The Candy Lady “Sharing Sweetness Around Our Town”

It was a Tuesday afternoon and my daughter and I were on our weekly shopping trip to Aldi. While waiting to pay for our groceries a friendly lady, with only a few items in her cart, joined us in line. She smiled sweetly and commented on my daughter’s cuteness and good behavior. Since we had a cart full of groceries I motioned for her to go in front of us. She graciously thanked us and approached the cashier. She appeared to be a local celebrity because the cashier, along with the rest of the workers, seemed to know who she was and she was greeted with smiles, friendly waves and hugs! As my daughter and I were bagging our groceries the lady thanked us once again for letting her go ahead of us and asked, “Can your daughter have candy?” Although I was taught to never take candy from a stranger, this lady was clearly a regular shopper and I trusted the miniature candy bar she was offering my three-year old was safe to eat. As my daughter embraced the candy in her little hands, the lady thanked us for our kindness and wished us a good day. I helped my daughter unwrap the chocolate goodness and used this encounter as an opportunity to teach my offspring that when you do something kind for others, you get kindness in return.

Fast forward a month and you will find my daughter and I enjoying a spaghetti lunch with my mom and dad at our local Fazoli’s. A friendly lady wearing a beautiful cross necklace said hello as she passed our table. My dad complemented her on the delicate cross necklace and a few minutes later the lady returned asking if my daughter could have candy. When I responded favorably she showered our table with chocolates. My mind raced to the lady who gave us candy at Aldi’s and I quickly realized we were having another sweet encounter with the candy lady!

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A picture with Edy “The Candy Lady”

This time I discovered the candy lady is Edy and that she never leaves home without a bag of chocolate. She finds joy handing out candy to workers at the establishments she frequents, bringing a little sweetness to others in what may otherwise be an ordinary day. In return, they look forward to Edy’s visits and she is treated with kindness and respect. In the fast paced world we live in we often don’t take the time to connect with others. How many times have you been guilty of being on your cell phone while a cashier rings up your groceries? Or being distracted by your little one or your lengthy “to do list” or the many other stresses in your life that you barely make eye contact with the worker who fills your order? Edy reminded me how important it is to take the time to be kind and considerate and to let people know, “You are important, I notice you and I appreciate the work you do!” And as a parent I need to remember there is a little person watching my every move, observing my actions and reactions and striving to be just like me! Through a smile, a friendly nod or a simple “thank you,” we can all be like Edy and together we can make the world a sweeter place.

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Lillian was Inspired by Edy “The Candy Lady.” She is sorting candy to share with others.

On the Other Side of the Glass

Since my daughter was a tiny 4 month old I have enjoyed taking her to a variety of adult/child classes. Over the years we have listened to stories and made crafts at the library, walked across the balance beam and learned basic ballet positions at The Little Gym, popped bubbles and played with the parachute at Gymboree, clapped to the steady beat and danced at Kindermusik and learned to float independently in the pool at the British Swim School.Lillian has never attended a daycare and won’t start an organized preschool until next school year, so the classes have provided her with an opportunity to socialize with other children while being exposed to a variety of age appropriate skills and topics. Having a class on the calendar has gotten us out of the house on days where we might have stayed in and have given me an opportunity to learn more about child development. During the first year of participating in classes I developed close friendships with some of the other mothers which I previously wrote about here in The Library Girls article.

But this article isn’t a review about the individual classes (although I have enjoyed things about all of them). Instead it’s about the sudden change that took place in each of the classes that turned our world upside down when Lillian turned three! Upon turning three the adult/child classes immediately went away and the children are moved into a class without an adult companion. And the class expectations became more rigorous as well. Where the adult/child classes were all about “free exploration” the preschool classes require more listening skills, more responsibility and more cooperation.

Lillian suffers from separation anxiety so I knew making the transition from having mommy constantly by her side to going into class by herself was going to rock her little world in the worst way. Not to mention causing added stress and anxiety for mommy! So a month or so before she turned three we began to discuss the possibility. We also read books where the main characters go to school without their mommy. Our favorite was “Llama, Llama, Misses Mama.” We stayed after class and observed the “big kids” interacting with the teacher by themselves and acted out what it would look and feel like with her beloved stuffed animals.

