Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fourteen Year Itch

April marks 14 years since Peter and I first laid eyes on each other and our lives changed forever.  Love at first sight is no joke!  But, in honor of that, I thought it only fair that I mention a few of our recent conversations. 

Peter enjoys rum; I'm a vodka girl.  He really digs bourbon; I'm an Irish whiskey and Scotch woman.  For the years we've been together, we've never been able to bridge the gap with our hard liquor.  But he's always up to the challenge!  As a result, I've found 2 bourbons that I will drink (if I must- still not my thing, but they werent bad) and a rye that reminded me of Irish whiskey.  My stepdad turned him on to Middleton's (my fave Irish wh) and we also enjoy Red Breast.  Scotch, however, was a problem.  He just couldnt find one he liked.  Finally, we agreed on Scapa.  Peter has a group of work buddies, and they exchange samples of liquors they like, so that they can get an idea of what's out there and, from there, we've now found a new favorite Scotch for both of us!  A'bunadh.  Good stuff.  Well, after we had our tasting and discussion, he says, very matter-of-factly, how much he enjoys discovering new things that I like, even after all this time.  Wow... Love over alcoholism... How sweet! :)

On that vein, if you've seen Signing Time (and, if you've been to our house, you have because it is the current FAVORITE of both kids), you know how addictive the songs can be.  There's one that we find ourselves singing regularly, since it relates to food/eating times.  It says something along the lines of "When you eat in the morning, that's breakfast: food in the morning.  When you eat in the mddle of the day, that's lunch: food at noon.  When you eat in the evening, that's dinner: food at night.  And when you finish eating, ask to be excused.  May I be excused?"  The song is signed and the signs for the words 'breakfast', 'lunch', and 'dinner', are the combos of "food" and the time of day (morning, noon, night), hence the song.  But, let's face it, when the kid songs get into your head, sometimes it drives you nuts.  We may have been doing our booze tasting from above and, as it was post-dinner, may have had this particular song in our head.  Which led to our remake.  I'd love to have videoed it for your amusement, but that's something the Internet doesnt need!  "When you drink in the morning, that's a problem: booze in the morning. When you drink in the mddle of the day, that's sad: booze at noon. When you drink in the evening, that's happy hour: booze with friends. And when you get kicked out of the bar you say:  May I be excused?"  I know... Really original.  And no, we didnt sign it (okay, we signed part of it... neither of us knew how to sign getting kicked out of the bar).

And finally, because 14 years breeds a level of comfort and intimacy, where would this post be without some inappropriateness...  I was mentioning that MGM, which had originally agreed to make The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and it's sequals, was debating on the latter.  Which had me sad because if Daniel Craig is in it, it pretty much has my ticket, no matter what.  (If you've been around this blog awhile, then you know of the crush I have on DC: Don't worry- Peter's aware of it, too.)  So, we're doing dishes together (while Sarah plays with the kids) and he says "I dont understand why you think he's so hot."  (This may have been a response to me saying his name and signing "hot"... maybe...)  So, I bust into all of my reasons, to which Peter responds in the negative.  Like any good wife defending her celebrity crush, I ask him for his breakdown of DC's hotness.  (Oh Yes... I did!  But I gave him the caveat that, since he's a guy, his opinion is only worth so much, which he conceded).  He said that, body wise, he gives DC an above average (uh...duh???  and the guy's moving towards his 44th birthday, so yeah, above average is an understatement).  On his face, however, he shook his head.  "I just dont see it."

I admit.  I like the chiseled, hard-cut jaw and features.  There's something dark about it, I think.  It's my remaining vestige of liking the 'bad boy' type thing (although, since he's 43 and I'm almost 32, I guess it's a 'bad guy' sort of thing at this point).  Peter compared him to Matt Damon (another good looking guy in my book, although a few years younger than DC), whom he considers considerably more attactive.  He isnt quite as striking as DC, to me, and there's a big reason why.  Eyes.  I'm an "eye" girl when push comes to shove.  Peter has GREAT eyes (which Bobby inherited, so LOOK OUT LADIES!).  Another actor with awesome blue eyes (and whom I have quite the crush on)?  Matt Bomer, from the USA hit White Collar (who is also closer to our age).  Peter admits, MB has good eyes and is 'above average' overall.  But still, DC isnt getting his vote!  So, after I break down the eye debate (MB has great eyes that are warm and fuzzy; DC has great eyes that hold a hint of 'dont piss me off and, if you do, stay out of the dark alley afterwards'.  I'm sorry!  But I like that!), I turn to the tried and true method of any woman trying to win a 'which celebrity crush is hotter'... I yell to Sarah: "Hey, if you could go with Daniel Craig or Matt Damon, who would it be?"

To which, as any good friend would, she replies, "Are we talking about a one time thing or forever?"

Good thought...  Peter answers "One time thing".  Hey, I'll go for that, although, my answer wouldnt change (assuming OF COURSE that I wasnt married, he wasnt married, all the other caveats of a good Catholic wife!).

