Saturday, July 27, 2013

One Step, Two Steps - Here We Go!

I stood in the kitchen at 6 AM this morning, stirring a pot of veggie soup for Hunter. Behind me paper cracked as the Resident Toddler emptied the box of recycling. I listened out of the corner of one ear, my focus oh the workday ahead and all the things I had to do.

Then the only sound I heard was the swoosh of the spoon through the soup. Silence, behind me. Then a brief, breathy giggly.

I sploshed the spoon on the counter and whirled, expecting to find him emptying my purse or unloading the desk drawer. 

Instead, there he stood, knees slightly bent, arms out for balance, wobbling ever so slightly, a grin showing wider and wider over his face.

I caught my breath. Before I could whoop and clap and celebrate, he lifted one foot, then another. His tongue poked out between the grin. Ten steady, measured steps, and he wrapped my knees in a Hunter Special Hug Supreme.

And just like that, my kiddo's walking. It's still brief, unsteady, but it's nonstop. He'll be off and running next.
I surprised myself by being actually rather calm about the whole thing. I cried the first time if course, but now it's just a warm fizz of happiness. I think that's because I was okay with who H was not walking. I wanted him to walk, and it's awesome that he's started, but I thought he was pretty cool as a crawler too.

I'm surprised that I'm so calm, but I'm also happy, in the same quiet, deep happiness of a tree soaking sunshine right to the roots. I don't fear the future anymore, and I don't wrestle against Hunter's delays (most of the time!!). He is incredible just as he is, as and long as he's happy, so am I. 

And the realization that I'm at that point of acceptance just makes each step all the sweeter.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Not Good Enough

I just spent two hours editing the scholarship essay I’ve already edited a dozen times. I still don’t like it. 

If it were just the essay, I’d decide it was that simple, trash it, and start over.  But it’s not just the essay.  It’s everything.  It’s all the school assignments I tore up a million times only to turn in an essay or presentation I hated just as much as the first one – only to get A’s on all of them.  It’s the incredible stress that grinds at my shoulders when I’m two minutes late to work – even though I happily cover for my employers when they are late.  It’s the persistent voice in my head that whispers “Wow, you really messed that up, and they probably think you’re a stupid idiot, since you certainly sound like one whenever you open your mouth.”
It’s the mantra I whisper over and over to myself “Idiot.  Stupid.  Dumb, dumb, dumb stupid me who never gets anything right.”
Truth is, I do get things right.  Bad students don’t get A’s, and poor employees don’t have good references.  Even though I may look and act thrown together, my child certainly does not.  I am a good mom, lucky enough to spend most of my time caring for my son and the other kids I’m blessed to care for.
All this I know objectively, because it’s factual information I can’t deny.  I don’t feel any of it.  What I feel is a failure, most of the time.  When I actually admit I may, possibly, have done something a little bit right I feel like I need to check over both shoulders quick for condemnation.
There’s nothing wrong with perfection.  But I am a perfectionist going wrong, and I’m afraid of where it’s going.
Because how can I be a special needs mom who advocates for acceptance when I can’t accept myself?  How can I cherish Hunter for the amazing person he is when I hate myself?  How can I expect him to confidently believe in himself when my confidence is a shriveled up sponge and I believe I’m a failure…when I’m not?
“You’re too hard on yourself,” people tell me all the time.  

“How can you be too hard on yourself?” I retort.  “I wouldn’t be where I am without being this hard on myself.”

Truth is, that’s probably not truth.  There’s a sort of greed in this everlasting hunger to be better better better.  It’s one thing to realize have goals and work toward them and it’s another thing to let every milestone toward those goals fall to the ground like empty trash. 

This wasn’t the post I intended to write today.  I think it’s the post I needed to write.  I needed to get it out in black on white and really realize that this isn’t just affecting me, it will affect Hunter too.

So I’m asking for help.  Who else struggles like this?  How do you work through it?  Most of all, how do you prevent it from affecting those whom you love?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

back at it

Hello again, strange blog world which I have not visited for the past several months.  Not from a lack of things to say, that’s for sure: I had lots and lots to say, but time pinched, so I just said them to myself.  Out loud.  In public.  

