A little competition never hurt anyone, right?

So writing has been the furthest thing from my mind over the last week because I have a little unspoken (ok maybe spoken, a little through email) contest of who gets their steps in each day with our neighbor Sue from Michigan.  Yes, I have been bitten by the fitbit bug.  I know some of you have had these things for years but this is new territory for me and honestly where has it been all my life.  I feel like it is just what I needed to get my lazy you know what off the chair.  Steps, genius, although it is now one more thing on my list of “to get done” in a day.  I feel accomplished when that bracelet vibrates and I reach my goal!  Is it a little weird that I wanted to announce to everyone when I am beating all of my friends?  I wanted to throw out a, I WON! even if I am only ahead for about 12 hours.

I am generally not competitive.  Could care less about games and sports but something about a personal challenge.  There is no holding back.  I am all about showing anyone I can keep up and pass up!  So tonight after wrapping the steps on the treadmill I sat down to organize my pictures from the weekend.  I always love when some time has gone by before I pull the pictures off my camera.  I seem to appreciate the moments more as time goes by.  In fact 2 nights ago I went back and read past posts here.  I started about a year ago and found myself mesmerized by how things looked.  The kids a whole year younger.  It felt good to have little reminders of important events and some not so important.  I guess I was looking for some warm and fuzzies.  I found them.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of what really feels good in the every day.  It really has nothing to do with how many steps I get in and a whole lot to do with running this house smoothly.  So lately there have been more home cooked meals and a stronger commitment to the kids education.  I am lucky to have a husband who invests in them just as much as I do.  I hope they know how proud we are of them.  The stressful assignments and lessons.  The questions of why don’t you understand what I am saying.  We are for sure not perfect parents but I believe we give them the opportunity to do the best they can do.  That is all I expect.  Time in and satisfaction out.  You can’t buy that, only encourage it and I believe it is one of the most important factors to personal success.  If you love what you are doing and you love doing it there really can’t be anything left but personal success right?

So with that being said happiness for me lies in completing these steps and embarking on a little spring project.  There is a wall in my living room that will be painted black tomorrow and I am excited about it!  More to come on that little project but until then our weekend.

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This girl loves to clean.  Give her a broom or a rag and she is good to go for hours.  Passionately sweeping and scrubbing  floors.  Heavenly.

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Sometimes a little hand holding is necessary.

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Our beautiful beach….frozen.

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Ms Independent.

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We never carry Grace anymore.  She is 5 years old and we try and treat her as a 5 year old and require her to walk but sometimes when you are cold your Dad gives you a lift.  This is her face saying, “HA check this out Mom.  He is totally carrying me home.”

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Impromptu dance party turned into a sore elbow but I could not resist this love all around him.  We always thought Grace would need her brothers but I really think they will need her more.

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Happy Hump day friends! OX  Katie

 

Checking in

Wow! Are we seriously ending January?  We are off to the races of February.  It amazes me.  I have not been able to keep up here because I have been a fitbit wearing, water drinking, Changing the Face of Beauty wild women.  Really.  Not much else outside that has been given much attention except of course my family.  Putting my thoughts into words is hard because my emotions have been a little wonky since the new year.  Never the less here I am and I must say my every day is good.  Not easy, but good.

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The other day I enlisted a neighbor to do the “grey be gone” treatment on my head. Something way over due.  We chatted about our kids, raising boys and just overall stuff.  We started talking about things that worked for our kids and things that didn’t and in the whole scheme of things if someone was listening to our conversation we sounded like we totally had it together.  Like it was easy.  It was funny as I discussed the process of taking 3 of my kids to the other side of gluten like it was just something I just decided and achieved one day.  It was actually something I decided but was it easy?  HELL NO.  It was freakin hard.  Still is.

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Our whole conversation changed actually when I admitted to her that for 6 months we fought with a child morning, noon and night about the affects eating flour would have on his system.  Insert full blown out, I hate you’s and my life is over.  Hows that for feel good parenting.  HA!  3 years have gone by now and those conversations are much easier to have and my son understands how sick he will get if he sneaks just one of those donut holes.

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What I came to realize is that when having those conversations in the future I need to remember back to when I started.  I need to communicate exactly how it went down and not just what by ego wants to communicate.  Lord it is hard, every day is hard but at the end of it, when the day is over and we sit down and really feel the stillness of the house we are reminded that we made it.  We are all still here, and we have the opportunity to try a different way tomorrow.

