Ryan turned 11 on October 6th. For those of you who are wondering, Ryan’s Hogwarts’ letter did not arrive (much to his disappointment) but he did have a great time with friends.
One of Ryan’s best friends, Lawson, came into town from Arkansas to have a joint birthday party with Ryan.
We hung out at our house and then Ryan, Lawson, and Austin, Ryan’s older friend who uses RPM to communicate as well, joined the polar bear club and went swimming on Ryan’s actual birthday.
The next day was the party. Leslie, Lawson’s mom, had rented a home in west Fort Worth, about 45 minutes west of our home. It was our family, Lawson’s family (Lawson, Leslie, and Lawson’s dad Brant came into town), Austin’s family (Austin, his mom Mary Lynn and his dad Dan), and Diego’s family (Diego who is another local RPMer who is Ryan’s friend and his mom Daisy, his dad Johnny, and his sister Sofia.)
The house was amazing, but one of the coolest features was that it had a separate building that had a movie theater in it. We had burgers and brisket (courtesy of Randy) and delicious sides and birthday cupcakes. Grace and Sofia made cotton candy.
After we had eaten and had cake, I asked Ryan if he was up for going in to watch the movie and he said CALLING IT NOT SURE IF I CAN MAKE IT THE WHOLE MOVIE. I told him that that was fine and we would try as long as we could.
Ryan did well and we stayed for a while, but he was ready to go and we had to go home to take Freckles out (unfortunately dogs were not allowed on the property which is completely understandable). Randy, Ryan, and I went back to the main house and we began packing things up. Brant (Lawson’s dad) was there and he was helping to clean up the area and Ryan wanted to talk to him. Ryan spelled: EACH TIME THAT I GET TO SPEND WITH LAWSON FINDING HIM MORE AMAZING.
I knew that Ryan was going to have a tough time with Lawson leaving in the morning. He did. We are so fortunate to have Austin and Diego here locally for Ryan to spend time with. I am still trying to grow the RPM community in the DFW area, so I hope to have Ryan’s circle of friends even bigger in the next few years.
Here is what Ryan had to say about celebrating his birthday with his friends:
WE HAD SO MUCH FUN. MY BIRTHDAY WAS GREAT. I GOT TO SPEND IT WITH MY FRIENDS. I SPENT TIME WITH LAWSON, AUSTIN, AND DIEGO. THE JOINT POOL PARTY AND MOVIE PARTY WERE BOUND TO BE FUN. TEAMING UP WITH LASWON, THAT WAS JUST WONDERFUL. HE AND I JUST GET EACH OTHER. HAPPY TO DO IT NEXT YEAR TOO. HAPPY TO HAVE AUSTIN AND DIEGO HERE. LOVE MY FRIENDS SO MUCH.
The next day, we let Ryan have a choice on where to go for the family celebration for his birthday (because you know, it was a birthday weekend!) He spelled: CAN WE GO TO A STEAKHOUSE? We met Granny and Mark at Saltgrass Steak House.
TOO LOVING MARK. HE REALLY TOO MUCH CARES FOR ME. I AM TOO LUCKY TO BE HIS GRANDSON.
Ryan enjoyed ordering a filet off of the adult menu (hey it was his birthday!) and getting two desserts to share. They put a candle in one of the desserts and we sang to him. At the party the day before, Ryan had trouble blowing out the candle. I know that this is hard for him and every year we encounter this (even though he can do it, it is just hard to blow purposefully) and I never think ahead. Well, this time, I grabbed a straw off of the table and had Ryan blow through it and voila! He was able to blow it out!
Ryan’s main present is the Canada trip which we have re-booked! He did get some presents from his friends and some presents from us. He asked for CLEVER SHIRTS AND BOOKS.
Grace bought him Charlotte’s Web. She read it in class and thought that he might like it. Grace and I went to the local community garage sale and she found a copy that came with a Wilbur and Charlotte bookmark and used her own money to pay for it.
GRACE’S BIRTHDAY GIFT WAS SO SPECIAL. I LOVE WHEN SHE GETS ME GIFTS BECAUSE SHE PICKS OUT THE BEST ONES.
Ryan had asked for the peg puzzle game that he had mastered on his first try last year at Cracker Barrel. We got that for him and he was not able to get down to one peg the first day that he played it. He spelled HARD TO THINK THAT I DID THAT ON THE FIRST TRY. TOO LOVING THIS PUZZLE.
The next day, however, he nailed it the first time!
I think that the coolest thing that Ryan received though was something unexpected. A friend of the Levinson Family, Debbie, reached out to me after Ryan’s blog post about his seizure. She mentioned that she makes things for some people for Halloween and she wanted to make something for Ryan. She asked me who is favorite characters or superheroes were and I replied that he mostly likes Disney characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
When it arrived, I explained to Ryan who Debbie is. I mentioned that she is the mom of Brett (who is one of my brother Dave’s best friends since childhood and who Ryan knows and spent time with last year during Aunt Sophia’s baby shower) and I also mentioned that she works in a classroom with special education children and has followed his blog since the beginning (which is true!) and that he met her at Grandpa Bob’s Rally last year. Well it turns out that I did not need to say all of that and you will see why in a second. The box was marked “Fragile” so I helped Ryan open it and lifted out the item. I wish that I had captured his reaction on video because when he saw Donald’s face, he lit up! Luckily I was able to capture this picture!
But I think that as amazing as Donald is, the letter that accompanied him was equally amazing.
I really don’t think that I am an emotional person, but boy oh boy, lately I am not sure that I can still say that. This was so, so special to receive. Ryan’s immediate thought was CAN WE PLEASE WRITE HER A THANK YOU CARD?
Ryan did write Debbie a card and later when I asked him about it, he said: TOO MOVED BY DEBBIE’S GIFT AND LETTER. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HER IN PERSON AGAIN.
And this is why we continue to share Ryan’s story, the good and the bad, and allow Ryan to put himself and our family out there. We want to help others. We want to help educators. We want to help parents.
And most importantly, we want to help others like Ryan, who may not yet have a voice.
Thank you to everyone who has liked, commented, loved, supported, and shared Ryan’s blog. We just hit 1,000 likes for the blog on the Facebook page and we are so thrilled to share Ryan’s story and to help and inspire others.