Thursday, March 31, 2011

Joke of the Day

Aunt Rosmarie, my sister-in-law, made an outrageous chocolate mousse today for when the boys came home from school. She made it with Toblerone, the dark kind, and heavy cream. Oliver, who went back to school yesterday, is spotty -- covered, really, in those scabs that remain itchy and keep him fairly irritable. It's also about ninety degrees today, unseasonably hot, making itchy arms and legs and head even more awful.

He ate the mousse with great enthusiasm, though, and after licking the bowl clean, I asked him whether the mousse had hit the spot for him.

Yeah, Mom, he said, and lifted up his shirt, it hit all my spots and I had a lot today to hit.

Remind me of his sense of humor next time I threaten to kill him.

What Teachers Make - Spread it Around (particularly in New Jersey and Wisconsin)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Heavenly Cakes Needs a Domain

I need your help.

I am working on a website to complement my new, old cake-baking and decorating business. Heavenly Cakes is the name of my little company, but it's already taken as a domain name, so I have to come up with something different. The name must be easily remembered -- and simple to type. I'd prefer it to have my name and be clean and simple.

Do you like


My friend Moye, who shares my dark sense of humor, has responded to my request to come up with something quick, off the top of your head came up with these:


She also suggested my two favorites:



Seriously, do you have any suggestions or do you like either of the first two? If I choose your name as The One, I'll either make you a cake or think up something that I can send you.

Moon of the Week - Michelle K. Wolf

Each Wednesday I am going to feature a brief interview and/or highlight of a very interesting person in my life. I'm calling the post Moon of the Week, and today I'd like to introduce you to my friend Michelle Krotinger Wolf. I moved to Los Angeles thirteen years ago, pregnant with Henry, and Sophie nearly three years old. I took Sophie to the park several times a week and pushed her in an infant swing, generally alone, for hours. One day, I saw a dark-haired woman pushing a red-headed boy in a swing and knew immediately that there was something special about the little boy. I'm not shy, if you didn't know, and I introduced myself to the woman and so our friendship was born. Danny and Sophie have been a part of each other's lives in some way or another for nearly thirteen years and currently attend the same school. Michelle is an incredible advocate for children with special needs, a real mentor when it comes to government and community advocacy and someone with whom I can share my biggest worries and feel more positive and calm and directed after doing so. 

Here's her brief bio, and if that isn't impressive, I don't know what is!

Michelle K. Wolf is a non-profit professional and parent of a teen with CP and global developmental delays. She is the Director of Foundation and Government Relations for the Los Angeles office of the American Diabetes Association. She was formerly the Director of Serving the Vulnerable for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and in 2005, she co-founded HaMercaz, an innovative multi-agency collaborative one-stop model that helps Jewish families raising children with special needs with a focus on developmental disabilities. Michelle also served as Director of Public Policy/Grantwriter for the Alzheimer's Association of Los Angeles, Director of the Middle East Commission for the Los Angeles JCRC and was Press Secretary to Los Angeles City Councilmember Zev Yaroslavsky.

She is a graduate of the double master's program in Jewish Communal Service (Hebrew Union College) and Public Administration (USC) and has taught professional development classes through the Center for Non-Profit Management. She has a consulting business for non-profits who are looking for ways to innovate and collaborate.

Here's what I'm really excited about -- Michelle has just begun writing a blog about raising a child with special needs in the Jewish community on The Jewish Journal. You can read her latest post here, a wonderful story of taking her son Danny to Israel this year. I've admittedly been a bit jealous of Michelle's community and the inclusion efforts of her temple -- when my boys were going to Catholic school and we attended church regularly, the glaring differences between her spiritual community and mine were depressing. True, I might have started some sort of inclusion efforts myself or at the very least tried to lessen the isolation, but my efforts were feeble at best and I wasn't ever able to make any traction with the Powers That Be. (I wasn't cut out to attend Catholic mass, not to mention practicing Catholicism for much longer anyway.) And that's a whole other post! When I attended Michelle's son Danny's bar mitzvah a couple of years ago, I was blown away by the accommodations and efforts made by the temple to include these young adults with disabilities. It made a tremendous impact on me.

