Tag Archives: memories

Marvelous Monday

What a wonderful weekend- jammed packed with all I am thankful for and all things dwarfism! I have mentioned LPA about a million times, and all the support they offer to the LP community, but there is so much more than that.

There are lifelong memories made by friends who see each other a few times a year. Parents who lament all the silly things that we get that no one else truly does. Not life-altering stuff, but finding shoes that fit, are cool and also comfy. Why moving a faucet can make life easier for your child. How to hem jeans. It’s the same old parenting things we all think about, but rarely do we encounter so many seemingly minuscule things over and over and over.

The best part? When Addie gets into a large group of kids, there are no worries because this community is watching over her- everyone.

This mama may be suffering from serious pregnancy hormones, but when Jackie and Avery (two fabulous young ladies) took Addie’s hands and walked her to their dance circle complete with other girls, and encouraged her to dance, laughed with her and never let her out of their sight, I walked away, took my seat, gripped a cup of ice water and swallowed my tears. My face was hot. My body felt cold.

#aisforadelaide #firstdance #lparegional #2014

My daughter already has an amazing life.

I watched what her Spring and Fall would bring each year, as our District regionals pass by. I saw middle school dances and girlie laughter about things that us parents would just never understand. As I sipped my water, surrounded by women I’ve grown to love in our brief, but powerful 21 months as LPA members, we laughed at my verge of crying.

#aisforadelaide #ladiesnight #LPAspringregional2014

I have an amazing life.

These moments are not forever. We have our struggles. We have some of the happiest moments of our lives without the LPA, or anything related to dwarfism. Being little, or big, or average does not define us. Having such fabulous friends, regardless of distance, giving my child the opportunity to live her life and being guided by those around me. That defines me. There is nothing like knowing that your life changes shape when you let go of the reigns and just live.

With $100 in our pocket and a cooler full of fruit, bread, peanut butter and tuna, we went to Cape Cod. It was our first regional with our LPA district. We got to ask questions. We got to answer a few. I shared a conversation with men and women. Some were my height, some were not. But the conversations were the same. Our kids were being crazy, they all needed to sleep, we all enjoyed the sunset at the banquet, our clothes seemed to be getting tighter as the New England winter ceases to end. I joked with my ladies about this and that. We all ragged on each other, shared hugs, high-fived the  kids.

Being members of the LPA has allowed us to NOT define our family by dwarfism, but to learn in a safe, well educated environment for ourselves, our daughter (and future baby!) and those who will learn from us. To balance our lives between doctors and normalcy, because at the end of each day, I am doing the same as any parent… reading 102 books before bed, watching my child guzzle more water than they consumed the entire day and praying they don’t spring a leak in the night, kissing her cheeks and watching the monitor (sure, I’m also listening for snores and leg movements, but that’s neither here nor there). Addie? She’s just like your child. And me? I’m just like you. Tired, stressed and loving every minute of this crazy, fast-paced thing they call Parenting.

#aisforadelaide #swimming #capecop #seacresthotel #lpaspringregional2014

And my random  of the week? If you missed it before, don’t forget to check out this awesome video below <3 <3 <3 (Yes… I’m a bit excited to share after holding it in for 13 weeks!!!!!)

Happy Monday, Reader!!!

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Upheaval of Life

Life is messy.

Since we left DC, I’ve been in a tizzy. I’ve been getting things done, then something happens: a heatwave, a death, a darkness creeping in. It all leaves me deserting my attempts at success, and inevitably cleaning.

Yesterday, I gutted the office. This might seem like a menial task, but our office is a true bedroom. It houses 2 desks, 2 computers, a large printer, a router, 2 filing cabinets, an unnecessary amount of framed pictures, 2 large bookshelves shoved to the brim with everything from Poe to Meyer to Machiavelli. Five race medals hang from a hook, my Dad’s old cowboy boots are nestled in the closet, along with an entire collection of Norman Rockwell plates. And pictures. There are a lot of pictures. I spent hours playing with Addie, and making a game out of piling things into the hall for mommy…

I also threw away a stack of photos almost a foot high:

MemoriesAreJustMemories

I wish I could say this post was going to prompt me to write more and suddenly become focused, but I’m in a funk… I want to leave Rhode Island, and all the lack-of-opportunity behind. I want a place where I can meet people who don’t know everything about me. I want to write a new chapter.
… and during all of my digging yesterday, I found this gem from my JWU days:

Bottle top from a Magic Hat #9. C. 2004

Bottle top from a Magic Hat #9. C. 2004

I don’t know if where I’ve been matters, so I got rid of it. The letters, the ticket stubs, the photos in old frames, business cards and expired drivers licenses. The friendship keychains, passed notes, birthday cards, costume jewelry. Most of all, the pictures. Memories are just memories. They are meant to stay in our minds and fade as time goes by- that’s how we survive, grow and move on.

Collecting myself so we can get to where we are going in life… here we go!

P.S. Looking forward to a 10-part series about the LPA National Conference? Me too!

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Marvelous Monday!

