And the Oscar Goes to…Pajama Glama 2014


We happily welcome Great American Cookies to Enjoying the Small Things.  They provided the delicious goodies for this year’s Pajama Glama Oscar and are sponsoring this post. 

I don’t get into Superbowl parties, I couldn’t really keep up with the Olympics this year, I haven’t seen one episode of House of Cards yet, but the Oscars?  Oh, I do the Oscars–celebrating the golden glutes of that svelte little man with a pajama party for nine years now. (2012 Pajama Glama and 2013 when Dash was my itty bitty Oscar date)

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It started years ago with me and Heidi, both kidless and starry-eyed for Hollywood glamour, and over the years gradually grew into something more mom-ish.  We sit in our pajamas; throw some costume jewelry on for kicks; eat comfort food; root for the two movies we actually had time to watch this year; make lists of the ones we need to see; point out good hair, good hemlines, good Botox, good speeches and let the little girls have fun with us where they can.  Click-clack shoes, rhinestones and adorable misspelled lists of the best dresses: “sparcley silver” and “long blue” (Oh, Lupita, Lupita! You so win!).

Our Oscar spread this year:
Great American Cookies has a NEW! Fudge Brownie made with M&M’s ® that became the star of our dessert table.  I admit I had three (we cut them into dainty halves), and I’d like to thank the Academy for their inspiration.  The brownies are super chewy and chocolaty, and the tiny M&M’s ® are the perfect topping–not too big or crunchy, but just right.  Plus, they’re pretty.  I mean, who doesn’t love a rainbow brownie?

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We kept it simple–popcorn and itty bitty milk glasses to complement the sweets.

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The little girls were most definitely happy.

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The rest of the party followed suit for a star-studded evening:

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We were honored to have a pregnant Will Ferrell at our party.  His baby ‘gonna be so cute.

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Now to break down the show:

I love everything she does.  I like that, unlike many other comedians, she’s never mean or disparaging to people for the sake of comedy.  I loved the pizza she ordered and the we’re-just-regular-folks kind of feeling she brings to the Oscars while still respecting the art and glamour of the tradition.  And I liked her sparkly tux.

Best Dressed
5. Charlize Theron:  Classic and beautiful.
4. Jennifer Lawrence:  Red siren. Loved that little structured peplum thing on the hips. Love that she tripped and fell again this year because I’m a tripper and a faller, and she pulls it off so gracefully and brings a refreshing realness to the Oscars.  She bridges the gap between beautiful women walking the red carpet and moms sitting in their pajamas watching the red carpet.  And she does it so good.
3. Kerry Washington:  Pregnant women win.  Always.  It’s the rule.  A glowing, flowing wonderful representation of motherhood in all its beauty at the Academy Awards.
2. Amy Adams: My friends said “too simple,” but I loved her dress.  I thought she looked regal and confident, and I loved the structured details of the dress against its simplicity.  Love that she skipped a necklace and a bunch of arm candy for some simple dangle earrings.
1. Lupita Nyong’o  It was fresh, it was flowy, it was ethereal, it was sexy.  Her dress was like cotton candy but sophisticated.  The pleats, the color, the sexy V neckline.  Holy, holy.  

3.  Matthew McConaughey:  Probably scripted and memorized to boot but still heartfelt and delivered so well.  Loved his recognition of God and heroes.
2.  Jared Leto:  The way he thanked his mama and all her hard work in being a single mama and teaching her boys to “be creative, work hard and do something special.”  Boys who love their mamas for the win.
1.  Lupita Nyong’o: Her smile. Her poetic words.  The way she could barely breathe while she spoke.  And I loved: “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”  And then she swished away in her cotton candy dress.

At one point in the show, Ellen grabbed a bunch of stars and took a selfie.  She posted it to Twitter and made a note in the show that she wanted to break the record for most retweeted photo in 24 hours.  It happened with over 2.7 million retweets today.

“God, that’s kind of sad,” I said last night.  “We’re so celebrity-obsessed, national disasters and inspirational stories can’t compete with a photo of a bunch of stars at an award show.”  Maybe that’s true, but I decided to put High Horse back in the stable and take Silver Lining out for a ride.  There is something about the movies and Hollywood that draws us in and captivates us.  Movies helped keep dreams alive during the Great Depression and continue to provide a safe escape for so many people who are hurting today.  And many of this year’s nominated films hold important stories–things to make you think.  I’m glad we have movies and only hope big stars can use their influence to make good things happen in the world.  Ellen’s doing mighty fine with that.

