When my only sister experienced the tragedy of her first born being diagnosed with SMA, my heart shattered with hers as if it was my own daughter's life changing before my eyes. I remember wishing at that time I could hand her my muscles so she could run track meets and cross country invitational's, or even just so she could use them to walk. Forever.
The diagnosis was final the year I was getting married and it took a long time for all of us to swallow. I recall completing my college degree the following year or so and taking a course called Performance Studies. I learned to incorporate written works, visual and audio media to deliver a personal message with each project. The most memorable and moving brought some to tears; including me. It was this performance that I realized there was a part of my sister's life I could never fully understand, and it angered me there was nothing I could do to change that.
Part of the performance was a video tape of little Lindsey using her small hands (from her wheelchair) to assist with the care of her baby brother. I knew exactly what song I wanted to play along with the scenes. I was there the night she came home from the hospital as a newborn. Nothing could stop her from crying, except listening to Jewel. Jewel's song Hands is what I think she would have sang to all of us at that time in her life if she could have pulled the words together.
The class was silent, mesmerized by her subtle movements and loving effort with each clip of footage. Then I began to read Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley. It reads:
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy.
You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.
You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands.
The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy!
I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan.
They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting,
filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.
But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath,
you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....
and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...
and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.
And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...
because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy,
you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
When it came to the part above I bolded, I had to walk off the stage. I was sobbing too much I could no longer speak. My classmates thought it was part of the act. I worked at pulling myself together and wondered what just happened. As I got back on stage to complete the reading, I read the words, but my mind was just realizing that I can never go with her to Holland and she will never be with me in Italy. Ironically, Mike and I were planning a trip to Italy that year, which made the meaning of this reading resonate a lot deeper.
I try to imagine that our lives apart won't keep us (literally and figuratively) distant, but the truth is that's a fact we have to work around and work hard at. She has to keep trying to explain to me what the windmills are like and I can tell her about The Coliseum. We also get to verbalize our hardships so we can continue to support each other. Just like she did for me when I didn't make cheer in Jr. High. Like I did for her during a teenage break-up. The kind of support that, at times, only a sister can offer.
with this outfitting pleasure:
it is rather unfortunate all the years i held the blue ones i adored in my hands and said 'next time'. blue half cabs are nowhere to be found, not even on ebay. never wait, my friends.
these are alternative options, just in case i can't get over the fact that i may never have blue half cabs for the rest of my entire life.
In 2004 some of the most amazing bands, ok THE CURE to name one, played and I was about to have my baby on the other side of the world. I fell into a deep depression for a week with sadness that I was missing it.
Some bands I am thrilled about, in no particular order and on various days:
jesus and mary chain
silversun pickups (this one's for my sister lisa)
the decemberists (thanks, rachael)
ghostface killah (only because I love to play that worm on dreamcast)
crowded house (lisa, you really should come)
Paul van Dyk (for mike)
red hot chili peppers
7 HOUR DRIVE AND ONLY FRIDAY'S LINE-UP HAS TICKET AVAILABILITY.
Not sure how I feel about the effort needed to go and my level of love for the bands on the only available day...
so take it with a grain of salt or take a chance and trust me that this band is good. click on name below for myspace link.
So the year we went it was like a variety show. People read funny pieces of literature, sang songs, performed skits, all sorts of hilariousness and true talented performers. Yummy appetizers and baked treats everywhere you looked along with superb holiday decor. The mood was supreme and I enjoyed the mixture of the crowd.
Then I was my usual self, thinking an idea was a lot funnier in my head than it actually was in real life. It was my turn to work the crowd. Still shedding my pregnancy weight, I tugged my only fancy sweater that fit over my belly to an unwrinkled position and headed to the front of too many faces. On my way up I grabbed a drummer who might assist with my humiliation.
