Since we're toward March that means spring is around the corner....hopefully. Here's my favorite summer picture of Liz from last June in Michigan. My nephew Daniel snapped this one. She's pretty excited about heading to the pool.
We actually took her swimming at our local Y yesterday for the first time since last summer and she had a blast. Though, it took her a bit to warm up to the pool.
As I'd said in earlier posts, Liz is becoming more and more aware of her size and the comments that people make about it. In fact, it's becoming a daily conversation.
One morning, she was eating breakfast and said to me: "Mommy, you grow while you sleep, right? Did I grow? Measure me."
When Brian dropped Liz off from preschool one day, a little girl was standing there and said: "Liz just needs to eat a lot and fill her stomach up and then she'll grow."
What's interesting about these comments is that probably 80 to 90% of parents try to convince their children to go to bed on time or eat their vegetables with the promise that if they do, "they'll grow healthily and get taller."
These are pretty standard comments that many parents make and don't think much about. In fact, if Liz didn't have achondroplasia, I probably would have said the same thing probably dozens of times.
So, now we're faced with the challenge of explaining to Liz, whose only 3, that yes it's important to get a good night's sleep and yes, you want to eat healthy foods for a variety of reasons.
Those are all good things to do but you will always be a little person.
That's hard for a 3-year-old to understand. She's also under the impression that being tall is somehow better than being short.
She's really picked up on a lot concerning how our society approaches tall and short people and that's pretty surprising at this age.
Meanwhile, I'm pulling all of the tricks out my hat trying to tell her all of the best reasons for being short. She still says: "But I want to be big."
That's still hard for me to hear, but we realize that it's very important for Liz to be "comfortable in her skin" and that journey is starting now.
So, while it might be easier to just let her cry, that's not the right answer. She needs to know that her view of the world will be unique and that there are many different things she can do as a little person that those of us average-height folks could never do.
Everyone likes to set a personal record every once in a while.
That's pretty normal, right? For some, it's beating their 5-mile-run record. For others, it might be slugging down 20 hot dogs in 2 minutes.
Sometimes, we set new records when we're not expecting it. For instance, I hadn't been in the Chicago office in awhile because I'd been out of town. So, on Wednesday I decided I'd head to the office.
Even though we only live about 45 minutes to 1 hour from the city, the commute is generally 2 hours because I take the train. On the days that Liz is in pre-school, I drive to a farther train station that's about 30 miles away.
Normally, I get to that station in about 45 minutes. On Wednesday, we got a smattering of snow. Just a bit. But it was enough to make a horrible mess on the highways. My first part of the drive to the train was fine, so I forged ahead. However, it only got worse from there.
It actually took me 2 hours and 15 minutes -- -- just to get to the train station. I was happy because I arrived at 8:12 a.m. - I thought the last rush hour train was departing at 8:15 a.m. and I was just going to catch it. However, since I normally take a 6:46 a.m. or 7:03 a.m. train, I had gotten the time of the later train mixed up. It was actually an 8:10 a.m. and was rolling out as I was driving home.
So, I headed back home rather than waiting for the next train at 9:40 a.m. Needless to say, that's my new personal record for the amount of time it took me - to get to the train station.
Last weekend, my nephew Stephen, who is a junior at University of Chicago, was in the midst of trying to set a record of wearing the same pair of jeans for the longest consecutive time. He'd reached six weeks wearing that same pair of blue jeans through rainy, snowy and sleety Chicago weather...that is until my sister-in-law insisted on taking the pants and washing them at our house.
Even though he may not have set the record he had intended, it was a good effort and it was impressive to see a pair of jeans that dirty. I think they could have walked the streets of Chicago on their own.
My initial fear when I first began blogging was that I'd tire of writing, since I do it for a living, and I'd fall behind in the blog.
So far, I've done all right... That is until now. I wish I could say: "Things have been so crazy." But really, I haven't had too much to post about.
Sure, I could have added another lengthy post about annoying airport delays, but really how many of them do you need. We all endure it every time we travel so it's not really funny anymore.
We're mostly trying to get through the dreary month of February and eagerly looking forward to spring. Liz keeps asking about the park, and I'm hoping by March we'll have a few nice warm days.
Brian's still working to rehabilitate his knee and that's remained a huge challenge for him. He makes tremendous progress and then seems to fall back. We're in a holding pattern now and hopefully he'll continue to do better.
Liz had a blast in Michigan though it was too cold for her to do anything except stay with her grandma "Mimi" and her Aunt Marilyn.
The rest of the Brighton Hedgers came and saw us this weekend and that too was fun.
Brian and I went and saw our nephew Stephen play at the University of Chicago with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. That was also a great time.
Things have been a bit hectic the last week because we've been traveling in the midst of the delightful Midwest storms.
