Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vintage Poncho Wearing Sisters

*Rubs hands together gleefully!*

I dug through a huge box of old photos and came up empty on my search for the vintage poncho wearing sisters, so I called my mom. She said she thought she had that photo and she'd take a look. Forty-five minutes later she called with the news that she found it and would get copies made for us. Me, being the oh-so-impatient one, hounded my dad to scan it and email it instead. Imagine my delight when I checked my email one last time before bed and found this prize waiting in my inbox! (click on it to enlarge!)

Yayyyyyy!!! Thanks, Mom and Dad, and SORRY! to my big sister, Ann, and my younger sister, Tanya! Have to share it. It's I am guessing it was taken somewhere around 1978. We are standing in my elementary school gym, possibly at a craft show or something. I was in Brownies then, so it might of had to do with that. Oh my goodness, it makes me grin so big to see this photo again!

Acoustic Birthday Ballad

Sean's favorite song to sing right now is "Happy Birthday to You." He loves to serenade each of with this happy tune. If it actually happens to be someone's birthday that he knows, we will call them up and leave a singing telegram via voice mail. The other day, he stepped it up a notch and played guitar while singing. He's Daddy's little rock star!

(video embedded)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Poncho for Roo

Growing up as the middle daughter of three girls, I have many memories of my sisters and I dressed in matching, handmade items crafted by my mother's hands. One piece in particular stands out as a favorite: the crocheted ponchos she made us, in shades of brown and orange. A child of the 70's, a girly girl, and the perfect garment for skipping, dancing and twirling. I might have to sift thru boxes of photos to see if there are any of us in the ponchos.

When I started knitting, one of the first patterns I looked for was a poncho for Eleanor Ruby. I found the Knitting Pure and Simple Children's Poncho over a year ago, but wasn't sure if my skill was ready yet. Then I found a beautiful yarn that I had to have to make into something lasting for Eleanor to enjoy. Two skeins of Mosaic Moon Mountain Meadow Worsted yarn in the Selah colorway arrived with it's coordinating aqua trim back in October. I had to sit it aside for months while I worked on Christmas and birthday gifts.

I decided that my first garment of the new year would be Ella Roo's poncho. I was pleasantly surprised by what an easy garment it was to knit! I made the 2-4 year old size and didn't make any major changes to the pattern. Only thing I think I did was purl the first row of the hood so I had an easy marker for measuring the length of the hood as well as adding a design element to the neckline. I also picked up four extra stitches on the hood because I thought it spaced the stitches out better than the recommended amount.

I worked on it a few hours a day for 11 days until I had it completely finished. It's beautiful, a perfect fit, soft, warm, and just what I hoped for. It warmed up to 22 degrees today, so Ella and I took a short walk in the sun with her favorite baby and her sparkly new shopping cart from Nana. I hope this is the first of many fun memories for her and her poncho.

Finished piece

Finished piece in action

Friday, January 14, 2011

ONEder Fund Video!

Sit back and enjoy this wonderful collection of photos and video clips of our beautiful kiddos with Down syndrome! The Pay it Forward: Rock the ONEder campaign continues to grow. Kelle Hampton's words from the heart and narration in today's video compilation is breath taking. Catch Sean shaking his moneymaker at the 5:39 mark!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day and Mountain Lady Meatloaf

We finally got our first snowfall of the winter! It started coming down Sunday evening and snowed all night and thru the day Monday. I think we ended up with about 4" of soft, fluffy, pretty powder. Not bad enough to cancel school, so both boys went to school while I stayed tucked home with Ella.

I bundled Eleanor up to go out once and she lasted just a little while before she said it was too cold. She outgrew her cute pink snow boots from last year, so she wore a pair of Sean's hand-me-downs. Hee hee! They were a bit big, but she did alright in them.

After school and a snack, the boys got geared up and we all went out again. It's too bad we don't have a hill to sled on or pretty woods to take a quiet walk through. They just stomped around in it a bit, made some snow angels and tried to make snowballs. It wasn't wet enough to make snow balls though, so they just chased me and threw handfuls of snow at me. Silly boys!

We came back in and changed out of wet clothes, then Sean helped me get supper in the oven. My Grandma Eleanor's Mountain Lady Meatloaf is just what our cold day needed! I made a side of Mac & Cheese and some early peas to go with it. My sister, Ann, asked me awhile ago to write down the recipe for her, so I thought I'd just share it here. Enjoy and stay warm!

