A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Just Another Girl

"You're just another girl"
Okay, you know those little grocery carts that are for kids to push around the store and make their parents crazy? I always see kids pushing those carts all around the market and their parents are always so annoyed because the kid is all over the place: not moving fast enough, not moving slow enough, not moving at all. First of all: parents, chill out! Let your kids play a bit; they ARE kids, after all. Anyway, LB never really showed any interest in that stuff because it's so totally typical and there's not much about my bird that can be called typical!
A few weeks ago, we went to Trader Joe's and there were the cute little kid carts at the door. I was completely shocked when LB walked right over to the cart and started pushing. I know those other parents always seem so agitated, but I was thrilled. I was alone, so I couldn't share it with anyone, but OMG, she just did something so normal!!!!! She pushed that cart all over TJ's and filled it with GF/CF pancakes, soy yogurt, avocados, and GF/CF turkey hotdogs!! I thought she looked so cute doing it. Later when I saw the picture above, I realized that she looked like a homeless hot mess. But that's ok, because she totally did something I wasn't sure I'd ever see.
Hey other parents, try to remember that when you are so annoyed and impatient with your kid, someone else is praying that their kid would do whatever it is your kid is up to. I remember that all the time. Little Bird is doing things now that she couldn't do last summer; things I wasn't sure I'd see. I know people who would give a digit for their kid to be where Little Bird is, so I try to stay realistic, and try to come from a place of gratitude. I've never been so happy to help steer a small cart around a crowded grocery store while strangers were staring at us!
Later that same day, we went to the airport to pick up daddy. We'd made a sign, covered it with Dora the Explorer stickers, and colored all over it. When he came walking through the customs doors, she ran right up to him proudly displaying her sign. Hard to tell who loved this moment more: LB or G! All the other people around oooohhhhed and aaaaahhhed and awed. But in that moment, no one could tell that we weren't your typical family. We didn't look anything like what you think of when you think Autism. She was amazing. It was a great moment. We hold on to those moments and remember them because we need that hope to keep us going. We need to pull that moment out of our pockets when we are stuck in fear, worry, and frustration.
That was a great day. G-d willing, there will be many more to come.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

SmackDown!

So, I guess Little Bird got her first "time out" at school today. I've been wondering what took so long. Actually, any kid of mine would obviously be getting in trouble at school, but I never thought it would be as a result of violence. Basically, she was playing with blocks when she picked one up and smacked a kid in the face with it. Of course the kid started crying. So what does my sweet little bird do??? She clocks the kid in the face again!!!
When the teacher told me about it, I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. When I told G about it later on, he laughed out loud. Even later on, I told my mom and she cracked up too. What is wrong with us???
Actually, I'm surprised she made it to 4 before practicing such random acts of violence. After all, check out this video of Little Bird playing with her baby doll at age 2. Enough said.

Let's make a memory

A lot of people know that music is everything to me. It's been a part of my life since I was born. My Dad made a living in Rock n Roll. Music paid for my education, the clothes on my back, and the food I didn't eat. See that's kind of funny if you really know me. Every job I've ever had has been in the music business and I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Industry. Basically, I love music!!
Some people smell a certain smell and memories come back. For some it's foods, sights, etc. For me, it's music, lyrics, melodies. I hear a song or even a line in a song and I'm right back to a memory. Yesterday, my iPod was on shuffle when Coldplay's "The Scientist" came on. Sure enough, a memory came flooding back....
More than five years ago, Greg and I were sitting at AG's funeral and over the speakers played a CD that was in his car at the time of his death. As soon as the song started, G and I looked at each other and instantly felt so sad for SS, one of my very best friends, who'd just lost her love. 
We were really in town because RP's husband was killed in an accident, so we flew out to be by her side. We'd arrived two days before KP's funeral. The first morning we were in LA I awoke to a call from SS screaming and crying. AG was gone. I jumped in the car and traveled to his parents' home to hold and hug my girl. It was a rough week. 
Interestingly enough, this morning I was at the gym and had my gym mix playing in my ears. The song that came up was "Sometimes I rhyme slow" by Nice and Smooth. Yes, I enjoy a little old school rap now and then. The reason this struck me was that this song, too, reminded me of AG. He was a year and a half older than I, so he got a driver's license sooner. He and I would drive up and down Ventura Blvd from Winnetka to Woodman listening to music, looking for something to do. We listened to that song so much, memorizing the words. Yeah, I can rhyme... and sometimes I rhyme slow and sometimes I rhyme quick :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I left my heart....