Sarah is priceless.  This is why we are best friends.  "Oh, that's easy.  Daniel Craig.  But if it was forever, then Matt Damon.  Daniel Craig looks like the type of guy that, if he was mad at me, he wouldnt talk to me."  There you have it, people.  He looks like he might have an attitude problem.  This is why I like him.

Peter rolled his eyes.  I think he realized at that point that it was time to move on to something a little more realistic... But, since I'm now thinking about DC, I cant remember exactly what that is!  And, on that note, I'd better finish preparing for the pre-cana seminar we are teaching this afternoon!

On a serious note: I think most of us have celebrity crushes.  While I joke about guys like DC (and, if he ever finds his way here by googling his name, I hope he realizes that he can email me and we can meet up wherever!! ;) ), I love my husband.  He knows this, and, just like we discuss his celebrity crushes from time to time, it's all in fun.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Church Hooch

My Easter dress is rather simple.  It's a coral/salmon color with short drap sleeves and waist rouching.  A tradition from childhood has been a 'new' dress for Easter.  We grew up pretty poor but there always was money for something.  It may have come from the local thrift shop or bought from the store, but it was "new" for us.  As an adult, I've done the same.  Peter, not so much.  Maybe a new shirt, tie, or acessory, but since suits are pricey, he tends to wear the ones he has.  The kids: new outfit.  The consignment and second hand stores are my favorite places to look (which is where I got Bobby's suit for this year for $14 and his one for next year- 3 piece plus tie and shirt- for $4.50!!! and Maya's dress for $8), but whenever I have specials for Kohl's, that's my store of choice.  My MIL often gets 30% off coupons and the $$ off coupons, as do I, so I'll stick stuff together and wait for sales (I swear, Kohl's doesnt want you to pay full price).  Which is how I bought this $90 dress, on sale for just under $60, for less than 1/3 of the price!  It was twenty-something (I dont remember now).

Because I'm me (and have 0 fashion sense whatsoever), I sent out a text to several of my fashionist girlfriends to get advice for a very important question: what color shoes do I wear with this???  I got a couple of responses, but it's my girlfriend, M (Maya's godmother), that I had the most fun with and needed to share (because I need to laugh again, and figured you might too!).

We were texting back and forth, and M told me she had some shoes I could borrow (we're getting together early next week, so it works out!) and asked what the dress looked like.  I responded with "It's churchy" because, really, that's a good definition right?  It has sleeves, doesnt show cleavage, and hits the knee.  Church appropriate!

She responds that she's never heard that term to describe  dress and that the shoes are  little more hoochie. 

Let me set the scene for you.  I'm covered in church.  I wear strapless or sleeveless, but with a cover-up, and we're kind of old school, so I wear a short (head only, just hits the shoulders) mantilla or chapel veil and cover my head.  (Maya even has a white chapel veil that she wears when she wants, although, as she gets older and understands, I expect that she'll wear it with regularity.)  Pair those two things with... Hooker Boots.  Yes.  Over the knee, healed boots.  Like these.
Actually, not "like" those.   They are those.

Peter always laughs when I come out of the bedroom, church appropriate dress and mantilla in hand...with what we, affectionately, (hide your eyes) call "whore boots".  But they are comfortable (no, really), and I like them.  And, let's be honest.  They cover the rest of my legs so that NOTHING is showing!

I say this to my girlfriend.  Bring on the hoochie heels!  Because, with my reputation, they will go great!  To which Sarah, who is helping me make dinner during all of this, replies (and I sent this), "Yes... I think paring hooker boots with church wear sends quite the statement: I know how to worship AND have a good time afterwards."


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2012!

So, I'm a bit late...

It's insane to look back on the St. Patrick's Days of the last few years.  There was the first year they were alive (albeit, only a few days in my uterus!) when we didnt know what the year would hold, then there was their first (out of utero) St. Pat's, where they look SO tiny to me now (and so adorable in their Gaelic onesies!) 
Bobby: St. Pat's, 2010 (6mo)
Maya: St. Pat's, 2010 (6mo)

And even last year, when they were so big (and yet, compared to today, still small!)
Bobby: St. Pat's, 2011 (18mo)
Maya: St. Pat's, 2011 (18mo)

This year, as they become less "toddler" and more "child", it just amazes me how lucky we are.  The luck of the Irish perhaps? :)
Maya: St. Pat's 2012 ( 30 months)

Bobby: St. Pat's 2012 ( 30 months)

Regardless of where you were or where you come from, I hope you enjoyed being Irish on St. Patric's Day with a delicious slice of soda bread, a cold Guinness, and the love of those you hold dear.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Blink Of An Eye

I had a song in my head the other day so like any good computer lover who didnt have the song readily available, I youtubed it.  I didnt know who sang it, so I just clicked on a link that looked right and ended up with a cover that sang the song as a duet.  I'd initially been thinking of it because reading the lyrics had me waxing poetic about Peter (and the fact that we are coming upon 14 years- where has that time gone????) 

