Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"I Five.... Today

Today Reid would tell you.... "I five!" if you asked him.

Actually we were at the park today with some friends and I told Reid to tell the girls what today was..... I was not sure how he would respond to be honest, but he looked up at them, smiled, and said, "I five!!". When they said Happy Birthday Reid, he responded with a most adorable, "Fanks!!" with again that little smirk on his face. 

If Reid had more words about him he would also say....

"I have the best big brother, EVER!"

"Daddy is my hero!"

"Follow your dreams, there isn't anything you can't accomplish if you put your mind and heart in it!"

"If you have the opportunity to sit out or dance.... DANCE!!"

"Tell someone that you love them.... To Infinity and Beyond!!"

"Laughter is good for the soul!"

"Rudolph isn't the only cute reindeer!"

"Mind your manners and don't forget to say, "Thank you... thank you very much" from time to time!"

"Hug close the ones you love!"

"If you want to hang out in only rain boots and underwear all day... so be it! Blaze your own trail!"

"Five is going to be my best year yet!"

**Top photo taken by Kelle Hampton for the Infantino/Step2 "Everybody plays" Campaign. All photos are property of this blog owner and may not be reproduced without permission.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Beautiful New Life

A little girl's "life story" has been rewritten because of this incredible family featured in the ABC News clip below.... and from what I understand the Reece's Rainbow adoption website has been on overload since this aired.... I hope it stirs more hearts and ALL of these beautiful children will find their Forever Families.... The little girl Masha they show wondering if the news reporter was her Momma? Tears poured down as I watched that, no one should be without a mom or dad... I pray this news story helps her find her very soon!! 

Click here for the ABC News clip
Then, to read more of Kareen's journey to her new life,  go here

A few thoughts..... Once given the diagnosis of Down syndrome from health professionals many of us walking this road were encouraged to abort, told that our child would be a burden to society, to their families, their siblings would suffer.... you scour the internet and you will find outdated and biased information pertaining to the life of a person with this extra chromosome, BUT...... you ask a family walking this road and you will get a much different answer. Of the over 500 children adopted through Reece's Rainbow, I would venture to guess that most of the adopting families either already had a child of their own with Down syndrome or an extended family member.... that says A LOT of this road, and the falsehood of the statements above.  Parenting is tough..... with or without extra chromosomes, but the most beautiful tough I have ever experienced and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Love You to the North Pole and Back!!

I have to confess, my soon to be 5 year old had not had a full blown birthday party until this year. His birth date is December 28th, and that... is such a hard time for a party. I have felt guilty over this little issue and vowed to myself that THIS year Reid would have a party with his school friends. THIS YEAR, this year, this year, this year....

But seriously, this year WAS going to be the year and it turns out that once I embraced the whole winter~Christmas theme that comes with this time of year my mind flooded with ideas and I began to wonder why I was so stumped each year with how best to pull off a party in December. ...Give me a summer birth date and I have ideas galore, Luke has benefited from a fun party or two in his little lifetime, but poor Reid~ Nada.

The more ideas rolled in, the more obsessed excited with the thought I became. A huge inspiration came after reading this post on Kelle's blog. I had already thought about having snow delivered but had not fully developed my ideas until I read about her North Pole party she hosted for her girls to just "embrace the fact that Christmas was encroaching"~ and that's when the flood gates opened..... "THAT'S IT" I thought....Reid would indeed have a birthday party... and it would be hosted in no other location than the North Pole (AKA my front yard) and, it would be hosted by none other than Mr. and Mrs. Claus and a cute, spunky 10 year old elf who also goes by the name Luke. Once I got the plan set in motion I reached out to Serendipity Soiree who made these invitations for me, I LOVE them, she did such a great job!

Toby knew something was up when he noticed me typing furiously one night and giggling all the while and asked what was going on... I smirked and told him that I had an idea for a party for Reid....and that, gulp, it was going to require him in a costume..... and, gulp.... memorization of a script! He gave me the o'l, "Oh no, not again...." look. He has been through this with me before, once I hosted a Scooby Doo Mystery birthday party for Luke and Toby was our "Present Thief" and he was given strict orders to follow the script I had typed out for him! Oh, the joys of parenthood..... but my amazing hunk of a husband took it all in stride and was the most lovable Santa that day, and even threw in his own spontaneous dialogue that made me howl with laughter!

