Thursday, September 13, 2012

We Dream of a World

Last night we had back to school night. We sat in the auditorium and listened to the principal tell us about an assembly all the children attended during their first week of school. At the assembly, he said, they spoke about how each student can make the world a better place, and that even by just being a good friend, the world is made better. I thought that was really nice. As we walked to Daughter’s kindergarten classroom, we saw posters created by the students. The title of each poster was “We Dream of a World Where….” And the kids drew a picture and wrote an ending to the title.
Before I grace you with Daughter’s poster, I want to give you a sampling of the different endings the other children supplied:
We Dream of a World

  • …where we clean the water
  • …where there is love
  • …where there is school
  • And more, all of which were some kind of environmentally friendly message

And then, we saw Daughter’s poster hanging proudly in the bottom right corner of the wall:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Plans vs. Reality

There’s so much I want to do. In my mind, I make plans. I have so many ideas, and I have so many great things I want to do. As I sit at my desk, as I drive in my car, I think of all the things I could be doing if only I was home. I don’t know why I always have a "aaaah" vision of the evening when I get home from work. I’m thinking calm, cuddly moments, or the kids quietly playing as I tackle a project. I picture being super productive once the kids are in bed, when I can actually get a lot done. But reality hits when I actually walk through the door. While I’ve been planning my evening, the children have been waiting for my return. They’ve been waiting to greet me, to kiss, me to hug me, to tell me about their day, to show me all their accomplishments. So picture three mini tornadoes hurdling at my feet as I walk through the door. Picture those tornadoes producing not wind, but squawks of “Mama! Mama!” over and over and over again. I don’t know where to turn my head first, I don’t know who to kiss first and I don’t know whose question to answer first. So I do a sweep of all three and try to catch everyone in the biggest hug possible. In the two hours I have before the kids go to sleep, I run a marathon of juggling all the requests flying at me, and my accomplishments are generally the same every evening: nothing from my mental list. I am mentally torn into pieces from the moment I show my face to the moment the kids go to bed. Once the kids are in bed, I vaguely remember my mental list, and half-heartedly wish I had the energy to complete just one task on that list as I flop onto the couch with a book.
Maybe my problem is the mental list. Maybe I should write down everything I want to do, and feel that sense of accomplishment when I can cross off at least one thing off the list (for those of you who are like me, and like to cross things off, it helps to break down things into specific tasks so if you don’t finish the whole thing, at least you can cross off the steps leading up to the finished product). Or maybe I should write down all the things I actually did do that weren’t on the mental list, like eating dinner as a family, working with Son and Daughter to clean off the table (Baby also brings his plate to the sink), showing appreciation for the various crafts Daughter created while I was gone, and encouraging Son to tell me about his day. If we’re lucky (aka I’m not too tired), we work on our reading and math skills, and might even fit in learning a new note on the piano. Maybe I shouldn’t focus on all the things I didn’t accomplish and focus on what I did. Every family is its own unit, and every family works things out their own way. I need to stop comparing myself to other family units and nurture my own. I need to embrace the fact that we’ll have laundry baskets in our bedroom, our walls will remain unpainted, but at least our children will have memories of their mother dancing in the rain with them. Literally. My hair is still wet!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Little Bit of Culture

On Tuesday, June 5, I ventured out with two friends to the ballet to see Onegin, a dramatization of Alexander Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. I've never read the entire novel, although we read excerpts of it in Russian school, I think in seventh grade. Also, my cousin used to watch the opera all the time, and all I remember of that was the scene where Onegin cries (sings) - I love you! and Tatiana cries back - Leave me alone! (Люблю тебя! Оставь меня!) So, before I went, I decided I should freshen up my memory of the story, and the book is now on my bucket list of things to do before I die for one reason only. I'm not going to be able to put it any better than what I found on Wikipedia, so here's a direct quote:

"Almost the entire work is made up of 389 stanzas of iambic tetrameter with the unusual rhyme scheme "AbAbCCddEffEgg", where the uppercase letters represent feminine rhymes while the lowercase letters represent masculine rhymes. This form has come to be known as the "Onegin stanza" or the "Pushkin sonnet."" 

