Friday, April 29, 2011


There's this girl on Alyssa's bus, she looks like she's maybe 14. She looks like a typical, sullen teenager. She sort of sneers at my every morning as I walk Alyssa to the end of the driveway and wait until the bus pulls away before turning and walking back to the house.

She might not be sneering, actually. That may just be the way her face is. She is a teenager, afterall.

Yes, I do actually still walk Alyssa to the bus each morning.

Why? Because she lets me.

I know this won't last and I love that she still wants me around. I love that she still finds comfort in my presence.

Heck, I still find comfort in my own mother's presence. She was in the delivery room when Alyssa was born. My mom was on the my left side, Tom was on my right. Tom was the one who told me Alyssa was a girl and my mom was the one who told me she looks like her daddy.

I know there is a big possibility that at some point in the next few years that my presense will annoy Alyssa more than it comforts her.

So I take what I can get now and store it away for those weeks, months, years when she's pushing me away.

So this teenager on the bus. The sneery one.

I take comfort in her too. Weird, huh?

Maybe not so much.

See, I imagine her thinking every single day, "That stupid mom, why is she walking her second grader to the bus? Does she think her kid is a baby or something? Whatever."

Yes, I hear the sneer in my head too.

I then imagine her thinking back to her days in second grade, when she was still little but thought she was so big. When she walked to the bus each morning by herself because either the house was really close to the road and it was no big deal or her mom worked and couldn't walk her to the bus.

Whatever the reason, I imagine this girl, this teenager, wistfully wishing someone had walked her to the bus when she was eight. And I think of her filing this away in her subconscious, this random mom walking her 'big' kid to the bus every day.

Someday, this girl, this sullen teenager whom I imagine sneering at me as I stand there in my office attire, walking my child to the bus, this girl is going to be a mother. And her child will attend school as some point.

And I think that this girl might remember me walking Alyssa to the bus and she might decide, when her child is eight that maybe eight is still little. Maybe eight still needs her mom to walk quietly, solidly behind her as she heads to get on the bus.

And I smile. I like that I'm setting an example for this stranger, this girl who migth someday walk her child to the bus simply because I walk mine to the bus every day, watching, waiting, waving as the bus rolls out of sight.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I am a left-handed, blond, blue-eyed, fair-skinned person. I've often been heard describing myself as a walking recessive gene.

When we got Olivia's diagnosis, I knew that Tom and I needed to be tested to see if either of us had passed the deletion on to her.

Tom wasn't quite so keen on giving a vial of blood just so we could know.

I pulled the older kids card, reminding him that we got REALLY lucky with Olivia and if either of us was a carrier, any one (or more) of our older kids could be one too.

He bought it and got tested.

We ended up on the majority side of the percentages. Olivia's deletion was a random fluke. Just something that happened.

I didn't want to know so that we could place 'blame.' There is no such thing as blame in a situation like this.

But I also knew that the older kids deserved to know if there was a chance they could pass this on to future generations.

Growing up, I liked looking like my dad's sister. I loved having that genetic connection.

I always kind of wanted to have kids that looked like. I know that's SO egotistical but there it is.

When Alyssa was born, my mom, who was in the delivery room, said, "She looks just like her daddy."

And she did. She does. And I love that. I love looking at my daughter and seeing so much of my husband.

It suddenly doesn't matter if she has any of my recessive traits. She is perfection, just the way she is.

They both are.

Would I fix Olivia's chromosomal deletion if I could? Yes. Even though I think she's perfect just the way she is right this second I would take away her struggles, her pain. I would do what any parent would do if they could, I would make my child's life easier.

But since I can't splice DNA back into my child's cells, I tell her every single day how proud I am of her, how amazing she is, how perfect she is just the way she is.

She and her sister are the perfect melding of me, their recessive gene-carrying mother and their daddy, a green-eyed, brown-haired guy who tans really, really easily but who managed to conceive two blond, blue-eyed daughters who also tan WAY more easily then their mom.

Yep, the perfect combination of the two of us.

Who could ask for more?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


They say music soothes the savage beast. I don't know about that, but it definitely soothed Alyssa when she was an infant. And even now, at eight years old, her favorite way to fall asleep every night is for me to sing to her.

I'm not all that musical.

Sure, sure, I was a band geek. I played the flute for seven years in elementary, junior high and high school. Heck, I was even the drum major of the marching band for three years. Yes, I did indeed go to band camp. But I have no awesomely raunchy band camp stories. Remember, we were a bunch of geeks but definitely not the randy ones from American Pie. So I will probably never start a post with "This one time, at band camp..."


Olivia? Was not so much soothed by music as an infant. She wasn't soothed by much, actually.

But I sang to her anyway.

The first time I saw her in the NICU, about 18 hours after she was born, she was lying there with her leg kicked out of the swaddle the nurses kept trying to wrap her in and she was quiet. Her eyes were closed but I couldn't be sure she was asleep.

I approached her and the gazed down at her tiny little body that had leads coming from it, a tube was taped to her face to keep it in her nose and she was still, just breathing quietly.

And the song "Your Song" by Elton John jumped into my head. There was one line in particular that kept repeating in my mind.

"How wonderful life is, now you're in the world."

Because my life felt complete at that moment. I had Alyssa by my side, ready to see her baby sister. My mom was there too and I was looking down at my baby girl, my infant who was calm, settled, just waiting for the moment when I could hold her.

Yes, those settled moments didn't last long after we left the hospital, but in the past four years, every single time I've heard that song, I've thought of those first moments in the NICU, thinking how wonderful my life was now that she was in my world.

Tom and I both sing a lot around the house. He's makes up silly songs about farts and burps and Alyssa and Olivia alternatly giggle at him and tell him he's gross.

Sometimes, he just sings the numbers, which, quite honestly, at 6am is VERY annoying.

These days Alyssa likes to fall asleep to "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri.

In the past, her sleep songs were "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "The Rose", "I Honestly Love You" and "You Are My Sunshine".

I'm not that great a singer, but she finds my voice, when sung quietly in the dark of the bedroom with the hum of the fan or the humidifier (depending on the season) as background noise to be soothing.

And I'm so very, very glad I can do that for her. I think that music has similar powers that smell has, it can take you back. It can evoke memories of days gone by, it can bring back nostagic feelings. I like that. I like knowing that these songs will someday take the girls back to quiet, peaceful times when they knew their mom loved them enough to want to comfort them in the dark of the night with a quietly crooned song and a soft touch

Olivia tends to fall asleep with me holding her in the recliner with the soothing sounds of Jeopardy in the background. Perhaps reruns of Jeopardy twenty years from now will take Olivia back to that peaceful place. It could happen.

I have recently been informed by Alyssa, though, that I'm not allowed to sing when her friends are visiting. And I can't sing when I walk her to the bus these days. Or when we're out in public where I might embarrass her. Huh. I'm not sure I like where this is going...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


So last night was weird.

Well, okay, the whole day was long and sort of stressful.

After the dentist, the girls and I stopped by the McD's drive-thru for drinks/soft food. Alyssa got a cup of vanilla ice cream, Olivia wanted a strawberry shake and I just got a coke.

Then we headed north and stopped in to order a new social security card for me. I know...whatever.

By then, the girls' lips/cheeks were almost over being numb from the dentist, so we got some lunch.

We drove into our driveway at about 2:30, just long enough for Alyssa to grab her scooter, me to give Olivia her antibiotic and then we headed to my mom's so the girls could play with Jaxon for a couple of hours.

We left my mom's at 5:30 and headed to A's gymnastics class.

We got home from that at about 7:30.

