Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday, but not by choice

Regular readers will know that I often have a segment on here called "Wordless Wednesday," which consists of images that mostly speak for themselves.

However, this Wednesday is "wordless" for me because for some reason, Facebook is not allowing me to update my status and hasn't for the past three days. I can comment on posts, I can add links, I can upload pictures. I can do everything but update my status and make original posts in chat groups (which with Facebook's new system is basically a status update that is only shared with those people).

At first this was mildly inconvenient. OK, so maybe people don't need to know what I think of our public radio's telethon right after Christmas (Really? Do they think that's going to be successful when everyone is tapped out and on vacation?) and probably they don't care that we tried to go to the Oregon Zoo's Zoolights festival but the massive crowds sent us to Peacock Lane's more modest light show instead. But there have been some pretty cool things lately that, goddamnit, people need to hear about.

Jaden is simply blowing me away with his helpfulness. This kid is 15 months adjusted age. He can say very few words and signs just a little. (His utterances often revolve around the word "cat" — "dat," "dis," "da," "ca" being among them — though "chzzz" — cheese — is beginning to make an appearance.) So you would think he is a pretty basic creature. Not so. Yesterday, he picked up a used tissue and walked it over to the garbage can ALL BY HIMSELF. Today, he took old Cheerios out of Malachi's highchair and tried to put them in the sink (he's too short to reach) ALL BY HIMSELF. Then, when he was getting into a box in my room, I handed him a toy and asked him to take it to Malachi, whom I'd left on his tummy in the living room. I did this just to send him on an errand out of the room, never expecting him to actually do it. I was stunned when I walked into the living room moments later and Malachi was on his back happily playing with the toy Jaden had given him on his way to the kitchen.

Which leads me to Malachi's latest milestone: getting into trouble. Until now, he hasn't really been able to do much quickly enough to get into trouble. But today I went to change Jaden's diaper and left him in his highchair near the dining table. On the table is a bin of odds and ends — nipples, bottle caps, oral syringes, etc. — that I have repeatedly told him not to touch and had pushed away from where (I thought) he could reach. When I heard the loud crash, I knew instantly what had happened. I grinned to myself at Malachi's accomplishment but vowed to be stern with him so as not to treat him differently than his brother. My resolve melted quickly though when I turned the corner and Malachi grinned triumphantly at me while chewing on one of his lapful of bottle caps. He seriously has the best smile and it is almost impossible not to smile along with him.


And for my grand finale, I have to mention that both of my boys have started to say "Mama." In fact, I think it is approaching Malachi's first word status. I say "approaching" because I'm not convinced they know what it means yet. I know they know I like it and that it gets my attention. Malachi will say it in the car to try to flirt with me while I'm driving and they will both say it at mealtime to try to butter me up to give them more of whatever they want. That plus Malachi's megawatt smile is going to go a long way, and I think he knows it.

So there. That's what's happened to me in the last few days. Now I don't feel the need to open my front door and scream these things to the world.

I'm not even going to think about what would happen if Blogger gives me an error message when I press Publish.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Confessions of a Christmas Elf

For some reason I keep thinking of this story I wrote for The Beaverton Valley Times a few years back (reprinted below). I think it's because so many of my friends now have kids and they're all posting photos of them on Santa's lap. I've never really understood that tradition. Personally, I'm going to wait until they are old enough to request something like that. And I won't be surprised if they never do.

But maybe I just got jaded after reporting this story on the seedy underbelly of Santa photos. I hope you find it as entertaining as I did!

Free photo from

Confessions of a Christmas Elf

The true story of working at the mall at the holidays

Ah, the mall on a busy weekend, right before Christmas.
Shoppers rush to and fro, holiday music is piped through store speakers, decorations glitter all around – and in the center of it all, the Jolly Old Elf himself presides over cheerful parents and children who go happily on their way after telling him their secret desires.
Not quite, says one of Santa’s helpers.
“Mike” (who spoke on condition of anonymity for himself and his employer) says that at one major mall in Washington County, working conditions and customers’ attitudes paint a far different picture.
“(The children) cry, they kick, some of them pout – while the parents just laugh and we’re all stressed because we’ve got a line that’s an hour and a half (long),” he said.
And the parents aren’t much better.
“I feel like here, it’s almost like a chore for them: ‘Well, I gotta get the Santa picture.’”

Parents want their children crying

Mike has also found that some parents revel in their children’s misery.
He tells the story of a mother of three children, who were terrified of Santa.
“They were just, I mean, hideously screaming,” he said. “And she was just in utter hysteria, laughing. And she said: ‘Take as many shots as you can, this is the greatest thing in the world.’”
Mike said she’s not the only one: “I’ve seen parents pick ‘em up by the pants and set ‘em on his lap and just say: ‘Take it as fast as you can; I want them crying.’
“I get that request at least 10 times a day,” he said.

‘Santa’s grumpy!’

As can happen with any job that involves kids, unsophisticated things are bound to happen.
Once, Mike said, “I took a picture of a kid vomiting.”
Another time, a squirmy toddler was placed on Santa’s lap “and he kicked as hard as he could, and I think he got Santa in some precarious spots,” Mike said. “Santa was pretty perturbed, so the people were really ticked when they left, saying: ‘Santa’s grumpy!’
For all the big man does for children, Mike said he tries to make Santa as comfortable as possible.
“The Santas,” he said, “you just don’t want them riled.”
Though, he also feels that the management can overreact to Santa’s perceived needs.
Once, Mike’s manager was so upset that Santa didn’t have any water that Mike ran to get him some.
“Like an idiot, I fell on the escalator and this guy was like: ‘Are you OK?’
“No, I am not,” he replied. “I am not OK. I’m Santa’s helper. That says it right there.”
The stress of his job even follows him into his dreams.
Mike’s wife said that one night in bed, he pushed her and said: “The back of the line is over there!”
Mike’s wife said she was sure that he had to be awake and was joking with her.
“So I turned on the light and he was like, ‘Where am I?’ He really was asleep,” she said, laughing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Flu season

I shot this several months ago, but it fairly accurately sums up my life right now. If you want to get the full experience, just multiply the volume you see here by 100 and add the foulest odor you have ever smelled. Then have someone wake you up in the middle of the night by screaming and pouring this horrific warm liquid all over you.

