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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Israel Chronicles #4


We hopped in a cab to meet the rest of the crew at the airport. The cabbie asked if we were leaving Israel and when we explained that we weren't he said "Good. Israel is good for you." Hmmm, out of the mouths of cabbies!
As we ride around Tel Aviv, I see so many stars of David all over the place and it occurs to me that at home in the states, I often feel that I need to tuck away my star necklace in certain surroundings, but I guess I'll never feel that in this country. It's great to see our group. Jenny and I got teary talking about saying goodbye to our kids. Hers is less than a year old. Sigh. Everyone is tired, but we are all excited to finally be here and begin our journey. Once on the bus, we launch into song: Aveinu Shalom Alechim (we brought peace for you). Our tout guide Issy (Yisrael) explains that every day we will have a different taste of Israel. Today's is Red Cow Chocolate. YUM! It's pop rocks in a chocolate bar!! We tour Tel Aviv and stand at the very place where the State of Israel was established. It's unsettling for me, but here it's not uncommon to pass by a young soldier carrying a machine gun. Had to snap a shot of this intersection. Two streets names for two men instrumental in the establishment of Tel Aviv, which is celebrating it's 100th anniversary this year. Herzl, the father of modern zionism and Rothschild, a man who funded the establishment of Tel Aviv. We got a chance to sit in the very room where on 5/14/48 Israel was declared a state by David Ben-Gurion in the middle of a war. The museum's docent told us that "people don't come to Israel for a vacation. They come to Israel to feel." I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of that on this trip. Once we check into our hotel, we head to the water for a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. So warm and absolutely gorgeous! Some of us just can't believe it, so we keep reminding one another: "We're in Israel!" Tonight we meet with a group called Elem. They provide services to youths in the community who have become a part of a drug/prostitution underworld. We spent some time learning about their program and then had the chance to walk the streets of they called a "slum", to get the full experience. I learned some things that are important to me: in Israel abortion is legal; there is a government assistance program to women who want, but cannot afford an abortion; there is a needle exchange program; there is hope for some of these kids on the streets. This Elem program receives funds from groups where Federation dollars go, and that's what our connection was there.

Israel Chronicles #3

Greg and I flew in about 18 hours before the rest of our group. The itinerary calls for landing after 17 hours of traveling, then beginning a long day of tourism as soon as we step off the plane. So, we came a night early in effort to be refreshed before we go go go. We found a little restaurant in Tel Aviv called Itzak Hagodol. The was so much food... I had to take a picture.
We walked along the beach on the way back to the hotel and it was amazing to see families having picnics on the beach at 10 at night. We passed by a park and were totally blown away by their swings and different apparatus. Everything looked like an amusement park ride!
A beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea from my hotel window.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Israel Chronicles #2

click here for more on my trip to Israel


"In another world, in another time"
-Van Morrison

Man, this is a long flight. 11+ hours. I guess it will be longer on the way back. Hopefully then I will be so tired, I'll sleep. A lot. I think I slept for about 3 hours on and off. Before we left we rented Dexter's first season. Seen it? Pretty good stuff. So we've watched a few hours of that to pass the time until the computer died. I've also spent a little time rediscovering Van Morrison's Astral Weeks record. Genius.

We totally did that thing where we were on pins and needles wondering who would be taking the third seat on our row. We got lucky. Benjamin is probably a few years younger than we are; from Acapulco and he says he's an entertainer/dancer. I'm putting my money on "exotic". Actually, it's Aztecan dance and he's coming to Detroit to perform in October. Whose with me??

