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.

Friday, December 20, 2013

*This Moment*




{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Bonus video:



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Matching Pajamas

When I was a little girl, my mom and I often got matching Lanz of Salzburg nightgowns for the holidays. They kind of became a tradition and they're so cozy. This year, my mom sent Little Bird and me our own matching Lanz nightgowns and she even sent one for Little Bird's baby doll, Emma!!
And with that, a new generation of matching pajamas has begun!




This week's prompt:Write a post inspired by the word: pajamas



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

*This Moment*

Photo credit: Ben Chutz


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy Chanukah 2013 (video)

Last night we celebrated the eighth and final night of Chanukah 2013. Little Bird had been singing the blessing over the candles so beautifully each night that I decided to record her on this final night. I'm a kvelling Jewish mother!! Thank you for letting me brag.

You don't need to understand the Hebrew to know that this is a beautiful moment:




Friday, November 29, 2013

*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On deciding *how* to give birth

So, here's one of those "opening myself up to being vulnerable" posts. Ugh, I know, right? Obviously, I've got a lot going on. I mean, I'm now 30+ weeks pregnant and there's very little that I say/do/eat/feel that isn't driven by this overabundance of hormones. So, I'm trying to cut myself some slack. I've made it pretty far into this experience without letting my anxiety get to me too much. And let me just say: I don't have the kind of anxiety that I can just will away or that I can just yoga pose my way out of. I have the kind of anxiety that has been with me my whole life, required medication on and off, and cost a lot of dollars in therapy! I'm incredibly impressed with my lack of panic during this pregnancy, thought I admit that the lack of panic might be in direct correlation to some kind of denial-induced bliss (or is it bliss-induced denial?).

Well, here I am with less than ten weeks to go until "baby brother" arrives. I'm swollen, lumpy, achy, and scared. A couple weeks ago, Ben and I took a childbirth education class and I did that which I should never have done… I watched the videos. I tried to turn away, I did! But, I SAW IT ALL. I walked out of there certain of two things: 1) under no circumstances do I want a C-Section, and 2) perhaps I should opt for that C-Section that's been suggested to me.

I heard things this time around that I must've missed last time. Let me explain something that I have shared with some people, but I'm not too sure I've ever really put this out there. I believe my little bird suffered a traumatic birth and that's contributed to some of the challenges that she faces today. Like, for reals. Like, should've been taken out, but wasn't. Should've been born breathing, but wasn't. Should've been placed on my belly and in my arms, but had to be whisked away and resuscitated, then sent away for observation. Those decelerating beeps on the monitors alerted everyone that something wasn't right. I remember asking my mom "why isn't my baby crying?" I did swear that if she would just cry, I promise to never complain about her crying too much. I believe it took me about a week to go back on that promise, by the way.

They let her go home with me. They said she was fine. It was less than 7 months later that we visited the neurologist for the first time to figure out why her tone was so low, why she couldn't move well, why she had no head/neck control and wasn't hitting milestones. That was the beginning of this journey. Is there a connection there? I really don't know. Really. Countless non-conclusive tests later, I'd be lying if I said I have stopped wondering almost nine years later.

So, this time around, I have been thinking of opting for a planned cesarean section. This is something that is very definitely not my first choice. If I could have my way, this baby would be born in a beautiful field with people dancing around me strumming guitars, banjos, maybe a mandolin, and twirling while tapping tambourines. Kumbaya and everything. But, I know that there may be a need for the medical intervention that I wish I'd seen more of the last time around. So, not only will "baby brother" be born in a hospital, but I'm truly considering just scheduling the operation.

I have found myself trying to reason it out, trying to justify it by explaining that I just can't risk having an experience like last time, etc. I want to explain that I'm not a selfish dick who wants to be able to plan when to get the mani/pedi and the say of the week we'll have his bris (side note: ugh, I can't believe I have to do that). But I'm also evolved enough to admit that I'm struggling with the ego part. Will it be the same for me as delivering vaginally?- not that it was so great last time, but still… I do know that if, gd forbid, something happened that echoed last time around, I'd never ever ever forgive myself for trying to be a hero. I might blame myself for putting my own ego and my own shit ahead of my baby boy's needs. Of course, I worry about the recovery and all the ramifications of having a surgery like this. Will I be on pain meds that can pass through my breast milk? Will I be able to take good care of him and Little Bird while recovering? How long will I have to be in the hospital and away from the bird? Can I go up and down the stairs in the house? How long until I feel normal? I can go on and on and on- and I do in my head.

