Thursday, June 30, 2011


Last night Olivia crawled around on her hands and knees and pretended to be a dog.

Now, for parents of typical kids, this probably doesn't seem like that big a deal.

Heck, Alyssa was a horse from the time she was two until she was about six years old. She galloped through the house constantly for years. O doesn't have any pants to inherit from A from size 4 to 6 because Alyssa wore holes in every single pair of pants she owned at those ages.

But Olivia? While she'll come up to me and declare, "I'm a mermaid." she isn't much to actually act like one. She's just doing what she sees her sister do.

So last night, when she was crawling around the floor barking the cutest bark ever barked, my heart melted into a giant puddle of goo.

It was seriously the cutest thing EVER.

This is not to say that Alyssa's horse stage wasn't cute. It was adorable. It got old after the third year, but it was always cute, always endearing. I love her imagination, always have.

But there was somthing in Olivia's tentative little barks, her 'panting' each time she came up to me and 'begged' me to pet her, it was just...wonderful. Knowing that there are parents out there with kids that have 5p- who are told their kids will never do this, will never interact, never find joy in little things like pretending to be a puppy named Flower. That breaks my heart.

And it makes me realize how lucky we are.

This leads me to my July challenge.

My friend Page and I (her blog is over there on the right side of my blog, Life Unprecidented) have challenged each other to find one thing on each day of July for which we are grateful.

See, we've both been a little hard on ourselves lately. We've both had a bit of an attitude. And we know that we are the only ones who can change that.

We need to change our perspective. We need to stop seeing only the negative. In the words of another of my AMAZING friends, Lauren, we need to fake it until we make it.

So...join me?

Even if it's just a post script at the end of a normal, even negative post, post each day one thing that makes you happy, or one thing for which you are grateful. One positive thing that happened to you or occurred to you that day. If we fake it, we will make it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Visiting Hours

My poor dad...he's so lonely.

He's seventy-one years old, retired and lives alone. He'd like my brother and nephew to move in with him, not only for the company but also because it would be finacially beneficial for both of them (the brother and the dad, not the nephew) to do so.

I used to 'joke' that I couldn't move closer to work because I couldn't live within visiting distance to my dad. I was afraid he'd come over every single night and not leave until I was shuffling the girls off to bed.

It's turned out not to be that bad.

He really only comes over once every two or three weeks.

But...there's always a 'but', isn't there? Because my dad is retired, he doesn't seem to understand that there are those of us who are still on a normal, 6am to 8pm schedule. As in, I have to get the girls into bed no later than 8:30 or they're both grouchy, cranky pissy-pants the next morning.

Although I've told my dad this countless times, both subtly and blatantly, he STILL arrived at my front door no earlier than 7:45pm.

And then he stays until at least 8:30. He honestly believes that this is okay.

He thinks that by leaving at 8:30, he's leaving at bedtime. I've tried to explain that we have a bedtime ritual that needs to start at 8ish in order for the girls to be in bed, ready for actual sleep at 8:30, but he doesn't seem to care.

I often just start the night-time routines with him still there, the tooth-brushing, the pottying, etc. But he doesn't take the hint. No, instead, he follows me around the house, mumbling.

My dad? He cannot bring himself to speak in at normal, conversational volume. Oh no, he has to speak quietly, with his head down, chin on chest. I think this is his deliberate way of making sure you're paying attention. He's testing you, making you have to say, "What?" so he'll repeat himself.

It's annoying and frustrating. And the night-time routines don't do their job of calming the girls when we have company while doing them.

I love my dad. I do. Please don't think that I don't want him to come over and see us. Even though when he comes over he only talks about how much money my brother has cost him over the years and how once upon a time, there might have been an inheritance (HA!) but now...there is only debt.

I feel for him. I just wish he'd tell these things to the brother that's costing him instead of to me. I can't stop my brother from asking for money any more than I can stop my dad from GIVING him money.

But whatever. The topic of conversation wouldn't even bother me if my dad could be bothered to adjust his non-schedule so that he could arrive anytime between 5:30 and 7:00. If he could do that, and then plan to be out the door, driving away by 7:30, that'd be great too. I know, I know, in the summer, schedules are flexible. Except when they're not. Alyssa's still going to her reading program (one more day, she's been counting, but NOT crying, so there's that) and has to be up and out the door by 7:30 each morning. So bedtime stays at 8:30, at least for one more night.

I'm thinking of creating some sort of clever "Visiting Hours" sign to put outside our door. Something that will look sort of silly/cute yet actually be what we'd like people to respect.

Though...the only person to EVER show up after 7:00 is my dad. Looks like another uncomfortable conversation is on the horizon. The problem with these conversations is that his feelings get hurt and he pouts for a few weeks.

Although (she thinks maliciously) when he's pouting, he doesn't come visit...

See, that's just mean. I don't want that. I guess I just want him to see that it's not actually about him. It's not about what he's there to say. It's about the girls and me needing to get them to sleep.

But he is who he is. He can't take himselt out of the equation enough not to take it personally. But in the end, he usually gets over it and just goes back to his regular visiting hours anyway, we just get a few weeks respite. Is that worth it? In the end, yes, it probably is...sigh.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


With the bathroom painted the lovely white that it is and the blue, green and sandy tan accents, I felt the need to let the color scheme drift into the master bedroom.

Right now, there is hideous rose colored carpet on the floor and that's not going anywhere soon. So I vacuum it every so often and try to ignore. Sadly, it's in the best shape of all the carpet in the entire house, so it won't be replaced for a good long time.


But...I am good at ignoring things I don't like much. So I just pretend it's not there. And I keep my eye out for a nice area rug that could be placed in the center of the room and cover at least the majority of the carpet.

When we moved into the house, there were these awesome blinds int the master bedroom that block most of the sunlight that can pour in through the east-facing windows. I love them. They're great for when I have to wrestle the girls into bed at 8:30 on a summer night when the sun it still high in the sky. Tell them we have to go to bed, they go up the stairs bitching, "But it's still daytime!"

We enter the room with the blinds already down and suddenly, it's NIGHT!

So the blinds aren't coming down.

But I found the prettiest curtains that I want to hang in the bedroom anyway. They'r white with the exact shade of blue that accents the bathroom. They're gauzy and light. Perfect.

I bought them and intend to hang them.

But I haven't yet. Because...well, I'm good at starting projects but not quite so good at finishing them.

Anyway!! Once I bought the curtains I decided that my white comforter, with the one small stain needed to be dyed. I searched four different stores before finding the right color of blue to dye that thing. But dye it I did. And I love it.

Now on to the curtains.

I asked Tom the other day if he'd prefer the curtain rods to be in the walls or the window frames.

He said the window frames.

Okay...but it's hard work and so it hasn't happened. A few days after he answered my question, he said, "About those curtains...I thought that room had blinds."

"It does," I answered.

"Are you taking them down?"

I was horrified by the question. "Of course not! How would the girls EVER go to sleep if I took the blinds down? I love those blinds."

"So if the blinds are staying up, why are you hanging curtains?"

"Duh," I replied. "Because they're pretty."

He blinked at me a few times as if trying to figure out if I was serious, then walked away.

