Thursday, November 27, 2008
This is a shot of Max when he was 9 months old. Yeah, I dressed him in a sailor suit. My mom (aka "Babba") fell in love with the hat. Whenever she visits, she STILL puts it on him.
I don't think this qualifies as child abuse, but I'm not sure.
After Max was born and we found out that he'd had a stroke, I was afraid to tell my mother. She is the world's biggest worrier, and what had happened to him was so catastrophic I thought she wouldn't be able to handle it. But she dealt, as we all did. She has long been Max's biggest fan/cheerleader. He adores her.
Today, he untied her shoelaces so she wouldn't leave.
We're lucky Babba lives pretty close. Here's an interesting piece I just read on grandparents who don't live near their grandkids and how they're into webcams.
What silly stuff does your mom (or mother-in-law) do with your kids?
Peace-on-earth sweet potato pie
I was enjoying a looong shower today (it's my birthday, that was my big request) and I heard that boppy song from A Charlie Brown Christmas on the shower radio—you know, the one where all the kids are doing a happy dance around the piano. That song always makes puts me in a good mood—you, too?
It was a beautiful day.
We had our first fire in the outdoor fireplace.
Max ate straight from the gravy dish—we had to let him!
Sabrina fed Max.
We ordered a bunch of side dishes from Whole Foods. My mother-in-law, her boyfriend, Phil, and his son, Jeremy, brought the turkey, the above good-looking (and tasting) sweet potato pie and mushroom stuffing. I basically had the stuffing for dinner. Sabrina loves turkey. Max is all about sweet-potato anything. When he was a baby, he ate so much of the Gerber pureed sweet potatoes that his skin turned a lovely shade of orange.
Hope everyone had a fab day, too. What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This is an AP photo of the Taj Hotel, a Mumbai landmark, burning. The news about the terrorism today has been horrifying and sickening; my thoughts and prayers are with the people there.
I'm glad my kids aren't ready to hear about things like this, and that I don't yet have to explain evils like terrorism to them. Back on 9/11, I remember thinking "I am so glad I don't have kids." I could just mourn without having to hide it.
Someday, obviously, I will have that "There are bad people in this world who do bad things" conversation. Actually, if I do have that talk with Max, it'll be good, in a way, because it would mean that he understands conceptual things like evil. Sigh.
In breaking news, Sabrina looked at my stomach tonight and pronounced, "It's round." Yep, got that message. Just in time for our annual Thanksgiving feast!
My stomach, never my most firm body part, hasn't recovered from my two c-sections. A few months ago, I read a survey in which 88 percent of 500 women polled said that even if they'd lost the baby weight, they were never able to reclaim their pre-baby stomach. In the same survey, 54 percent of women said they were "jealous" of celeb moms who instantly bounced back post-baby. Not all do; in celebland, it's called the "post-baby bump" and the ever-dogged paparazzi nailed poor Halle and Nicole shortly after they gave birth.
If I looked one-tenth as good as they did after I'd had a baby, I'd have nothing to bitch about. I've been trying to work more sit-ups into my life, though I don't beat myself up about it. It helps that Dave has a post-pregnancy bump, too (love you and your belly too, honey)! Give it up here: What's the state of your stomach?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Big excitement at our house. Max ate by himself for 15 minutes straight, the most ever! This is him downing couscous, which we have in abundance because Linnette (our babysitter) is addicted to it. Every year since Max was born, he always has some sort of breakthrough right around his birthday, which is coming up on December 10. At age one, he commando crawled (like Army soldiers do, because he didn't have the arm strength to get up on all fours). At two, he did get up on all fours and boy, did he get around. At three, he walked across his bedroom and into my arms. Four and five are a bit of a blur, because he made a lot of progress. And now, at six, he's feeding himself.
You may have noticed Sabrina's reaction to her brother's breakthrough (she's decked out in her ballet-recital costume from June). When I squealed "Yaaaaaaay! Max is eating!" she wailed "I'M HUNGRY!!!" Not caught on tape: the part where she said "MAX IS GOING TO EAT IT ALLLLLLLL UP!!! MOOOOMMMMMY, WE WON'T HAVE ANY FOR TOMORROW!!!!" FYI, she doesn't even like couscous. Fascinating, isn't it, how kids wear their emotions on their pink-sequined sleeves.
