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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hash browns anyone?

On Saturday, we went to our favorite breakfast place for the usual grub. Brian normally works on Saturdays but was able to join Liz and I this morning before heading to physical therapy for his knee.

Liz always gets the kids breakfast combo and I get an adult meal that comes with hash browns. I always give her half because her meal comes without.

I've taken to that habit of often putting a cute, "ie" at the end of words when I talk with Liz. I know this can be irritating but sometimes it works. For instance, when she wants us to rub her back, she calls it "backie" and we do too.

Then, there's also "bathie" and "scratchies."

So, you'll understand why it didn't seem like a big deal for me to say to Liz at breakfast on Saturday: "Would you like more Hash Brownies?"

Brian turned to me and said: "Do you realize what you just said?"

I didn't think I had to explain it to him. He'd been guilty of adding an "ie" on occasion as well.

But still, I said: "Oh, you know, I was doing that cute thing where I add "ies" to the item. Instead of hash browns. It becomes hash brownies.

Brian's response: "You just asked our child if she wants HASH BROWNIES."

Oops. So, perhaps the cute "ie" rule can't be used for all items.

Of course, she didn't notice anything.

And, hopefully, she'll read this post in 25 years and say: "Mom, what are hash brownies?"

Well, at least I can hope.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hangin' at the Mall

I must admit that I started this post a day ago or so, and then held off because I wasn't sure I wanted to post it. However, I think it's important to share these stories, because I know that other parents of Little People read this blog, and I think it's reassuring to know that you're not alone.

We had a little time over the weekend to take Liz to the mall where they have a perfect area for kids to play in. It didn't take Liz long to start running all over the play area. It's one of her favorite things to do, of course. And, in just minutes, she'd be-friended someone. That's also not a surprise given Liz's extroverted nature.

The girl, was probably close to twice her height, but about the same age. I'm only guessing. But the two seemed to have similar speaking abilities and enjoyed the same type of games.

They were playing a robust game of tag and obviously Liz is slower because of her little legs. This girl might as well have been a child-like Michael Jordan because she had really long legs.

Liz kept chasing her around and around trying to catch her. It didn't bother Liz one bit that she was much slower than this girl. They were having a great time.

Then, the little girl started to comment about Liz being slow saying things like: "You're slow. You're really slow. Wow, you're slow. You run very slow"

This is one of those situations where it's hard to see another child innocently pointing out your child's genetic faults. And, of course any smart 3-year-old doesn't make a comment just once, the repeat the same thing over and over again.

Of course, she's slower. Look at her legs. Her legs are probably the length of a 6 or 9-month olds (even though her total height is about the height of a 14-month old).

Her legs are much smaller and she gains most of her height from the torso.

Luckily the comments didn't phase Liz one bit, which is what really matters. And, the girl wasn't being mean. She was just pointing out an obvious fact. That's what children do.

Regardless, it didn't stop it from bothering Brian and I a bit.

I was also trying to mentally pass on suggestions to Liz of ways to tag the little girl- like taking a short-cut past the 6-foot bunny rather than following her all the way around the giant-sized turtle. After a little while, she started to do that. She must have read my mind.

Brian and I both also commented that she wasn't running her fastest. In Liz's mind, it was more fun chasing the little girl then actually catching her.

I've often hoped that it will be harder for me to handle people's comments then it is for Liz, and so far that's been true. She's so good natured that those little comments don't even phase her.

She will always be a little person and her perspective on life will be different than mine because of her height. Since I've lived my life as a person who is 5-feet-4 inches tall, it's hard to imagine being 4-feet-tall, but Liz is already handling the situation as a pro at age 3.

What a Kid!

Friday, January 18, 2008

She Dreams

Just recently, I've noticed that Liz has started to remember her dreams. Pretty cool. About a week ago, she walked our room early in the morning and started describing her dream. "Mommy, I just had a dream that I was taking a bath."

Oh boy. It didn't take me long to realize exactly what had happened - especially since everyone in the nation has had that dream at some point. Sure enough, she'd wet the bed.

Earlier this week, she had a child's nightmare that Mommy was taking her toys away to be recycled. She kept saying: "Don't cycle my toys mommy. Leave them here."

I've talked with her about giving up her toys to Salvation Army for other children to play with them, and it's a pretty confusing and obviously scary concept for her at this point.

No worries. The toys haven't been "hauled away"...yet. Actually, we just boxed up some of the toys she no longer plays with and put them in the crawl space.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Father's Day story

This is one of my favorite columns that Brian wrote about Elizabeth, and I thought it'd be nice to post here. He wrote it when she had turned one on Father's Day 2005.

He wrote it in The Post-Tribune on Father's Day as a letter to his father, who died when he was 11.