So, It’s been QUITE the weekend. I think I am stressed for the next two weeks before they even happen. Don’t you hate when you do that to yourself?! I am combining MM with Mom Before Mom because… well, sometimes life just all comes together in sweet harmony. Read on!

This week I am thankful for my beautiful girl and her power of healing. We had a wonderful visit with the ENT two weeks ago to check on her tubes and they’re doing great! She seems like she is hearing SO much better, but I will have more conclusive, scientific results after our audiology appointment in May. Until then, we are back in the water and loving out new ear plugs- they’re even fun to try and eat!

Ear Plugs

Which brings me to the Mom Before Mom prompt from All of me Now this week: What was the first piece of music you couldn’t stop listening to? What was the first piece of music you bought?

I am so glad that Addie can hear! I can say that I remember driving my sister crazy when I was about 15, listening to Dave Matthew’s Band over and over- more specifically, Every dog has it’s day every day has it’s way of being forgotten- “Mom it’s my birthday.” What would you say?, and then restarting the song. Ah, the joys of newly made compact discs.

But my first favorite memories of music are the nights after Flyers’ games, when I was half asleep in the back of the car and my Dad put on Oldies 98fm Philadelphia for Doo Wop Sundays. As I drifted off to sleep, knowing that I would wake up in the morning safe in my bed, I listed to some amazing songs like Earth Angel, In the Still of the Night, Sixteen Candles, I Only Have Eyes for You, Why do Fools Fall in Love, A Teenager in Love, Pretty Little Angel Eyes, Life is But a Dream, Blue Moon, Tears on my Pillow, Sunday Kind of Love, Since I Don’t Have You, and my all-time favorite Unchained Melody. These songs all bring me back to a time where I knew (almost) nothing bad in this world existed. Where all evils could be cured by a hug from my Dad.

I want this for Addie. I am thankful that Dave and I can give her the gift of music, and that Dr. G was able to give her (back) the miracle that is hearing. Dave is a very talented musician and he needs to share that with her. I want to give my little angel all the happy memories and related history that comes along with different musical eras. To cherish memories that were both mine as a child, and my Dad’s (him being young in the 50′s and growing up with this music), gives me the “old soul” I’m said to possess. Passing on my love of music is something I am proud to give to Addie and cannot wait to share with her more and more as she grows into her likes and dislikes… or maybe I can wait- if it means NOT having to listen to the same Sesame Street song over and over and over!

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This week, in light of Easter, I’d love to focus my information about dwarfism to weight. Addie had a beautiful Easter shoot last weekend, as a model for one of my wonderful friends, Lynette, owner of Exalt Photography.
Exalt PhotographyYesterday was Easter and we had a beautiful time as a family! We went to Home Depot, snuggled in, boiled eggs we never dyed, and had a wonderful dinner at my bestie’s house… we also had an Easter basket!

Easter Basket

… with no candy or food of any kind involved. Someone made a point of emailing me to tell me that I shouldn’t feel superior just because I don’t give Addie sweets or candy because she’s young and I will someday. My response, quite simply, is OK. I don’t feel superior to anyone for any reason. The feeling that you need to email me to tell me that giving Addie candy and sweets is in some way inevitable is a given, makes me wonder why you are so passionate about this issue. She will have these things, but they do not have to come from our home. In no way does that ever need to happen. Will it? Sure. But I have made a parenting decision- equally with Dave- that sweets and treats will not be a part of our holidays. Instead, we choose books. Addie has gotten a special book for each holiday thus far. Perhaps she will get a special DVD one year, or a specific outfit. But, there are so many opportunities for junk outside the home, there is no need for me to spend my money supplying such things. It is not a judgement on what others do… it is just our prerogative.

With that being said: lots of other children do not have the automatic predisposition to obesity. Not being overweight. Obesity. I am a healhty person by nature. I like salad, I enjoy running and I come from a family of athletic people. While Addie is partly my genetic make-up, she is also Dave’s, who comes from a less athletic family. And she’s also something completely different from us. She is her! Children with achondroplasia have a high-risk for weight issues. I’ve been on a few sites in the last 10 months that have parents asking for dietary tips for their achondroplastic children… their 4 to 7 year olds, who are being placed on dietary restrictions because of their weight. That is terrifying to me. In a world where primary concerns are looks and weight, especially for girls, I am concerned for Addie. I want to give her the right foods now to avoid the issue of childhood dieting (which can have terrible emotional consequences, and often times don’t last) later. If Addie doesn’t have fast food (which Dave and I do not ever eat. Ever.), juices (they’re all sugar) or cake and candy, I won’t be setting her up for failure. Just a bite here and there at home, as regulated as they are, do not account for what she will encounter outside the home. Just a few extra pounds on her will effect her hips (she has dysplasia), knees and ankles, not to mention her spine- in-which she has some minor issues now.

