Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Check It

I took Olivia to the doctor last Tuesday for her four year check up. Sure, sure, we were four days early if you want to be technical, but I figured she probably wasn't going to have a sudden growth spurt in those last few days of being officially three.

She is always so good at the doctor's office.

I'm not sure what past-life trauma Alyssa suffered but she's always hated the doctor's office. It never mattered which doctor she was seeing or why, she screamed, fought and made a menace of herself.

Olivia, on the other hand, has always been quite charming during visits with doctors. Which is fortunate, because she's seen so many more doctors than Alyssa's ever had to see.

We entered the doctor's office armed with the fact that while she'd had the sniffles for the past week, Olivia was in general, doing well.

She weighs 33 pounds (I'm calling this a win) and is 40 inches tall. Which puts her (according to my less than professional ability to read growth charts) at the 75th percentile for height and around the 50th for weight. And that's not adusting for any syndrome or genetic anomoly. It's just putting her up there with every other four year old.

So yay.

On the less than celebratory side, we left with a prescription for an antibiotic. Remember those sniffles? Apparently, they're something a little more. She had swollen glands and a red throat. No official diagnosis, just medicine to make her feel better.

Parenting fail.

Ahhh well. As there was never any fever or more than just a post-nasal drip kind of cough, I just didn't catch that she was sicker than just the sniffles. So...you win some and all that jazz, right?


After a full week of antibiotics, she's feeling pretty good these days. Which is always a bonus because when you're four, there is always much to do.

There are cousins to annoy, sisters to poke, cats to chase and grandmothers to use as trampolines. Not to mention the mothers you can use as space heaters.

Yes, all in all, it was a good check up. Great even, since it saved us a trip to the doctor this week to take care of those sniffles that probably would have escalated into something much worse had they not been caught early.

Oh yes, I've managed to turn my parenting fail into a win. Go me!

Monday, November 29, 2010


One of the greatest things about celebrating the holidays with the four and under set is that every year, it's brand new again.

We put up the Christmas tree on Saturday.

Alyssa couldn't stand the wait and was so excited.

Olivia was excited because...if her sister is excited, well, damn, it must be something AWESOME that's about to happen.

Anyway, as I put the tree together and then strung the lights, Olivia stared in wonder, awed by the beauty of the lights once they were turned on.

She 'helped' put ornaments on the tree (I moved a few after finding that there were several branches with five and six ornaments hanging from them.)

She sang along with the Christmas songs we had playing on the cd player.

Alyssa was so kind to her sister. She made sure Olivia had an ornament to hang every few minutes and she was quick to explain to Olivia what each one was or what it meant.

O was only three weeks old at her first Christmas. Our Christmas tree had been thrown up haphazardly during one of my moments home between visiting Olivia in the hopsital.

Alyssa decorated that tree all by her three year and ten month old self. There were puzzle pieces and stuffed horses serving as ornaments that year.

Honestly, I'm glad that kids four and under tend to have vague memories. I'd hate to think what A's memories are of that Christmas.

But it got better. Olivia's second Christmas was a nice, quiet, safe one. She wasn't walking or even crawling that year, so we were able to decorate the tree without worrying about a toddler tugging on it.

And each year has been better still.

This is our first Christmas in our new house. We have the same tree, the same ornaments, new places to put these things and new memories to build.

I'm so excited.

Almost as excited as a four year old who is in awe of the blue and orange and PINK lights staring out at her from a plastic Christmas tree.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

She's Four

When Alyssa turned four, it seemed like such a big deal. She was so big! So grown up.

Olivia was six weeks old when Alyssa turned four.

Today, Olivia turns four years old. And she seems to little still. Perhaps if she were a big sister, she'd seem big and grown up.

Maybe not, though.

She's come so far. She's amazing.

She's got such a sense of style. She knows what looks good and she wants to wear it. She notices everything. My mom might change earrings before we arrive and Olivia will see it.

If I wear new shoes, Olivia notices. I love it.

I love her.

Her new independent streak, her constant jumping and climbing. Her desire for all things frilly and girlie.

Four is pretty amazing, even the second time around.

Four still wakes up way too early even on the weekends. Four still needs to be reminded to pee in the potty.

But four also laughs into her hand at her cousin getting sprayed in the face by the drinking fountain. Four knows that she could hurt his feelings if she laughs outright.

Olivia amazes us all every single day. She poses for pictures, she prances around in all her different patterned tights, she knows her name on sight and she sings every song she hears.