How brilliant is that?! For those whom it hasn't clicked for: feminine rhymes and masculine rhymes refer to words of feminine or masculine gender. So not only did Pushkin have to think of a rhyme, but he had a pattern AND he had to find a corresponding rhyme in the same gender! WOW!

The ballet was beautiful. To be completely honest, I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to sit through the prescribed dancing without getting bored, but the staging was excellent and the dancers talented (of course- it was the American Ballet Theater!), so the story was felt throughout.
Here are a few images. I have to say that one of the most impressive things was the set of birches. I spent quite a bit of time inspecting them through my friend's binoculars.

Afterwards, we had dessert at Cafe Fiorello which is right across from Lincoln Center.
 We had the profiteroles, which were filled with vanilla gelato and smothered with fresh hot chocolate sauce.  Decadent, but the dough was a little dry, and the Limoncello tart, which was a perfect combination of sweet and tart.
A wonderful night over all; can't wait to do it again!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Hunger Games


The Hunger Games sat on my Kindle for a few months before I picked it up. Although the description looked interesting, I kept putting it aside for something else. Once I started reading, though, the whole world fell away for me, the kids were fed all things convenient and watched countless movies, while I lived and breathed Katniss Everdeen for 4 days until I steamrolled through the trilogy.
It was interesting on so many levels. Of course, the love triangle grabbed me. Who doesn’t enjoy reading about the tension and indecision of young love? I was on the fence the entire time as to whom I thought Katniss should end up with. By the end, however, I was committed to one person. I believe that Katniss' decision was a testament to the fact that our choices shape us, our experiences change us. Although I did mourn what could have been, I am glad that the story exemplified how sometimes in life, we choose the path to follow, but at other times, we are placed on a path not of our choosing, and it all depends on how we choose to walk that path.
I loved how Katniss’ actions became larger than her, and inspired uprisings and the eventual fall of their government. The fact that her actions had a ripple effect is something we should all take into consideration. We are not alone in the world, and what we say, what we do, and what we do or do not accomplish affect our own lives, but also affect those around us.
On April 18, after much waiting and much anticipation, Husband and I watched the Hunger Games on the big screen. A couple of things. First, at the most superficial, although I loved [katniss’ character] , I felt she was too big boned to play opposite Peeta. Peeta looked too small and scrawny next to her. Honestly, I think Peeta was miscast. I don’t think they portrayed her internal struggle with decisions and choices well. Husband and I also felt like they left out key elements that made the story so heartwrenching. I can’t understand why they left out District 11’s gift of bread. I don’t know why they downplayed her friendship with Gale, and what it was based on. I feel like they didn’t need to focus so much on the administration of the Games and how they were manipulated, especially since all of that was fabricated. They could have spent more time on character development within the Games themselves. I don’t think people really got a sense that Cato was mentally disturbed, or that the girl from District 5 was really cunning. They glossed over the reason why Peeta hung around the Career pack. Husband and I also felt that they didn’t spend enough time on how much the presence of an overabundance of food affected Peeta and Katniss. Also, I felt they could have spent more time on the fact that children were dying in these Games. They glossed over the battles and deaths – perhaps to keep the PG-13 rating?
I stayed away from most of the media hype pertaining to the movie because I wanted to be surprised and uninfluenced going into the movie theater. I did, however, read a couple of articles on the obsession people have with the story. I especially liked this one blog post by Rev. Robert Barron,, which compares the Hunger Games to the short story, the Lottery by Shirley Jackson, as well as the Roman gladiators. He said that most people reading the books can’t imagine something like this happening in this day and age. I agree with him that the thirst for human sacrifice is not far away – today, although reality tv is not watching people fight to the death, people revel in watching other people’s misfortunes, and thrive on watching people fail. Reality TV is just a hair away from the next step. We may kid ourselves in thinking that we’re watching the positive outcomes, but what really brings people back time and time again is finding out who gets voted off, and hoping for their least favorites to be brought down. The Hunger Games can be seen as a satire, a parody of our own society. Where do we fall within the boundaries of Panem? Who do we most resemble?

