Monday, August 30, 2010

Hairy Situations

So Olivia's hair has grown out a lot since we buzzed it back in the beginning of May to 1/4 of an inch.

And in the past two weeks or so, she's realized just how long it is (she was pulling off quite the Mia Farrow circa Rosemary's Baby look, she pulled it off quite well, too) and she's been pulling, pulling, pulling. She's got quite the thin spot right above her left eyebrow.

I'm trying so hard to let it go. This is her thing. She'll have to get old enough to want to stop doing it and at that point, I'll do everything I can to ger her the help she needs.

But right now, me telling her not to pull at her hair isn't going any of us any good.

I've had to pray hard about letting go of this need to stop her. I've had to ask for the peace that comes with accepting something I can't change.

She's not quite four years old. She wants long hair but I don't think she understands that when she's pulling it out, long hair can't happen.

I had a well-meaning friend ask me once if I'd considered medicating Olivia for anxiety in an effort to get her to stop pulling her hair.

I'll be honest. Medication never crossed my mind. I don't think Olivia's hair-pulling is anxiety related. I could be wrong, though. But even if it is caused by anxiety, is hair worth putting drugs into her body at four years old? I don't think so.

I don't care what other parents do to/for their own kids but I'd like mine to stay drug-free for as long as they can. Sure, we do the occasional antibiotic when they're sick. We did try the bed-wetting medicine but upon seeing that the maximum dosage didn't work for A, we stopped it.

It's just hair. It keeps growing back. I hope and pray that at some point, Olivia will stop pulling it out. But until then? She's lucky she has elfin features that look really good with very short hair.

Speaking of hair, my hair was recently orange. Well, just in the back. See...I tend to screw around with the color...well, a lot.

My aunt Lorry once told me that I use my hair for instant gratification. When I can't stand certain things that are happening in my life that I can't control, I tend to change my hair in an effort to control something. Too bad I don't use that need for control to control my caloric intake...

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I attempted to remove any and all artificial color from my hair. Over the summer, I'd gone back and forth changing from medium blond to darker blond and back again.

And I needed to get rid of all the color so I could do something else. I wasn't sure what else I wanted to do, but I wanted something.

And the color-remover worked, sort of. Except, it left an orange streak down the back of my head.

I wore my hair in a ponytail for two weeks, even after having my hair cut by a decent stylist.

Finally, Lorry came to the rescue again and brought me two packages of what she calls "Sea Treatments." I don't know what it really is, but when mixed with water, it turns into a gel and upon being applied to hair, it gets rid of build up and rusty color. And it worked! Behold, I was blond again, without any obnoxious orange streaks.

And that lasted a week.

This weekend, I colored my hair again. This time, I used a color that was supposed to be a 'Natural Medium Brown.' The model on the box looked amazing.

I hate it. It's dull and ashy and just plain yuck! And yet...I feel like I need to give my hair a break and just let it be for a few weeks, just because. Sort of like punishing myself for my own impatience. I don't know. Maybe it will grow on me. But I doubt it. It needs something...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Aunt Mommie

It's been exactly two weeks since we closed on our new house. The girls and I spent the nigth there for the first time exactly a week ago. Tom has spent two nights there, himself.

So with the new house comes a new routine.

I can no longer get out of my bed in the bedroom I shared with the girls at my mom's house at 6:20, shower, pack Alyssa's lunch, wake Alyssa at 6:45, get her dressed, feed her breakfast and head out the door at 7:30 to drop her off at the school that was a mere six minutes from my place of employment.

But I also no longer have to get up at 4:30 on Tuesday mornings, load up the car, wake up the girls at 5:15, bundle them into the car, drive an hour and twenty minutes, have 25 minutes to unload the car, feed Alyssa some lunch and head out for school/work.

Now it's much more consistent. I get up at 5:15, shower, packed A's lunch, get her up at 6:00 (because she wants to watch Martha on PBS) let her and Olivia run around for an hour, leave for my mom's at 7:00, so Alyssa can eat breakfast there because her Rice Krispies taste better than the ones at our house (true story!) and then, we leave at 7:25 so I can drive her to school, drop her off at the new school which is at 16 miles and 25 minutes away from my work.

It's actually a comfort to have the same routine every single day and not have to worry about getting enough sleep Monday night/Tuesday morning. Then I go to my mom's house in the evenings by 5:30, pick up the girls and we drive the three miles to our house.