All in all, we'd been gone from the house for over ten hours. Tom had spent the day working on his chainsaw, which I think frustrated him because it's STILL not working right.

The minute we walked in the door, both girls declared they were hungry.

I told them to give me a minute and I'd get them something to eat.

I ran upstairs to gather pajamas and clothes for the next morning. I hate rushing about in the morning so I like to have things laid out already.

When I got back downstairs, Tom had fixed them both Spaghetti-Ohs. Which...ick. But whatever, they both like them a lot and according to the commercials they have a serviving of vegetables. So...spaghetti-ohs it is.

Next I settled in at the desk to write yesterday's post about the dentist. I only got about halfway through before Olivia was demanding that I hold her.

Tom tried to distract her but she was having none of that.

So I put my computer time on hold and rocked her to sleep. I did so in the family room where I had Dancing with the Stars on at low volume.

Alyssa wandered in at about 8:15 and I suggested to her that we just go to bed. I knew I could get her to sleep in just a few minutes and rejoin DwtS before it was over.

Off to bed we went. I headed up the stairs with Olivia already asleep in my arms (thank goodness she still only weighs 33 pounds, huh?) and calling for Alyssa to follow me.

A few minutes later, she and Tom arrived, she'd made him carry her up.

Not even ten minutes later, I was back down stairs, picking up clothes to take to the basement to be washed and putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher.

Then I settled down to watch the stars dance again. Except, during the commercials, I headed to the living room where the computer is so I could continue typing my post.

During one such batch of commercials, I was sitting at the computer when Tom got up, stalked into the kitchen and a few minutes later, stalked back into the living room and settled onto the couch where he was watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

I didn't think anything of it. Maybe he'd had to pee (the bathroom is just off the kitchen.)

When I went back to the family room, found that the television was off.

That explained the stalking around. He'd turned off the tv since I wasn't in the room. I didn't bother to talk to him about it. I just turned it back on, watched my show, turned the tv back off and went to bed.

About fifteen minutes later, Tom came to the bedroom and kissed me goodnight, mumbling something about missing me when I'd crossed in front of the couch earlier.

I hadn't crossed in front of the couch earlier. But I didn't bother to tell him that. I just said goodnight very sweetly and let him leave the room.

Now...I get the whole idea of energy conservation and turning off lights in rooms not being used. But it was a commercial. I was going right back in there. Sure, he may not have known that.

And he might have been annoyed that I hadn't bothered to cook anything for dinner last night. I'd mentioned that we had leftover spaghetti (not Oh's) but I didn't warm it up for either of us. I didn't eat dinner either.

Maybe he was annoyed that he'd had to feed the girls. But you know what? Big flipping deal! I'd take care of everything for them ALL DAY LONG. So he had to head up a can of Spaghetti-Ohs in the microwave.

Anyway, it wasn't even a fight so much as an...incident.

And it doesn't even matter. Everything was fine this morning, as if nothing incidental had happened at all. We were good. We are good. Even though we both have off days. It's just sort of sad when our off days happen to be the same day, I guess. But that is the way of marriage, right? We have ups and downs and it's getting through both that show you just what the marriage is made of. I think the fact that we both felt MUCH better after a good night sleep means we're going to be just fine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dental, DAMN

I had really, really bad teeth as a child. As in, really, really, really bad. They were bad enough that I made a lot of trips to the dentist before I was five. I had countless fillings, crowns, etc.

I hated the dentist with a red hot passion. I hated having my mouth held open with whatever it was they used to keep it open while they worked. I hated the feeling of being numb and I REALLY hated that my mom had to stay out in the waiting room.

My girls had a dentist appointment today.

And I waited in the waiting room. Honestly, I'm not sure who had it worse. It was probably the girls, but waiting was awful all the same.

Alyssa needed a filling replaced with a crown. She was out in about a half hour.

This was Olivia's first visit during which they were doing real work. She got a couple of fillings and a crown. She also got the damaged front tooth sealed with a whitening agent, mostly for cosmetic reasons.

When the dentist first asked me if I wanted them to do this, I resisted. I though, how much does a four year old care about whether she has a darkened tooth?

But then I remembered that when I was thirteen, my dentist told my dad that I didn't really NEED braces. He could put them on me if my dad wanted me to be pretty, though.

My dad decided pretty wasn't important.

I paid for those braces myself when I was 27. Pretty was important to me.

And pretty is important to Olivia, so we went with the cap on her front tooth.

But the entire experience was traumatizing for her. She cried the entire time.

When they finally brought her to me, she was sobbing. She was snotty and red with fury and fright.

I felt awful. But I also knew she needed the work.

And now, six plus hours later, she is sound asleep, hopefully forgetting the stress and pain of the day. She did tell me at about dinnertime that her tooth hurt. We gave her a little more Tylenol and hoped it was just a bit of residual physical pain. Physical pain can be dosed.

Emotional pain? That runs deep. And while I do know that dental work is a fact of life, I hate that I had any part in the emotional pain Olivia felt when she was taken from my arms and carried back to that dental chair.

I remember that pain and I remember wondering why my mom was letting these people hurt me.

I can only try to brush her teeth better in the days, weeks, months to come and hope she only has to suffer that one morning of work. Poor baby.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Oldest

Just yesterday morning, Alyssa told me with a grin that she likes being the oldest. She was thinking about the day before when she and Olivia joined Jaxon at Gram's house to dye Easter eggs. Alyssa often gets to pick the activity or the prize just by virtue of being oldest.

And she really likes that. She also likes that her Easter basket is usually bigger and always harder to find. My mom gave the kids their baskets from her on Friday. And Alyssa found both O's and J's long before she found hers. But it was totally worth the search. Her loot was pretty awesome. My mom is very good to both of my children. We're very blessed.

But yesterday afternoon she was faced with a drawback of being the oldest.

We went to a community-sponsored Easter Egg hunt. My mom had read about it and picked me and A and O up for the hunt. She didn't read the fine-print though and when we got there, we realized that it was for kids infants to seven years old. Alyssa's eight.

To be honest, I found the age restriction to be a bit extreme. Eight isn't too old for hunting Easter eggs. But rules are rules and Alyssa stayed back with my mom while Olivia joined the other four and five year olds to pick up plastic eggs thrown across a field.

Anyway, after the 'hunt' we headed home where I informed the girls that I needed to go to town to pick up the ingredients for the pie I wanted to make for the dinner we were having at my mom's for Easter.

Both girls groaned and begged to just stay home. Tom was gone, he'd left to pick up a part for his chainsaw. He called soon after the girls and I got home and said he was on his way and would be here in about an hour. It was lunch time so I decided I'd make the girls something to eat and we'd wait for him and then I could just go into town ALONE. Imagine....alone.

Yes, I'm sure you can see where this is going.

The girls ate, I dawdled, Tom got home and I prepared to leave.

And both girls decided they wanted to go with me.

So they did.

And it was fine, like it always is.

As of this afternoon (Easter Sunday) Alyssa is back to really, really liking being the oldest. She found way more eggs than her younger sister and cousin, she was given a special gift from her Papa (my step-dad) and she got to boss both Olivia and Jaxon around while the 'big people' (her words) hid the eggs for her.

I'm with her, the benefits of being the oldest definitely outweight the drawbacks. I always thought so growing up with two younger brothers and a younger cousin too.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Because I don't want this to become a 'poor me' blog where I bitch and moan about being fat and tired and then not actually doing anything about that, I thought I'd write about things that are good, things that make me happy.

Right this second, Alyssa is in the kitchen, washing dishes. This is the first time EVER that she's washed so much as a spoon. So yeah, that makes me very happy.

