Archive for March 2016

Serendipity! We have tea!!

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A fortunate happenstance, pleasant surprise! Serendipity is definitely the term I would use to describe how we came upon our tea that we are offering through each of our Dreamers stores!

For months, I was hearing from the Dream Team that they wanted to add tea to their stores. I investigated many teas, and thought about adding a tea just so that we had the tea. But something in my heart kept saying, "Diane, the tea will come to you, in exactly the same way the coffee came to you! Be still, and listen."

Time went by, still no tea. Until one day I was getting my hair cut. Yes, you read that right.  I was sitting in my chair that I have sat in for the last almost 9 years, (Misty is the best if you are looking for an amazing hair dresser.) and she and I were talking about Dreamers. Misty has always been an incredible support to me, and I have loved being able to share my journey with her. She is a cheerleader, a supporter, and such a wonderful person.

Out of the blue, she says, "Oh wait, I want to show you something."

She returned with this darling box of tea.

I immediately said, "Where did you get that from? I love it!" 

Misty went on to explain that her colleague had a client, who has a tea company here in Memphis, and it is located in Orange Mound. Their mission is to teach the women of Orange Mound about everything tea, and create jobs for them! 

Well, I was beside myself. Of course I needed to talk to them. The tea had arrived, and I just knew this was the tea that my Dream Team needed to sell in their stores! 

After a few phone calls back and forth we finally got connected. This was all a pleasant surprise! A fortunate happenstance! Serendipity at its finest!

I am happy to announce that we are now officially distributors of My Cup of Tea tea! 

Currently we have available two options, and we are adding more daily! You can purchase that beautiful box up there, that has $75 worth of tea in it, in a variety of flavors, or you can buy this darling little quart jar sample pack. Contact your favorite Dreamer for information!

Coming soon we are adding boxes of teas, iced teas, tins of teas, and tea pots! All of their teas are premium grade! Once again, we are as proud of the product as we are the dream! All down the line, everyone is getting paid fair trade prices! This matters a great deal to us, and we are proud to tell you this!

Every purchase of these beautiful teas leads to another dream coming true at My Cup of Tea and for our Dreamers! 

Serendipity! Indeed! Wouldn't you agree?! 

How Do You See Me?

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In the Down syndrome community there is a lot of talk about Olivia Wilde's video. 

On the front end, I want to thank Olivia for stepping out there with us. You simply rock. Thank you! Thank you for standing by our side. Thank you, Olivia, for believing with us that our children are amazing. Thank you for your voice.

It seems another amazing woman has also decided to lend her voice. 

I'd love to hear your reactions (those who follow me)  to these two videos. 

Both have a beautiful message. (Actually they have the exact same message.)

Both have amazing women advocating for individuals with Down syndrome. 

Both actually "star" a woman with Down syndrome. 
(Let's be honest, Olivia Wilde is not the star here. At least not this time.)

Thank you to both women. 

How do you see me? 

What will I be doing this year on World Down Syndrome Day 2016 (Monday, March 21)?

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In 2015, I handed out 47 jars of jam which I purchased from a company (Steamers) that hires individuals with disabilities.

That simple task led me to Dreamers!

So this year, I am handing out Dreamers Coffee! The Dream Team is handing them out with me! I will post photos on our Facebook page on Monday. We plan to hand out 47 sample packs. One for each chromosome that an individual who has Down syndrome has!

What else am I doing this year?

A few of my friends and I have exchanged socks!

Yes, socks!


Thanks to my friend Danielle Morris, and her sweet son, Kingston, ME and I will be having fun rocking our socks that my friends and I have bought for each other.

Learn more about this by clicking on the World Down Syndrome Day photo below.

Along with handing out Dreamers Coffee and wearing my fun socks that come my way, I am excited that I get to present again this year in my dear friend's 321 eConference. 

Jennifer Smolka has created an affordable way for families to attend conferences with some of the best speakers who are part of the Down syndrome community. You can attend online from where ever you are at! This is truly an incredible opportunity for families to hear from some of the most dedicated individuals in the community. 

To register for the 2016 321 Conference click on this photo below. 

If you would like to join my session where I share about Dreamers you can sign up here for the Work For ALL track! 

And finally,  I leave you with my absolute favorite WDSD 2016 video! So proud of my friend Deepa Garwa for creating this excellent piece! This is exactly what WDSD is all about! I simply love it! 

Whether you watch this video, wear fun socks, sign up for a conference session or simply give tons of hugs to your loved one who has Down syndrome this Monday, I hope you enjoy your day, and know that every day is a celebration of life! Enjoy your WDSD 2016! 

Dreamers Update! Has it been ONE YEAR since the Dream started, already? WOW!

