Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

The purple love just keeps on coming



Welcome to the purple newscast, coming live to you from a place where it's all purple, all the time.

Alert reader Laura from Jonathan, Our 25 Week Miracle recently drove by this house and made her husband turn their car around so she could snap a photo. Max has been clinging to a bedraggled printout (he's sleeping with it as I write this) and keeps asking to paint our house purple. Let me just say, a gay couple in our hood painted their house pink and people around here still haven't recovered. Today, alert sister Sabrina noticed a house with a purple door and purple trim, so perhaps Max's purple-house craving will be satisfied with a drive-by.

I've finally accepted my purple reality and added the word "purple" to the blog description on this page.

In other news, a woman who makes the most adorable baby stuff, hats, purses and jewelry, Deborah of Voodoo Kitten, offered to make Max a purple bib. How could I refuse?

Countless people have e-mailed to say how much they or their kids also love the color purple. Or how when they see cool purple stuff now, they think of Max. Gina from Inky Ed sent a link to purple wristbands; some kids she knows use them to wipe away drool. Trust me, if Max really thought about it he'd ask how he could make his drool "ur-ul" too.



Tonight, Janis from Sneak Peek sent a tweet that said, "We are watching Harold & the Purple crayon. I thought of Max. :)" along with the cutest picture of Austin coloring with a purple crayon.

This is all so cool. And might I also mention that purple is the color of the pediatric stroke awareness ribbon.

I guess it's a good time to reveal that my favorite color is green. Hunter green, kelly green, lime green, whatever green. I've never been a purple person. But I'm beginning to wonder whether all of this purpleosity means something. I'll defer to a fascinating comment from Lisi on last week's post about Max's one-track (purple) mind:, which is obviously becoming my one-track mind as well:

"I had a kind of creative idea I wanted to share. They say (although I have never seen it myself, I totally believe) that each of us has a color around us, an aura, that changes over time. Perhaps Max has seen this color around someone (like his mom) and loves it!!! I did a little reading about purple aura (which you can totally do on so many sites) and it seems to be associate with healing and spiritual health, among many other wonderful things. I just thought it was so sweet, I wanted to put it out there!"

Coming next week: Max sees his purple Converse sneaks for the first time. Aka, the squeal heard 'round the world.

Signing off now and once again wishing you a purpletastic weekend. Oh, and you have to swing by on Monday when I am giving away a beautiful $655 handbag (brown with pink trim, nobody tell Max).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The death of Dee Spears: Could Botox injections hurt your child?



This morning, I called the doctor who gives Max Botox injections and left a voicemail about scheduling an appointment; his occupational therapist at school says she thinks his thumbs are getting much tighter. The Botox injections Max has gotten over the years have really helped loosen up his tightness and made it easier for him to pick up and grasp things.

This afternoon I found out about little Dee Spears, whose mother is suing the makers of Botox for causing her death. Dee, a 7-year-old with cerebral palsy from Potters County, Texas, had been getting injections in her legs to alleviate muscle spasms. Evidently, she started having issues with breathing and swallowing afterward. She died in 2007 from respiratory failure and pneumonia. Her mother is saying an overdose of Botox caused her death; Allergan, the company that makes Botox, is blaming a bacterial issue unrelated to Botox. The case is being tried in court now.

My heart aches for this mother, whose grief must surely be laced with so much anger, perhaps even guilt. Botox was supposed to improve her child's life; instead, it might have killed her.

If you're a mom of a kid with special needs you know just what it's like to want to do something, anything, to help your child, enable him function, allow him to live a life less challenged.

Have you tried, or considered, Botox for your child?

The Runaway Moms Club: Are you in?



Yesterday, I went to a lunch sponsored by a local group for moms of kids with special needs. It was in a tea place, and we downed tuna wraps and did beading and hogged the pale-blue glass beads (OK, that was just me). I had no idea I had the capacity to sit still for a half hour and string beads together to make a bracelet but evidently, I do. That's my hand, second from right, and I was psyched about the photo angle because my wrist is so svelte. Even without an x-ray photo. It felt great, as always, to connect with moms who get what life is like when you're raising a kid with special needs.

The other mom group I belong to is Mothers and More, a national organization with local chapters. I go to a couple meetings a year but I am on the e-loop all the time, trading info with other moms on everything from new restaurants to plumbers who won't rip you off. It's an incredible resource, although when Max was little, I sometimes found it disconcerting. Once, there was this flurry of e-mails about baby yoga, and it made me painfully aware that I was dealing with a whole other kind of motherhood, one filled with therapists and major doctor appointments and major worry. Baby yoga? I just wanted Max to be able to move his limbs OK, period.

For years now, I've done a monthly Girls' Night Out with moms from the 'hood. We eat, drink, talk about the kids, dance on the tables, get stalked by paparazzi, you know. And then, of course, I have my bff's (hi Hedy! Hi Wendy! Hi Paola!) but they're not that nearby and it's rare to have alone time with them.

The mom group I am thinking of forming is Runaway Moms. We will meet on a Sunday night at the airport and run away to Tahiti. Then we can just Tweet our families and tell them that we are safe and tan.

You guys are, of course, my ultimate mom posse. I'm sure you feel the same about moms you've met in cyberspace. But which moms do you hang with when you're not glued to your computer?

And, wanna run away to Tahiti?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And the winners of the Amy's foods gift bags are...



Congrats to SocialStudiesSoubrette, Michelle and Tegan, and happy slurping! And thanks again to Amy's for the nice giveaway.

Caution: Parenting may be hazardous to your brain



The scene: Cold Stone Creamery. It was on the warm side today, and the kids were craving ice-cream. I like taking them here because this stuff doesn't tempt me; Haagen-Dazs is my poison.

The kids point out what they want. "Oooh, pink!" says Sabrina. "Ur-ul!" says Max [translation: purple].

Me to ice-cream counter guy: "They'll have one scoop of purple and one scoop of pink."

He stares at me quizzically.

Me: "You know, the purple [I point] and the pink [I point]."

Ice-cream guy: "You mean the blueberry frozen yogurt and the watermelon sorbet?"

Me, sheepishly: "Um, yeah."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nothing wrong with a little store therapy



I brought down the house at Toys 'R Us tonight. Well, the customer service department, anyway. I had to exchange a camera I'd gotten Sabrina for her birthday, because it's pink and as of this minute she's into blue and, yes, catering to the kids' color obsessions has become my new occupation.

I forgot to bring the receipt and credit card I'd bought the camera with, of course. "If I tell you the card numbers, will that work?" I asked the store manager. He nodded, and I reeled off the 16 numbers from memory. He and the other person behind the desk cracked up. "How'd you remember that?" he asked.

I don't have a shopping problem. No, really, I don't. I'm a mini shopper—I mostly buy small things here and there. A lip balm, a wicker basket to hold papers, a purple t-shirt for Max (unlike Dave's shopping expeditions, when he comes home with some new tech toy, a moped or some green vitamin drink that he thinks is going to make him instantly healthy). Sure, I love a trip to a museum or photo gallery, but visiting Target at 9 at night is inspiring in its own way. Half the time, I don't even get anything. I'm probably Tarjay's worst nightmare. Perhaps my face is on a poster in the store's back office. "Strange woman alert—fondles votive holders but doesn't buy," the sign might say.

