Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pretend Play + The Syrup

Dear Chloe,

Almost 4 years after you first said the words, "I love you" {pronounced: "I love syrup"} -- I find myself delighted when the word "syrup" still pops up in your daily language. Something about it just makes me smile.

And I may be biased, but I think it's simply the cutest way EVER to pronounce the word "you".

Recently, you began focusing on the skill of pretend play with our ABA home therapy team + I caught you mastering a part of this major milestone on video with your ABA friend, Kaylee. In the video, which I'm about to share, you can even start to hear Mommy cry because I was just so proud of you. And I simply couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. 

For pretend play activities, we've been using your favorite "Yo Gabba Gabba" dolls as our props. The general directions given to you, are for you to pick up the Gabba doll of your choice and then make it talk. And for weeks you've been practicing.

As of last week, you can successfully pretend to have the dolls say, "Hi" and "How are you" {pronounced: "How syrup?"}. It's so awesome! 

Keep working hard, my big girl, to get all those words out. 
And know that even when you can't, we don't love you ANY less. 
We know you try your VERY hardest. 

We Love "Syrup"!

Hugs and Kisses,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Little Share...After A Long While

Dear Chloe,

There are so many things to catch you up on and so many special moments that I'm excited to share with you. In the past few months that I haven't written, you've accomplished a great many things. And grown up so fast! Here is a little recap of some of my favorites...

You've grown so tall.

{A before and after picture from our old house. 
The photo on the right is our last night there.}

And even more beautiful.

You've soared to new heights.

And made new friends.

You've welcomed new family members.

And gracefully accepted the time we had to say goodbye to one we've known and loved so long.

{We'll always love you, Kiki}

You made Daddy's DREAM come true. {Yep, you like to ride a skateboard now!}

And we watched in tears, as secret wishes we had for you came true.

{You gave trick-or-treating a try for the first time! And loved it!}

You've overcome past fears.

And some scary new beginnings.

All while staying exactly where we are....madly in love with you.

And all the wonderful things you do.

And look! Looking more like Daddy every day...if I might add.

We're so proud of you, big girl. And we love you {"syrup"} so very much!

Big Hugs,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

New Blog, New Topics

Hi Everyone,

I know, I've been MIA lately. I've got a good reason though -- I've been working on a new blog! It's all about living + eating Gluten Free (that's how we eat as a family + how I have to eat since I have celiac disease), and I'm excited to share with all of you more about this part of our life. 

Our Gluten Free life. :)

I still intend to write on this blog after I get this up and running. It may just be awhile though before I do. I've got a lot of updates, a lot of great things to share, and of course -- lots of adorable pictures of our "Little C" that I'd like to share with her in my letters soon!

In the meantime -- come on over and check out what I've been up to!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Behind The Scenes: Our Story

Today, Kelle Hampton, from the blog Enjoying The Small Things, invited her readers to post and share their stories of how their lives reflected the themes in her newly published book, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected

And so I took her up on her challenge and wrote our story. I thought I'd go ahead and share it on our blog too, in case any of you lovely followers out there were interested in hearing it as well. 

Enjoy! :)

"It's been said that your life can change in a day -- good or bad. This statement couldn't be more true than when applied to my life. 

Almost 3 years ago, in the early weeks of September, I was grieving the loss of my father. He was 54 and died suddenly after having a massive heart attack in the middle of the night. In the arms of his wife and my mother, the woman he had spent 32 years of his life with, he slipped away and made his way to Heaven. No warning, no chance to say goodbye. In a flash, he was gone and on September 11th, a day so many others had already marked as a day of great loss and sadness, we laid my father to rest next his parents in upstate New York. 

The night my 2 younger sisters and I received the news, we were way on the other side of the country here in Southern California. We were awoken from our sleep with the news that our father was no longer with us and we were left to pick up the broken pieces that remained of our mother. She made it clear, early on, that she didn't want to exist on this Earth without him. And who could blame her? I certainly couldn't. Things were…messy and complicated. And they remained that way for a very long time. 

At the time of my father's passing, I was 28 years old and single. I had successfully earned myself 3 degrees, all within the field of education, and yet after graduating with my master's degree I couldn't find a job that matched my experience. No teaching jobs open. No school counseling jobs available. And so I settled with a job as a teacher's aide, something I had done long before my days of teaching or earning those degrees. I was bitter and frustrated but I carried on and accepted any job I could get, knowing it would be good experience no matter what, and worthy of putting on my resume. And I was working with kids...the thing I loved the very most.

