chase!


We spent lots of time in our hospitality room playing games, laughing, and laughing some more...

This might be the only time these two peas in a pod sat down the whole trip!

Lots of swimming and going down the giant water slide.  Apparently, these two were the only ones who stood still long enough for a pic by the pool.  It's ok, I think they were the cutest swimmers in the pool anyway!

The whole gang!  Yes, those are candy cigarettes that everyone is eating.  It is a family tradition that began before I ever came on the scene...  kinda odd I know, but it's how you end an Aurther Cousins Family Reunion.  Can't wait to see everyone in 3 years (Lord willing)!

The Zipper Club crew!  They have all had open heart surgery (Grace didn't get the memo that you only have to have one surgery to be a part of the club, not more than else everyone combined ;-)

Grace's last day at the Rise School- There really aren't words to express what it feels like to say good bye to the teachers, therapists, staff, and families who have (and will always) occupy a huge part of our hearts for the past two years. You see, God has used the Rise School to break barriers, protect, set free, teach, grow, advocate for, and truly love our precious Grace (and our whole family) all day, every day. When her teachers, therapists, and administrative staff say "I love you, Grace Ross!" I know they mean it with every ounce of their being and Grace knows it too! Our Rise Family has held my hand through exciting and terrifying times, so I'm grateful to know they will never let go of my hand, even as we transition from the Rise to the new public pre-school that God has so clearly called us too! I know God has big plans for Grace at her new "big girl" school (and beyond... for eternity really 😉), so we walk in faith and with overwhelming gratitude for His faithfulness and sovereignty. We LOVE you Rise School!!!

The Blue Room lead teacher Mrs. Kristen!

Miss Veronica!

Miss Cynthia!

The 3 best therapists EVER!  Jana, Emily, and Betty

The Director of The Rise School, a precious friend and mentor, MRS. JAN! Grace has adored her since the day she met her!

A cheers with her Bestie, Eddie, on their last day of class together!

Last pic taken as we left the Rise for the last time!

Classic Chevrolet sponsored Gigi's Playhouse Sugar Land's adults with Down Syndrome and their families in their suite at the Skeeters game last Friday night.  They truly spoiled us!

This was as close as Grace would get to the Skeeters mascot, Swanson.  

If you are ever looking for an AMAZING non-profit organization to support, please consider Gigi's Playhouse Sugar Land.  

Our mission is to increase positive awareness of Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs, and by empowering individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community.

Our vision is to see a world where individuals with Down syndrome are accepted and embraced in their families, schools, and communities.
We offer social gatherings, lectures and educational talks, support groups, and numerous different classes ranging from literacy to ballet. We are also invested in changing outdated perceptions of individuals with Down syndrome through photographic galleries, calendars, news, and media outlets - we depend on volunteers to make all our programs fun and free!
100% of our services at Gigi's Playhouse are free, therefore we rely solely on the generosity of our donors.  As I have mentioned before, having a child with special needs (to include Down Syndrome) can be expensive and at times overwhelming, as families strive to find the balance between maximizing necessary therapies (PT, OT, speech, aquatic, life skills, music, etc), medical appointments (cardiology, endocrinology, ENT, Ophthalmologist, Audiologist, etc), constantly advocating for your child and being able to maintain a sense of normalcy with your other children and in your marriage.  Therefore, all of the programs and support are a giant blessing, but the fact that it's all free makes it unlike anything else in the world.  We have our Gala coming up on Oct. 15th that we would love for you to participate in by either buying tickets, a table, being a sponsor, or just making a donation.  

It is a true honor, joy, and dream come true to be a founding member/board member of Gigi's Playhouse Sugar Land!

Some of our Gigi's families...

Nobody loves Gigi's Playhouse more than these two!  Grace is always asking to go to "Gigi's House" and Sadie goes in her daddy's closet and pulls out his Gigi's shirt to show her parents that she wants to go to Gigi's.  

 *This past week marked 4 years since we got Grace's diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  What seemed devastating at the time has turned out to be a blessing we don't deserve.  Giving hope to families just starting this journey or those who find themselves beat down and defeated along the way is one of my very favorite things to do.  Thank you Village for faithfully praying us through our journey.  You have stormed the gates of heaven with prayers on our behalf and we seriously could not have made it thus far without y'all.  Our journey is far from over, so please never stop interceding in prayer for us because we will always covet your prayers and encouragement.  This journey is far from easy, but it is awesome because we serve an awesome God who uses amazing individuals such as yourselves to speak life and hope into our lives.  THANK YOU!!!