My hyacinths are blooming. Even though this April has been very wet, the flowers are pushing through and seeking the sun. I planted the bulbs back in September, soon after we bought this house and seeing the results makes me very happy. It makes this place feel like home.

Yesterday was sunny enough for us to go outside for a little while. Even though Olivia is just now feeling good enough to be up and about, we let her outside to bask in the sun for about a half hour. It was glorious. And last night? Her cough was very, very mild. That makes this mama exceedingly happy.

Tom and Alyssa rolled the lawn. There's nothing sweeter than a girl and her daddy. It doesn't even matter what they're doing as long as they're together. She loved being with him, just riding on the mower on his lap, steering a bit here and there, enjoying her time being the center of his world. Every little girl deserves moments like this.

I changed the sheets on our bed this morning. I try to do this every week or so, but after the four days of Olivia coughing and sneezing and crying and fussing every single night, the scheduled needed to be moved up. I LOVE slipping into a bed with clean sheets blankets. I know that's such an adult thing to enjoy but there it is.

The girls and I are heading to my mom's this afternoon to dye Easter eggs. It'll be messy, it'll be fun. It's the making of memories.

While I do have my moments of frustration, I really am so lucky. And I know it.

I think I just need to find my inspiration. My motivation. Something that makes me want to make changes to myself to get myself out of this funk.

It'll happen. It always does. And then I always wonder why it took so long to get to that place.

For now, I'll continue to count my blessings, sleep when I can, and seek inspiration in the little things, the every day things. The things that sometimes frustrate me are the very things I need to channel my energy into, the things I need to use as inspiration. I'm going to try. It's all I can ask of myself, right?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Diet Plan

When I got home last night, I walked into a house full of stench.

The first words I uttered were, "What is that smell?"

And from the look on my face, Tom could tell that it wasn't that I found the scent so delightful that I couldn't wait to taste whatever it was that had created the odor.

He pointed to the stove and said he'd made dinner.

For himself.

Because I have to tell you, I have never before had the desire to eat boiled cabbage and cauliflower and after smelling the results, I now REALLY don't want to eat the stuff.

So Tom wants to lose about ten pounds.

Yes, ten pounds.

And because he wants to do this starting May 1st, last night he was experimenting with a vegetable diet. The diet he's chosen, one of his own creation, is hideous. It stinks up the house and makes me and the girls want to cry. Or at the very least, run away from home until the house has been aired out.

Back to that ten pounds...really? Ten pounds?

I want to smack him.

And then I want to cry.

Because if he's concerned about ten pounds, what must he think of me? See, I need to lose at least fifty pounds. At least. I'd be far happier if I could lost closer to seventy, but for now? Fifty would be a most excellent start.

While I held a sleeping Olivia last night, he ate his odious boiled vegetable medley and talked about how nice it was to eat such a fresh, unprocessed meal.

I sort of sneered at him and said, "Yeah, good luck with that."

Because seriously? I do not intend to be the one boiling cabbage so that my already-fit husband can lose the ten pounds that he thinks make him FAT.

I know. I'm so childish and petulant. I can't help it. I don't want to be this heavy. I don't. Yet, I stuff my face with peppermint patties and Mountain Dew because they keep me awake after several (many?) nights of less than decent sleep as I care for the girls, who are both crappy sleepers and always have been.

I can honestly say that it wasn't pregnancy that caused me to gain weight. It was motherhood.

During each of my pregnancies, I only gained 20 pounds and 15 pounds respectively. It wasn't until after the girls were born and DIDN'T sleep that I started to pack on the pounds.

One would think that with both girls far out of their infancies, sleep deprivation would be a thing of the past. One would be wrong in that assumption. Take last night for example. A fever-free Olivia fell asleep at 6:45. She's still recovering from her fever filled days and nights and so, I didn't think anything of her falling asleep so early.

I should have. See, she got her deep sleep out of the way.

When I took her up to bed at 8:30, the instant I laid her down, she sat bolt-upright and started crying. I told her I was just putting on my pajamas, but that didn't calm her. She sobbed until I crawled into bed with her and let her fall back to sleep on my arm.

Every single damn time I moved, she sat up to see what I was doing.

It doesn't help that she's still coughing quite a bit and so that keeps her from getting into a deep sleep. But come on! I'm allowed to roll over with getting my four year old's permission.

But seriously? Ten pounds?

Of course, if I'd been conscious of my own weight like he is of his, perhaps I'd have caught it before I got to the point where I need to lose fifty or more.

Aww, hell. I'm just grouchy with myself and taking it out on my poor family. This is my issue, not theirs. I need to either make peace with myself at this size or do something about it besides bitching and moaning here.

But I will stand by my assertion that even if I do put myself on a diet, it won't be one consisting of boiled cabbage and cauliflower. Ugh! Not. Going. To. Happen. Sorry, Tom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why Turning 40 Sort of Sucks

I had my first mammogram today.

I know.

Actually it wasn't that bad. I think I have very squishy boobs because while there was a definite squishing sensation, there was never any actual pain.

My tech was VERY touchy, feely though. I got the feeling it was more about her being very thorough than her wanting to cop a feel.

She was also very chatty, which, honestly, was kind of nice. It took away some of the awkwardness of me standing in a room, topless, with my boobs being squashed one after the other.

And the best part? She had bigger boobs than I do.

Seriously, you guys, you don't know how comforting that it to a big-chested girl. I know it sounds stupid but it means something to NOT have the biggest boobs in the room, even if there are only two of you in there. But especially if you're the only one with your boobs all hanging out for the world (or just the tech, whatever) to see.

But enough about the mams. It's over, I'm done (unless the doctor sees something he doesn't like then...I'll probably have to return for a second show.)

Another reason being forty sort of sucks is that I think my metabolism has sunk to new lows. Of course, it could be an over indulgence in peppermint patties and not nearly enough physical activity but I feel just nasty these days.

It doesn't help that Olivia has slept horribly for the past five nights, requiring frequent and often wakes up from me, involving get OUT of bed, refilling her sippy cup, changing her pull up because of the afore mentioned full sippy cups, dosing her with ibuprophen or acetominophen in the hopes of bringing a tenacious fever down.

Last night, though, seems to have brought us over the hump. She was almost fever free and slept better. Not well, but better than the previous four nights.

I've never handled sleep deprivation well, but since turning forty, I'm handling it even worse than ever. I'm grouchy, I'm hungry, I'm TIRED.

Last night as I herded the girls up the stairs at 8:30 for bed, I informed the both, "I'm too tired to be bothered. So just don't. I'm too tired to scratch, I'm too tired to sing and I'm too tired to be mauled."

The scratching comment to was directed toward Olivia, who prefers to have her back or arm scratched as she falls asleep.

The singing remark was for Alyssa, who likes to have me croon the song "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Peri to her at least four times all the way through as she falls asleep.

And the final comment about mauling was for them both. They both like to lay on my arms (one on each arm) as they drift into peaceful slumber. And Olivia likes to maul me, pushing parts of my body into the position she finds most comfortable. Ugh! Last night I wasn't having it.

I told them to just go to sleep.

Yes, it seems being tired AND old makes this mama sort of mean.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


At either years old, Alyssa seems to have gotten to the age where she's old enough to be too young for certain television shows and movies.

We love The Big Bang Theory.

Last year, Alyssa could watch it with us and laugh when we laughed but not really get it.

This year? She's starting to ask questions about why certain things are supposed to be funny.

Last week during the show, she asked Tom, "What is 'ass'?"

Tom looked at me and I tried to keep a straight face.

He finally said, "It's a mule, but it's also a word you aren't allowed to use."