I hope you'll applaud Michelle's efforts by reading her new blog! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A twelve year old's take on a Blues Brother for Celebrity Day at school

What a nine year old does when he's recovering from chicken pox and bored out of his mind

This poor stuffed rabbit evidently got into the cabbage growing in the raised bed in the garden.

Notice the "security camera" rigged in the upper corner and several tormenting bugs carefully strung from the top,

Brilliant in a way -- disconcerting in others --

Monday, March 28, 2011

Heavenly Cakes

Victorian cake poster

is officially open for business.

My friend Moye, one of the most beautiful women in the world, voted the "most likely to succeed" AND "most artistic" in our high school class, the mother of my godchild, the godmother of Sophie and a spectacular potter (see her work HERE) designed a business logo for me many years ago. I still love it.

As synchronicity goes, the company Tiny Prints recently offered free printed cards to me in exchange for a written review. I received my cards in the mail this weekend and am very pleased. Tiny Prints came through in every way -- the card looks as if it were letter-pressed and the colors are perfect. I have used Tiny Prints in the past for Christmas and even Valentine's Day. Now I'll be ordering reprints of my business card:

front and back of my new business card

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blog Gems #12 and Balance

The King and Eye has started another Blog Gems linky, where participants post something from their blog archives. Today's theme is Favorite Posts, those posts that we might love or that got a lot of unexpected attention. I immediately thought of Balance, a post that I wrote back in May of 2009 when barely anyone read my blog and before I met so many of the incredible bloggers that form my community now. The weird attention it got back then came from a journal in Spain, of all places, where they reprinted it in Spanish. I think it captures what a typical day in our household might look like -- in my usual dark-humored way.

Please visit the post and leave a comment there or here or anywhere or nowhere.

Here's to a balanced Sunday to all of you!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cicer, the Latin word for chickpeas

or chicken pox.

Yes. Oliver has it. His behavior all week has been the sort that drives the best of us completely batshit crazy. Yesterday, he got into the car with a litany of complaints that included bumps on his head, a sore throat and now a bump on his back. I rolled my eyes (inwardly) and told him to climb up front so that I could take a look while we waited in the carpool line for Henry. When I lifted up his shirt, I literally gasped and then he burst out crying, sore afraid, as they say in the good book. When I told him that it looked like chicken pox, he cried harder until I told him to calm down and we'd call the doctor.

I called the doctor and then raced through rush-hour traffic on a Friday in Los Angeles so that I could get there before it closed where we stood on the grass outside the office in the shiny sun while a couple of sweet nurses came outside and took a look so as not to spread the pox in the office.

Then came the throat swab to rule out strep. Or perhaps I should say that then came the electro-shock therapy to the genitals such was the drama that ensued. My boys literally go to the pediatrician for well-child check-ups every other year and thus are completely and utterly oblivious to the goings-on at the doctor's. They are not vaccinated because of a family history of neurological complications and are treated by a homeopath and an osteopath (in addition to said pediatrician) when they need what I call "tune-ups." I should probably add in here in case you're a new reader that I am not averse to vaccinations but after careful and sometimes agonized consideration, we decided that we couldn't risk the seizure factor and received full support from our pediatrician. But I digress --

Oliver freaked out when the nurse inserted the swab. If I told you that he screamed and cried and shouted I am going to die and punched the nurse and kicked her shins, I would only be telling you the half of it. Now I'm going to tuck it into the tiny recesses of my long-term memory.

The strep test was negative, but Oliver does have a raging case of chicken pox. My immediate thought (beyond sympathy for the Big O and not a little guilt at being so aggravated by his recent grumpiness) was, of course, what about Sophie? Chicken pox is a disease of the central nervous system and the potential for complications and/or extreme discomfort for Sophie weighs heavy on my mind. The pediatrician said that we would start her on a cycle of acyclovir if we noticed anything at all. Please God, let her already have been exposed in her life and have developed antibodies.

If you pray, pray for that. If you don't pray, send that thought to the universe. If you don't believe in anything, cross your fingers and will it.

My next thought was how short-tempered I'd been all week with Oliver, whom I'd believed to be batshit crazy and not actually suffering from a cruel and uncomfortable central nervous system virus. I told Oliver that I was so sorry -- so, so sorry. Who knew?

