Monthly Archives: November 2013

I fought the kale, and the kale won.


Subduing the Green Monster

Subduing the Green Monster

Those of you following us on Facebook know that to celebrate the fact that someone, anyone, besides my mother was reading this blog, I bought some kale.

And you know how I feel about kale.

Thus, in the spirit of celebration and in the spirit of trying to resemble a grown-up, which I hear can be defined as a person that (1) eats fancy vegetables and (2) makes good financial decisions (hey, since I gave number one a try, maybe I’ll get there on two and will stop trying to spend our money on what Husband calls “trinkets,” but let’s not get ahead of ourselves), I found myself with a big, bristly bunch of kale.

Husband put money on the likelihood the kale would go uncooked and uneaten, rotting in silent judgment in our fridge. Because all of you were so sweet and supportive, however, I figured I should at least try to cook it, and even if I didn’t eat it, James would. (To be clear, Husband is also very sweet and supportive, but he has known me for a very long time and his skepticism on my likelihood of cooking this kale was well-founded in past experience.) The child will eat ANYTHING. Which is kind of its own problem, but more on that later.

So, I did. I am not organized enough to look up a recipe ahead of time and actually purchase the groceries needed to make it, so I had to improvise based on what I remembered from some of the recipes you suggested.  I’m having trouble writing this, but. . . it wasn’t awful.

Here is the key, however: I browned two pounds of Italian sausage I got at Whole Foods first. This was the most gorgeous sausage I’ve ever seen. (“That’s what she said!”) But really. This was sausage made from pigs that slept cuddled up at the foot of someone’s bed. I have no idea what was in it, but it was beautiful.

I browned the sausage first, then I cleaned most of the grease out of the dutch oven and then sauteed the kale in a mixture of the sausage drippings and olive oil. Then I dumped a bunch of other things in the pot, like garlic, carrots, onions, cannelini beans, chicken stock, and the aformentioned sausage.

I could still tell there were actual green vegetables involved, but the boys (Husband, James, and Big Boy) all loved it. The moral of this story, to me, is that there is little that two pounds of beautiful, organic, cuddled and coddled sausage can’t make palatable.



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The Monday List: Things Target thinks I would like to buy, per the coupons it gives me

Mmm. Delicious Metamucil. Have some?

Mmm. Delicious Metamucil. Have some?

I love Target. Loooooove Target. Everyone that knows me in real life knows this about me. Our Target has a Starbucks, which perfectly cements me as that stereotype of a yoga pants-wearing-mom drinking a latte, walking around Target with my baby.

James also loves Target. It is his favorite errand, and he knows the logo so well that we can go to different Targets and he will get excited when he sees the sign. I can’t decide if this is a sad statement related to consumerism or cute. I’m going to go with cute.

But what’s not to love about Target, really? Well, I’ll tell you. If the coupons I get at checkout are any indication, my beloved Target thinks I am a geriatric, overweight, constipated, man.

Things Target thinks I would like to buy, per the coupons it gives me:

  • Metamucil – So many coupons for Metamucil. I think this can be traced to all the purchases I made earlier this fall related to James’ poop problems, but seriously? This was several months ago. I have NEVER BOUGHT METAMUCIL. Quit it with the Metamucil already!
  • Mangroomer Essential Nose and Ear Hair Trimmer – As if the Metamucil weren’t embarrassing enough. Not that ladies don’t have nose hair, but really? A Mangroomer? This sounds like something for Manscaping, a trend of which I am not supportive. I suspect this coupon can be traced to all of the lovely men’s grooming products I buy Husband. He’s adorably into toiletries. It’s his one vice. He loves a good shaving balm and Target has a few lines that are surprisingly nice.
  • And the icing on the humilation cupcake: Electric weight-loss belt. Truly. Target is trying to get me to buy a belt that zaps or shakes the fat off you. Or something. Apparently my beloved Target was only masquerading as the purveyor of lattes and cheaply made trendy sweaters and is really a two-bit diet huckster selling devices that will take off “10 pounds in two days! But wait, there’s more!” Lucky for us, this item is available online, should you be more willing than I to take Target’s shopping suggestions.

It is a testament to the professionalism of Target associates that none of them have ever batted an eyelash when handing me these odious coupons. Do they have training on this? Like, “keep your eyes on the Target guests and do not, under any circumstance, look at the content of the coupons?”

But Target knows it had me at latte, cheap books, and trendy sweater, and I can’t give it up. And maybe I’ll eventually find that Target’s computerized coupon-giving program knows me better than I know myself? Christmas is coming. Maybe I do need a nose hair trimmer…


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Dark and light

When I mentioned a recent blog post to my dad, who isn’t the type to read blogs generally, he said he wasn’t following the blog. He got lost when we migrated from Tumblr to WordPress. (I’m sorry, I know he probably isn’t the only one! Come back, ya hear?)

