Tag Archives: Birthday Parties

a secret.

Can I tell you a secret? I’m a terrible Down Syndrome mom. Stop shaking your head and formulating all the things you are thinking to make me feel better. First, let me explain why I am a terrible Down Syndrome mom. In the first few days after Layna was born I had a few people point me to this blog. Before you misunderstand, I actually love this blog and the woman who fuels it. She inspires me and I like her…I do go in and out of following her blog, but overall it’s good stuff. This, my friends, is the standard for Down Syndrome moms everywhere, and frankly I don’t measure up. There are no groups, social events, or community anything that we belong to. I haven’t raised money for anything. There was one out of six years I called attention to March 21, National Down Syndrome Awareness Day on social media. Abysmal. To be honest, most of the time I completely forget that she has a syndrome at all and sometimes that’s not a good thing. Not to say that I don’t have my moments where I hate how much I struggle to understand her because of what that extra chromosome did to her expressive speech development, or that I don’t have times where I wish desperately that she was not going have the “Down Syndrome look.” And can we just talk about stubborn streaks? Oi. Vey.

I’m a terrible Down Syndrome mom because I can’t bring myself to treat Miss Thang any different than her siblings or change our life to include something that is as basic to her makeup as her eye color (Hazel eyes of the world unite!) But Alas for her, she is mine and I am hers. While I may be a terrible Down Syndrome mom in general…I’m hoping that killer birthday cakes, daily water coloring and play-doh, and the occasional “If you don’t get back in your bed I’m going to come up there and PUT you back in bed!” will somehow help her create whatever life she decides is meant for her. Oh and rabbit water bottles. She will always be allowed to poach drinks from the rabbit water bottles.


This year was her first friend birthday party and I was grateful she didn’t have strong opinions on the theme. Goodness knows she has strong opinions on other things (looking at you, “brushing my own hair”), but I’ve been intrigued by the giant cupcake cake pan for a long time and was excited for an excuse to buy one. That and it was cheap so absolutely no hang ups at all. Overall it creates an epic cake consumption experience, and I hope I can be creative enough to sneak it into all the birthday themes this year.

First we had a birthday dinner at my grandparents house. Once again, so grateful they up and followed us across the country. I would be missing them something fierce right now. Also, the husband and I realized that it’s a pretty unique and rare thing for our kids to be so close to their great grandparents. Neil had one set he would visit every couple of years and I only was close to one great grandma. So glad my kids have them.

On to the party! Balloons and lots of them are my favorite munchkin party game. Naomi’s 4th birthday was Rapunzel and we had balloons to be beaten with frying pans. Her 6th party (Halloween themed) had bat balloons. [I’d link to pictures but the party happened during my blogging hiatus. Sorry.] I loves them. Then we played “pin the cherry on the cupcake” which was awesome. Can I also say how grateful I am for my software architect who just picked up graphic design and made all my cupcake dreams come true? Yeah. He’s such good stuff.


No one better than Daddy when you’ve had too much party.

Then we painted pictures of cupcakes. Through a devoted and rigorous daily practice, Layna’s style is really beginning to coalesce into a bold and well-rounded advancement of the medium. She is currently in her black period.


Frosting and cake are a win. Full Stop. But when you let kids be the boss of those things? Magic happens.

Some for me. Some for the cake.

One of my favorite things about her is that she always says “thank you.” She doesn’t need prompting and it’s always loud and heartfelt. It also sounds like, “Wank you!” which, I think, ups the awesome quotient by at least 47%.

Even though I’m still negotiating the new dimension that this one tacked onto my Motherhood calling 6 years ago, I wouldn’t change it. The potty training fiascoes, the delays, the therapies, the everything has given me such a deeper awareness and appreciation for the silver linings that are everywhere. Layna is wonderfully forgiving and patient with me and I’m honored to be her mom. Here’s to many more happy returns for my snuggling, travel-sized-for-my-convenience, house elf!


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Mr. Bates

My fourth baby brought me so many life lessons, it almost killed me. Ok, not really [hyperbole back in its box]. But prior to her, I didn’t know what post partum depression felt like, I didn’t think nursing could possibly be any worse, and I had no idea how much I could need a child like I needed her.

After the ultrasound where we found out gender, I cried. I was so convinced we were having a boy and that would be mean God had given me permission that I could be done having kids and would not be a failure if I stopped at four. Don’t ask. I blame the hormones. That was three years ago and I can laugh about it now because I’m ok. The other thing we can laugh about is how I swore Corra looked like Mr. Bates from Downton Abby for the first month or two of her life. Exhibit A:

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that it is hardly fair to judge a person’s looks after they’ve been through a brutal journey where their face takes the brunt of the beating. But seriously.