As the plane touches down, the passengers erupt in applause. Not because it was a rough flight and they're pleased to be on the ground, but because they are so happy to be landing here in Israel.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Israel Chronicles #1

***This is the beginning of The Israel Chronicles. I'll be traveling to the Jewish Homeland with my husband and about 10 other people (not my child): some of these people have already been my friends, the others are about to become my friends***
"Babe, I'm gonna miss you" -Lou Reed
Just said goodbye to Little Bird and before I was 25 feet away from her, I'm in tears. Of course I'm gonna miss her, but I think I'm also feeling worried about her and about leaving her because I feel like I'm the only one who can understand her (probably 65% true) and the only one who can help her get her needs met (probably 33% true). I've never been away from her for more than 48 hours. This could be a loooooong 9 days! I posted on Facebook that I'm so sad to leave the bird and my good friend Devon sent me a text that said "Even if you cry all the way to Israel, you need this break. You really do." So right. So so so right. When we walked into the Delta business lounge in Atlanta, the lady behind the counter got so excited that we are headed to Israel. She kept telling us that it's the most wonderful place and we will LOVE it. She visited Tel Aviv a few years ago and she said she can't wait to get back. She must have told us 3 times, "I'm black and I'm not even Jewish and I loved it there. Those are some good people."
Me and Bridget

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I got a big ego

First of all, I'm not a Beyonce fan per se, but she has a great collabo with Kanye on this track and I like the lyrics. Anyway, I dropped Little Bird off at school today and her teacher told me that (in the 25 years she's been teaching), I'm the most proactive parent she's seen. And that, my friends, is what is going to save my kid. Well, that and her crazy stubborn nature. That's what her OT says; that she's so mentally strong and tough that it's what will give her a fighting chance. But then again, I'll take credit for that one, too. I mean, have you seen my new license plate??

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Day of School

"Back to school
gonna take that plunge"
-Alice Cooper
I can't believe this day is here. I've been anxiously awaiting it. Looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time. Today is the first day of school for Little Bird. New school. New teachers. New kids. Of course, she's been in some kind of school since she was 8 months old, but this one is different. This one is filled with - gulp - normies. Yep, all typical kids. Little Bird has always been in preschool and Early On with kids with special needs. This is a BIG change. There's a lot running through my brain today: Will she like it? Will they accept her? Will she be able to make it? Will she bring her A game? Will she freak out? Will I? Will she be able to keep up? Will she be verbal? Will the other parents be cool about having Little Bird in the class? Will they be welcoming? Will they make their kids play with my bird (I always feel like if left up to them, the kids won't choose to play with her- so sad, I know)? Halfway through the school year last year, I just knew that it wasn't working out for Little Bird. She was getting great services (therapies) outside of school, but was she was missing was good examples of social interaction. She couldn't get that from the other kids in special needs preschool. She needs to be around "typical" kids to pick up on their behaviors, interactions, mannerisms. Not sure if she CAN pick up on those things from them, but I'm kinda hoping (ok, praying) so. Little Bird will have a "shadow" who will help her through the school day and through the whole process of school, so I'm not throwing her to the wolves, er other preschoolers, all alone. Are your ready to see the cutest "first day of school" photo EVER??
Stunning, I know. Here she is looking cute walking down the stairs to her new classroom...
And then, she realized I was leaving and she had to stay with all these kids....
The good news is that these tears didn't last long. In fact, within about 3 minutes, she was fine and walked right into her classroom. As I was walking out, the school's director told me that I could watch Little Bird on a monitor and I said, "no, thanks. I have to go have diarrhea." I left there with a little lump in my throat. I didn't go have diarrhea, but I did start feeling a bit anxious. So, I ate breakfast, ran a couple errands, and then I got this awesome text message from my friend E who works at Little Bird's new school: "just checked on her. She has a HUGE smile and is doing great!" Relief. Exhale. Sigh. I picked her up and she was all smiles. She'd had a good day. She likes it there. She'll be willing to go back! Which is a good thing, since I've already prepaid her tuition for the month.

Monday, August 17, 2009

YUM!

