Monday, January 31, 2011

Team Bella

So Julie's comment on the Team Jacob post got me thinking (after I finished laughing.)

We women need to choose ourselves a little more often.

Julie and I often talk about how most fathers don't have the guilt that most mothers have when it comes to time for themselves. They (the fathers) feel that they deserve whatever time they take for themselves, whether it's to exercise an hour each day or yeah, even fall asleep on the couch at 6pm and sleep through until the next morning, knowing that SOMEONE will get the kids fed, cleaned up and into bed at a decent time.

About ten years ago, before I met Tom, I dated a real creep. I met him just days after I went through something that hurt me so deeply that I didn't think I'd ever recover.

This guy was a predator. He knew a weak person when he saw her. He said all the right things, did everything I needed him to do there at the beginning and I was sucked in. I rebounded and he caught me.

I only saw him for about six months before I came to my senses but in that time, he was able to get about $2,000 out of me. He was slick and good at what he did. By the end, I was seeing him in secret, not telling anyone who cared about me that we were even still seeing each other because everyone, EVERYONE was telling me that he was bad news. But I didn't want to believe I'd been so weak, so stupid.

But see, I'm not usually weak. I'm not usually easily taken in. Becauase he met me at my lowest point, I was an easy target.

But only a few months in, I was healing. Not because of him, though. In spite of him. He thought women were weak in general. He thought he knew how to talk to them, how to drive a wedge between me and my support system.

I took him home to meet my mom and a few days after that meeting, he casually asked, "So what were you running from when you left Chicago?"

I was confused. I hadn't been running from anything. I'd moved home.

I explained this to him.

He acted bewildered. "That's not how your mom tells the story."

He was trying to make me think that my mom told him a different version of why I'd moved away from Chicago.

I knew my mom wouldn't do that.

Again, he wasn't used to strong family bonds. He was a user, someone who thought everyone had a price and a weakness. He knew my bonds with my family were strong and he was trying to break them.

It didn't work.

Later, near the end of our relationship, as I was getting stronger and he was getting more desperate to keep me weak and alone, he said one afternoon, "There's a rumor going around."

I just asked, "A rumor?"

He leaned in, as if he were about to impart some great secret, "People are saying I met you in a strip club in Fort Wayne."

At first I wondered why people would think I'd frequent a strip club. Then it hit me. I laughed. "People think I could be a stripper? Cool!"

He was stunned at this reaction. He thought for sure he was going to undermine my confidence with this little 'rumor.' (For the record, no one ever thought I'd been a stripper. Also for the record, I have never actually been a stripper. :-) )

Things went downhill fast at that point. He realized his control had never been all that strong to begin with and it was slipping fast.

I realized how much he was using me and how much I no longer wanted to be used.

Even after I ended things, he tried to hold on. He tried to maintain a thread of communication, saying at times that he had some of the money he owed me. He'd give me $100 here or there, just to keep a foot in the door of my life.

But then I realized that he was just poison. The money wasn't worth it. One afternoon, after a month of blissful silence, he called me while I was at work.

I answered the phone and when I heard his voice saying, "Tommie? It's Terry, do you have a minute?"

I simply, gently put the phone back on the cradle. He never called again.

That moment of power, of taking back my dignity, my strenth, my confidence is so strongly imbedded in my memory. I was done. Done being used, done being played, done being manipulated.

I chose me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


During O's first year, I lived with quite a bit of denial. Our lack of a diagnosis allowed me to do this. I didn't have the accept that there was something wrong with my child right off the bat.

Heck, even her doctors all insisted that she was fine, just a little delayed. They all said she'd catch up.

And like every parent, I wanted to believe that.

When I first heard of Cri du Chat in the comments of a fairly popular blogger, I immediately googled the syndrome, reading the symptoms, looking at all the pictures.

Here is an excerpt from the blog I kept at the time over at It's a site hosted by the March of Times.

"This is going to be kind of a rambling, thinking-out-loud kind of post. Please feel free to skip it.

The more I read about Cri du Chat (or Cry of the Cat) the more I wonder if Olivia has it. We have a well-child check up on December 1 with her regular pediatrician and I'm going to ask for a referral to a developmental pediatrician at that time. Will the developmental ped be willing to do genetic testing to see if Olivia has this chromosomal disorder? Who knows? But I want to be prepared either way.

So what is Cri du Chat? It's a chromosomal disorder in which part of the short arm of chromosome 5 is missing. It's medical label is 5P-.

Here are the symptoms. Again, this is me thinking out loud. I'm going to put next to each symptom whether or not I think it applies to Olivia, more for my own benefit than anything.

-The first thing that triggers doctors to even consider Cri du Chat is when an infant's cry sounds like a cat. We most definitely had that one. We were asked by strangers if we had a cat in the carseat when we took Olivia out as an infant. I have to wonder why not one of the many doctors who saw her ever considered this syndrome.

-Feeding problems because of difficulty swallowing and sucking - O didn't really have a lot of feeding problems other than the reflux. She was able to suck and swallow just fine, it all just came back up too much and too often.

-Low birth weight and poor growth - Definitely had the low birth weight thing. The growing? Well, once we got her reflux under control, Olivia started growing just fine and has always been in the 25% for weight and the 50% for length/height.

-Severe cognitive, speech, and motor delays - She obviously has the motor and speech delays but the cognitive? I don't think so. She's pretty aware of everything cognitively.

-Behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, aggression, tantrums, and repetitive movements - Olivia is definitely NOT aggressive or hyperactive. She rarely has tantrums. The only repetitive movement I can think of is that she sometimes likes to bang her head against me. But I think that might be because she likes the way I react when she does it.

-Unusual facial features which may change over time - unless her features change a lot, Olivia doesn't have unusual facial features (maybe I'm seeing them as a mother, though? Anyone who has seen O, do you think she has odd or off facial features?)

-Low set ears - I don't think her ears are low set. Am I just trying to fool myself?

-Webbed fingers and/or toes - Her fingers and toes are all unwebbed.

-Excessive dribbling - This was never a problem. And believe me, I come from a family where babies have been known to drool through multiple bibs a day.

-Constipation - Yep, but now that we've increased her water intake, the constipation is abating.

