May 16, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend

We had a marvelous Mother's Day weekend.  Friday and Saturday we had significant rain but we were still able to get in some gardening Saturday morning.  
 
 Addison finally opened the last of his birthday gifts. 
While running errands last week, I ran into one of my best friends from high school.  She spent the day with us on Saturday.  She is also the mom to a child with special needs.  She wasn't here 15 minutes before she was on the floor doing therapy with Addison. 
Elisabeth and Carmella made a Lemon-Lime Cake for Mother's Day
Many years ago Kaitlin had a porcelain doll from her grandparents in need of repair.  We came across a wonderful lady in Colorado who not only did that repair but has done a number of other dolls fix-ups for us over the years.

Last Christmas I was looking for a doll with Down Syndrome features for Carmella.  They were hard to find and the ones I came across were simply dreadful.  Their faces looked like the faces of people pictured in old medical books.  You know the ones that used words like "Mongoloid" to describe people with Down Syndrome.  Anyway, I was sorely disappointed and bought Carmella an American Girl Doll instead. 

For Mother's Day, Kaitlin contacted Sue out in Colorado and asked her to make a doll to look like Addison.  Sue puts all her love into everything she does.  In a letter that arrived with "Henry" she shared that she does not feel he has reached what she was going for so she will be making another doll to more closely resemble our guy.  However, she sent this fellow dressed to match Henry's 6 month photos so Kaitlin would have him in time for Mother's Day. 

I am not sharing close up photos because I want to share what Sue is really happy with.  However, I will say this doll is simply gorgeous.  And his feet are just like Addison's.  I couldn't let a Mother's Day post go by without mentioning something so beautiful as the thought behind Kaitlin's gift.  Nor the love of another Christian in trying to capture something so beautiful as our Henry.  In  thinking about it now, I am wondering if perhaps the reason no one seems to be able to capture the fine details of someone with Down Syndrome in a doll is because it is so wonderful and so perfect only God himself can capture it in those special people he has chosen. 

At any rate, Carmella LOVES this doll.  He is quite large, almost the size of Henry now.  Carmella will not pick him up on her own.  She really treats him as she does Henry.  But she loves to ask us to set him on her lap to hold.  He is made of porcelain so she always puts a pillow between his feet when she holds him so his feet won't break.  She also loves the bunny Sue sent with Henry. 
The weather on Mother's Day was just about as perfect as any day could be.  We had a special worship service with special songs and children sharing about their mothers.  After we made and shared lunch together at home, we spent the remainder of the day outdoors... up the tree... in the hammock... in the woods...
In the evening we got caught up working in the gardens for a few hours. 
Carmella brought out Charlotte's Web and sat "reading" it for most of the time we were working.  As did all my kids before her, she loves to read anything and everything.  I think it is so funny she will flip through chapter books with no pictures for hours on end.   
Elisabeth thinks gardening is a spectator sport.
The fellows managed to talk their buddy into helping them haul all the mulch.  They must have had fun because they asked when I was getting mulch for the rest of the gardens.
After a day of gardening... we aren't the tidiest crew... but I can think of few happier moments then when I am surrounded by those who made me a mama to begin with. 
We wrapped the day up with a cook out, served indoors.  By the time we realized how late we had worked, it was too dark to eat outside. 

I am always amazed at the thoughtfulness and creativity of my children when choosing gifts.  Aedan gave me a gardening cushion for kneeling on when we work in the flowerbeds together.   Nathaniel found a new hummingbird feeder for the deck and made a month's supply of hummingbird food.  Brianna had pencils engraved with beautiful quotes.  Emma found a Willow Tree of a mama and baby who looks just like Aedan when he was an infant.  Ellie found a bird feeder to hang outside the window where I sit for family devotions each morning.  And Samuel made coupons which included great things like bringing me coffee in the morning and vacuuming the van.

The best gift of all though was making it just my kind of day.  Piddling about with the ones I love.  Who could ask for more?

May 10, 2014

Just a Week

Addison's makes life busier than the other 10 members of our family put together.  Don't ask me how that can be.  But there you have it.  Well, I guess I know how it is.  Doctor appointments, therapy appointments, researching,  and of course feeding and therapy and all the other things you do every day for a 1 year old.  This week was an odd week where we only had one therapy appointment and no doctor appointments.  It was really nice to have less to do for a change and just focus on the "normal" parts of family life.  The funny thing is, as I was revisiting this week in photographs, I realized how very much we still did... and that doesn't even look at all the things we didn't photograph,  like two dates for tea with the little girls, 6 hair cuts, Allen traveling 2 days, errand day, grocery shopping, a visit to the music store to fix a trumpet, music lessons, school, instrument and piano practices and a visit with an old high school friend I crossed paths with.
 
