Deep Creek Lake

Friday, March 27, 2015

Contrary to popular belief, I do occasionally write a post in which Addison is not the main topic. I know you guys only hang around to see Henry photos but humor me here and pretend this blog could exist without the Beeg. (I totally just used three names for one person in the first paragraph...this post is shaping up nicely.)

I have this fascination with ski resorts. I blame James Bond and the Pink Panther. In Western Maryland there is this tiny ski town known as Deep Creek Lake. Despite the confusing name (still trying to figure that one out) it's pretty much perfect. It's so middle of nowhere there isn't even cell service but it only takes five minutes to reach a grocery store or coffee shop (I try to not think about how far the nearest hospital is.) My family visited for the first time last March, instantly fell in love and made plans to return for my mom's birthday. February 5th we packed our sweaters and snow gear and hit the road.
Traveling buddies! This row totally rocks the van.

An essential part of any trip is good food. Fortunately there's Brenda's. Guys, this place is awesome.
Not only is their pizza 110% amazing (and this is coming from a snooty Italian)...
You get to eat with this beautiful view of the lake. Win, win situation.
Of course the main reason for the trip was to celebrate my mom's birthday. After bugging her for weeks to give me a theme to work with I finally just decided to match the presents and decor to the scenery. Because that's what everyone does, right? I love the vintage Putz houses but they are hard to find so I ended up just making my own...which was so much fun and I love the way it came out. The wrapping paper, brush trees and miniature deer and skiers are all from Etsy.
For the record, fair isle and moose pajamas are absolutely essential to a weekend in the mountains.
Despite out little people population being too high to participate in skiing and snowboarding we thoroughly enjoy the outdoors. There is sledding...
Snow man building...
Exploring the woods...
And braving thin ice...
 Basically we love snow, cold and winter.
 Which doesn't mean we don't enjoy the indoors...
Guys, even the architecture screams ski resort.
With movies and countless card games...
A  perfect spades hand. I bid seven.
And of course snacking.
The boys spent pretty much the whole weekend throwing darts...
 And I spent pretty much the whole weekend sleeping in this chair by the fireplace. 
Okay, so I like napping.
 And (despite worry over Addison's persistent weight loss...which reminded us life with Henry is 24/7/365) a lovely (for the most part) time was had by all.

Good Days, Bad Days

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
There are really good days. Like when it's 60 degrees and you take your little buddies to the park and for ice cream, go for a stellar run, serve a gourmet dinner and spend the evening chilling with your not-so-little fifteen year old sister.

And then there are bad days. Like when your father wakes you at 2:00 AM and tells you to drive him to the hospital because he has acute abdominal pain and you're thinking "Oh my gosh, he has appendicitis!" and it just so happens to be the day your mom and three of your brothers are in Connecticut for the aforementioned brother's surgeries and you have three little kids you're looking after who are already under a lot of stress and really don't need you taking off in the middle of the night on top of everything else and there you are spending the night in the ER.

On the good days you thank God because really you don't deserve so much goodness.

And on the bad days you eat comfort food and try to take everything in stride. And somehow, as much as you don't feel it, you thank God. You thank him for the ability to sleep anywhere...even in a noisy ER in a back breaking chair. You thank him that you're an old pro at operating on two hours sleep and can drive safely. You thank him it was not appendicitis and your father is being treated at home. You thank Him for the privilege of living today.

Recently there have been a lot of bad days.

I hate running up hills. I do it because I live in a hill infested area. Sometimes the only motivation to keep going up the hill is the other side. It hurts now. But it won't last forever. And the other side will be all the easier because the struggle.

So I thank God for the hills. And eat the dratted comfort food.


Monday, March 23, 2015
Running is physically and emotionally taxing. To gain endurance it requires discipline and time. When we run we are reminded nothing comes easy for Addison. He has fought for every milestone he has achieved and will struggle for the rest of his life. Yet he continues to endure, to move forward and to inspire all he comes in contact with. Addison's team is comprised of people dedicated to helping him overcome his challenges and reach his greatest potential.

One voice, one vision....celebrating Down syndrome in the DC metropolitan area.

The Race4Respect™, presented by KOONS of Silver Spring, is a 5K & 1K Kids Dash in Washington, DC. Join us on Saturday, May 30, 2015, for the second annual Race4Respect™, one of the most coveted 5K courses in the DC metro area! Run in the shadow of the nation's capital, the Washington Monument and many other DC treasures. The Race4Respect™ is a collaborative project led by devenio, inc. and eight Down syndrome affiliate groups in the DC metro area and surrounding regions including Frederick, Baltimore, Annapolis, Southern Maryland and Richmond. Expected attendance is 2000 runners.

The mission of Race4Respect™ is to build community partnerships with the goal of increasing Down syndrome awareness. We believe that if given the chance to experience an event with a person with Down syndrome or another disability, negative stereotypes, barriers and judgments can be overcome.