-Low muscle tone - Definitely have this one.

So, with all of this? Who knows? The thing is, even if she does have this, it's a chromosomal disorder. There is no cure. We're already doing everything that every website suggests can be done for kids with this syndrome. But knowing is half the battle, right? Once you know what you're fighting, you can wage the war."

I feel like, because her doctors missed this for the first two years of her life, I was able to cheat that sense of loss or anguish that a lot of parents feel when their newborn is diagnosed with something like this. Obviously, I didn't want to believe she had it, even with so much of the evidence pointing out that my intuition was right. But I was able to deny the diagnosis without denying my child. At the time I started reading up on 5p-, it wasn't inextricably tied to my daughter. It was some syndrome I'd found online. I could read the symptoms without seeing Olivia.

By the time we did get the diagnosis, Olivia was Olivia. I didn't have to worry about the unknown because she'd already proven a lot of the 'facts' wrong.

I don't know. Why am I even pondering this? I feel like I cheated. Like I didn't have to mourne the loss of my ideal. By the time Olivia was two years old and we got her diagnosis, SHE was my ideal. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was amazing, just because she's Olivia. The diagnosis didn't make her any less amazing. It didn't diminish my love for her or my dreams for her future. It was just the results of a test, a label, if you will.

Have I sometimes wondered how O's diagnosis might affect her later in life? Of course. How could I not?

Have I also worried about how it might affect Alyssa? Definitely.

But I watch them together and I know that they'll always be there for each other, supporting each other, driving each other nuts. And Alyssa will always be the big sister. I pray that her sister won't need constant care even as an adult, but if she does? Well, obviously, I'm going to live forever and provide that care.

Okay, kidding aside, all siblings affect each others' lives. They just do. Chromosomes might make some siblings a little more needy than others, but...they don't affect the love.

In the end, it's the love that matters the most. To all of us.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Last weekend I managed to myself and the girls dressed and out the door before noon. We'd planned a visit to our tiny village's little library and from there we'd go grocery shopping and then home to make cookies, blah blah blah.

It was going to be our first visit to the library.

But the library was closed. It's not open at all on Saturdays or Sundays. Well. That means we won't be visiting that library anytime soon since I work until 5 most weekdays and it's only open until 5 Monday through Friday.

So...what to do?

We headed into the bigger neighboring town and went to that library, which is open until 3pm on Saturdays. Score!

We love the library. We love the fact that most libraries have a children's section, where there are puzzles to be done, stuffed animals to be climbed upon and even books! Books to be perused.

And did you know? They let you TAKE those very books home, for FREE and all you have to do to get even more books is bring the ones you took last week back. It's an amazing concept.

Alyssa got her first library card this weekend. She was so excited.

In our old town, we lived outside the city limits and so I paid $65 a year for a library card and we just used mine to borrow books. But now? Alyssa can borrow books using her very own card.

Alas, at four, Olivia is too young to have her own library card. Poor kid is stuck using Mom's card for another ten months.

I'm a reader. I love to read. I think of it as an escape. I would read all the freaking time if I didn't have to do things like work, feed my children, put laundry away, etc.

Alyssa is becoming a reader. She's not as enthused by it as I was at her age, but I'm working on that. I want her to find the joy of other worlds, the fun of exploring places she may never see in person. I want her to understand the excitement of imagining herself in the very world about which she's reading.

Olivia? Loves to be read to these days. So we've always got books strewn about our house.

But this idea of not having to actually buy the books? And being able to give them back when we're done instead of having to find a place to store them? What a wonderful world we live in to have LIBRARIES. Libraries that give cards to you all free and willy nilly. So much excitement! It can barely be contained. Yet, it will because there are just so many books to be read!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Team Jacob

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I've read all four of the Twilight books.

I blame Julie. She had the first one on her Kimble during one of our March of Dimes trips and she let me start reading it on the plane.

While I found the writing tedious and the characters more than a little annoying, I was quickly drawn in and when I got home, I went out and bought all four of the books. I know! The stupidity.

But I read them back to back to back to back. And, (another confession) I read the end of every single book I start before I read the entire book. I'll read the first couple of chapters to get an idea of the characters then I go back and read the last chapter. Once I know how it ends, I'll go back and read the rest of the book.

I read for the stories, not the suspense of how it's going to end. Life has enough surprises as far as I'm concerned. I don't need any in my reading.

So, while I've read all four of the books and have seen three movies that are out on DVD, I definitely wouldn't call myself a twihard (what a stupid word.)

Now, here's another thing I'll probably be judged.

Alyssa's watched the second and third Twilight movies. And she's loved them. She's absolutely, totally on Team Jacob. She's all about the wolves.

She's SO my daughter.

Last night, she declared to me that she's a werewolf and she proceeded to race around the house on all fours. It was both adorable and annoying all at the same time. The girl's got a lot of energy. If she's not being a werewolf, she's a horse or a lion. It's always something that has to run around like a wild animal and make a lot of noise.

But as we watched the movies last weekend and Alyssa was cheering for the wolves, I started thinking..."Why isn't there a Team Bella?"

Why does Bella HAVE to pick either Edward or Jacob?

Because she's a girl and girls are only complete if they're in love and committed for eternity to some guy?

Edward is creepy. He's obsessive. He's egotistical. He's a jerk.

Jacob is young and immature. He's also obsessive.

They're both so sure the they're the right guy for Bella.

I know. In the second book, Edward tried to leave her so she'd be safe. And she lost her simple little female mind for a bit before finding it again during her friendship with Jacob.

But why couldn't she have been strong enough to find herself without a guy?

I know that at eight years old, Alyssa's too young for the 'you're amazing in your own right, you don't need a guy to define you' speech but someday, I hope to give her (and her sister) that knowledge. The strength to know that even when her heart is broken, she's enough, all by herself, she's strong, she's capable, she's AMAZING just because she's herself.

I've probably thought way too much about this stupid VAMPIRE/WEREWOLF series. And I say I'm not a twihard? Yes, yes I do say that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shades of Gray

I am not a winter person.

I do not enjoy the cold weather.

I don't like playing in the snow and slipping across the ice.

I prefer to have my feet and hands warm and I much prefer sandals to boots.