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March 21st is coming up.  It will always be reminiscent for me. On March 21st of last year, I handed out jam. That jam was the beginning of a dream! It was the beginning of Dreamers actually!

It has been a while since I have been able to update on Dreamers. Mostly because I have been so busy growing Dreamers. So with March 21st coming up, and World Down Syndrome Day right around the corner, I thought an update was warranted.

As you may recall, Dreamers started out with one online store.

Day one we said we had a dream. A dream to open a coffee house, and a dream to create jobs. I was not sure where that dream was going to go, and I certainly was surprised when others asked me if they could sell Dreamers as well. So with a huge leap of faith, we began Dreamers Merchants!

We have grown into 22 online stores.

We cover eight states across the United States.

It has been exciting to watch the Dreamers share with us how they are setting up shop at various events and selling Dreamers coffee!

They have begun their own dreaming as well!

Recently, some of our store owners have been given the opportunity to sell coffee at Vantage Point Golf Range*, three days a week, at 9580 Macon Road Cordova, TN, thanks to Brittany and Chris Thompson. 

(*Current schedule: Friday (7-10) Saturday (8-3) and Sunday (10-3).)

Dreamers Allison and Jay Thron are working along with me to create a training program. They have been absolutely incredible! 

Allison (left) Amanda (right)
It is a learning process, and we are hopeful that in time, people will come out that way, just because they know they can get a cup of great coffee, and help us build the dream of hiring individuals of all abilities! Anyone who is looking to buy a bag of coffee can purchase one there as well!  Most recently we have added tea! Both hot tea and iced tea! These are available in our online stores too! The story behind the tea is just as amazing as the story behind the coffee. 

In the mean time, we continue to add more stores so that people can bring the dream to their home town! If you are interested in selling Dreamers products, you can contact us at 901-849-7111. 

Growing a new company has been very busy. It is exciting and scary! I am grateful for all of the Dreamers! Each of them have been what drives me to keep going, and keep looking for ways to grow this dream! Mary Ellen turns 11 tomorrow! That means I have 10 years to grow it, so that when she graduates from school, she will be ready to work at Dreamers!

In the mean time, each day we wake up and dream! 

Dreamers Ribbon Cutting at Our New Location- in the Vantage Point Golf Range Clubhouse

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What a whirlwind these days have been lately! I have not even had a chance to blog about our Dreamers ribbon cutting at Vantage Point Golf Range (9580 Macon Road Cordova, TN 38016)

It was an absolutely amazing day!

Thank you to everyone that came out and supported us! 

Thank you to the Germantown Chamber of Commerce members for all of your support and encouragement. Starting a new business is a leap of faith. But it is also an exciting time!

We were all excited to see the great write up about Dreamers in the Collierville Independent News! 

Come on out and see us! Currently we are serving from 8am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. We hope to add Fridays very soon!

What an exciting time this has been thanks to so many who believe in our mission to employ individuals with (dis)abilities.