So, I'm working through some stuff. Not just the incredibly intense decision I have to make about how to bring this baby boy into the world, but also about all these feelings that have come back up regarding my little bird's delivery. Sigh. Heavy stuff, I guess.

Got any experience or encouraging words to share with me??

30 weeks




Friday, November 22, 2013

*This Moment*


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Friday, November 15, 2013

*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama


Thursday, November 7, 2013

LICE!

I wrote this post two weeks ago. 
It's taken me this long to calm down and publish it.

I can NOT believe this, but WE HAVE LICE.
LICE!!!
I am completely freaking out. 
Somehow I've gone 36 years without ever having to deal with this.

The morning started out like any other. Little Bird came stumbling down the hallway to snuggle in my bed. She scratched her head twice and I said, "that's making me really nervous." Ben used the flashlight app on his phone and within ten seconds gave me the look and said, "yes. 100%, yes." 
NOOOOOOOO!

So, I ran downstairs and got the package that's been sitting in the pantry for months after the note was sent home from summer camp about another camper having lice. We doused her head in it and dragged the comb through. There's NO denying it- the girl is infested. I immediately began to itch ALL over. 

After freaking out for a while (this hasn't stopped), I called The Lice Lady. I have no clue what I'm doing and I'm not afraid to ask for help. She came over within a couple hours. She went through my hair and, yes, I have it, too. UGH!!!! She started treating us with all these essential oils (who knows?) and helped us figure out what to do next. Hint: lots of cleaning.


Cutest lice-infested kid ever

As if I needed any more confirmation of his love for us, Ben spent hours combing through our hair and digging out eggs and bugs. Bugs, people, BUGS!!!

The more I've spoken to people about this, the more I realize that everyone has had to deal with this at some point. I called school (apparently, it's a known problem at school right now), called the therapist Little Bird saw yesterday, emailed everyone we've been with for the past week. Knowledge is power, gotta inform everyone. 

I am beyond blessed with the fact that Little Bird was able to remain calm and was very happy to sit and watch shows while having her hair combed through. I think she was afraid that if she'd protest, the TV would turn off. At some point, the combing through her hair might've begun feeling good and she actually let me do it every day for the next few days until we were sure everything was gone. Our house became spotless, our pillows and linens have never been cleaner. I swear, I put some nesting skills to work on the anti-lice crusade. While I never, ever, ever want to go through that again, I do know what to do should anything like that ever- nope not even gonna say it. I'm just glad we are no longer infested, because even just hitting publish on this post is making me itchy all over.

Admit it, after reading this, you're itching, aren't you?

Ed. note: Ben wants me to make sure everyone knows that he did not have it.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

School Does NOT Suck This Year

Many people followed our school plight last year with the school sucks saga and have asked me in the past few weeks how things are going this year. Night and day, my friends. Night and day. If you're unfamiliar with the story, feel free to catch up on the old posts here. Suffice it to say, last year Little Bird was placed in the wrong program. I knew it right away. She knew it right away, too, which is why her behavior matched her discomfort. Her teachers knew it, too. The only people who didn't get it were the school district's special education administrators (big surprise, amiright?). So, we fought and fought and fought some more to get the girl placed in the right program. We were victorious, but not until April. Yes, that means that from September through March, I sent my kid to school every day, fighting with the administration, trying to get her moved, getting phone calls from the school about her behavior (which was pretty typical for a kid with ASD, but not at all typical for the kind of kids these teachers were accustomed to teaching). Within days of moving into the ASD program, which we'd wanted all along, we knew she was where she belonged.


