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Julie's News

Spring 2005 Vol. 8.2
Winter 2004 Vol. 7.4
Fall 2004 Vol. 7.3
Summer 2004 Vol. 7.2
Spring 2004 Vol. 7.1
Winter 2003 Vol. 6.1


Spring 2005 Vol. 8.2

Hello Families,
Spring has sprung and summer is on its way. May brings Mother's day and June brings Father's Day. Kids start counting the days left in school. Moms and Dads start looking for summer camp options and making family vacation plans.

Spring has always reminded me of hope. The hope of warm weather, the hope of a meaningful and loving card from your child for Mother's or Father's Day, the hope of a bountiful harvest from the newly planted vegetable garden. The warmer weather comes, the meaningful card...well... and the garden, I always have visions of something very "Martha Stewart-ish", but by mid summer it's a dismal failure! But I still have HOPE!

My hope for our children, those with Down syndrome and those without, is that they be kind, show respect, are able to laugh at themselves and along the way achieve benchmarks, goals or whatever else you want to call academic progress. In my family we have a junior who had to take the new SAT and start thinking about college. We have a freshman who is getting the hang of high school teachers expectations and we have a kindergartner who is learning to write his name. I am so proud of each of them for their own accomplishments. No one has more significance than another.

My hope for the Down Syndrome Connection is that we can continue to offer the amazing classes for kids of all ages. This can best happen with the financial support of YOU! Consider making a monthly contribution to the Connection so that we can continue to hire highly trained teachers; so we can continue to provide social functions for families to get to know one another and so that we can improve upon what we have built. Every contribution, no matter how little, can make a significant difference.

Hope to see you around the Connection!

Julie A. Sodestrom

Parent & Board President





Winter 2004 7.4

Don't you just love the start of a new school year? New school, new teacher, new friends, lots of 'new', and that adds up to lots of opportunity for learning and growth.

Every Wednesday afternoon, Daniel and I get to go to the Connection office for First STEPs. Daniel looks forward to seeing all his friends: David, Samantha, Juliana, Emma and Amin. I look forward to seeing all the moms: Carol, Debbie, Megan, Erika and Norrizah. While the kids are learning and having fun with co-teachers, Lauren Spina and Laura Briggs and the various volunteers, the moms are chatting and sharing a coffee now and then. I love the chance to connect, sharing worries and concerns.

There are so many opportunities for kids and families to make connections. Just look at the classes we offer: Baby STEPs, First STEP, Castro Valley STEP 2, Antioch STEP, Express Yourself, STEP In, STEP Out, STEP Together. WOW!

Check out the calendar for more opportunities to make connections. There will be a parenting seminar called, "Let's Talk," which will address emerging puberty and all the issues that accompany that. There is our great holiday party on December 5, 2004 at the Danville Community Center. If you haven't been to this yet, I highly recommend it. Bring the whole family - make some holiday crafts - have some holiday cookies and sing some holiday songs. It's a great afternoon!

I am so thankful to the Down Syndrome Connection for giving me so many ways to make connections with other families in the Down syndrome community. We need each other for encouragement and support. Make a new connection, there's plenty of opportunities!

Julie Sodestrom

Parent and Board President





Fall 2004 Volume 7.3

Hello,
Summer is such a great time. The routine changes from getting ready for school to getting ready for swim team or summer camp or a family vacation.

Our family is getting ready for a vacation. Our two older boys, Calvin & Jeff, sixteen and fourteen respectively, are going on a two-week bike trek through Germany with their Boy Scout Troop. Dirk and I will follow and meet them at the end of their trip in Munich. Then the four of us will travel to Rome, Italy for a week. And finally, Daniel, our five year old, will stay home with baby-sitters (trusted and highly competent friends).

This is a huge step for our family. A lot of firsts are happening: our boys are traveling without us, we are going to Europe and we are leaving Daniel behind. There are a lot of unknowns...will our boys be safe, will Daniel miss us, will the Euro remain strong?

There are a lot of similarities between vacations and starting school. Daniel starts kindergarten in September. Will he be safe and will things make sense to him as he learns letters and numbers? Learning is like taking a trip - much is unknown, but much is to be discovered. We trust our teachers to be good tour guides, ensuring that our children will enjoy the trip.

Summer is a great time to prepare our children for the trip they will be taking in September. May it be a time for you to enjoy the lazy days without routine, which eventually becomes the routine, so that when the school year begins you are ready for the 'new' routine of school.

Fondly,

Julie Sodestrom, Parent and Board President





Summer 2004 Volume 7.2

Hello Families...
I love spring! It is my favorite time of the year. The warm sun erases the doldrums of winter and I feel energized. Energized to pull weeds and plant a garden and brave enough to wear shorts, no matter how white my legs look! What's even better is when my shorts from last year still fit! Spring gets me out of the winter slump.

This spring I get to register my youngest, Daniel, for Kindergarten. This is a bittersweet event. On one hand I am so excited to have him start school, but on the other hand it opens the proverbial can of worms. Do we have him fully included or does he go to the special education class? I am trying to do my homework before the IEP by observing the different classrooms, but I am meeting mild opposition from the school district. Of course, they have pigeonholed him to go to the special ed class - that's where all the resources are. But would he be better served in a classroom full of typical children talking, laughing and modeling typical behavior. Tough decisions - but, I love the fact that I can bring my concerns to the Connection - seek the advice of other parents who have already walked this road, have Martha advocate for us at our IEP and generally be comforted in the fact that I'm not in this alone. I loved Katherine Sefton's article in the last newsletter on this very subject. It is so important that we are there for each other as we navigate the unknown.