The R-Word, It Is Personal

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Today is Spread the Word To End the Word Day!  So each year, on this day, I share this post that I wrote in 2010. I think it helps people understand better why this word is so sensitive to me.
The R-Word, It Is Personal
By Diane Grover
February 23, 2010
Rush is saying it. Rahm is saying it. Sarah initially said some can say it, and some cannot. Recently, I heard that Colbert is getting in on the fun too. It is an interesting issue to be talking about. Some people are tired of hearing about it. I am one of those people.  However, my mother’s heart has compelled me to talk about it one more time.
When my daughter was young, I tried to teach people why it hurt me when they used the word improperly. Along the way, I had some people tell me, privately, that I was overly-sensitive to the issue.  Some people debated with me in public. They also told me that I was overly-sensitive. So I decided that perhaps this was something I needed to repress. I came to the conclusion that I was being overly “politically correct.” I had taught my children it was wrong to use it as slang.  I had done my job.  I could not control the rest of the world.  Besides, I told myself, most people don’t mean it when they say it.
I went through a time, where I would try to convince myself, that hearing the words “retard” and “retarded” thrown around did not hurt me.  I did not want to be one of those who assault our freedom of speech. I tried to accept it as just a normal part of our society. I tried to forget about it.
I finally managed to move on, and just be quiet when it was used around me.
That was, until recently, when a national debate started.  It all began when Rahm Emmanuel said “retarded” in a meeting. Friends and family sent me the articles that were written about it. I read every argument in both directions.  I found myself reacting as if I was a mama bear with her little cub being attacked.  The wound was opened again.
Then I was informed that Rush began using it to make a point.  Again, my heart was pounding. I thought to myself, “Not this word. Please not this word. Use another word to make your point, but please not this word.”
Of course the comedians are always quick to jump in on the latest gaffe that is made by a politician.  Many did their part to highlight this word in their routine, saying it over and over again, while the audience laughed.  My emotions were on a roller coaster.
Why? For a silly word?
For some, yes, it is just a word. For me, it is more than that.
When MaryEllen was born they told me they suspected that she had Down syndrome. We knew we could accept this; however, it still was painful to hear this news. Any time your child is hurt, you hurt for them. Hearing the doctor share with us what this could mean to our daughter was jolting.  We needed time to learn about it and like any new parents, we were worried about what this meant for her future.
Eleven days after she was born, her diagnosis was confirmed. I was called by the doctor who gave me the news. Tears streamed down my face, as I soaked up the reality of this situation.
Two days later, I received her diagnosis in the mail:
Cytogenetic analysis of PHA stimulated culture has revealed a FEMALE karyotype with TRISOMY 21 in all GTG banded metaphases analyzed. The result is consistent with the primary form (nonfamilial) of DOWN syndrome. Some of the phenotypic manifestations of this are hypotonia, round flat face, simian crease, epicanthal folds, small ears, mental retardation, flat nape of neck, etc. Genetic counseling is recommended.
There it was, in black and white, my daughter’s diagnosis.
I could see it. I could see the little ears. I could see the simian crease on her little hands. I could see the flat nape of her neck. In fact, I found myself kissing that sweet little neck over and over, to comfort her, or maybe to comfort me. I could see where she could have hypotonia. I could see the slant of the eyes.
What I could not see at this time was the "mental retardation" that they listed. MaryEllen was only 14 days old, and all I wanted to think about was my beautiful baby.  I just wanted to hold her and enjoy her during this time that she was so little.  However, those two ominous words kept popping up in my mind.  They were the words that I had to wrestle with the most.  At night, when everything was quiet, I would cry myself to sleep. My heart hurt. Those words would roll through my mind. “My daughter has mental retardation,” I said to myself through tears. It hurt.

In the quiet moments of my day, I wondered, “What will my daughter be like? Will she be able to understand fully what is happening around her? How “mentally retarded”, or delayed, will she be? Who will she be?” Yes, indeed, those were the words that cut deeply. They could have changed them to “cognitively delayed,” but I still would have to resolve to understand what this meant for my baby girl. Besides, that is not what they put on this paper. They used the words “mental retardation.”
I am a mom who does not give up easily. I battled my fear of these words by learning more about them. The first thing I did was look up the word “retarded.” This brought me new understanding.  Retarded, by definition, meant “slow to learn”. There, now, that is more like it. My baby girl would be slow to learn. That is much better. We all have areas in which we are slow to learn. I continued to educate myself by putting my hands on every book I could.   I was so inspired by parents who went before me. They taught me so much about the beauty and dignity of their children. I would cry as I read through their heartwarming stories.
Every day that passed I was more resolved to believe that my child was not her diagnosis.   MaryEllen would be MaryEllen no matter what anyone told me about what could happen. I was wrestling a giant, and I was winning! My daughter was my inspiration. Each day that she learned something new, she told me, “Mom, this was never about them anyway. This is about you and me!” She worked hard for everything she learned. Each milestone was amazing. We cheered her on when she started to crawl. We patterned her crawling daily, until finally she was crawling on her own. Later, after months of working on walking, she walked! I felt like I was watching the Olympics when her first steps came together, and she toddled into my arms! My heart raced with joy. It was an accomplishment like I had never had before. She was my fifth child, and I never felt like this before. Yes, through this experience, I feel like I know what it is like to climb a mountain. I feel like I know what it is like to win an Olympic medal. I absolutely know what it is like to overcome an obstacle.  A part of me felt that every time she learned a new milestone.  That continues to this day! We never take one milestone for granted.

So how does all of this relate to Rahm, Rush, Colbert, et al? You see, it is personal. I spent many dark nights, crying over the words they are laughing about. They haunted me by day, and put fear into me by night. I had to learn their true meaning, and push forward to accept them. And I did! And so, when they use them so casually, to describe how they feel about people they do not respect, well, truly, it hurts my mama’s heart. It took me a long time to understand what these words would mean to my daughter. Yes, she is slow to learn. But she is more than that. She is a champion. She is a star. She is my daughter. If they want to know why those words hurt me, all they have to do is meet her, and they would understand. She is more than her diagnosis. But reality is, those words are a part of our life. They are sacred. They are ours, whether I want them to be or not. Those words did not win. We did!
We overcame the hurt caused by those words. We came to accept the diagnosis and my daughter became my hero. Please, think of her the next time you almost say those words. And on her behalf, don’t.