It may seem like we are “hippy-dippy” (as I was recently called and chuckled about) because we have no TV, we don’t ever go through a drive-thru and I refuse to give Addie junk food (she snacks on peas- and rarely her auntie gives her puffed cereal), but I’m truthfully just trying to give her the best start to life as I can. How many play dates will be spent playing a video game or watching a movie (she still has never watched a movie)? How many parents will grab chicken fingers from BK for dinner when Addie gets a ride home? How many birthday parties will have pizza, cake and ice cream? A lot. I want Addie to learn about wonderful raw foods, foods cooked with love and care- prepared with whole ingredients that she can identify and learn to use in her own ways. I want Addie to learn how to play outside in the hot Summer sun, the warm Spring air, the brisk chill and leaves of Fall, and the snowy days in a New England Winter. I want her to like to dance in the rain, the way I do. There wasn’t a reason to be inside (except for lightening and thunder) as a child, and for that reason I am an active, healthy adult.

I guess as crazy as I seem, I am not trying to restrict her from ever having certain foods or watching TV, but I make the conscious decision to not have them in my home (for my sake as much as her’s), and to not spend my money on them. What other people do and all the elements of the world… they’re not something I can control. Addie will make decisions for herself as she gets older, and I will make those decisions for her now, as other parents do for their children. Sometimes Addie will be in the crosshairs of our family values and others. That’s OK! That’s growing up and becoming your own person- acceptance, respect and, at minimum, tolerance of other values are wonderful life lessons. I never ate Big Macs and therefore I never want one. I don’t battle with weight or weight-related illness. It’s just that simple. Many things in Addie’s life are bound to be struggles. With a healthy lifestyle, weight doesn’t have to be one of them.

* * *

My random of the week (of which there are two) is a BIG Happy Birthday to my amazing hubby Dave and his business partners Domenick and Jamez. Their business BSharp has been open for TEN YEARS!!!!! It may not be what keeps us afloat anymore, but it is an accomplishment to keep a business alive for 10 years, especially in this economy, especially in Rhode Island. Just ask Curtis Montague Schilling, also known as Curt, who couldn’t make a business work with 75 million dollars. I digress. Happy birthday, BSharp! I love you, Dave. I am so proud to be the wife of such an amazing, dedicated man. Working two jobs to keep your ladies together means more to both of us than we could ever tell you <3

Bsharp

Second… IF YOU HAVE DRESSES YOU WANT TO RID YOURSELF OF AND ARE IN THE AREA…
Dresses

It’s back – Say Yes to the Prom Dress! The Pawtucket Community Partnership Team Against Violence are looking for donations of gently used prom dresses! Make arrangements to drop off your clean and generous donations to make a teen’s DREAM COME TRUE by calling us at (401) 723-3057 by April 12th.

Addie and I dropped off 15 dresses last week

Addie and I dropped off 15 dresses last week

Dresses 15

We will pick dresses up from you and make the delivery! It’s so easy to help!

Have a fantastic week, Reader!!!

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Move over… it’s all about me!

Is it that time again? I’m loving these Mom Before Mom posts and learning about all of my favorite bloggers out there. Thank you Carla at AllofMe…Now!

This prompt is: How did you celebrate your birthday? Do you have a favorite celebration? Worst? From the cake to the presents to the guests, invite us in to the party.

In the years prior to wifedom and mom, I was pretty cool :) I’d love to describe Worth before Martinka in the birthday zone… or at least my early, in which I knew a thing or two about life after 10pm. But, I’m not sure I can remember those times. So, here are my past few celebrations. They all mean something special to me and I have the best of, though few in numbers, no less mighty in love, friends a girl could ask for.

As a general rule, we don’t do physical gifts… at least not from friends. A drink purchased, a dinner, a movie. I love memories being made. My friend Tracey has taken me to see Twilight every year for my day… this year, due to no vampire flick, we will be seeing Catching Fire :) Another time, I was treated to a mini/pedi/massage. And, my best friend took me to a fancy sushi restaurant this past year one night and Dave took me to another the next!

Addie celebrating with me at Sakura. PVD, RI

Addie celebrating with me at Sakura. PVD, RI

Those are gifts- the memories that come and the times we will always share. My ever-generous Mom and mother-in-law always splurge on me, and my hubby has taken to getting me a beautiful charm for each occasion in life to add to my Kay’s Charmed Memories bracelet.

Mostly, my celebrations in the past few years have consisted of my gal pals enjoying drinks and the company of each other, or an amazing vacation. For these things, I am truly blessed.  Of course, I have a worst birthday (23rd), which consisted of me being kicked out of a bar, my boyfriend and I being publicly intoxicated and argumentative and my friends, who had driven over 250 miles from Philadelphia, sleeping in my rented portion of an illegal-to-live-in-warehouse with no heat and no bed (I didn’t have heat or a bed that entire winter, so they can all get over it). But, who wants to hear about that?!

There was 24… and it was awesome! I went home to PA to celebrate my engagement and my birthday, and seeing my mom is always a bonus!

Me and Mom!

Me and Mom!