I was playing the youtube clip and holding Bobby, dancing with him.  As the words began, it dawned on me that this song really expressed how much I love my children.  Slowly rocking to the beat around the living room, as I held Bobby's little hand in mine, the weight of his body gently warming me, I looked into his big brown eyes and open smile and suddenly the next thirty years sped by my eyes in a simple blink.  I saw his high school and college graduations... his bringing home "the one"...  and then that moment, on a candlelit dancefloor, as I once again had my baby in my arms, moving along a dance floor.  No longer a boy, but my son, a grown man, with those same chocolate eyes and olive skin...  that same dark hair and wide mouthed grin...  Not teaching him to dance with me but saying good-bye so that he could dance with the one he had waited a thousand years for.

I wont lie: as the images faded and my two and a half year old and I were once again in our living room, there was a tear there.  The time flies by faster than I'd ever thought possible.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hand In Hand

We love our town.  One of the reasons we bought this house was the walkability of it, and the fact that there were actually things to walk to.  Sidewalks line the streets, there are numerous parks and trails, and we have a thriving small business community.  It's nice.  We really love it.  In the beginning, we pushed the kids in the stroller.  But now?  Now we walk.

It started with a one-to-one ratio, with one adult holding the hand of one child.  But, as they have gotten older and listen better (and since the weather here is BEAUTIFUL: I mean, 70s in March???), I've been taking them alone.  The other day, we walked a quarter mile to a park that I swore I'd never taken them to alone (it's open and I have a fear of kidnappers- I know... A tad unrational, but it's a pretty severe internal terror; there's a creek; there's no gate/fence; those sorts of things).  But we went.  And it was great.  They loved it and when I said it was time to go, there wasnt push back.

Earlier this week, a friend (and my first doula client, who had her baby last month!) texted and asked if we wanted to do a walk, so she came our way and we walked (.6 mile each way) to a local ice cream shop, where the kids chowed down on banana (B) and strawberry (M) ice cream cups, while she and I had smoothies (raspberry sherbet, OJ, and fresh strawberries for me- MMMM!!!!).  We walked home and then hung out on the deck while the kids played and I cooed over her new baby (TOO BEAUTIFUL!). 

There's something really surreal about it.  The holding of the two little hands... The walking down the street, just them and I.  Going places... together... Not me pushing a stroller of babies, but me walking with two little children.  More and more, I realize that soon, there wont be hand holding and I'll be reserved to watching... And then I'll be on the sideline... And then they'll be grown.

They aren't merely "two" anymore.  We've crossed the "two and a half" and now each day brings us a day closer to "three".  A day closer to being fully potty trained... to being in school (albeit only 2 mornings a week)... to being more independent. And, although I have a few years, I look at them today and can still see the newborns I held in Christening gown finery while seeing the six year olds who will be preparing for First Communion, and it blows my mind that this is them.  That this is us.  That this is our life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One of THOSE Days: A.M. Edition

You know it will be a great day when, by 11am, you are ready to call it a day, pop a sleeping pill (or 10), and sleep until, I dont know, the next day sometime!  (I'm kidding... I'm not popping sleeping pills or sleeping the day away, although passing out would have been nice!)

My mantra of the day: Remember- the bad days help you to gauge just how good the "good" days are, and it will get better.

In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't a big deal, but I think with all the good stuff, having a morning like today's just hit me in the emotional spot (and having my period isn't helping since that makes me want to be weepier than normal anyway).

My mother-in-law has pneumonia, so the kids arent there today.  We decided to do the full morning at our church playgroup, then home for some home school, lunch, nap, etc.  The days is gorgeous, so I'm assuming we'll go for a walk this afternoon.  Good plan.  All is well.  We leave the house, drop off some stuff at the library, and head to church, where we are going to walk over to the actual school to play on the playground.  Woo Hoo!  The kids will be thrilled!  Whenever we drive by, Maya points and says "playground" and I explain how much fun they will have once they are in school and get to play on it.  So this is a real treat.

We leave and start to walk over.  Most of the parents/kids stop to chat with a former teacher and it's a bit tough to keep Bobby and Maya with the group so, at some point, I decide to keep walking and let them read the letters on the pavement (like "Fire Zone", "No Parking", that sort of thing), which they are enjoying.  We get to the playground and all the kids have a blast.  When it is time to go, we head back and, other than Bobby deciding he didnt want to cross the road, all is pretty well.  Maya even made a little friend, and they held hands back into the indoor play area.  Cute.

And that's about where it goes down hill for us.

We're fairly scheduled at home.  (Go ahead, Mom; laugh... I know, I know... I always said no schedule and now I'm like an oiled machine.)  They eat breakfast around 7/7:30 and have snack at 10am, before their 12/12:30ish lunch time.  They know what "10" is on the clock, and they know it means FOOD.  At this point, the kids are all washing hands, etc, and piling around the table.  Bobby and Maya go sit and, I'm surprised, but are actually acting fairly well.  (We're still getting the hang of "group activities").