Now multiply that by two.

I have never been more grateful of the fact that skin is washable than I have been since becoming a mother.

P.S. What is with babies and being completely fine after having thrown up?? Jaden will literally eat it if I give him the chance.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"A Twist of Fate" now available in every format imaginable!

What's that you say? You don't like eBooks in any flavor? You won't read my book on Kindle nor iBooks nor even on your web browser?

Well have no fear. A good old-fashioned paper-and-ink version is finally here!

And no, I did not change the title to "A Twist of Fat," just a poor choice of finger placement. I would take another picture, but Jaden got ahold of the book and it doesn't look near so pretty now. But that's OK! Yet another thing that one can't do with electronic books.

(In fact, I think it was worth it to make my book paperback just so Jaden could toddle over with my own book in his hands saying "D! D! D!" — Read! Read! Read! Granted, he got pretty bored after he discovered there were no pictures....)

So where can you acquire this wondrous thing at an incredibly reasonable price?

Glad you asked. Check out my Createspace estore here.

What's that you say? You want to read someone else's blog that is singing the praises of my book? Well, go follow that link there to Laura Stanfill's blog. You remember her. She interviewed me about writing a few months back.

What's that you say? You want to physically walk into a bookstore and pick it off the shelf before gloating to the clerk that you knew the author when?

Hmm... well. I'm working on that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

(So why aren't I ecstatic?)

OK, let me start with this:

This is the first photo EVER of Malachi supporting HIMSELF while standing. This was after a stream of firsts the day before, including sitting completely by himself for a few seconds while I let the cat in and several cognitive steps, such as touching his ear when I asked where it was.

These amazing things all happened midweek. So why has it taken me so long to blog about it?

Well, I could say I was busy (true) and that I'm working on bringing my novella to paperback form (also true), but the truth is I was confused by what I felt about Malachi's first milestones in a very long time. I posted the photo on Facebook and was startled at the immediate and overwhelming reaction of my friends and family. Friday night, I showed the photo to a woman I've met only a handful of times and she started crying. Crying.

I was happy about it, but I wondered why I wasn't as overjoyed as they seemed to be. Aren't I the person who should be the happiest?

Thinking about this in my car yesterday, I began to cry tears of joy that quickly turned to the not joyful kind. The situation bore too strong a resemblance to the many, many times I drove to the NICU with tears streaming down my face to see my children — one with undefinable brain damage, the other with serious lung problems — plugged into wires in heartless plastic boxes.

It is curious how easy it is in the midst of tragedy to imagine that things will never be good again, yet in the midst of blessings it is equally easy to imagine how it could all be snatched away. It doesn't quite seem fair that joy can be so easily sullied by fear while pain is fairly immune to solace.

As I thought about these things, hoping other drivers didn't notice how upset I was, Adele crooned over the radio: "It isn't ooooooooover."

That's when I realized why I wasn't as happy as I probably should be. It's not over. We have so much further to go and the gains Malachi has made are not assured to be permanent and, and, and....

And as soon as I identified why it was that I couldn't permit myself to be fully happy, I knew how silly that was. Yes, it's not over. Yes, we have a long way to go. But yes, today my boy has made me so proud and yes, today I'll take my joy where I can get it — straight up. No rocks, please.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wordless Wednesday:
I Only Have Apps for You

Here's a friend of mine, proudly displaying his Kindle library... with only one book in it! Mine! So exciting! He said he downloaded the (free!) app just to read it.

I've been pretty busy this week, so I haven't gotten a chance to tell the blogosphere that my book is now available on eight different platforms through It is also still available through Amazon's Kindle, and I would recommend you go there if you want the Kindle version because it automatically downloads to your device. But, Smashwords is pretty cool because even if you are soooo lame as to not have an eBook reader (ahem, yeah, I don't either) you can still download it as a PDF or even just read it in your web browser.

I've gotten rave reviews so far! Go see what you think!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Cerebral palsy blog party!

A blogging buddy of mine recently added me to a Facebook group for people who have adopted children with cerebral palsy. I am simply in awe of people who would not only choose this special needs life but who actively fight, travel and pay money to adopt these children to whom they have no obligation.

They already seem awesome and I look forward to getting to know them better.

Anyway, a member of that group has a popular blog and is having a blog party of cerebral palsy blogs. I don't have a lot of time right now, and I might have passed it up except that an employee of my local chapter of United Cerebral Palsy called yesterday and asked if I could compile a list of some of my favorite CP blogs.

I've learned to pay attention to coincidences.

But I still don't have much time and Ellen only asked for "something about cerebral palsy," so I'm going to cheat and post a link to all of my (many) prior posts about cerebral palsy:

Ta-da. (If you're new, you can also check out the list over in the sidebar, ------------->
below my profile picture, of my best stuff.)

Actually, you know what, just so that I can direct that lady from UCP here, I'm also going to take the time to list the CP-related blogs I follow*: <----- She's my inspiration to start my blog so she gets top-billing, all others are alphabetical. If there are any that I've missed, please include them in the comments section!

*Keep in mind I use the term "follow" loosely. I try to read as much as I can but, c'mon, people, I have 1-year-old twins.

OK, well that already took longer than I'd hoped, so there you go!

Stumbo Family Story


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...