#ToriTough, T 21 Club, Myelodyplastic Syndrome *Please help support Tori*

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When you become a parent of a child with Down syndrome, you are welcomed into a club of parents who you did not even know existed until your child was born. Many of us often refer to the club as the T 21 Club, or the "You won the lottery club!"


Friendships are formed and bonds are made between parents that become almost like family to you! 

One such friendship for me is my dear friends Casey and Mike Atkinson, also known as Tori's parents! 

Tori is a little younger than ME, and she is an absolute rock star! 



Recently she was diagnosed with Myelodyplastic Syndrome also known as MDS. 

Due to this Tori will be receiving a bone marrow transplant and chemo. Casey has had to quit her job. She will be relocating away from her family to Milwaukee for treatment. Her husband, Mike, and their two darling children, Tori's siblings, will remain at home, in Green Bay. 



I have always believed that Casey became a Dreamer for a reason. I knew she became one because we were dear friends, and we were destined to work together to make sure our daughter's futures were bright. 

What I did not know was that this could possibly be helpful for Casey's family right now, with the loss of her income, the travel this will take, and the separation of family members. 

Fall is coffee season. 

The holidays are coming, and this is the perfect time to pick up a gift for your child's favorite teacher, relative or therapist. 

Please consider purchasing with a purpose from Casey's online store

I will be running her store for her while they work hard to balance all that this new diagnosis will bring them. With every purchase, they will make the profit, and this will help them with the costs they will incur. 

I am glad this is something I can do, as I have the impulse drop everything I am doing,  run to Wisconsin and sit by their side for the months this will take to treat! That is not realistic, but this is. This is a way I can help them as they are going through this. 

Casey and Mike,  all of the Dreamers are with you in prayer and spirit! We know that Tori will do this like she has done all things, and she will fight her way through it. While we can't take this from you, we hope that we can help get the support you will need as you all fight to give her the best care possible! 

We believe in you! And we are standing with you! 

#toriTough

To order from Casey's store, please click on this photo: 







#LIFEisbetterwithyou UPDATE on T Shirts, decals and more oh my!

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We are excited to share with you our new line of #LIFEisbetterwithyou t shirts! (decals and more to come!)

You can pre order by clicking on this link and ordering at Dreamers Merchants Coffee Company or by contacting your favorite Dreamer!


AND DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!

WE HAVE TWO DIFFERENT OPTIONS!

#LIFEisbetterwithyou

Copyright
Please do not use without permission
T21 design by Mallory Fogas of Grey Design Co.
 AND 

#LIFEisbetterwithME

Copyright
Please do not use without permission
T21 design by Mallory Fogas of Grey Design Co.

The shirts will be Bella and Canva brand t shirts. For those who don't know, these are SUPER comfy shirts!! 

They will be in both Men's and Women's cut. And of course youth sizes. 

Much the same color as this mock up! But not exactly, but you get the idea! 

As soon as I get mine, of course I will have MaryEllen model hers!! 

Note: This is NOT a Next Level brand t shirt! It is simply a mock up so you can
get an idea of what it will look like. Also, the font and logo are like the photos in this blog post,
not like you see in this mock up! The color will be a dark grey. So pretty much not this shirt at all. lol But better! 

Here is a look at the size charts: 

Youth 

Women's 

Men's 


This is also perfect for a gift for teachers, therapists and family members! 

We have gift baskets available if you are interested in gift giving. 

Every T shirt will come with a Dreamers K Cup sample! 

If you are interested in selling these t shirts you can contact us at dreamersmerchantscoffeecompany@gmail.com 

Thank you to all of you who have already pre purchased through our pre sale! We appreciate you! 



#LIFEisbetterwithyou T- SHIRTS, DECALS AND MORE OH MY!!

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You asked for it, you got it.

We have been contacted by many people asking us to create a #LIFEisbetterwithyou t-shirt!

Annie and I have spoken at length about what we believe the design should look like, each time we were asked if we would create one.

Both of us agreed we wanted it to be really awesome.

Both of us agreed we would rather go slowly and think it through than rush.

And both of us agreed that the exact design would come to us!

Well, it did!

We believe that the #LIFEisbetterwithyou design found us!

So without further adieu here is the design that will be made into t shirts, decals, and any number of things that we are asked to make it into!

Copyright
Please do not use without permission
T21 design by Mallory Fogas of Grey Design Co.


This awesome logo, that I am right now proudly driving around with on my car, will be available through all of our Dreamers stores! 