Even after photographic magic she looked like Mr. Bates. Truth be told that was a really rough time and nursing was, to put it mildly, horrific. Sparing you the details, I took her in to her pediatrician around 5 weeks and they put the words, “failure to thrive” on her record. Probably one of the most soul crushing moments of my life. And I don’t mean that in the way I normally use the term “soul crushing” (disappointing or frustrating). I mean I almost couldn’t breathe sitting there on that little plastic chair, mentally preparing myself to nurse there in the office because she was hungry and couldn’t make it home. After much drama, enough people gave me permission to stop nursing and life was beautiful again.

And oh my goodness. Three years later, could this girl be more beautiful? At three years old she loves puppies and trains and princesses and dinosaurs. We must be doing something right.


Our current default show for the little girls to watch is Dinsosaur Train. Cute show, and educational so I’m cool with it. I made the engine from the show, complete with sugar paper printed characters.

As an aside, cardamom changed my life. I read somewhere about cardamom extract in baked goods. It so happened that I had some ground cardamom in my cupboard from a garam masala mix I made and so I put some in the cake batter. Never again will my cakes be sans cardamom. I can’t even describe it, so come over and I will feed you cake and then you too will know.

Three year olds are the best gift recipients ever, because every present is exactly what they had always been dying to get and they have no hang ups about gushing. Then they forget that gift entirely to be enraptured by the next. Perfect example to me of living in the moment.

Her big brother got her a toy train and graciously put it together for her. Something about gifts you give yourself? She also got a Russian stacking doll and she named her “Liddy.” I’m happy to report only two lids are broken and we are only missing one bottom. Sigh. Lessons, man. This kid is teaching me lessons.

Best part for me was having my grandma here. There was this moment of calm peacefulness while she read books to the kids that made me so grateful they moved across the country to be close to family. I hope to have my priorities as straight when I hit 80.

Corra continues to fill a hole in my heart that was put there for her. The good Lord knew exactly what I needed and sent me blue eyes and curls on a fairy princess who wants to be Cat Boy for Halloween.




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Internet and almost 5

The internet is like the ultimate magic trick. I post these pictures:

and what you see is the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, the woman cut in half, the happy product of family love for an upcoming celebration. What you don’t see, thanks to the internet, are the mirrors and rigged set up. What you don’t see are the toddler sized fistfuls that were gouged out of the cake while it cooled on the stove and I foolishly took my eyes off of it for 3 seconds. What you don’t see are the finger smudges on the perfect white fondant or my little helpers jockeying for position who almost pushed the cake off the table. You don’t see me biting my tongue off so I won’t scream at these adorable eager faces, “Please leave the kitchen! Birthday cakes are not about fun or about you! They are about me having one chance to show off and to create something and take a perfect picture! Birthday cakes are the mark of my success as a mother, so back off!”  No, No. Like any self-respecting magician I twirl my handkerchief and flourish my wand and it looks awesome.

Because text is a terrible medium for conveying tone and meaning, the above may read as cynical and a wee bit desperate. I promise it’s not…Ok fine. There is a smidge of cynicism and desperation but nothing a 3 hour nap won’t cure. Honestly, I’m grateful that when I look  back at these pictures, I’ll remember how much I rocked throwing this together last minute in the middle of packing my life. No plan, just colored drops beckoning from the Joann’s self. I’ll remember how she danced around the table and how carefully she placed each drop that I gave her on its pink frosting spot.


I’ll remember this face and how she blew out each candle individually, but what a triumph for the girl with no diaphragm strength to speak of. She bounced in her chair, literally, because she was too excited to sit still. She clapped her hands and shouted, “Yay!” with her gravely voice.


Opening presents is a total family affair at your house too, right? We will remember the process and the birthday parade, even if we forget the presents.

Smoke and Mirrors (read internet blogging) has a place. It allows me to capture the stuff that is worth remembering and letting the terrible day I was having fade into its proper place. Genuine and real, but trying to let the icky stuff go. Sigh.

So speaking of remembering…trains of thought collided in my brain one evening and resulted in the coolest art project/useful craft/cathartic way for me to say good bye to my childhood (it was quite the collision). We collected pictures of letters, numbers, and random things from our favorite places all over the city. I’m going to laminate them and put magnets on the back to make a perpetual calendar for the new house.

Layna 5th Birthday

There are not many words for how happy this makes me.  “Goodbye” suddenly has purpose and beauty.