Then came the day my life changed…again. 

On December 17th, on what would have been my father's 55th Birthday, I received an email from a single father named Stanton. He had seen an ad on a caregiver website with my information on it; an ad I had long forgotten about, as I had posted it over summer during my time off during summer break. He was looking for help. He had a little girl, Chloe, who was 5 years old and whom he was raising on his own; a little one who just so happened to have little almond shaped eyes and an extra special little something. I agreed to meet them and invited the distractions that I felt a second job would bring. 

Little did I know, the two amazing and special souls I was about to meet would later become my family; that their house, clearly marked with the number 54 -- the same number I had seen repeatedly since the day my father passed -- would later become the place I'd call home.

Last November, Stanton and I were married in a courthouse with Chloe by our side. And a month later, in December, 2 years almost to the day we met, we ran off to Maui (to "Get Maui'd" of course!) and celebrate the new life and love we had been blessed with. We eloped…a second time! And this month? This is the month I will legally adopt Chloe and according to the state of California, officially be her mother. 

Our life is…all that is beautiful in the unexpected. 
And together -- that's what we embrace every - single - day."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Choo Choo Kazoo!

Dear Chloe,

Today, was a Kazoo kinda day - fun and full of new adventures.

Our morning started off with an amazing play date with our friends Connor and Garet at the park. We played in the sand and climbed and ran around on the playground. Later, Jen our friend and ABA tutor, came over for session and brought you a Kazoo.

You are such a musician, Chloe, and it instantly became a hit! Mom caught the moment on video and as you can see, you had us all laughing and cheering. I even started to pretend with you that we were choo choo trains and you "choo chooed" right along with me. It was a moment filled with huge smiles and endless laughs. Another like Christmas moment that we'll never forget!

What an amazing day we had. We love you so much. I definitely can't compete with Mom on writing skills, she's so great, but I sure enjoyed writing this letter to you.

I Love You,

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Behind The Scenes: The Sounds of Happiness

Phew! It's been a busy month and I feel like I'm still adjusting to these shorter school days. Little C is too. I literally feel like I haven't sat down -- between the usual park runs and fun, the IEP prepping, new schedule adjustment, and a behavior bump here and there -- in forever to write and share updates. 

But in the past few days, we have had some serious milestone moments {I'm talkin' BIG like Christmas moments happening over here} -- the kind you have to share with everyone because you're just so excited. A Camera Crew Tuesday post short and a kitchen full of dishes, I couldn't resist squeezing in some time to jump on the blog and share what we're up to.

...And what's making our girl happy.

Happiness isn't just felt in you heart and your soul -- it's heard. 

And it sounds like this:

We didn't just feel that happiness, we heard it loud and clear, as Chloe mastered a new goal tonight!

If I could tell you how long this has been a goal for her -- for her to be able to "blow" air out of her mouth so she can blow out birthday candles, blow bubbles, etc...I would. But I've lost track. It's been a while. But today -- our girl showed us how's it done. I literally heard her do it as I muttered the words, "She'll get it" to Chloe's tutor and friend, Jen.

Needless to say -- we were overjoyed!!

{Mrs. Dawn, if you're reading this -- I know you're jumping up and down right now!}

And C played like this on Saturday:

Tell me that doesn't look fun! ;)

Other exciting news? Our girl is starting to have conversations with us!

Case and point -- today I learned that when you ask Chloe, "How are you doing?" she will reply with "Good". According to Chloe's friend and ABA tutor, Jen, she mastered it last week but has yet to show it off to me. And you can bet I had a big reaction when I heard Chloe say it for the first time!

Jen: {Sitting on the couch with Chloe} Chloe, How are you doing?
Chloe: Good.
Me: {Dropped the dish I was holding} WHATTT!! Did she just say "good"?!
Jen: Yeah, she's doing that now.
Me: SHUUUT UP!! You're kidding me! {tears}
Jen: {getting excited with me and chuckles over my apparently, priceless reaction}
Me: Oh My God! I can't believe it! Chloe, that is SO good! Mom is so proud of you! {more tears} Oh Wow. Wow!
Chloe: {Smiling on the couch, with a it was nothin' kinda look on her face}

I seriously couldn't believe it. I still can't. We're absolutely beaming right now!

