Thursday, May 30, 2013


I have nothing to say today that hasn't already been said by me a million times.  My daughter is my world, and the last 7 years have been the most amazing years of my life.  I woke up this morning shortly before 5am, after burning the midnight oil working on some of the details for her party this weekend, waiting for the clock to tick over to 5:19am, the minute of her birth.  With each minute passing, I watched the room and the hallway beyond the door grow brighter as the sun rose, the birds, waking, chirping their joy to the day, and I realized I'd never thought about what it might be like outside on the day she was born.  The delivery room was dark, the air conditioning whirring loudly, the monitors beeping.  But I do recall noticing later, as I rested, that the sky was blue, the sun was shining.  Probably very much like this morning.  I can listen to the birds and watch the sunrise now, and know that on the day she was born, they chirped their joy for her, as well.
Happy 7th birthday, to my beautiful baby girl!  
Birth (photo taken at 8 days old)
1st Birthday

2nd Birthday, with her little friend, M., who shares the same birthday

3rd Birthday

4th Birthday (again, with M.)

5th Birthday

6th Birthday (playing the drums we gave her)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don't Wake the Bear!

Maybe I need to wear that sign around my neck.  I'm usually a pretty docile sort of creature, swayed more frequently by calm and beauty than the need to hunt or protect.  Protecting is always happening, but in a much more passive way, one that occurs more on the homefront in teaching my cub to do things safely herself.  But every once in a while, someone gets too close to waking that snarling mass of tooth and nail that rests within me, and I cannot always control what happens next.

Sunday started out ordinary enough, but there was something in the air...  Relaxing in the morning, getting some painting done on some of the little details for Sammi's party.  Samantha was a big help painting little wooden stars, and stuck with the project far longer than I'd ever expected her to.  Wanting to take advantage of the absolutely gorgeous day, we went over to one of the playgrounds nearby, nestled in a grassy ravine between two rows of townhouses.  I could see 3 children (possibly a year or so older?), two boys and a girl, playing together on the climbers.  One of the boys called out, "Hi, Sammi" as we approached.  I swear, this kid really does know everyone!  Sammi played on her own for a few minutes, then decided she wanted them to play with her.  Interrupting their game of zombies on a bus, or some other fantastical in-your-head kind of play, she tried to get them to come play restaurant with her, at the little built-in take-out window beneath the slides.  They didn't quite know what to do, I think, so they ignored her requests, which eventually became rather loud pleas.  The snarky mom in me told the children (although I think I wasn't loud enough and don't think they heard me) that it was okay to just tell her they didn't want to play restaurant, rather than ignoring her.  Not wanting to embarrass her (even though she doesn't really know about embarrassment), I asked her to come to me so I could quietly tell her that they wanted to play their game, not hers, but she could still go play on her own.  She refused, stubborn, insistent, getting louder with the kids, and eventually joining in their game, in her own rather backwards-y way.  They were tolerant.  Kept playing around her.  Beneath my sunglasses, sitting silently on a swing, I let it be known very clearly that I was watching.  Had a little stare-down with one of the boys, my unspoken message received perfectly.  Eventually, through a combination of me guiding her away and her realizing they weren't going to play with her, she went to do something else, with me

I asked her if she was sad that the other kids didn't play with her.  I think she probably wasn't, but I wanted her to understand what that meant, that it was okay to be sad.  I think I may have wanted her to be sad, because it's appropriate.  Maybe she just hides it well, refusing to acknowledge that something bothers her, internalizing it, as she does with other things.  Like a splinter in a finger, her hand pressed tightly against her back so no one can see what's wrong, saying, "it's's nothing..."   

A little while later we went out to shop for new sneakers for her rapidly-growing feet.  Okay, well, her feet don't actually grow very fast, but I suddenly realized that the Pumas she'd been wearing at least 3 days a week since last August no longer fit her, and a next size was needed.  We headed over to Ross to see what they had.  She picked up a book in the children's area and lay down on the floor, legs stretched out behind her, in front of a shoe mirror.  I crouched on the floor between her feet and the wall, eyeing the shoes displayed there on shelves.  Shortly, I heard a voice behind me.  "You'll have to get off the floor."


I turned and saw a woman in a Loss Prevention vest, addressing my child.    Now...there are times and situations when a person should address my child directly.  But this wasn't one of them, and I had a response for her.