Winter in the midwest is a long, lifeless monotony in shades of gray.

The sky is gray, the ground, which is covered in dirty snow, is gray. The trees have a haze over them turning their brown bark a dark gray.

Even on days when the clouds clear the sky is a pale, desperate blue that is still more gray than blue. The sun, if it shines, is weak.

And my mood is often gray as well.

I was all prepared to come here and talk about how easily, smoothly Tom has slipped into our morning and evening routines. He's there in the mornings to give Olivia her corn flakes while I shower and get Alyssa up and around.

He's there in the evenings to help with homework and monitor computer time.

But last night...was gray. He was grouchy about waste (food waste that is) and I was grouchy about him being grouchy and everyone was tired and it was just an off night.

I'm so tired of gray.

I can't wait for the tulips I planted way back in September to poke through the ground and shower our yard in reds and yellows.

I need some color in my life and I know that we have at least two more months of gray winter.

Two. More. Months.

It feels so long but I know it will pass. Spring will come and the gray will be chased away by balmy breezes and sunny days.

But right now? It's just so very gray.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Bad Daughter

Last Friday after work I had to run to the store and pick up some milk and a couple of other things. Things that I didn't want to wait until the next day to get when the girls and I actually went grocery shopping.

As I was walking across the parking lot to enter the store, I saw my dad in his car, preparing to get out.

Did I stop and turn and wait for him?

No...I did not.

I'm ashamed to admit I put my head down and walked a little faster, hoping to get inside the store and down and aisle before he made his entrance.

And this is a horrible thing to have done. And quite honestly, even after reading this post, no one else will really understand why I did that. No one except perhaps my brother. Oh my goodness, would he understand. He'd have done the same thing himself, I can almost guarantee it.

See...I didn't want to be followed from aisle to aisle to aisle, listening to his monologue about what this or that friend might have said that day, that week or yes, even that year. I didn't want to hear even one more time how he couldn't financially help my brother anymore or have him ask my permission to tell my brother that.

I love both of my parents. I do.

I even like them both.

But...I actually enjoy spending time with my mom. She's a sunny, loving person, who has much to give to life itself. She converses with you instead of narrating story after story to you.

My dad? He's a melancholy fellow. I don't remember him ever really being happy.

And this makes me incredibly sad. I know that I'm part of the problem. I want him to be happy. But I can't MAKE him happy. Only he can do that.

He has self-esteem issues yet he's got an incredible ego. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? He believes himself to be way smarter than any of his friends and yet won't go out and find different friends because he doesn't think anyone smart enough for him would want to be friends with him.

The same is true for possible lady friends. He's been single since he and my mom divorced 29 years ago because he believes that anyone he'd want to 'socialize with' (his phrase) wouldn't want to socialize with him. And anyone who does wnat to socialize with him? He finds things wrong, such as the woman isn't smart enough. Or she's too self-absorbed and won't let him get a word in during conversations.

Ohhh, wow, the condescention.

And yet, the loneliness that he pulls around him like a cloak is almost overwhelming.

My heart breaks for him even as he drives nuts.

I don't know how to help him. He's 71 years old. He's very much stuck in his ways. He doesn't know how to stand up for himself so he's passive agressive and holds grudges until the end of time.

From July of 2000 until August of 2001, he didn't speak to me because I asked him one afternoon to stop bitching to me about my brother. I explained, in what I thought was a calm, considerate tone, that I am Jason's sister. I'm not my dad's peer. I didn't understand his issues with my brother at the time and I was really tired of being my dad's confidant as he bitched and moaned about any trouble Jason might be causing him.

He took if VERY personally and still brings it up to this day.

Egads!! I sound almost as self-absorbed as he is.

I knew I wouldn't be able to really get it out without sounding like an ass.

So be it. I'm the bad daughter. No matter how much I love my dad, I don't enjoy spending scads of time with him. He's tedious. He's needy. And I am at a point in my life where most of my attention is pointed elsewhere, such as at my tedious, needy children.

I pray that I don't turn into the tedious, needy parent my children bitch about in 30 or so years. I hope I maintain my independence and my joy for life.

I hope there isn't a day when Alyssa called Olivia to groan, "Your mom stopped by today. She's driving me crazy!"

And that Olivia doesn't commiserate and reply, "I know! She called me after she left your house. I wonder what Dad ever saw in her."

Because, I confess, I often wonder why my parents married. I know no one likes to think of their parents being intimate, but my parents? Are a complete mismatch. Whic, obviously, is why they divorced after ten years of marriage. But still...

I don't want to be that to my girls. Please, please, let me not be that to my girls.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Dieting sucks.

It really and truly does.

I wish I could say that I get something out of self-denial. I wish I could say that I'm maturing and realizing that being healthy and conscious of what I'm eating is a maturing, growing experience.

But it's not.

I can't say any of those things.

I can say that I miss Coca-cola. I miss peppermint patties.

I miss Reese's Cups and frozen cokes.

I've been dieting since January 3rd and as of today, I've lost ten pounds.

Of course, with my build and the way my body gains and loses weight, I'm nowhere near being in a smaller size. Perhaps after losing at least ten more pounds I could venture into my closet and try on those clothes that are one size smaller than the ones I donned this morning. Perhaps.

So there's not even the enticement of new (to me, except not really because I wore them two years ago before gaining this weight) clothes to lure me away from the chocolate chip raisins cookies.

Yes, yes, being healthy and able to race after my children is a reward unto itself. Whatever.

No, I don't want to be the fat mom at school parties and gymnastic classes.

But...the struggle. It's hard. It's tough to remind myself that even on bite of that chocolate covered cherry fudge is all it takes for me to eat two pounds of it before realizing I've lost control.

So I fight.

And I try to remember that lettuce is good for me. Even if it is tasteless.

I remind myself that the health benefits are numerous and the joy of that peppermint pattie will only last a few minutes.

Whatever. I'm trying. I guess that's all I can ask of myself.

I know it's too much to ask that I wake up tomorrow morning able to think like a thin person, a person who 'forgets' to eat. For the record? Who the hell forgets to eat? Seriously? Who?

But again, whatever. I know that's not going to happen.

