Image of Olivia's book on the Down Syndrome Association

As you may very well know, I work at the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis. Quite the long name so we abbreviate it DSAGSL when talking formally or just DSA when with friends. But I digress.

One of the things I do at the DSA is send out a (almost) weekly email newsletter. I started it almost two years ago to let our members know what went on in the office during the week. It was nothing special, just me rambling on in my own goofy style and then doing a mail merge through Outlook to send it to a couple hundred email addresses. It has slowly transmogrified into much more of a newsletter with actual information about the DSAGSL, Down syndrome and other relevant disability news and happenings. Plus it has grown so well that I now have an intern helping me with it and is just about to tip the 800 email address mark. But again, I digress.

One of the things that I often do is at the very bottom I thank people for "reading my ramblings" and add a little personal commentary. Sometimes it is relevant to what the DSA does, but more often than not it is about my life, especially my girls. This past Friday I wrote about Olivia's DSA Book. Specifically I wrote:

"A couple of weeks ago I met with Olivia's (my 1st grader) teacher for conferences. We went over all of the things that Olivia is doing and my wife and I were shown a book that Olivia made. Olivia loves to draw and to read and to write, so we were not too surprised that she had made a book. However, when I read it I was extremely proud. Her book is titled The DSA. It is all about the Down Syndrome Association where her daddy works. She had pages about the Buddy Walk and the Walk In The Park, but my favorite is her page about her experience coming to work with me. I have taken that page and put in up on the web for all to see. Click here or on the image to the right to read my favorite page from her book. I hope you don't mind me bragging a little."

Within minutes of my sending out the message I got a reply, it was from a dad I know who has a son with Down syndrome, he wrote, "Jeff- thank you so much for including Olivia's page about the DSA! That made me cry! (not good, because I'm at a Microsoft class and I'm not supposed to be reading my email right now...)"

Then another mom with a son with Down syndrome sent me, "Hi Jeff, that sketch that Olivia did, and you posted about on the blast brought tears to my eyes! It was very sweet and what good lessons you are teaching her as she grows up. That girl will have a great impact on the world :)"

Yet another mom emailed, "I just wanted to send a note to let you know that I am also proud of your daughter Olivia. The page from her book brought tears to my eyes. She is SO right...they are the same on the inside. Pat yourself on the back're doing a great job!"

Plus a DSAGSL board member who does not happen to have a family member with Down syndrome sent me, "Absolutely terrific Olivia attachment! I printed off 2 to hang in my office at St. Louis Children's Hospital and one to share with my family at home."

So, I guess when I am frustrated with my girls and their sassy attitudes I need to remember this and think that I while I don't know how to keep them from being sassy, I just might might have taught them something good.