Many of our friends and relatives have already seen this, but others might enjoy reading it as well. It's very well-written and quite sweet.

Byline: Brian C. Hedger, Post-Tribune copy editor

Dear Pop: Happy Father's Day. I miss you.

Wherever you are, I hope it's warm and you're roaring down an open road in a '57 Pontiac, just like the one we were restoring.

Listen, Pop, there's something I've been meaning to talk to you
about. You have another grandchild. Her name is Elizabeth.

She has blond hair, fair skin and chubby cheeks.

She just turned 1, and has our blue eyes. Only hers are deeper
blue, like Lake Michigan on a cloudless, sun-soaked day.

Sometimes, when I look into them, I feel reconnected with you.

It's like you're right there, watching us develop our own special
bond. Are you really there, Pop?

Sure feels like it.

You never forget your father's presence, even after years apart.

It's almost like when Elizabeth gets upset, and her tiny arms reach
up for me to grab her.

I'll pick her up, and she clings to me like she's lost at sea and
I'm the only piece of driftwood around for miles. I love that
feeling, Pop.

I love being the driftwood. Now I see why you always wanted a hug
before I went to bed, even when I was getting "too old" for them.

As I've gotten older, I've realized something. I now know why we
were so close. It's because you weren't as close with the other
kids, my older siblings. I was your second chance, wasn't I?

I was the little "do over" you wished for; I get that now.

Having a child of my own has opened my eyes. Hope I don't need a
"do over."

Pop, there's something I haven't told you. Elizabeth has had a
tough first year.

She was born with a non-inherited birth defect called achondroplasia.

I don't expect you to remember or pronounce it. Dwarfism is the
more common term. The doctors tell us it's just something that
happens sometimes. It's rare.

There was nothing we could do to prevent it. We found out about it
two days after Elizabeth was born -- the day before Father's Day
last summer.

I sobbed all day, Pop.

Haven't cried like that since your heart attack.

She's got a tough road ahead. She'll be lucky to make it to 4-feet tall as an adult and will have to be mentally strong.

Breaks my heart. Wish I could just give her my bones instead.

And that's not even mentioning her medical issues.

At last count, she's seen at least a dozen doctors. She's been to
two of the best children's hospitals in the country, located right
down the road in Chicago. She's been hooked up to wires, been put
under anesthesia and had her head wrapped up with so much gauze
during three "sleep studies" that she looked like a baby mummy.

They've even had to check her little spinal column with something
called an MRI (which they didn't do when you were alive), just to make sure there's enough space for her spinal cord.

She was deemed "borderline," so we've got another MRI coming soon,
which means more anesthesia and more worry.

What a roller coaster.

There've been days I'd call Lisa just to tell her I wasn't "parent

Then, there were days Elizabeth made me laugh out loud.

Just the other day, she started smashing dry Cheerios on the
high-chair tray, launching them across the kitchen like little
flying saucers.

Her laugh after each smash was infectious.

"Da-da!" she'd scream, then smash another one. "Da-da!"

I've even taught her to high-five.

She'll never be able to play high school sports because of her
skeletal structure, but nothing will stop her from watching baseball with her old man.

I'll make sure of that.

She's always got a smile on her face, too. And I know she doesn't get that from me.

I've turned into a curmudgeon since you left, Pop. I'm sour about
lots of things.

I haven't made it "big" as a columnist.

I've never been a full-time pro beat writer or covered a World

I don't make a lot of money.

All I really have, the one thing in life that I truly treasure, is the little family Lisa and I have formed.

Whenever I'm looking for the fun part of being a dad, I look at my
baby girl and those piercing blue eyes. When those tiny little arms
reach out for their daddy, I just melt, Pop.

I love being the driftwood.

So, thanks for always being mine, even still.

Miss those hugs,

Your Chief

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A letter to Liz

Since Liz was born, I always thought it would be nice to write her periodic letters. That hasn't happened, even though we've got some nice columns that Brian has written. I'll try to post a few of them on occasion.

I've noticed other bloggers will write letters to their kids monthly, or during certain holidays, etc.. I'm not that organized, but I think I'll write a letter to her when I've got time and something to say. Could I be any more vague?

Liz, Every day, you stun me with your personality. You've developed a unique strategy for dealing with us when we say no to something. For instance, in the past "no" would result in a full-blown world-record tantrum.

Now, you seem to have learned that another strategy might work. For instance, if you want hot chocolate and we say "no," your response is: "But kids love hot chocolate. All kids need hot chocolate and like to drink it. Kids drink hot chocolate because it is good."

So, rather than just screaming, you've actually devised an argument meant to help all kids in society. It's as if you're defending every child's right to have hot chocolate. I'm not sure if you're developing a sensitivity to others, or simply using a smart strategy to try to get your way. Regardless, it's pretty impressive.