She gets jealous of all the attention we give to Max. We celebrate, with loud whoops and cheers, every little accomplishment. I totally understand where Sabrina is coming from; I was pretty jealous of my sister when we were kids. Mainly, because she was always such a good girl and, I thought, my mother's favorite. I wasn't a juvenile delinquent or anything, but me and my big mouth gave my parents a run for their money.
Just curious, what kind of sibling were you growing up—the good one? The funny one? The smart one? The troublemaker?
Monday, November 24, 2008
It hit me this weekend: I have to get gifts for Max's teachers, therapists and babysitters soon. And suddenly, I was dreading December. There are 463 people I need to do something for. OK, it just feels that way. I get a little overwhelmed because I am so deeply grateful to all of them. They do so, so much for Max, they're very much largely responsible for his progress, they're basically saints and Max and I couldn't get by without them.
Last year, plenty of people got the same thing, I'll admit. I cashed in American Express points for Barnes & Noble gift gards. I gave some people Am Ex Gift Cheques, essentially a form of money that come printed on gold paper and, note, are spelled "cheques." I also did the holiday candle thing. I know, I know, people just don't get much more creative than me. On that note, what do you guys do?
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Tonight, Dave and I went out and saw Changeling. I'm not a big Angelina Jolie fan but she was good in this film as a single mother whose little boy disappears. I cried. I always do. A few months ago, I went on a Netflix tearjerker bender and saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Gone Baby Gone and Away From Her. Five-tissue movies, every one of them. My all-time favorite sobfest is Terms of Endearment, especially that scene when Debra Winger says goodbye to her two kids. I'm not one to cry in real life (well, other than the first year after Max was born), but I am perfectly content to lose it at the movies.
Which movies get you all weepy?
Friday, November 21, 2008
Last night, I had a girls' night out with a group of friends from the neighborhood. We went for Italian and the chef made me my favorite dish, pasta with an evil salmon cream sauce. So worth the calories. When I came home, the babysitter told me that Sabrina, who's 3, informed her that she's going to be a doctor when she grows up, because she wants to give shots. Then Sabrina gave her an exam.
Sabrina's really into pretend play. Max is, too, to some extent. He loves to wear his fireman's coat and hat. Or push around cars on the floor and make them crash. He's not yet able to grasp more conceptual things like what it means to "grow up," but hopefully that will come.
It's hard to imagine what Max might "be" someday; I am so focused on his present and wanting him to speak more words and be able to feed himself. Looking into the future is scary. Inevitably, I think about the Quiznos guy. Dave and I once went there for a sandwich, and there was a mentally retarded man working behind the counter. As I watched him struggle to put together a turkey sub I wondered whether Max might end up with that sort of job. When I got back to the car, I sobbed at the thought of it.
So, I try not to think about the Quiznos guy, and keep my eyes on Max in the here and now. Like how adorable he is when we play choo-choo train around the house, or when he grabs the little rubber Mater truck he sleeps with (from his favorite movie, Cars) and "drives" it all over my body in the morning. He's got imagination, he's got personality, he's got smarts, he's got potential.
What hopes do you have for your children's future?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Before I had kids I'd do spa nights at home—bath, face scrub and mask, mani, pedi, the works. Tonight, I managed to find time to put on a mask and freaked out Max and Sabrina. "MOMMY!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?" Sabrina asked.
I've become so low-maintenance, it's scary. Typically in the morning I'll take 20 minutes to shower, get dressed, show my hair some love (it's naturally curly, so I just slick in Be Curly and let it air dry) and put on makeup (powder, mascara, blush, lipstick). Minus two minutes if Sabrina ropes me into deciding which Princess underwear to wear—Jasmine? Cinderella? Belle? Ariel?—and minus two more minutes if Max wants a drink of water (I have to hold the cup for him, he has trouble gripping it). At night, I spend about 5 minutes washing my face, tweezing elusive brow hairs and putting on moisturizer.
