Windy updates.

This week swept by as fast as the winds that wreaked so much damage around town. We were lucky that we only have fallen tree branches. Our roof held up, but some of my neighbors were not so lucky. And no one was hurt. We are counting our blessings, and praying for those that were not as lucky as we were.

It has been a busy week of Girl Guides, Kung Fu, family visits, shopping, cleaning, laundry and cooking. Hubby was on vacation this past week, so he ran errands and caught up on some leisure activities. Kerri has been so busy she could not find time to squeeze in a play date with her ex boyfriend, who has been trying to come over all week. And this weekend we have company.

As for the weather, it has been unusually cold, windy and raining constantly. My hair has been frizzy all week. The grass is turning green, my tulips are starting to show promise, and my daffodils are in full bloom. And those pesky squirrels are back in the attic. A team is coming Monday to deal with them and repair our siding, where the creatures chewed their way into our home.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend, good weather, health and happiness, and love and peace.

Life with Kerri is a breeze.

Ahhh...The Early Morning Sounds of Spring

The first time I ever came to Oregon was in April 1987. I was a flat-lander from the midwest.
My husband and I had three little kids and we came out to visit their grandparents and aunt and uncles.

We were quite in awe of Oregon in all it's springtime glory. The orchard blossoms were radiant in the warm sunshine and we thought it was the most beautiful place on earth.

Something very strange happened on one of the first mornings of our visit.
As I was sleeping soundly in my mother's spare room I had a strange noise invading my dreams. I couldn't wake up or shake it off. The noise just continued insistently droning on and on.

It sounded like a helicopter, a really large helicopter, like one of those Knighthawk things the military uses. And it was hovering over my parent's house. Right over my bedroom. Right outside my window. Hovering. It's blades beating the air so close to my bed. Droning on and on and on. And on.

Someone tell them to move out! Fly away! I'm trying to sleep!

Oh here! You can hear it for yourself! You can hear the sounds of the night helicopter that hovered over my bed in 1987. It still hovers over my bed today. Every April and May the helicopter comes back to drone outside my window while I sleep fitfully, waiting for dawn to completely light the sky and send the helicopters away.

When I woke that first morning in 1987 after the helicopter ruined my pre-dawn sleep, I went to my dad and said,

"Why? why? why was there a helicopter hovering over the house this morning?

Was it a search and rescue mission? Was there a small child lost in the orchard??

Was it surveillance? Is there going to be a raid??? Why didn't it go away??"

Dad said, "What?"

"Oh that! That was just the fans."

??????? Fans ??????

"Yeah, the fans the orchardists use on frosty mornings to protect the blossoms."

I had spent my entire life in the midwest and had never heard of any such thing as giant, gargantuan, fans that protect orchards on frosty mornings.

Now that I have lived here seventeen years I know very well what they are. There are hundreds maybe thousands of them in this valley. No one escapes the sound of their beating blades in the spring. You don't have to be in the middle of an orchard, like my parent's house was, to hear the fans in the dark before dawn. Recently when I was lying awake listening to the fans, I thought how many, many other people in my mountain community were doing the same thing. Of course we get used to them. But still, the first spring morning that the sky is clear of rain clouds and the frost threatens to burn the blossoms and ruin the crop, the fans come on. It's as much a part of life as the early morning twittering of spring birds.

The fans run on propane-fueled Chevy V-8 engines.
250 horsepower running full-throttle.

The purpose of the fans is to move the air, to keep the cold air from settling. They take the warmer upper layers of air to keep the frost off the blossoms.

Every orchard has numerous fans. So even if you aren't very near an orchard, you will still hear the collective chorus of them vibrating in the early morning.

This is their sound from a distance. Still loud.

Another thing used in the orchards on cold mornings is smudge pots.

The fuel oil burning smudge pots are placed at intervals in the orchard and lit when the temperature gets low. I have not seen these lit very many times because I do not have my eyelids open at the time of day they are lit. But I did see them during that first visit when I was craning my neck out the window of my parent's spare room, trying to locate the helicopter. Instead I saw the orange glow of many little fires all through the orchard.

