Friday, February 26, 2010

Blog Envy

Okay, I have a confession: I have blog envy. What is it with these BIG blogs? You know, the ones with hundreds of followers, the ones that get dozens and dozens, sometimes hundreds, of comments to their every post? Yeah, those. How do they do it? What's so special about them? I mean, in all honesty, I've perused some of them and I don't get it. But I want it. Sort of.

There is one blog that has just recently hit the big time. I think she's actually been blogging for a while, but recently she posted about giving birth to her second child who, as it turns out, has Down syndrome, which they didn't learn about until after the baby was born. That birth story has gone viral. (And if you're reading this, you very likely know exactly which blog I'm talking about - everyone seems to know about that blog now.) Last I checked, and this was a couple weeks ago, she had over 800 comments to that one birth story post!! I mean, it was a lovely, touching, heartfelt, beautifully written account of her daughter's birth . . . but there are a lot of lovely, touching, heartfelt, beautifully written birth stories about babies with Down syndrome, and all kinds of other subjects, on blogs out there. What makes this one so special? Why do each of her posts continue to get upwards of 100 comments? Is it the gorgeous photography? It can't just be the writing or the subject matter, because there are LOTS of blogs out there that are well-written and about the same subject matter (may I direct your attention to Finnian's Journey?)

In other words, what does she have that I don't have?

I know, I know. I sound petulant, like a kid who wants to be in the popular group. That's sort of how I feel. I want to be liked and admired, I admit it! I fancy myself a writer . . . or at least a wannabe writer. I'd like my writing to be noticed and admired. I'd like the things I write about to strike some chord with people.

What I don't want, however, is to be one of those bloggers that tries too hard. Or that is gimmicky. I'm not interested in buying readership by doing giveaways. I don't want to compromise my principles and write to please my audience. I write to please myself - it's an emotional and a creative outlet for me. Being liked and admired for what I write about is a bonus . . . but a bonus that I find myself becoming increasingly fixated on. Why and how do some blogs draw such large audiences? And how can I do that without selling out?

Or maybe that's not really what I want at all. I dunno.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can't Quit Starbucks

. . . no matter how hard I try.

I've been enjoying a cafe mocha from Starbucks pretty much every morning for the last . . . let's see . . . fourteen, fifteen years. When I think about it rationally, I realize what a spectacular amount of money I have spent on what amounts to hot cocoa with coffee in it over that period of time. But I just can't seem to quit it.

A few years ago, I bought an espresso machine, determined to kick my Starbucks habit. I bought Starbucks espresso beans, Starbucks mocha powder, but no matter how much I tried, I could never duplicate the real deal. So the machine collected dust on the counter-top for about a year before I finally surrendered and put it away in a closet.

I've tried other places as they've popped up in the neighborhood:

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -
I got a mocha from here once. It was awful. I couldn't even finish it. Tasted like it had fake sweetener in it, like saccharine or something. Bad aftertaste. Blech.

Peet's -
Their iced mochas are pretty good, but the hot ones I've had are bland, like they forgot to add the chocolate or something. Tasted like steamed milk with espresso in it (isn't that a latte or something?).

Tully's -
Just opened up in the location where my beloved Starbucks was until a couple months ago. I resisted trying their mocha on principle. Michael finally convinced me to try it, and it was actually pretty good. I mean, it's no Starbucks mocha, but it was fine. Plus, it's closer to my house than the Starbucks I've been going to since the old one shut down, and it's 25 cents cheaper a cup.

So have I made the switch?

Nope. Can't do it. I mean, Tully's'll do in a pinch, but I just can't bring myself to jump ship altogether. I clearly have loyalty issues. Fifteen years, people! And several of the girls from the old Starbucks moved to another location (which is where I drive every morning), and they know me by name . . . and they often start my coffee when they see my truck pull up and have it waiting for me by the time I get inside . . . and they give Lilah stickers and little mini Starbucks cups so she can go home and play Barista with her sisters.

How can I give that up?

