Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Our Chef In The Making

Thanksgiving 2016 has come and gone and we had a blast! I took maybe three pictures the entire holiday break, so instead of a Thanksgiving recap, I thought I'd share some pictures of our little chef in the making.

Thanks to Brandon's intentionality with Camille, she absolutely loves to be in the kitchen. Every time we start to make food of any kind she wants to help and quickly scoots a kitchen chair to the island and proclaims "I'M HERE! I WANT TO HELP YOU!" And because he is a way better parent than me (and ahem, a better cook than me), he patiently teaches her step-by-step and let's her assist in the process from start to finish.

His/our goal in this effort is two-fold.

1 - To teach her to cook.

2- To expand her palate beyond mac and cheese and chicken nuggets and cheese sticks and pancakes.

A few snapshots of what she's been cooking up lately.

Seasoning chicken. . .

Layering Chicken Pesto Pasta. . .

 Costume change and finished product . . .

Quite proud of herself. . . 

Stirring and rolling dough for homemade tortillas . . .

Baking Parker House Rolls from The Wallstreet Journal. . .

Posing with the finished product and recipe a bit later. . .

Smearing some peanut butter and honey on a sandwich for lunch. . .

It is important to note, before you are too impressed, that she refused to taste the grilled chicken breast and ate a mere one pesto noodle. She did however enjoy her fill of tortillas and rolls (shocker).

Excited to see what she cooks up next!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When Your Story Book Contains Blank Pages

I pulled out Clara's baby book last week to add her recent school picture.

As I was doing so, Camille walked over and wanted to join in and "help."

Camille: Oh, Mama it's baby Camille!

Me: No, sweetie, this is baby Clara.

Camille: Oh, OKAY. She so cute! Show me more pictures?

Me: Sure, we can look at more pictures, let's start from the beginning.

Camille crawled in my lap and we looked through Clara's book, page by page. She pointed out every detail and made sure I looked at every single element of every single photo.

When we got to page 34, Camille looks up with concern , "Mama, you didn't finish . . . write more!"

Tears welled up in my eyes as I stared at lines untouched by ink.

"Oh, sweetie. This page is to remember when Clara says her first words. She doesn't speak yet. We will fill in these pages if and when she says her first words."

To which she replied, "Oh, ok. That be good."

Following that moment we had a mini conversation about how we keep praying for God to open Clara's mouth, but even if He doesn't, we love Him regardless and He is good.

. . .

And I can't help but think that there are so many of you out there with blank pages waiting to be filled.

Waiting for God to answer a prayer. A prayer that you have been praying for so long that you wonder, Do I even need to keep lifting this up because surely, after all this time, He knows the desire of my heart.

Waiting for a spouse.

Waiting for a child.

Waiting for that new job that will bring new opportunity.

Waiting for reconciliation in a relationship.

Waiting for healing from chronic illness or life-shattering diagnosis.

Waiting for just one solid friendship.

And while I don't have all the answers, I sit with you, with my own pages, wanting so desperately for God to fill in the blanks.

And, friend, regardless of if it's been one day or one year or ten years, He asks us to keep asking. To keep bringing Him our pages. To keep showing up and asking Him, in His perfect wisdom, to write the rest of our story. In His perfect way and in His perfect time.

It's in this repetition, this constant showing up, that we display our trust and hope.

The Word tell us He knows what we ask before we ask it, but the Word also tell us to present our requests to God, with thankfulness and expectation.

So we bring the unfilled pages of our stories and present them to God, with hearts that say I know you've got this and work for my best and I will keep watch with eyes wide open for how you are working, even if these pages remain unfilled

That even if can be hard, can't it?

But by looking back on my own story I remember God is always at work for my best.

For your best.

That best just might look different than we always hoped or originally planned.

. . .

What blank pages are you waiting for God to fill? How have you seen Him working for your good, even in the wait?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Chicken For Cohen Syndrome 2016

In November of 2013, after a solid year of procedures and testing, we finally received Clara's diagnosis of Cohen Syndrome.

While the road is not easy, and some moments overwhelming, we are so thankful to have an answer to her challenges and beautiful, unique personality. Clara is a gift and brings so much joy to our lives, challenges and all. 

