Sunday, July 31, 2011

Attitude Schmattitude

Okay, I confess that it worked.

July was a very good month. Yes, I took a few vacation days, put off chores in favor of swimming and enjoyed more time with my family.

But I really believe that my delibrate choice to look at the bright side, to find things for which to be grateful helped make this month better than the preceding. When I choose to be happy, I actually am happy.

Amazing how that works.

Sure, there are some things you can't just decide to ignore, or put off. But the little things, the small irritants can be overlooked in favor of the bigger blessings. And yes, there were moments (co-workers, anyone?) that were annoying enough that I had to come here and bitch but mostly...I faked it until I made it. It feels good to say goodbye to July with a smile, with good memories and less stress.

So, since July was mostly successful I'm starting tomorrow with a new goal, a new sense of adventure.

July was my month for concentrating on my emotional health. It was a good endeavor. It showed me that I can mostly control my own moods.

August is my month for concentrating on my physical health.

I'm starting a healthy eating plan (I hate to call it a diet because that's just such a depressing word) and I'm going to make a concentrated effort to move more, get outside and exercise, take in the fresh air, move my body, make peace with it as it is even as I try to change it to make it healthier.

I want to be good to myself, not through peppermint patties and a good gossip magazine but through celery and walking. I want to show my daughters that I can love myself enough to be healthy, to be conscious of what I'm doing to my body.

So here we go again, on to another month, another goal, this one ongoing. But I'm not thinking about longterm yet. Instead I'm thinking about tomorrow, each day a new day to do better, be better. No big, lofty goals of losing 60 pounds by a certain date. No, that's too much to take on. Instead, each meal will be it's own challenge, each snack a chance to make a good, healthy choice.

I'm looking forward to what August will bring.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I have to confess that I have a pair of judgey pants. And on occasion, I realize I'm wearing them even though I don't even remember putting them on.

For example, while at the pool today with my girls and one of Alyssa's friends, we were enjoying a snack I'd packed. A couple of kids, none of whom we knew, sat with us. They each had an ice cream cone they'd purchased at the snack bar there at the pool.

Once the ice cream cones were gone, one of the kids asked if he could have some of the corn chips my girls were eating.

Who does that? Who raises their kids to ask strangers for food? I mean seriously!

Neither of my girls would do that, whether I was there are not. And if I were there, I'd be appalled if they did.

Yet another example from the pool today was a little girl who was there with her dad, her grandma and her great grandma. She was the only child with these three adults and she STILL kept calling out to me to watch what she was doing. I was there with Olivia, the only adult in attendance with my child.

None of the three adults with this other little girl once told her to leave me alone. I know, she was probably all of three but isn't it our jobs as adults to teach our kids that they are not the center of every other grown up's universe?

I just couldn't believe that they didn't step in and suggest that she entertain them instead of trying to entertain me, a woman with her own little person to watch and be enthralled by.

I'm often guilty of judging my nephew's mother for her lack of maternal instinct. She's young, yes. But my mom was young when I was born and she never went weeks on end without seeing me. She never walked away from me and my dad, not really caring what was going on in my life.

I just don't understand this woman.

And in the end, that's the point. I don't understand her. I've never been in her shoes. I'd never want to be in her shoes. I'd never want to 'babysit' my own children, getting to see them all of eight or so hours a week. That would be a nightmare to me. So instead of judging her, I should probably feel sorry for her.

I'm working on that. I'm also working on getting rid of the judgy pants. But somehow, even after I take them off and walk away from them, they keep turning up. I'm a work in progress, obviously.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Ugly

Did you know that Swimmers contain poop? They do!! It's amazing how well contained that poop is inside that dripping Swimmer.

If you're wondering how I know this...well, the proof is in the Swimmer instead of in the pool or in O's swimsuit as just a grainy sludge that has worked its way up around her ribs.


One of the ugly parts of our version of 5p- is the low muscle tone.

While Olivia was spared the illness, the kidney problems, the eye problems, and many of the other issues that can occur with 5p-, she did not manage to avoid the low muscle tone.

Which is why she didn't sit up until she was a year old, didn't crawl until she was 17 months old, didn't walk independently until she was 29 months old.

And that low muscle tone is universal. It's throughout her body. The big muscles, the little muscles, they're all weak.

This includes her bladder and her bowel.