I also know that weight-loss isn't about instant gratification and unfortunately I'm an instant gratification kind of girl, which is why the peppermint patties appeal to me so much, all that cool chocolatey goodness.

But...I'm trying to remember that I gained this weight over the span of a couple of years. So I have to be patient (another thing that isn't necessarily a strong suit of mind) and know that the weight will have to come off more slowly than I'd like.

So I keep walking past those chocolate snacks and grab the tangerine instead. I have a few celery sticks and tell myself that, oh yeah, they're tasty too. Even though I know they're not, I will munch them and try to take even a little pleasure when I weigh-in and have lost even a single pound.

It's not easy, though.

Oh, no. It sucks. But does the dieting suck more than the backaches from being overweight? Does it suck more than feeling like a whale next to my slim husband? Does it suck more than being the fat mom at school parties?

No...all of those things suck way more than the dieting.

So I keep trying. I keep trying.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lazy Weekends

We're still setting into the house that we've been in for five months.

But sometimes it's hard to get motivated.

When there books to be read and movies to be watched and popcorn to be eaten and little girls to be snuggled, it's hard to motivate yourself to get up and fold the laundry and put the dishes away or even hand a mirror on the wall and put that second coat of paint on the living room walls.

Instead, we pull the blanket a little tighter and snuggle a little closer. We put in another movie and pull each other a little tighter against us.

And that's okay. In fact, it's wonderful.

And when they're energy level gets the best of them, I watch them flip around the room and help Olivia bounce a little higher and then, finally, I go get a basket of clean laundry to fold.

It will all get done but it doesn't have to be today. Heck, it doesn't even have happen before the start of the week. These little moments slip away so fast and we'll never get them back.

There will always be laundry to be folded and dishes to be put away. The floor will always need to be vacuumed and there will always be one more item that needs to be put away.

But these little girls won't be little for long. It will seem like tomorrow when they're both teenagers and too cool to sit for even a minute with their nerdy old mom.

So I'm soaking up my lazy weekends where these girls are still little and still think that I'm the best thing ever. I will read one more book (Chowder was popular this weekend) and I will watch one more cartoon. I will hold O's hands and help her do 'humongo' jumps. I will applaud A's handstands and I will add a few more bubbles to the warm bath O insists on taking at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon.

And tomorrow, we'll start the week all over again, with lunches to be packed, homework to be done and gymnastics classes to be attended. And if the laundry has to be pulled, wrinkled, from the baskets for another week? So what? There are more important things in this little life than having everything put away at all times.

There will be time for that stuff later, when they're bigger and I'm older and we've all moved, sadly, from snuggly, lazy weekends. For now, I'm soaking up every single minute of time these little girls will give me. And I know how lucky I am to be able to do just that.

Friday, January 21, 2011


After a month away from gymnastics classes, the girls returned to class this week.

Alyssa's class is on Monday evenings and Olivia's is on Thursdays.

One these nights, I race to my mom's, get the girls and then race back to town to get them to class on time.

Monday evening, I could tell Alyssa was a little nervous about returning to class. Would the friends she'd made way back in August through November still be there? Would the coach be the same? Would she remember how to stand on her hands?

It was fine. She rallied and got through it and was grinning and red-faced when the hour was over.

Olivia? Well, she didn't do quite as well last night.

We switched her class from a mommy and me class at the last minute back in November, so she'd had one class with new kids before our break. And even though there were no other mommies out there, I was right beside her, helping her throuhg the stations.

Last night, she bravely put her hand in Miss Maggie's and went into the gym without me. I waited with Alyssa on the other side of the window, watching O run along side her teacher, watching her pretend to stretch. Sitting next to Alyssa, I was amazing as how BIG she seemed. Eight doesn't seem old to me. She's not gronw up yet, not at all. But sitting in that waiting room, I put my arm around the child who made me a mom and was stunned at this tall, slim, beautiful girl is MY CHILD. I could suddenly see the beautiful young woman she'll be someday. Alas, my reflections on the stunning beauty of my first born were interrupted by the stubborness of her little sister.

When the warm-up was over, Miss Maggie reachd her hand out to Olivia to help her stand up. O looked up at her and just sat there. Maggie picked Olivia up and tried to her put her on her feet. O let her knees crumple and wouldn't support herself. Maggie let her sit there and started to corrale the other little girls into a group where she'd explain what they were going to work on that day.

I gave Alyssa an apologetic squeeze around the shoulders, took off my coat and boots and joined the class.

Olivia wrapped her entire body around me when I picked her up. She was like a baby octopus. Each time I attempted to put her down as we listened to the instructions for each station, her arms tightened on my neck and her legs gripped my waist like iron shackles. I wasn't getting out of that gym again.

And it was fine.

She really did need more help than any of the other kids with the exercises and I hate to take Miss Maggie or her helper away from the other kids so they can give my child constant one-on-one attention. So we'll turn Kindergym into Mommy and Olivia class. Thankfully, Miss Maggie is okay with this.

But Alyssa? Poor sweet, tall Alyssa had to sit in that waiting room with all the other moms, sort of by herself.

As we were leaving the gym, I promised Alyssa that she could either stay at my mom's in the coming weeks during Olivia's class or, if Tom is at home, she can stay with him. This pleased her very much and Olivia and I were both quite forgiven once I'd bought them both a happy meal from McDs.

It's amazing how many wrongs French fries can right.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Early one morning a few days ago, I woke up to find Alyssa standing beside my bed. She whispered, "Can you come lay with me for a little while?"

I think I mumbled something and then followed her back to her bed. As I pulled her against me and pulled the blankets over us both, I whispered, "Are you okay?"

She whispered back, "Yeah, I just had a bad dream."

I wanted to ask her what the dream was but she was already falling back to sleep.

When we were on our way to my mom's I asked A about her bad dream. She gave me a grin and said, "You'd forgotten to pack my lunch."

Ahhh, sweetie. I hope that's the biggest of your worries for years to come.

The day our developmental pediatrician gave us O's official diagnosis, one of my first questions to her was, "Will she pass it on to her kids?"

It hadn't occured to me yet that Olivia might not be mentally capable of raising kids.

And honestly? I still harbor that dream for her. If it's what she wants, I hope she can do it.