For the last few months, you've been no sleeping beauty. Each night, you've been waking up at least 3 times a night. Your daddy and I feel like we're going through those early months of interrupted sleep when you were first born. On one hand, we think it might simply be a "phase" you're going through. But on the other hand, we know you've got obstructive sleep apnea and we're fearful that this might be rearing its ugly head again.

We know if we call any of your doctors, they'll suggest a sleep study ASAP. This would be your fourth. The other three were pretty much nightmares, though you won't remember them. Our hesitance is mostly because there's just not a lot doctors can do for your type of sleep apnea. And, we're still hoping that it could be a "phase."

When you've woken most nights, you've crawled into bed with us, which assures we'll all have a restless night's sleep.

As I said, this is the hard spot for us especially with your achondroplasia. We don't want to put your through more tests, but we also want to make sure that the sleep apnea's not causing any more problems.

Since you've been born, this has been our biggest challenge. If you have a headache, we're immediately worried about hydrocephalus. If you're complaining of neck pain, we wonder whether your spinal stenosis has gotten worse. But we try to temper ourselves and not go crazy with worry. Not an easy thing to do. But this has gotten better over time. Luckily, you've got great doctors and I can call them in a minute's notice and get their suggestions.

For now, we'll keep monitoring your sleep. We think you're getting close to giving up naps. For the last few days, you didn't take a nap, but did sleep 11 hours each night. So, that's good.

What impresses me the most about you right now is your creativity. You and I and Daddy are often telling stories to one another. Your favorite right now is about duckies and fishes and sharks. Basically, I started making up a story on the top of my head about ducks and fishes that are taking the train downtown Chicago and then they encounter sharks while at a restaurant. Usually, the sharks and duckies and fishes become fast friends. Then, you'll tell the story making up your own ideas and it's quite entertaining.

You also continue to realize that you'll be a little person, but you also understand that when you get older, you can be a mommy, if you want to, and also work in a variety of careers. You often talk about working in construction, being a firefighter or building buildings.

You've also become fascinated with Poop. Yes, poop. Often, you'll start to tell a story, a joke or just talk about something and the grandiose ending is always: "poop." Seems like you shouldn't be doing this until you're 4 or 5. But regardless, it is what it is.

Quite impressively, you've also managed to carry on our messy-genes. Mostly, this comes from me. Remarkably, every time you eat a meal, the 5-foot area surrounding you is covered in cheese, tomato soup, jelly stains and peanut butter. And that can happen just when you're just eating crackers. It's really a remarkable ability. Some parents would hate the messiness. I admit we get tired of it, but honestly, it's something we're secretly proud of, but can never admit to. It's also the same when you're playing - inside or outside.

Each time, when we are with other kids, I am confident that if the "messy award" is given, you'll receive it. I've never seen a child that could even come close to beating you for this competition. The gold medal is always yours!

Rather than getting upset about it, my reaction mostly is, if you're messy, you must be having the most fun. After all, what are washing machines and cleaning solutions for, right?

One of the most unusual things you do right now is to eat a green pepper just like it's an apple. Several times, you've walked up to the refrigerator and grabbed a green pepper and started munching on it. Of course, you leave your mark and I'll eventually find the pepper (completely eaten) by following the trail of seeds.

All of these quirks just cause us to fall more in love with you every day. It's pretty amazing that both your daddy and I can see that you've taken on a few traits from each of us, but you're becoming your own person with your own distinct personality.

Love, Mommy

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Room makeover



Here's our laundry room - the before and after - pictures. It wasn't so much of a laundry room, as it was a place to pile everything we own.
Eventually, Brian and I realized that we would actually have a lot of space in this room, if we cleaned it out. We could put in a few pieces of exercise equipment or make it Liz's craft room.
After neglecting it for some time, Liz and I tackled it over our Christmas vacation, when I had two weeks off. Luckily, it took a lot less than two weeks to complete.
Apparently, it couldn't have been done a moment too soon because on Friday, our 30-year-old dryer stopped working and we've got a new one on the way. If the room hadn't been clean, it would have been a disaster to try and get a dryer in there. Now, we'll just have to move a few things like Liz's old high chair.
I didn't do anything creative with the room yet. It's still got that "delightful" 1970s flooring, but you can actually see the cupboards in the "after" shots. You'll also notice I built a shelving unit on one side of it as well. If we wanted to put exercise equipment in there, we could always move that shelving unit to the garage. I also purchased a number of storage containers, which are also a big help.

A snowy New Year

Here's how our New Year started last Tuesday. We had nine inches of snow, and since Brian is out for the entire "snow shoveling" season, Liz was my helper.