Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Big Last Few Weeks

We have had a big last couple of weeks!  Two birthdays, Halloween, and meeting Noah!
Naomi's birthday was 10/22.  She turned five this year.  We had a low key birthday on the 22nd with Naomi going to school that day.  

Naomi in the morning before school on her birthday

Naomi receiving a card from Mommy and Daddy - she clearly has reservations about getting older

The big day was on Sunday October 27!  We had a huge party for both girls at our house.  On Friday, the people came to set up the tent and the bouncey castle.  Preparations were made all weekend for the festivities.  We took advantange of having the bouncy castle for a weekend by inviting the cousins over for a sneak preview.  We also thought it would be good to try the kids in it without all of chaos of the party.  Here are some pictures.

Naomi with Auntie Sarah

Naomi was mostly unimpressed

A polka dotted monster made her way in.

This was right up Lyd's alley

Sunday was the big day.  We invited 175 of Naomi and Lydia's closest friends and family for an outdoor birthday bash/fall festival.  We wanted to celebrate Naomi making it to 5 years old and celebrate Lydia being here at all and making it to 1.  The party started at noon, and the kids (there were over 60 who came) were treated to the bouncy castle; numerous games like corn hole, ring toss, bean bag toss; a minature pumpkin painting center, and a few special events.  We also wanted to raise money for Batten's disease and so in lieu of gifts we asked for donations.  The food was Oktoberfest style - kielbasa and sauerkraut, meat pies, meat wrapped pickles (sounds gross - super delicious), mac and cheese, soft pretzels, spaetzel, apple crisp, hot chocolate (temp was about 45 and windy), cider, beer.  Naomi started her big party by falling asleep

Cousins Grant and Margot playing ladder golf
Grace and Grant at the pumpkin table
Lydia monstering around the yard - We tied a balloon around her to keep tabs on her
In the tent line for food

Lydia moves pretty quick
Naomi's buddy Allen David Garman of Allen David Garman - Beneficiary on Facebook, with Amberly, Julie and Allan Garman
These are the Deckers of A Match Made in Evan on Facebook

Lyds with Cousin Grace -  Get older Cousin Grace so you can babysit!

The first big event was the magician.  About 30-40 kids gathered around and he performed tricks and made balloon animals
Waiting for the magician
Naomi with Papa. She is not a fan of magic

Lyds is game for anything
Lyds with Aunt Jerry.  Jerry was our savior on vacation.  She is excellent at wrangling our children
The next big event was the treasure hunt in the hay organized by Nana and Grampy Caughey.  They also brought all of the free standing games.  It was pure mayhem with the little kids going first and the big kids going second.

Free for all in the hay
The big kids
The last big event was Naomi's favorite.  Her best horse friend Dakota came out with his friend Ashley to give the party goers pony rides!

Naomi waiting in her pink helmet.  
Naomi getting placed on her good friend Dakota - Where did Daddy's hair go?
Naomi outside

Mommy with Lyds and Katie Cardinal, who is responsible for Mommy and Daddy being married, and therefore also responsible for the existence of Naomi and Lydia.  

Lydia was not big enough to ride
We had a great time celebrating the birthdays with our friends and family.  The time went so fast.  We did not ask for presents, but rather donation to Naomi's foundation and we raised over 3000$ for Batten's disease research.

With the extravaganza in the books, we settled in for some more mundane holiday tasks like pumpkin carving.  A funny story - Daddy learned that you cannot keep a jack o lantern on the kitchen table.  I carved the pumpkin on 10/28 and thought it looked so nice that I would keep it inside.  However, on Halloween we came back from visiting/tricks or treats and I noticed that hair had grown in the jack o lantern's eyes - well it was mold.  I gave Naomi a bath and in the 45 minutes I was gone the pumpkin had essentially melted into a puddle on our kitchen table!

Naomi and Lydia helping daddy carve the pumpkin

The girls are ready for Halloween

A few days after the big party we met up with Noah Coughlin in Bedford.  Noah just completed his second cross country run to raise awareness for Batten's Disease.  It was great meeting someone in person who has such a heart for kids afflicted with this terrible disease.  Like all rare diseases, Batten's isn't on anyone's radar except for the families of those suffering from it, and the doctors who are trying to treat them.  We need all the awarenes we can get!  Awareness brings research dollars and research dollars bring a cure.  If you haven't before, please consider sharing our blog with your friends to help us raise awareness.  You can also donate to Naomi's foundation through the donate button here on our blog.  All money raised goes to fund research and assist the children who are dying from the disease, which is, sadly, still always fatal.  Always.  We pay all of the administrative costs of the foundation out of pocket, so every dollar you donate goes to the cause.  Not too many foundations like around!

Then we had Halloween.  Naomi was an angel.  And what a pretty, sweet angel she was too. Lydia was a Little Brown Bear, just like Naomi was when she was one.  We got some pictures of them separately and then tried to get a picture of them together.  Getting a picture of them together has become a more difficult proposition, since Naomi is stationary and Lydia is...not stationary.  So Daddy had to try to pin Lydia to the couch.  Neither of them was pleased.

Naomi the Angel. 

Lydia the Little Brown Bear.

Naomi with stop hand up; Lydia being prevented from bailing off the couch. 
Naomi, Lydia, Olivia the Pig and Grant the Power Ranger at Grandma and Poppa's.

Then we went to Grandma and Poppa's to start off our trick or treating. Mommy ate quite a bit of candy at this stop, and the other stops too. Here the girls are with their cousins, Olivia the Pig and Grant the Power Ranger. We also hit our stops in downtown Hollidaysburg, Auntie Laura's house and Uncle Joel's house. Then we went over to Altoona and made our stop at Aunt Jerry's house. We usually trick or treat at Aunt Mary's too, but there was a dual mega meltdown in the car on the way there so we had to head straight home. Next year, Aunt Mary and Gail!

Lastly, Lydia turned one!  Yay Lydia.  We had a little family party for just Lydia, in addition to the girls' joint party.  Really, can there ever be enough celebrating?  In case you are wondering, Lydia has made big improvements in her social skills and some improvements in her communication skills, though she is still behind.  Her Child Development Specialist is much less worried about autism, though of course, since it can't be reliably diagnosed  until around age 2, nothing can be ruled out.  Ah, for those of us who have been through the emotional wringer with a firstborn, that is a long time to wait.  Not that we spend all day worrying, but we do spend some part of most days worrying, some days more, some days less.  It is hard (impossible) not too...and it all just feels so very familiar, which makes it hard to comprehend that it really could all turn out fine, since things with Naomi turned out very much so not fine.

Last part of the week - Lydia's birthday party for family.  Everyone came up for the celebration

Lydia is casual about turning 1

Naomi with her kitty Marie on Lydz's B'day

Lydia in Naomi's first birthday dress

Naomi slept as a form of protest and then was entertained by Grampy and Grandma

Lydia loves the stairs.  Nana is keeping a close watch

Birthday's are fun

And exciting!

I love you Mommy!

All the kids (including Daddy) watch a show at the end of the party

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