I do believe that The Big Bang Theory is going to have to be watched after Alyssa's asleep from now one. There are just too many sexual innuendos and she's getting to observant.

Good thing that at eight her bedtime is usually 8:00. I guess we'll just have to start being more strict about that bedtime.

I knew this was coming. But I do find myself wondering why such shows are on so early in the programming. Some kids aren't in bed until 9:00 and yet some of these shows are way too mature and showing at 8 and 8:30.

Okay, now I sound like just like my mom. Wait....

Monday, April 18, 2011


My girls have forged a bond that is undeniable.

I first peed on a stick during my pregnancy with Olivia on a Sunday. It was the day my period was due and I thought, "What the heck."

And it was negative.

That afternoon, while in the bathtub, three year old Alyssa asked, "Are you going to have a baby?"

I think she sensed her sister even then.

I went on to test the following Wednesday while at work because I was officially late by then. And the second line was almost instantaneous.

From the beginning, Alyssa insisted she was having a little sister. I was never one of those women who could sense the gender of her fetus. I just never had any feelings at all one way or the other.

Of course once we got the ultrasound confirmation that a baby sister was, indeed on the way, Alyssa perversely changed her tune and insisted she wanted a little brother.

From the start, though, she was a protective big sister, watching over her baby with cautious eyes, holding her hand and rubbing her head gently.

These days, Olivia returns that protectiveness. Whenever Tom or I tease Alyssa as she dawdles over her shoe strings or wanders around the house as the rest of us are putting on coats that we're going to leave without her, Olivia will plant herself in front of the door, telling us sternly, "No. We are not leaving without Lyssie."

And we never do.

On Saturday evening, my mom called and invited Alyssa to her house for the night. Olivia was too sick to join in the fun.

By 8:00 the next morning Olivia was begging me to get us both dressed so that we could go to Gram's and get her sister. She missed her. She doesn't like being separated from her more than necessary.

I love that.

I love that they have each other, to tease, to protect, to love and even to annoy each other. It's good for them.

My best friend posted on Facebook recently that her nine-year-old daughter informed her that she'd gladly give up her puppy if her mom would get her a little sister.

This broke my heart for by J (my friend) and R (her daughter.) I know that, had things been different, R wouldn't have been an only child and J wouldn't feel this tug of guilt over something that was so out of her own control.

As regular readers know, Alyssa really wants a dog.

When I told her that R was up for giving up her dog for a sister, Alyssa smiled and said, "We could take her dog!!"

I waited.

She then shook her head and continued, "But even if we took her dog, she can't have my sister."

That was not what I expected. But it brought tears to my eyes anyway. Tears of joy at my girls' unconditional love for each other and tears for J and R, that they even have to talk about this.

It reminded me how very, very lucky I am to have those two little girls who take up so much of my bed each night. They don't just have each other. I have them too. And I do know how blessed that makes me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Her Story

I've felt compelled since she was a tiny, angry baby to tell Olivia's story. When she was six weeks old and we took her out a few times and were asked if she was a newborn because she was still so tiny or when someone asked if we had an exotic bird in the carseat because Olivia was screaming her unique little cry, I felt the need to tell people about her.

But as she gets older, I find myself wondering how much I should share, especially when she's with me. See, this is her story to tell.

And now that she's four years old and obviously hears very well, I wonder if I'm embarrassing her when I tell people about her diagnosis and her history when she's sitting right there, smiling at them.

Here? I'm still okay with telling stories about her. This is more about me chronicalling her and Alyssa's childhood stories than anything.

Today, I took Olivia to Urgent Care because she had a fever last night and she complained of ear pain this morning. That was all it took. Somehow, this time, I didn't question whether we should take her. I knew that if I didn't, she'd suffer all weekend and we'd end up at the family doctor's office Monday morning anyway.

We came away with a prescription for an antibiotic and orders for her to rest. No problem.

My problem is that while she was being examined by the doctor, I told him about the 5p- (he didn't recognize the syndrome but when I told him it's also called Cri du Chat, he knew what it was...) he wanted to know how it affects her.

Olivia smiled up at him while I went on about low muscle tone, weakness in all muscle groups, etc. And I tried to make eye contact with him and tell him without words to accept that explanation.

See, we don't want Olivia to think she's got anything holding her back. Because sometimes, when we don't know we're not supposed to be able to do something, we do it just because we didn't know we couldn't. You know?

And he got it. He nodded and said, "Well, she's amazing, isn't she?"

I smiled and nodded.

She is amazing. Even when she's feverish and tired.

And I want her to be proud of her story, proud of herself. To know that she's amazing.

Just like Alyssa's got her own stories and her own amazing potential to reach. I want that for them both, to reach for their dreams and never think that anything can hold them back.

Friday, April 15, 2011


In the beginning, once O's doctors agreed that she was even delayed, we treated her symptoms. We got her evaluated by First Steps and she was obviously approved for services. She started therapies and every single therapist we met urged us to not seek a diagnosis right away.

They all said that we were already doing all we could for her and that if we could avoid labeling her, all the better.

When she was about sixteen months old and still not crawling, heck, she wasn't even pushing herself up onto her hands and knees, I decided to take her to my chiropractor.

Now, I know that a lot of people think chiropractors are quacks. My husband is one of those people. But this guy really helped me years before with pain in my shoulder and neck. I liked him.

I felt that he couldn't possibly hurt Olivia and if he helped her even a little, well, that was all the better.

He was so good with her. And she loved seeing him each week. We saw him for almost a year. He adjusted her spine, had her sit for him, and once she was crawling, much to his delight, he had her crawl across the room each day.

This was another one of our team. He was also another person who urged me to not push for that diagnosis. He reminded me over and over that Olivia was making progress, that she was showing us what she could do and that we were giving her all the tools she needed to get where she needed to go.

He was actually thrilled that she didn't stand up and walk soon after she started crawling. He was of the school of thought that crawling is very good for brain development. He explained to me that being able to crawl is actually much harder, cognitively, than walking. He liked watching her coordinate both sides of her body, he said it was proof that her brain was working very well.

I loved this guy. He showed such compassion for my child and even to me. He seemed to understand my need to see all the good in my little girl. He got that I needed to know we were doing all that we could for her. He explained everything he did for her and how he felt it was helping her.

We only stopped seeing him because we took a break during Christmas one year and I never made a new appointment. And then Olivia started walking the following April and things just got busier and busier.

But that diagnosis...I needed it. If only because I needed to know that we were already doing everything Olivia needed us to do for her.

When we got the 5p- diagnosis our pediatrician confirmed what our therapists, our other doctors, even our chirorpractor had said all along, that we were already doing what we could to help her reach her fullest potential. But now we had a label.

Except, I don't view 5p- as a label for Olivia. It doesn't define her. It's just part of who she is. And honestly, I'm so proud of this girl who is doing almost everything that every other kid her age is doing and she's doing it with slightly less genetic material than those other kids.

Talk about a super hero.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I am absolutely an over-protective mother. I admit it. And I don't apologize for it.

Who else is going to protect my children if I don't?

You hear horror stories all the time about eleven year olds who are impregnated while at a sleep-over. The creeps who do these kinds of things try to say that they were drunk and thought they were with their wives.

Ugh!! Whatever. How drunk would a person have to be not to know the difference between an eleven year old girl, A CHILD, and a grown woman?

So I over-protect.

At eight years old, Alyssa has never slept over at a friend's house. She's never even asked. She's a shy one, my girl. She's even said as recently as a couple of months ago that she doesn't think she's ready for sleep-overs.

And I'm more than okay with that.

Sure, I spent the night with friends many times during my teen years. And nothing ever happened to me. No fathers or brothers or uncles or friends of the family ever even looked at me funny.

