Thursday, May 29, 2014

Party People

Party pictures are always so much more interesting when they include lots of people. You know, like at a party.  Parties really aren't much fun if there are only 1 or 2 attendees.  But I'm cautious of posting photos of people I don't have permission from, and often don't feel like taking the time to contact everyone's parents to see if it's okay to include their kids on the blog.  This time, however, to prove that Samantha was not the only person at her party, I have taken that extra step and gotten permissions. 

Samantha turns 8 tomorrow.  How did my baby grow up so quickly?  I usually have her party after her actual birthday, since, at least before now, I was afraid it would be confusing to her to have the party first and have everyone tell her happy birthday, but not actually be that age yet, and then have everyone tell her happy birthday again on the actual day.  I wasn't sure how to explain that to her.  I'd originally had her party set for this weekend, following that tradition, but something came up and I was able to move it to this past Sunday.   And I knew that there would be no confusion for her.  I am loving that now it's easy to explain so, so many things to her that she completely understands.  It's a beautiful thing. 

Every year I begin to obsess about Sammi's upcoming birthday party as early as February.  I am determined to be the ultimate crafty mom and do as much as I can myself, rather than buying pre-made stuff.  Not like there's anything wrong with pre-made, but I think the crafty stuff always looks better, even if it's not perfect.  Uh, like my cupcakes.  Okay, so I didn't actually make the cake from scratch, or even the frosting, but I did try my hand for the very first time with a piping bag, and was thrilled with the results! 

This year, February came and went, along with March and April before I realized I needed to act fast.  I conceded that my crafty fantasy was not likely to happen, and that I'd have to settle for prefab.  But when I began to really think about it, I discovered that less became more, and I could still pull it off with a much simpler plan.

The cupcake toppers were perfectly-hued felt flower stickers that came together in a package from Michael's, on colored toothpicks.  I left the backing on the stickers, and lifted it just enough to slide in the toothpick, creating an instant topper!

I've never been a big fan of the little goody bags with random plastic toys and mini bottle of bubble stuff with a wand that's too small to use.  Maybe that's not what's given at parties anymore at this age anyway, since the last party I went to had the most brilliant guest gift ever, a gift card for a local froyo joint.  But again, I prefer the DIY approach, and Target's metal buckets in their dollar bins always serve as the perfect vessel and theme enhancer.  This year I added plastic pinwheels (went to 4 different Targets to find them, but wasn't able to get enough) and decorator flowers from Michael's (to supplement), mini gel pens, a glow-stick, a package of fruit snacks, a paper-pulp flower pot and some zinnia seeds in a little self-made envelope with planting instructions printed on it.  The ensemble cost less than $3.00 each to put together, and is far more interesting than most typical party favors, if I must say so myself!

I re-used some garland decorations I made by hand for Sammi's party 2 years ago - who knew I'd get the opportunity?  Glad I saved them.  :-)

My mother remarked that this year the party seemed so much more fun, since the children were more self-sufficient and could run around on the playground on their own, and we grown-ups could hang out in the shade of the pavilion and gab.  It was really pretty awesome to think about, those year-to-year changes marked by this one event.  Samantha was pretty self-sufficient as well, in the capable hands of her friends for the most part, and within range of our vision for the most part (glad I put her in a bright pink dress!).  I wasn't worried about her, but Steve did report that at one point when he tracked her down at a distant portion of the playground (it's a pretty big plot of land), he stopped her from picking up a little kid who was playing there.  Ever the sweet-hearted little helper, sometimes her "help" is not wanted and skirts a potential disaster since she doesn't yet realize she's not strong enough to lift someone up.

As is customary for Samantha's birthdays, the request for the Happy Birthday song to be sung quietly was heeded, and her sensitivity to that sort of thing (which I suspect she's outgrown, but she has been conditioned now to expect that she's going to have a problem with it and even requested a few days before the party that we bring her headphones, just in case.  A request we did not heed because we forgot.  On purpose.)


Um, yeah...the photo below, of Sammi and Louisa, was taken just before Louisa decided she wanted to get down and Samantha nearly let her make the head-first drop to the ground.  No babies were hurt in the taking of this photo.

