Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Girl

Friday was Alyssa's Halloween party at school. At the beginning of the year, I volunteered for every party they're having. I know, probably overkill, but I had vacation days to burn and figured it would help A with her adjustment if she knew I'd be there as often as I could.

The party went well. I made WAY too many treat bags. In my defense, I though we were combining the two second grade classes. Since we didn't, each kid in A's class got two (and some got four) treat bags. They certainly weren't complaining.

I'd never met either of the other moms who organized the party. But we're all adults, it worked out.

Today, we attended a party thrown by a classmate and her parents.

It was nice. The step-mom was a lovely woman and as the party wound down, she took me aside and told me that my daughter is delightful and she hoped we could get our two girls together again soon. She pointed out that Alyssa is more mature than some of the other kids in the class and she'd like to see her step-daughter spend more time with Alyssa.

It occurred to me as Alyssa and I drove away that A isn't the only new girl in town.

I'm new too.

I'm the new mom. The new volunteer. The new play-date parent.


As I've gotten older, I don't seem to make friends as easily as I did when I was seven.

But I'm trying.

I've made a couple of friends at the girls' gymnastics class. Those other moms who wait at least an hour once or twice a week for their kids to finish class, the ones who watch out of the corners of their eyes for their child to wave at them so they can wave back. They're great. And I'm glad to have met them.

The moms at the school party and the mom at the home party on Saturday were nice too. Sure...they have history and I'm having to start from scratch.

But hey, a couple of months ago, I threw Alyssa into a new situation, one where she was meeting kids who had history with each other and I expected her to start from scratch too, to make new friends and build relationships.

If I can expect her do to that then I can to it too. Because like Alyssa, it won't be long before I'm no longer the new girl.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Alyssa asked me this morning how many days we've lived in our new house.

I had to stop and think. (Math is not my strong suit. It just isn't.)

I figured it out to be about 78 days.

She said with surprise, "I've had 78 days of school already?"

I said, "Well, I was counting the weekends, so, no, you haven't had that many days of second grade."

She was incredulous. "You counted weekends?"

I resisted rolling my eyes at her, she is only seven, after all. "We do actually live here on the weekends too."

She laughed at herself and went back to watching Arthur and eating her toast.

Our mornings are coming together. We're building a routine. The girls know the order of our mornings and things go fairly smoothly. This is not to say there is never any frustration on any of our parts, or that I manage to get through any morning without a raised voice or a sigh of annoyance.

But it's working out.

Our evenings are getting there too.

But when Tom comes home for a 'visit' things get shot to hell.

See, it's a novelty for the girls when he's there. Because he's not there all the time.

Which is frustrating all the way around.

He came home from the old house last night because I needed him here this morning to care for Olivia while my mom took my step-dad for an appointment.

It's all so convoluted and ridiculous. I have to schedule times when my husband can step in and parent.

I told him recently that I can't wait for him to be up here fulltime. He claimed the same desire.

My boss asked me recently if I'd be able to stay later in the day to get some jobs done each day.

I told him that when Tom is up here all the time, yes, I'll be able to do that. But right now? I can't ask my mom to watch my kids ten plus hours a day.

My boss laughed and said, "Your husband's life is going to change a lot when he's here fulltime, isn't it?"

I shrugged.

But yes, it is. He isn't going to know what hit him. He's been so used to doing what he wants, when he wants to do it. One could forget that the man has been a father for almost 25 years.

But enough bitching from me.

I'm glad our routine is settling. And I know that things will be shaken up when the house sells and Tom comes home. But I'm ready for that too. We'll all settle into a new, better routine when that happens. And I'm ready for new and better.

More than ready.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Is it just my husband? Are all men like this or is mine especially self-centered?

This is a conversation we had this morning:

Me: Just a reminder, my half-day vacations end today. We'll need you to bring Olivia to me next Thursday for gymnastics.

Him: What? I thought she was taking time off gymnastics until I'm up there full time.

Me (confused): No. You wanted her to take the month of October off so you could finish the remodel/cleaning of the house so it could get listed for sell. I rearranged my vacation schedule so she wouldn't have to do that.

Him (voice raised just a little): That's not how it was supposed to be. It doesn't make sense for me to drive 130 miles just for her to have 40 minutes of gymnastics.

Me (remaining calm, much to my amazement and amusement): I don't remember it that way. But I've already paid for this session so...

Him (annoyed): So I guess I'll just have to do it. But it's a waste of my time to do this. I guess I'll just have to plan for Thursdays to be our family visit day.

Me: Hey, I'm sorry I didn't understand that you wanted me to cancel her gymnastics indefinitely until you're up here full time.

Him (backtracking): I'm not mad. I just...I know it sounds selfish (You think?) but even though we'll be using that time as my time to see my family, because I want to see you, and so I have to see you, I think having it be scheduled makes it harder.