After Max was born, CVS was part of my therapy. I'd leave Max with Dave, drive there and stroll around, soothed by the neat rows of products—proof that there was still order in the world. I found the bright, sunny baby goods especially reassuring: Max had a stroke and was at risk for terrifying things, but he could have that sweet, intoxicating Johnson's Baby Shampoo smell just like any other baby in the world. He could still have that silky soft Baby Magic skin.

Shallow indulgence? Pathetic escape? I'll take it. When you've got worries on your mind, it's good to get away.

Photo by arfblat

Monday, January 25, 2010

Photo break: Feeling chilly?



I should have titled this "I am procrastinating getting my work done" but figured "Photo break" was maybe a little more enticing. I love photography, if you couldn't already tell by all the pictures I take of the kids. In the name of giving props to amazing images, in the name of making our days a little more enjoyable, and in the name of procrastination, I'm going to start putting up cool photos on occasion.

Don't you just love the expression on the molting penguin's face?!

Photo by Frank Hurley, taken during the first Australian Antartic expedition, 1911-1914. From the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Cleaning confessions—plus, win a $50 Seventh Generation Deluxe Kit



A few years ago, I was working on a magazine article with Lori Bongiorno, author of Green, Greener, Greenest. She asked if I was using natural cleaning products at home and when I said no, Lori told me I should, for the kids' sake. "They're on the ground all the time, getting close to residues from whatever cleaners you use and breathing them in," she said.

Sold.

My go-to brand is Seventh Generation, which is all about nontoxic household products. They do the job and smell nice and fresh, unlike some of that foul stuff that reminds you of your high school hallway after the janitor mopped it down. Green cleaners get a bad rap for not working as well as their chemical-y counterparts, and maybe that was true years ago, but Seventh Generation's versions are great. And, yes, I inhale.

Meghan, a Nice Person who works there, recently sent me a bunch of Seventh Generation items to check out including paper products, auto dishwasher pacs, laundry detergent and garbage bags. Dave was like, "Wow, now you better clean! Ha ha ha!" and I felt like clonking him with a (recycled) bottle. The dishwasher pacs and laundry detergent smell a lot better than chemical-laden crap I've used, and clean like they need to clean. The recycled paper products are good quality; I felt less guilty going through our usual wads of paper towels, since no trees died to make them. The garbage bags—made from recycled plastic—are fine for everyday use, but may not be strong enough for heavy-duty jobs like, you know, party cleanup or dragging a dead body out of your home.

Word up: Seventh Generation is sponsoring a Million Baby Crawl to demand that Congress impose more safety testing on chemicals on the market. You can show your support by becoming a crawler.

Want to go on a cleaning streak? OK, then. I have two Seventh Generation Deluxe Healthy Home Starter kits to give away, each worth approximately $50. You get: • 1 bottle Natural Dish Liquid in Lavender, Floral & Mint • 1 bottle Natural Laundry Detergent in Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender • 1 box Natural Fabric Softener Sheets in Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender • 1 bottle Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner in Ruby Grapefruit & Herb • 1 bottle Natural All-Purpose Cleaner in Green Mandarin & Leaf • 1 bottle Natural Kitchen Cleaner in Wild Orange and Cedar Spice • 1 bottle Natural Shower Cleaner in Green Mandarin & Leaf • 1 bottle Toilet Bowl Cleaner in Emerald Cypress & Fir • 1 bottle Tub & Tile Cleaner in Emerald Cypress & Fir • 1 box Auto Dish Pacs in Lemon • 1 bottle Rinse Aid, Free & Clear • 1 box Trash Bags • 1 box Seventh Generation Recycled Bags. • 1 roll Natural Paper Towels • One Facial Tissues Cube • 1 4-Pack Bath Tissue.

I would recommend not telling your husband if you win so you don't have to deal with obnoxious comments about cleaning. Or, hey, tell your husband that you won it for him.

To enter, just leave a cleaning confession—something funny about the way you clean, or the way you DON'T clean. No worries, your secrets are safe here. I'll 'fess up first, to get things going:
• Sometimes I forget to change the sheets on the kids beds. I once left Sabrina's for like a month or something. Interestingly, nothing happened to her as a result. At least nothing that I can see.
• Once, I was rushing to get ready for some guests and I was talking on the phone and simultaneously trying to mop down the floor and give Sabrina a drink. I poured apple juice into the cleaning bucket, added water, and started mopping down the floor with it. You can imagine how this would make a floor feel. I do not recommend cleaning with apple juice.

BONUS entries: After you leave your main comment/confession, you can leave a separate comment for each of the following that you have done.
Visit the Million Baby Crawl website and leave a comment mentioning one thing you learned.
Follow LoveThatMax on Twitter.
Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with your Tweet time stamp (translation for Twitter newbies: click on the time below the Tweet, which shows you the URL). You can use this Tweet: Win a $50 bag of Seventh Generation cleaning products from @LoveThatMax, two winners, ends 2/1, http://lovethatmax.blogspot.com
Subscribe to the To The Max feed; you can do that here, or another way, and leave a comment saying how you subscribed.
• Become a Facebook fan of To The Max.

This giveaway is open until Monday, February 1, 2010, 11:59 EST, and is for U.S. and Canadian residents. I'll pick two winners via randomizer.org, announce them on Tuesday, February 2, and alert you by e-mail.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sabrina's 5th birthday party: Nobody called the cops!


The place: a local gym. The theme: blue, Sabrina's new favorite color. Coincidentally, I found out, it is also her two best friends' favorite color. Is this how cults start?


There were 22 kids sitting on the floor calmly doing stretches. How do they get 22 five-year-olds to sit on the floor and calmly do stretches?


Move over, Nastia Liukin!


This is how Max rolls.


Max refused to get off the trampoline; I think we might need to get him a backyard one. (Confession: I like jumping on them, too.)


Patiently waiting her turn, never again to be captured on film.


Getting her birthday props.


My good friend Paola made blue cupcakes for the kids and chocolate ones for the adults. We have lots of leftovers; I am averaging one cupcake every 1.5 hours. Wish I could zap some to you. Wouldn't it be cool if the new Apple tablet they're releasing this week let you transmit cupcakes?


One guess who these belonged to.


Sabrina grudgingly eats her cupcake.


Scenes from a sugar high: All the kids ran around bopping each other with balloons. Then they did more stretches and pondered the meaning of life. OK, seriously, I saw Max play "Duck, duck, goose!" for the first time—he said "oose!"


After-party at our house. Sabrina, Max and their friend Ilyssa decided to explore our first floor in a hula hoop, an environmentally-correct method of transportation. I heard Sabrina say to Ilyssa, "We have to help Max!" And then she stood behind him as they puttered around to make sure he was OK.