I was serious. I am serious. Those curtains are going up. Soon. Really.

Because they really are pretty.

The house is coming together slowly but surely. And I think Tom's slowly figuring out there that is no logic to pretty.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Then We Both Cried

Ooh, yesterday was so, so bad.

It started out bad, with a headache and a backache for me. Have I mentioned how badly my daughters need to move into their own beds? Yes? Sorry, I must have blanked it out.

Anyway, I dragged my aching back out of bed at 9:00. Tom does me the favor of getting up with the girls on Sundays and even making them leave me alone from 7:00 until 9:00, at which time Alyssa came into my room to tattle on her dad. He wouldn't let her eat some cereal for breakfast.

Sunday's are the only day of the week that I make her eat an egg. She thinks it's half an egg, since she will only eat them scrambled.

I got up and made bacon and eggs, as is the norm. Alyssa bitched and moaned the entire time she ate her 'half' egg. Olivia ate like she hadn't eaten in a week.

Tom nibbled toast. You know how annoying it is to be around a man who is dieting? VERY, that's how annoying it is. Ugh!!

I took some Aleve and ate my eggs and some bacon because...mmmm, cholesterol.

Then I got on with the laundry, and the sweeping of the kitchen and the loading of the dishwasher, and getting Olivia dressed and making Alyssa sad when I told her she couldn't play with the Aqua Sand because it makes a big supid mess. Then I gave in, let her play with at the kitchen table and escaped up the stairs to nap, afterall, at this point, I'd been awake for almost three whole hours.

Forty-five minutes later, Alyssa was by the bed, asking me if I'd help her clean up the Aqua Sand because..."It's so hard to get it off the table and the floor and it's messy."

I know...

I went down and reswept the kitchen floor and then went out on the back deck. It was a lovely day yesterday, very little wind, temps in the mid-80s. After looking at the garden (yay, one of the six tomato plants has flowers on it. We WILL have tomatoes), picking fiv raspberries off the scrawny plants we transplanted from our old yard last fall, and watching Tom put cages around the tomato plants I told the girls we were going to Gram's to swim.

Oooh, the delight that raced through the house as they search for swimsuits and towels and goggles and sun screen (oh, wait that was me searching for the sun screen.) And for the record, I do wear a swimsuit into the pool, without a t-shirt over it. I'm working on accepting my body as it is even as I try to get to the point where I can and want to change it.

Once we were in the car for the three-mile drive to my mom's house, I decided that momma needed caffeine. So we took a slightly longer route and went to the Burger King drive-thru for chicken fries (for the girls, really!) and frozen Cokes, or a cherry Icee if you're Alyssa.

I don't know why, but I went ahead and got Olivia a frozen Coke. I should have just shared mine with her, but...I didn't wanna.

So I got them, and Alyssa put Olivia's in the cup holder that is built into O's carseat.

About a mile down the road, O says, "Here."

I reach back and she hands me her frozen Coke, upside down. UPSIDE DOWN! Which means I get a handful of frozen Coke.

I take the cup and screech, "Seriously? Did you really do that, Olivia? You know better!"

I look in the rearview mirror and she's got her hand over her eyes. She hates it when I yell.

I try to reign in my fury but it's not easy. I'm so angry. I'm tired, I have a headache and now, I have a sticky hand. I know, it sounds so stupid now but at the time it felt HUGE. I mean, if she didn't want to drink the stupid thing, why couldn't she have just left it in her cupholder, right.

I managed not to yell anymore but when we pulled into my mom's driveway, I got out of the car, wrenched O's door open, said through clenched teeth, "Get out of this car now!"

And then I got her out of the car (not violently, thank you Lord) and placed her on the ground, I said angrily, "Just walk away."

And that did it. She burst into tears. My baby just started wailing.

I turned and picked her up. I didn't yank her into my arms. I just picked her up and rubbed her back. But I was still mad.

My mom came out and I explained why I was so angry. She took Olivia from me even though O didn't really want her to do so.

They went inside and I went back to the car to clean up the mess.

And I saw...that she'd probably handed me the cup of frozen Coke because it had spilled onto her. The cupholder is at a weird angle, the cup that had been placed in it was probably top-heavy and had spilled against her, dripping frozen Coke onto her carseat and her leg.

She was just trying to get it out of her lap by handing it to me. But she doesn't the words to tell me that, so she just had to sit there and listen to me bitch and yell and be hateful.

She's four. She doesn't talk quite as well as some four year olds. Perhaps she speaks as well as some others, though, but not as well as Alyssa did at her age. She's four and she was cold and her mother was being horrible to her.

I started crying myself as I cleaned out the car.

I went inside.

O had stopped crying because Gram had pulled out some new shoes. Olivia was prancing around wearing beautiful new silver shoes.

I picked her up, told her her new shoes were beautiful and hugged her close, whispering, "Oh baby, I'm so sorry. It wasn't your fault and I'm so, so sorry."

And then we both started sobbing. My guilt was making me cry and my crying was making her cry.

Finally, I pulled myself together and we went swimming.

I told my mom that I feel awful because there's no excuse for my behavior. My mom said, "Sure there is. You're chronically sleep-deprived. You're so tired you can't think straight and you NEVER get time to yourself. Going to work doesn't count. You never get a break. And so sometimes, you snap. Is it fair? No, but don't beat yoruself up over it."

I love my mom. She's just all kinds of awesome. She never gets a break either so she gets it. I'm very, very lucky.

And in the end, Olivia forgave me. I can't ask for more than that.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The I's Have It

Let me preface this by saying that I know I make my share of typos. I'm horrible about proofreading my own writing and when I go back and catch a misspelling or a typo I cringe and shudder delicately.

With that what English class anywhere in this great big country of ours has I ever been able to be made possessive?

Let me give you an example. My lovely friend Julie and her husband celebrated their 16th anniversary last week. Happy Anniversary, Julie and Rick!!! Wheee...I can't believe it was sixteen whole years ago that I stood up at Julie's maid of honor. And it was SUCH an honor.

Anyway, when Julie mentioned that it was their anniversary she said, "Hey, it's Rick's and my anniversary. Happy day to us."

Okay, I probably shouldn't have used quotation marks there because it's not a direct quote from her. But it could have been. And it would have been grammatically correct.

And yet...I've seen others write and even heard them say, "It's my husband and I's anniversary."

Ugh!!! Seriously? How does that sound right? How is this justified? I don't get it.

To use Julie as another example, when she and her delightful husband were just dating, he took her home to meet his family. During the dinner, Julie mentioned to those gathered that her father had taken her and her mother out to eat a few weeks before.

Her exact words were, "My dad took my mom and me out to dinner..."

And one of her future in-laws snorted and said something like, "I would think that as an English major you'd know that I is correct in that sentence."

Julie was mortified. Not just because she'd been 'corrected' in front of many people she'd hoped to impress but also because the person correcting her was WRONG.

The rule I learned a hundred years ago in elementary school is to separate the subjects/direct objects of the sentence.

If I were going to tell you that my husband and I were celebrating an anniversary, I could take my husband out of the sentence and say, "It's my anniversary." Or take myself out of it and say, "It's my husband's anniversary." Put the two together and it's my husband's and my anniversary.

