Friday, December 13, 2013


Dominic is playing with the Fontanini Nativity that I juuuuust pulled out of the Advent Box.

"And suddenly, Mary is bited by a Great White shark!"

Too much Shark Week, not enough O Antiphons over heah

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Yesterday was a long day of various tests for Gianna at the Massachutes Eye and Ear Infirmary. The most important test was also the trickiest; the electroretinography requires this crazy-looking contact be inserted in the eye. Some places sedate children in order to do it but our G was a sport and we got it done with no anesthesia.

The tests took most of the morning and after a short lunch break we went back for test results and consultation with Dr. Berson, the big-name guy we'd traveled up here to see. It was worth the 18ish hours of driving with 3 little kids losing their minds at various points. He said that although Gianna's test results indicate a retinal problem consistent with Usher Type 1b, the eye disease is very mild at this point and he expects her to have a lot of useable vision for a long time.

He said, and I quote, "when I go home tonight and think of Gianna, and I will, I'll think positively because she has strong waves (on the ERG.)"

He was the kind of older gentleman who wouldn't have sugar-coated anything and that made his positivity that much more valuable. Even though it is the opinion of one doctor about a disease that lends itself to a certain degree of unpredictability, I felt like a new person when we left his office. He was adamant that Gianna's education was unlikely to be negatively affected and suggested we begin Vitamin A palmitate supplements (after a liver scan) as well as being sure Gianna is eating oily fish at least twice a week (he has been running clinical trials on the effects of Vit A and DHA on retinitis pigmentosa.)

Our hotel is within walking distance of the Massachutes Eye and Ear Infirmary (such a solid, patrician sounding name) which is connected to Mass. General Hospital. It's very bustle-y and pretty close to lots of universities and colleges (sooo many smart-looking people striding about purposefully.)

This was our first time in Boston and what we've seen is so cool. We walked to the New England Aquarium which is right on the wharf. I like old stuff and I've always been sort of fascinated by this part of the country and it's proximity to the sea and all of the history behind it. The kids enjoyed the aquarium despite the fact that all of the big sharks have been moved to an aquarium in Quincy while the tank they are normally in is treated for a parasite. The aquarium offers free admission to people with visual impairments and I'm just so thankful we had to pay the full price of admission for everyone.

Thank you all for the prayers and offering of sufferings, small and large. They have been fruitful not just in terms of the good news we received on this trip but in the peace and hope that I was beginning experience again prior to this doctor visit. I am so humbled by how generously everyone has prayed for us. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Inner Life, Revealed

If you send your children to school it is important to cultivate your image with the school staff so that they don't know how crazy or unwashed your family really is. Here I wrote about how to head off a child's possible misbehavior and here I wrote about sticking to your image even when it seems ridiculous to do so.

Recently, Gianna came home with information about a program called XtraMath. I have numerous problems with this.

Firstly, the title strikes fear into my heart. Why extra? Why any, at all? But I'm trying not to pass down my problem with math to my children, so I have to pretend like my horrified exclamation "Extra?! MATH!?!?" is really excitement. I should be able to do this with no difficulties because I have a minor in theater but I am so tired. Acting is hard, as my acting prof declared freshman year. No, good sir, PARENTING is hard.

Secondly, this program exists on the world wide web and requires log in names and sign in names and passcodes and email addresses and passwords and parent ID numbers (sonuva...more numbers) and student ID numbers and I can't keep them all straight. I'm thankful we have such great technology to assist with education, we could be using an abacus or something equally rudimentary, I get it, but for real can we get some flashcards up in this piece?

Gianna loves it. Straight up, will sit for an hour doing XtraMath. You know who else loves it? Brad. The Dad. Schueler. He asked to play, too, and almost started doing problems under Gianna's name but I had to stop him because her teacher can log in and see how she's doing and if he starts messing with it our kid is going to look like a big, fat, cheater. Or a math genius. Either way, it's no good.

Not one to be deterred, Brad added himself under my parent account. I now have two children enrolled in XtraMath. Their names are Gianna and Giannasdad. He's up to multiplication now. I'm just so proud. Any sort of illusions I had with Mrs. Dickman possibly thinking we're just a regular family are gone, baby, gone. Oh man, I like to laugh at this stuff. I hope Mrs. Dickman finds us as amusing as I do.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Let Go

For awhile I wanted to push aside the sadness for all the dreams I thought were gone. Mostly because they were my own dreams for my girls, not the ones they will have, and it felt selfish to dwell on them. Maybe Gianna wouldn't have wanted to keep doing ballet anyways, vestibular impairment or not. I always thought that when my children, however many there were, got older and were in school, I'd do something else. Maybe write more serisously. Or become a lactation consultant or a doula. But now I am not sure how long my daughters are going to need me, and in what ways. I don't know what the future holds, except for this partial knowledge of what might come.

No one knows what sorts of sadnesses await them and that is probably a good thing. While I can prepare by learning about low-vision accomodations, the anxiety it brings me to think about my children needing a service dog to get around can be paralyzing. I'm being completely honest here. I am sometimes terrified of the future. I ache for the things I think my daughters will not get to do.

Meanwhile, prayers and thoughts and kind words are rolling in. Comments on this blog, emails, Facebook messages, an anonymous letter in the mail...all telling me that so many people from all over are praying for my little family. How humbling to need these feel that they quench a thirst in me for mercy and grace. How surprising to discover how truly connected we all are, this Body of Christ. These prayers are slowly bringing me around to realizing that I can allow myself to be sad for the things I think are gone. It won't be until I can let go of those dreams that I can begin to have new ones.

Last weekend, snuggled on the couch with Gianna, we were talking about our trip to Boston. She was nervous because she is tired of getting her eyes dilated with eye drops and scared about having yet another doctor take pictures of her eyes.

"Why? Why do I have to?" Those big, brown eyes questioned me. Yes, why? Your genes. My genes, daddy's genes. I don't know. Not the right kind of protein for the cilia in your retinas. Yes. Why?

"You, and Pia. You have Usher Syndrome. It is why you are Deaf, and why you have different balance, and it's why we are going to the eye doctor a lot because maybe...your eyes will change and we need to learn about how to protect them."

I had to stop there because how do you tell a six year old she might lose her vision, especially when you don't know how quickly it will happen or if gene therapy will be ready in time to save it?

Plus, I was starting to get choked up, and I could tell she was concerned. I'm the mom here, I'm the one who sets the tone for this. It was grace, and grace only that allowed me to say,

"You can still do whatever you want to do. It might not look like the other kids, and it might take you longer, and you might have to work harder, but whatever you want to do you just tell me, or daddy, and we'll find a way. We might have to get creative, but we will figure out a way."

I was in a dark, dark place until I was asked to think about Gianna and who she is. I remember how she bravely let me put on her "ears" each morning even though she was scared. I remember letting her embrace giant speakers at a wedding so she could feel the beat of the music. I remember her little hands forming the most beautiful, imperfect signs. I remember how this past summer she cheerfully let me put her speech processors in plastic baggies, and then pin them to her hair, and then cover it all up with a swim cap so she could dive under the water at the pool but still hear her friend's voices as they played mermaids and sea turtles.