It was a Good Day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mom mystery of the universe #29,037: Is it wrong to put one over on a child with special needs?



Sabrina's 5th birthday party is today; Max keeps insisting it's for him. We're going to a gym for playtime and blue-frosted cupcakes, and you can be sure I am bringing the big bottle of purple sugar to sprinkle on some for Max. I don't leave home without it.

This morning, Dave and Sabrina were running out for a swim lesson and I needed a hair tie for her. The only one I could find was purple. Max saw that I was about to put it on Sabrina and had a total meltdown. I mean, it's not like he wears hair ties, although he did come home in one from the daycare center when we went skiing in December. I'd thought he'd recovered from his afternoon as Maxine, but perhaps no.

Now, this would have been a fine teaching moment to help Max understand that he needs to share things, including his love of the color purple. Or just put my foot down and let him wail.

But I needed to get her out the door.

I needed to keep the peace.

And, truth, it's awful to see Max get so distraught.

So I distracted Max with some talk about cupcakes, stealthily handed the purple band to Dave, they dashed out the door and Max forgot all about it.

I said something to my friend Marah afterward, who's visiting us. It feels wrong to pull the (purple) wool over the eyes of a child who has special needs. It's not the first time I've done it (or with Sabrina, either, but I never feel guilty with her, just victorious).

"It's OK! Moms with little kids do that stuff all the time!!!" she said.

Exactly: moms of little kids. Max is 7. He's not developmentally 7, but still. He's getting to be a big boy.

I think I have to stop being a weenie.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The purple thing was starting to worry me



Thanks to those of you who seemed impressed yesterday that I found such a ginormous bottle of purple sugar online. I have been complimented on many things in my life, but never before on my purple-sugar tracking skills. It takes a certain kind of talent, I know.

So, about the purple thing. It started in October, some of you may recall, and I've fueled it—with making him the Bed, Bath & Beyond purple shopping bag costume, buying him lots of purple stuff and decorating cabinets and walls with purple-paper crafts. His babysitter, therapists and a teen reader of this blog named Belle have joined Max's Purple Club, too.

Max talks incessantly about the color. Like we'll be hanging out in the family room and he'll see something purple on TV and he'll say "Ur-ul! Ur-ul!" and then he'll look at Sabrina and say "Lue!" (blue), her favorite color, to make sure that we all know purple is HIS color.

We have an entire purple routine, soon to be made into a Broadway musical:

Me: "Does Max like red?"
Max: "NOOOOOOOOOO."
Me: "Does Max like blue?"
Max: "Erina!" [Sabrina likes blue]
Me: "Does Max like yellow?"
Max: "NOOOOOOOOOO."
Me: "Does Max like green?"
Max: "NOOOOOOOOOO."
Me: "Does Max like orange?"
Max: "NOOOOOOOOOO."
Me: "Does Max like PURPLE?"
Max: "YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!"
Me: "Who loves PURPLE?"
Max: "MAX!!!"

In the past few months, Max has indicated that he would like a purple nose, purple hair, purple limbs, purple fingers and purple toes. We assume he would like a purple penis, too, but have decided not to ask. He would also like us to buy a purple car and paint the entire house purple. Sometimes, we'll do a Google Images search of the word "purple" and look through all the pictures together. He walks around the house clutching a printout of purple Converse sneakers.

I had Max's parent-teacher conference tonight (more on that next week, it was all basically good), and one of the fascinating bits of information to emerge is that EVERY single person in the ENTIRE school knows that Max's favorite color is purple. When he walks around the halls, he will go up to teachers and students alike, scan their outfits, then point out the purple on them. The speech therapist had on gray boots that were lined in purple fabric, and she said Max had even noticed the lining.

I spoke up about something that has been on my mind: I have been concerned that this purple fixation is related to his special needs. Back in the fall, the neurologist had said that Max loved to talk about purple because he was proud of his ability to communicate about his favorite color. But the obsession's gotten so pervasive that I've been wondering if it's an effect of the brain damage—like a CD with a scratch that forces your stereo to keep playing the same phrase again and again.

The teachers had a heartening take on it: "Purple is Max's trademark," one said. I thought of Sabrina, who is so proud of her ability to do magic tricks; someone brought her a trick cardboard box that makes objects disappear and every single time friends come to visit she delights in putting stuff in there and saying "Abra-da-cabra!"

Max is similarly proud of having picked a favorite color and, boy, does he own it.

It is Max's color, and his alone.

Can you guess what I ordered when I got home from his school?



Have a purple-tastic weekend, everyone.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The winners of the $165 Burt's Bees gift basket



Congrats to KowgirlsRule and paula michele, who each win a $165 gift basket of Burt's Bees products. I'm sure your skin will be very happy.

This giveaway got some major buzz! GET IT??? I crack myself up. Word to saphyress, Deborah, Katie, Kathy, kngmckellar and others: Hands off George Clooney, he's mine!

Leslie, sweetie, I am sorry to hear your heart could use some TLC. I hope time heals it. I will be glad to lend George to you. And to pinkveganmiso, I am sorry to inform you, there is no Burt's Bees products that will help with an MIL who, as you say, "is sinking her teeth into my ego." MIL repellent is an interesting idea, though.

Thanks to all of you for the enthusiastic response, and to Burt's Bees for their generosity.

You can still enter to win the Amy's foods gift bag giveaway.

Oh, right, I have a child with cerebral palsy



I don't spend much time thinking about the fact that Max has cerebral palsy. It tends to sock me in the gut at random moments. Like today, when the world's biggest bottle of purple sugar arrived in the mail. Max likes the stuff sprinkled on practically everything he eats, and we were almost out of the container of purple sugar I'd gotten at Target around Halloween. I was so excited to find some online, so excited to see the look on Max's when I opened the package.

He squealed. Then he tried to pick up the plastic bottle with both hands, only he couldn't quite grasp it and it tumbled to the floor. He tried again, and again, but the bottle kept falling.

I felt so frustrated for him.

Mostly, I accept that because of the cp Max has trouble using his hands. I accept that because of the cp he has issues with talking and chewing and drooling. They are part of who Max is, and we help him and guide him the best that we can.

Every so often, though, it hits me that Max has cerebral palsy.

Like last week, when Max cried out in the middle of the night and I ran to his bed and saw that he had one arm pinned beneath his stomach because he was unable to lift himself off it.

Like a few months ago, when Max was walking down the stairs and trying hard to grasp the railing with one hand and mine with the other, only he lost his balance and almost tumbled all the way down.

Like when Sabrina was clambering over the couch recently and Max went to do it too only he couldn't get his legs to lift high enough and he couldn't pull himself up but he so wanted to.

The emotions that wash over me at times like these are a complex mix of sadness, distress, despair, anger. They're fleeting, though, because the very next moment I am focused on repositioning Max in bed or pulling him back so he doesn't fall down the stairs or helping him clamber over the couch and giggling with him.

But, mostly, I don't think about the cerebral palsy.

