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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ready for Spring!

I came home from work one day a couple of weeks ago  to find E had dressed himself to play outside.  The ubiquitous ties have since been replaced with a Superman cape.
Although all this snow is now gone, it's been below 40 degrees F most of the month. This weekend is promising to be gorgeous, and everyone at this point just really needs that to happen.

We're finishing out the semester, so I've not had a lot of free time or energy, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Though J is gearing up for a trip to Spain soon, and I'll be teaching a May-term course, so the excitement will continue for a little while longer, I suppose, albeit in a different way.

My house plans have not been neglected, however. I have been doing the best I can to keep up the daily maintenance and have been relentlessly decluttering. Last week I gave E's room a thorough cleaning, and it just feels so good to have nothing extraneous in there. In addition, there are three garbage bags of clothes by the front door to donate tomorrow and several boxes more ready to go to the consignment shop on Friday.

This was my hat when I was a baby. I love that Belalu wants to wear it.
I've been feeling stressed and overwhelmed with work stuff, and clutter just adds to my stress, but so does the idea of having to organize it and get rid of it. My personality doesn't really know what it wants: on the one hand, I hate clutter and stuff just laying around, but on the other, I am very sentimental and don't want to get rid of anything anyone ever gave me. All my work this week has made me I feel freer, and I really want to keep it up. When I have time to start on some bigger house projects this summer, I'll be more inspired and motivated to do them with a house purged of unnecessary stuff.

When I step outside and see all the work my yard needs, though, panic starts to creep back in. And that's when I am grateful for the winter-like spring we're having. I'm just not ready to go there yet, though I will be after next week. We were going to start seeds inside this year, but never got around to it for various reasons, and I'm not letting myself worry about it. All my house projects and plans are to improve my quality of life, not bring more stress and worry to it, so I tell myself this when I start to feel bad about not getting something like that done. There's always next year. Thankfully, we have a several great sources for garden plants in the area, and we'll just go that route this year. I am very excited for our Farmer's Market Saturdays to resume.
Dwarf arrived in the mail last week, though I've been finishing up next month's book club book first. I couldn't resist starting it, however. And I couldn't stop crying while I read it. I think I've read two or three chapters so far, and I couldn't.stop.crying. So, guess I won't be reading this book anywhere but home.

I have some updates on Belalu's latest Dr. appts, but I'll save that for another post very soon. (Hard to believe my baby's 20 months old!)

Hope your spring where you are is bringing you lots of sunshine and warmth.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Little People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter's Eyes

I've been slowly making my way through this book since last summer. I've really enjoyed it, but it is so close to home I've found myself only being able to read it while in a pensive mood already. It brings up a lot of questions and thoughts that I don't always want to think about right before falling asleep, which is usually when I have time to read for fun.

Dan Kennedy is the father of a girl with achondroplasia. I really appreciate and relate to his thought process as he searches to find meaning in the diagnosis and grapples with where his daughter will fit into society. It was affirming to read someone's perspective with whom I share a lot of the same conclusions, if not a bit unnerving to read about someone going through a similar thought process I was in the middle of undertaking myself.

That was also the most unsatisfying part for me about the book. The parts where he talks about his struggle to understand what Becky's diagnosis will mean for her was almost too familiar. His questions then are my questions now. And of course, since it was written in 2003 and she was on the verge of adolescence, there are no answers. I finished it and wanted a sequel.

I realize my questions about Belalu's interactions with the world will only be answered with time. I also realize that Essie is also likely to have difficulties at some point- I think most people do. (At least in our culture it seems to be a common part of growing up.) But I only find myself worrying about her. What if.... what if.... what if... you can drive yourself crazy with those "what if"s. And then I see her determination, her intelligence, her love of people, and I find myself thinking "This girl is going to be teaching me a whole lot about life and how to take on challenges." Because I really think that's what she's going to do. And I know she's going to be fine, rough patches and all.

I've got two more books regarding dwarfism on my reading list for this summer. This one is next. Anyone want to read it with me and have a virtual book club?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Easter and Spring

Both Easter and Spring were welcomed warmly in our house. Something reminded me that I had received a bundt cake pan for Christmas two years ago, and had never used it! So, I took it out and found that it came with a recipe for Lady Bird Johnon's Lemon cake. The lemons seemed spring-y to me, perhaps it was the yellow, and I was soooo glad I made it. Correction, E and I made it. He is my baking partner; he was the one who cracked all ten (!) eggs, dividing the whites and the yolks- the recipe only called for yolks. The cake is so moist and delicious on it's own, it really doesn't need a topping, but I had a ton of blueberries in the freezer, so I made a blueberry sauce to top it with, which wasn't a bad idea at all. I immediately decided that I had found a new spring tradition. This combo will help us welcome in the new season, though I have a feeling we'll be seeing it again sooner rather than later.
I had intended to get a picture of the cake more complete, but it was almost gone before I knew it!
Easter was really low-key this year. We've continued the tradition I grew up with- J hid a bunch of chocolate eggs around the house for E to find, and the kids got Easter baskets, mostly filled with gifts and candy my mom, a-hem, the Easter Bunny, had sent them. I did see these glasses at the $1 section of Target, and couldn't resist. They are for Belalu, but E liked them, too.