Nope, I'll stick with Starbucks. Even if it bankrupts us.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Roughin' it

I will say up front that I am a girl who likes her modern conveniences. Take electricity, for instance. Very convenient to have. Very inconvenient to not have.

I am convinced that our particular house is located on the weakest power grid in the city, or at least the neighborhood. I have lost count how many power outages we've had in the five years we've lived here. Heavy rains and strong winds are two weather conditions that are pretty much guaranteed to knock our power out, but there have been plenty of instances when it went out and the cause was a mystery. And often when our power goes out, we can see that the houses across the street from us are nonetheless enjoying their lights and televisions and whatnot.

This afternoon our power went out, and was out for five (freakin') hours. I heard through the grapevine that there was a car accident several blocks away which resulted in a downed power line. And of course, OUR house was affected. The neighbors across the street? They had power. They were virtually flaunting their power! Some of my Facebook friends who are also neighbors informed me that their power was out for a few minutes - one said an hour. Ours, though? FIVE hours. Try occupying six kids with no television lights by which to do educational flashcards.

The first couple of hours weren't too bad, since it was still light out. But as it grew increasingly darker, the beasts grew increasingly more whiney and bickerish (like that? I just made up that word on the spot). So I turned it into an adventure.

Bath by lantern light was a big hit (but rather in pain in the rear).

I couldn't cook dinner due to the power outage, so I ran out and brought takeout home and we ate by lantern. This was also a big hit, and declared by the girls as "THE BEST DINNER EVER!!"

And Finn had ambience for his dinner.

Fortunately, the power finally came back on as bedtime was quickly approaching. I can guarantee that we never would have gotten these scaredy cats into bed without their trusty nightlights.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Ahhh, the teenage years. Are there any other words that conjure up such dread in the hearts of parents? We are knee-deep in teenage moodiness, attitude, and smart-mouthedness.

Don't get me wrong. Kevin is a good kid. A great kid. He doesn't get into any trouble, he does well in school, he's very loving and tolerant of his siblings, and he seems to have a pretty strong sense of right and wrong. But man, oh man, can he cop an attitude.

Did you know that once your child hits the magic 13, everything must go exactly their way? Did you further know that you should never say "no" to your teenage child? Did you also know that you should never look a teenager directly in the eyes, as they interpret it as a challenge and may attack? Plentiful eye-rolling and lots of "What?!? That's not fair!" and "Okay, fine!" in a shrieky voice ensues during adolescence, as well. And door-slamming. And stomping.


I keep reminding myself of how it felt to be 13. I very much remember how difficult - impossible at times - it was to harness and control my confusing emotions at that age. I try to keep this in mind, but it's hard to excuse some of Kevin's rudeness and disrespectfulness even while I try to have compassion and empathy for what he's going through. Today, after he told Michael to "Mind your own business!" and then stomped off, took his anger and frustration out on everyone in his path, and then slammed his bedroom door, I stormed into his room and said what parents around the world say to their teenagers: "YOU'RE GROUNDED!!!"

Friday, February 19, 2010


It's been a quiet week here on the ol' blog. In real life, things are busier than ever with the kids in piano lessons, drum lessons, dance, and now baseball - on top of the ever-present homework. Still, I've been in a contemplative frame of mind. Pondering. Reflecting. Evaluating relationships. Wondering where we go from here.

I'm reading this book, Between Me and the River, by Carrie Host. I'll review it on Book Lust when I finish it, but I'll just say here that it's a memoir about the author's experience with a rare and incurable form of cancer.

A line in the book stood out to me when I read it the other night:

"It is getting to be a lot of work to hurry up and get through all of this so that you can get back to all of that."

I know I spent the bulk of 2009 wishing the year away. Never in my life had I ever before wanted so desperately for time to go by quickly so that we could get to the other side of Michael's cancer. And now, here we are, on the other side. And the big question is: What now?
Because in many ways, that old life that I wanted so urgently to get back to doesn't exist anymore. We are changed. Grateful, exhausted, wary, and scarred. The healing continues, and I am finding that it may be a life-long process. It's somewhat of a struggle trying to figure out what it all means: what wisdom can we take away from that horrendous experience? What truly matters the most in life, and how can it be honored? Where do we go from here?

