Author Archives: jhepburn

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By Sarah Koehn

For me, this is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Especially the anticipation of the 4th of July, which is my favorite holiday.   It’s the culmination of summer and a guaranteed day off.  It lacks the stress of other holidays and is truly about relaxing in your neighborhood.  No special outfits or gifts to exchange or complicated meals. I’m not sure the extent to which we will celebrate this year; my family takes it day by day lately.  Charlie and I had planned to head to Wrigley Field this weekend to see Dead & Company, but Charlie is under the weather, so no all-day Dead jam for us.

Jacqueline and Harvey are excited for the July 4th for the first time and looking forward to their first parade. And we FINALLY got the fairy garden underway this week.  As I planted the first miniature conifers, I realized that the fairy garden was far more for my benefit than the kids’.  I have big dreams for my house and it’s landscaping, but neither the time nor talent to make them a reality. I am noticing that it’s all achievable in the fairy garden!  For sure, my biggest weakness is unrealistic ideas about what I can accomplish in any given day, season, or year.

This was a fun week at GiGi’s Playhouse – check out the pictures on Facebook of the TEAM program on Monday, as well as the Movie Night on Wednesday night.  There are currently 10 adults in our TEAM program with hopes to grow in number and size in the Fall! Also, this week is the start of the Summer Literacy session; we have some new AND returning students as well as new tutors.  Daphne has a new tutor named Grace, who is an SLP student at Marquette. Lucky Daphne!  We are still trying to figure out the secret sauce of summer programming, but I’m thrilled with the participation so far.  Friday Friends meets tonight for Board Games, and then we will close until Wednesday the 5th.  My heart will be heavy next week as we say goodbye to our dear Jamie.

I was focused on two things this week: a snafu in planning our fall fundraiser, and hiring the new Site Coordinator.  I’m also writing a progress report for a donor, which I’ve never done before. This anonymous donor gave us $20K last November, and I have to explain how the donation has benefited our programs and families.  It has me thinking about creating a better way to acknowledge our donors inside the Playhouse. Let me know your ideas!

I am super excited about the Down Home BBQ with DSAW on July 8th.  The event will be at DSAW in West Allis.  There will be food, games, and an awesome band – Max & The Invaders. The goal is to bring our entire community together and educate everyone about available programming.   I also got word that Nancy Gianni wants to visit in the next month. Nancy is the founder of GiGi’s Playhouse, otherwise known as “GiGi’s Mom” and one of the first people I ever met at GiGi’s Playhouse in Chicago.  So you know how you feel when you plan a party and it becomes deadline for all the improvements you want to make in your house? That’s how I’m feeling right now!

Sadly, I made no progress on my minivan search this week.  Perhaps it’s my way of tempting Mother Nature to raise the temps, as I have no air conditioning in the minivan. Bring it on!

Happy 4th of July to everyone!

Aaaaah Summer

By Sarah Koehn Happy Summer to all of you! These past 2 weeks have been full of change for me personally as well for GiGi’s.  My kids started camp this week; for Daphne it’s a return to last summer’s routine with some familiar faces and for Jacqueline and Harvey it’s a brand new “camp!” experience. … Continue Reading

Living with UP syndrome

This speech was wrote by Jacob West. Thank you for sharing with us and for doing an awesome job on your speech at our World Down Syndrome Day Party! My name is Jacob and I am 23 years old, I’m about to 24 in May. People treat me differently because I have Down syndrome but that… Continue Reading

World Down Syndrome Day feels good this year

Written by Sarah Koehn This year, World Down Syndrome Day feels more meaningful for me personally, as Daphne’s Mom, and I’m not sure why. I’m using this blog post to ponder that question. Maybe it’s because this past year has witnessed such tremendous growth in her, and several of the questions I explored for years… Continue Reading


Written by Dennis McGuire, PhD Scrolling through Facebook, we noticed that the National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) shared an AWESOME article we could not wait to share with you all! Enjoy! Affection, hugging and caring for others would make a big comeback. Despite the fact that my family was not terribly affectionate, I have… Continue Reading

“Find heart, mama love me”

This post was written by Gina Alternburg, mother to Gracyn and Gage. Thank you so much for sharing your special story with us! There were two things I always knew I wanted to be when I grew up. One was to be a special education teacher and the other was to be a mother. In… Continue Reading


Written by Jen Sexton MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2014 This blog post was written by one of our families whose little ‘peanut’ as they call her, is now two years old. Thank you for sharing the story of your prenatal diagnosis with us! I’ve always imagined myself having children. Sure, there was a period where Brett and… Continue Reading

Spreading the word on world down syndrome day!

1. Showing videos that demonstrate that people with Down syndrome are “More Alike Than Different”. Such as #11 on this webpage:  scroll to #11. 2. Sharing 21 facts about Down syndrome  3. Read an age-appropriate book about Down syndrome in the classroom, ask kids to share experiences they might have with friend/relative/neighbor with Down syndrome. 4.… Continue Reading