We’re snowed-in today. My husband drove my SUV to work. Seeing as I don’t want to go slipping and sliding all over the road in his car, we’re in for the day.
Being in for the day means I have time to make a more elaborate breakfast. I decided to try making egg muffins I pinned to my Gluten-Free Eats board. I unpacked the silicone muffin pan from the box and rounded-up Isabelle.
“I’m going to make egg muffins for breakfast. Would you like some?”
“No,” she said. “I no like egg muffins.”
“I do not like egg muffins,” I corrected.
“I DO not like egg muffins,” she parroted back.
“But you’ve never had them before. How do you know you don’t like them?”
She was holding her ground. “I do not like them.”
“Well, I’m going to make mine with vegetables, but I’ll make yours with just cheese.”
“I want cold ceweeuhl,” she declared.
“Cheerios or Golden Grahams?” I asked. Yes, I was giving up.
“Cold ceweeuhl,” she whined.
“Cheerios or Golden Grahams?” I asked again.
No response. Instead she walked away. She went to her
I sauteed mushrooms and spinach. I scrambled the eggs. I placed the silicone pan in the oven and let the magic happen.
With just 12 minutes left, Isabelle plodded into the kitchen. “I’m hungry!”
“The egg muffins are almost done. Stand back from the oven and I’ll show you what they look like.”
I opened the oven. We peered in together.
“I don’t like egg muffins. I want an Engwish muffin!”
Well, at least she went for some kind of muffin.
Listening: To “I Could Not Ask for More,” which is my wedding song over and over. Isabelle has recently become obsessed with this song and she requests to hear it several times a day (i.e., in the car, while brushing her teeth). Even though Isabelle is at preschool while I type this blog post, I can still hear the song playing in my head, even though my house is technically silent.
Eating: Gluten-free! I miss chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, bagels, and so much more. I have been feeling better since I started it so I guess it’s a good thing. Isabelle keeps asking me why I don’t eat pizza or cereal anymore. I’ve had to teach her that certain foods have gluten in them. She says “goo-ten” with her voice getting higher in pitch by the end of the word. It’s like she’s asking a question every time we discuss my gluten-free diet.
Drinking: Green iced tea. Not because I love it, but because I’ve been trying to cut back on my caffeine intake.
Wearing: An old cashmere sweater I bought 10 – 15 years ago. It’s warm and soft. It has a few holes around the neck and is pretty ugly. BUT, I love it anyway. It’s the perfect sweater to wear at home for a day of writing.
Reading: Lots of Slice of Life Stories since we’re on day four of an ultra writing marathon, otherwise known as the SOLSC. In terms of books, I am planning to start The Nightingale this evening. It was recommended by several friends who helped me out with book suggestions since nothing in my TBR pile was speaking to me.
Feeling: Tired of winter, which isn’t like me since the cold usually doesn’t bother me. This winter is the exception. It’s been just too much! Springtime can arrive any time now since I’m sick of bundling myself and Isabelle up. (Did I ever mention she detests the cold?) It’ll be so nice to get rid of the boots and the jackets!
Wanting: I love to cook, but I wish someone else could make dinner tonight. Isabelle refuses to eat chicken. Guess what I’m supposed to make tonight? Chicken. (Maybe what I really want is for her to eat what I make without protesting…)
Needing: My daughter to go to bed a little earlier and to sleep a little later now that she’s no longer napping. She’s so tired by the end of the day, but just fights sleep. I don’t know how she does it. By the end of a day with her, I’m exhausted? She’s like the Energizer Bunny. (Lucky her!)
Thinking: I’m so glad I had the foresight to lighten my workload this month. I’m not going out of town and pre-planned to do a little less writing this month so I could spend more time focusing on the SOLSC. We have a record number of new participants this year.
Enjoying: I recently bought Yasso’s Sea Salt Caramel Greek Frozen Yogurt Bars. They’re 150 calories and gluten-free. It’s the perfect way to get my chocolate fix without feeling guilty.
I’m going to tell you something parents of typically developing kids don’t know. Therapists, whether they are speech therapists, occupational therapists, or music therapists, become your child’s friends. Maybe that sounds sad to you. And in a way it is. But the truth of the matter is that therapists who help your child from an early age take the place of play dates.
