Friday, December 23, 2011

Spread some holiday cheer.

The kids had their winter celebrations at school this week. There has been a lot of talk lately about the fact that our kids don't have holiday programs at school like we had when we were growing up. There is no singing Jingle Bells... there is no dressing up as gingerbread men. I have come to find out that many schools are still doing holiday programs... ours does not. That's all I will say about that... I am here to spread some holiday cheer... not moan Bah Humbug.

So... make crafts and eat snacks, we did.


The kids love when we come into their classes... what kid doesn't? But Payton... she really loves it. As in, the moment she sees us, she jumps up and down, hoots and hollers, "Mommy! Daddy! Yay!"

She is so damn cute.



Earlier this week, we didn't send Payton to school one morning because I wanted her swabbed for strep. She tends to get a rash on her chest when she has strep, with no other symptoms. To say she was upset that she couldn't go to school is a gross understatement. I told her that if her strep test was negative, that she could ask Dr. G if she could go to school.

Kyle said she was so adorable when the doctor came in to tell her that her test was negative.

Payton: Docker G? Schoo pwease?
Dr. G: Yes, you can go to school.
Payton (clapping): Yay! Schoo! Yay!
Dr. G: I hope she gets this excited to go to school in five years.

As they walked past the nurse's station and the receptionist to exit...

Payton (patting her chest, to signify "me"): Schoo! Schoo!

As you can tell, school is going great for Payton. More on that to come.


Mason's travel baseball team visited an assisted living facility yesterday with our local police. Kyle coaches the team and the girls and I were lucky enough to tag along. We wanted to expose the boys to the elderly, the needy... something a little outside of their comfort zone, all while delivering the spirit of the holiday season.


The elderly that we visited and brought gifts for was a predetermined group that was chosen by the facility. These were folks that have no visitors, no family. It has left me puzzled as to how someone can have an elderly person in their life that they have neglected.



I think the boys enjoyed visiting with this gentleman, who declared, "I'm overwhelmed!" as he tried to sit up in bed to receive his gifts. He was hard of hearing and the boys thought it was funny when he told them that all of his packages are stolen from him... the rest of us sad to know that this gentleman clearly has some pretty bad dementia.


Payton and one of the boys each had a gift bag for another gentleman, Bill. We knocked on his door, but he wasn't there... we were told that he is very social and that we would find him in the lobby. Sure enough... turns out Bill was the first face that had greeted us when we walked in.


He was so happy and so very thankful. I wish we could invite him to spend Christmas day with our family.


Many thanks to our local police department for coordinating this event for our boys... we look forward to much more of this to come.


Payton read us our bedtime story last night... book #22 in our countdown to Christmas. She has her own way of telling a story, though... and I'm positive she knows exactly what she is saying. That is all that counts in our world, because moments like this make my heart flutter with love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

These are the moments I crave.

When I was growing up, we lived in snow-clad areas of the country... New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. We never questioned whether or not we would have the white fluffy stuff that winter. Not to mention the fact that we probably wished it away too. Sledding, snowballs and snowmen... we took it all for granted. And I went to college in Minnesota, where although we always had snow... classes weren't canceled unless the wind chill was like 80 below and you literally could not breathe.

And today... somehow I ended up living in a state that might get snow. It messes with your mind, not knowing whether we will even get the chance to sled or make a snowman with the kids. We have gone from getting barely anything one year to getting 31 inches another year. But there is never a guarantee. I am a little depressed seeing all the snow in other parts of the country this morning. Our forecast for Christmas day this year? Sunny and 50 degrees. Pff.

Payton... Snowmageddon 2010

Mason... Snowmageddon 2010

Nika... Snowmageddon 2010

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood involved snow... and I want that for my babies. Please Mother Nature... deliver!


Cookie project for my in laws (read: if you are my in laws, stop reading now)...

What you'll need:
Grasshopper cookies
Candy canes
White chocolate


1) Smash up some candy canes.
2) Spread the Grasshopper cookies out on wax paper.
3) Melt white chocolate.


4) Coat each cookie in white chocolate. I hope you are better at melting chocolate than I am.


5) Sprinkle crushed candy cane onto each cookie.

Wa la!