The Little Gym class was the first class she tried on her own. She wasn’t looking forward to it but I assured her I wasn’t going to leave her and even sat in the back of the room for the first week. All of the preparation paid off because she did great and was the perfect little listener. In fact, like many children her age, she was more engaged and on task without me being by her side. It became clear that she was developmentally ready for this new milestone, although mommy shed a few tears knowing this transition signaled that her chubby little toddler had turned into a big preschooler! The next week she went in by herself and a month later she said, “You can leave now,” as I walked her into the dance classroom!

Now when we go to classes at The Little Gym, participate in Kindermusik or swim at The British Swim School, a thin piece of glass separates us. I get a few minutes to myself and have the opportunity to engage in adult conversation without interruption while Lillian is gaining self-reliance and is learning to navigate life without mommy. She is thriving in all of her classes and enjoys her new found independence. I am proud of her accomplishments and celebrated when she went into the swimming pool all by herself! This was the most difficult class for her to transition out of and although she hasn’t officially moved to the next class just yet, her swim teacher has been brilliant and so supportive, gradually releasing her to swim class without mommy by adding more independence with each passing lesson and having me step out of the pool for longer periods of time.

As I study Lillian’s every move “on the other side of the glass,” I can’t help but get a bit teary eyed when my mini me turns away from the group, peers out of the glass that divides us and searches for me with her big blue eyes. When she locates me she gets the biggest grin on her face, searching for the reassurance that I am still there and as if to say, “Mommy, I’m a big girl now but I still need you!” I gently smile back, my heart overflowing with joy knowing that my big preschooler continues to need my love and support even if I’m not by her side. After our quiet exchange she happily returns to the classroom activity and I continue to watch her on the other side of the glass.

Showing Love to Our Feathered Friends

When I was teaching kindergarten in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in the state of Missouri, one of my favorite activities was taking my class to Little Creek Nature Area, a nature preserve owned and operated by the school district. Kindergarten students had the opportunity to visit Little Creek multiple times a year and my favorite visit was the winter one where we learned about winter birds. The Little Creek teachers taught us that some birds stay in Missouri throughout the year. We were shown beautiful photographs of these birds so we could identify them when we went bird watching. Each child made a pair of binoculars, two bird feeders (one to put in a tree at Little Creek and another to take home). The children armed with their binoculars and new bird watching knowledge were in awe when they went bird watching by peering out the huge observation window. With quiet anticipation we watched red feathered Cardinals, brown Wrens and little Black Capped Chickadees fly from tree to tree and feast on the seed filled pine cone feeders we had prepared. The visit ended with a story in front of the fireplace. We sipped hot cocoa topped with marshmallows and munched on homemade Cardinal Cookies while the teacher read winter stories.

I recently attempted to replicate some of the activities my students enjoyed so my three-year old daughter could experience some of the Little Creek winter magic. The following is a description of the activities.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders– Lillian enjoyed this popular winter activity that I remember from my childhood. We collected pine cones in the park, covered them lightly with peanut butter and then rolled them in bird seed. We attached a red piece of yarn to the top and they were ready to hang on the little tree outside our window.

BinocularsMade out of two toilet paper rolls, yarn and decorated with stickers, Lillian loves her bird watching binoculars! I stapled the toilet paper rolls together and attached yarn to one side so she could wear them around her neck. We decorated our binoculars with stickers but we could have used crayons.

Cardinal Cookies- img_4762Nana joined in the fun by helping us make Cardinal Cookies! Named for the beautiful red bird who loves sunflower seeds, this easy drop cookie has a peanut butter base and is rolled in sunflower seeds prior to baking. My little one loved making the cookies but enjoyed eating them even more!img_4764-1

 

My Book of Birds Inspired by my trips to Little Creek my dad and I created this mini book years ago for my kindergarten students. It focuses on counting along with bird identification and contains beautiful illustrations drawn by my dad! We want to share our book with you! Download the reproducible book for free by clicking on this link. My Book of Birds

Read Aloud Books Featuring Birds– One of my favorite winter picture books is Lois Ehlert’s “Snowballs.” This book introduces the reader to a snow family complete with a snow dog and cat! Ms. Ehlert creates beautiful snow figure collages filled with items birds and squirrels would find yummy to eat during the cold winter weather.