Dave me and my Best, Nick

Dave me and my Best, Nick

Dave wore his ring since we got engaged <3

Dave wore his ring since we got engaged <3

I also got to spend my birthday night in the booth at Thee Red Fez in Providence (recently sold and bought by an awesome dude… I can’t wait to check it out). Friends came, much was laughed about, an Oreo cake presented itself to me, and there were drinks-a-plenty!
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Yep, 24 was great.

My 25th birthday fell about 3 months after Dave and I were married, so we decided to honeymoon then. Riviera Maya, Mexico!!! What a happy birthday to me! And my 27th birthday, with a belly full of baby, we made the incredible journey to Honolulu, Hawaii for my oldest friend’s wedding! (Hawaii travel tip, sans baby: book a year in advance AND get the cheapest place- you’ll never be in your room anyway!)

Happy 25th

Happy 25th

Happy 27th!

Happy 27th!

My 26th was your usual wine and dine… psych! Dave took me to breakfast. It was supposed to be to a place we went to while we were dating… a chain we joked we were bringing back, but only went to once… We found out it was closed when we got there, so we went to T’s (another favorite of mine). While there, Dave whipped out a game of hangman he had made for me (I love hangman!).

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The game led us to a beautiful, crisp day getting apples from a farm and walking our new puppy, Carter (now a beast at 70 pounds) in the woods. A wonderful birthday, marked by the experience surrounding it:

26 years!

26 years! (note to self: NEVER cut your own bangs!)

I guess I’m more of a visual person… I could not even begin to write about a traditional birthday for me because, since childhood, there has been no tradition. No particular place I go, or drink I drink or cake I crave- it varies by year, as I grow and change, so do my celebrations. What I do know is that I get to have experiences gifted to me; memories no material gift could ever replace.

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Home Cooked Memory

Continuing in the Mom Before Mom series, started by the wonderful Carla at All of me Now:

What was your favorite home cooked meal as a child? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

My favorite home cooked meal wasn’t some reinvention of the egg. There was little fancy and flare, but there was a whole ‘lotta love. We called it thing. As I grew up and made thing for my own budding family, my husband would laugh at my mother’s invention, hug me close and watch me concoct my dish.

Egg noodles
Ground beef
Poppy seeds
Sour cream

I know what you’re thinking: Beef stroganoff, without the mushrooms (although I’m sure we had them sometimes, they don’t resonate in my memories). In my house it was thing. I have no idea where the name came from, or why I never knew it was stroganoff until my husband told me, but to me, it’s always thing.

The whole dish permeated the kitchen. From the starchy smell of pasta, to the beef sizzling in the pan and enough sour cream to tie the dish together with a dash of poppy seed (that I got to add). We always had broccoli on the side in an attempt to keep it healthy, but this was our “bad” food. My parents kept the cooking pretty clean growing up, and for this, I am thankful.

My father worked late, being a business owner, but I don’t remember a dinner of thing without him there. Slurping my noodles up, getting a lick of sour cream on the end of my button nose. The tangy taste of sour cream and the crunch of each individual poppy seed between my little teeth. I see my Mom at the stove cooking, before the kitchen was renovated. I see the old white kitchen table and the hideous kitchen chairs on wheels, that would fly backwards if you leaned too far, without much warning. The teal patterned linoleum floor. And my family, gathered around together. Mom, Dad, Jess, me… Nick and Geoff in highchairs. We always ate later than other families, but we tried desperately to always eat together.

I now make thing for Dave and myself using plain low fat yogurt, in lieu of sour cream, and ground turkey in place of beef. I always make broccoli as a side. I envision what Addie is thinking as she watches me at the stove furiously chopping at the turkey, singing her silly songs. Watching my body move from the stove to the sink and back again in a dance, as I drain my pasta and the add all the ingredients in my large pot stirring just enough to mix. I hope she is making memories and lifestyle choices all at once. I hope I am passing on good smells, silly dance moves, a love of food and cooking and healthy choices, but most of all, a love for my family.

I wanted to make this dish so I would have some pictures… but Dave is away until Sunday and I am so lonely I’ve been juicing and eating salads all week (good for my hips, but my kitchen is wildly underused right now). I hope you’re envisioning your favorite dish as a child and remembering more than just the taste, but the experience too. Thank you for sharing this first month of Mom Before Mom with me. I look forward to the rest of the year with you!

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Welcome to my room…

Welcome to the second prompt in the Mom Before Mom   series. I am so excited to introduce myself to you before you would have ever known me… and to reconnect with my younger self. Let’s begin… or continue.

What did your childhood bedroom look like? Give a tour. How did it change as you matured?

My parents bought the house in which I grew up in October of 1984. I came in November. I always had the same bedroom, the last room on the right, though now a newly renovated home has made way for a slightly different layout, it is still the one room where I feel I find the most solace. Whoever said you can’t go home was wrong.

Growing up I had my own bedroom, complete with a platform bed my father built me . As I matured into an opinionated 7 year old, my room became a giant poster of me. I hung posters, filled shelves with art projects and crafts (I have always loved crafts), and taped pictures of JTT and Johnny Depp to my walls. These were the Winona/Depp days, where I filled my spare time outside of the gym (I was a competitive gymnast for 10 years) drooling over Home Improvement and Edward Scissorhands.

