January 25, 2015

Joy in a Can

That is what we have called her since the day she was born.

Which was 10 years ago yesterday.

Happy Birthday sweet Sadie!

From the moment she was born, the only way to describe her was "joy in a can".  You just open that little lid and smiles, laughter and love pour out.  Heavenly Father must have known, with what was to follow, that our family would need an infusion of just that.

Sadie holds a very special place in my heart.  Firstly, because of her unique place in our family lineup - 3rd child of 5, with an older brother and sister, which is the same place I hold in my family.  I empathize with those struggles and challenges of being that middle child that she might be facing and am determined to make that position a strength to her. But, more importantly, my heart also has a very tender spot for Sadie for what she has endured early in her little life.  Her brother with special needs came along just two years after Sadie was born.  The first year of life for a child with special needs is one consumed with hundreds of hours of doctor's appointments and testing searching for answers and a diagnosis.  Sadie's precious toddler years were spent being carted from appointment to appointment, waiting and sitting.  She was by my side through those excruciatingly painful times thinking that my life was being swallowed up by 5 syllable words of a complex medical vocabulary.  I ached for her experience - that it wasn't what any 2 and 3 year old should be doing.  She should be watching Sesame Street, playing dolls with me, and running around the playground. Instead she had to sit countless hours in waiting rooms,  watch her brother get poked and prodded, observing him doing therapy - which looked fantastically interesting to her and she wished she could play with some of the fun equipment instead of being a quiet spectator.

She has been exposed to the abnormal and took it in stride.  I still laugh at her reaction to waiting in the "play room" at the office where Bridger was casted for a set of his orthotics.  When we had to return to the office a week later for his fitting, she expressed concern over having to return back to that play room.  I pressed her as to why and she said with her cute toddler voice, she "just didn't want to be with all dose dead wegs [those dead legs] anymore.  The are bery cweepy [very creepy]".   When I arrived at the office, I walked into the play room to see what I hadn't previously noticed.  Along the upper portion of the walls, a shelf ran the entire circumference of the room, lined with artificial legs - including old-fashioned relics of decades past and many modern realistic versions complete with leg hair.  I had a good laugh at what this sweet 3 year old had to be exposed to in our special life.  I could see how a 3 year old sitting in this room with a bucket of Duplos on the floor and dozens of artificial legs staring down from the ceiling could find this unsettling, if not traumatizing.  We talked about how cool each of those legs were, and have since, much to her relief, have changed orthotic offices.

Sadie has handled everything with stoicism and poise, with confidence and fire.

We spent birthday eve cuddled up on my bed watching her favorite show of Shark Tank.  I love her company.  She seriously cracks me up.

Her birthday was a celebration of her, as I believe birthdays should be - which is why I am not big on birthday parties.  Does that make me a Party Pooper?  That's ok.

I have thrown parties in the past, but found that bundles of children and goodie bags don't align themselves with my goal.  My goal for my children's birthdays is to make them feel loved and overwhelmingly special.  I have found that busily preparing for, or entertaining a gaggle of children, does not align itself with my goal in any way.  My attention is to the other party goers and less on my child.  Consequently, we choose other ways to celebrate birthdays that allow us to accomplish that goal.  Making sure they didn't feel like they were missing out, however, I offered Sadie the option of a birthday party this year and she promptly declined.  She knows what the alternative feels like and it was a day for her yesterday.

The day began at midnight when Lance snuck in her room to create her "birthday bed" - a family tradition that we decorate the birthday child's bed while they sleep.  The morning was a day with a somewhat French theme (based on her fascination of the new American Girl character, Grace, who has a love of French baking).  I entered Sadie's room in the morning presenting her an offering of mini eclairs on a tray to chose from as well as the new American Girl book to read while the rest of us prepared her breakfast.  Breakfast was Sadie's requested meal of "a smorgasbord".  My girl loves everything about breakfast so we prepared the table with quiche varieties, breakfast meats, pastries and juices.  She opened her presents at breakfast, delighted with a doll that looked just like her - matching even down to the two little freckles on her ear and neck.  After breakfast we got ready and went on a mother/daughter outing to the American Girl store where she excitedly chose the new Grace doll.  A few extra things might have "fallen" in our shopping bag at AG which she was shocked to find when she  returned to the car.  {confession - I am in love with all things AG.  I love the messages they teach, I love the quality, I love how timeless it is and that they have been playing with them for years - instead of an attention span of months as with other toys.}  We hit another mall on the way home and she picked out a new pair of "dangly" earrings from Claire's - a privilege that you earn when you turn 10 in our house.

After shopping came her piano recital and an impromptu "Happy Birthday" sing along by the audience led by her piano teacher.  She was adorably embarrassed.  I love that my girl can perform Bach to an audience and go home and pound out some Beyonce on the piano.

We enjoyed a quiet night out to dinner at her choice of restaurant with she, myself and Alan and her grandma and then returned home with her completely stuffed, content and smiling.

The sacrifice she learned during the otherwise selfish "MINE!" years of toddlerdom has taught her patience.  That patience she learned has taught her to observe. Her observations have taught her to understand, and her understanding has given her insight to know what is important.  She knows she is loved, she knows she is special, she knows she has a very important place and role in our family - which was reinforced by a very special day just about her.

Summarized quite simply, she is Joy in a Can!