Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lollipop longings (and other lessons about raising a kid with special needs)

Hey, all. I am doing OK. What a week.

Here's Sabrina in a giant candy store I took her to over the weekend. She sweet-talked the staffers into letting her try lots of samples, then brought home this sucker.

I kept looking for stuff for Max to try. Caramels? Nope, he can't chew them. Sour candies? No, serious choking hazard. In the end, I brought him home a simple chocolate bar, feeling a little bummed about all the stuff he couldn't have. It's why I got so excited the other month when he liked Peeps.

Sometimes, I mourn the childhood things I enjoyed that Max can't yet. Things like seeing a movie in a theater (it's sensory overload for him). Or riding a scooter, one thing every kid in my neighborhood seems to own. Or swimming. Or pogo-sticking.

When I catch myself thinking this way, I force myself to realize that—once again—I am projecting my idea of happiness onto Max. Because Max is perfectly content doing the things he can do. He doesn't know he's missing out on Twix bars; all he knows is how much he adores chocolate ice-cream. He may not have experienced the joys of watching a movie on a big screen but, hell, he loves watching things on his little portable DVD. He rides his adaptive tricycle pretty well, and has a blast on it. He walks around the kiddie pool pushing a float, and he is in heaven.

These are the things I have to remind myself of when it comes to bringing up Max—the cans instead of the cannots, the haves instead of the have-nots.

I guess they're words to live by, no matter how old you are.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Life, The Dead and Peace

Thanks for the outpouring of support—it was comforting.

It's impossible to stop thinking about Karen, everything is a painful reminder. Like when I rode the train to work yesterday and saw all the bright, new green leaves on the trees—a beginning that seemed incongruous with the tragic ending of Karen's life. Like when I was looking through my cellphone for a phone number and came upon Karen's; I wanted to call it and leave her a message. Like when I gave Max and Sabrina hugs, and I thought of how much Karen loved her own children.

Dave had tickets to see The Dead last night. I didn't feel like going but then I thought, Karen would have wanted me to go. So, we went. I swayed along to the music, I breathed in the pleasant aromas (!), I cried in the dark for Karen during the long riffs.

Here's a crappy photo.

Karen's wake is Thursday. I'll be going, but I cannot decide whether or not I want to actually see her. I want to remember her alive. Yet part of me also wants to glimpse her one last time. I am torn.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In memorium: my friend Karen

I got a call last night while I was putting the kids to bed; my friend Karen's name popped up on caller ID.

I haven't spoken with her in a while. We were supposed to go out to dinner three weeks ago, I didn't feel great and cancelled, and we haven't spoken since. I owed her a call.

I figured I'd get back to her after the kids were asleep and didn't pick up.

Then I heard my cell phone ring, and I figured she really wanted to talk, but again I thought, I'll call her back.

I put the kids to bed. The phone rang again; this time it was our mutual friend, Nancy. And I knew something was wrong.

"Nance?" I said. "Hi. What's up?"

"Did Robert call you?" she asked. Robert is Karen's husband.

"I didn't pick up," I said. "Nancy, tell me what's going on."

"I have some really sad news," she said, and started crying. And then I started crying and I said, "Tell me, Nancy. Tell me."

And she said, "Karen passed away yesterday." She collapsed while she was out with Robert.

Karen. My friend Karen.

She was one of the must full-of-life women I've ever known. She traveled the world alone, went back to school for a degree in interior design, loved her husband and children passionately. Years ago, she was diagnosed with scleroderma, an evil autoimmune disease that has no cure. It basically causes your skin to tighten up, so that it looks like it is stretched tight over your face and limbs. Eventually, it can make your organs harden, too. It gave her excruciatingly painful lesions on her hands. It made her exhausted.

She had three children under age 4. She was 40.

Karen, I am sorry we didn't have that dinner. I will regret it for the rest of my life.

I can't believe you are gone.

I love you, sweetie.

Friday, April 24, 2009

1-800-Flowers giveaway! Who needs husbands?