My next stop was our beloved naturopathic physician who just happened to be in the office and who wrote down a list of supplements and immune-enhancements for each child to begin taking immediately. That's the photo you see above. Dr. C also prescribed a remedy for Oliver and calmed me down with his gentle voice and confidence.

Parenting isn't for the faint of heart -- but you already knew that. When the going gets tough, I pour a shot of frozen lemon vodka and call it a day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hole in One

Thank you, Sally!

Making a Cake

Yesterday, I baked a cake. I baked this cake for another person and not my family because I've decided that I need to start my business back up, again. I need to start baking again and making and decorating cakes and cupcakes and pastries. I need to do this because it's a skill that I have, that I once had and because I can't get a real job outside the home because my life, my life as a mother to a girl with seizures is veeeeeerrrrryyyyy unstable and I never know when I'm going to need to be at home and wait for a seizure to stop or wait for the girl to wake up and if I bake a cake I can do it from home and the girl can sit in her chair if she's having a bad day and I can keep baking. And then there's the money.


Yesterday, I baked a cake. I made a chocolate cake with buttermilk and the richest, best cocoa and I'm going to fill it with really good Belgian chocolate ganache and then I'm going to frost it with buttercream made with yolks and sugar, the real kind of buttercream where you heat up the sugar to a syrup and then pour it over the beaten yolks and then slowly add the bits of cold butter until it becomes a glossy, smooth and light as air without a speck of grease concoction. And then I'm going to add the tiniest bit of the strongest coffee extract and it will be tinted the barest browny beige.

I'll post a photo later.

I'm taking orders.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The largest eye

Ostriches evidently have the largest eyes of any land animal, and it's a myth, apparently, that they stick their heads in the sand to avoid things.

When I received the email in my inbox yesterday from Medscape, I didn't read anything I didn't already know. I sadly know several children who have died from SUDEP. Either The Husband or I have been sleeping with Sophie all of her life because of that risk.

What struck me about the article was the definitive study that was done, proving that children with uncontrolled seizures are at dramatically greater risk of early death than those whose seizures are controlled. SUDEP has other risk factors as well, and the important point to be made is that the medical community has not been as forthright as they might have been about SUDEP for a very long time. The reasons for this are many, as I said in the other post. In fact, it was in England that a group of parents who had lost children to SUDEP formed a group to explore why they had no idea that death was a risk in their children with epilepsy. It has only been a decade or so since this issue has received the attention it so deserves. A fascinating history of the disorder and the appalling lack of research surrounding it, including the story of Queen Elizabeth's uncle, Prince John, who died of the disorder, can be read HERE.

What does it mean for people like me? Other than the shock value, the ominous foreboding, the fear and anxiety that the article provokes in me personally, it actually forces me to pull my head out of the proverbial sand, talk about this issue, educate others about this issue and work harder to increase understanding and awareness around any issues having to do with epilepsy. We need to know more about this disorder. We need more money to study this disorder -- for prevention -- for management -- we need to end seizures.

So, scratch the ostrich in the sand concept. Who am I kidding? I'm the person who ran to Barnes and Noble and looked up "seizures" when the New Neurologist diagnosed Sophie and told me don't read anything about infantile spasms because it's all depressing.  I read EVERYTHING, always have and always will.

I'm going to use my HUGE eyes, read these articles and hold my head up. I know I can't control whether this fate might befall my child, but I can sure as hell learn about it and work to end it.

(but I will put my head in the sand rather than read about the increasing violence in Libya, including our country's actions, the continued grotesquery of Newt Gingrich and the hypocrisy of the Repubs in general)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What would you do?

Every few days or so, I get an email in my inbox from a search engine called Medscape. I subscribe to the search engine and have indicated that I am interested in any articles pertaining to childhood epilepsy and neurology. Generally, the articles forwarded are scientific in nature --quite dense -- and I read no further than the abstract. Lately, there's been quite a lot of buzz about SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy patients) -- nothing like an acronym, right? Traditionally, this has not been a subject that neurologists are willing to discuss with their patients, and the reasons are diverse. However, with the advent of "patient-centered care" and more involved parents, there is a demand for information, complete information, and I've noticed that SUDEP is getting a lot more publicity.

