Max caught a ball!

Now, this might not sound like big news, but, trust me, it is.

While delayed, his motor skills are pretty good in some areas. He has no trouble hitting a ball off a tee or making a basket. He mouses like a pro. He can carry several things at once. He can work a spray bottle. But, the hand-eye coordination needed to catch a ball has eluded him. Last night, I tossed one of his favorite balls to him – it is maybe 6″ in diameter – and he caught it! And he did it five more times in a row. Cris and I cheered, and Max just beamed and laughed.

One of the things that happens when you have a special needs child is goal-writing. When you meet with teachers and therapists, everyone comes up with goals they want your child to meet. And it is usually phrased this way: “Max will successfully catch a ball three out of five tries.”

So, the fact that he caught a ball six times in a row is huge.

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F***-it list

Today a friend posted on Facebook that he hated the term “bucket list” and wished people would stop using it. I replied that I had a “f***-it list” and that it was full of things I will never do.

I didn’t, in fact, have such a list, but I think I will make one.  I figure it’s gotta be a lot easier to check things off a f***-it list than a bucket list. So, here goes…

Things I will never do (at least voluntarily)

1. Bite into a raw tomato

2. Bite into an avocado

3. Swim in the Ganges

4. Run a marathon

5. Own a Kenny Chesney album

6. Own a Jennifer Lopez album

7. Buy cocaine

8. Own a black car with gold trim

9. Fly a commercial airplane

10. Grow my hair to my waist

11. Work as a secretary

12. Work as a backhoe operator

13. Vote for Donald Trump

14. Watch Survivor

15. Shop at Wal-Mart

16. East any kind of insect

17. Appear in a reality show

18. Have a  sex tape surface

19. Participate in a “polar bear” swim

20. Sing a solo of the National Anthem in public

21. Run for office

22. Surf in Hawaii

23. Climb Mt. Everest

24. Be on a cruise ship during a hurricane

25. Drink a pint of Guinness

26. Go hunting

There, that’s a good start. I’m sure I will add many more.

What’s on your f***-it list?

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A premonition?

When I was a teenager, Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel had a daughter and named her Alexa Rae. I LOVED the name and decided that if I ever had a girl, that would be her name. Thankfully, when the time came, Cris liked the name, too, and we decided on Alexa Rose, so as not to be total copycats.

Deciding on a boy’s name, however, was much harder. And we needed one because we were not finding out the sex. I had always loved Noah, but Cris thought Noah Cohen sounded like a Chico Marx joke: “There’s no-a Cohen here.” And so many boy’s names end in “en” or “on”, which we didn’t like with Cohen. We almost decided on Chase, but we couldn’t think of a middle name, and Cris thought Chase Cohen sounded too close to Cris Cohen. One day, I said “How about Max?” He loved it. Maxwell Chase, it would be. But we weren’t telling anyone. Instead, we posted a list of names we were not considering on our refrigerator and asked people to contribute. There were names like Corky, Kiki, April, May and June, Peabo, Butch and, since it was 2001-2002, Osama.

One weekend while I was pregnant we were visiting my mom. A woman from church called and I answered. Her name was Alexa. I had met her a couple of times, but knew her mother, Maxine, well. At the time, Cris wrote a weekly humor column for my hometown paper, and Maxine was his biggest fan. She used to carry his columns in her purse and make  her friends, or anyone else she encountered, read them.  So,  it was a fitting coincidence that we chose a boy’s name that was a derivation of her name.

Anyway, I couldn’t help but tell Alexa our girl’s name choice. She was so excited. It turns out her middle name was also Rose. I pointed out that it was an unusual name. She agreed and told me that while her mom was pregnant, she was reading a book with a feisty female protagonist named Alexa.  And since Alexa seemed feisty in utero, she decided it was perfect.

