Friday, December 30, 2005

A conversation at the mall....

This evening we headed to the mall so Greta could exchange two presents for a different size and color.

Emma Sage and I were sitting at the little pizza pavillion having a slice [upon her sweet demand while passing the pizza joint "Mommy, I hungry, I get pizza pleassssssssse!....and who could refuse a demand as sweet as that!?!]

A young couple walks by our table to empty their tray in the garbage container not too far from our table.....

Miss Emma Sage gets a huge smile on her face and catches the attention of the young man...who smiles back at her.

"What's your name?" Emma Sage asks.

"Chris"....replies the young man "What is yours?"

"Emma Sage...xxxxx" proudly replies Emma Sage

"Hi" ES

"Hi~Hello" the young man and woman.

"How old are you?" asks the young woman

"I four" ~putting up four fingers~ exclaims ES......"Four and a half" she adds.

awwwweee....the couple say....

"You five?" asks Emma Sage of the young man.....who chuckles....."Five plus some" he adds.

"I be five on my birthday" states Emma Sage [so very proudly]

"You a Daddy?" she asks......whereas the young couple giggle lightly with that look of young lovers and say "No, not yet!"

"Bye" ..........they say [and you are just to darn cute,,,,they add] and

"Bye.......blows them a big kisss" responds Miss Emma Sage.

I just smiled the whole time as my little girl had her own sweet conversation at the mall this evening.

Reflection of an angel.....

Reflection of an angel.....
Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
This is my entry in this weeks 'Babies & Children Theme photography competition'.....the theme this week is you one single most favorite photograph of 2005.

This is my most favorite brings me such peace and joy to know that these are two of my blessings and that I was able to capture such a magical moment between sisters on film.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Price of Children

I have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way.

It's really neat!!

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family.
Talk about sticker shock!
That doesn't even touch college tuition.
But $160,140 isn'tso bad if you break it down.
It translates into:
* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month,
or* $171.08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich."

Actually, it is just the opposite.

What do you get for your $160,140?

* Naming rights
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, & warm cookies
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites, building sand castles, and skipping down the sidewalk in the pouring rain.
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, you never have to grow up.
You get to:
* finger-paint,
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:

* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.

You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck.

You get to be a hero just for:

* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof
,* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and
* coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat to history to witness the:

* first step,
* first word,
* first bra,
* first date, and
* first time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren.

You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God.

You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground themforever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost.

That is quite a deal for the price!!!!!!!

Love & enjoy your children & grandchildren!!!!!!!

What a bargain ! ! !

The Ravine on Kenny's Birthday....

I went for a walk in the rain reflect on this special day, the anniversary of the day of my brother Kenny's birth. He would have been 41 years old today and I miss him dearly.

Kenny passed away tragically a week after Emma Sage was born....I so wish he had gotten the chance to meet her and watch her grow up. Kenny always loved the 'underdog' and he would have cherished this little girl of mine.

This picture symbolizes your spirit Kenny......Happy Birthday!

A Hopi Prayer

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there,

I do not sleep;

I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on the snow; I am the sunlight on ripened grain; I am the gentle rain.

When you waken in the morning's hush

I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave. I am not there. I did not die.

For everything beautiful that you see will bring a memory of me.

The road less traveled

The road less traveled two
Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
Looking forward to a peaceful 2006...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sending you kisses on the breeze.......

Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
*SMOOCH*** The best kisses come to you on a cool winter breeze!

Pure joy....

Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
I can't put into words the joy this little girl shares with me....this picture sums it up completely. Emma Sage just radiates JOY and makes my days just so wonderful. Today was just simple, pure joy!

Tossing leaves...

Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
I love this picture as Emma Sage is so solomn and intent on her mission to set the leaves of the forest floor free!

A Walk in the woods...

Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
Miss Independence.......

Water rushing over the rocks....

Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
Emma Sage loves to throw sticks and leaves into the stream.....

Winter walk to the Ravine.....

Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
Emma Sage and I were alone this afternoon, Greta was at basketball and Otto was at his bestfriends, so we took a walk up the lane to the Ravine.......I loved this shot of her on a fallen tree and it reminded me of a poem:

"I walk in nature still alone
And know no one
Discern no lineament nor feature
Of any creature
Though all the firmament
Is o'er me bent,
Yet still I miss the grace
Of an intelligent and kindred face.