It will never be my husband and I's anniversary. It just won't.

Just like my dad will never take I out to dinner.

Whew, I feel better.

This English lesson is concluded.

And hey, Julie, I hope you don't mind the fact that I used your good name and your awesome grammar story in this rant.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Update on the sleep issues: No change, except that they were more evil than ever last night. And in response, I barked at Olivia, "You better lay your little butt right back down." She seemed to think it was unreasonable that I'd want to lay her sleeping body down and go to the bathroom, expecting her to STAY asleep for the ten minutes I was away from her. Ugh!!!

Anyway, that's just there, in the background. Of course, I'm beginning to think I could quite possibly be pms'ing this week, which would explain the foul mood I've been in for five days straight.

Alyssa seems to be struggling to assert her place in the family. These days she's all about HER stuff. She doesn't want Olivia to even look at her anything Alyssa might consider her own. Touching it will reduce A to tears.

She can often be heard telling me, "She's always hogging you."

It's hard to be the older sister with a little sister who loves being babied.

A wants her independence but she also wants constant proof that she's in no way being overlooked in favor of her sister.

It's a fine line for us to walk and we often stumble.

I am guilty of letting O play with A's things. Sometimes, it just doesn't even occur to me that whatever item O has in her hands happens to be her sister's.

But the instant A sees that O is playing with it, she reminds me that I SAID I wouldn't do that. I'd PROMISED her that I would make O ask for permission before she played with A's stuff.

Except, give me a break, kid, it's a stupid mini fan that we got as a party favor at your cousin's graduation party. You BOTH have one, do they have to claimed as one or the other's?

Even cheap-ass McD's Happy Meal toys are claimed and divvied out as if it matters.

And it obviously does to Alyssa. I need to acknowledge that.

She feels her rights, her place in the family are being infringed upon by her sister. And her feelings are valid.

Frustrating? Yes. But still valid.

So I'm trying. I'm trying to remember that the red mermaid is Alyssa's and the blue one is Olivia's. Or is it the other way around?

I'm trying to remember that sometimes that big girl has needs that trump the little girl's wants. And when that happens, I make time for the big one, give her extra attention, remind her that she's my baby too, even if she getting almost too big to sit on my lap in the recliner. But she's not too big yet and so sometimes, we just sit together, giggling, being silly and enjoying each other's company.

The other day I had to leave work early for a meeting with the education team that will be working with Olivia in the fall. (This meeting and the resultant IEP deserve their own post. Which will come when I've had time to process it all.) I got home fairly early and took the girls to my mom's so we could swim in her pool.

Five minutes after getting into the pool, Olivia was shivering. So I got out with her and took her inside to warm her up.

I glanced out the window at my bigger little fish, who was still splashing, still swimming and I decided I'd leave O inside with my mom and go back out to swim a bit long with Alyssa.

She was delighted. She had me all to herself for over a half hour, at which point we were driven out of the pool by rain. But I think that half hour of 'racing' from end to end, of pretending we were mermaids, of just being together, just the two of us, recharged her sense of importance to me. It reminded her that she was here first, she was my first baby and she'll always be my girl.

We need more moments like that, my girl and I. And I'll make time for them.

But soon...we're going to be painting a bedroom a nice light blue, setting up lovely beds for two little girls who are about to embark on an adventure as they learn to sleep in a bed, a room, that does not have their mother in it.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Know What I Hate?

That guy, that one we all know, who is doing well on his weight-loss program, who happens to pass by my office at 9:40, just as I'm opening a bottle of Mountain Dew, who just HAS to stop and say something stupid like, "Ohh, going for the big bottle, huh? It's kind of early."

Then, when he spies the bowl of bbq chips on my desk (which he only sees because he comes INTO my office) he says smugly, "You know? That's NOT the breakfast of champions."

What I say is, "I know." Then I shrug and go back to work.

He chortles and walks away.

What I wanted to say was, "Yeah, asshole, I know! But as the mother of an eight year old and a four year old who are both STILL crappy sleepers, I don't get to sit at the breakfast nook each morning having a leisurely cup of coffee and some whole grain toast with low fat peanut butter on it. No, I'm hit the fucking floor running at 5:30, getting my whiny four year old dress before I even get to pee because I am not allowed to get up without her right there, ready to start the day. Then I have to fight with the cranky, still-over-tired eight year old about five more days of reading intervention."

I want to say that but I don't. I just eat another chip, take another swig of Mt. Dew and shuddered when he chortles again, hoping he'll just go away and leave me the fuck alone.

I also hate that my own self-loathing is projected onto my poor unsuspecting husband. See, I don't think I do much right. And because of this, every single thing he says I hear as a criticism. Everything he does, I see as him pointing out that I didn't do it so he HAS to do it.

And that's so unfair. I don't feel that way about the lawn. I am GLAD he mows the lawn and I never, ever feel guilty that I don't do it myself.

So why, when he's sweeping the kitchen or making a snack for one of the girls do I feel like he's silently saying, "You're a loser, you can't do this right/on time/fast enough so I have to."

I hate that.

I hate that, at their ages, my girls are both still crappy sleepers. I hate that they both seem to think they can't fall asleep without me next to them, scratching one back, holding one hand and singing, singing, singing.

Yes, yes, it's lovely that they want me near them. It's adorable that they like to hear me sing and it's sweet that they like the comfort of my physical presence.

But OMG! Go to sleep already! I should be able to take them to THEIR room, put them in bed, tuck them in, maybe read a story or sing ONE song, kiss them good night and leave the damn room whether they are asleep or not.

But you know what really happens? We go upstairs, into MY room, they both lay down in MY bed, Olivia lays on my left arm, Alyssa holds my left hand, and I scratch Olivia's back with my right hand while singing song after song after song.

Once upon a time, Alyssa was in her own bed. Sure, it was a twin bed that was still in my room but it was her own bed. Sometime in the last few months, she's migrated back to my bed. And I'm sick of it. Sick to death of it.

I know I should have some kind of sleep-intervention, some kind of intensive sleep-training event where I bite the bullet, set down the rules and prepare myself for a few nights of tears and whining instead of coming here and bitching and moaning. I know that. I also know that in the end, it would be kinder to do that than to lie in bed each night, resentful that my little bit of quiet, alone time is being sucked into the past as I sing and scratch and hold.

But...I'm weak.

So I sing and I hold hands and I scratch. And then I seethe and I bitch and moan. Then I'm grouchy the next day and it all begins again.

I hate that too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


There are certain phrases that will make a dozing mother jump off the couch and go from drowsy to wide awake in about a half a second.

"Mom, Livie's pooping. One the carpet!"

"Livie, that's my yogurt, no! Get your own spoon." *Splat* And people wonder why we haven't replaced the carpet that's been in our house for 15 or so years.

"Mom! Olivia's got the red lipstick." (And she's usually heading for the wall to 'decorate' it.)

"Livie, that's my hair color stick. No! Stop wasting it on the walls!"

"Livie, you're just wasting that gloss when you put it on your feet."

"Livie, stop glossing your butt!" (That tube of gloss was thrown away, thank you very much.)

