Category Archives: Random

Scenes from a life lived (limb) differently

Happy Tuesday, folks – hope the week is treating you well now that we have survived the Polar Vortex and the Arctic Blast – I’m just waiting for the Blizzard Apocalypse to strike. For family and friends out of the country, the weather reports have been a great source of entertainment lately – we are all amused by the drama cold weather brings. It’s like it’s surprising that winter has come yet again, like it does EVERY year.

The following is a series of things that have been on my mind and I just want to gather them all in one place. They are all related to Jack and his little hand (more on that here). I hope that someday he can read this and realize that while his little hand is a “thing” it’s not the only thing about him, it’s just another part of who he is and what helps make him the amazing person he is – but it’s also something I’ve put a lot of thought into to figure out how to shape his view and thinking with regard to it and how he lives his life.

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Jack has started a new habit when he is asking for something and I have already turned him down once, he puts his hands together like he is saying a prayer and pleads, “Pretty please.” The first time he did this, I had to stop myself from automatically saying “yes” because this little gesture was punctuated by the difference in his hands. That little hand stops me in my tracks sometimes and I have to remind myself that he gets no favors because of it and I do him no favors if I baby him or allow for different rules because of it. It’s not tough love, it’s just love. And the hope he won’t use the hand has an excuse for not doing something or has a means to garner sympathy.

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I’ve also discovered that he’s caught on that he can use his little hand as a reason others aren’t nice to him – he made up a story that some boys at daycare told him his little hand was stupid which instantly made my big, bad momma bear come out but after further questioning and checking with his teacher, I discovered he likely made it up because it seems he has a flair for the dramatic and likes playing the victim. I’m onto his tactics and have related the story of the boy who cries wolf, while reminding him that if someone does make fun of him for his hand, a) it’s not okay, b) what they say is untrue and c) they aren’t worth being friends with – but he should still be nice to them.

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A friend had a baby recently and the first time we visited her, Jack checked her hands to see if she had two big ones or one little one like him. This would have given me pause if it wasn’t for the fact we had just seen a bunch of children younger than Jack at a Lucky Fin Project gathering who all had limb differences like him. My friend admitted that his checking made her heart hurt, but it made me smile because for once he didn’t just assume he was the only “different” one in the room. That’s why the Lucky Fin Project is awesome – it raises awareness about limb differences and celebrates them – bringing us together online and in person.

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A couple weeks ago, as we were pulling out of the driveway, Jack asked, “When I go to heaven, will I have two big hands?” THAT, that made my heart hurt. I responded with, “I don’t know buddy, but I bet you’ll have whatever hands you want in heaven.” I pray that someday he’ll be content with the hands he’s got and not be wishing for something different. But I pray the same thing for Liam and all the people I love, that they will be content with who God made them to be and not go after being something they are not.

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This math question was in Liam’s homework packet last week:

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Can you imagine why I might have a problem with it considering one of my children only has six fingers? The lovely assumption that 10 fingers for each person is a given. The possibility that this question will be included in Jack’s homework packet when he is in second grade?

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This article ran in the Sunday paper and was given to me by our very well-intentioned daycare teacher who perhaps realized I might be offended but was nice enough to think of us when she read it. I have no qualms about the story, but I wish the reporter had taken a little time to talk about all the things the little girl can do with her limb difference (which, incidentally, is a whole category of “conditions” but not a specific condition itself… it appears the girl has symbrachydachtyly like Jack, NOT a condition called “Limb Differences” as reported in the article). The article also reported that the girl was born without a hand which is just untrue, she appears to have been born without a fully developed right hand; in the pictures she does have a hand that is missing digits. The Robohands, while very cool (and the whole high schoolers building it aspect is also pretty amazing), does not seem necessary in this case and I feel like the articles makes it sound that way – like the Robohand is helping her overcome this horrible thing when in actuality, it is NOT a horrible thing or a deficit. I hope the little girl in the article and her mother realize that her limitations are not about questions of “can she or can’t she do something” but instead are opportunities to figure out how to do something differently. I don’t expect Jack to tie his shoes the same way that Liam does, but I expect that we’ll figure out a way for him to do it. And he can squeeze the toothpaste out just fine. Thankyouverymuch.

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As I’ve talked about before, the thing we tell Jack to tell others when they ask about his hand is: “This is just how God made me.” That his little hand is what makes him special… which of course, in brotherly competition, leads Liam to ask, “What makes me special?” And rather than highlight all the things about him that make him who he is, we stick with the story of his belly button which then leads to picking one thing about all the people we know and talking about what their special thing is, because we are all unique, physically, mentally, spiritually and socially (for the record, my special things are my longer-than-my-big toes second, third and fourth toes and Simon’s is that his uvula is split in two [the hangy-downy thingie in the back of your throat]). No other person is exactly like us, though we may share common qualities, God made us all special. Not better or worse than any another person but special. Individual. Each with our own set of characteristics. Our own set of problems and our own set of joys. The one thing we universally have in common is that we are all different.