I still must seek the friend
Who does with nature blend,
Who is the person in her mask,
He is the man I ask.

Who is the expression of her meaning,
Who is the uprightness of her leaning,
Who is the grown child of her weaning

The center of this world,
The face of nature
The site of human life,
Some sure foundation
And nucleus of a nation~
At least a private station.

We twain would walk together
Through every weather,
And see this aged nature,
Go with a bending stature."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Miss Holland?, Miss Emma Sage who is our passport to the magical, delightful, exciting, intriguing, joyous, happy, patient, soothing, peaceful...........trip to Holland. Posted by Picasa

Welcome to Holland...........

Amongst the tulips
Originally uploaded by
by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability- to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip -to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

" Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills... and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ...about Holland.

Reprinted with permission from Emily Perl Kinglsey. 1987 copyright by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

Embracing Holland......

Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.

Pinky Etiquette

pinky ediquette
Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
Pinky Etiquette.......My little tea drinker....We were at Hunan Wok and Emma Sage just loves green tea.....look at her pinky,,,,it truly amazes me how far back she can bend it!

tea time

tea time
Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
Since it is winter break and the children are off from school we had a special treat today....Greta, Emma Sage and I [Katrina is in Minnesota visiting family and Otto was playing at his cousin Mikey's] went for lunch at the best local Chinese cusine is in the most historic stone building in Long Valley and the owner has to be the happiest and friendliest guy I have ever met. Emma Sage was adorable and ordered her own lunch on her own [Chicken and Broccoli and veggie dumplings and tea please!!!!]. Here are the two of them enjoying some tea.

These truly are the most precious of times....simple, pleasurable outings.

I caught this picture while we were waiting to pick-up Greta from basketball practice....I thought Emma Sage look so angelic and her bruschfeld spots really sparkle in this shot. Posted by Picasa


Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
This has to be one of my most favorite of all photographs of Miss Emma me it exhibits pure joy and her happy soul....not to mention her love of icepops! This was created as a watercolor from the original photograph that I took.......all I can say is that this picture just makes me happy!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Sending you all a Big Christmas Hug.....

An online friend of mine has a precious little girl 'Annika' who is very ill right now. Her Christmas post in her blog has truly been one of the greatest gifts I got to read this Christmas and wanted to share it with you all......and to send you all a 'HUG'......a Big, Tight, Never-let-you-go, Hug...........and to say Thanks for the incredible blessings in my life.

Sisters on the way to the movies....

Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
The Ringer......

We saw 'The Ringer' today as a family [a Christmas Movie tradition at our house on the years we are home celebrating and not traveling] and I have to tell you we rated it............all thumbs up!

I thought it was great [theme, plot, dialog, action] [[not the greatest in cinematography, but I'm not a film critique, so I will leave those details to the professionals]]

It was exactly my kind of movie......comical with romance and a profound human message.

I laughed, I cried, I cringed in pain on a few of the antics of Johnny Knoxville,,,,,but mostly I laughed and laughed and fell madly in love with every character [except Uncle Gary, who actually was not that bad of a guy,,,,his disability came out very clear in the movie].

'The Ringer' in my eyes is a wonderful comedy with a valuable lesson. I just adored it and I hope that many, many people get a chance to see it and also fall in love with the characters and maybe at the same time become enlightened to the *message* that we are all human beings and are all part of society..........and laughter is the greatest gift we can share with each other.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to all......and to all a, Good-night [Santa Claus is tired and heading to bed!] Posted by Picasa

Santa Claus has made his trip to our home. Emma Sage has been just besides herself in anticipation of the Jolly Fellows arrival. She came home tonight from my sisters Christmas Eve celebration and excitedly got out the carrots and apples for the reindeer and cookies and milk for Santa and she and Otto wrote a little note to Santa [and Emma Sage proudly signed her name!] and then quickly got washed and dressed in PJs and a kiss and a hug and she was off to sleep! Tomorrow morning looks like it will be a magical day for my sweet little girl and her siblings. [Except for Katrina since she is far away from home this Christmas....and we miss her dearly!] Posted by Picasa

Oh my,,,,,look what I got from Nana & PopPop......a drum and tamborine set....Yeah! I love to make music and I will play my drums for you,,,,,rummbumpabummdummmm..... Posted by Picasa

Peace on Earth......