This routine hasn't just made a difference for us, though. It's messed up Jaxon's world too.

My mom watches him twice a week for my brother. My dad goes to my brother's house and watches Jaxon the other three days. The two days that Jaxon stays with my mom, he spends the night the first day so Jason doesn't have to drive the 18 miles from his house to my mom's (my brother isn't exactly rolling in financial freedom.)

Jaxon's mother used to care for him whil Jason worked. She did this while she and Jason were a couple and after they'd broken up.

But...she's got a new boyfriend now, and he doesn't really like Jaxon. And he lives with his parents and now so does Jaxon's mother.

I'm trying really hard not to judge her. I don't know what is going on in her life.

But I do know that Jaxon is craving maternal love.

My mom and I do the best to slather him with it when he's in our care but it's not the same and we all know it.

Jaxon adores all things Livie.

He and Olivia can have the exact same food on the the exact same plates and he'll eat off hers rather than eat his own.

The same goes for drinks.

If she's got on sticker earrings, so does he. He wants to wear her underwear!

So...since I'm Livie's mommy, he's decided I'm just "Mommy." He only ever hears Olivia and Alyssa call me mommy. That combined with him hearing my mom and his dad call me Tommie has led him to think my name is Mommie.

And honestly, I'm okay with that. But...this little boy breaks my heart every single time I go to pick up the girls when he's there.

When I arrive, he's the first to greet me at the door with a huge grin and a shouted, "Mommy!!!"

He practically climbs up my leg to get me to hold him.

And when I tell the girls to get ready to go home, he wraps his arms around my neck and whispers, "Home?"

See...he's used to me and the girls being at my mom's when he's there. He's used to the four of us (my mom, me, A and O) being a unit.

And now that we leave, he wants to go to.

Just this week, I got there as he and his dad were getting ready to leave.

He didn't want to go with his dad. I was holding him (because he was doing the 'spider monkey' hold) and he kept turning my face to him and saying, "Home? Me home?"

Then he'd point to me and say, "Mine!"

I hugged him and told him I'd always be his Aunt Mommie. He just said, "Mommy!!"

I feel like he's being abandoned by a mother-figure all over again each time my brother leaves with him. I know it breaks Jason's heart that his son's mother isn't more a part of that boy's life.

I don't get it. He's so sweet, so lovable.

Again, I can't make any judgements. She's young (20) and...well, hasn't had the best role models in her life. But I'd hoped that would make her want to be different, not continue the cycle.

So I'll keep loving him, keep answering to Mommy whenever he calls and hope and pray that it's enough.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Frog People

As a child, I had a recurring dream from the time I was, oh, four until I was about nine years old. In this dream I was on an island with my cousin Chet (don't we all have a cousin "Chet"?) and we were running from the frog people who inhabited the island.

We managed to get to one end of the island where we could see our parents/siblings on a neighboring island waving at us to come over. But neither of us could swim and the frog people were closing in on us.

Then Chet turned into Tarzan and swung us over on a vine...

I had this dream once a week or so.

I figured out a few months into having the dream that if I fell asleep holding my mom's hand, I didn't have the dream that night. Or, if I slept on the side of the bed that was against the wall, the dream stayed away. But if I had to fall asleep without my mom's hand or on the outside of the bed, the dream came.

I know...I need therapy. Don't we all?

But a few nights ago, after moving Alyssa's mattress from the bottom bunk in the room where the girls' clothes hang in the closet onto the floor in a corner of my room, about two feet from my bed, Alyssa and I discovered that if we both reach out, we can hold hands for a bit at night as we wind down.

I do this even though my elbow starts to ache and my shoulder starts feeling wrenched because I remember the comfort of holdling my mom's hand, of knowing the frog people weren't going to invade my dreams for at least that one night.

This could explain why I'm so reluctant to force either of the girls to sleep alone. As a child, I didn't want to sleep alone either.

Yet I went off to college and slept in my own bed without needing to hold my roommate's hand all night long (probably much to Edie's relief.)

And as an adult, I long to have the bed all to myself. I long to have that space child-free.

But it will be. Sooner than I realize and so, while I bitch and moan about having someone sleeping on my arm, I keep letting it happen because it means so much more to them to be there, beside me, holding my hand, than it does to me to shove them out of the bed and even the room. A few more year and I'll be begging them to let me hug them. So I'm going to keep on holding them whenever they let me, for as long as they'll let me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Venus Emails Mars

Olivia starts her new session of gymnastics tomorrow afternoon. It's a Mommy & Me class. It was the best/only class available for her skill levels.'s at 3:30-4:10.