"It's the one, natural one"
-Folk Imposion
I'm always looking for good-tasting GF/CF foods for Little Bird. When I find them, I like to share the info with others- cuz I want you to do the same for me!
About a month ago a friend told me about a local little company called Jessica's Natural Foods which makes gluten free granola. Side note: I hadn't even met that friend in person yet- only on these here interwebs!! Shout out to JLR!
Anyway, Jessica seems to be a local girl with a gluten intolerant family member, went on to create this line of granola, and started selling it! So anyway, this girlfriend told me about the granola, knowing that my bird is on a GF diet, but I kinda forgot about it. Then, I was roaming around Hiller's (one of our local grocery chains in these parts of town) and lo and behold, there's Jessica and a cute little booth with samples (!!!) of her granola! I didn't even taste it, I just grabbed a bag of the chocolate chip granola said a quick hello and finished up my shopping.
I just opened up the bag today and it's sooooo delish! I swear, I ate three handfuls before I even let Little Bird taste it!! Here's how it went down...
Skeptical about a new food, as usual...
Going in for the taste...
SCOOOOOOOORE!!! She likes it, she really likes it!
I'm excited, but I guess this means I have to share the rest of the bag with her :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm just sayin'

Do you ever see something or hear something that spurs a thought and you wish there was someone around to share it with? Happens to me ALL the time. Here are a couple things I've seen lately that make me go "hmmmm."
If you stop by and read this stuff enough, you may have seen other posts under the title "I'm just sayin'". If not, then check out the little search box at the top left of the screen. Yeah, up there. See it? Ok, enter "I'm just sayin'" and see what comes up. Should be old posts with the same concept, but you never know if this shit really works.
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming....
Ok, so here are a couple things that have rented space in my mind lately:
Saw this bumper sticker and wondered: why the pig? Shouldn't it be a stalk of broccoli or something? I'm all about PETA and their fight against killing animals for their fur (ugh, furs are so ugly and SOOOOO old lady; like, mothball-smelling old lady. So if you have a fur, I think you probably smell like mothballs); I totally support their efforts to be sure animals are treated ethically and morally. But, I gotta say, my support stops there. I never met a cheeseburger or a steak I didn't like.
Ok, next up...
I had to snap a pic of this for obvious reasons. I mean, you how when you walk into an elevator and for a split second you're a little intimidated by all the numbers and floors: what floor is it again? what if I press the wrong button? what if I get stuck? etc. So, imagine how I felt when I visited a building I've never been in before and found this:
I stopped into Zingerman's in Ann Arbor this weekend to pick up some of their delicious balsamic vinegar and their great olive oil. At the counter, I noticed this little ad for a book written by their co-founder. Thought it was something to giggle about: the very Jewish sounding name of the author and the subject. Isn't it ironic? Doncha think?
I took Little Bird to the gym today to swim and found this lying outside on the ground:
I know it's hard to see, but it's obv a smoked cigarette covered in pink lipstick. Really? I can't decide what the worst part is: that you smoke? that you're enough of an ass to litter like that (you butt litterer!)? or that you are running around out there wearing that shade of pink lipstick.
I think the best thing I've seen in the last week might be this sign:
Awesome, right? I'm just sayin'....
Hey, don't forget to click on the link in the lyrics to watch Annie Lennox's video for the song "Why" just to remind yourself how freaking awesome she is.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Isn't it pretty to think so

"Californiaaaaaaaa, Californiaaaaaaa"
-Phantom Planet

I just had a completely crazy, in-freaking-sane thought. Wouldn't it be nice to move back to California?** Back to the land where everyone has their own swimming pools and the weather is nice all year round. Back to the land where I'd never struggle to find support, child care, good restaurants, diversity, help, etc. Back to the land where there are great programs for kids with special needs; where there is even insurance coverage for autism-related services and therapies.
It's really hard to be so far away from family- to do this from all the way over here. I need more help than I'm getting. I need real, unconditional love and support. I need someone to take my kid off my hands for an hour so that I can get it together enough to handle the rest of the day. People often suggest I get a sitter or a nanny, but I never really have enough time to offer (we're going from one therapy to another all day long). The truth is, the cons outweigh the pros. Still, just as Lady Brett Ashley says in the closing line of The Sun Also Rises, "isn't it pretty to think so?" **whatever you do, DO NOT tell my husband or my parents that I had this thought. And under NO circumstances can you breathe a word to my mother in law!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