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This parenting is not for the weak.  It is hard work but fulfilling but hard  So note to self….. help encourage buy being truthful.  No sugar coating here because the jelly in the middle is what really matters anyway.

Just some musings for the weekend.

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I am diving into hearts this year.  Frankly I can’t get enough of them.  YEP!  looking forward to lighting up the house with a little love over the next couple of weeks that just might remain until spring break.

Saving the best for last.  My friends from The Mighty Acorn came to town this morning and  along with some dreaming and planning we were able to hand a big beautiful check over to Tinley Park GiGi’s Playhouse to help support the amazing programs they provide their families!  That is good stuff.

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TGIF friends!  I promise you will be hearing more from me over the next couple of weeks as I am feeling super creative and inspired.

OXOX Katie

We all have to be in this together….

I took my boys to see the movie Selma yesterday and although it was not on the top of their list they all left with questions.  A lot of the questions were about the civil rights of others and how exactly something like that could take place in the country they live in.  For me the movie inspired and impacted me in ways that I was not expecting.  I too can not even comprehend how the march in Selma, Alabama actually happened.  How the hate could boil so strongly in another human being.  I have never personally experienced it myself and I really believe our own personal experiences define what is important to us and what is worth fighting for.

Martin Luther King, Jr said, “If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

Although he spoke this in very different times the truth is if you don’t have a passion that you will go to the depths of death for then is your life worth living?  I can not imagine how fearful he was inside when he spoke those words.  No one wants to loose their life, but it is important to make it known that in no way will you sway from your belief.

What Selma taught me is that standing for your rights is hard and scary. Obviously.  Especially when people you respect are telling you that you just might be crazy in your expectations and outcomes.  The bigger picture for me was the togetherness.  I personally believe the reason Selma was successful was because Dr Martin Luther King, Jr reached across boundaries.  He grabbed the last straw in the jar and asked people to join him.  He called for everyone to come.  He asked for anyone that believed what happened on that Bloody Sunday was unjust, to show up.  He invited them to stand with the black people and at that moment it clicked to me.  Real change happens when someone passionately suggests it and everyone shows up.  Everyone.  Regardless of your background, color, religion.  Everyone shows up and agrees that change needs to come.

I find myself celebrating and encouraging others who believe in all people of all abilities.  People who know or love someone with a disability but what about those that don’t?  Where are they and why can’t I influence them?

I realized that in order for a big change to happen everyone has to participate.  So that leads me to #15in2015.  Successful?  Yes.  We have 27 companies committed to using models with disabilities in 2015.  Crazy right?

Some might say awesome and some might say where are the big box stores?  I agree.  I question where they are too. But thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr my question was answered.  They are waiting to see whats next.  They are questioning how many people are really invested in this so called campaign #15in2015.  What is next?

Well I will tell you whats next.

We need more people interested.  We need more people calling out their retailers regardless of if they know or love someone with a disability.  We need you and you and you.  We need your neighbor and your friends.  We need your family.  If you think I am not talking to you, you are wrong.  I am absolutely talking directly to you.

In order for these companies and our media to really understand impact of what inclusion means we need more voices.  So where are you?  If you are reading this blog, have you called your your retailers?  It is unbelievably simple taking a picture of yourself and asking your retailers to give people with disabilities the opportunity to be included.  We are at a cross roads here.  We are close.   I believe that 2015 will already be more beautiful then 2014 but is that enough?   Is it enough that just 27 companies value their consumers with disabilities?

I ask you?  Will you join us?  Will you stand up and ask for inclusion in the media?  We need every color, background, and ability.  We need you.  Will you show up?

Thank you Martin Luther King, Jr for giving your life for something you so passionately believed in, for the future of others.  Thank you for giving basic human rights to all people and thank you for inspiring me.

OX Katie

The Truth about today…..

The truth about today is that I believe there are only a couple times in your life you can be personally proud.  The day you find someone to love, the day you have a child, the day you graduate and the day you feel like you did something that just might pave a better future for your child.  Today I feel like Changing the Face of Beauty really has value.  I feel like the message it sends is being listened too and I feel lucky to have so many moms, dads, teachers, friends and companies who truly believe too.

