27 February 2013

How to Win $100

A picture's worth a thousand words? Here's a 1000 word essay on my Wednesday:


Should I categorize this under, "Pulling out my own hair"? "Abigail laughing at my demise"? "Save me"?

$100 to the first person who arrives at my apartment prepared to baby sit the terror perfect angel so I can A. Finish packing for tomorrow and B. Sit in a coffee shop with a mocha and crochet for a few hours.

On your mark, get set, go.

25 February 2013

7 Quick Takes Monday

"7 Quick Takes Friday" is a thing that is going around Catholic blogs right now, but I'm going to do a 7 Quick Takes Monday because Mondays are a busy day for me.

- 1 -

Both Matt and Abigail have been sick for the last few days. So our weekend looked like this:


Just kidding. That was about five minutes of it. Abigail didn't feel like taking this cold laying down.


- 2 -

I desperately need to reorganize the pictures on my hard drive. Between Sheep & Co's product pictures, pictures of Abigail, and pictures of Chicago, I've discovered that my old organizational system isn't up to the task of high volume. The entire process will probably take hours longer than it needs to and I'm kind of dreading it.


- 3 -

We're going to Michigan later this week to do some house hunting. We're looking to buy a small home in Lansing (where Matt's job is) or a condo in a town about 30 minutes away (Howell). We applied for pre-approval for a mortgage. They'll get back to us by the day we plan to leave for Michigan at the latest. We really don't want to drive to Michigan if we can't get pre-approved. We have made a trip to Michigan every month since we moved to Chicago and we're really freakin' a bit tired of making the journey. Abigail hates long car rides and I have a small bladder. So, I'm really hoping that we find out soon if we don't qualify.


- 4 -

Today's high was suppose to be in the low 40s, which I thought would be great to go for a walk. The tires on Abigail's stroller are flat from months of sitting in a closet and it was colder than I'd hoped, but it felt soooo good to get out.


This is the alley behind our apartment.


This is the lobby in my entrance:


Here's our imposing court yard:



- 5 -

I freaking love Chicago. I wish we didn't have to move.



- 6 -

I have been working on some Easter cloches for my Etsy shop. I'm striving to have them listed by the first of March.





- 7 -

When I went away to college (eight and a half years ago!!!), I bought two tapestries from Bed Bath and Beyond to decorate my bare, no-nails-allowed walls. I shlepped them around from dorm to apartment to apartment, finding random uses for the $19.99 - 20% textiles. They've really come in handy over the years. Especially when the blinds in our kitchen window broke.


I have a spare curtain rod, but the power drill's battery no longer holds a charge and there is no way I'm going to get the brackets into the wall without it. So I went all ghetto on the window.


Those are gen-u-ine Lake of Michigan rocks you see there. Collected from our local beach last summer when we first moved in.






20 February 2013

Victory Dance

I have the baby itch. Abigail's going to be two in just a few more months, our future looks stable, and I feel like I have enough of a handle on the responsibilities of my life right now to devote myself to a new little one. Not to mention that I ran into a rack of newborn onesies at Target the other day. Slew my heart, that polka-heart onesie with a pink and purple cupcake did.

But before you start sending me congratulations, please know that we are not now nor will be pregnant soon. We we have one serious reason and one minor reason to post-pone a family addition. Major: no health insurance. Minor: I never ever want to move while pregnant ever again. So we have to wait.

In the meantime, ABIGAIL WALKS WITH PUSH TOYS! She walks while holding hands and she stands independently for brief seconds as long as she's distracted. She's been able to walk while holding hands for about a week now. Yesterday in physical therapy, the therapist stood Abigail up in front of a push toy and she took off like a shot, making it about 6 feet before she hit a rug and tumbled over. It was a wild, wide-legged, fast-paced run/walk, but it was a damn good first attempt. As soon as the therapist left, we ran to Target to pick up a play shopping cart I'd had my eye on since Christmas.


This is the first push toy I've ever seen that is appropriate for Abigail's height. She's so short that the handle on most push toys is about at eye-level for the poor girl. Validation arrived today when the occupational therapist showed up with a toy shopping cart that she was planning to lend us for a few weeks so that Abigail could practice. I guess our lack of push toys was noticeable.


She prefers to push it backwards, pulling out items as she goes. You can follow the trail of cardboard boxes and plastic canned goods around the apartment.