You have NO idea

"All the way to Africa
AKA the Motherland"
-A Tribe Called Quest
Ok, so it's not Africa, but to my people, Israel is the motherland. I'll be traveling to Israel in about 3 weeks. I'm very excited and a little bit scared. I've never been away from Little Bird for more than 2 nights. Greg's mom will come into town and stay with her for the week that I will be away. That will be tough, but I'm not there yet. So I was on the phone with my girlfriend C, who is going with me on this trip. She's never been to Israel either. I was telling her that I'm especially looking forward to the spiritual renewal I'm hoping to find and feel while visiting a land with so much history and spiritual significance. I mentioned that I think it will be very good for Greg and me to experience it together, especially since we live such a difficult, exhausting, physically, emotionally and spiritually draining life. She replied, "oh, Dani, I had no idea your life was difficult." This brings up 3 thoughts for me. One is are you fucking kidding me? Another is that I wonder if this is why I don't get more support from friends: because they just don't know that this life is so hard. The last thing is that I must put on a happy face a lot more often than I thought. Remember this post about "the real me"? Anyway, people who really know me, really know that I often feel bankrupt. This has been a long, rough four years. It was actually this week four years ago that the pediatrician (at Little Bird's 6 month check up) suggested we start seeing specialists. Happy Anniversary. At that time we started hearing terms like "hypotonia" and "developmental delay" and all our friends and family said that by age 1 she'd be "caught up". At 1 they said by 2. At 2 they said 3. Then they stopped. I felt certain I'd be done with this journey by now, but here I am. I think I just totally digressed. My point is that I'm looking forward to this trip, this spiritual renewal, and anything that will make me feel a little renewed. I need a little renewal to keep up my fighting spirit!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Got Meth??

"You're my red hot mama
and you're really built for speed"
-Stray Cats
I have a cold. It sucks, but I'm trying to remember that it's just a freaking cold. I went to Target today (happiest place on Earth) to get a few things, including pediatric sudafed. I need to take the pediatric stuff because I freak out on the adult dose!! Well, they totally carded me because they keep a record of everyone who buys drugs that can be turned into meth. Fine. Whatever. I went to grab my wallet and... NO ID!! Couldn't find it anywhere in my purse. So, I left Target with a new skirt (super cute!), shampoo for Little Bird, but no children's sudafed :( Side note: A few years ago I said I'd never go to Target's pharmacy because I didn't agree with some of their policies and procedures. So, I guess this was the universe making me keep this promise! We went over to the Secretary of State (AKA the DMV here) to get a new license. Didn't I post about the Sec of State once before?? Aaaaaahhhhh yes... now I remember. So there I am at Michigan's version of the DMV and my number is 73, which would be totally fine but they were on 37!!! That meant I'd have at least 1.5 hours to go. However, in those 1.5 hours I needed to get Little Bird fed and off to Occupational Therapy. What's a girl to do?? I popped into the Subway next door, then I called Lisa Z! I mean, after all, she IS listed as my emergency contact all over town and this felt like an emergency! She picked up Little Bird, took her to OT, then called me to tell me all about how amazing my little bird is. Now THAT'S a friend! Once they finally got to number 73 (yes, 1.5 hours later), I decided to renew the license altogether since it was going to expire next month on my 25th birthday*. Plus, I got a new license plate! My current plate says my cats' names and it's just not the same since Cassidy died. Yes, it's another personalized plate. It's a surprise, so stay tuned on that! All in all, I got a lot done- especially with a congested cold. Oh, and I finally got to the drug store to get some children's cold medicine- and it was one where the pharmacists do their jobs and fill the prescriptions in front of them, regardless of their religious/political/social beliefs! But between us, after a day like today, I think I should've made some meth! *This will actually be the 7th anniversary of my 25th birthday

Special Delivery!

"C is for cookie. That's good enough for me"
-MC Cookie Monster
Got a new package in the mail today....
Recently, my Auntie M went on a trip and met whom she describes as the Mrs. Fields of Australia! The lady told my aunt all about her new line of gluten free products, so of course my aunt told her all about her great niece who happens to be on a gluten free diet! Lo and behold, a huge package arrives on my doorstep! Check out Kez's Kitchen online.
So far, Little Bird's favorites are the "chocolate/coconut bread". YUM!!
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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)