This spring there are opportunities around the Connection to be together:

� On March 28th we had the Bowl-a-Rama at Earl Anthony's Dublin Bowl. This was a fun day of bowling with family and friends. Thanks to all who bowled and those who sent in money to support the Down Syndrome Connection and this fun event...Look for it next year!

� On May 22nd we will be having our annual Board Meeting and Dinner for all who would like to attend. The speaker will be Karen Gaffney. She will give an inspirational talk based on her experiences swimming the English Channel. Call the office today and let us know you're coming. You don't want to miss this!

� Step classes continue to go strong with kids learning and having fun at the same time. Check one out - make some new friends for yourself as well as your child.

Happy Spring!

Julie Sodestrom, Board President





Spring 2004 Volume 7.1

Hello Families... I love spring! It is my favorite time of the year. The warm sun erases the doldrums of winter and I feel energized. Energized to pull weeds and plant a garden and brave enough to wear shorts, no matter how white my legs look! What's even better is when my shorts from last year still fit! Spring gets me out of the winter slump.

This spring I get to register my youngest, Daniel, for Kindergarten. This is a bittersweet event. On one hand I am so excited to have him start school, but on the other hand it opens the proverbial can of worms. Do we have him fully included or does he go to the special education class? I am trying to do my homework before the IEP by observing the different classrooms, but I am meeting mild opposition from the school district. Of course, they have pigeonholed him to go to the Special Ed class - that's where all the resources are. But would he be better served in a classroom full of typical children talking, laughing and modeling typical behavior. Tough decisions - but, I love the fact that I can bring my concerns to the Connection - seek the advice of other parents who have already walked this road, have Martha advocate for us at our IEP and generally be comforted in the fact that I'm not in this alone. I Loved Katherine Sefton's article in the last newsletter on this very subject. It is so important that we are there for each other as we navigate the unknown.

This spring there are opportunities around the Connection to be together:

� On March 28th we had the Bowl-a-rama at Earl Anthony's Dublin Bowl. This was a fun day of bowling with family and friends. Thanks to all who bowled and those who sent in money to support the Down Syndrome Connection and this fun event...Look for it next year!

� On May 22nd we will be having our annual Board Meeting and Dinner for all who would like to attend. The speaker will be ______________. She will give an inspirational talk based on her experiences swimming the English Channel. Call the office today and let us know you're coming. You don't want to miss this!

� Step classes continue to go strong with kids learning and having fun at the same time. Check one out - make some new friends for yourself as well as your child.

Happy Spring!

Julie Sodestrom, Board President





Winter 2003 Volume 6.1

Wow!!!! 2003!! Time goes by fast. The Down Syndrome Connection is 5 years old! And we are celebrating with a big bang. Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 3rd, it is our annual board meeting and a birthday party. Tony Romas will provide food and we have a great motivational speaker, more info to follow. As I reflect on the past years, I've come to realize what it takes to run this agency. And I thought I would mention a few of our unsung heros:

Kendall Financial Services-Monica Kendall and her staff donate all their time, helping with end of month reports, new hires, federal and state forms, etc. Thanks Monica!

Kelly Damaj-Kelly puts together our fabulous newsletter, does the layout, artwork and sends it off to the printer. It is always a last minute rush, people like me never get their articles in on time. Thanks for the hard work and patience Kelly!

Drew Kocir and staff at Minuteman Press in San Ramon. Drew donates the printing for the newsletter, and helps us with the printing needs of our envelopes, stationery, invites, etc. Thank you Drew!

Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Castro Valley, Golden Hills Community Church, Brentwood, Nancy Henderson and Albany School District-Holy Cross has been letting us use space for our STEP Two classes since Aug of 2001. We are able to reach so many more families by holding classes there. Golden Hills has been gracious enough to let us start using space for 2 STEP Classes this January. There are many families who need services in that area. We are looking forward to a long and great relationship with Golden Hills. Nancy Henderson was kind, and crazy enough, to offer her home as a meeting place for STEP Out for 5 years. And when we were able to offer a 3rd teen program, Albany School District donated space. How lucky are we! A great big thanks to all of you.

Dale Stockbridge and Cindy Haines of Elliott's Bar-and all of our fundraisers-Thank you does not begin to explain how much you mean to the Down Syndrome Connection. You are great friends and work so hard for us. The funds that are raised go right to our programs. You help keep us going-and we are so lucky to have you! A very appreciative thank you!!

Deidre Lingenfelter. We would not have our beautiful Heartstrings Calendar if it were not for Diedre. She donates her time, staff, and film to make this MAJOR fundraiser work. We are now in our fourth year! Pierce Design does the design of the calendar and the printing is generously underwritten by Pacific Printing Industries. A great big thank you to all of you!

To all of our fabulous volunteers-we are truly blessed to have so many! Your support and confidence in our work is greatly appreciated. We have many hard workers helping us with our STEP classes, picnic, holiday party, Harvest Fest, the list goes on and on. Thank you!

And last but not least, our Board of Directors-these are wonderful people who give their time, expertise, wisdom, and friendship to the Down Syndrome Connection. Their leadership skills have taken us in the right direction, as we continue to grow and grow. Thank you for taking the challenge and thank you for believing in us. I know I have left out so many people-but you are in my thoughts, and I thank you too. Happy 5th Birthday, and many, many more to go!!!!

Cheers-Kathy