So, today, in my mailbox I get this on the subject line:

High Rate of Death in Childhood-Onset Epilepsy

Do I go there? Do I become more informed? Or do I stick my hand in the sand and la di dah out? Those who know me can probably figure out what I do, but I'm wondering whether I should.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Aunt Rosemarie from Switzerland is here!

At least twenty pounds of assorted Swiss chocolate was unloaded from a suitcase to a chorus of shouts of ecstasy and groans.

I almost forgot!

For the first time in three months, I remembered to post at Hopeful Parents. 

Please go on over and visit there -- leave a comment, browse around. There's some really great writing and good resources for those of you who have children with special healthcare needs.

And since the post is about my video project, tell anyone you know who might be interested to read it as well.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grand Prize Winner - Epilepsy Therapy Project Poetry Contest

The Epilepsy Therapy Project is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation dedicated to a singular focus: overcoming the funding gaps and roadblocks that slow the progress of new therapies from the lab to the patient. Epilepsy Therapy Project seeks to improve incentives and encourage commercial investment in new therapies. Acting as both a catalyst and clearing house for innovative research and the early commercialization of new therapies, the Epilepsy Therapy Project brings together financial resources, scientific insights and business expertise from leading academic and commercial industry participants.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Remember my project?

A while back, I posted this video:

Wonderful, right?

I really want to make a video like it but use still photos of all of you, mothers and fathers of children with special needs, disabilities, etc., holding up signs that say what you wish you had known when your child was diagnosed or when you learned that he or she was disabled (or differently abled). (There's a teeny tiny part of me that wants to make it twisted and black humored, but on second thought, that might be a different video altogether -- one that we could market to insurance companies and government bureaucrats, perhaps?)

Make a sign, take a photo -- it doesn't have to be professional! -- and email it to me at elsophie AT gmail DOT com. Several of you have already done so, and I still have those posters.

Let's do it. I think it would be an amazing collective portrait.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Eighteen-armed black Kalis

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico (my favorite painting)

Religious Consolation

One size fits all. The shape or coloration
of the god or high heaven matters less
than that there is one, somehow, somewhere, hearing
the hasty prayer and chalking up the mite
the widow brings to the temple,  A child
alone with horrid verities cries out
for there to be a limit, a warm wall
whose stones give back an answer, however faint.

Strange, the extravagance of it—who needs
those eighteen-armed black Kalis, those musty saints
whose bones and bleeding wounds appall good taste,
those joss sticks, houris, gilded Buddhas, books
Moroni etched in tedious detail?
We do; we need more worlds. This one will fail.

John Updike

On disability and Japan

Suzanne Kamata, the editor of Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs,  lives in Japan and has written a powerful essay about the current tragedy. You can read it HERE.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pennies for Japan

Henry and Oliver making wishes and throwing pennies into the fountain for Japan

My profound thanks to each of you who commented on my post the other day. Thank you, particularly, for de-lurking -- your words mean so much to me and I have enjoyed visiting some new and beautiful blogs! If you missed it, please feel free to leave a comment and I will add to my donation which will be made to the Red Cross early next week. I will send my donation keeping in mind that I am connected to everyone, that we are all connected and can participate in alleviating suffering anywhere in the world.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart (which is quite deep!)

Another Great Night in Los Angeles

I've written before about the writer's word series that I indulge in every year. I buy one ticket -- it's my season ticket -- and I sit on the third row, right in the center and look right up into the eyes of some of my favorite writers and poets.

Tonight, after a frustrating day that I'll write about some other time, I was transformed by Maya Angelou. This ticket was originally for February, but the date was changed when Ms. Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama. When the curtain went up on the stage, she was revealed, dressed in a long black jersey dress and strands of gold chains. She stood for a moment as the sold-out crowd at Royce Hall at UCLA clapped and cheered wildly, and then as we quietened, she sat down and began to sing -- sing the words from one of her poems in a deep, rich, almost manly voice. She sang what I can only describe as the refrain of  Our Grandmothers: I shall not be moved. 

It was outrageous.

She lay, skin down in the moist dirt,
the canebrake rustling
with the whispers of leaves, and
loud longing of hounds and
the ransack of hunters crackling the near

She muttered, lifting her head a nod toward
I shall not, I shall not be moved.

