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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Take that, Cancer!

"I'm a survivor
I'm not gonna give up
I'm not gonna stop
I'm gonna work harder
Keep on surviving!"
-Destiny's Child
Do you know my friend Lori?? She's unbelievable. A true warrior. She's at war with tiny, ugly cancer cells. She's been surviving Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer for 4 years. FOUR YEARS, people!! That's some crazy shizz right there. Lori's cancer was discovered shortly after she gave birth to Hayden. That means that he formed with cancer all around him. Truly a miracle child. And you should see him.... gorgeous!!!
Anyway, Lori is a great friend to me. I love her so you should too. 
On June 6th Lori will participate in the Relay For Life. We'll be out there walking the track with her and cheering her on in the fight of her life. 
We all know someone with Cancer who will benefit from the work that the American Cancer Society does. Take a minute to look at Lori's Relay For Life page. Give money if you can. If you can't, at least read her words and then share the link with others.  Each dollar Lori raises goes straight to ACS and helps everyone we all love who is surviving with Cancer.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Sometimes just being a woman is an act of courage"

I wrote a post about all this two days ago, but then I decided NOT to post it. However, I started a new book this morning and there just happened to be a line in there about Sylvia Plath and the whole head-in-the-oven thing. So, it seemed a little too coincidental and I decided I'd post this. Look, not every post is going to be totally awesome...
A few days ago Nicholas Hughes committed suicide. Not that interesting to most people, unless you know the whole story. For some reason last December I picked up The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It's a semi-autobiographical novel that she originally published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. This poor girl's soul was so so so tortured. I absolutely loved the book and it kinda left me wanting more. So, I decided to learn more about her, her relationships, and her family's life after her death. She and poet Ted Hughes married and had two children together. One morning while the babies slept (both kids were under three), she methodically stuffed wet rags under the doors and stuck her head in the oven with the gas on. Her suicide was a really big deal at the time. And really, what a way to go. 
Anyway, it turns out that two months before she killed herself, they had separated and he'd already gotten another woman pregnant- a woman to whom they'd rented out their London flat, along with her husband. The other woman, Assia Wevill, decided not to have the baby.  Two years later, they did have a little girl, despite the fact that she was still married. It's been said that Assia was "haunted" by the memory of Sylvia Plath and was pissed that Ted Hughes never treated her as a lover in public. She basically went crazy and when that little girl, Shura, was 4 (same age as my little girl), she fed her a cocktail of crushed up sleeping pills mixed in whiskey.  Once Shura was dead, Assia turned on the gas oven and... you guessed it- stuck her head in! 
This lead to so many rumors that Ted Hughes was pushing his women to suicide, but it seems more likely that they were all crazy and crazy attracts crazy. Just like my friend Marianne always says: water seeks its own level. In fact, some Plath super-fans started scraping the "Hughes" off her grave to insult him.
In 1998 Ted Hughes published "Birthday Letters", a collection of poems that were basically love letters to Sylvia Plath written after her death. You can see that he really did love her. I read the poems two nights ago and they are intense; a great window into their lives together and his alone, without her.
A few days ago, Frieda Hughes, Sylvia Plath's daughter, announced that her brother Nicholas Hughes, had committed suicide. Totally crazy, right? It's like it's just what these people do. Obviously it totally screwed her kids up to have had their mom off herself while they were asleep in cribs. I undersand that when you're so crazy that you are at the point of suicide, you dont think about how it will affect your family, but come on. I guess my family should be grateful that I don't even know how to operate my oven!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is it gonna be okay?

"I got a really good heart
I just can't catch a break"
-Ryan Adams
Ran into a girlfriend at the gym yesterday. She was relaxing at a table while her son was occupied in the kids center. He had been there for an hour and a half and she wasn't ready to get him yet. He gives her grief sometimes and makes her crazy. So normal. It's so important for me to hear these things because I don't know that's normal. I feel like that ALL the time, but I don't know that's normal- I just assume it's a "special needs issue". But it's not. It's normal. All moms feel like that sometimes. I think my situations are exacerbated by the special needs issue, but it's not ALL about that stuff.
I have no idea what is normal and what isn't. I know my life is tough. It's really, really, really tough.
This girlfriend assured me today, that she has shared my feelings and every mom feels a little bit of it sometimes. I say this all the time, but this is the reason that we NEED to talk about our feelings. No one knows what is normal or not. Instead, too often we keep things inside, afraid that we are so different, damaged, or failures. When we can be assured that our feeling are normal and typical, we can take comfort in knowing that others have walked through these feelings and situations before and we can be okay.
Really, that's all I ever want to be assured of: that it will be okay; that I will be okay.