I think I went back to bed and put the pillow over my head in terror.

There are a few different styles of smudge pot.

They don't use matches to light those babies.

So the next time you buy a domestically grown apple or pear and wonder why the price is what it is...think of this:

The farmer that grew that fruit may have spent $10,000 to $20,000 on a single night keeping the frost off the blossom that grew into that fruit.

(For you old timers- De ja vu much? Yes, this was a rerun. Please forgive me.)

Easy Oven Fried Potatoes

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite ways to prepare potatoes. It is also one of the favorite ways my family likes to eat potatoes. I love it because it is so quick and ridiculously easy to make. The family loves it because these potatoes are ridiculously delicious!

My "recipes" are sometimes more of a method than a recipe and that includes this one. This method can be tweaked, altered, adjusted and modified according to personal taste and cooking style. Increase or decrease the spices and the amounts of potatoes as you wish and they will always come out great.

Easy Oven Fries

Heat the oven to 450 degrees (or 425 degrees convection). Peel about six medium potatoes (or don't peel if you have nice yellow or red skinned potatoes and are feeling lazy or rushed) and cut into wedges or "fries". Try to keep the wedges the same size and thickness as much as possible so that they will bake evenly.

Put 1/2 cup of mayonnaise into a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
Add any savory spices- paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, chili powder, cumin, cayenne....whatever revs your engine. Experimentation is encouraged. For these potatoes I used 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika. Thyme and garlic would be delicious together as well as a garlic and chili powder pairing. Whatever combination you choose, keep the total amount to 1-3 teaspoons of added spice for 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. The potatoes can handle the spice.

Throw the potato wedges into the bowl and toss them around in the mayonnaise.

Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.

Bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes (20-30 minutes in convection), turning or stirring as necessary, until sizzling and browned.

These are healthy potato fries. No need to ever eat the unhealthy, deep-fried in hydrogenated fake oil variety again. These oven fries will satiate the deepest potato fry desires.

The bonus is a variation- instead of using mayonnaise, use Dijon mustard! Or try it with sweet potatoes! Double mmmmmm.......

Pee and Party

The party of the year is coming up on Saturday. Now I remember why we only throw a birthday bash for our daughter every other year. It's a whole lotta work. My pre-fete to-do list is as long as my forearm. My husband's to-do list: show up at the party. There are goodie bags to be filled, name tags to be made (21 kids and counting), decorations to be hung, cupcakes to be made, and so forth. I need to bring games for the kids who don't want to touch snakes, juice boxes for thirsty young'uns, and a flask so that I can make it through the whole thing. Just kidding - I would not bring a flask to my daughter's birthday party (to be held at a library).  I don't actually own a flask, but don't think I haven't thought about it, sister.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the kid got sick during Easter weekend and developed a significant fever. We took her to the doctor on Monday. I was very concerned about a possible kidney infection.  She has been peeing very frequently (and when I say frequently, sometimes it's as little as fifteen minutes from her last trip to the loo). It's not constant (seems to come and go), but has been worrisome all the same. I was hospitalized for a kidney infection as a small child, so I know how quickly a kid can go from not feeling great to being dangerously ill.  The doctor ran two urinalyses over the past month and both came back negative. Her pediatrician suggested we have her drink cranberry juice. This is easier said than done.  "It tastes like I'm swallowing smoke!" she keeps saying. We have no idea what that means.  She is never around smoke or smokers as far as I know. Again, it's one of those things you hope your child doesn't repeat at school ("my parents make me drink smoke!"). The other day I was turning on a kids' tv show for my daughter and she said, "I hope it's inappropriate!"