So many things…

ememby_Wednesday_Musings_2I feel like I compose blog posts in my head at least once a day (if not more) and yet I can’t get it together to actually post something… life is so beautifully mundane and normal, which is not to say that there aren’t things I’m thinking about… nothing of any huge importance. Just the way I like it right now.

  • We’re reading The Reason for God by Tim Keller for our small group and it’s dredging up thoughts I don’t think I’ve visited since my world religions class in college. I kind of love that proving God is twofold – part reason and part faith – why do I believe in God and Jesus? Partly because of how I was raised, partly because I believe what I’ve read in the Bible and partly from experiencing God in my life and feeling it in my being. Faith is a complex and beautiful thing, different for every person.
  • On a lighter note, I posted this on Instagram yesterday (and Facebook) but I cannot stop watching my own kid display is ninja skills (complete with handmade winter scarf tied around his middle). It makes me ache with love for him, which is handy because mostly he is a pill.
  • The last Divergent book came out yesterday… I am waiting to read it until I can just sit down and finish it. My updated Kindle app now tells me how long I have left in a chapter or book while I am reading, based on how quickly I go through the pages… it estimates I should be done in four hours. Hmmm… I love reading but hate when I finish a good thing, especially a series, because then it is done… no more to look forward to. Sad times. Also, the author of these books is a BABY… well, a 25-year-old baby. Nothing makes me feel older than someone a decade younger than me having great success.
  • I’ve been watching the battle rounds of The Voice while texting with Stef… completely makes my day/night! We like to predict who the judges will pick and so far we are spot on… my favorite performance was by Caroline Pennell doing a cover of Justin Beiber’s “As Long as You Love Me”
  • Liam has been asking since last year to do wrestling if it was offered at his new school (last year some of his friends did wrestling while he took an art class – a fact that makes me giggle). So wrestling starts this Friday after school… Simon is betting he will cry at some point and I’m quite certain he will try his moves on his little brother, but we’re still doing it. The coach emailed last night to remind us that it is a full contact sport and that we should encourage our kids to push through and that we should also have our children shower immediately following practice to keep them from catching colds and getting a contagious skin condition. Who is going to encourage me to push through now? The things we do for our kids.
  • So far in my short life, I’ve met three dermatologists and all three have had the worst personalities/bedside manner. Is it simply a humorless profession or have I just had bad luck?
  • Related to the above, I have a large mole on my scalp that has recently gotten larger and my primary care doctor thought I should have it checked out and the dermatologist opted to shave part of it off to have it tested. You know what kind of hurts (after the numbing wears off)? Having part of your scalp shaved off… even a part that is only slightly bigger than a pencil eraser. Also a bit of a pain because it is near the front of my hairline so now I have to part my hair on the opposite side to cover my wound/bald spot. And in a few weeks I’m going to have a sprout of short hair growing out of that part of my head. Lovely. [Side note: the doctor wasn’t overly concerned about it being cancer, but since I don’t have any other moles like it for comparison, she wanted to test it.]
  • I met some people in our neighborhood who pick up their daughter’s dog every day and keep it at their house all day while she is at work and then she comes and picks it up. He referred to the dog as their “granddog” which was cute and maybe kind of sweet.
  • Simon’s having knee surgery again in December… my “old” sweetie’s knees just can’t keep up with him. The upside is that surgery is December 13 and he can’t go back to work until is post-op check with the surgeon on the 23rd and then he’s off again for Christmas. Bummer that he has to have surgery, but having him home every evening for over two weeks is going to be glorious! (Sorry for your pain, my dear.)
  • So many things make me happy lately… some of my favorite people have October birthdays, time with the ladies from my small group, all things fall television, reading good books, flowers from my husband (despite them being of the apology variety rather than the just-because variety) and the brief moments when my kids are getting along (as seldom as those occurrences are).
  • I do not like Treat Williams, the actor. It is inexplicably so.
  • We need a game plan for hosting Thanksgiving… not because of all the food that will need to be made, but because Jack and my great-nephew, Max, will be together for an extended period of time. Together they are trouble. Last weekend we were in Lansing for Max’s little brother’s first birthday and the boys were upstairs unsupervised and decided to squirt lotion all over Quinn and Chris’s bedroom. It’s been a long time since I had to clean up a mess like that… I believe it was two years ago when Jack took it upon himself to decorate our living room with Hershey’s chocolate syrup. (We’ll not talk about the time they dumped a container of gummy bears into the toilet at my brother’s house). I think we need to tether them within our sight for the day… it doesn’t ensure they won’t get into trouble, but at least we can have hopes of keeping an eye on them.
  • Candy corn + dry roasted peanuts = a match made in heaven, not sure why I avoided the combination until this year.
  • Back to work, people…

