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Noah’s Mermaid Sequin Pillows – Supporting Meaningful Employability and an Entrepreneurial Spirit in the Down Syndrome and Special Need Community

noah pillows heart 1

https://www.etsy.com/listing/514903650

Have I got a story for you!

Noah has come a long way from the little baby who would fall asleep in his infant carrier if left unstimulated for more than 5 minutes.  At 10, Noah has no trouble staying up with his 6 siblings still at home; he fits right in with his church friends and neighbors, and he absolutely hates anything that even resembles resting except at night.

Our family has been undergoing some changes as my Etsy embroidery business is coming into its own, and we are shifting from relying on corporate America to sustain us financially to exploring more local opportunities and flexing our own entrepreneurial muscle with several family businesses.

Andrew’s expertise is keeping him in business development with an eye towards entering the field of property management in the Austin/Dripping Springs/Wimberley area, and I (Alyson) have my machine embroidery business over at http://www.21reasons.etsy.com.

Leah (15) has been learning everything there is to know about essential oils in hopes of developing a product line of functional essential oil products.  She is also entering into the field of pyrography, which combines her artistic ability with an application in wood burning.  More to come on that!

Andres (13) has started his own lawn care business specializing in mowing and weed-eating.  He went from having to borrowing his dad’s mower to acquiring his own and then adding a leaf blower and weed-eater all within a few weeks.

Eden (12) is our resident animal expert.  She is quite the animal rescuer, nursing every little thing that comes along back to health against all odds.  She does the impossible.  Think you have to have an incubator that automatically rotates eggs to hatch chicks?  Apparently you don’t; well, at least Eden doesn’t.  Her latest feat was hatching several eggs that had been abandoned by their mother hen, and all she had was an old heat lamp and a plastic bin.  She has a thriving egg business here in Wimberley, Texas.

That brings us to Noah (10).  Noah’s been watching with great interest all the money that the kids have been earning (and spending).

Before I go much further, let me give you some background:

THE STORY:  Visiting with a dear friend one afternoon, she shared with me how much her father, who has advanced Parkinson’s disease, enjoyed this fantastic reversible sequin pillow that he could run his hand back and forth over to change the sequin colors.  A color fanatic myself, I was totally intrigued and set out to find one of these pillows for my son, Noah, aged 10 with Down syndrome.  After searching high and low I came across one in a retail establishment for $30.  I snatched it up, brought it home, and Noah LOVED it!  Well, so did his siblings, all 6 of them!  It wasn’t long before other people we knew started coming to mind as needing to have one of these pillow.  Using my contacts in the embroidery business, I came up with higher-quality zippered reversible sequin pillows that I could assemble for $20 a piece before embroidery – 33% less than what our first pillow cost us.
We passed one of our completed pillows along to a neighbor with severe autism who is usually nonverbal.  After we showed him what it did and gave him time to process the information, we were surprised to hear him say Gracias.  He spent the next two hours tracing patterns in the pillow and now keeps it by his side.  We’re delighted!!!!
As I started putting the pillowcases and pillows together that we were gifting to our friends, I realized this was work that Noah could do, with some help.  That’s how Noah’s Mermaid Pillows were born.
THE PROCESS:  The pillow covers are manufactured, and I add an embroidered name to the back if requested.  Then the components are assembled, bagged and labeled for shipping.  For the pillows Noah assembles, he takes the pillow cover, unzips it, inserts the pillow (which, believe it or not, takes some serious coordination to do all the pulling and tugging and stuffing), and zips up the cover.  For every pillow Noah stuffs (starting at 5 a week), he receives $5 – $1 for spending money, and $4 to go towards the speech therapy and therapeutic horse riding at http://www.RedArena.org that helps to keep him at his best.  Our hope is that we could give back to Red Arena and allow the scholarships they have so graciously gifted to us to be passed on to another child.  Noah will participate in some way in every single Noah’s Mermaid Pillow order.  Every packing slip will be hand-signed by him; he’ll also be helping in the packing and shipping department.  This will introduce him to processes and procedures necessary in business with an eye towards meaningful employment or a greater role in http://www.21reasons.etsy.com in the future.
On our first pillow-assembling session, Noah stuffed 6 pillows, and our work time quickly turned into a speech therapy/occupational therapy session (with awesome cooperation from Noah).  We practiced talking about everything we were doing; zip, open, push, pull, etc.  We also practiced our colors as each pillow had two colors depending on which way you swiped it.  As soon as we get our first order, Noah will practice counting money, fulfilling orders, printing and placing address labels, signing orders, etc.  And I’m thinking he’ll be adding a special sticker to each mailout as well – we are still trying to capture each occupational therapy opportunity possible.  Noah will also be going to local businesses that have waiting rooms, introducing himself, and with some help, asking for an opportunity to leave a pillow as a gift and for advertising purposes.
Are ya catching our vision?  Let me know, because I have some ideas on how you can help.  Just leave me a note in the comment sections and I’ll get back to you!
For those wishing to purchase one of Noah’s Mermaid Sequin Pillows, follow the link . . .
Blessings,
Alyson