Mother Nature Garden Tote

Usually, the only thing I have to give away on this blog is advice, blah-blah and gratuitous photos of my kids. (Once, I did offer up my mother-in-law, but oddly enough I didn't get any takers). Recently, though, a nice lady from 1-800-Flowers e-mailed me and offered to do a bouquet giveaway. Because we're all that fabulous.

Mother's Embrace

OK, so the company does have some new stuff it would like you to know about. It just launched The Spot A Mom movement, to celebrate the many varieties of moms out there. They also have a fun guide for figuring out which kind of flowers suit different moms' personalities.

Mother's Devotion

To enter to win, just leave a comment and be sure to mention which one of these four arrangements you covet (Aussies and Brits, jump in, they can send flowers pretty much anywhere). I'll randomly pick a winner, courtesy of, on Sunday at midnight and announce the winner on Monday. You'll get the bouquet on or before Mother's Day. And, if you'd like, I can ask if they'll sign the card "xoxoxo, Lorenzo" or something if you'd like to make the hubs a little jealous.

Sentimental Surprise

1-800-Flowers giveaway! Who needs husbands?

Mother Nature Garden Tote

Usually, the only thing I have to give away on this blog is advice, blah-blah and gratuitous photos of my kids. (Once, I did offer up my mother-in-law, but oddly enough I didn't get any takers). Recently, though, a nice lady from 1-800-Flowers e-mailed me and offered to do a bouquet giveaway. Because we're all that fabulous.

Mother's Embrace

OK, so the company does have some new stuff it would like you to know about. It just launched The Spot A Mom movement, to celebrate the many varieties of moms out there. They also have a fun guide for figuring out which kind of flowers suit different moms' personalities.

Mother's Devotion

To enter to win, just leave a comment and be sure to mention which one of these four arrangements you covet (Aussies and Brits, jump in, they can send flowers pretty much anywhere). I'll randomly pick a winner, courtesy of, on Sunday at midnight and announce the winner on Monday. You'll get the bouquet on or before Mother's Day. And, if you'd like, I can ask if they'll sign the card "xoxoxo, Lorenzo" or something if you'd like to make the hubs a little jealous.

Sentimental Surprise

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sablog (a "blog" by Sabrina, age 4)

So, do you want to talk to everyone today?

Sabrina: "Yeah!"

OK, let's talk about Max.

Sabrina: "I, um, I put stickers on the wall for Max and, um...HEY! It says M-A-X! Max!"

Right! That's how you spell Max. Very good.

Sabrina: "I like to play with Max but, but, Max always plays with me."

And what do you play?

Sabrina: "Princess dolls. And the Ariel one."

And does Max play baseball?

Sabrina: "Yeah, and I wanna play baseball, too."

Isn't Max good at baseball?

Sabrina: "Yeah! Spell my name, cause I'm talking about my dolls."

OK, here's your name: S A B R I N A. Let's go back to talking about Max. What's so cute about Max?

Sabrina: "Hey! Where's my name?"

I just showed it to you.

Sabrina: "Oh."

OK, let's talk about you! What's your favorite color?

Sabrina: "Dark pink. And dark purple."

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sabrina: "A mommy. But what are you going to be, then?"

I'll still be a mommy.

Sabrina: "So there will be two mommies?"

Yes, sweetie. And what will Max be when he grows up?

Sabrina: "He will be a daddy like my daddy."

That sounds good. So, tell me about Max again.

Sabrina: "Um, I put stickers on the wall."

What kind of stickers?

Sabrina: "Cars stickers! And I play with my Belle doll."

Why did you put stickers on Max's wall?

Sabrina: "Because I wanted to and Max loved it."

Do you and Max ever fight?

Sabrina: "No."

Is that true?

Sabrina: "No."

How much do you love Max?

Sabrina: "This much!"

Are you a good sister?

Sabrina: "Yeah."


Sabrina: "Because I like to be a good sister. I like to play with my Ariel doll. That's all of them! I'm getting tired of this! I'm doing this for a lot!"