"If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair"
-Scott McKenzie
Someone recently said that it was so courageous of me to "expose" myself to the world through this blog. She said "I love that you put so much of your heart out there". Really, I think that's the only way to do it- whatever the venue or media, you've just gotta put it all out there. 
But this reminded me of my life in San Francisco (what I remember of it), and how I'm no stranger to "exposure". Especially when the L Taraval MUNI passed by the apartment!!
So, if you were a part of my life in SF, whether it was at Mary Ward or 25th and Taraval, please leave me a little comment or give me an "I was there!" But, dude, keep it clean... I think my rabbi reads this shit. 
In all seriousness, if you were there with me, you should know that those years were the best, most fun I've ever had. Ever. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cassidy 2001-2009

I never wanted cats. G wanted cats. I always had dogs. Plus, my dad's allergic to cats and so I'd always heard bad things about them. I never trusted cats- they're too sneaky! I finally agreed one day. I'd always wanted to name my first born child Cassidy. One day in 2001 G went into a PetCo while a shelter was there for an adoption event. He came home and announced, "I've found your Cassidy!" Skeptical, I took the ride to PetCo (on Topanga Canyon and Ventura Blvd) and I saw her. I knew right away she was my baby girl. She was in a cage with an adorable black and white cat who would become her brother, my baby boy, because I couldn't separate them. I walked in thinking I was just humoring my husband, and walked out without knowing how much my life was about to change.
G's allergies and asthma started up within a couple days. We were in the urgent care center getting him inhalers and yet there was no way I was giving these cats up. I was in love. To this day G takes meds to control his allergies and asthma. It's worth it. Even he would tell you that.
Cassidy loved moving to Michigan. We put critter food out on our deck and it was like the Animal Planet in our own backyard. She loved it and always made those funny little kitty noises when she'd spot birdies.
Some of you might know that I was never the kind of girl that always dreamed of being a mom. I was never the kind who wanted to hold other people's babies or coo over them. Cassidy taught me how to be a mom. She taught me all about unconditional love. No matter what I did, looked like, ate, wore, etc she loved me. She was the snuggliest, sweetest, prettiest kitty in the world.
In 2006 I felt a lump in her leg. Cancer. We removed it. Well, a vet did. About 6 months later, it was back. We were told that it would keep coming back, but our best bet would be to remove the leg. In fact, the cancer was a result of a reaction to the rabies vaccine. Perhaps we need to Green Our Vaccines for our animals as well?? In September 2006 Cassidy's leg was removed. I nursed her to health and cared for her the best I could. It took her no time to master life on 3 legs. She didn't even miss that 4th leg. She freaking rocked those 3 legs!!
I was out all morning long, stopping home for lunch. I planned on being gone from 130 until early evening. I just happened to be here as my little girl kitty took her last breaths. I got to hold her in those final moments. I got to give her a fraction of the love she gave me in that moment. I won't tell you exactly how it happened because that's mine. But I will say that she did not suffer. She was not in pain. She was held by her mommy, who adored her. Within moments the vet was here. I wasn't ready to let go of Cassidy, so Andrea let me hold her until I was ready. Later, I found out that Andrea was actually rushing to get home to pack for a flight she had scheduled later in the afternoon. Still, she let me take my time with my girl.
I am so grateful I was home; I had that time with her. She got to pass while in my arms. My human daughter doesn't understand what's going on, but she did get to say "bye bye Tassidy" (she can't yet say the 'K' sound!) and she kissed her. Now, these two never were friends. They basically tolerated each other. But in this moment, LB gave her a kiss and a little pet. I kissed her toes, rubbed her chin like she loved, and gave her limp body to the vet.
Here's the worst part: G is still in China. I couldn't reach him for 7 hours. When I finally told him, he couldn't believe it. He asked "Cassidy who?" It was so shocking. Cassidy was not sick. This was some kind of heart attack. I feel terrible that he didn't get a chance to say goodbye. But that very morning, we were having a video chat on skype and Cassidy was so cute, all cuddled up on the floor. I put the camera on her and Greg and I kvelled about how sweet she was. She heard us talking about her and she lifted her head proudly. She knew how much we loved her.
G's allergies means that the kitties are not allowed in our room anymore. Since he's been out of town, I let her sleep with me this week. I figured that he'd never find out, so why not?! I'm so happy I got to have that time with her.
I miss her already. I go in and out of crying, sobbing, and shock. I am devastated. I will miss her forever. I will never forget the gifts she gave me: the ability to love, to mother, to accept unconditional love. I will never be the same.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cheese Pit!

