Charlotte's Journey Home

Just a Regular Kid, Sort Of


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Gold Star For Charlotte

Do teachers still give gold stars for 100% scores? Well, Miss Charlotte earned a gold star today. She drank 100% of her Pediasure. No tube.

Other news–yesterday’s weigh in gave a weight of 13.7k (30.25 lbs). Per the pediatrician’s scale, that is a full half pound more than she weighed 2-3 weeks ago. We go back on 9/29 for a flu shot and weigh in. Stay tuned.
By the way, did you ever wonder what Charlotte is doing while Mommy is blogging? I snapped this about 10 minutes ago.

(Daddy, this one is for you; your last glance before bedtime.)


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18 or Why I Haven’t Blogged about Eating in a While

Eighteen is a wonderful number in the Jewish tradition. The Hebrew letters, het and yod, that make up the number 18 also spell the word “living.” For that, and a variety of other reasons, the number 18 is a lucky number. Jews frequently wear its symbol around their neck, we say “L’chaim” (“To Life”) when we toast one another, and we give multiples of 18 when we make philanthropic donations.

At our house today, 18 is a particularly wonderful number. Charlotte has not vomited in 18 days. This is the longest period of time without a vomit since our 15 day streak in January. And it follows a very long, terrible period of daily humongous vomits.

So, how is eating going? Check it out.

Charlotte is drinking +90% of what we ask her to drink (600 mls of Pediasure) daily. She’s taking an average of 440 calories in solid food (puree mostly) each day. She runs to the table for meals instead of away from the table. She feeds herself. Well, sometimes. She’s excited to try new foods and to eat fresh fruits. This week she tried (and LOVED) brussel sprouts (pureed with lots of butter and chicken broth, of course). She also loves it when we all eat together and she has the same food as mommy and daddy, even if hers is the mushy version.

I won’t know about her weight gain until tomorrow, but I’m optimistic.

Best of all, meals have been fun for all of us.


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L’Shana Tova Tikatavu

Charlotte asked me to wish all of her family, her friends, and the extended Team Charlotte a Happy Jewish New Year, L’Shana Tova Tikatavuh.

We hope that you all have a sweet, joyous 5768. May it be a year in which you take the time to smell the flowers, not caring if your pants fall down while you do it…..
A year in which you find the time to explore the extraordinary….And, most of all, a year in which you stop to revel in the ordinary, recognizing & cherishing the miracle and gift of life itself….

All of you–the friends and family we know and love, our P2P online support group, the medical professionals who have cared for our darling–all of you have helped our miracle happen. You have witnessed it, facilitated it, and cheered it. We get to watch Charlotte grow and thrive every day and we are so grateful (I hope you don’t get sick of me saying that) for her, and for you.


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Jeffrey B. Gardner

I thought about catching ya’ll up on Charlotte’s feeding, but given the date, I think that can wait until tomorrow.

Instead, I’d like to ask you all to remember my friend Jeff Gardner who perished when the Twin Towers collapsed on 9/11/2001. I wish that Charlotte had had a chance to know Jeff. They would have giggled a lot together. At the very least, I hope she can lead a life that emulates the life he led.
I share with you this essay that I originally posted on my LiveJournal page last year:

Jeffrey B. Gardner died 6 years ago today when the World Trade Towers collapsed. I had known Jeffrey for as long as I can remember, growing up in the same town (Livingston NJ) and attending religious school at B’nai Jeshurun together.
More than a boy I grew up with, Jeffrey was a dear friend throughout my high school and college years. We were both socially conscious teenagers and active in our temple youth group and in JFTY, the Jersey Federation of Temple Youth.

Like all of the people who have signed his guest book, I can attest to Jeffrey’s special qualities–his goodness, kindness, wisdom, and sense of fun. I can also recall his pride as he listened to his father sing in the temple choir on the high holy days, his clear affection for his siblings, and his love for his mother.

Jeffrey and I, along with 20 other Jewish teens, spent a special summer together in 1982. As part of the JFTY Urban Mitzvah Corps, we lived in a fraternity house at Rutgers (later Jeffrey’s alma mater) and volunteered for various organizations in the New Brunswick area. We worked with the elderly, disadvantaged children, and the disabled. In the evenings we studied and played, enriching our Judaism and bonding as a group in a way that is immeasurable. Jeffrey lived his Jewish values and he taught us how much fun (and mischief) we could have within the limits of a moral, thoughtful life.

My father had a special place in his heart for Jeffrey. Not just because they were in the same business, but because Jeffrey was respectful, forthcoming, and friendly. In business, my father could count on Jeffrey, just as I could count on him as a friend.

Since Jeffrey’s death, I’ve learned that he continued to live those values for the rest of his far-too-short life. He read the Christian Bible and the Koran in order to understand other people’s belief systems. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity throughout the hemisphere. He worked hard at his career and prospered.