A few weeks ago, at the zoo, we ran into a lady who was using a guide dog. I could barely keep myself together, especially when Gianna wanted to know why the lady needed a dog to help her to get around. I ended up talking to the lady and she was so, so sweet. She expressed sadness that my girls had retinitis pigmentosa, which was the same cause of her vision loss, but she said, "They can still have a full life. I'm an athlete. I run marathons. If you support them, they'll be fine."

I am still sad, and I am still scared. But I am also starting to experience some hope and trust again. I have no idea what is going to happen, but I was never in control in the first place. When I found out I was going to be a mother, I didn't have any of this in mind, but isn't that motherhood, and parenhood, in general? Who of us would say, "Yep. I am exactly the kind of mom I thought I'd be, to exactly the sort of children I knew I'd have."

There's a lot in our culture that tells us we are in charge. We can lotion and potion our way to the exact moment we want to have a baby, and then we can even chorionic villae our way into believing we will have a baby that meets our criteria, whatever those are. But we're actually, really, not in charge and I'm realizing that is a good thing. Maybe if I were in total control I wouldn't have to suffer, or watch my children suffer, but then maybe I wouldn't have experienced any of the joys that have come to me completely unplanned.

Learning a new language out of love and necessity. Hearing the world for the first time through my daughter's ears. Growing in confidence that I know my children and their unique needs. Meeting people from all walks of life and being able to celebrate differing abilities. Watching my son replace the coil on my baby's head so she can hear his stories. Thinking that something is insurmountable until suddenly, it isn't.

I've got to let go of control, so I can be open to all the joy God has intended for me and for my family. Your prayers, they are getting me there.

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes: A Stright Up Miracle

1. This PiaBaby is.....wearing me out. Occasionally, she does stuff like this

 2. Or this.

And I take breather.

3. But mostly, it's a lot of this

4. And this.

5. This, too.

6. I realize that plenty of other mothers have had baby/toddlers who were compulsive climbers but this is my first go-around. Neither Gianna nor Dom had this bizarre desire to create a death-defying moment out of every.single.tall.item in the house. Additionally, the fact that she has NO VESTIBULAR SYSTEM seems to have escaped her notice. Keeping her semi-safe plus carrying around her 24 lb non-walking body is a full-time j-o-b.

7. Mostly, though, we are getting ready to leave for Boston in 3 weeks to see Dr. Eliot Berson with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He is a leading expert in retinitis pigmentosa and he will be doing extensive testing on Gianna to determine the extent of the damage thus far and possibly give a vague prediction of future course of her vision loss. This is where the straight up miracle part comes in. Will you pray with us? My mom and sister had small prayer cards made at Office Depot, asking the intercession of Blessed Mother Theresa. She still needs a final miracle and well, we could use one. And if it is not God's will for our girls and their eyes to be healed, we'll need all the prayers we can get. Thank you thank you.

Jesus, you made Blessed Teresa an inspiring example of firm faith and burning charity, an extraordinary witness to the way of spiritual childhood, and a great and esteemed teacher of the value and dignity of every human life.  Grant that she may be venerated and imitated as one of the Church's canonized saints.
Hear the requests of all those who seek her intercession, especially the petition I now implore your intercession for the healing of Gianna's retinas and the protection of Pia's sight.

May we follow her example in heeding Your cry of thirst from the Cross and joyfully loving You in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, especially those most unloved and unwanted.  We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and the Mother of us all. Amen.

More Quick Takes over at Jen's, have a great weekend!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Clean Up

I'm supposed to be making lots of enchiladas right now, but I'm avoiding it by blogging. Except that I was having a hard time figuring out what to write about that didn't involve hand-wringing and retinitis pigmentosa. So I almost avoided the blogging by making enchiladas.

Fortunately I happened to begin G-chatting with my sister and she suggested I share with you my method of cleaning the house.

Let's say it's been a long freaking day. Your almost-four-year old would not.stop acting like a complete caveperson while trapped in aural rehabilitation therapy for your baby. Your baby ruined yet another cable for her v. expensive cochlear implant and your six year old lost her glasses. Again. Plus no clean clothes. Or a cook to prepare your dinner. Or maybe that's just me.

You get all the little tykes snug in their beds and at last, there is peace. You can even look in on them dotingly, and smile. Lovely children.

When you get downstairs, though, your house looks...insane. Like an episode of Hoarders has exploded all over your life. No worries, because today I am going to help you. It's going to sound a bit unorthodox but I promise you results.

Simply (I love when tutorials say "simply"...pretty sure it is code for "most ridiculous, complicated set of instructions forthcoming") take the toys, dress up clothes, wagons, dolls, sharks, empty play-doh containers, blocks, sleeping bags, metal cars, old shoes, and anything else you don't want to be reminded you own, and do this while standing at the top of your basement stairs:

To every item. Some nights, I like to do it one. by. one. Certain toys, as they land on the slowly-growing pile, sound very similarly to breaking glass. It's cathartic. Freeing. Existential. Glorious. Cleansing.

Then, close the door. Walk away. If you don't have a basement, my second method works just as well: throw it all in the trash.

Nobody freak out. I don't dislike raccoons. I think the guy throwing the raccoon was protecting his dog or something. Pretty sure that makes it ok.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Five Favs

 Joining Hallie for some Five Favorites action.

1. Blogging. Even though I struggle to make time/use time wisely/find time to blog on something remotely resembling a semi-regular basis...I always enjoy the writing process. However..this little blog has become more than an outlet for me. I realized this when I was finally able to write about our Usher Syndrome diagnosis. I am truly taken aback by the kind words and offers of thoughts and prayers for our family. Thank you.

2. I need this throw pillow in my life.. I just find it...incredibly apropos. Plus amusing.

3. Knitting....I'm just learning but I've already made one, whole, boot cuff! Check it:

4. Flashlight time. It has revolutionized bedtime....Gianna and Dom get to play together in Dom's bed for about 10 minutes after we read stories with just their flashlights. It has mediated a lot of draaaaama as well provide some fun eavesdropping for Brad and I.

5. My new living room is finally done. So grown up! And peaceful!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Teach Your Kids Stuff. A Cautionary Tale

Story time. I think I was about 7 or 8 the first time I decided to use the microwave on my own. My mom was at work, putting in a 12hour shift in the ICU and my dad was still asleep.

In my memory, it seems incredibly early in the morning because it was still very, very dark outside, but likely it was around 7 am. Alaskan winters make for late sunrise. Snow was piled up around our house and the sky outside was clear with cold and stars. A day for hot chocolate. I told my brother, then about 5, and my sister, age 3, that I would make them hot chocolate.

I was their hero! I scooped the Swiss Miss into mugs with confidence and stirred the water until they were sufficiently frothy at the top with chocolate powder. Easy. Anyone can make hot chocolate, I told myself. But then I came to the tricky part. I would have to use the microwave and I hadn't the slightest idea about how it worked.