The number of feathered friends to visit our bird feeder was limited but we enjoyed the few wrens that ventured to our little tree. We look forward to repeating this activity next year and hope the wrens come back and bring their friends to our home for a winter feast!

Why I Cried During Paw Patrol Live

My three year old daughter loves puppies and like many children her age she is obsessed with anything and everything Paw Patrol. If you have a preschooler in your life you probably know Ryder and his team of search and rescue pups that protect the residents of Adventure Bay. What started out as an animated series has grown into a franchise filled with a collection of toys and merchandise from books and games to plastic plates and underwear! And to bring the pups from Paw Patrol directly to boys and girls in cities across the world there are currently two touring live stage shows.

Now why did I cry at the show? Well, you might think I cried because spending two hours in a theater filled with preschoolers on a Saturday night isn’t exactly on my bucket list. Or that I cried because my family paid $376.50 for five center aisle seats to see Paw Patrol Live! (this included a discount my friend got us from Citi Bank) My husband felt like crying when he found out he was going to spend a Saturday night seeing Paw Patrol Live while the St. Louis Blues were playing in the arena right next to the theater! But the tickets were a Christmas gift from Nana and we all piled into the mini van and willingly went to the show because it was a dream come true for our sweet little Lillian.

I shed a few tears when the curtain opened and the music started playing and a huge smile appeared on my daughter’s face. Imagine her excitement seeing the beloved characters she reads about in books, sees animated on the screen and loves on toys and puzzles, magically come to life on the stage right in front of her! When Ryder introduced each of the pups on the Paw Patrol team she clapped her hands and sang along to the theme song. I enjoyed watching my daughter more than the show! I delighted in seeing my parents smile sweetly at their little granddaughter, knowing they had made a little girl’s dream come true! And the enthusiasm continued until the actors took their final curtain call and the lights came on.

Seeing the joy on my daughter’s face and experiencing this event with my husband and my parents certainly brought me joy. But what truly brought tears to my eyes is when I suddenly realized that my parents, my husband and I wouldn’t be sitting in this theater, at this particular moment, seeing this specific show, if there was no Lillian. My mind rushed through all of the wonderful things we have done together and all of the experiences we will enjoy in the future because of the little girl sitting next to me. I looked around the theater and every adult was accompanied by at least one little person between the ages of 2-6! I felt honored to be a member of this elite group. Membership I feel privileged to have received and that I will never take for granted.

For a brief moment I went to a dark place and I thought about a life without Lillian. It isn’t something I can ever imagine now but at one time prepared for. During our final IVF cycle (our fourth and final cycle) my husband and I had to accept the statistics and come to peace with the fact that we may never have a child of our own. I thought of the women who continue the fertility struggle and those who may be dreaming of sitting in my seat at the theater at this very moment. My husband and I would have had a blessed life no matter what the outcome but it wouldn’t have been this life. We may have adopted a child or fostered a child but we wouldn’t have this child. We wouldn’t have Lillian and we wouldn’t be sitting together as a family at the Peabody Opera House on this January evening enjoying a performance of Paw Patrol Live.

“Parents as Teachers” (A Powerful Partnership)

I first heard about Parents as Teachers in the summer of 1997. I was taking a graduate course in family involvement at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) and Parents as Teachers was mentioned in my textbook. I was thrilled to read how the program was founded in 1984 in Missouri and that my school district, Ferguson Florissant School District, piloted the program. (I had just completed my first year teaching kindergarten in the district) Little did I know the connection I would later have with the Francis Howell School District (the other Missouri School District to pilot Parents as Teachers) and the positive influence Parents as Teachers would have on me and my miracle baby twenty years later!

Parents as Teachers is an international nonprofit organization that promotes early development, learning and health of young children. Through home visits, the parent educators equip parents with knowledge and resources to prepare their children (prenatal through kindergarten) with a stronger start in life, which leads to greater success in school and beyond.

Ms. Deanna and Lillian meet for the first time.