Me:  "Really?!?  She's a *child!*  Why should she have to get off the floor?  She's just reading.

LP Lady:  "Because we have to keep the pathway clear, for safety."

My 20 years of retail management experience certainly tells me that yes, the path needs to be clear.  It's a liability issue.  But the mom in me, and the fact that we'd only been there for about a minute in that position, told me that this lady clearly had nothing better to do.

Me:  "Well, *you* try to get her to move then (knowing full well that Sammi, who was having a particularly whiny and inflexible day, would throw the *biggest* FIT if I tried to make her move from something she was enjoying).  And if someone needs to get by, they can ask *me* to move, since I'm taking up the rest of the space in the aisle.  You just let *me* handle it."

She backed off, and we went back about our business of purchasing shoes. 

Overreaction?  Sure.  But I think my point was valid and I was perturbed that she would address Samantha about it, when I, the child's mother, was clearly sitting right next to her.  This situation had absolutely nothing to do with disability, real or perceived.  It was solely about the inappropriateness of the situation in general.  I may have been a bit extra-touchy, but I may have made my point.

'nuff said.

My baby girl turns 7 tomorrow.  Tomorrow!!!!! 

I have more important things to think about than social injustice today.  :-)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Obligatory Pre-Party Prep Post

Since Sammi turned 5, I think, I determined that I wouldn't go the pre-fab party gear route for her birthday parties.  Inspired at the time by the likes of Kelle Hampton, Parents Magazine and the rise of Pinterest, I began to let loose my "crafty" inner-self (hahaha) and try to do it on my own, with not much more than a fierce determination and several months of prep to aid me.  It's never perfect, but I've been pretty pleased with the results thus far! 

This year I had a dilemma.  I had absolutely no idea in advance of what theme to do, had absolutely no time to actually do any of it, and Samantha was absolutely no help in the selection process.  She told me she wanted a Mike the Knight party.  She absolutely adores the main character's little sister, Evie, and her ability to cast spells, but I agonized over the implications of having a party based on a cartoon that was geared more towards preschoolers than big 1st graders.  What would her friends think?

I went back and forth, trying to convince her that she wanted a party with a cat theme, but she held fast.  I came to the conclusion that it's not what I want that matters, it's what Samantha wants.  Not like she'll pay much attention to the results, though - the party's at a playground, and there will be pizza and cake.  Need I say more?

The theme is loosely based on Mike the Knight, with red, yellow and blue as the main colors, and a few cut-outs of the characters hot-glued to table cloths, fashioned into cupcake toppers, and on the Happy Birthday banner, thanks to the printables available on  I decided to make wands out of wooden dowels and wooden stars in varying sizes from the craft store, painted with fast-drying acrylics and slow-drying glitter glue (oy vey). 

I'd had a fantasy of making Dragon Juice labels for the water bottles and juice boxes, but as they'll be soaking in ice-filled coolers and it'll likely top 90 degrees that day, labels would quickly become a soggy, runny mess.  Then I brilliantly came up with the idea of using foam bookmarks (see photo below) to make the labels, but the liklihood of successfully curving a glitter-covered item around a bottle or juice box without the glitter going everywhere would be slim-to-none, and I decided that they'd make better treat bucket labels instead. 

The next dilemma was who to invite.  So I invited the whole class, and a few of Sammi's non-school friends, and I'm very pleased with the numbers of RSVPs we've gotten so far!  There's really no limit to how many people can come (we have the pavilion reserved at the playground), so if you're local and I haven't invited you (I've been horribly scattered lately, and am sure I missed several people on the invite list) and you'd like to come, please drop me a line!  The more the merrier!

Wands in the making.

After searching high and low, there wasn't a paint brush in sight on Sunday when I wanted to paint these wands and stars.  I finally used a paper towel to wipe the paint on the wood, which worked nicely.  Off to buy one today, though...and maybe some spray shellac to finish them off.

Okay, so these two initial experimentations aren't perfect, but at least I have the idea now...  These were originally planned to be bottle/juice box coozies, but due to the volatile nature of glitter glue will likely be attached to goody bags instead.  There will be a variety of red, blue and yellow labels, decorated with stars and jeweled brads (seen above).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Porky Pies

The English have a whole catalogue of regional accents and dialects, identifiable right down to a village within a town or county.  It's pretty amazing, really.  And within the confines of London itself, there are several distinct and separate dialects as well, most notably Cockney.  Cockney has its own language of sorts, using something called "rhyming slang" to denote a word or idea through the use of completely incongruous words used together that rhyme with the intended word that they've substituted for.  For example, "going down the frog and toad" is "going down the road."  And "telling porkies" is short for "telling porky pies" which are lies.  Fascinating stuff, really.