Only at certain moments like these.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Avatar and other movies with people who have disabilities



A few days ago, we saw Avatar. It is spectacular, breakthrough, breathtaking, spellbinding, adjective etc. It really was that good, aside from the sappy love song at the end.

As I was taking in all that magnificence, I kept thinking about one thing: How great it was that the starring role is about a guy with disabilities. Oh, OK, I also kept thinking how hot Sam Worthington is. He plays Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex Marine. One of the bazillion special effects in the movie is how believably atrophied they made his legs look.

As I watched Sam, I literally started thinking, "Wow, maybe Max can be in the movies! He's got the looks, the charm! Who cares if he can't really talk!! Bring on The Color Purple, Part 2!" But, sadly, it's rare to find actors with actual handicaps starring in movies or on TV. In the hit TV show Glee, for example, Artie—a character who uses a wheelchair—is played by an able-bodied actor. While I'd like to think to think they could have found a handicapped actor to play the Avatar role, it comes down to who's box office bait and sadly, there aren't any big-name handicapped actors in Hollywood.

Avatar got mixed praise from paraplegics, according to this ABC News/Health article (thanks for telling me about it, Louise). J. Scott Richards, director of research at the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Center at the University of Alabama, pointed out that Hollywood always depicts extremes when it shows characters with disabilities: "A physically achieving athlete in a wheelchair, or the opposite end of that—someone who is miserable and has a horrible life. I'd much rather see the middle of the road. Where people are just people but they happen to be in a wheelchair." A-men.

I've recently seen a couple of outstanding documentaries about kids with disabilities. First, the amazingly inspiring film Including Samuel, by director Dan Habib.


The movie chronicles his family's life to include their little boy, Samuel—who has cerebral palsy—in every aspect of their lives. Samuel so reminds me of Max.

Then a woman I used to work with told me that her friend, Jo Sittenfeld, had directed a documentary about two families with kids who have autism. It's called Ethan & Jennifer.


I watched it Friday night, and it is a candid, beautifully shot, moving film that any parent of a kid with special needs will appreciate. I loved this line from Ethan's mom: "He is who he is. I don't want people to think our life is a tragedy. But also, I don't want them to think it's no big deal. It is somewhere in the middle." Jo said it would be OK if I passed along my copy, so the first person to request it in a comment gets it (just leave your email, please). If you would like to contact Jo about a screening copy, contact her at jo@ethanandjenniferfilm.com.

Some other good documentaries about people with disabilities—I haven't seen most of them, I just did a massive Google search:
Best Boy (1979): This film follows the director's mentally-handicapped cousin, who was 52 at the time this was made and still living with his parents.
Hear and Now (2007): In this award-winning film by Irene Taylor Brodsky, she follows the story of her parents—born deaf—who get cochlear implants and hear for the first time.
Who Are The DeBolts? And Where Did They Get 19 Kids? (1977): An Oscar-winning documentary about a couple and their 19 adopted children, many of whom are disabled war orphans.
King Gimp (1999): Another Oscar winner about the life of painter Dan Keplinger, who has cerebral palsy.
Land of Silence and Darkness (1971): A German documentary about a deaf-blind woman and her interactions with others in the deaf-blind community.
My Flesh and Blood: (2003) A year in the life of the Tom family and its 11 adopted children, most of who have serious disabilities and diseases.
Up Syndrome (2000): A University of Texas student chronicles the life of his charismatic childhood friend who has Down Syndrome.
Without Pity: A Film About Abilities (2006): An HBO film, narrated by Christopher Reeve, that celebrates the efforts of the disabled to lead full, productive lives.
Handicapped Future (1971): A documentary about disabled children in Munich.
Normal People Scare Me (2006): Created by a 17-year-old with autism, this documentary features interviews with 65 people representing different levels on the autism spectrum.
Emmanuel's Gift (2005): A disabled man, born in Ghana, attempts to overcome the stigma of disability. Narrated by Oprah Winfrey.
Sound and Fury (2000): A documentary about two families with very different takes on the issue of cochlear implants.
Murderball (2005): An award-winning film that tracks the U.S. Quad Rugby Team's quest to compete in the Paralympics. Raw, funny, powerful and one of my all-time favorite movies.
How's Your News? (1999): A hilarious documentary about five people with disabilities, ranging from Down Syndrome to cerebral palsy, who travel around the country in an RV and conduct on-camera interviews with the public.
In The Land of the Deaf (1992): This documentary details the lives of hearing-impaired people from all walks of life.
When Billy Broke His Head...and Other Tales of Wonder (1995): The director, and narrator, of this film tells the story of his brain injury and its aftermath, then embarks on a cross-country journey to meet disability-rights activists.

And here are some movies about people with disabilities, most summaries courtesy of IMDB:
My Left Foot: The story of Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy. He learned to paint and write with his only controllable limb, his left foot.
The Diving Bell and The Butterfly: A stroke victim, at the time the editor of French Elle, figures out how to communicate by blinking his eye. You. Will. Sob.
The Miracle Worker: The story of Anne Sullivan's struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate.
Coming Home: A woman whose husband is fighting in Vietnam falls in love with another man who suffered a paralyzing combat injury there.
First Do No Harm: Meryl Streep stars as a mom who must fight to try alternative treatments for her epileptic child.
Waterdance: An oft-overlooked film about a man who breaks his neck while hiking, and finds himself in a rehab center with other people dealing with their newfound handicaps.
Door to Door: A man (William Macy) with cerebral palsy is determined to become a salesman.
Passion Fish: The story of a successful soap opera star who becomes wheelchair-bound after a car accident.
I Am Sam: A mentally retarded man fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter, and in the process teaches his cold-hearted lawyer the value of love and family.
Children of a Lesser God: A new speech teacher at a school for the deaf falls for a pupil who decided to stay on at the school rather than venture into the big, bad world.
The Other Sister: A mentally retarded girl proves herself to be every bit as capable as her "perfect" sister when she moves into an apartment and starts college.
Love Leads the Way: A recently blinded man becomes one of the first American users of a seeing-eye dog, and must fight to remove the legal barriers impeding the use of one.
The Mighty: A boy with a severe learning disability befriends a boy with a disorder that stunts his growth.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape?: A boy struggles to care for his obese mother and mentally-disabled brother (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Radio: The story of a high school coach and the developmentally challenged man whom he took under his wing.
Forrest Gump: A simple man scores major achievements, and I will spare you the box-of-chocolates reference.
Dominick and Eugene: The story of twin brothers, one who's a bit slow, who live together and help each other get by.
Yarn Princess: A mildly retarded woman has to fight to keep her kids after her husband is diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Slingblade: A simple-minded man, hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town.
Reach for the Sky: The true story of airman Douglas Bader who overcame the loss of both legs in a 1931 flying accident to become a successful fighter pilot and wing leader during World War II.
My Louisiana Sky: A girl comes to terms with her mentally challenged parents.