A huge thank you to The Maloof sisters.  iTunes download link coming soon.

Today is about Changing the Face of Beauty.  It is about a conversation that you all have had and continue to have.  It is about the opportunity for people living with a disability to be seen, all the time.  Today is a good day.

I have learned so many lessons through out these 3 years and I am grateful to have grown as a women, mom and a friend.  I have messed up more times then I like to admit but it is not for lack of trying to do my best.   My husband and I just sat down a week ago to talk about family goals for 2015.  I came to the table with the same worries I always have.   His response was, “Katie, you can not put a dollar sign on changing the world.  You have the opportunity to spearhead real change.  Graces future is on the line here.  You can not financially buy her happiness and independence.  There has to be opportunity for that independence to happen.”  Ok insert a flood of tears.  Right there at the bar at Capri.  Flood gates.

So that is what today is about.  It is not about personal wealth.  We support this campaign privately.  What it is about is the conversation and the people who are continually placed in our path to help us keep talking.  Every time I question whats next there is an organization like Mighty Acorn stepping in.  Every time I have a creative idea there are people like Mollie Marshall who with the help of a friend make it happen.  Because of these people we are able to not only change the face of beauty but we are able to help others do amazing things.  Mighty Acorn was able to build a kitchen in Kitale for their orphanage because of our project this past fall.  With their partnership we are able to award GiGi’s Playhouse Tinely Park with a sizable donation to offset some unexpected relocation costs.  Because of the amazing Maloof sisters we will be able help them work toward a donation to St Judes Childrens Hospital. (Link to purchase the song on iTunes coming)

This is what this conversation is about.  It is about changing the perceptions of the media and helping others to continue to make this world worth living in.

So today I hope you enjoy the site we built to clearly reflect the message.  I pray you feel the message it comminicates is a valuable one.  I hope the song touches you as well as inspires you to go out there and talk about how under represented people living with disabilities are.  Target and Nordstrom can not do this alone.  This is the largest minority in the world we are talking about here. I am so grateful we now have 23 companies who are committed to Changing the Face of Beauty in 2015.

Don’t forget #imready for #15in2015 have you actually called your retailers out?  They are waiting to hear from you!

Today is a day I will remember always!

OXOX Katie

Something to think about….

I have been quiet over here!  All my energy outside my family’s everyday needs has been focused on a little campaign called #imready for #15in2015.  Cool right?  It is.  It actually is really cool and the coolest part is that thousands of people all over the world called out retailers and because of that we met our goal.  After a month and a half we met our goal of 15 retailers committing to using models with disabilities in their advertising.  How great is that?

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I am personally  astounded by it.   That is about the only way to describe it.   My husband suggested way back in August that I ask for 50 retailers and I told him he was crazy!  That is how hard it is to really change perceptions, especially in business.

I mean who wouldn’t want the face of my daughter on the cover of their 2015 product guide, right?

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North American Bear did!  They wanted my girl and my SON for that matter to grace the front of their 2014 product guide.

Well unfortunately a lot of people would rather not.  The excuses I have heard run the gamut from if Grace is playing with that toy then maybe consumers will think it is a “special needs” toy or does it even matter if we include individuals with disabilities in the advertisement, will it increase the bottom line?  The best is, Whats the point?  No one else includes why should we?  Those responses are real and they hurt. The reality is that business decisions are made everyday based on how best to market and sell the  products to the general public.  If the public buys the product then we must be doing it right. Right?  I wonder about the 15 now 16 companies that have committed to including individuals in their advertising will they be rewarded by the general public?

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This led to a discussion I had with a great friend the other night.  A friend who is like a mentor to me when it comes to really pushing for change in advertising.  She lives and works in it every day.  The conversation was frank and real life.  No sugar coating. It was the facts and they got me thinking on a lot of levels.  The question she asked was will these companies be supported?  Will these 15, now 16 companies be supported by the community of people with different abilities so that it is worth the extra time and money these companies will put into making sure they represent everyone.  I assured her that this is a possibility because the numbers suggest that 225 billion dollars are spent by this community alone every year and if that is true then there is a whole lot of money to go around.  The question still stood though.  Will they actually support these companies?  The companies that answered yes?  The 16 (and counting) companies that will be revamping their current plans to include one more face which involves rescheduling and reorganizing.  Will they be rewarded by the community that so wants to see this change?