When O swims, the warmth of the water and the activity, the exercise, relaxes her bowel and she poops.

Every single time.

And it's gross. Oh dear Lord is it gross.

But we know she isn't doing it on purpose. It's not a deliberate behavioral problem that she can control.

No, it's just something that happens. I'm not even sure she knows it's happening as it happens. It's just when we get out of the pool and find her wearing a poop belt under her suid that we realize what happened.

Luckily, my mom's pool is steeped in chemicals, the poop pretty much disolves on contact. But it's still gross. It's as if we're swimming in a toilet.

In comes the Swimmers. I figured it couldn't hurt to try them.

I touted them as her special swimming underwear. She loves them.

And they contain the poop. It doesn't disintigrate into the pool, it just sits there, inside the Swimmer, waiting to be washed off her butt. which is so much easier than trying to rinse the grainy remenants that are left when the Swimmer is not worn.

Until she grows and matures and her muscles get stronger (and they are getting stronger, all of them) we're going to be putting special swimming underwear on her and checking them often in an effort to keep the poop from the pool and from irritating her butt.

Anyone else with poopers who aren't even aware they're doing it, this is a great way to let them continue to play, to be a part of the group without exposing the rest of the family (or the general public, if you happen to be swimming at a public pool) to all the nastiness that is poop in the pool.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


This past week, my step-sister's daughters (my nieces?) have been staying with my mom and step-dad. It's the only week this entire summer when they (the nieces) didn't have something going on.

Alyssa's been in cousin heaven. She and JB, the older of the two nieces, are only three months apart in age. They've adored each other ever since they were old enough to know the other existed, say, since they were two.

They've frolicked in the pool, put on rodeos for anyone they could rope into being the audience, watched my step-dad kill a raccoon that was caught as it tried to ravage the corn (egads! What a life lesson that was.)

Yeah, it's been great fun.

And with JB and her little sister JZ spending the nights at my mom's Alyssa's wanted to be there too.

However, since Jaxon, the nephew, was there too, we took JB home with us on Monday and she enjoyed a relaxing night in our house.

The next night, though, Alyssa wanted them to all be at Gram's house. I made sure my mom was okay with this and away they went.

Olivia, on the other hand, declared without even thinking about it, "I'm going home with you, Mommy."

Of course you are, Sweets. You're still a BAAAAYYYBEEEEE.

The next night, though...Olivia decided she was staying at Gram's too.

Huh...okay. Except, I really didn't think that was going to work all that well. I hesitated at the door, asking her repeatedly if she was sure she wanted to stay.

She kept nodding and waving, giving me a look that asked, "Why are you still here?"

I told my mom, "Call me if she decides she wants to come home."

Since we're only three miles away, it'd be no big deal to go back and get her.

So I left.

Even as I backed my car toward my mom's garage so I could pull out of the driveway, I though, "I should check one more time."

But I didn't. I drove away.

I made it to the driveway near our barn when Tom stopped me, signalling for me to pull in. I did and rolled down my window.

He said, "Your mom just called. Olivia's having a panic attack since you ACTUALLY left. You need to go get her."

I laughed, turned my car around and headed back.

When I pulled into the driveway, my mom and Olivia were waiting outside. When O saw my car, she lost her composure, collapsing into sobs.

I picked her up and held her close, telling her I was sorry I'd left.

My mom even had tears in her eyes. She's a sympathetic cryer. She told me that Olivia managed to hold back the tears until she saw me.

I told my baby that we'll try again next year when Gram has all the kids again.

She was very ready to go home after that. She didn't let me get out of touching distance for the rest of the evening.

Yes, she's definitely still my baby.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Goodbye Barney

It is the end of an era.

My girls are both officially over Barney, the big purple dinosaur.

I'm surprisingly sad about this.

Barney was such a staple in our house for so many years.

I know a lot of people hate Barney with the passion of a thousand purple suns. I get that.

But we liked Barney. He taught manners, he was soft spoken and kind to the new kids. He encouraged using your imagination. He thought art and writing and telling stories was a great way to pass the time on a hot afternoon.

Alyssa became enthralled with Barney when she was just under two years old. She watched him faithfully until she was about three and a half.