Teen Idle

"What ever happened to my friend
Corey Haim?"
-The Thrills
When did Corey Haim become a 50 year old butch lesbian?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shugie is sad :(

"Such a long, long time to be gone
And a short time to be there"
-Grateful Dead
Just heard in the G-G house (that's my house; both our last names are Gs, hence the G-G house):
I knew Greg missed her as much as I do. Still, I think he's a little freaked out that her ashes are now in a box in our office. That might be a post for another day....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friendship Circle's Annual Volunteer Recognition Event

When I love something, you know it. You can't keep me from blabbering on about it. I get passionate and I want to share that passion with others. If you know me, you know I love Friendship Circle. On May 6th they will host an evening to honor the 750 volunteers that make up the organization, fostering relationships between the community and kids with special needs, like my little girl. Please CLICK HERE and check out the event details, consider joining my family and me that evening, and prepare to be forever changed. Did I mention it's FREE???
This year, we've gotten creative with ways to raise funds so please check out information about our Chinese Auction where you can win really, really, really great prizes. But please don't bid on the week in Cancun.... I need a vacation!
Anyway, join us by RSVPing on the website and see what it is I'm always going on and on about.  Also, stay tuned because you know I'll hit you up to sponsor and support my family in Friendship Circle's annual Walk 4 Friendship!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Middle Place

"Stuck in the middle with you"
-Stealers Wheel
I just finished reading a great memoir called "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan. It was a great, sweet, powerful story of a woman's journey to becoming a "grown up". She gets cancer and wants to be a little girl, taken care of by her parents (mostly her daddy), but then her Dad is diagnosed as well and she has to be a bit of parent to them as well. So, she's stuck in the middle. Meanwhile, she has two little girls of her own; and a life plan that has been derailed by well, life. I can really relate to that part. But what made me love this book so much was that there are things in her life I am so jealous of.  As I was reading, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I wish I had some of that! Not the cancer, but some of the relationships. I don't know what it's like to be mid-30s and not yet feel grown up; I've been a grown up for 30 years already (I'll be 32 in 6 months). It's a great read and a great story. Plus, it kept me on the elliptical for an extra 7 minutes to finish it up this afternoon!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This really bugs me!

"And all the little ants are marching"
-Dave Matthews Band
I was getting into my car yesterday afternoon and saw a little bug in the garage. I stepped on it. About 6 years ago I got on this Buddhist kick of not harming other living things, but then I became a mama bear so if anything could have possibly hurt my baby cub, it was being stepped on. So, I squished that guy. But then I turned around and saw his friend and his other friend and his other friend. That's when I realized that these bugs were using my driveway as their very own social networking site!!! They were swarming up the side of my house. I freaked out, ran back in the house and up the stairs: "Gregoryyyyyyyyyyyy." Convinced they were termites, we called a pest control person. I'm not great about taking things one step at a time, so I was already thinking about which hotels accept pets since we'd have to move out for a few days while they tent the house and exterminate the termites.  Greg captured two of them in a ziplock, which was not sufficient to me, so I made him double bag 'em. We looked online and became convinced they were definitely termites. It was hard to fall asleep last night since I was thinking of them crawling all over my walls, floors, and body. 
This morning I got a hold of the exterminator and she thought they sounded more like carpenter ants which do the same kind of damage as termites. I don't care what they are, I want them gone. I still see them scaling my walls and swarming to get me!! I can't wait until I know exactly what they are and know they are gone, and then throw away these double ziplocked guys on my counter.
UPDATE: The exterminator just left. They're Sand Ants. Totally harmless. I guess they come up from the sand between the concrete slabs on my driveway; the girls sprout wings and get ready to mate (so obv I was right about using my walls as a social networking tool). Sorry I totally ruined your hump season, little ants.  I hate the idea of using chemicals to kill them all even though the guy said it's harmless to humans and the little critters that run around outside my house (Hey, California folk: there really are critters all over the place here. More on that later). But, I guess they have to be sprayed because there's no "Anteater Rental" in the yellow pages. I checked.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Just Winging It