She sat in a wing chair on the stage the entire time, next to a little table that held a vase of pink snapdragons and white calla lilies, a beautiful wooden box with a shiny, gold clasp, and a hard-backed copy of one of her collections of poetry. She told many stories in her deep rich voice and recited many poems, some her own and some of those she loves best (Paul Dunbar, Nikki Giovanni, Mary Evans, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Shakespeare).  She spoke about her own history, weaving her birth, her parents abandonment of her and her brother, her ten years living with her beloved grandmother, her rape as a young child and all that followed. Always, she came back and sang the refrain: I shall not, I shall not be moved.

It made me shiver.

She gathered her babies,
their tears slick as oil on black faces,
their young eyes canvassing mornings of madness.
Momma, is Master going to sell you
from us tomorrow?

Unless you keep walking more
and talking less.
Unless the keeper of our lives
releases me from all commandments.
And your lives,
never mine to live,
will be executed upon the killing floor of
Unless you match my heart and words,
saying with me,

I shall not be moved.

She spoke of how she had been "paid for," how we have all been "paid for," by our ancestors, by those who came before us, by those who have helped us. She advised us to acknowledge that payment and to know that since we'd been paid for, we must be worth it. She advised us, too, to pay for others.

It was extraordinary.

In Virginia tobacco fields,
leaning into the curve
of Steinway
pianos, along Arkansas roads,
in the red hills of Georgia,
into the palms of her chained hands, she
cried against calamity,
You have tried to destroy me
and though I perish daily,

I shall not be moved.

She connected all peoples, of all races and cultures. She claimed to be black and white and gay and straight and male and female and beautiful and plain and fat and thin, and she laughed while she told us these things and we all laughed back and then stopped to hear her sing I shall not be moved.

Her universe, often
summarized into one black body
falling finally from the tree to her feet,
made her cry each time into a new voice.
All my past hastens to defeat,
and strangers claim the glory of my love,
Iniquity has bound me to his bed.
yet, I must not be moved.

She spoke of the necessity of poetry, in particular -- to go to, for laughter and for tears, for sustenance. She told many stories about poetry pulling people from despair.  She pulled her presidential medal of freedom out of the pretty little box and showed it to us, not bragging but exclaiming. I shall not be moved.

She heard the names,
swirling ribbons in the wind of history:
nigger, nigger bitch, heifer,
mammy, property, creature, ape, baboon,
whore, hot tail, thing, it.
She said, But my description cannot
fit your tongue, for
I have a certain way of being in this world,
and I shall not, I shall not be moved.

She cracked a number of hilarious jokes that I can't recall right now. I do remember, though, that while reciting a list of immigrants and their respective countries, those who had come to the shores of America over the years from all over the world, she said something about the Buddhas and the Pests. That was funny. She linked us all.

No angel stretched protecting wings
above the heads of her children,
fluttering and urging the winds of reason
into the confusions of their lives.
They sprouted like young weeds,
but she could not shield their growth
from the grinding blades of ignorance, nor
shape them into symbolic topiaries.
She sent them away,
underground, overland, in coaches and
When you learn, teach.
When you get, give.
As for me,
I shall not be moved.

I laughed a lot and cried a little. I was moved, powerfully. I never felt like a "white woman" listening to a "black poet." I felt connected to those around me by our collective held breath.

She stood in midocean, seeking dry land.
She searched God's face.
she placed her fire of service
on the altar, and though
clothed in the finery of faith,
when she appeared at the temple door,
no sign welcomed
Black Grandmother, Enter here.
Into the crashing sound,
into wickedness, she cried,
No one, no, nor no one million
ones dare deny me God, I go forth
along, and stand as ten thousand.
The Divine upon my right
impels me to pull forever
at the latch on Freedom's gate.
The Holy Spirit upon my left leads my
feet without ceasing into the camp of the
righteous and into the tents of the free.
These momma faces, lemon-yellow, plum-
honey-brown, have grimaced and twisted
down a pyramid for years.
She is Sheba the Sojourner,
Harriet and Zora,
Mary Bethune and Angela,
Annie to Zenobia.
She stands
before the abortion clinic,
confounded by the lack of choices.
In the Welfare line,
reduced to the pity of handouts.
Ordained in the pulpit, shielded
by the mysteries.
In the operating room,
husbanding life.
In the choir loft,
holding God in her throat.
On lonely street corners,
hawking her body.
In the classroom, loving the
children to understanding.
Centered on the world's stage,
she sings to her loves and beloveds,
to her foes and detractors:
However I am perceived and deceived,
however my ignorance and conceits,
lay aside your fears that I will be undone,
for I shall not be moved.