Olivia followed suit, enjoying a half hour of Barney every single day. In fact, during her worst travel days, Olivia could only be soothed by my singing Barney's song, "IF All the Raindrops were Lemon Drops and Gum Drops." That song got us through hundreds of miles of travel.

I think O would have been willing to give him up sooner but Jaxon kept her in the Barney loop. But now he's three and a half and so, the whole family is saying goodbye to Barney.

I have a bunch of Barney vhs tapes and dvs to give away. Luckily, my cousin has a twenty-month-old daughter, just the right age to discover all the great things Barney has to offer.

My babies are growing up. Today, they're moving beyond Barney, tomorrow, they'll be heading off to college.

Hold me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Public Persona

I'm lucky, my girls are fairly well-behaved when we're out in public.

Other than the occasional look of utter distain that Alyssa tends to give to my friends who are just trying to be friendly/helpful and A isn't sure how to respond, that is.

Mostly, they stick by me when we're out and about, they aren't really all that loud when talkin to me or each other, they aren't tantrum throwers (now that I've written that out, one of them is going to prove me wrong in the very near future, karma, baby, it's about to bite me in the ass.)

However...Olivia loves the echo that occurs when she sings in public restrooms. The restrooms in our local WalMart have especially nice accousics, as far as O is concerned.

She will sing at the top of her lungs, just taking in that echo, loving the sound of her own voice.

Now, because I'm all about being considerate to others and teaching my children to do so as well, I've been known to say to the artist currently known as Olivia, "Livie, let's not sing quite so loud, Sweetie. While I find your mucical talents delightful, others might not enjoy it quite so much."

See, I'm all about honesty with my kids. Sure, they're the center of my world and all things they do are marvelous as far as I'm concerned, I do realize that no everyone enjoys being seranaded while the pee in a WalMart restroom.

I want to raise polite children who are aware that others have feelings, thoughts, opinions too and that we all have a right to pee in peace.

One afternoon Olivia was particularly boisterous, belting out the theme to the show Victorious (only because Alyssa watches the YouTube video of this song all the time) and I reminded her gently that I adore her singing but others might not.

As we were leaving the stall, another door opened and a WalMart employee joined us at the sinks. She told Olivia, "I enjoyed your singing very much too."


As stated above, I realize that not everyone enjoys the presence of children. In fact, I've encountered some especially sour-faced individuals in the stores, who just glare at me with my kids. The girls aren't even doing anything I'd consider all that obnoxious, except maybe laughing or heck, breathing too loud.

But that nice lady in the WalMart bathroom? She went out of her way to make my four-year-old's day.

I'll continue to remind O to use her inside voice even when she's working for echos but to know that there are kind strangers out there who will tell O that they enjoy her presence too? I'll keep trying to restrain my children from being annoying to strangers and keep hoping that strangers will continue to look past the mere fact that my children are in public and MIGHT end up being annoying to see that they are, in fact, pretty good girls.

When they don their public persona, that is...

Monday, July 25, 2011


Is it wrong that I sometimes tell my children that they're a lot of work?

How about if I have been know to say to one or the other (or, on occation, both at the same time,) "Dude(s), you're wearing me out."

Because if it is, then I'm a bad mom.

I can often be heard telling them that they're behavior is driving me nuts. Or that I'm tired and need five minutes so please, please, just let me go into this bathroom, close the door and NOT have to hear a tentative (or boisterous) knock ten seconds after I close the door.

Motherhood is awesome. It really is.

It's also exhausting and I wonder how much I'm scarring my daughters when I tell them how tired I am just from caring for them.

Am giving their fragile little egos a complex or am I setting them up for less disappointment later in life when they face their own challenges and remember me telling them, honestly, how much work everyday life can be?

I hope it's the latter, of course. I hope I'm just letting them see that I'm human, that I need a break sometimes and that I can come back for more after just a little, very little, alone time.

See, I don't remember my mom ever actually telling me that I was a lot of work. But I do remember her being tired, sometimes a bit snappish and often saying, "I'm just peeing, give me five minutes!"

And I don't think any of that scarred me.

Of course, I could be in denial since, obviously, I hope I'm not scarring my girls too much.

I love them. They know this. They also know that sometimes, Mommy takes a little longer down in the basement 'doing laundry' that is absolutely necessary. And perhaps they realize I'm down there just because when I'm down there, no one is touching me, or climbing on me, or asking for something.