Anyway, we were sitting in the doctor's office on Monday and I was ready for battle.  I felt like I'd been blown off and not taken seriously on previous visits. In the meantime, A had developed a slightly stuffy nose. I was worried that the doctor would focus too much on this, when I was certain it was a red herring of sorts. Before I knew it, he'd jabbed a swab stick into her mouth, tested it, and announced that the kid has strep throat (even though her throat is not sore), is highly contagious, and must stay home from school on Tuesday. So, this was the source of the fever. All of it is unrelated to the urinary issues.

As for the pee problem, we were told that it is probably something called pollakiuria. The doctor gave us a handout on the topic. Honestly, the symptoms fit A to a tee: extremely frequent urination but without pain or burning, happens mostly in girls in preschool and Kindergarten, and typically goes away on its own after 6-8 weeks.  The diagnosis is a little vague for my liking, though. I suspected maybe it was something the clinic hands out in order to shut up crazed, overbearing mothers. But, we'll see.  The kid is on a ten-day course of antibiotics for the strep, and we'll see how she's doing after that. If the pee problems persist, we're planning to take her to a pediatric urologist.

P spent the last two days at home with her (since he has sick days out the wazoo). Actually I guess that'd be four days if you include the weekend. I think he has a whole new appreciation for stay-at-home moms.  When he drops her off at Kindercare tomorrow morning, I think there is a good chance he may not even come to a complete stop. A is excited to go back to school tomorrow (Friday was a holiday, so she's been out since last Thursday).  She said that everyone will ask where she was.  I suggested she simply say, "I was on sabbatical."  Sounds more exotic that way.

Post Easter Update

Pie in the Sky reader, Bill, asked to see a photo of my Easter bread, so here it is-

I made a sweet yeast dough from a Paska (Ukranian or Polish Easter bread) recipe I found on the internet. I added orange zest to the dough for another element of flavor. I also added dried cranberries and golden raisins. This loaf was large, at least twelve inches across, so baking it was tricky. I failed to bake it long enough so it was somewhat doughy in the thickest parts. It didn't seem to bother too many eaters because the whole loaf was gone by the end of the day. I served it simply with honey butter. Pretty much everyone thought the eggs were curious and strange. No one wanted to eat them but that's fine- they are going into potato salad tomorrow.

All of Holy Week was sunny here on the northern border of Oregon. It was the first stretch of sunshine we have had in months! It was not terribly warm- barely reaching 59 degrees most days, but everyone was happy to have the dry sunshine.

One afternoon driving through town, I noted how it only takes a day or two of the golden rays to turn gray winter into colorful spring.

The "town" of which I speak sits on the Columbia River, which is the border between Washington and Oregon. From that point (the river) to where I live on the lower slopes of Mount Hood, the elevation rises about 1200 feet. That elevation difference means that spring arrives in town about two weeks before it arrives at my house.

We are now back to the pouring rain with no end in sight. But seeing the colors of spring gives me hope that there will be an end to the April showers.


A Chocoholic Holiday

Easter morning began with a very excited little girl waking me up, egg in hand. "Look the bunny came! And look what he left!", she exclaimed as she waved a plastic egg in front of my sleepy and unfocused eyes. And then she ran off to look for more eggs, before I had a chance to grab the camera.

Kerri was in a chocoholic paradise with her basket of goodies, bunnies, eggs, and various forms of sugar disguised as candy. And she was bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day. And I do mean bouncing.

Nana and Daddy had their own chocoholic holiday, courtesy of brandy filled German dark chocolates. They shared an entire box! And Nana and I tried some white chocolate bunny tail. And some chocolate eggs too.

Needless to say, the holiday was a success. The prime rib roast disappeared at dinner (first time ever that happened!), and everyone was stuffed with food and pie. But there is always more room for chocolate in this house!

Life with Kerri is sweeter than chocolate.

Easter Fever

I think the tattoos on her hands really make the ensemble
Literally.  The kid spiked a 102 degree fever today. She is sick in the photo above, but we hadn't figured that out yet when I took it. I've given her some Tylenol and her temperature is down to 100 or so. She's in her bed now, reading quietly and not wanting any of her candy (which is a sure sign that she is under the weather).