"Like Sam the butcher bringing Alice the meat"
-Beastie Boys
I've often said that I'm different from a lot of other girls. I haven't dreamed of being a wife and mother my whole life. Of course today those are the two most important job titles I hold and the ones I'm best at. I guess it's also a little funny that I was the first of all my friends to become both of those things. I didn't babysit, I didn't coo at babies or ever want to hold them. After my daughter was born, the nurses in the hospital taught me to change a diaper, burp her after nursing, and even cradle her head so it didn't roll off her neck! Thank G-d for Emma the baby nurse who lived with us for two weeks and taught us what to do. I'm not sure if the baby or I cried harder the day she left.
I'm thinking of all this now because today on Dora the Explorer, the mommy T-Rex was singing lullabies to the baby T-Rex and it reminded me of when Little Bird used to take naps and I'd try to lull her to sleep. I didn't know any lullabies!! As a newborn she'd cry and cry and I wanted to hush her with a song, but nothing came to mind. Finally, I broke out in a hormonal, new-mom rendition of the theme to The Brady Bunch. In a panic, it's all I could think of. She got quiet, calmed down and fell asleep! Thus began a naptime routine: snuggling and telling her all about the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls.... I can't even imagine the shock she's in for should she ever flip through the channels and land on Nick at Nite reruns, only to realize that her mommy was a total mess just winging it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

nor⋅mal [nawr-muhl]

"I don't wanna be normal like you"
I snapped this picture in a parking lot- it's a bumper sticker. In my mind when I'm really struggling with how "different" my life is and how different it turned out, I find myself thinking "I just want to be normal; just want to have a normal life." But one thing I can never say is that my life is boring. It's not. Normal is overrated. It just is. It's kinda boring and kinda common. The dictionary says Normal is "conforming to a standard." That's the last thing I'd want to do or be.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Book 'em, Dani

"Nightclubbing we're nightclubbing.
We're what's happening.
We're nightclubbing"
-Iggy Pop
I'm in a book club. Ok, so we are a club; we meet at night; so I guess we're nightclubbers! Actually, I'm kind of a freak reader. I love to read. It's a great escape. So last year my friend invited me to join in on her book club. We meet once a month and kibbitz for about 30 minutes, have a show of hands of who read the book, discuss it for about 5 minutes, then spend another 30 minutes deciding what to read next. I love it! We are women who might ordinarily not have much else in common or might not otherwise even know each other but we all get along so well. It's a great group. I'm really happy to know these girls and to get to have an evening out with smart, funny, smart ladies- even if it's only once a month! So, I think I'll keep on nightclubbing...
Here are a few of the books we've read lately:
And here's what we're reading next:
I keep a list of what I'm reading on the left side of the screen, so scroll down from time to time to see what I'm into at the moment...

The In-Between

"Peacekeeper take your time"
-Fleetwood Mac
I hate being stuck in the middle. I hate feeling like I have to please everyone. I hate feeling like I have to make everyone happy. How about people trying to make me happy? How about people respecting I have enough stuff to deal with on my own? Could someone please walk on eggshells trying to keep me comfortable?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Little Drummer Girl

"She started dancing to that fine fine music
You know her life was saved by rock n roll.
Despite all the computations
you know you could just go out and dance to the rock n roll station
and it was alright."
-Velvet Underground
I mean, it's really no surprise that Little Bird has displayed musical talent. It was bound to happen. This was the first time I've ever seen her play drums. She really loved it and even held the sticks properly! I was very impressed. Grandpa, if you are reading this, DO NOT send drums.
Just in case you can't see the video below, please CLICK HERE. It's so worth it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Purim!

Here I am with the cutest Purim Pirate in town!! AAARRRRGGGHHHH!

Sugar Magnolia dressed up as Queen Esther... begrudgingly!

This is our Rabbi dressed up as Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman!!! Before he began reading the Megillah, he took his gum out and stuck it on the wall!

This year Little Bird and I fulfilled all 4 of the Purim Mitzvot!