A few months before Lillian was born I called our local school district and enrolled in the Parents as Teachers program. Deanna Robbins, our knowledgeable home educator, made her first visit to our home when Lillian was one month old. She made her last visit a few days before Lillian’s third birthday. In most school districts, children age out of Parents as Teachers when they turn three years of age, reserving resources for the most crucial stage of child development (prenatal to age 3) and for older children identified with developmental delays or IEPs (individual educational plans.) Throughout the years, Ms. Deanna became more than a teacher; she became a friend and confidant. I looked forward to her visits where I eagerly reported Lillian’s latest milestones and I enjoyed updates about her growing family. Ms. Deanna asked me to serve on Francis Howell’s Parents as Teachers Advisory Board and I gladly accepted. We all shed a few tears in November when she presented Lillian with a program completion certificate, signaling our last visit.

Ms. Deanna and Lillian during our last PAT visit.

Ms. Deanna visited us six times a year, always bringing activities for Lillian to engage in and leaving behind handouts with valuable developmental information and inexpensive suggestions for learning opportunities in the home. Participants in the program were invited to parent meetings on a variety of topics from potty training to nutrition. Lillian and I both enjoyed many of the parent/child events including a messy play day and a storybook walk. Twice a year Ms. Deanna conducted a developmental screening. After, she discussed the results and assured me that Lillian was mastering her developmental targets while offering suggestions on things I could do to challenge Lillian and assist her in reaching her fullest potential.

I have a Masters degree in early childhood education so a lot of the information shared during our visits was familiar. But even with my extensive prior knowledge in child development, I learned some new strategies from Ms. Deanna and Lillian loved the extra attention and benefited from the learning experiences. The visits offered the opportunity for another professional to observe my daughter. It is easy for a parent to overlook a need in their own child even when they are an expert in identifying needs in other children. About a year ago, during one of the screenings, Ms. Deanna casually questioned if Lillian was articulating the ends of her words. As a novice speaker with a robust vocabulary (well beyond her years), I initially brushed off the idea that Lillian had any articulation errors. She was a newly turned two year old after all! If she had any speech issues they were surely developmental in nature. But Ms. Deanna’s observation stuck with me and I began to question, “Does Lillian have articulation errors?” I understand her just fine but I spend most of my days as a stay at home mommy so we are together non-stop. Lillian could grunt and use gestures and I would know exactly what she was communicating!

We continued the rest of the two year old visits and the articulation issue was never mentioned again. As the last visit approached, I had nearly convinced myself that Lillian needed speech therapy. I don’t know if Lillian really had a speech issue or if Ms. Deanna and I secretly hoped she did so our visits could continue! The day had come for our last home visit. Ms. Deanna gave Lillian her last developmental screening and Lillian was mastering every task. Then we got to the speech articulation part. Ms. Deanna asked Lillian to repeat a word and that’s when our hypothesis was confirmed. Lillian consistently left the ends off of almost every word she was asked to repeat. Still unsure if Lillian would qualify for speech therapy, Ms. Deanna recommended a full speech evaluation through the Francis Howell School District. Wanting what is best for my child, we did the additional screening and the results indicated Lillian was eligible for speech therapy. Lillian is inconsistent in her production of /m/, /p/ and /b/, which according to the norms should be present at three years of age. She also leaves off the endings of a lot of words, substitutes some medial sounds and consonant blends. Her language skills are off the charts but as her sentences become longer and her words more complex, I have observed her speech becoming increasingly unintelligible and have seen her become frustrated when others can’t understand what she is saying.

I honestly would never have picked up on Lillian’s articulation errors without Ms. Deanna’s keen observations. I easily would have dismissed them as developmental and Lillian would have gone undiagnosed. I will forever be grateful to Ms. Deanna and the Parents as Teachers program for identifying Lillian’s needs and getting her the assistance to be successful. And as an extra bonus, Ms. Deanna will continue visiting us!

Parents as Teachers is an amazing partnership and I encourage everyone with young children to sign up for the program! Parents will always be their child’s first and most important teacher but in this busy, often stressful world of parenthood, this Mommy is happy to have Parents as Teachers and parent educators like Ms. Deanna to help me navigate the early years.