And as I ponder all this, I'm trying to be a better person. A better friend, wife, and mother. I'm making an effort to make sure the people I love know how important they are to me. I'm trying to take deep breaths before I yell, and to give more hugs and kisses. I'm trying to improve the quality of the time I spend with my kids - baking cookies, playing games, going to the park. I'm trying to be present, because life is short.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Mom Phenomenon

Tell me if you recognize this:

I have become fetcher-of-all-things, giver-of-all-things, getter-of-all-things, fulfiller-of-all-requests, and answerer-of-all-questions to my kids. I'm serious. When any of my kids want something, I seem to be their go-to person, no matter how much closer in proximity they happen to be at any given time to Dad. It blows my mind.

Let me give a couple of true-life examples just to illustrate:

Recently, Daisy was sitting at the kitchen table, right next to Daddy. I was across the house in another room. Suddenly I hear, "Mommy! Can I have something to drink?" I ignored her, thinking, well, Michael is sitting right there (he was busy with something, but he was right there, literally inches away from her!). But she persisted. "Mommy! Can I have some juice?" Ignore. Then, "Mommy! I'm thirsty!" I think Michael had said to her, "Hang on a minute," but she ignored him, because apparently it is MY duty to serve her.

Today, just a little while ago, in fact, Kevin pulled a package of tortillas out of the kitchen cupboard. Michael was standing right next to him. Right next to him! I was across the room, feeding the baby. Kevin says, "Mom? Are these tortillas still good?"


This kind of thing happens all the time. Michael would argue my assertion that it happens all the time, but I've been pointing out these incidents to him, to which he responds with, "They love you! Doesn't it feel nice to be needed?" Um, sure. Right. I guess. Is that what it is? Huh.

And it's not as if Michael doesn't do stuff for the kids. He does! He cooks, he feeds them, he cleans up after them, he plays with them - it's not as if he's an absentee parent. So what is it about me that makes the kids lay their requests and demands at my feet first?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Conspiracy Theory

The twins are in cahoots, I'm sure of it. In fact, I'm pretty sure they've been in cahoots since birth - maybe even since before birth. It's always something with them. I mean, I love them like mad, but I swear . . .

The latest: somebody carved "I love U" into our coffee table today. Okay, the table is trashed anyway, granted. It has 10+ years of mileage on it; it's had more than its share of being pounded on, climbed on, having Hot Wheels driven across it, and so forth. But this was blatant vandalism (even if it is a sweet sentiment). The girls came home from school today, festooned with Valentine's hats and paper sashes and lugging buckets of candy and cards from their kindergarten Valentine's celebration. So I guess they - or, rather, one of them - was carried away by the festive spirit of the whole thing and decided to carve her sentiments into the coffee table for posterity.

Here's where the conspiracy comes into play. When we discovered the carving and demanded to know who did it, what do you think we got in response? "Annabelle did it!" Daisy insisted. "No, Daisy did it!" Annabelle declared. Each stuck with her story. I'm convinced that they set out to create reasonable doubt so that neither would get into trouble.

Smart cookies, those two.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I am Heathen

The other night, my kids participated in a variety show put on by the school they attend. The show was great, the kids were all amazingly talented, cute and enthusiastic. I didn't stay for the entire show; after the kindergartners performed (i.e., the twins), it was already getting late in the evening, so I took Finn and the twins home, while Michael stayed with Lilah to watch the rest of the grades (i.e., Joey) perform. When Michael got home later, he told me that one little girl's solo performance had consisted of singing a very Christian song - I believe it was Here I Am to Worship (I could be wrong, but it was something with that or a very similar title). I was dumbfounded.

This is a public, secular school. At first I was highly irritated because I just don't think stuff like that belongs in a public school setting (even an after-school activity; if it's an activity or event sponsored, hosted, or otherwise the responsibility of the school, I don't believe that religion should play a part). I'm sure the little girl was talented, and I'm sure her performance moved many an audience member, but still. My knee-jerk reaction was "Keep it at church." However, I understand that, despite the constitutional separation of Church and State, there's also the constitutional rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression, and there's no way the school could have forbidden her from performing that song without committing religious descrimination.

