Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tortilla Soup for the Mother's Soul

Im jumping off the bandwagon.


I love to cook, especially international food. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than making restaurant quality food for a fraction of the cost. Whenever I go out to eat, I try to taste every flavor in my dish. If it’s a spectacular one, I go home and try to imitate it. Cuz I think I’m a chef, that’s why.



Eating sushi has been the epitome of my developing palate. I started liking it after I had Katy (I guess taste buds change after a baby). Over the course of two years I have tried and tried to imitate it. Usually, my rolls fall apart, I throw the wooden spoon across the kitchen, and order pizza. Nevertheless, I keep jumping back into the ringer, trying to learn from my mistake. Recently, I bought an “official sushi making kit, ” Thinking I would take the bull by the horns. What I ended up with was this:



I TAP OUT!

(Notice the “Little Ceasers” box behind my crumbling sushi rolls)



I’ve decided that enough is enough. Im jumping off the sushi bandwagon. Who needs ugly raw seeweed crap anyway!



Honey, Bee careful!



Yesterday we took our daughter to Fundidora, a beautiful park in the center of our city. I guess you could say that it’s the Mexican version of Central Park. It has a river walk, museums, movie theaters, live performance theaters, aviaries, gardens, and of course- lots and lots of playgrounds. It’s become our favorite family hang out place, and Katy is thrilled to take her first steps on such a beautiful terrain.


She was cruising joyfully along the park when that nasty ol’ bee made its evil appearance. The arch nemesis planted its dirty rotten stinger on Katy’ pudgy hand. She screamed bloody murder. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by all knowing mothers with tips and advice. One of them suggested calling the park paramedics, in case Katy should be allergic.


The paramedics arrived quickly and rubbed ointment all over Katy’s little hand. She was horrified. I could see it in her eyes. Her little mind was racing


“Why, bee, why? Why would you do this to me? I’m just a little girl playing in the park!”


Katy is such a trooper though; I’m sure she will emerge from this episode without any trauma. Her hand looks fine now.



TheraPEE


We were in Katy’s therapy session chatting away and doing baby exercises. This time, conversation was about parenting. The therapists were telling me about a mother who leaves her little boy for his two hour session and then picks him up one hour late saying “if he poops, there are diapers in the diaper bag.”



Joining in on the conversation I offered my opinion on her parenting. I suggested that therapy was not daycare, and sided with the therapists’ negative view on the situation.



Moments later, Katy’s voice shrilled. Every time she sat on her toosh, she would yelp and cry. I quickly removed her diaper to see if there was anything poking at her. I didn’t see anything, but not wanting to take any chances I rolled it up and decided to change her. Then I noticed that I had left the diaper bag in the car. It was too late to put her old diaper on (it was wound up into a tight little ball), so I decided to leave her little bare bottom with the therapist while I RAN to the car.



I parked so far away, but ran as fast as I could. I returned ten seconds too late. Katy, the gym mats and her therapists were all drenching in urine. Her therapist had nothing else to wear that day. I was so embarrassed, to think that not five minutes earlier I had freely offered a condemning opinion on parents who ask therapists to change their kids diapers. Now, here was Katy’s therapist drenched in pee. Next time, I’ll keep my brainy opinions to myself.



Walking on Clouds



On an up note, Katy has really taken off walking these last few days. She’s become the talk of the therapy center. They just can’t believe how well and how quickly she is advancing. They say it’s a miracle. From the moment we walk through the main entrance and into the lobby, everybody stops and stares in awe. It’s a miracle, and its mine to experience.



(I made a video for them. They see so many sad stories that I wanted them to feel encouraged. The song is in Spanish, but watch it anyway. You will be touched).


Friday, January 25, 2008

A Late Holiday Recap (so sue me)

A Most Humble Apology


I last left you with a barren promise of fun and entertainment at my expense as I divulged the family secrets of the past merry holiday celebrations. I suppose I got caught up in my own jollyness and forsook my promise to you all. For that, I apologize, and I offer a late recount of my most memorable events.