So, here we are today: new school year, great ASD program, great ASD teacher and paraprofessionals, great support staff, great therapists who understand my kid and are working on things that are truly relevant to what she needs. Her teacher emailed me last week saying "we will do anything for {Bird} to be successful and happy." ohmyfreakinggd I want to clone this woman!

Little Bird is in an ASD class with 5 other kids for a good chunk of the day. She mainstreams into a general ed second grade class with a teacher whose background is in literacy- perfect for my books/reading/spelling obsessed kiddo! She goes and comes home smiling. She belongs. She is loved. She is achieving more academically and socially than she even had the opportunity to in the last program. She brings home more smiley face stickers and even 100% markings on her work. Hallelujah.

Is it perfect? No. Are there some issues? Yes. She loves the teacher and wants her attention. Sometimes she even acts out to get it. "Throwing your shoes into the toilet is not okay" is a thing I had to say to her. She literally does these kind of things and waits to see the teacher's reaction. Not sure where this rebel streak comes from. *looks away innocently*

Last year, I had a nagging feeling that Little Bird was unwanted in her classroom by the teachers. This year? She missed 2 days of school so we could travel to visit the doctor and when we got back to school, I got a note from the teacher saying that they missed her and her sweet, happy smile :)

Yes, we won. Victory!*









*For now.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

What's My Relationship Status?

Last month I posted about Why I'm Waiting For Marriage and Having a Baby First. In the last week, I've been asked by three different places to define my relationship with a check mark. 

There have to be more options than this. If I have been married before and divorced, and now I'm in a different relationship, but not married, am I in some kind of "divorced purgatory" until I get married? And what if I don't? 

I think I'm two of these things


I think I'm technically three, possibly four of these.

Oh, society. How you baffle me so. How about we all just "be"?



This week's writing prompt: Write a blog post inspired by the word RING. 


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pregnancy After Disability

I am now more than halfway through this pregnancy. I've tried to write this post a couple time, but I'm just too tired. Sorry if it's sub-par. Little Bird will be nine by the time "baby brother" arrives. It took me nine years to be ready and willing to walk through the fear, the what ifs. Truthfully, I never thought I'd do this again. It's taken a tremendous amount of hope, faith, and trust in the process to get here.

Surprisingly, I've had far less anxiety than I thought I would. The worry and the constant "what if"ing was definitely a concern before trying to conceive. I'm sure being distracted by the nausea, dizziness, discomfort, heartburn, fat thighs weight gain, and the kick boxer living inside my belly helps to distract me. But mostly, I think the surreality of being pregnant and having another child has replaced any opportunity for too much anxiety. Of course it's there, but it's not an obsession, like I'd expected/feared. Apparently, this is a common thing with moms pregnant after having a child with a disability. A friend described the same feelings with her second pregnancy, too. Almost unable to grasp the gravity of the pregnancy because of that surreality.

I'm lucky enough to have a friend also going through a pregnancy after having a child with a disability/disease who understands these strange feelings and is able to share them with me. It's a blessing to have people in my life that get it.

Am I scared? YES. I don't know that I have the strength to go through the same struggles I'd endured, continue to endure, and those that lie ahead with Little Bird. Of course, I didn't know I had it the first time around either. What's that saying about finding out how strong moms are once they're in hot water? Or is that tea bags? Whatever.

People ask me, "are there any tests you can do?" They mean to detect the Autism that made my life, well, my life. There aren't any tests. There are tests for other things, yes. But, not this. I remain cautiously optimistic, but I'm afraid to be too happy, too excited, to have expectations. I'm sure that's a normal response for someone in my slippers shoes. Finally! Something that's normal about my experience!

Am I happy to be having a baby? YES! Excited at the hopeful possibilities? YES! Scared? YES! Cautiously optimistic? YES. I'm all those things. Thankfully, more than anything, I'm excited for him to be here to complete our family, to hug and kiss him and to love him like mad.

25 weeks



Friday, October 18, 2013

*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama




Friday, October 11, 2013

*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama


Friday, October 4, 2013

*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Friday, September 27, 2013

Go shawty, it's my birffday!


Today I'm 36. Is my life anything like I envisioned it would ever be at 36? 
Nope, it's better. 
WAY better. 