When it was over she stood up and we stood up and we all sang together

for I shall not be moved. For I shall not be moved.

Like a tree.

For I shall not be moved.

**The poem quoted is Our Grandmothers. When I stood up after this brilliant performance, I was alone (the trouble with single tickets) and felt a bit lonely that I had no one to share that moment with. Thank you, because now I think I have shared it -- with you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Lurking and Witnessing, 3

Henry, 2011
In keeping with a terrific idea over at mother words, mothers who write, I am going to ask all the readers who come here daily (thank you!) to perhaps leave a comment this time. For every comment left from someone who hasn't before or who does so rarely, I will donate $1.00 to the Red Cross relief efforts in Japan. I know that there is little I can do here to help those in Japan, but I am filled with gratitude by the community I have here and hope to meld the two. And, yes, if the hundreds of you who visit decide not to leave a comment, I'll definitely go to my statcounter and send a donation anyway --

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some more thoughts on witness

bodies preserved by ash from Pompeii after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius

I said before, like many other people, that it seems impossible to write or think about anything else when so much tragedy is unfolding in Japan. I've scrolled through the photos, looked at the videos, heard the audio footage, teared up at the woman, sitting in the wreckage of her town, and felt my smallness and the preciousness of my children, our lives, all life. What can I do? What can we do? What is happening to this crazy world of ours? When does it end?

I found a list of sixty-six of the world's worst natural disasters and will copy a few here --

Syria - Aleppo - 1138
Earthquake kills 230,000 people

Japan, 1118
Famine wipes out 118,000 people

Egypt and Syria, 1201
Earthquake wipes out 1.1 million people

Netherlands, 1228
floods after a dyke breaks kills more than 100,000

China, 1290
100,000 people dead

Europe and beyond 1347-1350
Bubonic plague kills 25 million

China, 1556
Earthquake kills 830,000

China 1876-1979
Drought and starvation kills 9 million people

I have to think that part of the paralysis many of us feel when seeing and reading about the situation in Japan is because we are, as a people, privy to these disasters in ways that we never were before. I'm not sure the human brain can fully take it all in and then react in any constructive way, outside of literally being there. The ability we have now, through technology, to be there, is deceptive, I think -- we aren't there, really. The beauty, though, of the technology, is that it draws us a bit closer to our fellow humans and enables us, in some small way to be there as best we can.

I saw this quote today of the Dalai Lama, a man I'm certain has witnessed his fair share of cruel natural and human tragedy:

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

Donate HERE.

Monday, March 14, 2011


near Lake Arrowhead, this weekend, CA

I find myself paralyzed to write anything on this blog in the wake of the unfolding tragedy in Japan. I went on a camping trip with my boys this weekend in the mountains around Lake Arrowhead and took some beautiful photos, but I just don't have the heart to post anything.

I feel so ineffectual -- as most people do, I'm sure -- in the face of the devastation in Japan. Sending money, praying for relief for the people -- it all seems so lame. We live in a present that shows us with all too much clarity and vividness the past -- the images of the quake's and the tsunami's aftermath are impossible not to scroll through -- and I wonder if it's voyeurism but hope that the witnessing of the suffering can in some way help to assuage it. I have to think that being a witness to suffering and to irreparable loss is in some way a necessity while also leaving one in an almost unsolvable quandary -- that we are all connected but often helpless to those connections. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011


That man's life is but a dream -
is what we now come to know

Its house abandoned,
the garden has become home
to butterflies

Monk Sogi (1421-1502)

People can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Get Out of School Early and Have Special Lunch for Good Report Cards Day

The Mayor

Oliver insisted on coming with me to Sophie's birthday party at her school on Tuesday, and because he had an early day anyway, I told him that I'd pick him up and bring him along. I should preface this entire post by admitting that The Big O has been driving me crazy of late -- truly crazy. The kind of crazy that thinks HE'S crazy, the kind of crazy that makes me think myself heroic just because I don't slap him across the face for being so obnoxious. In fact, I've told him that were he to have been himself in another decade he might have had his mouth washed out with soap (I have memories of one of my cousins at the bathroom sink, his father standing directly behind him, his mouth a frothy mess, punished for cursing or talking back). Anyway, I digress -- I liked the idea of Oliver meeting some of Sophie's classmates, and I thought he could help me carry in the food and cupcakes.