Just prior to Isabelle’s Childhood Apraxia of Speech, or CAS, diagnosis in April 2013, she received two speech sessions and one OT session each week. As soon as the diagnosis was given, more therapies came into the mix. At the height of 2014, Isabelle had between six to eight therapy sessions each week. Speech three times a week, occupational therapy two – three times a week, music therapy once a week, and physical therapy every other week. That kind of intensive therapy schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for play dates. I wish she had spent more of the past year playing dolls or building with Legos alongside a friend. However, I was told her three-year-old year would be a year of growth in terms of her speech development if we devoted our time to intensive therapy and a lot of home practice.
Isabelle’s final day of music therapy was today. She wasn’t discharged per se (i.e., her music therapist is transitioning to being a full-time music therapist within the Early Intervention system). However, it became a graduation day or sorts, so we celebrated.
Isabelle’s music therapist, Joanna, began working with her in April 2013. Joanna began co-treating with Isabelle’s speech and occupational therapists right after the CAS diagnosis. That month, Isabelle was producing 31 words (i.e., substitutions and approximations counted for words back then. “Ba” counted for seven of her 31 words: baby, bottle, sheep, block, cup, bed, and bus). Three months later her word productions more than doubled! Part of that massive growth was due to the CAS diagnosis and strategies we implemented to help her speak. The other part of that growth was due to Joanna, who helped Isabelle turn her sound productions into words.
Over the past two years, we’ve seen Joanna nearly every week. She has helped our family incorporate music into routines, in addition to helping Isabelle produce better sounds and words. She’s written songs to help Isabelle with concepts (e.g., up and down, on and off, open and close), for motor planning (i.e., “Hand on Top” was a song to help Isabelle hold her spoon correctly when self-feeding), and to help her participate in holidays (i.e., a simple thankfulness song for Thanksgiving to the tune of “Hot Cross Buns”). She introduced Isabelle to the drums, piano, guitar, xylophone, and more. I could go on, but I think you understand, Joanna has impacted Isabelle’s development in numerous ways.
Perhaps that’s why my eyes got misty when Joanna presented Isabelle with a certificate of graduation from music therapy. She read it aloud to Isabelle, which made me emotional. We have come SO FAR. I know there’s more work to do in terms of Isabelle’s speech and motor planning. Thanks to wonderful therapists, like Joanna, we are in a much better place today than where we were two short years ago.
You know those days when you wake up and know things are going to be hectic? Well, I had one of those this morning. And maybe that’s why I was less than pleased to find out my daughter’s school had a delayed opening due to the snow that stopped falling yesterday.
Once I dropped Isabelle off at school I raced to the supermarket to pick up the jalapeno pepper I forgot to buy for tonight’s dinner. I got home and expected to get to work mining a picture book for craft moves. Instead I came home to e-mails that needed quick responses. Just when I thought I’d be able to get to work a reminder went off from my GTasks.
Call Comcast — again.
Ugh! That was a call I didn’t want to make. I won’t bore you about the reason I had to call them, but let’s just say that once I got the right person on the phone an hour and a half later I got the answer to my question in under five minutes. (Many thanks to Casey from Comcast’s Harrisburg office who solved my lingering problem in five minutes, which no one could seem to do in the previous three weeks.)
While I was on hold for Casey (which took so long I tweeted Comcast!) I started preparing tonight’s supper since I knew I wanted something warm to eat when I arrived home at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Multitasking is my thing… until the chili pepper fell into the slow cooker, which caused me to leave this note for my husband who will be coming home to a mess I was only able to partially clean up due to the fact I had to pick up Isabelle early from school.
By the time I cleaned up the mess and got off of the phone with Comcast, I realized I only had 15 minutes left until I had to pick up Isabelle at school to drive her to her medical appointment. Not enough time for me to eat lunch. Grrrr! I popped some cheese and crackers into my mouth, packed a Lara Bar for the ride, and got in the car to pick her up from preschool.
We drove the 25 minutes to her appointment and were taken in on-time (which was nice). I kept going and going until my husband took over and drove them home so I could take care of my work and the appointment I have at 5:30 p.m.
I kissed Isabelle and Marc good-bye.
“I’ll see you around 7:30 p.m.,” I said.
They walked off in one direction and I went in the other.
I inhaled deeply once I sat down into the driver’s seat of my car. I looked at my watch. I had two hours — two good hours — until I had to be at my appointment. I glanced at my work bag, which I contained the picture book I hoped to mine for craft moves and my iPad. Where can I go to work on this?
I pondered my possibilities. Starbucks? Panera? Cocoa Beanery?
Panera. I needed to eat. I don’t have many options these days since I’ve been gluten-free since mid-January, but there are still a few things I can eat at Panera. So, I drove there. I ordered my late lunch. By 3:45 p.m., I sat down in a booth, unpacked my work, and breathed. It was so nice to hit pause on this hectic day.