With that said, my post-Oscar must-see list:  Dallas Buyers Club (like, this week), 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle.  And Her for the second time because I loved it that much.

Now, for some goodies for you.  Great American Cookies provided such wonderful treats for our party, and they’re extending their generosity to our readers.  In addition to their NEW! Fudge Brownie made with M&M’s ®, Great American Cookies offers an extensive lineup of delicious cookies, Cookie Cakes, brownies and other treats (Lainey’s classmates bring in their cookie cakes for birthday treats a lot, and they’re a huge hit).  One reader will receive a $50 gift certificate from Great American Cookies.  Just leave a comment with some of your Oscar favorites from last night or a great party tradition you’ve created on your own, and one comment will be selected and announced in Wednesday’s post.  Comments will be closed Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. EST.  

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More of Great American Cookies at their Facebook page, on Twitter and on Instagram.

Thank you Great American Cookies for partnering with us, and thank you readers for supporting the sponsors that help support this blog and our family.

Finishing pulling some images together from this past weekend. I can’t wait to share more about our time in Syracuse.

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A Simple Request Today: Help One Family Remember Maura


Last week, I received this letter from a reader named Clare:

Dear Kelle,

I’ve started this letter to you probably about 5 times over the last year. I’ve never quite been able to put in words all that I wanted to say, but last night I decided I needed to try again.

I read your book right after it came out while I sat on the beach with my husband and wept. I am the big sister to an almond-eyed little girl, and you gave me such a great insight into my parents’ struggles and worries. Your Nella and my Maura have the same infectious smile! You can’t help but laugh when they laugh! I stumbled on your blog several years ago and have since shared it with others I knew who needed it.

Your blog has been so very life giving to me, particularly over this past year. My almond-eyed sister, Maura, died a year ago this month. It was sudden and heart-breaking. She was surrounded with love…

I think my favorite story that my parents retell occurred in the first few days of Maura’s life. Maura was the sixth child (of eventually 9 babies). After Maura’s diagnosis was confirmed, my parents came home from the hospital, prepared to tell us the news. After telling us children that yes, Maura did have Down syndrome, we all fell to the floor, weeping, noses running, each a huddled mass on the floor with an adult bent over, cradling the distraught sibling, until one of us lifted our head and asked, “What is Down Syndrome?” And in the words of my mom, “There began the story, the healing, the acceptance!”

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…I remember one summer Maura went to an overnight camp. To get from the mess hall to her bunk, she had to cross a bridge over a lake. Maura was petrified. She absolutely refused to cross the bridge. Hours went by, and still Maura had not crossed the bridge. My mom, jumping into action, hoisted Maura up on her hip and said, “Maura, you face your fears just like we do—head on!” And off they went over the dreaded bridge. Within a few feet of no fatal incident, Maura began to smile, then grin, then giggle. She then ultimately navigated multiple bridge crossings per day with a smile!

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As we approach her “Feast Day” as my mom calls it, we have come up with a way to honor her memory and spread some of the same joy that she always showed us. We are organizing a “Pay It Forward” kind of day and trying to spread the message. I’m encouraging people to do random acts of kindness and leave a note explaining what you’re doing, then take a picture of the act and post it to social media with #HonoringMaura. It will be a tough day, but in between the tears we wanted to do something positive. We are asking our friends and family all over the world to participate and it would mean a great deal to my family and I if you would like to take part. 

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There are 9 children in my family and we loved Maura something fierce. I remember right after she died and looking at my mom and asking how we could go on. I felt like Maura was the glue, the thing that made us special and I feared we had lost that. Over this past year I have been blown away by how many connections we have made through Maura. Being in a large family I would often be called “Gerry’s daughter” or “Rachael’s sister” and I never liked that, but the other day I was referred to as “Maura’s sister” and I was beaming the rest of the day.

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I’m attaching a picture of Maura so you can see that infectious smile! There’s also a picture of all my siblings. One of my sisters is holding a pink stuffed animal that belonged to Maura. We had some family pictures made last spring, and that was our way of having Maura in the pictures with us.

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Thank you for your honest words about Down syndrome. You have had such a huge impact on my life.

Much love to you and your family,

We have the opportunity to help make today very special for one family just by sharing an act of kindness.  Buy an extra cup of coffee for someone, scrape off the windshield next to you, bring lunch to your child’s teacher.  And if you’re using social media, can you share it with the hashtag #honoringmaura?  Maura’s family will be remembering and celebrating her life today through watching acts of kindness spread around the world.  What a wonderful way to be remembered. And what a perfect way to start our Wednesday.