During my manic Google search, I also found out that there's a film festival, Different From What?, taking place January 29-31 in Tempe, which explores ability and disability from multiple perspectives. There's an amazing lineup of films, especially the guest film, Shooting Beauty: "Shot over the span of nearly a decade, Shooting Beauty tells the eye-opening story of an aspiring fashion photographer whose career takes a life changing turn when she discovers true beauty at a center for people living with significant disabilities. When she begins inventing cameras her new friends can use, a surprising story unfolds that initial reviewers are calling 'more than a film... a masterpiece.'”

It sounds great, I hope I get to see it.

Anyway, don't you think it's time that more disabled people (and kids) were featured in movies and on TV? Wouldn't it be great for our kids to see people in starring roles who look and act like they do? Wouldn't it be great for all people to get used to seeing handicapped people in these roles? Share your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yipppeeeeee...I'm going to Blissdom!



And why, exactly, am I going to Blissdom? I don't have a fulltime job, I do have some air miles, it's in Nashville, I found a roomie—the fabulous Katy from Bird on the Street, I think that moms who blog about kids with special needs don't get their due in the blogosphere, I'm psyched to trade notes with other bloggers and maybe, just maybe, it would be nice to get away. Bonus: Harry Freakin' Connick Jr. is singing! Yum.

I am sure I will have all sorts of adventures; you might recall what a wild-and-crazy woman I was at BlogHer. I suspect, however, that Britney Spears will not be a part of my Blissdom experience.

I'm hoping to learn more at the conference about whether it is humanly possible to earn an income off blogging, given that I like to blog and I like to have an income. Ever noticed that Daily Juicebox widget on the side of the blog? That is my humble attempt at ad revenue. I have earned a whole $75 in, like, three months, which I will most definitely spend all in one place. Juicebox is starting to flash daily deals there, just so you know.

Do you guys have any particular questions that you'd like me to ask at Blissdom? Would you like me to have a drink for you? Or get an extra hour's sleep for you? Just let me know, your wish is my command. I will not, however, take up any dares to plant one on Harry Connick Jr. Even after I guzzle 247 cocktails on your behalf.


Photo by I Love Milwaukee—what, you thought that was me? Sadly, I did not inherit the cartwheel gene, although I can do a mean tumblesault. Note, I also did not inherit the flat-stomach gene.

Mom goodies giveaway: Win an Amy's foods gift bag



In the hierarchy of comfort foods, for me, tomato soup rules. Growing up, on cold days my mom would serve it to me and my sister for lunch, with Ritz crackers. It's still my go-to winter eat and, bonus, I can down gallons of the stuff and it won't pork me up. Max is a major soup man; he thinks it's fun to eat, and I love how it encourages him to feed himself.

For all of you soup fans out there, here's a treat: The nice people at Amy's natural foods have offered up three gift bags, each worth $50. You get the market bag shown here filled with:

1 Amy's Spanish Rice & Red Bean Soup, 1 Amy's Chunky Tomato Bisque, 1 Amy's Southwestern Fire Roasted Vegetable Soup, 1 Amy's Tuscan Bean & Rice Soup, and three coupons each good for a free Amy's item, frozen or grocery. Plus, lots of cool extras: An Amy's soup mug, t-shirt, notepad, magnet, coloring book, soy crayons and pen.

To enter, leave a comment about your favorite kind of soup!

BONUS ENTRIES: After you leave your main comment, leave a separate comment for each of the following that you have done.
Follow LoveThatMax on Twitter.
Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with your Tweet time stamp (translation for Twitter newbies: click on the time below the Tweet, which shows you the URL). You can use this Tweet: Win a $50 Amy's foods gift bag from @LoveThatMax, three winners, ends 1/26, http://lovethatmax.blogspot.com
Subscribe to the To The Max feed; you can do that here, or another way, and leave a comment saying how you subscribed.
Follow this blog on Blogger.
Join the To The Max fan page on Facebook.
Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post on this blog, then come back and tell me which post you commented on.
Add my button to your blog and post a link to your blog in the comment below.

This giveaway is open until Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 11:59 EST, and is for U.S. and Canadian residents. I'll pick two winners via randomizer.org, announce them on Wednesday, January 27, and alert you by e-mail.

Note: I received a few Amy's soups to sample, but the opinions expressed here are my own (and Max's). Slurp, slurp.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"I had a scary dream last night," says Sabrina



"What was the dream about?" I ask.

"Me and Max were running, running down a street and Max fell and he started crying and he couldn't get up."

"And then what happened?" I ask.

"You came and picked him up."

Lately, Sabrina has really been wrapping her mind around Max and his needs. She's almost five—an age when, her preschool teacher recently mentioned to me, kids quit being so egocentric and start thinking more about other people. (She is still, however, wearing the same Tinkerbell shirt every single day that says, in gigantic letters, "It's All About Me.") She's been doing more big-girl things, like asking Dave to download songs to our iPod such as "Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night" (there she is above, playing some sort of game—she's far more adept with Dave's iPhone than I am). The last vestiges of baby-ness are disappearing, though her dimpled knuckles and protruding belly remain. She also can't quite pronounce her th's, so she says "My froat hurts" instead of throat, for example, which makes me smile inside every time.

Despite Sabrina's increasing awareness, she's still mean to Max at times. Her latest tease is, "Max, purple is MY favorite color," knowing full well he's all about purple. Or she'll try to get me to go down to the basement to play with her alone by saying, "Max says he doesn't want to come" when Max has said nothing of the kind because, er, Max can't yet verbalize things like that. She's also tried to convince me that Max has said it's OK if, say, she gets the bigger slice of pizza—even as he's sitting there! She's never yet tried, "Max says he wants the Polly Pockets Cruise Ship Playset," though I wouldn't put it past her.

But she's really beginning to understand Max is special. I'm wondering what sort of questions she'll ask, and what sort of answers I'll come up with. So far, I've kept things simple; once, she asked why Max doesn't talk and I said, "He does talk, he just talks in his own way" and she seemed satisfied with that. I haven't yet had to say, "His brain got hurt when he was born." I get a little teary-eyed just typing those words; hopefully, when the time comes, I'll be able to say them matter-of-factly. I don't want her to sense whatever residual sadness I have about what happened to Max. I just want her to see him as her brother, a kid who may need her patience and her help...but not her translation services.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helping Haiti



Today, a mom I met through the local Mothers & More group I belong to held a fundraiser to help Haiti. She ran a playgroup from 4 to 12; parents could just drop off their kids and, later, make a donation. She's planning to hold a couple more in the next week.

I was so glad she did this. I'd been planning to spend time this weekend looking into the best way to give money, and this was one simple way. We left the kids there at 6, then we went food shopping. I know, we are getting entirely too wild and crazy and must be stopped.

A couple hours later we went back to get the kids, and this is how we found Max. "He took everything purple," Sabrina reported. We made a donation and left as Max screamed bloody murder because we made him take off the purple hat and tutu. I am game to get him lots of purple stuff, but I draw the line at tutus.