Flyers' hockey + JTT + tchotchkes + Bar Mitzvah junk = oh my!

Flyers’ hockey + JTT + sand art + crafts + tween beauty products + tchotchkes + Bar Mitzvah junk = oh my! And yes, that Whoopi poster IS from Sister Act

After a family tragedy, I was offered a “new” room. A fresh start in the form of new furniture and a bigger bed. My dad re-stained my mother’s childhood bed frame and bureau in whitewash. I have always loved the look of rustic beach homes; the ones that look like the furniture is 100 years old, but it’s actually brand new from Pottery Barn. I had my mom’s things from her girl-hood, though, her beautiful solid-wood furniture became my own. My walls were painted a pretty periwinkle and the lampshade, valance, curtains and bedspread were Laura Ashley. It was the most girlie I’d ever been, or will ever be in my whole life. But when my Dad passed away in 1998, the trend of over-cluttered shelves and walls adorned with pictures from my life, torn from skater magazines or stolen from my sister (she had some really cute friends) continued into my high school years, waning only after my 17th birthday into a room with intricate stories and special moments separated by picture frames and scrapbooks.

This clutter mimics the clutter, confusion and turmoil in my teenage years. How I managed to stay an excellent student? I blame my awesome mom.

This clutter mimics the clutter, confusion and turmoil in my teenage years. How I managed to stay an excellent student? I blame my awesome mom.

I feel like this time, when I learned to separate things, was also the time therapy began to work for me. I guess this is a deeper look into my life, than just my bedroom, but my bedroom was such a reflection of my mind. I had pictures in my bedroom from all walks of my life. My happy young years, before I turned 6 and my brother passed. Then the years after, when my Dad’s beard began to gray and my mom was worn. The months after my brothers were adopted. The joy (and sleepless nights) in the eyes of my parents and sister. The years that passed slowly, painfully after my Dad was gone. The years I turned on my own mom. The pictures in my room were not just taped on, they were mod podged to the walls. Clinging for meaning, a time-stamp of who I was and where I’d been. Loss, pain, overtly-sexual images of Abercrombie models I’d dreamt of kissing, next to pictures of friends who abandoned me after my depression set in. After I cut all my hair off and dyed it purple, gained 20 pounds and lost 35. Boyfriends came and went physically, but in my room they were glued to the wall, forever 15 or 16 or 17. Telling me they loved me in trade for heartbreak.

Somehow, my mom helped me tear all of those things down. From the walls, to the ceiling. We re-carpeted, repaired punched holes and torn out sections of wall from my glue. We repainted my room. It was like making over my soul. In the interim, I had broken the bed frame that was once my mother’s. My bed became just a metal-frame beneath a full mattress and box-sping, covered by flannel sheets and a cosmic red and blue flannel bedspread. I had sheer white curtains with the cosmic pattern in silver on them. I’m not sure why I picked that, except I  subconsciously love space (I didn’t realize this until a few months ago when even Dave was out-nerded by my desire to watch more space shows). Either way, when I came home from college, my space was different as I was an ever changing college student, but it was always my room.

D. Brady (now Love) hanging out with me (c. 2003) in my less adorned, but more adored bedroom

D. Brady (now Love) hanging out with me (c. 2003) in my less adorned, but more adored bedroom

Since the renovation, the room is more sterile. Nothing in it really belongs to me except my American Girl, Molly, and Bear-Bear, my May Stick from my 8th grade year at Springside- all of which are shoved into one of the closets (now the room has two closets!). There are some books on the shelves that will become Addie’s, but the bed spread isn’t mine, the mattress is too comfortable to be something I could afford and the pillows are king. The bed frame is a magnificent piece of furniture that was custom-made and amazing. My mother’s bureau is still in the room, with the same drawer liners I put in as a child and the same piece of custom glass my Dad had cut to fit the top, and that makes the room safe. However, it’s the music box that makes that room my room. There is an antique key wind music box that plays multiple songs, my favorite of which is Auld Lang Syne. It’s worth thousands to a collector, but it’s the one thing in my house that I always wanted (and the grand piano!). That music box, the size of a small hope chest, is my childhood.The first time I entered my bedroom from my youth, after the remodel was done and the house as my mother wanted it, I found this giant box atop an antique cabinet in the space where my bed used to be. My husband, a musician, could not believe his eyes when I lifted the lid and wound the box. He fell in love with it in that moment, as much as I had as a child.

My childhood remains as it always will, in shambles. There are times I wish never happened and people I wish were still here. Friends I never wanted to make and those who are still drifters in my life. But, the one thing that remains true to me (as much as it can in a home that’s not mine), is my bedroom. It’s not a guestroom, or somewhere others are welcome to sleep or watch television. My mom did not make it a craft room, or somewhere to store old sweaters. The dogs do not snuggle into the bed, and the closets always have empty hangers waiting for my family to hang their clothes. My room is not what it used to be, and neither am I. As an adult, the bedroom my husband and I share is not what I want it to be. The furniture is Ikea and the floor unfinished. My closet is small, and I’d love a few more feet, but that is my work in progress, and I’m sure it will change as I mature; Just as all the rooms in my heart- though they stay the same, they change too.