So, for next year...let the obsessing begin!  What does one do for a birthday party with a bunch of 9 year olds?  Is a playground with a pavilion still appropriate?   Do we need to get more creative (oh, please say nooooo...)?  To me, 9 year olds sound like alien creatures - I can't even imagine what to expect, especially with the mental age gap between them and Samantha.  What happens, generally, to birthday parties as kids get older?  This task of creating next year's party may put my usual February planning start date to shame.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Who'da thought that my last post, my brief return to blogging, a post about my running triumphs, my personal goal-setting and accomplishments, my love of running, would be followed up by this one, where I will talk about pain, disappointment, and setbacks.

I overdid it last week.

For the last 7 months, I've been running about 4 or 5 days a week, resting a day in between a set or 2 or 3.  Last week I ran  6 days without a rest day.  Granted, there weren't any great distances in the mix, and only 1 or 2 done outside where the path is so much harder than my cushy, shock-absorbing treadmill.  But not resting in-between may have been my downfall. 

Temporary downfall, I hope.

I sit here typing, at a time when I would ordinarily be running, thinking about the calories burned and how much closer I would be to fitting into some of my pre-baby clothes, celebrating the fact that I won't have to wear the fat-sucking, wet-suit of a bathing-suit-of-shame this summer, I have my left ankle soaking in Epsom salts trying to gauge how long I will be sidelined. 

It's not like I can go to the gym and do something different, like cycling or the elliptical, either, since my exercise window of opportunity is limited to 25 minutes a day between the time I drop Samantha off at school and the time I then need to get ready for work (and I'm still late for work every day...). 

And now I think this may mean that I need to come up with some blog posts to write to fill the gap. 

It's been so long, and I just don't feel like I have much to say these days. 

I could talk about the non-event of our IEP meeting, but it would be incredibly short and you'd fall asleep before the second sentence.  Have you ever heard anyone call an IEP meeting fun?

I could talk about Samantha's birthday party that we held 2 days ago, but honestly, it was pretty much the same as the last 4.  Same location, similar pics.  I will still post something about it, but I'm not in any great rush.

I could talk about, uh, ummmmm, well...

Yeah, that's about the extent of things. 

Not exactly stimulating reading. 

Our lives are pretty basic, my camera woefully under-used these days.  The kid still continues to amaze me every day, and purposefully makes me laugh constantly

But that's pretty much it

I'll try to get my creative juices flowing again, perhaps inspired by the now-lukewarm water my foot is soaking in.  I think that's a sign it's time to pack up the keyboard for today.

In the meantime, if any of you have any brilliant home remedies for quick recoveries from tendonitis, please pass them my way.  I'm missing my morning runs terribly right now. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Racing for Respect and, Apparently, Hardcore Points

I had been envisioning my first 5k race, in front of the US Capitol, to be covered by a blue sky and warm sun, mild and breezy, framed by the pink blooms of awakening cherry blossoms.  It was to be at the very end of March, after all...

But what I got for my first 5k race was something very different.  Grey, windy, rain-soaked, and a bone-chilling cold that saw snow in most of the area later the same afternoon.  Go figure.  I was more than happy to run in it, knowing that once I got going, the warmth in my muscles would eclipse what was going on around me, but I was concerned for Steve and Samantha, who were coming to support me.  I'd been talking up the Kid's Dash to Samantha for weeks, promising her I'd run it with her, convincing her that it would be so much fun.  I couldn't just turn and tell Steve to keep her at home, having her miss a memorable event for a cause that benefits people with Down syndrome in our region.  No way.  Gotta toughen her up, right? 


I did tell them to go find somewhere warm to go while I ran my race, then re-join me in time for the Kid's Dash, which is exactly what they did.  But, after I completed my own portion of the race, they re-emerged in time for the Kid's Dash, and Sammi ran, giggling the whole way, holding the hands of myself and a friend. 

The highlight of the day?  Seeing her so proudly holding up the dog tag given to her at the end, hoisting it above her head, shouting, "I won!  I won!


Proudly displaying her prize
And I have heard that people who run in those kinds of conditions get a hardcore point status elevation to heights of legendary proportion.  Well, perhaps in our own minds, which is what counts most, right? 
I went on to run one more race this season, last weekend, in my own neighborhood, in the beautiful weather I'd hoped I'd have.  I finished in good time, 87th overall out of 272, and 3rd in my age/gender group, out of 15. 
Mission accomplished.
Crossing the finish line
After the race