He's being a jerk as far as I'm concerned. He doesn't want to have to schedule and plan his time to 'visit his family.' To be honest, the fact that he's staying down there in that house 'until it sells' reeks of selfishness to me.

Sure, it makes it easier for him to show the house, but it also gives him limitless alone time, time to list his items on ebay without the distraction of a wife and two children who will make demands on his time and attention.

Just yesterday, I thanked him, THANKED HIM, for coming to see us on Tuesday. I know. It's insane. And during my show of appreciation, I told him we miss him. But I was careful to tell him that I wasn't trying to make him feel guilty.

And he replied..."Oh, don't worry. I don't feel any guilt."

No guilt over being away from his children for days at a time. NO GUILT over the fact that I do 100% of the parenting these days because he's NOT HERE.

Is it just my husband? Or would most men/fathers not feel guilty over this?

I go away one weekend a year. ONE. WEEKEND. A. YEAR. And I feel guilty. But I'm going to work on that. Because it's bullshit. It's ridiculous.

I'm not even angry at this point. I'm incredulous over the insanity of that conversation. And yeah, I might just 'forget' and pay for the next session just because I'm that kind of wife. Evil.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The weather here has been so lovely (yesterday's wind/thunderstorms/torando warnings not withstanding) and the girls and I have been taking advantage of this beautiful fall by visiting the park on a regular basis.

This is the first year that Olivia has been able to actually enjoy the equipment offered by most parks with any independence.

Her first year, obviously was spent in the stroller as I followed an agile four year old Alyssa from slide to slide to swing back to the climbing wall.

That first year, I imagined how different the next summer would be. Olivia had finally stopped crying that summer, after spending her first six months either screaming or sleeping. I imagined the next summer would be even better. She's be walking and I'd have to follow her around while still keeping an eye on her sister.

Olivia's second summer wasn't quite what I'd expected. We still went to the park but I wasn't following my 18 month old around as she toddled after her sister. In fact, she'd just started crawling that spring at 17 months.

So she was still stuck in the stroller as we followed Alyssa around the park. Olivia did like the baby swings, so she enjoyed the outings almost as much as A did. It was that summer that I didn't look ahead and imagine what the next summer might bring. Sure, I still had my rose-colored glasses but I was realistic enough to know that Olivia was on her own schedule and when she walked (and I never once considered the fact that she might now) would happen when she was ready.

And her timetable did have her walking by the next summer. She was 29 months when she started taking six steps between me and my mom. She did that for a couple of days then decided to get brave and would go from me to the couch, or my mom to the coffee table. She was up to about 20 steps in a week.

But visits to the park that summer were still less than a gleeful sprint from slide to swing and back again for Olivia.

She still needed a lot of help when she wasn't on solid ground. And forget stairs, slides, climbing.

So I continued to shadow her, letting her do what she felt comfortable doing and helping her with the rest.

This past summer we didn't make it to the parks nearly as often as years past. I don't know if it was the process of buying a new house/moving that kept us from the parks or if it was just my less-than-stellar parenting but we're attempting to make up for it in the last seconds of nice weather this fall.

And...what do you know...Olivia has developed this sense of indepedence. She wants to climb the stairs to the slides (with alternate feet, yay!!) all by herself. Sure, she still wants me on the ground next to where she's playing but she goes down the slides by herself too.

I love this. I love that she's enjoying the physical freedom her sister has taken for granted since she was 10 months old.

I'm going to miss the parks this winter and count down the days until spring.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


My mom is worried about Olivia getting teased when she enters school in a couple of years.

She worries because O still pulls her hair out, which necessitates us keeping is short, short, short.

She worries because Olivia still has physical challenges and at this point, we're unsure of her mental challenges, if she has any. She seems so well-adjusted, so laid-back, so 'normal.'

Yet, I know that kids are mean. Kids will pick that one child in a room full of children who is even a little different and they'll let that one difference mean something.

I truly cannot comprehend someone wanting to be mean to either of my girls. I look at my sweet Olivia and wonder what kind of evil would have to be lurking inside someone for them to be hateful to her.

Last night I heard a news report about a group of teenagers (17 - 19 maybe?) who had been sentenced to serve prison time for beating up a girl who suffered from cerebral palsy.


Why do people do these kinds of things?

My first instinct was to hold Olivia close.

Would/will someone, someday want to hurt her, just because she's different?

And yet, she doesn't really look at that different, at least not at four years old. But might she change? Might her disorder start showing on her face? If so, will that make people be mean to her?

I know I can't protect her from life.

I don't want to. I want her to live, to learn, to love and laugh and even feel a little heartbreak once in awhile if only to cherish the joy of life that much more.

But...society is full of cruel people with mean intentions coursing through them.

I pray my children can avoid those kinds of people. I pray that our world changes for the better over time, that each of us can make a difference, make people see that different doesn't have to mean bad.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I'm more than willing to admit that when I purchased my car ten years ago, the main reason I bought the grey 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix is because it was pretty.