 

Hello Monday (hello randomness)

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  • The first time I typed the title of this post I typed “hellow randomness” which is obviously wrong but what a cute word that should be a word but isn’t. Hellow to you.  Also, this post might get short real quick – my fingers keep typing the wrong things and I have had 5 misspellings in this paragraph alone (not counting the intentional ones – make that 6). Sigh.
  • It’s a Monday, which means the homework “fun” starts again. Liam’s teacher sends a homework packet home each Monday that has to be returned the following Monday, which I actually like because then you know what is expected for the week. If it were me, I would do all the homework the first night and then not have to think about it again (either that or leave it until Sunday night – my procrastination tends to run all or nothing), but Liam is not me so we’re trying to figure out a good system… rather, I’m trying to temper my expectations with what he will actually do. The first week we had 3 pages left on Sunday afternoon and it was torture getting them done. The second week I offered him the bonus incentive of 50 additional cents added to his allowance if he finished it all before Saturday morning (he did it – whoot). And this last week he said came up with the idea that if he did it all on Monday after school, he would get his allowance (for doing his homework) early and that evening we could stop at the store and he could buy a new pack of Pokemon. I was doubtful it would get done but I agreed and apparently it was the right incentive because he finished all that work up before we had to get Jack from daycare. This made the rest of my week HEAVEN (not really, it just alleviated all battles with regard to homework, I still live with a 7-year-old and a 4.5-year-old who have loose definitions of what brotherly love is). I have no idea what this week holds for us with regard to homework, but I’m not thinking we’ll be as drama-free as last week without the incentive of Pokemon available to us.
  • Yes, I pay my child to do his homework. Judge away. If it means less complaining until he learns that homework is a reality he cannot avoid, well then, I’m okay with it.
  • Seeing all the press for the Sandra Bullock/George Clooney movie “Gravity” has caused me to add another irrational fear to my list: being afloat in space, untethered from everything. [Also on the list: squirrels, icebergs and any creatures larger than me in the water – I don’t love the smaller ones, but I’m not afraid of them, per se.]
  • Simon was gone to a football game this past weekend with some of the guys from my family – they had a great time. Liam and Jack were still alive when he got back so I’d say it was a win for everyone involved. [I joke – we had a good time and got to see friends and family, so it’s not like we were woefully stuck at home. And I’ll get a chance to have a weekend away soon enough when I return to Pentwater with my college friends the weekend before Thanksgiving.]
  • I wish to never see Tom Hanks with a mustache ever again. It is just not a good look for him.
  • This ad popped up beside my Facebook News Feed:
    just_noJust no.
  • Liam always used to sing songs he heard on the radio and now Jack has picked up singing praise songs that he learns in Sunday school. I was congratulating myself on having one child who sings “God” songs and then realized he has also taken to adding his own lyrics… “This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and PUNCH OUR FACE.” Sigh.
  • Laid-Back Book Club starts this week… so looking forward to seeing how it goes! Hope people come ready to chat and hope they realize that I don’t really know what I’m doing but I’m just winging it and hoping the great ingredients make for a great final dish [not that I’m surprising them with cannibalism, I’m not that far off the book club course].

Book_Club_Oct

  • George appears to have a post-op UTI… could my dog get a little more high maintenance? I discovered this because I woke up at 3:00 in the morning Saturday to George freaking out and both of us wet… from his lack of bladder control. I was not pleased. I suspect neither was George.
  • My roomie from my Chicago days came to stay over on Friday night with her two daughters. My boys were not exactly thrilled with the idea that these new friends were girls but they quickly learned that these girls loved Pokemon and watching Liam play Minecraft so they were fast friends. They would have stayed up all night chatting but Andrea and I knew that would have been ill-advised, plus, we were looking forward to at least a ten-minute stretch of uninterrupted conversation. There was lots of, “Aww, mom” and hugging the next morning when they left. Makes my heart happy.
  • Here’s a recent “religious” exchange from the back of the minivan:
    Jack: If I were a grown-up, I’d punch Satan in the face.
    Liam: You can’t punch Satan in the face, he’s not a person like us.
  • I made these Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Coconut cookies over the weekend – they are delicious. I think I might try them with white chocolate and dried cranberries the next time.
  • And that is all…

You are awesome

ememby_youareawesomeIn case you were confused about it or happened to forget this fact about yourself, let me just tell you that you are awesome! Really, you are, pinky swear!