A Few of My Favorite Things

My favorite spring flowers:


Lilacs - I have two mini lilac bushes under my kitchen window. My one disappointment is that the blooms don't last very long on it.

Early spring snowdrops are always a catalyst of my heart bursting excitement for spring.


 Lily of the Valley - this was my first perfume (Christian Dior's Diorissimo) and is still in my repertoire as one of my favorites. My bridesmaids bought me lily of the valley to put in my bouquet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Snacks and Birthmarks and House Cleaning, Oh my!

Joy, oh joy, oh joy, oh joy! Today was the first day in my entire married life that someone came to clean our house!  Words cannot express the feelings Husband and I are feeling right now, walking from room to room, taking every detail in. This is the best present in the world, even if I gave it to myself.

So, I hate being told what to do. I think it runs in my family. The minute I am  told I "have" to do this or that, I immediately shut down and if I wanted to participate, I definitely don't want to anymore. That's how I felt at the beginning of the school year when we were told not to send any unhealthy snacks into school. That's right. No cookies, no fruit roll ups, no chips. It was so much harder to figure out what to send in for snack since all the easy options were out the window. Even for Son's birthday, I couldn't make cupcakes for the class! My rebellion was to make carrot muffins with a cream cheese frosting, and ironically, they were such a hit with the kids that I had to send the recipe out to all the moms.
Here's the recipe:

Carrot-Apple Muffins

2 cups (270 grams) grated raw carrot (about 2-3 peeled carrots)
1 large apple, peeled and grated
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated white sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3.5 grams) salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (180 ml) extra light olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

(I used 2 huge carrots and 1 large carrots. I didn't measure out 2 cups of carrots, and ended up overloading the batter with carrots. I added an extra egg to compensate)
Peel and finely grate the carrots and apple. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Stir in the nuts and coconut. Set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Fold the wet ingredients, along with the grated carrot and apple, into the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 10 minutes remove the muffins from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Makes 18 standard-sized muffins.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 cup) (110 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

(I just realized that I used 1/2 cup of unsalted butter instead of the called for 1/4 cup butter....oops! :)   )

Beat the butter and cream cheese until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually beat in the  powdered sugar until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Place a dollop of the cream cheese frosting on the top of each muffin. (I piped a bit onto each muffin)

---------------------------------------------------End of Recipe----------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Last week, though, I suddenly realized that, as a family, we've really benefited from this rule. Instead of reaching for the cookies, we're reaching for the apples, the bananas, the grapes, even the pretzels with hummus for dipping.It enabled us to think outside the box to come up with more interesting snacks. I think I'm really starting to like this healthy snack rule!

I have something really superficial to share today. About a month ago, read an article in Good Houskeeping about a 50 year old woman who finally had a tummy tuck after wanting one for many years. Although she looked forward to it for such a long time, after it was done, she had a period of sadness, as if a piece of her was missing. I've had three children, and I know what it feels like to lose your body, and I sort of got the sadness part, but today I got to know it firsthand.

I've had a birthmark on my right hand for as long as I can remember. It's been with me from the beginning (I think), it's been the subject of jokes (hey, what's on  your hand; let me wipe that off...), but it's also been a worry to me as it increased in size over the years, and then another birthmark appeared along side it a couple of years ago. This morning, at a routine dermatologist appointment, the doctor recommended removing the new birthmark, and questioning the old one. I answered that it could come off, and before I knew it, off it came! No, seriously. I had no idea it was happening. I had my eyes closed for what I thought was the biopsy. When she said she was going to biopsy them, I thought it meant that she takes a little snip of it off, and sends it for testing, and that's what I thought she was talking about when she said I'd feel a little pinch. Instead, the little pinch (which was actually a bigger pinch) was the local anesthesia. When I finally looked down, I was shocked to see white circles on my hand, voids where my birthmarks once were. I don't care about the new birthmark, but I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion at seeing my hand clean of the other one. A part of me is missing, no longer to return. I think if I had let myself go, I probably would have cried. Have you ever "lost" a part of yourself? Feel free to share!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Recently, we decided to night-time potty train Daughter because we didn't want to buy any more diapers for her. We had tried this once before when size 6 diapers just wouldn't fit her anymore, but it failed miserably. This time, a few accidents, but she's definitely out of the training pants forever. Tonight, for the second time in a week, Daughter woke up and went to the bathroom by herself!