I just e-mailed the mom who did the playgroup to thank her, and let her know about a very worthy organization that I'm going to be donating more money to: Partners in Health (PIH). PIH has been working in Haiti for more than twenty years, as well as eight other countries; it brings modern medical care to poor communities. I like that it already has a presence in Haiti. You can donate directly on the site in increments of $10 and up, just click on the button at right.

Let's all try to do what we can; the death toll of the earthquake may reach 200,000.

Update: If you want to see how much money any charity or notprofit actually gives out to people, after administrative costs, visit GuideStar.

For better, for worse



Last night, Dave and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary with dinner at a nice Italian place. It was wonderful—good service, good food (mmm, mushroom risotto), good conversation. We didn't talk that much about the kids for a change, a good break.

I loved our wedding. I pretty much put it together myself, down to making menus out of vellum paper and craft scissors that cut a scallop pattern. We had 150 guests at a catering hall with a band, a scrumptious dinner and chocolate-colored roses. It was both beautiful and a blast.

I get a little wistful when I think about the way we were back then, blissfully carefree without any idea of what the future held. I mean, does anyone really ever consider the "for worse" part of their vows? Could I have imagined, in my most extreme nightmare, that our child would have a stroke at birth?

Our wedding anniversary makes me melancholy like this. But, yes, we are still in love and still happy. A different sort of happy, but I think that's true of any couple: You experience different stages of happiness in a lifetime.

I am a total sucker for weddings—I love going to them, I love listening to brides plan theirs, I love everything about them. What was your own wedding like? Do you still make a big deal out of your anniversary?

xo

Friday, January 15, 2010

Heads up: Massive Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph Aspirin and Rolaids recall



The Tylenol recall of several months ago was expanded today, and includes children's medications and a bunch of other products. There have been reports that a "moldy" smell has caused at least 70 customers nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Fun times.

You can get the full scoop on all of the products, and the problematic lot numbers, at this site. Here's the hotline: 1-888-222-6036 (Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, and Sat-Sun 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST).

I checked our cabinets, we're safe. We only give the kids liquid aspirin (Max can't swallow pills), and all of the problematic kid meds are in tablet form.

I can still remember the big Tylenol scare of the '80s, when people died after taking cyanide-laced pills. One day, around that time, I was in this whiney teacher's class and he was in a particularly bad mood. He looked at us and said, "You guys give me a headache."

"Take Tylenol!" I shouted.

I got sent to the principal's office, but it was totally worth it.

OK, stay healthy, everyone.

istock/Sandsun

Mama Bird? Ha! I am a Mama Pterodactyl



First, thanks to all the lurkers who came out of the blog closet yesterday. Nice to meet you! I welcome you to keep commenting and enriching the conversations that go on here. The more perspectives, the better. You can also feel free to come babysit.

And now, I'd like you to meet my alter ego, Mama Pterodactyl.

When I was at the doctor's office with Max the other day, as we left the exam room a mom, dad and toddler were headed our way down the hallway. As they got closer I noticed the mother was blatantly staring at Max, who was wearing a bright green bib and drooling a bit. When we passed each other, she literally swiveled her head so she could keep looking at Max.

"Do you have a problem?!" I snapped, then kept walking as Max darted over to the sticker area to see if there were any purple ones.

I couldn't help it. I get fiercely defensive when I spot people staring even though Max never notices. To be sure, day-glo bibs call attention to Max. I have some bandana-like ones that look cooler, but that morning I'd grabbed the green one.

Still. That staring was maddening.

I know I should work on my reaction, as it's not doing Max any favors to hear me mouthing off. Nor do I want to spread the idea that moms of kids with special needs are angry at the world. It would be more appropriate if I said something like, "It's not polite to stare that way."

But when this happens, I lose it. It gets to me on many levels. It's a reminder that I have a child who is handicapped and not like other kids, and a reminder of how ignorant people can be about people with disabilities. It violates my sense of justice: He is a child, how dare you gape at him like he is a freak in a circus side show! And you are a mother, don't you know better than to stare at a child?! It also hurts to see this leveled at Max, innocent and beautiful as he is.

I feel protective about Sabrina, too. But I feel that much more so about Max, who is not yet able to verbally defend himself. I hope someday he can, should he choose to say something. For now, this Mama Pterodactyl will be there to guard him.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Max's progress: What I see, what I don't



So, Max had his seven-year checkup. He's 36 pounds (I stand corrected, he was 33 pounds last year at this time, not 34). That is pretty skinny, but the doctor felt three pounds is a respectable gain and wasn't concerned. We'll keep serving Max fattening foods and try not to pork-ify Sabrina who takes after her mom and seems to put on weight simply by staring at food.

Max actually had a fine time at the pediatrician's office because, oddly enough, he likes that ear probe thingie (it's called an "otoscope," I just looked it up). While we were waiting for the doctor to come in, I pretended to examine Max's ears and then he examined mine. Love means letting your child poke around your ear with an ear probe.

Dr. G has been caring for Max since he was a baby. I actually interviewed him the month before Max was due. Back then, my biggest concern was whether or not I would click with a pediatrician's philosophy on childcare. I get stabs of sadness when I think about those months before Max came into this world and how determined I was to make everything perfect for his arrival: the perfect baby clothes, the perfect nursery, the perfect crib toys. Then we found out that Max had suffered a stroke and brain damage. And suddenly, perfect no longer mattered. We only wanted to know if Max would be able to walk at all, if he'd be able to talk at all, if he'd even be a little OK.

Dr. G, who hadn't seen Max in a year, commented on how far he's come. "He's so much more communicative!" he said. Max had noticed that one of the little stuffed animals the doctor had on a string around his neck was purple (the obsession lives on!) and Max charmed him by gesturing toward it and saying "Ur-ul! Ur-ul!" The doctor's parting words: "The thing about Max is, he never plateaus."

The rush of happiness you get when doctors say things like that can keep you on a high for weeks. But it didn't stop there: After that appointment, I dropped Max off at school and bumped into a mom whose kid was in Max's class two years ago. "Wow, Max looks amazing," she said. She couldn't believe how well he was walking and that he was saying a few words.

OK, this is irony. I DO A BLOG in which I chronicle Max's daily life. Hel-lo. And yet, I fail to absorb how much overall progress he has made until someone else points it out. I guess it's hard to notice the major distance your child has traveled down the road when you are so busy tracking the little footsteps he takes.

At times like these, though, I realize that my Max has come a long, long way.

It's National Delurker Day!



Although schools and banks are not closed in honor of National Delurker Day 2010, nor will there be fabulous celebratory barbecues or parades for those of you who choose to delurk, it would make me really happy to know who more of the readers of this blog are. It seems impossible that mother would set up a bunch of false accounts and leave all of the comments I read here, but I cannot be completely sure. It's not you, mom, is it?

Trust me, I also lurk, and I'm planning to go comment on some of those other blogs today.

So, come on, say something, whether you comment regularly or have never said a peep before. Say whatever you'd like—what you like about the blog, don't like, who you're mom (or dad!) to, that you love the color purple just like Max does, that you think I look very svelte in x-rays, anything you'd like.