I also fulfilled my obligation to eat about 10 pounds of hamentashen- OY!

Check out my friend Kelli's Hamentashen Recipe....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Running in the Shadows

"I can still hear you saying 
We will never break the chain"
-Fleetwood Mac
Last night I saw Fleetwood Mac for maybe the tenth time. My husband is so sweet for indulging me by coming along and pretending to enjoy it even a quarter of the amount that I do. I was up on my feet, singing and twirling just as much as Miss Stephanie Nicks- all night long!! She was gorgeous as usual, and Lindsey Buckingham is a freaking guitar g-d. Seriously, I was amazed to see this band rock like they were 25. Mick Fleetwood could out-drum any drummer 30 years younger. 
I really hope Greg's arm has healed from all the times I dug in my nails in response to Stevie and Lindsey's longing gazes and that one time they came out onstage holding hands. OMG!! 
See, the whole blog isn't about Autism...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Doll Parts

"I am doll eyes, doll mouth, doll legs"
This was in my newspaper this morning following a story on Barbie being 50. Breaking News, I know....

According to Frank Papay, plastic surgeon and chairman of the Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute at Cleveland Clinic, to look like Barbie, a typical 50-year-old woman would need to:

  • Have a chemical peel and use Retin A. "That should help the texture of her skin and get rid of the blotchiness and some of the pigment changes."
  • Get an eye uplift where ligaments have loosened and maybe a mid-face lift.
  • Get a brow lift and Botox in the furrows between the eyebrows.
  • Have Botox injections in the laugh lines. If they're severe, have a chemical or laser peel.
  • Have a face lift to help raise the area where the jowls sag.
  • Have a neck lift for sagging under the chin.
  • Schedule a breast augmentation or a breast lift.
  • Schedule surgery to alleviate the saddlebags that settle in hips and thighs due to hormonal changes.
Wait, could important newsworthy stories like this be part of the reason that my local paper is in trouble and will no longer be able to provide home delivery??? I could sit and ponder this, but I've gotta go raise my sagging jowls.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sugar and Spice

"I'm Just A Girl"
-No Doubt
I've been worked up about poor messages going out to little girls and young women for a while. But, it all came to a head yesterday at Target. I was in the toy section and I found these gems. Parents, you can purchase these products for your little girls to teach them valuable lessons in life like:
Hair Extension Salon
Your hair is ugly and not good enough. You need extensions like Paris Hilton.
Diva Puppies
Dress and style your puppy like a diva!
A few weeks ago I was watching the Today Show, which I've started hating in the last year because it's such fluff and just so dumbed down. The three lead stories centered around 3 women: 
*Octo-mom: crazy single lady gives birth to 8 children while she already has 6 at home (er, make that her parents' home). Clearly this woman has NO SHAME.
*Bar Rafaeli is given the prestigious title of cover girl on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Her father's reaction: "I am the proudest dad in the world". Really? That's pride?
*Tot-mom not allowed to attend the memorial service of toddler she is accused of murdering (then going to compete in a wet t-shirt contest)
Where are the positive portrayals of women these days?? I have a daughter and I don't want her to grow up thinking that these behaviors are acceptable. We need better examples women for our little girls to look up to. Where are they? 
*A couple days ago, we learned that Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together despite the fact that he now faces felony charges for threatening to kill her and almost doing it! 
*Please don't get me started on the one thing that I've overheard EVERYONE talking about lately... The Bachelor. Now, I don't watch this show, but you'd have to be living under a freaking rock to have not heard the whole he-proposed-to-one-then-broke-up-with-her-on-TV-and-surprised-her-by-revealing-that-he'd-been-cheating-with-the-runner-up thing. Hey runner-up, here are a few things you know about this guy: 1) He went on TV to look for a wife and mother to his kid; 2) he dumped a girl and revealed that he had been lying to her... ON TV!!; 3) he already chose someone else OVER you!  Good luck to you both!!
I guess the marketing results are in and it's official: Skank is IN, because dude, even Dora is becoming a skank!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

5'1" of strength (ok, 5' 3/4")