This post isn't really about Sophie and her class -- the party was a joyous one in that all the kids sang Happy Birthday to Sophie and then got up to dance to rap music at the front of the room. Sophie's teacher, the impossibly cute and hip Mr. J danced with Sophie, too, as did her wonderful aide Ms. P. The class has about sixteen or so teenagers and young adults with various disabilities, some more obvious than others. There are a few young men, about three times the size of Oliver, I'd say, and with their limited speech and awkward miens, I would have expected Oliver to be a bit nervous or even uncomfortable.

Well, my son Oliver morphed into a person that I hardly recognized. He became what I can only describe as The Mayor of the class. He walked around the room, passing out food and cupcakes. He chatted with several of the kids, grinned his huge toothy smile when most got up to dance and observed the festivities from behind a small table where he sat calmly. When it was time to leave,

he walked around the room, shook hands with each kid, patted some on the back, if they were in wheelchairs, and did that street kind of greeting with the closed fists with those who offered it.

Honestly, I was floored. Speechless. It was one of those moments when I thought who the hell is this kid? When we got back into the car, I told him how proud I was of him and he told me that he'd had a great time, that those kids are really nice and they can dance, right, Mom?

I'm still shaking my head over the whole thing. Who knew?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A diversion, before I post the fab photos from Sophie's class party

One of my dearest, loveliest friends in the whole wide world stopped by our house yesterday with a birthday gift and greeting for Sophie. She also brought me something, a very special gift, the above personal self-inking stamp.

Here it is:

The Husband agreed with me today that it would be perfect, stamped underneath every signature of every claim I have to send back to Anthem Blue Cross.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sweet Sixteen

I have the impulse to just say Whew, brush my hand across my brow and call it a day. Sixteen years! Sixteen years! Sixteen years! I don't even know what to say, so in keeping with the miracle of these here internets and this beautiful blogging community, I'm going to post a poem that Eric at I am a broken man/You can't break me posted as a comment here yesterday. Eric's beautiful and heroic son Segev shares a birthday with Sophie, so I wish him Happy Birthday as well.

Remember back to that day when Sophie was born,
when the universe feinted a cloth so
that the motions of life bittersweet took
Praise! Beautiful hardship, tender girl, no longer sprite, beautiful curl.
Gaining, gaining, sweet success, of wishes of blossom
without duress.

Finally, I want to honor another beautiful birthday girl, Miss Katie Gerstenberger, who was born on the exact same day and same year as my Sophie. Katie passed away several years ago from cancer, but her mother Karen keeps her memory alive at her beautiful blog Gberger. Happy Birthday, dear and beautiful Katie. You are alive in my heart, your sweet face and smile a part of me.

I've written two posts about Sophie on her birthday on this blog, and if you'd like you can read them HERE and HERE. And here are some pictures of our birthday morning, a raucous celebration before school:

Not quite ready to get up

still sleepy and a little seizury (that's what happens when she wakes up)
listening to Grandma and Pop Pop sing Happy Birthday

Oliver is the official helper for present opening

Birthday breakfast: strawberries and Swedish pancakes

Happy Sweet Sixteen to Sophie!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Warm Heart

Japanese Koi Painting

I've been a bit down of late in regard to Sophie's school (see my Hat post here), but my heart was warmed over when I read the following note in Sophie's communication book today from her art teacher:

Art: Period 2: Sophie watched a segment of a film about Japan to prepare for our unit on Japanese prints. She helped color a carp (giant goldfish) that we saw in the gardens filmed around Kyoto.
                                                                          Ms. L

That just seems so peaceful and interesting to me, and I imagine Sophie thought so, too. I'm grateful for Miss L.


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