Then I started looking at it from another angle: what if a kid had gotten up there on the stage and recited a poem about there not being any God?

I'll just take a stab in the dark and guess that people would have generally been outraged. The school may have even gone so far as to not permit it, or at least discourage it, because it's just way too inflammatory. I bet parents would have been aghast at the "programming" the poor child had obviously been the victim of; after all, there's no way a kid could have opinions like "there is no God" without some adult feeding that to him or her.

I'm just guessing here. And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a performance like that would have been as welcomed as the Christian performance. But I'm betting not.

God and Christianity are socially acceptable, it's as simple as that. Atheism, and even Agnosticism, are not.

I have this underlying feeling of separateness, of disconnect, from a lot of my peers, because I am not on the same page as most of them when it comes to God. I don't believe in God. I'll spare the entire chronology, but there was a time when I did believe in God (mostly because that's what I was told to believe). But gradually over the course of my adulthood, my belief has been replaced with non-belief. And I am completely fine with that. Despite what some people might think, I am not an empty, lost soul.

It seems, in my mind, to be an issue that gets in the way of potential friendships. I can be happily conversing with someone, say, a fellow mom at school, while we wait for our children to be dismissed at the end of the school day. And then the God-bomb drops. References to church, and prayer for this or that, and gifts from God ensue. And then suddenly I deflate, knowing that we can never truly be friends, because God clearly plays such a big part in their life, and I assume (through experience) they would be horrified if I blurted out that I don't go to church, I don't pray, and I don't believe in God.

Here's what I want people to know about me:
  • I am a person of very high morals. I believe in honesty and loyalty and kindness to my fellow human beings. Not because I am concerned about where I may end up in the afterlife (I don't believe there is an afterlife), but because it just makes the world a better place to live in. This extends to my belief in equal rights and treatment of all people; everyone, no matter their skin color, sexual orientation, or intellectual ability, deserves dignity, respect, kindness, and the right to marry whom they choose, for crying out loud.
  • My rejection of religion and the notion of God was not precipitated by any negative experience I had. I just grew to view it as nonsense over a period of time. And nothing anyone can say or do is going to convince me that there is a God, so don't even try.
  • I am pro-choice AND I am pro-life. That is to say, I think it is a dangerous thing to take away a woman's reproductive rights, or power over her own body or destiny. However, I value human life, deeply. And I wish more people made better use of the choices they have.
  • I am not raising my children to be Atheist. I am, hopefully, raising them to think for themselves. They know that I don't believe in God. And they know that other people do. The only thing I have emphasized to them is this: "Don't believe anything just because somebody tells you that's what they believe."
I respect that people have their beliefs, that those beliefs may differ from mine, and that faith (or absence thereof) is a very personal matter. At this point in my life, I personally find religion and the notion of God to be ridiculous, and find myself becoming quite offended by some of the manifestations of God in certain people's lives (like crediting God for helping them afford braces for their kid, or for finding a way to get a much-needed new roof on their house, or for making sure little Jimmy got over that pneumonia, or even for being responsible for my husband beating cancer - all while Haiti gets leveled by a catastrophic earthquake and there is massive loss of life; really? Was the God they believe in just snoozing on the job, or does He play favorites?) Nonetheless, believe what you want to believe - whatever gets you through the day and all that. I just get tired of being inundated by it all the time. It's not my bag, baby.

And I wish I felt the same freedom to openly express my views on God and prayer and church and religion - and still be accepted as a good, decent, moral, upstanding person. My close friends know where I stand, and I do tend to cut loose with this stuff in my book club when our discussions center around religion. But out in the world at large? Thrown into conversation with people I've just met or have only a casual acquaintance with? Imagine if I put in my FB status something about my true views about God. Hmmm, maybe I should try that as an experiment.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back to life

Back to reality.