Samantha's been telling her own porkies lately.  Like the real, obvious, blatent kind, the kind that tells you that only a child who still knows absolutely nothing of the basic, deductive reasoning used to figure stuff like that out, could have told.  But in its own way, it's quite exciting. 

My kid's making stuff up!  Woohoo!!

But it has certainly forced us to do our own investigations on the side to see what's really true, or what really happened.  For example, Samantha came home the other day with her boots untied and on the wrong feet.  We asked her what happened, and she said, "P. took them off."  After a few more leading pointed questions, I deduced that P. had taken them off of her to try them on herself. 

Uh, which was totally not what happened. 

According to the teacher, Samantha had taken them off herself.  Period.  No other complicit parties. 

Another day, Samantha came home without her lunch bag.  When questioned, she stated that "M. took it from me."  Okay, so this idea really isn't that far-fetched.  Knowing M., that could very well have happened.  I asked her why M. took it from her, and her answer was that he wasn't behaving, that he was being annoying.  Her lunch bag was still in the classroom the next morning, and we were unable to confirm or deny her story, as no one else knew whether what she said was fact or fiction.

Another example - Samantha has, on numerous occasions, been told no by one parent, only to go to the other parent, talk about something completely different, then go back to parent #1 and say that Mommy/Daddy said yes.  This forces one parent to question the other, only to find out that they'd both been had by the pint-sized-one. 

And we laugh now, knowing that it's a necessary stage in childhood development, hoping that it doesn't stick around beyond its welcome. 

In the meantime, we grin and bear it and ask a lot of questions, never sure what to Adam and Eve.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I Did It!


And you know the crazy thing?  I wasn't even the least bit nervous. 
Twentyhmphahemcoughcoughblah-something years ago I would have been on bathroom visit #12, wiping the sweat from my palms lest I leave a squidgy pool on the piano keys for the next performer, barely able to breathe, the anxiety rising from my gut agonizingly slowly, threatening to exit through my mouth in a blood-curdling shriek. 
And this time? 
Actually, that, in itself, was almost enough to make me nervous.  Why the hell wasn't I feeling afraid?  I knew there would be mistakes, that was a given.  I knew I'd be playing before and after some incredible pianists, most of whom never actually stopped playing, as I and my partner had for such an extended period of time.  And not only that, but I had friends and family there to watch!!  3 friends, two of whom I've stayed close to since high school, my father, my step-mother, my husband and my daughter were in attendance.
And no nerves.
My step-mother had some really good insight into that, though.  She said, "You're a mom.  Some things just aren't worth worrying about, and you've learned to prioritize them."  Now why didn't I think of that?  I think she hit the nail on the head.  So much has gone on over the last twentyhmphahemcoughcoughblah-something years that I've learned to be comfortable in my own skin, to not care so much about what other people think of me, and to realize that fun things can and should be fun, and my child is my biggest priority, deserving of all of my real worry or concern.  Ha, that sounded weird, but I think you get me.
And it was fun.  Yes, there were mistakes.  Did they matter?  Not a bit.  It was exhiliarating, and Samantha woke from her nap in Daddy's arms just in time to watch me, clapping and cheering, her big, beautiful smile the most perfect thing to greet me as I returned to my seat.
Afterwards we went to dinner with my parents, then stayed the night at a Center City hotel with an 18th floor view of the neon signage beconing people from near and far to the South Philly corner cheesesteak rivals, Geno's and Pat's (personally, I've always prefered Jim's at 4th and South, even after barfing one up with a stomach bug, next door at the TLA, watching the movie Toxic Avenger when I was in high school...ah, the memories...).  I'd forgotten how much I loved Philly and how much kinship I feel with its narrow streets, funky architecture and hometown pride. 
Note to self:  Must do this again. 

My partner and I, practicing at my teacher's studio in New Jersey.  Sammi, playing with the puppy.  :-)  (Don't worry, I changed my shoes from Converse to something dressier, more befitting of the occasion...)

