Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Doing the right thing

A feeling of helplessness has invaded my life lately.  Distant issues, such as the vote on the same-sex marriage amendment in North Carolina, leave me feeling agitated and restless and acutely aware of social injustice. A complete feeling of helplessness to change the view of those who don't believe that all love is equal.   My work issues, disrespectful management and general negativity, leave me feeling frustrated and tired at a job that, otherwise, I truly love.  I do have control over how I behave and respond, but again, no ability to change others.  My friend's sweet daughter developing recurrent osteosarcoma leaves me feeling heartbroken and sad beyond measure.  I have no magic medicine to make it go away, only my prayers to send out for a miracle and the occasional casserole to ease the burden at their home. 

And then my own community's financial crisis that have left me feeling all of the above.  Our Board of Supervisors, our "public servants", pulled the rug out from under our schools and subsequently our children, when they decided not to pass the tax increase that they said they would institute.  The board left the schools to absorb a $1.4 million shortfall.  This would translate into cutting sports, field trips, extended education, increasing class sizes, not opening a brand new high school, pay cuts for the teachers, etc, etc.  The parents and concerned citizens of our community rallied together though.  We came together to protest before the Board of Supervisors meeting.  I felt that it was very important for my girls to be part of this process.  We have talked before about social injustices and what we could do about them, but now, more than ever, they needed to step up too.  When we sat down to make signs Laurel asked if other people would have signs too.  When I said "Probably" she immediately indicated that if no one else had signs she would not be carrying one.  Oh, what a great segway for a good talk!  Sometimes, when we are standing up for what we believe in, we need to go out of our comfort zone.  Fighting for the right thing, for what you believe in, may not help you win a popularity contest, but it is what you have to be prepared to do.  Any discomfort you may feel in the process will be repaid in either creating positive change or at least going to sleep at night knowing that you tried.  I hope Laurel and Sierra "got it", at least a little.  Laurel did agree that field trips and keeping awesome teachers at the school were good enough reasons to spend an hour working on her sign and then proudly carrying it at the protest.  In the end, the result was not what we parents and teachers had hoped for.  But at least we tried and will continue to try.  I feel a little less helpless when we are moving forward to facilitate change.  And I hope that my children will continue to watch, learn, and choose to take action when it's needed.

Ok, so they held the signs a little higher when the camera crew showed up!

Even Cadence got involved

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cadence's 3rd birthday

Exactly two weeks ago we celebrated Cadence's 3rd birthday!  As every parent says at every birthday... I can't believe she's that old!  Where has the time gone?  Cadence has been with us now for more than half of her life.  She is spirited, bold, independent, hilarious, determined, and kind.  She loves to put on a show.  Laugh at something she does and prepare to see it at least 13 more times!  We are so blessed that she found her way to our home.  Happy birthday Sweet Girl!

She vacillated between Elmo, Dora, & Minnie Mouse for her birthday cake.  At the 11th hour we settled on making Elmo cupcakes, using Minnie Mouse plates, and giving Dora stickers to our friends at the party.  Cadence had four sweet little girls over to help celebrate her day.  All five of the families have three kids and between us all there is only one boy out of the 15!  Isn't that crazy?
Cupcakes and playtime made for fun time for the kids and an easy party for this mama!

That evening Brad, Sierra, Laurel, Cadence and I went to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner and enjoyed their delicious fried ice cream for dessert.  We came home and Cadence opened her gifts from us.  Her favorite that she spent the rest of the evening on - her new scooter!  She was so excited to get to hang with the big dawgs (aka her scooter riding sisters!).

We had two professional photographers at the party.  Between the two of them I'm not sure why we couldn't get one shot of all of the girls smiling! (Just kidding Brook and Megan!)

The Birthday Girl

Ann playing air guitar?

And Blair serenading everyone!

Happy birthday to you!

Sierra  helping Cadence ham it up at the restaurant.  As if she needs any help!

One of Cadence's favorite things - Group Hug

Posing girls

She's on a roll!

