Today was one of our favorite Down Syndrome Association events: the Spring Picnic at the Zoo. It’s an event for member families, and it’s done up right. There’s a meal, time for mingling with families from all over the region, plus full access to the zoo. This year, there was face painting and a photo booth. The weather was perfect, and the kids are both old enough now to really enjoy the zoo. It was a fantastic day, and we are, as always, so grateful for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee.
Jumping like a kangaroo
Greeting a friend
Making a monkey
We joined something like 600 other people today for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee Spring Picnic at the Zoo. We did this last year – only it was a summer picnic then, and a lot hotter! – and it was so fun to see how much more Lina got out of the experience this year. My in-laws were able to join us, the weather was absolutely perfect, and the kids had a blast. We talked with plenty of families we know and met a few new ones.
We feel so lucky to have a local organization that offers these kinds of opportunities. We have landed in an amazing community, and these events carry such a palpable sense of acceptance and celebration. (A sort-of actual conversation Jon had: “You’re worried your kid will pull my kid’s hair? Hey, me, too! Maybe they’ll really go at it and cure each other!”) Parents of older kids pass down advice about IEP meetings, we stop to coo over the tiny newest members, we celebrate the recovery of kids who spent time in the hospital, we dance to MC Hammer and Taylor Swift, the kids eat too many cookies, we notice kids who look like older or younger versions of ours, we juggle plates and messes and tired little ones. It’s real and it’s joyful.
Everyone should get to experience a community like this.
Note: I wish I could share more pictures of this amazing group, but I don’t have releases to publicly post photos of other families and wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so without permission.
Took a fall and just needed a little mama love
The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee hosted a Summer Family Picnic at the Zoo for member families today. It was a great event, with about 400 people in attendance. I wish I’d taken the time to photograph the fantastic kids (and some adults) with Down syndrome who were there. I met several families with little ones Lina’s age. I love knowing Lina will grow up alongside other kids with Down syndrome. My hope is that she will be a fully-integrated part of her community, in church, in school and in our lovely city, but also strongly connected to a group of people who share this part of her experience. There were so, so many beautiful kids, as varied and full of life as any group of kids ever is. I think she will find many friends among them.
We brought along both sets of grandparents, two uncles and an aunt, and we took full advantage of our time at the zoo. Temps hit the low 90s, so we sweated it out and finally hauled our weary selves and our well-laden Radio Flyer out the exit a half-hour before closing. After a lovely Father’s Day dinner together at a little Persian restaurant, we ferried two exhausted kiddos home and talked about how awesome it is that our families enjoy being together. Also: this family has about the best collection of dads you’ll find anywhere.
Corin adored the carousel.
Lina did not.
An hour-and-a-half nap in the shade, and she was ready for the padded little-kid playground.
We bought zoo passes today, so you may be subjected to a great many photos similar to these. It was an awesome way to enjoy the weather.
And… she’s out.