Note, the answer to the question was that O has a 50/50 chance of passing the deletion on to her own children. Of course, who knows what advances there will be in assisted reproduction twenty years from now.

All parents have big dreams for their kids. We want the best for them. We want them to have great, happy lives in which all their dreams come true.

For as long as Olivia has been aware of her own reflection, she's loved clothes. She will stand in front of a mirror for timeless moments, gazing at her reflection. She turns back and forth, checking her profile and doing her best to see her own back.

One afternoon last summer, she was checking herself out in a new swimsuit that has crisscross straps in the back. She LOVED the back of that suit.

I said to my mom, "When she goes to prom, she's going to have to have a dress with a fancy back."

My mom agreed.

It doesn't matter to us what O's diagnosis is. We're still dreaming for her. We're still encouraging her to dream for herself. Of course, at four years old, her most ambitious dream is to stand on her hands like her sister. But with work and persistence, we'll do all we can to help her achieve that dream too.

Yeah, bad dreams suck and I'm so glad that I get to be the one who chases them away for my girls. But good dreams....ahhh, those are the things that sometimes get us through the day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Division of Labor

During the entire time Tom was working on selling the old house and LIVING there while the girls and I were in the new house, it never occured to me that our division of labor might change when he finally moved home.

I do the inside stuff and probably ninety percent of the parenting and he does the outside stuff and works most of the time he's not doing outside stuff.

It's been this way since forever and so why would it change?

Except...he works from home and I have this fantasy of walking into the house every afternoon with the girls and finding dinner on the table.

It's never going to happen, which is why it's a fantasy. lovely that would be. Heck, I'd settle for one night a week. Just one.

But honestly, this isn't that big a deal. I may not actually enjoy cooking but I can do it. It's just kind of tedious after working all day and getting home around 6pm to have to figure out what everyone's going to eat. But parents all over the country deal with this daily so whatever, I'll get over myself.

On a completely unrelated topic, Tom has new email now that he's at home with us full-time. It's really dorky of me that I get such a kick out of the fact that my maiden name is part of his new email address. It's as if he took my name over seven years into our marriage.

I know, a silly thing to find so amusing, but...okay, I'm silly.

I will give credit where credit is due. Yesterday, Alyssa's first day back at gymnastics after a month off, Tom brought the girls to town for me. Typically, I would have driven the 14 miles to my mom's, picked them up and driven the 14 miles back into town with them for the gymnastics class. This time? I drove two blocks to McD's to meet them and then about six blocks with the girls to the class. It was lovely.

Of course, he told me not to get used to the luxury. But what the heck? I'll take those little moments of kindness when I can get them.

In the end, I think we're both okay with our division of labor. And if we get to the point where we're not okay? We'll talk. We'll compromise and we'll work it out. I like that I know we can do that. It makes the monotony of laundry a little more bearable.

But...what the heck am I going to make for dinner tonight?

Monday, January 17, 2011



This living together full-time thing is tough.

I don't know how all the married couples out there have done it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

I kid. Sort of.

In the over seven years that Tom and I have been married, we have never actually been together in the same house every single night of the week.

At first, Alyssa and I stayed at my mom's house just one night a week, starting when A was about 6 months old. The trauma of putting her in the car and driving 65 miles every single day was too much to take.

That one night turned into two and then three by the time Olivia was born.

If the weather was going to be bad, we might have spend four or even five nights away from home.

So this past weekend was the first that Tom was home with us, truly home, with nowhere else to go.

And to be honest, there were some rough moments.

The girls have forgotten what it's like to have him around when he's not just visiting. They aren't used to him being there day to day and actually parenting them.

He's not used to the mess that living causes.

On Sunday, I gathered up protesting girls and left him alone in the house for several hours just because we all needed the space.

When we got home from the grocery store he was outside shoveling snow and putting up a snow fence. The girls joined him while I put the groceries away.

They all came in rosy cheeked and happy. The alone time had done him good.

He mentioned that the house hadn't seemed so messy when he'd 'visit.' I reminded him that when he moved in, he brought 'stuff' with him and hadn't yet put it away.

He gave me a sheepish grin and realized that the stuff that was annoying him the most was his own.

We're going to be okay. But we all have to be a little patient with each other. We all have some adjusting to do. But we're a family and adjusting is what families do. Because we love each other and in the end, we all want the same thing, to be happy, healthy and together. And boy have we got some togetherness going right now.

That's where the adjustments come in. Finally.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Conversations with Livie

For a child who is supposed to have a significant speech delay, Olivia talks a lot.

The other day, I received via email all of her school records from the special ed co-op which helped write her IEP for her first year of preschool.

She was two year and ten months old when the evaluations were done to help the professionals determine which preschool class she would benefit most from.

As I read those reports, I was amazed at how far my girl has come in just over a year. One evaluator wrote, "She says one word at a time, but most often, points to make her wishes known."

Another wrote, "Her mother claims to be able to understand most of what she said, but this child speaks so quietly, it's hard to tell if her words have meaning."

These days, strangers in the store can hear and understand the sentences that come out of Olivia's mouth.

On Saturday, she didn't feel good so after Alyssa's skating party, I spent most of three hours on the couch, holding Olivia, rubbing her hair and back.

At one point, I was pulling he hair away from her ears and she ordered me, "Don't pick at my ear."

Tom heard that one from across the room.

For the past four years, whenever O's been sick, we've had to guess what was wrong. She couldn't tell us what hurt.

Yesterday, she told me several times, "My tummy hurts."


I know that parents of typical four years old would think, "Duh, my kid's been doing that for several years."

Yes, but mine hasn't. And some doctors would have told me she never would.

Yet here she is, scheduling her day as we get ready in the mornings. This morning she told me, "Later, I'm going to take a warm bath. And after that, I'm going to go outside with Daddy and Lyssie."

She understands time and sequence. She's aware of the things around her and how those things affect her.

I can tell her, "Just give me a few minutes and I'll get you a snack." And she knows that the snack is coming, but it won't happen right that second.

How freeing! To be able to communicate with my child and have her communicate back is such a gift.

I feel lucky to be understand the importance of it all. I'll never take for granted how blessed we've been with Olivia. I know she's amazing.