But she had more to say that didn’t seem pertinent at the time, but did later. Alexa had an adult special needs child. Her daughter had Angelman’s Syndrome. She told me not to worry in the event I had a special needs child… that it would enrich our lives in so many ways. I thanked her and kind of put it out of my mind, which is funny because by the time I got pregnant, most of my friends had already had all of their kids — and they all had normal kids. For years, even before I married Cris, I thought “It’s going to be me.” But, at that moment, late in my pregnancy, I didn’t feel that her heartfelt advice applied to me. But, what did I know? I was convinced the baby was a girl. In every baby dream but one, it was a girl. The one dream where I had a boy, the baby looked Middle Eastern. Maybe that was a message… your baby will be a boy and he will be different.

And Alexa was right… having a special needs child is nowhere near the end of the world. And, just like everyone’s kids, he has enriched our lives in countless ways. But, thanks to him, we have a more varied circle of friends that we ever would have imagined.

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Hosta love

In California, I grew roses. Not just any roses, but roses I picked out by name. They all had meaning to me: Peace (for obvious reasons), Lucille Ball (I LOVE her), Abraham Lincoln (my stepdad shared his birthday), Sterling Silver (my friend had given me Sterling Silver roses for my 25th birthday), and then there was Gemini… my favorite because of my Grammy, Shirley, who died in May 2001. She and I were both Geminis born in June, our birthdays just a week apart, and we both loved roses.

When we moved to NC, I decided not to move my rose bushes, which were all potted. I gave a couple to friends, but my sister got the bulk of them. She planted them and babied them, but, sadly, she no longer lives in that house. Sure, I could buy those roses again, but they don’t do so well here in NC.

Enter hosta, my new love. They are all named, but I decided right off that I wouldn’t drive myself crazy trying to find ones that have some meaning. I would just plant them like crazy. You see, we have a very shady lot, and they love shade. They are hundreds of varieties and they are so varied… some have big flat leaves, some are ribbed, some are skinny with a white border, some have curled up leaves. But they are all lush. My favorite so far is Sum and Substance… it’s huge and tropical looking. I planted two last year and several more this year. All told, I have probably 40, and will likely add several more this spring.

During today’s trip to Garden Supply, I came across the most wonderful find: a sweet little hosta with just six little leaves. It didn’t look sad, but it looked like it needed a home. I picked it up and found that it was only $6.99… a steal. And it was called … wait for it … June. I almost cried. Without even trying, I found one with meaning. And since it’s not going to be very big, I decided to put it in a pot I got from Grammy’s house after she died. I might even name it Shirley.

A fitting tribute as the 10th anniversary of her death approaches. On May 3, I plan to sit with Shirley and wonder if my Grammy knew about hostas (she lived in the CA desert). I’d like to think that she has seen mine.

Sum and Substance

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It’s a mad, mad Cohen house… just briefly

Yesterday morning Cris got mad at me, which he almost never does. But it was only after he thought I got mad at him, which I almost never do, and didn’t do in this case. I was mad, though, but at the situation.

Cris is a quiet person. He walks quietly, he closes doors quietly, he does everything quietly. So he startles me all the time, which he did yesterday. I had just finished blow-drying my hair and he appeared in the bathroom door to ask a question. I screamed and gave him a “what the hell??” look. I know he didn’t do it on purpose, but I still wondered “what the hell??”

So, he gave me a look and stormed off (not that anyone could hear him). I couldn’t believe he was mad at me, so I said “I can’t believe you’re mad at ME!”

“Well, you got made at me for no reason,” he replied.

“I was mad at being startled,” I told him.

“Well I didn’t mean to,” he said.

The trouble is he startles me a lot. He just appears. I scream.

When he lived with my parents in the nine months before we got married, he did this to my mom almost daily. She’s used to louder kids. He’d come in after work and quietly close the front door walk in to the kitchen and my mother would shriek.

Maybe this is my karmic payback. I LOVE to startle people on purpose. Just ask my brother…

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Max the director busts out a sentence

Today Max busted out what I believe to be his very first unprompted four-word sentence: “I wha oo kay.” Which translates to “I want you (to) rake.”

We were working in the yard  and he kept saying “kay,” which means a few things, but in this case, it meant rake. I kept telling him “In a minute.” Then I watched  him think about it, and out came the sentence.

So, of course, I raked.

This comes on the heels of him answering a “why” question with a “because” statement. He will often use his talker to say “I feel angry” or “I feel frustrated,” but has a hard time telling us why. So, recently, we were vacuuming and had to stop to get ready for bed. He was obviously mad, so we got his talker and he entered “I feel angry.”