Right up until what they thought were plates turned out to be shamrocks... For a craft.  Yeah... Maya lost interest in about a minute when she realized there was no food coming.  Bobby?  There was no interest at all- there was screaming.  I removed him from the table and explained that he needed to tell me his frustrations, not scream them out.  I was able to calm him enough for him to say (and it was pitiful) "Snack???" and, even though I tried to explain that I knew he was hungry but we had to wait until craft was done, he just wasnt having it.

And I get it.  I do.  He was hungry.  It was getting close to 10:30 and there was no food in sight.  He'd had a bowl of cereal for breakfast and some water.  He was hungry!  Maya kept saying "Mama?  Snack?  Please?"  It got to the point that I was rooting in my bag for something- anything- that might tide them over until the craft was done and it was snack time.  I had a fairly crushed mum-mum and they were on that like flies on manure.  When it was done, again, though, meltdown time for Bobby.

Finally, around 10:40, there was a call for snack, and the kids went to the table, where they had some crackers and cupcake, and all seemed well.  Until Bobby realized that he wasnt getting more.  By this time, I was done.  I cleaned them up, cleaned up our area, and got them squared away and in the car, assuring them of bananas when we got home.  I've never seen the two of them get out of the car and into the kitchen so fast as they positioned themselves by our fruit counter, chanting "banana" while I peeled and broke one in half.  By the time they'd finished banana #2 (a half each, so a whole banana total), they were much happier.  It was 11:15 and lunch was 45 minutes away, but I didnt even care that they'd eaten so late (and it turns out, they didnt either- they DESTROYED their lunch in less than 15 minutes).  Right now, the home front is quiet and they are asleep.  Probably dreaming of food!

But I am wiped out.  Physically, I am so tired from dealing with Bobby's physical frustration.  I know he doesnt mean to hurt, but he's a strong child and, when he is in shut down/frustration mode, it is all that I can to hold him back from hitting me without hurting him.  He immediately is sorry and penitent, but that doesnt help for the moment.  It has gotten better since we've started working on his speech because he now can say some things and being understood has helped with his frustration; he's working through his issues instead of trying to hit his way out of them.  But, on days like today, when words arent a fix for the problem, it's back to what he knows- thrashing, crying, screaming, pulling hair.  You get the picture. 

I sort of know a fair amount of the moms, and they know Bobby and Maya, and understand he's working through some speech issues.  But there are newer moms that I dont know because they started during the time that we werent able to make it to group.  A friend of mine just posted about this, and it is oh so true.  It's easy to look at a scenario and judge.  While I think most of the moms there took the moment for what it was (a child with speech issues who is struggling to express himself and resorting to physical frustration), some of the looks cast in our direction were a little less than sympathetic.  Hey, I get it.  You dont know us from Adam.  Maybe I'm just a parent who doesnt control her little monsters and then has the audacity to bring them out into public, where I deserve the meltdowns that may happen. 

Or not.

I'm wiped out emotionally today.  From dealing with the couple of really? why cant she control her kid stares to actually trying to reason with a two and a half year old who is at the point of unreasonable to trying to calm him and explain that he's okay, he's making his point clear, I understand, but right now we are learning other things like control and working within a group (and doing this without just throwing in the towel and yelling something along the lines of HEY! I GET IT AND I CANT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT SO CAN YOU JUST RELAX, STOP SCREAMING, AND STOP HITTING AT ME FOR FIVE FREEEEAAAAKKKKING MINUTES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), to trying to ask myself what could I have done differently  (and realizing, with the help of Peter and Sarah, who I vented to afterwards, that I couldnt have done anything differently, not really).... It's exhausting.  I'm exhausted.

As Sarah said, Bobby is making HUGE strides and, all things equal, this month is already way better than last in terms of acting out, frustration, and verbal communication.  This was a day that threw his schedule off.  He was hungry and, just like kids dont learn well when they are hungry in school, kids who are struggling to communicate fall back on old ways when their basic needs arent being met.  Dirty diaper that you cant change right now?  Hunger?  These are things that, although there isnt a quick fix in certain environments, arent simply a misbehaving child.  They are a child trying to express their need and have it taken care of. 

I know it will get better.  Heck, I believe this afternoon will be better!  But, in the moment, it's frustrating for all of us and all I want right now is a nap!  Of course, the peanuts will be up by 2:30 or so, and I'm trying to get some housework done with them home, since I dont have any free days during the week if they are home on Wednesdays, which means I have a dirty house and, since I was sick last week and had to schedule something else the previous, that means my house is REALLY DIRTY.  But, we're getting there and, thankfully, they are at an age where they can kind of help (or at least play well together while I'm doing something they cant help with).  There are exceptions, which is what nap is for. :)

And, that being said, I'd better get back to it!