I am eagerly awaiting the day that she toddles across the room to me without a plastic shopping cart, but I know from friends that it usually takes kids with Ds a few months to transition from walking with a push toy to walking independently. We're hoping by her second birthday. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying this moment of bliss.

Today I walked into the living room to discover this:


Today is the first time my 21-month-old has climbed up onto a piece of furniture by herself. I've been working with her for about a week to climb on that trunk. I've spent a few months working on the couch, but to no avail.

When I say, as I do so often, that the life of a special needs parent means we experience higher highs and lower lows, this is a prime example. Abigail first started pulling up to stand in July. It took her seven months to go from pulling up to stand to walking with a push toy. And during those seven months, I worked with her for 20 minutes 3-4 times a week. One-on-one physical therapy, just me and her 20 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week. For seven months. It was really. damn. hard. At times it felt so completely hopeless. I felt like she was never going to walk. I think if her MI physical therapist hadn't sucked, things would have gone faster, but we'll never know for sure. So yes, that is a really damn low low. I remember sitting at the salon getting my hair cut when the stylist found out I had a baby and asked how old she was.
"15 months now!" I respond.
"Oh! Such a cute age! So she's walking now, right?"
"Not yet!" I say cheerful.
Enter awkward pause. The stylist is confused. She has an 11-month-old niece who is just on the brink of walking. She's pretty sure her best friend's 15-month-old is able to run. She's wondering why my 15-month-old isn't walking yet, but she doesn't know how to ask politely and I'm not volunteering anything.
I'm pretty sure preferencing every discussion about Abigail with "Oh, she has Down syndrome" would feel way worse than letting the stylist stammar awkwardly for a minute or two, so I don't bring it up. I have a cute, sassy daughter at home and sometimes that's all people need to know.

But it still feels low. 7 months of low.

And then? Victory! Walking with a little pink shopping cart! Climbing on a foot locker! I know how hard we worked to get to this point, because I was right there with her. My hands gently tugging on her quads 20 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week for 7 months. My pinky finger scooping her lower abs to encourage her to engage her core. The frustration, the crying, the falling down. Abigail didn't just start toddling one day. She won't just start walking. It'll be a long painstaking process.

But when there's victory, there's victory. Like the man with no legs winning the Olympics. No? Too soon? How about the man with terminal cancer coming back to win seven world championships? That doesn't work either? Yes, but you get where I'm going with this. The underdog winning the World Series, the kid from the poor side of town growing up to change the world for the better. Their accomplishments are so much higher because of the muck they had to get through just to get to everyone else's starting line up.

And so we do a little victory dance around here when Abigail climbs on top of a trunk. Or signs "water." Okay, we do a huge victory dance and there's usually tears and a video camera involved.

Because she earned it.


18 February 2013

How to Have a Good Weekend

A few Thursdays ago, it dawned on me that I wasn't looking forward to the weekend. I'd say dreading is a bit strong, but it was in that same vein. Weekends around here have been a drag lately. Lazy mornings turn into lazy afternoons. Before you know it, it's dinner time, I don't have any meat defrosted, no one has showered, and everyone feels like a slob. Matt and I foster resentment against one another for having to pull the bulk of "Chica Duty," and we start counting down the minutes until bedtime so that we can "be free." Sometime late Sunday night, I'll get around to cleaning up our two days worth of mess, feel a little better about myself, and find myself excited that tomorrow is Monday and we can finally get "back on schedule."

That is NOT how weekends should be.

It all started on Friday evening when things took a turn for the worst. I don't remember what was happening exactly, but I do remember that it involved Abigail throwing most of her dinner on the floor - which I had already vacuumed, mopped (Swiffered), and swept once that day. Matt and I were getting stressed out and starting to pick at one another. So I whipped out a board game. Abigail's first family board game. I chose Life since it is faster paced and doesn't require strategic thinking. Mega. Hit. Abigail loved spinning the spinner, was incredibly gentle when handling the money and cards, and sat patiently in my lap when it wasn't her turn. Matt and I over-exaggerated our joy at winning Life tiles and collecting money to keep Abigail's attention, and our fake perkiness wore off on us, making us genuinely happier. I was very surprised at how stress-relieving playing a family game with a 1.5 year old was.