Of course, I'm a mother, so I think both my girls are amazing and I'm so blessed to be able to talk to both of them and sure, even blessed that they can talk back.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Let's Get Rolling

When I was six years old, my parents took me to a roller skating rink for the first time. It was awesome. I was enthralled by all the big people who could spin around the floor like circus performers. There were people who could go backward, forward, in circles and I wanted to be just like them.

A friend of my parents was there that night and took me on the floor, holding my hands and leading me around the floor. He skated backwards and let me get used to the feel of the wheels on my feet and how to keep my legs straight and stay off my butt.

By the end of the night, I swore this guy had taught me to skate.

I got a pair of skates for my next birthday and skated from one corner of the kitchen to the other, over and over again. It should be noted that my mom's kitchen was maybe 8'x 8'.

I thought I was one of the best skaters EVER.

Alyssa's been roller skating three times in her life. She loves it as much as I did when I was her age.

We had a roller skating party for her this weekend to celebrate her eighth birthday. We invited several friends from her school and it was a blast.

Even after only two previous visits to roller rinks, Alyssa was a natural. Sure, she fell a lot, but she kept getting up and skating on.

She's a chip off the old roller skate, I guess.

Her perserverence amazes me. She's so quick to laugh at her own falls, so fast to hop right back up and skate away, giggling at her own graceful falls.

The skating rink was quiet today during her party. It wasn't a private party but there were really only a few other people there other than the party invitees.

Most of the kids there were first or second timers and it was exhausting keeping track of which kid had just fallen, which one was tired of skating after only a half hour and which one was tired.

But I'd do it all over against next year just to see Alyssa's flushed, smiling fast after three hours of rolling around and around and around that floor.

She had a blast and I'm so grateful that life has led us to a point where we can do things like this for and with her.

Friday, January 14, 2011

And Now She is Eight

Eight years of giggles, of shiny blond curls, of big blue eyes, of soulful gazes shared across inches, feet and sometimes, across a room.

Eight years of kissing boo boos and soothing hurt feelings, of watching her grow and learn and become.

Become what? Who knows? But I can't wait for the coming year, the coming decade with my girl.

At eight, Alyssa still loves horses and dogs. She dotes on her little sister and is a faithful friends to kids she met way back in kindergarten.

She's very physical, running or cartwheeling from room to room. She's got a wacky sense of humor, finding joy in the smallest toys won from those silly 'grabby' games at the entrance to most stores. Her imagination is limitless.

Second grade has been good to her, brought her even farther out of her shell. She's made good friends and learned to trust her own sense of self more and more.

I couldn't be prouder of this girl, this eight year old, this girl who made me a mother eight whole years ago. She changed my life, made it so very much better than I ever imagined it could be. I'm so grateful to whatever fates let me be a part of her life, for letting me watch her, learn from her, teach her, be loved by her and most of to love her. I'm so very, very blessed to be able to shower this child with all the love in my heart, today and every other day of the past eight years and I pray that we get countless more years to laugh and love and grow together.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Footie PJs

One of the things I wanted to get Alyssa for her birthday was a new pair of footie pajamas. She loves this kind of pajamas. We call them sleepers around here and she has two of them right now that are a year old and worn out. She prefers this type of jammies to any others and so wears them whenever they're available.

I will give her that her reasons for preferring sleepers to two-piece pajamas are practical. The sleepers are warmer. It's always right there, not in two pieces which often happen to be in different places when you want them.

My reason for wanting to get her the footie pajamas are more sentimental. I love that she still looks little when she wears them. I love that she's confident enough in her own maturity to pull on these pajamas and stay warm without a thought.

Of course, not only are the sleepers getting worn out, she's also outgrowing them. She's put holes in the toes of both sleepers. It's time to move on to the next size.

But I looked everywhere and it's really hard to find footie pjs in a child size 10. Of course the size 10 is going to be a little big, but let's remember that they don't even make a size 9.

But size issues aside, I was having trouble finding any footie pajamas at all other than infant sized.

Finally, today, the day before her birthday, I found one size 10 sleeper at Kohl's. It's awesome and she's going to love it. And!!! It's not a 'character' sleeper. It doesn't have Dora or Tinker Bell, or even one of the princesses. Which, in my mind, makes it that much better.

Oh yes, turning eight is a big deal, but I'm so glad she's still my little girl in the footed pajamas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


This morning during at meeting at work, I found myself saying to a co-worker who was complaining that a sandwich he'd had the previous week during a meeting, "Dude, not my fault."

I hadn't made the sandwich. Sure, I'd picked it up from a local Subway, but I didn't make it. And wow, how freeing were those words?

I can't even tell you.

See, I have this compulsion to apologize for everything. It doesn't matter if whatever I'm apologizing for isn't my fault. I still want to apologize.

When I was about six years old, I remember my dad apologizing for something that was totally not his fault and I wondered at the time why he was apologizing.

And now I do the same thing.

So, today, almost two weeks into the new year, I'm making another resolution.

I'm going to stop apolozing for things that aren't my fault. Perhaps this is an extention of my resolution to be kinder to myself.

Of course, in an effort to be kinder to others, I'll have to find new phrases to replace my ever-ready, "I'm sorry."

So maybe..."Ohh, that's too bad."

I suppose that "Sucks to be you." isn't so kind and shouldn't be considered a viable replacement for "I'm sorry."

Too bad, I sort of like that one.

But in all seriousness, it's time for me to stop taking the blame/responsibility for everything that goes wrong. It's not my fault and I'm done saying I'm sorry for it.

So yeah, sucks to be whomever isn't happy at the moment if whatever make them unhappy isn't my fault. I may try to help fix the situation but I'm not longer apologizing for the creation of the situation.

And it feels good to give myself permission to stop saying I'm sorry. Because it's not always my fault. And I need to remember that.

Here's to continued kindness and taking responsibility only for those things that I control. The rest will have to take care of itself.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Daddy's Coming Home

I've said over and over that I can't wait for the time when Tom is in our new house full-time because at that point, he'll stop being a guest and just be home.

Right now, the girls act like monkeys when he's there. They run, they scream, they push him around like he's a big toy.

