17 March 2014

Best Lil Cowboy Ever.

Friday, March 21 is World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. 

This darling boy is the son of a very dear friend. Sara, an Arizona-born cowgirl embodies all the finest qualities of ranch gals. She trains horses with a gentle hand, teaches and counsels children, and hardly says a bad word about anyone. The worst I ever heard her say about a former boyfriend is, "He was not a very nice boy." Her husband Marty is also a kind man, takes all sorts of teasing from her friends (like me) with good humor, and has a great heart.

So when they had their first child, a boy who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, their friends weren't sure how to respond. Everyone wants a perfectly healthy child. Everyone usually assumes two great people will have a great baby. Guess what? They have.

The Bug, as he is lovingly called, is a beautiful, happy boy. He has the best laugh in the world. (Well, second to my son's baby laugh. That was enchanted music, but I'm biased.) As Bug approaches his first birthday in May, he's reached those milestones every parent brags about or frets over: lifting his head, rolling over, sitting up, smiling, laughing, wriggling, crawling, getting into things, walking, burbling--oh, and did I mention getting into things?

This is a fortunate child to be born to loving parents who live in a tight-knit community of family and friends. We all know he'll face more challenges than average as he matures, but he will have a strong support system around him to help him learn to meet each obstacle and deal with it--in his own way and time. He will grow up in a ranching/farming environment, well-acquainted with dogs and horses, where the insane pressure of modern urban life is not as much of a factor as it could be. He'll face the incredible cruelties other children can inflict, as we all know will happen, but he'll also be surrounded with acceptance and encouragement in a way few people experience. I have no doubt The Bug will learn to achieve through determination, hard work, and love--just like his folks.

Down Syndrome is trisomy-21, a genetic anomaly of an extra of chromosome 21. Its effects can vary from severe (with multiple organic issues such as heart problems and other organ dysfunctions) to mild, with some facial effects and  slower than average cognitive learning. People born with Down Syndrome can lead rich, productive, independent lives--if given the chance and acceptance. There are more than a few young people with Down Syndrome who have made incredible achievements--way above any average. To learn more, and read about these remarkable men and women, please take a moment to check out The National Down Syndrome Society page.

02 March 2014

Foray into Children's Books

Uh-oh. I've gone and done it now. I collaborated on a children's book with a crazed Aussie. Walkabout Willie / Mucky Karms is one book of two tales for children, perfect for reading at bedtime or for those who already read independently. There are blank pages to draw one's own illustrations.

Walkabout Willie recounts the Grand Adventure of a wombat who wandered farther than he ever thought he could. My good friend from Down Under, Marg Brassington, shared this story with me quite some time ago. It's a fun tale with different animals from Australia involved, illustrated with original drawings by Marg herself. I've added a few here and there as well.

Mucky Karms is a fantasy I used to tell my son every night at bedtime. It grew and grew into a saga of staggering silliness which I have substantially edited for publication. Lorcan the Leprechaun is certain the Witch in the Deepest, Darkest part o' the Forest has stolen his pot o' gold. He tricks a unicorn into giving him a ride and soon learns being mean isn't the best way to accomplish a goal.

Right now, when you purchase a print copy from Amazon, you can add a Kindle version for only 99 cents.

I will have print copies of this book available at the Tucson Festival of Books, Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16.
I will be with Gecko Gals Ink in Booth #112, which is right near the southern end of the Arizona Daily Star pavilion. Those who purchase Walkabout Willie / Mucky Karms  will receive extra goodies with each edition! I'll be at the booth all day, both days from 9AM through 5 PM, so please come by and say "G'day, mate."