I was concerned that I might blow up the hot chocolate and set the house on fire. So concerned that I made my brother and sister put on their coats, boots, mittens, and hats and stand by the front door in case we had to make a quick exit. I donned my winter gear and nervously started mashing buttons on this most mysterious kitchen appliance. I hit START and booked it for the door.

A few things occur to me now. Firstly, why in the world did I think it would be preferable to risk a fire than to go ask my dad for help? Secondly, what about my dad? Was I just going to leave him to roast? Did I figure that he could fend for himself in the event that blew up the house? I have no idea.

Clearly, the whole thing was a bit anti-climactic...the microwave beeped cheerfully and we took off our snow clothes and settled at the kitchen table for hot chocolate. I don't even remember the rest of that morning, I just remember feeling so grown up. And relieved.

Teach your kids stuff. So they can use a microwave (if you still own one! with its dangerous radiating ways! or whatever it does) without having the fire department on speed dial. Lest you think my mother was negligent in the life-skills department, I can state with almost 100% certainty that my mother did, in fact, try to instill certain small skills when I was young, but I was possibly one of the least motivated children on the planet. So if you have kid who, even after repeated tutorials, still seems incapable of basic household duties, don't despair. I turned out juuuust fine!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Swing of Things

There's something about autumn that makes me want to take stock of things. To look at the little gifts I've been given and take their measure. Maybe it's because all the turning leaves and weakening sunlight are achingly beautiful; a beauty too lovely to last. Maybe it's because fall is a reminder that the carefree days of sunshine and play of summer are over...winter is on the way. Maybe it's because this fall, so many beautiful things are happening in my family but they are colored, ever so lightly, with grief. It almost seems the happier or more joyful the moment, the more the pain comes rushing quickly in.

After Pia was diagnosed with her hearing loss, our ENT suggested a new round of genetic testing that was previously unavailable. In April, he called with the results. I honestly thought they wouldn't find anything, so I was shocked to hear him say, hesitantly, "Well...we found the problem. Myosin7A, that gene...has a mutation. We know it to be associated with Usher Syndrome...I'm saying, 50/50."

He went on to explain that our other mutation, also of Myosin7A, was "of unknown clinical significance." It could possibly protect against the other mutation; there was no way to know, other than to wait. Usher Syndrome. Causes profound hearing loss. Severe vestibular problems. Progressive vision loss, beginning sometime in the first decade of life.

 Punnet squares, sys and trans chromosomes, stop codons, autosomal recessive....jumbles of foreign words tumbled in my mind as I send Brad a frantic email. He said later, as he left work early to come home, that he understood the phrase, "weeping bitterly."

Our doctor tried to be optimistic, he explained that usually children with Usher Type 1 present with severe balance problems due to severe impairment of their vestibular system, and we didn't have any concerns in that area. But in the weeks after the tentative diagnosis, I had spent a lot of time researching and reading online and over and over again a phrase jumped out at me: "Children with Usher Type 1 typically walk later, between 18-24 months."

The first time I read that, I felt chilled to heart of my being. I remembered how Gianna struggled with her gross motor skills, how she fell so much harder and more frequently than other kids. She was 20 months old when she finally began to walk. For years, she had been in and out of physical therapy. We had seen neurologists and a connective tissue disorder guy. We had been to developmental pediatricians....low tone, no tone, hyper-mobile joints. Our ENT sent us for balance and vestibular testing in July and that was when he changed the status of our girlies to "consistent with Usher Type 1b."

I cannot...sometimes I cannot keep the sadness away. It lives under everything. It punches me in the stomach when Gianna is helping me search for my car keys and upon finding them, declares, "I've got good eyes, huh, mom!" It curls up next to me as I nurse my PiaBaby and we gaze deeply into each other's hazel eyes. Those are the bad days.

On other days, I research gene therapy, gene therapy that is incredibly promising. I read articles by parents who have older children with Usher, they remind me that no one knows the future. It is a lie to believe with certainty that my children will go blind. They might not. There are so many researchers working on retinitis pigmentosa. Some of their findings might even help with the vestibular dysfunction.

Mostly, it all felt like a bad dream. Unreal. I think I was still partially holding out hope that their eyes might be ok until this past Wednesday. Gianna saw a retinal specialist at our children's hospital and he said he is beginning to see signs of slight pigment changes. Gianna's retinas, at the very far edges, are beginning to deteriorate. Her peripheral vision seems to already be affected, and possibly she is struggling to see at's hard to tell because she relies on being able to see to keep her balance, and at night it's already dark so...what is her lack of vestibular system and what is her eyes?

In December, we will go to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston to see "the" retinitis pigmentosa guy...he is running clinical studies on Vitamin A and DHA therapy. They will conduct an electroretinography test which should give a better idea about how far things have progressed and possibly estimate the future course of the disease. In the meantime, I bought a lot of nightlights and have joined the Coalition for Usher Syndrome Research.

 Brad and I have been drawn more closely to prayer through all of the unique challenges we've faced, but this is the biggest, scariest thing we've encountered. I never grieved like this when we first found out we had a Deaf child. Myosin7A could be the way God will sanctify my family. I don't like it, but I can choose to still be hopeful and experience the joys of the blessings and difficulties we're handed. I won't lie...right now, it's hard.

My PiaBaby has the sweetest little voice. In the past few days she has started saying "mum mum mum" when she signs MILK (and now..whenever she wants anything in the world, because she has figured out that when she babbles, we all freak out and throw a party.) She says,"Uh uh uh" for "up up up" and her signing has exploded.....She attempts almost every new sign she is shown. Her receptive auditory language is crazy...she knows all of our names and a lot of other common words just by audition, and she is able to reproduce the "shhh" and "sss" Ling 6 sounds. She is 14 months old and so curious and sweet and I want to push the "pause" button. I love her so much that it hurts.

Gianna is adjusting to mainstream schooling and making buddies and acing spelling tests. She is wiped when she comes home, but mostly she is learning a lot and enjoying school. I cannot get over how big she is.

Dominic is telling people he is home schooling...which mostly means he gets read to a lot and that I have to make him a lunch in a real lunch box like Gianna gets.

We are getting into a routine of cooler days and daily first grade homework and keeping up with therapy schedules. I look around at my my children and my husband and our families and our friends and I feel incredibly humbled. I did nothing to deserve these things. How can I not be thankful, even when I know that behind my daughter's eyes something is waiting like a shadow?

How can I not trust that God is with our family, when I look and see what He has done for us. A couple of kids, getting married, having a baby, discovering that our plans would be vastly different than we'd ever imagined. With so much grace and prayer and family support we got into the swing of our new lives, over and over again. I have to trust that it will be that way with this.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

No Limits

We are a few days away from the four year anniversary of Gianna's cochlear implant surgery. If you'd have told me that she'd be going to a parish school, with no interpreter, I'd have thought you were crazy. But, here we are.