And he loves it. He really does. He chases them around the house, from the kitchen, through the living room, down the hall and back into the kitchen and they giggle and Olivia lets him catch her so he can carry her as they chase Alyssa, who will get far enough ahead of them so she can stop and wait to see if Tom's changes the route and waiting around the corner for her.

Honestly, I love that they all have so much fun. I do. And I hope that once he's just home instead of visiting the fun continues.

But we'll see.

And the time we'll get to see that is in three days because closing for the sell of the house in Huntington has been scheduled for Thursday. Thursday night, Tom will be HOME, in our only house, with me and the girls and it will be lovely.

It will be right.

Last night, he sat down on the couch with a sigh of relief and said, "I'll be so glad to not have to make that drive anymore."

And I smiled beautifically at him and said with sympathy, "I know. It's been tough, hasn't it?"

See, my New Year's resolution was to be kind. Kinder to myself, to my girls, to my husband.

And so, instead of getting up, going to the kitchen, getting a fork and coming back and stabbing in the eye with it, saying over and over, "Five months, you did it for five months, you ass!"

Instead of doing that, I smiled and agreed that it will be nice that he won't have to make that drive anymore.

But let me remind everyone (because I don't necessarily have to be kind here, right?) that I made that drive for eight years. Yes, EIGHT freaking years.

The first year I made it while increasingly pregnant. The second year, I made the drive with an infant who screamed the twenty minutes home every. single. day.

The third year, it got better, because Alyssa no longer screamed and she and I stopped going home every day.

But...five months people.

He's bitching and sighing in relief after five months.


But...I'm done with that. The kinder, more loving side of me says, "So what? We're both done making the drive and isn't that what really matters?"

And it is what matters.

He's coming home. And that's truly what matters.

Well, that and the fact that as of Thursday, we'll only have one mortgage again. Whew.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I was perusing the archives of a fairly well-known blogger last week and came across the word monosomy. This particular blogger was explaining all the things that came occur when a person with a balanced translocation attempts to procreate.

See, I've never actually seen or heard the word monosomy before.

Knowing that meaning of trisomy, obviously, I was able to figure out what monosomy meant.

I also knew how it related to Olivia and 5p-.


For some reason, that word really hit me hard. It rattled around in my head. Monosomy, monosomy, monosomy.

Why does hearing/reading that word hit me harder than hearing the doctor say she has 5p-?

Does it make it more real?

Not really. Olivia is Olivia. She's still my sweet, beautiful girl. Her chromosomes are no different today than they were a week ago, when I'd never seen or heard that word.

Of course, being a child of the internet, I googled monosomy.

Google brought up Turner's syndrom and 5p- (Cri du Chat) as two monosomies that are compatible with life.


I realize that 5p- is actually a partial monosomy. Olivia does have some of that short leg of her fifth chromosome. Does adding partial to the front of monosomy make a difference?

Not really.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this.

I guess I just want an honest account of my emotions concerning everything about my girls and the things that affect them.

And obviously, O's chromosomes affect her. Duh.

So this has hit me harder than any other part of her diagnosis.

When I first heard of 5p-/Cri du Chat, it was in the abstract. Olivia was not even a year old and she was nowhere near being diagnosed. So I had almost a year and a half to take it in, to turn it over and over in my head, considering the possibility of it applying to my little girl before it actually did.

This time, though, it's right there and it obviously applies to my child.

Perhaps that's why it's hitting harder. It doesn't actually make O's diagnosis more real. It is what it is, but maybe, just maybe, because I can't consider it in the abstract, I can't think about what it means without applying it to Olivia, it feels more real, it feels more final, it hurts just a little more.

So I'll work through it. I'll roll this word, this monosomy, around in my head, feeling it out, figuring it out even as it applies to Olivia.

It doesn't change her. It doesn't take away from the joy of having her ask for red lipstick every single day or insisting on tights instead of sock. It doesn't make her less joyful or even less frustrating.

This is about me this time. My reaction, my hurt. But it won't hurt for long. Because it can't. I'll be too busy applying red lipstick and find a different pair of tights because the first, second, and third pair bothered her toes.

Life gets in the way of thinking about things like this for too long. And that's a very good thing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Girls with Boys' Names

Growing up at the only Tommie in the tri-state area, I went through several years of hating my name, to several years of accepting my name, to a few years of thinking that if I had daughters they'd have names like Alison nicknamed Sonnie and Penelope nicknamed Pete (I know, that one doesn't make any sense at all, I was 15 at the time, give me a break.)

Over the years I've come back to the state of acceptance.

I was named after my dad, Tom (duh!) and one of my mom's favorite cousins, Tommye Jean. My mother was born in Memphis, TN and lived there until she was eleven, at which time her parents moved her and eight of her eleven living siblings to Vermillion, OH.

By the time I got to college, I was okay with my name. I even still considered eventually giving a daughter a name with similar gender neutrality.

We all know how that worked out.

When I met Tom (on-line, I know!!) I refused to even meet him at first.

I was all, "Please. Do you really want to be Tom and Tommie? Give me a break."

But he wore me down and here we are.

I still really like gender neutral names, but for my girls, it didn't feel right. When Tom suggested the name Alyssa, I mentioned that it was on my list. He settled on it right then and there was no more discussion.

When I mentioned the name Olivia, he liked it and decided again, that that was it.

But sometimes...I think about those daughters I imagined when I was fifteen. I wonder how much Sonnie would hate her name. And how much Pete might want to kill me in my sleep once she hit the teen years.

I suppose this is just one more reason fifteen year olds shouldn't have babies, they usually have terrible taste in names. (Please note, I wrote USUALLY! If any of my readers, all either of them, had a child at fifteen, I'm sure he/she has a lovely, perfectly appropriate name. End note.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh, there it is...

So I started a diet on Monday, as one does on the first Monday of the new year. was hard. It's been hard every single day, hour, minute since waking up on Monday morning.

Usually, when I start a diet it isn't so hard. Usually, I have this sense that it's time, I'm ready, let's go. I don't even want those foods that are suddenly 'forbidden.'

This time? Ohhh, how I wanted that peanut butter fudge that someone (EVIL!) brought in on Tuesday morning.