What's your beauty routine like? What kind of pampering do you crave? I'd like a pro facial, please! And a hot-stone massage. And to lie on the couch while Dave feeds me grapes, one by one, and the kids clean up all their toys. But that's just crazy talk.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
First off, thanks to everyone for the great feedback on yesterday's post about toys. I went ahead and created a list of good toy sites, let me know if you have ones to add!
Now, on to today's group therapy session. Max is typically an angelic kid. But once in a while, he hits. Like tonight, when we were sitting in bed reading books and he smacked Sabrina in the face because she wouldn't move over. I said "No hitting, Max! Do you want a time out?" He nodded yes.
Whenever this happens, I am just not convinced Max understands me. Dave, however, firmly believes that he does—which would mean Max is being a wise-ass when he says "yes" to a time out. Hard to imagine where he'd get that from, I know.
I always feel so badly enforcing time outs, although I know full well he needs those boundaries/consequences, just as every child does. I guess I feel that Max has already gone through so much trauma in his life, he doesn't need added misery. These are the illogical thoughts you struggle with when you have a disabled kid.
I think Max hits as a means of expression, because he cannot speak. Sabrina is fully able to say things to me such as "YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!!!" and "I DON'T THINK THAT'S A GOOD IDEA!!!" and "MOMMY!!! I. TOLD. YOU. TO. LET. ME. WATCH. THE. PRINCESS. VIDEO. SOME. MORE." Stuff that she'll get a talking-to for sounding so disrespectful. But Max, who doesn't yet have the words to say such things, can't let off steam that way. So he acts out the only way he can, by hitting.
Which discipline issues perplex you?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The scene of the crime. The crime: Buying our kids too many damn toys!
With the holidays coming, and Max's birthday next month, and the fact that I just wasted a half hour of my life matching up scattered Polly Pocket pieces (a phenomenon known as COCD—Cleanup Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), I have toys on the brain. Like most kids, mine have way too many. I think this is because, in part, the minute a therapist recommends something to us, we rush to buy it. We overcompensate, as if getting Max therapeutic and educational toys will make his brain all better.
So, of course, I asked his therapists which toys they think he'd enjoy, and they had some great suggestions.
The Aquadoodle Wall Mat: Good for hand-eye coordination and getting kids to lift their arms. Maybe I should get Max into modeling, he's just as cute as this kid. Could be helpful for supporting my toy-shopping habit.
Parents My First Remote Control Car: For fine-motor control. Rumor has it that it's one of Max's favorite toys at school.
Hullabaloo: It encourages communication and teaches colors, shapes and words.
Catch N Stick Mitts: Good for coordination and strength training. Hey, Sabrina's even cuter than this little girl! She could be a child model, too!
A shout out to Therapro's Whistle Kit, which we recently got. It's a bag of whistles of all shapes and sizes to inspire blowing (breath control is critical for speech). It's just plain cool for any kid and is a good deal, to boot.
So, let's just ignore materialism and the economy and obsess about what we're getting our kids for the holidays. What's on your list?
Monday, November 17, 2008
I was talking with my friend Brooke the other day about minivans. Last month, Dave and I bit the suburban bullet and bought a Toyota Sienna. Brooke told me that when she and her husband went to pick up their Honda Odyssey, she burst into tears at the dealership because she felt she was passing into the land of the uncool. I felt the same pang of despair when we got ours—you can't get a much uncooler car than a minivan. It's roomy, it's convenient, it goes BEEEEP! BEEEEP! BEEEEP! if you're about to bump into something when you're parking, but it's undeniably uncool.
Here are some other uncool things about me:
• My idea of Zen is organizing things.
• I own a pair of Bass Weejuns I've had since college. And I still wear them on weekends.
• When Sabrina talk-whines, I'll talk-whine back at her just so she can see how annoying it is.
• I still think Tom Cruise is hot. (Note, Dave does not have a problem with this. I'm not sure how Katie Holmes feels, though.)