But it happens. It happens too often. One time is too often and we have to protect our children.

I tell both of my girls that they can talk to me about anything, anytime. Like every parent, I hope to never have to hear that my child has been hurt. But I want them to know that they can come to me and I'll do whatever I can to take care of them.

So for now, I keep them close. I leave them with my mom and my husband. I hold them tight and pray that they're always surrounded by good people, people who only want what's best for them, who never want to hurt them.

Because this world has enough pain in it. We don't need to add to it if we can help it.

And when Alyssa's fourteen and asking to spend the night with her best friend? Well...I'll face that one when it happens. I'm just glad that she feels, at eight, like she just wants to be at home with me, where I can hold her close and tight and try to protect her as best I can while teaching her how to protect herself, teaching her that it's okay to scream, to fight, to run, to hide.

I don't want to crush her adventurous spirit, though. I don't want to make either of my girls afraid of the world. I want them to know that there is danger but also that there is a lot of beauty. They just have to be aware of both, seeing the good and the bad, so the choices they make are the best for them.

Oooh, being the mom is so, so hard sometimes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Alyssa has told me on several occasions over the past couple of months that she is the only person in her entire class who doesn't have a dog.

Then I look her in the eye and ask with skepticism in my voice, "Really?"

She's quick to amend her statement. "Well," she explains, "Alex had a dog, but he died so I'm the only on in my whole class who has never had a dog."

I usually just say, "That's awful. I feel terrible for you."

And we let it go.

This morning, though, she said it again. This time, my reaction was different. I told her, my voice apologetic this time, "Alyssa, I know you want a dog. But you don't understand how much work they are. You think you'll be the one to take care of it. And I know you'd try. But you're only eight and so you're still little."

She tried to interrupt here and explain that she WOULD take care of it.

I continued, "Dogs need a schedule. If we got a dog, it would get used to getting up at 5:30 every single day of the week. Not just Monday through Friday, but every. Single. Day. I'd have to get up a t 5:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then start all over again on Monday to let that doggie outside to go potty, to feed the doggie. I know you think you'd be the one to get up, but you're little. You wouldn't. And I just don't have it in my to take care of another creature right now."

She nodded wisely, keeping her opinions that she so totally would get up and take care of that doggie all by herself.

I feel for her. I do. I know she loves animals and would adore having a dog in the house, something that was just as happy to run after her as her sister is. I know she'd love to come home every single day to a happy, wagging tail.

I told her we'd talk about it again when she's ten, to see if we thought ten was old enough to take care of a dog.

Maybe I should have continued to just avoid the subject, but I felt like if I explained to her why *I* can't handle a dog right now, she'd understand that it's not about me and Tom wanting to be mean to her and deny her the joys of having a pet. That she'd see that we want what's best for her and me not having to take care of one more thing is what's best for all of us.

Who knows?

What I do know is that at this point, we're still working on consistent pottying with Olivia and until I have no one peeing on the carpets in our house AT ALL, I'm not bringing in one more creature that will do that.

O is actually doing well these days. She will tell us more often than not when she has to go.

However, just telling us isn't always enough. Last weekend at A's soccer game, Olivia told me she had to pee. I took her hand and led her to the only available toilet.

It was a port-o-potty.

She took one look at that thing, got one sniff of the air when I opened the door and backed away, shaking her head.

She was NOT going in there. No way, no how. No matter how badly she had to pee, there was no way I'd get her in there, get her pants down, sit her OVER the potty and get her to pee in it without a fight and that would have probably ended with us tipping the darned thing over and imagine the disaster that would have been.

I'd been smart enough to put her in a Pull Up, so she ended up peeing in that, but wow, what a diva.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I hope I don't offend anyone by making the following statement but, well, I can't help it.

I hate bananas. They're gross.

And yet, I have to buy about fifteen bunches of bananas a week for work. My boss is awesome. He likes to provide fresh fruit to the employees every day. So every few days, I head out to the grocery store and pick up about a thousand pounds of bananas, oranges, apples, whatever berries happen to be in stock. You get the picture.

And yes, the people with whom I work are fiends for bananas.

But seriously, bananas are just so gross.

Except...I can remember liking them when I was a kid. I remember eating them and enjoying them. Then one day, when I was about four, I started to eat one and it was disgusting.

Now, even the smell of bananas grosses me out.

People are constantly trying to get me to eat banana bread or banana muffins. "Come on," they say. "It's great. You can barely taste the banana."

Right. Barely taste the bananas. I'm not okay with 'barely' tasting something I find repulsive.

And don't get me started on banana candy. Ugh!! Whatever artificial flavoring used to create this stuff should be banned. It's awful!! Those little machines that sell fruit shaped candy at the entrances of stores are just sick. But at least you know what you're getting if you go ahead and eat that tiny banana-shaped piece of candy.

You know a candy I really, really like? Cotton candy. Oooh, the sticky goodness of cotton candy.

I'll buy that stuff whenever I come across it. It's just so sweetly wonderful.

I don't usually think about cotton candy being flavored, so I'll buy whatever color I happened to reach out and grab.

Except...I'll never, ever again buy yellow cotton candy. Because it might be banana flavored. And that's just gross.

That happened to me only once, the banana-flavored cotton candy. It was awful.

Yet I finished the entire tub. Evidently, sugar trumps gross, at least for me.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I like being ordinary. I like having an ordinary family, living in an ordinary house, working an ordinary job and even driving an ordinary car.

I like doing ordinary things like planting lilac trees and taking my kids to the park.

I love watching my children do ordinar things like chase each other around the house, laughing and screaming.

But then the laughs turn to cries and I run to comfort Olivia, who has fallen because she's forgotten to watch out for something on the floor and didn't pick her feet up high enough, and I'm reminded that we're not exactly ordinary. Not really.

She can't quite do everything that kids her age do. She can't run quite as fast, she can't climb stairs quite as well. But she amazes me every single day with everything that she does do. She amazes me with everything she tries to do.

See...I'm an ordinary person who was given an extraordinary gift. When my second child was born and I realized that she was going to need extra help in this world, I was jolted out of my ordinary little world.

I was given a child who needed me a little more than her sister had. At four years old, Olivia still needs help at the park. She needs me to be there to give her a boost up the ladder, she wants me to catch her when she comes down the slide.

And that's okay, because it's not in me to be one of the moms sitting on the benches off to the side. I didn't do that with Alyssa, and she didn't need me at all after she turned two. I was still there there beneath the climbing wall, just in case she needed me.

But even as I watch my two girls, so different in some fundamental ways but so similar in other ways, I realize that they are both so much more than the sum of their chromosomes.

Where Olivia is defied all the odds by even being able to climb the stairs at four years old, Alyssa's physical coordination astounds me. As she effortlessly climbs a tree and then fearlessly jumps back to the ground, all the while shouting, "Mommy! Look at me!" I'm amazed by her.

When they stand side by side, both with skinned knees (because they're both over-confident in what they can do) I realize that in the end, they're more alike than different.

And they're both extraordinary, just because they're here and they're mine. And so I'll continue to count my blessing and marvel at the wonder of them even in the midst of the ordinariness of our days.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Touches of Home

Lilacs have been my favorite flower since forever. The house I grew up on had a row of lilac trees growing along the back year, a sort of natural border between our yard and the neighbors. I always knew that spring had finallhy sprung when the scent of lilacs filled the air. There's nothing fresher, sweeter.

Since Tom and I got married in October, I didn't get to have lilacs as a flower in my wedding.

But the very next spring, he bought me a lilac tree to plant in the yard of the home we'd purchased just before we got married.