Today I wrote this for Daughter to read. She usually stats to cry when I bring out letter work, but today, she took the paper and her pencil, and said, я пойду сама постараюсь. (I will go try this myself) She came back and with minimal assistance read it back to me! The areas where she copied the words were blank for her to fill in with her own ending verbally. She enjoys that little surprise of being able to create a little story. Her little reward for a job well done!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Following is a beautiful article on forgiveness, featuring one of my favorite people that I met at the DownRight Art show. Prepare for your heart hurting, though, at the cruelty in the world our children may face:


Christopher Diedo may be known to Universe readers for his photographic talent and success, having been featured twice over the past few years but disturbingly, he makes news this time for very different reasons.
Chris aged 25 is the youngest of our three children. He is a delightful young man who has Down’s syndrome, severe learning difficulties and associated speech and language problems. He is a committed Christian and Catholic, choosing to attend mass twice every Sunday at St. Vincent’s RC Church, Dartford where he assists Fr. Patrick Zammit as a senior altar server with 18 years experience. Four years ago, he took up photography as a hobby producing some stunning images along the way and exhibiting at such places as, The Mick Jagger Centre, The Proud, OXO Tower and Strand galleries, as well as at The Truman Brewery, Brick Lane. He has been invited by the Malta High Commission to exhibit next year at the European Delegation Headquarters in London.
On Monday 28th March, 2011 a man appeared before magistrates in Dartford to answer a charge of assaulting our son, in Dartford town, last April. The defendant, who called Christopher a freak before punching him in the face, pleaded guilty to the assault and criminal damage to the wing mirror of our parked car. The man received a 170 day prison sentence for the assault and a further 80 day prison sentence to run concurrently, for the criminal damage. It’s clear to us as parents, that the magistrates recognised the disgusting nature of the unprovoked attack on this vulnerable and trusting member of society and sentenced, accordingly. We hope the length of the prison term and the vigour with which Kent police pursued the charges to gather evidence to secure a conviction will serve as a warning and deterrent, whilst helping the learning disabled visiting or living in Dartford, to feel more secure and safe on our streets. Interestingly, on 13th June Alex Dwyer, spokeswoman for Scope speaking on BBC TV news, reported a rise in the number of hate crimes/incidents against people with disabilities in the London area, citing the statistics as a disturbing trend for reasons which need to be addressed.
Thankfully, my wife and I were with Christopher at the time of the assault or it might have been far worse for him. We had just collected our son from a centre in Dartford where he had spent a happy day in the company of his friends and were heading for our car as three men in their 20’s were passing. Christopher asked one of them to let him pass as he was in his way. The man who was shirtless and unbeknown to us at the time, drunk and wearing a court tag around his ankle called him a freak. When Christopher protested, the man first accused him of calling him by that name. I intervened saying our son wouldn’t say such a thing and pointed out, just in case he hadn’t noticed that, he had Down’s syndrome and learning difficulties. The fit looking, muscle bound man said he didn’t care and punched Christopher in the face. Did I stop to remember my Catholic upbringing, turning the other cheek and exercising self-restraint as Paul advised in his letter to Titus? I’m afraid I did not. I punched the man straight back in the face, as much a reflex action as it was in self defence of my family. We fought in Dartford town centre while my son wisely took refuge in the centre he had just left. Eventually, the police arrived and arrested the man. Christopher and I were taken to hospital to be checked because of injuries sustained.
Christopher was so traumatised by the attack that he later tried several times to leave home, saying he was afraid the man would come and find him and burn our house down. Our doctor referred him to a clinical psychiatrist who targeted some excellent support, doing much to get Christopher back on track to feeling confident again about venturing out, a confidence built up painstakingly over the years but shattered in a moment of cruelty, ignorance and rage.
The man who was bailed on condition he stayed away from us, saw us in town shortly after the attack and approached apologising, blaming his behaviour on drinking whisky which he said got him into trouble. He assured us he was a reformed person and asked us to shake his hand and accept his apologies. With more time to think and not sensing any immediate danger, I must admit to thinking things through before giving him my answer. I told myself that I’m a Catholic, that none of us are perfect, least of all me and that I turn to the Lord time and time again, having faith in God’s compassion and promise of forgiveness to those who trust in Him. I reminded myself that the Lord forgives us so we must do the same and forgive our neighbour. Despite all that I’d convinced myself of in my head, I still couldn’t shake his hand but then something happened that shook me into seeing how wrong I was, how tied up in outrage and condemnation I’d become: without any prompting, after I’d refused the man, Christopher extended his hand and shook the hand of the man who had attacked him verbally and physically. I felt humbled by my son’s readiness to forgive and move on and in an instant remembered what was called for and what I should have done first as a Christian and the head of my family, forgive the man and shake his hand, which I then did. It was left to our son with learning difficulties to show us the right way forward and by example, remind us of those words in Ecclesiasticus: ‘Resentment and anger, these are foul things and both are found with the sinner…. Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.’ Well done, Christopher!

