Recent Posts

The Drive-by Birthday Party – A trend I hope sticks around!

The Drive-by Birthday Party – A trend I hope sticks around!

The Neils have always been on board with big blowout birthday parties!  Our boys love a good celebration, as do we, so for the past seven years we’ve obliged!  Little Gym, Go-Kart tracks, Dream Park, bounce houses, hot dog carts (thank you Austin’s Underdawg’s)…you name…

#WDSD18 #LetsChangeThe Conversation

#WDSD18 #LetsChangeThe Conversation

Last year for #WDSD17 I was given 17 minutes to explain how we need to socially construct a new narrative about Down syndrome — a narrative that more closely reflects the reality of #LifeWithDS.  Seventeen minutes is a long time these days…I get it.  So I’ve condensed…

How to Go Gluten-Free on the Go!

How to Go Gluten-Free on the Go!

Mom Hack Monday – Gluten Free on the Go!

It’s Down syndrome awareness month!  And what better way to celebrate, than to reignite the “Mom Hack Mondays” blog series!  This week I’m featuring one of my favorite busy moms, Tiffany!  Tiffany has three beautiful kiddos (ages 10, 8 & 5) and they all have unique abilities:  Will (her oldest) loves all sports, Luke (her middle son) is an artist with his own Instagram following, and Ellie (her 5-year-old) is a model who also happens to rock an extra 21st chromosome!  Ellie also requires a gluten-free diet, which has added an additional challenge to Tiffany’s hectic schedule.

An outdoor professional photo of Tiffany and her beautiful family! Tiffany has great suggestions for going gluten-free.

Continue reading How to Go Gluten-Free on the Go!

Ode to a Rockin’ Dad

Ode to a Rockin’ Dad

A special contribution to the DSDN’s blog series… When the newest blog topic was proposed a few weeks ago by the DSDN’s blog series coordinator, I was stumped!  The topic “What surprised you the most?” (about Down syndrome) was intriguing, but the immediate answer that…

Backstage at TEDxACU:  Confessions of a TEDx Speaker, Part 2

Backstage at TEDxACU: Confessions of a TEDx Speaker, Part 2

After the airing of CBS’s feature story “What kind of society do you want to live in?:  Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing” — many of my friends and loved ones messaged me, appalled by a mindset that seems to permeate the cultural…

Backstage at TEDxACU:  Confessions of a TEDx Speaker, Part 1

Backstage at TEDxACU: Confessions of a TEDx Speaker, Part 1

A photo of my backstage pass to TEDxACUIt all began last fall.  A dear friend of mine from graduate school, Lauren, also happens to be the TEDxACU director at Abilene Christian University.  Ironically, even though we are both ACU grads, Lauren and I initially crossed paths as students in Texas A&M University’s doctoral program hosted by the Department of Communication.  We were in the same cohort!  Obviously, Lauren and I are friends and we follow each other on social media.  Last September she emailed me to let me know that she thought my social media advocacy efforts related to Down syndrome could be the backdrop of a compelling TEDx presentation.  She encouraged me to submit a proposal to a decision committee formed at ACU and apply to be one of the speakers.  I did, the proposal was accepted, and I delivered my TEDx Talk last March!  But there was a lot of behind the scenes work on my part that I’d like to share, hence this blog entry.  I can only go into detail regarding the work I put into the “talk” and some “backstage” observations I made from my perspective, however.  I’m certain Lauren knows more about the processes and production components that make up these speaking series.

Continue reading Backstage at TEDxACU: Confessions of a TEDx Speaker, Part 1

Mom Hack Thursday – Escaping the Hustle and Bustle of Life and Seeking a Quiet Place

Mom Hack Thursday – Escaping the Hustle and Bustle of Life and Seeking a Quiet Place

Remember when you were in college and you got a “spring break?” I distinctly remember those days as some of my favorite – amidst the hustle and bustle of midterm exams, part-time jobs, friends, and obligations, I was always very grateful for an extended period…

The Mama Mix – 5 Tips for a Healthy Work/Life Mix

The Mama Mix – 5 Tips for a Healthy Work/Life Mix

A new mom with a precious newborn baby boy with DS recently asked me what it was like to return to work after Everett born and, “How did you find the perfect work/life balance?” I struggled to answer this question because….spoiler alert — there isn’t…

God only gives special children to special people…

God only gives special children to special people…

Have you ever heard this phrase before?  — “God only gives special children to special people.”  I have.  Too many times, actually.  That seemed to be a “go to” response when we broke the news of Everett’s diagnosis to friends and family after he was born.  And while the statement was well-intended, it always irked me a little.  You see, I am in no way “special” because I’m the mother of a child with some unique abilities and concerns. Quite the opposite.  I’m just an ordinary person, doing my best to raise my children to the best of my ability while pushing a merry-go-round of personal and professional responsibilities. Some days the merry-go-round spins as planned, but on other days I have to really dig in and run alongside the merry-go-round until it reaches a “doable” speed.  On these occasions, I really start to question my endurance, patience, and ability…like so many other mamas out there.  Which brings me to the primary theme of this blog post — ability. You see, I don’t believe I inherently have any special abilities and as such, God chose me to raise a “special child.”  I tend to gravitate to another statement I’ve seen posted on social media by several other Rockin’ mamas:

God doesn’t give special children to special parents.  He takes ordinary, imperfect people, and gifts them with his greatest treasures.  And therein, he creates special parents.

Here’s a story that demonstrates this exact quote.  It’s a true story, verbatim and uncut (in typical mamability.com fashion) from those tough “early days” I so often write about.

Continue reading God only gives special children to special people…

5 Things All New Parents of a Baby with Down syndrome Should Know

5 Things All New Parents of a Baby with Down syndrome Should Know

5 Things All New Parents of a Baby with Down syndrome Should Know — Mainly, It’s Going to Be Okay! I recall a lot…I mean a lot…of irrational fears that I experienced in those crucial moments right after Everett was born and diagnosed.  No mother deserves…