I began with a serious tone, telling them about the wonderful Christmas memories that come to mind in December. How this special song in my heart was always near and dear to my sister and I as we grew up together over the years. I had dramatic pauses and elaborate hand gestures for effect. As I passed out the lyrics I begged everyone to assist in the singing (not a talent I have). The song was Last Christmas by WHAM!
I got a decent chuckle from the group when announcing the song, but it went down hill from there. Apparently no one (including me) had any idea how to carry the tune. Into the third verse someone saved me and suggested we move on to the next act. I am pretty sure the whole ordeal ranks up there as one of my more embarrassing moments.
This weekend there is a ward party with a karaoke machine. My family should thank their lucky stars Last Christmas is not available on the song list.
I had to check. Someday I just might have to redeem myself.
At each venue I was always amazed at how dirty and drab the room was the musicians would hang out in backstage. There was usually a mixture of ripped up, old couches, but never a party going on like you see in the movies. Then again, I didn't really waste my time or money as a teenager going to the stadiums to see my favorite bands- they were never that popular. Or if they were, it would not have been an enjoyable concert to have to share the front (and back) of the stage with so many people.
Sometimes we would get invited to the after-party by a boy in a no-name opening band. We had dumb luck to never encounter trouble. Just one evening of awkwardness comes to mind.
Shannon paired up with a drummer, I can't remember if it was the one in Mighty Mighty Bosstones or from one of the random opening bands. I remember I was jealous her guy had on Creepers and I couldn't stop staring at his feet all night. Mine was Chris, a guitarist (bassist?) who played for No Use for a Name; this made him slightly more appealing. I can't recall which band he played in that night. I think he's in Foo Fighters now, but I could be wrong. All I could tell you about him was that he smoked and his shoes were far less impressive than the drummer's.
The awkward part was the party portion of the evening at the hotel all bands were staying at, one barely a step above Motel 8. The lead singer of The Pietasters (my main music crush of the year) was turning 30, it was a birthday bash for him. Shannon and I realized for some strange reason we were the only ladies in the room packed with people. We wandered into one room and found some empty chairs to sit in. Several guys were hanging out in that room just chillin out watching t.v. Only soon we realized it was a porno. Hrm. We opted to head outside and take a walk with Cool Shoes and Smokey. Just as we were leaving the strippers showed up. Nice timing, I would say.
In honor of this memory I think it's high time I find my son some Creepers.
...and in case the next kid is a girl...
Today I decided to look at my body differently (and hit the gym). I decided there are parts of me to celebrate and love, beyond the imperfections.
Today I decided to declare that I love my boobs.
Today I invite you to declare something about your body that you love. Make a blog entry about it, post a comment here, or just write it down on paper to remember this week.
Say it out loud, tell someone.
Your body is something to love and celebrate.
Growing up, we were a family of 4 people total. When my mom would bring packaged ice cream treats home from the grocery store I would immediately count the number of items in the box to see how many I was allotted. Nestle Drumsticks were the worst; everyone was slotted to only have one. From the time the treat of choice hit the freezer, usually 5:45pm, until post-dinner indulgence seemed an eternity.
Fudgsicles were great, there were so many no one else would keep track of the count. I could have more than my fair share! Ice cream sandwiches were another hard one, though. With only six to a box, I knew I had to leave one of the extra two for my sister. She didn't have quite the obsession with treats I had (and still have) so hers would sit in the freezer for d a y s. It drove me nuts. One week was the maximum amount of time I would allow before I would break down and eat it, however, I always gave a casual reminder two days before consumption.
You better believe the first trip to the grocery store on my own included my very own box of ice cream sandwiches. I practically ran through the checkout so I could get home quickly to eat more than my fair share. I even contemplated eating one in the car, but chose to hold out. I decided to test this little sick theory I always heard about. My mother would tell me on several occasions that if I ate too many of any treat I would get sick. I never believed her, eating such goods only made me happy.
After unloading all my groceries, I sat down and ate myself 6 delicious ice cream sandwiches in a row that fine Saturday afternoon. It was glorious. I watched the clock and waited for signs of the flu. I never puked, dry heaved, or even felt the slightest hint of stomach aches.