A Birthday Post


A Birthday Post.

Upholding an annual tradition, I read two months’ worth of old blog posts from Nella’s birth last night, stopping at my sister’s entry from two days after she was born:

At 4:24 pm, January 22, 2010, six pound Nella Cordelia Hampton entered the world and our hearts.
Nella has Down’s Syndrome.

I never changed the incorrect spelling of Down syndrome because I like that it represents us then—we didn’t know anything about it. We didn’t know that “D” is capital and “s” is lowercase, we didn’t know that there’s no “apostrophe-s” in Down, and we sure as hell didn’t know that someday “has Down syndrome” would be one of the least defining predicates that follows the subject of our daughter’s name.

Four years later:

At 4:24 pm, January 22, 2010, six pound Nella Cordelia Hampton entered the world and our hearts.
  Nella has…
…this crazy infectious smile that takes but two seconds to extract from even the grumpiest moments.
Nella has…
…a determined little run, and when she’s tearing across the sidewalk to demonstrate her independence, she shakes her right arm in sync with her feet and looks backs and giggles at the distance between us.
Nella has…
…a special way of knowing when anyone needs love, and she never holds back from offering a pat on the back or a tight hug.
Nella has…
…the most impressive dance steps—twerking ain’t seen nothing on her signature “Go Low!” move.
Nella has…
…favorite books and colors and places, numerous ways of expressing herself, notable interests, repeated routines for getting into trouble, a growing repertoire of “naughty” words, the best laugh, remarkable qualities for facing challenges and an ocean of opportunities awaiting her future.

And I suppose I should tell you that Nella has Down syndrome.

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While her birthday will always hold deep sentiment for our family and raw memories of the day she was born, today’s no different than any other birthday for any other kid. It’s a celebration of life. Every day—no matter who our child is or how many chromosomes she has or what she may have to face in the future—is an opportunity to celebrate life. That’s what makes us all the same. ­­­­­­­­­

My personal notes to my daughter are written with pen in her keepsake book today, but the blog invites the eyes from many walks of life—some of whom share the journey of raising a child with special needs, many who don’t.  So I take this as an opportunity to talk about what has become second nature to us—a part of our lives that has woven its fibers so intricately with the others that it’s hard to make it out from the entire tapestry.

I think that Fear is the most cancerous and incapacitating emotion there is. It eats away at the good we have to offer, cripples us from exploring dreams and pulls our focus away from where it should be. Fear is Productivity’s Kryptonite and Gratitude’s Predator.

I’ve trained to be a Ninja Warrior against Future Fear, knowing that with every challenge we’ll ever be given in life, our job will never require more of us than to face one day at a time. Thinking about all the what-ifs for Nella at once—if she’ll be accepted, if she’ll get made fun of, if she’ll be sad or feel different, if she’ll be healthy, if she’ll find employment, if she’ll be taken care of after we’re gone—can feel like having the wind knocked out of me. But I’ll never have to face all of those things ever at once, so why worry about them all at once. One day at a time. We have more than what it takes to love and support our children for just today. And I can wake up and say that again tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that.

I do find it appropriate once in a while to give Fear limited visitation rights to challenge my hope and determination from ever sliding into that blind optimism realm or, simply put, to “keep it real.” Some sad people drink to feel happy. Me? I drink to feel sad. Beer and Bon Iver are the Mucinex for my sadness and fear, so that’s what I do to cough it up. I drink and listen to music and push the bruises of our challenges to feel them more deeply every once in a great while. I’ll cry and talk to Brett about how things will feel when, say, Nella understands more about her limitations, and we give ourselves a good night to feel the hurt.

Thank God the best things happen when we’re awake and sober though, and when you strip away a sappy playlist and a few beers, you find the clarity of hope. I choose hope over fear. I like to think of hope as the place where realism and optimism meet, and that’s where we begin each and every day.

I hope my children feel loved and accepted and yet face enough challenges in life to broaden their perspectives and transform the weaker “I feel happy with life” to a more powerful “I feel fulfilled by life.” I hope they take care of one another. I hope they have opportunities to contribute and loved ones with which to celebrate and share.

I hope this girl knows how exotic and beautiful almond eyes are; how valuable her abilities, her love, her mere existence is; how full these past four years have been with her.

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As my sister wrote with the announcement of Nella’s birth:

It’s as though the stars were aligned and all was and is exactly as it should be. Perfect. When really, God could not feel any closer.

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Happy Birthday to our Nella.
We’ll eat cake tonight.