There was apparently an ArtPrize flash mob and because of that I saw a bunch of “You’re Awesome” signs around town and on the news… so why not jump on the bandwagon and spread the love a little more. There’s enough awesomeness to go around, right?

Awesomeness is pretty universal – we are all awesome – even if and when we don’t feel like it. No matter who we are, what we believe, where we live, who we are friends with, what we do for fun and/or what we’ve accomplished (sometimes getting out of bed and showering is the greatest accomplishment). We are awesome. You are awesome. I am awesome (and humble). Let’s not forget it.


If you’re looking for other inspiration, I created a page where all these are collected… maybe you’ll find what you are looking for there.

Tuesday Musings

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  • I continue to find it fascinating that my kids only ask theological questions while we are in the car… What is heaven like? Will we ever be as old as God since we will live forever in heaven? Will there be food there? What does it look like? How come Satan didn’t want to stay in heaven? Will it be hot or cold in heaven? How can we live forever? What happens if I do something bad? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? The questions are endless and I do my best to answer them but almost NEVER do they ask them once we are home. It’s like the minivan is their stage for grilling their mom about religion.
  • They also talk about farting and underwear to make each other laugh so there’s that.
  • We did ArtPrize with and without kids… I much preferred touring downtown with just my husband and not having to clothesline Jack by pulling on the hood of his sweatshirt to keep him from knocking down an art piece or crawling under the ropes that keep people back from the artwork (I saw in the news that someone else’s child broke a sculpture that was on a bench… that totally could have been us. In the article, it was funny how the security guy at the venue basically blamed the mom for this happening; clearly someone who didn’t have kids himself, or had the rare breed of child who behaves perfectly in public and doesn’t try and approach the pretty, breakable artwork that was not roped off and seated on a BENCH in a public space).
  • This past weekend was pretty sweet… one of those weekends I always envisioned having when I was a grown up. Friday afternoon Liam had a friend over, then a sitter came and I went out with my college friends. Saturday I went to a thing at church, then got to go have lunch BY MYSELF at Panera with my music and a book, came home and sent Simon off to rugby in Detroit while Liam had another play date with his BFF. We went to a local farm stand for donuts and apple cider slushies (seriously so good), let the kids play and then drove the BFF back home and was invited in for drinks and delicious food which helped pass the evening so wonderfully. Sunday was church, Sunday school, homemade roasted butternut squash soup, a nap on the couch, Simon played outside with the kids and I made applesauce and then the hubs and I watched the premiere of Homeland. I could not ask for more (other than someone to clean my kitchen).
  • I accidentally caught part of an episode of Blacklist and I might like it… the jury is still out on that one.
  • Love The Voice and much appreciate not being bombarded with Christina’s cleavage during the early rounds – I’m sure it will make an appearance later but I might be back to liking her again so I could be inclined to forgive it. [Hilariously I was using my voice recognition for text my friend Stef about it and said, “And I think she’s being less bitchy this year.” And my phone changed it to “b*****” – totally got censored by my own conservative phone.]
  • The Today Show had a segment called Fact or Fiction today where Matt Lauer presented two stories and you had to determine which was real… sadly one about Extreme Ironing (like with the household tool) was true. It is a thing.
  • Simon’s going to Iowa this weekend for a football game with my dad, brother and nephew… here’s hoping this coming weekend is still as good as the last one. I am not real hopeful. There’s a 50/50 chance one of my kids will puke while he is gone. The first three times Simon was gone after Liam was born, the kid threw up each time, no lie. And one time I fell down the stairs (unrelated to the puking), bad things happen with my dearest is away is what I’m saying.
  • I get unreasonably mad at the local weather people when they tell me humid weather is on the way. I hate humidity (dear children, in this case, it’s okay to use the word hate. We are allowed to say we hate humidity and robbers).
  • You really have to love meteorology to want to become a weather person.
  • Just got an email from a retailer advertising mesh yoga leggings… um, no. That seems ill-advised.
  • After reading an article in Costco’s Connection magazine (of all places), I really want to read Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, “David and Goliath.”

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

  • My kids are OBSESSED with Pokemon. Liam got a Pokemon-branded binder for his birthday and Jack has been carrying around his cards in his hand or a plastic box so yesterday I bought him a 3-ring diner and card-holder pages so he has his very own binder. Last night he slept with it, pulling it up under his cheek and stroking it lovingly. Cute and disturbing.
  • I’m going to print a Pokemon picture to stick in the front of the binder – we’ll see who is the fun parent then!