Mountain Lady Meatloaf

1 1/2 lb lean hamburger meat (I use the lean sirloin so there's not much fat)
1/2 lb ground sausage (the plain kind, no spices added)
1 (10 3/4 oz) can of tomato soup
8 to 10 saltines or Ritz crackers, crushed fine
2 T pickle relish
2 eggs, well beaten
1 t crushed sage leaves
1 tsp salt (I usually omit this since the crackers are salted)
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, make sure to really work in the sausage as it likes to cling together. If it seems to dry, add a bit of catsup, if it seems too wet, add more crackers. Dump into bread loaf pan and shape into a loaf.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. Remove and let rest 5 mins, then very gingerly pour off any fat into your empty soup can so the fat can be thrown away. Turn meatloaf onto a platter and slice. Makes about 5-6 nice big slices.

*My Grandmother noted on her recipe, "The left over meatloaf is good cold, for sandwiches. The meatloaf should have a crisp brown crust. This is a favorite recipe of my son, Dale."

I *heart* that lady!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rock the ONEder

Friday afternoon, I was just skimming Facebook and caught a request from Kelle Hampton: "Short notice, but if any D.S. mamas are willing to share photos that they wouldn't mind being shared on the blog, please e-mail the best photo of your beautiful child in the next twenty minutes to, and please include the name of your child (I'll only first names) and a short written statement that you give me permission to post. Epic fundraiser starts tonight in honor of Nella's b-day!"

Epic doesn't even come close to describing the magic that is happening on Enjoying the Small Things since Friday night!

I had no idea that emailing a photo of Sean would include him in the most amazing out-pouring of love and acceptance that I've ever seen! It gives me chills.

So if you haven't had a chance to read her post, Pay It Forward: Rock the ONEder yet, please do. And if it inspires you as much as it has inspired so many, make a donation in honor of Sean, beautiful Nella on her first birthday, and the other 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.

Kelle's amazing photography, love for life, dedication to her family, motivation and pure joy inspire me every time I click onto her blog. Thanks, Kelle, for taking center stage and singing loud!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Nap Mat

Generally, Ella takes her afternoon or mid-morning nap on the family room couch. It's much easier for me to get her to sleep and lay her there than to try to carry her 28 lbs up old creaky wood stairs to her bedroom and hope she doesn't wake up. Works for me. However, my mom gave us a down-alternative comforter for our king size bed for Christmas. When all three kids were home ill, we opened it up and made a little nap mat on the cushy carpeted floor. They napped on it, snuggled on it, watched tv, etc. while resting up.

It makes such a cozy little nap mat, I'm not in a hurry to put it to it's rightful use.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Last Doll Dress: The Poppy Dress

I was able to pick up some buttons to finish off the last baby doll dress last night. I love how these buttons pop against the purple dress! So cute.

This was originally a pattern for a doll cardigan to fit Waldorf dolls, called the Poppy Cardigan. I made a few alterations to change it into a dress because, at her age, I figured Ella would get frustrated with putting a cardi on a doll.

I used Cascade 220 Superwash wool to make the dress. It's a soft, machine-washable wool that drapes really nice.

I knit the pattern as directed until after the split for sleeves. At that point, I joined the sides and knit it in the round for an inch. Then I did one row of increasing every stitch (kfab) to double my stitches for the skirt. I knit until it was about 6" long, then knit the garter stitch hem. The total length is 6 1/2" from center neckline to hem edge.

I'm pleased with the look and fit of the finished piece. Ella loves it, too!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stripey Doll Dress

A fun, simple, summery dress for baby dolls. This stretchy knit dress is easy for little ones to put on their babies and a quick knit. It was designed to fit a chubby 15" doll, but you can continue in pattern to make the length longer for larger dolls or reduce the length for shorter dolls. Finished garment is 6" long from center of neckline to edge of hem.

Materials: 1 skein Patons Kory Stripe Sock Yarn, set of US3 double-pointed needles, US3 16" circular needle (optional), US6 DPN, stitch marker, tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

k: knit
p: purl
sts: stitches
kfab: increase by knitting into the front and back of the stitch
m1: increase by taking the left-hand needle and pick up the bar between the stitches from front to back. Use the right needle to knit this bar through the back loop.
bo: bind off

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch and 8 rows/inch.

Cast on 72 sts onto 3 of your DPNs, place marker and join in the round, careful not to twist sts.

Rows 1-6: Knit in 2 x 2 ribbing

Row 7: Knit all sts

Row 8: *k1 m1* all the way around

Rows 9-15: knit all (you can switch over to the circular needle for this part if you want.)

Row 16: BO 36 sts, k 36 sts, bo 36 sts, k 36. I used my US6 dpn to bind off so it is a nice loose arm opening.

Row 17: place maker, rejoin, k 36, rejoin, k 36.

Rows 18-23 k all (will need DPNs as it is too snug for the circ now.)