Never fear, though, five minutes in the basement leads to, "Mommy?!" being shouted from the top of the stairs.

I always answer with a, "Be right up."

And all is well. I've recharged in those five minutes of hanging clothes and can return to the trenches, ready for a bit more mauling and a lot more fun.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Today, I am grateful for stolen moments, for a coupe of hours away from the house with my girls, not caring about the laundry (new laundry, the laundry from a few posts ago has actually been folded and put away, I know! Go me.) the closet that needs to be painted or the floors that STILL haven't been vacuumed. Gross, huh?

I am thankful for Grams who live closeby and have pools in which we can swam, play, laugh until we cry and just be together.

These are the times these girls are going to remember, the times they'll talk about fifty years from now when they're reminiscing about me. These stolen afternoons when I put them before the housework, when we filled the hours with love, laughs, joy.

I'm so incredibly lucky to be able to take these moments and make the most of them.

And now I have a four-year-old sleeping the contented sleep of the physically tired and an eight-year-old fighting to stay awake for just one more episode of Arthur.

The dishwasher is running, the laundry is still waiting to be folded (some of it has been folded, though, so I'm still not feeling all the guilty about the rest) and I'm ready to follow Olivia's example and go sleep the sleep of the content.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Back in January, we had Alyssa's 8th birthday party at a roller skating rink. It was a huge success. Of course, I have to confess that we got the idea from Julie, who had her daughter's party at a skating rink the year before.

Today, we headed back to the Skatin' Station (not the actual name of the place) for another birthday party. This was for one of A's friends from kindergarten.

Alyssa's been skating, ohh, four times in her life. She loves it. She's a natural.

At Alyssa's birthday party, Olivia watched the action, she played on the sidelines, walked with Tom along the wall that separates the skating floor from the tables and resting areas.

She had no interest in skating at that time.

I assumed to day would be the same. We headed out this morning prepared to watch Alyssa skate for three hours, eat some cake and pizza and have a little fun.

About an hour into the party, Olivia was wistfully watching her sister as she glided around the floor.

I asked her, "Do you want to try it?"

I expected her to shake her head and head back to the air hockey table where a violent competition was taking place.

She surprised me.

She nodded and said, "Yes, get me some skates."

I figured we'd spend about three minutes putting the skates on, twenty seconds on the floor and three minutes taking the skates off. But I had to let her try.

The first pair of skates were too small.

The second pair were just right and to the floor we went.

After ten minutes of holding my hands as we went slowly, painfully around the rink, Olivia pushed my hands away and said, "I can do it myself."

I was amazed. I led her to the center of the floor and let go of her hands.

She skated. It was more graceful than I'd have expected. She fell fewer times than the older, bigger kids there. A few times, she even threw herself to the floor laughing, saying, "I'm okay."

My baby, my child who, had she been diagnosed at birth would have been told she would never walk, roller skated today. She did it by herself and announced, "I'm good at this!"

This independent streak is insane! Where is she getting this confidence, this sense that she can do anything she wants? Hasn't she read the research? Didn't she get the memo that said she isn't supposed to talk, walk, laugh, love life?

I guess not. And wow, am I glad she missed out on all that because she's sure as heck not missing out on life.

(Note to Charity: Olivia is missing a small part of chromosome 5, the part between 13 and 15. I know that's not very clear but I don't remember exactly what her geneticist told me, just those numbers.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

So Much for the Baby Pool

Some pretty heavy storms blew through our area today. Tom emailed me to say that at one point he looked out the window and saw the small inflatable pool that's been on our deck all summer flying across the yard toward the field across the street.

He saved the pool and it's now in the garage, safe from heavy winds.

It might have to stay in the garage until the next garage sale, thought because yesterday, Olivia taught herself how to swim.

Now, that's a little misleading.

These swimming lessons she's been giving herself have gone in stages.

The week of the Fourth of July, she taught herself to hold her breath while going under water. She take a few deep breaths and then put her face in the water, coming up for air after just a couple of seconds.

The next week (last week) she was putting her entire head under water while holding on to either the side of the pool or the ladder. At that point, she was staying under a bit longer, up to ten seconds, just testing her own endurance.

This week? She's let go of the ladder/side of the pool and is now doing something that can only be called swimming.