I was so happy. It felt like we were putting our touches in both the yard and the house. Over the years that we lived there, I planted five more lilac trees. I always anticipated the blooms, knowing that spring was finally here.

Today was one of the first really nice days of the season around here.

Yesterday at A's soccer game, it was all of 45 degrees. I'd dressed Olivia in knee socks, jeans with a flannel lining, a turtle neck shirt, a hooded sweatshirt and her winter coat. She still snuggled against me beneath my coat in an effort to get warm.

After A's game, we headed into town for lunch.

Once our tummies were full, we went to Rural King, a local farm supply story.

I saw a lilac tree on sale for $12.99. It was big enough that it already had blooms. It was beautiful. I had to have it.

I brought it home and walked it around the yard, trying to figure out just where it belong in this, our new home.

This morning dawned foggy but warm. The girls and I went back into town and hit the parks before coming home to plant our lilac. While in town, I found another lilac tree, smaller than the first, but also cheaper. Again, I couldn't resist.

When we got home, both of those trees found a place in the ground near our back deck. I know they'll bring us much pleasure in the years to come.

It feels good to put touches of yourself into both the inside and the outside of your home. It's what will make this place truly our home.

I realize that lilacs may not be my girls' favorite flowers, but they just might always bring back memories of home. And I think that would be lovely.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life is a Soccer Ball

Let's face it, my kids live a pretty priviledged life.

They always have enough to eat, they have always had a roof over their heads and clean clothes that fit them. They play sports and have more than their share of toys.

They were lucky enough to be born in this century, in this country to parents who work hard to give them things they take for granted.

Alyssa played her first soccer game of the season today. Her team lost three to one.

And you know what? That's okay.

I want her to lose sometimes. I know, that probably makes me an awful mom.

But hear (read?) me out. I want her to experience disappointment now, when the stakes aren't all that high.

Losing a soccer game? No big deal, right? Except, to an eight year old, it's big. It's a LOSS.

But this loss is teaching her something. It's teaching her that life doesn't always go her way. It doesn't always hand her everything she wants.

And learning to lose gracefully is important. Learning to deal with disappointments and grief is important.

If she learned today that life goes on after a disappointment, then she learned a valuable lesson. She can take that lesson with her into bigger, deeper, more heart-rending situations.

She can lean on that strength she built today as she shook hands with the winning team. Someday, she's going to need that strength. Someday, the stakes are going to be higher and the world is still not going to be fair and she's not always going to get what she wants.

If that cute boy in her sophomore science class asks her best friend out instead of her, she's going to need to remember that life goes on after a disappointment.

If she gets a letter of refusal from a college the month before gratuating from high school, she's going to need that strength, the resolve to remember that it's not the end of the world.

When she goes on her first or second or even fifth job interview and doesn't come away with a job offer, she's going to remember that you just keep on putting yourself out there, you keep pushing and fighting and learning from every single thing life throws at you.

But sure, I hope they win next week, because the next lesson I'd like her to learn is that when you keep trying, at some point, things do go your way, if only because you kept at it, you gave it your best, you tried harder and harder and harder until you finally got the results you wanted from the start.

Life is full of lessons, even soccer games. Sometimes, it's nothing but net and you were the one goalie. Sometimes, it's nothing but net and you were the who kicked the ball. But every time is a chance to learn something about yourself and your opponent. That's just one more thing I hope my girls take from having me as their mother.

Friday, April 8, 2011


We've been in this house for almost eight months now. We still have lots of things we need/want to do to improve our home. See the previous posts about priming and painting. Ugh!

But we may have gotten the nudge we need.

Earlier this week, my mom and I were talking about this summer, specifically the Fourth of July, when family comes from far and wide to spend the long weekend with us all.

In the thirty mile radius of her home, my mom has three brothers, five sisters and her mother. All of these siblings have children spread across the country.

There is also a sister in Michigan and a brother in Arizona.

My mom's aunts and cousins also like to come visit in the summer. They're all from the south, the can only stand the weather up here in the dog days of summer, when it's sweltering.

So, with everyone coming, I mentioned a cousin in Kentucky, who is married with three children. She also likes to come visit for the weekend. Her father is my mom's brother who lives in Arizona, so he doesn't have a home in which to host his daughter and her family while visiting the Indiana/Ohio area.

During this conversation I said something along the lines of, "Where is B going to stay? Who else has room besides me?"

And my mom got that gleam in her eyes. "No one else has room."

It was settled. If B and her family come visit, they'll more than likely stay with us.

Which gives us just about three months to prime and paint the guest room, the guest bahtroom, the girls room (where B's kids will stay.) We'll need to get a bed for the guest room, twin mattresses for the bunkbed in the girls' room, a light fixture for the guest room AND for the living room and family room. The upstairs hall still needs to be primed and painted too.

Lots of things to be done. And thank goodness, a little time to do them.

This might just be what we needed to get our butts in gear.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fine Line

I think that guilt is something that is just a given once a woman becomes a mother. We can't help it.

We feel guilty from the start. We probably didn't start taking prenatal vitamins early enough in the pregnancy. We didn't eat as well as we could have, we didn't exercise as often we we should have, or we exercised too much.

Then we feel guilty if we don't have the birth experience we wanted, hoped for, planned. From there, we feel guilty about how and what we feed our children. We feel guilty that we don't read to them enough, we don't stimulate their little brains enough. We don't get them out of the house enough or we take them out too much.

We're too complacent or we hover too much.

Each new development of our children is another area for guilt to rear its ugly head. We can't help it.

These days? My guilt is over figuring out that fine line between being a 'cool' mom and a 'good' mom.

As Alyssa gets older and starts making friends outside of family, I'm walking that fine line. I'm figuring out my place in her world, as that world expands.

Obviously, I need to stay in her world, stay present, stay firm and remain a big, big part of her decision making. I need to be there, even when I'm not actually there, if that makes sense.

But again, I don't want to embarrass her by being too present, too in her face, too annoying. I want to give her space while still letting her know that I'm there, always available.

I know that the best mothers are not their children's friends. And honestly, I don't need to be my girls' friend. I am their mother, that's enough for me. But I want to always be there, in the periphery, reminding them of the values of this family, the core strength they'll always have from those closest to them.

So I'm walking the line. A fine, fine line.

I don't need to be cool. At least not for me. Honestly, I don't think Alyssa cares so much that I'm cool, I just think that most eight year olds hope their mom's aren't embarrassing. So I drive her to practices, her and her friend. I listen to them talk, interjecting very little. Once we drop the friend off, Alyssa and I talk. Mostly about unimportant things. But sometimes, she'll mention something her friend said and we go from there. I try not to pry while still keeping the door open so she knows I'm always there to listen, to help if she needs it. Or just to lean on when life is a little tougher than her eight year old skin can take.

I think she and I both walk a fine line. Her line is the one between a big girl and my little girl. She's still so very much my little girl, even as she gets bigger and bigger. And so I hold her close, I listen closer and I hug her tighter as we both cling to our lines, hoping we don't lose our balance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Miss Manners

It's hard to be shy. I know this because, believe it or not, I was a painfully shy child. I hated it when adults talked to me because my throat closed up, my tongue felt huge and I could feel myself blushing as I tried to mutter something remotely polite.

And so I get it. I do.

But, shyness or not, I want my girls to be polite and respectful.

This morning, as the three of us walked into my mom's house, she said cheerfully, "Good morning."

She said this to each of us as we trailed in the door. And neither Alyssa nor Olivia responded.

That's not shyness, not with their grandmother. That was rudness.

And we talked about it. We discussed that it's respectful and polite to respond to such a greeting with, "Good morning."

