Day 2 did not dampen the girls excitement of the journey. As we drove Brooke had a philosophical moment and informed us that "There is no better party than one with one's self". OHHHH KAY!!! She was getting kinda deep while Danielle seemed to be stuck on this verse from a country song, "Corn makes rain, rain makes whiskey..." WOW...Danielle also entertained us with many songs that she made up herself such as "You're the jelly to my jam, you're the straw to my berry." Sam was happy to work on his Ipad and ignore both of them.
Something we noticed as we traveled through Vermont. Dunkin Donuts everywhere!!!! That chain of restaurants is alive and well in Vermont. We drove through some very interesting towns that Brooke took note of such as Malta, Verbraska, Fort Hunter, Amsterdam and Florida. Vermont is a beautiful area, very scenic and very different from Wisconsin. We noticed they don't have neighborhoods like by us, you would see a couple houses in one area, no one for a mile or two and then a set of 3 or 4 more houses. We saw beautiful Victorian homes and some very run down little shacks. The area we stayed in was very rural. When Pamela told us to turn on our road we were very excited, the mountain road was a little rough but the area was gorgeous. The home owner explained to me that we drive through the two big trees and continue on the dirt road which sorta looked like we were driving through some one's yard and continue on until we get to the cabin.
We made it to our place in Vermont at 12:20 p.m. I have already posted some pictures of the place but I will add a few more and a video walk through. I found this location on http://www.vrbo.com/, VRBO Listing #217739. Here is the video tour.
I love watching Sam's reaction to a new place. Sam was immediately drawn to the waterfall and we often found him sitting in a chair pulled up as close to the waterfall as he could get. He would listen and look out into the forest. Oh how I wish I would know what he's thinking about.
My personal preference for a vacation is to get away from everything. I don't really like to be around a ton of people when I'm on vacation. Being just with family allows you to relax, reconnect and enjoy each other. As I travel with Sam he often draws attention, I like to think it is because he's so cute but I realize that people notice him because he is different. At one hotel an older woman watched him put his breakfast dishes away and clean up his spot and tell me "Thank you breakfast, Mommy". She told him over and over what a good boy he is and what a great job he did. It caused me to have a moment...if you have a child with special needs you know what I'm talking about...part of me appreciated the positive reinforcement but part of me wanted to say "It's no big deal for Sam". He did what any of us would do and unfortunately this woman is thinking that this is a huge accomplishment for Sam...what does that say about our perceptions or expectations of children with special needs. No matter where your child is at or what they are able to do, it is always hard to hear some one express expectations that are low for your child. I let it pass, smiled and agreed with her that he is a wonderful boy.
I had another experience that has happened to me quite often. Another woman in the hotel simply stared at Sam. It was a stare that made me feel that there was a reason for her intense stare, and it was a reason she wasn't going to share with me. Normally if it is someone who has a family member with Down syndrome the look is different, it is usually followed with a smile and that person telling me about their family member or asking questions about Sam. This woman's stare reminded me of a similar experience I had at our local grocery store. I often worked with Sam in the grocery store, having him read the grocery list, remember 4 items in order or help me count the bananas and I would notice an older woman staring intently at us. It bothered me but I let it go until a clerk noticed the situation and gave me an explanation. She told me she knew the woman and her family. The woman's daughter chose to abort her child when she found out he was going to have Down syndrome and unfortunately the daughter died during the procedure. I think the clerk was surprised by my reaction. I didn't know what to say...it was as if the clerk expected me to say "Well, that serves them right". I was shocked, I was sad, I felt sick...I turned to Sam with tears in my eyes and hugged him. I left quickly and sat in my car crying, crying for the unborn child, crying for the grandmother who lost her daughter, crying that a precious child like Sam would be seen as disposable. But with an abortion rate of 90% for children with Down syndrome I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I prayed for that grandmother that God would give her peace.
One of my purposes for writing this blog was so I could share Sam. To people who have never had a special needs child I want you to know what life with Sam is like. It's not terrible, it's simply different. Sam has taught us to appreciate life, he has made me stronger in my faith and I often wish I could be more like Sam. Sam doesn't worry about a lot of stuff, his view of life is pretty much stress free, he talks to everyone, he doesn't judge or discriminate. Sam reminds me to pray and he believes he can heal anything with a hug and a kiss. Sam loves music and loves to dance. His everyday is like the words of this quote:
"Dance like no one is watching, love like you'll never be hurt, sing like no one is listening, and live like it's heaven on earth."
How many of us can say we do that or have ever done that??? I think we can all learn a lot from Sam. Stay tuned for more on our amazing road trip.