Interesting question isn’t it?  I had to ask myself the same, will they be supported?  Well believe me I hope so.  I personally will make a conscious effort to market for them as well as purchase their merchandise.  I do understand as a small business owner myself how important the bottom line is.  You have to survive in a competitive field.  I also know that consumers are loyal to the companies that they love.  I know that there are many companies out there both big and small that make decisions that show their customers that they not only think with their minds but also with their hearts.  They include because they want to see a change.  They want to be a part of the change.  Those are the companies that I will look for in the future.

So here is the deal.  We ask and often receive from small businesses.  Independently employed people who want their services, their products and their time valued.  We ask over and over for them to donate, to support and to do.  Do we support them back?  Are they the first on their list to call when we need what they offer?  Do we take the time to return the favor?  I know I can answer personally, not always.  I try really hard but I too fall short.  Companies big and small often answer the bell but the only way they can continue to answer is if people like you and I buy their products and use their services.  Bottom line is if you don’t buy their products and services they can’t stay in business, meaning they can not longer answer for you are anyone else.  It is a hard fact to swallow but it is the truth.  No one can continue to support our community or any community for that matter if we don’t support them.  So a retailer with wonderful intentions is gone and we are back to square one.

I wanted to throw this out there because I expect this campaign to continue to push retailers in the right directions.  I believe all people want to do what is right, that is why you are hearing from the small businesses first. It is personal to them.  They hear and see your words along with your faces.  They believe in you and they want you to believe in them.

Why am I writing this?  Because I want us all to make a conscious efforts to shop these companies.  We have choices.  And as this list grows we have options.   I encourage you to exercise them and show these companies we appreciate being included in their imagery.  We appreciate them taking a stand for something that is right.  If we stepped up and dedicated ourself to change wouldn’t we want someone to support our buisiness so that we could continue the mission?

We are big big community of people who have tons of love to give.  Lets show these companies that by doing what is right we believe in their products and services twice as much. Three times as much!

Just something to think about…..and while you are at it lets continue to Change the Face of Beauty.  #imready for #15in2015 x2 aren’t you?

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A huge thanks to ”Nathaniel David Utesch” (nthnl.com) who designed this awesome logo and donated the money for the design right back to the Changing the Face of Beauty mission with Mighty Acorn Foundation.

Meanwhile we are braving the weather here in Chicago.  Trying to stay warm and entertained.  We have dove back into schedules when we have had school and for the short time that happened this past week it felt good.

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I mean we found cookies as big as your head and a sunset.  How much more schedule do you need?

Ox Katie

Rewind back to 2014

Wow!  Where did the last 2 weeks go?  They are gone and most have moved smoothly into a new year.  I have to say I have too.  I have no real resolutions….just to remind myself daily to live the change I want to see.  Sounds easier then it really is, especially when instead of asking others to do it I am asking myself.  Checking myself regularly is a full-time job and believe me I don’t succeed everyday but its still early in 2015 and I am confident I will get better.

I always go through a period of “can we do it over” after the holidays.  Even when, in my eyes, they were amazingly perfect.  Not perfect in the way of smooth but just perfect because we were together.  When I say together I don’t mean always happily together because that would be a lie but just together.  We were in the same location, car, house together most of the vacation and it just felt good.  The boys are growing in more ways then one, so is Grace for that matter.  They are all spreading their wings into areas that they were not in last year like cologne (yes that!) as well as lacing up skates and well just growing up.

Grace pulled down my photo books during my very sad attempt at a treadmill run yesterday and started asking me “who is this?”  So naturally I got off and started telling her who each picture featured.  It was her brothers but she could not recognize them because they were so much younger.  My heart sunk.  Those days seem like yesterday and I remember thinking my kids were so grown up then.  Ahhh look at them now.  Anyway enough of that.

Bottom line is our holidays were filled with a ton of friends, some family, a beautiful birthday (more on that later) and a very happy new year.  My kids were surrounded by people who love them, heck I was too.  Regardless of any situation that is what counts to me.  If you have a couple people in your life you can call up and say come and they do, well that equals a rich full life if you ask me.

So here goes…..our time, our holidays in pictures.

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Our “Project Joy” continues.