And when Stanton came home and C showed it off to him -- you can only imagine his reaction. That was the second time we both teared up today, the first being at the pre-IEP meeting with Chloe's teacher, when she shared how well Chloe's doing in her new class, especially since we transitioned her to modified school days.

Times are changing and we can slowly feel our girl coming back to us. She's hitting her stride again! :) 

So how's that for some joy spreading? ;) 

More updates to come!

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Friday!

To all our friends out there:

We hope this weekend, you get lots of rest…

You have some fun!

...And you share lots of laughs and smiles with the ones you love!

TGIF, everyone! Happy weekend! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Camera Crew Tuesday: Fro-Yo Date

Dear Chloe,

We had a frozen yogurt date today after school, and I have to say, I never anticipated we'd end up having such a blast. I went into our trip thinking -- this will just be a fun, quick stop -- and then we'll head home and to the park. Little did I know, I would leave there feeling like someone had handed me one of our old "like Christmas moments", all re-wrapped and pretty, and told me I could re-experience the joy of that moment again, as if it were the very first time.

Today was such a good day.

While at Yogurtland -- we laughed, we played, and we shared our frozen treats of choice with each other. I chose strawberry {a first for me!} and you chose your favorite, peanut butter with m&m's and sprinkles.

And of course, like always and in true Camera Crew fashion -- we documented the moment.

While there, I noticed another mom across the room watching us, as she sat with her daughter who was about your same age. In the beginning of their yogurt date, the little girl's mom was sitting across from her at the table and busy on her phone, and a few times, I caught her glancing up and in our direction.

Thinking nothing of it, I continued on with our playing -- stealing bites of your peanut butter yogurt {my favorite!} and pressing my cheeks against yours to snap another photo.

After all, today was the first day you ever looked into the camera and let me do that. I got a serious rush over turning that camera lens around on my iPhone, watching you light up when you saw yourself on the screen, and smiling on cue.

It was a new first; a "like Christmas moment" happening before my eyes and I wasn't going to miss one single moment of it!

Who's to say why that mom was looking at us. Maybe it was because she was wondering if you had down syndrome and she wanted to see how we interacted. Maybe she was watching because we look like the two fun people we are, and she found it entertaining. Or perhaps she thought it was cute the way we played and laughed together and she was intrigued. Who knows -- maybe she was sitting there wishing she was close with her own daughter the way we are.

All I know is, by the time our yogurt date ended -- that mommy had moved across the table and sat next to her daughter. I saw her start to engage and talk and smile. And for a moment -- I saw her look up again at us afterwards and smile at me.

It was one of those "thank you" smiles that I can't quite explain to you unless you were there. But the way I read it? It looked like -- thank you...thank you for reminding me to be present with my daughter and show her love.

And as we walked out of the yogurt place, hand in hand, smiling and laughing -- I had a little thought:

I think we're joy spreaders.

We're the people who walk into a room, always smiling.
We're the people who have fun whether someone is watching or not.
We're the people who maybe -- just maybe -- convince you to let loose and have a little fun too.

{Thank you Daddy, for being my teacher!}

We spread goodness. And I promise you this...we always will.

We're always going to spread that goodness, that positivity, those smiles, and just be ourselves -- like no one is watching.

And if someone is? Well, we can only hope they take our lead and do the same. :)

Thank you, Little C, for such a fun day! I missed this. And with tears in my eyes, I can say from a place deep in my heart -- today is a day I will never forget.

I love you, little one, so very very much.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Behind The Scenes: Reasons For Smiling

I've been MIA all week -- I know. To be honest, I haven't felt much like blogging. Instead, I decided my energy was best spent helping Chloe re-establish a new sense of "normal" after her big transition from full school days to modified ones. We're still in the middle of our transition period, but overall things are going really well. She's liking it {especially this week} and enjoying being at home with me in the afternoons. 

So, with that being said -- I'll move onto more news in my first official "Behind The Scenes" post, which just so happens this week to come in the form of a list. Here we go...

My 5 Reasons For Smiling:

1. My husband is amazing and he deserves the credit. ;)
Given last week was a long one for us and an emotional one for me -- Stanton surprised me on Friday with the news that I'd be having a spa day at my favorite place, The Montage, on Saturday. And as if that wasn't enough -- I awoke on Saturday to find flowers, my favorite coffee {Carmel Latte from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf}, girly magazines, and a card --  that I was told I wasn't allowed to open until I reached "the first light" just past our house.