To see some of Christopher’s pictures and learn more about him, look at his website:
Andrew Diedo, Parent. June 2011

Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Down Syndrome Day

I didn't have a chance to post yesterday, because we were doing something *amazing* - we were celebrating the first annual World Down Syndrome Day!
Son (7 years old, mind you) made his artistic debut in an art show in *New York CITY!*(as Son likes to emphasize)  He was one of only two children on display. As one of the many things Son's teacher has done above and beyond his requirements as a teacher, he submitted four photographs that Son took using his school iPad.
the two photographs on top are Son's

When Son's teacher contacted the organization, Alexander's Angels, he was told that this was a professional art show, but to submit the photos and the curator would decide what to do with them. Needless to say, obviously the curator approved them, because here we were last night, making our way to Son's favorite place (he told us he wants to live there).

Yes, part of me thought the whole thing was funny - I mean really, it wasn't like Son thought about the composition of his photographs, or the message he wanted to send. He chose the filter he wanted to use, and had fun with it. But isn't having fun part of it? Sometimes the more thought you put in, the worse it comes out. Maybe he really will be a photographer someday, and maybe this experience will help shape him. Regardless of his future, it was a great experience, and I believe it helped shape me.
I came away with a renewed hope in the future and the knowledge that just because you have a disability, does not mean you can't be a good artist. Some of the paintings were being sold for thousands of dollars!

the one on the left was amazing - and a three dimensional painting

love these!


I enjoyed chatting with the featured artists. It was refreshing to see how proud they were of their work, without any of the false humility that tends to hover around the rest of us. I know that pride is not one of the virtues, but if you have false humility, it kind of rots the intention. It was beautiful to see that openness - this is *my* work, and I'm not afraid to show it! For one of the artists, it was more important to show me his name in writing next to his paintings than to show me his actual paintings -"I'm right here, and I'm right here, and I'm right here" Another young woman stood seriously by my side as I examined her work. When I complimented it (it was really awesome), she solemnly said thank you, and then she couldn't hold it in - she smiled wide, and tried to cover it up. I love moments like that.
At one point, I was waiting to speak to someone, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw Son stick his tongue out at someone and smile. Who is he doing that to?! I thought. Turns out, a man with Down syndrome was egging him on, and I said, laughing, "What is going on here?" "Nothing!" he replied, and proceeded with, "I'm an artist!" So of course, I had to get a personal tour of his work.
The featured artists were from all around the whole world - Australia, England, the United States, to name a few. One young photographer flew in from England for the first time. He told me that he watched a really scary movie on the plane with werewolves in it that he turned off and opted for Toy Story 3. A good choice, I thought. I was very touched to notice that he came with his sister, and his sister was taking every opportunity to introduce her brother to the other artists. So this wasn't just about showing your art and being seen, it was about making connections, uniting ourselves to a common purpose, and furthering our exposure and building our relationships.
I was so happy to have a supportive representation of people in our life. Of course Son's immediate family (we even brought Baby, and he was very well behaved for a 17 month old), and my parents, but also family friends who have supported us in every Down syndrome endeavor to date. And I can't forget Son's teacher and speech therapist who spent all day at the UN attending events for Down Syndrome Day, and then came to the reception at the art gallery. Wish my sister could have been here for this...

the entourage
Son's teachers with photography in the background

 The show is from March 21-March 29, so if you are in the area and have a minute, it is really worth your time! 28on27 - 28 27th St, NY, NY (between Broadway and 6th) on the second floor.

