Monday, January 28, 2013

Introducing... MIMI!

Hi! I am Megan. (And I'm Caroline.  You know me from blogs such as this one.)  Caroline and I have spent long hours trying to figure out what words to use to most accurately explain “the situation.” We have failed miserably, multiple times, so bear with me... 

I am Aidan’s nanny. (She is that.)

I am also Aidan’s Mimi and Caroline’s best friend. (That too.)

Perhaps, I should start from the beginning. (Yes, please do!)

A few years ago, Caroline and I met at the local rock climbing gym. Through our mutual love of eating (and rock climbing), we became friends.  (She WOULD say eating first.  I swear, those days, I climbed a little more often and ate a little less often.)  Then one day, my friend Caroline brought home her little bug, Aidan, and I fell in love.  (I hope she means with me!) Over the past two years, Caroline, her husband, and Aidan have made a place for me in their family. I taught Aidan his first funny sound, which turned out to sound surprisingly like he was choking (Sorry, Caroline!!) (Not forgiven yet!). I helped identify his first major food allergy, soy, by feeding Caroline vegetarian “tacos” (Whoopsiedoodle, Caroline!) (Why on EARTH didn't we just use cow?)

Can you believe this little chubber wubber fell off the growth charts?  Un-possible!  This was THE VERY NIGHT of the soypocalypse!

 I pondered over Aidan’s shocking change in temperament after becoming food-fed alongside Caroline and Tom. I sat through training and supported Caroline and Tom the first time they placed Aidan’s NG tube. I stayed the night in the hospital when our bug needed a few extra days after G-tube surgery. (I wouldn't have survived that hospital stay without her.  Seriously.)

In my own life, I was working as a Senior Product Development Scientist at the same company that hired me straight from college 9 years ago and aware that I needed to make a change because I was not happy. One day, as the story with Aidan and his disorder unfolded and Caroline and her worries about how to keep him safe in daycare when both parents needed to work full-time became clear, on a whim I said, “If it ever came down to it, I would be willing to quit my job and stay home with Aidan while I figure out what I’m doing next.” As soon as I said it, although I was 100% genuine in my offer, I was positive I sounded ridiculous…but here we all are.  (I knew right then I had to take her up on it before she changed her mind, or forgot that she'd offered, or she fell off a cliff or something.  This way would be so much easier than kidnapping.)

Caroline and I have a hard time finding the best words to explain our situation because we are sensitive to folks thinking I’m just the nanny or just a babysitter or that it’s a shame Aidan isn’t in daycare with a real teacher. I am keenly aware of his disorder, intimately aware of how to feed and care for him, and profoundly honored to be such a huge part of his life. He is a wonderful, loving, and intelligent boy whom I can’t imagine loving any more if he were my own son.

(In all seriousness, I feel profoundly lucky to have Megan in our lives.  The ability to go to work secure in the knowledge that my son is as safe and loved as he would be in my own arms is something that most mothers would kill for.  When Megan says she loves him like her own, those aren't just words.  She truly does, and he loves her right back with all of his sweet little heart.  We might be a strange family.  We might be a complicated one.  But we're a happy family, and very lucky to have one another!)

So as Caroline prepares for her new job I am happily decorating the daycare in our basement! (It looks awesome down there!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Once Upon a Storytime

Once Upon a Time, The Shields Clan went to storytime.  It was lovely, fun was had by all, and the Clan gleefully pledged to return weekly, forever and ever thereafter.

Even our dog knows how absurd this tale sounds.

She's laughing.  Or yawning.  Certainly not about to eat the camera, unless it's a gummy bear-flavored camera, in which case all bets are off.

I'll try this again...

Once Upon a Time, The Shields Clan went to storytime.  I won't name names.  Oh okay, yes I will.  It was the Lower Providence Library "Older Twos and Threes" Storytime.  We hadn't been to this particular storytime before, so we didn't know what to expect.  It took some bumbling about before we found the right room (actually, it took my sarcastically saying "I wonder where storytime is" and creepily loitering around the large crowd of children until the start time came and went, and I finally asked and was pointed to a side room.  But whatever.), so we were a few moments late.  Seriously, just a few moments - they couldn't have been more than a couple of pages into the first story.  But our late entrance was just the start of our problems.

As we entered, looking perfectly respectable and appropriately ashamed at our tardiness, the librarian stared us down, pausing her story long enough to inform us that this storytime was for "Older Twos and Threes."  We assured her that we knew (having read the signage outside), and that he was indeed 2, and then we attempted to quietly slink in without further disturbance.  The librarian really disagreed with our assessment that Aidan belonged in this storytime (instead of the Infants - 2's) and again said that this was for Older Twos and Threes (her emphasis, not mine), and that there would be lots of reading (gee, and I was hoping for lots of swimming.  Shucks.).  When we didn't vacate the premises, she said she guessed we were welcome to stay.

I do understand the reasoning behind breaking up age groups.  I understand having an age split, and I do see a natural difference between children that are nearly three and children that are newly two.  HOWEVER, this librarian knew nothing of my son other than what she saw in the first nanosecond that she laid eyes on him.  She didn't know how old he was, how well-behaved he was, or how developmentally advanced or delayed he was.  I can only assume that she quickly decided that he didn't belong simply because of something she saw - and what it was is anyone's guess.  Short stature?  A youthful face? The fact that he's not "a regular" at that storytime?  Whatever it was, it's not exactly shocking that our children are learning prejudice earlier and earlier in life.