GO GO GO
There’s barely anyone here at Panera at this time of the day (because most people have eaten lunch and it’s too early for dinner). I can work in relative peace until I have to leave. At 5:15, I’ll be on the go again. The day will go full-force until I turn in for bed a little after 10 p.m. I’ll take some time to pause and take a few deep breaths between now and 10 p.m. Yes, I will do work. Yes, I’ll respond to e-mails. Yes, I’ll check out other Slicers’ writing. But I will also remember that not all days are this hectic. (Heck, not all of my writing is this disorganized. But the SOLSC demands that I write daily this month. This piece of writing most closely represents the day I’m having, so, well, this is it.) Being busy isn’t always bad. And besides, I’ll have warm chicken chili waiting for me when I get home later.
Last night, we did our grocery shopping as a family because Wegmans is like a night out, right?!!? ;) Oh how different our lives are from ten years ago when my husband and I started dating while living in New York City!
Anyway, we did the food shopping on Saturday night for two reasons:
- My husband is working this weekend, which means he cannot take Isabelle out for breakfast and to the grocery store on Sunday like he usually does.
- Our community’s Purim Carnival was scheduled for today.
With all the snow we’ve had this winter, I’ve ceased telling Isabelle what we’re doing the next day if snow is in the forecast since our plans have changed one time too many this winter. She didn’t know we were planning to go to the Purim Carnival. I’m thankful I didn’t tell her because I woke up to SNOW. Again.
The Purim Carnival went on without us. (I’m not sure how big it was, but a friend posted a photo of her and her daughter there on Facebook.) Instead, we stayed home in our pajamas while my husband went to work. We had a leisurely breakfast and snuggled in front of the fireplace. I even let her watch a couple of episodes of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” However, I wasn’t as available as I typically am when I’m home with Isabelle because today is the first day of the Slice of Life Story Challenge. I spent a lot of time moderating comments, answering questions, and sending e-mails regarding some issues a few people were having. And while I didn’t mind the extra computer time, Isabelle did. After hanging out in my office with me for a bit, she decided enough was enough. Isabelle went to work in her office (i.e., her playroom) at her desk (i.e., her craft table) too. But five minutes into her office work, she called for me.
“Yes?” I walked from my office to her play room.
“Why don’t I have a door on my office?” she asked.
“Because you don’t,” I replied. (Yeah, I couldn’t come up with anything other than it’s a play room, which I didn’t think would help the situation.)
“I want a door,” she said.
“Unfortunately, I can’t put a door on this room. Would it make you feel better if I left the door to my office opened while we both worked?”
“Yes,” she replied. “You leave now.”
I stuck out my lower lip. “Is there another way you can say that? The words you used kind of hurt my feelings.”
“May you leave–” she paused. She knew that wasn’t right. “Can you leave me alone?” She stopped again. “Can you leave please?”
I figured I should take it and not be a nit-picker for perfect speech. So I headed back to my office.
“Sure. I will let you do your work. Thank you for using nicer words.”
* * * * *
A special thank you to Betsy, Dana, and Julieanne who helped me a tremendous amount today. Also, a big thank you to my husband who took over for me when he came home from work so I could head back to the computer with less guilt. Without the four of these folks, Isabelle would’ve been really mad at me today.
I cringed when I brought Isabelle with me to the nail salon for the first time. Since July, she’s accompanied me about five times (including today). It’s become her time to rest and relax. She watches “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” so intently that people forget she’s even in the salon. What a deal! She gets to chill with her beloved Daniel Tiger while I get beautified without having to pay a babysitter.
This morning, I was packing up her iPad and headphones for our trip to the nail salon. That’s when this happened:
Once I was at the salon, I told Jodi Isabelle asked about having her toes done too.
“I’m surprised it took her this long!”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah, I would’ve thought she would’ve asked sooner,” Jodi replied.
“I don’t know if she meant that she wanted you to cut them or polish them. Either way, it’s not happening for a long time,” I said.
Today’s conversation with Isabelle brought me back to a conversation I had with Dana Murphy earlier this month. Dana and I were talking about our daughters and the idea of them wearing anything other than peel-off nail polish. She told me she let her oldest put nail polish on her toes once and just felt like her tools looked — strange. It was like her daughter’s preschooler feet looked too sophisticated. I knew what she meant.
Until I had talked with Dana, my objection with nail polish had been from a nail health standpoint. I didn’t want Isabelle to ruin her nails with the chemicals. After Dana and I talked, I realized that polish on her toes would make her adorable little feet look age inappropriate.