I must, however, admit it has taken me 10 years and a pregnancy craving to bring me to eat another one since that Saturday afternoon. I am glad this was one of the few times I had to learn something the hard way instead of listening to my mother.
*not my photo
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips (oops- I used a whole bag and we loved them!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs.
Stir in peanut butter and sugar. Add chocolate chips.
Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes.
Thanks, Melanie, for the recipe. If Mike didn't have you for a sister (fellow celiac and talented cook), he and I would be pretty screwed.
1. toddler ate whole stick of detergent
(um. try poison control? not google.)
2. crayon all over dryer
3. david winmill death
(yikes! I hope we don't know the same david.)
4. backwards fast food song
5. wore mascot
6. accidentally drink red before colonoscopy
7. raquel in the wild
(by far the most disappointed of all.)
When I was a working gal I used to think housewives had the easiest lives ever. They didn't have to deal with a commute, drudging to the subway in the snow, nasty people coughing on you with coffee/ morning breath, walking through urine puddles and stench to switch from the N to the F, no bundling up in winter clothing and high heels, dealing with office politics, being chummy with the right people, working late and ordering take-out instead of a nice, healthy meal.
Yeah, I thought I was missing out big time. They could bake cookies whenever they wanted, wander around the parks and mingle with the other moms. They could have a grilled cheese for lunch and make a crock pot dinner!
I sort of forgot all about the kid part, or rather, was too naive to realize there as a lot more to it.
What I would give for a lunch ALONE, prepared by someone else. The train ride sounds amazing, 30-45 minutes every day of doing absolutely nothing. Just sitting, listening to music or people watching would be pretty nice. Take-out, heavenly, if only there would be items on the menu the short one in the family would be willing to eat. And I can't remember the last time I put on a pair of shoes that flattered my calves.
It's funny to reflect back on how I thought things would be and compare it to reality.
Although reality is a lot more diapers and defiance than I imagined, I truly wouldn't change anything about this life I have chosen. I am super grateful I have the option to work or stay home with my son. There are really great days I feel a twinge of guilt that I get to do this; we do bake cookies and go to the park. It just isn't every single day.
I really used to think the solution would be to job-share. Then the working girls will run back to their offices and the mothers would run back home to their children, each appreciating the routine they are in and the comfort of their lives in the now.
She is a mother I really admire and when I think of how to be a good mom and what decisions to make, I instantly think “what would Kathryn do?”
She was the first person I met in the last place I lived; I met her at church. She left several messages for me so she could stop by and visit, knowing I was new and probably could use a friendly hello. My schedule at work kept me late or caused me to travel, so I wasn’t making it easy for her charitable heart to get to my front door.
We finally connected and she brought me a nice little holiday baggie of chocolates and the warmest, most welcoming smile I could ever ask for. She was also the first, besides family and close friends, to hear our news of expecting our first child. Her genuine excitement for us made me know we would do just fine in our new town.
Soon she was nurturing her newborn, the third addition to her family. Although our paths did not cross socially for several months to come, I knew she was someone I wanted to know better. I would watch her from afar, aware of her sweet spirit, and see how tender she would be with her family.
I will always remember a brief conversation we had about teaching little boys reverence at a young age and it made quite an impression on me. While I was struggling with how to manage a pre-nursery age child during church, she calmly shared with me her success story of how she learned on her mission to always pray before leaving her home. The habit stayed with her into adulthood and parenthood. This example is what led her to watching her toddler kneel by himself before going out to play, her example was rubbing off nicely.
She was always up for a ladies night out, acknowledging the importance of mommy break time. She fulfilled her church callings with duty and love, never complaining. I knew I could confide in her with some stressful concerns that crossed my mind from time to time, knowing I could trust her and received her honest opinion. A mutual friend and I once talked of how she always gives to others without ever expecting anything in return.
Kathryn, you make me less scared to have more children. Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for being a great example of motherhood to me.
