Bees and G-tubes Oh My!

Fall is my favorite season.  It always has been. Now days is reminds me of when Emmeline was in the hospital as a baby.  For weeks I slept in her hospital room until her sweet amazing nurse told me that I was exhausting myself and begged me to get a room in the nearby Ronald McDonald House.  After getting a room there I would guiltily slink out of Emmeline's room after I got her to sleep around 10pm.  I always felt awful for leaving.  I hated thinking she was there alone.  I later found out that after I would leave and she would wake up the nurses would take her out to their station and play dress up with her with all the premie clothes:)  I shouldn't have worried about her being alone because she always draws people in with her cuteness.
I would wake up at the crack of dawn to make sure I got to the hospital before rounds, desperate to talk to the doctor and get more immediate control and input on what would happen next for my child. As I left, I would grab breakfast from the kitchen (usually 2 rolls leftover from the previous nights dinner) and walk as fast as I could to Emmeline's room.  There she would be in a new adorable outfit looking so small.
I made some very tough decisions during that stay, some great and some I regret.  The one I hated the most happened 6 years ago today.  Her  g-tube.  Don't get me wrong, they can be amazing and life saving for some but I HATED IT.  Every second of it.  My daughter has had many surgeries but that was the only one where I sat in the waiting room crying wanting to storm the OR and grab her off the table. As we all know, I didn't, and we made it thought it.  But I still hated it.  So much.

Here she is post op and her first halloween so of course I dressed her up.  Pretty cute little bee :)


Will They Be Nice?

I struggle with that thought every time I walk away from the cafeteria  after I drop off Emmeline in the morning.  That's where they corral the kids and then dismiss them grade by grade so the halls aren't flooded with kids.  A good idea I guess but it makes me worry.
I always worry about Emmeline is social situations but they are usually smaller groups so she can hold her own OK. But in that cafeteria there are hundreds of kids.  Hundreds of noisy kids.  None of the kids have been mean to her but kids get frustrated easily.  As I walk away I know Emmeline can't hear. I hope the other kids are nice. I know when they talk to her in that noisy room she wont understand what they are saying.  She will do her best to fake it but, eventually the other kid realizes she doesn't know what they said and they move on.  Not moving on to be mean or anything but if they have to choose between a friend who they can't understand and who can't understand them and a friend who can...it's pretty clear but it's just difficult knowing. That they will move on and Emmeline wont know why.  Or maybe she does and she feel rejected? Maybe they will be mean about it, maybe they wont be. But I don't know because I wont be there.
It's almost unbearable walking back to my car. I want to stay and translate for her.  I want to help her friends understand her.  I want to help her not be frustrated. I want it to not be so difficult.  But it is.  Like so many things in her life, she has to work harder to get less.  I think she is realizing that. Which only makes me feel worse walking away.


Happy Dumple Day!

Emmeline is 6!  She is so super amazing.  She has come so far and continues to blow me away all the time:)  So...of course that means a look how far my super awesome, amazing, cool kid has come.  I know you're excited! She is cute after all ;)

Her difficult start

Daddy's hat

Spy training

 In disguise 

So comfortable at the doctor that she took some glamour shots

 Signature pose as a cricket

"I'n getting mawwied"

 we will call this oral motor therapy ;)

 I have literally hundreds if not thousands of selfies Emmeline takes.


 riding her bike

 Shirley Temple tribute

 mini Dr Harris

 Or firefighter Harris.  She likes to keep her options open.

 You know you want one too :)

She had a blast with her cousins this summer

 first time in a convertible.

Graduating from PreK.

 I think she likes the water so much because it takes the pressure off of her to stay balanced.  She can just float along.

We are really seeing all her hard work and fighting pay off.  She has been sedated at least 30-40 times, had 13 surgeries and had therapy almost every day of her life. This year she started mainstream kindergarten and is in the advanced group!  If I think about it for too long I become a sobby mess so I choose to just look at how darn adorable she is! Although this time 6 years ago I was a sobby mess as they transferred me alone in an ambulance to a bigger hospital while in labor! Who does that?!  Anyway...Cute.


It's Not Everyday Your Young Lady Turns 11

So it took me months to get this party together and I thought I had WAY more pictures of me making stuff :(  I am SUPER glad Isa let me know in February that she had been looking forward to turning 11 for years so she could have her Hogwarts party. Needless to say it was so much work! At the last minute before our move I came up with a great idea!  Why not make scarves for each house and have the kids randomly choose them to sort them into houses?  Great idea right? Not so much.  I spent basically every free second I had and quite a few that I did not making 16 scarves.  

It involved me having nightmares of doing this for hours on end. But they came together.

Isa was torn about whether to have the party in Texas or NC since her very best friend lives in Texas but her larger group of good friends was in NC.  I caved and did both but the Texas one was on a MUCH smaller scale.

A few mid morning curses.

They just couldn't remember what they'd forgotten.

 Cauldron of sweets

 This is one stuffed suitcase of Harry Potter goodness.  There was also another box...

Of course to start the whole process you need some awesome invites! I started with the template here.  I ended up changing the wording a bit to better suit Isa and our party.  I then bought a cheap "H" wax seal on amazon and used my good old 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby to get the sealing wax.  I also got a cute owl stamp to stamp on the outside of the envelopes.  For added fun I asked each parent were their child's bedroom was located in the house so I could address it like Harry's (ie cupboard under the stairs).

