Thursday, July 31, 2008

Short Version

On Monday night we took monchichi to the ER per our neurologist's instructions. At that point he had had well over 20 seizures in about an hour or so.

Within 12 hours he had over 100 seizures. They are drop seizures and staring seizures. It was horrifying to say the least.

We were admitted to CHOC that night and we just got home about an hour ago.

He is fine now; new meds, new tests.

It was very scary.

We are exhausted.

I will give the long version tomorrow.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lost in Thought

I am hiding from the world this weekend. I have spent more time in my bed in front of the television than I care to admit. I have watched way too many movies that I have already seen.

I have not worn a bra since Friday.

Maybe it's a mini-meltdown. A quiet one. There is no kicking or screaming. Just exhaustion and a million thoughts racing through my head. Even Erin Brokovich couldn't keep me from thinking the thoughts that wear me down and erode at my inner peace and tranquility.

I am tired.

And the inner dialogue that consumes me on a daily basis leaves me feeling anything but balanced and serene.

"Am I good enough?"

"What if they find out I am a total fraud?"

Will the plane crash on August 5th? There hasn't been a plane crash in a really long time and we are due for one." Will it be ours?"

Who am I kidding? Why am I even meeting with this author next Saturday. She's gonna laugh me right out of Starbucks. Who says I'm good enough to publish?"

"I am tired. I don't want to do parent training. Yes, I love monchichi, and I want to do what is best for him but I don't feel like bucking up and doing three hours of autism-related training."

"Why does monchichi have autism and seizures? What happened? Why is Superman, born only 18 months later, free from this awful disorder. WHO's FAULT IS IT?"

"Why is food the first thing I turn to when I feel like this? Why not a bike ride at the beach or a salsa class? I need to step out of my comfort zone."

"Why do I insist on questioning my husband's disciplining methods with the kids? They are his children too. I do not know everything."

"Do you know how lucky you are that your child can talk and play with other children and go to a normal class and will probably fall in love and get married and live a normal life? Why are you complaining to me about something so trivial?"

"I am not in control. I need to surrender. I hate surrendering. I want to be in control."

Time elapsed: 10 seconds.

I need to get my butt off this chair, shut down my computer, and go do something productive/fun/ with my children.

I should shower first.

Think of starving children in Africa. Think of countries where women and children are treated like second-class citizens. Think of electricity at the flick of a switch. Think of sunshine and warmth and your cat laying next to you purring because she feels safe and comfortable around you. Think of your husband outside working on your car in the heat so that you have a safe ride to get you from A to B. Think of your sister in NYC, missing her family, trying to find herself, confused and scared. Think of your blessings. There are so many. Think of God guiding you as long as you are quiet enough to listen.


Friday, July 25, 2008


Overheard last night while superman, who is almost 5, was talking to my best friend's daughter, who just turned three:

"Hi B. How are you? What are you doing? oh. What are you wearing? The pink jammies?"

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.

It's a little early for that kind of late night phone call.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Sweet Dose of Humble Pie

Taking care of my kids is a full time job. Even if I'm at work, teaching other people's children, my mind is racing and planning the next swim lesson, soccer game, therapy appointment or class party for my own two boys. It is a wonderfully exhausting and deliciously exhilirating thing, this mothering business. And for the most part, I feel like I at least think I know what I'm doing.

But for the last two weeks, I have added one post-stroke grandmother to the mix and suddenly I am turned upside down and inside out. Now, it is not because I am afraid of some hard work. Bring It On. I love being busy and I love the feeling I get when I am able to complete a number of projects and chores. People, I was raised by Polish parents. We did not watch Saturday morning cartoons. We scrubbed toilets and dusted furniture.


Caring for my beloved grandmother brought on a whole new slew of emotions and a whole new level of exhaustion. There is no room or time to be squemish. There is only the deep desire to make this matriarch of our family feel safe and respected. So, everytime I helped her shower, or pee, or scrubbed her dentures or cleaned the potty she has next to her bed for night time........I thought about how I would want to be treated in this situation. How I would want to know that I was worth the work and that the people helping me weren't sitting around wishing someone else was doing it.

But things go through your head.

And I saw an impatient and annoying side of me that I did not like very much. But I had to deal with that person. I had to look in the mirror and let myself feel the ugly feelings and then will them to go away. I did not want to ignore them; they would find their way back anyway, bigger and stronger and uglier. And it was so humbling to care for someone that used to be so damn independent. And it was sad. And it was exhausting.

And it makes you face some pretty unpleasant and scary things about life and yourself and the uncertainty of the future. It makes you think.

It slowed me down. It inconvenienced me. It made me stronger. It made me cry. It made me grumpy. It made me brave.

She was and still is totally worth it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Super Trooper

"Mommy....sing that song again!"

"You're like a super trooper...."


"Lights are gonna find you....."

"Mommy, I LOVE that song!! I LOVE ABBA!

Yes, Abba. Good old Abba. And as a kid I had the record; my first real piece of music. I played that record, over and over and over again. And my sister and I, we were the dancing queens.

The other day I was discussing this very important piece of my personal history (can't remember who was dumb enough to stick around and listen) and my son overheard me singing "Super Trooper."

It was love at first listen.

So my husband, being the devoted dad and patient husband that he is, downloaded the song for superman and I. And we cranked it up and danced and sang. And then superman kept singing.

Even after the music stopped.

And he kept singing.