3 years ago, Bobby and Maya became Bobby and Maya.  We didnt know it at the time, of course, but they were ovulated and conceived.  Their lives started.  They began.
Super Bowl Sunday, 2012

And I'm so grateful for that day.  I can't look back without thinking just how lucky I am for every moment I've had with them and every moment I continue to have.

From specks the size of a grain of sand, to 60 (combined) bounds of love!
Feb 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Speaking Up

Well, it's taken over 30 months, but Bobby has started speaking up, and I am so proud of him.  SO proud of him.  We're still a work in progress, of course, but to say leaps and bounds of changes are happening almost seems to not say enough.

From the eval on Feb 27th through his first speech appt last week and his second today, we've seen so many positive steps from our little big guy.  It's quite the big deal here at Casa Haytko!

Yesterday, for the first time ever, Bobby said "hello".  It's typical when someone walks in that Maya will greet them with "Hello NAME".  In her cute, sing songy voice, it's "Hello Mama", "Hello Daddy", etc.  Bobby will run and knock you over with a hug and that wide mouthed smile, but usually quietly.  Yesterday, we were on the deck playing when Peter came home from work and as nonchalantly as if he says it every day, Bobby looked up and said "Hello".  We just stared at each other with our chins on the ground.  He had run off and was playing, while we were still saying "DID YOU HEAR THAT???" to each other.

This morning, when I asked the kids "What would you like for breakfast?" (and, honestly, expecting Maya to respond, which is the norm), Bobby, from across the room, said "Cereal."  Normally, he will bring us to whatever it is he wants, so it isnt as though he hasnt communicated with us.  But not today.  Today, he wanted cereal and he told us so.

There are other changes too.  He's gone from never giving a yes or no answer, to saying "Yes" and shaking his head 'no'.  When given a choice between two things, he'll say the one he wants.  If asked if he wants one thing and he does, he'll respond "yes".  He's told me "I love you."  He said, in church, and pointing above the altar "I see... I see... I see Jesus!"  (Can I admit that I'm tearing up right now???  My son is now going on three years old and he's finally talking and it brings me to tears to see how happy he is to finally be able to communicate.)  When he is thirst, he asks for a cup instead of just banging on the fridge.  He says "snack" when snack time is approaching or he is hungry beforehand.

Today, when J (his therapist) was singing "Ring Around the Rosie" and he wanted to play, he would say "ashes, ashes" (as in "ashes, ashes, we all fall down").  But, on top of that, he took part in the play and, at the time he was to fall down, he did.  Repeatedly.  This isnt the norm for him; he'd run around in circles all day, but following direction for play or playing like that just hasnt been this thing (it's not my thing either, so there was never any judgement on that from us), but now he is.  And liking it!  She also sang/mimed "Wheels on the Bus" (which we dont do) and he let her do it with him.  Big deal; he's never been much of a stranger person, yet he was in her lap today and playing with her.  And, after they did "Itsy Bitsy Spider", he walked to the loveseat and SANG IT/mimed it himself.  Yes... He sang the song.  Were all the words clear?  No, but we all knew what he was doing and so did he, and you should have seen him grin when he was done and we all clapped.

We've noticed his frustration is getting better.  He still has issues and meltdowns, but he's getting better.  He's trying harder to communicate first and act out second.  He's playing with kids in playdates more, rather than just playing around them.  Some of that is age appropriate advancement, but some of it is clearly communication oriented as well. 

It hasn't even been a month, but already we've seen huge strides and improvements; even J was suprised.  I told her that I simply hadnt expected changes this suddenly and she explained that it was really a good sign, that it showed he has the capacity for language and development but just wasnt using it before and now just needs to learn it.  But he's showing us that he CAN learn it.

In more positive news, he's mimicing in some ways, both physical and verbal. He'll bring me things so that I can identify them and then he'll repeat them (avocado toy was the big one yesterday), and he is interacting with adults he doesnt see often better. (Perhaps because he feels like he may be able to better communicate with them?)

I dont want to imply that it's all sunshine and rainbows.  We have our moments.  Some of them are because there are hard therapy techniques too.  Physically, they arent so bad, but emotionally- on us and him- they suck.  The worst is the taking away of a toy in order to garner a response (such as "No" or "Mine" or "Give it back", etc).  In this therapy, we take a toy that Bobby has been playing with (not in a mean way or by snatching it, but it is clearly in the vein of him still wanting it).  He will respond, usually with a tad of anger, by trying to take it back.  We ask him to tell us he wants it.  He can do anything (and is told this) like say the item's name ("block") or show possession ("mine") or express unhappiness ("no") or even give a command ("give it").  One word, two words, three words- it doesnt matter.  He just has to verbally demand for his toy.  It's not a fun exercise.  It's heartbreaking, especially when you see him wanting to express and simply being unable to.  This doesnt go to the point of complete meltdown before we put the toy down, soothe him with words of understanding and encouragement, hug him, and let him go back to play.  We only do this once a day (any more and I dont think that I could handle it). 