"Mommy? There's a tick on my head." Yeah, that one might be the most squick-worthy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meanest Mom EVER

As mentioned yesterday, we're making Alyssa take a reading intervention program offered by her school. When Tom picked her up from the class yesterday, she was excited, said it was fun and was ready to head to Gram's to swim.

By 9:00 last night, she was a weepy, non-sleeping mess.

Why did she have to go to SUMMER SCHOOL? Why we were the meanest parents in the whole wide world? Why couldn't she just stay home and read twenty-five books a day and the report on them? Why weren't more of her friends in this class?

First I explained that this was NOT summer school. I told her that she wasn't going to this class because she needed extra help but instead she was going so that she would retain what she'd already learned and get AHEAD of the others when fall came and it was time to go back to school.

When she let it slip that the teacher in charge of this reading program is the teacher she's going to have come fall for third grade I tried to talk that up, to tell her how great it is that she's getting this chance to get to know her teacher and let her teacher know her and what a great student she is.

It didn't work.

At one point, I though she was asleep and tried to sneak out of bed to put a basketful of laundry away. Two minutes later, she was in the doorway, just standing there, staring at me with big, watery eyes.

I took her back to bed and spent the next HOUR telling her that it was okay to be sad but this class is only for an hour and a half for seven more days (six more days now) and that why she didn't WANT to go, I really thought she should stick it out since she started it.

She whined, she cried, the tossed and turned and begged.

She went to class this morning, still teary and more tired than ever because she went to sleep TWO freaking hours later than she should have.

At least I'm not alone in my meanness. Tom's all about this reading class too, so while I'm the meanest mom ever, he's the meanest dad ever.

A partnership made in hell as far as Alyssa is concerned.

Someday she'll thank us, right?

Monday, June 20, 2011


With the end of the school year came a boatload of papers from Alyssa's cubby, her desk and her locker at school.

Among those papers was her report card. It was great, which wasn't surprising. She's a good student. She likes school and works hard. Her teacher always says she's a delightful student.

Written on the report card was her teacher's recommendation that all students finishing the second grade take advantage of the reading intervention program that was being offered this summer.

It was going to be at the school this week and next, Monday through Thursday, from 8:00am to 9:30am. I thought, "What a great opportunity to make sure A's still reading, retaining all she's learned over the past year."

And then I thought, "Oh crap, how are we going to manage that schedule?" I dithered, thinking, "Well, I could be late to work by about seven minutes those eight days. My boss is pretty understanding. And I could see if my mom will pick Alyssa up. But wait...she has Olivia and Jaxon, that's a lot to ask of her..."

Then it hit me. I have a husband. One who works FROM HOME, which means, he doesn't have a timeclock (literal or figurative) to punch. HE can take her AND pick her up, dropping her off at my mom's after the class is over each day.

So I hemmed and hawed about asking him to do this.

He's totally on board with her taking the class, but I wasn't sure how he'd feel about the drop off and pick up interfering with his 'work' time.

So, last week, before emailing the coordinator of the program to enroll Alyssa, I put on my big girl pants (literally and figuratively, I am, afterall, a 'big' girl) and told Tom that if he agreed with me that A should go to this reading intervention program, he'd have to do all the transportation work.

And imagine my surprise when he shrugged and said, "Okay."

He's slowly picking up the slack that I'm leaving behind. He's been home with us for five months now and we're still acclimating ourselves to this living together ALL THE TIME thing. We're getting there. It's taking some adjustments on all our parts, the girls still look to me for most of their needs/wants but they're getting used to having a second parent in the house.

And that's nice.

I'm also realizing that I have to ask for help more often. Instead of sitting around, seething about how much I do and how much of what I do is unappreciated, I need to speak up and tell those I love the most in the world when they're driving me crazy. In the end, it would be kinder to do so than to storm around the house like a crazy woman, mad at the world but not telling anyone.

No one can fix anything if they don't know what's wrong.

I'm a work in progress, just like my family is. As long as we all continue to work for the greater good we're going to be just fine.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Apples and Trees

My husband is a difficult man for whom to buy gifts. If he wants something, he just gets it. It's tough.

One year I did manage to figure the perfect present for Christmas. A desk chair. The one he'd been using was worn out, duct taped and just nasty. And Tom had been complaining that his back was hurting.

So yay for me.

But I haven't figured out anything quite as good the past few times I've needed to get him a gift to show how much he means to us.

A few weeks ago, Tom happened to be at my mom's house when one of my uncles was there with tiny twigs that past for apple trees. We were given two of these twigs with the promise that if we put them in the ground, they would absolutely, positively become Granny Smith apple trees.

They're in the ground, hopefully growing.

We did some research and found that if we want decent apples in the years to come, we needed to plant another tree, one that should bear a different kind of apple.

So we hemmed and hawed and looked and waited.

And then...last weekend I declared to the girls that for Father's Day we were going to get him an apple tree. And actual tree this time, one that will help the others grows and give us wonderful, wonderful apples.

They thought this was a great idea.

About a half hour later, Tom called me and said he'd decided what he wanted for Father's Day.

See, we often give each other 'hints' as to what we think would be a nice gift. Okay, so hint isn't actually what we do. I pull up a link on ebay to the very thing I want and leave it there on the computer screen to slap him in the face the next time he sits down to work.

He calls me and tells me what he wants.

And he'd decided that an apple tree would be a most excellent gift.

I love it when we think alike.

And there it stands in our yard, planted firmly in the ground, our new Fuji apple tree.

Of course, it doesn't seem quite fair that the gift we gave him made work for Tom while the gift they gave me (the Star Trek Alternate Realities Fan Collective) lets me sit on the couch eating peppermint patties.

But all's fair in Mother's/Father's Day presents. And those few minutes of digging will give us years of delicious apples to sit on the deck and enjoy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I have a confession to make.

In the two years we spent before getting Olivia's eventual diagnosis of 5p-, I often said to my mom that I was so very glad that whatever was making Olivia weak and physically delayed didn't show up on her face.

I know.

That's awful, isn't it? We should all be working toward a world that accepts everyone, no matter what.

Physical beauty shouldn't be more important than emotional maturity, or kindness, or even intelligence.

But it is.

And while I'm all for changing the world, I didn't want my child to have to be the one to do it. I didn't want her to face more challenges than she already faced. She was already weak, already behind her peers in most areas.

I was glad that when we were out and about, doing our everyday chores, people looking at this sweet little girl only saw a pretty child, perhaps a little spoiled because she was still being carried at two years old. Looking at her, they had no idea that she was being carried because she couldn't walk.

The reason it took us two years to get her diagnosis is because even though I found the syndrome and connected the dots and KNEW that it fit so much about Olivia before she was even a year old, every doctor I mentioned it to looked at her perfectly beautiful face and declared that it wasn't possible for her to have a chormosomal disorder.

And I was glad for that.

And I'm kind of ashamed of my own shallowness.

Sure, I've always thought both of my girls are beautiful but to hear a medical professional declare her to be too pretty to have this syndrome gave me a sense of relief.

And that's shameful. We shouldn't put so much importance on physical beauty. I know that.