OK! You're a great little sister.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Worrying too much? Here's help for anxiety

A few weeks ago, I was roaming around the web and found an expert who specializes in helping worrywarts—Audrey Sussman, Ph.D., director of The Anxiety Control Center. I e-mailed her to see if she'd answer some questions, and she kindly agreed. Disclaimer: If you are feeling freaked out all the time, you may need real professional help. This is just my little blog.

So, why are some people more prone to worrying than others?

People react differently because of deeply-rooted emotions and beliefs, which become filters for their perceptions. When a person reacts to an event, it is often not just the present-day situation they are reacting to, but an entire chain of emotions going back all the way to childhood. As children, we develop patterns and coping techniques intended to help us deal with stress or protect us from danger. For example, I had a client who felt that if she didn't worry something bad would happen. She grew up with an alcoholic parent and, as a child, had to run every possible consequence through her mind to make herself feel safe. Even as an adult, she still found herself consumed with worry. The circumstances had changed, but the thought pattern hadn’t.

Is worrying ever a good thing? Some of us are very talented at it.
Despite all the negative feelings attached to it, worry can serve a positive function when it prepares you for possible future difficulties. It can alert you to things that need to be taken care of, or of consequences of certain actions. Worry can keep you watchful for symptoms that indicate a possible problem, or it can motivate you to take positive action to improve the quality of your child’s life. However, once you have done everything in your power to anticipate and prepare for problems, worry ceases to serve a positive function. When your thoughts cycle into negative, scary future possibilities about things that are outside of your control, it is time to learn techniques to stop worry from putting another hardship in your life.

Got any simple techniques for stopping a worry in its tracks?
Yes, an excellent exercise called the "2 for 1" technique. It draws upon the same powerful imagination that you use to create negative stories, but instead you use it to create positive thoughts. Say you're sitting on the couch at night, troubled because that day, your child had a playdate with a typically-developing and your child's delays were really apparent. Do the following:

Step 1: Jot down the facts: what happened at the event.
Step 2: Make a list of the negative thoughts and fears you are feeling, every thought or vision in your head. As you write them down, you will start to realize that no matter how much you might believe the thoughts to be true, they are still just one possible way things might happen.
Step 3: Cross out the first negative thought you have written down, and write down two possible positive thoughts or possible positive outcomes in its place. Repeat this for each negative thought on the list, until all your negative thoughts are crossed out and replaced by positive ones.

Most of us are far more used to telling ourselves negative stories than positive ones. So it may feel a little strange at first to accept these positive thoughts as readily as you did the negative ones. With practice, though, you will find that the positive thoughts start to pop up on their own, just as the negative ones once did. Those positive possibilities will replace the cycle of worry with one of hope and potential.

I'd love to hear an example of a patient who effectively used the technique.
There was a parent I was working with whose son had recently lost part of his hand in a fireworks accident. As she watched him struggling to tie his shoe with one hand, she found herself spinning into a terrible worry cycle. In her imagination, she was moving from the facts of the present moment to a whole range of terrible thoughts and worries: Will he be able to function in a job? Will he be accepted? Will this accident change his cheerful personality? She also found herself remembering traumas from the past—remembering how other people had looked at him in the emergency room, and even thinking about how she’d been teased as a child and worrying that it would be yet worse for him.

Before she allowed this cycle of worry to overtake her, she tried the "2 for 1" exercise. She started with the facts of the present event: Her son was struggling to tie his shoe. She then wrote down all the negative thoughts that were passing through her mind, and replaced them with positive ones. She thought about the things he did well, his keen mind, his energy, his goofy sense of humor, she imagined him playing with his friends, thought about jobs in which he could be successful, even imagined him graduating from college and getting married.

And as she did so and stopped the cycle of worry, she noticed something that surprised her: the proud smile on her son’s face as he bounded up to her, his sneakers tied in a knot. It was then that she realized it wasn’t her son who was struggling. It was her.

