Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope your holiday is a special time with friends and family!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Alaina and Justin enjoy playing "sleep".  They love getting their blankets and pillows and laying down, usually right where I am working.  Like the middle of the kitchen.  But it's so cute!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Alaina's Favorite Socks

Alaina has decided her new favorite socks are these black socks with orange trim and kitty cat faces.  They match nothing she owns but she picks them to wear every time they are clean.

Randy is hoping she learns some fashion sense soon. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Buddy Walk 2013

It was Buddy Walk #6 for us and every year it has gotten bigger and better. It started with just a few face painting and craft booths and has morphed into an all-out carnival (aka: the Buddy Bash) with rides and games and inflatables and tons of food.  Now that the kids are older, the Buddy Bash before is as much fun as the Buddy Walk itself. 
One of the most highly anticipated moments in preparation of the Buddy Walk is the announcement of the design and colors of the shirts.  This year the colors were teal and white.  And our awesome friend Melissa again created a masterpiece for Alaina.  I'm kind of hoping she doesn't grow very quickly so she continues to get unique and adorable, one-of-a-kind Melissa outfits.  She even has a matching hair accessory!

So after the kids got the lay of the land, they scattered to try out all the different activities.  Justin spied the huge inflatable slide and he hurried over to test it out.  It worked very well!

After Justin went down and Alaina saw how much fun he had, she wanted a turn.  I told her she couldn't do it, but the volunteer Boy Scout who was helping out insisted that he and the Boy Scout at the top would help and she would be just fine.  So she eagerly began climbing.

So she got half way up and it got steeper, and then Justin started his ascent for another trip down and he got caught behind Alaina.  Now, Justin doesn't do very well climbing up by himself anyway, and with Alaina in front, it was impossible.

So the Boy Scout at the bottom managed to climb up the slide to get up to the top so he could help at the top as well.  So both of them were trying to reach both my kids, who wouldn't dare let go for fear of falling.  Alaina was crying and Justin was telling her to hurry up and the Boy Scouts were trying to get down far enough to help without falling themselves.  So mommy had to intervene and grab one kid under each arm and barrel up to the top without losing momentum and falling backwards.  We all tumbled up to the top and screamed with glee as we went tumbling down again, and again, and again.  The Boy Scouts were awesome!  We got a system going of handing one child up and then maneuvering the next one around and up without anyone tumbling down the stairs.  When we were done and ready to move on (mommy got tired...) I sat down to put on everyone's shoes and a woman commented about Justin and Alaina's orthotics.  It turns out that it was the mother of the Boy Scout who had been at the bottom, the one who was so anxious to help my children.  (He's at the top in the picture.)  He had been in an accident and he has a prosthetic leg.  He's the boy who struggled up the slide to get to the top and help.  And he mentioned over and over about the Scouts being there to help in whatever way they could.  Hearing that took my gratitude to another level.  It was precious!

And then we got more help from the Scouts.  Justin saw these tricycles and really wanted to ride, but he couldn't reach the pedals so the Scout pushed him around the track three times.  I couldn't get his face in a picture, but Justin had a blast!  He thought it was so fun.  And the Scout really went out of his way to help Justin.  There are TONS of volunteer groups who help at the Buddy Walk and they are all so excited and sincere.  It's the one big event where the kids with Down syndrome are the guests of honor, and everyone else is there to celebrate them.

Then we went to the rock wall.  Travis (and our friend Crystal) climbed up lickety split.

Then Justin wanted to try.  But apparently he doesn't weigh enough to trigger the counter balance that lets you down easily, so I had to help him.

Up, up...

Up as far as mommy could reach!  He didn't quite understand the concept of holding on to the wall and climbing.  And from underneath him I couldn't really see what was happening enough to explain.

Then I had to pull him back down.  Or maybe just leave him???

Nah, I'll take him home with me!  He's too cute to leave behind! 
There aren't a lot of pictures of Travis because his favorite activity was playing laser tag in the dark. They had inflatable "rooms" for the kids to play in. He had a blast with Melissa's son.  And Alaina enjoyed the bounce house, but again, not good pictures.
Justin's Jaywalkers 2013

Then we were off on the Walk.  Our balloons were nothing compared to this carriage.

Some of our team:


During the Walk the volunteers line the route with signs and shouting encouragement.  When they saw our sign they yelled, "Yeah, Justin!  Go Justin's Jaywalkers!"  Justin ate it up!
This is one of my favorite signs from this year:
The kids got medals this year, but some of them had left already so this was all I could muster.  By this time it was starting to sprinkle and it was close to 2:00 so we were all a bit tired and dragging.

So we piled back into our can and headed home.  The first thing Justin did was pull the medal off the ribbon and slide it into the slot in the car seat between his legs where the strap tightens.  That required a complete dismantling of the car seat to extract his precious medal.  It took quite a while to get it apart, but daddy was successful.  Not happy, but successful.  (You can see the screws laying beside Randy.  He had to take out 11 screws to get inside the bottom.)  He received quite a chastising and he is not allowed in the car with his medal ever again.