Ending 2017 “On a High Note”

Thank you for your overwhelming love and support in regards to my writing endeavors. I am pleased to announce that “Noteworthy Mommy” was named one of the Top 100 Upcoming Mummy Blogs for 2017! The Dutch website, mrkortingscode.nl, discovered me on the web, enjoyed my authentic stories on juggling a busy life as a wife, mummy, musician and part time educational consultant and they included my site on their list. I look forward to sharing my adventures as a first time mommy of a three year old with all of you in 2018!

Although I ultimately write my stories as a childhood memory for my little Lillian, nothing brings me greater joy then having my words resonate with others. So keep the comments coming, sign up to follow “Noteworthy Mommy” via email and on Facebook. And if you enjoy my stories, spread the word by telling others about “Noteworthy Mommy!”

Away in a Manger

My dad collects nativity scenes. He has around one hundred different sets in various sizes and they are crafted from a dozen different materials. Each holds a story and a special place in his heart.

A medium sized set made out of paper mache sits illuminated under the big tree in the living room. It was dad’s first nativity and was a special gift from my mother on their first Christmas as a married couple. The figures, so delicate and carefully painted in rich color, mesmerized me as a child. From the angel spreading her glorious wings and proclaiming the good news on top of the rustic stable to the shepherd carrying a lamb over his shoulders, no doubt exhausted from a long journey. To the three wise men adorned in gold to a kneeling Mary dressed in blue, gazing lovingly at the innocent baby lying in a manger. As a child I would carefully sneak on top of the piano bench (during my childhood this nativity was placed on the grand piano) and I became lost in the scene; trying to visualize that marvelous first Christmas when Baby Jesus, our Lord and Savior was born. This nativity set, now forty-nine years old, is a treasured part of his collection.

The newest nativity found its place in his collection a few days ago. It was a gift from church friends, Ron and Judy Schield. This nativity is crafted from olive wood, each figure carefully carved by hand. It was made in Jerusalem and was acquired by their son when he made a visit to the Holy Land. Their son passed on a few years ago and my dad was deeply moved when the Schields generously gifted him with the nativity, a beautiful possession from their talented son who was taken from this Earth far too soon.

Another special nativity is one my father gave to Lillian when she was one-year old. Unlike the others, which are delicate and meant to be admired from afar, this one is made of hard plastic and it is intended for play and exploration. We placed the Fischer Price nativity beneath our tree and Lillian is free to interact with the figures whenever she pleases. This nativity is musical and plays “Away in a Manger.” Lillian loves pressing the angel on top because it makes the star light up and then the music begins to play. The other day I noticed Baby Jesus was missing from the scene. When I asked Lillian where He was she replied, “He’s not there.” Lillian’s innocent words remind me that Jesus did not stay a baby forever. He grew up and died on the cross to save me and all that believe. But He didn’t stay in the tomb either, he rose again and one day I look forward to joining Him in heaven.

A few days ago a co-worker posted a picture of the same Fischer Price nativity. John assembled the set for his granddaughter to explore. In the picture, a penguin resides next to one of the wise men. When he inquired about the penguin his oldest granddaughter replied, “All are welcome.” Jesus, who was born in a manger, does not discriminate. All are welcome for those who believe.

Home for Christmas

Yesterday I hosted a Christmas party “play date” for the “library girls.” Seven three-year olds, along with their mothers and three baby siblings, joined in the fun.

Christmas Treats

Our Christmas party “play date” was after lunch but we had plenty of yummy things to snack on. Lillian shared the homemade sugar cookies she decorated with Nana. Halley’s trail mix was a big hit with the littles and Ashley’s champaign was a huge hit with the moms! (Don’t worry we deluded it with lots of orange juice). We also enjoyed veggies, chips, banana bread, fruit and watermelon cut into cute Christmas tree shapes!

Christmas Activities

I planned lots of activities to keep these curious three year olds busy!

I made homemade play dough and the littles used cookie cutters and imagination to create their own Christmas treats.

We decorated paper trees with colorful Fruit Loop ornaments. Although I think more of the Fruit Loops ended up in their tummies then on the trees!

