Life in Holland

A lot of people hate Welcome To Holland. I have always loved it.

I’m know all the reasons I’m supposed to hate it. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I like it so much. Maybe it marks me as easy sell. But I only know that all the times I have needed it to help, it has. It brings me peace.

Today is the last day of October, the last day of 21 for 31, the last day of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And I do so wish I had a good story for you. Words of wisdom. A neat and tidy anecdote to tie all this together, this life of mine, our world, the people whom we love with Down Syndrome who live in it with us.

But I’ve not got that. I have no magic answers today. I am still the person I was a month ago. I still can’t drive. Eli still screams himself to sleep. I still don’t like my dog. My sister still hangs up on me sometimes when I call her. My mom still doesn’t understand why maybe she shouldn’t go to Italy for Thanksgiving and I still don’t have the guts to tell her. My in laws annoy me. I’m not a fast runner. I am not skinny. Halloween candy calls my name.

I have no magic answers. I only know we do our best. We love as much as we can.

And we live our lives, here in Holland, every day.

Happy Halloween

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Positive

When Mr. E was growing up with his nine million brothers and sisters, occasionally one of the little bastards would do something not so awesome or say something rude to their mom or whine about having to actually put pants on and his mom would probably want to kill them nine times out of ten but instead of that and because she’s the soul of patience and an awesome mom, she would just say “That’s not a positive.”

And I really like it. It’s a surprisingly effective reminder to quit being such a shit. It doesn’t make me defensive like most other personal corrections from people and it doesn’t make me want to stab Mr. E in the eyeballs when he says it to me and it just kind of gets me back on track. Plus I get to say it to him on those rare occasions when he is less than a cheerful sunflower of happiness and that makes it totally worth it. Try it, you might like it.

*****

Right now I am not feeling the positive. I am feeling grim and grumpy. Sour. Small minded. Jealous. Crabby. Run down, cooped up, burnt out. All of those things. I need a dose of away time and a shot in the arm of the movies alone by myself except for popcorn and junior mints and George Clooney and circumstances being what they are unfortunately I don’t see those things occurring in my immediate future.

But today I am going to triumph over the dark forces of negativity anyway and I’m going to do that by reminding myself of all the positive shit that’s going on right now and dammit! I am going to be happy. I can be emotionally exhausted and physically drained and still be happy, right?

Because after all. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series. I swear my new Philosophy Hope in a Tube is making my eyelashes craaazy long. And this afternoon I’m taking my boys to the pumpkin patch and I’m pretty sure it’s physically impossible to be crabby at the pumpkin patch. Although I do have to admit that every year I silently apologize to all the pumpkins I don’t take home. I am just that kind of crazy.

Anyhoo. We’re going to eat pizza at one of those pizza places with the salad bar where they mostly just have cottage cheese and beets and beans and ranch dressing and I know it’s terrible but I do so love those salad bars. Any my mouse is a COMPLETE piece of shit and has erased this entry three times, but really that’s actually for the good because I think each of these versions has been better than the last and now this is practically Pulitzer Prize winning, I think we can all agree on that. And in the time it’s taken me to rewrite this masterpiece three fucking times, miracle of all miracles, Eli fell asleep, exhausted by his valiant efforts to break the barriers of sound and time with screaming. When he wakes up we’re going to go on a walk to buy a new mouse and then we’re going to pound the shit out of the old one in the driveway with baseball bats, Office Space style, and I would imagine that will be fairly satisfying.

And then tonight I’ll carve the same old-school smiling pumpkin that I have carved every year for as long as I can remember carving pumpkins and the Portland Trailblazers season opener is on TV and PBS is showing a documentary about unlikely marathoners triumphing over adversity and who doesn’t love a good celebration of the human spirit combined with a PBS voice over? And there’s a fun size Snickers bar waiting for me in the freezer and Eli is wearing the cutest most ridiculous baby hipster Jim Morrison t shirt right now and these things make me happy, yes they do.

Positively.

Baby Talk

I am coming to terms with the fact that maybe I am not a baby person.

I adore my child. I love nuzzling his stinky little neck fat rolls and I love the face he makes when I try to feed him something disgusting like applesauce (oh, the horrors!) and I love the hoot he lets out when he realizes he’s going to get boob.  I adore him.

But I don’t adore baby talk and making up baby games doesn’t come naturally to me.  All the things we know Eli loves to do – go under a cave of blankets, talk to the spatula, have his ears brushed with our whispers – we know because his dad found out while they were playing silly games together. I do a lot of things, but I don’t do silly. It’s just not me.

And at first I felt like a really really bad mom because of it. I don’t make crazy screech faces and I don’t vroom cars across the carpet and so I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough.  And for awhile I tried harder to vroom. I worked at silly.  And it just didn’t work.
Lately I’ve realized I do things, I do. I cuddle. I feed.  I give oodles of kisses and lots of pats. I read books and I make Eli promise to always root for the Red Sox and to never smoke cigarettes or vote for Republicans.  I am really good at making sure he is warm enough and he’s clean and he’s safe.  The floors he crawls around on are always clean.  I just don’t have that five year old boy let’s play dinosaurs kind of personality like his father has.  I am so very glad they have each other, now that I think about it. And I am happy to the one who gives kisses and breastmilk.  And I’m also really looking forward to having little kids, after they aren’t babies anymore.  I think maybe I am more of a “make cookies with my five year old and talk about the planets with my seven year old” kind of mom.

Is this weird? I’m kind of thinking lately that maybe we should have another baby just so someone else can take a turn at entertaining Eli.