In the Jewish culture, the number 18 equals "chai" which means life. The number 18 is very special and therefor multiples of the number 18 are special as well. This year I celebrate 36, which is Double Chai. So appropriate for right now as I have two heartbeats, two souls in one body. 

Thanks to everyone for all the support you always show and for helping me celebrate this year!



*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apples!



We went to the Apple Orchard a few weeks ago. In the rain. It was worth it. We had a good time. Picked a ton of apples, ate a ton of donuts, and swatted at a ton of bees. This is like, a thing, here in Michigan. The apple picking, the cider and donuts. I've posted about having done it before (more than once or twice), but it's still novel to me since there really weren't any apple orchards (or seasons) in the 90210.

I'll just tell this year's story in pictures (and Pinterest recipe links)....





Mmmm pie!
Mmmm Apple Butter
Mmmmm mini pies





Friday, September 20, 2013

*This Moment*


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Building a Sukkah

Just as we did last year, we helped build a sukkah at a JARC home. Sukkot is a Jewish holiday where meals are eaten in a shelter outside of the home. The walls can be build of anything, but the roof must be made of some kind of organic material (branches, palm fronds, etc) and it's customary to decorate the inside of the sukkah with drawings or other kinds of artwork and hanging decor (usually the kids' favorite part!). This year it was a real group effort. The residents helped each step of the way and we all had a great time!




Hanging with the residents in the sukkah we all built together!


Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm half way there!

20 weeks
Then and Now

Here is my obligatory pregnancy picture post. Enjoy.




Friday, September 13, 2013

*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Monday, September 9, 2013

L'shana Tova!


Last week we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We live in an area with enough Jewish students and staff that the whole school district gets the day off. We spent the morning attending a family service at our synagogue. Ben and I just joined this temple a year ago when it was time for Little Bird to start going to Sunday School and beginning her Jewish education, so it's still pretty new to us. We love it there. Before we joined, I met with one of the rabbis and discussed some of our needs, concerns. It's important to us to belong somewhere that's warm and welcoming to families that are a bit different, like ours. I knew I wanted to be at a relatively small synagogue where we could form a personal relationship with our rabbis and somewhere that'd be comfortable for Little Bird. Too big would be too overwhelming. Most importantly, we are always made to feel like they want us there. They want her there. They accommodate her needs by providing a shadow for her Sunday School class and are always eager to find ways to make things work for her, yet they make sure to treat her like one of the kids. There are actually a lot of families who've joined recently who also have kids with extra needs who feel just like we do. It's fabulous to feel like you belong somewhere.

Even better is the synagogue's constant mission to talk about doing good in the world. At the conclusion of every Sunday School, the kids sing a song, which is actually a prayer, thanking gd for commanding us to make the world a better place. So, at this year's Rosh Hashanah service (for young families), we all got a string and we picked 5 beads. Throughout the service, the rabbi would ask us questions and we'd pick a bead, then write down our answers before stringing the bead onto the bracelet.

The questions were: what can you do to make the world a better place, who would you like to emulate, what would make the world better, what do you want to focus on in the next year, what kind of mitzvot (good deeds) will you do, etc. You can see Little Bird's and our answers below.



I think she's enjoying wearing her special bracelet. L'shana Tova and Happy New Year to all who celebrate!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Why I'm waiting for marriage and having a baby first

Many people have asked Ben and I if we plan to get married. Strangely, they weren't asking before we made our big announcement, but that's how societal norms work. We find that we are challenging a lot of our friends whose kids are asking questions about how we can be having a baby without being married. We have some truly wonderful friends who are rising to the occasion and having some great conversations with their children.

Last Winter, Ben and I discovered Macklemore's performance of the now hit song Same Love on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts. I recommend watching it. It's pretty fab. We were instantly moved by the words, and the movement that's followed has been, well, moving. Being resolute in our commitment to support civil rights, we decided long ago not to enter into a legal marriage... yet. It feels a bit icky to us to be admitted to an exclusive club that is only open to some humans, not all. Yes, I was married once before, 12 years ago. In my youth and vanity, this didn't occur to me. It does now.

