CDSS Conference in Toronto 2012
What an amazing weekend! Firstly, I'd like to say, a HUGE thank you to all my loyal blog followers! I simply had no idea that so many Canadians followed my Down syndrome blog.
This weekend, (19-20 May 2012) I had the wonderful opportunity to go to (and spend the beginning of this weekend) at the Canadian Down syndrome Society Toronto 2012 Conference! What an amazing opportunity I received, to be able to represent the Durham Down syndrome Association as their Vice President. I was pleasantly and honestly honoured to meet so many friends and families in our wonderful Down syndrome community, while staying and being a part of this conference at the Delta Chelsea Downtown Toronto.
Picture this: "Hi, you don't know me, but I feel like I have grown along with your family and following your blog" ... or, to my poor unsuspecting husband, "John, you don't know me but I know you and your wife!" and better yet, "I know you!!! You are Sandi's Husband!!!!" Imagine his shock... but even though realistically, this had already happened two years ago at our Provincial DSAO Conference in Niagara Falls, we both were only slightly prepared for it this time around - because this time, it happened on a much larger scale. Every couple of minutes or turn of our heads, someone was approaching us and saying, how they knew us from: and were thankful for: my blog.
I am thankful and teary eyed that my little blog has made such a great impact in our community. I had no idea that so many read/followed my blog. What a wonderful and absolute reward.
Even going to this conference, (though I was already scheduled to attend), the CDSS contacted me to arrange a large purchase of my "I Have Down syndrome, What Does That Mean?" book! I had not intended to bring my books for sale this year to the conference simply because I wanted to focus on representing the DDSA and also learning through being present at the scheduled workshops without having to run ragged tending to a booth for my books on top of it all. BUT, I decided in hindsight to bring them just in case. Good thing I did, as several people were hoping by chance that I would be there and be bringing those books and magnets.
Needless to say, our weekend was fully inspiring and educational. Hardly relaxing, but well worth being present and all ears. Like usual, I ran my camera like a crazy woman, hoping to catch wonderful moments for the DDSA website and upcoming newsletters - all the while being asked by the CDSS if they could use some of my shots. Interestingly, their actual photographers didn't seem to like the idea that I was there seemingly infringing on their territory. I guess I should have mentioned that I wasn't there to step on their toes - only to gather "intel" for my local association. I thought making idle chit chat about cameras and my lack of professional knowledge would have made that clear but I suppose physical evidence to the contrary (such as having a bag full of expensive lenses and flash) told them otherwise.
Anyhow, I'll say it again - WHAT a fantastic weekend. Simply Amazing. And although extremely limited with and by my very bad back and injuries, we managed to walk slowly (only a block) on Yonge Street just to experience Toronto Downtown life, for what seemed like, one last time at the age of almost 40.... It's interesting how much of a lack of patience I now have for the weirdness and drunkenness of Downtown city life - and even more for the general distaste I have for useless unintelligent people who whisper about seeing "so many people with Down syndrome in one place" (proudly - I'll add) out with their families eating dinner. I wont even honour their ignorance and spend another moment commenting about the two drunk men who made this remark beside John and I while we sat eating our "Big Slice" pizzas. Instead, I invited the families over to my table so that I could introduced myself hoping that they would know not all Torontonians/Ontarioians were so foolishly ignorant.
One thing I noticed is that the flashy lights of Yonge Street are still as bright as ever, and the noise of Yonge Street at 11pm is still as loud as ever.
Though this time around we decided not to take our children along, we definitely didn't find ourselves able to go to sleep any earlier or feel like "child-free adults". It must be an automatic pilot - parent by default thing, to preoccupy yourself with other parent like tasks so that you are prevent from acting "wild or crazy" in spite of being out or away from your offspring. Either that or we are a sad pair of adults who have forgotten how to "live it up". It's probably the later of the two....
Anyhow, without feeling too sorry for ourselves, the good news is that we had a good time in spite of our selves. Here is a sample of the pictures that I took - because I was simply too busy selling books and being in workshops. My Sunday (which normally I would have still been at the CDSS conference) was taken up with my pre-booked Photography Course though the Academy of Photo Arts, so as a result of that I thought I would add a few other photos I took after coming home from that wonderful lecture/class.
|Tim Hortons Owner speaking|
|Sujeet Self Advocate - Playing one of Seven Instruments|
|Marlee Matlain "signing" as Keynote speaker|
|Marlee (US Actress)|
|Marlee finishing her expressive and captivating message|
|Sujeet playing the Sax|
|A Son and his Mom|
|Newborns first conference|
|Hunter's Conference Buddy - Garrett|
|Educations Toys Booth|
|Just a Tired Me...|
|A really tired John.... (sorry for the half nudity)|
AND OF COURSE, after my photography course....
|The family (sans me)|
|Daddy & Hayleigh|
|Hunter is Dancing... always dancing.|
|This kid smiles at everything, almost everything.|
|See what I mean?|
|A Breath of Fresh Air on our Porch.|
|This is one of the last Tulips of the year.|
|My Neighbours fancy flower garden|
|Just two Pansies (not peony)... in our garden.|
Hope you enjoyed the shots! This time I have no excuse for poor photos...