Monday, December 5, 2016

One More Birthday Party

We had Olivia’s ‘Friend’ party on Saturday. I mean, you only turn double digits once, right? So why not have three parties (if you count us taking treats to her class on Tuesday after Thanksgiving/her birthday as a celebration, which, yes, I do.)

We only invited a couple of friends because we knew that Olivia would be overwhelmed if more than two or three of her classmates were to show up. With just two (and the big sister of one, who is friends with Alyssa, win/win!) Olivia could be her weird little self for a bit, warm up to having her two worlds colliding and then settle down and actually have fun with her classmates.

And that’s just what happened.

Tom and I spent most of Friday evening and Saturday morning cleaning the house. We’re lucky not to live in filth, so the cleaning was mostly just picking up clutter and dusting (okay, so maybe the layers of dust do count as filth...) but once the carpets were vacuumed the kitchen swept we felt pretty good about having company.

Tom even said, “We’re having nine-year-olds over, how much cleanliness are they going to notice.”

Well…the first guest arrived, one of the said nine-year-olds and one of the first things she announced as she walked through our living room was, “Wow, your house is WAY cleaning than ours.”

Which…hahaha. That was funny. I won’t tell her mom she said that because that would just be mean. But it was still really funny.

I told her, “Well, you do have a little brother and little sister. They probably make pretty big messes, don’t they?”

She gave a melodramatic sigh and said, “Yes, they sure do!”

I’d bought flower pots and paint and let the girls paint. Then we potted spider plants in the pots and the girls got to take their painted pots home with a new plant.

There was a Barbie cake to be eaten and presents to opened.

It turned out that two hours was the perfect amount of time to have guests over for a birthday party. The girls were sad when their parents arrived but honestly, I was kind of ready for the party to be over.

And so ends the November birthday season. Let the Christmas celebrations begin!

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I know I already did a post on Olivia's tenth birthday...but this isn't so much about her actual day but about how far we've come since her day she was born.

As we celebrated Olivia’s tenth birthday last weekend, I watched in awe as this girl, this sweet, sassy child ran around like a loon, ate cupcakes, opened presents and danced like no one was watching.

I watched her do all these things while remembering her first few minutes of life, when she was so floppy and gray, when three nurses worked on her to get her to breathe. I remember those first few hours when she lay under a cylinder that pumped oxygen into the air around her head to keep her breathing.

I remembered going to sleep the night she was born knowing she was over sixty miles away in another hospital, her daddy with her (he drove to Fort Wayne after she was loaded into the ambulance that took her away from me and he actually beat the ambulance to the new hospital.)

I remembered waking up the next morning and calling Julie to tell her about Olivia’s trip to the NICU, not even thinking about the fact that my call was probably a major trigger for Julie.

I remembered waiting impatiently for my doctor to come and release me from the hospital where I’d delivered Olivia sixteen hours previously so I could go be with her.

I remembered Tom greeting me and my mom and Alyssa at the new hospital, showing us how to check in, wash our hands and then leading us to O’s isolette.

She’d already kicked out of the swaddle the nurses had attempted. Tom introduced me to Liv’s nurse and she was lovely. She told me kindly that my girl was spunky and would not stay in a swaddle for anything. “That’s a good thing,” she informed me. “It shows fight. We like that.”

Oh my goodness, yes did Olivia have fight. She still has it.

As the memories faded and I focused on my sweet girl celebrating her tenth birthday, I found myself overwhelmed by my love for her.
I love this girl so much that it hurts sometimes. But watching her, still awash with memories of her first hours and days, I realized that I don’t love her because of her rough start or in spite of it. I don’t love her because of her syndrome or in spite of it.

I love her because of who she is. Sure, her first hours and days of life helped shape the person she is. Sure, 5p- syndrome is a part of who she is but neither of those things define her any more than the fact that she has blue eyes defines her.

Olivia can be such a weirdo and yet…I love her both because of that and in spite of it.

As we venture further into this life and further away from Olivia’s first hours and days (and yes, even her first months because those were hard too) I see this girl for who she is, not how she started, not based on a chromosome count.

I see a girl with a startling sense of humor. Her laugh is contagious and she gets the subtleties of sarcasm that some people twice her age might miss. She can start to tell a funny story and start laughing so hard at her own rendition of the story that you find yourself laughing simply because she’s laughing too hard to even tell the story.

She tries so hard. She wants so badly to be ‘normal’ and to learn all the things that her peers are learning and yet…she sometimes gives me a look during homework that tells me she knows…she freaking KNOWS this stuff isn’t important and she is forcing herself to just muddle through it because it’s expected of her.

Her joy is infectious. She loves life. She loves to be pretty and fancy and will accessorize you to within an inch of your life if you let her. She has amazing hair (look how far we’ve come on that subject!) and yet loves to wear wigs because they’re different and she just feels like they’re one more accessory. Oh, and because it annoys the crap out of her sister when she wears them, which is always a plus when you’re ten and your sister is almost fourteen.