Monday, March 19, 2012


At the conference on education children with Down syndrome that I went to a few weeks ago at CW Post, the key note speaker spoke of pathfinders in our lives. People who have worked through obstacles, making a trail for people to follow. I don't want to say paving the way,  because a paved road would be easy to follow, and much of the time, the roads we travel are not paved. They are paths that are barely visible, if they've ever been walked. They are overgrown, they are unexplored territories. There are many pathfinders in life. Were you a pathfinder for someone? Who was a pathfinder for you?
I can think of many pathfinders in my life. Most recently, in the area of my life that seems to be biggest mystery, they were the women who shared their knowledge and their wisdom on educating their special needs children. They are the women who saw the potential in their children and chose to reach that higher bar, to stray from the road more traveled, to head into the unknown. They are the women who saw potential in my son, and without any pressure shone their beacon of light on me, and gave me a path to follow.
I also find strength in the people around me, and if not pathfinders, they are the people who guide me on my way, pushing me back on the path that I've chosen. They are the ones who listen to my woes on a bad day, and rejoice in my happiness on the good days. My history, my upbringing, and my ideals also play a big role in keeping me on my path. They are the ones who remind me of my goals. They are the ones who support my decisions, or question them when it seems like I might have lost my way.
As I travel along my path, I hope I make it easier for someone else down the line, and I hope I can provide the same support I receive, when that support is needed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Listen to your children, because they have dreams too" ~Joann Ripp

Life is a rough ride sometimes. It's tough to know that what you're doing is the right thing, and if it's the wrong thing, it's tough to decide to stop doing it. That's what life has taught me thus far. But I also know that once it's right, you feel amazing.
Almost six months into working full time, I am beginning to see the effects on the children. Any time I approach within five feet of the back door, even if I'm not going anywhere, Baby freaks out. Daughter shadows me every minute I am home, and sobs if I have to leave. Last week, I had go into work early, and couldn't drive Son to school. I told him that Papa would be taking him to school, and the next thing I know, Son is standing in front of me, still in his pajamas, with his coat, hat and shoes on. I didn't even know that Son was capable of putting on his shoes! Needless to say, my heart broke having to leave him at the door. Think scenes from movies where a parent is leaving a child for good, and the child packs a backpack and runs after the car screaming, "Take me with you!" Sigh...
Last week I attended DSAF and the Center for Community Inclusion's semi annual conference on Educating Children with Down syndrome. Last year's spring conference was a catalyst in getting me to question Son's placement. One thing reverberates in mind after the conference, and it is this: "You have to listen to your children, because they have dreams too." ~spoken by Joann Ripp, a 45 year old woman with Down syndrome, speaking on how to determine careers for young adults with Down syndrome. I can only hope to remember those words when it comes to guiding my children on a path.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This morning, as Daughter curled up in bed with me, I whispered, "Я тебя очень люблю" "I love you very much" and she replied, sleepily, "А я тебя еще больше люблю" "and I love you even more" It doesn't get any better than that.
Husband and I had a spur of the moment night out last night. Valentine's Day is just about flowers and chocolate in our house, because it's the eve of The Entrance of our Lord Jesus Christ into the Temple. Husband went all out for Daughter, and traveled the world of CVSes to buy her a battery operated rose that blooms. And I received the most beautiful bouquet I've gotten from him from
The lillies have smelled up the whole first floor of our house- and they are just as beautiful as the picture. Thankfully, there were no red roses in my bouquet....definitely ruins the bouquet....Anyway, Husband was texting me at work asking me when I would be home. I joked back saying - why? Are you surprising me with a babysitter and a night out? And that is exactly what he did! Of course I was the one who set it in motion, but as my father always says, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Or in my case, you have to say what you want! I don't know what the magical recipe of the evening was, but it is one that will linger in my memory for a long time. The mood was light, we talked and laughed a lot. Married almost 11 years, and we're still not that couple (who we did see at the restaurant) that silently eats together, yet separately.
On another note, I have been reading this author,Stephanie Haddad. Last week I downloaded her book, A Previous Engagement, onto my Kindle, which was available for free.