Michael went back to work today. Tomorrow will mark three weeks since his surgery. Although he's been recuperating these last three weeks (and continues to do so), it's been nice having him around. It's been nice having his company, and his help with the kids. And he cooks! That's a definite bonus. The kids have really enjoyed having Dad here too, before and after school, helping with homework, going for walks, taking them out for ice cream (because lord knows Mom never splurges on ice cream in the middle of the day!).

But his return to work was inevitable. It's sort of a milestone, marking the final delineation between CANCER and AFTER CANCER. This is where life goes on. It's a good thing, by all means. Thank goodness he/we survived that horrible ordeal and lived to tell about it. Thank goodness he's able to go back to work.

But it's a little surreal, too. Just that, okay, phew, that's over with, now back to the rat race. If this were a movie, wouldn't this be the part where we realize we've been given a second chance, and we take stock of what really matters, and we make some momentous, life-altering statement? Isn't this the part where we ditch the house, pull the kids out of school and travel the country in an RV, and Michael pursues his lifelong dream of being a musician? I don't know. I mean, obviously that's not going to happen. There are bills to pay, responsibilities to uphold, cancer be damned.

But still, it's just a little . . . disheartening, I guess, knowing that we're just supposed to move forward, business as usual from here. And that people probably assume that it's all behind us, and the reality is that it has changed us forever - that experience, and the residual fear - and it will never be completely behind us.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Are you done yet?

The cover story in People this week is about the Duggars. Seems like everyone knows who they are (the family with all those kids!), and most people have an opinion about them.

I've never watched their reality show on TLC. Pretty much everything I know about them is stuff I've read or heard on the news. I know they now have 19 children, the last one born a micro-preemie at 25 weeks gestation last December. I know she was born via emergency c-section, that she has had some setbacks due to her severe prematurity, has required surgery, will likely remain in the hospital for quite some time and may very well end up with life-long medical and/or developmental issues because of her severe prematurity. And apparently, Mom and Pop aren't necessarily finished having babies yet - despite all this, and despite the fact that Mom is now 43 years old.

It's easy to look at all this and be appalled. And a lot of folks are, apparently. People rail that they have too many kids! They're a drain on world resources! Nobody has the right to reproduce so prolifically when the world is already overpopulated! There's no way any of the kids get enough love or attention!

I'm not sure how I feel about the Duggars, but I feel like I'm supposed to have some opinion about it, given that I myself have more kids than the average woman.

My understanding is that the Duggars have been driven to have so many kids primarily by their religious beliefs. I cannot relate to that. I do not feel that I have been called by any Higher Power to keep reproducing until I can't anymore, nor do I believe that my childbearing destiny has ever been in divine hands.

But I can relate to just not feeling done. That's really why we have six kids - we, or more specifically I, especially with the last one, just never felt done. We certainly never set out to have six kids! I seem to recall that our initial intention was to have two more kids after we got married, which, including Kevin, would have made three. So we had Joey within the first year of being married, and then when we tried for that number 3, we got the two-for-one deal with the twins which put us at four. And after that, life was already so full and busy that one more didn't seem like a stretch at all. And then, just one more. And if I could? I'd have just one more again.

I have friends who knew with absolute certainty that one was enough for them, or two, or even three. When their last baby was born, they knew it was their last, and they felt at peace with that. I have often wondered if I am missing some off-switch when it comes to having babies, because I've just never gotten to that point where I know my last baby has been born, I'll never bear another, and I feel at peace with it. That's not to say that we will be having any more children; I don't think we will. The reasons (practical, financial, logistical, etc.) not to have any more finally outweigh the reasons to have another baby. Also, there is very little doubt that all the chemo and radiation Michael underwent made the decision for us. However, none of that means that I am completely at peace with it.