In fact, it has been almost a week and at least several times a day superman graces us with his ever developing Abba performance.


But I guess I should be happy. With all of the "pimp yo momma" music out today, Abba is about as G-rated as it gets. And let's face it: We all need a little Abba now and then.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Mother's Pride

I am a big believer in letting my children know just how proud of them I am. In our house, if you do the right thing, we let you know. We aren't interested in the bad stuff. We want to celebrate the good. And no accomplishment is too small. Do we throw a party everytime superman brushes his teeth? No. But do we high five him when he remembers to get his brother's toothbrush ready? Absolutely. Monchichi's therapy is largely based on this principle. Good choices=good times. Bad choices=not so much.

And, having been a kid myself (albeit a long time ago) I too know the warm and fuzzy feeling a simple compliment from my parents invoked in me. Even if it was, literally, a stoic pat on the back from my dad (who to this day, praises us to our mom who then passes it down to us). And it is less about ego then about acknowledging someone's efforts at doing something well (even if the soccer ball is kicked toward the other team's goal; hey, that kick was powerful!).

And today I got a humbling reminder that within all of us lies a deep desire to please our parents; to know that we have succeeded in something in their eyes.

This morning my grandmother and I caught a segment of a show on the Polish channel. On the stage was a four year old little girl, singing her precious little heart out to a popular Polish pop song. My grandmother looked at the tv and then began to tell me how my mom was always performing for people. "Your mom was always the one singing and dancing; she used to recite poetry fit for a king."

It was a simple statement. A subtle compliment.

And yet, when I spoke to my mom, who is in Poland for a family wedding, and gently relayed what my babcia had said, I heard only silence on the other line.



"hello? mom?"


Her voice thick with tears, I heard her take a breath and whisper "thank you."

And I understood.

Her mom had given my mom something very priceless. Something that we are never too young or too old to receive; our parent's pride in us. We thirst for it. We crave it. And when it comes it is something that we cherish and tightly wrap around us.

And across the thousands of miles between us, I felt my mom's energy shift. I imagined the little girl inside of her that misses her mom, that yearns for their conversations in the kitchen and during their walks around the neighborhood. The stroke took most of that mom away. And today the relationship, if only for a second, was reversed.

Today my mom was once again the little girl, hearing maybe for the first time in her life, that her mamusia was proud.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

31 Things About Me

In honor of my 31st Birthday today, I have compiled a comprehensive list of various factoids about moi.


1. I was born in Poland, not America.
2. I love both countries
3. I grin stupidly when I lie
4. I no longer drink
5. My ego gets bruised easily.
6. I am a closet writer. I have dreamt of being a published writer for decades.
7. I don't care very much about global warming
8. I am much more concerned with terrorists
9. I don't think 9/11 jokes are funny.
10. I am madly in love with my husband.
11. I am madly in love with my kids
12. I hate flying.
13. I love to read.
14. I need to lose weight
15. I never imagined I would grow up to be a teacher.
16. If I went to my old high school, where I caused A LOT of trouble, and told them that I became a teacher, they would weep in disbelief.
17. I am scared of heights
18. I am a people pleaser
19. At 31, I am finally learning it's okay to say No sometimes.
20. I respect my parents. More than I ever have.
21. I miss my sister
22. I want desperately for monchichi to lead a normal life.
23. I am proud of superman for being a kick a** brother and son.
24. Doing the right thing makes me high as a kite
25. I hate change.
26. I hate my sofas
27. I love being the hostess
28. I am a control freak
29. I still don't know how to use the speed dial feature on my cell phone.
30. I think I might be addicted to peanut butter.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

All Things "Kaboom"

Every year, around July 1st, my husband begins to get a glazed look in his eyes. This is about the time they set up the local firework booths near our house. This is also the time of year I fear for our bank account. It never fails that by the time July 4th rolls around, we have a stockpile of fireworks equivelant to Disneyland.

Every year, like clockwork, we head over to our best friends' house and the husbands begin to carefully, and lovingly organize their loot. They always start with the small ones, and actually dub this the "pre-show." Then they move on to the larger ones, but are careful only to ignite the ones that they have doubles of. Finally, they begin to set off the last stash and announce each name of the firework before they light it. They are determined. They are prepared. They are crazy.

It is like watching a really bad cable show that reruns every year. But it is free entertainment for our families and so we go along with it. We have even developed our own firework judging criteria. Each one is observed and judged based on height, color, the "wow" factor and of course sound.
I know. I am completely aware of how ridiculous this is.

The husbands high five each other when a firework proves it's worth. But when there is a dud their disappointment is........scary. Last night, as they lit a little diddy named "old glory, bald eagle, or golden shower" (i forget which), the next door neighbors set off a group of beautiful, bold, brilliant and highly illegal mexico-imported fireworks that stole the show and illicited a round of "oooooohs and ahhhhhhhs" from all of us. I swear to you that the men began to desperately yell out the name of their fireworks, trying to get our attention back to their show and away from the wonderment of the illegal one going on over the fence. Now they knew they were screwed and my best friend's mother-in-law confirmed this sentiment when she leaned over and proclaimed"booooooooooring" as the boys tried in vain to ressurect their show.

I am frightened at their fascination with all things "kaboom."

And what scares me the most is that unlike last year, which the boys spent behind the safety of a sliding glass door, this year, my young and impressionable sons sat front and center, fascinated by the sparks, intoxicated by the blasts, the same glazed look in their eyes that consumes their pyromaniac father.