Our little nest, just as we like it... for now :)

Our little nest, just as we like it… for now :)

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Hand (and feet) Crafted

We took the holiday season and carved crafted some memories into it. For Thanksgiving we made turkeys and for Christmas we made reindeer with our feet and ornaments with our hands and feet! Sometimes art is fun… and sometimes it’s not.

I take a lot of pictures, and sometimes I think to myself: just experience it! Losing my Dad at such a young age, however, I look at all of my pictures and wish there were a thousand more. More of my parents. More of me with my Dad. Just more pictures. And so, I want to create the memories. My favorite ones have always been pictures and video, but I love looking back at my hand prints done in ceramic. My Mom still keeps them and it makes me feel special to still be that little girl to her. I plan on getting a portfolio and keeping Addie’s crafts in there year-after-year. I hope to do these things until she tells me Mom, I’m too old for this. At which point, I will send her to the movies with friends and quietly cry (and drink a bottle of wine) in my room. And so:

Turkeys

Salt Dough Ornaments

Feet Reindeer

The turkeys were hysterical… as Addie loved, then hated the paint!

It may have been trying to get there, but we made it… and the grandparents loved their new Turkey Day decor! …plus, Addie wasn’t the only one not thrilled about the paint! Hadley, my best friend’s baby girl, was none-to-exited about it:

Hadley and Ashely

It was super simple, and we used just 4 paints, mixing them together to get the colors we didn’t have, like orange and brown:

paints

Using heavyweight paper, I cut out the wattle, feet and two circles, one larger than the other) to make the head. We used googly eyes, and the feathers were hand prints!

The cutting

Hand prints

Turkeys

This one went on our fridge

This one went on our fridge

In the weeks following, Christmas seemed to be racing its way to us… and so, we took the turkey down and made some reindeer with our feet to replace it! This was MUCH more fun, as Addie had eaten before we started AND she loved kicking her feet. Thankfully, we were doing this project at home and I wasn’t afraid of the mess. (There really wasn’t one, but I was nervous there would be!) Again, using just 4 paints, I made brown, and then used black puffy paint for the antlers, red paint for the nose and small googly eyes!

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Addie's Foot!

Our fridge

Our fridge

There was a lot of paint left over, so I made one, too! I plan on giving each set of grandparents their own for their homes as gifts.

And finally… what is Christmas without a beautiful tree? Addie LOVES the tree and watching me put ornaments and lights on, and so I figured we would make a tradition in our house and make some salt dough ornaments of her hands and feet. I’ve gotten them as gifts in the past, but they always went mouldy on me in storage. I happen to have four large bottles of mod podge and they finally got some use sealing these bad boys.

They were super simple… You only need three ingredients for the actual ornaments: salt, flour and water. As well as a rolling pin and cookie cutters, if you plan on making more than just hands and feet! Get some paint or glitter to decorate, too, mod podge or lacquer to seal them, and some string or ribbon to hang.*TIP* I used a large bowl as a cookie cutter, to go around the foot and hand prints, and a chopstick to make the hole

chopsitck

and the tip of a knife write her initials, name and year.

Name

So, using 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of water, combine in a large bowl and knead the dough until it’s smooth.
Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4″ thick (I HAD to use flour on the counter and pin)… then you’re done! Cut out shapes, make prints, go crazy!

Ingredients

Place your ornaments on an un-greased baking sheet and bake at 250* for 2 hours, then flip them over and bake for another 2 . When they’re done, paint, decorate or, at least, seal them! These are amazing keepsakes for you and your family, as well as for grandparents. I hope you get a chance to make some before Tuesday!

IMAG1575

Hand on the tree in red

Foot on the tree in green

… for those who are wondering, ornaments also went better than hand turkeys. This little beauty loved squishing the dough in her hands. Luckily, unlike with paint, you can re-do these if need be!

IMAG1576

Get your craft on!

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Giving thanks

In years past, my husband and I have spent our holidays with his family in one way or another, but this year we went to my childhood home to celebrate- not just Thanksgiving, but my nephew’s first birthday (more on that in another post!).

It was a beautiful weekend, even following an 8 hour drive (3 of which consisted of New Jersey Turnpike traffic). I have not seen my nephew in a long time, and his size, strength and teeth were amazing to me! He is such a BOY! His energy, love for my sister (and brother-in-law), curiosity of all things with hinges (see: pinched fingers) and how fast this year has flown all made me thankful for one encompassing person: my Mom.

Ever since I can remember she has welcomed home boyfriends, friends, strangers and their friends to gather at our home and celebrate the holidays. She sets the table for Passover, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and everyone’s birthday. She hosts showers, Democratic meetings and Skype family visits. This season is no different.