My mom went with me and we just like the car.

BUT...there were other, more practical reasons I chose this particular vehicle. I wanted a mid-sized car, one that would provide even a little protection should I be in a crash.

I liked the wide wheel-base of the Grand Prix. I liked the lower center of gravity.

I wanted a four-door car.

Though I was still a year away from meeting Tom and three years away from having Alyssa, I knew that eventually, I'd find him and have her. And I wanted a car that would be family-friendly.

I couldn't imagine having to get a baby in to and out of a car that only had two doors.

Also, the car only had 39,000 miles on it. The dealership wanted $10,000.

I'm not one to bargain so I secured a loan and paid them for that car.

When I met Tom he thought I'd been taken on that deal.

He was sure the car had been in an accident and considered 'totaled.' He insisted it was a rebuild and that the dealership took advantage of me. Even though the carfax says otherwise, he's still sure of this.

This past weekend, that car drove it's 300,000th mile.

The car has been hit by a deer, side-swiped by my mom's van, driven out of a ditch after sliding into it one traitorous winter morning.

It has safely toted me and my daughters to and from our home 65 miles away from my work (85 miles from my mom's/our new home) for the past eight years.

Yes, it's probaby time to be looking for a newish vehicle.'s still starts every single morning without a hiccup. It still idles without me having to constantly give it gas (I had a car that had to have the gas pedal pressed constantly in order to stay running.)

All in all, I think I made a pretty good choice ten years ago when I paid those $10,000 for that car. That's only a thousand dollars a year.

Sure, we've replaced the battery twice and Tom's replaced the brakes a few times. And the driver's side front window acts up. I call all those things typical maintance on a non-new car.

And, dudes, three hundred thousand miles! I might have to treat the poor old thing to the premium gasoline the next time I fill up.

Then again, maybe not. Wouldn't want to shock its system.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Olivia loves chapstick. The nicer the smell, the better. She loves to smear it all over her lips, her cheeks, her chin, her hands, anywhere she can reach.

She's been fighting diarrhea this week. Not bad, just enough to make things messy and stinky and, as of last night, to irritate her butt quite a bit.

Last night, she begged me to let her use the chapstick on her butt.

She kept saying it was itchy and that it hurt.

And I'm sure it was and did. It was red and raw and looked very painful. Poor baby.

But I told her if she used the chapstick on her butt, I'd have to throw it away after because I wasn't going to take the chance on someone else (or Olivia) using that same chapstick on their lips later. Ewww!!!

She finally gave up the fight and I smeared her poor bottom with Desitin and vaseline. She fell asleep with her hand in her Pull-up, patting her own sore butt.

This bout of diarrhea takes me back to the days when we were first visiting Indianapolis to see if we could get her diagnosed.

At that time, Olivia was two years and two months old. She weighed 23 pounds and the developmental pediatrician who saw her was worried about her weight.

She put Olivia back on whole milk in an effort to fatten her up. We still use whole milk in our house and O's all the way up to 32 pounds these days.

At the time, I asked the doctor if the extra fat would affect O's bowel movements. They were already difficult for Olivia. She sometimes went several days without pooping and when she finally would manage to do so, it was hard and dry.

The doctor recommented Miralax. She said it was not habit-forming and it was gentle enough to use on someone Olivia's age.

I bought some and then read up on it. Every single parent who'd given it to their child said that the child became dependent on it.

I decided to keep it as a last resort. And I stocked up on apple juice and pruine juice.

And we haven't had to use the Miralax yet.

This week, though, I'm attempting to increase O's fat intake in an effort to bring back those harder, tougher poos. Poor kid's butt needs a break.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fancy Dancies

Yikes, what a depressing post that last one was. While I'm still struggling with body image and how it affects everything else in my world, my world isn't just about me.

My girls are very much girly-girls.

When Alyssa was younger, she adored shoes that made a lot of noise when she walked. She had a pair of black patent leather Mary Janes that were quite clickity-clacky. She loved those shoes. She called them her Fancy Dancies.

Olivia, on the other hand, isn't fond of the color black. Any other color will do but black is just too somber and, well, black for her.

So her fancy shoes have to have some color.

The girls and I attended the wedding of a cousin this past weekend.

My mom bought them both sparkly dresses (purple for Alyssa and red for Olivia.) And of course, they had to have new shoes to complete their ensembles.

I made Olivia try on some black dress shoes and every single pair were just not right. She either complained that they were too tight, or too big or just that they vaguely hurt her feet.

Whatever. I know the truth. She hated the dark color.

She spied some red sparkly shoes and the decision was made. It didn't matter that every third step, she'd walk right out of the right shoe. They matched her dress perfectly and that was that, as far as she was concerned.

Alyssa found some silver ones very similar to the red ones Olivia picked and the decision was made and the shoes were purchased.

