Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Heard it Through the Grapevine.....

Anne is 9!

Believe it or not (and I find it hard to believe, personally) our sweet Annie turned 9 yesterday and what a celebration we had! Our "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Party was just perfect for her birthday.  If you don't know Annie, let me introduce you to an amazing little girl - Annie was born April 9, 2003, after a normal pregnancy. This time 9 years ago, we were wondering what the future held for her since she was born with a somewhat rare syndome, called Caudal Regression Sydrome. No need for great details here, but, if you are familiar with Spina Bifida, the presentation is similar. Annie spent the first 2 months of her life at The Children's Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham. Much of that time, she was dependent on a ventilator. After a very serious spinal cord surgery, she came home with a trach and on oxygen. By the time she was 14 months old, she was rid of all of that and hasn't had a respiratory problem since. She has had several orthopedic surgeries in her early years. Now, she is medically fine. Cognitively, she is not at her age level by any means. She does not speak words but can communicate in her own way. One of her strongest methods of communication is in her expression - she laughs alot and gets very excited about things she likes such as Chick Fil A, chips, and other things, depending on the day. You know, that's how girls are - always changing their mind! She is working on communication with her own Ipad, and takes a few steps independently with canes! We are so thankful for her progress, for her school, Sprayberry Education Center, and for her Circle of Friends group at Valley View Baptist Church! As Barry and I talked about yesterday, we wouldn't trade her for anything in the world!
Let's get this party started!!

The invitation -  here is how we came up with the the theme. Annie loves music and although she has no words, she has tunes - she chooses a sound (like B or E) and "sings" it to a tune! One day her tune sounded like the background to "Heard It Through the Grapevine" and thus the party idea was born!
Tip: If you are planning a party at school, be sure to check the school calendar! We were out of school for a weather day and I didn't know, so, we had the party at home yesterday and celebrated with her classmates today!

With the California Raisins singing in the background on CD, we served
 Pimento Cheese Spread, Grape Punch, Chicken
Salad on Croissants, Grape Salad, BBQ Chips, Granny's Cheesestraws (made by my Mother) and  "Grape" Themed Cupcakes by Sweet Treats Bakery
See Recipes Below

Annie with Friends and Family

When Annie came through these doors 9 years ago, we didn't have any idea of what was in store for her! But, look at her now! Seeing her standing tall with that big smile on her face, knowing that she inspires us tells me how blessed we are!

Happy 9th Birthday, Annie!

Pimento Cheese Spread

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 C. shredded cheddar
1 C. mozzarella
1 C. parmesan romano blend
1 C. mayonnaise
1 small jar pimentos, drained
1 T. minced onion
2 t. garlic powder
Black pepper, to taste

Mix ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serve with your choice of crackers. I used Triscuits and Club crackers.

Grape Punch

4 cups red grape juice, chilled
4 cups, white grape juice, chilled
2 liters lemon-lime soda

Pour all ingredients into punch bowl just before serving. Serve cold or over ice. Pretty purple color!

Chicken Salad

3 C. diced cooked chicken
1/2 C. Craisins
1/2 C. chopped celery
1 T. minced onion
1/4 C. chopped pecans
6 T. mayonnaise, more or less depending on preference
2 t. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve with crackers or on bread of choice. I used croissants.

Grape Salad
(Aunt Maude's Great Grape Salad from "When the Dinner Bell Rings at the Governor's Mansion" by former Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley) - Great cookbook!

2 1/2 lbs. red seedless grapes
2 1/2 lbs. white seedless grapes
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 c. white sugar
1 8 oz. sour cream
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. brown sugar

Wash, dry and drain grapes on paper towel. Make cream mixture (cream cheese, white sugar and sour cream) and set aside. Layer grapes and cream mixture alternately, ending with cream mixture. Sprinkle with brown sugar and chopped pecans. Chill before serving.

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