But my confession is that even today, I'm grateful that when we're around people who don't know about O's syndrome, they simply don't know. They have no clue. They don't wonder what's wrong with her because to look at her, to watch her run, to listen to her talk, the random person on the street never even wonders if there is something wrong with her.

And I'm glad. I'm glad that she's just another little four year old running around the playsets set up on the garden center in Menards. I'm glad she's just a pretty little girl running after her sister, laughing at her whiny cousin, asking her mom for that box of Tangled fruit chews.

I'm glad that she doesn't have that extra issue to overcome as she grows. She's still weak, she still needs occupational therapy once she's in school to help strengthen her hands but she won't have to overcome prejudice due to the features on her face. And as her mother, I'm so grateful for that. I'm grateful and ashamed of my own gratefulness.

That is my confession.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just When...

Just when I think I've got a handle on this mommy thing, school lets out for the summer and Alyssa stops going to sleep before I do.

Now, I love this girl to the depths of my soul, but girlfriend needs to go to sleep by 9:00 or she's a bear the next morning. And? I need just a half hour, please, I'm not greedy, not asking for more than that, but a half hour of down time each night. Please?

Just when I think I'm doing pretty well with keeping the house decently clean, the girls reasonably fed, the laundry caught up, Tom says or does something obnoxious and reminds me that there are times when I don't think he likes me very much. Nor do I feel like he thinks there is anything at all in this world that I do well.

It's discouraging, to say that least.

Just when I decide that TODAY is the day I'm going to seriously start working on losing weight, someone brings in donuts. I know! I could actually NOT eat any but...that's just no fun at all.

Just when I think I'm failing at every single thing in my life, one of my girls will come up to me, hug me with her little spaghetti arms and whisper, "I love you, Mommy."

And I realize in that moment that everything is going to be okay. It really is.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


This morning as I searched through drawer after drawer of crap in my bathroom, looking for a safety pin (because my pants, they are too tight) I came across a bottle of turquoise nail polish. I absent-mindedly put that bottle of nail polish on the counter by the sink, thinking I'd put it away after I found a blasted safety pin.

Then Olivia woke up and I got her dressed.

Then I woke Alyssa up and she got dressed. And she saw the nail polish and asked if I'd do her nails.

I said evenly, "If there's time."

And she shrugged, probably thinking there definitely wouldn't be time.

We're all busy these days. We moms never have enough time. There's never enough time to get the laundry done, the dishes washed, the floors swept/vacuumed. There's barely enough time to fix dinner, eat it and then snuggle for a bit before bed.

Whether we work outside the home or stay home with our kids, working all day long, there just isn't ever enough time.

But this morning, as I grabbed my socks and my phone (which I use as an alarm clock these days) I also snagged that bottle of nail polish and took it downstairs.

I looked at my girls, both dressed in turquoise shirts and sweetly matching capris, I decided I'd make time to do their nails.

So instead of blowing my hair dry, I polished finger and toe nails, forty nails in all. And they were all beautiful.

Tom, being the interactive and fully confident in his masculinity kind of dad that he is, used the hair drier on those awesomely blue nails.

My hair ended up in a ponytail anyway, as it usually does whether it gets blown dry or not. So it's not like I suffered from the lack of primping time.

And the joy those girls got out of gazing in wonder at their nails as we drove to Gram's house? Priceless.

Sometimes, there isn't enough time. But at other times? There's just enough to make two little girls' days just a little bit prettier. And in the end, it's the little things, the things that take five minutes, that mean the most.

Tonight? I might even polish my own nails turquoise. Just because sometimes, we have to make time for pretty.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No Credit

I have really good kids.

I do. They're respectful, they're kind. They're loving and funny.

Sure they can also be bossy, messy, demanding and annoying, but those things typicall occur at home, with me as the target of their bossing, messing, demanding, annoying ways.

I don't take credit for their goodness. I can't. It's just who they are.

I have a friend whose child is a darter. She runs every single time her mother lets go of her hand. Whether they're in a store, a parking lot, a park, it doesn't matter. She runs.

Neither of my kids do this. They never have.

I can help Olivia out of her carseat, stand her on the ground beside the car and know she'll be there in the five seconds it takes me to retrieve my purse and turn back to take her hand so we can walk into the store together.

I can let both A and O browse the toy aisle at WalMart knowing they'll stay in the aisle I've picked, not leaving my sight.

But I didn't teach them these things. I can't take credit for these behaviors.

It's just their nature to stay by my side.

I got really, really lucky. I have no idea what to tell my friend when she asks how you break a darter from darting.

I'm having enough trouble breaking a thumb-sucker from sucking, a bed-wetter from wetting, a hair-puller from pulling (her own hair, she pulls her own hair, not anyone elses.)

But I also don't blame myself for the above 'issues.'

Yes, I take plenty of blame for a lot of things that probably aren't my fault, I won't take the blame for the things mentioned above. I can't. It's just their nature.

I know that my girls' sleep issues are my fault. I do take the blame for that. But the others? Not so much.

As my girls continue to grow and amaze and challenge me, I realize that so much of who they are has nothing to do with me. They came by so many of their traits through nature.

I can teach them, mold them, try to model good, decent behavior for them. I can show them how to share and be kind and how to give back to our society. I can teach them to write thank you notes, and to give change to the lady collecting for Riley Hospital for Children. I can remind them to hold the door open for the person following us into a store.

But there are so many things about them that I can't change, that I wouldn't change even if I could. I wouldn't change their senses of humor, their need to stick by my side when we're in unfamiliar surrounding, their desire to learn new and exciting things. I wouldn't change Alyssa's constant need to be flipping, spinning, swimming through a room or Olivia's instinctive urge to follow her sister's example in almost everything.

They are good kids. I didn't make them that way, but I can help them stay that way. I hope.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Tail of Two Fishies

My girls are obsessed with mermaids. If we aren't watching the movie Aquamarine, we're watching Splash. If it's not one of those movies it's Barbie in a Mermaid's Tail or Dora Saves the Mermaid. Or Barbie's Mermaidia. There's also always The Little Mermaid, The Little Mermaid II, the Return to the Sea or even The Little Mermaid, Ariel's Beginning.

Yes, we have a lot of mermaid movies/cartoons.

And they love all of them, though Aquamarine is the current favorite.

When I manage to get them away from the television and out into the hot, fresh air they're splashing in the tiny inflated pool on our deck, pretending to be either Aquamarine or Madison from Splash.

Alyssa figure out last weekend that if she puts both of her legs into one leg of her pajama pants, she has a 'tail.' During her night with my mom last Saturday, she convinced my mom to sew what resembles the end of a mermaid tail at the end of the leg of her pajama pants. She effectively has a tail now, one which holds her legs together and makes her swim like a fish.

She loves it.

Of course, since my mom is very, very crafty, Olivia already has a green tail that very much resembles Ariel's tail. Thankfully, it was created so that Olivia could wear it and still walk.

I love their passion for this subject. I love how it sparks their imagination and captures their fascination.

The only think that comes even close to Alyssa's obsession with mermaids is her love of horses.

Olivia? Could not possibly care less about horses, but mermaids? Are awesome as far as she's concerned.

