Thursday, May 25, 2017

Up and At 'Em

Each day this week I’ve had to practically drag Olivia out of bed to get ready for school. I get up between 5:30 and 6:00, depending on the day. I try to wake Liv up around 6:15 to give her time to just relax before starting in on getting dressed, doing hair, eating breakfast. She needs about ten minutes to just sit in front of the space heater (in LATE MAY!) and cook her feet before she’s really able to function enough to, oh, put on underwear.

This morning, though, was different. My alarm went off at 5:30. I turned it off and rolled over, knowing the next alarm would go off at 5:45 (what?) At 5:32, Olivia called from her bed, “Mom?”

I muttered, “What?”

She asked me something I don’t even remember and I gave some answer and told her to go back to sleep, it wasn’t time to get up yet.

About thirty seconds after the second alarm went off (WHAT?!) she started to tell me about a dream she’d had. I didn’t listen because I went back to sleep.

Because I wasn’t listening, she called, “Mom!?”

I called back, “What! Don’t you know it’s time to be sleeping not chatting?”

She laughed and continued to chat as if we were in the middle of a conversation.

This kid. One regular school days, I have to literally drag her out of bed.

But on the last day of school, she can’t wait to start the day.

I suppose I understand. Kind of. Okay, not at all. She still had to go to school even if it was the last time for third grade. Who doesn’t want to snatch even five extra minutes of sleep?

Oh yeah, Olivia…that’s who doesn’t want to snatch a few extra minutes of sleep. Crazy girl.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


We’re almost done. This afternoon, either Tom or I will pack O’s last lunch for 3rd grade. Alyssa will pack her last lunch for 8th grade. As of 1:30 tomorrow afternoon I will have a 4th grader and a freshman in high school.

Wheee!! This whole life is passing me by so very quickly. The lives of these beautiful girls are flying by. I want to grab it by the pigtails and slow it all down.

Alas, I can’t do that. So I’m holding on tight to this ride and trying to take it all in, absorb all the love, the memories, even the irritation, so when I’m old and they’re grown I can look back and bask in love we’ve nurtured and grown.

I will confess that 3rd grade has been the most challenging so far for Miss O, though. I don’t know if it’s just that the academic requirements are the most difficult so far (they say 4th grade will be that much harder still…) or if it was the combination of teachers (she had a new special ed teacher this year as well as, obviously, a new classroom teacher (it was also her classroom teacher’s first year teaching 3rd grade, this same teacher took eight weeks off for maternity leave during the middle of the year)) but life wasn’t always easy this year.

I got more emails and notes home this year regarding behaviors, requesting suggestions for how to motivate her, and just informing us of issues than we ever received before.

Olivia can be…stubborn. Yeah, that’s a good word. She either wants to work hard and totally gets the work or she…doesn’t. I honestly don’t think she can control these things either. Math is difficult and when we sit down to do math, I can see her shutting down. She needs a lot of one-on-one time and redirection when working on math. She loves to write but sometimes those fine motor skills get in the way and she doesn’t space her letters well, making her handwriting hard to read.

She wants to do well. I know this. She beams whenever anyone tells her she’s doing well. She knows she’s smart she just has a hard time showing it sometimes.

Her fashion sense, however, continues to be impeccable.

She brought home a sheet of paper on which she and her classmates had to write nice things about each other. She got a lot of compliments on her hair and her outfits. One kid did suggest that she might talk to her classmates a little more. How she laughed at that one.

As she gets older, Olivia is beginning to understand that she’s different from her peers. She pointed out to me several times this year that she did math sheets that were different from her classmates’ sheets. She is still very socially awkward and she knows it. So far, she doesn’t seem bothered enough by her social awkwardness to do anything about it but it’s only a matter of time.

I want so badly for her to have friends. I want her to come out of her shell and talk to her peers. I want them to see how funny she is, how sweet she is, how imaginative she can be. I want her to have the kind of friendships her sister has and honestly, I’m not sure she’ll get that.

