Bringing the Sunshine

An ordinary mom with extraordinary kids, living an extraordinary life: a daughter with cerebral palsy, a son with Down syndrome, an adventurous husband, a wild Westie, a rescued Schnoodle, a camera and a worn out pair of running shoes.

Andi is a winner of Top 25 Most Inspiring Families

What inspired you to start blogging?

My daughter was born with cerebral palsy and in 2006, one week after her third birthday, she underwent surgery on her spinal cord, followed by several months of intensive physical therapy. It was then that I started my first blog to keep family and friends updated on her progress and struggles.

In 2010, my son was born with Down Syndrome, and it was then that I found my muse. I began a new blog, not because I was looking for an audience, but because I needed an outlet for my thoughts. However, within a short time I realized that it wasn't just my friends and family who were reading -- strangers were visiting the blog, as well.

My blog, Bringing the Sunshine, comes from a quote by Anthony J. D'Angelo: "Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine." It's a reflection of my belief that no matter what struggles or disappointments we face in life, we can always find a blessing if we just look for it. In addition, it's also intended to convey the purpose of the blog: to inform and inspire others, and advocate for individuals who are differently-abled in a way that's positive and non-confrontational.

What are three distinctive features of your blog?

1. My blog blends words and images to tell our story through two of my loves -- writing and photography.
2. My voice provides a unique perspective because I have two special needs children, both by chance, with very different diagnoses, and therefore very different abilities.
3. I strive to maintain a balance between positive messages and real, relatable details. Life is messy, and I frequently acknowledge my frustrations and disappointments, but the overarching message is one of perseverance in the face of obstacles and appreciation of the beauty in life.

How has blogging changed your journey as a family?

My husband and I have grown closer during the time since I've published my blog. When you have young children, it's very easy to fall into a rut of speaking, but not always communicating. Many of my blog posts have encouraged communication between us because they give my husband a window into my thoughts that he wouldn't necessarily have otherwise. My daughter has developed an interest in photography because of my blog, which I intend to cultivate, as it not only is good for her, but also gives us a fun "Girls Only" activity we can do together. We have all come together in our mutual support of important causes, such as the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.