I'm so excited to see what more amazing things she'll discover during this year, this year of being four.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My girls are pretty good about sharing.

They seem to understand that they have to share the things in the house, they have to share my time and my attention.

But they're both really good at finding ways to ensure that they get as much attention as possible.

This morning, Alyssa was complaining that the waistband of her pants was just a little too big.

I asked her if the pants felt as if they were falling off and she said no. I told her to put on her shirt and see how it felt.

Feeling left out, Olivia, who'd been dressed for fifteen minutes without a complaint, said, quite loudly, "My tights are...they're...too stripey!"

Because, well, if her sister was going to get attention by comlaining then, by God, Olivia was going to get attention that way too. Even if 'too stripey' was the only complaint she could come up with.

And, for the record, Alyssa wore the pants with the slightly big waistband and Olivia wore the tights that were too stripey.

I get this. I do.

I understand that we all want to be the center of attention, even if only the center of our mother's attention.

I also love the both girls understand that her sister is there, always and forever, and that each must share her time with me.

They're good together.

Alyssa's very protective of her little sister who is just a little weaker than other kids her age.

Olivia is very proud of her big sister, who is so pretty and kind smart.

I love that they love each other.

And I know how lucky they are to have ach other. I hope they both know that too.

Yes, yes, the teenage years are going to be tough, with slamming doors and yelling and probably a lot of, "Moooom, make her get out of my room!" And, "She wore my sweater without asking."

But bring it on. I'm not quite ready, but perhaps in the years it will take us to get to those teenage years, I'll get ready and be able to navigate the mood swings, the hurt feelings and the drama queens.

And I pray we'll all survive with our love for each other and our senses of humor intact.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Good

This weekend...what can I say?

It was one of those weekends where I can believe that I do more good for and with my children than bad.

It was one of those weekends where I was frantic for about four hours and the rest of the weekend was fabulous.

Yes, I snapped a few times, as I picked up ONE MORE empty go-gurt tube and said to Alyssa, "Why is this one the floor? You KNOW where it goes."

And she puts her head down and says, "I forgot."

And I don't buy the bowed head thing. She didn't forget, she was just busy and didn't want to take the ten steps from in front of the tv to the garbage.

But those moments were fleeting.

There were moments that were so much better. I hope they were also so much more memorable.

Sure, there was laundry and sweeping, and trash emptying and dishwashing.

But between those chores?

There was dancing around the kitchen as we anticipated a week with just two days of work/school and FIVE days off, five days of us together.

There were games of Go Fish and Barbies.

There was hair. Oh, wow...the hair.

There were baths and toys and Moon Sand and Aqua Sand. Holy cow, the sand!

There was Play Doh and a Little People house with stairs. There were dress up clothes with gloves and slippers and nighties with fur trim on the hem.

And there was singing even as I folded the towels.

There was much laughter as Alyssa declared once again, "Mommy? You're a dork."

I like being a dork.

I like making my girls laugh and letting them know that I can be sillly even as I'm emptying the dishwasher.

And I hope and pray that these memories, the good ones, are the ones that stand out in their heads over the ones where I scold and snap about empty go-gurt tubes.

I hope there is more good than bad. Weekends like this one let me believe that's true. I'll take more please. More and more and more good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We have a big family. A really big family.

My mom was born the fifth of twelve children. Of those twelve, nine are still living.

I have lots and lots of cousins.

And those cousins have lots and lots of kids.

We had a party at my house this weekend for Olivia's birthday, which is actually not until next Saturday. But because her cousin Jaxon's birthday was Friday and my cousin's daughter, Sabella's birthday was Wednesday, we decided to have the party this past Saturday and celebrate all three birthdays.

The kidlets turned three, four and five. It was a madhouse.

It was awesome.

It was the first we've had a real party since we moved into our new house. There were so many people.

Everyone was loud and friendly and there were presents everywhere!

But of all the presents, one was the very best. At least as far as Olivia is concerned.

It wasn't the first present she opened, but it was the last (there were still more to be opened but she couldn't possibly have cared less.)

It was a Rapunzel wig from the new, upcoming Disney movie.

And the minute Olivia opened it, she was in love. She immediately need to wear that wig. The hair hangs to her knees and she adores it.

My mom also got her the dress, gloves, shoes and Barbie that go along with the wig.