The first ten years of Olivia’s life were a rollercoaster but we had so many more ups than downs and I feel so incredibly lucky to be along for the ride with this girl. If the theory that some believe is true, if we choose our life before we’re even born, I am so, SO grateful that Olivia chose me to be a passenger in the car that she’s driving along the road of life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

So Much Crap

We’re having two of Olivia’s classmates over on Saturday to celebrate her birthday. Obviously, it’s a very small party but Tom and I talked about it and decided that Olivia would have more fun and might actually talk to her guests if there were just two of them.

In preparation for this ‘party’ I have been attempting to clean/organize the toyroom. It’s a disaster and just stepping inside the door of the room last week was depressing.

But I’ve made strides in cleaning it up. One can now walk into the room without stepping on anything. But there is still so much stuff in there. SO…MUCH…CRAP.

And yet here I am, making lists of more crap to buy my girls for Christmas. It’s kind of a sick, relentless cycle.

I looked around the room, which needed vacuumed once I managed to get all the crap off the floor and saw all the things that need to be purged.

We have toys that neither of the girls has played with in years. YEARS I tell you.

We have blocks that need to be passed on to some awesome kid who likes to build things with blocks. Olivia has always hated blocks. I think it stems from her first year of therapy (yes, she was only a year old but some things can take hold even that young and manifest years later…) when she was forced asked to use the blocks to make ‘trains’ and towers and other stuff she had no interest in doing.

Alyssa played with those blocks back when she was as much into horses as she is now into music. She used those blocks to make corrals and training circles. She made very elaborate arenas in which her horses performed. These days? Those blocks are taking up space and need to go.

The amount of tiny crap that has accumulated in our house is insane. We have left over Squinkies all over the place, we have tiny Barbie Leggos, I filled a bag with used (but not completely!) lip balm and Olivia was ecstatic to carry that bag around all day last Saturday, layering her flavors of lip balm.
Now that we have to children whose ages are in the double digits, it’s time to get rid of so much of the clutter. It needs to go not only because the entire house would be easier to keep clean but also because I have to wonder why we’re keeping that crap. For whom are we keeping it? Not the girls…so am I keeping it for me? For the sentimental value of simply having it in the house?

I don’t get nearly enough emotional benefits from that stuff to justify keeping useless crap that no one wants or needs or really even cares about. It’s time to send that stuff away and hope it finds a good home where other kids will love it and treasure it.

Let the purge begin.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Double Freaking Digits

So yes, Olivia turned ten yesterday. She was so excited about her birthday in the days leading up to it, she almost couldn’t stand it. It was adorable and exhausting all at the same time.

She’s loved her birthday for years but this was the first one to which she really looked forward. She told Alyssa at one point over the weekend, “On my birthday, I’ll practically be a teenager.”

Ha! Hahaha… except, no. Not yet, my babiest girl.

She asked me several times if I thought she’d wake up on her birthday and be taller than Alyssa. I indulged her a couple of times but then gently reminded her that growth doesn’t actually work like that.

She listened to my explanation of how kids actually grow every single day, not just on the night before their birthday and then, when I was finished, she narrowed her eyes at me, shook her head once to let me know that she thought I was a bit of an idiot and then the bounded away, announcing to Lyss in the next room that she was, in fact, probably going to be taller on her birthday.

At ten, Olivia is still very much into Monster High. Her birthday presents were a Monster High sheet set, a Monster High book and a Monster High movie. She also got a new necklace and earring set, because, yes, that girl is WAY into jewelry. She currently wears three (or is it four?) bracelets daily.

She’s very into accessorizing. I kind of love it because I’m so NOT into accessorizing. I’m very bad at it and I love that she’s so good at it. I could totally see her becoming a stylist someday because it’s what she loves.

Olivia has attained a level of maturity that I’m so proud of. I often wondered how far she’d come when it came to emotional maturity but she’s getting there. She still doesn’t talk much at school but at my mom’s for Thanksgiving, she spoke in a normal tone of voice no matter who was in the room. She used her inside voice and asked clear questions even though my step-sister and her family, people we only see twice a year, were there. She talked while my brothers were next to her. And yes, she tried to climb on my head when my youngest brother gigantic dog attempted to lick her toes (that creature was put outside at that point.) but she talked. That’s the point. She talked.

She’s ten. She’s double digits. According to my babiest girl she’s practically a teenager!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Short Week

Because this is a short work week yesterday and today feel like they’ve been run at break-neck speed.

That opening sentence should probably just read: I’m tired.

I think at this point, I can safely say that Olivia is sleeping through the night. Though to be completely honest, she did wake me up twice on Saturday night to fix her blankets. So…hit or miss, I guess.

Except that her sleep is so much better these days as she edges in on ten (she’ll be ten in five days, so she’s more teetering on the precipice of ten more so than edging on it) than it was as she was turning eight. I remember those first eight years of her life. They were hard when it came to sleep. But then she turned eight and a month later started sleeping through the night five out of seven nights a week.

I call that victory. And sweet, sweet bliss.

When I got up this morning, Tom had turned on the space heater in my bathroom. That man is so kind to me in so many small ways. I will never be able to be nearly as kind to him in all these little ways and I am working hard at getting over my own sense of being unworthy of these kindnesses. He obviously WANTS to do them and I benefit from them. So…I need to get over myself.