Once the invitations had gone out to Reid's classmates one of the moms stopped me and said, "Just so you know..... (insert sweet little girl's name) is telling EVERYONE that she is going to the "real North Pole" for Reid's party!!". We laughed together about it, but then the pressure MOUNTED..... I. Must. Transform. This. Place. Into. The. North. Pole.... So, operation North Pole went into full affect. 1st, I literally walked up to a neighbors house a few streets over that I had never met and, gulp, gave them an invitation and asked if I could borrow 3 of their huge inflatable lawn decorations to help "set the stage" for the North Pole. This stranger woman surprisingly did not close the door on my face but smiled huge and said "Of course!" 2nd, I scoured the Dollar Tree and 99Cent store for as many decorations as I could find to "North Pole" the place up (though I had bought gobs of stuff, gobs of it never made its way out the door that day.... we had rain the day before so my decorating time got cut short~ but I think it was North Pole enough to do the job). 

Once the decor was taken care... the kindergarten teacher in me began to relish in the fact that there were so many fabulous "stations" I could have the children rotate through... and decided that "Mrs. Claus" would read a story to the children to help conclude the party while Reid's dad ran inside and changed into his Santa costume.

Anyway, here is what our Sunday looked like around here.

Luke was such a great sport being our "Chief Elf"! could tell he loved every minute of it! ...Truth be told, he even slept in his costume that night, said it was "comfy" ;)

Our neighbor graciously made these balloon candy canes for all the kids!

We contacted our local ice company and purchased several 40 lb bags of snow which they delivered. The idea was for the children to make snowmen at one of our "stations". I had carrots, tree branches, buttons, jewels, and wiggly eyes for them to choose from. However, I think the kids found it most fun to just slide around in and throw at one another.

We set out a gingerbread decorating station.

We had an Elf Wrapping Station. At the beginning of the party I handed out elf hats from Oriental Trading Company and told the kids that Santa needed help putting the finishing touches on the gifts by adding ribbons and bows. Then, they were to add their name on the back so we knew which elf inspected it. .... They did not know that these were actually their "party gifts" and the name tags on the back was to help "Santa" call out names at the end of the party once he made his grand appearance.


I found these cute little plastic reindeer jars at the Dollar Tree and thought they would be perfect for adding "Reindeer Food" into... however, the 1st store only had 8 so I began searching other stores in the area until I had to realize I was getting neurotic about these dang reindeer jars and that no... it was not healthy to drive 10 miles to pick up the 1 jar that the store manager said he had left, sigh, so I caved and bought the Santa ones to have as back ups. I had to giggle to myself when I had 4 reindeer left over after the party because lots of kids preferred the Santa (Mama Mia... I could have saved a bundle on gas and on headaches had I allowed myself the grace to know that it is okay if reindeer food does not necessarily make it into a reindeer bottle) ;)

After the "stations" had been thoroughly visited it was time to cut the cake...which was also Toby's cue to head into the bedroom to change into the Santa costume we borrowed from a friend. 

Santa and his Chief Elf had been instructed that they were not to come out of the house until I had the kids seated and I had read a book to them....

And then the time had arrived.... Santa made his debut.

....and he came bearing gifts, the presents they had finished wrapping at the "Elf Station"

Toby and I had to laugh that night.... about how much "power" comes along with wearing the big red suit. Kids crawled up on his lap unsolicited and one sweet little guy in particular looked him square in the eye and asked him if he was on the "naughty" list?? He got hugs... and kids lingering around not wanting to say good bye. One dad told me later that his little girl told him, "At first I thought it was Reid's daddy... but then I noticed hair on his hands and thought that must mean it really is Santa" ...Oh my gosh, kids are so funny! Even Reid was staring at Toby trying to figure it all out. 

And as for Mrs. Claus... though she is best known for her fabulous cookie baking abilities and managerial skills with the elves, she is also known to have a bit of a sassy side to her that she unveils from time to time ;).

Reid, we had so much fun celebrating your little life! Happy 5th birthday!
We love you..... to the North Pole and back!!