The other day, however, was a day that I just wanted to bawl.  Maya, Bobby, and I were in the playroom, having a blast.  He walked up to me, took my face in his hands, and stared at me, mouth parted.  I could see in his eyes that he had the words in his mind and was trying with all that he had to get them to emit from his mouth.  After a few moments, he sighed and just laid his head on my shoulder.  Pulling him into a hug, I told him that I knew it was tough but that he was working so hard and he was so smart that one day, I promised, he'd be able to tell me everything that floated through his mind.  But that I knew... I knew how hard it was... and that I was sorry.  A few moments went by and then he was back playing with Maya.  And I had to step out, into the kitchen, and let the tears fall without him seeing.  Because it is such an utterly helpless feeling... an empty feeling... when you cant help your child.  When that's all you want, more than anything in the world, and you

We have other things too.  He'll still destroy castles or toss all of Maya's tea setting in the floor.  But we are working on it.  And, when he did it yesterday, I held onto him and he put things back on the table.  Not everything.  But some things.  And that's a big step. 

Every day is a new day and, although they each bring new challenges, they are also bringing us new bursts of sunlight in this new stage of the game.  A special thanks to all of the comments, suggestions, and stories of folks who have overcome speech issues from childhood and gone on to have successful speaking lives!  I appreciate the encouragement!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Irish Crow

A few days ago, I posted a recipe for cupcakes, using Guinness, Irish whiskey, and Irish cream, based off the drink known as an "Irish Car Bomb".  An Irish reader took offense to the name of the recipe (which I completely agree with) and suggested I rename them "9/11 Cupcakes".

This has me thinking.

First, I need to eat a bit of crow.  I hate the ICB name, and in addition to simply not wishing to pollute either a Guinness or good whiskey (Middleton's anyone???) with something like Irish cream, I do find it offensive.  I dont necessarily think making light of a situation that has divided and devastated a country and killed God only knows how many people is a great thing to do.  (Apparently, a lot of folks agree).  That being said, I didnt think when I posted the recipe, and I called by the American slur that the drink is called by).  Because I prefaced by saying that I dont like the name/drink, I didnt think too much of it. 

And that was wrong.  And I'm sorry to anyone that was offended.  Not just because it is offended, but because I should have known better.

Walking by our local pub and seeing that, in honor of St. Pat's, ICBs will be half price kind of curdles my stomach.  How would I, as a Catholic feel, if I walked by the local Knights of Columbus hall, and saw a sign advertising that, in honor of the Assumption, a spiced up version of a bloody mary, which they decided to call a "Knocked Up Mary" was on sale?

How would my Jewish friends feel if we looked at a menu advertising a skinny version of a popular Israeli drink as an "Emaciated Jew", in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day? 

Or what about waltzing into our lunch choice on Mother's Day and reading that, in honor of Mother's Day, the drink special of the day is the "Dead Baby Cocktail".  I think I might leave.  No, I know I would.  And then I'd call and complain.

Would any of us like a "9/11 Sundae", or eat at an establishment celebrating MLKjr Day with something entitled the "Nigger Special" consisting of friend chicken and watermelon?  No, of course we wouldnt.  Because they are awful, offensive, and sickening names to describe something.  Following the rule of "if I wouldnt feed it to the kids, maybe I shouldnt eat it", perhaps a better rule about language should be put in place.  If I'd be pissed off if my kids said it, then it's not worth having a place in my vocab either.

As an Irish-American, I should know better.  And, even though it was Irish-American sisters who sent me the recipe, that just goes to show that we are all fairly deadened to the offensiveness of something that we've only 'lived through' via the media... Because we've never had to pick up the body pieces left behind from one of those bombs or buried our children because they died of shrapnel wounds.

As I was talking about this with Peter last night, he made the statement of "Why not call it something else?  Why name a drink that?"  I dont know...  You'd think, right?

So, from now on, this cake (which will be made on a regular basis because it is pretty darn delicious) will be called a "St. Patrick's Explosion" Cupcake or Cake.  It's an "explosion of Irish goodness in every single bite", as we decided last night while licking our fingers of the whisky ganache.  I'm about to make another one (a cake this time instead of cupcakes).  And, while I do, I plan to repent of my previous title by saying a Rosary dedicated to the victims of the car bombs. 

And truly, I am sorry.

When you walk by the pub and you see it... Or you overhear a bartender making it... Maybe one person stepping up and saying "Hey, while you're add it, can you toss in a "Burning Jap", you know, that drink that honors the dropping of the A-Bomb in WWII?" (or, perhaps, less offensively, asking the establishment to cease serving drinks with names like ICB) will, for a second, get people to think about the power that language has.

(And for those who think I'm taking it a step too far by being concerned and bothered... Imagine for just a second how PC any of the other made-up drink names I've used in this post are and if they'd be used... Would they be?  Would you drink/order one?)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lesson Learned

You'd think that I'd have learned by now, but apparently not.