Click here for more details.

To join Henry's team, visit the Race4Respect website, click on the register button, select "Join an Existing Team" and choose Re:Henry - We are INTREPID. Discount for early sign-up ends 4/15.


Saturday, March 21, 2015
I have heard so many testimonies of families receiving their child's diagnosis of Down Syndrome. And they all begin with "I'm sorry." My family and I spent the first week of Henry's life crying. It's not something I'm proud of. We had accepted the lie of our culture that Down Syndrome is a bad thing and that horrible lie stole the joy of welcoming our boy.
Today, March 21st, is World Down Syndrome Day. A day set aside to celebrate the wonderful gift of Down Syndrome!

Down Syndrome is not who Henry is but it's a part of who he is. A beautiful part worth celebrating! Henry is fearfully and wonderfully made. Imago Dei. The very image of his Creator. And Down Syndrome is a tool with which he has been equipped to change the world.
Let's celebrate today and everyday so never again will a baby be welcomed with tears of sorrow. Let's celebrate so mammas will choose life for their unborn babies with Down Syndrome. Let's celebrate to show the world what a bright future Henry has!
totally intentional...this image has not been flipped :)
Join me today as I celebrate the blessing of Down Syndrome!

So Proud

Thursday, March 19, 2015
Henry will soon be two. And he cannot walk. He cannot crawl. He cannot eat. He cannot talk. He will be spending his second birthday in appointments with doctors and therapists. 

I will forever remember the night my parents told my sisters and I about Henry's diagnosis of Down Syndrome. One of the first things we did was pull out "What to Expect the First Year" and make all these little charts of what he should be doing when so we would be able to compare his progress with that of his peers. For the first six months we would faithfully measure milestones on our little charts. We jumped for joy when every month he was right on target. Then progress stopped. Eighteen months later, despite countless hours of therapy, here we are with no significant progress. We no longer look at those charts. 

Several months ago I had this dream. We were at Keys' stadium and there was Henry, walking along that narrow walkway behind the seats, wearing his little grey stripe overalls. On his face was the most beautiful, triumphant smile. He was walking. My dream continues to remain a dream. A fantasy of my imagination.

We were visiting a church on vacation. I was holding Henry. A lady approached me, commented on how sweet Henry was and asked his age. When I replied he was almost two her face fell. "Oh." There was so much behind that small word. 

Henry is almost two and people are starting to notice he is not like every other two year old. 

Tonight as I tucked Henry in bed I whispered, "I'm proud of you." 

Henry will soon be two. And he has fought for everything he has accomplished. He has touched hundred of lives as evidenced by the stackes of letters and emails we have accumulated in his two years. Despite his limitations he is changing the world. 

I am so proud.

The one about casseroles.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Since Addison was born my family life has been pretty crazy. First there was the initial shock and adjustment that comes from welcoming a baby with special needs. Shortly after we began to adjust to our new normal we were inducted into the community of families of children with complex medical concerns. Nothing can prepare you for this life. It's chaotic and unpredictable. And without the support of the amazing people surrounding us there is no way we would have made it these past two years.

The second most common question we hear, right after "How is Addison?", is "What can I do to help?",  followed quickly by, "Can I bring a meal?"  The meal question is typically directed at one of my grown siblings or myself by dear friends who don't want to burden my mom. I always hesitate before replying, "A meal would be lovely. How about next Tuesday?" 

I hesitate because I don't want to accept. Nagging at the back of my mind is a feeling of guilt. We don't need a meal. Realistically, my father or pretty much any of my siblings could pull together a meal, from the grocery store shelves to the dinner table, in less time than you would take you to calculate just how many times to multiply that recipe to feed a family of eleven. It doesn't make sense for someone else to invest their time and resources into something that I don't perceive as a help to us or Addison (the child doesn't even eat, for crying out loud!).

And then I'm reminded of this simple truth: it isn't all about us. Serving is every bit as much about the server as the served. Our friends love us. They love Addison. And sometimes prayer isn't enough. I speak as someone who has been on both sides. When people you love are hurting you need a means much more tangible than prayer to help. I'm not knocking prayer. There is nothing as helpful or effective as prayer. But I also know the joy from pouring yourself into creating something and the satisfaction of using your hands to serve a hurting friend and maybe, just maybe, make their troubles a little more bearable. Who am I to take that away from someone?

So I nod my head. "A casserole would be lovely. How about next Tuesday?"

Keep the prayers (and casseroles) coming.

Hello, my name is Brianna.

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Hello, my name is Brianna.

If you are an old friend, thank you for reading. If you are a new here, welcome.

Hello, my name is Brianna. And sometimes I loose my way.

A fourteen year old enters the world of blogging without any expectations. You write a few words and rejoice when your first post is published. It's new and exciting. And then you meet other bloggers, read other blogs and your expectations are raised.

I hate mediocre as much as I hate indecision.