So here it is a brief Wachter update.  Addison was sick on his birthday and had no interest in presents.  Monday, when he was feeling better, Carmella was more than happy to help him open the car she got for him.
 
My little girls love when I give them heart honey on their yogurt for breakfast.
Allen and I came home from our date to this.  We heard it before we saw it... all the kids sitting in front of the computer singing "Let It Go" at the top of their lungs. 
We read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and started the book of Ezekiel in family devotions.
The boys began selling their eggs and had four new customers
Carmella helped Allen mow the grass
And he found a way to store the princess shoes which kept falling off her feet.  And no they do not match.  She never worries about little details such as having two shoes that match.
We had a fabulous birthday party
Aunt Dawn visited and Henry had a great therapy session with her
We had some great garden time which included getting the boxes ready for planting, putting in tomatoes and peppers, moving some plants, and replacing the herbs damaged by the power line project last fall.
Addison fell in love with this drum one of our friends brought for his birthday
We ate a lot of Mexican food for Cinco De Mayo
Addison cried through his entire therapy session with Miss Trudy
And then there were the balloons
Elisabeth lost her first tooth.  How cute is she?
The temperature reached 90 degrees and we spent a beautiful afternoon at the playground
And some rest time in the hammock
So go on and chuckle, that was my quiet week.  Now it's your turn.  What was the best part of your week?

May 8, 2014

Remembering

Every year on May 7th we head to the party store where everyone chooses a balloon.  The lady behind the counter questions why we choose such an odd mix and reminds us the latex balloons are good for just 8 hours.  We nod, because we know this and where they are going it doesn't matter how long they last.
 
 These balloons are not for hanging on to, they are for remembering.
 Remembering that even our greatest sorrows have joy within them
 and that one from among us
 has gone on before us.  They remind us we have a great hope waiting. 
 It is a time to remember what was, what wasn't and what is to come.

Pa was out of town on business and we weren't sure he would be back in time to join us.  We waited as long as we could.  And then at the last minute his car pulled up at the curb. 
 A moment of confusion while everyone finds their own balloon
 When the wind grabs a balloon it is a certainty that you will never get it back again.  So you hold on with all your might and you never take your eyes off of it.   But sometimes in life we have no choice but to let go and allow the balloon to go where it will. 
 And if that balloon is very dear to your heart, you let it go while praying with all your might for God to guide it and protect it until it lands where it should be.
 And when you are at last brave enough to release it, you may see a beautiful and graceful dance that lasts for such a very brief time but leaves a print on your heart forever. 
 As we watched our balloons all stayed together, dancing and swirling in the sky, heading in the direction of our home across town.
 Had we never let go we wouldn't have had the pleasure of seeing such a beautiful sight.
 Most lives have to face loss at some point.  Some more than others.  When I look back at my life, sometimes I feel as if there is so much loss and so many opportunities for sadness.  As a general rule, I don't like to reflect on those things.  They are too sad.  They hurt too much.  And there is nothing to gain from those emotions.  But this moment of remembrance is something I don't ever want to miss because in remembering what has been lost, we have a greater capacity to appreciate what we have.
No one can be uncheered with a balloon  ~Winnie the Pooh

May 6, 2014

Addison's Woodland Birthday

We don't normally throw big birthday parties for our children, especially our babies.  But, as is the case with everything in Addison's life, his first birthday was much different then the 8 before him.

We didn't get much opportunity to celebrate when he was born and his first year has been filled with so many wonderful blessings to celebrate

milestones and accomplishments (like 8 road trips, across more than 5000 miles and growing 8 inches) so we just wanted to celebrate.   And while Addison was the catalyst for this special day, the guests of honor were all those people who have played a specific part in encouraging us through this first and very special year, some through prayer, some through letters, some through hands on help or a hug at just the right moment.  It may have been Addison's birthday but this party was about celebrating God's blessings and those people who have chosen to walk this journey with us.
We started with just Addison's prayer group on the guest list.  But as we talked we just had to include one more person and one more... until Sunday afternoon arrived and we realized there were 62 people surrounding our son.  62 people who in one specific way or another helped him to reach this first year milestone.  That is so incredibly humbling!  

And what an amazing blessing!  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  Our theme verse for this year is Psalm 40:5 

Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us ward:  they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. 
And that is what we wanted to focus on in this celebration, the countless blessings God has given us in and through Addison's life.  
 