Row 24: *k4, kfab* all the way around

Rows 25-31: k all

Row 32: *k5, kfab* all the way around. You can fit this on circ's again.

Rows 33-39: k all

Row 40: *k6, kfab* all the way around

Rows 41-46: k all

Row 47: *k7, kfab* all the way around

Rows 48-54: k all

Row 55-61: work in garter stitch by alternating between first row purled, next row knit.

Row 62: bo all sts, weave in end.

Finished! This yarn can be machine-washed in cold, lay flat to dry. It is a self-striping yarn, so it's fun to see how the colors work out as you knit it. Any self-striping, fingering weight yarn can be used to produce similar results.

ETA: This pattern is in the library on ravelry: Stripey Doll Dress. Add it to your queue!

Note: This is a free pattern, please give credit to Deborah Minner for the design by linking to this page if posted online. Thank you!

December Recap 5: Close Encounters of the T21 Kind

When we are home, just motoring around town doing our thing, we rarely run into other people with Down syndrome (aka T21.) We see Sean's classmate at school, but that's about it. So when we are away, I always have my T21 Radar on to notice other families. This trip was no exception.

Encounter 1: Orlando airport, Budget Rental Car waiting area.
A woman walked by with her cocker spaniel and waited just across from where we sat with the kids while Doug got our vehicle. My kids didn't want to go see the dog up close, so we watched from a distance. A 14-ish year old boy walked up to the dog with his 3 year old brother, who has Down syndrome. I watched his big smile as the dog wagged his tail and grinned back at him. He sat on the floor in front of the dog to play with him. All was well until the dog jumped up and licked him on his forehead, then the boy decided that was enough and reached up to brother to take him away in tears.

I watched them head back over to mom and then Sean wandered off that way, too. We worked are way over to them and said hello. The other mom was happy to meet Sean and talked to him at length.

Encounter 2: This was a mere brush, but at Magic Kingdom there was a boy older than Sean, maybe 10ish, with his parents and they seemed to be 2 groups ahead of us on several rides that day. Didn't chat with them, but I liked seeing how their child reacted to all the stimulus of WDW. The previous day, Doug said a similar aged boy with Ds was in line for the Rock & Roller Coaster ride. He said he really wondered how he handled that ride as it was fast and a bit scary. No way would Sean go on a ride like that, but maybe as he gets older he'll be interested?

Encounter 3: Lunch at Freddy's Frozen Custard with my family, New Year's weekend.
Sean wanted to sit at a different table than the rest of us, so Doug moved over to sit with him. A family of three, their daughter being a young adult with T21, sat at a table between our two groups. I watched them and saw them watching Sean as they ate. When Doug and Sean finished, Sean wanted to go sit outside at a picnic table, so Doug came over to grab their coats. Sean walked out without him and I guess the mother thought he was leaving on his own, so she hopped up and went after him to reign him back in.

I had to laugh, because Sean & Ella herding is such a second nature thing to Aidan and his cousins, as well as us. I guess that instinct doesn't wear off as our wandering ones get older!

I love that T21 Radar.

Monday, January 3, 2011

December Recap 4: Christmas Day at Disney World

Our Christmas Day started at Magic Kingdom.

This time, we got the double stroller and a special needs pass. We learned the thanks to the American's with Disabilities Act, Sean and 5 of his friends could use a special pass to get into rides more easily at WDW. The pass allowed us to wait for rides in the FastPass lane, rather than the extremely long regular line. Ride operators worked our group into the ride in alternate with people in the regular line. We did still wait a bit, but not nearly as much as the previous day. We were also able to use the stroller as a wheelchair if there was a long line and Sean needed to sit until it was our turn. That said, it was an extremely busy day at Magic Kingdom, we later heard that they had to close the gates at 11 am as it was full to capacity by that time (100,000 people.)

The first thing we saw after getting our pass and stroller was a street parade with some of our favorite characters: Woody, Jessie, Mr Incredible and Frozone. I lifted Sean high up to see everyone and he beamed with excitement and waved so hard! It literally brought tears to my eyes. We worked our way through the crowds towards the castle to find a ride to start with.

First stop was the famous Mad Tea Party tea cup ride! Doug, Aidan, Sean and I rode while Grandma and Grandpa watched with Ella. Sean covered his ears the whole time, but said he liked it. Aidan was disappointed that we wouldn't let him spin the cup too fast.

Next we took Sean and Ella to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh while Grandma and Aidan rode Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Doug and I rode the carousel with the three kids, then the six of us went on It's a Small World together.