In my former life (B.A. - before Autism), I might have made things a bigger deal than they were. Ok, I've certainly had moments of drama queendom. Things that once mattered seem so silly now. I am grateful for the ability to put things into perspective. However, this new attitude can make me kinda judgmental of others who might not have had, shall we say, the same opportunities to see things for what they really are. I will never forget how hurt I was last summer when I was hanging out with a bunch of other moms and their "typical" (read: normal, common) kids, and one mom complained about how hard her day was. It seems that her 3yr old wanted to wear her bathing suit ALL day long. This was what made that mom's day so hard. At first I thought, "how can she even say that in front of me?? That's a hard day?" But the truth is, she doesn't know what its like; how could she? I tell that story to bring up the point that I am sensitive and I can easily judge others, but I'm working on it, ok???
Since G's been out of town, a couple weeks ago I took Little Bird to her gymnastics class. There are a few moms, but it's mostly dads and their kids. One cute dad, but the rest are SO not. We all finished up on the balance beam and made our way over to the cheese pit (the big pit of foam blocks). So, the dads and I jump in with our kids and there's one mom who tosses her kid in but stays on the sidelines. When a dad asked "aren't you coming in?" She said "No, the foam sticks to my Lululemons." Holy shizzzzzz, did she just say that?!! Thank you, Autism, for giving me different priorities. Not only do I not care AT ALL about foam sticking to my pants, but why do I need the poshest gym clothes? Old Navy's stuff is good enough for me! But really, that is precious fun time with your kid and you're worried about foam on your frickin' fancy workout pants? You effing loser!!!
I'm grateful for having my priorities straight and not letting something like a little foam on my tush keep me from rolling around and giggling with my baby bird.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kapow!

"Crash into me"
-Dave Matthews Band
This sucks. Looking back, some of it was kinda amazing. We went to CVS to get something for G's trip. They didn't have it. We went to Efros Pharmacy next. G ran in, got the goods, hopped back in the car. He saw the lady coming. He laid on the horn. I shouted NOOOOOO. He sped up a bit. Thank g-d he did. She would have rammed right into Little Bird. Instead, she obliterated my lights and entire side panel. G got out of the car and asked her "are you in a hurry?" She said YES!!! Crazy. Like I have time for this??!! At least she knew it was her fault. Seconds later, we heard "Greg, I saw the whole thing- it was totally her fault!" Our friend Danny G (great name, right?!) happened to be in the parking lot at the same time.
The good news is it took me no time to realize how lucky we were that Little Bird wasn't hit or hurt. She's really all I care about. All the time.
Funny though... if only CVS had the stuff we needed; or if there was one more person in line ahead of G, or if we didn't stop to kiss when he came back to the car with sour gummy worms (it WAS Valentine's Day after all).
When I showed my friend Batsheva, she said, "Your car doesn't look pretty, but at least you have it covered in magnets!" Can you tell we love Friendship Circle? I'm just saying.... the spots covered in magnets are untouched :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm not perfect, I'm hungry!