We’re trying though. This summer we’ll work on math facts, we’ll read, she’ll write stories both on her tablet and one paper. We’ll have playdates with classmates and encourage one on one communication between her and her peers. We’ll help her maintain the academic gains she made this year and prepare her for 4th grade.

And we’ll continue to help her remember how to behave in public. We’ll encourage good behaviors and develop consequences for less favorable behavior. We’ll keep on striving to reach her fullest potential.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Car Trouble

I’m so irritated by my car right now. It’s a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox. I loved it when we first got it. We bought it from an older gentleman who’d purchased it new. It had very low miles and we’ve had it for about three years.

When we were in Bowling Green several weeks ago for Lyss’s choir thing, my mom, Liv and I were driving around town wasting time until it was time for A’s concert. While sitting at a stoplight, my car dinged at me, three little warning chimes and then the StabiliTrak light came on and a warning came up on the console telling me that “Engine Power is Reduced.”


The car did not die, though, so when the light turned green, we limped over to a parking lot and turned the car off. We let it sit for about ten seconds and I turned it on again. The warning lights/statements were still on.

I turned the car off and called Tom. While on the phone with him, I turned the car on again and this time, the warnings were off. Well, except the ‘check engine’ light, it stayed on and has stayed on since.

We were an hour and a half from home. This was not a good feeling, knowing I was having car trouble and we were that far from home.

We obviously made it home and all was well for a couple of weeks.

Until Saturday, when the stupid StabiliTrak light came on AGAIN, this time while idling in the driveway while waiting to pick up Lyss from a sleepover after the JH dance.

I turned the car off, waited two minutes, turned it back on; still being warned about reduced engine power and the need to service the stabilitrak. I turned it off again, waited, no reset this time. The lights remained on.

We drove home at forty miles an hour. Thankfully, we were only about six miles from home. But ugh! So annoying!

So Tom spent most of Saturday and Sunday working on the stupid car. He changed some parts, cleaned some other parts, checked out a lot of YouTube videos of other people working on cars and on Sunday afternoon he declared it fixed. He’d driven it to town, exchanged some parts, put new parts on right there in the parking lot of Auto Zone and drove it home. He swore that it drove better than it had in months.

I test drove it to my mom’s. We sat in her driveway for a couple of seconds (literal seconds!) letting it idle because, yeah, that’s when the stabilitrak warning light comes on.

IT CAME ON AGAIN! This time I took pictures of all the lights and warnings because I wasn’t actually sure my darling, devoted husband believed me when I’d told him about them before.

See, he’d never actually seen these lights and warnings. And the parts he’d replaced had nothing to do with the stupid Stabilitrak and he was getting REALLY annoyed with me asking about it.

And I was getting annoyed with having to ask about it. I just wanted it fixed, whatever that meant. I hate having a car I don’t feel like I can rely on. I mean, I’ve driven some clunker in my day but this car is NOT a clunker. I shouldn’t feel like I have to rev the engine while sitting at a stop light to keep it from idling too low and having the warning lights come on again.

So…where are we right now?

The check engine light is still on. The “Service Stabilitrak” warning is off. There is no warning that the engine has reduced power but there is a weird clicking that can be heard when the car is running.

Tom thinks we need to just trade the stupid thing in. He has done some research and apparently Chevrolet was going quite a bit of experimenting on the Equinox between 2010 and 2012 and we got one that doesn’t seem to have quite been done right.

We don’t want to deal with constant repairs or warnings or issues. We just want a car we can rely on to start each day, get us where we’re going and then get us home again. That’s not asking too much.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Speaking of Abandoment Issues

Last Friday on our way home from a choir contest (they got a superior rating!) Alyssa played a video for me and my mom. It was of Avi talking about needing to take a break from Pentatonix.

Alyssa was…sad. Is that the right word? I’m not sure. She was concerned and confused. She wants to support Avi but she also wants Pentatonix to continue being who they are, making the amazing music they make and she worries if they replace Avi with some other bass, well, it just won’t be the same.

She worked her way through these emotions all weekend long. She cried a little. She wrote PTX Forever on her wrist in solidarity with the rest of the Pentatonix of the world.

