Nov 17, 2013: Bucket List!

I’m going to save my explanation of this week’s blog title until the end because, well, it’s just pretty darn exciting, so I’m gonna make you wait for it. 🙂

Instead, let’s start with Veteran’s Day, which Theo had off school. We decided to take advantage of the free day and go to Happy Hollow with Theo’s best friend, Gavin. Happy Hollow has some kid rides (Theo’s favorite is the roller coaster!), an awesome playground (which Gavin loved!), two small zoo areas, and lots of places for kids to run and play. Theo and Gavin spent a lot of time at the crooked house—a two-story crooked house (thus the name!) that has a slide from the second floor to the first floor and a spooky grandfather clock that chimes. They spent forever running up and down and playing with the other kids. Meanwhile, Sam crawled around on the grass outside and played with Courtney’s phone, which she was hoping he would break (alas, he didn’t—it’s a very old work phone, and she was sorta hoping he’d break it so she could get a new one!).

The rest of the week was school as usual for Theo. He has school this week, too, and then he has the entire week of Thanksgiving off. Normally I would stress about the change in schedule, but I’m actually just delighted not to have to rush out of the house by 7:15 every morning to get him to school by 8! Plus, Sam will have a chance to get a good nap every day, which is lovely. So hooray for school breaks!

On Friday, Chris worked from home, so I was able to leave Theo with him after school and take Sam for a play date. We met up with Otto (just turned 2) and Matthew (14 months), two of his buddies from the Down Syndrome Connection, as well as a new friend, McKinley (9 months). Sam was kind of clingy to me for the first part of it, but he was soon tearing around after toys like a madman. The Down Syndrome Connection was nice enough to let us come have our play date in their offices, since we weren’t sure whether it would be warm enough for an outside play date. Love the people there—they are always so friendly! While we were there, one of the women who works there held up a flyer and said, “Hey, I’m sending out 200 more of these today!” I looked closer and saw Sam’s smiling face on it—and realized it was their donation request for the Gala for Giving. I had forgotten they asked me if they could use Sam as their poster child for their mailings for that event this year! They’ve been soliciting donations that they will raffle off at the Gala, with the proceeds going to the Connection—so there are vacations, iPads and such, gift baskets, you name it…big and small. I guess they’ve gotten a pretty good response so far this year, with lots of donated prizes coming in, so clearly Sam’s smiling face is helping the cause. 😉 We might have to go to the Gala this year, given that our kiddo helped get some donations for it! They hold it in May, and in past years we haven’t had babysitting—but maybe we’ll solicit Papa and Grandma Kathy this next May and have a swanky evening out with grownups. 🙂

Speaking of which, Chris has started planning my 40th birthday celebration, and I am a lucky girl! I’ve been feeling a little bummed lately at having to turn down several travel opportunities. We were invited to go to Disneyland at Christmastime but had to turn it down—just not in the budget. There’s a Down syndrome event up in Washington that I really wanted to go to (it’s at a huge waterpark that I’ve wanted to take Theo to, plus some of my online friends from my DS group will be there), but we had to turn that down, too—again, not in the budget. And Chris is headed for Philly soon and had hoped we might come along, but again…not in the budget.

So I can’t complain—we have a nice place to live, food to eat, and all that good stuff. Really, we are so fortunate, and I know that. But still, I am a travel junkie at heart, and it bums me out to have to say no to everything lately. Chris, knowing this, decided that we would splurge for my 40th birthday. Grandma Kathy and Papa will be watching the boys overnight (my first overnight away from Sam!), and Chris booked us a room at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, overlooking Union Square. Theo is very jealous, as they have an awesome glass elevator that he loves—he asked if he could go along. Ha! And, in addition to a night away, Chris booked us a reservation at my very favorite restaurant—Fleur de Lys. For you foodies out there, it’s one of Hubert Keller’s restaurants, and I love Hubert Keller! (Okay, I have a not-so-secret crush on him!) We went there for Chris’s 35th birthday and loved it—best meal we’ve ever had. So we’re going back, and my digestive tract will probably die the next day, but oh, I will love every minute of the meal!

So I’m very excited. I think a night away is going to do us good—I think we could both use it. And if you’re a blog reader who doesn’t know me well, the great event will occur in January, so you’ll have to wait until then to hear all about it. 🙂 I officially turn 40 on January 8th.