I've been thinking a lot lately about limitations and about how they are not as concrete as they seem in those first, dark moments when they loom at us forbiddingly. If there is something I am slowly, slowly learning through this whole process of having children with differing abilities, it is that we should not say to our children, "No, you can't." Instead we ought to say, "Yes, you can try. I will help you." We thought that our daughter would not learn to speak, and we were honestly okay with that. But she went and did it anyways. No limits.

What a gift for her to know what it means to do something extraordinary in a most ordinary of ways, of the value of working at something difficult, of looking at a limit everyone else accepts and saying, "I will try."

Our parish, St. Gertrude's, has the sweetest little school and they have been incredibly welcoming and accommodating to Gianna and her special ears. I am so excited and nervous for her. Will the kids tease her? Will she be exhausted from working so hard to listen all day? Will she be able to hear her friends in the noisy cafeteria? Was this a good idea? Will she be sad to be the only Deaf kid?

But I remind myself. No limits. I. King Jordan, the first Deaf president of Gallaudet University, famously said, "A Deaf person can do anything a hearing person can do, except hear." And sometimes, they can even do that, too.

with her best buddy in class

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Domcast + Parenting Advice

Your daily dose of the Dom; if he had a podcast.

"Mom, I could easily get down from here."

Foreign Relations
"Vladimir Putin?! Pootin!!!!" Maniacal and hysterical laughter.

"Well, my belly says it needs to ride bikes instead of bedtime."

On Vanities
"Jacob...that's what you put on your lips right mom?"
(Took me a minute to figure out...he meant 'make-up')

On Extracurriculars
"Activities? Is that a kind of sickness?"

Hot tip. Do you need to talk on the phone with a geneticist from Harvard for more than an hour without giving her a hint at the madness that lies at the other end of her phone? Have your attempts to escape your mewling, wrestling children by going outside been thwarted by a baby who insists on eating grass? Were your vehement throat-slitting motions met with peals of laughter and delight and the contnuing press of small bodies against your legs?

Simply dump piles of chocolate chips and pretzel sticks into bowls and motion to your children that they can eat these delights as long they don't a) kill each other b) follow you and c) make any noise whatsoever. Sorry. You were probably expecting something better than that.
this sort of genius can't be taught

Friday, July 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. First up...a little linkage. You should go read Dana Stevens' screed against urban flip flops. I don't have any feelings one way or the other about people wearing flip flops but I do enjoy reading about someone else's impassioned, slightly bizarre cause du jour. You will, too.

2. I have explained many times to people asking about cochlear implant technology that cochlear implants do not create sound the way hearing people hear it. Despite Gianna's 4 year surgery anniversary coming up and all the research and therapy we have done (times 2)...I'd never listened to any of the simulations of what cochlear implant users actually hear. And it blew my mind.

3. Listening to that video made me realize just how hard Gianna works to listen and understand, especially in noisy environments like the swimming pool or restaurants. And she does it all cheerfully. I feel awkward bragging about my kids but she has a strength and positivity that few adults ever achieve.

4. Gianna heard me playing the video and asked what I was listening to. When I told her it was supposed to show me what things sound like to her, she was adamant that her "ears don't sound that way, that sounds scary and my ears are not scary!" Adventure is still the best word I can come up with to describe life with the girlies and their "ears."

5.School starts in a few weeks and I am so not ready. Not ready for summer to be over, and also not ready for Gianna to start mainstreamed schooling. She is excited for her uniform and to be at school with her friends while I am nervous for her. Will she get made fun of? Will she feel lonely because she is the only one who is Deaf? Will she be able to hear in the classroom, and learn, and excel?

6. Our garden has really taken off. We've scored lots of lettuce and snap peas and Purple Queen green beans and and some banana peppers and the tomatoes are starting to turn....Though the cucumbers are looking really sad and I don't know why. I guess I could investigate but I really just want things to grow and not be super needy. I have enough neediness around here already.

7. You people who blog every day. Wow.

Join Jen for more Seven Quick Takes and Happy Weekending!

The Calendar

I forgot I was daily posting and now there are only 18 minutes left in the day.

Question: when will I begin to go to bed at a more responsible hour? It is idiotic to stay up this late. It is a fact that Dom will come strolling into my room no later than 7 am pronouncing for all who can hear him that, "I'm huuuungry! Neeeeed go potty! No one is making my breakfast! No one is helping me!" And I'm just cursing my inability to be an adult and actually go to bed a decent hour. I make sweeping promises to myself, that, no more! Tonight, I'll go to bed at 10pm!

Rarely happens. Anyways, I'll stop boring you with that. We're all adults here, whether we act like it or not, and we're all tired.

Question: Do you struggle with organization? Let me help you feel better about whatever non-system you think you've got going. Check this out:
Looks good, right? Except that its the week of July 16-22....of LAST YEAR. 
And there's the menu from Christmas Eve still tacked up there and someone (cough Brad cough) wrote "poop" at random intervals. 

At first it didn't get updated because I was fresh off giving birth and it is my personal gospel to do nothing but snuggle my baby and rest for as long as help is available to me. Then I forgot about it, then it became a running joke, then it became a long can I NOT update this calendar...then it was so close to the year mark I had to hold out. And here we are. 

The thing is that, I secretly didn't want to change the calendar because that's the week the PiaBaby arrived. We didn't go to the library at 10:30 Wednesday morning, we had a new baby in the house. I look at this calendar and a flood of memories come back...the feeling that something special was happening soon, the intense heat of summer, the rows of tiny newborn pajamas lined up in a drawer. 

This calendar takes me back to how we deliberated over Pia's name and my mom made a birthday cake with the big kids and my IL's arrived with gifts and hugs for everyone.

This calendar reminds me of the part of motherhood that can't be scheduled...the parts that are mysterious and fleeting and exhausting and pure joy. Sometimes, we should put those things above the organizing. If you, too, are a little bit more disorganized than you'd like, if things are a little crazier than you's ok. It's probably because you are busy with the stuff that is more important anyways. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Five Favorites

 linking up with Camp Patton for Five Favorites

1. I am almost done reading Michael Pollan's new book, Cooked. I really, really like Michael Pollan's. He is my favorite food writer because, despite his clear love for slow food/clean living/eating local/etc/etc he is incredibly non-judgemental. I feel that Michael Pollan would eat, and enjoy, an Oreo with me, but Sally Fallon would just wrinkle her nose in disgust and then judge me. Plus, he's kinda funny and I like funny people.

2. Bubble. Water. Mostly from Trader Joe's, the naturally flavored stuff. Two reasons: 1. it feels fancy and 2. the kids don't like it and I can keep it all to my selfish self. (caveat....I fear...recently, I've been enjoying it too much in front of them, and now...they are starting to like it, too. Mom lesson: never, ever look like you are having too much fun or relaxation...the children will smell it on you and be all up in your face, wanting whatever it is you have.)