By the time I reached the light and opened my card -- I was already tearing up. This card might not make you emotional, but it surely made me. It was really special.

Inside was my agenda on my day off.

And some heartfelt words {which I won't embarrass him and share} and a gift card to my favorite shopping place, Nordstrom.

He knows me well enough to know if he doesn't give me a gift card and tell me to go shopping for myself, I'll just go shopping for him or Chloe. It never fails, every time I come home with stuff for them. ;) 

To say I feel fortunate to have met Stanton is a given. 
To say I'm blessed to have him as my husband is the understatement of the century. 
To say, as long as I have him {as the card says}, I'll be happy forever -- well that, my friends, is the ultimate truth. 

Thank you honey, for my fun-filled day off. It was just what I needed! You really are the best husband and I feel so blessed, not just on the days you pamper me, but everyday, to call myself your wife.

I love you, Stanton. xoxo

2. Chloe is singing.
Sometimes she babbles along to her favorites. Other times, we'll catch her singing the last word of each phrase of a song we're playing in the car. Because I've always loved to sing myself, you know I'm on cloud nine status right now over this latest development. It's so exciting!

Her favorites lately are Colbie Caillat's "Brighter Than The Sun" and Mat Kearney's "Hey Mama", to which she likes to clap along. Turning around to find her with a big smile on her face and her little hands clapping in the air, seriously makes my day.

I know my sister, Kelley, is swooning right now. She's a big Mat Kearney fan and so am I! :)

Fun Fact: One of Colbie Caillat's albums is entitled "Coco", which also happens to be one of Chloe's nicknames her Daddy gave her. 

3. Spring is coming.
The best part about spring coming and our clocks shifting forward? It's still sunny at night when Stanton comes home from work, which means our "night walks" can resume! It's one of our favorite things to do together. And this year -- we've got a wagon! Wahoo!

Now, if only I could get Chloe to not stand in it. ;)

4. Chloe is talking more than ever.
As I'm typing this, you know what my girl says? "I want ice cream". Four words, together. This is a regular occurrence in our house these days and it's so friggin' exciting. If my girl made in just 3 months, at home with me over summer, a year's worth of progress in regards to her language -- I can only imagine what these modified days and another summer off will bring.

Us, enjoying some fun outside. I recently discovered, Little C doesn't like to sit in the grass, but rather on top of me, which makes for excellent entertainment when she puts her feet in my face. Ha! This picture not only makes me smile -- it makes me LOL!

I know I say it all the time, but I'm so proud of her. More language means less frustration for our girl and I'll take that any day! 

And last, but certainly not least...

5. I'm designing a new blog. New topics and fun things to share.  
And I'm so excited about it! It should be up and running soon. Stay tuned!


So there you go, my first "Katie" post. :) It felt good to write to you all and share a few thoughts. 

So tell me everyone, what things lately are making YOU smile? 

Cheers everyone, to a great week ahead!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Camera Crew Tuesday: Only Time

Dear Chloe,

It's been a long couple of days, as we've all been sick with a bad cold. Six days later, we're all finally feeling more like ourselves and ready to bust down the doors of this house. We've been cooped up!

It's so rare for us to get sick {yes, we're those people} but when we do -- we are down for the count and just plain miserable. We tried to get out and enjoy the nice 80 degree weather that March brought us over the weekend, we even took our usual trips to the park, but our colds always won and our outings never lasted too long.

We just felt...sick.

These are the kinds of days one would prefer that NO Camera Crew be present. You don't look your best, you don't feel your best, and most days you just lay around in your pj's with messy hair. This is the exact reason you won't be seeing any pictures of Daddy and I in this post. ;)

I did manage, however, to snap a few cute ones of you on some of our short outings for coffee and juice. Thank the Lord for drive-thru Starbucks!

It was nice to see you smiling, even when you didn't feel so great, and the outings provided the break from the house we all so desperately needed.

As for me, I've been feeling better too, but I can't say the same for Daddy. He was the last to get the cold and last night he had a slight fever. As soon as I saw "99.9" register on the thermometer -- I ordered him straight to bed with cold medicine and advil.

Not before fulfilling his dinner request though, of course. ;) It's one of your favorites too.