• I raid the kids' snacks at night.
• I have checks with pastel-colored pictures on them.
• I've used Wite-Out to touch up stuff around the house.
It's all shocking, I know. Your turn: What's uncool about you?
Friday, November 14, 2008
I just got an e-mail from the Assistant Director/Principal at Max's absolutely amazing school, PG Chambers. They are doing a series of guest lectures called Menus For The Mind as a fundraiser; Jenny McCarthy is going to be speaking in May. Yesterday's speaker was Arianna Huffington, the genius behind my (and many people's) favorite news site, huffingtonpost.com. Check out the video above! Max is in the striped green/blue shirt, pushing a red ball around during a PT session and looking like his usual happy-camper self. And he closes the video, too.
Here's the article on the visit:
And here's what the principal had to say about the visit—how could I not brag?
"Max was having a great PT session with Janel and he totally enthralled the group. So much they wouldn’t leave the mini gym! He certainly knows how to play the camera."
Max has been charming people since he was a baby. It's one of his many talents.
Can you just feel my pride radiating from the screen?!
No, this is not another sex post (although the last one seemed to get a good response, he, he).
I was at a work event the other day, chatting with a woman I'd just met. She had two kids, one 5 (Max's age) and the other 8 months. "How old are yours?" she asked. I told her. She asked if Max was in kindergarten. That's not what his class at his special-needs school is called, but I just said yes. And then I hoped she wouldn't start talking about five-year-old stuff. I mean, I can compare notes on some things kids this age are usually into (Max's love of the movie Cars, for example) but there's only so long I can carry on a conversation before I have nothing in return to say about Max because he's just not doing the stuff the other kid is.
These are the times when I feel like I'm faking being a "typical" parent who's dealing with "typical" kid things. Anyone else know what I mean?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Max likes cars, fire trucks, planes, trains, buses and basically anything that goes.
Sabrina likes princesses, pink, princesses, princesses, princesses, princesses (did I mention princesses)?
How exactly did this happen? I didn't encourage them. Yes, Max has toy cars and stuff, but since he was a baby he'd screech in delight when a truck passed us on the road or a plane flew overhead. And I tried so hard to avoid Cinderella-itis. But suddenly, at 3&1/2 or so, Sabrina started talking about princess this and that and insisting on wearing pink every day ("BLUE is for boys," she informed me the other week.) My husband and I jokingly call her Sabrinarella behind her back.
I'll admit to being psyched that in some ways, Max is a typical little boy. But the princess stuff bugs me, especially because there are no cool princesses. It all seems so retro and narrow-minded, though I am not worried Sabrina will one day head off to college dressed in a dippy pink taffeta gown and carrying a wand.
Are your kids the same way? And how do you feel about that?
Posted by Ellen at 5:26 AM
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
When I was in my mid-twenties, I read an essay in the New York Times Magazine called "Sex Is The New Sleep." The writer was a mom, and in it she cheerfully confessed that she was more excited by the prospect of getting shuteye than by the prospect of getting off. I thought it was an amusing, if slightly pathetic, article. Only some days now, I know exactly what she means. The National Sleep Foundation's 2008 Sleep in America poll basically blamed long workdays for sex apathy. I'm not convinced it's work—I think it's everything we parents juggle. Two kids in your bed sure doesn't help!
BTW, thanks for all the helpful comments. Sarah H, thrilled to have you here! Sarah B, you are right about how key exercise is, I only wish typing burned more calories! And Shannon, I am with you on the coffee, this post has been brought to you courtesy of a Frappuccino. Now, you guys game to share about this?
Max has a thing for women with long, flowy hair, like Amy Adams in Enchanted. It started with his music-therapy teacher, Joanne, who looks and sings like your average Disney princess. Sabrina kind of feels threatened by her. When Joanne showed up to the house recently with her usual-ponytailed hair down, waist-length and gloriously blond, Sabrina got visibly upset and when Joanne asked why Sabrina said, "I'M the only princess around here."
