A few little ditties about Maxine that I would like to preserve here…since a baby book has failed to materialize from thin air for her.

Her imagination is in full bloom.  And it is so lovely.

She has latched onto flying lately.  Sometimes with a cape.  Sometimes with her wings.  And sometimes on a plane.

Always in her “real sky” where we take giant bites of the cheese moon and eat the ice cream clouds before snuggling up in them for a cozy nap.

In all of her imaginary scenarios, we run into problems which honestly vex her…the safety of sleeping in a cloud without falling, messes that her imaginary seals make, you know, the usual.

Then there are the learning experiences…and parenting choices that I choose to make.

We were talking about what makes animals wild.  One of the examples that I provided was that wild animals hunt/gather their own food.  This lead to me apprehensively showing her a youtube video of lions hunting zebra.

I was apprehensive because I don’t want there to be a disconnect between my little carnivoires food and its source.  I want her to understand that meat doesn’t come from a store.  It comes from an animal.  To forget that or put that out of our minds seems irreverent to me.

At the same time as I want her to be grateful for the unwilling sacrifice animals make to those higher up on the food chain, I was a little afraid it would be too much for her to process.

I watched her watch the video of the lion hunting the zebra.

Not disturbed.  Fascinated.  Not in a bloodthirsty way.  Just in the way that a three year old processes new information.

When it was finished, she was quiet for a moment, and then asked, “Can we see one of zebras eating lions now?”  I told her why that wouldn’t work.

“Is there one of tigers eating lions?”

Another strike out.

“What videos of animals eating animals do you have on your ‘puter?”

So that put any worries, I had, of damaging her with too much information about the food chain to rest.

We were shopping for new bathing suits for the girls since they go through them so fast–they swim twice a week during the winter and about every day in the summer.

The woman that was checking us out: “And how old is your sister?”

Maxine: “Six.”

Woman:  “And how old are you?”

Maxine: “Three.  And how old are you?”

Woman: “Oh, I’m not telling you that.  I’m old.  You shouldn’t ask old people their ages.”

Aside from being incredibly funny how Maxine imitated the speech pattern, I was pissed!  Maxine was a little confused and looked a little hurt.  If it is rude to ask an “old person” her age, it is rude to ask a “young person” her age too.  I personally don’t see what the big deal about telling someone your age is.  If you’re “old”, be proud of it, own it, rock it!  As if there is any less value in being old than young.

Don’t be rude to my kid because of foolish vanity–especially when you opened the door to the question.

I wonder what that taught her.  She was clearly experimenting with a back and forth conversation with someone she didn’t know.  And she got shut down.  I probably am over thinking this one but it really sat the wrong way with me.

Parenting Maxine is so very different than parenting Evie.  In a lot of ways, there were less immediate worries with Evie.  I find myself worrying more about how conversations like the one with the lady in the store or over/under providing information will affect her in the long term.

I  know so very little about parenting.  Each day shines a light on how ignorant I am.  I have a feeling that by the time I feel partially sufficient at any aspect of parenting, we will be onto something new–leaving me bumbling through something new.


Today, Maxine took her first real steps.  She is so proud of herself and holds onto her little belly to steady herself.  Hey, whatever works.

Yep, I’m sure you guessed it.  Love Explosions.

Her doctors have been fretting over her resistance to walking for a while.

I have not.

Maxine is almost 19 months.  A few months ago, just before she got the croup, she was taking a single tentative step here and there.  After the hospitalization, she stopped.  Even though I never left her side, she needed the reassurance of closeness to me.  She didn’t want to take risks.  She had to find her way back to that place of security.  I understood that.

I don’t believe in bribing, coaxing, cajoling, or manipulating my children because I think they should be doing something because of some chart or because the neighbor’s kid did it when he/she was XYZ age.  I don’t believe in pushing my girls to do things before they are ready.  That includes weaning.  That includes walking.  That includes sleeping in their own beds.  That includes almost anything.

I say throw the charts out the window.  Relax.  Enjoy your babies.  Seeing those first steps at 19 months is just as sweet as seeing them at 9 months.  Resist the urge to enter your baby in the race to nowhere and live in the moment.  The rat race is always hiring.


Today was the second day that Evelyn returned my wave from the school bus window.  I’ve been waving for nearly two school years.

Love explosions.

