Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Defining Moments

I hate labels. No, not the kind on food or medicine, which are practical and helpful except when they are deceptive.

The labels I hate are the kind applied to people. Mostly, I hate them because they do not define a person, only a condition, or at least what some expert seems to think is the condition. So what.

Somewhere along the line someone said I was shy. Is that bad? We introverts are supposed to extroverts. That is the norm. It took me some time to say, “You’re OK. I’m OK.”

As is the case often these days, my fractured mind took me off course. The excerpt below is what got me to thinking about labels. Dear Gentle Readers of some standing may remember my grandson Nic’s extremely early arrival into this world at 26 weeks, 1 pound and 12 ounces in February 2008. Then as now, we worried how these circumstances might impact his life.

While Nic has already overcome many hurdles, he has his work cut out for him. Of course, he is not alone in his journey. In addition to family, Nic has an army of specialists and experts on Team Nic. Here’s what Nic’s mom had to say recently,

We have been worried with the continued stiffness that Nic has in his legs, feet and pelvis. Upon several expert suggestions, we decided to take Nic to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago to see a pediatric physiatrist, who specializes in whole body movement. Nic hasn't been able to sit up on the floor by himself because the tightness makes him fall to one side or throw himself backward. It also can make him “slouch” when sitting in a highchair. The physiatrist confirmed what we thought, which is that Nicolas has Cerebral Palsy in the form of spastic diplegia. This means that the legs are primarily affected, and also minimal tightness in the arms. This type of CP does not usually affect the cognitive or social abilities of the kids who have it, and does not get worse. CP is a condition that you are born with and that does not progress. Right now we know that the brain trauma he suffered after premature birth is causing his brain to send chemicals to his legs to make them stiff. Although it is hard to have your child labeled like this when he is so perfect in your eyes, we know that CP has a wide range of effects, from very mild to severe. Right now the doctor classifies his as mild.

We are going to have to help Nic continue to work hard to stretch and loosen these muscles in order for him to be able to sit up and eventually walk. That is a scary proposition for any parent to be told that your child may not walk. But, we have great faith in Nic’s abilities and are so proud of his determination so far. He already is exercising and stretching himself and helping himself make progress. I already can’t help but think of him as a tough guy and look at other kids differently because they don’t work as hard as he does. I’m sure that will always be the case.

Other things that we will be doing to try to help him progress is adding PT for a second time a week, starting Occupational Therapy, and also adding Aquatic Therapy once a week. Yes, Nic is going to get more pool time! He loved his first swimming class with Jeff at the Rush-Copley Healthplex, but now he will be trying therapy in the water one-on-one with a PT. I think he will really like this and we will continue to feed his love for the water. This weekend he used his baby pool on the deck for the first time. We will also be using the braces for his feet and knee immobilizers to help him stretch and keep his feet in the correct position. There may be other orthopedic devices that we employ here in the near future.

Down the road Nic may also need surgery, Botox injections, serial casting or oral medications to loosen the muscles as his bones grow longer. The Physiatrist specializes in kids with CP and is going to help us coordinate all his care so we don’t get lost in a sea of opinions.

It is what it is. It is not what it will be.

NOTE: Lisa Belkin has a parenting blog over at the New York Times called Motherlode. She recently posted a wonderful piece of writing by David Sexton titled “Out a Breath,” which was about having a child with Cerebral Palsy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Strawberry Pies Forever

Hey y’all marketing/pr folks over at Shoney’s, Frisch’s Big Boy, or Bob’s Big Boy Restaurants, I have a question for you if your alerts pick up on this blog post. What’s the real original recipe for your strawberry pie?

I have had a recipe for years that tastes pretty close to what I remember the pie tasting like. However, no fewer that 46 versions crop up when you search Shoney’s Strawberry Pie over at and another 11 more if you search Bob’s Big Boy Strawberry Pie.

Some call for strawberry Jello. Others cooks top their pies with Cool Whip (do not get me started on Cool Whip) instead of whipped cream. My version uses 7-Up. So I was curious as to what is the real, original version y’all came up with?

In case you were wondering Dear Gentle Readers, I made a strawberry pie for elder son in honor of Father’s Day. Hope he likes it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Batavia—Where the Biggest Crime is Catnapping

Batavia—Where the Biggest Crime is Catnapping as a headline was too good for me to pass up. The Daily Herald reported this story the other day.

Seems a neighbor lady got fed up by Linus the cat doing catly things like killing birds and chipmunks. According to other neighbors, this female vigilante confessed to them that she had trapped Linus with a can of tuna and took him to a park for release.

Batavia’s deputy police chief said, “I can’t recall anything quite like this. We’ve had issues where pets come up missing, but this has a bit of a twist.”

Apparently this tension has been brewing ever since Linus moved into the neighborhood and his owner said someone had even posted a sign on their door warning them to keep the cat inside.

The catnapper will be arrested, but Linus is still missing.

The point of my post. I don't really know. Just struck me as an indication of how easily little things can get under a person's skin.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


College Boy has joined the Dharma Initiative a.k.a Fermilab, the world's leading particle physics lab. Monday was orientation and CB is amazed by the brainpower around him. With over 6,000 acres, Fermilab is a pretty incredible place environmentally too. We drove around yesterday when I picked up CB and found the buffalo herd. Nice. But we did get Lost.