It is pretty unfathomable to me to have nineteen kids. Yowza. I truly wonder how her body has managed to withstand all those pregnancies, because I'll tell you, after five pregnancies, my body is . . . well, just not what it used to be. And I'm not just talking aesthetically, I'm talking, ummm, structurally. I think another pregnancy might cause my bladder to fall out. Anyway. And just the day-to-day reality of raising and caring for that many children? Seems inconceivable (no pun intended) to me. But who am I to say, or to judge? I have no doubt that there are people who look at me and wonder the same things, and make the same assumptions. But having six kids is my reality, and yeah, it's chaotic and sometimes crazy and overwhelming, but it's far from undoable or unfathomable. The Duggars take care of their own. They live debt-free in a humongous house they built themselves. I understand they have some kind of buddy system, where an older child is paired with a younger child, and that's how they make child rearing manageable. It's not anything I can relate to, but I guess it works for them. If the kids are getting their needs met and the family is not relying on handouts, I'm not sure what anyone's beef is with the whole thing.

It's true that our kids don't get as much one-on-one time and attention from me and Michael as they probably would if we had fewer kids. But I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing. Who says that's the key to a happy childhood? There are certainly positives to having a larger family: never being lonely, understanding sharing and compromise, a feeling of belonging to a greater whole. And yes, there are sacrifices we've had to make because of the sheer number of kids we have, like traveling, and like ever being able to go to the bathroom without somebody trying to barge in.

I can't speak for the Duggars. But for us? It's worth it. And I'd still have another if I could.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Improving the world, one condiment at a time

Yesterday I signed onto the internet, and this news snippet jumped out at me from MSN's homepage:

Heinz to End 40 Years of Frustration With Revamped Ketchup Packet

I hadn't realized that this was such a big, pervasive, and long-lived issue! After reading the article though (and I guess their strategy worked: put a snippet up that will pique people's curiosity enough that they click on the link), I see how awful and far-reaching this has been without my even realizing it. I mean, who knows how many people have ended up on Prozac because that pesky ketchup packet at McDonald's was just the. Last. Straw. Who knows how many napkins have been wasted because of errant ketchup due to the faulty design of these ketchup packets? And I won't even try to guess at how many mothers have ended up slugging vodka straight out of the bottle because of the additional laundry these little suckers have resulted in. I mean, I never noticed that these ketchup packets were impacting my life so insidiously, but I am thankful to MSNBC for making me aware, and to Heinz for finally doing something about it.

My life, and yours, are about to get better. Thank you, Heinz.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Little Dancers

The girls started new dance classes today:

Tiny Tots dance for Lilah . . .

. . . and a ballet/tap combo class for Daisy and Annabelle.

I love this stuff! I missed out on all this when I was a kid, so I am totally living vicariously here.

(Oh, and check out the insanely long legs on the one instructor in the first pic. My first impression, for a split second, was that she was on stilts, I kid you not.)

This is Lilah's first experience with a dance class, and she really seemed to enjoy herself. This week the parents were allowed to stay in the room and watch; starting next week, we won't be allowed to stay because it's too distracting for the kids. I'm a little nervous about leaving Lilah, but really I think she'll be fine.

The twins have been in dance before (although it's been a while), but it was just a rinky-dink little class through the local Parks & Rec. This is at an actual dance studio and seems a little more . . . oh, I don't know - not rinky-dink. The girls really liked it and are especially happy because their old friend, Ellie, is in the class with them.

Anyway, who can resist a little girl in a tutu?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Doggie Saga

People have been asking me how things are going with Twinkle, the pup. Well, we've had her for . . . what? About 3 1/2 months now I guess. Things are going . . . fairly well. She's a pistol! Really sweet and playful and cute. And a lot of work. Certainly more work than I had anticipated. I mean, I've had puppies before, but it's only recently occurred to me that the last time I had a puppy was before I had any kids! So this is a whole new dimension in a way.

So, let's see. She's 6 months old now. She's not the 3 pound pipsqueak she was when we got her anymore - now she's in the 9 pound range! Which makes me wonder, because we were told she'd be about 10 pounds, full grown, and she's still got about 6 more months to grow. Anyway, she's clearly not going to be a BIG dog.