On Saturday, we granted ourselves a lazy morning, but balanced it with running a few errands as a family before nap time. Abigail is a big fan of running through parking lots in the cart, and the little boy in Matt is a big fan of it as well. That evening, I decided to use my free spending money (an allowance Matt and I budget for ourselves) to take Matt (and Abigail) out to dinner. This. Never. Happens. Matt and I stopped going out as a family when Abigail got too old to fall asleep in her car seat at the table. Lugging baby food, a cup, and entertainment isn't worth the effort. I can't enjoy my food because I'm so busy trying to keep Abigail content and eating out is expensive. So we usually just pick up a pizza or subs and bring them home when we "eat out." But I pass a local Chicago joint with a unique atmosphere whenever I go grocery shopping, so I decided to put aside my parking and kid concerns and just head out. It. Was. Awesome. This place had mirrors on the wall at the end of the booth. Yes, mirrors. Abigail spent half of dinner flirting with herself in the mirror. She spent the other half of dinner pointing to things with a straw. (Using a tool makes the occupational therapist happy). She did throw a glass of water on the floor at one point. That was embarrassing. But the waiter was incredibly polite about it.

By Sunday, we were all in pretty good moods and thought about just staying home. We'd already had lots of excitement and we were feeling pretty cozy at home. But concern that a lazy Sunday might just force our weekend to take turn for the worst, we decided to keep things going. When we first moved in, we got a 7-day individual free pass to the local YMCA, which we were saving up for a rainy day. We decided to see if they would let us exchange our 7-day individual pass for a 1 day family pass. They did us one better. They let us in for free and let us keep the 7-day pass. So we took Abigail swimming for free. Mega. Hit. Part. II. Abigail is a total water baby and spent a good 20 minutes splashing around and "swimming laps" with a toddler-sized kick board. On our way home, Matt and I swung by a Redbox and used the code DVDONME to get a free rental. Double bonus.

That IS how a weekend should be.

Could things get more exciting? Yes, yes they could. Cue 3-day weekend! Matt has today off (President's Day), so we decided to go downtown to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is open and free 365 days a year (the only cost to us is in a bus/train pass). The weather was supposed to be warmer (45*) and the rain was supposed to hold off until the evening (which it did), so we donned our walking shoes and headed out. The tiger roared, the leopard stalked, the exotic hornbills flew, and the polar bear lazed around. Abigail fell asleep as we were leaving the zoo, so on the way home, we made a pit stop to Starbucks where we used a gift card to get some free coffee.

When I post everything here in one fell swoop, it sounds easy. It sounds like have a million free opportunities. I think if I read this post on someone's else's blog, I'd think, "Well, if my local zoo was free," or "if my toddler would sit still for a board game," or "if I had so many gift cards lying around, I'd never complain about being bored!" But it takes some patience. And some guts. And some work. I had no idea that Abigail would sit still for that game; it was trial and error. For every 1 thing she sits still for, I can tell you 10 she won't. Or eating out at the restaurant. For most of my meal, I ate with one hand while the other hand held on to Abigail's belt loop to be sure she wouldn't fall out of the booster seat that didn't have a seat belt attached. I have also been saving up my free spending money for a while now, which means there are a lot of things I don't buy so that I can treat my family occasionally. Or the trip to the YMCA. When I was digging swim suits out of the summer clothes tote and loading up beach towels into a duffle bag, I had no idea if the Y would let us in. They could have said "no," and we would have had to turn around, come home, take off our swim suits and Abigail's swim diaper and find something else to do with our afternoon. That is a risk you can only take with a kid who is too young to get her hopes up. Or the zoo. It's a 40-minute bus ride away, it involves packing lunches, strapping on a carrier, and coming home with sore feet and a dull headache. It took work, and sometimes all that work is for naught. But sometimes it is successful. This weekend it was successful. This weekend, Matt and I feel satisfied, fulfilled, and closer as a family.

THAT is how a long weekend should go down.

14 February 2013

Chicago Love

I less-than-three Chicago. Which is my dry humor way of making fun of myself. I do love Chicago, though.

I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, and even though we moved around a lot, it was always around middle-ish class neighborhoods in Wayne County. I loved it. I liked living close to malls, long bike rides through subdivisions without any adults, feeling tough in high school because we had metal detectors and had to worry about the gang that would hang out near the bridge. When I was half way through high school, my parents up and moved us to a rural town about an hour west. The town is so tiny that it only has one, red blinking stop light. You have to drive through about 20 minutes of corn fields and tractors in order to reach something with more than a grocery store everyone calls "Rancid's" and a pizza place that keeps going out of business. But I fell in love. Walks down quiet dirt roads, bonfires after harvest time, piling everyone into the back of a pick up truck without shocks so we didn't have to pay for extra cars to get in at the state parks. The people were nicer, the pace was slower, no one cared if my nails were the right shade of silver. When Matt and I got married and moved to Florida one year later, I was sure I was sunk. I mean, I thought anything above 70* was too warm! But by the time we left three years later, I had fallen in love again. Swimming in the Gulf in March, geckos scurrying across the sidewalks, the warm, salty air permeating the entire city. Summers were still tough, but I could see how quickly I'd acclimated and knew it would only get easier. If Matt had found a job in Naples, I wouldn't have minded.