Lights, Camera, RIDICULE!



Every year, the church leadership staff makes a comedy show for the Ladies ministry. This year, the "script" was up to me. I losely refer to the skeleton of the show as a script because it was merely a story outline and character sketches that we brought to life impromptu on stage. We basically did a "talent" show where all of us sucked. I was the last contestant and I bribed the panel of judges who in turn, gave me the first place (and a million dollar check). My bribery was exposed and we all felt convicted to donate all our belongings to a poor orphanage in need of food (giving, the message of Christmas was sloppily tied to the skit).


The whole show lasted nearly an hour, and I have to say that it was really funny. Too bad most of you dont speak spanish, but Im still including my bit. Basically, my name was Bubbles, and I loved to bounce. I worked for a spring factory and I was going to blow all my prize money on jumparoos.


(if the embeded video wont show up, this is the link.)


(my mom in law's bit is also worth watching. Shes the "man" playing the drum solo)



A Remarkable Zit


A week after the icestorm, we arrived to Oklamoa to visit Katy's great grandmother (who is 93 or 96, I cant really remember). There was a Huge family party and everyone commuted from their cities and gathered for a merry pot luck lunch.


It was on this special occasion that the worlds biggest zit made its debut on my face. It was monsterous. Nothing could hide it. Well, I take it back. Maybe a fake beard, but I hadn't thought of that until now. The point is- my zit was embarrasing. We were getting through lunch just fine, but by some random chance of nefariousness, there happened to be a five second spot of silence.



"Hey Michelle!" Bea, the great grandma shouted across the table " What's that on your face?!"


Crap.


"Uh. It's a zit" I said coyly.


"A WHAT!?"


"A zit."


"WHAT?!"


Now everyone was looking at my face


"A ZIT!" another family member shouted so she could hear.


"You done gone popped it didn't you?" she pressed, "You shouldn't have. Now you've gone and made it all worse like."


Calling All Security: Baby on the Loose


Going through the airport with a non walking yet ever exploring baby is a CIRC DU SOLEIL juggling act. By saying this, I mean that its the creme de la creme, sophisticated, complicated and top of the line class act. I lugged my purse, diaper bag, carry on, stroller and baby all by myself. I nearly had a heart attack when the security personel told me


"fold up the stroller and take off your baby's shoes for inspection."


What the *@!??


No sooner had I loaded the stroller into their XRAY contraption that my baby had made her way two isles down the security lines. In other words, she was in check out 4 and I was in 1.


Did anyone help me? Did anyone stop her? Nooooooooo. I had to do it all by myslef. Seriously, what's it take to be nice? Will it give a rash or something?


ROTAVIRUS. Just What the Doctor Ordered



It was only three days before we were home free. We stayed at the house of a family friend. It was a little after midnight when I heard it. It was the sound of coughing, followed by gagging and finished by hurling. My baby girl had puked all over somebody elses blankets.


We were sharing a room with someone, so I didnt turn on the lights, but the hurling continued. Now I was drenched in it. And, I needed new sheets. Where would I get them? Changing Katy's PJs, I put her back in her bed which was now lined with my blankets. I would just have to do without any for the rest of the night so that she could be warm.


A few hours later, she threw up again. Now, there were no blankets for anybody and only one change of clothes. All our noise woke her grandma up. She was very helfpful. She got us clean bedding and took katy for a while.


The rotavirus continued for the duration of the trip, but was over as soon as we got home, making it an even sweeter


HOME SWEET HOME

Saturday, January 19, 2008

When faith is tested

Finding the Right Words...



Strangers are always curious about my daughter’s story when they see how far behind she is in her development. Its always bothered me, because It makes me feel like I have to give them an explanation. How do I accurately tell Katy’s story to a perfect stranger? My daughter is fine, so it would be wrong to say otherwise. I finally came up with a quick thing that I could say in order to satisfy any stranger’s curiosity: “she’s a miracle.” Surely then, people would be touched and would not act as if she was any different from their children. Armed with this mental preparation, I set out to play with Katy in the park.

