Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Family Appreciation Day

Since moving back to Winnipeg, I have learned a very important thing - you never know how much you need family support until you finally have it. Having lived in Edmonton for 17 years made me a strong, independent mother who managed to do it all.  Mind you, there were days I was going to have a nervous breakdown, but I still found that God's strength gave me the ability to do it all.

In the past weeks I have come to love my "family" so much.  I decided that 2014 was going to be a year that I was going to appreciate the family we have here.  Chris and I work hard every day to show our kids how special and wonderful they are and how much they are loved, but they need someone that isn't mom and dad to tell them that they are okay and that autism is too.  I want to appreciate the family that has done that.  By family I mean those in my life you have embraced, accepted and loved me and my family.  By family I mean those who have embraced, accepted and loved autism and all it entails.  
Today I am appreciating my dear friend Sandi Reimer.  She and I have been friends for 22 years but it's been the last 2 years that have meant the most to me. Let me explain why.

My daughter Kiana is one of the biggest sports fan that I have ever known. For her, it's not just the team, but the players.  And it's not just the players, but who they are as humans, as people.  The Blue Bombers are her favourite team and Buck Pierce is her favourite player of all time. 

The most exciting thing for sports fans is the ability to go to games and cheer on your team, but this is an event that my daughter is unable to participate in.  Kiana's SPD - sensory processing disorder - does not allow her to do this. The noise of the crowds, the music, the team, the stadium makes it impossible for her to tolerate.  Every time I got to go to a game or enjoy the team in a live setting, Kiana would curse her autism and cry about how she wished she was like "everybody else."

Well, enter Sandi.  For those of you who don't know her, she is a determined individual who doesn't let obstacles stand in her way.  She made it her goal for my daughter to not only enjoy the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but to meet her favourite player.  She started taking Kiana to football practices and soon Kiana's dream came true - she got to meet Buck Pierce.  Not only that, Kiana got the chance to get to know him just a little bit.

Now, anybody who knows me knows that I am NOT a Buck Pierce fan - AS A PLAYER.  As a human being he has become a part of my heart - someone I will always respect and appreciate for the man he is.  Once he saw how big a fan my daughter was, he sat down with her, talked with her and even got to know her a little bit.  And he gave her something that has become her greatest treasure - the hat off his head.  

Well, when Pierce got traded to the B.C. Lions, my daughter was heartbroken. She cried about how much she loved him, would never see him again and how she would miss him.

Bring in Sandi Reimer, again. Look at the smile she put on my daughter's face!

Kiana demands a lot more attention than I am sometimes able to provide, and Sandi has happily jumped in with both feet to be a dear friend that my daughter needs.  She loves Sandi so much, loves spending time with her and comes home feeling like a better, happier, more beautiful person after she has been with Sandi.  For that I am grateful.
When Kiana saw Buck she was wearing his hat - he couldn't believe that she still had it and was even wearing it. 

Buzz and Boomer sat with them in the hopes that they might get to eat some of Kiana and Sandi's breakfast.

So, this is a big shout out and thank you to my first "Family Appreciation Day".  

Sandi, thank you for opening your heart and reminding a young woman how special she really is.  Thank you for the moments you take to talk, text, email, call or hang out with her and let her know that she is important.

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