I work 8:00-4:30.

If I were to try and go get her and take her to class, I'd have to leave work at 2:30 and drive twenty minutes to my mom's, grab O and race back to town in hopes of getting us back to the gym by 3:30.

Last weekend I suggested to Tom that he bring he to me on Thursday afternoon and then take her home while I work a half hour more after the class is over.

He looked me like I was insane. He reminded me that he's making several trips a week to and from the old house with 'stuff' and he couldn't possibly be expected to do such a thing.

I dropped the subject.

Then on Monday at work I emailed him:

"Concerning Olivia’s gymnastics…what I was thinking when I signed her up for that time (3:30 – 4:10) was that maybe, hopefully, please, please, please, you would be willing to plan your week around being up here at that time to bring her to me. I know it’s asking a lot, but this is her physical therapy and at the time it’s scheduled (and there is no other time that has a good class for Olivia) my mom will have JUST picked Alyssa up from school (even if A were riding the bus, my mom would need to be at her house to meet A as she was getting off the bus)

It’s only one day for four weeks and Olivia really needs it. I would ask this of you if I didn’t think it was important for her. Will you consider it? Please?"

Using email, I was able to take the emotion out of the request. I appealed to his knowledge that her PT is very important. Tom was the one who stayed home with her and met with the First Steps physical therapist each week for two years. He gets that it's important.

I was also able to get my thoughts out without having to see his distainful reaction. I didn't have to see him roll his eyes or look annoyed.

And his response?

"Since you asked so nicely, how can I refuse? Of course, I'll bring her to you on Thursdays."

I think that him having some time to think about his response before having to reply helped. I think that him having to actually see the words on the screen helped too. If he'd written something dismissive or obnoxious, he'd have had a few minutes to think about them before sending.

Oh yes, I'm about to start the first draft of my book about how communicating via email will save marriages all over the world.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I dropped Alyssa off for school this morning for her sixth morning at her new school.

This was the first morning with no tears.

Of course, there were no tears because I dropped her off.

And she went to the office with me and heard me tell the lady in the office that we're changing Alyssa's plan of travel for to and from school.

She'll be parent drop off and parent pick up.

I know...I said last week (at least, I said it on Facebook, probably not here though) that she was going to start riding the bus to and from my mom's house as of yesterday.

Last week was rough for Alyssa. She cried on Wednesday night (first day of school) for an hour before bed. She was tired. She was scared. She was terrified of the idea of the bus.

So I drove her every day last week. And there was only a half hour of tears on Thursday night. There were no tears on Friday because YAY, it was Friday!!

On Saturday evening, she started crying again. I muttered a frustrated, "You don't even have school tomorrow, why the heck are you crying?"

She mumbled something about the bus.

My mom, who happened to be visiting, asked Alyssa if she'd feel better if I took her to school and either my mom or Tom picked her up.

Alyssa perked right up. That was JUST what she wanted.

And yeah...we gave in.

But see, my reasoning is that this is all so new. The school, the house, the people, the routines, the bus...

She's never, ever ridden a bus to or from school and I feel like we should give her time to get used to everything else before throwing her on the bus and making her fend for herself.

I know, melodramatic much?'s how it's going to be. I timed it. I can drop her at school and still make it to work on time.

So we'll do it this way and re-evaluate the situation in a month or so.

As I keep reminding her, soon she won't be the new kid anymore. And once she's used to everything else, on the bus she goes. (Yeah, famous last words, right?)

Monday, August 23, 2010


I once had a male friend tell me, "The more I get to know you, the better looking you get." He said this so sincerely that I couldn't take offense at the time. I'm not sure if even now I'm offended. I like to think that my sparkling personality was just shining through and...well, it changed my perfectly noraml, average looks to something attractive.

Yeah, that's what he meant.

These days, though, I'm not even feeling average. I'm feeling decidedly below average. And it makes me mean and sad and frustrated. Because I'm not being good to myself. And I've written over and over about how I need to treat myself like I'd treat a friend or family member. I've talked about being kind to myself, being respectful.

Who knows when that will actually happen.

I actually miss Marc a lot. His honesty was refreshing and I'm thinking if we were close friends today, he'd say something like, "Dude, you're still the awesomely cool chick you've always been but even your love of all things sci-fi can't make me over look the size of your butt."