Isn’t it amazing how one little palm held up to the glass can make my heart soar.  How it can leave me standing in the driveway waving frantically and saying, “yes, wave.  you’re waving.  you’re awesome.  you’re waving to mama” etc.  Even though she couldn’t hear me.  I went on and on.

She left her hand against the window and a little smile touched her lips.  I think she knew that her mama was making a spectacle of herself and was amused.

After her bus was out of site and I was walking down the driveway, I realized that I had a huge grin on my face.  I love when that happens.  Not even realizing that I am smiling.  I don’t think that I used to do that before I had my girls.  Now it happens all of the time and I love it. How extraordinarily lucky am I to be so happy that I get to walk around smiling without even realizing it?

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my girls?  I am grateful for the beautiful simplicity that they have brought to my life.  I am grateful that they have boiled happiness down to a little palm pressed against the window of a bus.


Acceptance is such a funny thing.  Knowing what to accept and what not to accept is not always clear–for any parent.

My journey to acceptance of Evelyn’s special needs has been tumultuous and emotional.  And sometimes I don’t know if I am accepting too much or not accepting enough.

When Evelyn first started showing signs of physical developmental delays at a couple of months age, I wrote them off to mere differences in development.  Over time, although it became more clear that her differences were of a more significant nature.  But I tricked myself into believing that she was just moving at her own pace–which she was—but I couldn’t (maybe wouldn’t) wrap my mind around a permanent disability.

Let me back up.  Up until my pregnancy with Evelyn, I’ve had a pretty easy life.  I have wonderful parents who have always supported me.  I’ve always felt loved.  I never really worried about anyone because for the most part the people that I loved were healthy.  I would say now that I had an unreasonable faith that everything would always be okay–that my life would work out the way that I had expected it to.

Before Evelyn had an MRI at two years old, there was a round of really scary genetic tests.  She had been diagnosed with hypotonia (which means low muscle tone) but they didn’t know what caused it.  So there were a slew of different degenerative diseases for which they tested over the course of a year.  During that year, I stayed up late every single night googling, and googling, and googling.  What I read was not reassuring.  I lived in fear.  Finally Evelyn had an MRI at age two which revealed a brain malformation in her cerebellum.  They believed that this explained everything that she was experiencing, that she would always have low muscle tone, but that she would progress typically otherwise.

So I breathed easy for a while…we lived, we loved, we did our thing.  When Evelyn was almost three, she pretty much stopped talking and started having absence seizures constantly.  Enter a new reign of fear.  The neurologists and geneticists went into another tizzy and I think I was even more scared than I’d been the first time since so many signs pointed to a degenerative disease.

There is nothing that I can compare to worrying that your child may suffer and die.  Those words are so hard to type.  It is almost unbearable for me–for any parent–to consider these possibilities for my child.

So when the blood tests, the mris, the spinal tap, the halter monitors, and all of that other stuff were exhausted, we were left with autism to explain the regression.  And autism was a huge relief.

I embraced autism.  I wrapped my mind and heart around autism.  I accepted autism as part of Evie’s fate.  And it wasn’t devastating.  I moved forward with optimism.

Acceptance comes at different times.  Scott was slower to accept what autism might (likely will) mean for Evie.  Shortly after her diagnosis, I remember that he made a comment about her “catching up” developmentally.  Even though I gently push him towards reality, often, I don’t believe that he has fully accepted what autism means in our family.  I think it has to do with the fact that he didn’t spend time considering the horrible degenerative diseases that were on the table.  So he didn’t feel that sense of relief that washed over me when we heard, “autism.”

Last week, he mentioned that a coworker had asked him how severe Evelyn’s autism is.  He told him that Evelyn is high functioning.  I admit that I laughed because Evelyn doesn’t have speech, she isn’t toilet trained, she doesn’t have self care skills, etc.  She certainly wouldn’t be labeled high functioning by anyone else.  But it is touching, to me, that her daddy labels her as such–because she laughs, because she loves, because she has a sense of humor, because she has a temper, because we have a family language, because Evie “functions” just fine in his eyes.  And I love him for that.

Every time my husband reads one of my blog posts he cries because he is reminded of the fact that Evelyn’s delays and differences from a typically developping are truly profound.  Part of me wants him to embrace the probabilities, but another part of me sees the benefits of accepting nothing as an absolute and everything as a possibility.  Afterall, it makes me crazy that some of the people that work with Evelyn seem to have written off the possibility of her making gains with speach. Why should I feel the need to tell Scott that it is probable that Evelyn will never live alone?