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Someone is 5 years young!

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The games that were played. I probably took 100 pictures of this happening over and over.

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Cheers to a NEW year.  FYI add a splash of Apricot Juice to your Mimosa (Your welcome).

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So many exciting things happening in the coming year!  Next week I meet again with The Mighty Acorn Foundation to discuss taking THIS amazing project on the road.  You can read more about it here! (BTW she said trailer!) So we just might be coming to a location near YOU!  More on this soon but thank you all for believing in me, Changing the Face of Beauty (which is going through a facelift very soon so check back!) and well just being your amazing self.  Every single one of you!

OX Katie

Our own Christmas Magic……

I am stepping in here now because tomorrow it begins. The most precious time for our family. Christmas.  We wait a whole year for it.  The opportunity to dress up, eat out, worship and hibernate for a whole 36 hours.  To say I am excited would be an understatement.

I really can not put into words how grateful I am for all of you.  The people who support me and who support Changing the Face of Beauty.  These past couple weeks have put a lot of things into perspective.  ”Life is like a box of chocolates.” Like Forest Gump said “You never know what you are going to get.”  Ain’t that the truth.  Life is a box of chocolates and that is what continues to make it interesting and special.

We have grown a lot this year as a family.  In fact we just took a trip to the city this afternoon and not one person lost their mind and Mom didn’t once loose her temper.  That right there is a Christmas miracle.  I am thankful for the year ahead where we can enjoy each other instead of drive each other crazy.  But most of all I am grateful for the grace that my family gives me every day.  I am by far not a #1 mom.  I spend way too much time working and promoting a campaign that I feel is so important to my children’s future.  What I often forget is just how important today is to their future.  I appreciate the support that consistently give me and the understanding when I tell them just a min 4 times in a row.  This blog, photography and Changing the Face of Beauty take up a lot of their time.  It is impossible to do all those things and not have it take up time.  2014 has taught me to prioritize.  It has reminded me that memories now also affect the future and I need to continue to make them.

So as I close out this year I really just want to say thank you to my family for believing in me, for giving me the time I need to do what I do and for loving me even when I am really not easy to love.  It is because of you people are talking about what is possible.  Changing the Face of Beauty would sure not be where it is today with out each of you.

That being said 2015 has so many gifts that await.  As we speak there are advertising firms pitching new looks for campaigns to their clients that include the Changing the Face of Beauty’s mission (I can’t WAIT to share who!).  There are moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas and siblings standing up and saying #imready for #15in2015 because of Izzy Bradley and her Mom.  There are disability organizations such as Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network partnering because they want advertising to change.  There companies like Infantino speaking out about their commitment of showing diversity in their advertising by including models of all abilities. Lastly there are news outlets talking about it! ABC News, NY Daily News, and Pioneer Press.  All these things combined will continue the push for a brighter, beautiful future in out countries media.

So with that I have a fireplace and a family calling my name.  I will leave you with a little glimpse of what we have been up to over the past week.

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Christmas cookies at the cottage.

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Last day of school shenanigans.

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Our girl roller skated for the first time and did it all by herself.

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The girls behind the beautiful song set to release in 2014. Love them so much.

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Our annual trip to Millennium Park to skate.

 

I wish you all the most amazing holiday.  I hope you are surrounded by the ones that love you.  I will be back before the New Year as we will be celebrating a little girl who will be 5 years old next week.

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JOY 2014

Almost a year ago we sat in the living room with my parents, siblings, spouses and 10 little cousins listening attentively as my Mom and Dad shared their Christmas gift.  It was a package of JOY.  They gave each of us an envelope of money and told us to go spread JOY and in doing that remember to do something for Jesus, Others and Yourself.  So we all left thinking about how and what we would do.  To be honest in June I was still trying to really wrap my mind around how we would accomplish this.  I wanted something for my kids to understand and really be a part.

That is when the email came across from the Mighty Acorn Foundation asking for help.  They had located 6 kids, 5 boys and 1 precious little girl who needed help quickly.  You see they were part of a family surviving in Kenya.  Their Dad was a hard working man who not only drove a cab but also dug ditches.  Their mother stayed home and tended to the children.  They lived on a small plot of land that their father saved for and built a one bedroom home with a thatched roof.  They were doing well.  The last time he left to drive his cab his neighbor asked to borrow his shovel.  Something that costs a great deal of money in Kenya.  Being a kind man he gave that shovel to his neighbor to borrow until he returned.  He came home weeks later and after his welcome walked next door to get his shovel.  Unfortunately he never returned.  After worrying his wife walked over only to find her husband dismembered in the front of the neighbors house.