To commemorate Lillian’s Minnie Mouse birthday party, our trip to Disneyland and our magical Alaskan cruise on the Disney Wonder, we made personalized Minnie Mouse ornaments. The adults placed vinyl Minnie Mouse cutouts along with glittery bows on pink and red glass ornaments and took them home to hang on their trees.

Since we live in a musical home I passed out jingle bells and led the group in a lively rendition of “Up on the Housetop.”

No party would be complete without a Christmas story. This year I chose to read “Little Robin’s Christmas” by British author, Jan Fearnley. Ms. Shirley, a family friend, gifted Lillian with the book last Christmas and we immediately fell in love with little robin and his giving spirit. The book also lets readers discover how robin got his red breast. The fable has become a new family favorite.

Chelsea, one of the “library moms,” brought festive “crackers or poppers” and shared how they are a Christmas tradition for her daughter’s grandmother who has British relatives. The “cracker or popper” is pulled apart by two people and out pops a small toy, a joke and a paper crown. The littles really enjoyed the treats and I took their picture wearing their Christmas crowns.

Christmas Presents

I created Minnie Mouse themed gift bags for the littles to take home and others brought candy canes filled with m&m’s (a memory from childhood), Christmas candy and stuffed animals. Our children are certainly blessed!

Now it is 6:45 am, the morning after the party. My husband just left for work and my daughter is upstairs in a deep slumber, possibly dreaming about the excitement of all things Christmas. The hardwood floors, once shiny and clean, are now embossed with homemade play dough, cookie crumbs and Fruit Loops. There are toys scattered in every room and I question, “Was the frantic preparation and impeding clean up really worth it? Maybe we should meet at a restaurant next year?” Then I was quickly reminded of the laughter (and a few tears) from the littles, the hugs and stories shared and the cherished memories that were created upon these floors. For a few hours our house was filled with noise and great activity and it’s days like yesterday that make our house a home.

Minnie Mouse Birthday Memories

Lillian turned three on November 5, 2017. We invited family and friends to a Minnie Mouse themed birthday party the day before to celebrate our little princess. Lillian loves Minnie Mouse and had the opportunity to meet her favorite character in February when we visited Disneyland and again in July when we went on a Disney Cruise to Alaska. We chose pink, white, black and gold as the party colors.

Invitation

I incorporated a fun photo from our Disney cruise to Alaska when creating the invitation. You will find a thrilled little Lillian holding Alaskan Minnie’s hand. I turned to Etsy for help and had My Celebration Shoppe design the invitation. After receiving a digital image I went to Fed Ex to print them out.Lillian 3rd Birthday

Birthday Outfit

I found the perfect shop on Etsy (Kim’s Boutique) to make custom Minnie and Mickey Mouse embroidered t-shirts for the party. Mommy, Daddy and Lillian wore the special shirts that incorporated the birthday colors and theme. Lillian wore a gold tutu and sparkling gold shoes from Gymboree.

Lillian’s birthday picture was taken by the talented photographer, Lisa Parsons.

Decorations

I always enjoy using a Cricut Machine to cut out themed banners. This year my friend Phil let me borrow his spare machine and I went crazy! I created Minnie Mouse banners that incorporated the design on the t-shirts and placed them in every room.

A sample of the Minnie Mouse banners that hung throughout the house.

I borrowed some Minnie Mouse decorations from a neighbor friend. These included the “I am 3” banner, Minnie Mouse center pieces and photo booth props.

Photos of Lillian and Minnie Mouse that were taken in Disneyland and on the Disney cruise were placed in gold frames and positioned on the mantel and throughout the house. I also used some of the character photos on a wreath that hung on the inside front door.

Guests were greeted with balloons and a “Lillian is 3” banner made out of paper Minnie Mouse heads cut from the Cricut Machine.

Cake and Cookies

We love the cakes that J. Noto Bakery have made for us in the past. The bakery met our expectations once again by incorporating my design ideas into this stunning Minnie Mouse birthday cake! The cake was iced with buttercream and the top tier was decorated with a pink fondant bow with polka dots, mouse ears, large polka dots on the side and a #3 piped on a large polka dot. The bottom tier was decorated with Minnie Mouse silhouettes with pink bows and an oval name plaque with the birthday girl’s name piped on it. The cake looked amazing but tasted even better! The top layer was chocolate cake with chocolate Bavarian creme filling and the bottom layer was white cake with raspberry filling.