That technique sounds good. But I have to ask, what if you really, really, really believe that the thoughts you have might come true?
Both the positive and negative thoughts you create about possible future events are fictional. The problem with negative thoughts and pictures you create in your mind is that even though they possibly will never happen, the unconscious mind nevertheless accepts them as if they are true. And you react with fear in the present moment to something that hasn't even happened. In the same way, when you create positive thoughts, the unconscious mind also accepts them as true, creating a reaction that opens you to the positive possibilities. Positive and negative thoughts both spring from the same place: your imagination. They are simply stories. You have the power to control your mind. So as long as you make up stories, you might as well choose ones that can serve you in a positive way.

What's your best piece of advice for parents of children with special needs?

Parents of special needs children have many stressors that never even enter the minds of other parents. In fact, many times it is the parent who suffers more than the child, as they struggle to reconcile their dreams for their child with the struggles of everyday life. Amazingly, children have a way of taking even the most difficult, frustrating situations in stride. The best thing you can do for your child is what you are already doing: encouraging him or her, being proud of each accomplishment, and celebrating—and enjoying—what is unique about your child.

Photo from istock

Monday, April 20, 2009

Baby-steps baseball

So, Sunday morning was Max's first baseball game, ever. We got him onto a Little League Challenger Division team. Dave and I left Sabrina at home with my sister and took Max, so we could give him all our attention.

Max basically wigged out for the first hour. Even though he loves baseball, he still gets unnerved in new settings. There were a lot of kids and parents running around, and lots of cheering.

He did calm down for a few minutes and tossed a ball around. But then he realized he needed to wail, so he went back to it.

Every kid was assigned a volunteer teen. There were also several coaches on hand. One of them, Kim, finally grabbed Max and took him, wailing, onto the field. Where he continued to wail and look around for us.

That's when I got into a conversation with Marge, the woman who started the team. Years ago, she went to find a baseball team for her daugher, who has disabilities, but she couldn't a team who would take her. So she started fundraising to build a field. And an amazing thing happened: a local woman who had lost her 26-year-old husband in the Pan Am flight that crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland read a story in the paper about Marge. This woman had won a settlement after her husband's death. And she donated the money to build the field. Incredible, right?

So, Max kept crying. Finally, I decided he'd had enough and grabbed him. And then, of course, he did the sign for "more."

After that, they got him up to bat, helped him hit the ball and he ran the bases.

Then he played the field.

Then he'd really had enough, so we made our way over to the snack table and he downed one croissant and one jelly donut.

Then he drove us home.

Dave hasn't said much, but he's thrilled. I know he's felt bummed over the years that he didn't have a little boy he could play sports with in the way he'd always imagined. Now, Max has the baseball bug. We went over to Target and picked up a tee ball set along with a lightweight bat and balls he could easily grip. And he played with it the entire afternoon and until it got dark, squealing with joy. Sabrina didn't even try to hog it (OK, she was preoccupied with the new Ariel doll we got her after the last one had an unfortunate encounter with Flarp).

It was a day none of us will ever forget.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Genius inventions for kids with special needs

I've posted before about helpful stuff for kids with disabilities. But nobody knows better what our kids need than we do—and some of us have actually found time to create them.

Shannon is selling this adaptive belt at her Etsy shop; you only need to use one hand to close it. It's got just one ring, and utilizes Velcro. She can make them in all kinds of fabrics. So cute, right?

Stacy, Evan's mom, recently started making cool bandana bibs for kids who drool—much more grown-up looking than baby bibs. They're lined with plastic, for absorbency. I've ordered six. Leave a comment on her blog if you're interested.

Melanie makes these felt crowns —modeled by world-famous supermodels Max and Sabrina—to pay for her son Daniel's ABR therapy. They are really well-made, durable and just plain adorable. There's a light pink one with boa trim that I may just have to get for myself.

