Most importantly, we made it to Texas safely without leaving behind anything valuable (the only thing dad found was one of the little plastic doohickies from the top of a sippy cup in the garbage disposal).
But let's get back to Little Fire Big Heart - because even though it's been two whole months since the event, I can't wait to recap it and let everyone know (the 5 people who read my blog anyway...hey mom! dad!) how it impacted my life.
I've talked about the reasons why I wanted to plan LFBH - the awareness factor for craniofacial conditions and organizations like CCA, the ability to immerse myself in something other than doctors appointments, therapy visits and the everyday worries of having a child with "special needs", etc. - but I had no idea just how much I was going to get out of this experience once it was over.
When I think about all of the planning, time and energy that went into planning this event and just how many people came together to donate their own time, energy, services and support I am completely blown away. Let me tell you, it was no easy fete. I began planning the idea with the urging of one of my college friends (thank you Anna!) who has a heart of gold and always has a million things on her plate (Junior League Cincy, volunteering and taking up cake design to name a few). Then I asked a few of my nearest and dearest to jump on the crazy train and be my co-captains in this ride. Even though each one of them had their own busy lives to tend to, they jumped at the chance to help out. I am thankful to each one of you who offered your ideas and time (however little or much you could): Dad, Lauren, April, Audrey, Anna, Jennifer, Ricky :)
I made a detailed list of people and places to contact, venues to consider and a rough estimate of anticipated costs. That in and of itself was overwhelming. It was hard to make heads or tails of it all but eventually I had to turn the brainstorming into actual decision-making. I chose the venue, Mellwood Art Center in Louisville, because it offered an opportunity to simply pay a room fee while having the flexibility to bring in any food and beverage vendors I chose (no exclusive catering companies or food limits). This made sense in the grand scheme of things as I was hoping to have all of the food and beverages donated to keep costs low.
In the end, I was able to get all of the above donated...however what I didn't take into consideration were all of the other things that also had to be provided that normally would be included in a more "full-service" event facility. Tables and chairs came with the room at Mellwood. And that. was. it. To put into perspective just how much was left to plan for (and just how many thank-you notes that need writing), here is a list of things normally provided by other venues that I had to get:
1. Table linens
3. Dinner plates, dessert plates, glassware
4. Forks and knives
5. Salt and pepper
6. Salt and pepper shakers
7. Appetizer serving platters
9. Tables to use for the auction
10. A bar station
11. Water pitchers
12. Room decorations
13. Kitchen supplies
14. Table numbers
And that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the entire list of items needed to pull off the event from beginning to end. Let's just say I started early and asked nicely. To my surprise getting people to donate things was not nearly as hard as it could have been. I immediately found out just how many good people there are in this world. (And I also decided that it might be worth the extra money to have it somewhere else next time around!)
I had family, friends, acquaintences and in some cases, complete strangers who called, emailed or texted asking how they could help. It felt amazing to have so many people care - so many people support me in my efforts to raise awareness for conditions like Aiden's.
Finally, the big day came. It had all the anticipation of a bride's wedding day. Up and at 'em early to prepare for the night. Everyone kept asking me if I was nervous, but I wasn't. I just knew it was all going to come together.
And it did. Beautifully.
What set it off was a shopping trip. When Ricky came home from work last week I must have had that glazed over "I want to change my name to anything but mommy" look on my face. My amazing man handed me the car keys and said "Go. Get out of the house for a bit. Go shopping."
Uhhhhhh....gee....okay! (Isn't he great) :)
So I headed to my favorite place. TJ Maxx.
As I was aimlessly browsing, I made my way to the kids section where I bumped in to a mom and daughter who were giddily sorting through the clearance section looking for the perfect outfits for the girl's kids.
"Oooohhh - this one is cute. So-and-so would look adorable in this."
"Well what about this one? Do you like this?"
"I just bought that the other day to put away for her birthday"
I was totally caught off guard by the feeling that overcame me at that moment. I so wished I were shopping with my mom, picking out things for the boys and getting her opinion on which pair of shoes or what color shirt to get. I wanted to be discussing with my sister about what was in our baskets, how much it all cost, rationalizing why these were SUCH good deals and we just HAD to buy it and how to spin it for our husbands to soften the blow...then putting half the things back on our way up to the register as guilt overcame us. I teared up for a split second. Then realized how silly I'd look if I became a sobbing mess in the middle of the store so I bit my lip and abandoned my basket full of impulse buys mid-aisle and left.
I called my mom when I got in my car. She was out shopping with my sister.
And so I admit, I miss home. I miss being able to hop in the car to "meet halfway" between Louisville and NKY for lunch with the kids on a moment's notice. I miss being included in plans simply because they are deemed not significant enough to invite someone who lives thousands of miles away. I miss knowing that if I need my family, rather than a gas-tank and a day-trip, it would take a huge chunk out of their wallet and some major schedule rearranging to make a visit happen.
At the same time I am so completely happy here. I'm so proud of the chance that my family took to create something all our own and do something that put us out of our comfort zone. I'm so impressed with how well Ricky has taken to his new role at work. Overall, this transition has been more smooth than we could've imagined.
But I had to know that it was only a matter of time before the homesickness set in. So yes, mom, dad, I do miss being closer to home. But it makes your impending arrival for a week-long visit that much more exciting. And the thought of making the trek home for the holidays feels a little "Hallmark television special". And most importantly, I've made some wonderful friends in the few short weeks that we've been here which has me hopeful for what is to come for us here in Texas. And I really feel that there are many good things to come.
Having my mom and dad visit for Thanksgiving, then my sister coming the week after...then coming back from our holiday visit to await my cousin Angie and her husband and then my bestie Audrey's arrival in January...these visits are perfect timing. I'm one who is affected by the lack of sunshine in the winter months. So having my family and friends coming to town will, in a way, bring a little sunshine when I need it the most.
Given the fact that my kids are still completely obsessed with Toy Story, it wouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to figure out that they were going to choose to be Buzz Lightyear and Woody for Halloween this year.
If I do say so myself these just may be THE cutest space ranger and cowboy to infinity and beyond! For more pics, click here.