Not before I get a dishwasher though.  No matter what kind of mom I turn out to be, I will never be the kind that likes doing the dishes.

Resentment

You know those times when say that you are totally fine with your husband going out of town? And you pretty much ARE totally fine with it and anyway it’s really for work and also he totally deserves it, he works his ass off and when you told him to go you really didn’t even care at the time, and even though you’re so so so jealous of the hours and hours and hours he gets to spend by himself ALONE on the plane and in a hotel room with cable and booze and pizza you really would never ever tell him not to go? And you are very happy he had a fun time and met old friends and boozed it up and caught up on all the hot diatomatic gossip.  But at the same time you are the one stuck at home with a baby who WILL NOT NAP and who WILL NOT EAT and who WILL NOT STOP CRYING and who WILL NOT BE PUT DOWN NO MATTER WHAT and even though you want to be happy for your husband and you are trying so so so so sooooo hard not to be resentful, a part of you really really really sort of pretty much hates your husband and also wants to know why he is not home RIGHT NOW HELPING YOU and you know that by the time he gets home despite all your best efforts and through no fault of his you are going to be so so so so so annoyed with him?

Yeah. Today was one of those days.

Fast Food

So it would appear that I have the crabby variety eight month old. No, well, let me qualify that.  Eli is in a fabulous mood, sunshine and kitties and rainbows and all that, as long as you are holding him and lavishing him with attention.  I swear to god, it’s like he has a broken leg or something (he doesn’t). As soon as you put him down, the screaming starts. I can promise you he has a set of very healthy lungs.

So yeah, it sucks, but here’s my real issue.  Two days a week Mr. E works late, and then at lots of other times he has trips or needs to spend the night at the bar keeping the local strippers on their toes (I kid, I kid) and on those days, well, I love my child and if I have to hold him all the time ok, but meanwhile, Mama is hungry. I’d like to eat. Lately it’s turned out that I simply can’t cook any kind of decent meals while holding Senor Pants with one arm, so Mr. E has been bringing home way too much McDonald’s and that’s just gross and certainly no one ever lost 20-25 pounds eating chicken mcnuggets.  I really need some ideas for things that are just incredibly easy and at least somewhat healthy that I can just throw in the microwave and be done with. We’re talking open package, throw in microwave easy.  Does anyone have any ideas? If so, I would really appreciate them. You just might save my sanity.

Here are my ideas so far.  And yes, I realize that the secret ingredient in 99.5% of these items is salt. I realize they are sort of disgusting. But they are very very fast, and much better for you than McDonalds.
1. lean pockets

2. instant rice and tomato sauce

3. instant oatmeal (I eat this every morning for breakfast)

4. Lean Cuisines

5. diet frozen pizza

6. Boca frozen lasagna

7. can of turkey chili

8. progresso soup

9.  Amy’s frozen burritos

10. tuna on a good day

11. cereal

12. pb and j

13. sandwich, low fat chips, apple, yogurt (on a good day)

14. turkey pita (on a good day, takes a lot of chopping)

15. canned stew (I haven’t had this in years, it might be too gross for even me)

16. toasted cheese and tomato soup (on a good day)

17. frozen waffles with peanut butter, apple

18.  refried beans and cheese rolled in a tortilla, on a good day

19. bananas, maple syrup, yogurt

Five Things I Need to Make

1. the Eggs Benedict from Sunday Brunch at Zanzibar in Ann Arbor. As best I recall, these are a crab cake on a sweet potato biscuit, with two poached eggs and hollandaise. Maybe some greens? I might have to force Sarah to go order this and tell me what else is on it. Crab season is coming up though, and I already have a killer recipe (from Martha) for sweet potato biscuits, and I can poach an egg, so I have my sights set on making this soon.

2. the Zingermans hot cocoa coffeecake that mah best friend sent me when Eli was born. Holy crap, is this good. Not too sweet, not too moist, an awesome dryish chocolatey cake. No idea how to go about making this. I guess start googling.

3. the picnic from Best Friends For Frances. I don’t know what all is in this, I just remember as a little girl thinking it was the best sounding picnic of all time. I need to order a copy of the book, then I am totally making this – it’s a childhood dream meal. I do know there was chocolate cake and hard boiled eggs.

4. One of Edna Lewis’s menus from her cookbook The Taste of Country Cooking. I’d like to note that I “found” Edna Lewis before Scott Peacock and the rest of the world did and my signed original version of this cookbook is one of my prize possessions. I have always wanted to cook one of her huge southern dinners and some day I will, but I will need a lot of people to eat it. That and a truckload of meat, so this one is on the back burner for now.

5. And someday I want to recreate the fair dinner or the christmas dinner from Farmer Boy . I might have to save this meal for the house of five boys I’ll probably end up with. I mean, check this out:

At last he and Father got places at the long table in the dining-room. Everyone was merry, talking and happy, but Almanzo simply ate. He ate ham and chicken and turkey, and dressing and and cranberry jelly, he ate potatoes and gravy, succotash, baked beans and boiled beans and onions, and white bread and rye’n’injun bread, and sweet pickles and jam and preserves. Then he drew a long breath, and he ate pie.

When he began to eat pie, he wished he had eaten nothing else. He ate a piece of pumpkin pie, and a piece of custard pie, and he ate almost a piece of vinegar pie. He tried a piece of mince pie, but could not finish it. He just couldn’t do it. There were berry pies and cream pies and vinegar pies and and raisin pies, but he could not eat any more.