Happy weekend! Hope you're doing something fun, and maybe even getting some time for yourself (I can practically hear all of you laughing). Max's first baseball game is on Sunday, I can't wait!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A random bit of inspiration from Britain's Got Talent

This is a clip from the April 11 Britain's Got Talent, their version of American Idol. Maybe you've seen it by now, it got a gazillion hits on YouTube. I usually consider show tunes about as enjoyable as doing my taxes, but I just watched it five times in a row. It's clear from the snickers and the eye rolls that people thought Susan Boyle, a 47-year-old volunteer church worker from Scotland, was a joke. All because of the way she looked. Then she blew them away. By now, the woman probably has a music contract and a book deal.

The whole thing got me thinking about how people sometimes make instant assumptions about Max, especially when he drools, holds his hands funny or looks... different. But when you get past that, the kid amazes you.

I hope he never stops amazing the world. BTW, he was mesmerized by this video. If he ever felt like belting out show tunes, I'd be OK with that.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And now, a few knock-knock jokes

Sabrina has been telling nonstop knock-knock jokes that make absolutely no sense. Dave and I crack up every single time, thereby encouraging her even more. Hopefully, she will not grow up to be the worst stand-up comic in the history of the world.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I love it when Max plays alone

Lately, Max is most happy behind the wheel, driving his imaginary car all around our first floor and wearing this Thomas cap from an old Halloween costume. We found the wheel in our backyard once the snow melted, I think it fell off some outdoor mobile we stored away. It's his new most favorite toy ever. Sabrina, meanwhile, just wants to play with Dave's iPhone. She thinks it's hers. Oh, and by the way, she's now using the "You're not going to go on the Disney cruise" empty threat against me. I told her to quit picking her nose the other day and she said, "That's rude! You're going to stay home all by yourself when we go on the Disney boat!" I actually thought letting Dave take the kids alone wouldn't be such a bad idea.

It thrills me that the kids are able to entertain themselves. Especially Max. For many years, I had to encourage him to play—he never did his own thing. But now, he's got his dream car (it's a Porsche Boxster, I assume), he's got his real cars and trucks he likes to crash, he's got his musical instruments he likes to bang and sing along to. He's even turning on the iPod docking station by himself. Now, if I could just train him to record The Office on the DVR, that would be stellar, because I keep forgetting to do it.

Max is still dependent on us for basic needs like being fed and changed. It is beyond heartening to see this independent streak emerging. Not to mention, cute.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday Morning Confessional: I'm still in denial about the cerebral palsy

Dave and I went out Saturday night to see I Love You, Man. It's pretty amusing, and introduced me to the concept of "man dates." We had time to kill before the movie started, so we swung by a new bookstore in town. I'd heard it was owned by parents of a child with autism, and I've been meaning to visit.

I spent the entire time browsing the "Special Needs" section. I felt a little wistful about some of the issues the books addressed—ADD? Wow, life would be so different if Max had that instead of CP [denial]. Tourette's Syndrome? Yep, I'd trade [denial]. Bipolar disorder? Not fun but still, not CP [denial]. Then I found this book.

First, it dawned on me that I'd never even considered buying a book about cerebral palsy [denial]. I stared and stared at the cover, showed it to Dave and said, "Look, it's Max." And I felt a serious pang of sadness [denial].

Book Boy holds his left hand in the same downward position that Max holds his right one. His toes are pointed the way Max's do. He's got that same sweet smile Max has. He's playing with a train, by himself. He has a mop of hair.

It was a sobering moment; they strike sometimes when I least expect them. But they never last. I snapped back, and decided it would be a good book to read.

We bought the book. We went next door to have ice-cream. We saw the movie. And it felt really, really good to laugh.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Children with autism: help raise awareness

The other day, I got an e-mail from a woman who'd helped launch a new website and campaign, Autism 151. One in 150 kids is diagnosed with autism; the "1" in the site's title signifies one community of hope. The site's goal is to collect 150 videos about kids with autism in the name of inspiration. It's an offshoot of Kyle's Treehouse, an online resource for families living with autism. It was started by parents whose son, Kyle, was diagnosed with autism in 1998 (here he is with his mom, Jen).

Please send send this link to anyone who might be interested, it's such a worthy project.