Anyway, when I reminded him of the blog’s address, he commented that the title of the blog was “a little dark.” And yeah, I guess it is a little dark.

Lord of the Flies, in case you aren’t an eighth grader that just finished summer reading (and if you are, why are you on the internet when you have a diorama of Shakepeare’s Globe Theater to build?), is a novel about a group of British schoolboys that are shipwrecked on an island. They try to create a children’s utopia, but things devolve pretty quickly into savagery. The voices of reason and maturity in the group are drowned out in favor of the boys’ baser instincts.

So why in the heck name a blog about family and parenting after such an awful story? Well, for starters, was taken. But seriously, as I’ve told you before, Husband and I often discuss the house being “all Lord of the Flies” when he comes home after I’ve been at home alone with the children. This is just one of our marital inside jokes. (Aren’t we the coolest? Joking about novels we had to read for school when we were 13?)

Our dubious sense of humor aside, why would I want something with that connotation of darkness associated with my writing about my family? In case you hadn’t noticed, there is some darkness in our lives. Seizures suck. James not having the brain development proteins he needs to live a normal life is horrible. And no one can fix it. And no one’s to blame for it. It just is.

These are dark truths about our life that I’ve had to accept, and part of the reason I’m here–maybe THE reason why I’m here–is to confront those dark parts of life so I can revel in the light parts. I hope that’s part of the reason why you’re here too, in addition to wanting to hear about the ways I continue to make a spectacle of myself both at home and in public.

Because life, our real life outside of the airbrushed facade of Facebook and Instagram, is dark and light. Some days are lighter than others, but it’s always going to be a mix. And I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn to say that this is the case for all of you, too.

So, as I say to my students, I’m not hiding the ball. I’m putting it out there. This is who we are, and we are sad and angry sometimes. But we also have a hell of a lot of fun with each other and will continue to try to catch the light when we can find it. Are you brave enough to come along?

Sleeping peacefully in the dark.

Sleeping peacefully in the dark.


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The Monday List: “Words” I Didn’t Understand Until I Had a Child with Special Needs

Did you think this post was going to be super profound, like “I didn’t understand what love meant until I had a child with special needs?”  Okay, that’s a good post too and maybe true, but I’m being more prosaic here.

I really mean actual words that I did not understand. As in, the neurologist or the pediatrician would say something to me and I had no. idea. what they were talking about.

If you are fortunate, you’ll never need to know what any of this stuff is either. But in the event that you are curious, or you have a friend with a child with special needs, or you work with a child that has special needs, or you end up raising such a child, it might be helpful to be more informed than I was.

With this post, I’m going to do our Monday List, but I’m also kicking off a new, regular feature where I explain stuff about raising a child with special needs that I wish someone had explained to me. I haven’t picked a name for this yet but am open to suggestions. The pithier the better!

The Monday List: “Words” I didn’t understand until I had a child with special needs. I say “words,” because I’ve chosen mostly acronyms for this list.

  • PT, OT, DT, and Speech: These are the four primary types of therapy that a child with developmental delays or other challenges might have.
  • PT is physical therapy. Physical therapy focuses on gross motor skills, like sitting, crawling, walking, climbing stairs etc.  Not to be confused with PE. I’m pretty sure there isn’t any dodge ball involved in PT. And they don’t check you for scoliosis in the locker room.
  • OT is occupational therapy. Before James was born, I thought that occupational therapists were job counselors. Seriously. (Oh, the bliss of ignorance.) OT focuses on fine motor skills, like eating with a pincer grasp, drawing with crayons, using a spoon, etc.
  • DT is developmental therapy. This is a form of play therapy that used to be offered for free to children under three in North Carolina with developmental delays. We worked with an adorable girl who basically played with James for an hour each week. Was this helpful? I can’t say, because North Carolina took away funding for this program, and it isn’t something that is covered by insurance. The idea, however, is that developmental therapy integrates the other kinds of therapy into one session.
  • Speech. Okay, this one is fairly obvious. But what the therapist actually does in these sessions may not be what you think. Ironically, most of what James works on in speech right now really isn’t actual speaking. Because his condition affects the neurological path between the brain and body, it is just as difficult for him to form sounds with his mouth as it is for him to walk. So for James and for many other children that aren’t (yet?) verbal, a lot of time is spent in speech on signing. Sign language is typically easier for children with developmental delays to master than actual speech, and it is a way to teach the children language, which is a huge step in development.

Whew! Are we tired yet? For the past two years or so, James has done speech, PT, and OT each once a week. His schedule is busier than most anyone else’s in the house! This year, he gets all of his therapies at school now that he is 3. (so much more on school later.)

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