I hope this stages lasts all summer and beyond. It's so much fun to watch them play together, to recite the lines from their movies, to 'swim' in four inches of water, trying to escape those who would capture and study them.

I love that my fishies are free to be silly, crazy, wild mermaids.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Country Girls

We don't live in an exotic place. We're not on an ocean or even all that close to a lake. Though, we are within a half hour of at least six lakes I could name off the top of my head.

We don't do much of anything each weekend.

We live so far into the country that the nearest place of business is at least three miles away.

And we like it.

We like our cute little garden in which six tomato plants and four pepper plants are growing quietly.

We love picking small, red strawberries from our berry patch.

Alyssa had a friend over on Friday and we found six red strawberries. They were small, they were weird shaped but when S ate the two that were given to her, she exclaimed that they were so good.

And they are. Strawberries from your own yard are always better than the giant ones you can get in the grocery store. They just are.

We don't have a pool in our yard. But we do have a small, inflated kiddie pool on our deck that Olivia thinks is heavenly. Alyssa loves playing with the water balloons I fill with the hose, pretending the balloons are sea creatures that only she, the fabled mermaid of northwestern Ohio, can talk to.

Instead, we have a wooden swing set with a slide, two swings and a pair of rings. When my nephew stopped by the other day, he cried as he and my mom left, sobbing, "I want to play on that park."

We aren't rich financially, but we are so, so blessed. We find joy in riding our bikes on the back roads between our house and my mom's. We love being able to walk there in the time it used to take us to drive from our house to hers.

We like the country, the quiet nights, the brilliant stars, the fresh strawberries and vegetables from the garden. We love letting the girls go outside on the back deck and knowing they're okay, they're safe way out here in the middle of nowhere.

I like knowing I'm raising country girls, girls who will remember the joy of chasing and catching lightening bugs and splashing in a bucket on their Gram's back deck. Of riding their bikes on deserted back roads and being able to hear that train that is over five miles away as it chugs along the tracks that go through town, a town that is small, quaint, friendly.

In the ways that count? We're so, so rich.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Potty training for Olivia has been a battle.

Last year at this time, we thought we were on the home stretch. She was doing so well, telling us almost every time she had to go and holding it until we could reach a potty.

The fall and winter seasons brought us to a serious backslide to the point that she was back in pull-ups prett much full time.

When I got to my mom's on Wednesday for pick-up, she called me in and said that Livie had something to show me.

Olivia led me to the bathroom where she pulled down her undies, used as step stool to climb onto the potty, used it appropriately, wiped herself, stepped back down, pulled up her undies and washed her hands.


Today, we went out and bought a step stool for our own bathroom. She's so excited to have her very own step stool here at home. She's used it several times for the very reason we bought it, but she's also brought it out to the living room where we have the mini-trampolilne and she's used the stool to step onto the trampoline and then to step back off. She's put it in front of the couch and climbed up and down.

This is just one step toward independence for our girl.

I don't expect this to be the magic tool that suddenly has her completely potty trained in the next week or even month, but it's a start. It's what she needs to feel like she's in charge of this whole potty thing.

She'll get there, one step stool at a time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Olivia was evaluated for preschool this morning. She'll attend our local preschool in the fall.

Before we even left the evaluation, the therapists admitted that she qualifies for services.


There really wasn't any doubt in my mind as Olivia and I went into meeting that she'd qualify. She needs the structured socialization as well as the academic boost that preschool will give her.

I was surprised, though, by the speech therapists declaration. She said that if we were evaulating Olivia on speech alone, she wouldn't qualify. Her expressive speech has come so far in the last year and a half that the speech therapist doesn't think she needs help with her vocabulary or even her speech. Her projection? Needs work but her ability to make herself understood is equal to that of her peers.

Wow. I knew she was talking well. I knew we could understand her but we're her family, that makes a difference. For a woman who'd never met her before to ask her questions and get answers that she understood was awesome.

Of course, Olivia is weak and so she qualifies for services based on the need for physical and occupational therapy anyway. Since this the case, she'll probably also get speech therapy just to help her with her projection.

She needs to push the air out of her lungs more forcefully. We'd always known that. We blow bubbles, we have whistles and musical intruments that are blown for noise all in hopes that we'll strengthen her projection. She drinks milkshakes through a straw and blows bubbles in drinks with a straw. All the things any and all therapists have suggested, we've done, we do. We're doing what we can to help her reach her fullest potential. That's what we all want for all of our kids.

The fine motor skill session of the evaulation came at the end. Olivia was just about done with the whole thing by that point.

She was getting tired, she was overwhelmed by all the very kind but also fairly pushy women asking her to do this and that and then something else.

While she as a most excellent grip on her writing tools (thanks to her awesome OT from early intervention Cristin,) Olivia can really only draw a circle. Her lines are okay as long as you don't ask her to intersect them or zig zag them.

Scissors? Are her nemesis. When the OT brought out a pair of scissors and showed Liv how she wanted her to cut along a bold dark line, Olivia just looked at her. I remembered that look from O's sessions with Cristin. She didn't want to cut. She didn't want to even look at those scissors let alone touch them. She was a good sport, though, and gave the scissors a try. She used hre left hand. It was awkward. Not only is she right-handed, but she was holding the scissors weird.

The therapist let her try for a bit and then asked if she could help. Olivia let her show her how her (the therapist's) fingers fit into the holes but when the therapist tried to actually put Olivia's fingers and thumb into the correct position on the scissors, Olivia yanked her hand back, refusing to be touched.

In the end, we decided to hope that peer pressure in the coming fall will help her at least want to try to cut with scissors. Of course, the therapist pointed out that Olivia seems to be one of those kids who doesn't want to even try something if she doesn't think she'll be good at that.

Amazing that she picked that up on the hour that we were there, huh?

In the end, we got the results we thought we would. It's all good. Preschool is going to be really, really good for Olivia both thanks to the therapies she'll received but also because it will get her out of the house, into a school doing organized things and meeting kids her age.

My baby is growing up.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shyness Is Not a Disease

Tom comes from a big, loud family full of very friendly, very outgoing people. I really like these people.


Except when some of them treat my children as if they're freaks because they don't like to be hugged and mauled by people they see once, maybe twice a year if we're lucky.

And that's what they do. Some of them.

There are a few sisters-in-law who act as if shyness is something to be beaten out of a child, as if it's something that I can force out of them. And I know they think that I coddle the girls and that this is what lead to the shyness.

Yes, I probably do coddle them. But I was once that child be confronted by adults I barely know, asking me stupid questions, attempting to hug me or even tickle me to get a response and so I know how uncomfortable that makes a shy person.

So I intervene. I speak for the girls, I explain that they're tired, or hungry or whatever. I make excuses so that these people will just give them some freaking space and let them get used to all the new people.

Neither A's nor O's shyness is debilitating. Alyssa has done very well in school the past three years, interacting with her peers and her teachers with no real problems. Yes, she tends to be one of the quiet ones, but so what?

In fact, she's already come out of her shell of shyness quite a bit considering where she was even two years ago.

I think pushing either of my girls too hard is a mistake in this instance. I think that letting them get used to new places and new people helps them know that I trust their instincts and I respect their feelings.