What a victory it was in June when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. We are still waiting for logistics to be in place here in Michigan allowing ALL consenting adult humans to be married. I have faith that day will soon arrive. And that one day our children will think it's just as terribly absurd that GLBT couples couldn't be legally wed as my generation finds it incredulous that up until 1967 interracial marriage was prohibited. 1967!! That's just (ahem) 10 years before I was born. Crazy. When Macklemore accepted the MTV award for best video with a social message for the song mentioned above, he said "gay rights are human rights- there is no separation." Amen.

I'll be honest. I got teary watching the footage of the Same Love performance at the year's Video Music Awards. I won't even blame it on my crazy pregnancy hormones. I am always moved by seeing people who do not have to advocate on behalf of those who are being held down, but choose to anyway. Those people are my heroes. Sitting back and accepting the unacceptable? Not ok in my book. A world where people go out of their seemingly priviledged ways to fight for the rights of ALL people regardless of who they love, what they look like, pray like, even spin and flap like- that's the world in which I want to live; the world in which I want to raise my children. Yes, even if those children are born to (temporarily) unwed parents.






*This Moment*


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Walk 4 Friendship 2013 (we raised over $22k!)

Just like we do every year, we participated once again in Friendship Circle's Walk 4 Friendship this past weekend. It's an awesome event that begins with a 1 mile walk (or 5k for the more daring) and winds up at a big fun-filled festival with food, entertainment, and just an all-around great atmosphere. We do this every year to raise money for Friendship Circle and their programming, which benefits children and families with special needs.

This year, Team Birdhouse For Autism was so happy to have been able to raise over $22,000!!!

Thank you to every single person who signed up to walk with us, made a donation, fundraised along with us, and cheered us on. We are so grateful to you all for all your support. Friendship Circle is a wonderful organization and we're very happy to participate in their efforts.



Little Bird "rode" the last 1/3 mile or so

My favorite moment of the day


Thank you, again, to all our team members and everyone who donated and supported us. 

See you all at next year's walk!



Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blooming where I'm planted

Last weekend was the 19th annual MTV Video Music Awards. You already know this because you likely haven't been able to escape the Miley Cyrus "thing". Funny thing is, going to the VMAs was a big family event for the G clan when I was a kid. We'd get dressed up and go and have a great time. This year, my mom and I spoke about how much our lives had changed from those days. I've moved out of Los Angeles, settling in a small midwestern town where I couldn't even watch this year's broadcast because I don't have cable. Instead, I sat on my couch, knitting and rubbing my expanding belly. My parents have spent their summer far from LA in northern Idaho. We are all pretty far removed from the fast Hollywood life we once lived. My brother is the only remaining not only in LA, but also working in the music business.

My roots are weird. I almost never discuss that strange, fast part of my upbringing. It's an interesting thing to move away and make all new relationships and a whole new life without people knowing much about your past or from where you've come. Bloom where you're planted, right?

It's always nice to see old friends and school mates succeeding (assuming the huge summer hit is what's remembered rather than being dry humped by a former Disney star), and remembering a bit of what it was like to grow up in the fast lane. But, really, I'm loving my slower paced midwestern life. I'm in the right place for me and I know it. And now I'm off to water our vegetable garden...

Click here to see a photo of my new backyard


Friday, August 30, 2013

*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama


Friday, August 23, 2013

*This Moment*



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We grew a garden!

We moved 15 days ago. I feel the need to say that it was just 15 days ago in order to justify the boxes everywhere. We're still in the "are you sure this is the best place for the ____?" and "Have you seen the ____?" phase. Still, we are loving our new home. We now have room for friends and family to come visit (hint hint) and, of course, for the baby. We have two favorite parts of the home so far. The deck which looks out to a beautiful protected nature area (there are signs around it that say "protected nature area" and the garden we've started.

It was just overgrown with weeds and such, but Ben and his brother got started on it and transformed it into something really special. 

In the beginning...

We picked out a few plants: peppers and tomatoes


We also planted some lettuce and carrot seeds

We've had a great time watching the process

Looking forward to enjoying the fruits (and veggies) of our labor!





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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)