Olivia was in little girl Princess heaven. She wore that dress and wig all evening long, strutting around, her hands on her hips or in the air like a prissy little princess. It was adorable. And a little disconcerting. Where did she pick up mannerisms like that?

I'm not sure but I think they might just be part her genetic make up.

Who knows?

I figure she'll wear that wig until it's a disgusting tangled mess and then...we'll throw it away and get her a new one.

Hey, plus side? When she's wearing the wig? She isn't pulling her own hair out. Anything that does that? Is awesome in my book.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Sleep has long been an issue for me and my kids.

Alyssa slept through the night exactly one time before she turned two years old.

Olivia was a pretty good sleep as an infant, but grew out of that around a year old and became, well, like her sister, less and perfect at sleeping through the night.

I'd heard of those kids who slept through the night at three months old and kind of just figured the parents were liars. I know, not a fair assumption but...it kept me sane during my sleep-deprived years.

Every time I saw a movie or television show where an adult would tuck an awake child into bed, tell them goodnight, leave the room and the child would GO TO SLEEP, I'd roll my eyes and think, "That doesn't really happen."

Except...it's happening in my house these days.

Alyssa, two months shy of her eighth birthday, can be tucked into bed, kisssed goodnight, wished sweet dreams and I can leave the room while she's still awake and ten minutes later, I can check on her and she'll be asleep.

I know!! Miracles do happen.

We fell into co-sleeping because I was so flipping tired that I was willing to do whatever it took to get Alyssa (and later Olivia) to sleep longer stretches.

These days, Alyssa is in her own bed.

Granted, her bed is still in my room, but again, we're in a new house, and Tom's not here all the time and so, for my own sense of safety and comfort, I like having her in the same room.

I know that by the time she's twelvish she'll be demanding her privacy and moving to her own room.

I'm okay with that too.

But the best thing ever? Being able to put her to bed witout having to lay with her until she sleep, and avoiding falling asleep myself.


The things I can get done in the hours between 8pm and 10pm without tripping over kids who should be in bed. It's amazing.

I know...they should have been doing this years ago.

But they weren't and so...whatever.

I take what I can get and celebrate these milestones, however late they arrive at our home.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nothin' But Net

Alyssa loves bounce houses. Our first dance marathon had one set up and I think Alyssa jumped for six hours straight. She jumped so long that her feet and legs hurt for days after.

This past weekend was no exception on the bounce house. She jumped and jumped and jumped. And when she wasn't inside jumping, she was sitting on the ledge on the outside, letting the kids inside bounce her around.

At one point during the dance marathon, I left the girls in the bounce house with Ally and snuck off to the bathroom. Ahh, the joys of peeing alone (even if in public, at least I didn't have to attempt to work around two little girls standing in the stall with me.)

When I ventured back to the bounce house, I found Alyssa looking, hmm, pensive? Alarmed?

I approached her and asked if she was okay.

She said softly, "I think I lost one of my teeth..."

"One of your teeth?" I repeated. "Where? Which one?" None of her teeth were loose enough to have fallen out on their own, at least I thought that was the case.

She opened her mouth and showed me that she was now missing both of her top front teeth.

I asked her where the tooth was.

She shrugged.

I asked where she'd lost it.

She pointed to the bounce house.

I asked, "Were you bouncing when it came out?"

She nodded. She was still a little shocked. The space where the tooth had been was slighly bloody, as is typical when a baby tooth comes out.

We headed back to the bounce house and started looking for a bit of white.

I gave Alyssa a drink of water and asked her if her mouth hurt.

She said it felt weird but didn't hurt.

I told her she'd get used to the missing tooth.

From inside the bounce house Ally asked us if everything was okay. I explained what had happened and that we were looking for the tooth.

She found it and handed it to Alyssa through the netting.

Eventually, Alyssa confessed that she'd been bouncing against the netting, back and forth and ended up in the net face-first. Her tooth had been snagged by the net and yanked out.

Her biggest concern? Her Gram is going to make her sing "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."

Yes, I had much fun the rest of the weekend singing that song to Alyssa's disgust. Olivia enjoyed my serenade even if Alyssa didn't appreciate my warbling.

And the Tooth Fairie did find her way to our hotel room the night A lost her tooth. That's one resilient Tooth Fairie. Just saying.

Looking at Alyssa these days, with those two teeth missing, I can't help but think of something a good friend from my college days said once, in disgust at another friend who couldn't shut up about corn on the cob (I think that was the reason for his comment. Julie can correct me if I'm wrong.)