She takes a few deep breaths (leading to a case of the burps because she's swallowing air), plunges beneath the surface, kicks her feet like a little frog, uses her hands and arms appropriately and breaks the surface with an enormous grin several feet from where she started.

Is this how it happens? Alyssa did pretty much the same when she was five-ish, so maybe it just is how this sort of thing happens.

Obviously, we still don't let her swim alone or even with just Alyssa. But knowing she knows to hold her breath and that she can float and propel herself forward is just so cool.

It's so much fun to watch the little fish as she swims around the pool, her independence is palpable. Her sense of freedom, that she's doing this, all by herself, is just heart-breaking in its preciousness.

My baby is growing up and I couldn't be prouder.

But that baby pool? I think she's over it. She doesn't want to be bothered by water that won't cover her when she lays down. As far as she's concerned, now that she can swim, what's the point of anything less than three feet of water?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rainbows and Roses

There are two baskets full of clean laundry sitting on the floor in the family room. They've been there for four days. We've clawed through them several times this week looking for clean underwear and swimsuits.

The sink is full of dirty (though rinsed, yes, they've been rinsed) dishes that just need to be moved from the sink to the dishwasher. Those dishes have been there for two days.

The fish has been swimming in a bowl of her own poop for days now, waiting for me to clean her bowl and change her water.

The carpets in the family room and the living room haven't been vacuumed for at least three days.

Last night, instead of doing all the things above, I took the girls swimming at the community pool after work.

It was wonderful. The water was cool enough to refresh us but warm enough not to shock us. We were all starving when we got home a little after 8:00 but it was a good hungry, a satisfied feeling. The spontaneous trip to the pool put us all in relaxed, happy frames of mind.

This morning I told Alyssa that we needed to go down and get her some underwear out of the basket downstairs.

She met my gaze in the mirror, "Again?"

I shrugged. "I didn't have time to put the laundry away. You could have put your underwear away if it's that important."

She gasped! How dare I suggest she do such a menial chore?

Then I reminded her, "I could have stayed here last night and put the laundry away but instead we went swimming. Which do you prefer?"

She grinned, "Swimming!"

Swimming it was.

And it was worth it.

Yes, the laundry still needs to be put away. The dishes need to be washed. The fishbowl needs to be cleaned. The floors need to be vacuumed.

And those things will get done but maybe not all tonight. Maybe one of the above chores will be done. Maybe more. Maybe none. Depends on whether I find something more important to do. Maybe I'll side and read to Olivia or listen to Alyssa give me a word-for-word re-enactment of today's Word Girl episode.

Or maybe we'll go swimming again.

Sometimes, you have to embrace the rainbows and the roses and ignore the storms that bring the rainbows and the thorns on the roses' stems.

Sometimes, just being, just taking it all in, just jumping feet first into the pool is more important than all the laundry, dishes, fishbowls (ick!) and vacuuming in the world.

Those chores will still be there. There will always be more chores to be done and sometimes, we can even make those things fun but these kids won't be little forever and they won't want to spend hours upon hours telling me stories, listening to me tell them stories, wanting to swim next to me in the pool.

So yesterday, today and tomorrow I'm going to hold tight to the rainbows and roses, drink it all in and maybe the day after tomorrow I'll put that laundry away.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This morning as I was driving to work, I heard a discussion on one of the morning radio shows in this area about schools choosing to separate best friends each year when they (the teachers/rinsiple) select which students will go into which teacher's classroom the following year.

I'd wondered if that was how it happened around her.

Alyssa was a very, very shy child when she entered kindergarten. Kindergarten worked wonders on her and she slowly came out of her shell. She spoke to teachers when asked direct questions, she learned to speak up during lunch and recess when she needed something from the attending adult.

She also developed a best friend, J. She and J always sat together at lunch. They always walked together whenever their class had to go somewhere around the school. They played together at recess.

Cue the end of kindergarten and the impending start of first grade. I confessed to my mom that I really hoped that Alyssa and J weren't in the same classroom for first grade because I thought it would do Alyssa good to be able (be forced?) to talk to, interact and play with other kids.

I got my wish, even though I never voiced it to the teachers. Alyssa and J were in different classes and first grade went as well if not better than kindergarten had gone. Alysssa and J still tended to play at recess and sometimes sat together at lunch but they'd also made other friends, maybe not another best friend but still, other good friends.