And they both showed up to the wedding looking their lovelies from head to toe.

I'm just glad that fancy-dancy shoes for them both are still fairly inexpensive. I'm not sure how we're going to handle the teenage years to come.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fat but...

My place of employment has implemented a program where, if you participate, you can get $10 back per pay period.

All you have to do is let an extremely inefficient nurse jab your finger, wring every drop of blood out of said finger, process that precious blood and then weigh and measure you.

After she's told you you're fat, you go online, fill out a health assessment survey and voila, you get $260 back next year.

Sure, sure, they're sending all this information back to the insurance company and eventually, you're probably going to be dropped from the plan because, duh, obesity. But those extra dollars will come in handy next year. Who cares about five years from now?

So yesterday, we had our biometrics screening.

And yay, I'm not severely obese.

Just obese.

But I didn't need the inefficient nurse to tell me that. I was actually already aware of my weight problem.

But...I'm three pounds down from last year's screening. So yay.

And, get this, even though I'm obese? My cholesterol is ideal. My blood pressure is excellent. My fasting blood sugar is wonderful. My triglycerides are in the ideal range too.

So yeah, you can't judge a person's health by the chubby palor in their face.

But let's face it, my weight affects every aspect of my life.

When I'm fat I feel like I can't do anything right.

I feel like I'm a crappy mother, a horrible wife, a bad house-keeper, a less-than-average employee, a bad friend (except maybe to those friends of mine who want someone to say, "Hey, go ahead and eat that ice cream, a girl's got to enjoy life.")

I want to be better.

I want to be healthier. I want to be skinny. I shouldn't be about the weight, it should be about how I feel about myself and whether I'm comfortable in my own skin.

But I'm not. Not at this weight.

So...what am I going to do about it?

I don't know.

But hey, I'm "healthy." Right?

I'm going with that for now and hoping the desire to make real changes in my life kicks in.

See, the problem is, I want to want to change. But I don't want to change badly enough to actually do it.

And that's the problem.

I'm working on it. Really.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Slip-Sliding Away

We love fall around here. The leaves, they are a'changing and while the weather has been mostly mild for Northern Indiana/Ohio, we're expecting a cold snap soon.

On Saturday, the girls and I had to make a mad dash to Meijer and get some sparkly shoes for them to wear to my cousin's wedding. Olivia ended up with her very own pair of ruby slippers and Alyssa were the bigger, more silvery-less red version of the same shoe.

So many sparkles!

Then we each picked out a pumpkin and headed home.

The pumpkin carving was lovely. There was a brisk wind whipping leaves around while Alyssa and I made a mess on the front porch and Olivia climbed up and down the four steps up to the porch.

Just as I finished cleaning out the third pumpkin, Olivia edged up to me and asked, "Can we please go to the park today?"

Can we?

Alyssa and I finished up our pumpkins and left Olivia's for later (a later that hasn't yet arrived) and headed for the park, knowing this might be our last visit to the park this year.

We went to an old park in our new town.

This park is so old that it still has a merry-go-round. A metal, ever-so-dangerous merry-go-round.

They loved it!

They especially loved it when I almost landed on my butt as the merry-go-round spun and spun.

We wandered from the swings, the metal horse that rocks back and forth and the merry-go-round. All the while, Olivia eyed the slide.

I finally asked her if she wanted to go try it.

She shook her head.

I suggested that I go with her.

She gave it some thought and decided that would be quite lovely, thank you very much.

So we climbed the 15 stairs to the top of the slide, did some quick steps and slid down the slide with her on my lap.

She raced back to the stairs to do it again. And again. And again.

After the tenth or so time going down with me, we got to the top and she asked, "Can I try it by myself?"



But I told her to wait there, at the top of the slide, so very high up, for me to climb back down teh steps so I could catch her at the bottom.

It was a fast slide!

And she did it. And then she did it again and again and again.

My baby is getting big. She's getting independent. She's realizing that she can do these things that other kids take for granted. She getting brave and adventurous and while it sort of gives me heart palpitations, it also makes me proud.

I realize that Tom and I and even my mom tend to baby and coddle Olivia. But she's still on the clumsy side. She falls, she trips. And while gymnastics has taught her to fall right, to catch herself, or to at least not land on her face, we get nervous.

But she's teaching us to let go. She's reminding us that she's not a baby anymore.

Heck, that 'baby' learned to whistled this weekend. That was pretty cool too.

(For the uninformed, Treet is a 'meat' product that is even grosser than Spam.)

Friday, October 15, 2010


I hate feeding my children.

I know. That's not nice at all.

But it's true.

I hate having to figure out what's for dinner each night.

I hate fighting with Alyssa every single night about eating even three bites of her vegetable.

I may as well not dirty a plate for Olivia, who tends to push her own food aside and sidles up to me with her fork/spoon in hand and partakes of the food on my plate. It doesn't matter if she has the exact same food on her own plate, mine is always better as far as she's concerned.