I forgot to take a picture, but we packaged the cookies up nicely and attached a picture of the kids decorating the cookies. To: Grandpa and Grandma, Love: Mason, Payton and Nika.

We had to let the cookies sit overnight so the chocolate could harden. Rex must be starving, because the crazy dude dove head first into our candy that was left over.




It's tradition for our local fire department to bring Santa around on the firetruck each year. An ambulance leads the pack with sirens blaring, cueing the children to bolt outside to catch a glimpse of the jolly old guy. This year it was just Nika and I at home... we ran to the curb and she stood there staring, in awe.


There is something about moments like this, when it is just her and I. It allows me to slow down, give her my full attention and feel the moment with her in the spotlight. I stood behind her getting a bit weepy, taking in the enormity of the situation through her eyes. I couldn't help but think about how different her life would be today if she hadn't been adopted by our family... and about how a moment like this would never be happening.


These are moments I crave... because I love this kid and I never want to forget our journey.


We had our annual cookie baking day this past weekend... grandma, aunts, cousins, grandchildren. We all pack up and gather to bake and decorate cookies. Unless your name is Payton... then you lick a lot more frosting than you smear.

Family cookie baking day is one of the things I most look forward to each holiday season.


As we baked, we talked a bit about the closeness of our family... my aunts are like mothers to me... my cousins like sisters. My cousin joked that her friends are always saying, "You are always with your family!" Yup... we tight like that. I can't imagine it any other way... these girls are my soul sisters. And sadly I only have photos of the kids because I accidentally deleted the others... oopsie.


Embrace your family. Enjoy the holiday. Do it while you can.


The winners of the BusyBodyBook are...

Beth said...
Oh my, that calendar looks so much more organized than mine:)I use a regular old calendar that my newspaper sends me every year in January...teeny tiny boxes and all filled up, usually having to write into the next day! Drives hubby crazy...he thinks I am nuts for not using an online calendar. I have little time to get online and figure it all out, i tried using Cozi and failed miserably. And i tried a large dry erase, that didn't work either...paper calendars are easier for me!!
Anyway....just wanted to add that Nika sure is a beauty..then and now. Precious!
And the elf thing...its all up to me as Rod is out of town every week. I am running out of ideas....YIKES, how many more nights do I need to do this, LOL!

nicole said...
I use the busy body planner thanks to your blog post last year and I love it and would be lost without it!!!!! I follow your blog all the time!

Nika is so beautiful! So is the others!


Ladies... please email me with your mailing address so I can get them in the mail to you... yay!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

BusyBodyBook anyone?

When we met Nika, back in September 2008, we left a disposable camera with her caregivers to take pictures of her in her baby home before we went back to get her in November 2008. When we returned, they gave us the camera and I could not wait to see what was on it.

Well... we got home and the camera was nowhere to be found. I swear I looked in every piece of luggage we had taken to Russia... nada.

Fast forward to the week before Thanksgiving this year... Kyle pulled out an old duffel bag to pack for our cruise. Lo and behold, there was the camera. I have no idea how we missed it back then, but whatever... we got it now.

So I took it in to be processed... and there was a whopping five pictures on there. And only one of them was of Nika. I'm going with the one-is-better-than-none philosophy.

Here she is... taken sometime between September and November 2008... she turned two years old that October... chunky monkey...


And here she is now... just turned five years old... gorgeous as ever...


That is three years in the life of a former orphan.

Me: Nika, who's the Russian?
Nika: (proudly tapping her chest) Me!


So this elf thing... I hear some people are sayin' it has gone haywire. I'm just sayin'... I think it is fun and hilarious. Granted, this blog post is equally hilariousAnd my kids like it... and, and... stuff. C'mon people... it's a little holiday fun. Good memories for the children... although yes, the bar has been raised* and we can never go back. But it's okay... just one more good memory my kids will have from their childhood.

*Just hope that your kid doesn't talk to his friends at school and come home saying, "But Johnny's elf brought him a dog... man, our elf sucks!" I think my neighbor told my husband that something similar happened. Oopsie.

I have stepped aside to let my husband have the private conversations with Rex, our elf. Because my ideas for Rex suck... and my husband is a genius, apparently. Who knew?!

Exhibit A:

Rex was GONE FISHING. And dude, he was wearing Barbie's sunglasses. I'm sorry, but this is hilarious. Or maybe it's just me... but I am still laughing at this picture. Genius husband, genius.