But back to our week! On Saturday, we had two birthday parties to attend. The first one was Logan’s, down in San Jose. Logan is turning two in a couple of days! The party was held at Chris’s Uncle Bill and Aunt Linda’s house, and we had a great time. Theo and his cousin, Nik, played in the backyard, and Sam hung out and charmed people. The highlight of that party, for Theo, was getting to run the trains in Uncle Bill’s train room. You’ve not lived until you’ve seen Uncle Bill’s train room. I wish I’d gotten a picture of the room itself. He has multiple tracks that run around the entire room, on a huge platform built just for them. You actually have to crawl under the platform to get into the room. It’s pretty amazing! Theo kept talking about it and said it was “awesome!” He also told Uncle Bill that when he grows up, he’s going to build a big train room in his house and invite Uncle Bill over. 🙂

Then we headed up to Oakland for Caj’s first birthday party. Caj is one of Sam’s buddies from the Down Syndrome Connection (and one of my online groups, actually), and Theo had a great time at that party, too. Sam was a little tired by then, but he soldiered on…and the party was awesome for Theo because there were several kids around his age there (not least of which was Caj’s older sister, who is five). They had arranged a little treasure hunt for the kids, and they did potato-sack races. And Theo made a little friend named Jackson who he has been talking about since—and evidently, Jackson has been talking about him, too! They were fast friends. And as if that wasn’t enough fun, we got to eat delicious Korean food. I haven’t tried very much Korean food, so I was excited to sample a lot of different yummy things. Mmm…so good! I need to eat more of it.

On Sunday, we met up with Auntie Tanya and Uncle Steve for some Christmas planning—and play time at the park. Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures, which is too bad because the boys had a grand time! Ah well…. But frankly, it’s rather amazing that I’m even functioning. Sam’s already abysmal sleep got even worse this weekend—in fact, Saturday night was the worst night ever, I believe. He was up at 11, 11:20, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5…at which point I handed him to Chris and said, “I need sleep. You can have him now.” Given that each waking takes about 10-15 minutes, I didn’t get longer than 45 minutes of sleep at a time all night long. Awful. Seriously. Can it get any worse, sleepwise?! The child never sleeps!

The child does, however, sign “Baby Signing Time” now, which is pretty awesome. 🙂 He signs it all the time, and I’m pretty sure he’d watch Baby Signing Time a zillion times a day if I’d let him. But honestly, it’s amazing to watch him starting to communicate. He is really starting to get it! One day this week, I told him it was time for a nap and pointed to the picture-card of his crib. He immediately pointed to the picture and signed “all done” rather vehemently. Umm…no. Nice try, sir. You’re not getting out of the nap that easily!

Okay, I’ve made you wait long enough, so here’s the story behind this week’s blog title. There is one thing on my bucket list that I had kind of given up on achieving. I mean, I sort of achieved it a couple of years ago, when I coauthored a book on wedding photography, but not really. That was more of just rewriting the main author’s ideas. However, it seems that I will be achieving this bucket-list item…and before my 40th birthday, at that! I have been hired to write a biography of Malala Yousafzai—the teenager who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out in favor of education for women. The publisher is doing a series of books on inspiring women for a high-school audience, so I’ll be writing a 100-page biography of Malala. I had the choice between her and Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. To be honest, Sandberg was the easier choice—I am really going to need to get up to speed on the Taliban, Pakistan, etc. to do Malala’s story justice. But I couldn’t turn down the chance to write about Malala, who I find amazingly inspiring. So it’ll be a challenge, but one I’m very excited about! Me! An author! A real author! When we used to have to write those “what I want to do when I grow up” things in grammar school, I almost always said I wanted to be an author. But I had long since thought it wouldn’t happen—that editing was my calling. And I do think editing is my calling, to a large extent—but now I’m getting the chance to expand into authoring, and I’m so excited! Supposedly, there will be more authoring opportunities with this publisher in the future, too—assuming I do a good job, of course. Whew—no pressure there….

Anyway, the manuscript is due 12/31, so the next six weeks are going to be crazy! I do write very quickly, though, so once I do all my research and get up to speed on everything, I anticipate that the writing will be smooth sailing. (I wrote my 100-page master’s thesis in a week…and I was pretty proud of the product. Once I know what I want to say, I actually write very quickly.) I ordered Malala’s autobiography, I Am Malala, and I plan to start it tomorrow. And then…we’re off!

So that’s it for the week, folks! Wish me luck as I dive into this new endeavor!

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