So another fabulous Buddy Walk is over.  Our team raised almost $2,000 and the total for this year's Walk was almost $280,000 which surpassed the goal of $230,000!  Thanks to everyone who made this Walk awesome.  We have more fun every year.  You're all welcome to join us next year!  If you're interested, let me know and I will send an e-mail when we start organizing our team.

Monday, November 11, 2013


A couple of months ago my precious friend Sherry (in the pictures) introduced me to Bountiful Baskets, a food co-op that works to get local produce at a discounted price by buying in bulk (bulk, I love that word!)  You make your "contribution" and then you pick up your allotment of 50/50 fruit/vegetables at the designated pick-up location.  You can do it as often as you choose, there is no commitment.  Once you order the main basket of produce, you can order additional "add-on" products, like large quantities of a specific kind of produce or seasonal offerings like cinderella pumpkins.  (Check out the web site for more specifics, it's pretty cool!  And you can even upgrade your basket to organic produce if you choose!)  So after doing it a couple of times, I noticed one of the add-ons was 40 pounds of tomatoes.  I love tomatoes, so I asked Sherry if she wanted to try canning them!  We decided we would start small, since neither of us are experienced canners.  It was a little bit of an investment to buy the supplies (she had the water canner, but we had to get a few other things) but we wanted to try so we decided it was worth it!
We were very enthusiastic at the beginning.  Sherry scored the tomatoes to prepare them for blanching.  And you can see Alaina in the back helping sterilize the jars!

She is such a good photographee!

Our first jar.  We were so proud!  We didn't know how much work the rest were going to be!

We managed to get enough to start the first set in the water canner.  We still had a lot left to go.

Extricating the first jars.  It's amazing how having the right tools makes all the difference!  I can't imagine trying to lift those jars out without the handy dandy jar lifter!

After the first couple of sets of jars through the canner, we decided to make tomato sauce instead.  Sherry is squeezing the tomatoes.  By this time, we were both very tired! We should have started a little sooner in the day.  And planned for it to take a little longer than intended!

Here's cooking down the tomatoes for the sauce.  Much faster!

Sherry made the sauce.  It was really good!  I think she enjoyed the hands on work!

Here's my dainty self poking all the air out of the jar.  Not wanting to get messy!  I was on kid duty after all!

My stove got quite a workout!  We had all four burners going.  There was tomato residue everywhere!  Good thing I like tomatoes!

The poor kids did get slightly neglected.  Alaina and Justin ended up having to feed each other!

So the next time apples were one of the add-ons, honeycrisp apples.  We got 50 pounds of those!  Sherry came up with the idea to make applesauce and my kids can eat a ton of applesauce, so that sounded good to me.  We made both plain and cranberry applesauce.  So yummy for the holidays!  We bought a food mill to make it go faster.  Another one of those handy dandy, essential tools!  So easy, even Justin can do it!

Sherry finished up for him.  But Justin was a good helper.  He was willing to be a taster too!
I wish I had given in and bought a food mill when I was making baby food.  So much easier to make peas than with a strainer!

This time I was a better mommy and I fed my kids myself rather than letting them fend for themselves.  It helped that I had warm applesauce to offer them!  Sherry had to take the picture to document the small successes of our newest venture!

We are watching those add-ons to see what crazy, hair-brained stuff we can do next.  It has been an absolute blast experimenting with canning.  And hanging out with Sherry.  Alaina can say "Sherry" so well!  It's melt-your-heart cute!  And Justin adores having Sherry come to our house.  I am pretty sure our husbands think we're crazy, but I am okay with that!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween!

It was a great Halloween this year.  It's been fun watched the boys' evolution of Halloween costumes.  I have been able to put them into whatever I wanted and this year I could have done the same, but I really wanted to ask them to see what they truly wanted to be.  I knew Travis was going to say "ninja", which he did.  It was just a debate as to which color ninja he wanted to be.  It was a much more difficult decision than I thought it would be!  Justin was a wild card.  I thought I could influence him to pick what I wanted him to pick, but I failed.  He wanted to be a cheetah.  Really, that's what he said.  I wasn't sure what to do with that, so I suggested being a doctor (he goes to them enough, he knows what they do) or maybe a pirate (another dress-up favorite).  But he was not to be deterred.  Alaina was easy; I still wield enough power in her camp and she willingly became a fairy.  I nixed the magic wand after she got in trouble for beating her brothers with the toy sword.
 And in an effort to be ahead of the curve, I ordered costumes online this year.  Then Justin decided to change his mind and be a ninja like his brother.  I spend a couple days talking him back into being a cheetah!  And then when the costume arrived he got very excited to try it on and be cheetah-like.  So here's the three all ready to go: 
We went to our church's Pumpkin Patch festival and played games all evening long.  The inflatables are as much of a draw as the candy!

Alaina's wings were very big!  I am glad it wasn't windy!

On Halloween night we visited the grandparents and some neighbors who asked us to come, and then Justin was pooped, and it was way past Alaina's bedtime.  So I was going to take Alaina and Justin home to bed and let Randy continue with Travis.  But Justin wanted to go out too, so he rode in the stroller while Travis went trick-or-treating.  Daddy got to enjoy a little father-son time.  And they raked in quite a bit of candy too!  All in all, a successful holiday!