In his obituary, his sister Amy noted that he had a sun tatooed on his ankle because “a good day was as bad as it got. ” Jeffrey shone like that sun. Even when we weren’t in touch for a long time (we hadn’t spoken for about 3 years before his death), I felt his presence and the mark that he made on my life.
On that perfect sunny September morning, a day eerily like today in Chicaog, hatred hilled Jeffrey. The irony that intolerance killed a soul who embodied tolerance is not lost on me.

I dedicate today to Jeffrey–as sad as I am for his loss, I strive to live a life of which he would have been proud, to be tolerant and kind and strong as a tribute to his memory.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You are indeed Z”L (Zichrono Livracha), of blessed memory.


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28 Things I Love About 2 Years Old

Charlotte is 28 months old today. (Aside: I wonder when we stop marking months and just talk about years. Is it important that I celebrated by 501st month on the fourth of September?)

In honor of this momentous occasion, I want to share 28 things I like about two years old:

1. Stream of consciousness thinking out loud. I read somewhere that toddlers think out loud because while they’ve acquired language, they’ve not mastered it enough to think quietly inside their heads. Charlotte talks constantly, speaking all her observations out loud.

2. Narration and storytelling. In addition to her most private thoughts, Charlotte shares stories constantly. She tells us what happened today and yesterday. She has no concept of verb tense, so we have to figure out historical context. Most recently she remembered that “Mommy took Peter to the doctor,” referring to a rescue mission Charlotte and I made in March when a friend was stranded at a hotel and needed to get to an emergency room.

3. Exuberance.

4. Love of books. She could read all day long. Today’s favorites are Charlotte Doyle’s The Bouncing, Dancing, Galloping ABCs; K. C. Olson’s Construction Countdown; and Jon J Muth’s Stone Soup.

5. Laughter and silliness.

6. Morning piano concerts. “Mommy get coffee and sit in green chair. ‘harlotte play piano.” Every morning. Guaranteed 6 minutes of hot coffee, giggles, and relaxation.

7. Hugs. Kisses. Randomly. All the time.

8. Ritual. Every night we read the same book (Muth’s Stone Soup). She knows it by heart and “reads” it with me. At dinner time she always tells me “dinner time, thend Daddy come home!!!then bath time, then Stone Soup, then bedtime..”

9. Mommy can do no wrong. For now. I’m savoring this. I know this phase passes quickly and will soon be gone forever.

10. Learning to play with other children, not just next to them. Several weeks ago we went to a picnic for the Chicago Belgian community and Charlotte played catch with another little girl for about 20 minutes. The moms just watched. It was a major developmental moment for us.

11. Doing something “risky” because a friend did it first. Charlotte is a scaredy cat. Seriously. She’s been refusing to go down the slide since May when she went down a hot slide. She doesn’t climb much, and she’s never been interested in the “big girl” swings. Until today. When she saw Sarah on the swing, she was convinced she had to try it. They gleefully swung side by side for 10 minutes.

12. Enthusiasm.

13. Teaching herself the alphabet and numbers. I realize Charlotte is not a genius, but watching her teach herself letters has been the highlight of the past four months.

14. Obsession with stop signs. We have to talk about every stop sign we see, what color it is, what letters are on it, and what we should do when we see one.

15. Eagerness to please. Again, I know this will pass….

16. Music. Charlotte literally wakes up singing. Wish I could get it on tape. Typically she wakes up singing “Sur le pont d’Avignon” or “Bon jour, Maman. Bon jour, Papa,” both from her music class.

17. Her pace. Charlotte makes me slow down while she examines a leaf, checks out the texture of a wall, or just sits down. How refreshing to walk at a toddler’s pace and experience her wonder of the world.

18. Growth. Every day. In so many ways.

19. “Puz” (because)

20. “Bayaya”(balloon)

21. Sense of humor. Charlotte has a typical toddler’s sense of funny and she regularly melts into giggles over the silliest things.

22. “Daddy is a daddy daddy daddy daddy DADDY.” ” Mommy is a mommy mommy.” (The highest form of compliment, apparently.”

23. Acceptance. I don’t know if Charlotte understands that other kids eat everything they are supposed to or that not everyone has a big scar down their chest. She troops to the doctors, does her therapy, and never complains.

24. Boo boo kisses. She gets them. She gives them. She thinks they can fix any and everything.

25. Bubba and Nemo and Kitty and New Puppy and all of Charlotte’s friends. These stuffed buddies are her world. She dresses and plays with them, tucks them in, and hugs them.

26. Representational play. We recently had our first tea party. Once I had all the friends lined up and the cups out, we piled the plates high with plastic cookies. Charlotte then took my cup, went to her toy refrigerator, and got me a cup of COFFEE for our tea party. (Yep. She’s her father’s daughter!)

27. Pure, unadulterated, unconditional love and affection.

28. Charlotte is my hero. I read a poem recently on a mom’s signature on P2P about exactly this–that our kids look at us and think (when they are two) that we are wise and strong and can fix everything with a boo boo kiss. Would that it were true! I look at Charlotte and know that I will never be as strong as she is. I know that in two years she has taught me more about what is important in life and love than any other person I know. And she continues to teach me every day.