Exhibit B:

Rex watched Elf, the movie. Popped himself some popcorn and plopped his butt in front of the tv.


Exhibit C: 

Rex hijacked our angel and decided he deserved the honors. Dude, my tree lights suck.


Exhibit D:

Rex planking on our pot rack.


Exhibit E: 

Rex sent Mason on a scavenger hunt to find him this morning, knowing Mason is the first one up every morning. Clue number one was left on the remote control... guess we all know what Mason does when he gets up in the morning.


Yesterday, Rex nuzzled himself up in Payton's doll's bed. He had the kleenex and some cough medicine at his bedside. Mason went there for clue two.


Enter the gingerbread sleigh for clue three.


And Nika's mustache for clue four.


Clue five... the toilet papered Christmas tree.


And clue six...



That's all... for now. *snickers*


Coming out of the stone age to admit that I have never used Pandora before. I'm a little slow to catch onto these things... I think I waited a few years before I bought into Facebook (which I wouldn't mind boycotting at this point). But today... my Pandora is kickin' and I'm happy. I typed in my New Kids on the Block love and it's pumpin' out some Vanilla Ice, Roxette, Rick Springfield, Justin Timberlake and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

Oh yeah... Journey just came on. Just a small town girl... livin' in a lonely world... 


Giveaway time... enter, the infamous BusyBodyBook.


'Tis my favorite.thing.ever. I gave away four last year and I have two to give away this year for 2012.


BusyBodyBook weekly grid planners are every mom's go-to time management tool for controlling the chaos of her family's multiple and hectic schedules. BusyBodyBook personal and family calendars provide individual family members with their own personal column to organize, easily view and follow their schedules and activities - and the ability to coordinate with each other ‘side by side’. 

The award winning BusyBodyBook weekly grid format provides the clearest view of everyone's daily and weekly agendas. You'll easily spot overlapping schedules, avoid double booking and easily find more time to just relax with the family or for that pilates class you so need and deserve.

To enter...

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me what type of planner you use now and what you love or hate about it.


2) Follow my blog (see sidebar) -------->

Contest closes Sunday night at midnight EST... winner will be announced Monday. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Love these girls.


We have laughed together and cried... plenty. We have had good times (plenty of those, too) and bad. We are completely in sync with each other, for just one reason... we all have experienced the birth of a child that has Down syndrome. We get it... and we get each other. The bond that we have is unbreakable and any of us would be there for the other at the drop of a dime... no questions asked.

These are my Down syndrome mommies. And one of us is moving away. Linda, one of my closest friends, is leaving me. Wah! 


True friendship isn't being inseparable... it's being separated and nothing changes. ~Unknown


We surprised her yesterday... oh, did we surprise her. She cried. We knew she would. Because that is Linda... and that is the love we have for each other. We can't help it... we can't control it.

A farewell party... just us, cruising the countryside and sipping on wine.


Friends through thick n' thin... friends to the very end... I think you would agree... that's how it is for you and me. ~excerpt from A Friend Like You by Geoff Moore



We enjoyed ourselves at a few wineries... got a little tipsy too. Or maybe that was just me... the non-wine drinker with zero tolerance. A bittersweet day for Linda... for all of us, really.


Amidst the blue skies and crisp air, the coziness of the holiday season was among us. If ever there were a way to tie it all together... this was it. Perfect.


No matter where we go... be it through the highs and lows... I will be by your side... 'cuz you and I are friends for life. ~excerpt from A Friend Like You by Geoff Moore


Moving causes so many mixed emotions for me. Life gets in the way for so many of us, making it hard for us to see each other as often as we would like. The telephone has become my best friend... and I know that will never change, whether we live 20-some miles from each other or 2000-some. Some of my best friends live half way across the country... and we have that connection that distance can't touch.



A part of you has grown in me, together forever we shall be, never apart, maybe in distance, but not in the heart. ~unknown


Love these girls.


Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before we can meet again and meeting again, after moments or a lifetime, is certain for those who are friends. ~unknown

This ain't the end sister, it ain't the end. ♥


Housekeeping matter... 

The winner of the Freckles & Firecrackers hat is Ellen Stumbo. Congratulations Ellen!