Last weekend, our last weekend with John, Alex, John and I went to Crested Butte. This beautiful mountain town is only two hours, and two hairy mountain passes away from us in the summer. In the winter, CB as we call it, becomes a lot less accessible and we do not visit.
We love CB and try to get there a couple times each year after the passes become drivable. John lived there after college for three years and we have friends in CB who never left. It is such a comfortable and friendly town and one of the reasons John yearned to get back to CO from the Midwest for all of our lives together. Ironic he is Milwaukee now and we are here!
When we lived in IL, we went to CB a number of times for vacation; summer and winter. We wanted our kids to learn how to ski and CB has some of the best snow in CO. Thus, we were able to teach our kids about the mountains at an early age, as well as maintain our friendships with the Buttians (made-up word). This also served to strengthen John’s resolve to have his kids grow up in Colorado.
When we arrived in CB we checked in with our friends Mitch, and Tim and Darlene. John had aspirations to climb a peak, and Alex had aspirations to see Darlene. Me, my goal was to make my husband’s last day in CO be so magnificent that our beautiful state imprinted in his memory banks. We were successful on all counts.
Darlene and her husband Tim have lived in CB for a long time. Darlene has been one of Alex’s cheerleaders since she was a very small child. Darlene calls Alex “Princess” and Alex fell in love with Darlene the day they met. Whenever we are together Darlene and Princess Alex have dates, and Alex remembers these special times all year round.
This visit, Darlene took Alex to her home (after ice cream of course!) and videoed an interview with Alex about the National Special Olympic Games. It was a great interview: Alex’s speech was clear and her description of the week, as well as her results, recapped perfectly. She even owned up to her fifth, sixth and seventh place wins, which she has refused to talk about to me. Yes, my sweet daughter with down syndrome is the most competitive person in our family (except me), and does not like to recount ribbon wins, only medals.
I was so pleased; I posted this video on YouTube, sent it to a few friends and family and added to our blog. I showed Alex the video and called it "The Ordinary Life of an Extraordinary Girl" for those who want to search. I also tracked it for a few hours and let Alex know that 21 people had viewed the video. Alex did not seem to care either way, so I stopped paying attention and figured we would check in a couple of days.
Once again….wrong…..Alex cares immensely, as I realized when she knocked on my door last night and screamed in glee, "Mom, I got 80 views, I am so excited.” I was shocked. I did not show Alex how to get to YouTube and search for her video. She figured it out all by herself. WOW!
Alex’s computer skills are extraordinary. I often try to determine what it is about the workings of the computer that makes sense to Alex’s way of thinking. Why can she be so successful on the computer but struggle in other areas? I try to look at these good experiences and use the lessons to help Alex when she has issues at school or home. I think these thoughts deserve another entry, as well as a lot of contemplation.
One more thing…I have talked before about people like Darlene who have made a huge difference in Alex’s life. These friends support Alex and accept her for who she is and what she can do. They do not care about things Alex cannot do, and I expect these types of thoughts never enter their minds. Darlene enjoys the pureness of Alex, her unequivocal joy in life and their friendship. Alex loves the energy of Darlene and her joy in being with Alex. Every day I am thankful for friends like Darlene.
If you are interested, and I highly recommend this, Darlene has started a blog called the Metamorphosis of a Mother. She writes of her three children, Sky who is a senior in High School and will go to college next year, as well as her daughters, Holly and Heidi Montag who moved to Los Angles and became reality TV stars.
Darlene is truthful and insightful as she undergoes this change from a mother with young children to a mother with adult children. Just like many of us (well at least me!) she is plagued by self doubt and the “did I do the right thing" syndrome. I love how she recognizes the loves of her life, as well as living the dream in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
I can relate to her words in so many ways. Read if you have a chance!