Wednesday, February 17, 2010


As I approach the end of the first six months of my new baby's life, I am a bundle of mixed emotions. Each little milestone has been a moment of pure joy, but there is always the tiny voice in the background whispering, "Slow down!" While I long for him to experience new things, to see him grow and develop, I want to cling to the newborn that has already long since vanished. Each new skill acquired and each adorable article of clothing outgrown is a heart-squeezing reminder that another little chapter has ended. Knowing that this will be my last child brings an added dose of melancholy to it all.

Oliver is mostly sitting up unsupported now. The thrill it gives him and the look of radiant pride on his sweet little face remind me that there is still more joy in the journey than there is sadness at the loss of what is past. I have so enjoyed watching my older children grow and evolve as they become more fully the people they are. So I look forward more than back, eager to see who my smallest son will become.

In the midst of all this sleep-deprived emotion, I am approaching my own personal milestone. This is the year I will turn 40. While I believe I have been dreading this ever since I turned 30, I am pleased to say that the dread has lifted. I am no more thrilled than I was before at the sound of the number, but I am much more ready to wear it with pride at what those 40 years mean in my life. I am mostly pleased with how I have spent that time and with where I am as I cross this particular marker. I am pleasantly surprised to report that I still feel very much a young woman and not past my prime or over the hill in any sense. I imagine a good deal of that must be due to this unexpected opportunity to be a new mommy all over again, but the rest I will just credit to good old-fashioned happiness.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Stolen Child

Thanks to Amy for recommending this book. I have never read a book on the changeling myth and I really liked the way it was developed here. As the mother of a child with autism, the idea of having your child stolen away and replaced by an imposter had particular poignancy for me. Having a child who seems healthy and "normal" transformed almost overnight into one who is disconnected and beseiged by bizarre behaviors can make a distraught parent entertain the possibility of the body-snatcher scenario. There is some evidence that indicates a link between the changeling myth and special needs children back in the days before such disorders had been scientifically identified and explained. Apparently, such children who came to be labeled as changelings were often abused, abandoned, or killed.

In "The Stolen Child", however, the parents accept and raise the changeling child despite their suspicions that he is not their true son. The story follows the stolen child and his changeling replacement through the years leading to the attainment of adulthood. One faces the ramifications of living a life he stole from another, while the other deals with the pain of learning to let go of what he has irrevocably lost and to embrace his new reality. Underneath the supernatural trappings lies the fundamental struggle of the misfit. It is a story that is often painful, sometimes disturbing, but ultimately optimistic as the characters succeed, not in eliminating their problems, but in finding ways to take control of their circumstances and move forward with purpose.

Keith Donohue is a great storyteller whose writing is believable and full of subtle insights. I will be interested in reading him again and wholeheartedly recommend this thought-provoking book.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Sleep Quest Revisited

So last fall I was distressed over my baby's lack of napping prowess. Little did I know that things could (and would) get worse. On the positive side of things, I am happy to report that Oliver has nearly mastered the fine art of napping and now takes 2 or 3 naps of a respectable length each day. However, my happiness is greatly tempered by the fact that he (at the ripe old age of 5 months) is still not sleeping through the night. In fact, while he only woke once or twice a night as a newborn, he is now regularly up 3 or 4 times every night. A typical night involves him going to bed around 10 p.m., waking around 12:30 or 1, waking around 3, and then waking around 5. He'll then be up by 7 a.m. Some nights he'll add an extra waking around 4. It's downright painful.

We started him on solids today for the first time. He has been showing a lot of interest in food, so we feel he's ready. I don't expect to see any benefit right away, but I'm hopeful that this may fill his little middle enough to keep him sleeping longer at night. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm open to suggestions.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Once upon a time, I went to a Persian restaurant with my friend Kimberly. I had not been before, nor have I gone since (I don't even remember exactly where this particular place was), but it was some of the best food I have ever tasted. One of the dishes we had was these ground meat kebabs served with roasted tomatoes over basmati rice. Thinking about that meal recently, I decided to search out a recipe and try to duplicate it at home.

These were made with 1 pound of ground beef, 1 egg, 2 medium onions (the recipe called for them to be grated, but I minced mine very fine in my food processor), 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. I mixed it all together and let it sit in the refrigerator all day. Then I pressed the mixture around the skewers and broiled it until it was good and browned, about 20 minutes. The tomatoes should have gone under the broiler, too, but I sauteed them in some olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. 

I think it turned out looking pretty nice, but the taste did not come close. They tasted good, but not nearly like what they made in the restaurant. My teenager gave them 5 stars, but that's just because it was meat and he's a raging carnivore. My hubby and I went for 4 stars, and the 10-year-old gave them 3 (3.5 when he added some more salt). If I make these again, it will be with a different recipe. I'll keep hunting.

So, Kimberly, when you are ready to renounce your vegetarian ways and come back to the dark side, perhaps we can hunt down that restaurant again. Call me.