The feeding of my children has been a source of stress ever since Alyssa's birth.

She couldn't nurse and this caused me so much guilt and stress. I so wanted to be able to breast feed and when it didn't work out I was so sad. I ended up pumping for her for fourteen weeks, but that also caused much stress and frustration.

I'd hoped for a different feeding relationship with Olivia but again, no go on the nursing. And so the pumping resumed.

Ohhh, how I loathe the breast pump.

But you'd think that feeding would be easier these days.

With a seven year old and three year old, you just put the food in front of them and they eat it, right?

Not so much.

At least not with my children.

I'm on the verge of banning the word 'gross' from the kitchen.

If I hear Alyssa whine, "But it's gross!" Or, "It looks so gross." I might lose my mind.

I'm not really all that strict about food.

When they're hungry, I feed them. But I do want them to eat more than potato chips and marshmallows.

I know. I'm not always the best example. But I try to eat foods that aren't beige every so often just to set a better example.

Hey, I had a salad yesterday!

Of course, Alyssa was in school and Olivia elected not to get herself a fork to help me with that meal.

I'm trying. I am.

But it's always such a challenge to find nutritious meals they'll actually eat. I hate that they already eat so much processed food. Quite honestly, I really, truly hate that my stepdad feeds Spam and Treet to Olivia. Like she needs any more preservatives in her 30 pound body. Ick!!

I need to start slow and try to change their (and my) diet over the next few months.

Wish me luck as I slowly introduce color into their diets. And yeah, we're definitely making 'gross' not allowed in the kitchen/at the table.
We're adjusting, even if slowly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


There is this person who lives inside my adult body who...isn't an adult.

She's an eleven year old brat who wants to sleep in on the weekends (and on week days), read smut in the bathtub instead of scrubbing the tub, eat peppermint patties for dinner and take a nap instead of exercise.

This weekend, that brat was mean to Alyssa.

On Saturday morning, the girls were lovely enough to let me and my inner brat (tm Julie) sleep in until 8:30. I forced the brat up at that point and we made our way downstairs where my brat was buried long enough for me to make the girls breakfast and actually get some painting done.

But that evening, the brat stayed up too late and so when 7:45 rolled around on Sunday morning and Olivia was up saying she was hungry and Alyssa was awake complaining about her pull-up leaking and needing a shower, my brat reared her ugly head.

She insisted that Alyssa get up and shower on her own. Because, duh, she was right there in bedroom, which is next to the bathroom.

I did supress the brat long enough to go get Olivia a banana.

But Alyssa. Poor little Alyssa. She whined and my brat's head ached and we snipped back and forth about how she could shower all by herself because she's BIG now.

And the brat even told her, "I'm going to be so mad at you if you make me get up and get you in that shower myself."

And she started to climb back into bed.

The brat was furious. She was so spitting mad. She was tired and her head really did hurt (probably from too many peppermint patties in the tub the night before when she really should have been in bed.)

So she got up and stormed to the bathroom, where she started the shower.

She shouted for Alyssa to get her butt in that bathroom RIGHT NOW.

She ignored Olivia's tiny shriek of dismay at the raised voice.

Alyssa entered the bathroom sheepishly and was ordered to get that pull-up off and get into that shower.

Then, the brat stood there and stewed while her child, her seven year old child, showered and her three year old child sidled up to her and whispered, "I'm sorry."


Oh dear lord.

The brat buried her head and shriveled up and wanted to just cry.

And the mommy came out and she picked up that little tiny girl and whispered, "No, Sweetie. I'm sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing at all."

And when Alyssa stepped out of the shower, the mommy wrapped her gently in a towel and dried her off.

She helped both girls get dressed and made breakfast, praying, praying, praying that there are more good days than bad moments.

And moments like that? Those moments I'm so ashamed of? Those are the moments I keep close to the surface of my memory, not so much to wallow in guilt, though, oh yes, the guilt is there. But more to remind myself that I don't want to be that person, that mean mom who treats her children that way. That person who causes her three year old apologize to her because the MOTHER is a brat.

My inner brat is a constant source of frustration for me. I need to discipline her, train her that it's not all about her. I need to remember that sometimes, most times, it's not about me anymore. It's about them. About teaching them to curb their own inner brats, their own demons.


I need to work on that one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This post is inspired by Charity's post about why she didn't stop at two and a conversation I had with the lovely Julie just this past weekend.

I knew when I had Alyssa that if I could convince Tom have just one more baby I'd be lucky.

See, he has three older children. They were 14, 15 and 18 when he and I met. Now they're 23, 24, and 27.

The older two have both had children of their own. That makes my husband a grandfather. Me? I'm still just Grandpa Tom's wife.

After I had Alyssa I wasn't sure I could possibly love another child as much as I loved her. And she was pretty amazing. I wondered if I was selfish in even wanting to try for just one more. I'd gotten perfection, why tempt fate.