Pretty sure this past semester destroyed what small remenent of public sanity I possessed – oh, and it was far worse than just blogging aloud in WalMart. 
Of course, now I have time, I can’t find any words.  Today is the dozenth time I’ve typed and backspaced a post about this semester, which was crazy and life-changing and awful and amazing, so instead of a Profound Post on the correlations between Academia, Insanity, and Personal Growth, I’m going to do a quick update and then post lots of pics of a certain outrageously cute toddler I share a domicile with. 
Besides aforementioned semester, not much noteworthy happened for me over the last few months.  Hunter, however, has grown in leaps and bounds.  He went to daycare for the first time, which was traumatic for me and him (<< and much more so I’m sure for his teachers who had to put up with our histronics) but we both got over it and it was okay.  Thankfully.  I am now all stressed out about preschool, however, so apparently I didn’t get over that much.
He also finally started growing.  He’s still a pipsqueak-y version of what an almost-two-year-old should be, but he’s filled out nicely and we actually moved through two sizes of clothes.
He still demonstrates allergic reactions to dairy, grains, unbaked egg and other foods, but my allergen-free cooking is coming along quite nicely and someone eats meat and veggies and coconut like a busy little piglet, neatly, with fork and spoon, all by himself.  I’m ridiculously proud of him.  Also, he is ridiculously handsome while doing so – don’t you think???


Walking and talking are still coming along, painfully slowly.  Somedays I get frustrated and wonder what I’m doing wrong and why isn’t something done about it, and some days I just enjoy where he’s at and celebrate tiny milestones. 
Actually, frustration and sadness related to Down syndrome is becoming less and less a part of our lives, which surprises me, but it shouldn’t.  Hunter is hard to be frustrated with.  And not because he is good and happy all the time, either.  The small blond beastie’s legs might not be toddling, but his attitude has TODDLER written in all caps.  He’s mischief incarnate, devilishly smart, and exhausting.  He has such a strong personality which is so completely his own. 
As his second birthday approaches, I think back a lot to those first few weeks after his birth, and all the projections I had about what a little boy with Down syndrome would be like.  What I didn’t realize then was that I wouldn’t have a “little boy with Down syndrome”, I would have my smart little stinker of a son.  A cook.  A book-lover.  Fiercely independent.  Inventor of complex games of hide-and-seek.  Hugger extraordinaire.  Little trickster who loves to make people laugh and keeps me endlessly on my toes. Noisy, dramatic, a handful, and so much MORE than I ever expected.
More updates soon, and more photos to follow.

Monday, January 14, 2013


My baby turned 18 months old last week!  SOB.  Where did eighteen months GO?!  When did the wee smidge of a baby with a dusting of blond feather-hair become this sturdy, laughing toddler-person who is on haircut #2?

I’ve been aware of turning time and passing stages as Hunter moved through babyhood, but I always looked forward too much to the next milestone to mourn the departing day.  But now we are moving into toddlerhood, and babytime is so very almost slipped-through-my-fingers gone.  And oh, the mourning?  It’s finally here.  Because my baby is waving bye-bye at me, and he’s never coming back.

I want to clutch at these last few days, hoard them away in memory so at least I can take them out and remember.  The shutter has been clicking, but I want to journal too, to put the memories into words.  And so, a collection of random “word pictures” of my 18 month old:

He loves to eat.  food he can feed himself is the biggest hit.  Little man is close to self-sufficient with a plastic fork, and manages a spoon nicely with mashed beans or avocadoes.  He stubbornly insists on holding utensils like a grownup, which of course doesn’t work very well with baby fine motor skills, but he persists, transferring the fork daintily from fingertips to fingertips, and then wobbily to his mouth.  Despite all my best efforts he has turned into a true picky eater; loving a food one minute and then flinging it against the wall the next.  Argh.  The one food that is always a guaranteed hit are his grain-free cinnamon squash pancakes.  The day I added cinnamon to the mix, he gobbled them up with a ginormous grin on his face, and then stuck two thumbs into the air and splatted sticky hands together in baby applause.  Needless to say he got seconds.