C is for Celebrate

The most amazing thing has been happening: Max is recognizing letters. His occupational therapist at school wrote to tell me that she drew some letters on the ground with sidewalk chalk and Max clearly said a "C." This gives me hope, real hope, that he will be able to read. If this had happened years ago, I would have immediately called the OT and thrown a barrage of questions at her—do you think this means he'll be able to read? Have you worked with other kids like Max who took a long time to learn the alphabet but were eventually able to read? Back then, I desperately wanted someone to have a crystal ball. Now, I savor his progress and try not to read too much into it.

The speech is coming along, too. Consonants remain tough, but he has a pretty distinctive "Mommy's home!" that he says when I walk in through the door at night. Those have to be the two best words ever.

The kids are off on spring break next week, I'm not, though next month we are taking them on a Disney cruise. It's coming in handy for threats ("Pick up the toys or you're not going on the cruise!").

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sibling rivalry: yeah, we've got it

Sabrina has this nasty habit of grabbing stuff right out of Max's hands. You know, just because. As he was holding a little broom last night (I am training the kids to clean the house, and next I plan to teach them roof repair), she swiped it from him. She did laps holding it, with him chasing her and finally grabbing her hair. She screamed, he screamed. Good times!

Sibling rivalry is nothing new to me: My sister and I used to go at each other. We're just 17 months apart, but we have pretty different personalities that basically boil down to, she's easygoing, I'm usually on overdrive. Come to think of it, sort of like Max and Sabrina. When we were little, we fought vehemently about stuff like who got the bigger half of anything. As teens who shared a room, we'd battle over when to turn out the lights (she'd want to crash, I'd want to stay up and read books). We're close these days, but we weren't BFF's back then.

Now I know exactly how my mother felt when my sister and I went at each other. When Max pulls Sabrina hair, because his hands get so tight from the cerebral palsy it's hard prying his fingers off, and I hurt for her. Sabrina sometimes will push Max and he'll go flying (she's got 10 pounds on him), which is always upsetting to see.

In some perverse way, though, it's a relief to me that my kids have sibling rivalry. It means that Max is cognitive enough to feel competitive with Sabrina, and to fight back when she bugs him. I know it's a normal part of childhood. And it's oddly reassuring to have "normal" in our lives.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How open are you about your child's disabilities?

I got a call a few weeks ago from a woman in my area. She'd read an article the local paper had done about Max and his stroke. She had a child with special needs of her own, and wanted to discuss our school district; we finally spoke the other night. Soon I'd told her all about Max's challenges and needs and I learned about her daughter's. By the time we hung up, I had a new friend.

When people ask what's up with Max, and they do, I am pretty open about his stroke and what happened to him because of it. I've always been that way, although early on in his life I had concerns about his privacy. Was it fair to Max to disclose details about his disabilities? What if as a grownup posts from his past—posts me, his own mom, had written—were there to damn him from being considered a "normal" adult?

Ultimately, I decided the positives outweighed the negatives. First, I do not want Max to feel as if his disabilities are something to be hidden, but something that are a part of who he is—every wonderful, spectacular, scrumptious, miraculous inch of him. In talking about Max's challenges, I also get to compare notes with other moms and learn things that could do Max good. And I can help moms with typically-developing kids understand that children with special needs should be treated just like any other kid. The one exception to all of the above is work, where I don't tell people a whole lot about Max. I'd never want a colleague to view me through a sympathy-tinted lens.

Dave is similarly straightforward about Max, except he doesn't get into discussions with friends, neighbors or whoever about him in the way I do. It's not that he doesn't want to, it's that people are less likely to ask him the questions that they pose to me. And he is generally less likely to discuss child rearing. If he ever turned to a mom and said something like, "I'm curious, what time do you put your kids to bed?" or "Do you think it's OK to let your little girl go the mall in her pajamas?" I'd be all, "WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY HUSBAND?!"

So, how open are you about your child's disabilities?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Arguing with kids over clothes: so not worth it

This is what Max wore to bed last night. Yes, pajamas topped by a jeans jacket. "Eeens ack-et!" he calls it.