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two years old: installment one

It will be in installments because that’s how birthdays work in our family. There is the big birthday dinner at Grandma’s house, and then whatever else happens after that. The dinner happened early because of scheduling stuff, and it’s not like Little Little birthday girl cared. There was cake. And just to warn you…this might be a long post. Babies turning two make mothers wax philosophical.

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Three words. Elven Princess Hair. It’s not often I leave it down, as her conditioner of choice is bananas and what ever lunch was. Not to mention she has my tender head times 87. But it makes me sigh with giddy mom-joy (I’m serious) when I leave it down, especially right after I’ve washed it and pinned her down while she screamed so I could brush it. It is so soft and long and perfect. Someone knew I couldn’t take another bald baby girl, so Layna has long beautiful hair. [sigh].

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Dinner was great. Fruit salad and steamed broccoli are her favorite things in life, but we added baked potatoes for the rest of us. Then we dove into presents. She was thrilled that someone gave her a big gold bow. I think she would have been perfectly content with a bag of bows…kids, man.  Daddy helped her understand that there was much more and with two very expert siblings she quickly was tearing through. Get it? Tearing? Yay for birthday puns. Ahem.

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So the cake. This is what started me off into philosophical land. Cake will do that to a person.

Sometimes it sucks having a daughter with Down Syndrome. Mostly because there are stupid, pesky things like birthdays to remind me that she even has it. 99% of the time she is just Layna. Perfectly herself, some what ageless and always super cute. But then a birthday (or obnoxious person at the store, or therapy eval, or, or, or) comes along and reminds me that, to the rest of the world, she is kind of behind. A bit slow. On a kid’s first birthday you expect them to not know what is going on at all. Mom chooses the cake and the party is for the pictures. By two, though, most kids have an opinion and they are starting to get that all the hoopla is for them. Not so much for her. She loved it but didn’t get it was for her. She loved the cake but doesn’t like anything enough for me to easily do a themed cake. Garyn had Curious George and Naomi had this. It was a hard reminder that she is different and that while someday she will be a Party Queen, right now she is behind and slow and all the other crap that goes with Down Syndrome. I didn’t want my baby to be broken. People say, “But she’s not, she’s perfect just the way she is, She’s so [fill in trite sugary platitude].” Nope, she is broken. Her body didn’t form correctly. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t supposed to be this way or that she won’t do amazing things or be perfectly who she was meant to be on this earth.  But no one chooses this.  And that’s ok. She doesn’t need to be sugar coated. She is awesome and has her own inborn supply of sassy glittery sugar, thank you very much.

Speaking of Sassy Glitter Sugar, right about when I was really starting to cry and be sad about all of the above…she started taking steps on her own. Totally made me cry for different reasons. And as if taking steps wasn’t showing off enough, she is saying “more.” Her own variation, but it’s consistent and it’s spoken words. It reminds me that someday she’ll call me “Mommy”.  I know it will be worth the wait and there is nothing like a two year old showing off to snap you out of a pity party.

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Back to cake. After a preliminary poke, she promptly double-fisted it into her mouth. It was a cheesecake with ground nut crust and only sweetened with honey, so we could both eat it (I think gluten and her tummy don’t do so well together). Crust here. Rest of cake here. It was a hit with everyone, including my sisters who usually ask (with arched, concerned eyebrows), if I make anything, “is this…healthy?”

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It’s always a good night when you get pictures of goofy siblings , and a gruff old man reading fairytales to his great-grand daughter.

More to come from her actual birthday on Monday.

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Six Years Old: swim party

I decided that we would have Garyn’s party at the Lagoon. That was before I remembered that he is old enough to have an opinion about stuff. He wanted Dinosaurs. Oops. Dino Swim Party it is! Actually having a swimming BBQ party with dinosaur everything else worked out really well.


Dino footprint cookies and a T-Rex watermelon head. Good times were had.



These pictures just about sum up what these two were doing the whole time that little man was doing this:


Layna had a great time eating, splashing, and looking stylish until the heat rash kicked in and nap time became painfully overdue. I’m pretty sure that Naomi ate at least half of that bag of Doritos, and might have stopped eating long enough to play in the water with her aunts. Maybe. Birthday Boy took a few breaks to eat and open presents, then he would be right back to making a sand pool and squirting anyone in range with a squirt noodle that he stole from some other kid. Pure birthday heaven.

See? Birthday heaven.

P.S. Don’t order anything party related online with your birthday kid sitting next to you. You might get talked into a miniature Godzilla piñata that would survive a nuclear holocaust. Seriously. After all 12+ kids took multiple hits at it, I had to rip it up the back and then let them all go at it again before any candy came out. Gosh.


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