Independence is the new word of the day.  He’s perfected this angry parrot squawk which means “Mom, let ME do it!”.  When I see him struggling over a task, tongue peeked between his tightly pursed lips, any attempts at help are met with a chubby hand held imperiously in my face.  He also knows how to roll his eyes and does so frequently, blue irises disappearing for an exasperated moment behind his outrageously long sandy eyelashes.  He’s loving, affectionate, tempestuous.  His moods change faster than windblown clouds. Most of all, it’s becoming apparent that he is first and foremost a comedian.  He does everything for show.  Instead of merely hiding behind a curtain and then peeking out during hide-n-seek, he swooshes the curtain over his face, holds perfectly still for a silent moment, and then sweeps it aside with the aplomb of a ringmaster.  “Ta-da!”  When I fall over in feigned shock at his amazing reappearance, he goes into a fit of high-pitched giggles and repeats the performance until we’re both too weak from laughing to continue.

He’s not walking yet, though he can stand independently for a few seconds.  His crab-crawl is lickety-split-fast, and his absolute favorite activity is escaping my grasp in the library and scuttling in between and under shelves, giggling hysterically the closer I get in pursuit.

Yesterday he colored with crayons "correctly" for the first time. He scribbled a crayon on paper and his eyes opened wide as he saw the purple scrawl.  Gurgling in delight he hauled on my pant leg to show me the masterpiece.  Then, humming quietly to himself, he used every.single.crayon in wide, sweeping rainbows of color.  After we put the crayons away, he went back to the paper quite a few times, tracing the drawing with his pointer, cooing quietly to himself.  I thought my face was going to split from smiling so hard.

We've been dealing with a lot of fussing at work and home lately, so last week I laid down the law: "Okay, I'm not going to pick you up when you're whining.  You have to be happy and then I will pick you up!"  After a few episodes of copious tear-shedding on my feet, Hunter got the idea.  Now, he scuttles over, signs up, then pastes on this huge gap-toothed grin.  Every time.  Heartmelter.

He is bright, shiny and hilarious.  And I am so, so blessed to have this little dude in my life.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Did you make New Year’s resolutions this year?  Are you one of the scoffers who maintains that no one keeps resolutions anyway so it’s a silly practice – or do you cave into the romanticism of the whole thing and do it anyway?

Most of my family belongs to the scoff party, and while I agree that the concept of resolutions shouldn’t be limited to a couple of days at the beginning of each new set of 365, there’s something tantalizing about the year ahead.  Like a blank diary, all crackly-stiff leather, with cool, slippery pages begging to be scribbled over with ink.  Or like a map with an idle compass in the center – you just have to choose where you want to go.

So I’m going to fall in with the masses this year.  While these aren’t “new” resolutions, this will be the first time I’ve inked them onto paper.  (<< I actually wrote this in the back of my planner, so I did really use ink!)  And because I’ve become a compulsive organizer, I’ve categorized my resolutions this year.  Does anyone else do that????

Practical Plans (ie: these had better get done or else)

-- get better about time management and organization.  I cannot stand another year of racing out the door late to work, while the front door bangs shut on the sea of chaos inside.  I’ve discovered from keeping other people’s homes clean that I’m not a messy person – I’m a clean person who doesn’t know how to stop making messes.  A lot of this has to do with time and burnout too – there’s not a ton of incentive to power through cleaning late at night after I’ve spent the whole day doing it somewhere else.  There isn't much time either.  And I have a toddler.  Clearly, I need some concrete strategies here.

-- find more patience.  Do you have some I could borrow while Hunter is in the throes of toddlerhood??  When H was born I swore I would never yell at him or discipline him when I was angry.  This year I failed on both counts.  Somehow I need to learn to be as patient at home as I am at work – even when we’re late or he won’t sleep or he pours his food over his head right as we’re about to leave for work or he’s screaming on the floor and I don’t know whether he’s in pain or throwing a tantrum.  I am meeting with two family counselors to try and strategize ways to maintain parenting calm even under extreme stress.  This is my second-most important resolution for 2013.

