22 October 2009

I've Been Outed

Dan over at Down with Oz tagged me in The Name Game... He called upon me to unleash my inner geek and explain the origins of Sheridan's name. Many people mispronounce Sheridan's name Sheraton, but I promise you, he was NOT named after a chain of hotels...



Sheridan is the last name of a science fiction character (geek alert) who possessed all the qualities we dreamed and hoped our son would have. It's a Gaelic name that means seeker and to seek as in seeking truth, seeking knowledge, seeking justice (and no, we are nowhere near Irish - I'm full-blooded Italian and Gary is Black, 1/8 American Indian, and 1/8 English).

Okay, so back to the nerdy part... Captain John Sheridan was a lead character in the science fiction television show Babylon5 that aired a while back (when people know the show they think it is the coolest thing ever that we named our son Sheridan - everybody else just tries not to laugh in our faces).

If you're not familiar with the show, the best explanation of Sheridan's B5 character is: decisive, strong-willed (boy did we get that one in our son!), honest, charismatic, typically cheerful, just, loving, always fights for what is morally and ethically correct, and he doesn't take $#*% from anybody.


Michael is my oldest brother's name. I say oldest, because he is my oldest brother but he's still younger than me (by almost 8 years!). The words that best describe Michael are, oddly enough, very similar to those that describe Sheridan: very loving, stubborn strong-willed, funny, and definitely a fighter!

Michael was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia when he was 12 years old, and died in March 1998 at the age of 15. I love him and miss him more than I could ever convey in writing - he's a big part of my heart. And I'm honored that Sheridan carries his name!

Tag - You're It!

I tag Benjamin's dad over at Big Ben Benjamin to tell us the origin's of Benjamin's name... That's right! We're taking this international!

10 October 2009


One year, 1 month, 2 weeks, and 3 days old... and Sheridan finally popped a tooth! Okay, it's more like a shiny, jaggedy, razor-sharp, sliver of bright-white tooth edge that's barely peeking up out of his bottom gum. But it's out enough to slice you if you're not careful. And it's definitely cutting through more and more each day, and the second one right next to it looks like it might follow soon!

About freaking time if you ask me. That poor boy has been teething since he was 4 months old... that means he's been working on this one tooth for longer than he gestated in my womb. Sorry for the graphic comparison, but this boy deserves some serious accolades over this accomplishment. And many of you know that teething has been a major focus in our family for months now.

Which brings me to Jen's i did it campaign...

Sheridan's milestones (especially his fine motor and cognition milestones) have been flying in fast and furious lately. So many new things were happening so fast that I decided I would wait for him to accomplish a big doozy of a milestone. His participation in the campaign would be some sort of grand debut and celebration of an amazing new skill (so we could celebrate the many, many things he's accomplished lately - even if I haven't had time to write about all of them).

But you know what, I think his first tooth is just as praise worthy!

This is how I imagine Sheridan felt:

Before the tooth came through...

And after...

08 October 2009

Monkey Surgery

Every year Gary and I host our (sort of) annual BBQ for all of our many family and friends (I say "sort of" because we always throw the BBQ at the end of August and last year, with a brand new baby, hosting 75 people in our backyard was NOT high on our priority list - so we took one year off to bask in the glow of new parenthood).

Now, because we always throw this party at the end of summer, Gary decided that this year we should take advantage of the timing and celebrate Sheridan's first birthday. So, we added cake to the BBQ so we could sing happy birthday to the little man.

But I didn't want just any ol' cake. I wanted one of Jennifer's cakes. See, Jennifer was my undergraduate student when I was a professor at Cal State Univ Long Beach, and my graduate student at Cal State Univ Sacramento. She is now working on her PhD at University of Utah, with the exception of all the time she spends making amazing cakes for her business Salt Cake City. And she is amazingly talented...

But, what to do about having her make Sheridan's cake when she's in Utah and I'm in Cali? Jennifer agreed to take on the challenge... make a fake cake, ship it to me, and it could be placed on top of the real cake.

Now for a theme. Sheridan's favorite song is Five Monkeys Jumping on the Bed so I sent Jennifer a video of me singing it to him, him singing along, flapping his arms, and loving every minute of it. That was her inspiration to develop the cake design. She did ask what theme we have in his nursery... we don't have a theme (on purpose). BUT, Sheridan loves the afghan of his own that CJ crocheted for him (he sleeps with it every nap and every night). So, when Jennifer wanted to know what colors he likes, I sent her a picture of the afghan so that she could get some ideas.

And then, the day before the BBQ the package arrived:

Yep. Therein lies the cake. And its many, many, many pieces. Oh you just wait and see...