While I was sleeping . . .

How can I possibly catch this blog up on our lives over the past few years?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

No, no, that’s not quite right.

Somehow (actually I know how – we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us), we have made it through the worst of times and are now, in so many ways, in the best of times.  If you know what we’ve been going through of late, I’m sure you’re scratching your head at this – typically unemployment is not within the scope of the best of times.  But we’re together, and we’re happy, and we have people in our lives who we love and who love us, and best of all, we love each other.  And God is opening doors and giving us glances at dreams we in some ways had given up on.

In the past year or so we became parents again to number 10 – Elijah.  A couple months later we became grandparents.  God is so good to give us blessings upon blessings.  We also saw Daughter Number 3 become a newlywed to one of the finest young men we know.  More blessings.  We continue to live the dream in Wimberley, Texas, a little gem of a small town in the Hill Country.  We continue to homeschool, train up our children, and seek after Jesus and His ways.  Our son, Noah, who has Down syndrome and apraxia of speech is now 10, full of love, and still struggling with speech.  He continues to use a lot of sign language that increases his vocabulary and intelligibility.

My “little Etsy machine embroidery store” is growing in leaps and bounds, and I recently was challenged by a young entrepreneur, Andrew Epps of http://www.andrewepps.com, to share the story of that store, http://www.21reasons.etsy.com, and the products I sell.  As I listened to Andrew Epps’ presentation at the Mother Earth News Fair in Belton, Texas, the picture of what God has been preparing for us through the years suddenly came into focus.  This blog has been a lifeline to me – a way to share my experiences as a new mother of a child with Down syndrome, a way to give back to the special needs community through printables and ideas, through friendships and counsel.  But here it sits.  Not being updated.  For many years the main focus of my life was on Noah, just trying to get on top of this thing they call Down syndrome, this thing they call apraxia of speech, this thing they call special needs.  And honestly, this is still a big focus of my life.  But there’s more.

And so here I sit surveying just what the more is.

And I’m getting excited about sharing it with you.

Blessings,

Alyson

Upside Down – Just the Way He Likes It!

So, If you were to meet Noah, one of the first things you would notice is that although he is quite speech delayed, he understands everything that is said to him.  As a matter of fact, he understands enough to do his own kind of word play – especially if it means getting out of something he really doesn’t want to do.

The kids have pretty much overrun my bedroom as of late, and I’ve started trying to reclaim it.  So when I caught Noah with his toys and carrying box in my bed this morning, I told him to put his toys in the box.  (This is a portable mesh box – mesh on 4 sides and  fabric on the bottom with an open top.)  He did his usual frustrated groan but started picking up toys.  He’s got the obedience down – attitude, not so much.  Anyway, seeing that he had started picking up, I walked out of the room.  I just went back in to make my bed, and this is what I found:

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So, technically, the toys are “in the box,” right?  Is the fact the box is upside down just a minor detail?

“NOAH!!!!”