I just wish family members would shut up about it. Shyness is not something that needs to be cured. It's a personality trait than can be overcome but in this case with patience and understanding, not bear hugs and cheek pinches from Great Uncle Buck whom we last saw three years ago.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pick Ups

Every single day when I take my girls the three miles from our house to my mom's, I think about how lucky I am. I'm lucky to have these girls to have to take to my mom's. I'm lucky to have a mother who is able willing to take care of my girls for me while I work and I'm lucky to only have to drive them three miles to get there.

In the weeks before school let out, Tom was doing the majority of the pick ups in the late afternoon.

These last few days, I've realized how much I miss picking the girls up.

Pick up is so much more relaxed than drop off. I have to get cereal around for them, remember to give my mom pertinant details, blah, blah, blah. And then, suddenly, it's time to leave for work.

But pick ups? So much less stressful. I get there and the kids (including the nephew) are either jumping in the bounce house, which Olivia tells me every single time that Gram got it at Rural King!!! Or they're splashing in small buckets of water. They're relaxed, having fun, enjoying the hot summer days in all the ways I'd hoped they would.

I put my feet in one of the buckets of water on my mom's deck, she puts hers in the other and we talk for a bit while the kids clamor for attention from both of us.

At one point or another, either Jaxon or Olivia will take off their clothes and prance around nude for a bit, bringing Alyssa to tears of laughter.

This is what we wanted, this sense of family, community, of belonging. This is what was missing all those years of commuting. Now there is no urgency to get on the road. We only have to drive for three miles now, there's no need to try and beat the clock.

We can splash a little longer, bounce a few more times, laugh at naked baby butts and talk about our days in the heat of the afternoon sun.

This is family and I'm so, so lucky to have the one I have.

Monday, June 6, 2011


We had another weekend of boring productivity.

Now that we've been in our house for eight months, it felt like I needed to get my butt in gear and actually make at least the downstairs look like we live there rather than like we're still moving in.

As of Saturday, there were still some boxes of paint supplies by the kitchen table and oh, the kitchen table itself was a nightmare. Boxes of valentines from Alyssa's school party back in February, mail from three or more months ago, scraps of paper that needed to just be thrown away but instead had been put on the table, three whole feet away from the trash can.

Just stuff, stuff, stuff.

Although I've been saying for sometime that I need to declutter both figuratively and literally, my Saturday didn't start out as a decluttering day. It started with cleaning the downstairs half-bath in an effort to not be embarrassed if we had unexpected visitors who just happened to need to use the bathroom.

That task morphed into one big old decluttering morning and early afternoon.

As of Sunday evening, if someone stopped by to visit, we wouldn't be embarrassed to invite them in for coffee and cookies.

Though...if that person were someone who expected a tour of the entire house? Well, that's a different story. Because while the downstairs is neat and tidy, the not.

But we're getting there. I finally, FINALLY got my movies back in order. It makes me so very, very happy to be able to say that. If someone were to ask me if they could borrow one of my many, many movies, I could go upstairs, browse the five bookshelves and find that very movie in a matter of seconds. Before, they were tossed onto the shelves haphazardly, in no sort of order. It was making me crazy.

Now? They're all catagorized and alphabetized. It's a lovely, settling feeling.

I know, perhaps I'm a little crazy. But I needed to get that done.

Next up? The closet in the master bedroom. Ohhh, it's horrible. I have so many things I need to box up for either a garage sale (ugh, the very thought) or donation (a much nicer thought.)

Tom's way more ocd than I am when it comes to organization. But he's also not so much a multi-tasker, so when he starts a project, he goes and goes and goes some more until it's done.

When I start a project? I do it until one of the girls needs something, then I stop and get them a snack or find a mermaid, or start a movie, or throw in a load of laundry, or let them take a bath and then, three hours later, I'm back to the project at hand. Or perhaps, it's a week later. Eventually, it gets done and I feel better. But yeah, Tom talks the talk and walks the walk. Sadly, he expects me to walk the walk too but doesn't seem to understand that my life is so very, very different from his in a lot of ways even though we parent the same children, live in the same house, etc.

Anyway, yay for productivity, right?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer Vacation

I used to long for summer vacations. When I was Alyssa's age summers seem to last forever (to paraphrase Bryan Adams) and there was alywas something and nothing to do. It was awesome.

Now that Alyssa's been out of school for two days plus a weekend, we're embarking on what I hope will be another long, hot summer just like the ones I remember fondly.

Alyssa cunted the days down until she was finally done with second grade. Her second to the last day was a field day, during which she got quite sunburned and had a blast. When I walked in that afternoon, she declared, "My new school is way funner than my old one."

Those are beautiful words to a mother's ears. Especially the mother of a shy little girl who cried the first week of kindergarten, the first three days of first grade, and the first day of second grade in a whole new school.

She's come a long way, baby.

Another thing I love about her new school is that they weight and measure the kids at the beginning of the year and then again at the end. Alyssa grew two inches and gained six pounds. I'm convinced that those six pounds were all muscle, thanks in part to gymnastics. She so strong these days, so steady and so very confident. I love that about her. I hope she can maintain this confidence into her teen and adult years.

My mom is taking care of the girls for us this summer. Though she did ask me last week which day Tom wants each week.

See, a hundred years ago, back when we were commuting 65 miles on way, I insisted that Tom keep the girls one day a week during the summer. He was away from them for up to 72 continuous hours each week and so he and they needed that day to be together, to maintain their relationships. At least, that's what I told him. I also felt like my mom deserved a break from almost constant child care.

When I asked him what day he wanted a few days ago, he seemed surprised. What with us being together all the time now, he didn't think he still needed that reacquaintance day.

I let him know this time that it is for my mom's sanity. And heck, the guy works from home, he can work whenever he wants, taking a single day during the week to care for his daughters for nine or so hours isn't asking too much.

He came around to my way of thinking.

This coming week, though, I'm only working three days.

Olivia's preschool evaulation is on Thursday. It had originally been scheduled for Friday and so I took Friday off as a vacation day. When it was rescheduled, I just added a vacation day to the schedule.

I have no idea what we'll do, but I'm hoping for something fun and summery.

Here's to a long, hot summer that lasts forever in Alyssa's memories.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I hate being the ditzy one in my marriage. Honestly, when I was younger and thought about marriage and husbands, I never thought I'd be the one who always did stupid things, the one who always left the butter out so that it melted all over the counter(for the record, I've never actually done that) or the one who left a load of laundry in the washer for three days so that when the lid was finally lifted, the stench could knock over a, well, something very stout.

But, alas, I am the ditz.

And I hate it. I feel like if Tom has to be saddled with a ditzy wife, she (I) should at least be cute.

This afternoon the four of us were headed out to a retirement party. It was actually a graduation party but the graduate insisted that his mother call it his retirement from school. He's a sweet boy with health problems so now that he's done with high school, he's DONE with school altogether.

It was going to be an hour long drive in 90 degree weather.

Before we left, I told Tom that the air conditioning in my car isn't really doing such a good job of cooling. He checked the water, put air in the tires (not that that has anything to do with the air conditionining, but he's responsible, unlike his ditzy wife) and off we went.