We will begin taking pre-orders on both t shirts and decals. Each of them will include a sample of Dreamers coffee as both Annie and I want to further the mission of Dreamers! So you will get an awesome t shirt along with an awesome sample of our amazing coffee! #LIFEisbetterwithcoffeetoo

We hope you will be patient with us as we work out the behind the scenes details! 

We expect to have this in as many Dreamers stores as we can by early next week! 

But by all means, spread the word! The official #LIFEisbetterwithyou t-shirts are on the way! 

Oh and here is our mock up for the t shirt! 

Copyright
Please do not use without permission
T21 design by Mallory Fogas of Grey Design Co.


We will be using the same design as the above decal, but this will give you an idea of the awesome t shirt that is on its way! 






#LIFEisbetterwithyou #downsyndrome

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***UPDATE: To order your #LIFEisbetterwithyou or #LIFEisbetterwithME t shirt that includes a Dreamers K Cup sample per shirt, go to Dreamers Merchants Coffee Company, or order through your favorite Dreamer!***

A week ago I was trying to wrap my brain around a news story by CBS News in which they reported that Iceland was trying to eliminate Down syndrome. It turns out this is not true, but the story itself was so over the top in your face to those of us who love someone with Down syndrome, that it truly made me want to be ill.

At what point in American history did we decide that it was okay to discuss a group of people and a country's possible desire to eliminate them from society.

The part that threw me off course the furthest is that this documentary was actually presented as a debate between two schools of thought.

Those who believe that individuals with Down syndrome should be eliminated, and those who believe they should not be eliminated.

Make no mistake, there is only one way to eliminate Down syndrome. And you are not actually eliminating it, you are literally exterminating an entire group of people.

A small group of parents decided to offset this horrible documentary with a positive message.

Annie Reid and I began a campaign that truly was just two mamas reacting to how we felt about the documentary, and how much it hurt us to think of our daughters and the way this made us feel.

#LIFEisbetterwithyou was born in that moment.

Two moms.

Hurt.

Seeking a peaceful, yet powerful response.

Thank you to all of you who have responded.

It has been amazing to see all of your hashtag moments!

Annie and I hope you will keep them coming for the next 30 days!

Let's offset one story with a more amazing story!

The story is that #LIFEisbetter with our 3 girls! And apparently many other parents agree!






Celebrating One Year In the Hearing World

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Today is the day.

Today I am celebrating one year in the hearing world.

I am asked two questions very frequently, and today my friend Mandi asked me them again, so I thought I would blog about my answers!

Number 1: What made entering the hearing world so hard?

When you get hearing devices there are so many things that happen that people do not realize. For one, your brain needs to adjust to the new "sounds" that are coming in. They are not actually sounds, but energy that is being created by the device that tells your brain that your cochlea's are getting the energy they need to create sounds. Since mine are "broken" from birth, my brain does the work that my cochlea's would be doing.

Before hearing devices, my brain was trying the best it could to do the work to let me "hear" what the world sounds like. Reading lips, "filling in" where I did not hear, and plain old helping me navigate this big world with out the ability to hear it took more work than I knew I was doing.

When my hearing devices replaced my system for navigating the world, that changed the part of my brain that was doing the work. That change was a lot of work. Physically.

Learning sounds was a lot of work.

Every day for the last year, I have learned new sounds. Every single day.

Imagine living in a world for 50 years, not knowing many sounds exist. Then one day, hearing many many new sounds and having to learn what each one is.

That has been my year.

The second most asked question is what is my favorite part of hearing?

Communication.

I can communicate more accurately.

I heard my voice, my true voice, for the first time one year ago today.

I had no idea I had a sweet gentle voice.

As most know, I heard a deep and gravelly voice my whole life.

Being able to use my voice in so many other ways has been quite the experience.

Hearing what I truly sound like has been like a miracle.

I have learned so much about me now that I hear me.

It has been a wonderful year.

I am glad it is behind me though.

I look forward to learning more as I continue to go through this wonderful life.

And I look forward to using my voice for good in this world.

#deafHOHproud

Most of all, I am grateful for these wonderful peeps and their patience teaching me all I needed to learn this year. Without them, I could not have done all the hard work it has taken to transition from my wonderful deaf world to my wonderful hearing world.







#blessed



Celebrating Nine Months Of Hearing

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I am nine months into my journey of living in the "hearing"* world.

I would love to tell you that transitioning into the hearing world has been as easy as getting a pair of glasses.

If I said that, I would be lying. I know this for a fact,  you see not only am I person who has a hearing impairment, I am also a person who had an eye impairment. I wore glasses or contacts my whole life.

I understand fully what it is like to get glasses or contacts and then see the trees and the leaves more fully.