Lay off the dairy, lady.  Really.  Lay off.
-Love, your digestive system

But, I'm hard headed.  Ask my mom.  It's true.  (I know, you're struggling to believe it... I get it.  Me too.)

Since cutting back dairy to only really Greek yogurt and feta, I've been fine.  No issues.  No puking.  No gastro-technics from the other end.  You know... Good stuff.  Normal stuff.  And, without a love of dairy, I've been good.

So, of course, I had to ruin it.

I made tikka masala the other night, courtesy of my friend, R, who had brought me an Indian spice packet that she uses.  It smelled great.  And I made it, using dairy, and thinking, no big deal.  It will be fine.  There was yogurt in it, so I assumed that would make it okay. 

("Hey, idiot!  You cooked it- that killed whatever might have made it okay!- digestive system)

I've been fighting a sinus cold and was finally feeling a bit better.  We ate dinner, all was fine...

Until around 4am...

When I found myself in the bathroom... then on the kitchen floor (because it was cool and felt nice and, honestly, because I cant stand laying on a bathroom floor unless there are NO other options)... then back in the bathroom... You can see where this is going.  It wasnt good.

Thankfully, it was a Wednesday, so I was planning to take the kids to my in-laws in the late morning anyway.  But it soon became apparent (I'll give you this one visual: bathroom with a trashcan in hand- you fill in the rest) that I wasnt going anywhere- playgroup, my in-laws, the volunteering at the school library I'd planned, NADA!!!- soon.  Peter called my MIL, who thankfully hadnt left for morning prayers at Mass yet, and she stayed home so that he could drop the kids off on his way to work. 

I spent the day too weak to get off the couch until I was in the bathroom (trust me, no amount of weakness would make me want to have to clean up a mess like THAT) and I couldnt hold down anything (including water or ginger ale) for more than a few minutes at a time.  It was awful.  Like, really REALLY awful.  And what made it worse was that it was my fault.

As I was getting sick, I knew.  Round one was dinner from the night before, which had basically sat in my stomach and hadnt digested.  Fun.  Really. 

I knew.  The dairy.  I'd tried, thinking it would be okay, but it was a huge FAIL.  And I paid for it with a day of feeling so lousy that I couldnt even stand up without swaying.  By early afternoon, I was able to lay down in my bed without feeling too awful (why the couch was better in the morning, I have no idea) and I ate some crackers without tossing them back up.

For dinner, I ate pasta and that seemed okay.

And, by Thursday, I was fine.  But really?  I'm an intelligent, college educated, well read woman.  What the hell is my problem?

Vegan Banana Bread

I made this for the first time on Friday.  During Lent, as I'd mentioned before, we are eating a vegan diet (instead of the simple "abstinence from meat" which we tend to practice regularly anyway).  Part of that, in my book, is also a "no dessert" rule- even vegan ones!  Peter was a bit bummed and in search of a sweet treat, so I popped out a loaf of this modification I made from the Veganomican's recipe (pg. 228).  Here's mine!  Enjoy (on a Friday of Lent or any other day of the week- like today)!

Vegan Banana Bread

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, toss together:
3 large bananas, mushed (the kids love this part!)
1/4 cup applesauce (made some today with local Kiku apples-DELICIOUS!)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp molasses

Blend together on medium-low until well combined.

Stop and add:
1 1/4 cup A.P. flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Blend together on low until just combined.   Use a spoon/spatula if more is needed, to avoid creating too much gluten, but I find just blending for 30-45 seconds does the trick!

Spoon (or use your hand to get) out into your greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or so until done.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

These are actually called something else, which gives a negative connontation with car bombs.  Due to the offense of that name, abbreviated ICB, I've updated this post to reflect a new title.

While I dont personally like either the drink or the name of it, I couldn't resist taking a go at making these, after Sarah forwarded me a link to the recipe.   So, I've made some chances and, the verdicts from neighbors, my MIL, Peter, and the kiddos is in... These are a new keeper.  A big thanks to our neighbors, C and D, who gave us the Guinness substitute we used!  Normally, I'm not an Irish gal who'd substitute her Guinness for anything, but in these delicious cupcakes, the chocolate stoudt is to die for!  Dont even bother looking at the calories... I didnt because, really, I dont want to know.

The ganache makes extra (enough to layer a 9" cake) and the icing makes enough extra to ice said cake.  On top of the 24 cupcakes.

For the cupcakes:
1 cup Brooklyn Brewing Co. Black Chocolate Stoudt
1 cup salted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 dark unsweetened cocoa
1 1/3 cup A.P. flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup Greek yogurt

For the ganache:
7.5oz 56% Icelandic chocolate (Sirus, bittersweet)
2/3 cup half and half
2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1tbsp Red Breast 12 year Irish whiskey (Middleton's is my fave but my stepdad would have a FIT if he even thought that I cooked with that!  Don't worry, Dad!!!)