As Alyssa and I walked out the door toward the bus, my mom again called out, "Goodbye, have a great day."

And once again, Alyssa didn't say anything. I made her come back in where she muttered, "Bye."

Againg with the rudeness.

We talked about it again tonight.

I realize that manners aren't instinctive. I have to teach them to my children. And I've obviously done a crappy job so far.

But we're on a mission. We're going to learn to say please, thank you, hello and goodbye. It's not about being nice, it's about respect.

Quite honestly, it's about common courtesy. Both of my children are perfectly capable of showing respect to me, to my mom, to Tom, to their teachers. Obnoxious behavior won't be tolerated anymore.

Really, the're not that bad. It's just that they seem to take some of us (me, my mom) for granted. As if we're not worthy of respect. And that's so wrong.

So I'm going to become Miss Manners as of today. I will be enforcing polite, respectful behavior. I won't require either of the girls to speak unless spoken to. They don't have to approach adults and begin conversations, but if they are spoken to by me, any of my friends, family, etc, they need to respond. Even with just a smile and a nod or a single word or two. They have to be respectful.

If I don't teach them this, who will?

Obviously, we won't go overboard and tell them that every adult in the world deserves to be obeyed without question. We teach stranger-danger. But family and friends? And even strangers when I, or my mom or Tom are present? Those are the times that I will be enforcing polite, respectful behavior.

I know this will be a work in progress. But I hope that by the time Alyssa and Olivia are teenagers, they'll know how to visit a friend's house and show respect to that friend and her parents. I'll hope they won't be a couple of of those sullen, obnoxious teenagers who treats everyone over twenty as if they're morons.

Okay, that might be asking a lot. But we're going to try. We have to try. Again, who else is going to teach them this stuff if I don't?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The busyness of being a wife, a mother and a full-time employee just might be getting to me.

As the girls get older, we all get busier.

Now that we've added soccer to our schedule, our week nights are busier than ever.

Mondays have me up at 5:15, showered and dressed by 6:00, both girls up and dressed by 6:15, Alyssa's lunch packed by 6:30, and the three of us on the road to my mom's by 6:45. Once there, Alyssa eats her cereal, I brush her hair and she's on the bus by 7:18. This gives me ten minutes to chat with my mom and let Olivia jump or dangle from me.

I get to work at 8:00 and leave at 4:30. Work has gotten busy enough that I rarely leave for lunch anymore, though I did today because I needed to go to the bank and make a student loan payment. Yes, I'm 40 years old and still paying off my student loan. It is what it is.

I race out the door at 4:30 on the dot, drive the twenty minutes to my mom's, yell at Alyssa to put on her gymnastics suit and remind Olivia to put on her pants. We leave by 5:15, drive back to town and Olivia and I sit in the waiting room for an hour while Alyssa attends her class.

Last night, we got home at 7:55. Just in time for Dancing with the Stars. Well, after I got both girls into their pajamas and gave them both a final snack for the night.

Tuesdays are a repeat of the above except we go twenty miles in the other direction, to soccer practice. And I pick up Alyssa's best friend. We were home 'early' tonight. It was only 7:00. Oh, and one other difference is that Olivia stays home with Tom. 40 degree weather is just not something I want to make her suffer through while we wait OUTSIDE during Alyssa's practice.

Wednesdays I usually work until 5:00 to make up for having to leave on time the rest of the week. I know. That makes no sense at all and yet...

Thursdays, I race home again, this time to pick up Olivia for her gynsastics class. Alyssa rides with S and her mom to soccer again.

Fridays? I'm just tired and ready for the weekend.

But this afternoon, while I stood to the side of the soccer field and shivered in the cold, I realized that I was being offered an opportunity to do something for myself. And I started walking. I was wearing my work shoes, though, so my feet hurt now. But I walked for 45 minutes, making circles around the playground adjacent to the soccer field. And while I'm defintely not the biggest fan of exercise of any kind, this felt so good.

I read an article today that said something about the key to weight loss and maintenance is exercise. And I thought, "Duh! We all know that. But who has time to exercise with everything else going on?"

Not me. Not really. I can't bring myself to get up earlier than I already do. And honestly, I don't enjoy most exercise. I just don't. It's boring, it's sweaty, I lose my breath. There are all kinds of excuses.

But I do know how good it is for all of us. I do, all physical evidence to the contrary.

So, as I was walking, I made a goal for myself. I'll walk during this hour each Tuesday. And someday, I might walk more often. But for now? One hour a week. That one hour when I don't have a child dangling from me. Or another child askingfor a snack or needing me to check her homework.

This one hour is for me, it will be my gift to myself. To my daughters. To my husband.

It's a small goal but it's more than I had yesterday. So there's that.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Few Good Things

I feel like the few times I've mentioned my dad have been mostly (all?) negative. And I don't think that's fair.

He really isn't a bad man. He's tried very hard in his life. At least, I believe that he thinks he's tried very hard.

When I was very little, my dad worked full time in a foundry and weekends cutting hair so that my mom could stay home with me. I think that's pretty great. I appreciate his sacrifice very much.

One thing I remember very clearly about my dad as I was growing up was him telling me often that I could be anything I wanted to be. He was always very confident in my intelligence and that confidence fueled me. I believed him and I believed in myself. That's a pretty amazing gift to be given.

Although I was his second child and second daughter, my dad never made me feel like he'd wished I'd been a son. He was always very happy to have this girl, this daughter who was named after him.

He always challenged me philosophically. We could drive for hours (never leaving a thirty mile radius from home) and discuss everything from politics to religion to the universe and its beginnings. My dad never made me feel like my opinions were less just because I was young. He always listened, often challenged, but never belittled.

Although I was never a "Daddy's Girl" I am proud to be my father's daughter, no matter how tedious I find him now that I've reached adulthood and he's entered his elder years. And I feel awful for even feeling that way. He's always, always been good to me.

Another lasting piece of wisdom he gave me was given just before I started dating.

He told me that all I ever owed anyone was to be cordial to them. I didn't owe anyone a reason or excuse if I didn't want to socialize (his word for dating) with them. And if that person didn't accept that I just didn't want to be with them, at that point, I didn't even have to be cordial.

I have never been in an abusive relationship and I think I owe some of that to luck and some of that to my dad, the man who taught me that I deserve respect and I have a right to demand it of anyone I choose to 'socialize' with.

Again, that's a pretty awesome gift for a man to give his daughter.

So yes, my dad has his faults, but don't we all? I KNOW I do. But he also did his best. He tried. And that's all anyone can really ask of a person, isn't it?

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone who had read even a few of my posts when I confess that I love television.

I have always loved television.

I remember having SUCH a crush on John Travolta during his Vinnie Barbarino days. And I wanted to BE Laura Ingalls. I begged my mom to braid my hair just like Laura's every Monday night just before Little House on the Prairie came on so I could play along with the show.

My dad and I bonded over Star Trek. I still have a fondness for William Shatner, even though he's a big ham. I love that he seems to know it too.

I remember summer afternoons with my cousins, all play would stop at 3:00 when Gilligan's Island came on. And at four o'clock, The Bionic Woman or The Six Million Dollar Man. We loved those shows SO much.

My teenage years were all about the sitcoms. That's the 80s for you. We did enjoy the occasional episode of The A-Team or Knight Rider or even The Incredible Hulk. I always wondered how Bill Bixby's skin stretched so much so quickly for him to turn into Lou Ferrigno. Hey, I was young and sort of stupid.