We had a horribly long wait to get some lunch, then we walked up to the Toontown section. By the time we got there, Ella was sound asleep. The boys explored a bit, then we decided to take the train back to the entrance and go back to the hotel. The kids wanted to swim in the big pool at the resort before we had to leave Orlando.

The kids absolutely loved playing in the resort pool. They had little life jackets so the kids were fearlessly jumping in and going down the water slides.

We had to drive to Okeechobee after that, so we packed up the kids and our things and headed down south aways where we spent the rest of our week. We had cool, windy weather the rest of the week so we didn't get to do as much outdoors as we wanted. It was nice just being lazy and watching movies or playing games with the family. We did take a day trip to hit some fabulous outlet stores in Fort Myers.

Our flight home went fairly well, though we got in late so that made an exhausting day. We were glad to see that we didn't have an ice or snow covered van to clear off at 11 pm.

It was a neat experience, for sure. Disney certainly has a lot more to do than we could take on in a short time with young kids. I hope we can try it again in several years when they are older. I saw so many other things that I'd like to do there.

December Recap 3: Christmas Eve at Disney World

We flew to Orlando, FL on Dec. 23rd and went to the Caribbean Beach Resort at WDW that evening. The kids did fairly well traveling there, we had a fully charged dvd player, i-Pod and PSP to keep them occupied. Hey, screen time has it's uses in tight spots! For a change, our kids weren't the loudest on the plane. :)

I didn't take any photos of the resort, but did get some video at the pool on the last day there. The resort was big and comfortable, we had rooms overlooking the beach so the kids got to play in the sand several times. The weather was a lot cooler than it had been when we went to Florida the year before, so that was a bit of a bummer. Still, you can't beat walking around in long sleeve shirts, no bulky down coats, in December!

Christmas Eve Day is my niece's birthday, so we let her choose which park to go to that day. She picked Hollywood Studios. We all met for breakfast then rode the bus to the park together. Sean and Ella loved the bus ride almost as much as the Disney rides and sang Wheels on the Bus the whole way there. We rented a double stroller and headed to the Pixar Section to ride the Toy Story Mania attraction. Given the huge amount of love all the kids, especially Sean, has for Toy Story, we knew that this was a MUST DO event. What a wonderland!

The wait for the ride took around 45 minutes and proved to be very difficult for Ella (she kept wanting to climb all over the displays) and Sean (they had the theme music running rather loudly and Potato Head talked to people.) Once in the ride, they forgot all about it and had so much fun. It didn't take Sean long to figure out how to fire the Buzz Lightyear laser at the targets. He rode in a car with me, Aidan and Grandpa rode in a second car, and Doug, Grandma and Ella rode in the third. Doug earned the highest score, with me in a close second.

Our second stop was to meet Woody and Buzz. When we got in line, the doorman said is was about a 20 minute wait. The kids had fun posing with the photo props, but as we got near the front of the line Sean started wandering ahead to have a look. Grandma followed him up and kept trying to talk him back into our place, but Sean was just mesmerized by his heroes. He just stood there and stared in awe. The Disney photographer talked to Janice and told her that Sean should have a special pass so we didn't have to wait in long lines. She told a co-worker to bring us to the front of the line and let us go next. By the time we got up there, Sean was hand-and-hand with two of his favorite people.

From there we had some lunch, then Grandpa and I took the little two to the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playset and Doug, Grandma and Aidan went to the Muppets 3D Show. By the time we met up again, Ella was getting very tired and Sean was asking to go home. We decided to take them to see The Cars display and then Grandpa was going to help me get the little two back to the hotel for some nap time/down time. Sean is a huge fan of the movie Cars and would of loved to see them up close. Unfortunately for him, they were automated displays that rev their engines and talked. It was so loud he refused to be on the same side of the street as them, let alone go up close.

Doug, Aidan and Grandma stayed until the park closed at 5:30 but were only able to get to two more attractions: The Rock & Roller Coaster, which scared the beejezus out of Aidan, and the Lights-Motors-Action Stunt Show, which was a huge hit in his eyes! They didn't take the camera with them, though.

We met up together for dinner that evening at the restaurant at the resort and then flopped exhausted into bed.

December Recap 2: Early Christmas at Home

Since we were leaving for our Florida vacation and wouldn't be home Christmas Day, Aidan had me email Santa at The Portable North Pole Website to ask if he could visit our house early this year. Luckily, Santa balanced out Sean and Ella's good behavior against Aidan recent naughtiness and made the trip for us. LOL

Aidan's highlights

Sean's favorites

New loves for Eleanor

One thing we suggested to family and have had fun with is new games for the kids. We got several different ones to play.

As for me, my husband surprised me with a Flip Camera, so I will hopefully take more videos in 2011. Yay!