Along the way, he mentioned that we need to find the title to my car so that we can switch the license plate over to Ohio. He said that it isn't in the file where he keeps those sorts of things.

Huh...well, I thought, perhaps it was in the glove compartment of my car. It's where I'd think to look, quite honestly.

So I opened the glove compartment and oh, dear heaven, it was so full. Full of bank statements from back before we were married, an old check book from three bank accounts ago, year after year of registrations were jammed in there.

I started going through papers.

I sifted through receipts, pay stubs, canceled checks, etc. and put them back as I went along. After all, we were driving down the road, where else was I going to put them?

So once I'd gone through every single paper in there and replaced each one, I closed the glove compartment and it sounded like something hit the fan that was almost cooling the car, but not quite.

Suddenly, it sounded like the thing was about to blow up.

Tom turned off the fan and the noise stopped. He turned it back on and yep, there it was.

Evidently, something had fallen over the back of the glove compartment and into the area in front of the passenger side floor, somewhere in the vacinity of the fan that blows heat, air conditioning and even just plaint air into the car.

We made the rest of the trip in sweltering heat with the windows down. It was miserable. Not only were the windows inadequate at cooling the car, Alyssa whined the entire time about the noise and the wind, and OMG roll up your windows!!

We were at the party until almost dark. While the girls were outside playing on the playground equipment, I attempted to dig out whatever had fallen into the fan.

I found an old check book, cover and all as well as a moldy book of checks. But those weren't the things making the fan sound like a sick moose. No, even with those things removed from the area, the fan still makes that sound.

I really, truly hate being the one to whom these things happen. I so hate being the ditzy one.

Friday, June 3, 2011


It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I love cake. Cake is just wonderful.

Which is probably why I find so much delight in the fact that Olivia often marches around the house chanting, "Olivia Cake!"

Her middle name is Kate. And she's not often called by her entire name. We just don't to that so much in our house. When they're in trouble, the girls know it without me having to resort to saying their whole names.

And one those rare occasions that I do resort to first and middle names, I will say, "Alyssa Louise! Olivia Kate."

Which makes no sense at all because while Olivia's middle name IS Kate, Alyssa's isn't Louise. It's Jean. But Alyssa Louise rolls off my tongue so much more easily than Alyssa Jean!

So...wait, where was I?

Oh yes, cake. It's so cute that she calls herself that.

Somedays, I'll randomly decide to call the girls by names other than their own. They find this vastly amusing.

Last weekend, they were Pippa and Poppy. Alyssa declared that I needed a P name too, and so christened me Paige. I felt like we were Charmed.

Anyway, I may be done having kids, but I like imagining what we'd name them if we were to have more.

And declaring Alyssa and Olivia are now Fiona and Zoe is just part of the fun.

Alyssa loves to ask me what her name would have been if she'd been a boy. He'd have been Ian. Olivia's boy name would have been Noah.

So sometimes, they are Ian and Noah for a day, the sons I never had.

I do love me some cake. And when Olivia Cake is running around being her sweet, silly self, I can't help but go in for a kiss.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


We all all the centers of our own universe.

This occurred to me years ago when I was pregnant with Alyssa. At that time, I almost dreaded her being born, because at that point, I'd have to share her with the world. During the pregnancy, I loved having her right there, inside me, all the time. Where I went, she went. I knew, even before she was born, how much my life was going to change once she entered the world.

And while the thought enchanted me, it also kind of terrified me. I knew that once she was born, the real work would begin.

But now that she's eight, she has so many new experiences, memories that I am not a part of. That's good. It's great. She's building her own world, her own universe, and she's the center of it.

Last night, I went for a half hour walk. By myself.

I know!

Alyssa got teary-eyed when I told her I needed to go alone.

It made me feel bad to see her sad. But I wanted to WALK, not amble. I'd actually planned to try and jog, even for five minutes, but my stupid ipod stopped working (SOMEONE got it wet) and I can't stand to run without music. I can't stand the sound of my own breathing.

So I went. And I felt guilty even though I know that me-time is necessary, even encouraged. See, once upon a time, I was the center of my girl's universe. And these days, even as she drifts farther from me, she still wants to be near me, and I love that. Except when I need alone-time. Or just time to walk at a decent pace without having to make conversation, no matter how fascinating, with my eight year old.

And you know, you just KNOW that if I'd let Alyssa come Olivia would have been right there at the door, begging to go too. And while she's an excellent walker for a four year old with 5p-, she's SLOW. She'd want to stop at the bridge and look at the creek beneath, stop and poke at melting tar with a stick. Fun stuff during a Saturday afternoon stroll but not so much when you just want to walk for a half hour just for the cardiovascular benefits.

So I walked by myself. I enjoyed being alone in my universe, guilt and all.

See, I knew my life would change when Alyssa (and Olivia to a smaller extent) was born. But I didn't realize how much my very thought processes would change when I became a mother.

I didn't know that I'd suddenly worry about things like vaccinations and school parties. I kidn't know that I'd start leaving my keys in my car, that is safely locked in the garage, so that if we're faced with a zombie attack, we can get to the car and on the road without having to actually face-off with the zombies or worrying about where the damned car keys are.

I didn't know that my hundreds of movies would go unalphabetized for months because it's more important to make sure the girls have clean clothes every day than it is for me to know where each movie is at a moment's notice.

I've changed. In most ways, for the better. In some ways, not so much. I often say I was a great mom before I had kids. Somedays, even after the kids arrived, I still think I'm a pretty great mom. Other days? Not so much. But most days? I do okay. And in the end, I think that's enough. Because none of us are perfect, but as long as we keep trying, keep working to be better, what more can we ask of each other and ourselves?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Olivia is a snuggly girl. Her preferred snuggled buddy? Me.

But she's been known to fall alseep snuggling such things as a cup, a measuring spoon and once, she cuddled with a flashlight.

She's never really had much use for stuffed animals. When she was younger, she was very oral so everything into her mouth. Stuffed animals were, in her opinion, useless with all that yucky fur that just made her mouth feel gross.

Alyssa? Adores stuffed animals. She's always loved them. She has at least three on any given night, all nestled around her head.

In the past year or so, O's tried to warm up to stuffed animals but when Mom's around? Why bother snuggling with something inanimate?

The last three nights, though, something seems to have clicked.

She found one of Alyssa's small stuff puppies. This puppy is wearing a headband with rabbit ears, so he appeals to O's sense of whimsy.

She's insisted the last few nights that she has to have Puppy before we go to bed. The first night, she laid there and just gazed at Puppy. She played with his head band and ears. She used his paw to scratch at her own hand. She nuzzled him under her chin.

She was your typical four year old child, snuggled her stuffed animal as she fell asleep.

I love it. I love that she took Puppy to Gram's house yesterday. She took him and a blanket. Maybe this is the first step toward giving up the thumb. Maybe she's finding outside sources of comfort.

Then again, maybe she's watched Alyssa and Jaxon enough to think she's supposed to enjoy blankies and stuffed animals.

Whatever the case, it's adorable to watch. And it lets me keep my measuring spoons in the drawer where they belong.