Seriously. It drives me crazy and I would much rather not do anything at all than do it substandard.

This past year has been one hell of a year. Sorry, but there really is no other way to describe it. I have experienced greater levels or emotional and physical exhaustion and strain than I thought possible. And, honestly? When your life is just surviving day to day blogging is something you scoff at as a waste of time and the little bit of energy you have left.

Hello, my name is Brianna. And I expect perfection in my life.

But the crazy thing about blogging is this: it's not even real. Think about it for a while and you'll get what I mean. It's not concrete. It cannot be handled. It's words and pictures thrown into a vast void that none of us understand. I don't suggest arguing philosophy with mother taught me everything I know about debating and I will talk you in circles until your head spins. :)

Hello, my name is Brianna. Welcome to my mediocre blog.

Because when you've been where I've been the past realize somethings...especially arbitrary, not even real blogging...don't have to be perfect. It's nice to have a place to be mediocre.

Hello, my name is Brianna.

Take heart.

Hope in the Lord.

And carry on.

Simple Steps for Elegant Table Design

Saturday, January 10, 2015
Let's flash back about fifteen years. It was Thanksgiving and my sister and I were feeling very grown up because, for the very first time, Mom said we could decorate the table all by ourselves. As best as I can recall, the centerpiece consisted of dead leaves sprinkled on a white cloth. Okay, so maybe not much to write home about but we were proud of our creation and it was the beginning of my obsession with a perfectly set table.

A friend was visiting once and very graciously agreed to help set the table. He asked if we really had to put out all the silverware or just what we would be using. I asked him what he thought. He put out all the silverware. Another friend joined my family for our annual vacation several years ago. I went to set the table one night and she gasped and declared it must be vacation because the Wachters were using paper napkins. (Please note we were still using real plates. The previous breech of posh protocol was due to the lack of cloth napkins at the rental house.)

As these stories illustrate, proper is very important to me, especially in regards to a table setting. I'm really not a total snob but there is a right way and a wrong way to set a table. Perfection in table decor only takes you so far. A proper place setting and minimal centerpiece will win every day over an shoddy setting, no matter how elaborate your centerpiece.

This is my basic formula for table design:

- Have a vision for the final product. Keep it flexible (because it will change) but you should have a general idea what you want to see. It helps to pick a few words you want to describe your table. For example, for the autumn table in the photo above, woodland and elegant were our key words. By the way, there is no shame is searching Pinterest for inspiration.

- There are three basic parts to a table design. The linens (tablecloth, runner, placemats, napkins, etc.), the centerpiece, and the place settings. Plan out each part and gather the supplies in advance.

- Choose a starting item. It could be a charger, a vase, a placemat... Pick one statement piece that you  want to build from. I love these interest pieces from Chairish and think they would make a great starting pieces.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! I would love if you shared some of your table design tips. Comment below!


Thursday, January 1, 2015
If I had to choose of one word to describe Carmel it would be artistic. Be it web design, writing, sketching or photography, Carmel is always exploring and sharing her artistic endeavors. I have loved seeing her develop her talents over the years and am excited to announce the launch of her new website, is a place where interests in writing, fashion, health and graphic design converge. It's a celebration of art and beauty and elegance. It's learning to be edifying and uplifting. It's life lived to it's fullest, bodies filled with the best, minds flowing with inspiration, mouths speaking words of wisdom and intelligence and truth. We're here to be the best versions of ourselves, and I welcome you to join. All the love.

ABOUT CARMEL: Hello! My name is Carmel, though you probably know me better as Bree, or Bree Holloway. That's alright, I'll still answer to it - I went by Bree on this little blog world for over 4 years, and in many ways it's become a part of who I am. But before Bree Holloway, or Blogger, or any of all this, it was just me. Carmel. I could tell you about how I'm different than most people you probably know, but I'm sure you've read that 100 times over. Instead, I'll tell you what I love. My first pursuit is Christ; in Lewis's words, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." If I can lead one person to the saving grace of God, if this journey of self-discovery encourages others to join me, I've done something worthy, despite countless mistakes - and that's firstly what this place is about. As for the rest? I'm a prolific reader, writer of allegorical fantasy, ballet dancer, graphic designer, style-lover, bright-lipstick enthusiast and high-heel wearer. Chocolate is my love-language.

I encourage you to visit and support this sweet girl's latest endeavor!
Wishing you all the best in 2015.

Thanksgiving Inspiration | The Kid's Table

Saturday, November 22, 2014
I am not a fan of the kids table. Thanksgiving dinner is a family event and it doesn't seem right to split the family on this all important day. But our guest list this year surpassed our twenty seat table capacity and Sam and Ellie were jumped at the idea of playing host to their friends at a kids table, providing they approved the table setting. Drawing inspiration for the kid's table from these sources:
(one) (two) (three) (four)
Super simple, kid friendly and festive. Plus this entire table is going to be under $10. Big time win. Can't wait to see it all come together!