I hope, I hope that someday Max will live happily ever after with someone. Granted, who he shacks up with is not at the top of my list of concerns, given that he's five years old. But it's one of the things I think about when I let my mind ramble all over Worryland. Dave doesn't go there. He keeps me settled here on Planet Reality, where we have a beautiful five-year-old boy who loves life and who needs my unworried attention.
When you have a bad case of the worries, what calms you?
Monday, November 10, 2008
On the Good Mom scale, I’d usually give myself an 8. But sometimes, I slip way down. Take the fact that Max got a communication device in August, a Dynavox, and Dave and I have still not really figured out how to use it. This is what it looks like, Max's version has fewer windows:
Basically, you press the picture, a word comes out. The voice is pretty robotic and sometimes sounds all wrong (for example, “milk” comes out as “meeeeelk,” as if the machine is trying to teach Max to sound like a Russian peasant, not on our list of goals). We also tried the Tango, a breakthrough communication device that blew my mind. Max's therapists wanted to go with the above but the Tango's the next device he'll get. What I especially loved about the Tango is that they use real kids' voices, and not one sounded like a Russian peasant.
I am not completely techphobic (hi, blog!), but when I went to the training session at school for the Dynavox I was overwhelmed. Dave, who works in the computer field, spent hours trying to figure the thing out and was similarly foiled. Now he’s supposed to meet with Max’s speech therapist for a private tutorial, but he hasn’t gotten around to making the appointment. HI, HONEY!
Monday Morning Confessional is going to be a regular thing. Join the guiltfest! Get juicy details about how suck-y other people think they are! What's eating away at you today? Eees a goot ting toooo share (my best Russian-peasant-Dynavox imitation).
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Me: What do you want to tell everyone about Max?
Sabrina: Uhhhh....I want to say silly to Max.
Me: What does that mean?
Sabrina: That he's silly.
Me: What else do you want to say about Max?
Sabrina: Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Me: C'mon, say something about Max! Is he your brother?
Me: Is he fun to play with?
Sabrina: Uh....I want to see my picture again.
Me: OK, here it is.
Sabrina: What I gonna say?
Me: How old is Max?
Sabrina: He's five.
Me: And what does Max like to play with?
Sabrina: His trucks. And he likes to play with his cars. And his trucks. And his firetrucks. And he likes to watch TV. And he likes to eat. And he loves to...to...to....take a bath. It's what he likes all to do.
Me: Does he share his toys with you?
Me: Do you share your toys with him?
Me: Do you really share your toys with him? Tell the truth!
Sabrina: I don't know tell the truth! I want to say Spanish. Can I say Spanish on the computer?
Sabrina: Uno, dos, tres, quattro, cinco, seis, ocho, diez!
Me: Say goodbye to everybody!
Sabrina: Bye, everybody! Love you!
Friday, November 7, 2008
I have discovered the secret to staying calm: hang out with someone who is losing it. This dawned on me when I watched a person literally curse out a computer. Suddenly, I felt amazingly composed and relaxed even though I'd been having a Bad Day.
This is not how things typically go when I'm with my husband, Dave, who is exceptionally calm (except for the one time he got all agitated when I had a kidney stone pass while we were at a deli—it kind of feels like childbirth, but worse—and I made him leave for the hospital before he'd gotten his pastrami sandwich and he asked, as I was standing there gasping in pain and turning bright red, if we could at least get it to go, not that I hold a grudge, you know). When I get overexcited about something, Dave remains exceptionally calm, which gets me over-overexcited.
Some other stuff that keeps me sane: playing hide-and-go-seek with the kids (they are so amused by this game each and every time that it is impossible to not be amused, too); reading The Onion; going out for coffee and carrot cake with Dave; actually calling friends instead of e-mailing; watching practically anything on HGTV (except Simply Quilts); blogging (hi, blog!); looking through old photos of the kids; going for a walk-trot around our neighborhood; methodically rubbing out stains on my clothing with a Tide To Go stick, very Zen.
What works for you?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
To the wise nothingbuteverything and the anonymous poster who advised me to take the initiative with playdates for Max, in response to yesterday's post about Max's minimalist social life: You are so right! Thanks to everyone for the encouraging comments, it's nice to know people are reading this thing.
