Here comes the Spiderman

This is an embarrassingly overdue post, but I finally got photos edited from my oldest nephew’s birthday on September 3. Ben turned seven, and we had a Spiderman-themed family celebration. The kids always have a blast together. I grew up living a long distance from my cousins, so I am grateful that my brothers’ kids and mine are close in age and have the opportunity to spend so much time together. This is the stuff of great childhood memories.

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I love what an expressive gift opener Ben is:

You say lollipop, she says microphone…

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We may have worn these guys out…

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Silly string!

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Ben mastered his two-wheel bike on his birthday!

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We spent some time in downtown Chattanooga before heading home.

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Buddy Walk 2017

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for this year’s Buddy Walk. The morning fog cleared mid-day, the sun came out, and temperatures reached the unseasonably warm upper-70s. The event was held this year at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage home just east of Nashville, and the setting was gorgeous as the fall leaves in Tennessee reach peak colors.

But the truth is that whatever the weather, the Buddy Walk is one of my favorite days of the year. I have written before about how much this day means to us and why. There is just no way to fully explain the experience of walking through a crowd of thousands of people who all share the joy of loving someone with Down syndrome and knowing that we are in this together. This is a group that can move mountains – and will.

Lina was thrilled this year to have a couple sweet classmates from school attend with their families. We are so grateful to all the friends and family who came out to be a part of the walk with us, and to every person who donated. The money raised through this event funds an entire year’s worth of programs for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, including critical education and advocacy work. Every donation, every person who comes out to walk is a part of making this community a better place for people with Down syndrome, and ultimately, for all of us. So thank you, thank you, Team Lina. You showed up, and it means the world.

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The whole crew – Thank you, Team Lina!

Happy birthday, Mimi!

The “kids” in Jon’s family – meaning his brothers, sister-in-law and the two of us – realized ahead of our Rosemary Beach trip that it was likely to be our best chance at having everyone all together close to his mom’s birthday, which comes at the end of October. It’s a big milestone year for her, and we didn’t want to let the opportunity pass. She is a remarkably hard-working lady, who pours attention and care on the people around her and rarely has the opportunity to be cared for herself. It took some doing, but we managed to pull off a surprise birthday dinner at our rented beach house on Thursday night. The Sharp boys and their wives are all good cooks, and the team effort resulted in a bang-up Italian feast. There was homemade chocolate cake, a group gift and a reading of 60 reasons we love our mom and Mimi. The best part was her astonished delight at the whole affair, and the sense that we had managed to communicate a little of the love and appreciation we feel for her.

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I spy someone who wasn’t paying attention to the prayer… 

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Sand, surf and sunsets

We’re a couple of days back from our annual fall Rosemary Beach trip with Jon’s side of the family, and miraculously, the laundry is done and the suitcases unpacked.

The drive to Rosemary is always long and even longer coming home, but the time there never fails to delight. This year, Lina seemed to remember the house and the beach and fell immediately into her favorite beach pastime of digging in the sand with gusto. We saw a lot of new confidence in Corin this year, as he charged into sizable surf without fear and logged some pretty impressive bodyboard runs. The waves robbed him of his prized goggles late on our last day, which a thorough search did not discover. Some other lucky kid is probably getting good use of them as I write, though I prefer to imagine them as entertainment for the dolphins.

These days, I find myself deeply valuing any opportunity to unplug, read a good book and spend time with people I love. Add sand, surf and sunsets, and no question, my soul benefited. Of course, we couldn’t ignore our concern for northern California as it burned or so many other places where people are suffering. There are endless, giant worries in the world, and it can begin to feel like I carry them all with me every day. I am learning to leave them with God and let Him show me what my responsibilities are. And for a brief few days, I am so grateful we were able to lay aside our stresses and just be together in a truly lovely place. The memories will last a lifetime.

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Ocean frisbee!

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Five years a super star

My baby turned five last week. I could say a lot about that, but I want to share some photos from her party, so I am going to hold my peace with the emotional musings for now. I settled on a super star/karaoke theme this year, because this girl loves to pretend pretty much anything is a microphone and put on her own little performances. Our gift to her was a karaoke machine, which she has proved more interested in using after the party than she was during the mayhem.

Details:
-Printable invitations and back stage passes from Etsy seller SIMONEmadeit
-Strawberry cake and strawberry whipped cream frosting recipes from Serious Eats (more on the cake below)
-Music and star garland made from patterns on thingiverse with daddy’s 3D printer

First: Birthday weekend with family

 

 

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S’mores!!

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And then: Party!

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Version 3

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Fresh strawberry cake and strawberry whipped cream frosting, per the birthday girl’s request. To be honest, it looked better than it tasted. The flavor of the cake was good and very complex, but it was dense and not very sweet. The light whipped cream wasn’t sweet or sturdy enough to pair well. I did appreciate the Serious Eats tutorials on leveling layers and crumb coats.

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Getting pink super star hair

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So, the star of the show may not have been all that into the karaoke action during her party. It’s okay, baby girl; even super stars get stage fright sometimes. 

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He called himself Mustache Man.

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We had a yogurt parfait bar for the girl who would eat yogurt for every meal. 

 

 

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Armed and dangerous

 

And so our girl has begun another year of life, and we got to celebrate the immeasurable joy she brings to our lives every day. We love you, Lina Bean. Happy five years.