I LOVE this girl

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Birthday weekend - April 28th

I am way behind on my blogging partly because blogger and I have not gotten along and partly because of the utter chaos of the past couple of weeks!  My birthday weekend started on Friday night when I had a fabulous group of women over to my house to enjoy some good food, wine, and friendship.  Despite children breaking down, clutching on to them, and even pulling their hair as they left to come over, everyone still made it!  We talked about the usual things... what camp our kids are going to this summer,  our mama bear instinct coming out when our kids are hurt, our own experiences in our youth.  Except, it was a LOT funnier than it all sounds written above.  I mean, A LOT!!  These wonderful women stayed until midnight just to sing "Happy Birthday" to me!  While the gathering wasn't meant as a birthday celebration, they stayed up past their bedtime to do something special. I went to bed utterly content and happy!

We got up early the next morning to walk with our friend Alyssa and support her fight with cancer.  It was overcast when we got there but cleared up for the walk and dancing and then started to rain again.  A lot of money was raised and a lot of love was felt.  There was a balloon release in remembrance of children who have lost their battle.  Always an emotional event, even more so when you are close with someone who is fighting the fight now.  Alyssa and Sierra are in the same class and Alyssa's sister, Lexie, and my Laurel are the same age, so it makes for an awesome time when they are all together... a playmate for everyone (they all adore Cadence and want to play with her).  After the walk the girls all enjoyed dancing on stage and just being silly!

Alyssa wanted her head painted blue before the walk

The balloon release

Alyssa on stage with the other warriors

Leading the walk

Sierra helped Alyssa part of the way

But this... this is why we do it!

Laurel and Lexie

Doing the Macarena

With some help from Lynn, Alyssa's mom!

Impromptu congo line

In the hustle and bustle of trying to leave in the rain we invited Alyssa and her family to come over for dinner that night.  It was just a small birthday celebration for Cadence and me.  The girls then talked us in to letting Sierra and Laurel go home with Alyssa and Lexie for the day and then just come home when they all came for dinner that night.  A morning walk turned into a 12 hour playdate!  That evening my parents, Brad's parents, the Hennings, and the Divers all came over.  Things were fairly calm for a house with 8 kids and 10 adults when poor Will got sick.  Bummer to have a puking kid.  Double bummer to have a puking kid around a neutropenic kid.  Unfortunately the Hennings had to make a quick exit after that.  These things are bound to happen sometimes.  The Diver and Williams girls spent the evening dancing some more and just having fun.  Cadence and I opened some gifts, we all ate cake and kept the kids up past bedtime. 

It was a wonderful birthday weekend and I still had Cadence's birthday to gear up for!

Cadence practicing her sorority girl photo pose

Yummy... Chandler's cake!

Make a wish!

 I know what mine was (it's almost always the same!)
I think Cadence wished for M&M's!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekend visitors part dos

Indoor water parks are my happy place!  A few years ago, when Brad was in midst of grad school hell, we went to Massanutten Water Park for Mother's Day.  We ran, we swam, we had a blast!  And for the first time in 10 months the words "I have to get home to study" were not uttered.  I am not kidding... that phrase was a staple in our life for 3 years.  Never hearing it again (at least from Brad's mouth) would not be a day too soon!  No one argues, few people cry, and we always have fun when we go!

So when our weekend guests were here we decided to head to Great Wolf Lodge.  Mali and Cadence loved the slides, Sierra and Laurel (ok, and Brad and I) loved the big slides, and I think Shawn and Theresa enjoyed their first taste of one of the happiest places in Virginia!  Naps aligned beautifully with arrival and departure, we had a great dinner at a BBQ joint where the kids ran around like wild and we did our best to ignore them, the kids finally got to play Magiquest and the little girls listened to the creepy  quaint storytime characters that night.  The girls loved their "campout" bunks as well as having the freedom to go out "on their own" to do one of the quests.  It was a great way to end a wonderful weekend with our new friends!

This pretty much sums up Cadence going down the slides!  But she did it over and over!

Mali and Cadence swimming

Mali checking out the slide

...and the fountain

So much joy, happiness, and even playing together!

Checking out the bunk

Relaxing on our bed


Look what a large piece of overpriced plastic can do!  It can open and even larger piece of plastic!  But the kids loved it.

Storytime (this was right about the time a little girl, 4 years old maybe, turned to me and said "No flash photography"  Really?!)

We found something new (and probably against the rules) to do with the room decor
Brad gives Mali a lift

Shawn gives Cadence a lift

Laurel loved her some Mali!