If you are anything like me, you are still thinking about what to make for tomorrow's romantic menu. For breakfast, one of our favorites we learned about from friends, is Eggs Florentine.
I plan to make it along with homemade hash browns* and gluten-free pancakes cut into hearts.
spinach, mushrooms, or tomatoes
Fill greased muffin tins with deli sliced ham (as if they are cups) and place dried spinach, mushrooms, or tomatoes on the bottom of the ham 'cup'. Put your raw egg in next and top with a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, then top with cheddar cheese and cook an additional 5 minutes. The eggs are nice and poached, running all over the toasted ham once you dig into them with your fork.
I find these a nice, quick treat to eat cold as well, so make a lot of them.
*My hashbrowns are just shredded potatoes in a skillet with salt, pepper, and garlic powder cooked on each side until golden brown. Usually takes 30 minutes or so to get them nice and crispy.
**You can tell from the fancy plate in the image, this isn't my photo.
Our PE teacher actually cared about us. She was a runner, super honest and understanding.
The thing you have to remember about girls of this age, which our teacher understood, is that every single one of them feels awkward. Someone else always had bigger boobs, better skin, a better tan, a cuter boyfriend, or newer Guess Jeans. And it was never me. But there was worse. There was Vanessa. She actually wore the school mascot costume to the football games, had poor social and hygiene skills, gray teeth, a shaggy boy haircut that just never grew, and the worst acne imaginable. She was the character in every single teen movie people made fun of.
As for this memorable excercise, we had to go around the room one by one while the rest of the circle was to shout out positive things about the girl. Vanessa was 5 people before me and I was so worried about what would happen. What if no one said anything? Would she cry? What if there was complete silence? Oh, think of something nice to say about Vanessa! Why is she making us do this? This is so cruel.
Most of the other girls in the class had obvious physical attributes to compliment, which was all we really wanted to hear about ourselves anyway. You would get the occasional 'funny', but that didn't really mean a whole lot to any of us in terms of "Jr. High value".
It got to Vanessa and I looked down at my brown sandals, my imperfect toes suddenly bothered me a lot less. My mind was blank, but someone needed to start a positive comment. Someone finally shouted NICE! and another repeated THOUGHTFUL! followed by SMART! and GREAT SCHOOL SPIRIT! I found the thesaurus in my mind and participated in the most glorious event that a 13 year old girl could observe: complimenting the one person in our whole school that really needed to hear it the most. And they weren't fake compliments. No one said GREAT SKIN or LOVELY HAIR or NICE SMILE and that was what I was most afraid of. There were no lies, it was all genuine.
Much like The Breakfast Club, afterwards we all still went on our ways with our hidden insecurities and same social groups, but I think Vanessa walked a little taller after that day. I know I felt proud I participated in that circle of people, not because of my own package of recieved compliments- but the ones we all freely and honestly gave. We all left a trail of butterflies behind us in the library that day.
When I think of my friends and acqaintances, I try to think like I did in that circle. I try hard to look at the person and think of all the genuine, wonderful things they are (inside and outside). When I speak of those not around me, I am getting better at speaking of things I would say in that circle. It is a much better feeling than hoping my negative words don't get repeated. More importantly, the negatives don't come to my mind as easily or as often as they once did.
I didn't like it there so much the first several months, having shifted over from a brief stint in Long Island. I found it hard to sleep with the new urban noises outside my window every hour of the night. It seemed like a really dirty, old, and unkempt place. Every single patch of narrow road was littered with trash and potholes; double parking was the norm. I learned the ways of living in this seemingly unsettling place that today seems more like home than anywhere else in the world.
I also saw beauty and history once my eyes adjusted and I let my guard down. I met some of the more interesting people I may ever encounter. I was never bored, there was always somewhere new to explore or visit. Brooklyn holds the best summers a girl could ask for. Living there helped me become a new person and it holds so many memories I wish I could bottle up and share with everyone I meet.