“Why,” we asked.

He entered “why.” Then he entered “Because stop vacuuming.” This is a huge breakthrough. The amazing thing is that there’s not a button for “vacuum,” he had to go to the keyboard and enter “v” which then brings up “v” words. Then he entered “a” and found vacuum on his own.

I could cry!

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I need a weekend after my weekend

Last weekend was one of those where we just never stopped moving. Even at 3 a.m., we were doing something, although not willingly.

It started Friday when Max and I worked in the yard literally all day. I have been working so much lately, that I’ve been ignoring the yard. Now that Max is tracked out and I don’t have a sitter, we are getting our hands in the dirt. And into the giant pile of mulch that we had dumped in our driveway Friday.

We came in with just enough time to get cleaned up and eat before running off to the Miracle League field. Cris was announcing the two games and I was working at the fund-raiser table. Max just loves to hang out there and watch the games. He sits himself down with people he doesn’t know and tells me “byyyyye!” He cheers loudly and prompts everyone else to cheer.

It was beautiful out… we didn’t even need jackets. But then the second game was called early due to lightning. I’ve never seen a place clear out so quickly! So we headed out and made a Trader Joe’s stop. Apparently everyone in Cary had the same thought… it was crazy busy. We finally got Max to bed about 10.

Then Saturday morning, I had a haircut at 9 and then ran some errands. I got home to find out we had an impromptu dinner party invitation for our friend Ken’s birthday. I texted a couple of our sitters and managed to get one. I would pick her up at 6, I told her.

Then, back to the baseball field at 1:30. Cris was announcing Max’s game and the one after, and I was working the fund-raiser table again. Then we planned to head home for some downtime, but the next announcer never showed. So, we stayed another two hours… thankfully we brought jackets, it was pretty cold! We were there until 6, so we just picked up the sitter on our way home. We fixed Max’s dinner, got cleaned up and headed out to Ken and Darla’s, where we drank wine and used their finger foods as dinner. We had a blast, as usual, and headed home about 12:30.

We realized that we hadn’t taken our restless leg meds with us, which was a serious bummer because we need to take it 90 minutes before going to bed or risk, well, restless legs. So, we took it and Cris drove the sitter home. We were in bed by 1:30 and we both had leg trouble.

I was still awake around 2:30 when I heard a loud man sneeze downstairs. At least I thought it was a sneeze. I realized Cris was not in bed, so I went down to investigate. I needed to walk my restless legs anyway. He was closed in the bathroom. “Are you OK?” I asked. I got a muffled response and gleaned that he had thrown up, which just never happens. He has a steel gut. I waited a bit, and decided to leave him alone. I went back upstairs and dozed a little, then realized he was still downstairs. I went back down… poor guy, all 6 feet of him, was somehow on the floor of the tiny powder room. Well, he finally emptied his stomach and came back to bed around 3:30.

We settled in and then Max woke up. We had just been saying how ridiculous it was that our child was sleeping well, but stupid things were keeping us up. I got him back to sleep, and he woke up again quickly. Meantime, my legs are still going nuts. I think I got to sleep around 4. Ugh. I had planned to  get up and work in the morning. I am a technical editor, so I need to be somewhat lucid. Well, the Cohen men got up at some point, but they were nice enough to let me sleep until 11.

Damn… half the day gone. I needed to work, we needed to work in the yard (to shrink the pile of mulch!), and we needed to get to Barnes and Noble to spend our Groupons that were expiring that day. We had meant to use them Friday or Saturday, but there was no time. Well, Cris worked on his book, the Cohen men napped, I worked and we used the Groupons online. And finally at 6 or so, Max and I chipped away at the mulch.

Now, it’s 8:15 a.m. Monday, and I’ve been working since 6:15. I am so not a morning person! The housekeeper will be here at 9, and we haven’t even picked up.  She starts upstairs, so I will pick up downstairs.

Today, we will get out in the yard again, and I have a new sitter coming at 3, so I will work again then.

I’m pretty sure I will need a nap at some point today.

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