Spaghetti a la bolognese with homemade gluten free garlic bread -- steam included ;)

We love comfort food. Actually, being the "foodies" we are, we just LOVE food in general. So even though we felt under the weather, cooking in this house never ceased.

Surprisingly, I still felt like cooking -- a first in all the times I've been sick.

Our menu also included Gluten Free Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Minestrone Soup. And always, despite our not liking the taste, we drank lots of "Emergen-C" drinks. One of the many things I whipped up during our weekend in.

Luckily, Daddy woke up feeling refreshed, fever free, and with more energy this morning. I guess that "Emergen-C" stuff really works. :)


Onto this week's inspiration --

Today's letter to you was inspired by the song "Only Time" by Enya. I heard it literally minutes before I started typing this, as you and I traveled back from a trip to the grocery store. It's timing seemed more than appropriate, as Time is the thing we seem to be up against and waiting on the most these days.

Waiting for it to pass, waiting for things to change, waiting for new things to surface, waiting for us to get better and healthy again.

The lyrics spoke to me.

Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only Time.

I have mixed feelings though over my relationship with Time. Although it's true, like the song suggests, that only time will tell where a road will lead and how things will change and evolve -- it's also true that your feelings over Time itself can change. Some days it can feel sparse, like there is never enough of it in a single day or week.

Perfect example: Old Photos.

Like I've mentioned before, there are many days I find myself looking at old photos and thinking: Oh dear sweet Time, please - slow - down! How is it that she's gotten this big, this fast?

I like to believe I feel this way because I made my grand entrance into your life when you were five years old, but it seems true for everyone and every parent. Daddy says he feels time passing even more because he's had the full seven years with you. To him -- one day you were a baby and the next you were a big girl.

You, age 5. This was your first week on the "big girl" swings. Daddy was so very nervous and I assured him you would be okay. And of course, you were. :)

Other times or days, Time can be compared to the idea of trying to force a mule up a long, winding road up the side of a mountain -- stubborn and unbearably slow. These are the times  that "phases" can seem like an eternity, a behavioral day can feel like a week and a sick week can feel like a month.

These are the moments I wish Time would speed up and go faster; that we'd heal quicker or that an event we're looking forward to was already here.

Perfect example: Home School. I wish it were June almost every day.

I miss this:


What I've learned most about Time, however, is how precious it is. It's so cliche and over used, but it's true. It's not until you lose someone you love, until you have a sweet little girl in front of you called your daughter, or a husband you love and adore -- that you can truly appreciate Time's presence. At least that's the case for me. Although everyone's journey to that conclusion is different.

For so long, for such a huge chunk of my life, I was wishing Time forward and envisioning myself in the future, happier. And now, here I am in the future and happier -- still playing a wrestling match with this dang gone Time. It's a bit comical, really.

But then comes into my focus, little ol' you. My daughter. The one who keeps me focused and reminds me that our Time together in this life, especially when you're this small, is so short. I'm reminded of that every day in how quickly you're growing. Today, especially, when I put on yet another pair of jeans that wouldn't fit you. You grew!

Part of me wanted to celebrate, while the other part of me felt a little sad because I know you're time as a 7 year old is drawing to a close. July is but only a blink of an eye away and before I know it, you'll turn 8.


My conclusion? I'll never beat Time and neither will you. It will always keep moving forward whether we like it or not.

The best part though? You don't have a care in the world about it, C. And I shouldn't have a care either. So you know what? I'm taking your lead on this one.

I'm going to let you be the teacher, once again.

I'm going to ignore Time and live more in the moment. I'll worry less. I'll appreciate more each day we have together -- whether it's good or bad. And when I can't appreciate? Maybe I'll just keep moving forward like I always do, with the reassurance that the new day awaiting us has the possibility of a fresh clean slate with new, happy memories to make.

And I'll wake up with a smile on my face, like you always do, at least giving the day a chance to surprise us with something good. And yes, even days like this when we're sick. :)

Yellow mugs with subtle reminders of sunshine and summer days ahead, can help you do that. :) 


And who am I kidding, I'm never going to lose my glass half-full perspective and my rose colored glasses anyway. These letters are proof of that. ;)

So with that in mind and with a few more days left in our week ahead -- one full of possibilities, of clean slates, new memories -- I'm going to be thankful that we once again, have 3 healthy people in this house.

After all, that in itself is something to celebrate.

We Love You, "Chlo, Chlo". Always and forever.