I'm taking her in this Thursday to have her spayed. I'm hoping she will calm down some after that (but maybe that only rings true with male dogs?). Oh, and speaking of that, it led to an interesting but brief conversation with Joey a couple days ago, which went something like this:

Joey (horrified): Twinkle is having an operation this week? Why?!?
Me: Well, she's getting spayed. It's just a little operation to make her so she can't have puppies.
Joey: Why don't you want her to have puppies?
Me: Well, puppies are a lot of work. And we wouldn't be able to keep them, so then we'd have to find homes for them, and it's just better this way. Gypsy got spayed, and Saylor got spayed, and Goliath . . . well, he was a boy, so he got neutered.
Joey (contemplative): Why does a boy dog have to have an operation like that? Boys can't have babies anyway!
Me: Go ask your father, I'm sure he will be happy to explain it to you.

Anyhoo. So after Twink is spayed, she's getting signed up for puppy military school obedience training STAT. The girl is wild! Really, no more so than your average, frisky puppy, but man. The energy. The not following a single command. I think she's taking her cues from the kids.

She's a good dog. She'll be a better dog when she has some training under her belt . . . er, collar. Oh, and she yaps. When she wants attention. Which is extremely annoying. Mighta been a deal breaker, actually, had I known. I'm hoping to break her of that.

I don't mean to complain. She's a keeper. She just needs some refining is all.

As for the kids, you may recall that we were hoping that having a dog live in the house with us would cure Daisy of her dog phobia. Umm, it hasn't. Yet. (This I throw out there to anyone who has ever told me "Oh, she just needs to be exposed to dogs more!" Yeah.) She's gotten better . . . sort of. I mean, she'll be in the same room with the dog, but she refuses to get down on the floor with her - she must be up on a higher level where the dog can't reach her. (I've actually resorted to trying to bribe her: "Daisy, if you get down on the floor and play with Twinkle for 3 minutes, I will take you to the store and buy you a new dress, today." No dice.) And her phobia has spread to Annabelle, who initially was NOT afraid of the dog. But now? Now Annabelle screams her head off if the dog so much as looks at her and is uncrated.


Lilah, on the other hand, loves her some Twinkle. She loves to pick her up and haul her around. And the Twinkster lets her, which is good I guess. They're buddies.

Finn, thankfully, is not afraid of her. He gets annoyed and upset when she nips and jumps at him (which she does playfully), but he's pretty tolerant and seems to enjoy her quite a bit, too. And he's figured out how to open her crate (yayy, fine motor skills!) and let her out. Which makes her feel even friendlier with him, I think.

So there you have it. Dog days.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The People Who Live In My Computer

I have a confession: there are people who live in my computer. The names and faces have changed and multiplied, but they've been there for years. And every once in a while, one of them materializes into a real, live, warm-blooded human being. Like this past weekend, for instance.

This is Chrystal, whom I adore (holding Finn) and her daughter on my lap. She and her family visited this weekend and fun was had by all.

The truth is, I've been meeting people and making friends - real friends - online for years. It all started wayyyyyy back before I ever got pregnant the first time. I had been trying to conceive for a few years already and met another girl who had also been trying to conceive for some time, and we hit it off and began what was to be a friendship that lasted many years. We actually ended up (finally) getting pregnant at the same time and gave birth to our first babies within days of each other. While I was pregnant with Kevin all those years ago, I became part of an "email loop" (anyone remember those? that was before message boards and discussion forums hit it big) consisting of about a dozen women, all pregnant with their first babies and due in January, 1997. Three of us formed a long-lasting friendship and, although we were scattered across the US, we managed to visit one another and go away for girls' and mommy weekends once or twice a year. Since then, I've been involved in a number of pregnancy message boards over the years and have forged quite a few friendships.

The blogging world has opened up yet another avenue of friendship for me. Right now, I am so fortunate to be a part of a very special circle of women friends (enter Chrystal) with whom I feel a real sisterhood. The common thread among us is that we are each raising a child with Down syndrome. But the friendship goes far beyond that. Not only do we share the joys and challenges of raising children with Ds, we talk about everything under the sun, we text and call each other, we exchange gifts, we laugh, we cry, and some of us have even been fortunate enough to meet in person. Now, if that's not friendship, I don't know what is.