During college, a couple of friends I met every Sunday afternoon to watch about five hours of recorded television. We watched Earth 2, Star Trek: Voyager and Animaniacs. I once asked the girlfriend of one of the guys I watched with if it bothered her that I had this standing date with her boyfriend. She was a very good friend of mine. She hugged me and said, "No way. If you didn't watch with him, I'd have to." And then she shuddered delicately. I've never shuddered delicately.

The three of us (the above two tv friends and I) also watched all nine hours of the the original V without stopping (except for potty breaks, of course.) It was AWESOME.

These days, television is still my escape of choice. I watch way too much.

Yet, I don't apologize for that. It's what I do.

And when Tom makes fun of me, I remind him that when we met, I told him of my television addiction and he was okay with it. Can't go back now and change those deal-breakers, right?

When we met, I was all about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was on it's last couple of episodes. But I watched them as faithfully as I'd watched the first few seasons. During those seasons, I was living in Chicago and my best friend and I took turns calling each other each week so we could watch 'together.

We don't have cable or satalite here at home. My mom has it and it's enough for me to know that if we did have it I would never leave the house because, holy crap, all the food shows and home improvement and Say Yes to the Dress!! I'd never get anything done.

As it is, even with regular 'free' tv, I could watch several hours of television every night of the week if I let myself. And quite often? I do.

Let's see. On Sunday night there is The Amazing Race. Ohh, Phil!! But that's it for Sunday, so yay, just one hour.

Monday: Dancing with the Stars. I will say that I've never been a Bachelor or Bachelorette fan. I do have my standards, afterall.

Tuesday: Dancing with the Stars: The Results.

Wednesday: America's Next Top Model. Just because, wow, Tyra is insane and that's just fun to watch.

Thursday: Used to be Survivor but they moved it to Wednesday and brought Russel back for a THIRD time and I couldn't bring myself to watch him again, even with the lure of Boston Rob. So instead, we watch The Big Bang Theory because Sheldon is awesome, Leonard is pathetic, Howard is creepy and Raj is just silly.

Then, if it's a new episode I'll stay awake for Grey's Anatomy. I sobbed quietly to myself last week as the doctors worked to save the life of Callie's twenty-three week baby. Oh my goodness, the reality of a baby born that soon, whether due to traumatic events (like on the show) or other, just as horrendous problems, it happens and it shouldn't and it broke my heart for every single parent out there who has stood over their tiny baby who is hooked up to tubes and monitors, fighting for his or her life. Heck, I even saw big ol' Olivia (at 5lbs 2oz, she was a giant compared to some of those micro-preemies in the hospital) in her isolette, screaming her tiny little cat-cry as one nurse after another tried to start a new IV.

Anyway, whew, Thursdays are often wrought with emotion.

Fridays? Ever since they canceled Ghost Whisperer and ended Medium, there's bee NOTHING decent to watch on Fridays. So I've settled for Who Do You Think You Are? I found it amusing that Steve Buscemi found that one of his ancestors was a dentist. His parents were adorable when they said they needed a dentist in the family.

Saturdays: I cound the hours until 8:00 when my two-hour back-to-back episodes of House begin. I didn't watch this show when it started in primetime and I'm so sorry for this because it amuses me so much. He's such an ass and everyone lets him be an ass and it's great. I'm so glad the reruns play this way.

And there we go. I've just documented for all of posterity how I waste my time each and every night of the week. I should be ashamed. But...shamefully, I'm not.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


We all go through phases. Periods of time that are usually adjustments. I know this. And yet, when we hit one, I'm often unprepared. I'll have gotten used to things going smoothly along, nice and calm, predictable.

And then, wham! I'm slapped upside the head by a change, a new phase, one that I don't welcome and that I wish would pass quickly.

I've learned in eight years of motherhood, though, that the harder I try to make a phase pass, the longer it lasts. If I patiently wait it out, it will pass so much faster than when I try to force it.

Right this minute, both A and O are upstairs sleeping in my bed.

To anyone new here, Alyssa started sleeping in our bed the first night she came home from the hospital. We didn't go into it planning to be co-sleepers for years and years.

That first night, Tom said with a sigh, "If she sleeps here tonight, she'll be here when she's four."

I'm happy to say he was wrong. Sort of. She slept with us until she was six. Sigh.

But...since we moved into this house, she's been in her own bed. And it's been great.

Let's not talk about Olivia. This isn't about her.

But Tuesday night's sleep issues morphed into her deciding she falls asleep and then sleeps through the night so much better in my bed than she does in her own.

Let me say that the whole reason we ended up co-sleeping in the first place is because I'm lazy. I want the easiest, fastest way to get some sleep myself.

And so I'm trying to wait her out. I'm trying to be patient and remind myself that this is a phase, it's something she's going through.

I remind myself that when the girls were infants, sleep disturbances almost always accompanied some big development, like crawling, walking, etc.

So maybe something big is on the horizon for Alyssa. Something that is going to be another step toward maturity, toward independence and this sleep issue is just a symptom.

That's what I tell myself when I kiss Tom goodnight where he's fallen asleep on the couch (poor guy) and the fight for space in my bed with two gangly little girls who have long arms and legs that jab and poke through the night.

It's a phase and trying to force it to pass will be more painful than just letting it run it's course.

Of course, that could be my laziness talking. Telling me to take the easier, less stressful way. It could be. I don't deny that at all. But I also want to be aware of my girls' needs and be sensitive to them. Again, justification. But for now? I'm going with it.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Alyssa's kindergarten year was a good one. She was a lot like me in that she wanted to do well, she wanted to please her teacher, she was quiet, did her work and didn't cause trouble.

She's not uqite like that at home, but, well, she's comfortable here, she can act out and know it'll be okay.

But in kindergarten, she was feeling her way.

We met another mom and her daughter early on with whom we both hit it off. Alyssa liked the little girl and the other mom and I got along well.

We decided to carpool. Since I had to be at work at 8:00 each morning, I picked up the little girl and we were going to have her mom pick the girls up each afternoon and she'd either meet my mom or take A all the way to my mom's house.

And the pick ups each morning were fine. They went off without a hitch.

The drop offs in the afternoons? Didn't happen.

Alyssa was terrified of getting into a car with someone other than me, my mom, Tom or my step dad. So we didn't push it.

I know, it sounds like she's quite the indulged kid.

I was willing to push her, to make her accept the arrangement. But my mom was willing and able to pick her up each day, so the carpool didn't happen so much as I just picked up a second kindergartener each day.

The mom and I still get along well. She's a great lady. And her daughters are lovely. Alyssa still loves the older daughter and Olivia and the younger daughter eyeball each other with smiles whenever we run into each other when we're out and about.

The summer after first grade, Alyssa did end up riding with J and her mom back to their house, spending about two hours with them WITHOUT me while I went and picked up Olivia. And it was fine. Sure, she was so happy/relieved to see me when I got to their house that she burst into tears. But it really was fine.

It's usually is.

But this past week showed a whole new, more mature side of Alyssa.

At Tuesday's soccer practice, her best friend's mom and I were talking. We decided it was silly for us both to drive the twenty miles to soccer practice twice a week. We decided to carpool. I'll take them on Tuesdays and S's mom will take them on Thursdays.

When we announced it to Alyssa and her friend S, they were thrilled.

I know!! My daughter was thrilled.

When we got into my car to come home I asked her if she was really okay with the arrangement. Alyssa looked at me like I was crazy and shrugged. "Sure," she said casually. "As long as I'm with S, I'll be fine."

And she was. S and her mom arrived right on time on Thursday, just as Olivia and I were walking out the door to go to gymnastics. Alyssa hopped into their car as if she's ridden in cars with friends and their moms for years.

It was great. An amazing show of maturity.

My girl is growing up. I couldn't be more proud.