"It's hard to eat corn on the cob with no fucking teeth."

Yes....it was funny when I was twenty-three.

And we're hoping that by the time corn on the cob season rolls around again, Alyssa's permanent teeth will have filled that adorable space.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Between the Lines

I'm guilty of reading between the lines. Or of interpreting someone's tone incorrectly.

This is probably one of the biggest issues that Tom and I tackle.

I read things in his words that often just aren't there.

I put my own spin, attitude into his off-hand comments.

And that's unfair.

I've admitted to having a lot of self-loathing coursing through my veins these days.

And I project that onto my husband, imagining that he finds me disgusting, everything about me, from my physical appreance, to my inability to keep up with the vacuuming and the laundry.

Yet...I don't think he really feels that way.

I do. I hate myself for being overweight. I hate that I can't keep the house cleaner. I hate that I can't be a better mother than I am.

I hate that I can't do it all.

And because I feel this way about myself, I feel like Tom must feel this way too.

He's never, not once, told me that he thinks this way.

He's never called me lazy or implied that he thinks I'm a subpar mother or homemaker.

But...I feel like his expectations of me are beyond my capabilities as a working mother.

I feel like he doesn't view most of what I do as contributing to the household. I don't think he believes that taking the girls to gymnastics or helping Alyssa with her homework is something that counts as things that have to be done to keep our household running.

Of course, I'm speculating. I don't know that he feels this way at all. Because I'm scared to ask.

I'm afraid that I'll hear him confirm my own feelings and that might break me.

So here I go, imagining the worst, hoping it's all in my head.

That's just stupid, huh?

Monday, November 15, 2010


It was good.

The Dance Marathon. It was good.

Ally, our...greeter? No, she was more than that. She was the one who took care of Alyssa and Olivia, taking them to the bounce house, to the craft table, just being there to make sure they were having fun. Yes, Ally, she was awesome. Beautiful, sweet, obviously very smart (business major and all that.) She was so kind, making sure that Alyssa felt as welcome and special as Olivia.

Being back in Bloomington after 15 years...wow. I loved that place so much all those years ago. I loved being in school. I loved being AWAY at school. I loved being a college student.

It's still as beautiful, majestic as ever.

Dance marathons are loud. They're insane.

They raise over a million and a half dollars for Riley Hospital for Children.

Amazing! Inspiring. Heartbreaking to hear all the stories of all the kids helped by that hospital. So many tears, mostly of joy but some of sorrow, sadness, loss.

Our hotel was deemed 'uncreepy' by both A and O this weekend.

I was able to keep them both from looking into the windows that overlooked the indoor pool that was RIGHT across from the elevators we used several times.

Next year, if we're invited back, we'll go for both nights so we can make us of that pool.

Exhausting. Olivia fell asleep in my arms fifteen minutes before we went on stage to tell our story of how Riley hospital saved my sanity. I held my Riley kid in one arm, propped against my chest and held the microphone with the other hand. Kind of neat, in its own way.

I was taken back seventeen years to when I was one of those who stood on her feet for thirty-six hours. I remember it being 3am with five hours to go. I looked around at 7am, when these amazing people only had one hour to go and watched some fighting to stay awake, still on their feet.

Then I joined in the cheering and bouncing as the total was announced.

Exhilirating. So much pride in themselves and each other for what they were doing, what they'd done. What we've all done to get to that point.

Relief when it was all over. When we pulled into our garage and unpacked the car, the mundane task of doing laundry, unloading the dishwasher, feeding my children. Glad to be back to the 'real' world. Excited to do it all again in three weeks when we head to West Lafayette to attend Purdue University's dance marathon and share our story again and watch the exhaustion, the exhiliration, the joy, the tears.

What an amazing life, all the way around.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Other Side of the Microphone

The girls and I are heading south and slightly west this weekend to Bloomington, Indiana to attend the IU Dance Marathon.

This will be my second dance marathon as a Riley mom.

The first was Purdue University's dance marathon last year. I actually managed to speak to the crowd without sounding like an auctioneer.

Though this will be my second dance marathon as the parent of a child who has been helped by Riley Hospital for Children, it will be my third dance marathon to have attended.

Back in 1993, I was a participant in the Indiana University Dance Marathon.

What an experience.

It was one of those things you're glad you did but that you swear that you will never, ever do again. It was exhilirating, exhausting, thrilling, terrifying.

