A few weeks ago we took a road trip to Salt Lake City so we could check out houses and find out what my potential "bunny trail" would look like. It was a rough trip for me in many ways emotionally but there were some great finds that excited me as well.
We met with other mom's who have boys around the same age as Max who also have Down syndrome. They all got together to meet us. I was so moved by this and by who they all are and their adorable boys! I'm excited to get to know them better. I found their blogs on the Down Syndrome Association of Utah website and reached out to a few of them and they were generous with their time and gathered together to answer any questions we have about the community there. Although we are still figuring a lot of it out it was refreshing to meet other mom's there and to have people to reach out to who are on the same journey. Here are their blogs:
Kristin - http://www.twodogsandafish.blogspot.com/
Emily - http://gigglesandscribbles.blogspot.com/
Tausha - http://dingman2.blogspot.com/
Kenzee - http://derekandkenzee.blogspot.com/
I found a few amazing places to eat Like Oasis which is right next door to a spiritual book store called Golden Braid Books. SO Super cool.
I LOVE the Downtown library and found that their check out is much longer than in LA. I was able to check out a DVD for Max for an entire MONTH and in LA it's a week or two.
We went to a Jewish Temple called Kol Ami and I must tell you I felt more at home and more interested in it than I do the Temple we've been going to here in LA. It has 350 families that are members there. The Rabbi is female ( hooray! ) and I hear she is super cool and we already know a few people that go there. Crazy small city that it is.
Oh and there is an Anthropologie there so phew - my love for the clothing ( and everything else ) at the store can go on and on!
I'm a member of Mom's club here in LA and I contacted the Salt Lake City group and got on their list so I know what events and playgroups are happening there. I wasn't able to attend this trip but plan to sign up as soon as I move there.
We visited the Jewish Community Center and let me tell you, I almost started to cry with delight when I spoke with the director of the preschool. It's so AMAZING there I cannot WAIT to sign Max up! They really WANT kids with different disabilities there - they actually seek them out because they know how much it enriches everyone's life to meet so many different people who have different ways of learning and growing in the world. They are into Learning by doing. And they ONLY observe and celebrate Jewish Holidays there. So every Friday they do Shabbat candles and the prayer, etc.
We met with a Pediatrician, Dr. Durham who has a daughter with Down Syndrome and he runs a Down syndrome clinic in Salt Lake City! CRAZY! He is going into Semi retirement and was still interested in taking us on as a client. I was so excited! He is a really great guy.
I also re-connected with two old friends of mine from very different chapters in my life. One I went to high school with and was wandering down the dark side with her ( ok it was during my goth, rebellious, sneaky, drinking and drugging days ok? )
And the other was from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival-where we both were assistant Stage Managers
(during my early sober, but still chain smoking cigarettes and working in theatre days )
Went to both of their houses and met their mates and their children and ate great food and told stories of old times. It was so amazing to sit there across from friends who knew me at such a different time in my life - both have different memories of me and both know things about me that I had forgotten!
My friend Greg who worked at the Theatre with me - is helping raise a 25 year old (also named Greg! ) who has Down syndrome. We met him and were FLOORED by him . SO smart, talented, well spoken, he plays 4 instruments and is a certified teachers assistant at the University of Utah Preschool. Unbelievable! I am so excited to know him and to have him hopefully be a part of Max's community. He could teach Max so many things.
We looked at a lot of houses and still trying to figure out what part of town to live in. The big question is because the kids 0-3 with Disabilities don't go to a regional center for services like we do here in LA - it's all done through the school district so it matters a LOT more which area we choose to live in. For me - I'm all for finding the BEST therapists and not worrying as much about schools districts yet because they are always changing. However - it would be great to figure it out and live in a great place with great services right from the get go. Not really living there at all makes it hard to navigate and I'm so glad I met the mom's I did who can give me some advice.
Laurel from the Down syndrome Association of Utah was a GREAT help and I cannot say enough about her. I cannot wait to meet her in person. She actually called me back with lists of school districts that mom's had suggested and which ones to avoid. Such valuable info. I want to volunteer there when I move there and work with her in any way I can to help other families and kids with Ds.
I wasn't able to get to any 12 step meetings because of the family gatherings that occurred unexpectedly on many of the nights we were there...but I plan on going and I have a friend who was very involved in the program there and has given me a list of friends to connect with and I look forward to that!
photo I took after we made our way back to LA after a 15 hour road trip!
Photo I took of me and Max to send to Jerry when he was in Salt Lake City working and we were home missing him.
Sunset in Los Angeles the day after we got home.
Our house in LA is on the market officially TODAY! Our first open house is this THURSDAY for Real Estate Agents and then another one this Saturday for the general population. Come on BY!
or better yet - BUY THIS HOUSE! ( I'll post our listing as soon as I have the link! )
It's a time full of change.... and acceptance is the key. So much is happening at one time that it could make my head spin and often does. When our house was being painted we had to pick up and head to a hotel on 4 different occasions because the painters neglected to put plastic up on the windows and there was paint dust covering ever inch of our house and ruining hundreds of dollars of Max's toys. The positive side was that after the discomfort of that - we have a beautiful house and Max was kept away from the potential troubles from the paint dust. It was an inconvenience but life is like that isn't it? It's all about how we deal with these little bumps in the road right? Some times I do it gracefully and some times I want to have a tantrum. I learn over and over that the tantrum just wastes time and takes away time from being fully present looking for the positive. The first day we stayed at a hotel and Jerry was in Utah I decided to take note of all the times things happened out of the blue that were amazing little "god shots". The gal who let me check in early ( 7:30am without charging me ), The gal who walked by me at the meter to let me know that I don't have to pay anything until 11am. The guy who happened to see me struggle with a baby and my bag and came over and put my bag in the car for me. The beautiful weather - etc.... It's really helped in this time of transition to practice being mindful and focusing on the positive. I am sad to be leaving LA and all of my friends and Max's services and community. And I'm excited for all the amazing things I'm finding out about Salt Lake City.