I hate when people say shit like "everything happens for a reason" when referring to things like cancer or autism or foreclosure (a few things I don't respect enough today to capitalize). I know that people don't know what else to say, and they want to be compassionate, but come on... Maybe I'm just bitter because I know some fabulous mommies who don't deserve autism in their children and some amazing people who would be hard-pressed to find a good "reason" for their cancer.
Another gem that people bust out is "there's a reason you were chosen for this". UGH. People tell me that I was "chosen" to be Little Bird's mom; "chosen" to have a kid with special needs?? Again, I know people are just trying to say something, anything, to provide comfort, so I'm considerate of that fact. Anyway, it's an interesting point. I mean, it's true that this happened to ME and not to some other moms I know. And a few months ago, it occurred to me that YES, Little Bird IS really lucky to have ME for a mom.
I was at a gathering with about 10 other moms and their kids (dads were there too, but I'm not really counting them). I looked around the room for a minute and I realized that NONE of these wilting flowers could handle for 10 minutes what I go through every day. They have no effing clue!! I'm tough as balls and I work hard every freaking day to get my kid where she needs to be. I know I'm tougher and stronger than a lot of other girls I know and Little Bird IS really really really lucky to have me for a mom.
I haven't had it easy. But rather than sit around feeling like the victim because I've faced a lot of hardship in my life, I'm using that fire and putting it to good use: to save my kid. Please remind her of this one day!! So, maybe some of my tough times really did happen for a reason... to build me up and into the woman I am today: Little Bird's mommy.

Faking It

"Call the doctor
Call the doctor
Call the doctor
Call the doctor"
-Sleater Kinney
Little Bird likes to play this game where she complains that something hurts, then we have to "call the doctor" who usually orders about 3-4 kisses to cure her ailments. Occasionally I get up and put a band-aid on her made-up booboo. So, this usually goes something like this: "Oh no, my tummy hurts. Doctor!" Or: "my finger hurts! Band-aid!"
A few days ago we saw a doggie walking down the street and when I mentioned him, she pointed out his tail and I saw the lightbulb turn on above her head. About 10 seconds later she shouted, "Oh NO! My tail hurts!!" Absolutely adorable.
And to think that one big issue with Little Bird has been her lack of imaginative (pretend) play!! Actually, I was looking at old videos and I realized that she's been faking it for years. Here's a cute video of Little Bird fussing, then stopping suddenly to be sure I am still paying attention. Hilarious!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just do it!

In my case, the crowded space is my mind and the whisper is my own voice of reason. I've heard it for a while and I can't ignore it anymore. It's time to act. It's not that I'm in denial about certain issues in my life; it's that I'm not as close to acceptance as I will one day be. Every day I get a little bit closer.
Something isn't working here. Something needs to change. I think it's the one thing I've avoided for so long but I just can't avoid anymore. I know what I need to do. I won't blame myself for not doing this sooner or getting this done sooner; I wasn't ready before. I think I'm ready now.
By the way, it doesn't matter what my "it" is. We all have issues like this, right? We all have things we've been avoiding and praying we don't have to face, until we just do. So that's where I am today.
**Side note: the link in the lyrics sends you to a funny mash-up of the song with scenes from my favorite TV show. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Holy Hamentashen!

"Reach out and touch somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can"
-Diana Ross
This morning we spent some time making mishloach manot (purim parcels) for some very deserving folks. Once the packages were complete, they were delivered to the elderly in Jewish homes for the aging, JARC homes, Friendship Circle, etc.
Next week we will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, wherein we are meant to perform 4 mitzvot (good deeds): 1. Read or hear the Megillah (Scroll of Esther), 2. Give charity to at least two needy people, 3. Send a minimum of two ready to eat foods to at least one person, 4. Enjoy a royal feast.
Lucky for me, my Rabbi here in Michigan has a unique gift for speed reading the megillah and we get through it pretty quickly, stopping only to hiss and boo when we hear the name Haman (the bad guy in the Purim story).
I'm all about making the world a better place. I've been given the opportunity to teach another human being (Little Bird) to do the same. She's been doing mitzvot since she was born. Whether it's raking leaves in the Fall for someone unable to do it herself (ok, we raked, she rolled in it), bringing smiles to the faces of the elderly just by stopping into a retirement home to say hi to strangers, or dropping coins in a tzedakah (charity) box, she's already doing her part. I am grateful. That's the kind of girl I'd like to raise...
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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)