And hearing that might make me go for a jog or pass on those peppermint patties. Or something. Then again, it might make me cry.

My aunt Lorry told me the other day, "You have to stop looking in the mirror and saying, 'You look awful, you fat, gross hog.' You need to start saying, 'Hey, I've been through a lot and I look damn good for all that.'"

Yeah, I'm going to try that one.

At least Olivia loves my squishiness. She loves to crawl onto my lap, plump up my boobs and say, "I love my squishy mommy."

That right there almost makes it all better. Almost. But for now, I'm going to have a Coke and another peppermint patty. And start that diet tomorrow.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I've mentioned before (countless times, really) that my girls sleep with me. At my mom's, Olivia and I share a full-size bed and Alyssa sleeps on a twin bed in the same room. At our old house, Alyssa had actually moved into her own bed when she was six, but over the following year, she'd managed to put her self right back into the queen bed that Olivia and I share.

Poor Tom has been firmly nudged onto the couch.

As we've gotten settled into the new house, the girls and I have spent the last few nights at my mom's, as we would have had we not bought the new house. And, since this is the week Alyssa started her new school, she's moved from her mats on the floor in our room (the twin bed she was on was moved to another room as my mom anticipated getting her house back) and into the full-bed.

That puts a 57 pound seven year old, a 30 pound three year old and a more than 57 pound 39 year old in the a bed that is maybe big enough for two teenagers who are just discovering the joys of sleeping together.

It's not pleasant.

And when we go in there to go to sleep, Olivia insists upon laying side ways, with her head on my stomach and her feet in her sister's ribs.

It makes for a less-than-pleasant bedtime routine because of course, Alyssa is less than appreciative of her sister's feet jamming into her side. I don't blame her. I don't especially appreciate the head that is pressing on my bladder.

But in the end, we all finally fall asleep. Or, at least, they do.

Olivia gets turned so she's laying properly on the bed, curled up against her sister.

And I slip out of bed and crawl onto the mats on the floor, where I attempt to go to sleep, waking through the night to switch sides as my hip begins to ache from the hardness of the floor.

Most nights, I'm woken by Olivia crying at the door, attempting to open it in her frantic search for me.

I get back into bed with her and Alyssa, who has managed to turn diagonal in the bed so that her feet are now competing with mine for the same space. Olivia crams her thumb into her mouth and settled her head on my shoulder with my arm beneath her and I try to go back to sleep, hoping against hope that my lower back won't cramp in the night.

by morning, I'm ready to get up just so I can stop being touched.

Last night, though...

Last night, after the girls were asleep, before I took my place on the floor, I put a pillow against the side of Olivia that wasn't snuggled up to Alyssa.

And when I woke up this morning, I realized that I'd had a full night of sleep, with no interruptions, no one kicking me, no one wanting to lay on my arm, no one whispering, "Squishy boobies," as she plumped up on such squishy booby to use a pillow.

It was wonderful. It was the best night of sleep I've had in a year.

It goes to show how bad my sleep is the rest of the year if a night spent on the floor on a couple of mats ranks one of the best.

It also explains why one of the greatest parts about attending the March of Dimes ShareUnion each year, for me at least, is the fact that I get my own bed for two whole nights.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The New Kid

Yesterday was Alyssa's first day at her new school. She started second grade.

Second grade with kids who'd been in kindergarten and first grade together while she had not been with them.

It was tough.

When I picked her up from school (the bus adventure starts Monday)she was cheerful and bounding with energy. She told me about Samantha, beside whom she sits in class and with whom she ate her lunch and played during recess.

She said they did math and it was hard.

8pm rolled around and she was tired. And this lead to her crawling into my lap and whimpering, "I don't want to go to school tomorrow."

And this lead to an hour of sobbing about how she doesn't know any of the kids' names, and she doesn't know the recess/lunch teachers' names. And she did't have a purple folder or a yellow folder while all the other kids did (these two things were NOT on the school supply list, so it's totally not my or her fault she didn't have folders in those colors) and the other kids had pencil cases and she didn't.

And worst of all? She doesn't know where the art room is.

I soothed her fears, told her she'd learn the kids' names. It just takes time. I told her I'd go with her this morning and ask her teacher to tell her/all the kids the names of the recess teachers and the lunch teachers.

I told her we'd get her pencil case out of her old backpack this afternoon and she could take it to school tomorrow.