The park was full of little children who were running, shouting and playing. Many were younger than my daughter. As the other children played blissfully, I held Katy’s arms and guided her through her first steps. As usual, people stared, wondering what was wrong. Still, I felt proud. Katy was a miracle. Her accomplishments testified of her will to thrive and overcome.

A Shocking Statement



“They make special shoes for kids like her,” a woman said.

She took my by surprise. I never imagined that conversation in my head. Yes. Katy has a problem with her balance, but its not just in her feet. Its also in her hips. She’s working on it, which is why I take her out to exercise every day.

“Oh, I know about the orthopedic shoes. She’s wearing them.” I answered quickly, “Were working on strengthening her hips” I hoped my reply would shoo the woman away.

“Was it from birth?” she continued.

I was stunned. My daughter is fine. I see her and she’s fine. Yet, there was this woman whom I’ve never spoken to who saw her differently.

“She’s fine.” I stood my ground. “She had a rough first year of life, but she’s making a great recovery. You’re watching a miracle.”

“Oh, just wait,” she persisted, “it gets harder when they get big and heavy.”

“She’s fine. My daughter is just catching up. There’s nothing wrong with her.” I was mad now.

Katy and I continued our stroll, and I held my head up high. Nobody could have guessed that underneath my smile, I was upset and distressed. Half an hour later, I drove home. I felt so alone. Isaac was in Germany and there was no one else who could possibly understand what I was feeling. My friends with babies had never gone through any health battles, and none of my family members had ever gone through a trial like mine. There was nobody. No one to go home and cry to. And I wanted to cry so badly…

Jumping to Conclusions





Putting Katy on the floor to play with her favorite toys, I clutched a pillow and cried silently on it. That’s when I heard that voice

“Are you going to let a stranger’s comment weigh so heavily on your heart?”

I knew that voice. He’s become as familiar as the rhythm of my breath. It was God. Clutching the pillow harder, I protested in my heart.

“This is why I need a friend to talk to! Those are really harsh words to say to me right now!”

“Shouldn’t a friend tell you what you need to hear?”

Yeah. I was a bit shocked by the wisdom in those words. Yeah! Why should I let a total stranger’s comment put such weight on my heart? I mean, who am I really going to listen to? That woman? Hasn’t God been faithful to me for nearly two decades? Hasn’t He filled me with hope and always come through? What has He told me about Katy?



She is unharmed.

Everything in life is about how you choose to respond. Contrary to many peoples belief, responses are conscious choices that we make, These responses have the power to shape and change our destiny- even the destiny of our children, and their children’s children. And it takes just a moment. Its so subltle. That split second, when you decide how you are going to respond to what has been thrown at you. Its that glimpse of a flash in time where a choice is made in your heart and you head in the direction of that choice.

I brushed off my tears. That woman was nobody. Nobody! What did she know about Katy’s life? What did she know about her past, present or future? Why should her opinion count? Had she been there when I received Katy’s horrible diagnosis? Was she there during her seizures? Was it her hand on my shoulder as I cried bitterly on the kitchen floor? Was it her whispering on my ear when all I felt was pain?

No.

Who gave me hope when none could be given? Who listened when no one else could understand? Who took the horror and replaced it with hope? Not her. Jesus. It was Him all along. It was Him who walked along side of me through this long dark path, holding a candle to the ground so I could see where I stepped. It was Him who told me that all would be OK. It is Him who is taking my daughter from victory to victory, despite all medical predicitons. No broken promises. No reason to doubt.

Did you know that sheep only follow one pastor? They only respond to one voice. This is how they are not led astray. They learn to hear one man’s voice and they follow only that man.

Faith: Accepting MIracles the Way they Come





I stood up and swallowed hard. There was a lump in my throat protesting against me. No matter, it would have to submit to my choice. My feelings would have to follow my decision. No matter how much time they took to settle, these feelings would have to fall into line with my choice.