The weekend started off well enough. After dinner on Friday, we dyed eggs. I set everything up and let her do most of the dyeing. Once I pointed out that she could use more than one color on a single egg, she went a bit overboard. The end result: several grey eggs. It's all good. She must be growing up because this is the first year that she didn't toss an egg into the bowl filled with eggs, thereby cracking half of them.

On Saturday, I went to Weight Watchers (I weighed the same as last week, right down to the ounce) and then took the kid to an egg hunt at a local wildlife sanctuary. We got ten inches of snow last week and even though the snow has melted, the ground is still pretty mucky. So, they held the egg hunt indoors this year.  They allow each child to collect exactly seven eggs, so it does cut down on the chaos a bit. On the way home, we stopped at a market featuring handmade items, and I bought a lavender-scented eye pillow. And possibly a cookie that I had no business eating. (Later in the afternoon, I attempted to take a brief rest and try out my eye pillow, but Gretchen kept licking it. So much for serenity.)

The second egg hunt of the day was held at 1 p.m. at a nursing home in our neighborhood.  This one was also held indoors.  A spotted a white plastic egg covered in red hearts, so she immediately stood over it and guarded it until the hunt started. I honestly think she would have fought off Cujo to get that egg. We ran into some of her friends from school and I got a few photos. My petite lass is a head shorter than most of her homies. Looking on the bright side, most of her clothes from last summer will fit again this summer.

I was headed to a concert out of town Saturday night, so I hit the road later in the afternoon.  I didn't get home until after 1 a.m. Needless to say, the kid got up at 6 a.m. to see if the Easter Bunny had visited her. I (bleary-eyed and barely conscious) followed her around with the camera for a few minutes and then gave up and went back to bed. I wasn't hung over or anything, just tired. I bought one drink at the concert . . . to the tune of $9.00.  I told my friend that if anyone bumped me and caused me to spill my drink, I would weep openly.

A few hours later this morning, I got my act together and the three of us went to church.  A didn't seem to want any candy, which I found odd.  We kept thinking that maybe she ate more than we thought on Saturday.  P told me that she'd fallen asleep at 8 the night before. She just wasn't acting right, but we couldn't put our finger on it. She seemed sullen at church and at brunch afterward.  The biggest clue: she didn't drink the chocolate milk we ordered for her. We never let her get chocolate milk, so this should have been a jubilant meal for her. Finally, I figured out that she was overly warm and took her temperature as soon as we got home.

So, she is reading "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" and watching Thumbelina, and her dad and I are trying to stay out of her Easter basket. So far, so good.  P and I prefer dark chocolate and as such, the Easter Bunny brought only milk chocolate. Clever rabbit, aye.

Montreal pictures!

This morning we met our friend Ike for breakfast, and then checked out of the hotel. We took a scenic drive up a mountain to St. Joseph's cathedral, to see Saint Andre (he was just made a Saint this year). Then we drove around Montreal to one of the most famous bagel places - and sent Ike to the airport with a dozen, hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven famous Montreal bagels. And we brought a dozen home for us too!

Here are some pictures of yesterday's adventures:

Ike, Kerri and Mama in front of a church in downtown Montreal.

Kerri's first subway ride, and she fell in love with the pole.

Kerri and Daddy at the Montreal Olympic Stadium.

And of course Kerri is in first place on the podium!

Daddy and Kerri at the Botanical Gardens.

And here they are again, posing for Mama.

Beautiful Bonsai trees!

Kerri checking out the Chinese wall hangings.

And the culmination of the excursion ended with these beautiful butterflies, flying loose all around us.

Made me wish for a better camera!

Butterflies at a feeding station.

So we are back home safe and sound, and Pookie and Daddy are taking a nap. Kerri is drawing, and I am getting ready to cook dinner, while we await Nana's visit. And our mini-vacation was an absolute success!

Life with Kerri is sweet.

Easter Table

Are you cooking or baking anything special for your Easter celebration? Do you have any family food traditions for Easter?