But as she got bigger and more independent and more amazing, I realized that I not only wanted another child for myself I wanted her to experience the love of a sibling that's not more than a decade older than she is.

Her older siblings are more like uncles and an aunt than siblings.

I wanted her to have what I'd had with my brothers as I was growing up. I wanted her to know sibling love and sibling rivalry.

But even once I was pregnant with Olivia, I knew she would be our last. She would forever be the baby of the family.

And I was okay with that.

We found out she was a girl when I was 22 weeks along. I was thrilled that I was having another girl. I loved the idea of raising sisters. And heck, Alyssa had a lot of really cute clothes she could hand down.

The day after Olivia was born, my OB/GYN came in to discharge me so I could go be with her and he discussed birth control with me.

And he suggested the Mirena IUD. It's good for five years. He suggested that even at my advanced age, I might decide in a few years to try for a boy.

I'd given birth about 15 hours previous to this conversation. I hadn't actually held that baby yet and it felt like this doctor was implying that she wasn't good enough, she wasn't enough because she was another girl.

It's probably perverse of me to think this but...if I were to have a third? I'd probably wish for yet another girl just because I wouldn't want anyone to think we'd gone for number three just to get the elusive boy.

Not that I don't adorve boys. My nephew is all kinds of awesome and he's all booger-eating, mud-slinging boy.

But our family is complete. It's wonderful. Tom and I love our sweet girls and wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

I often wonder where people get the nerve to judge how others build their family. Why is it anyone elses' business whether a couple has no children, one child or six? It's not.

No one ever really knows the reasons for the choices made by other people and until we do understand those choices, we should respect the fact that people usually have a reason for what they do. Usually.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I try not to compare my daughters. Not because either of them pale in comparison with the other, but because they're both amazing and super special in their own way.

Duh, I'm their mother, of course they're super special in my eyes.

But their births were so different and it's hard not to think about those two days that changed my world so very much.

Alyssa's birth was such a celebration. She was my first born and the first grandchild being born to my mom. Everyone had begun to worry that I wouldn't get around to having kids before my ovaries shriveled.

I was, after all, 31 years old when I got pregnant and turned 32 before Alyssa was born.

I worked the day before she was born. I had a doctor's appointment that afternoon, that Monday, January 13. She was due on Wednesday, January 22. At my appointment, the doctor did my first cervical exam. Yikes.

There was nothing going on down there. She was still wrapped up tight.

The doctor explained that that meant nothing. Some women go from 0 to 10 in less than a day. And some walk around at 3cm for days/weeks.

So whatever.

He did, though, say that while he didn't necessarily suggest it, he'd had some patients have success with castor oil.

Success at what? Why, at moving things along.

After we left the doctor's office, I looked at Tom and said, "We're not doing that."

He asked, "Why not?"

Well, it wasn't like she was overdue. I wasn't even that big. I wasn't uncomfortable. I hadn't gotten to that "I'm SO done being pregnant" stage.

But we went to the drug store anyway. And bought the castor oil. And I drank two caps full with a bottle of orange juice.

It was awful.

About eight hours after drinking the castor oil, my water broke.

We headed for the hospital, with no contractions in sight.

We reached the hospital a little after midnight. My cervix was still not doing anything at all to prepare for the birth of our child.

At eight the next morning, they started me on an IV of pitocin.

My mom arrived.

My dad arrived and plunked himself into a corner where my privacy was protected.

At noon, lunch arrived and the nurse said that while I couldn't eat it, anyone else could.

A couple of aunts arrived and one of them attempted counter pressure on my back. After she left about ten minutes later, I whispered, "Please don't let her touch me again."

Tom asked why not and I told him that it hurt so much to have her rub my back. He asked why I hadn't told her that and I explained that I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

I had to pee every ten minutes, would have a contraction on the way to the bathroom, while peeing and on the way back.

At about 2:30pm the doctor came in to check me. During his exam, I told him I wasn't trying to push but I couldn't help it.

They adjusted the bed, inserted a catheter (oh, the relief!!!) and it was time to push. My mom was on my left side and Tom was on my right side. My dad was still in his privacy corner. It seemed like there were people everywhere.

At 2:48pm, Alyssa Jean was born. Tom whispered to me that she was a girl. She weighed an even six

My mom said, "She looks just like her dad."

And she did.

People milled in and out for hours, visiting, exclaiming over her beauty.

My Aunt Lorry announced that Alyssa loved her first bath and having her hair washed.

By 7pm, there was still a crowd in my room and I was falling asleep mid-sentence.

We stayed in the hospital until Alyssa was 48 hours old so she could get her last exam out of the way rather than making the hour drive home and then back.

It was lovely and perfect and everything I'd hoped for for the birth of my first child.

I knew that the birth of my second child would be different if only because I knew that someone would have to miss out on her birth in order to care for her big sister.