Learning to hear is nothing like that.

I mean nothing like that. At all.

Many in the hearing world will say to me, "Oh yes, I understand, I have glasses and I remember the first day I got them, and I saw leaves on the trees!"

I smile and nod in agreement.

But the reality deep down in my soul is this, it is not the same.

Transitioning to the hearing world takes so much more effort. It is exhausting.

The best way I can explain it is this, getting glasses is not exhausting.

When you get glasses, you see. You put them on, and you see. It is awesome.

When you get hearing devices you have to learn what you are hearing.

Every sound you hear, your brain needs to learn. So one sound at a time you are startled.

The first time you hear the sound it is super loud. When I say super loud, I mean super loud. It takes your breath away.

Add to that... this fact....

When you hear that sound, you have no idea what it is.

So, then, you have to turn to those around you; your kids, your husband, your friends, strangers, who ever is near.

Some times with fear, and some times in aw, you ask them, "What was that?"

After you learn what it is, you breath a sigh of relief, knowing that you have one more sound that you do not have to be afraid of.

New sounds never end.

The hearing world has SO many sounds I have never heard a day in my life.

Slowly I am getting used to your hearing world.

It is a beautiful world a lot of the time.

Though I will be honest, often, I retreat back to my very quiet, much more silent world, the only world I have known my whole life.

The world I did not know was different than yours.

But I don't give up.

I start all over again every morning.

Each morning when I put my hearing aids in, I take a deep breath.

I love hearing your world. Most of the time. As overwhelming as it is, it is beautiful at the same time.

I know I am not hearing everything.

But I do hear more than I have ever heard.

For that I am grateful.

Truly truly grateful!

#deafHOHproud

#happyhearing

#learning2hear










* My hearing aids help me hear. Do I hear like the hearing world? I doubt it. Technology can only bring me so much understanding of the hearing world.

LET'S CELEBRATE ME's 12 YEARS OF LIFE! **ANNOUNCEMENT about ME's BARBIE PARTY for ST. JUDE

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On March 17th ME will be 12 years old and we are already preparing!

Yep, we are starting a little early, but we think you will love it when you hear why!

If you have followed along with MaryEllen and me you know that the last few years we have been collecting Barbies and Super Hero Action Figures for the patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

It's been a whirl wind of fun.

It has also been very emotional to learn what happened to the toys after we delivered them.

At the same time it has been very heart warming.

We have been so happy to learn that many children turn to them just the same way that ME has turned to her Barbies during the many procedures she has had to endure.

Many, many Barbies and Super Hero action figures later we want to thank all of you!

Your generous support has been amazing.


Mary Ellen and Vilma (St. Jude) giving a thumbs up because they are pretty excited about the many Barbies and Super Hero Action figures that have come our way! This was taken at ME's third delivery of toys. 

So, this year, again, we want to celebrate her life in a really special way!

We are thrilled to announce that we are partnering with the University of Memphis Chapter of St. Jude Up 'Til Dawn!


St. Jude Up 'Til Dawn was started right here at the University of Memphis 18 years ago, and has spread to over 250 schools across the nation! 

They raise 5 million dollars a year annually, and they have raised over 20.6 million dollars nationwide for St. Jude! 

This year, in honor of ME's 12th birthday, in lieu of gifts, we will ask you again to consider donating a Barbie or a Super Hero Action Figure for the children at St. Jude... 

OR BETTER YET 

donate $12 to ME's  St. Jude Up 'Til Dawn fundraising page 

or send a $12 donation made out to St. Jude Up Til Dawn to:
ME's Barbie Party 4 St. Jude
2095 Exeter Road Suite 80-227
Germantown, TN 38138 

*If you donate through the St. Jude Up 'Til Dawn fundraising page, be sure to indicate that this is for ME's Barbie Party 4 St. Jude in the "leave a comment" section. 

St. Jude Up 'Til Dawn, Mattel, and I have worked out a process in which we will be purchasing Barbies and Super Hero Action Figures directly from Mattel from their Charity Sales Program. 

This will be a huge cost savings to purchase them, and it will ensure that St. Jude is getting the toys that they need, when they need them. 

PLUS every time you donate $12 towards a Barbie, thanks to Mattel's Charity Sales Program that we have been approved to be a part of,  approximately $9 of that donation will go to St. Jude Up 'Til Dawn

How cool is that! 
When we delivered ME's last batch of toys we received Up 'Til Dawn t shirts that we are so proud to wear!
I want to say thank you, again, to all of you who have given so generously! It has made the difference to many children of all ages who are going through the fight of their life! 