This year we are treating ourselves to dinner out at an Easter buffet at a restaurant that serves up some wonderful spring-time specialties. There will be eighteen of us for dinner and it's nice not to have to do the dishes on a holiday for once.

In the morning we will be having an Easter breakfast at church before the worship service. In past years I have made hot cross buns but this year I am going to make Grandma's braided bread. I don't know that the Easter tradition of braided bread went any farther back than Grandma (Mr. D.'s mother) but she always made it for her Easter table. It was made with a sweet yeast dough that she braided and formed into a circle. She would nestle colored hard-boiled eggs into the bread before baking. As a young bride I thought this egg in a bread nest was kind of strange- I had never seen such bread before- but now I know that it is a traditional type of bread with variations in many European cultures. Grandma made it every year and traditions need to start somewhere, right?

I'll also be making our well loved potato, bacon and cheese quiche and an asparagus fritatta for our breakfast.

What are you making? I'd love to hear!

Meeting in Montreal

Today we had quite the adventure. We all piled into the Mama Mobile and headed to Montreal, Quebec to meet up with an old friend. We were really surprised when we found out the Holiday Inn we were staying at was a four star hotel. And even more surprised when we got upgraded to the executive level. It reminded us of our stay at the White Swan in China...because the beds are hard as rock! But the room was comfy, Pookie was well cared for, and Kerri had plenty of room to run around in, and a great gift shop to buy a new doll in.

After we were settled, we headed out on foot to find a place to have lunch. We found a typical Quebec restaurant that served smoked meat sandwiches and poutine - a very Quebec dish. We introduced our friend to the Quebec side, and he really liked it! Then we walked some more, and Kerri accidentally dropped her favorite teddy bear in the street. It was run over by a car. Once Teddy was rescued, we were back on our little adventure.

We rode the subway for the first time ever, and Kerri loved hanging on to the pole. As a matter of fact, she was swinging around the pole. I told her she would have to wait several years before she could perfect her pole dance, and that got quite a few chuckles from the local commuters.

We visited the Montreal Olympic Stadium, and then the beautiful Botanical Gardens. And the culmination of our little walk through exotic plants landed us in butterfly heaven. They were everywhere, and we took several pictures (I will post them this weekend!).

We returned to the hotel for a nap and quick shower, and then all met up for dinner. Kerri was beyond tired, but still insisting she wanted to go swimming in the salt water pool. We picked up some hot chocolate in the executive lounge, and before she could wait for it to cool off, she passed out from sheer exhaustion.

And so ends our first day in Montreal! Hubby is French channel surfing, Pookie is chowing down, and I am trying to figure out how to make a hard bed comfy. Tomorrow we are meeting our friend for breakfast, then heading over to the Notre Dame cathedral (time permitting) before we drop our friend off at the airport. And then we are headed back home, because we have company coming over. It's amazing how fast time goes by when you are having fun!

Life with Kerri is quite the adventure.

Lenten Rose

I've been nurturing this plant for about five years now, looking forward to a full bloom like this one.

I love the color. Perfect for a passion meditation on this Good Friday.

The Fine Print

As you may recall, I've been fighting the whole "I need bi-focals" thing tooth and nail. I feared that getting bi-focals would in turn cause me to start playing bingo on Tuesday nights, talking about the weather way too frequently (and in far too much detail), and possibly start yelling at neighborhood children to "STAY OFF MY LAWN!"

Well, I gave in. The beginning of the end came two weeks ago when I purchased some seed packets so that my daughter and I could get our summer flower garden started (start the seeds indoors).  I had this grand plan for choosing flowers that are short enough for the planter that sits on our deck. So, as further proof that I was in need of optometrist-type intervention . . . P was looking at the Morning Glory packet and said, "Hey, you know these grow to twelve feet, right?"  Doh!  I thought I had chosen a 12-inch plant.  I guess 12" and 12' looked just the same to my old lady eyes. I have no idea what I'm going to do with those monstrous buggers. The kid and I planted a bunch of different seeds (we call ourselves "the haphazard gardeners") and will see what we get.