I have to admit, all of that aside, I would not say it was an easy place to live. For that I hope to always be grateful for the little luxuries living in the burbs has to offer. I hope I am always thankful for the following things:
* no alternate street parking
* my own parking space
* a garage!
so much more than I really need in life
* no air conditioning unit hanging from our windows
thanks to the novel idea of central air conditioning
* no shared walls
* no mariachi music blasting above my head
* parking lot at the grocery store
* sidewalks without jagged cracks to trip on
* dish washer
* no visible graffiti
* no bars on windows
* no bullet proof glass in front of the cashier
at the post office and taco bell
* garbage disposal
* no need to have a guard check my receipt as I leave a store
* kitchen cabinets
more than 2 of them
* a pantry
* coin-free washer and dryer, inside my home
* Trader Joe's
* neighborhood shrubbery and trees
more vegetation in general beyond the parks
* no radiator or baseboard heating
I never got used to the sound in the middle of the night
* visiting a friend without planning an extra 30 minutes to park
we were wusses and tried to drive a lot in the winter
This is not to say there is a competition over what is better [burbs or urban]. It is to say there are great things about both lifestyles and my mind often finds itself torn between missing one and enjoying the other.
Adriana, you are so hating this post. I could have expanded more on the awesome about it, huh.
Tania, did I miss anything in my list?
I truly enjoyed posting some stuff at Design Mom this week. I wrote about chocolate, more chocolate, (yawn) chocolate, fairy tales, cheese, date ideas, and some things that have inspired me.
It was more challenging than I thought to post in someone else's space. Each post I sent her left me wanting to revamp it the next morning. I sat at my computer each night wishing I was a design expert to follow her traditional posts that are always pleasing to view like a shiny magazine that takes you away from the cares of the day. But she knew I wasn't her when she invited me, so I had to remind myself to be.....well, myself. Luckily, she has a supportive readership and her own encouraging words along the way, so I am grateful for the opportunity for my 'voice' to be heard in another forum.
The week prior I had grand ideas of photographing and interviewing local artists, but it didn't come together with timing I had hoped for. Perhaps those ideas will be incorporated into random appearances around here.
Keep checking in with Design Mom! She has give-a-ways all the time that will suit your fancy.
My printer is out of ink,
I do have a little Dr. kit
Except this great Blink-182 cover
I laughed with son about silly noises, funny faces, and goofy gestures. We took turns dancing and clapping for one another, making sure to remind the other to bow at the end of each 30 second performance. I taught him how to cut bananas for smoothies instead of brushing him out of the way, resisting the assumption he would only get into trouble.
I made dinner for my family without complaining even though none of the ingredients sounded tasty in my mind.
I followed a prompting to visit someone having a hard time this year. Someone who may or may not have needed my visit. Someone who knew I was having a hard time when I moved here and took time out of her busy day to bring me the simplest thing: A loaf of fresh bread from a nearby bakery.
Every bite of that bread made me feel more comfortable and happy about living in a new place, still learning to make friends. To remember that she thought of me that day and went out of her way with a gesture of thoughtfulness teared me up with gratitude this afternoon. It reminded me to act on the impressions I have in the moment, to not allow them to pass. To make that phone call when I am thinking about someone, to not put it off. To not let the uncertainty of how a simple gesture will be received paralyze me. To know that doing nothing will never be the right choice.
Today I gave a loaf of bread.
The memory of getting my own loaf was incredibly rewarding to reflect upon.
Today it was KFC. I broke my fast-food-once-a-month-only-rule within one week. Zane and I strolled into KFC after a great day at the park and the sun was shining. No one was in line, although there was a scare with the debit card reader for a moment and she asked me if I had cash. I was seriously not going to leave without my order, even if I had to beg or count the change at the bottom of my bag. We could sling fried chicken if we had to, Zane loves to help in the kitchen at home, I thought. I was not leaving without my biscuit, wedges and gravy. But that got resolved, thankfully, by Xavier from the back.