We went out to a really delicious brunch, free mimosas included, and that was our Easter this year. I have lots of visions of decorations and crafts we could do, perhaps dye some eggs, search for plastic eggs outside on the lawn... but it was just too cold and spring still seemed too remote, and the kids are still so young. We were all happy with the day as it was, and we'll see what next year brings.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Comments with the "m" word

I didn't think it would happen so soon. Both times it took me completely by surprise, as I suppose it always will. Neither was directed towards Belalu, and so were conversations I happened to overhear.  The first time was about two weeks ago. We were at the Y, and it was someone who occasionally watches Belalu in the daycare center there. We were going into the daycare center and she was holding the door open and commented to a guy she knew: "I figured basketball's going on with all you tall guys coming in- I feel like a midget!" Essie had to go the bathroom, so I hustled him in, thinking about how I could approach her about it. But when we came out of the bathroom, she was gone. I thought about it a lot for the next few days. I decided that it was important to talk to her about it, since she could potentially spend time with the kids and may use the word again. Or even use the word in front of her kids and they would think it's ok to use, too. Or what if one or both of the kids had heard and understood? What kind of example would I be setting for them if I just let it go without talking to her about it? So, I wished I had said something. Then, I saw her again a few days later (I don't usually see her so often) and thought about talking to her then, but just didn't. I chickened out.

The second time was last night. E and I went to his first play. It was on campus, and we had a great time. As we were leaving, we passed the student who has dwarfism (I'm guessing it's acon, but I don't actually know), and stopped to talk to her about the show. Then we went further down the hall and E got fascinated with an antibacterial soap dispenser. The hall was pretty much empty, and as I was standing there with him, a group of three guys appeared and one said in a a low voice to the other two, "did you see that midget?" His friend said, "yeah, she's a theater major." They were speaking amongst themselves, she was already gone, but the hall was so quiet I heard them clearly. But again, since it was not a comment I was "supposed" to hear, I didn't say anything. However, my mood immediately plummeted. I was sad the rest of the night. Sad for what I heard them saying about her, and really disappointed at myself for not saying anything.

I'm not a confrontational person. I don't usually talk to people I don't know or intentionally draw attention to myself. If I had been part of the conversation in either case, I would have spoken up immediately. And after the fact, I know I should have said something even though I wasn't part of the conversation, but in the moment I just couldn't get myself to do it. It took me too long to get over the shock of the comment and then formulate how to respond, and by then the moment had passed. In the case of the first comment, though, I actually got a second chance, and I still didn't do anything. I feel like I have let my children down. I'm not setting a good example, and I'm not being Belalu's advocate. I've been unexpectedly thrown into a role that challenges me and my sense of self. Clearly, I have a lot of growing to do.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In My Kitchen this Winter

I swear the only way I've gotten through winter is chai tea (recipe from the Indian cookbook I got for Christmas) and cardamom bread with Trader Joe's fig spread. It's been my weekend treat.

Lots and lots of veggie soups. An old favorite: potato leek
A new obsession: roasted garlic and cauliflower with cheddar accompanied by sweet potato fries. 

My other obsession this winter: popcorn. I cannot get enough. I've been enjoying these two recipes a few times a week:


As part of my Year of the House project, I've been working on keeping the kitchen more in order. Since the kids were born, I've been good at keeping the house picked up and vacuumed, but there are things that often get overlooked or I just have a hard time finding space in the day to do. I'm working on incorporating these things back into my regular cleaning maintenance. It's been working so far; we'll see if I can keep it up! I've been feeling good since my spring cleaning. When my house is in order, life just seems to flow better. It can't hurt that B is finally sleeping the whole night through, which means I am, too. Oh, and the snow is finally melting outside. 

April so far is promising to be much better than March.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

FYI: Sale

E modeling his POP jacket near some "builders"
I talked about Polarn O. Pyret a while back and their outstanding, high-quality clothes, especially for outdoors. They have been working really well for Belalu because they have so many adjustable components to them. Their winter gear is currently on sale, and some stuff is going for really cheap. Just an FYI if you're shopping sales for next winter. I'm pretty confident that my kids will get another season out of the stuff I bought them last year.

Monday, April 1, 2013

At the Children's Museum

So, most of these are blurry. Any tips for getting clearer photos from an iphone?

And a video.