So why am I so surprised that I fell in love with Chicago? Sure it was a culture shock moving to the third biggest city in the nation, but I quickly overcame it and now I don't want to leave. I love Chicago, being able to take public transportation, the character of the buildings, the history behind every neighborhood, the way the whole city loves the bears even when they suck. Living here means that we can take our time seeing the sites, waiting until the weather and the finances line up. I love being able to walk to church, the library, the grocery store (although I usually drive to one outside of the city limits), the beach, the park, McDonald's. I love that there is always something going on outside my 1920s windows. Chicago really does have a small-town feel of friendly neighbors, dads teaching their kids to ride bikes and dodge joggers. Strangers smiling and saying "hi" as you pass by. There are bad things too, like when we got robbed our first month here. But I like the good more than I hate the bad.

Of all the places we've lived: the rural, suburban, urban, the snowy north, the sub-tropics, I like Chicago the best. I wanna live here in somewhere with assigned parking. Since Matt has a job lined up in Michigan, it isn't likely that I'll get my wish any time soon. But maybe someday I'll get to call Chicago "home" again. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my last 5.5 months in the Windy City. I'm going to make as many memories as I can to keep me occupied until I can come back.



Chicago, will you be my valentine? Because I really less-than-three you.

11 February 2013

Hardship Cues

When I was pregnant with Abigail, we knew about her heart condition (but not the Ds) and the doctor told me that as long as I was pregnant, there was no stress on the baby's heart, so we didn't have to worry about her just yet. I didn't want to give birth. Because it would cue the hardships.

It is with that same heavy heart that I don't want Abigail to grow up. Not because she won't be a cute little baby with pigtails anymore, but because it will cue more hardship.

These last few days have been a big mental struggle for me. I'd been having a hard time shaking body aches and fatigue since getting over the stomach flu, but when I finally felt 100%, I was promptly hit with a barrage of emotions about Abigail. It's the usual bullshit. The usual depression. The why-the-*#&$-won't-this-just-go-away? kind of stuff. The kind of stuff I get to deal with for the rest of my life.

There isn't a single day of my entire life that doesn't go by without Down syndrome crossing my mind at least once. During the first six months of Abigail's life, it was a constant, obsessive thing. I couldn't stop thinking about Down syndrome. During the next year or so, it got easier and easier to deal with the emotions, I thought about it less often, and the thoughts were less significant. Nowadays, when the thoughts pop into my head, they're usually quick, easily dismissible thoughts. Like, I wonder when so-and-so-with-Ds officially started walking and if Abigail will be there by the time she's two too. Or, those two bottom teeth are really coming in crooked. I wonder if that's a Ds thing? I'm not involved in any Ds support groups in Chicago (it doesn't seem worth it to get involved since we're only here for a year), but I do notice that the lack of support really makes a difference when I'm struck by a negative reality of my life.

The two catalysts for my spiral was the reading of a blog post in which it was discussed that a 20-something with Ds needed her mother's help in the shower. Another blog revealed that another girl's mother had a hard time understanding the speech of her adult daughter with Ds unless she was looking at her, thereby offering lip reading assistance.

I don't think about the specifics of Abigail's life as an adult. I imagine that she'll live with us, maybe we can add a sitting room and kitchenette to her space to give her some more independence. I imagine that we won't be able to travel as much as typical empty nesters and that we'll have to be more careful with our money. But I don't think about the ins and outs of daily life. Like, what level of supervision do average adults with Ds need? Will I be able to do independent activities? Adult day care sounds very humiliating and degrading to me right now and I'm not interested in entertaining the idea of Abigail spending a few days a week in such a place.

So when I hear about other people who are difficult to understand and need help with basic hygiene, it gets me pretty depressed. I want Abigail to be loved and respected. I know this battle is only going to get tougher. More and more when we're out, I notice people staring at Abigail longer than is typically socially acceptable. Sometimes people do double takes in a grocery aisle. Sometimes the cashier refuses to acknowledge Abigail even though she is smiling and waving at them.