Zane mostly sat still and ate corn and some chicken while I inhaled the delightful biscuits and gravy. I ordered a size large gravy so I could bring it home and pour it on everything I eat for the rest of the week. There is nothing better than a week's worth of gravy sitting in the fridge. Our full tummies were content as we rolled out the door. I nestled the container safely in the back on the floor between the back of the seat, my diaper bag, and the inside of the door.
It was rush hour traffic on the drive home and everyone looked angry and in a hurry behind their steering wheels. If only they could share the joy of gravy they wouldn't be so mad. As I prepared to complete my turn, a shiny black Mercedes was suddenly speeding through the red light and almost hit us! He swerved and missed, thank the good Lord above. My heart was beating out of my chest and Zane was asking questions about the words that flew out of my mouth.
We completed the drive home in silence as I pondered the first thought that came to my mind during that scary incident:
Oh no the GRAVY! It's going to spill!
This week I will be a guest blogger at
so come along and let's see how it goes.
I am not sure what I plan to talk about each day,
I will save the topic of sex for my own website.
We are breaking all sorts of rules. Announcing early, talking about names....
We didn't want opinions about names from other people for our first born so we kept the names list under wraps. It was also so fun to call people with Zane's stats AND name! Besides, it's fun to keep a secret. People told us it was a fun surprize, even though some frustration was expressed during the 9 months of waiting.
This time, we are pretty certain of a specific girl name (if it's a girl), although we can't be certain until we meet her. I will hide the one we love within other names we would never choose.
P.S. This is not a poll. We love the hidden name a lot no matter how many people really prefer Valborg.
Zane has a little table and chairs set from Ikea. It is probably the most ignorant purchase I have ever made. You see, it has made my toddler able to access the only surfaces in the house that were once off limits no matter how much he cried or tried to scale the cabinets. It is my least favorite purchase.
One day this week he had many interesting experiments, much thanks to the handy blue Ikea chair. While on the computer at the bottom of the stairs, Zane happily shouted down from the top "hair gel". I know when he takes time out of his play to tell me something, it often means I need to run fast. Usually he just tells me flat out mommy I make a mess and brings me to the scene of the crime. I am curious of what his interpretation of hair gel is as I notice a shiny patch of hair on top of his head. I find the blue chair allowed his access to my tall bedroom dresser. I also found an opened bottle of consecrated oil, typically used for giving blessings to the ill. As I am replacing the cap and removing the chair, he tops off the shine with baby lotion and we get this remarkably stylish affect.
Next on his accomplished agenda was pouring water all over the bathroom floor, thanks to the Ikea cups and stepping stool. No big deal, easy to clean and distract attention to something new.
Taking a phone call I return to what he commonly refers to as the "chicken" to see the four-legged accomplice pushed up to the kitchen sink. The bottle of Dawn is empty and blue dots are peppered all over his clothing and covering the floor. Much to my surprise, soap is incredibly complicated to clean up. I would put it as a close second to sweeping up scrambled eggs.
During lunch I notice crayon all over the kitchen table just as he smears his jelly over his angled patterns. It happens to be near the corner of the table that has a broken hinge where the other part of the table used to be attached. Several weeks ago while I was retrieving a phone call he was leaning on this high quality Ikea table and half of it snapped off its hinges. The evening ended with me looking for him so we could wash up for dinner. I seek his muffled giggle, which led me to him sitting inside of the dryer .
The blur of dinner passes, Mike takes over and puts him to bed. I look forward to my evening of sleep. Of relative solitude, nothing to clean and no one to place in time-out. Just my head on a pillow, fully resting on my back preparing for another busy tomorrow.
I wake at roughly 4am and open my eyes. Something seems different, not quite right. I realize there is a warm 2-year-old body laying across my neck, draped legs dangling on one side of my face with arms and head gently arched to the other. He is sleeping on me like a human scarf.
Somehow the more he grows up the less escape routes and windows of safe time alone there are.