Katy’s miracle has begun to unfold in a very slow and natural way. It has not come the way I expected it. I anticipated glitz, glamour, sparkles and instantaneousness. I have been forged and reshaped to where the old Michelle harldy resembles the new one. It hasn’t only been Katy who’s been transformed. I have become a new person. Ive become the mother that Katy needs. The one that the world needs.

I suppose that I could have stuck to my ideals. I could have waited stubbornly for a miracle to come in the box that I pictured, but that would have been tragic. I could have missed its coming, just the way many missed Jesus. They expected him to be a certain way, and when he showed up in a different manner, they passed him up.

I follow one voice. Watch and believe, you wont be disappointed. God has never been unfaithful, and he’s not about to change now. I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Selfless acts. Join the race, change a life.

Sitting on the edge of my couch, hands cupped over my face, I could not stop the tears from streaming down my face. Through the modern art of television, I was granted entrance into a home and permitted to witness a moving story.
Nearly three years ago, a woman was called by the hospital, asked if she would be interested in donating her bone marrow for patients with cancer. They told her that she matched the marrow of a baby girl who was in need of a transplant. Without any hesitation, the woman responded to the call, and underwent the painful donation process.

Three years later, this woman received a special visit: Extreme Home Makeover, a non-profit construction team. They were there to rebuild her home into a two story elegant habitat filled with luxury suites, state of the art appliances and refreshing swimming pools. They showed up because they had received a call from the mother of the little child whose life was saved.



“I don’t know who this person is,” she told the team on a television interview, “but I want to say thanks… from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for saving my little girl-“ she broke into tears.

This was enough to send hundreds of people in search of that special donor who had sacrificed her comfort in order to save the life of a stranger. When they showed up to the house, the woman was baffled. They told her that the mother of the little girl she had saved was trying to find her and that they were there to help. As an added surprise, they were going to give this selfless donor a brand new life. She and her family were sent on a seven day vacation to Hawaii, while the team built her a beautiful new home.

When they returned from their vacation, the family was surprised by the presence of an enormous new home and a shy little girl. The little girl clutched her mommy. The mommy broke into tears as she ran to embrace the stranger who had saved her baby’s life.

“I don’t even know you, but I am so grateful for your life,” She sobbed “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, for saving my daughter’s life!”
The donor never imagined knowing the outcome, or even the person affected by her selfless act, and today- her life was changed.

“I would do it all over again,” she said as she hugged the grateful mother “I would do it for nothing in return.”

I was touched deeply as I watched the story unfold. It was so special, so miraculous, and so…selfless. You never know how much a life can change because of a selfless action. Just today, I was on the receiving end of a selfless act of kindness. Ana, Katy’s therapist, has been treating my daughter for nearly a year now. Of all the therapists, Ana has been able to bring the best out in my little girl. She is the most excellent therapist that we have had.



In the first few sessions with Katy, Ana asked me about the prognosis for her development. I told her that the geneticist said that Katy might not even walk by the time she was five years old. Ana’s face didn’t move a muscle, but her eyes looked pierced. She sat there holding Katy for a few moments. Suddenly, the look in her eyes changed. She was determined. It was as if her stare was screaming “No. Not this one. Not on my watch.” Ana hugged Katy tightly, and got to work.

As the weeks progressed, Ana told me that the therapy job was a temporary one. She was just there to help the clinic with the extra patients until they got settled in. The weeks turned into months, and Ana finally confessed that she had decided to stay until Katy was fine. She didn’t need the money, and she could certainly use the time (Ana had three jobs), but there she was- waiting on Katy.

Today, we returned to therapy from our holiday break. Ana was there to treat Katy. She was shocked to see that my little girl had learned to walk over the Christmas break. Katy toddled from corner to corner in the therapy gym. Ana was bursting with pride.

“See! Look!” She would tell the other therapists who also watched in surprise.
Walking along side of Katy, Ana looked at her dearly. “I guess its time for me to move on. My work here is done.”