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Kid's Got 'tude

For those of you who may not be familiar with the significance of Doc Martens (DMs), pretty much any punk rocker worth his/her salt owns a pair of their boots.  There's far more actual historical relevance, but that's about where my interest began and ended.  Personally, I never owned a pair, although I drooled over them plenty.  I was kind of between sizes, and smaller was just a smidgen too small, and bigger made my already-monstrously-huge feet look like the steamships I assumed them to be.  So I found other cool footwear alternatives.

When I was in college, I always said that I'd make sure my future child would wear DMs.  After college I found myself working in the DC poseur's paradise of pre-fab punk rock gear, Commander Salamander (RIP).  A young, newly-married rocker couple came in one day, eyeing up the selection of DMs, in particular this itty, bitty, teeny, tiny pair for babies.  There was no bun in the oven yet at that point, but they were ready to make the investment for any future progeny, and purchased them before leaving the shop.  I have thought about them many times over the years, wondering if the marriage survived, and if the stomp stomp pitter patter of little feet ever put those boots to use. 

Thinking back to Samantha's baby days, I believe she was so rarely even in shoes in her first two years (one of the "joys" of having a child that didn't walk until 21 months), that if we had been the couple to purchase the baby Docs, they would have been wasted almost immediately.

Yesterday I got myself the ultimate Mother's Day present at the Doc Martens store in Center City Philadelphia - a pair of hot pink DMs...for Samantha

Yes, I continue to live vicariously through my child.

And I am determined that she will continue to be the little fashion maven that she is, and build some attitude that will be sure to carry her far in the world of self-identity and peer acceptance.  Certainly the development of identity and acceptance will long survive the size of the boots on her growing feet, but we'll enjoy them for now and hope they'll carry her through next Spring.     

Samantha's excitement over the new footwear is heartening.  She's been going up to everyone, lifting one of her feet to eye-level, and demanding that they look at her new boots.  This morning, her usual resistence to breaking away from the TV/piano/books that threaten to make us late for school every day, was broken by the lure and promise of being able to wear them to school.  And they must be comfortable - she ran most of the way there!

Perhaps Mommy needs a pair of her own soon...

Friday, May 10, 2013

On Being a Mother

The day I became a mother was the most exciting, exhilarating, important day of my life. 

Well, next to the day that I took a pregnancy test and confirmed what I'd been hoping and dreaming of for nearly a decade. 

But really, that's the day I truly became a mother anyway, isn't it?  That moment of understanding that my life was no longer about me.  That something so much BIGGER, so much more HUGE, so much more WONDROUS than anything I could possibly have ever imagined in my wildest dreams was growing within me, removing all of the narcissistic, selfish and completely unimportant aspects of my being, and replacing them with the overwhelming desire to care about another in a way that was so, so foreign to me. 

That extra heartbeat, those dividing cells, that new bloodline, that whole new little life that we'd created, that I'd been given the awesome responsibility of carrying, nurturing, nourishing, from that moment forward, for the rest of my life. 

Motherhood is a gift, not to be taken lightly, not to be taken for granted.  Motherhood is something to be cherished and to stand tall and firm through thick and through thin until the end of days. 

I wish everyone could understand that. 

Motherhood is not just the base act of conceiving and giving birth.  Motherhood is not a right by gender.  One doesn't need to have conceived or given birth to be a mother.

Motherhood is just so much more.

Nothing else matters more than the welfare and well-being of my child, my heart.  My purpose in life is to love, care for and provide for this beautiful creature entrusted to me. 

To ME.

How did I get so lucky?

And with that, I wish all of the mothers in the world a very Happy Mother's Day.  May you all feel as lucky as I do each and every day. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What do *You* See?

What do you see in the photo below?

Most likely, you see 4 children, at dusk, running joyously, carefree, across an open field. 

Perhaps, if you're the parents of a child with special needs like I am, already experienced in the ups and downs of the educational system and of life in the community in general, you see the magic word, **INCLUSION**, like a beacon of light, a starburst, replete with chirping birds and rainbows and hearts and flowers get the picture... 

But I actually see something different.

I see anxiety, worry, fear of rejection, over-protectiveness.

I see myself and my husband standing closely by, watching like hawks, making sure she doesn't get too close to the road or the big, camouflaged dip in the terrain where she might twist her ankle, or, heaven forbid, fall down...

I see myself listening to their conversations, making sure nobody says a word against my baby, prepared to translate if quizical looks arise from the object of Samantha's dialogue, jumping in to explain the rules of freeze tag to her so the other kids don't think she's strange for not playing properly.