I also reminded her that she's never be expected to go to the art room alone, so she doesn't really need to know where it is. She can just follow the other teacher and kids when it's time for art.

She was tired. And nervous. It's hard to be the new kid.

I told her that each day it will get easier. Each day, she'll learn more names and more about the school. Each day, she'll be a little farther from being the new kid until one day she'll walk into school and realize that it's not the new school, it's just school and she isn't the new kid, she's just a kid.

It didn't help much. She still cried when I left her this morning. But I do know that the only way for her to get over this is to get through it. She's going to be fine, whether she realizes it or not.

But yeah, it's so hard to be the new kid. And I'm sad that my kid has to go through this. I was never the new kid. I went to the same school with the same kids from k through 12th grade. But second grade is still so young, she's really going to be fine.

Once she's no longer the new kid.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Did you know that Ohio is a dower state?

I didn't either. At least, I didn't until 2:00pm on Friday, August 13. It was at that time that I arrived to close on the house I was attempting to buy for our family. I say "I" because the loan is in my name, the house is in my name, it's all on me.

Of course, I'll let Tom live there. It's just how I am. But our house in Indiana is fully in his name and so we decided I'd get the loan for the one we are buying in Ohio.

Except...Ohio is a dower state. Which, according to the guy who was there to facilitate the closing of this deal, dates back to the 'olden' days when women weren't allowed to own property. It also means Tom needed to be at the closing to sign some documents even though the loan was fully in my name. Yeah, pretty much, he had to give permission for me to buy this house.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

I'm starting at the end of the story (or the beginning of the next one? Hmmm...)

The beginning of the HOUSE SAGA goes back to April when I was pre-approved for a home mortgage all by myself. I know! So adult of me. The day after I was pre-approved, with pre-approval letter in hand, I clicked away at looking at house after house in our price-range. I was staying below what my lovely banker told me was my limit because...well, I don't want to spend one paycheck a month on a mortgage. I just don't. I want to be able to have a house AND still send the girls to gymnastics, and buy them shoes, and feed them the occasional take-out pizza instead of a constant diet of ramen noodles and canned peas.

So the second day of looking on-line for houses I found the house. I found the place that was just far enough out in the country to suit Tom but still close enough everything else that I wasn't going to trade a 65 mile commute to and from work for a 45 mile commute to the closest grocery store.

It had four bedrooms, two and a half baths. It was on one acre of land, which meant no more mowing than we already do. It had TWO buildings other than the attached two-car garage. TWO!! There was a detached garage and a barnish type building. This was more perfect than I could have ever imagined. This was the storage Tom wanted for his ebay items. This house had everything we could ask for.

I called the realtor the next day.

There was an accepted offer on the house. Done deal.

My search resumed.

I looked a houses in Indiana, I looked at houses in Ohio. I looked and nothing was right.

April turned into May. May turned into June.

At the end of June, I emailed the realtor who told me about the offer on the house I'd dreamed of.

The sign was still in the yard. There was no sign of anyone moving in. What was up?

He replied that next day. That deal? Had fallen through that morning. Did I want to look at the house?

OMG!! YES! We did, indeed, want to look at the house. Please, please let us look at the house.

It was dirty from being empty for over a year. It needed some repairs but most were cosmetic. There was water in the FULL basement, but again, that could be taken care of.

We put in an offer that day.

Three days later, the bank that owned the house countered.

My realtor and Tom got into the competition of the thing. We countered their counter.

Tom and the realtor forgot that the house was the prize. That even the asking price was a good deal for a house that size (2600 square feet!)

They made another counter offer. We did too.

And they declined...because there was another offer on the table, closer to the asking price.

I felt sick to my stomach. We'd lost the house. I prayed for peace. There was nothing we could do at this point so I just wanted that sick feeling to go away. My realtor felt awful, or so he said. Tom was frustrated but understood that we'd countered one too many times.

The realtor called back a few days later. There were some problems with the financing on the other offer. Did we want to put in a back-up offer?

We did.

They accepted. It was going to be ours...

Except now we had to start the inspections and loan application and get papers signed and septics looked at and oh wow, did you know that once your offer is accepted your realtor feels like his job is done? And you're sort of on your own now as you search for pest inspectors and septic inspectors and public records of constructions? Did you know that? I didn't. I was a first-time home buyer. I was clueless.

I'm lucky I had such an experienced realtor to remind me that this was MY deal and so I could do all the work at getting it to go through.