-- figure out what I am doing for work/school, and decide whether or not I want to graduate 6 months early or go a bit slower and start working part-time as a CNA.

-- learn to like myself.  Okay, that one probably belongs more in the Impossible Dreams category.  Or perhaps When Pigs Can Fly.  Seriously, though, while I suspect liking myself is a looooonnnngggg way off, I would at least like to negotiate a truce with myself.  A bit of acceptance would be a place to start.  And no more of the I’m-so-stupid-I-hate-myself-I-hate-myself mantras.

-- make God the solid base of my life again.  I hate being a stormy-weather Christian.  I want to teach Hunter about being a child of God, and to do that, I need to be one first.  (This is the most important resolution!)

And then I have the I Would Love To category…

-- run five miles without walk breaks.  Survive.  Do it again.

-- write again.  Fiction.  I want my head filled with characters again.  I feel them at the edges of my mind, pale-ghost faces and WHAT”S THAT WORD fingers tap-tapping at the windows of my imagination.  Even if it’s only one short story, I want to hear that gorgegous cacophony of story-on-the-brew in my brain.

-- make a new friend.  An honest-to-goodness live-in-my-town, go for coffee, workout-partner friend.  Randomly: why on earth don’t they make “friend-ing” websites?  Forget about a date - all I want is a friend!

--  have one day, even just a few hours, where I am just me.  Not mom or student or employee or daughter or any other label.  Just me.  I’m envisioning either a gallop across a summer-thick meadow with the strong-tea smell of horse sweat in my nose, or perched at the top of a "peak" of the Porcupine Mountains, just me on a rock under a clear blue sky.

That's where I'd like to take my year...what about you?  If you made resolutions, share in the comments, please?  If you blogged about them, even better - share the link!

Monday, December 31, 2012

I Did Graphics!!!

Squee!  I found TIME (great glorious wonderful stolen-in-the-quiet-of-a-midafternoon-nap time) to make the very first graphics of Hunter that I have ever done in all his almost-eighteen months!

Those who know what a graphic factory I used to be will understand what a big deal this is.  :)

Blogger hates photographs and, if memory serves, hates graphics even more, but let's see if it'll play nice.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Veggie Meatballs

Hunter recently decided that he doesn’t like most vegetables.  What?!  My super granola crunchy-as-can-be-never-eats-processed-food kid doesn’t like veggies?????  Argh.  Sigh.  Is that a necessary passage of toddlerhood or something?  Along with absolutely adoring can’t-get-enough-of-it food one minute and then throwing it on the floor the next, accompanied by accusing you’re trying to poison me Mom glares?  Ugh. 

Anyway, I’ve been figuring out sneaky ways to get veggies in.  This particular recipe was such a major hit and contains so many undetectable veggies I thought I would share!  I tasted it too – it’s yummy even for those of us actually like rabbit food.

For the meatballs:

2 cups chopped veggies (broccoli or cauliflower works best)
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup ground beef/turkey/chicken
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic
Italian seasoning
Sausage spice
1 egg

Cook veggies in broth till they are soft and have absorbed all the broth (20-30 minutes).  Add garlic and seasonings and mash or blend.  Add ground meat and egg and mix well.  Form into mini meatballs (or patties or sausages) and fry in butter, leftover chicken/beef fat, or coconut oil.

For the sauce:

1 cup spaghetti sauce
1-2 cups veggies (Swiss chard, green onions, leeks and spinach all work well as they cook down nicely and are nutrient-packed)

Chop the veggies super duper fine.  The idea is to end up with miniscule specks a toddler eye simply doesn’t stay still long enough to see.  Cook in the tomato sauce till very soft.  Blend with blender if desired or if texture is an issue.  The amount of veggies than can be disguised this way depends on the picky eater you have.  I can do a two-cups veggies to one cup sauce ratio, but it might be less to start with.

Hunter absolutely went nuts over these, and I went nuts over all the vegetables he didn’t know he was cramming into his mouth. Next time I’m making a double batch and freezing more!