3. Watching my children sleep. You might think you love your kids, but you don't know to what heights your love can soar if you peek at them while they are passed out.

4. Mother's helpers. I was able to type most of this post and enjoy a hot cup of coffee while my friend's 11 year old daughter is playing in the basement with my big kids and the PiaBaby takes a little siesta. May my friend be eternally blessed for donating her firstborn to me for a couple of hours.

5. My sister is visiting and brought me a late birthday present. 
I know we're not supposed to be attached to material things buuuuuuut....I just really like it a lot. Our old one was black and boring and falling apart....this one is shiny and chubby and my favorite color of the moment. 

Posting everyday is hard. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I'm Not A Part of Your System

I don't have a cell phone. I believe I have mentioned this fact here and there, but today you get The Whole Story.

When we first got married Brad was frequently perturbed by my cell phone bill. This was back in the day before unlimited minutes. I sort of...went over my minutes a lot. Brad brought up our little struggle with my mother and her exact words were, "Yeah....I tried everything to get her to stop going over on her minutes...didn't work. She's your problem now." I forfeited the phone.

Six years of cell phone freedom and I like it the vast majortity of the time.

In a perverse way, I love shocking people by casually mentioning that I don't own a cell phone.

I am cultivating and preserving the dying art form known as the The Pop-In.

I frequently talk on my house phone (cordless! so advanced!) while buckling my kids in the car but I don't stop there. I'll keep talking as I pull out the drive way, and I know just the spot down the street where the phone won't work anymore.

If you don't have a cell phone, people can't expect to reach you all the time. Sometimes, you're just unavailable.

It's not crazy to drive a couple of hours in a 1998 Camry, a gazillion weeks pregnant with two children in the backseat. It's fun! It's almost as thrilling as driving three kids around in a car with 265,000 miles on it. As you drive, you make contingency plans like, "If something goes wrong, I have the double stroller and an Ergo....we'll be fiiiiiiiine!" See how exciting your life could be?

I know, cell phone plans have un-limited minutes now, or I could get a pre-paid phone to keep in my car for emergencies, but I kinda like living on this teeny, tiny edge of silly rebellion.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ice Cold

You have decided to gift your children with a day at the zoo, like a Good Mother. Pack lunches, snacks, water bottles, sunglasses, sunblock, a book. That book is like a little beacon of hope; the children will play in the play area and the baby will nap and you'll read this book, glancing up now and then for a head count. It's never really happened before but hope springs eternal.

Snapping from your reverie you discover you are late for speech therapy and there's no time to make coffee. Surely the husband won't begrudge just one little swipey swipe of the card, it's understandable to want coffee for Zoo Day. Decision made, hurry hurry guys, we're late! 

You barely stop the car to let the oldest child out for speech and zoom off to grab your coffee. The radio reports a heat index of a million, the 3 year old is complaining of a tummy ache, and you realize the light-headedness you feel is because you forgot breakfast. Zoo Day develops a slight tarnish but lo, the drive-thru window is open with no line. 

A smiling, blonde-haired girl comes to the window and chirps, "Good morning! What can I get for you?"

"May I please have a medium mudslide lat--"

Retching and barfing and crying from the back seat. Blonde is understandably horrified. Asks if he is ok, what will you do, do you need help?

The sun is beating down on the hood of the car and Zoo Day is over before it begins. You wonder, as you fish wipes out of the diaper bag and mop up some of the mess, what is the right move here? What does a Good Mother do?

"Actually, lets make that a LARGE mudslide latte...whole milk. Whipped cream. On ice. And can I get a Swiss chip scone as well? little guy, um yeah I'm sure he'll be fine....maybe a cup of water?"

Probably the barista thinks you are a cold-hearted mother. Whatever. A Good Mother knows not to go into Barf Day with zero reinforcements. 

Aaaaaaaaaand I can't help it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Not What I Wore Sunday

There's a link up on Sundays called What I Wore Sunday and I've never done it but I thought about it a few times. Then today I had the perfect outfit. Check. It. Out.
You're going to love the way you look. We guarantee it.
Sequined Dress: Tiffany Designs via Goodwill
Purple and silver corset top: Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax; Millenium 2000 what?!
Black strapless number: Zum Zum by Niki Livas circa two thousand and one
Tan shoes: Talbots via my mom via Goodwill
Pink and silver scarf: Gianna's personal stash
Yeah. That's a crazy sparkly formal dress, a Winter Ball dress (corset top only), and a prom dress plus some old lady shoes all in the same outfit. My kids had some buddies over to play and the girls dressed me for a ball. And I thought, "yessssss now I can join Fine Linen and Purple for the WIWS posts without feeling like big dork for trying to take style pics plus, so ironical!" 

Alas. The rules say that you are supposed to post only your church outfit. So. This is what I wore Sunday but not to Mass. After being swathed in old formal dresses we had a dance party where the kids pretended to hide in their fort and I had to come home and say, "Oh no, where are all of my children?" So they could jump out and scare me. Weird but I went with it. 

Lemme just say this: if you haven't played dress up lately, you should. There's something a little bit awesome about wearing lots of pretty things all at one time.

While I was pining the loss of linking up, I see that Jen at Conversion Diary is hosting a 7 posts in 7 days challenge and since it's 10:31 Sunday night and all my kids are asleep at the same time I'm thinking....I'm in. I hope you're ready for this. I hope I'm ready for this.  I haven't posted everyday since..never.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Sounds Good

Today (today!) the PiaBaby celebrates her one year birthday and I am struck again by the paradox of parenting: it went by SOFAST and imagine life without her seems like it was a distant planet, where it was a little colder and darker and what did we DO without the PiaBaby in our life?

We had a pretty big shindig here over the weekend and celebrated a small child birthday in the way we have become accustomed: lots of bacon, beer, and cake while the older kids run amok. I think at the peak we tallied close to 30 kids and far fewer adults. It helped that one of my dear friends was also celebrating the one year birthday of her littlest babe, born the day before Pia. In fact, we walked the mall together, urging on the contractions and trying to get some birthing done.

As I type this, my water had not yet broken, I didn't even know if we were having a girl or a boy. I didn't know this baby would be Deaf, I didn't know so many things. But I am so glad it was the PiaBaby, so glad to be on this adventure with her. So glad we are a little over a month past her cochlear implant surgery and so, so glad that she could hear us sing "Happy Birthday!" to her.

The full, in-cut version of Pia listening to "happy birthday" and enjoying her cake. You're welcome.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Five Favorites

 I'm a little late to join Hallie and her Five Favorites, but..I need something quick and easy to get me over this blogging slump we go.

1. My mom (! her burgeoning computer skills cannot go uncelebrated) found a crochet headband pattern online that has pockets for speech I tried it out with a few tweaks and we are loving it. No wires or ear molds or toupee tape or ear simple and cute, too. Gianna has already put in her order for one as well.