And so I did. I worked. And I prayed. I fell to my knees a few times in prayer because this was insanity and I was absolutely going to lose my mind if denied devine intervention.

The loan process began. It went smoothly. We got everything in that they asked for. Even a copy of the check/deposit slip for $5000 they required to make sure we hadn't gone to a place like Check Into Cash to get that money.

We paid $300 for some guy to come inspect the entire house. His inspection was worthless. He'd been recommended by the realtor. We called in a separate pest inspector, who, for $150 noted on his inspection report there was minimal MOLD on the drywall in the basement. We called another pest inspector who didn't mention the mold but did mention bore beetles. That $200 was an inpsection we officially waived even though we'd paid him to treat the bore beetles.

We found a speptic dude who came and pumped the tank and gave us a report for $300 saying that everything was where it should be.

We were ready to close on August 6.

On August 5, I got a call from the bank. They needed something more from the septic guy. He sent them a hand-written note that said that the septic system that was on the property was not sufficient for a hosue this size!

OMG I was seriously, truly going to lose my mind at this point.

My realtor called to tell me this news. He said the septic guy was screwing us over.

He suggested I call the county health department, where they'd have record of the septic installed when the house was built in 1995. While on the phone, his boss suggested HE make that call. I know, imagine that.

So he called. And the lady he needed to talk to wasn't there. She wouldn't be back until Monday.

The realtor's boss wrote up an extention for the closing, giving us another week.

I called the bank, asked them to send me exactly what they needed from the septic fella. I asked the bank if it was okay if I typed up something for the septic guy and had him sign it. They okayed that plan.

I did. I typed up a report for him, faxed it to him, called him, asked him to check the fax machine, told him who I was, who my husband was and reminded him of exactly which house he was reporting on.

He signed the report, faxed it back to me and I emailed it to my bank. And I waited, praying the entire time. If only for peace because this was insane.

And Monday came, then Tuesday.

Then Wednesday and the bank called. The paperwork had been sent to the underwriter. We were setting up the closing for Friday, August 13. What time did I want?

I suggested morning. They set it up for 2pm.


Thursday afternoon, I called the bank to find out how much I needed to bring to closing. I was informed I'd need to bring a cashiers check for whatever amount they told me but they couldn't actually tell me right then because, at 4:40 the lady who was figuring the amount was out to lunch.

Really? Really...

And that cashiers check? Had to come from the bank in which I held the money I was using to purchase the cashiers check. Which was an hour away from where I was at that moment.

I called Tom. He'd bring the cashiers check to me the next morning, before I headed off to the closing.

And he did. Of course, this was after the bank called mat 5:45 that evening to tell me the closing amount.

The next morning, my realtor called me to see if I knew how much I needed to bring. Yeah, got it, thanks.

So...I arried at 2pm to close and was asked where my husband was.

He was an hour away because NO ONE TOLD US he needed to be there to sign a few documents at the closing because of this DOWER law.

The realtor at least looked a little sheephish and admitted that he'd known about this and should have mentioned it. You think? Really?

I called Tom. He, too, was stunned that this was ONE MORE THING our realtor had overlooked. He turned around and headed to the closing.

Once all the papers were signed (by me and Tom) I asked the reator if this meant we were done. He said yes. I asked if we got possession at closing. He said we did.

I asked, " you have the keys?"

He replied, "They're still in the lock box on the door. You know how to get in."

And this ended our association with that realtor. We're not even going to fight with him in an attempt to get hold of the garage door opener remotes. We're going to change the locks and call it good because we moved over the weekend!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Last weekend was Olivia's NICU reunion. We attend the festivities every August/September and then head to the zoo for the day. The NICU gives us passes and we can't pass up a "free" day at the zoo. I put the free in quotes because by the time we're done paying for the pony rides, the carousel, the boat ride through Australia, the air lift over Africa, the food for the ducks/fish, and the gifts at the gift shop, it doesn't so much feel like a free day at the zoo.

This year, I invited my mom to bring Jaxon along. I knew he'd have at least as much fun as Olivia and it's just nice to pass along the joy.

When we met in the zoo parking lot, my mom told me he'd been feverish the night before but the fever had gone down with a dose of children's Tylenol.

We went about our day.

Monday morning when my alarm went off at 5am, I realized that Olivia felt REALLY warm lying next to me. Her hands were hot, a sure sign of fever. I got up and she followed. I gave her some children's ibuprofen (she's ALWAYS taken medicine without a struggle. Just opens and lets me dose her up...) and let Tom know that he'd need to keep an eye on her.