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The beautiful Minnie Mouse birthday cake created by J Noto Bakery.

For the littles I made vanilla cupcakes iced with homemade buttercream icing and pink sprinkles and adorned with a black and pink Minnie Mouse head which I made with the Cricut Machine.

My mom baked homemade sugar cookies in the shape of Minnie Mouse. She decorated them with homemade pink buttercream icing and pink sprinkles and added a black number 3 to some.

My dad decorated a scoop of ice cream to look like Minnie Mouse. He used Oreo Cookies for the ears and made a bow out of gumdrops. The ice cream treats were a big hit with the birthday guests!

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Minnie Mouse ice cream.

Games and Activities 

I cut giant mouse heads and bows with the Cricut Machine and we played the game “Pin the Bow on Minnie.”

I ordered a personalized Mickey Mouse Clubhouse book called “Whose Birthday Is It?” from the company Put Me In The Story. The reader follows Mickey Mouse and the other Disney characters on a birthday treasure hunt filled with clues that uncover a special birthday party for “Lillian.” I read the story at the party and then had all of the guests sign the book.

When I was a little girl I had a Mickey Mouse birthday party and my dad made special birthday hats with mouse ears. It is a joyful memory that I will always remember. I asked my dad to replicate this idea for the Minnie Mouse party. The little guests looked so cute wearing the hats!

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Minnie Mouse party hats. A memory from my childhood.

Goodie Bags

Months before the birthday party I began collecting items for the goodie bags. I found the fun miniature Mickey and Minnie stamp pad set and the Disney card games on clearance at Target. I purchased the Minnie Mouse bubbles, stickers and activity books at a discount online at Walmart. The hot pink necklace was leftover from our gender reveal party and the Minnie Mouse head filled with candy was purchased on clearance at Walgreens.

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A sample of the party decorations along with the Minnie Mouse goodie bag.


Birthday Blessings

Flying home from Erie, PA on that chilly autumn evening I sat in the back of the plane and I wept. As tears stained my face I thought of the children I left behind. And I thought about all of those people making choices for their lives before they can make choices for themselves. Then I thought of Lillian and her little friends who are all celebrating third birthdays. Beautiful girls and boys leading joy filled lives with people diligently striving to make quality choices for them. They are sweet and innocent and too young to possibly comprehend all of the blessings they have been given. I thought about my daughter’s weekend birthday party. The pictures I took of laughing faces, the sweet taste of sugar from her Minnie Mouse cake. How we transformed our home with pink and white polka dotted balloons, sparkling Minnie Mouse banners and packages adorned with iridescent bows. 

Beyond the themed birthday parties, fancy cakes and the toy filled room. Beyond the stack of books, the recent autumn adventures to the pumpkin patch, zoo and neighborhood trick or treating.

Beyond the enriching classes at the library, Kindermusik, Little Gym, and the swimming pool. Beyond the overflowing closet full of clean clothes, shoes, oversized hair bows and accessories. Beyond the quality dental and healthcare. Beyond the healthy food, clean water and opportunity to safely play outside.

Lillian, the best gift you received that day was the room filled with family and friends who took the time out of their busy, stressful lives on that November afternoon to celebrate you. People who love and care for you and relish in your accomplishments. People from far away sending you cards through the mail and virtual greetings via social media. Individuals cheering you on while you reach for a new milestone, reassuring you when you feel uneasy and setting high expectations for your future. Through their guidance and encouragement you will grow to be the best “you” a little girl could possibly be. This my dear one is a birthday gift that will last a lifetime.

The family and friends who love and support my daughter.
Perhaps you are wise beyond your freshly turned three years. For after you opened your last gift on that monumental day your Godmother, Aunt Kay Kay, heard you whisper in a soft sweet voice, “Lucky Baby.” Lillian, you are my smart and stunning little “lucky baby” but I am the lucky one because you chose me am to be your “noteworthy mommy.”

The “lucky baby” with her “noteworthy mommy.”