I am the proud parent of Avary Marion Cannon. Avary was born in November 2010. We did not find out that Avary had Down syndrome until after she was born, but almost instantly I knew before the words were even spoken. I have never felt a sense of "loss" because to me I haven't lost anything but gained a beautiful daughter. I haven't thought, "Why me" in pity, but "Why has God chosen our family for this journey?" I see each day as a blessing and an opportunity to learn and teach people about Down syndrome. I have met and spoken to many parents and we seem to always come to the same conclusion' we love our kids, and we aren't afraid to say it or show it. We aren't afraid to compare notes or ask for advice. We aren't afraid to roll up our sleeves and go to bat and advocate for our kids and others. I see how hard my little "Avary Bravery" works at therapies, and how exhausted she is after a session. I watch her play with her toys without a care in the world and she wakes up so happy every morning and I think to myself, "How AWESOME is she." I love to see her sister read to her and how Avary listens to every word as almost to say, "What comes next?" or to hear "Mommmmmy, Avary is pulling my hair." And I smile and think the joy of having a little sister. Being Avary's mother has made me appreciate being a mother even more. I have slowed down and reprioritized my thinking and I spend more time snuggling and giving kisses and truly embracing and loving my girls. It's not easy being a parent period, but the diagnosis of Down syndrome makes me want to be a better person. I feel that my husband and I have a stronger bond now and we communicate on a much greater level. I feel like I want to shout from the roof tops the joy and happiness this child has brought to our family. I admit I have a lot to learn about Down syndrome, but what I have learned so far is that the sky is the limit. Don't put boundaries or hurdles in your way, life is already complicated enough. Don't sweat the small stuff. Be thankful for what you have, and don't judge people on a diagnosis but embrace the differences and celebrate. We are just starting on this journey, and I know the road will not be all roses and sunshine, but we are determined to give all the love and support we can and pray that we are being utilized to our full potential. My goal in life for both girls is to raise happy, strong, independent women who show respect for themselves and others. If I can succeed in that goal, then a little extra chromosome doesn't bother me. This is just the first chapter to "Our Great Story."