My acceptance is different than Scott’s.  I don’t know which–if either is better.  I take life day by day.  I don’t plan what Evelyn will or will not be able to do.  I’m happy with any fate where my daughter is happy and healthy.  Scott doesn’t have higher hopes for Evelyn as what could be considered a higher aspiration than health and happiness?  But he definitely feels like Evelyn will make more significant developmental progress than I think is likely.

Where do you strike that balance between not allowing our hypotheses turn into limitations and dealing with things realistically?  Because both are essential.

Either way, both Scott and I accept that this isn’t what we expected or planned.  We are both surprised that it is, actually, far better than what we expected.  And while we might disagree about how things are likely to pan out in terms of our future as a family, we agree that health and happiness are our only objectives.  And I think we both have learned that happiness doesn’t live in our expectations for our family–but in our family itself.

gaining the competitive edge

Maxine is starting to let go when she is standing up.  She has even taken a single step here and there.  In another life, I might have been tempted to push her to do things before she is ready.  But Max gets to reep the benefits of my parenting experiences with Evelyn.

So Max is somewhat on the later side to be doing things.  I’m completely at peace with this.  Max is a cautious baby.  She doesn’t do anything until she can do it with control and safety.  I believe in encouraging her when she makes the decision to work on something new.  I believe in applauding her efforts to try something new.  But I don’t like to give her the impression that my praise of her-that my love for her is contingent upon her stepping outside of what is comfortable for her.  My pride and my love are unwavering and they don’t ebb and flow with the development of new motor skills or speech.

I feel like, as a society, we put too many expectations on our children.  We expect them to live by graphs and charts and we have a tendency to panic when they aren’t keeping up with their peers.  To what end?  Maybe Max would have walked earlier had we worked on it more.  Maybe when people ask me if Max is walking “yet” (we will get to the word “yet” in a minute), I could answer yes.  But what would that have done to her little psyche?  What would that teach her?

Whenever I feel the urge to push Max to do something, I have trained myself to stop and think about my OWN motivations.  Is that chart looming in the back of my mind?  Did someone just ask me if she was doing “X yet?”  Am I having a moment where I am thinking that her not walking, not eating solids, not doing algebra “yet” is a reflection on me as a mother?  Because that’s my own problem–my own insecurities.

When Evelyn was younger, it would be like a knife in my heart every time someone asked me if she was doing “X yet.”  It was like fueling the fire burning inside of me…the fear that she was different, the fear that she wouldn’t catch up.  And as the gap between normal and Evelyn grew, that word, “yet,” became more and more piercing.  And when people would say, “don’t worry, she will catch up” a little piece of me would die and I wouldn’t know why.  I know now it is because it felt like it wouldn’t be okay with people if she didn’t catch up.  In a lot of cases it isn’t okay with people.

I never felt better when I put aside my desire for Evelyn to do things like other kids.  It was a true epiphany to know that Evelyn should do things like Evelyn and that her mama shouldn’t worry about what anyone but Evelyn can do.  And I carry this package of enlightenment with me like a little gift to myself when I might be tempted to enter either of my children into the endless competitions that they will be forced to endure throughout life.  My kids will be sitting most contests out.  We will work on playing hard and loving.  This gives us the competitive edge.

leaving it on a less sniveling note

Because I hate that last negative post but needed to unload it–

Maxine has been really interested in playing babies–feeding them, making them jump (they use their heads to jump), making them cry etc.  Grammy plays babies with her most often.

Today Grammy sat down near the babies and Maxine and I walked over (Maxine holding onto my fingers).  I slipped my fingers out of Xiner’s hands and she just stood there (for the first time) like she’d been doing it always.  She stood there for like ten seconds while my mom and I stared at her with dropped jaws.   Then she, ever so slowly, lowered herself to the ground with complete control.

My girl is cautious.  She almost never has an accident.  She is so like Daddy in this way.  And so unlike me.  I went from crawling to running and crashing when I was nine months old and the rest of my life has pretty much followed suit.  Daddy (I should call him Scott) is cautious about everything.

I love watching this little bubble bloom and grow….