As we all celebrated Mark and Addie’s first Thanksgivings, I held on to the flashes of my own youth. Running around in footie pajamas. Falling in and out of sleep while listening to the only person still cleaning this kitchen- Mom, of course. Watching the first round of Christmas movies play on TV and a new tradition (I hope lasts!): Upper Moreland WON the Thanksgiving game!  Addie loved the game so much, she fell asleep.

Football is SO exciting!

There was the attempt at real turkey, as well as the sweet potatoes and cranberry jelly (oh, the sugar!).

First Thanksgiving!

She wore her new dress, and fell fast asleep in her thankful pj’s. I only wish Dave and I had some that said “Thankful for Addie”.

The dress of the season!

I’m thankful for this baby!

For the first time in a couple of years, I brought myself to visit my Dad. As I talked to him, I held Addie close to me. I told him she was little. I told him how much of a sucker he would be for her. I knew he was hugging us right there. I felt him holding her up for me. When I started to sob, Dave held Addie and told her about my Dad and about me. My Mom held me. Crouched down in the cold I waited for my tears to stop. Being a parent is hard.

I put Addie down in the grass, and she was pensive, like she knew she was on sacred ground. Then, she smiled. She had just met two great men: her Granddad and her Uncle Jonathan, both gone before she could meet them in this life. We got into the car, I took a deep breath, checked the rear view mirror for my beautiful girl, and we continued our day.

The hardest part of the holiday was going home.
We got back in at 1am. As I placed my foot on the bottom step of my own home, I expected it to creak, like the one at my parents’. When it didn’t, my heart fell a little.

I hope that someday Addie has memories like mine. Something that reminds her to come home. That home is always home, no matter where you pay your mortgage.

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Eat and be merry!

With the holidays coming up, I am stressed… I’m also decking the halls, testing the lights to be hung, singing [annoying] songs, wrapping up ornaments for stocking stuffers, ordering gifts that reflect my love for friends and family (I’d love to send you all on a vacation or pay your mortgage, but for what we can afford, I’m pleased with my selections), and, my favorite of all, preparing Addie for all the good eats!

We have been chowing down here at the Martinka house, with an extensive list of foods tried and liked. All of them liked, if not loved. She is, most definitely our baby!

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I wanted to prepare her. So, these past few weeks we’ve been enjoying Fall foods in anticipation for the upcoming delicious-ness that is about to take the nation by storm! Turkey. Squash. Sweet potatoes. Pumpkin. Peas. Cranberries. Stuffing… And so… we’ve tested and tried and we LIKE!

I’ve come up with recopies of my own, and hope that they help you introduce your cherubs to some of the sweet holiday treats (minus all the sweet!) I also introduced cranberry via Earth’s Best, as me making cranberries is always a tart and sugar-filled mess. I want Addie to like them as much as I do, and that means leaving it up to some food making (organic) experts:


Turkey, Squash and Pumpkin
Using lean, organic ground turkey, cook 1 cup through in a pan- you do not need salt, pepper or oil. Once cooked, put in blender.
Take out 4 squash ice cubes (I’m sure you have them in your freezer… they probably take up half of your space). If you don’t have frozen cubes, use about 1/4-1/2 cup steamed (cubed or mashed). Put in blender.
Open up a can of organic pumpkin and spoon 1/2 into the blender.
Add 1/3 cup of water.
BLEND! Addie doesn’t like “mush”, so I blend until there are no large chunks. I suggest adding breastmilk or formula when you feed, as the water will be quickly absorbed and the milk helps soften the food for those of us with no teeth :)

Beets with Pears (Great recipe for making cubes to freeze)
Using a whole can of organic sliced beets, steam in double boiler until soft. Use the juice from the can, as well as water to steam.
Peel, core and slice 5 whole pears. I used a variety to offer different textures and flavor. Steam until soft with the same water as the beets.
Place both beets and pears in blender with 1/4 cup of water FROM THE STEAMER.
Blend until it reaches desired consistency.

WARNING: Beets juice will stain… a naked baby might be best for your laundry. And, do not be alarmed: beets can turn your baby’s urine a shade of red.
For those of you who don’t eat root veggies, beets smell like dirt. Really. However, they are delicious and wonderful for you. If you don’t like a food, please still offer it to your baby to try. I know it can be kind of gross for you, but I promise trying will be fun!

Chicken with Beets and Peas
Bake one boneless chicken breast in a glass pan (no oil needed) on 400 for 45 minutes. Always check to make sure it’s cooked through.
When it’s done, slice it up and put it through a grinder:

Prepare the beets as I stated above in the steamer and put into the blender with 1/3 cup of the water/juice blend used to steam.
Prepare peas, fresh or frozen (which are frozen at their peak, so they’re perfect for you or baby!), drain, and place in the blender.
Blend peas, beets and chicken in blender until well mixed!

*TIP: purchase organic ground turkey and chicken… it’s a pain in the tail to grind! Use a large portion for taco night and prepare the rest (plain) for baby!