At 4:40 that afternoon, Tom called me at work to ask me how late the pediatrician was open. I asked why, thinking he was over-reacting to a little fever.

He thought maybe Olivia had an ear infection. She was cranky, feverish and pulling at her ears. *sigh*

I called the doctor, they got her in a half hour later and I headed home, waiting for his call about the diagnosis.

He finally called when I was twenty minutes from home. She didn't have an ear infection (yay!) but she does have Strep (boo!)

I got home about five minutes after Tom and the girls and settled in on the couch with a sad, sick Olivia and a hoppy, energetic Alyssa. The doctor had checked A's throat too, just to be safe. No sign of strep in her.

Tom headed back into town to get O's prescription of antibiotics.

He told me the doctor had warned him that O was contagious for the next two days. No one was to eat or drink after her and I should wash the sheets and pillow cases she'd used. And Alyssa shouldn't sleep next to her the next few nights.

*Backtrack* Those who ducked, expecting the Karma kite to come along and knock me in the head for saying that Olivia always takes medicine very, very well...No worries. I wrote that days after realizing that she doesn't take this particular antibiotic well.

She hates it. I have to hold her down, put one arm under mine, use my other hand to hold her other arm, my elbow to hold her knees and bend her back over my knees to keep her still while I force the medicine between her lips and into her mouth with a dropper. It's not fun, but it's effective and I'm not going to let her whine her way out of her medicine.

But she's on the mend. Only six more days of fighting her to take her medicine. It should be fun.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First Impressions

The day after Olivia was born, the first day I actually got to look at her, to touch her, to gaze lovingly at my new daughter, the thing I remember most about that day is the song that I kept humming.

It was Elton John's "Your Song."

The words: I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind, that I put down into words, how beautiful the life is, now that you're in the world.

Those words resonated in my heart. She was so beautiful. She had changed my life in just a few hours of having been in the world.

I had no idea how hard the coming months were going to be. I didn't know that she was going to cry for six months straight. I just knew she was mine and I wanted to bundle her up and sneak her out of that hospital.

The nurses kept telling me I needed to sit down and rest. They kept reminding me that I'd given birth less than twenty-four hours ago.

It didn't matter. I needed to be with Olivia. I needed her to know I was there. I needed to sing that song to her and let her know that I loved her, that I'd always love her.

From the beginning, she was an escape artists. She fought the swaddles like an angry eel. She almost always had a leg out of the blankets. She fought the mask they put over her eyes during her time under the bili-lights. She hated having her eyes covered.

She was this little bitty thing with a cry so distinctive every other parent with a child in the NICU recognized it. She'd already started making her mark.

Last night, she found a wand that lights up if it has batteries. It plays a song from the Disney cartoon Anastasia (voiced by Meg Ryan...) She brought it to me and told me to put batteries in it. I told her I didn't know where the batteries were. She suggested I look in the kitchen.

I looked.

And found batteries. But they didn't work.

She suggested I look for different ones.

I did. They worked.

She exclaimed, "Thanks Mommy! You're the best."

She then pranced around the room (in just a pair of green plaid Poo undies) and waved her lighted, musical wand.

When Jaxon (the naughty cousin/nephew) arrived, he immediately zoomed in on that wand. Oh how he coveted it that wand. He wanted it with every cell in his tiny little body.

He followed Olivia from room to room, standing as close to her as he could without actually standing on her, gazing enviously at that wand.

Finally, he said softly, "Mine?"

She replied with a resounding, "No!" And she walked away from him.

This is the child who, a year ago, watched from the sidelines as her sister ran with Jaxon, rough-housed with him, treated him like the brother she'd always wanted but would never get.

This is the girl who would mumble softly, "No..." as Jaxon took things from her gentle grip.

No more. She's asserting herself. She's involving herself into their play, she's taking her place in the hierarchy of these kids and she's realized while Jaxon might be stronger, she's older and taller and...she can be bossier if she wants.

My first impression of her remains a constant. My life is so beautiful with her in the world.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I've been known to lament how hard marriage is. I've been heard to talk about how much easier it is for me to be a mother than it is for me to be a wife. I know a lot of friends probably roll their eyes and think, "Duh, if you'd married your 'soul mate' you wouldn't find things so difficult."

And then, I slap them because, wow, whatever.