I remember one of my very best friends, Elizabeth, asking me early that academic year if I'd do the dance marathon with her. I'd never heard of it and had no clue what it was all about, but I'm always willing to go on adventures with good friends. I've been blessed to have friends who feel the same. (St. Louis, right Julie?)

So when I agreed to E's request, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I attended the meetings, the gatherings, the training sessions where we were given tips on fund raising. But I didn't really get why we were raising funds. Sure, sure we were benefitting Riley but, at 22 years old, that didn't mean so much to me.

What I remember about those 36 hours on my feet is the noise. I remember the crowds, the chaos, the orange plastic fencing they put up to keep the spectators on one side and the 'dancers' on the other. I remember being allowed to sit for five minutes at a time while we ate and for another few minutes every few hours while volunteers rubbed our backs and feet. But it was never enough.

The exhaustion set in about 24 hours in and we still had twelve hours to go.

I remember people getting on stage and talking but I don't remember what they said. And quite honestly, I don't remember seeing a single child there.

The dance marathon I attended last year was so much different. For me, at least. I was a Riley mom. I was on the other side of the microphone. I was the one talking about my Riley kid. I was the one telling how much Riley Hospital for Children helped our family.

I was the one watching these amazing college students make both of my kids feel special. I watched them dance with Olivia and color with Alyssa. I watched them hold Olivia on their shoulders so she could watch another child dance on stage.

I stood back and took it all in, this time, the exhaustion wasn't there because, as a mom, I got to go sleep in a comfy hotel room (about which Olivia declared, "I don't like this creepy house.") and go back, refreshed to watch these tired, amazing people celebrate as the total donation was announced.

It's an amazing experience, one I'm going to do again this weekend and again in about three weeks at Purdue again.

How lucky am I that I have been on both sides of the microphone? Why was I so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people who care so deeply about my kid and all sick kids who need a hospital like Riley?

This will be my first time back in Bloomington in about 15 years. I spent five years of my life there and then didn't look back. I've missed that place and feel so very lucky to be going back for this very reason. I can't wait to show my girls a place that made such a big impact on my life.

And quite honestly, I have to say that I prefer this side of the microphone. I might miss the body I had in my early twenties (one I didn't appreciate AT ALL, I totally thought I was fat, so stupid!) but I don't miss that life. I've lived that life and I'm so very blessed to get to live this one now. This life that has put me on this side of the microphone.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I've been accused of being a fast talker on more than one occasion.

Okay, I've lost count of the number of times people have told me that I talk really, really fast.

The most recent was during a visit to the bank.

It was a Saturday morning. The girls and I were on our way to buy groceries and I needed to cash a check and make a payment to my student loan. (I know, forty years old and STILL paying off my college loans, so very, very sad.)

Anyway, while there, the girls were being good, as they are while in public. Seriouly, they're actually pretty well behaved whenever we're out and about.

I was telling the teller that I'd had some trouble with the online services of our bank.

I explained that I'd like to make my payment online but I can't actually access my checking and saving accounts that way. I can get to my dad's accounts and the savings accounts I set up for the girls but not my own accounts.

She suggested I meet with one of their 'banking assistants.'

She said, "With the way you're talking and those sweet girls behind you, I can see that you're a busy woman, maybe a bit overwhelmed."

Whoa!! Overwhelmed?

Not so much because of banking issues, but whatever. I smiled, gathered my circling children and left the building with my cash and my receipt for having made my payment.

My great grandmother visited from Mississippi way back in the late 80s/early 90s. She and I were having a lovely conversation when she put her soft, wrinkled hand on mine and said, "Lawdy, honey, but you talke so fast I can't understand you."

I attempted to slow down.

When my current boss first started with this company about three years ago, he suggested that I SLOW DOWN when making an announcement over the paging system.

This summer I needed to tell one of our temps, the teenage son of a full-time employee, that he needed to go to to the temp agency and fill out some papers.

I was mid sentence when he looked at me in awe and said, "Wow, you talk really fast."

I don't know what the point of all this is.

Maybe just to say that it's not a sense of being overwhelmed that makes me talk so fast so much as I often feel like I have so much to say and so little time to get it all out.

Who knows? Alas, at least I can come here and spew all those random, pointless thoughts and not actually bother anyone. Right?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Very, Very Bossy

Olivia seems to have decided to get a headstart on the bossiness that seems to come with being four years old.

Last weekend during breakfast, she announced, "When I am doing eating, I am taking a bath."