My motivator
Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
May Grace preside over your celebrations...........May Peace and Hope fill your New Year and May the Glory of Life remind us all of the greatest gift we have been given by God..............Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Miss Emma Sage & Family

Friday, December 23, 2005

and of coarse.....a day out alone shopping, in 47 degree weather on the 23rd of December calls for a stop at Pizza Como for a slice of the best pizza in New Jersey [it must be true as it says so on the wall! lol!].....Actually, Pizza Como is owned by a dear friend of mine, Louie Guliano and his family, and I've been eating Pizza Como pizza since I was 10 years old. At one point in my life, Louie was engaged to marry my bestest friend, but as fate would have it, the marraige never occured. It was wonderful to see Mrs. Guliano and Beena and Louie and his beautiful wife today....and the pizza was truly out of this world [and I know Pizza from living in NYC and Brooklyn,,,,this is good pizza!] Posted by Picasa

Twilight...... Posted by Picasa

Guess where I was at 4:36pm today......enjoying a beautiful afternoon shopping amongst the quaint and delightful shops of Main Street, Clinton. I have been shopping here since I was a young girl...I would ride my bike the five miles to town when I was a young girl to find the perfect gift for my siblings and parents....and today I shop because I hate malls and I want to support local businesses. If you are ever in New Jersey, you really must spend an afternoon strolling the Town of Clinton. Posted by Picasa

A view of the falls and upstream. We love to canoe in the calm waters above the falls. Posted by Picasa

The famous Red Mill at the Falls in Clinton....... Posted by Picasa

Swallows over Clinton...... Posted by Picasa

Twas' the day before, the night before Christmas.....and a little Christmas elf was busy playing with her kitty cat. Posted by Picasa

Little Miss Santa Claus and her kitty Gracie.... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

By the light of the Christmas tree......our days have been filled with such magic and delight.....preschoolers have this sparkle about them as they anticipate Christmas and all the baking, making and wrapping is filling our days with such joy and happiness. Posted by Picasa

Emma Sage with her doggie Lucy.....I used natural light to capture this kiss. We have been so busy with preparations for the holidays and I haven't been snapping as many pictures or able to sit down and reflect on our days.  Posted by Picasa

Look what we got to see today....three big turkeys walking across the yard. The children and I went to 'skate' on the pond and came across this group of travlers...who seemed to be looking for water as they ended up at one of the springs on our property. It was so neat to watch their movements....Emma Sage got a tickle out of this bird parade. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Red Marbles.........


Babs Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas.....I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to me.

"Hello Barry, how are you today?"

"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas . sure look good."

"They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?"

"Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time."

"Good. Anything I can help you with?"

"No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas."

"Would you like to take some home?"

"No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with. "

"Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"

"All I got's my prize marble here."

"Is that right? Let me see it."

"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."

"I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?"

"Not zackley . but almost."

"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble."

"Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller."

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said, "There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps."

I left the stand smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado, but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts .......... all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket....

Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket. ......"Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about! They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim "traded" them.

Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size............ they came to pay their debt."

"We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho." With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

Moral: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds.

More commentary on 'The Ringer'....

Special ShowingHow the Farrellys' 'Ringer' Turned Laughing-At Into Laughing-WithBy Don OldenburgWashington Post Staff WriterMonday, December 19, 2005; C01

Here is another commentary regarding the new movie 'The Ringer'.

I found this to be a great commentary and my hopes are that I leave the movie with the same insight as Don Oldenburg of the Washington Post.

We are planning on going to see the movie on Christmas Day [a new tradition of ours, since Rick travels so much, that we make our once-a-year-together-as-a-family-movie-outing on Christmas Day, after presents, church, dinner, then visiting with neighbors for dessert and drinks].

So look for my *movie review* someday on the 26th!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Words Matter.....

I wanted to pass on a link to a young woman who is starting a grassroots campaign to make people 'think' about the words they use and to understand that 'Words Matter'.