2. I love looking at this planter. Chocolate mint coleus with blackberry petunias...all of which I started from seeds in March. The plant s l o w l y growing at the back I started from a bulb, if it ever blooms it will be an orange canna. I think maybe it is not getting enough sun but..we'll see. I have no idea what I am doing but I love having a yard to putter around in and try to grow stuff.

3. These nightgowns from The White Cotton Gown are so lovely. My mother in law found them after I expressed frustration searching for a 100% cotton nightgown for Gianna. Gianna says she feels like Laura from The Little House books. 

4. Summer. Even though we are still running around like crazy (we usually have about 4 appointments each week, but often more, between the two girlies and their ears) I am so glad school is out. Playing with friends, staying up late catching fireflies in the yard, Popsicles...all made sweeter by the fact that I am not a million months pregnant like I was last summer. Instead I have my PiaBaby to snuggle. 

5. I scored a Le Creuset pot from a St. Vincent de Paul thrift was covered in some sort of greasy substance but it was blue and it was $6 and now it is gracing my stove and it is mine. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Joyful Noise

I feel like two enormous weights have been lifted. Pia's surgery and subsequent activation are behind us, and both things went far better than I had imagined.

I am so thankful for the prayers and support of our family and friends and for our health insurance and the skilled surgical team. God has heaped blessings upon us.

All parents worry for their children; parents of children with special needs have worries and concerns on top of those regular worries. The feeling that you can't really ever let your foot off the gas, that every moment must in some way be related to a language experience or goal on the IEP (Individual Education Plan.)

Even though my fears for the surgery and activation can be laid aside we have years of work ahead as we help Pia learn to use her new ears. More importantly we have to be forming her soul, helping her grow into a mensch. Part of that will include continuing to sign to her and supporting she and Gianna in their communication decisions as they get older. I don't want them to be limited be their deafness but neither do I want them to feel ashamed of it.

I'm asking big things of my PiaBaby, but I am reminding myself now: Never learning to talk is not a failure. We will communicate; it might be with our voices or it might be with our hands. I will work hard to give her the gift of both, just like we are doing with Gianna.

For now, I'm going to allow myself some time to wonder at the world of sound along with Pia. For now, I'm not going to worry about Ling 6 sounds or localizing or prosody. We're just going to simply and joyfully  listen to each other.

Friday, June 7, 2013

7 Quick Takes: We're Back!

1. But you have to say it like Kramer does when he's got the Merv Griffin show set in his apartment....Anyways. All week, I was trying to write a blog post about Pia's surgery and a whole dissertation on how it went and how I felt and etc etc but it's also the first week of summer so the kids and I are trying to get used to this new amount of togetherness. So, surgery recap in 7 quick we go.

2. It was a long. long. long day. I had to stop nursing Pia at 6:30am, we arrived at the hospital at 9:15 to get ready for our 11am start time. Except it was more like 11:30 when we went back to the induction room. I am very thankful I make big babies; because Pia is over 10 kilograms (20 lbs) the anesthesiologist allowed Brad and I in the induction room when they started the anesthesia. That's probably the hardest part for me...handing my limp baby over to strangers and being ushered out to the waiting room. I'm always Lot's wife...looking back over my shoulder, wanting just one more minute. The whole show ended up taking 6 hours due to some inflammation in her ears left over from a cold the previous week. Fortunately it was not anything unsafe, nor did it inhibit the actual success of the surgery.

3. I used the hospital's fancy schmancy double electric pump twice while we waited. I wish I could have taken my 16 ounces of milk up to the NICU but instead I dumped it in the sink. Pumping is weird. Not bad, but weird for sure. Hats off to the mamas who do it regularly!

4. The second-worst part of the cochlear implant surgery, for me, is when we finally get to the kid in the recovery room, and I know the implants are in their head. I see the bandage and now I know. It's over, they're in there, essentially permanently. And I kind of hate that. I pray that later the girls will understand that we weren't trying to "fix" them but give them the opportunity of sound.

5. Last time, they sent Gianna home like this

But they've gotten so slick in the last 4 years that all Pia needed was this deal while we stayed over night

And then they removed the gauze and she has to wear this very aesthetically pleasing, extremely breathable neoprene head wrap to put pressure on the implant site for 10 days post-op.
kinda looks like Instagram huh? Nope. The iPad cover was partially covering the camera lens. It's low budget over here, what can I say?
6. Just two days later, back to her regular life. Can you believe that she had just had 6 hours of surgery? On her head? Babies are crazy.
Brad thinks she looks like a Shriner
7. So now it's time for the (hopefully) fun part! We saw our surgeon today and everything looks fantastic, so we are set to go in Monday for activation and our PiaBaby will really hear us for the first time! I plan to video it and if it's cute and not traumatic I will share it with all of you! I cannot thank everyone enough for their prayers. I know they are the reason that I was able to be so much more peaceful than last time and I know that's why everything went so well. We are truly blessed.

Have a great weekend, for more Quick Takes hit up Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Third Kid

Most mornings when I get out of bed and start getting the crew ready to take Gianna to school I leave Pia sprawled out in the king bed all by herself. In between making breakfasts and packing G's lunch and exhorting people to please go brush your teeth and find your shoes, I run upstairs to make sure Pia is still asleep and not army crawling her way off the bed. I could use a baby monitor but this is way more fun; plus, I can't find the other half of our monitor. 

And almost every morning I have to scoop my still-sleeping baby out of bed to load her in the car. I was reflecting on this as I gathered the necessary strength needed to break the universal law to never, ever, ever wake a sleeping baby and for a few seconds I felt bad for her. Poor Pia. Always getting naps skipped or interrupted to hop in the car, sometimes for her own therapy appointments, sometimes for school drop off/pick up for Gianna. For a moment I believed what the culture at large would say; she doesn't get as much attention or love or focus or-

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of feet clomping up the stairs. Suddenly the room was full of voices and small bodies clambering onto the bed.

"Is Pia awake? Can we see her?"
"I want to give her a hug, can I play with her?"
"Pia!! Hiiiiiiiii!!!!!" 

As I watched my two big kids fall over themselves to worship their PiaBaby, who was now awake and smiling with delight, I realized...she's got the good life.

She is adored by her two older siblings and gets way more talking and laughing and singing and signing than Gianna did when it was just her and I hanging out all day when I was a new mom. At night, when she wakes up after the other kids have gone to bed, more often than not Brad and I lay in bed with her and soak in her smiles and laughs, even though I guess we "aren't supposed to play with the baby at night; she'll never learn to sleep."

I just wasn't this laid back with the first kid, and while I was more relaxed with the second, I feel like I've gotten a lot more comfortable about who I am as a mother, and Pia gets the benefit of my previous experience in a way my big two don't. I see my six year old and realize just how quickly the days of babyhood fly by and it doesn't make the stress over precise naps and food diaries seem as dire. I won't say there aren't times when  the very physical demands of having a baby in the house overwhelm me, or that I'm always cheerful to be awake with a baby hitting a new milestone in the middle of the night, but I think I can see the joy in it all more readily.