Tom and I shared a look and I replied, "You are?"

She nodded wisely and said, "I need to wash my butt."

Well, okay then. I mean, honestly, you can't argue with that kind of logic, right?

She got that bath.

Along with this bossiness she's developed this sense of urgency. Everything is very extreme.

Last night on the three-mile drive from my mom's to our house, O announced, "I'm very, very hungry."

This morning, in the dark hour between 5 and 6, she told me, "My butt is very, very itchy."

Hmmm, not only is she on the extreme side of bossy, she seems to be preoccupied with her butt...which...well, she's four.

Admittedly, I find it all very amusing. My husband? Not so much. Remember, he tends to be the prudish adult in the family when it comes to words like butt and fart.

But the bossiness? While sort of endearing right this minute, could get old very fast as she attempts to tell me what to wear, how to do brush her sister's hair, what she's going to eat (ice cream and pie to not constitute dinner, no matter how much I might wish it did.)

But for now I'm enjoying this independent streak and taking it all in from this girl some doctors said might never talk.

Keep on with your bossy self, Baby O.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


So this is 40.


Doesn't feel much different from 39.

To be honest, as I approached my fortieth birthday, I didn't feel the angst or sense of mortality that sometimes comes with these 'pivotal' birthdays.

It was just a day.

A nice day at that.

To be honest, I'm kind of excited to see what my forties bring.

I'm not sure this decade can outdo the last one, though.

I had a pretty good run in my thirties. I bought my first car (the previously mentioned Grand Prix that now has over three hundred thousand miles) I met Tom, gave birth to Alyssa, married Tom, gave birth to Olivia, bought a house.

All in all, pretty good for ten years of life.

So what's going to happen in my forties?

Will I change jobs?

Will I get healthy and be the best I've been in twenty years?

Will I continue to bitch and moan about my husband and quietly fear that my daughters deserve so much more than I'm giving them as a parent?

Or will I grow a pair, tell my husband what I actually need instead of expecting him to read my mind. Will I decide that perhaps being all mommy all the time isn't quite enough and take some time to rediscover Tommie?

Perhaps. Perhaps a bit of everything.

We'll see.

It may just be a sign of some newfound maturity that I spent most of my actual birthday painting our living room. It had this horrible stenciled border around the top of the walls and I couldn't stand it another day.

Of course, we're also having a party for a bazillion family members in just under two weeks and I needed to make the room presentable. But yeah, I painted. Rememberh how much I hate painting? Yes, I still hate it and yet I did it...on my birthday.

So go me, being all mature and all.

Monday, November 8, 2010


The long awaited obligatory Halloween post. Yeah.

So my stupid camera is REALLY cheap. I got it from work as a service award and if I take out the batteries? It deletes the pictures.

So I'm stealing pictures from my mom's Facebook album.

My mom is awesome.

She is an awesome mom and an even more amazing Grammy. She adores my girls and my nephew. And they adore her. They know how lucky they are.

Growing up, my mom always made my Halloween costumes and they were always amazing.

I was Bat Girl one year.

I was a Jeannie another year (though she made me wear a pink thermal shirt under my tube top that year and I was pissed! You can see the tear streaks in the pictures from that year. I didn't give a crap that it was 40 degrees outside, I didn't want to wear a freaking shirt.)


This year my mom outdid herself with the costumes.

Alyssa was Wonder Woman.

Jaxon was Buzz Lightyear.

And Olivia was a lightening bug.

And they were all cuter than you can imagine.

And since pictures are worth a thousand words I'll stop with the words and attach the pictures.

Friday, November 5, 2010


We have a spray bottle beneath our sink. The bottle contains a water/amonia mixture and has "PP Cleaner" written on it with a black Sharpie.

Tom made the mixture and labeled the bottle.

Obviously, we use this for cleaning up the spots Olivia leaves several times a day when she's too busy, lazy, bored, to come tell us she needs to pee.

I say that O is potty trained. But I wonder if I can say that will honesty when we typically have at least two accidents a day.

Except when we're out in public.

Then, she tells us every single time when she has to pee.

Well, she did have an accident at gymnastics three weeks ago, but that was an odd occurance.

So we know she can both hold it AND tell us when she has to go.

Which makes the accidents that happen at home that much more frustrating.

Last weekend, she peed on the new-to-us couch twice in the span of ten minutes.

She ended up in time-out.