As a mother, woman, friend, advocate and human being, I thank you Jenna Glatzer for starting this pledge and my hopes and dreams are that your advocacy reaches millions and millions of help people realize that the words we use truly does matter.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Ringer...and laughing!?!

In an L.A. Times review, Joel Stein takes a look at the new Farelly Brothers movie called 'The Ringer'.

Joel Stein, Breaking the last laugh barrier, December 13, 200...............LAUGHING AT people with mental disabilities, I vaguely remember being told as a child, was wrong. I didn't ask a lot of questions about this rule............

I remember being told the same thing.............actually, I remember being told that laughing about race, creed, disabilities, etc. was not funny and offensive, and I just don't laugh at or participate in mean, hurtful jokes [they are just not funny to me].

But everyday I laugh at the antics of a very funny, comical, improvisational.............and extremely witty four year old who also happens to have a mental disability [or so we are told she has because of her extra chromosome on her 21st pair ~ but to us it really isn't apparent that our daughter is 'retarded...............she is just Emma Sage, although the outside world is quick to label her as such].

So here is my quagmire,,,,,,,,I laugh with and at my daughter [the one labeled with a disability by society].................I laugh with and at all of my children when they are being funny and comical. I don't see a line of distinction between 'Nini' who is so much like Emma Sage in the way they love to make jokes..............the two of them are like 'Lucy and Ethel' [see picture below] and this commentary has me thinking about myself and my daughter.

I am planning on going to see 'The Ringer' on Christmas day.....and I plan on laughing if it is funny, not because I see some of the actors and actresses as having a disability and thus the reason to laugh at/with them......I will laugh if it is comical, just as I do for all comedy that tickles my funny-bone.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I love school.....

I love school................I love school and other observations from Miss Emma Sage.

Otto and Emma Sage and sitting at the table having a snack and chatting with me. Otto tells me that he loves school,,,,to which Emma Sage pipes in and says.

"I love school too!"

I reply,,,,,"You do,,,,that is great, Why?"

and Emma Sage continues "I love school, everyone waves and says 'Hi Emma Sage, Hi Emma, Hi Emma Sage"" as she procedes to show us with her little hand up waving at people and saying the 'hi!'

too cute, she loves school because everyone is friendly to her and says hello! [which is such a wonderful and delightful thing!]

another quip:

"Mommy, we go see Baby Griffin?" asks Emma Sage

[It has been so bitter cold so our walks are not towards the graveyard and not as often as when the weather is good]

"Ok, we can go later when we go out in the car"

"No Mommy, I walk to heaven and see GOD and Griffin"

[this just melts my heart because she is still so aware of her Aunts loss and she truly believes that the graveyard is Heaven and that GOD is right there with Baby Griffin ~ which I believe is true]

At the 'Make-it and Take-it' last weekend.

Greta is walking Emma Sage to the bathroom and a group of girls are in the hallway and see them approaching them.

Greta says she hears:

"Look, there is Otto's little sister, she 'smiles' for Toys R Us".........a few whispers and looks and then "and look how beautiful his big sister is..........I bet you she 'smiles' for Toys R Us too!"

[How cute is little girl is a famous model 'smiler' in our community!]

and lastly......

Our days have been filled with such joy and happiness. Emma Sage is loving Christmas and the decorating and music and baking. She has been just so giddy & giggly & and singing non-stop.....and watching the 'Polar Express' with wide-eyes and expression [she knows all the lines and songs and comments right along with the movie and sings 'Hot Chocolate' with such gusto! ~~not to mention all the tap dancing she does along with it!!!! ]

This child is just so magical and brings such joy to my heart! We are truly blessed by the grace that is Miss Emma Sage!

Lucy & Ethel in B&W

Lucy & Ethel in B&W
Originally uploaded by annikaleigh.
This weeks theme in the photo contest is 'Smooches'.....and this photo always cracks me up of Nini & Emma Sage.....I reminds me of the antics of 'Lucy & Ethe' from I Love Lucy.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Guess who took a bubble-bath today before school......Emma Sage wasn't at all unhappy, but I seemed to catch her at this moment with her lip pouty and couldn't resist the picture. Emma Sage loves baths as much as her Mommy does! Posted by Picasa