Other times, people stop me to tell me about their friend's cousin who had Ds and how loving and happy Abigail will always be.

Like I give a shit.

I want to sock these people in the stomach. Tell them to mind their own business. They them what a grouchy, crabby baby Abigail was this morning and about how she threw her oatmeal on the floor again. Just to prove that she's normal.

I don't know what I want. I don't want to avoid talking about it (it is just as awkward for me to sit around a play date and have everything ignore it as it is to have everyone telling me what an angel Abigail will be) but sometimes I get so sick of Ds invading everything and I just want to spend a little time having normal discussions.

So I don't know what I want. But I do know 10,000 things I don't want.

And part of me wonders if this is all just me being hormonal because it's that time of the month and that my feelings of depression can be controlled by my menstrual cycle just pisses me off even more.

Ugh. So here we are again in the long, low valleys between mountainous highs. A time when my 20-month-old still isn't walking, still doesn't say even one word, takes 1-2 steps backward for every 2 steps forward we take in sign language development, doesn't eat, isn't gaining weight, and refuses to use her own abs to hold herself upright when I carry her around.

I deal with it all by taking things day-by-day. I try not to stress about a future that hasn't materialized yet. Abigail's not overweight now, so why worry about what do with potential weight issues in the future? I can still get lots of clothing that fits her, so why worry about finding a tailor in the future? I don't try to picture specific things Abigail and I will do when she's 30 and I'm 55. I focus on our 5-10 year goals, I pay attention to the Ds community when I feel strong enough to handle it, and I try to keep Abigail's best interest in mind.

Sometimes, like right now, it seems like everyone else is talking about Italy and I'm stuck in Holland. I'm trying to figure out the balance between letting myself be mad at Holland and learning to appreciate its beauty.


08 February 2013

Mental Struggles

There have been lots of struggles in our household lately, most of them mental. I haven't been sticking to my Rule of Life, instead frittering away my time online while Abigail pushes a plastic container across the hardwood floor, making the most obnoxious noise I ever did hear. Everything seems too daunting - cleaning the mountains stacks of dishes in the kitchen, occupying Abigail in her crib so I can pick up everything and sweep and Swiffer the floors, trying to make my own laundry detergent for the first time. Abigail and I aren't back 100% from our bout with the stomach flu and a lot of my to-dos are things I'm catching up from when I was too sick to do anything. But to be honest, I'm pretty sure my squashed work ethic is just in my head. I think I might need to spend a day or two just plain forcing myself to get stuff done, and hope that the drive comes back.

I also think we're entering some sort of Terrible Twos Prequel. Telling Abigail, "no" is a surefire way to get her to repeat the behavior over and over again. She's really into electrical cords, touching the radiators (the fact that she touched one when it was hot hasn't deterred her), and completely emptying the drawers in her dresser. She's teething, hates eating/meal time, and has mastered the art of the zipper and hereby refuses to wear a sweatshirt in this bitter cold weather we're experiencing. (A radiator in the master bedroom is not roped off).


But I don't think the problem is that I need a vacation or a date night or some me-time. Although all those things would be nice, I think the problem is that I'm still a little fatigued and achy from the flu and I need to push through it and clean the damn litter pan. So here's to a productive, balanced Friday. Getting the to-dos done, but not at the expense of active play with Abigail. I have my goals laid out and my reward for accomplishing them: a new nail polish color and an at-home spa night.


Good luck to me and Happy Friday to you!

05 February 2013

Growth, For Me and Abigail

I have been a small business owner for about 5 days now. Opening an Etsy shop is kind of like putting on a performance. You put together a routine (product) and then perfect it (streamline production), practicing over and over again, doing plies in front of the bathroom mirror while you brush your teeth at night. Once you get each and every step just right, you design and make a costume (marketing). You set the stage, you sell tickets, you rally up a crowd (social media). And when the big day arrives, you put on your over-the-top costume make up, giant tutu, sparkly leotard, and with all the lights point at you, in front of everyone you know, you dance your heart out. And while you twirl across that stage, you imagine all the applause you're going to get (money you'll make), the rave reviews you'll read about in the paper the day after the show, the people who will want your autograph and beg you to never quit dancing. And then the music crescendos, and you feel the sweat beading up on your temple because you're truly giving this performance all you've got. And when the last beat sounds, you strike your final pose - arms out-stretched, chest towards the sky, one foot daintily pointed, huge, ear-to-ear grin on your face. The grand opening. And then just silence. Completely silence. And as you stand there in the middle of the stage, doubts begin to creep in. Is everyone sitting in stunned silence because they are in awe over the brilliance of my performance? Or did they fall asleep because it was so boring and don't realize it's over?