 Here is a terribly shadowed shot of our acceptance letters/invites.

Any acceptance letter worth it's salt would arrive by owl post.  For this I got plain white balloons and drew a very rough owl on it and tied it to the invitations.  The students got a real kick out of it.

The first thing we did was have the students choose a bag.  They used this bag to keep all their supplies together.  I had already randomly placed the house scarves in the bags so as they chose bags they were sorted into houses.  Funny enough nobody ended up in Slytherin.  I made sure they didn't cheat and peek to avoid it. I got the bags $4.99 per dozen at Hobby Lobby and then used my trusty coupon. I just googled Hogwarts crest and printed those on card stock.

We had Eeylops Owl Emporium where everyone got to choose and decorate their own owl.  I got the owls here from Oriental Trading. I had them use washable markers because that is what I had on hand.  You could use paints but that would take longer to dry.

I think Isa's was the coolest.  She added paint.

 Every witch and wizard needs a wand!  Ollivander's was a lot of fun to create.  Isa made and painted all the wands and did an amazing job.  This was the second favorite shop of the day for sure.  I have posted about making these wands in the past here.  I also made special wand boxes for the kids.  I used this template and the site also had cool labels and wand numbers to print for free.  Isa picked out a sage colored satin that I used to make a pillow for each wand to go on in the box.  They turned out really cute and I wish I had taken a good picture of them.  

Each student was blindfolded and then had to choose their wand.  They thought this was really fun and tried hard to remember each part of the wand they wanted so they could feel it out.

Even though there was no shop for them we decided to make Remembralls which turned out pretty well. I got the idea here.  It's basically glass ball ornaments, red ribbon, gold ribbon and hot glue.  Super easy but really fun. I glued the gold ribbon on before hand to avoid needing to use the hot glue during the party.

Students can't start term without their Standard Book of Spells so of course we had Flourish and Blotts!  Josh was a huge lifesaver with these and got them all formatted for me.  We started with this site and adapted for our needs. I couldn't find any cheapish 4x6 albums so I opted to print them out, glue them front to back, hole punch them, and sew them into a felt cover with ribbon.  It was WAY more work than I thought it would be but we had a blast with them.  I got a  bunch of puff paint and glitter glue so they could personalize their books.


Isa's was my favorite.

While we were letting some books dry we went out in the driveway for a duel.  I was honestly trying to kill some time because the students blew through the first craft rotation, but it was a HUGE hit!  We were out their for at least 30 minutes.

The students really strategized with what spells they were going to use.  I was very impressed.  I got some cute videos but I don't post videos of other people's kids on the interweb so...

So when I say Ollivander's was second favorite it is because we had this.  Honeydukes Sweet Shop.  
This totally stole the show.  The reason they blew through the first part was because I told them the sweet shop would be last so I guess they figured they would do the other stuff really fast.  

Cockroach Clusters (almonds and milk chocolate)

These were the bane of my existence.  It seemed easy, this mold with melted chocolate in it.  How hard could it be? Do you see the flaw in my thinking with this whole party?  Well, the frogs themselves were pretty easy, but the boxes however, were not.  We started with this free template ( this is also where I go the template for our Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and the idea for the golden snitches).  It was easy to assemble but a pain to cut out.  Then I found these witch/wizard cards with a different template but it wasn't nearly as cool as the first so I used the cards from the second with the boxes from the first.  Genius right?  Well, it would have been if I had checked to make sure the cards fit in the boxes I wanted, but I didn't. Side note there is a typo on the Voldemort card and Dumbledore card from the website.  I wasn't super thrilled with what this particular site chose for the info either.  Some of it was lame and not their most interesting accomplishments but beggars can't be choosers. In the end my AMAZING formatting guy (Josh) fixed everything for me (including the typos) and got the cards to fit the boxes.  This added a whole new game for the students and they couldn't wait to see which witch or wizard was on their cards and then do some trading if need be.  

These little babies cost me several burnt fingertips but ended up really cool.  Ferrero Rocher and vellum.

 My mom wrote out some beautiful name cards for each candy.

 Another full shot. All in all we had, Peppermint Toads (used the chocolate frog molds with white chocolate and peppermint extract) Gold Galleons, Licorice Wands, Canary Cremes (Peeps), Unicorn Horns (twisted lollipops), regular Lollipops, Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (you can get actual ones but they are expensive and gross.  We used Jelly Bellys), Golden Snitches, Chocolate Frogs and Cockroach Clusters. I got some small jewelry bags with a zip lock seal for the Chocolate frogs and Jelly Beans and I just put those out for the students to put their candy in if the wanted it separate. Oh, and Popcorn Broomsticks.  Those were inspired by this.  Really easy. I got some little black pails (cauldrons) for them to put all their sweets in.

 I tried to do a panoramic shot but of course it's really tiny.

 Anyone who knows Isa knows she can be, particular, about her birthday cakes.  This year I was planning to make her a huge fondant Hedwig cakes with a modeling chocolate scarf and wand.  She instead chose this.  Hagrid's cake.  I really hit the jack pot this year!   

Of course it wasn't all easy. She wanted the inside to look like this. 

Which I was kind of able to do.

 Either way, my Mom made super yummy butter cream for me and it was delicious.

I think she liked it.  I did tell her that the next time I put this much time into a party for her it would be her wedding :)