But because there were complications from the beginning (she failed her non-stress test that was performed when she was nine days overdue) Tom was the only one allowed into the labor/delivery room.

And it's own way, that seemed right at the time. He and I needed those moments, those hours alone, preparing for our child.

We didn't know before she was born that anything was wrong with her. We had no clue, no inkling that she might have issues.

But when she failed that stress test, we were sent directly to the hospital. We were told not to stop and get food, which I'd wanted to do because I was STARVING. We were told I could eat at the hospital.

I checked in at 10:30 on that Monday, November 27. An IV was immediately inserted. The fetal monitor was placed. Olivia was steady, as she'd been during the non-stress test. She'd failed because her heart rate hadn't risen each time she moved. It just held steady.

At noon, the nurse inserted the cervidil.

At 12:30, she brought some lunch.

I ate a few pieces of broccoli.

At 12:40, she came back and took my lunch away.

She'd called the doctor and told him that Olivia wasn't responding well to the cervidil, her heart rate would drop and then rise and then drop again.

She removed the cervidil and started the pitocin by 1:00.

My doctor (a different doctor than the one who delivered Alyssa) was sure I'd be in for a C-section because I couldn't finish the round of cervidil and was instead moving directly to pitocin. Which is why they took away my lunch.

I protested that I'd responded well to just-pitocin before's orders.

At 2:00, I threw up the broccoli and...I though I peed a little when I threw up. Ugh!! I apologized to the nurse and told her I'd had to pee a lot during my labor with Alyssa.

And they told me to lay on my left side. Which I did. For hours and hours. My left hip started to ache and when I'd roll to my back or even my right side, Olivia's heart rate would drop and I'd roll back to my left side, and she'd even out again.

After his office closed at 5pm, my doctor arrived do break my water. Ohh, that was unpleasant.

Apparently, my vomiting earlier in the day had caused the water to break and so he was digging for something that wasn't there.

He was amazed by how far I was already.

At 6:10, he did another check, I was at 6cm. I had one contraction that put me at 9.

Olivia was born after three pushes at 6:27pm on November 27, 2006.

She was born into a room with just her mommy, her daddy, the doctor and three nurses.

My mom and stepdad were watching Alyssa in the waiting room.

After she was born, the three nurses worked to get her breathing.

Tom met my mom at the door to tell her that the baby was here but she was having trouble breathing. My mom said he had tears in his eyes.

The nurses stablized Olivia and took her to the nursery where she was put under a cylinder.

Our family doctor came to ask me where I wanted Olivia sent. She was too sick to stay in that small community hospital.

I slept fitfully that night, waiting for the light of morning when I could be discharged and go be with my baby, who'd been taken by ambulance to a hospital an hour away.

Just less than 24 hours after being admitted, I was discharged and headed south with my mom and my first born to see my sick little girl.

Yet...I felt elation. She was here and I was going to see her and do whatever I could to let her know I was there, I was her mommy and I was going to her. Her birth was as much a reason for celebration as her big sister's had been.

And every day, I'm thankful for these girls. These girls who are both so amazing and super special to me, their grateful mom.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Yesterday I took a vacation day from work and spend the day with my children.

Well, sort of. Olivia was stuck with me all day and she and I drove to and from Alyssa's school four times in the span of seven hours.

Yikes! I don't know how you 'stay at home' moms do it.

There's really not so much staying at home is there?

I kind of had to come back to work just to rest.

The day started a half hour later than it does on the days when I have to come to work. That was a refreshing change in the routine.

At 7:40, we headed out to drop Alyssa off at school. Olivia and I hit the local grocery store for a few necessities and then went home, where she ate a couple of powdered donuts and swept the kitchen and entry way floors.

At 8:45, we raced back to the school where we walked with Alyssa in a fund-raising walk. For what we were raising fund, I do not know, but that first mile with Olivia insisting on being carried will remain a crick in my back for days to come. The second mile consisted of us making a pitstop at the car and retrieving the stroller. Both Olivia and I were much happier with that arrangement.

After the walk, O and I went home again. I vacuumed the remnants of O's powdered donuts off the living room carpet, packed lunches for us and ran a load of laundry.

And off we went again at about 10:40 to meet Alyssa for lunch. I figured if I had the day off, I should spend at much time with both of them as possible.

Alyssa loves showing her sister off, which is just so sweet and makes my heart swell with love for these girls. Lunch with second graders is loud and messy and fun.

I attempted to get Olivia to take a nap when we got home from lunch with Alyssa but she was having none of that. At one point she was standing in front of me, holding my hands and jumping up and down, screaming non-sense.

I asked her why she was doing that and she squealed, "I'm just so happy."

That? Made my day.

At 2:30 we headed out once again to pick Alyssa up from school and then race to town to Olivia's gymnastics class. We made it with three minutes to spare, which I used to pee. I know.

So today? I'm back at work and trying to recover from my 'vacation' day.