"Everybody's got a hungry heart"
-Bruce Springsteen
There are two decent delis in the area: Steve's and Stage. I pity the fool who thinks that Deli Unique is a decent deli. All three of these delicatessens have one thing in common: they make me miss Brent's Deli in Northridge, CA.
Stage Deli is about 1.5 miles from my house, so it's really easy. The food is good too. However, the guy who owns the place is a total asshole. That makes us NOT want to give him our patronage.
When we used to order off the kids' menu for Little Bird (before the whole GF/CF thing), we'd ask if they could substitute fruit for the french fries. I mean, does every child meal have to come with fries? Yes it makes the kids happy but you know what else it makes them?? FAT! Alas, they'd let us know: NO substitutions. I'd kindly explain that this is in the best interest of my child's health. I mean, I'll pay a little extra for fruit over the fries. They really wouldn't do it.
Ok, that was just one pet peeve. Also, they don't have breakfast meals (a la the pancake sandwich at Brent's). Instead, it's all a la carte. At a freaking deli??
The worst thing is... while the Detroit economy is in the dump and people are feeling desperate, they raised prices and shrunk portions. Unbelievable! You can no longer order half sizes of salads in the evenings, you must order the large size and pay the larger price. I just feel like you need to super-serve your customers and make it happen- whatever the request. If you talk to anyone who works there or has in the past, they'll agree that the guy is a total ass.
Why am I telling you all this? Because today I caved and picked up soup and a salad. They have this amazing garden vegetable soup on Saturdays. Plus, the Beltaire salad is so good and I knew it would be a good fit for my dinner. So, I put aside my morals for some delicious deli. I'm not perfect, I'm hungry!
My friend Batsheva teases me because I'm very strict about shopping with a conscience. You'll never see me at Walmart/Sam's Club because I don't dig their labor relations and obviously I disagree strongly with the way they censor the music (and other art) they sell and their refusal to provide effective forms of birth control to women. I've also never gone to Meijer here in Detroit because I am not comfortable with some of the ammo they offer. Those are things I won't budge on. Then again, neither of those stores sell that garden vegetable soup.....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

"My funny valentine.
Sweet comic valentine.
You make me smile with my heart. 
Stay little valentine, stay.
Each day is Valentine's Day."
-Richard Rogers
Yesterday my phone rang.  I answered, "There's my Valentine!" He said, "yeah, about that..."
He decided on a last minute trip to Japan for a few days before he spends a week in China. He leaves today just after he takes our little girl to gymnastics class. Another week or so of sleeping in the middle of the bed, cereal for dinner and MY TV shows! Actually, my friend Susan gave me the first season of Brothers and Sisters to watch since so many people (especially my sister) say it's so great. Like I need another show to watch!!
So this Valentine's Day, I'll be alone. Don't feel bad for me, we're not Hallmark holiday kind of people. Each "Sweetest Day" I remind G that it's coming up and he says "We're not from the Midwest, so it doesn't count for us!" It's not the flowers that he brings home on the holidays that matter; it's the ones he brings home on a random Tuesday evening; or the way he'll warm my car up for me on the really cold mornings. It's the extra coffee he makes in the morning, knowing I'll be hitting it in the afternoon. I guess what I'm saying is every day is Valentine's Day. Yeah, I'll be alone tonight, but don't pity me, I'll be eating G's portion of dessert as well as my own. 
Just a side note: When G and I were both growing up, our doggies (Kona and Tino- of blessed memory) were both born on Valentine's Day. So, I'd like to tip my proverbial 40, or in this case kibble, in their honor. Shout out to the best puppies EVER!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Liberty and Justice for ALL

"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together"
-The Beatles
Ok, first read this article:
I thrive on stories of redemption, and perseverance and of course overcoming obstacles. But, I got worked up reading this article. So, of course I wrote about it. I wrote to the columnist and to the editor of the Detroit Free Press. Here's what I had to say:
As a Jewish American I am no stranger to the experience of prejudice and persecution. My parents always made me feel proud of my heritage and filled me with the will to triumph over adversity. Instilled in me is the drive to fight for the rights of any underdog, anyone who struggles; to help those who cannot help themselves; to fight to be sure no one suffers persecution or second class citizenship in our world.
I was first struck by the photo of an NAACP Detroit branch member holding a sign that read "don't support second class citizenship" on the cover of February 12th's Local section. I agree so strongly with Mr. Ben Jealous who said he wanted to "be sure that Americans knew that civil rights were human rights." I spoke similar words recently while hosting an event for the Jewish Gay network.
In 2009 there are still Americans who are being denied civil rights in our country and I fear people are not aware that this, too is a human rights issue. Gay americans are fighting for equal rights and being denied. In California's recent election, polls showed that 7 in 10 African Americans voted against allowing homosexuals the right to marry. Until we are all treated as equals, America is still supporting second class citizenship. To that, I say shame on us.
"Liberty and Justice for ALL"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

When you think Autism, think me??