Happy National Delurker Day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mom goodies giveaway: Win a $165 basket of Burt's Bees stuff



Because nobody deserves treats more than moms, because it is January and I'm sure you could use a pick-me-up right about now, because giving stuff away to you makes me really happy, here you go: This basket of 15 treats from Burt's Bees. I have two of them up for grabs.

I've been using Burt's Bees for years; I have a thing for their Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream, Pomegranate and Soy Shampoo, and lip balms. I like using their products on the kids, too, since they're made from natural ingredients (unlike my kids, who are approximately 5 percent Chef Boyardee).

Each basket has treats for you and the kids. For you: Fabulously Fresh Peppermint & Rosemary Body Wash, Thoroughly Therapeutic Honey & Orange Wax Body Lotion, Thoroughly Therapeutic Honey & Bilberry Foot Crème, Thoroughly Therapeutic Honey & Grapeseed Oil Hand Crème, Therapeutic Bath Crystals, Radiance Exfoliating Body Wash, Radiance Eye Crème, Radiance Night Crème, Radiance SPF 15 Day Lotion, Pore Refining Mask, and a Lip Balm Purse Pack. For the kids: Baby Bee Buttermilk Lotion, Baby Bee Buttermilk Soak, Baby Bee Tear Free Shampoo & Wash, and Baby Bee Skin Crème.

To enter, tell me which part of yours could use the most TLC now. The lower part of my legs look like they could belong to an alligator, they are so crackly-dry; I always forget to take care of them. I need a device that automatically squirts lotion onto them when I step out of the shower, and then I need George Clooney to drop by and rub it in.

BONUS ENTRIES: After you leave your main comment, leave a separate comment for each of the following that you have done.
Follow LoveThatMax on Twitter.
Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with your Tweet time stamp (translation for Twitter newbies: click on the time below the Tweet, which shows you the URL). You can use this Tweet: Win a $165 basket of Burt's Bees products from @LoveThatMax, two winners, ends 1/20, http://lovethatmax.blogspot.com
Subscribe to the To The Max feed; you can do that here, or another way, and leave a comment saying how you subscribed.
Follow this blog on Blogger.
• Join the To The Max fan page on Facebook.
Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post on this blog, then come back and tell me which post you commented on.
Add my button to your blog and post a link to your blog in the comment below.
Blog about the giveaway on your blog or website, and link back to here. Leave a comment below with the URL to the post.

This giveaway is open until Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 11:59 EST, and is for U.S. and Canadian residents. I'll pick two winners on randomizer.org, announce them on Thursday, January 21, and alert you by e-mail.

Good luck!

Note: I did not receive any products for this giveaway; these are my honest opinions. Note to my husband: Just kidding about George Clooney, but I am now taking applications for the lotion-slathering job.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Every single time Sabrina draws a picture, she also signs Max's name


She recognizes that her brother is not yet able to write his own name on pictures, so she includes his name on the ones she draws. How sweet is that?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Got any good tricks for family dinner?



FYI, I have a guest post today on the Storked! blog at glamour.com about not pitying kids with special needs, please swing by and weigh in—it would be awesome for more of our voices to be heard.

First, though, share your two cents here! I was recently chatting with Laurie David, a dynamo who's passionate about raising awareness of environmental issues—check out her Stop Global Warming Virtual March.

Not long ago, as she was at dinner with her kids and they were having a great conversation, something major occurred to her. Her epiphany, in her own words: "This is one thing I've done really RIGHT with my kids!"

The result is an upcoming book on family dinner, filled with stories, Laurie's tricks, recipes and quotes from famous foodies and parenting experts. As Laurie says, she's doing it "so that everyone looks forward to sitting down together as the high point of the day."

Here at our house, we are not so great with family dinners during the weekdays because of work schedules, and it bothers me; Laurie's inspired me to figure out a way. Meanwhile, she would love to hear your dinner tricks for when you're "short on time and chaos is looming." Just a few sentences about your proven successes and your family's name for the dish/dinner. She gives this example from one mom she spoke with:

"Sometimes for dinner all we do is make scrambled eggs with a bit of cheese and whatever vegetable we find in the fridge. We serve it on toast with a salad. We call them 'Scramble Nights' and the kids love it!"

Given that my favorite tip is "Hey, let's order in!", I'm figuring you guys are going to have better ones. Share?

Photo by Siouxsiette

Is your child skinny? Plump? Just right?

video

As a baby, Max was a chubster, as you could see in last week's bathtime photo. Sabrina has a good 10 pounds on Max and lately, she's been picking him up and toting him around. You know, just because.

Max is a skinny boy. At 7 years old, he can still fit into size 4 pants. At his annual checkup last January, he weighed only 34 pounds and the doctor said he needed to fatten up. Alas, there is no operation that would enable me to transfer some of my fat to him (how genius would that be?!). Max's next checkup is this week, and I'm hoping he's in the forties. He's slightly below average for height, but nothing major.

While Max's slim size is a good thing for his mobility and my back, I wonder about the whys. If he's got a great metabolism then all I can say is, NOT FAIR! Why is it that boys always seem to luck in out that department? (He's also got those gorgeous fluttery boy lashes, another NOT FAIR thing.)

But I also wonder if Max is skinny because he doesn't eat enough. He's not a kid who can just grab a cookie or fruit rollup and start munching on it, though we try to shove in calories however we can—I add olive oil, butter and Scandical, a powder supplement that delivers 35 calories per tablespoon, to his foods. We feed him the most fat-laden stuff we can find—avocado, Haagen Dazs chocolate ice-cream, cheese mashed potatoes, evil Chef Boyardee stuff.

Me at supermarket talking to guy in dairy department: "What's the most fattening yogurt you have?"
Him, incredulously: "Wow, the only thing you ladies usually want is low-fat! Try the Fage!"
Me walking away with complex that I don't look like a woman who needs fattening yogurt.

I just heard about a free iPhone app, MyFitnessPal, that has a database of nutritional content of restaurant and supermarket foods. It also figures out how many calories are needed per day, and tracks calories and nutritional data of meals you enter. I'm going to look into it (for Max AND me)!

How are your kids doing with the weight thing?


One more baby Max shot, for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

An article slams physical therapy



My cousin Lauren just alerted me to this New York Times article about treating sports injuries with physical therapy. I'm about to start some tomorrow for my knee, which has been bothering me (but isn't so bad). A sports doctor in the piece talked about "voodoo" treatments—heat, ice, ultrasound, and laser.

I have no doubt that there's a lot of quackery out there when it comes to treating sports injuries, but I was a little surprised there was no recognition of how invaluable physical therapy can be for disabled people. Max wouldn't have learned how to walk as young as he did (age three, not bad for a kid with cerebral palsy) if it weren't for Mindy, the physical therapist who worked with him for three years through Early Intervention. I felt like giving her some sort of medal!

What kind of experiences have you had with your pt?