And the food. I mean, it's pretty unlikely I would have let a 10 month old Gianna go to town on some spaghetti and meatballs or steal my Popsicle. There's a certain sweetness about this third baby that I can't help but savor.

i took this picture with my iPad mini. Cuz I'm fancy.
Please pray for our Sweet Pia....Friday she will have her cochlear implant surgery. Thank you thank you!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


This past Friday I got a 6 year old in the house. Aside from the requisite "Where is my first born baby and who is this giant that replaced her?" and "If I've been at this parenting gig for 6 years why am I still failing frequently?" feelings I am digging the 6. The 6 does this:

 Yes. She is washing potatoes for dinner while I snuggled a teething PiaBaby and grouchy Dom. When I told her I could not have made dinner without her help she grinned so big her smiled wrapped around her face. (I love that line from Rudyard Kipling. It has always stuck with me. I can't even remember what story it's in, just that he wrote it.)

Yesterday after retrieving the 6 from school we made a quick trip to the Joe's which quickly turned into a grocery store walk of shame. Partially because the children wouldn't stop emoting but more because Pia pooped all over the place. Initially I played it cool; "this is why we sometimes bring our diaper bag, " I pepped talked myself. "This is why we always have an extra outfit on haaaaand--oh." Not today. Not in this diaper bag, not in this bathroom.

So I did the only thing I could do. I put her in a clean diaper and put her back in the sling and we grocery shopped with a baby clad in only diaper and her pink pilot cap. Except that because she was in the sling with her pudgy arms and legs and shoulders squishing out, she looked totally naked as opposed to partially naked, since the diaper was hidden by the sling.

And a dumpster diaper no less! You'd think if you were going to take your baby to a natural foods store in nothing but a diaper you'd have the decency to do it with cloth. No one actually said anything to me about it, but I know they were looking. Sometimes crazy-acting kids create a really good buffer.

The lack of a cloth diaper brings me to my next unfortunate confession: I'm so behind on the laundry that Brad walked around the house collecting the over-flowing hampers and dumping them out into a pile in the basement. We look like....hoarders. Or worse. I don't know. And even as we've been chipping away at the mound of clothes we know that we're all just walking around, dirtying up more clothes faster than we can wash them.
at least we had the Hanna Andersson hat on. Euro-chic covers just about any fashion mishaps, right?

Friday, April 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes: What It Is

1. We. have. a. surgery. date. May 31. 5 weeks until PiaBaby gets her "ears." Only mildly freaking out at the moment but I am sure I will grow increasingly crazy as the day approaches. Two weeks after THAT will be our activation day...we are pretty nervous and excited over here.

2. Would it be inappropriate to send United Healthcare flowers and chocolates to thank them for only taking 8 DAYS to approve Pia for surgery? Would it be awkward to frame and hang the approval letter?

3. Gianna got glasses and it makes her look so grown up. Birthday #6 is a week from today??!! 

4. I've just been hanging out with these guys all day and it's usually not a bad gig.

5. The most ballet I get to do these days. Dinner theatre at its finest.

6. My dad built Dominic a water table and I believe every family should have one. Hours of imaginative, non-destructive play. I had a very nice action pic but it's taking ten million years to load and I'm kind of over this blog post and ready to move on.

7. This baby.

Is wearing Gianna's hand-me-down size 18 month clothes. She a big gurl. She also signs MILK, MORE, PLAY, and CHANGE (as in diaper change.) I loooooove her. Please keep us in your prayers for a successful surgery and for a non-insane me. I'll probably ask for that about 50 more times between now and May 31. Sorry!

More Quick Takes here.....Live it up this weekend, I know I will.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Domcast

If he had a Podcast.

"I can't because I can't."
"We are whale sharks, but we look like basking sharks, but we are whale sharks."

"No you NOT!"
"Wellllllllll, I don't too sure about that!"

"Tomorrow is right now!!"
"That's not the PiaBaby, it's the baby hyena!"
"Mr. Schilling the MOM will help me."

"I like to share your food, Mom. It looks more good than mine."

"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOkay" followed with a big sigh.

"Maybe in the springtime I will obey."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Breaking the Silence

Ok. So I took a little break, and we ended up having a very Lent-y Lent at the end there anyways. But we survived, we are all alive. Alive. What an incredible thing to be able to say!

Three weeks ago, a friend of ours was at a park with her two children. Her three year old got away from her and fell into a pond. After a tense weekend at the Children's Hospital, little Gemma passed away.

What a shock it has been to our little Catholic mama community. The desire to keep our own children close, to cling to them in sadness and thanksgiving for their presence was overwhelming. The inability to sleep as we grieved with this family. The awe at the beauty and blessing of faith and the way we came together to help out when one of us was in need. To see such compassion, such suffering-with, can restore your hope in humanity on a dark day.

It seems strange, but the word I was struck with was 'privilege.' It has been a privilege to suffer with this family in a time of such heartbreaking grief. A privilege to wash their laundry, carefully separating out, through tears, pink pajama bottoms and denim skorts that won't be needed any longer. A privilege to put together meals and scrapbook pages. A privilege to mourn with this family.

I have realized that these children are little gifts. They do not belong to us; they are not possessions to which we are entitled. I have done nothing to merit or deserve their health and vitality. I thought I knew these things, but recent events have brought them to stark reality. This realization filled me with great fear, especially as we draw closer to a surgery date for Pia. When I took this fear to the Confessional, the priest reminded me; God wants what is best for my family and His ways are not our ways. The way to peace is to entrust my children to God. Quite an item for my to-do list.

We had a lovely Easter, we are looking forward to warmer days and growing things in the fresh spring air. Our butterball of a PiaBaby is f-i-i-i-i-inally sitting up unassisted, which is a big weight off my worrying shoulders. We are giving thanks for the life of Gemma as we find a renewed appreciation for our own. We ask her to intercede for her family and all of us as they grieve.

Easter am

ready for some warmer days

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sick Day

When your almost 6 year old girl child is ill

You just park her on the couch with a blanket, the PotteryBarnKids catalog, and a pen. Circle away baby; dream on.

Then you make hot chocolate for the 3 year old boy child.
He looks so much more distinguished throwing a fit with a mustache.

And you put the baby to bed in your bed and don't take a picture because while she might be able to sleep through any and all loud noises, she will certainly wake to the flash of light from a camera and only a fool wakes a sleeping baby.

Corporal works of mercy, right here, right now. How hard can it be?

Friday, March 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. Pia is about to pop her first teeth and I realized I don't have any pictures of her toothless grin, so I took some like the last-minute parent I am. Included: big girl who is missing the same 2 teeth Pia is working on. I'll leave you to glean any cosmic significance from this fact. I'm too tired.

2. Gianna has her first spelling test at school today. I am looking forward to hanging it on the fridge so that it can be ripped off and destroyed by the other children, thus continuing a generations-long family tradition.