After four minutes in a chair, not caring a bit that she was in that chair, I asked Olivia why she was in timeout.

She gave a pttthhhhht.

I gave her two more minutes of timeout and asked her again why she was there.

She said she was sorry.

I asked her why she was sorry. She repeated the raspberry.

I ignored her for another two minutes as she continued to sit in the chair.

Again, I asked her why she was in timeout and why she was sorry.

She mumbled, "Because I peed."

I asked her where she'd peed.

"On the couch."

I asked, "And where are you supposed to pee?"

"In the potty."

She was released from timeout.

And for the rest of the day, she told me when she had to pee. Success!!!

I think this was the first time she connected her actions (the peeing) to my frustration and her having to go to timeout.

My mom reports this week has been much better, pee-wise.

So...conclusion? Timeout works for my kid as long as I make sure she gets why she's even in timeout.

Yeah, even I can learn something every day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2nd Grade Angst

Way back when I was in second grade, we didn't go down to the cafeteria for lunch. The lunch lady brought our trays/drinks to us. I know, it was A LONG TIME AGO.

The school I attended housed kindergarten through 12th grade. The elementary was in a separate wing from the jr./sr. high but we shared a cafeteria.

I am not a milk drinker. Never was. Can't stand the stuff. Ugh!

So I got to drink Jungle Juice when I happened to eat the lunch provided by the school. It was an orange kool-aid type drink. Not good but not nearly as bad as milk, as far as my seven year old self was concerned.

One day the lunch lady, Mrs. Fee, forgot my Jungle Juice. I'd always felt this woman thought I was a spoiled brat for not liking milk and for getting my mom to write me a note saying I didn't have to drink it. That day, I was sure she'd forgotten on purpose.

She told me if I wanted the juice, I'd have to go down to the high school cafeteria and get it myself. She didn't have time to go back down there herself. She had other lunches to deliver, she snotted at my second-grade self.

So off I went.

But I was sort of scared because I'd never been to the high school part of the school before and I wasn't sure where I was going or what I'd find. I did find the cafeteria and the Jungle Juice and headed back to my classroom.

As I walked quickly (but didn't run! I loved rules at that age and running in the halls was against the rules.) back toward the safety of the elementary wing, a wing with which I was very familiar, having spend the better part of almost three years of my life, I was accosted by three high schoolers.

Now, looking back, I realize they never touched me, they weren't in any way threatening. But the scared the shit out of little seven-year-old me.

They stood in front of me, blocking my way. They made a semi-circle and stood there, saying things like, "Ohh, she's so cute." "Look how little she is!" "I just want to take her home with me."

I was terrified. I couldn't get past them and I was sure they were going to keep me there in that hallway forever.

I don't even remember them finally letting me go but I do remember crying in bed that night, begging my mom not to make me go to school.

She kept asking me what was wrong.

I wouldn't tell her at first. I told her she'd laugh.

She persisted and so I spilled the entire story.

And...she laughed. I was horrified. She laughed at the most terrifying experience of my life.

I begged her to promise me I'd never have to go to high school.

She reassured me that by the time I was ready for the high school part of that school, I'd be five years older and much bigger than I was now.

I ended up doing just fine in that very high school.

Now, I've told this story because, well, for one thing, I'm an over-sharer and so I share, but also because last night was a parenting win for me and Alyssa.

When we got home, she announced that she was hungry.

I started to prepare food when she suddenly announced she wasn't hungry after all.

Then she told me her tummy hurt.

I asked her if she had to go to the bathroom. What? It's what we moms ask.

She said no. She said it just felt funny.

I asked if her tummy felt like she was nervous about something.

She shook her head but said, "Maybe."

Uh oh, I knew something was up.

I knelt down before her and asked her what was wrong. What had happened at school that day to make her feel bad.

She explained that during recess, she'd stayed in to finish her journal but couldn't find her journal in the pile of unfinished journals.

Through tears, she explained that first thing in the morning, the students write in their journals and she couldn't find hers and she was sure she was going to get into trouble.

I offered to write her teacher a note explaining the missing journal but she cried that sometimes a student takes all the notes to the office before the teacher reads them.

In the end, I called my boss, left a voice mail explaining that I'd be about a half hour late and when I dropped Alyssa off at school today, I went in with her and talked to her teacher.

And what do you know, the teacher had the journal because she wanted to share it with me during our conference this very evening. She was very apologetic to Alyssa for not telling her that she'd taken her journal. Alyssa cried with relief that she wasn't in trouble for having 'lost' her journal.