Photo by Orthoindy

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sabrina Saturday

video

She's been making up songs lately. Here's her latest, never to be recreated again. Of special note: She thinks the word "eyeball" is hysterical. Pickles are her favorite food. And that Tinkerbell top? She wants to wear it every single day. It's big on her and I figure that if she wears it for the next two years or so, I sure could save a lot of money on clothes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Stupid stuff I've done with cars



There is at least one person who is not going to be amused by this post, and he is known as my husband.

Yesterday, I stopped by the Board of Ed to pick up the 200,000 forms necessary to register Sabrina for kindergarten next year. I parked next to a fire hydrant, ran in and out of the building, then went to do a k-turn to get home. There was a leeetle ice patch. I skidded into the fire hydrant and some protruding pipe.

That "crunch" sound your car makes when it hits something is one of the worst sounds in the world. Also not so great: When you notice a bunch of nearby high school kids gaping at your car and snickering.

I managed to dent the right back door of the minivan. And the whole thing needs to be replaced, of course, because whenever you damage any little part of a car the largest part possible needs to be repaired or replaced.

Friends of mine reading this are probably cracking up right about now; my driving record is somewhat dubious. Over the years I have....

• Left the car running with the keys inside (three times).
• Backed into a brick wall.
• Rear-ended a car (but not THAT hard) at the mouth of New York City's Lincoln Tunnel (then briefly dated the guy I hit and you bet I did not pay for the new bumper).
• Left the gas cap on the trunk of my car and driven away from the gas station.
• Left my purse on the top of my car and driven away from the gas station.
• NEVER left my kids on top of the car and drove away from the gas station, for the record.
• Started driving with a back door completely open during college and when a guy I knew saw this and wildly waved his arms to alert me, I smiled, waved back and kept going till I realized there was a major breeze coming from back there.

I do not even want to think about how much money I have handed over to the auto body shop industry.

Dave does most of the driving when we're with the kids (I can hear you all breathing a collective sigh of relief). I think he drives too cautiously, which to me is just as unsafe as driving too fast. He thinks I should stop being a backseat driver and he is probably right.

What kind of mishaps have you guys had with cars?

Photo by seeyaonda.flipside

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Were you scared of going for kid no. 2 after having one with special needs?



I've been e-mailing with a new reader to the blog, Janet, mom to an adorable 18-month-old boy who, like Max, had a stroke at birth. She asked the following, and said it would be OK if I answered her here so everyone could weigh in and share their experiences:

"Did you have anxiety about having another child? Or did you know it is what you wanted for your family? I think my son would be an awesome big brother. I did see a high risk pregnancy doc, they say what happened was a fluke and they don't feel my next pregnancy would be high risk. But the whole hospital experience etc. has me very scared."

I know how she feels—I had some anxiety about having a second kid. But my yearning to have another child overcame any concerns. I've always loved kids and definitely wanted at least two. I also wanted Max to have a sibling who would help him in life. And, less significantly but still important to me, I wanted to have a "normal" new-mom experience after what I'd been through with Max (that's Sabrina at five days old, above).

I didn't see a second pregnancy as much of a gamble. Max had a bilateral stroke, a relatively rare thing. It was caused by a lack of oxygen sometime during his birth—a human error, it was later determined. Max did have a contributing factor, two blood mutations that make him more prone to clotting. But those alone cannot cause a stroke, there has to be a trigger (in his case, the lack of oxygen). I went to a high-risk practice and felt secure in the doctors' hands. They put me on blood thinner, as a precaution. And I got lots and lots of ultrasounds.

Dave and I aren't superstitious types, but we decided to do things differently the second time around. So we found out the sex of the baby. The first ultrasound technician told me it was a boy—I'm still not sure what she saw on that screen. At the next ultrasound, I told the technician I was psyched to have another boy and after a few minutes she said, "Well, I'm pretty sure you're having a girl." When I called Dave from the appointment and said, "Guess what?" he answered, "IT'S TWINS!!!"

The only trauma I had during the pregnancy came in the form of the idiot neurologist who did a scan in my eighth month; we wanted to make absolutely sure Sabrina's brain was fine.

He obviously hadn't fully read my chart because as he glided the ultrasound wand over my belly, he said, "So, your first child had a stroke?"

"Yes," I said.

"What did the autopsy reveal?" he asked.

I burst into tears. The nurse, who knew me, gently said, "Her baby did not die."

I couldn't stop sobbing for five minutes. It was absolutely, excruciatingly horrible. Idiot Doctor felt bad and jokingly said I could punch him, which I briefly considered. After he left, the nurse took 3-D photos of Sabrina to console me.


Definitely Sabrina, with a very smooshed nose. Actually, she looked like she was itching to tell that doctor off.

So, Janet, what I say to you is go for another child (and no worries about Idiot Doctor, he's not in your area). It was very special to experience new momhood with Sabrina, I savored every moment. Having a sister has helped Max thrive (even when Sabrina's torturing him, she's at least teaching him to stick up for himself and inspiring him to open up his tight right hand to pull her hair). Having one typically-developing child and one with disabilities has made me a more balanced mom—I might still be one big ball of worry if I only had Max to focus on. Each of them made me appreciate the other that much more.

And, of course, the only thing better than one delicious kid is two delicious kids.

How about you—do you have concerns about having a second child? Or were you worried before you forged ahead?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My left knee is about to get very buff



So, it's official: The doctor called tonight to say I have a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), one of the four major ligaments of the knee. This means I will probably never be a professional athlete, which is fine, since now I can focus on my dream of becoming a rock star and/or President of the United States and/or fudge taste tester.

My knee doesn't hurt much unless I move it the wrong way or Sabrina jumps on it. I'm supposed to go to physical therapy which is fine, too, because I am going to have the most buff, in-shape left knee of anyone. And you thought it looked so svelte in the x-ray—just you wait and see how sexy my knee is going to be!

Perhaps you have guessed that I am not really fazed by this whole knee thing. Maybe it's because after those two weeks of NICU hell when Max was born, any health glitch (especially my own) seems like a mere nuisance. Maybe this is just typical of most moms—I don't have time to throw my knee a pity party. Honestly, my only real concern is carrying Max down (and sometimes up) the staircase in our home; I need two steady knees for that. So far, so good.

My friend Hedy says having a torn ACL is a badge of honor, because it's a common sports injury. I just Googled it, and apparently, I am in excellent company as World Wrestling Entertainment diva Melina suffered the same exact injury the other week, a woman described as being "just as dangerous as she is beautiful," which is what people say about me all the time. Another coincidence: Her "signature ring entrance" is a "sexy split." Which is so funny, because that is exactly what I do whenever I take the kids to their friends' birthday parties.


And we look alike, too!

Anyhoo, if you know someone who is not Melina who has survived an ACL tear (and, bonus, has gone on to be a rock star, POTUS or fudge taste tester), let me know.

Oh, and belated thanks to Lynn from the very entertaining blog Midday Escapades for the nice words about this blog, and to all of you who have been e-mailing me. Me and my left knee much appreciate it.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...