I stand by my assessment that Aidan belonged in THAT storytime.  The books were age-appropriate and interesting to him.  He was engaged in what he saw and heard.  He even owns some of the books that were read.  With where he is intellectually, what we are working on teaching him at home, and how he personally learns best, I don't think a class full of infants would have been beneficial to him.  I didn't just stumble into whatever class I thought sounded lovely.  I considered what would best fit his needs and abilities and attended that storytime quite on purpose.

I realize how irate I sound right now.  You think I'm overreacting.  But that's only because I know how the rest of that storytime went.  Read on, friend.  Read on.

As the librarian read her stories, Aidan got excited.  He loves books!  As she read a story about animals and the sounds they make, my silly little boy started to giggle.  He was rewarded with glares.  When he imitated the animal sounds the librarian made, she answered him with shushes.  When Aidan found a stray sticker on the floor in front of the librarian and tried to give it to her, she wouldn't even look at him.  Clearly, the expectation of this group is that during storytime, a preschooler should be motionless and silent.  Who are these zombie preschoolers, exactly?

Now, I do understand that a library is a place to be quiet.  And actually, Aidan understands this too.  He was using his quiet voice and making his quiet sounds.  When the loudest sound to come out of a two year old during storytime is a giggle, I fail to see the problem.  It's not as though he was disturbing a room full of SAT-takers, either.  The rest of the group was comprised of two other preschoolers.

The best (worst?) part?  A book that was read while (thankfully) Aidan was in the restroom.  It's called Bye-Bye Big Bad Bullybug! by Ed Emberly.  I'm actually pretty appalled at the positive reviews it's gotten on Amazon.  Do parents just not actually read the words on the page?  Spoiler alert - it's about a bug that's bullying smaller bugs. Does the bully learn his lesson?  Is he sorry about what he's done?  Does everyone learn to appreciate their differences and get along by the end?  Nope.  The smaller bugs get their friend - a shoe - to kill the bully.  The end.  Not joking.

I have such a bad taste in my mouth.  I don't think we'll be going back.  We were made to feel unwelcome from the moment we walked through the door, and Aidan was made to feel as though every perfectly normal bit of toddler behavior he exhibited was wrong and unacceptable.  Lighten up.  Learning is fun.  Books are fun.  Storytime shouldn't feel suspiciously like a 45 minute time out!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Giving Back to Tubie Friends!

This month is Aidan's birthday month (turns out, denial can't stop him from turning 2.  I tried.), and I wanted to do something special.  I thought and thought, and finally decided that it should be something that honors who he is and what he's been through.  And what better way to do that than through one of our favorite organizations - Tubie Friends!!!

As you may know (or not - I don't think I've mentioned it here), I am an Independent Consultant for Thirty-One.  It's a company that sells bags, purses, organizational items, and gifts.  Our new catalog launched this week and the focus for the New Year is on organizing the home - something we all desperately need.  I like the products because they're well-made, durable, and functional - and I LOVE the prints because they're fun and stylish and all personalizable.

I started selling Thirty-One last summer to help pay for the absurd things that Aidan needs.  Not the normal absurd things like automatic bubble blowers and fancy talking dump trucks - no, I speak of the absurd things only a Tubie Family can dream of.  Like this little beauty.

That, my friends, is $177 worth of royal blue neoprene, masquerading as a child's protective g-tube belt.  Not that it isn't worth every penny - it is! - but at $177, it was a problem.  I knew I needed a way to pay for this particular type of insanity.  Thirty-One has been the answer to that problem, and the resource we desperately needed to buy this and other "extras" that make our lives so much easier.  $30 in plastic that prevent Aidan from unhooking his feeds overnight.  $50 in fabric that prevents his stoma from becoming chafed and irritated and developing granulation tissue.  $50 in alterations that will allow him to wear footie pajamas for years to come while still receiving overnight feeds.  $60 in special ointment to soothe his skin when stomach acid leaks out.  The list goes on and on, and I have been so grateful to our friends and family for supporting this venture so that these things are possible for us.

So where does the ever-fabulous Tubie Friends come in?  ALL of my commission for this event will be donated directly to Tubie Friends.  It's an amazing organization that provides love, hope, and acceptance (all in one furry package) to frightened children who need to know they're not alone during their feeding tube journey.  It doesn't take much money to make a huge difference - so even if you're not interested in participating in my Thirty-One sale, I urge you to consider donating, even a dollar or two, to Tubie Friends directly.  You can find them at

But please, go check out our party!  Treat yourself to some home organization!  As if this fantastic cause wasn't reason enough to shop, Thirty-One has a great special this month - for every $31 you spend, you can get any item from their new "My Way" collection for 50% off!  If you're loving what you see below, all of those items are eligible for the 50% off promotion!

Click Me To Shop!

Also, please enjoy some gratuitous pictures of Aidan and his Tubie Friend, Toby.  We love Toby, who is currently on vacation in sunny Florida, comforting our Tubie Great Grandma as she adjusts to her new tube - because tubie friends aren't just for kids in our household!