So yeah, my presbyopia is starting to cause me some grief. At the grocery store, I have to be able to read labels to make sure I'm not buying stuff containing dead animal flesh (it's more insidious than you'd think - even some baked goods have animal products in them).  I need to be able to read medication bottles for my child. Contracts, menus in darkened restaurants . . . the list goes on and on.

Finally, I made an appointment and threw myself on Dr. K's mercy. "I can't see but I don't want to wear glasses all the time," I told him. After my appointment, I had plans to head to Centergy class at the gym. In this class, you go from Downward Dog into a high lunge into Plank in about three seconds flat. Not only would my glasses fall off my face . . . with my skill and grace there is little doubt that I'd also manage to step on them in the process.

He gave me a pair of bi-focal contact lenses to try for a week before getting a regular prescription. I'm still having trouble with small print (even with the new lenses), so I may need to have my prescription adjusted, but they seem fine for the most part. :::sigh:::

Word to my mutha: I, your first-born child, am 41 and wear bi-focals. I just thought you should feel old, too.

An oldie but a goodie:


Look what our friendly neighbors gave us...

....This is only about one fifth of what the hunter picked.

A cold, wet Oregon spring is good for something.

And this is what I made with them.
In a delicious white wine sauce over pork chops for supper. 
These were the most tender, tasty mushrooms I have ever cooked or eaten.
It definitely pays to have them fresh from the forest floor.

Getting ready for a road trip.

We are kicking off this weekend early, with a road trip. We decided to have a little adventure in a different province, and catch up with an old friend in the process. And then hurry back home for a small get together with Nana just in time for the Easter bunny.

I will be posting pictures sometime this weekend. But in the meantime, we wish everyone a safe and happy Passover and Easter holidays.

Life with Kerri is going on the road!


It's my spring break and my To Do list, as well as my Wish List, is long. We have been blessed with sunshine on these days off. Not warm temperatures mind you, but sunny skies. I'll take it without complaint.

One thing on my To Do list is to head out to my neglected pottery studio and evict the arachnid population that has taken over.

My poor neglected studio.

Remember what it used to look like?

I have only used my studio once since last year at this time when I participated in the local artist's Open Studio Tour. But I have not made one piece of pottery. I've been too busy making wedding cakes and pies. I did spend a few hours in this studio over the winter making the one and only, first time ever, acrylic painting that I entered into the gallery's Art Squared show. But that was it. The studio has been sitting cold and empty for a year.

Several times over the winter I've had to replace my windows that mysteriously keep blowing out. Some strange air pressure seems to occur during windstorms that pop the windows out onto the ground.

So now the studio floor is covered in leaves and debris that the wind has distributed. It gives the studio that real lonely abandoned feeling.

But worst of all are the spiders.
This happens every winter regardless of whether I am working in there or not but the webs are certainly much worse when I am not. They are everywhere, attached to every surface, every tool and book and piece of furniture. So my spring break chore is to evict the arachnid army that has encamped in my creative space.

So I drag out the powerful shop vacuum and eliminate the enemy, especially searching out all the egg sacks, some in plain sight and some hidden in crevices and under surfaces. Aren't you happy to hear all the gory details of my vacation activity?

The curious girls have to investigate what is happening in the usually quiet corner of the pasture.

A couple hours later and I am done. This is my studio, ready for some creativity.

Will I be able to finish the To Do list and get to the Wish List (which includes returning to my pottery wheel) before my spring break is over and the daily grind of life sucks me back?


I don't understand how Kerri can complain her ankle hurts, but run and play tag five minutes later and totally forget about the pain.

I don't understand why Kerri insists on wearing clothing that is mismatched, too small or clashy - just because she likes it.

I don't understand Kerri's fascination with SpongeBob.

I don't understand Kerri's tastes in food.

I don't understand why she is not scared of Harry Potter movies, but can get easily scared by a scene in a cartoon.