You never know what you're going to get with the free books, but it never hurts to download a book and try it out. Especially if it's free! If I hate the writing (which happens more often than I would like), I just delete it from my Kindle. Stephanie Haddad's writing captured me right away, and kept me reading. In fact, I read her second book (I paid1.99 or 2.99) in one evening, because I couldn't put it down.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't literature, and it isn't deep. It's Emily Giffin style, or Sophie Kinsella. She is funny and light, and the plots are worth sticking with to the end. I highly recommend her, and I can't wait till her third book is out. I read an excerpt over lunch today, and maybe it's a good thing I don't have it, because I'd be slamming through it right now.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Daughter Story Time

My 15-month old did something that neither of my other kids has ever done to date. When giving Baby a quick bath the other day, I didn't plug up the bathtub. We use one of the flat, circular stoppers. Baby totally figured me out, found the stopper and put it in the right spot to plug up the water! I was floored....and my belief that he is a genius was confirmed once again. lol.

Today I want to share some of Daughter's photography, and I believe it's quite appropriate for my Valentine's Day theme. Tonight, I feel the need to put down how much I love my children. However much I may complain, I would never give them back (yea, I know I can't even if I wanted to), and they light up my life. They make me responsible (I just don't always stay responsible). Husband sent me a picture at work today, and it made me realize how big the kids are getting, and how time is flying. I try to remember that when I am so irritated that I could just scream. It's hard to remember, though.

So back to Daughter's photography. I was going through my photos on my camera, and although I know that the kids hi-jack my camera sometimes, this is the first time that I've seen something that I wanted to keep.  And I even think they are worth sharing!

Apparently, Daughter has a new best friend - the Nutcracker. These are just a few of the many snapshots taken with him.

Here's the fun part: Daughter staged a story and captured it on film!

We may need to have a conversation about monogomy....

Little Bits

It’s that time of year again – when my clothes is tight and my mood is low. But I’m making a stand and I’m back on the wagon again with a different mind frame. It’s not about losing weight for me right now (although hopefully it will be an added bonus); it’s about making better choices and eating healthier. Tried a great new recipe from, a Moroccan stew. Not only was it healthy, but it was a slow cooker recipe! And it tasted (and smelled) great!
Can I just mention, as a side note, that I hate eating oranges? This ties in, because I’m trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, and although I do like oranges, I hate peeling them, and getting that orange peel stench on my fingers. I’ve had an orange sitting on my desk all week, and finally today I forced myself to peel it. I even washed my hands twice after peeling it, and I can still smell whiffs of orange peel on my fingers. Maybe I should draft Husband to peel the oranges for me…there’s an idea)
February 3, we went to Elizabeth Jordan’s reception for her Prayers and Written Offerings exhibit.
 This is the exhibit where Son’s photograph is hanging. When we walked up to the photograph, the first “graffiti” that popped out at me made my throat constrict with tears. Son’s friend, Billy, who also has Ds, had written Hi Kyprian! By Billy and drawn a heart in which he wrote a K on one side and a B on the other. I know Billy. And I know how much effort it takes for a child with low muscle tone to form his letters. But beyond that, this was Billy’s testament of friendship with Son.  

May this friendship grow for the rest of their lives. It was so overwhelming to see the kind thoughts that were written for my son.  I tried to take pictures of every piece, but every time I walked away and came back, there would be more I wanted to capture.

Daughter immortalizing her love
It was so nice for Kypa's closest friends to be there
Daughter and Friend could not stop drawing

"He will keep you!" -I love this one

Another friend was featured.

 It was a pretty moving experience. My heart clenches when I read what I captured on camera.

The two stars

But I have to say, my favorite part of the exhibit was the mirror, where you could reflect on yourself.

 It was a bit distracting to have so many people around, so even though I did write on every photograph, and on the mirror, I don’t feel like I really bared my soul, or wrote anything that I would have written had I had a chance to just be with each photo.

