Celebrating Children with Disabilities: Interview with Special Needs Advocate Mom Holly Simon

For the month of May, I want to feature 31 women who continue to touch my life through their kindness, friendship, humor, passion, and determination. Each of these women have some great secrets as they open their doors and let me into their "mommy world". Their stories bring us back to the realization that we all go through struggles, make mistakes, and sometimes need to "fake it until we make it" as parents. Join us as we celebrate these mothers throughout the month of May.

Welcome to day 13 of Bulldog’s Mommy Blog Project! Today we get to feature the wonderful Holly Simon. Before we learn more about how this energized mom tackles a full household while advocating for children with Down Syndrome, I would like to share the parent tip of the day.

Parenting Tip of the Day: As parents, we all get overwhelmed from time to time and we might struggle on calming ourselves down. Here are some great tips to help when things get out of control:

  • Take three deep breaths. Belly breathe your stress out to calm yourself down. Just breathing can help release the anxiety.
  • Make a list or get organized. Often we feel everything is out of control, so by organizing our calendar or task lists we can get back on track.
  • Go for a walk or run, even if it is for just 5-10 minutes. Get out and get some air.
  • Cry it out. Research indicates that crying has been proven to help people process the hardship. 
  • Jam it out. Listen to your favorite music, sing as loud as you can, and dance! Release that negative energy. Let it go.

For more info or tips click on our website: Parent Coaching.

A few years ago, I friended Holly via Facebook. We have never met face to face, but she loved Bulldog Solution and we had a common friend. I started to follow her foundation I am Who I am. I was inspired by her dedication to create awareness and help children with disabilities. I could not believe the hard work and time she put into this cause. She is a true advocate for her son and works daily to reach more people and educate them to reduce preconceived notions and stereotypes. She is strong, full of energy and compassion. She is changing the world, one kid at the time. 

Please welcome the fun-loving and energetic Holly Simon to our Mommy Blog Project.

Name: Holly SimonHolly Simon Picture
Location: Chicago
Mommy Title: Exhausted, Mission Driven Mommy
Favorite Social Media Site: Facebook
Mommy Status: Married
Number of kids: 5
Age: 11-14-16-18-20
Gender: 4 boys and 1 girl

Walk me through a day in your household.
Mornings come early: my youngest does not want to miss anything! He is excited about school. He started this new school three weeks ago and it has been so good for him. As we are eating breakfast and getting ready for school, we laugh and have a great time. This helps us leave on a positive note. Then I spend countless hours on the internet working on my initiative, I am Who I AmI connect people together, I write, I call hospitals and talk to nurses and doctors. I am spreading the message: “Accept our new way of thinking”. I am not always at my computer though, I am also out and about networking. I’ll educate anyone who wants to listen. With the rise of differences, we need to change the way we view these children. We have a really long road ahead of us. I am on a mission to break down the preconceived ideas and stereotypes people have about Down Syndrome and/or a special needs condition. I enjoy the gift my son brings to people. It is a cliché: these children are challenging and difficult, but so are the other four kids I have! The work never ends with me and there is still so much to do. I still have normal mommy duties on top of this, so when the kids come home from school, I cook dinner and then a few nights a week I work in a salon.

Holly Simon Favorite Room

What is your favorite room in the house and why? 
My bedroom because I can gather with all my kids there. It is our place and time to cuddle, talk, and be together. Usually, we listen to music and laugh.

What is your favorite time of the day with your kids?
It’s at 7pm. That is the time we unwind. It is the end of the day and my kids start on their homework. It is quiet and we are able to talk together. There is no place we have to be, there is no rush to get somewhere.

What is a unique family tradition?
Sunday morning breakfast. We go out for brunch and there is a family rule: no phones allowed! No texting, no posting on social media. We just spend time together. My youngest son mostly entertains us and people around are entertained by watching our large family at one table. We enjoy just sitting together and focusing on each other. It is our time to be together.

What do you do when you are overwhelmed?
I do several things:

  • Shoe shopping! I look for the perfect black shoes.
  • I paint and I let everything go as it splatters on the canvas.
  • I take deep breaths.
  • I listen to loud pop music.
  • I write. I just write, I don’t think about it, I just let it pour out of my head. I am amazed were my fingers take me. Sometimes I go back and read what I wrote and I am surprised.

What is the best “uh-oh” story?
It's definitely about my fourth child. When he was about 3 years old, everything he did, he did NAKED. He road his bike naked and would just walk outside naked. You name it, he did it naked. So one day he managed to get into the car, somehow got it moving, and drove it through a baseball field. As we ran after the van and were trying to hold the van back until someone jumped in, my son was sitting in the front seat...NAKED!

Pink

Which celebrity mom is most like you and why? 
P!nk, the singer because she is portrayed as a badass and creative woman with no misunderstandings. She is not afraid to be loud. Behind closed doors, she raises a child and works on building a strong marriage. She has the attitude, “I am who I am and I can’t change. You accept it or not. Don’t hurt me, just walk away”. This really resonates with me.

What is your favorite website or blog?
I love Pinterest and my own blog, Glitter on the Side. I often find myself re-reading the things I have written.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Stay true to the girl you were. Be honest and kind at all cost, even when it hurts. Walking the right road will take you to the right place.

What is your go to outfit?
Some funky flowy pants, a cotton baggy shirt, some cool shoes, and big earrings.

What is something you are pretending to know about but have no clue?
I am pretending to know about life and everyday parenting. All I can do is my best, if I can bring some smiles and laughter into the lives of other people, then it has been a good day.

What have you learned from your kids?
Beauty comes more from the inside. Strength is something you must become. Honesty is a gift that will never fail you. Coming together as a family is the strongest gift you will ever have. I see life through my youngest son’s eyes. It’s a world of non-judgment and no prejudice. Each second of our day is so beautiful and his rawness and honestly is truly a gift. I don’t want to blink and miss any of it.

If you could ask the universe one question what would it be?
Will you promise to take care of my youngest son and his friends? When I am gone, will my mission continue?

What is the looming task on your to do list?
To reach more hospitals, doctors, nurses, and friends. Brining more acceptance and understanding of children with Down Syndrome or special needs nationwide. Also, making the world a better place.

Closing thoughts, mantra, or advice:
Here are a few things I live by:

  • Make today powerful. Do it today!
  • If you are going to do it, do it big.
  • It is what it is.
  • Learn to accept and appreciate everything, even the difficult parts of life.
  • See the good in everything.
  • Take a deep breath and enjoy the snowflakes and the sunrays.

I would like to thank Holly for her lively, honest, and inspirational interview. We laughed about life and how she manages it all. Holly loves life and truly inspires people to be the better version of themselves. Her words bring hope and meaning to our lives. I am honored to have her circle in my circle of influence.

Holly's foundation: I AM WHO I AM:
 Celebrating Acceptance Through Awareness is an inspiration to me.
I AM WHO I AM is a not-for-profit organization that truly celebrates acceptance through an awareness of abilities and celebrating the differences of children with special needs. This organization sees differences as gifts and inspirations in life. It provides resources and a place for people to come together and talk with like-minded, inspiring individuals. This is a great organization that brings resources and beauty into our world!

Until Next Time...
Kortney Peagram
Be Strong*Be Brave*Be a Bulldog

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Filed under: Mommy Blog Project

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