I teased that this was like when the Beatles broke up. Which, obviously, it’s not to that scale but she and a lot of the more…fanatic…fans were fairly upset.

She was obsessed with reading every single tweet that was tweeted, watching every reaction video posted, responding to all Instagram pics posted. She talked about it pretty much non-stop, going back and forth between her love for Avi himself and her fandom for Pentatonix as a whole.

I reminded her often that in his announcement video, Avi said he was taking a break, not that he was quitting forever. He said he’s going to continue to make music but that the breakneck speed at which Pentatonix has toured and traveled and performed has become too much for him and he needs to slow down, regroup, figure out where to go from here.

She understands but she’s also fourteen and feels all the things so deeply, as only a teenage girl can feel them. She’s doing better already. She’s consoling herself with the fact that Avi is performing in all the events that PTX committed to do before his announcement, so he’ll be in Indianapolis on August 10, which is when we’ll also be in Indy to attend the Pentatonix concert.

It also helps that she’s super busy with end of school year events. Tomorrow is Olivia’s annual field day, it’s also the Junior High Dance. Monday we have to attend an academic awards ceremony for Alyssa. Next Thursday is their last day and it ends at 1:30.

I’d say bring on summer but summer is bringing its own version of busyness with marching band, band camp, summer intervention.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Junior High Band/Choir Concert

We attended our last EVER Junior High Band/Choir concert on Monday. I make the distinction that it was Junior High because, duh, we’ve got four years of high school band/choir concerts ahead of us.

Fun times, indeed.

Actually, it really was fine. I had to get there a half hour early because Alyssa had to be there a half hour early and even four miles seems silly to drive back home when it’s only a half hour. I sat next to Alyssa’s friend Tessa’s mom, which was nice. She’s lovely. Actually, we’re really lucky because most of Lyss’s friends’ moms are lovely. Oh, damn, I just realized that if most of her friends’ moms are lovely, what if I am the NOT lovely mom of that friend group? Unnerving thought!

Tom and Olivia arrived at 6:59 for the 7:00 concert. And get this…Olivia behaved VERY well. I mean, like REALLY well. She was a paragon of appropriate public behavior. It was awesome.

The concert began with the choir, then the fourth grade performed using their recorders.

Yes, it was as ‘awesome’ as one might think. Though to be fair to this year’s fourth graders, they were actually better than I’ve ever heard a group of fourth grade recorder players. So that’s something.

After the fourth grade, the tiny little fifth grade band played. They were…fifth graders.

The sixth graders were also…sixth graders.

The junior high band, though, was pretty great. I mean, for junior high students, right? But since my kid was one of them of course they were awesome.

I really am proud of how far she’s come as a musician and a performer. She seems to enjoy herself so much these days as she’s making music either through singing or her flute.

The sad part, though, is the awesome band director who has been at the school for four years is leaving at the end of this school year. They haven’t hired a new ‘instrumental music teacher’ yet, and Lyss and all her friends are very hopeful that they’ll find someone as awesome as Ms. P has been. I hope so too. I’d hate for her musical education to suffer because of a bad teacher.

But here’s to another year in the books…almost. Only six more lunches to pack. Just saying.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Those Damned Math Sheets

There were so many tears last week and they were mostly due to half-page math worksheets.

Every single freaking day, Olivia brought home a half-page math worksheet. This worksheet was supposed to have been done that day at school during ‘morning math work’.

It was never done while at school. What was done at school was a bunch of doodling and scribbling upon the half-sheet of paper.

I asked Olivia so many times last week what her teachers/aides were doing while she was scribbling all over her morning math worksheet.

She’d shrug at me.

She did take the time to explain that the worksheet she was doing was different from the worksheets the rest of the class were doing.

I don’t know if this bothered her but it seemed as if she thought this was enough of an explanation for why she was scribbling all over hers. I mean, we’re talking SCRIBBLING. She’d write random words, lines, squiggles, circles. You name it, she wrote it on her math worksheets. Wait, unless you name numbers. There were no numbers on her math sheets. It’s almost as if she’s allergic to numbers.

