Author Archives: whoopsiepiggle

Two Years This Daughter

  The first two years with a baby with Down syndrome are a lot of work, but then it all gets easier. I have repeated that sentence, spoken by the caseworker from our county’s DD Board when Lyra was only … Continue reading

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Two Years This Family

Two years ago, I wrote about our Thanksgiving with family in northern Michigan. As has been the case for more years than I can remember, last month we again made our biennial pilgrimage up the mitten-shaped state, our van loaded … Continue reading

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Correction: Older Moms Are Having More Babies. Period.

In the essay I posted yesterday, “Some Words About Down Syndrome,” I referred to the long-cited statistic that while older mothers have a higher chance of becoming pregnant with a baby with Down syndrome, most children with Down syndrome are born to … Continue reading

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A Few Words About Down Syndrome

Dear Young Mamas of Children with Down Syndrome: As you all probably know, it is more likely for a woman my age (46 when I had my daughter Lyra) to have a baby with Down syndrome than it is for … Continue reading

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Degrees of Difficulty: Little and Big Kids

Little Kid Hard Once upon a time, I had three little boys each born three years apart. Even before the third boy arrived in the summer of 2000, many a day I could not remember when I last had taken … Continue reading

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What Suffering? The Down Syndrome Advantage

I see you and Max acting so bravely, but nobody asks for a child with Down syndrome. I recalled those sugar-coated words of sympathy, spoken by a relative of ours a few weeks after our beautiful, healthy daughter was born, when I … Continue reading

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Nothing to Fear: Human Rights for People with Down Syndrome

Sarah and I were in Pittsburgh for Quilt Market where we stayed at the downtown Westin. When the elevator stopped on our floor there was a man dressed in business attire already on it. I looked over at him and … Continue reading

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Would I Cry?

When he was a senior in high school, my eldest child, Claude, called me a bad-ass mother (which I mistakenly took as pejorative until he explained the parlance of his generation). It’s true, my parenting mantra is “push and support.” So why, … Continue reading

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Part 3: After a Dying Week

I should be packing. I leave in less than 48 hours to join my oldest son, Claude, in Spain for two weeks of backpacking adventures. It usually takes me one to two weeks to write (and re-re-re-re-re-write) an essay before … Continue reading

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Part 2: Defining and Defying: Discrimination of the Developmentally Disabled

Yesterday, I wrote about three babies in our Down syndrome community, all the same age as our daughter, Lyra, who died in the same week. One of the deaths sparked many national discussions on the issue of organ transplantation and whether or … Continue reading

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Part 1: A Painful Week in the Down Syndrome Community

Real Community, Virtually When Lyra was four months old, I met a woman at a meeting for new parents of children with Down syndrome. A few weeks later, she sent me an invitation to join a Facebook group titled “(’12/’13) … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Latest: In Need of the Next Map

Our home has been temporarily rearranged. The water bowl for the dogs and cats is now commonly found on the kitchen counter while the bathroom trash cans currently reside atop the closed lids of the toilets. A paper grocery bag containing paper recycling … Continue reading

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About (Winter) Time

The Oxford Dictionaries’ 2013 word of the year was “selfie,” which describes the now ubiquitous photos taken with one of the subject’s arms outstretched, not unlike a zombie’s, as he or she snaps his or her own photo with a … Continue reading

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Ms. Lyra Goes to Washington #PasstheABLEAct

Scenario One: Imagine you discover that your great-aunt, who recently died, left you $3,000. She had not told anyone she planned to leave you a small sum of money and so it comes as a complete surprise to you and … Continue reading

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The Mother I Wanted

On a snowy winter’s morning twenty years ago and told me the plain truth, “What you have just done has happened billions upon billions of times in human history and yet I know that right now you feel like the … Continue reading

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Traditions Refashioned

When the big boys were little, my biggest writing project of the year was my holiday letter. Every December, beginning in 1994 just before Claude’s first birthday, I wrote a two-page letter of family updates and book recommendations mixed with … Continue reading

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Comparing Lyra

Historically, I have not been a parent who has put much emphasis upon babyhood milestones. I was not concerned with the boys’ height and weigh percentiles. They held their heads up soon after birth, rolled over by three months, sat … Continue reading

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By Any Other Name

I was named Holly Christensen at birth. Seven years later, I walked into a courthouse in Toledo, Ohio with my mother and her second husband of two years. I came out Holly Slusher. It was the early seventies and along … Continue reading

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Best Laid Plans

6:30 a.m. On a Recent Saturday Morning  “You’re a good mom,” said Max. “Yeah, okay, right. But I need more balance. We all do.” We were in the parking lot at our local Starbucks and had just decided that I … Continue reading

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Farmer Teacher

Oh, for the Love of the Internet Yesterday, I posted a piece on fall in which I began with James Whitcomb Riley’s well-known poem, “When the Frost Is on the Punkin,” and briefly described the geometry teacher who first introduced … Continue reading

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The Love of Fall

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here— Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees, And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of … Continue reading

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You Say Eggplant, I Say Aubergine (+ Moussaka Recipe)

I’ve been thinking about the power of names lately—how names shape who we are and how we think of things. A couple of weeks ago, an old friend from the Waldorf school was offering up eggplant like many a backyard … Continue reading

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My Music Man

Hugo works hard. It isn’t his innate nature, but he does. He has become one of those people who hits his stride best when his life is taut with activity, like a rubber band that is stretched, but doesn’t risk … Continue reading

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Lyra: Our First Year Together

Lifespans in Life The majority of the Down syndrome blogs are written by families whose child diagnosed with Ds is under the age of three. In an online group I belong to, mothers openly wonder why this is the case … Continue reading