We hope that you will celebrate ME's twelve incredible years of life again this year by donating $12 to St. Jude Up 'Til Dawn OR sharing this with your friends and family so they can!  

Barbies have made a huge difference in ME's life, now Barbies and Super Hero Action Figures and your dollars can make a difference in many more children's lives! 

** PS As we have said in the past, ME will be 12 all year long, so we will not have a cut off for donations, feel free to celebrate her all year long with us! 


A Contest and an Introduction!

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A few years ago, I became friends with a wonderful family who do not live far from me.  They are members of the Down syndrome club, and their daughter, Bethany is their golden ticket in to the club. Michaela, Bethany's mom, has a wonderful songwriting contest going that I am really excited about. 

Check out her interview I had with her to learn more and get to know Bethany and Michaela! 

Tell us about you. Where are you from?


"I grew up in Las Vegas NV. Lived there for almost 30yrs. I live in Tupelo, MS now."

Have you always been a singer/songwriter?


"I have been singing cover songs semi-professionally since the age of 17. I’ve been
writing on and off since childhood. But, considering myself a songwriter came very recently in 2015. The songwriting community is overflowing with hugely talented musicians. I’m lucky to be hanging out with them."


When and how did you become a radio and television show producer?


(laughing) "November 2014, thru a series of unplanned opportunities. (laughing even harder) I wanted to meet and work with other songwriters, Christian songwriters initially. I wanted simply to write songs with other musicians in the music room my husband and I built. 


As I started to reach out, a friend of mine who owns a Christian TV Network, suggested I create a television show. They wanted a new, younger viewing audience. I wanted to connect with other musicians. Win / Win. 

I wound up producing two shows; one featuring local Christian Songwriters and the other featuring local Christian Contemporary Musicians. 

In the meantime, I found a huge community of songwriters in NE Mississippi. I could see the potential was there to expand the songwriters showcase to include all genre’s. 

I approached MS Radio Group in Tupelo MS, November 2015 and they liked the idea. The songwriters showcase went from a 30 minute / 1x per month to an hour show every week on Z98.5 FM. 

I’m glad to say, the show is still expanding. I just launched a “live” songwriters showcase at The Basement downtown New Albany MS. The new showcase has a live audience and is recorded for radio and television re-broadcast, giving the songwriters triple exposure."

How has this affected you personally, as a songwriter?


"I’m writing songs! Hooray! My notebook of original songs is growing. The number of writers I collaborate with has become more than I ever thought possible. Every interview and every show is a learning experience. I soak it in like a sponge and I’m so appreciative of their willingness to share. I get to know and build relationships with them. I’m in love with the art form of turning your thoughts and ideas into lyrics, combining the lyrics with melody and instrumentation to make a song. The world needs music! How could any of us live without music?"


Tell us about your beautiful family.


"I have two awesome teenage boys and one super-awesome girl. 


I am widowed. My husband was a musician also. He passed away in an auto accident on the way to check out a gig. 

My daughter is the youngest and she is living with Down syndrome. She is the inspiration for the songwriting contest I just launched."


Michaela and Bethany

 You launched a songwriting contest! Tell me more!

"Michaela Compton Music, LLC has launched a songwriting contest with a specific theme. The theme being Down syndrome. Deadline for entries is March 1, 2017. Winners will be announced March 21, 2017 World Down Syndrome Day. 50% of the entry fee will go to organizations who support/benefit people living with Down syndrome and Down syndrome research."


How can we learn more and get our hands on the entry form?


Rules, regulations and entry form are available in PDF format on my website. http://www.michaelacomptonmusic.com/local-licks-songwriting-contest/


Will you be writing a song?


"I won’t be entering the contest but I am writing a song about my daughter never knowing her father. He passed when she was 2 months old. She only knows what I tell her and the photos I show her. That is the perspective I’m writing from."


Name the 3 most important things that you want people to remember about you?

"I will not waiver from believing there is God
My life has been positively affected by having a daughter with Down syndrome.

I’m in love with the art of songwriting and the community of songwriters."

What is one final thing you would like to share? 

"Diane, thank you for all you do to raise awareness and shed a positive light on Down syndrome.... All the countless hours researching and sharing to strengthen this community of lovely people. Thank you!"


Michaela, it is my pleasure. I am grateful that the world of Down syndrome created a way for our paths to cross! 

I love the work you do and your music. I hope many people hear about this songwriting contest, and many are inspired to enter. 

Information for entering the contest can be found at:
www.michaelacomptonmusic.com  or pop on over and like our Facebook page called 
BETHANY AND COMPANY https://www.facebook.com/bethanyandcompanyDS/