I really don't know how the stay at home moms do it on a daily basis.

But honestly? I'd more than willing to give it a try.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I'll admit that when my brother's son was born a year after Olivia, I worried about the moment when Jaxon (the nephew) would pass Olivia in developments. See, she was a year old and JUST starting to sit up. We had no idea when she'd crawl, walk, and talk. At that point, we didn't have a diagnosis. I'd found 5p-/Cri du Chat through my own research but at that point, two doctors had already shooed me away, assuring me that Olivia was 'too pretty' to have the syndrome.

I know, right?

So we were going on our merry way, just starting therapies in an effort to treat her symptoms even though we still didn't know what was causing those symptoms.

So when Jaxon was born, I kind of knew a day would come when he'd pass her developmentally. At least physically.

And that day did come. He started walking at the typical thirteen months. Olivia was 26 months old, still three months away from walking independently herself. And yet...while I'd sort of worried about that day, when it came...I wasn't nearly as bothered as I'd thought I might be.

I was happy for Jaxon and his parents. I wanted him to be typical. I didn't want him to have challenges. I just wanted those things for my sweet girl too.

I knew at that point, though, that she was moving at her own pace and she'd get there. There was never a question for us as to whether she'd walk and talk, it was just a matter of when.

Last year, as Jaxon edged in on two years old, my brother started to worry that his son wasn't talking as much as he should be for his age.

I suggested he talk to his doctor if he was truly concerned but reminded him that a lot of kids have a huge vocabulary jump when they turn two. And that happened for Jaxon. He did take it slow, though. One word here, two there. He spent a lot of time with my mom and Livie this summer and so his vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds.

These days, as he approaches his third birthday, he's talking pretty well.

But...Olivia's speech is better.

Just yesterday, Jaxon said something to my mom. She looked at him, confused and turned to Olivia, who translated for him, "He wants some juice. He'd prefer orange, but apple will do."

My child.

My little girl with 5p-. The one who is supposed to have a major speech delay, is translating for her one-year-younger cousin, in complex sentences.

And we understand her.

It's amazing to me. It shows me that we can never, ever underestimate these kids.

Last year as the school year ended, her preschool teacher/speech therapist wrote, "I see no speech delays in Olivia whatsoever."

Seeing that in writing from a profession meant so much to me. It meant that I wasn't just pushing my own hopes and dreams onto my daughter. She was surpassing what everyone said she'd do. She's making her own way and she's dragging her 'typical' cousin with her, expressing her wants and needs as well as his as they go along.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Yesterday marked seven years of marriage for Tom and me.

Yes, yes, if you do the math, you'll find that Alyssa was about nine months old when Tom and I got married. Whatever, right?

Tom likes to joke that if I didn't have so many aunts who enjoyed planning things like weddings, we might never have gotten around to getting married. It only annoys me a little.

We aren't really anniversary gift people. We prefer to save the money we'd spend on cards and gifts and be all frivolous and pay the mortgage. I kid, sort of.

Last night, we ate pizza and watched Dancing with the Stars with our daughters. It was nice.

One nice surprise was that Tom got the laundry all set up in the basement. No more having to sort pee-stinky laundry and send it 65 miles one-way with Tom every few days.

I cannot tell you how lovely it is to know that I can do a load of laundry right there in my own house again. Ahh, the joy of clean sheets!

Honestly, I think that being kind to each other day after day, all year is more important than gifts and cards on this one day of the year. I think the best gift I could give him is to take better care of myself in the coming year and be healthier at when our eighth anniversary arrives.

I'll try. I really, truly will.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Every day when we walk in the door of our new house, Olivia exclaims, "We're home!" She then makes her way to the floor in front of the couch where she lays down and burrows in, snuggling up against the couch and taking it all in.

I don't think I realized how much our commute was taking out of the girls. Sure, I bitched and moaned about how much I hated it but I didn't realize how much they hated it too.

They're both so happy in our new home. They're so glad we get to go home every day, to a home that isn't over an hour's drive away.

The new house is having physical benefits for Olivia too. Now that we're in a house with an upstairs that we actually use, she's starting to walk up the stairs using alternate feet. It's awesome! She still prefers to hold my hand but she'll hold my hand, use the handrail and walk up the stairs using alternate feet, like any other four year old.

Olivia's first words to me this morning, after me being gone all weekend weren't what I'd expected. I kind of thought she'd tell me she missed my squishy boobies (she tells me that every single day when I get to my mom's to pick her up.) No, this time she tattled on her daddy. She informed me that, "Daddy slept in your bed."

Perhaps this family bed thing has gone too far. Sadly, Daddy's no longer considered part of the family, since she doesn't seem to be aware that Daddy is SUPPOSED to be that bed and she probably isn't.

Ah well, time goes by, things change every day and my girls learn something new and show me how amazing they are. And even, almost ordinary life isn't such a bad thing at all.