This is what Sabrina wore to bed last night, as well as ALL DAY Sunday, except for the two hours I was able to coax her into slipping leggings and a shirt on top for a kid's birthday party. In the last month, she has worn her pj's to gymnastics, to music class, to assorted supermarkets and once, to the mall. "My peejamas" she calls them.

I read once that little kids often dig in their heels on outfits because they have few other areas in life where they can assert control. And so, I let Sabrina wear the pj's in public, I let Max sleep in the jeans jacket.

This does not make me a Mommy wuss. At least, I don't think it does.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Make-you-melt Daddy moments

Max's teacher, Erin, sent me this shot of Dave and Max from last week. She invited parents to read to the class, and Dave stopped by and read Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse. Dave said Max got the biggest smile on his face when Dave walked in and evidently, it stayed.

I love this photo.

Every once in a while, I'll notice Dave doing something with the kids and my heart melts a little. Like when I come upon him and Max cuddling on the couch, watching sports. Or when he's struggling to get Sabrina into her little pink leotard for gymnastics. Or when he plants his annual tomatoes with the two of them by his side, tossing clumps of dirt around. Or when he picks up both kids in his big bear arms and carries them somewhere.

I fell in love with Dave soon after we first met. And I fell in love with him all over again when he became a dad.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Octo-mom nation

We were at Target today, and octo-mom Nadya Suleman was the main theme of the magazines at the checkout counter. One had an article about how the nannies she'd gotten through Angels in Waiting were saying she was never there for her babies and that she just liked to shop. Another featured recent photos of her with a few babies. Another had a piece on her bringing home the seventh octuplet from the hospital.

Every single time I read something about her, it gets to me. It's hard to cough up anything but contempt for a woman who chose to have all those embryos implanted in her, but I feel for her babies. Who have real possibilities of having developmental issues because they were born so prematurely.

Did nobody tell her that was a risk? Or did she not listen?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What's your idea of weekend fun?

We were at a zoo we'd never been to a couple of weekends ago, and came upon these two. I wanted to stand there and quietly observe them, except Sabrina kept screeching things like "MOOOOOOOOOOMMY, why aren't they wearing any clothes?" and "MOOOOOOOOOMMY, look at that POOP!" and "MOOOOOOOOOOMMY, she has your hair!" (I kid you not and, no, I do not have a badly-permed shock of gray hair though maybe mine does get a teensy bit frizzy at times). And Max just wanted out of the chimp house, so I couldn't linger.

We don't have set plans for this weekend, other than taking Sabrina to a birthday party, but I'm leaning toward hitting our local zoo. It's something we all enjoy. What I probably will not be doing is sorting the toys in the kids' playroom and putting away the ones they have outgrown, a task I have successfully procrastinated doing for months now. I keep wishing the kids would do it (HA!) or that Dave will (HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!).

And what will you be doing this weekend?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How much sleep do you need?

Woke up this morning, caffeine headache gone, feeling generally amazing. And I had this major epiphany: I need more sleep.

I delude myself into thinking that I am somehow above sleep, that I can cram and cram stuff into my evenings, get six to seven hours of shuteye and be fine. I tend to have good energy, so pretty much nothing stops me (assuming I get my morning cup of iced coffee, as you all now know). But the thing is, getting seven to eight hours absolutely makes me feel more relaxed in general and gives me a better outlook on life.

Last night, I feel asleep at 10:30. I was woken up at 2:00 in the morning by Sabrina. Obsessed with Dave's iPhone, she had gone downstairs to get it and was sitting on our bed, playing some dippy princess game she loves that has the world's most annoyingly dramatic music. It basically sounds like music for a princess funeral. When I groggily asked, "WHAT are you doing?" she responded, ever so logically, "Playing the princess game!"

Yet not even sleep interrupted by morbid princess music got to me, because I scored close to nine hours total. And I felt absolutely fantastic all day. Still feel fantastic now.

How much sleep do you guys get—and how much sleep do you actually need? Very curious to know.

Photo by Rachel Shingleton

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