I remember polishing my nails at the age of six so I know the day will come — sooner rather than later — when Isabelle will ask to use nail polish. I will only be able to say no for so long. At some point, I’ll give in and experiment with colors on her toes. That said, I will be the one polishing her toes since I’m not about to pay for Isabelle to have a pedicure!
I made the bed in the guest room, slipped on my Birkenstocks, and plodded down the hallway. The light in Isabelle’s room was on, but she wasn’t in it. Hmmmm… I didn’t hear the television downstairs, which meant Marc hadn’t gotten ready for work yet. Our bedroom door was closed. Something was not right.
I opened the door to our bedroom and found Isabelle sleeping horizontally on my side of the bed with her blankie, her baby, and Teddy. But Marc wasn’t there. What on Earth is going on?
Light peeked out from beneath the bathroom door. I knocked lightly, then let myself in. He sculpted his hair with gel, getting ready for work.
“Good morning,” he said.
Before I could even ask him how he was feeling (Hence the reason I was sleeping in our guest room since the snoring from his cold kept me awake the previous night.), I said, “I see you had a guest last night.”
“Yeah, I did.” And then he recounted the story. Isabelle woke up and walked into our bedroom at 3:30 a.m. She was confused by my absence and wanted Marc to bring her to me. He refused. He tried to get her back to sleep in her room, but she wasn’t tired. So, he let her turn on the light in her room and play Legos — until she banged them against each other. At that point, he went back to her room and asked her to play quietly. She did for several minutes, but kept going back and forth between our bedroom and her’s (all the while leaving me undisturbed in the guest room). Finally, she told Marc she was tired so he told her she could sleep on my side of the bed since he just wanted to go back to sleep. (After all, he is the one who is under the weather.) She must’ve gone back to her bedroom to retrieve her personal effects since this I found her quite cozy with four items from her room snuggled-up on my side of the bed.
When she awoke, I asked, “Are you comfy?” She smiled.
Don’t get used to it, kiddo, I thought. You’re going back to your bed tonight.
“How did you feel when Mommy went away last week?”
“Sad,” Isabelle replied.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because, I missed you.”
“But Bubbe and Zayde came to visit. They took good care of you while I was away, right?”
“Yes. But I still miss you.” Isabelle admitted.
“I know,” I said as I put my arms around her. “But mommy had to go away. To work with teachers.”
“But you didn’t like it?” I inquired.
“No. I not like it,” Isabelle shook her head.
“Because you were sick or because I’ve been away lot lately?” I asked.
I nodded my head. “I have been away a lot lately. I will be around a lot more for the next couple of months. You’ll probably get tired of me and wish I were going out of town.”
Isabelle shook her head. “I miss you when you’re gone.” (Taken straight from Pitch Perfect’s “When I’m Gone.”)
* * * * *
In the past six months, Isabelle has been in the care of at least one of her grandparents for a day or more eight times. That’s right, eight times. Some of the trips were short: a train trip to NYC and back in a day. Most were overnights, with the longest being four nights away to write. While the typical mom response is to say I feel guilty about my absences, the truth is that I don’t. I’ve done speaking engagements and spent time nurturing my writing life. I even spent a couple of nights away with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary. If six months is approximately 180 nights, then I’ve been present for 160 days of wake-ups, tuck-ins, and everything in-between. That means I’ve been here almost 90% of the time! That’s nothing to feel guilty about!
What I do feel badly about is the way this weekend’s re-entry process has gone. Typically, Isabelle is delighted by my return. This time she has been ignoring my questions and arguing with me every chance she’s gotten. By this morning, I felt as though she was pushing every single button I had, which is why I drove the two of us to the Hotel Hershey after my allergy shots. It was a recalibration, of sorts.
You see, Isabelle loves hotels. She especially loves the Hotel Hershey. (It is a four star, historical hotel. What can I say? The kid has good taste!) The two of us spent some time in the lobby where she did her artwork on their fancy memo pads with their pens. Next, we went to the Cocoa Beanery where she got a cookie and I had a much-needed latte. Finally, we went upstairs to the Fountain Lobby where we played “kitchen,” a game she invented a few rainy days ago. (That’s right. This is my go-to spot for rainy or super-cold days when we find ourselves with downtime in Hershey and don’t have enough time for a more kid-friendly activity.)
By the end of our almost two-hour mini-vacation, the two of us were getting a long better. We had had a heart-to-heart (i.e., the conversation written out above) and enjoyed each other’s company. While she still “wiped off” the kiss I gave her in the car, she was more pleasant towards me on the way home. Perhaps our trip to the Hotel Hershey will be a turning point as we attempt to get back to our daily routine. After all, I’m not going away overnight for the next two months. In other words, she’s stuck with me.