Last Monday, I was up bright and shiny at 3:30 a.m. to head to Midway to travel to New York for the day. Amazingly, my flight was on time, and they spent just 1 hour-de-icing the plane. However, in the air, weather had worsened in New York and we couldn't land at Laguardia. So, after flying for some time in circles, we were running out of fuel and stopped in a nearby Pennsylvania airport. I made it for most of my meeting only to find that all flights in and out of Midway had been cancelled that day.
It's quite unusual for Midway to close down. It usually happens at O'Hare. Luckily, I was able to get into O'Hare and finally got home at about 1 a.m.
Not too bad for traveling in the middle of February.
Now, I'm in Miami and that plane was only delayed a few hours earlier today. I actually had time to swim some laps when I got here. I'll be here just a few days. It's nice to actually be somewhere where the weather is in the 80s, even if it's just for a short time.
We decided this would be the perfect time for Liz to spend some time with the Brighton Hedgers. So, Brian took her to Michigan today and endured horrible weather (yet again), but they made it safe and sound. At some points, he said he could only drive 5 mph. Luckily, Liz slept thru the worst of the storm, he said. Whew!
When I head back from Miami on Tuesday night, Brian and I will have a few days - child - free. What will we do with that time?
For the last few years, I've almost gotten used to the ongoing comments I hear daily from adults about Liz's size. I realize these statements will never end. And, they'll always bother me, but over time, I've made progress.
Some hurt more than others, and I've got some pretty quick witted low-key responses that are now rolling off my tongue when it comes to adults. I'll post about that later.
What's been much harder for me is handling children's comments. So far, the children aren't intending to be mean, they're simply making blunt and candid observations.
About a year ago, we were visiting friends in Indianapolis, when one of the neighbor girl's began calling Liz a monster.
I literally felt sick to my stomach and couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. I think my mouth was hanging open and not one word could come out for several minutes.
What was interesting, was the little girl, about 6 or so, didn't think that she was saying anything mean. She even went on to explain to me why she used the word, "monster" in her own way.
She said, "See, she's got a tiny body and a bigger head" like monsters.
That would have my moment to speak. Actually say real words. Really any words at all.
Perhaps, let her know that while Liz is little, calling her a monster probably isn't the nicest thing to say.
Trust me, nothing even crept out of my mouth. My mouth was still hanging open - completely speechless. Almost as though I'd forgotten how to speak.
Eventually, words came out, but they were mostly sarcastic, and a 6-year-old obviously doesn't understand that.
See, most of my practice has been with adults as I said. Sarcasm can work quite well with adults.
After I'd thought about that exchange with that little girl, I realized that while the word, "monster" conjured horrible thoughts in my mind, that's not what she was trying to say.
Kids her age and Liz's age spend their days watching Sesame Street where the heroes are Elmo, Zoe, Oscar the Grouch. These furry friends are all monsters who have larger heads and smaller bodies. They're all adorable.
This is how kids view monsters today. And, for that little girl to look at Liz and make the same comparison was actually fairly observant. Liz has a smaller body and a larger head. No, she's not red like Elmo, but I can see her comparison.
Obviously, in the future I hope I'll have the words to say something like: "Oh, I see why you might think Liz reminds you of one of your friends, like Elmo, but we don't want to call someone a monster."
Slowly, ever-so-slowly I'm hoping I'll be able to handle children's comments better. Just as I've improved with handling adults' comments.
The big hurdle is helping Liz understand what these comments mean and how to respond to them. That's becoming my biggest obstacle and perhaps will be my greatest challenge as her parent.
For the first time, earlier tonight Liz let me know that she understood things that people have said about her.
Liz's friends at preschool approach her as Liz. They all get excited when she arrives and give her hugs at the end of the day. Miss Janice said that early on, several of the children wanted to "help her" because they thought of her as a baby, but Miss Janice always says to them, "Did Liz ask for help? Does she need help?"
But, these children all realize that Liz is smaller, and they understand she has little legs and they've begun to comment on it. Again, it's perfectly natural for them to do so.
Earlier tonight, Liz was getting grumpy as it was time for bed. She started crying and said: "I have little legs and can't do things. That's what the kids at pre-school say."
It was the first time that she has realizeed and understood the comments that others have said. This was a difficult moment.
But this time, I wasn't completely speechless - just slightly stunned - and said: "Yes, you have smaller legs. The kids are right. You always will have smaller legs, but you can do anything that you want."
We then went on to talk about Matt & Amy Roloff, whom she watches regularly on TLC's "Little People, Big World." We talked about all of the things they do, and how she can do those things too, such as travel, have a career, etc..
Before I knew it, the subject had changed and it was time for Dr. Suess. That's fine with me. We'll have many many more opportunities and hopefully each time, it's just a tiny bit easier and less painful than the time before.
Welcome to our blog. We'll mostly post about our crazy experiences. But we realize our family is unique because our beautiful girl Elizabeth has achondroplasia, and we know other parents and families may want to read about our adventures. If you are new to this blog, you can read "The Medical Side" and "Liz's entrance to the world," to see our how story began.