For the frosting:
2 cups salted butter, room temp
5 cups powdered sugar
6 tbsp (1/4 plus 1/8 cup) Bailey's Irish cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line 24 cupcake cups with liners.  Bring the stoudt and butter to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Whisk the flours, sugars, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.  Beat the eggs and yogurt on medium to combine; add in the chocolate mixture.  Reduce to low and add the dry ingredients a tbsp at a time until incorporated.  Divide the batter into the cupcakes.  Bake for 17min or until done.  Cool completely.

2.  Finely chop the chocolate for the ganache and place it in a heatproof bowl.  Heat the half and half until simmering and pour it over the chocolate.  After 1min, begin to whisk.  Add the butter and whiskey.  Place in the fridge for an hour, until it becomes thick and cooled.  Place on the counter for another hour.  You'll be piping this into the cupcakes.

3.  Using the whisk attachment, whisk the butter for the frosting until fluffy.  A half cup at a time, beat in the sugar.  Finally, beat in the Irish cream and continue until fully incorporated.

4.  Piping in the ganache: use a cupcake filler and cut out the center of the cupcake, filling it with the ganache and then placing the cake back over the hole.

5.  Frost the cupcake.  I like to fill a ziplock with the frosting, cut off the tip, and pipe it around the top.  Sprinkle some green sugar on top to complete the perfect St. Patrick's Day look!

6.  EAT.  EAT.  EAT.  And try to remember to share. :)


Today, Bobby and Maya are two and a half years old.  I'll admit, my eyes welled up a bit when I posted it to FaceBook

Two and a half years have flown by since these precious, wonderful little people came into the outside world from a life within...  Since they fought and beat the odds that were against them to grow into two of the most compassionate and smart folks I've yet to see...  Since they've captured and captivated every second of my being.

I love you so much, Bobby and Maya.  So very much.  Forever and always.

Friday, March 9, 2012

For Them

A while ago, I had pondered the idea of preschool and whether or not it was a good idea, and I had gotten some suggestions for joining a meet-up group, which led to me eventually becoming a playdate organizer for a local group.  Twice a week (Mon and Thur) I host an a.m. playgroup for toddlers (and younger/older siblings when they are there) at the house.  Nice weather allows for us to go outside, but if we are indoors, the playroom is a great thing to have.  I have snacks, and there's always coffee going.

It started off as something for Bobby and Maya.  So that they could have friends, become socialized, etc.

I didn't expect it to give me anything.

But it really has.  I dont think I realized how isolated I felt at times.  I have awesome friends, some with kids and some without. But it has been really eye opening to meet other moms (havent met any dads yet) who have kids B&Ms age, who are going through similar ups and downs, etc.  This week, I had a great time with another twin mom whose life was so similar to mine that it was scary.  And it was really nice to 'connect' on that level. 

I'm really glad that I took the advice and got involved.  It turns out that what started out as something for Bobby and Maya has become a great thing for me as well.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Step Forward

Tuesday, Bobby had his first therapy appointment.  Our speech therapist, J, came at 8am, and immediately, we all liked her.  She was wonderful.  She sat down in the playroom, addressed both kids by name, looked at them when she talked to them, and in moments, they both treated her like an old friend.  At one point, Bobby even sat in her lap (briefly) which I never would have expected.  We're looking forward to a positive relationship with her.

Since implementing some of the techniques that the assessors recommended, we've noticed some changes in Bobby.  I took away his sound toys, which were his favorites.  It killed me, but they felt that he went back to these toys whenever he was frustrated.  Instead of working on his frustration, he just let it go and played with something he knew he'd have in the bag.  Can't express what you want?  Just let it go, and play with your map toy.  You can identify the states now without even working hard at it!  So, away the electronics went.  He searched for them for a bit, but then began playing with other things... and verbalizing more.

For example, he has rarely said yes.  He would repeat things, but getting a yes answer was pretty much a no.  Now, when asked if he wants something, he'll answer yes if he does.  Big step. 

No is another no-no.  He never says no.  Ever.  The other day, he shook his head when he didnt want something, rather than just ignoring us or fighting us on something.  Amazing.

They are small things.  He's a laid back kid, and we havent had a lot of the issues that parents have when a child isnt verbalizing.  Our struggles have been minor, comparitively.  But it's crazy to see that some small changes have brought forth bigger ones for him.  Even today, when he was struggling to verbalize something to me, instead of flipping out, he came over and hugged me.  He was frustrated- we both knew it- but, instead of lashing out, he just buried his head against me and snuggled.  It's a step in the right direction.  I keep telling him that I'm trying and that, one day, it will be easier.  It seems like he's understanding that now.  And we're all getting better.

It's still tough to explain to Maya that she cant talk for him, that Bobby has to do it himself.  She has been his voice for months and months- she still wants to be (and, frankly, he doesnt mind).  But, just like Peter and I havent done him any favors by giving him what we 'know' he wants instead of having him verbally ask for it, she's not really 'helping' him by not making him do it himself.

It's a work in progress... But, thankfully, it feels like we're walking in the right direction.