Pretty difficult to imagine right?  It doesn’t seem possible but unfortunately it is and it happened.  Months passed and their Mother was so broken with grief she was unable to care for her children.  The house was falling down around them and she couldn’t even feed her children.  They were barely surviving.  That is until the Mighty Acorn found out about them.  They found out and they went.  They put out a plea to their followers to help these children and the plea was answered within 24 hours.  24 hours later there were 6 children who were taken into a safe place, with food, water, clothing and education.  5 things that most of us take for granted.

I remember when I got the email.  I was sitting on the bleachers with my son Liam watching Sean play baseball.  I knew that was our chance, and that is when we were introduced to Samuel.  Samuel is the oldest of the 6 children.  He is the same age as my oldest son. He was the perfect fit for our family and since then we sponsor him so that The Mighty Acorn Foundation can continue to care for all their children.  The hope for these 6 kids is that their Mom will have the time she needs to heal and find a safe place to care for her children.  Until then Mighty Acorn will do that for her.  They will love those children and remind them that someone believes in them every day.  That is a basic need.  All people can grow as long as they have that one person who believes.

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(Samuel with his family)

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(The day his Mom signed over her rights to help her children)

Fast forward to today.  Today a package came in the mail.  A package that forever changed the way I look at this JOY project and The Mighty Acorn.  You see today I opened a box from our own Mighty Acorn Samuel.  It makes me cry even saying that.  Samuel personally wrote us a letter letting us know how much we mean to him.  He wrote how he looks forward to meeting face to face.  He told us how much he and his siblings love us and how he wishes us the best things in life.  He also made sure we knew that God loves us and that he is praying for us and that in any situation God will be by our side.

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(Samuel today)

I am not even sure my son would be able to put words together like he did.  His kind and gracious heart spilled out on that paper.  I felt that feeling that we all say and never really understand.  You know…the “it is always better to give then receive.”  That phrase that we instill in our kids.  The phase they will never understand until they hold a letter from another person who was graciously touched by their JOY.  That feeling.

So I am pretty sure I am good this holiday season.  That is all I need.  To feel the love from that little boy in Kenya and my own 6 children here in the states.  It goes to show you what you can do when given an opportunity and you take it.

This past year I have had person after person put in my path and each have taught me lessons that I didn’t even know I needed this year.  Denise DeMarchis and her husband David (the founders of Mighty Acorn) have shown me how to lead with my heart.  Denise helps others.  It is just her makeup.  One of my most favorite things written about her was about 6 or so months ago when she was in Kitale, Kenya tending to their orphanage.  She looked over and saw children at the gates hanging on the fences begging to come in.  You know what she did? She let them in.  She made room.  That story still brings tears to my eyes.

I wrote a little something earlier this month about being the change that you want to see in the world.  That is my new mantra.  2015 will be doing just that.  I have no idea what it will be but I know this for sure, what ever it is I will find it in my heart and help where help is needed.

Don’t forget!  Teryelle Girls is donating 20% of sales through Christmas Eve to help the Mighty Acorn Foundation throw a beautiful Christmas for all their children.  You can help by shopping Teryelle online!  It is a win win because Terry the designer of Teryelle Girls believes in models of all abilities too!  Another mission that the Mighty Acorn strongly supports.

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Merry Christmas friends. Special thanks to my parents for giving us this gift.  I pray for you all to feel what I felt today.

OX Katie

Happy ho ho hoing…

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So tonight was my son Patricks first band concert.  He has been looking forward to it for the past week in a Patrick kind of way.  Asking questions like, “Mom, are you going to go to the concert?” and “Can we go out to dinner before the concert to celebrate?”  The 2 things he is most worried about in life.  Whether or not we are going to make a big deal about his accomplishment and food.  Not just any food, preferably the food that comes on a plate and is not served by yours truly. “Yes, Patrick I will be there and no sorry son it is left overs tonight.”  That is not really what he had in mind but all was well and off we went.