I really don't understand why Kerri likes bugs so much, especially since I am terrified of them.

I wish I understood why Kerri takes so many risks, because I always play it safe.

I will never understand why this special little girl was picked to be our daughter, but I am forever grateful.

I totally understand the commitment I made when we chose to adopt Kerri, and I make that my first and foremost priority every single day.

And you know what? I may never understand some of the above mentioned, but I thank G-d every day for every single one.

Life with Kerri makes me understand the important things.

Two girls on my mind

When P and I were impatiently waiting for our daughter to be born (she was a week late and had to be induced), I never allowed myself to think about the possibility that the baby could have health issues. Her birthmom took care of herself during the pregnancy, but sometimes it doesn't matter what you do - a genetic roll of the dice can deliver a blow to anyone.  Fortunately, A was born completely healthy. Her body and brain both worked as expected. Like most moms, I spent the first year freaking out over the specter of SIDS and fretting about each milestone, making sure she rolled over on schedule and all that jazz. We've had a few issues with her ears (she now has tubes) and some sort of recurring urinary tract dealio that we're still puzzling through, but by and large the kid is healthy. God knows her mouth works just fine.

When A was a baby, I met lots of other moms through a "birth club board" on (and still stay in touch with many of them on Facebook).  We each have a child born in May of 2005.  When all of the babies were born, they developed at approximately the same rate. Over time, though, some of the moms have encountered some unique challenges. A few of the kids fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Some have sensory issues. Some have developmental and physical delays. We're not as close as we used to be, but we try to support each other and not go overboard with the "look what my kid can do!" stuff.

I've been thinking about health and children and rolling dice a lot lately because I have a friend whose daughter has been diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome.  I know Lisa through a private adoption-related blog (we are friends on Facebook as well). I'd love to get together with her in person, as I'm convinced we'd get along famously, but she has the audacity to live in Florida. She and her husband have two children (via adoption) and one due to arrive shortly (they baked this one themselves).  They adopted their son first and added a daughter last year.

It didn't take long before Lisa became aware that her daughter Susan wasn't hitting any of the expected first-year milestones.  Lisa, who is a nurse, mostly took it all in stride. "She can't do this or that," she'd say, "But she sure is a happy baby!" Eventually, as Susan drifted farther off course, Lisa and her husband started pushing to have some tests done.  Obviously in most cases it's not a big deal if kids don't sit up on schedule and that sort of thing. I mean, my daughter was a late walker, but it was clear she had the tools to walk - she just didn't have the motivation, I guess. But in Suzi's case, it was all adding up to something far more concerning. 

Last week, they got the diagnosis: Angelman Syndrome. Angelman Syndrome got a little bit of press in recent years after Colin Farrell's son was diagnosed with the disorder. Other than that, I'm sure most of us have never heard of it.  I read the links that Lisa sent me so that I could learn more about her daughter's condition. I barely made it through the first paragraph before my heart broke for my friend. Angelman Syndrome isn't something that can be cured at this point, since we don't have a way to re-arrange someone's chromosomes, replace missing pieces, and so forth. There is therapy, of course. But the fact remains: Susan has a challenging life ahead of her. Her condition will limit her intellectual and physical development. She will probably walk but may never talk.  Oddly enough, perpetual happiness is one of the hallmarks of the syndrome.  Suzi is grinning ear to ear in every photo I've ever seen of her.

I have no doubt that Lisa and her husband will provide Susan with whatever she needs (throughout her life) and that they'd readily take a bullet for their daughter if they had to. However, I know they are heartbroken.  It doesn't matter how much you love your child - you can't help but be devastated by the knowledge that he/she will never go to college, get married, or sneak out with the family car after you're asleep. It's the loss of something very dear.

I honestly don't know how to reconcile feeling grateful that my child is mentally and physically sound (albeit a feeling I have always had - it's certainly not a new development) while knowing that a friend's child is not. I can't get Suzi's beautiful smile off my mind.