Thursday, December 30, 2010

The city. And a pumpkin spice latte, please.

When you live in the Washington, DC metro area ... you get to frequent The City when friends and family visit. As chaotic, busy and repetitive as it is ... there is just something about experiencing the history of our nation, be it over and over again.

Standing on the National Mall at sunset ... looking west.

Standing on the National Mall at sunset ... looking east.

Kyle's family was in town for Christmas ... we have not seen his older sister in over two years, so it was nice to see them again. I hadn't even realized it, but they hadn't even met Nika yet ... geesh, time flies ... it just seems like she has always been here.


We ventured into The City to do a Smithsonian scavenger hunt ... all 13 of us. Keeping track of five kids is a bit chaotic, even with eight adults ... in fact, that likely makes for more chaos. An hour or so into the day, I told Kyle he was in charge of Payton and that I would take Nika and the stroller ... and hopefully Mason would not run off like the girls. Seemed to work well. 

We walked ... a lot ... from the National Museum of American History ...


Chicky wore her sunglasses ... the future is bright!



... to the National Museum of Natural History ...



... to the National Air and Space Museum ...


Mason (age 6) and Ethan (age 10)

Mason and Ethan had a great time together ... from video games to video games to umm, video games ... Mason learned a lot about video games from his older cousin. Listening to their conversations made me laugh ...

M/E: Duuude, look at this!

M: Do you like Justin Bieber?
E: No! Duuude, that is for girls!

Have to throw this in too ...

Me {at Starbucks}: Guys, what do you want to drink?
M: Orange juice.
E: Pumpkin Spice Latte, please.
Me: Ok? {chuckles erupt from other surrounding adults}

Love those kids.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

2010 card

Reflecting through the years ...

xmas card


xmas card 2007-1



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dear Santa ...


As we rolled into the holiday season, I was heartbroken one day when Mason came home from school and said, "Mom, someone in my class said there is no Santa Claus." As a mom, I felt horrible that he heard such a vicious rumor in his first grade classroom ... yet, as a mom, I felt horrible when I lied to him to keep on with the story of Santa Claus. 

Now why would he say such a thing? Doesn't Santa leave gifts for him on Christmas morning?

Mason told me his friend said it's really your parents that leave gifts, not Santa. And, the clever kid that Mason is, he told his friend that he gets presents from his parents and Santa! That's my boy.


Now that Mason can write on his own, a new meaning in writing to Santa has landed upon our home. I'm pretty sure he has sent Santa 1,374 letters so far this year, each time listing out what he would like for Christmas. Most days, I find sealed envelopes from Mason in the mailbox, waiting for the mailman to take them to Santa.

Little things like that just make me smile.


Imagine Mason's surprise when I told him I received an email from Santa just for him. The grin on his face as he watched Santa speak was unforgettable. And shame on me for talking as Santa spoke ... Mason shushed me about 37 times.

One of the things I have always loved most about this season is sitting around with nothing but the Christmas tree lighting the room. The twinkle, the warmness ... I'm not sure I can really put into words how it warms my soul.


We received a box packed with gifts in the mail the other day from my dad and step-mom ... or Mickey Mouse Grandma and Grandpa, as the kids call them. The distinction being that they live near Disney World. Anyway, the kids have been drooling over these gifts since the second we opened the box ... but they have been told repeatedly that they are for Christmas and that they cannot open them until Christmas morning.


The girls ... um, clearly they don't so much understand. After getting in trouble once already for opening two of the smaller gifts a few days ago, I found yesterday that they opened all of them ---> time out chicks.


The holiday season is upon us ... enjoy it while you can! Time outs and all.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Memories and traditions.

Two years ago, we took one of our first family outings as a family of five to our local holiday parade. We froze our butts off, but that day was so special and held so much meaning. Just weeks earlier, Kyle and I arrived home from Russia with Nika in tow. She was such a baby ... I don't think I realized at the time just how much of a baby she was.

Holiday parade December 2008

Last weekend, as we sat and watched that same parade ... I couldn't help but reflect on the past two years. We are happy. We are creating family memories and traditions to last a life time.


There is something about holiday parades that make me all giddy on the inside. Gathered with friends and family, sipping hot cocoa and munching on donuts, anxiously awaiting the first glimpse of the parade.


Remembering my marching days, tooting my clarinet and trying my hardest to keep a straight line. Getting emotional at the sight of soldiers marching in unison, bringing the memory of my grandfather to the front of my mind.




Counting my blessings on the sidewalk beside me.




And the historical parade closing ... Santa and Mrs. Claus themselves.



These are the traditions we are making because the memories are priceless.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving


When I think back to my favorite Thanksgiving memories, family is the one thing that pops out in my mind. The food ... not so much.

Picky eater = a plate full of bread. 

I'm trying to get better. I am. 

I love my family. I am blessed to have grown up in a very close, large extended family ... and we remain that way to this day. These are the kind of memories I want for my children.

As we sit here this morning, waiting for family to arrive and congregating around the television to watch the parade ...


... I can't help but count my many, many blessings. There is just something about this day that makes me sit back and realize how incredibly full my life is.

I have three beautiful children ... two I gave birth to and one I flew half way around the world to find. As chaotic as they are, I smile every day because of them. They make me laugh when they do the craziest things. They teach me new things every day and I can't even begin to wonder where I would be without them ... without each and every thing the three of them have brought me.

I have the most wonderful husband ever. In two days, we will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary and I see so many more in our future. Our bond is stronger now than it has ever been ... I am the luckiest girl alive to have a husband that brings so much to my life and to our family.

I have the best support system ever ... friends, family and my Down syndrome community. I have experienced so much personal growth over the years and it is all because of these people I have in my life. The impact each and every one of them have on me is hard to put into words ... and the bond that I have with so many of them is something I never thought possible.

Happy Thanksgiving ... gobble, gobble.



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nika's 4th Halloween Birthday Bash


It is going to be an annual event.

Nika's birthday. 


The annual Halloween Birthday Bash ... friends, family, food, beer, bonfire, games, laughter ... there is nothing like everyone you love the most coming together for one big bash!




And costumes are not an option. It is Halloween, right?!

Why hello Thanksgiving dinner table ...


Seriously, could they be any cuter?




The games we played with the kids were such a blast. Mummy wrapping ...







Did I mention costumes are not optional? Ha.





Now everyone line up over here!



Donut on a string ...








Me and my momma ...




Haha ... the Oreo game. So freakin funny!

This is my sister-in-law, Shay. She found this game for me, so she was our lucky one that got to show the kids what they had to do. The object of the game is to stick an opened Oreo to your forehead and use your facial muscles to move it down your face and into your mouth.


And her brother ... ahem, my husband ... apparently thought she was nuts. Well, she is a little nuts, but that is why she and I get along so well! Ha.


And the kids were quite amused by her as well.



Get it, Shay!


And then it was their turn ...



Nobody was successful, but Maddy came the closest!





Many thanks to everyone for helping us celebrate Nika's birthday ... unfortunately she was largely M.I.A. from the pictures ... she moves fast like that. Ha. 

Actually, she probably was over standing by the food table all night. Home girl lurves her some food.

*Images © Haik Naltchayan -- thank you Haik for photographing our special day for us!