Tonight, I was supposed to take Sabrina to the dentist, only I missed the train that would have gotten me home in time. When I called to tell Sabrina we weren't going to the dentist, I figured she'd be psyched. "BUT MOOOOOOOMMMMMY," she said, sounding like I had just told her I was giving all her toys away to the neighbors, "YOU SAAAAID WE WERE GOOOOOOING TO THE DENTIST." I couldn't believe it—she minded not going to the dentist? What is wrong with these kids, anyway? When I got home, I jokingly called her a little drama queen. "No, Mommy," she said, pouting. "I'm a PRINCESS."
Man, the stuff that comes out of her mouth. At my worst moments, I sit around wondering what Max would have sounded like if he were able to talk like other five-year-olds can. The fact that Max can say any words is a miracle, since part of his brain damage is in the area that controls speech. A couple of years ago, his neurologist told us that he thought Max was bright enough to talk. He has major physiological challenges—his brain's not sending the right signals to his tongue, and then his poor, little, stressed-out tongue already has its own issues (he can't manipulate it quite right). The neurologist told us that when Max spoke he'd sound like a deaf person talking and sure enough, that's how he sounds, just maybe just a little less clear. Like Marlee Matlin. Drunk.
Anyway, for the record, here are his words: Max, me, Ma, Daddy, Linnette, Aunt Judy, no (this he can say really clearly, of course!), yes, more (especially when chocolate pudding is involved), Lightning McQueen (sounds like "highening ickean!"), truck, airplane, egg, ice cream, rain, beach house, and, oh, yes, jeans.
What has your child done lately that's amazed you?
To leave a comment, just click on "comments" right below this...for all you blog newbies. Hi, Mom!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
It's Sabrina, of course. Like any bff's, they giggle together, sometimes have it out with each other and can usually be found hanging at the local bar. (Kidding! They never fight. Right.) Sabrina's very protective of him. She speaks to Max in this sing-songy voice when he's agitated (it sounds like "Maaaaa-aaaaaax"), strokes his hair with her chubby little hand when he's hurt and proudly announces when he comes to her school, "That's my brother!" She's two years younger than he is and yet, because of his disabilities, she's more like his big sister.
Max doesn't have the biggest social life; he visits with my friends' kids and there's this great special-needs "kids' camp" he goes to on Sunday mornings, but I haven't gone out of my way to make playdates with kids who have cerebral palsy or other disabilities. This leaves me feeling guilty, and I keep meaning to make plans with kids in Max's class (he's at a school for the disabled). Then somehow, I never do. Maybe it's denial. While I like having Max around normally-developing kids, I also think it would be good for him to be with kids more like himself. I need to get going on that. Sabrina will understand.
Word of the day: O-BA-MA!
Monday, November 3, 2008
"THWACK!" That's the sound Max's hand makes when he flails an arm in his sleep and hits my face in the middle of the night. All four of us are in one bed. One queen bed.
"AARGH!" That's the sound I usually make. "Hon, he didn't mean it," Dave will mumble, sleepily. Just once, I'd like Max to whack Dave (I'm quite sure Dave would say "AARGH!" too), but for some reason it's always me Max gets.
My two kids have been in our bed, on and off, since they were born. It started when we brought Max home from the hospital after two weeks in the NICU. He'd had seizures on the second day of his life, how doctors knew something was up, and I was scared to let him sleep by himself. What if the seizures returned? I still remember lying in the darkness, one hand covering his little body to make sure there were no weird twitches or movements.
I know it's time to kick the kids out of bed (old Ferber is turning over in his grave as I type this, I'm sure). I'm just weak. WEAK. I'm not up for the nights of wailing that will ensue if we put them to sleep in their rooms. (BTW, they willingly go to sleep in their own beds for the babysitter; they sweetly do it for my mom and sister, Judy; they would go to sleep in their own beds for anyone who walked in off the street and did it. They just won't do it for us.)
So, that's how sleeping goes at our house. How about at yours?