So yes, these math sheets were sent home every single freaking day last week with a note asking, “Please have Olivia complete the morning math sheet that she didn’t complete at school today.”

And to do this, I’d have to erase ALL.THE.SCRIBBLES each evening. Most of the time, not all the scribbles would come off but I could get it fairly clean and we’d sit down to do the work.

Sometimes this math work was complicated. Like story problems such as, “Eric had 75 cents. He bought a candy bar for 45 cents. How much money does he have left?”

Olivia’s brain doesn’t quite compute how to figure what the actual problem is.

I mean, she can do 75 minus 45 if it’s written as:


But figuring out the starting point in the story problem is difficult for her. I mean, duh, girlfriend has a chromosomal deletion! Let’s give her a little break, ‘kay?

On the second day she brought home a scribbled-upon math sheet, we took away her tablet. I mean, there had to be some kind of consequence, right?

She lost the tablet from Tuesday evening until Saturday morning. She didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.

Friday, though. Oh, Friday. I checked her folder. There was another math sheet. This time, there would be no erasing. She’d gone after that thing with crayon. I was lucky I was going to be able to read it well enough to rewrite the whole thing.

At that point, I informed her she was losing all doodling privileges. Oh, the tears fell when she heard that. She loves doodling (as shown by the doodling on the math sheets.) I informed her that the day she managed to come home from school without a destroyed math sheet, she’d get her home doodle pad back.

We talked about it all weekend long. I reminded her each time she asked for a pad of paper and a pen that she couldn’t have it because she wouldn’t stop doodling on her math.

I honestly don’t know how much of the doodling/scribbling is in her control but I will say, there was no math sheet yesterday.

I wonder if her teachers took the email I sent yesterday to heart or if Liv just learned a little self-control. My email suggested that Liv needs more help at school during morning math work than she was getting. That if there was an aide or a teacher available to guide her in the math work, maybe she wouldn’t decide that doodling was a vial option since she couldn’t figure out the problems on her own.

Whatever the reason, she didn’t bring home a math sheet and for that, I’m so very grateful. And for the record, I did get her back her home doodle pad. She was one happy doodler.

(She got around not having paper this weekend by drawing with chalk on the driveway but…shhhh, let’s not talk about that.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Freshman Orientation

Whew, now that all the stories about the Junior High honors choir trip are told (not really, I haven’t mentioned my stupid car…) I can finally talk about Freshman Orientation.

Alyssa and I went to her school at 6pm last Monday evening to listen to her principal and guidance counselor talk about the importance of maintaining a good GPA, how there is a path for every student in their school; such as the academic honors diploma, the college credit classes, 4 County (a sort of vocational school in our area) and blah, blah, blah.

I was in a mood that evening. I think it was because earlier in the day I’d stupidly searched for ‘thinspiration’ on Pinterest and it depressed me/made me mad. That one about not taking orders from a cookie? Bite me. And the whole, nothing tastes as good as being thin feels…really? Are you sure? Have you ever had a York peppermint patty?

So I was in a mood; a cranky, irritable, three-year-old who dropped her cookie mood.

I listened to the speeches, followed along with the slides on the projector screen. But I was so distracted by all the fat mothers in the audience with horrible haircuts.

And it hit me. I’m a fat mom with a horrible haircut. The people behind me were probably as distracted by my fat rolls as I was by the fat rolls of the women in front of me. (Maybe not, I was wearing a sweater, and it camouflaged my fat rolls…just saying.)

I hate that I’m so judgey. I hate that I think about this so much that it filters over onto other people. But ugh! So much back fat and so many horrible layers in hair. I mean, seriously, I wondered of that one women let someone cut her hair with garden shears.

And then! Then the stupid principal called up the senior class president to give a speech to the students in the audience. OMG. This guy thought he was so funny.

He wasn’t.

He was irritating in that way that only eighteen year old dudes who think they’re funny can be.

And he had a beard. Did I mention he was eighteen? I know. It was gross.

All in all, we came away with information. We have some options.

I reminded Alyssa that since I have a BA, she has to at least meet my level of education if not surpass it. She rolled her eyes at me. I didn’t care because I was going home to have a cookie.