But...yesterday was one craptastic day all the way around. It was just horrible. My stress level was through the roof. With meetings ruining my work day, bankers and realtors ruining my house-buying day and people just being people and therefore annoying the crap out of me, it was just a horrible, no-good day.

And then I left work. And when I leave work each afternoon, I call Tom because even if marriage is hard, I like my husband and I enjoy reconnecting with him each day, even if only via phone.

Like a lot of husbands, he likes to tell me how productive he was that day, going through the list of all the things he got done. And like most wives, I make the appropriate sounds of approval and maybe even a little heavy breathing just so he knows how much I appreciate him.

Tom is a doer. He likes to start jobs and finish them in one sitting is possible. He is also one to do a job well. I often tell him he's got a touch of OCD just because of his perfectionism.

I'm...well, I'm not like that. If anything, I tend toward the ADHD side of the spectrum. I will start a job, do it for ten minutes, get distracted, start another job, do it for ten minutes, remember that I was in the middle of something else, return to the first jobs I'd started and nothing ever really gets done. I'm not proud of this, it just is how it is.

That and I'm the mom, so I tend to get interrupted more often than he does.

Sometimes his tendency to be single-minded drives me crazy, just as I know that my scatter-brained behavior sometimes makes Tom nuts.

But yesterday, as we talked, and laughed over our differences, it made me realize how well we complement each other. I can make him relax once in awhile after he's worked himself like a fool and he can sometime (okay, rarely) get me to focus and get things done.

I told him how glad I was the he was doing the home improvement job he'd taken on earlier in the week because we both know, had I started the job, fifteen minutes in I would have been bored and looking for ways to get out of it.

Or! I'd have rigged the tv at the top of the stairs so I could watch season 7 of Star Trek: Voyager (which he'd have given me as incentive to even start the job) and I probably would have gotten quite a bit done, with breaks in there to change discs every four episodes. There it is... I need to be entertained, especially when I'm doing a job I find excessively boring. Whereas Tom can just put himself into a zone and do what needs to be done.

But yeah, when it comes down to it, even after a horrible, awful, stress-filled day, he made me laugh, made my blood pressure come down and made me realize that I wouldn't want to do this thing called life without him.

Monday, August 2, 2010


That day over four years ago when we got the results from my triple screen back still resonates in my mind. The fact that we were high risk for some kind of chromosomal abnormality hit me like a ton of bricks.

The fact that Tom and I agreed to not even talk about what this might mean and any 'options' until we'd had that level two ultrasound two weeks later still sits there in my memory.

I look at Olivia, her sweet three-year-oldness, her naughty streak that leads her to dump cup after cup of water out of the bath onto the floor just because I have my back turned in the kitchen (which is RIGHT off the bathroom where I could actually hear everything she was doing even when I couldn't see it *defensive rant over*) and I see that child that might not have been.

Since we didn't actually discuss the options and what we might do if the ultrasound came back with negative news, I can gloss over it all. I never had to hear the words come out of Tom's mouth.

But I want to say right here that I will never be so grateful for a doctor telling us exactly what we wanted to hear as I am to that perinatologist who performed that ultrasound. He told us she was beautiful. He told us she was perfect. He told us she had a wonderful brain (he said that three times.) He told us that he wished OB/GYNs would stop giving that triple screen to women my age (I was 35 turning 36 when I was pregnant with Olivia) because it gave so many false positives to women carrying female fetus'.

And he told us she was a little sister.

And she is. A little sister, that is. She adores her big sister. She loves making her big sister laugh, she loves making her big sister scream in frustration. She loves being sweet and she loves being annoying.

And I love it all, even when I'm mopping up a gallon of water off the bathroom floor or when I'm picking up the third turd of the day off the same bathroom floor after it's fallen out of her underwear because she can't be bothered to get off the floor to use the toilet to poop.

I don't actually think that peri missed anything. There wasn't anything there for him to miss. You can't guage muscle tone during an ultrasound and Olivia doesn't have any of the other soft markers of her syndrome. Heck, two others doctors 'missed' the signs a year plus after she was born. But I'll still forever be grateful to that doctor for seeing what we see now.

A perfect little girl, with so much to give and take from this world. I would never take the choice from someone else, but I'm so very, very grateful that I didn't face making a choice. Or that I didn't have someone else wanting me to make a choice. For me, there wasn't a choice so I'm glad there didn't have to be a discussion, so very, very grateful.