I see myself wishing these were her classmates, the children that play with her every day and know her, know her quirks and foibles, accept her for who she is, rather than complete strangers, the children of my co-workers, who may not be quite sure how to take her...

I see myself regretting the fact that we can't just let her play, can't go and stand with the other parents as they chat, relaxed, prepared to allow their children to enjoy the evening as long as they like, their shrieks and laughter echoing off the trees as the sky gradually changes, the world, their world, descending gently into the dark.

At what point do we allow ourselves to let go just a little?  I hear the neighbor kids playing outside in the summer, their parents inside the house doing whatever it is that parents do, calling out to them from time to time to remind them to come in for dinner, or bedtime, and I wonder, when

When can we let a child, our child, just be a kid

The world isn't safe.  Her world even less so. 


In a few short weeks, she'll be 7.  When I was 7, I was a latch-key child, walking two blocks home from the bus stop, across a busy intersection, to let myself in using the key we kept hidden beneath the heavy metal cellar door, and wait until my mother returned from work a few hours later.  Sure, I know it was a different time in the 70s.  But those are happy memories of independence. 

What happy childhood memories will Samantha have?  Will they involve playing with friends?  Will they include those dusky, hot summer evenings of friends and neighbors? 

Have I exposed her to enough?  Have I made enough effort to allow her to play with her peers?  I don't think I have.  The wall of protection is high and strong around us, but it needs to be chipped back a bit.  Playdates need to be scheduled, the neighborhood explored together, opportunities created.  Then, and only then, can I begin to learn to let go. 

Just a little... 





Thursday, May 2, 2013

Who Ever Heard...

...of a kid who lost 3 of their top front teeth within 3 weeks of each other, and you could never tell?

Yep, it happened to us.  It started out a couple of months ago when, upon flossing Sammi's teeth one night, I discovered that the two top front teeth were wiggly.  I was so excited!  Finally, my girl was going to get that adorable gap-toothed grin that marks an important rite of passage in every 6 or 7 year old!  Not like you can really ever see her top teeth when she smiles anyway (her underbite prevents that).  But still...

So the first one fell out.  And, as if by magic, its replacement was right behind it, about 1/4 way in already.  We also saw that the replacement for the tooth next to it was also nearly in, about 1/2 way, and pushed way behind her other teeth, jockying for its rightful space in her mouth.  A couple of days later, the report came from school that Sammi had lost another tooth.  However, upon her return home, we discovered that it was not the tooth we knew to be wiggly, but another tooth on the top that I had no idea was ready to come out!  (Note to self:  Check Sammi's teeth for wiggly ones more regularly!)  Two more weeks went by, the other front wiggly tooth oh-so-close-but-oh-so-far from falling out, the tooth behind it getting bigger and bigger...  I had it on my calendar to call the dentist today to have them take a look and take appropriate action.  Read:  pull it out.  And, 10 minutes after I dropped my kid off at school yesterday, an email from her teacher read, "Sammi finally lost her tooth!"  Hooray!  No dentist!!

But no gap. 

Eh, it's okay.

Oh, and the Tooth Fairy?  She's going broke.  Nearly claimed bankruptcy lastnight, too.  Sammi and I put her tooth in the little purple velvet pouch specifically for that purpose, placed it under her pillow, and off to dreamland she went.  And, after watching TV for a while, off to dreamland I went.  If it weren't for an unusual 4:30am waking by her, asking about the Tooth Fairy coming, and if it weren't for my sudden realization that I'd forgotton to make my contribution to the cause, and if it weren't for my quick thinking to smoothly reach under her pillow and palm the bag, running downstairs for my wallet, replacing the goods with the dough and smoothly returning it under her pillow with a kiss on her forehead and a "goodnight, baby...", she would have woken up very, very disappointed an hour and a half later. 

But... I got lucky.  And she awoke at 6am, thrilled to find a crumpled $5 bill in the pouch.  Yes, yes, yes, you read it correctly.  I give my kid five bucks.  And the only reason is that she still has no concept of the value of money.  I look at it as a bit of a savings plan.  And what about the moment when she does realize the value of money?  Well, perhaps there may not be quite as many teeth left for the tooth fairy to pay ransom for. 

And, in the meantime, the parents of all the other kids at school hate me and my own personal version of the Tooth Fairy.  ;-)