"Thinking of you"
-A Perfect Circle
Just had to post this because it's WAY too funny. You know all those Facebook applications? Well, I'm not so into all that stuff, but I get the requests all the time. Anyway, here's one that just came through... (I erased the names to protect the innocent). Of course I think this is funny and I can totally  appreciate it. Look, any way to raise awareness about Autism is a good way!
 sent a request using "Autism" :
This Autism made me think of you. I hope you like it! ~
 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jazz Hands!

"Who Wears Short Shorts?"
-Royal Teens
My brother is WAY cooler than your brother.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Oink Oink

"Pigs in Zen"
-Jane's Addiction
Little Bird brought this home from school this week. Either she has been dropping acid during arts and crafts time or she really, really hates pigs.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The girl with the pearl earring

"O-o-old habits die hard
when you got
when you got a sentimental heart"
So here's the thing.... I'm pretty tough on the outside but a big fat softy on the inside. "You may be a softy, but not a big fat softy" you say?? Why thanks! I'll take it. But seriously, I'm very sentimental. I stopped watching Oprah because the woman makes me cry every freaking time she gives someone a gift. Seriously, even when she gives the audience a stupid candle.... tears. Don't get me started on the time she had Stevie Wonder surprise a kid who'd won a contest singing "Isn't She Lovely". No joke, I kept that on my tivo for months and watched it over and over and balled my eyes out each time. I was pregnant and had massive amounts of hormones pulsing through my veins at the time, but still. 
This week, my mother-in-law came for a visit and she brought me a gift: the pearl earrings she wore to her own wedding. OMG!! I love that sh*t. I'm a fool for those kinds of sweet sentiments. I cherish those things. I have a good amount of jewelry, even though all I wear regularly is a small platinum band on my left ring finger. But it's the pieces like this: her wedding earrings, my grandma's anklet and her diamond earrings; these are the things that turn me into a big bowl of mush. I hope that one day I share these things with my own daughter, and I hope that she will feel the same way I do; able to appreciate these sweet, sappy little things like a big ol' sentimental fool.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

-Kings of Leon
My fabulous friend Lori just called me because she knows someone whose kid has Autism and is interested in The Friendship Circle. Lori wondered if it was ok to give this lady my phone number. She knows me enough to know that of course I'm happy to help ANYONE out!
Here's the thing.... my life is an open book. I learned long ago that we are as sick as our secrets. I don't keep secrets about myself or my life- unless it would hurt someone else. I've learned so much from so many people who have gone before me; I've been able to learn through the experiences of others and drawn on their hope. I'm always willing to do the same for someone else.
I have made some great friends just by going through hard times. I met my best girlfriend when our infant girls were in an Early Intervention class (I never wanted to end up there); I've met tons of loving, helpful moms in therapy centers and doctors' waiting rooms (I never wanted to end up there); I even made a good friend on a special needs message board a few years ago (I never wanted to end up there). I'll just throw in that I've made lifelong friends in Michigan (and I never thought I wanted to end up here!).
Friends totally surprise me. Some of the ones you're not sure of turn out to be amazing friends in the end, and others you thought you could count on fade away. Tough times have given me the chance to re-evaluate, prioritize, and learn NOT to sweat the small stuff!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Doin' it for the boobies

"Let's take a long walk..."
-Jill Scott
It was just about a year ago that Tami first felt the lump. Knowing that her father had fought breast cancer (yes, men get it too), she wasted no time and got to the doctor immediately. The news wasn't good. Cancer. She'd begin a rough course of Chemotherapy, losing her hair, her energy, and her taste for chocolate! It was unbelievable to see the kind of support she was getting. Turns out that a LOT of people love Tami!! We learned shortly after that there was more to this journey, and thus, Tami has just finished another round of Chemo, is getting ready for some radiation. 
A couple weeks ago, Tami's Dad lost his own battle with cancer. That funeral was filled with people who love that family and are committed to helping fight this disease along with Tami and her family. Please consider joining us as we Race For The Cure on May 30th at Comerica Park. Visit My Race For The Cure page, make a donation, register for the event, or pass it on to someone else who might want to participate.  It's all going to the same place, so check out Tami's Race Page too!!
Check out Tami's CaringBridge page and follow her story. She is so amazing. We need to raise awareness about Breast Cancer and the BRCA gene. I love this girl and I'm so blessed to have her in my life!!!
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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)