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Circling the Wagons

Have Children, Will Travel In the patch of state fair zinnias outside our front door, I have been watching the bees hop from one bright blossom to another on these late summer evenings, the warm air drier than it was … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Latest: Fully Human & Needing a Civil Rights Movement

Your daughter was born with Down syndrome. Do not expect her to read, write, do math or ever drive a car. A physician said these words to the parents of a buoyant baby girl, aptly named Grace, in the days … Continue reading

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Snapshots

Life Changes in a Moment Each time a child is born, a family reconfigures itself. A couple become parents, an only child becomes a sibling. In families with several children, the baby is no longer the baby. We knew and … Continue reading

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Pictures Paint

I have a thousand words or more for each of the pictures from this recent photoshoot of my littlest children. I easily have several thousand words describing my journey with the photographer. But now is the time for the writer … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Latest: Baby Doll to Baby

She Awakens “What’s the word you just used?” I asked Lyra’s ophthalmologist. “Myelinate. It’s a coating over the nerves, just like that wire down there,” he said pointing to the floor where a thick cable traveled a short distance from … Continue reading

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Obstacles to Writing

House Full Up Whoopsie Piggle is currently home to eight people, four dogs, three cats and a singular goldfish who resides in a red plastic sandbox, shaped like a crab, which became a mini-pond two years ago when the lid … Continue reading

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Perpetual Postscripts

I’ve been thinking lately of E.B. White, he of children’s fiction fame for Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, who many today may not know was also a fine essayist. A regular contributor to The New Yorker, I once heard in an interview with his … Continue reading

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Screen, Paper, Sound

After I’d spent the summer with my grandparents in Arizona and had returned to my mother’s house in Ohio, my grandmother wrote in a letter to my father and stepmother:                     … Continue reading

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Changing Expectations: Lyra’s Latest

“I recently read that all people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer’s in their forties or fifties, is that true?” I asked the pediatric geneticist as she examined our two-day-old baby. A few months earlier, I had read a Newsweek cover … Continue reading

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The Spring of Chaos

After what felt like a winter without end, spring has finally arrived. I typically expect November and early December to be the busiest time of the year. For the most part, I don’t think of the holidays as something to … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Latest: Where’s the Poop?

Prescript: In July of 2013 we learned about Fruit-Eze. A jam-like product made entirely of fruit, it worked wonders on the constipation that routinely flared up even after Lyra began taking Synethroid. She has a tablespoon each and every morning. … Continue reading

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On Writing About Family

Good Busy Whoopsie Piggle has not had a new post in over two weeks and this has been for two good reasons. First of all, I have two separate freelance projects that have kept me very busy. In some measure, … Continue reading

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Shattering Patterns

Won’t Go Back to Boston At the beginning of the month, the annual conference of AWP, or the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, happened in Boston. Last year was the first year in many that I did not attend … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Eyes: The Latest

Seeing Red “We gotta go,” I mouthed to Hugo, who nodded at me while pounding out rhythm and blues on the school piano, playing back up for a couple of guitarists. It was an odd Valentine’s Day. Jules was in … Continue reading

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This Is Whoopsie Piggle

“You know it feels like I’ve been in Florida for only three days, not a week. But when I think back to when Grandma met me at the airport, that seems like a long time ago,” Jules said to me … Continue reading

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Love Stories, Sexuality and Secrets

“You know what movie we should get for Valentine’s this year?” Hugo recently asked. Many years ago, I began a tradition of buying a movie musical on DVD for the boys, many of them from Hollywood’s Golden Age, each year … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Latest: Finding a Pediatrician or The Continuum of Jewish Women

The day after Lyra was born, I called my obstetrician, who had willingly provided prenatal care and medical back up for my home birth. And I explained that while otherwise healthy, Lyra appeared to have Down syndrome. Within minutes, I … Continue reading

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Lyra’s Latest: Wee Teeny Peanut

In the roughly three months in which I’ve been writing this blog, the WordPress.com stats reveal far and away that the most popular posts are those about Lyra. While Whoopsie Piggle will never be exclusively about our daughter, I have … Continue reading

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Motherwriter

Writing is not my hobby. When I am not writing, my brain writhes. In the fall of 2008, I enrolled in a course at the University of Akron titled “Southern Women Writers.” After first reading Florence King’s Southern Ladies and … Continue reading

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Beginning Today

Each morning the Plain Dealer is delivered to our doorstep. On school days, Hugo gets up at 5:30 am, starts the coffee, feeds the dogs and retrieves the paper. Because of his intense performance and rehearsal schedule, mornings are when … Continue reading

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We Are All in Newtown

It is mid-December 2012 and in the background of daily life are the impending holidays and the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, which some people suggest predicts the end of time. Last week, I thought I would … Continue reading

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What We Keep

Max and I have a new fantasy for disposing of our extra furniture and belongings: buy a small house in Charlevoix, Michigan and haul it up there. We’ve picked out the house, it’s right next door to my step-mom and … Continue reading

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Learning About Lyra

“Is there a vagina?” I immediately asked the midwife. After a summer of crop-killing drought, it rain fell the day my last child was born. For the first time in two months, we turned off the air conditioning and opened … Continue reading

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Lists and Real Life

“Knife fight or sex are the only two acceptable answers, remember?” asked Max. I had just told him when people asked me about the stitches on my face, I was going to say I’d been in a car accident. But … Continue reading

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(Over the River and through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go) x 2.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We blew the first rule of green living. We try to live simply, but with seven people in this family,  it’s not so simple. Our new Toyota Sienna, purchased when the cost of fixing the old Sienna was … Continue reading

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Getting to Goals

One reason why I started this blog was to give myself deadlines. I didn’t plot out goals when I began, but I see now that posting once a week, at minimum, is my goal. I got that memo last week … Continue reading

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