I called Jennifer on the phone as I began to unpack everything because she had some very detailed instructions for me... as it turns out, everything had to be made and shipped in pieces. Requiring "some assembly" I was told.

You know those toys that say "some assembly required" and they have 100 parts in the box? Oh, yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about.

So here's how the fake cake arrived:

And then I had to carefully unpack each item to reveal... more packages!

Then came the beginning of the nerve-wracking part: unwrapping each monkey. I was so nervous, but I think Jennifer was more nervous on the other end of the phone. But she kept reassuring me that any broken monkeys could be fixed. No problem.

Here's what I had after Operation Monkey Extraction:

Unfortunately, none of the monkeys made it without damage. No big deal, Jennifer told me. I just needed to do a little monkey surgery. And monkey surgery I did...

I had everything Jennifer told me I needed:

No, the vodka wasn't for drinking (although by 2am I was ready for a good swig, yes - you read that correctly - I was up until 2am doing monkey surgery). Jennifer informed me that the monkeys were made of fondant and that I could use the vodka to stick them back together (and it would dry faster than water). You should have seen the look on the guy's face at the liquor store when I told him I needed a small airplane-sized bottle of vodka so I could fix my son's monkeys.

Okay, down to business... I spent hours trying to re-stick, re-poke, re-form those monkeys. No fault of Jennifer's at all... it was hot (so some had started to melt and took on the shape of the bubble wrap) and she did such an outstanding job trying to create monkeys in all kinds of active poses that the frail little limbs and tails just didn't have a chance to make it in one piece (good thing she predicted some monkey fatalities because she shipped a few extra tails and limbs - one whole baggy was full of spare monkey parts).

Sooooo, I finally got so tired I had to just put them in the refrigerator and let them harden and accept that I had done the best monkey surgery I could. You just can't save them all... or can you?

The monkeys literally took over our refrigerator...

Jennifer also made a little Sheridan... as evidenced by his amazing curl.

The next day I picked up two cakes (one big one for everyone and a little one just for Sheridan) from Freeport Bakery (I asked them to ice them in plain white with no piping, no edging, just plain - they thought I was a bit crazy, but less work for them!).

And I got to work recreating the song Five Monkeys Jumping on the Bed in cake form. Except Sheridan's little cake only had room for three monkeys.

Here's the result... I think Jennifer did a FABULOUS job making the pieces, and I have to admit I'm pretty proud of my final design execution. I love that the bed is covered by a fondant replica of Sheridan's afghan. And the monkey surgery was well worth the time, stress, sweat, and vodka.

Sheridan had a hard time with all the kids crowding him during singing (as a first-time mom I failed to predict that all children are drawn to a birthday cake with a candle like moths to a flame). Sheridan wasn't too sure what to think about that...

He did get excited at one point and grabbed hold of a couple monkeys... but didn't take a single bite of cake. Good boy! Mommy taught him right... he much preferred his fruit!

The other kids loooooooovvvved the monkeys. The cake was a big hit all the way around (and tasted delicious - you can never go wrong with lemon cooler cake during the summer!).

A big thank you to Jennifer for dreaming up such a great design and for being willing to take a risk on this. I loved it and it was well worth the late-night shenanigans on my end! Sheridan was pretty excited about the monkeys and his family BBQ debut.

And Dan's t-shirts were great conversation starters so we could increase awareness of Ds among our closest family and friends!

07 October 2009

Winning the Lottery

I'm being pulled in too many directions. I know that's how all parents likely feel... but lately I've been a bit overwhelmed by it. And it's probably very evident given my blog silence over the past month.

I love being a stay at home mom, but I also work part time from home. Then, of course, there's the six appointments each week for Sheridan (music therapy, OT, a teacher, speech, and PT x 2). I love his appointments. Really. It's all the other stuff that gets in the way... but the other stuff is important, too. For example, I'm on the Board of the Down Syndrome Information Alliance and I'm leading a few programs for them (more on them in a different post - they are very exciting!).

But lately I've been wishing secretly that Gary and I would just win the lottery already. Then I wouldn't have to work at all and I could spend my days hanging out with Buddy. And the extra "stuff" in our life wouldn't feel so overwhelming...

But the more I think about it, I do love what I do every day. And, more importantly, we already won the lottery. It's a genetic lottery, but a lottery nonetheless. It's the kind of lottery most people would prefer not to win - and some people actively try to avoid this lottery. But our winning ticket gave us the BEST life I could have ever imagined. And who wouldn't want to win such a beautiful life? Money can't buy this kind of stuff...