And...they weren't even going to be writing in their journals today.

Yet I came through for my girl. She got that I was there for her, no matter how trivial I might have thought the journal issue was, I took her seriously and helped her through her angst.

It's tough to be seven, even when you have an awesome mom.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Okay, so...

Yeah, the last few weeks have been pretty much nothing but a bitchfest about Tom.

I know.

And...there are still somethings about which I'm frustrated.


Last night when the girls and I rolled into the driveway at 6:30 (we spent some extra time at my mom's. Olivia wanted to stay naked a little longer.) he was there, installing a storm door on the front entrance into the house.

And he'd bought a remote to the garage door opener.

Maybe I'm having a good day but I realized today that he's taking care of in his own way. He's doing what he can to make sure his family is safe and warm and cared for.

Sure, my emotional well-being isn't always priority, but I really think he doesn't even realize that.

A friend asked me recently if I didn't think I deserve better.


Do I? Don't we all, to some extent? Heck, Tom probably deserves better than me. At least, to his thinking. He probably deserves a wife who takes better care of herself physically. He probably deserves a wife who is a better housekeeper. He probably deserves a wife who cooks better.

And the girls...they deserve a mother who doesn't yell so often. A father who is around more. A mother who does crafts and cooks and plays Barbies.

But we're in this together, Tom and girls and I. We're a family and to be honest, I like our little family, even if I would like it very much if Tom's presence in the house weren't so much of an event that it turns the girls into maniacs who can't be calmed for hours.

We'll keep muddling through, making the best of each other and this life we're living. In the end, we're pretty darned lucky to have each other. I have to believe that.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Yesterday afternoon, Olivia had found a nice long beam of sunlight coming through one of my mom's kitchen windows and was dancing with her shadow.

Every few minutes, someone would step across her beam of light and disrupt her choreography and she'd whine or grunt at them, letting the perpetrator know of her frustration with them.

Alyssa discovered O's dance floor and tried to take over, standing just behind Olivia in the light, taking away her shadow.

This did not sit well with Olivia. She tried to push her sister out of the way, but a 32 pounder doesn't have much power against someone who weighs 57 pounds.

I stepped in and told Alyssa to go find her own sunlight in which to play.

I know. The stupid things we say to our children.

But my girls have always enjoyed shadow dancing.

When Alyssa was about two years old, she announced to my mom one day, "Grammy look! My shadow thinks I'm big!"

My mom loves to tell that story. She thinks it's one of the most clever things she's ever heard.

There have been a lot of shadows these days.

But watching Olivia dancing in that sunbeam, seeing her and Alyssa fight over the warmth and glow of the light reminded me that there can't be shadows without light.

And when I see a shadow looming, I need to remember to turn and seek out the light that is making the shadow possible.

My world is a good one.

Sure, I'm bogged down with the day to day stuff, but I wouldn't trade my day to day with anyone in the world. Even if Tom were to offer to trade with me, I might take him up for a few hours, but I can't imagine not being there to watch Olivia dance with her shadow, or Alyssa flip across the mat at gymnastics class.

I'm the lucky one and I need to remember that more often. My girls are my light and sure, my shadow is lurking behind me as I bask in their light but wow, the way they shine amazes me every single day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

PBS Kind of Day

After the busy, busy weekend, yesterday (Sunday) was a PBS kind of day. We started the day with Miffy and Friends on our local PBS and it droned on all day long.

Friday was hectic with a school party, trick or treating and just being out until after 9:00.

Saturday brought another party and another evening not getting home until after 9:00.

Sunday dawned beautifully, the sun shining through the blinds, letting Olivia, who'd been awake since before 7:00 that I'd get up soon and find her some food.

We got up, leaving a sleeping Alyssa to find us when she would.

When A did finally lumber down the stairs, she settled on the couch with us and enjoyed two back to back episodes of Saddle Club, munched berries and relaxed. After the running she'd done the day before, she deserved it.

I made my way to the basement and started some laundry and then vacuumed the living room and the family room.

When Olivia asked me to sit beside her, I decided that mopping the kitchen could wait.

It was a PBS kind of day. We watched Sid the Science Kid and she wandered away, leaving me alone with the cartoons.

I realized that sometimes, even doing nothing can feel good. It can feel like you're accomplishing something.

We had a no-yelling day and it wasn't even declared.

That's MY kind of day.