Friday night, Daughters tooth fell out! She has been waiting for this day for a long time. Earlier in the day, she told Husband, “You know what will happen when my tooth falls out? I’ll only be able to speak in English.” I had a long, hard laugh about that one. She was very anxious about the tooth fairy coming, and although she initially wanted to put her tooth in this plastic tooth container that her friend gave her, she decided not to because she was worried the tooth fairy wouldn’t find the tooth. We opted for a small zip lock bag used for extra buttons, and she wrote a nice little note to the tooth fairy. I’m sure the tooth fairy appreciated it, because she left a note for Daughter as well. So sweet. Except the tooth fairy forgot to tell Daughter to brush her teeth every day, but remembered to tell her to buy some candy with the money she left. You can’t win ‘em all.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I watched this clip today, and had to swallow my sobs. I don't know why I cry like a baby whenever I hear Kelle Hampton's birth story. Makes me wonder if I have pent-up emotions about my own special birth.

I love hearing the kids' personal prayers at bedtime. We have a ritual; we pray, and then theoretically, they are supposed to get into bed so I can sing to them and get on with my evening. But they like taking this one icon of the Theotokos and saying their own personal prayers. Here's Kypa's on any given day: "Сибо Божка сииильм! Сибо Божка Мэри Поппинс!" which is "Thank you God for movies! Thank you God for Mary Poppins!" Tonight Manya's made me laugh out loud: "Пожалуйста Боженька помоги мне что бы я не проглатила зуб!" Please, God, help me not to swallow my tooth!  You can't make this stuff up, people!

But on that note, I can't believe that Daughter's tooth is loose already! She's not even five! So you know where my paranoid, crazy mother thoughts took me? If she loses teeth early, is she on the fast track in physical development? Is she going to get her period early too?! I know, I know. I'm crazy. But my thoughts did go there.

Can I just say that I love love love how much Baby is signing? I love how he tells us when he's tired at night. He will walk up, bang on your arm and make the sign for sleep. Or he'll walk to the bottom of the stairs and point up. He's 15 months and only says Mama, Papa, Boo! and Ho-ho-ho (Santa), what a weird combination, I know! But at least he can sign to tell us that he's hungry, wants more, is done, is thirsty, needs a diaper change or wants to go to sleep. With Baby being the third, I doubt I'll be waiting on my tip-toes to hear Baby talk...I waited for Son and Daughter, and now I can't get a word in edgewise! I never thought the words would come out of my mouth, but I did tell Son one day - You are talking too much!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Moment In Time

How often do I count the minutes before I can put the kids to bed? How often do I pray for the kids to just.stop.talking? I came home from work today....well, really this started yesterday....Daughter announced yesterday that tomorrow (today) she was going to take pictures of us in front of the Christmas tree. All fine and dandy, except yesterday we forgot, and she only remembered when it was time to go to bed. Of course. So I told her we could do it in the morning.Which we didn't, because it's always a war zone around here in the mornings. Getting ready for work, for school, for life. So, fast forward to evening, when I walk in the door after a full day of from work. The kids assail me, which is typical. And heartwarming. Until it's not. After wrestling with all three kids in my work clothes,  I go upstairs and change into something more comfortable. We sit down to dinner, and Daughter announces that we haven't taken pictures yet, and in order for her to take pictures, we all have to dress up. What?! I had just changed, so I told her she could take pictures of me as I am. And she refused. Of course. No pictures if we don't dress up. I was firmly standing my ground. Suddenly I realized that Husband was nowhere in sight. And then, there he was. Walking down the stairs in a suit and tie!

The kids were in the other room, and I knew what I had to do. I went upstairs and put on a dress (and spanks). Husband rocked it by putting on some pandora tunes on the iPhone, and a party was under way! Daughter was so happy, and here is the evidence of our everyday moment gone glamorous:


Tonight was one of those perfect evenings that I hope to never forget. It was what makes parenting worth it. I am so grateful to Daughter for staying true to the end result she wanted, and I am so grateful to Husband for taking that extra step to motivate me. Because the truth is, if it were up to me, it would have been pretty mundane tonight.