I hope your Thanksgiving is amazing and you enjoy this time with family and friends. I am loving being a mom and preparing nutritious meals for Addie is so rewarding- both now and, I’m sure, in the future. Instilling a healthy present, full of good foods, eating habits and extensive palate I am hoping to give her some of my favorite holiday memories without the holiday (or life) guilt, for her to cherish in the future!

Don’t you wish you looked this cute eating?

Yes, mom. More, please!

Peas, please.

I got this.

My hands look tasty, too!

Yeah, I’m adorable.

I came. I ate. I want more!

HAPPY HOLIDAY FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!

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Sleep Study. Take I.

First, HAPPY 19 WEEKS MISS ADELAIDE!!!!
a picture from our sleep study intake visit:

5am in August always feels like summer camp to me. It’s humid and sticky, but the air is cold on my skin. Something in the wind smells like a vague cleaning product. My stomach growls with hunger, but I’m too tired to get food. Getting up irrationally early during the summer seems to defeat the purpose of summer break; however, I’m 27, not 17. My summer break days are over.

Dave and I set out clothes out the night before. We crept out of the bedroom at 4am, like high school kids trying to not wake our parents. Only we are the parents, trying to not wake the baby! We delicately danced around the house, Dave making coffee, and me sitting in the dining room to pump. We bumped into each other in the most ungracious ways while navigating the bathroom without contacts. We gathered up every toy Addie likes, a change of clothes, and some milk for our sleeping girl and loaded everything into the car. Then I gently lifted Addie from the Rock n’ Play, next to our bed, and carried her to my Escape. What a non-fitting name.

Addie’s sleep study intake appointment was an hour and a half drive, each way. We had to take 2 cars so Dave could go right to work after the appointment, in the complete opposite direction from home. Tucking Addie into her seat with Snugglepuppy, I climbed into my car to follow Dave, gently reminding him that we are not driving on a racetrack.

Enjoying the silence of the morning, I rolled into the closest gas station (newly converted from a BP to a Getty), and handed over the last of my life savings into my tank. We then began our journey to Waltham.

I looked at her in my rear view mirror as we neared the hospital. With a half hour drive still ahead, I realized she was awake, and looking around- not unhappy, just checking everything out! I remembered childhood memories of waking up in the car, early in the morning and late at night, coming from and going on vacations. Such beautiful memories of pretending to be asleep as my Dad carried me into a strange house that smelled of clean sheets and the ocean- so excited to wake up to the beach and boardwalk of Ocean City, New Jersey. As I stared into my mirror, I wished this was a memory for Addie. I want her to wake up in her pajamas on the way to the beach, not to an early appointment, but I realize, she may just have to have memories of both.

Oddly, Hasboro Children’s Hospital does not do sleep studies for children under the age of one, so we were heading to the Waltham branch of Boston’s Children’s Hospital. I was nervous to be traveling so far with her, to an unknown doctor, but when we arrived, I was at ease. The directions were great, and the signage was perfect! As we entered the Neurology Department, Dave sat down to give Addie her breakfast (mmmm, milk!) and I headed to the desk to fill out all the paper work. We were promptly called into the exam room and asked a lot of questions. Addie was stripped down to her diaper and the doctor did the usual poke, prod, listen, squeeze, stretch, measure, check with a light and recheck with a light and a stick, squeeze again, roll over, get in the face, play with a light, listen again routine.

“She looks great!” the doctor declared. He stepped out to wait for Dr. Kothare to come into the room. Addie waited patiently with Daddy!

We learned that there are three things that will be checked during Addie’s sleep study, which are more common in children with achondroplasia, and I must admit, sometimes not knowing is much more comforting than knowing.  First, the doctors will check for sleep apnea, where she stops breathing for 10-20 seconds at a time from the weight of her head and other differences in organ sizes (et cetera) from AH children. Second, the doctors will be looking for central sleep apnea, where your brain actually sends the message to your body to stop breathing. Third, tests will be done to determine if Addie is getting good air. This means that the levels of carbon dioxide will be measured to make sure she is holding enough to sustain her.

I did not know the body would ever tell itself to stop breathing. There have been a few nights since our intake appointment that I have picked her up out of her bassinet and held her to me, skin-to-skin, like the first days after she came home. I’ve asked her to promise me to wake up. I’ve shed tears that I couldn’t have stopped for all the money in the world and stars in the sky.

Her actual sleep study is September 3, in downtown Boston, and because they’re only done during the week, I will be there with her alone. It is a lot for a parent who is not doing it alone, to be left alone to do most of the parenting and I am so thankful that Dave was with me when we got her examined… However, I am terrified to go to Boston alone, sleep alone, and watch Addie get hooked up alone. I lean on my husband for support that I don’t even know he gives until he can’t be there. I can’t imagine being a single parent for so many reasons; someone to dry my tears is one of them.

On days where Addie gets shots, when the insurance company calls to deny me again, when I can’t find my keys or forget the safe place I put something but now can’t find- that’s when I miss Dave the most. I know that someday he won’t have to work so much, and he won’t have the two hour commute everyday, but I wish that day was now.

I’m hoping for good results, so I can rest easy (literally)… at least until her next sleep study in a year!

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