My mom and stepdad got home from their vacation last night; which means I didn’t have to stop by their house this morning to feed their cat. It was a luxurious morning, having those extra fifteen minutes. I was able to spend them arguing with Olivia about which shoes she was going to wear to school (it is no longer sandal weather, sorry, kid!) and then brushing her teeth after ordering her to pee for over five minutes while she gazed lovingly at her reflection and fixed her earrings about three hundred times.

Have I mentioned how lovely it is to have a thirteen year old who is completely self-sufficient in all areas of personal hygiene? It’s delightful. I don’t even have to ask when that other girl (Not naming names but it’s not Olivia) last pooped. It’s so freeing, is what I’m saying.

So yes, this is a short week with holidays and large meals and perhaps a bit of shopping here and there.

I hope everyone out there (all four of you?) has a lovely Thanksgiving if you happen to celebrate it and a wonderful Thursday if you don’t.

Friday, November 18, 2016


So I started my Christmas shopping earlier this week. I mean, as much as you can call one item for each daughter starting shopping. Nothing is wrapped yet, so I’m way behind Julie in the area of holiday prep.

It is the season of the bun for Olivia and her hair. Last year, it was the year of the braid. We did all the braids one can possibly imagine but this year, she’s way into having her hair in a bun. She prefers a high centered bun but we’ve done middle buns, low buns, side buns, two buns ala Princess Leia. We use one of those donut things that you put over a ponytail. Then, when her hair is over the donut, we flip it over and then either twist the remaining hair or put it in colorful ponytail holders and wrap it around the base of the bun. She loves that her hair is up and out of her way and I love how neat and done she looks.

Alyssa’s obsession with Pentatonix is rivaled only by her newest love of Markipier. She’s adorable and yet…OMG, if I have to watch any of his videos one more time, I might just lose my mind. I think she’s watched everything he’s ever done seven hundred times and made me watch them six hundred and ninety nine times. I do wonder where this odd fixation with twenty-seven year old guys comes from…hmmm. Luckily, she’s a homebody and isn’t planning and road trips to go stalk these people anytime soon.

Finally, it’s Friday and I’m glad for it. I’ve had several early days at work and I’m ready to be done.

I’m also ready for my mom and step dad to be home from vacation because while it’s been great getting to watch their television (Hello, Holiday Baking Challenge) and eat their food, I’m kind of ready to spend an entire evening at home without having to go feed their cat, mouthy beast that she is.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

About that Conference

So yes, I met with Olivia’s teachers last Thursday. It was a nice enough meeting that lasted, oh, maybe fifteen minutes.

Her regular classroom teacher was there was well as the special ed. teacher. This is the first year Olivia has worked with Mrs. B, the new(?) special ed. teacher. Mrs. A moved up to the fourth through eighth grades, which means Olivia will get to work with her again next year. Olivia’s worked with Mrs. A since kindergarten, so next year ought to be nice for Liv.

But we have to get through this year first.

Since Mrs. B is new to Olivia, it’s…going. She’s trying to bond with Olivia and get her to connect even a little. Olivia is slow to warm to new people but I do think she’s trying this year. The older she gets, the more she understands the rules and the more she tries to obey them. But sometimes she thinks the rules are stupid and so, well, she doesn’t want to follow them. I get it.

Mrs. H, O’s regular classroom teacher started the conference by saying, “What can we say about Olivia? She’s a mystery.”

Yes. Yes she is a mystery. We all agree with that. Everyone who has ever met and tried to talk to Olivia can see that this girl is a mystery.

We all agreed that there is so much going on in Olivia’s head, that she really is so smart and the real mystery is trying to help her figure out how to get all the information, all those ideas, all those thoughts out of her head and into the conversation or onto the paper.

Olivia does not test well. She overthinks tests and often doesn’t know what’s really being asked of her. Mrs. H showed me a test Olivia had taken the day before the conference. There were multiple choice questions as well as a couple of ‘essay’ questions, which are basically asking for a sentence or two.

Olivia had the right answer on most of the multiple choice questions but then tried to erase them and put new answers.

Mrs. H said that she often sits next to O during these kinds of tests and will put her hand over an answered question, telling Liv to move on to the next question.

Smart teacher.

I like Mrs. H better this year than I did when she was O’s KinderKids teacher. I think the fact that Olivia is more mature and heck, let’s be honest, Mrs. H is also four years older, helps. I think Mrs. H is a bit aloof, like Olivia, which means they both tend to wait for the other to make the first move in this teacher/student relationship.

And yes, we all know that Olivia can outwait a sloth. She is perhaps the most stubborn person I’ve ever known, so there’s that.

But really, at the end of the conference, we were all agreeing that we’ll keep pushing Olivia, keep helping her where she needs it and keep expecting her to perform at her best.

Really, that’s all I can ask of her teachers, to care enough to push her, to understand enough to accept her, mystery and all and to be mature enough not to take her idiosyncrasies personally. I mean, she is the kid in this scenario so…we’re going to go ahead and let her keep on being a kid as much as possible.