I'm standing on stage, with my bright red lipstick, my high bun, my chest heaving from the exertion of my effort. I'm frozen with a big smile on my face, blinded by the spot lights, wondering why there is silence.

But I have read more than enough how-to-get-your-Etsy-shop-started articles to know that just because you don't get a sale within your first 3.5 days, doesn't mean you should give up. It take patience! I need to keep churning out new product in order to keep driving traffic. I need to build up my shop. I need to support it. I need to be okay without instant gratification. I know the steps I need to take. I just need to take them.

So I will. I will write them down, I will keep working, and I will wait with eager anticipation for my first sale. And even if I never get a sale, even if I move to Michigan in August without having sold one hat, I am still proud of myself for putting myself out there. I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone and grow. I would be disappointed with the results, but not with my efforts.

So stay tuned, world, Sheep & Company has several ideas coming down the hatch!


UPDATE: Not one hour after I posted this blog post, I sold my first hat! And no, the buyer is not someone I know ; )

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

In a weird way, I'm actually glad I have had an sales yet, because I spent the weekend with the stomach flu. It was a tough debate between stomach flu or food poisoning but we finally decided that Abigail and I had the stomach flu, with Abigail's bug being significantly milder than mine (thanks be to God). At least I finally know that my fatigue and lethargy all last leek wasn't just me being lazy.

Prospective Sheep & Company customers, do not worry because after each and every item is created, it is washed and placed in a sterile environment that neither flu germ nor cat hair nor small child could permeate. Perfectly safe and sanitary.

We're still dealing with a few straggling symptoms, but the worst seems to have started and ended on Friday night. However, I think it may be a few months before I'll be able to eat pizza again.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Moving on.

Do you remember Abigail's epic pickiness? Things got so bad that she was only eating grilled cheese, goldfish crackers, and bananas. I worked really, really hard, and could get her to eat certain types of sugary, instant oatmeal on a good day. But my progress stalled and then Abigail started phasing out bananas.

Which is huge.

That would be like Winnie the Pooh deciding he didn't like honey any more.

I mean, seriously you-might-as-well-go-rob-a-bank-because-we-are-clearly-living-in-an-alternate-universe-and-won't-be-held-responsible-for-our-crimes type of mind blowing.

I had spoken to everyone. Friends, family, the pediatrician, the occupational and developmental therapists. No luck. Everyone had ideas, theories, all of which failed. It got to the point where I vowed I wouldn't feed Abigail again until she ate eggs. Abigail held out and I usually caved out of fear of malnutrition. Meal times were miserable. Everyone was grouchy.

And then? We struck brilliance. I brought it up to Abigail's speech therapist and told her it seemed like a texture issue. She thought Abigail might be having sensory issues and recommended that I pair soft things with crunchy things, like using the goldfish cracker as a scoop for pureed beans and veggies. 

Sheer brilliance.

You see, kids with Down syndrome can have difficulty with sensation. With crunchy things, like goldfish crackers, Abigail can both hear and feel the food in her mouth, so she knows what to do with it. With something soft like eggs, she doesn't get enough feedback to know when to chew and when to swallow.

So now Abigail eats.

We are trying to show her that mealtimes aren't solely for torture, and we're trying to break her of the habit of simply spitting out food she doesn't recognize, but as long as we can get her to down one or two bites, she's starting to get some positive feedback from both the food and Matt and I. Cue progress!

Within the first week, I got Abigail to eat some beans, veggies, potatoes (which I know are a veggie, but they are a starchy veggie), and even a little bit of roast beef! All carefully served on the filet of a goldfish cracker. I'm even using goldfish crackers to get her to eat other kinds of crackers so we don't have such a dependence on one type of cracker.

I felt such a sense of relief, I almost cried. I wrote the therapist a heart-felt note to let her know how much her wisdom meant to us.

Ah, sometimes it's the little things, but sometimes it's the big things. Like finally getting Abigail to eat protein or opening an Etsy shop. You have to push yourself in order to grow. And, unless you want to be the same person in 20 years as you are now, you have to grow. The more I grow, the less growing pains I feel. I hope I keep growing as my time here in this amazing city winds down. I don't want to squander one minute of Chicago in the way I squander so much time in Florida.