Each year in November we hold a fundraiser to honor Clara's diagnosis month, raise money for the Cohen Syndrome Association (CSA), and to celebrate the special needs community. Due to the rarity of Cohen Syndrome, the CSA does not quality for grants or like funding opportunities, so parent fundraisers are so important!

Friday night November 18th, we will partner with the Greatwood Chick-fil-a in Sugar Land to host a Spirit Night to raise funds for the CSA. 

We did this in 2014 and had an amazing turnout! Click here for pictures/recap of the 2014 fundraiser. Look how tiny they were! Tears are forming, friends, as I think about that night.

We hope your family can pop by CFA on 11/18 between 5:30-8:30pm for dinner. Clara (left) and Katherine (right, another local Cohen Syndrome friend) can't wait to see you there! Plus, it's the perfect excuse to eat as many french fries and nuggets and chocolate chip cookies as you desire. Calories don't count on fundraiser nights, right?
15% of the dinner sales that evening will go directly to the CSA. Just place your receipt in the Spirit Night box located on the condiment counter. If pressed for time and prefer to drive-thru, just ask that your receipt go towards the Spirit Night.

If you aren't able to participate in the fundraiser that evening but feel lead to donate to the cause directly, click here

Please feel free to share this event with your family and friends! Thanks in advance for your love and support towards the special needs community. It takes a village and we couldn't do this without YOU.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why Halloween 2016 Was The Best One Yet

Oh, Halloween. You are so fun, but so tiring. My children have had approximately 536 opportunities to wear their beloved costumes before you even arrived and thus, bribery occurred on your actual debut because by then they didn't care one bit about said costume (I say "they" but I really mean my youngest child who shall remain nameless). You have come and gone and it was a grand time, but we happily wave you farewell until next year because the post sugar crash and burn is legit (I lost count how many marshmallows Camille ate last night). 

. . . 

We kicked off Halloween with Camille's school party last Thursday. This year she chose Doc McStuffins or as she calls it, "Dr's office." This is the first year she has had an opinion about her outfit, or even grasped the idea of trick-or-treating, and it really was the cutest thing to watch. 

Camille and her little friend, Avery, at preschool. . .

Sweet friends in her class (also church friends), Zane and Sloane  . . .

While Camille enjoyed her class party, by that afternoon she was acting puny and had a temp of 102.3. The fever lasted through Friday, which derailed our plans to attend our church's annual fall festival.

By Saturday she was fever free and fully back to her spunky self, so we hit up a different festival at the church where Camille goes to school.

The Dr. and Super Girl . . . or as Camille likes to say "Super Girl and Dr.'s Office to the rescue!!!"

Clara's school spent the last hour of the school day the past two weeks training the kids on the in's and out's of trick-or-treating. They did this last year, too. But you guys, this year it really clicked for Ms. Clara and I about died and went to heaven. Do you see this??? Carrying her bucket like a boss.

Each day at 2pm the staff would change Clara into her costume and take her around campus to trick-or-treat. They taught her how to knock, sign for the word "candy," and how to follow this up with "thank you," all while carrying her bucket. Clara knows how to knock and knows the sign for thank you but putting all of these steps in the correct order?? That is a whole new ball game.

It is crazy that something like trick-or-treating has to be taught step-by-step for kids like Clara. Or I guess what is truly wild is how easy it is for some kids, kids like Camille. Raising a typical child alongside a non-typical child keeps me grounded in terms of not taking "automatic learning" for granted.

I chose Super Girl for Clara's costume this year because, duh, she is one. . .

Camille's bestie (and family) from preschool last year met us at the festival. So fun to spend some time with Molly and crew!

 It was 850 degrees (because Houston) so costumes were shed in .5 seconds. . .

Last night we joined our neighborhood friends for the annual Halloween block party. It was a blast!! Tons of families and tons of food! A good time was had by all. We gathered a little after 5pm for dinner and then headed out to trick-or-treat a little before 7pm.

And she's off . . .

 I spy Clara showing off her new skills . . .

A sweet neighbor bought all the kids glow necklaces. Such a cute idea! 

What mom? Why are you taking 530 pictures of me?

I dare say this was the best Halloween we've had as a family of four.

Thankful for my girls, fun neighbors, and for little joys like watching both of my children door knock and receive an endless amount of sugar. :-)
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