September 27, 2013

Touching the last!

We knew she was a beach babe. After days of coaxing Mella has finally embraced her inner Gidget. 

September 25, 2013

September 21, 2013

September 4, 2013

The Henry Owl

The original Henry owl.
Since learning to sew at age 8, Kaitlin has handcrafted birthday and Christmas gifts for her family and friends.  This award winning seamstress has blessed her siblings with Narnia costumes, her sisters with wristlets and the men of the house with ties.  Just to name a few of her creative geniuses.  Her web store, A Stitch In Lives, was born in 2012 when Kaitlin was looking for a way to raise money for mission work.  On her site 50% of all sales are donated to missionaries around the world.

In 2012, while I was expecting our 10th baby, the kids nicknamed the latest model, Henry.  For Christmas that year, Kaitlin designed an owl.  I liked it so well, I soon asked her to make one for a friend who was adopting a son from China.  We all encouraged Kaitlin to add the owls to her web store and the Henry Owl was born.  

After a tumultuous pregnancy and in the wake of much drama the Henry arrived on April 28, 2013.  Within hours of his birth our beautiful boy was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.  Shortly after receiving his diagnosis Kaitlin decided to donate the proceeds of the Henry Owl to the annual Down Syndrome Buddy Walk hosted by F.R.I.E.N.D.S. of Frederick, County.  

When most organizations raise money for various causes the majority of the funds go to administrative expenses.  But not the Buddy Walk.  Every single penny raised by F.R.I.E.N.D.S. goes directly to better the lives of people with Down Syndrome.  The funds for this year will go to host The Techniques for Success conference which educates teachers, parents and school administrators to improve education for those with Down Syndrome.  Funds will also go to provide scholarships for people with Down Syndrome.   

The most exciting part is this, though.  Proceeds from this year's walk will go to host the camp I can Shine.  Most people identify Down Syndrome with learning delays.  But you might not have considered the physical boundaries faced by many children with Down Syndrome.  Health issues and hypotonia coupled with developmental delays make it impossible for 95% of children with Down Syndrome to learn how to ride a bike.  Camp I Can Shine helps children with disabilities accomplish this same right of passage most of us take for granted.  
A child learns to ride a bike at an I Can Shine camp.
For most people bike riding is just a leisure activity. For people with Down Syndrome, who can rarely pass a driving test, biking can be the means which enables individuals to get to school or work and thus earn the independence most people assume will be part of their child's future. Biking can also help to prevent health issues caused by excess weight as a result of the slower metabolism for people with Down Syndrome. Additionally, riding a bike can be part of the very necessary physical conditioning necessary to combat hypotonia which makes biking, and other physical activities, difficult to begin with.  

Next summer, with the proceeds from the 2013 Buddy Walk F.R.I.E.N.D.S. of Frederick County will be hosting I Can Shine, not just for kids with Down Syndrome, but for children in our area with any disability that has made it difficult for them to learn how to ride a bike.

Henry tests all owls for softness.
Our Henry is just 4 months old, so he won’t benefit from the camp any time soon but we look forward to helping other children and perhaps one day, Addison will learn to ride a bike, too.  The Henry Owl typically sells for $20.  Now through December 1st he will be selling for half off.  That’s just $10 each!  70% of all sales will be given to the Buddy Walk.

And you can help!  Our family is busy sewing away.  We hope to donate 100 owls to the walk.  That is $700 for a great cause.   So take a minute and pop over to A Stitch in Lives.  These guys are great gifts.  There are so many to choose from and every single one is uniquely sewn right here at my kitchen table by the loving hands of Henry’s big sisters.  After you’ve placed your order, don’t stop there.  Please post about the Henry Owl on your blog, facebook, google plus or twitter page.  And just in case helping out the Ds community and making the Wachters smile isn’t enough reason to write about Henry Owls, how about this???  Kaitlin is offering a 25% discount on any non Henry Owl purchase from now through December 1st.  Just in time for holiday gift giving!   To get your discount just leave a link to your post in the comment section of this post.

Please note, web sales will be suspended starting September 15th so the Parliament can travel to their vendor booth for the Buddy Walk.  Any unsold owls will return after October 15th.  If you have your heart set on one be sure to grab him now!  

September 1, 2013

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

Book Description: As a follow up to her two bestselling books, Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines, author and blogger Shauna Niequist returns with the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table. Bread and Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir. Bread and Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two. With wonderful recipes included, from Bacon-Wrapped Dates to Mango Chicken Curry to Blueberry Crisp, readers will be able to recreate the comforting and satisfying meals that come to life in Bread and Wine.

My Review: Wow. What a book! It my life long manifesto regarding food in written form! As soon as I saw the cover of this book I knew I would love it. I am Italian and our whole life revolves around the table. I knew that anyone who could write a whole book as a love letter to food must be a kindred spirit. And this book lived up to every expectation.

Eating is not the highlight of a meal. The table, chairs, centerpiece and food set the stage for what will happen around the table. Namely, life. The people around the table, the discussions that take place at the table, and the memories shared there are our life. They are the difference between eating and a meal. Eating is consuming fast food while running between point A and point B. A meal is when you take time to gather with the people you love around a meal, whether fast food or gourmet, and together share life.

And that is the philosophy Shauna Niequist presents in this book. And that philosophy is the reason it has made it's way to my favorite book list and I will be giving a copy of Bread and Wine to all my girlfriends for Christmas.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.