3. Speaking of school, on the way there this am I was flipping through the radio stations in a vain attempt to escape "Christian" music and I heard a snippet of an interview where this woman was stating that, "Well, my parents, you know....when they got married, they didn't know it was going to be such a long, back in the day, on Oregon Trail, you died at like, 19. So really you were just committing to a couple years of marriage but nowadays people just don't die anymore. You can like, get a new heart and stuff. So my dad has MS and mom, you know, she's out there, dating, finding her soul mate." What the??? I changed the channel so I don't know what else this lady said, but really? For one thing, what happened to "in sickness and in health" and for another....PEOPLE STILL DIE.

4. Are you reeling from my distaste from Christian radio? I'd explain why, except Brad sent me this excellent article that captures my thoughts exactly. You can also apply this reasoning to "Christian movies." Cringe.

5. Yesterday when I picked up Gianna from school she asked me why I am always the last mom to come. Dangit. You know your tardiness is getting bad when your 5 year old calls you out on it.

6. Back before Gianna was born, Dr. Sears recommended that I create a "nursing basket" where you put all the stuff you want to have near you when you nurse. And I never did, because I think I pictured more like a cardboard box covered in old wrapping paper, a la the "kid kit" I made in middle school after reading one too many books from The Baby Sitters Club. A friend of mine got a lovely fair-trade basket from her husband for Christmas and made it her nursing basket. So now we're all doing it...and I have to say. Genius. My crochet projects go in there, the books I'm reading, my water bottle, catalogs for daydreaming, burp cloth, etc etc. Oh yeah. And my house phone. But I could see other people putting in their cell phone and iPads. That could be cool. But I'm still Zach Morris-ing it up over here. This basket is so sturdy and pretty and sustainable-feeling. Mom gear. You need one, too.

7.  Yesterday was Parent Observation Day at ballet class. It was not, however, Dominic Observation Day. A class-full of 5-years-olds pointing and flexing their toes is apparently not something The Dom can get excited about. So he made his own excitement by crawling around on the studio floor with a blue plastic Ikea spoon in his mouth and growling "like a LION with sharp TEETH." It was...great. Really great.
Have a fantastic weekend, for more Quick Takes head over to Conversion Diary.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Now I'm Driving the Bus

I am now the proud owner of a brand new, 2001 Chevy Suburban. Hunter green. Tan leather. Old school On-star. Captain's seats. Towing package. CD player. AND tape deck. Heated seats. Ambulance doors.

This car was the bomb back in 2001. This car still IS the bomb.

When this behemoth rolled off the lot, I was still a bebe, livin' it up as a junior in high school. This 'Burban was creeping the mean streets of Anderson Township while I was fretting about Advanced Chemistry with Doc Madsen and getting into trouble for talking too much in class. Never did we think our paths would converge, but happily, they have.

I've never really cut an imposing figure, but when I'm at the helm of this bad boy, I feel a certain sort of power. The gear shift is on the steering column, which means I have to do a mini-bicep curl to move it from park into drive. That takes it to a whole new level of awesome.

It might be uncouth to say, but we stole this vehicle for 2800 American dollars. It may or may not have a cool 263,000 miles on it but who's counting? Thus begins a new chapter of our family's pay-only-cash-for-cars-off-Craigslist experiment. At this time I'd rather not discuss the gas mileage or Brad might put the thing back on the Craigslist in a furor of gas pump anger.

So. If you need something towed, or to drive 6 rowdy preteen boys and all their hockey equipment to the ice rink, or to pick up a large piece of furniture from the Pottery Barn outlet, I'm your man. Or Mom, as it were.

Friday, February 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. Dangit. It's Quick Takes time again and I didn't write a post since last Friday. When I promised I was going to blog more. I lied, and I'm sorry.

2. Brad's car died. It's ok, you don't have to be sad. It has had a full, wonderful life. RIP 1994 Camry with 250,000+ miles. You were good to us, but let's honest...we were probably not that good to you.

3. The best part of shopping for cars on Craigslist is reading the ads. My favorite this go-round was this, written about a 2007ish Honda Civic:
"This is an AWESOME car, I bought it for my son but his grades SUCK so it's gone. Being a parent sometimes involves hard choices."

4. Not only can you find cars on Craigslist, you can also get parenting advice. Who knew?

5. I should have posted the directions for the basket I is the link

6. Awhile ago Brad sent me this video about how to feel like you have more time and thus helps you manage time better. Basically, you need more moments of awe. I've been trying it out, but I'm still late 99% of the time. I'm wondering if by 'awe' they meant, "I'm in awe over this pile of laundry!" or "I'm in awe over the strength of Dominic's emotions!" I might be doing it wrong. Although...there are the moments of "I'm in awe over my chubby baby's smile" or "I'm in awe over the sound of my two big kids laughing together." Those moments might be working in my favor.

7. Pia is surprised by a back carry. And maybe starting to work a little hair. 

Happy weekending, I hope to have a new car story on Monday! Check out the rest of the Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Friday, February 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Obstacles to Blogging

1. The possession of or difficulty in managing the sanguine temperament.

2. Therapy. Not complaining, just stating: whether we're going to appointments or working on things at home, this PiaBaby gets a lot of therapizing. I truly am thankful for all the resources we have for her but it for real takes up a lot of time/energy/emotional output.

3. Home improvement projects. Here for video, blogger is being annoying. Brad's usual banter is missing, rendering the video eerily silent. Enjoy.

4. Crochet projects
it's a basket. for Dominic to carry his "animals that swim." It will help us be more punctual. I think.
 5. Nurturing an addiction to Downtown Abbey. I have caught up to season 3, but have not yet begun it because I want to delay the inevitable tragedy that I know is coming (thanks Facebook spoilers)

6. Laundry/feeding people/cleaning and the shirking of these responsibilities.

7. Inability to blog while operating a motor vehicle. My best blog posts have been written in my head while driving, and then by the timeI arrive home and score a minute in front of the computer with two whole hands to type I cannot for the life of me remember what I wanted to write.

More Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary. Have a fab weekend....I hope to be back blogging with more regularity soon!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This Explains A Lot (Happy #3 to The Dom)

The night Dominic was born I put Gianna to bed as usual and exited the bedroom mid-contraction. Brad says I had my game-face on. When I got in the tub at about 7:30 pm I thought I had a night's work ahead of me.

Instead, less than two hours later I was apologizing to my mother for needing push and the midwife wasn't here yet. The baby came so quickly my water didn't break; my mother knelt on the floor behind me as I braced myself on the bathroom vanity and Brad relayed instructions from our midwife over the phone. My clearest memory is of the brightness of the bathroom lights and my mother's voice, praying aloud for guidance and safety for the baby.

And then, and then! I knew he was a boy even before he was in my arms. My first thought was, " aren't cute at all, but I am SO glad you are here!" That moment when you look at your new baby and think, "So it's you! It was you, all along!" is unmatchable. Incredible.

My Dom is still on the unpredictable side, to say the least. Today, he turns three years old. And that is straight up crazy.

So you see, he's been pretty funny the whole time. Happy birthday, buddy!