I gave up coffee in the fall. I went from a grande nonfat, no-whip white mocha to nothing in the span of a day. After 11 years of drinking the same drink, I couldn’t stomach the taste of it anymore. Since the fall, I’ve only visited Starbucks a handful of times for a coffee. Today was one of those times I just needed to deal with the suddenly-offensive taste so I could wake up.
The line at the O’Hare United C Gates Starbucks was longer than I would’ve liked. I thought about getting off the line a few times, but stayed. I had one+ hour drive to my destination so I needed some caffeine since I had woken up at 4:45 a.m. Eventually, the barista took my order and another one made my coffee. Nearly 15 minutes after I lined up, I walked away with a grande nonfat, no-whip white mocha with a splash stick stuck through the lid so I wouldn’t spill anything on me as I trekked from the terminal to the baggage claim.
Coffee in-hand, I descended an escalator into the tunnel that contains the moving walkways. The neon lights on the ceiling cast a strange glow onto the moving walkways. I took the one on the right so I could throw my splash stick into the nearest garbage can. I took a swig of my white mocha and winced. I parked myself on the right side of the walkway and continued to sip.
But then I noticed someone standing in front of me who looked familiar. It looks like Wendy, I thought. It can’t be. She lives in New York. What would she be doing here? Ugh, same thing as you. She’s probably here on business.
I was unsure whether the woman in front of me was my dad’s friend, who was also one of his business associates in the 70’s, and whom I hadn’t seen since my wedding over seven years ago! What’s the worst thing that can happen if it’s not her? Someone will give you a crazy look and you’ll keep walking, mocha-in-hand.
I passed the woman on the left and said, “Wendy?”
She looked up. “Yes?”
“Hi. It’s Stacey. Stacey Shubitz.”
A smile spread across her face. She greeted me with a hug. Whew! I can’t believe I was right!??!
“I just saw your parents a couple of months ago,” she said.
“I heard. It’s so good to see you. Of all the gin joints in America. Who would’ve thought I’d run into you here!”
We caught up as we continued down the subterranean walkway. We took the escalator up to the ground level and said our goodbyes. She went to ground transportation and I walked to the baggage claim.
As I stood by the baggage carousel, waiting for my larger than life suitcase to emerge, I started thinking about running into Wendy. If it hadn’t been for Wendy, I wouldn’t have any vivid memories of my grandfather. You see, she and her mom saved my grandfather’s life when I was just two years-old. My grandfather had spent months in the hospital. He was ill and needed blood, but no one in the family was a match. Wendy and her mom got tested. They were a perfect match. Because of their blood donation, my grandfather lived almost 11 more years. My heart fills with warmth and gratitude every time I hear Wendy’s name. Seeing her made me forget how tired I was and brought me back to fun times with my grandfather. Because of Wendy I have real memories of my grandfather. To this day, I am thankful for the life-saving gift she gave my grandfather so many years ago.
And to think, if I hadn’t waited in that long line at Starbucks, my day wouldn’t be filled with thoughts of my sweet grandfather whose been gone for almost 25 years.
My husband is the kind of guy who loves his sports. Whenever I turn on the television in the mornings, the channel is always turned to ESPN or the Golf Channel. Sports radio is always on in his car. He reads the sports section of the newspaper before anything else. The most recent book he read was about Derek Jeter. He plays tennis and golf whenever he can find the time. He’s always “checking the scores” on his iPhone. We have a rule (that I made) in our house.
We have a rule (that I made) in our house. No television during dinner time unless it’s the World Series, a major golf championship, or the Super Bowl. Tonight, the television was on during dinner. I was fine with that.
Despite the television being on during dinner time, my husband didn’t try to get out of getting Isabelle ready for bed. The television wasn’t on upstairs and his phone wasn’t out. I finished up in the shower while he got her dried off and ready for bed, just like always. By the time I arrived at her bedroom, I found the two of them snuggled up in her bed reading a picture book like it was any ol’ night of the year. There was no conversation about bedtime routines, reading, and football. My husband did what came naturally to him as a father… he just read a book aloud to his daughter. I grabbed the phone out of his pocket as he read aloud to her since I knew I had to snap a picture of the two of them together so she will never doubt his devotion to her.
I may detest listening to sports radio on long car trips, but I love everything about his commitment to our family and to raising a literate human. I could not ask for more.