I confess that I found a small bag of Funyuns in my car yesterday and devoured them in the twenty minutes it took me to drive home.

This morning, though, I found that elusive will power that had evaded me for the past three days.

Suddenly, when I passed the chocolate fudge (EVIL!) in the breakroom, I could say honestly, "Don't want it. Don't need it."

And I walked away.

So here I sit, eating my lettuce with salsa and anticipating my cucumber. I only hope this will power sticks around because...ohh, how hard it is to resist when it's not here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Just" 5p-

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday and in the midst of the conversation, I heard myself say, "Well, she just has 5p-."

And I stopped right there.

Just? She JUST has 5p-? Good Lord!

To back up, we were talking about social security benefits and how I've heard that it's easier to be approved to receive them as a child than it is as an adult.

I went on to explain to my co-worker that we have no idea how far Olivia will go. So far? She's amazing.

And yes, she'll always be amazing as far as Im concerned.

But...will she someday be able to hold down a job and live by herself?

We just don't know.

I explained that at this time, she doesn't seem to have any of the complications that can sometimes accompany various syndromes. She's healthy, she's aware, she's mobile.

So is there any such thing as 'just' having a chromosomal disorder?

I didn't mean to come across as flippant in my conversation. I feel like we got so incredibly lucky with Olivia. As this point in her development, she's very high functioning (as well as high maintenance.) But I'm well aware that that might not always be the case.

I go back to the moment we got her diagnosis. She was just a couple of months past two years old. I'd found 5p- when she was about eight months old and mentioned it to her doctor, who poo-pooed me and waved me on my way. I looked at Olivia and thought, "Well, she doesn't really have any of the physical features, so maybe he's right..."

But I always came back to that cry. That tiny little cry of hers when she was in the NICU. That cry that told every single person in the room that MY baby was crying. The cry that when she was about six months old and we were out and about one afternoon, we were asked while at WalMart, "Do you have an exotic bird in that carseat?"

And then at Dairy Queen, the cashier asked if we had an angry cat in our car.

That cry.

But I kept thinking that her doctor was smarter than I am. I'm just the mom.

So when our new doctor, our developmental pediatrician, walked into that room and confirmed the 5p- diagnosis, all I felt was profound relief.

Finally! We had some answers.

And I'd done enough research to know it wasn't degenerative. Olivia is Olivia. She'd already shown how much more she could do than doctors several decades ago would have expected out of her. We'd take our little gir who 'just' had 5p- home and let her set the pace, (while continuing therapies, if only to give her the very best chance of proving everyone wrong.)

Obviously, right now we're taking things one day at a time. She's four, for Pete Sakes. (That one was for you, Julie.) Each day brings it's own challenges, whether you 'just' have 5p- or not.

But yeah, that social security issue has been on my mind quite a bit. Any Ohio moms out there with any advice on this one?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"The bus is FUN!"

Those words were shouted at me as I walked in the door to my mom's kitchen yesterday afternoon.

The words were shouted by the very same girl, who, nine hours earlier had put on her bravest face, looked at me one last time as if I'd betrayed her trust somehow and climbed onto the bus to school for the first time in her entire elementary school career.

She's in second grade, dudes.

She'd never once ridden a bus to or from school before yesterday.

But she pressed her lips into a hard, resigned line and climbed onto that bus and took the seat the driver pointed her to (her assigned seat, much to her relief) and off she went to school.

And I was on time to work during the school year for the first time in almost three years.

The night before this new bus routine, Alyssa didn't sleep much.

She was nervous. She was scared. She cried. She didn't understand why she had to start riding the bus.

Couldn't she just start with riding the bus to school for awhile and having Gram pick her up. Just for a little while?

No, we jumped in with both feet. She rode the bus to school and then back home again.

And it was fine.

Heck, it was better than fine, it was FUN.

I held her that Sunday night, whispering that the first day is always the hardest. Didn't she remember those first few days of school earlier this year? They were hard. They were scary and now? They're great.

She remembered, but it didn't help with the fear of the bus.

What if Gram wasn't home when the bus dropped her off?

What if the bus driver forgot that she was on the bus and didn't stop at Gram's house?

There were so many fear and she's only seven (for ten more days, she's only seven.)

But she did and I couldn't be prouder of her.

She did it and she realized and acknowledged that it was fine. It was fun.

My girl is brave. And she's tough and she's sweet and willing to admit those moments she realizes her fears were unfounded. She did tell me that it's also loud and bouncing. Which, when you're seven, makes it all the more fun.

She's awesome and I love that she figured out that the bus is fun.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ringing in the New

Alyssa tried. She really did. She wanted so much to stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve. She made it to 10:30. But she couldn't quite make it past that point. She's not a night owl, that girl.

Of course, she beat both Olivia and Tom. O was sound asleep by 8:30 and I'm not sure Tom made it much past 9:00.

Me? I stayed up and kissed each of my lovelies at 12:00 (or 12:01 or 12:02, depending upon where they lay in the house.)

The next morning, Tom got up with Olivia, our early bird, at 7:00 (she was awake at 6:00) and gave her the corn flakes she requested and let me sleep until 9:00. It was lovely.

It was a wonderful way to start the new year.

When I finally dragged my sleepy butt out of bed, I made breakfast and Alyssa fussed over her one scrambled egg, but in the end, it was eaten and all was well. Olivia, on the other hand, ate most of two over-easy eggs and three sausage links. She's an eater, that one. There's something to be said for the 5p- metabolism.

It was a lazy day. There was laundry, and tv. Alyssa raced through the house being a horse, and then a lion and Olivia twirled around the house declaring to one and all, "I'm a ballerina."

Which? Is awesome. Just like the horse and the lion are awesome.

We left 2010 behind with barely a look back. was a good year.

We bought a new house. We got an offer on our old house.

Alyssa started a new school and is thriving.

Olivia talks more and more and her words become more clear every week. Her balance is incredible these days. She runs, she jumps, she stands on her head.

Tom and I are working together these days instead of against each other and that's just so very nice. We can laugh and be silly and actually talk to each other in ways that are important and meaningful.

I hope and pray that 2011 is better still. But I know that it will take continual work to make it so.

So bring it, 2011. I think we're ready.