Kids dressed and in the car an hour before show time.  We arrived first.  In our family we are either really early or flat out late.  There is no in-between.  We made it with 30 mins to spare, Christmas carols playing in the car the whole way.  The kids filed out of the car and into the church as the show began.  It was the perfect display of shortened Christmas carols performed beautifully by junior high students on instruments.  Those concerts always put me in the spirit of what really matters around the holidays.  They tap into my love for music and the pride I have when I see one of my kids making it.  When they opened the concert they made a suggestion to still our hearts, put away the worries, concerns and todo lists and just be for 1 hour.  It is funny how we have to be told but I was in.  My past 5 days have consisted of cleaning, organizing, wrapping up work, picking up sick kids and preparing for Christmas vacation.  All of it.  It was good to just be for a moment.

All was smooth until Graces diaper malfunctioned and my husband had a wet leg.  You would have thought there was acid running down his leg.  He was sure to let me know the situation and less then happy with my slow response.  I mean I was enjoying the trumpets.  Anyway everything unraveled from there.  Grace and I walked to the car.  The boys followed with a “Can we go to dinner now?” and my husband with an interrogation on exactly how I handled the wet diaper.

I will let you in on a little secret we rarely all ride together in one car because 6 kids in a suburban is less than a good time. We prefer to arrive at a function without our faces all scrunched up from the stress of arguing all the way there.  Tonight was different.  Tonight we drove together, all 8 of us.  We all returned home with headaches and faces too scrunched to make out.  There were statements like, “straight to bed!” and “you owe him an apology” AND “you are at it you own ME an apology.”  Yep – The real deal.  Real life.

It is funny though.  Tonight I am not carrying it with me.  We are not perfect and our life is not even close to being perfect but it is ours.  It is the way it is and although some improvements will help us all out in the end.  I am just grateful we are all here.  I am overly thankful that we are celebrating yet another Christmas together and we will soon ring in 2015 side by side.  I will save the worry and frustration for later.  Right now I plan to enjoy the peace of my house with 6 kids and one husband asleep upstairs.  The thought makes my heart swell with pride.  We are doing the best we can.

A little behind the scenes moments this week.

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I spent the afternoon in the studio with Grace playing around with some Christmas ideas I had in my head.  Its really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…….and I am so very excited about 2015.

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Graces Christmas dresses are from Measure.  She is one of my favorites.  Everything she puts together is magical.

Happy hump day friends!  I hope your holidays are magical in a “your own” kind of way. OX Katie

Falalalala and the Flu…..Blah

This house has been sick for weeks.  So many weeks that I can’t remember all of us being healthy.  So frustrating.  The holidays are still approaching and we are still keeping up with the traditions just a little slower then our usual full steam ahead.

Although we are battling flu bugs I am aware that others have bigger battles ahead for them.   The holidays make me more aware of those battles.  This time of year gives me the opportunity to count my blessings and say prayers for continued good health for my family and the others surrounding us.  This past week as my husband battled an ear infection and had to go for some further testing.  As I was doing ear candles and dripping healing oils in his ear I realized how much a depend on him.  2 days of Dad not participating in anything made me realize how hard life is without him.  (Insert be more appreciative!)

Not sure why it takes moments like that to remind us but it does and I am looking forward to this whole crew getting back on their A game.  We have a pretty big holiday to celebrate.  Meanwhile shopping is done.  Time to pour the eggnog and enjoy all the people who make our everyday special.

Here are a few moments from the past week.  Moments filled with family and a whole bunch of Christmas magic.

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One last tree trimming.

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Gingerbread houses made from scratch….3 years and counting. One, Two and now three.

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Taco friday……everyday could be a taco day in my book.

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Lastly my fashionista.  I took a last second lightening trip to my favorite local boutique Bellē Up to pick up a cute little something for my husbands holiday party.  I see something white hanging out of my daughters coat as I was in the dressing room.  I lifted and this is what I found….my underwear and sports bra mini she thought would be the perfect ensemble to shop in.  …..note to self check her from head to toe before loading her in the car and thank goodness for long coats. 

PS Don’t forget about creating YOUR video calling out your favorite retailer!  Its the holidays and major retailers are already thinking about 2015.  Lets give them something to think about!

 

TGIF friends! OXOX Katie

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