Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back from a Birthday Trip to St Louis

We've returned from a wonderful, fun-filled week and a half in our native St. Louis. It was great to be back home and see friends and relatives alike.

Nick celebrated his 21st birthday with a pool party blowout - we rented an entire swim club and filled it with reggae music, fun people, lots of pizza and hot wings, and pure happiness! Happiest of all was Nick.

He was in heaven, holding court in a lounge chair as people came up to wish him well, hopping in and out of the pool with the kids, and downing countless slices of pizza, wings, and cans of Pepsi!!

Even though we were celebrating the legal drinking age, he didn't indulge at the pool for safety reasons, and because he is on so much darn medication for his Crohn's Disease. He did toast the big weekend with a half beer with Dad at dinner the following night.

Our dear friends and family members came from all over, including California, Texas, Illinois, Iowa and New York! To them and to all who attended the party, we say that we could never repay you for all the love and support you've shown Nick. I know he truly felt loved...I know I did. Enjoy viewing these fun party pics!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Graduation Night!

Nick's Special Night

Our Nick made us proud at graduation! The event was so elegant, simple, and heartwarming. Nick walked across the stage, received his certificate, and shook hands with the many administrators on stage. His sister Sara came all the way from New York for the day in the midst of many work deadlines, and we were so proud and happy to have the family together for this very special occasion.

After the ceremony, there was a reception where many of Nick's teachers from his years at the program were in attendance to wish the graduates well. It was great to see and be able to thank teachers going back 10 years in his education - each one a part of his achievements and successes.

After the reception, it was off to a wonderful dinner in the historic district with our family and our good friend Katina, who will be a big part of Nick's future as the director of the POW&R program (Productive Opportunities for Work and Recreation). This is a new adult services program that is creative, individualized, and very exciting for Nick to start!~

Enjoy these photos from the evening!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

He'll Never Walk Alone

Tomorrow is one of the most important milestones Nick will have in his life. He is graduating from school and starting his life as an adult.

We hope and pray for good things to come to him in his life - that he will always be surrounded by people who love him; that he will know the joy of hard work and restful leisure; and that he will always be treated with dignity and respect.

Nicks life has been a winding road - challenging and full of joys as well as deep sorrows for the people closest to him. But on a personal level, I believe in my heart that Nick himself is a happy individual and will continue to be so. All it takes is a look into those sparkling eyes to know he is happy on this earth.

He has taught us so many lessons about love, kindness, tenacity, patience, tolerance, hope, and courage.

Our friends and family have given so much of themselves and been so important in his life, and we know he will never walk alone. We dedicate this graduation scene from my favorite musical of all time, Carousel, to our Nick.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Our Day At The Races

Nick had a wonderful time at his first NASCAR race, the Best Buy Autism Speaks 400 in Dover, Delaware. The racecar drivers that we had schmoozed with at the golf tourney were all racing, and unfortunately, at the beginning of the race Hermie Sadler, driver of the Best Buy Autism Speaks car, went out early in a 10-car crash. No drivers were seriously injured, thank heavens, and as a mom I can say I'm glad that neither Sara nor Nick is a racecar driver!

There were over 100,000 people in attendance that day, and NASCAR fans are CRAZY about their races. People were camped out all over in tents, RVs, campers and vans, grilling out, blasting stereos, sunbathing, playing cards and horseshoes, and buying LOTS of souvenirs. It was quite a spectacle! Dad's favorite part was after the cars had taken their first few "slow" laps, and the checkered flag waved and sent the cars screaming around the track at full throttle. He looked like he was a kid again, grinning and saying, "cool!" The noise was deafening, but we all had earplugs and even with them on, it was so loud that you could not even speak to the person sitting next to you.

Nick enjoyed a full day of walking amidst the throngs of fans, walking through the casino, visiting the souvenir tents, and basking in the sun in the grandstands as the cars whizzed by. We thank Autism Speaks for this very special opportunity to experience NASCAR racing!