People are always asking us how we design and plan an event and all the details which go into it.  I thought this would be a good chance to share a little of what is behind planning a fun event.  Most of what we do is not necessarily expensive, just a lot of thought and plenty of elbow grease. When we are asked to do an event or when we are hosting a party, we always need a starting point.  It is usually just one tiny thing that we start brainstorming on.  In the case of Addison's party, I wanted to use the red and turquoise colors a friend had chosen for the prayer and celebration we had for Addison before he was born.  From that we were looking for paper to make the invitations and we found an adorable woodland themed package of scrapbook paper at Joann's. 

And before you knew it, Addison's first birthday was a woodland themed party.  All good parties start with a great invitation.  Email or text may be quicker and cheaper but a good invite sets the tone for the celebration ahead. The cricut, some twine, and washi tape and this collaboration, if I do say so myself, was simply fabulous.  I love the way it came out.  And it was a great way to spend a very cold and rainy Saturday.
So then we start running with our theme.  The centerpieces came from and an idea we saw in Yankee magazine to make a beach themed terrarium.  The fishbowls came from the dollar store.  The deer were plastic and the owls and mushrooms we made out of clay and painted.
We cut burlap into strips for the runners and added moss from eBay. 
While we were looking for supplies Brianna came across these adorable woodland outfits so even the kiddos coordinated with our theme.
So the idea is with a little thought you end up with something like this.  Usually, I prefer foil balloons for their staying power.  But this party just needed good old fashioned latex balloons. 
 
I was so glad the tulips were blooming for his party.  The funny thing is, tulips are usually pretty much done by now.  However everything is a few weeks behind due to the cold weather.  How perfect is our God that He even makes the tulips bloom at just the right moment to bless our lives?  (If you don't understand why tulips are so important check it out here.)
Our family has a tradition of sharing praises and blessings for the birthday person.  Brianna made this guest book with photos of Addison's first year for guests to share how Addison has blessed them this year and to write their blessings for his next year.  The only catch is, I don't think people realized they were supposed to write on the picture pages. 

We found these little moss squirrels and rabbits on the internet.  They were the perfect addition to our theme.  The simplest things, like a few strips of red polka dot ribbon and some of our matching paper behind the guest book sign, up the beauty of your party by 110%. 
A party can be great but what is even greater is when your guests can reflect on it in the coming weeks and get a smile on their face.  We like to always send our guests home with a memento.
For the kiddos we put together packages with some of Henry's favorite things...
Bubbles, a ball and crayons.  We also included a note card for them to write to a child in the hospital telling them how they were fearfully and wonderfully made by God.
Sam dragged this stump up from the woods and it was the perfect place to display the sign to designate which favors were for the kids and which for the adults.
At the last minute Kaitlin decided to sew mini owls for all the kids.  I thought they would be perfect, but I also thought she was crazy to try and make 28 with no real time left to do it. But she did it!  And they were perfect.  And they were a huge hit.  Go KK!  You can check out her owls at A Stitch In Lives.
For the adults we had tulip bulbs... which it turns out are not so easy to come by in April.  We ended up buying  a bunch of potted tulips left over from Easter at our local grocery store.
In addition to care instructions we shared the story of why the tulips were significant to our family.
It doesn't matter how nicely you do things up if you don't have a great guest list.  In this case there was our special girl, Madison,

cousins, aunts and uncles
Friends of the big kids
neighbors, and members of our church family
Nathaniel, our map guy, determined there were 5 states represented.  Aunt Dawn even drove in from Ohio.  Love this photo of Addison and Madison checking out the owl together.
Addison was completely engrossed in baby Annika.  This was the first time he's ever taken notice of a baby.  It was so sweet watching him.
Henry was passed from friend to friend to friend.  Ladies were completely shameless about snatching him from each other.   If you lack for party games for your event, just invite a few friends with babies.  No better entertainment than watching the baby pass.
I think it is always a good idea to have some activities for the younger crowd.  In this case we made party hats for the children to decorate with woodland animals.
It took a lot of time to prep these but they were adorable and very inexpensive to make.  Unfortunately, they kept sliding off of the kids heads.  You win some, you lose some.
Kaitlin, Aunt Dawn and another friend did face painting for the little ones and the boys made balloon animals.
Every party must have some good food.  With Easter and two complete dinners for 60 just two weeks behind us, I decided to keep it simple with just cupcakes and punch.  We actually bought the cupcakes from Sam's club.  I swear they have the most delicious chocolate cupcakes (must have the chocolate whipped icing) that I have ever tasted.  We made them ours by adding green sprinkles to look like grass, mushrooms we made out of fondant, and brown candles to look like little trees. 
 
We were a little concerned that people might want more to eat so when guests asked what they could bring we said, "appetizers."  I am guessing since we didn't serve dinner and the last guest didn't leave until midnight, everyone had a good time.
So with all that said, you add one very special boy in his very precious woodland hat

and you end up with one very amazing first birthday celebration!