I was glad for this.

Then...dun dun dun, we moved. And Alyssa had to start all over in second grade. A whole new school, a whole new set of classmates.

S was the first student Alyssa talked to on the first day of school. They were instantly best friends. They've done everything together, up to and including Alyssa going to S's house yesterday afternoon and haveing a fabulous time.

And I'm glad that Alyssa and S have each other.

But still, when the class assignments for third grade came home with everything else in June, I was secretly glad to see that S isn't in the same class as Alyssa.

They'll still have lunch and recess together. They'll still play soccer in the same league and probably visit each other's house regularly. They just won't sit next to each other in the classroom.

One of the reasons for my gladness is that I think that Alyssa tends to get comfortable having one best friend to the exclusion of others. I think she sees that one friend as being enough, being all she needs.

I think she needs to spend time with lots of kids, getting to know them all and seeing the benefits of having a large group of good friends. I want her to learn all the different amazing things about her that each friend might bring out in her.

When I was in high school, my very best friend was Roxann. Roxann and I were together more often that not. But I still had other good friends. None as good at Roxann but there was Joyce, my best friend in band class. There was Cheryl, my drama club best friend.

These friends brought out things in my personality that Roxann didn't. And I needed those things. I needed to know that I could be the silly, funny person that made Joyce laugh so hard during band class that we had to be sent to the hall.

I needed Cheryl to push me to try out for the school plays, something Roxann thought was just so uncool (she was an artist, she painted the scenary.) I LOVED being in those plays and regret not doing it sooner in my high school years.

I want all these things for Alyssa. I want her to have band friends, drama friends, soccer friends, gymnastics friends. I never want to take away the joy, the confidence a best friend can give a young girl, but I want more for her.

For whatever reason the teachers did it, I'm grateful to them for separating these girls this coming year. They'll still have time together, but they'll both be given the opportunity to be friends with others. At eight years old, they need that, even though they don't know it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hep Hep

I'm on the safety committee at my place of employment. For several years, we've talked about getting first responders in to get Hepatitis B vaccinations.

FINALLY, the HR person got her crap together, got the check request signed, submitted to accounting and then got the check back from accounting and up to the health department in our county and today, I got the first of three hep b shots.

(For the record, I am the HR person who sort of got her crap together, but just enough to do that one thing...just so you know.)

I can't help but imagine (because I'm perverse?) that perhaps there is something about these vaccinations that will help when we're living in apocalyptic times, when zombies are roaming the streets looking for living flesh upon which to feed. Somehow, these vaccinations will make me and the other two guys who were willing to look down the tip of a needle immune not only to hepetitis B but also to zombism. We'll be the ones who can fight on the front line, because a little bite or scratch from a silly old zombie won't hurt us.

Yeah...except, I don't want to be on the front line of any battle. Yes, I do want to be immune to zombism (and hepetitis B) but I will stay back, away from limb-rending zombies, thank you very much. I have small children to care for.

I am lucky to work in a place where they're willing to do this kind of thing for their employees. Of course, with this out of the way, I'll be on of the first people called if someone needs first aid, but...always willing to help and all that, right?

The whole protection against zombification doesn't hurt either.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I am somehow an over-indulgent mother while, at the same time, an over-protective mother.

An astonishing feat, don't you think?

I'm over-indulgent because I let the girls watch too much television, I don't make them eat enough vegetables, I let them eat too many cookies, I let them get a new toy every so often even though we have an entire room dedicated to a plethora of toys that aren't even played with.

Yet...on the eve of Alyssa's first solo playdate at her best friend's house, I find myself a nervous wreck.

This best friend is a lovely girl. Her parents are both very nice. Her older brother (14) seems harmless.

But they live in town and I imagine the two eight-year-olds deciding to walk to the park or the library or where ever ALONE and it makes me sick to my stomach.

With all that's going on in our world, I can't help but worry.

I've already told Alyssa that they need to STAY at S's house. No walking anywhere without S's mom. Even going with the big brother is a no-no as far as I'm concerned.

I'm crazy, right? I'm being silly. I know this. Yet...I want to keep her little, keep her safe.

But I know she wants to go to her friend's house. And I want that for her. I want her to get to go play with S. She misses her friend.

Our world may not be so different from when I was a kid but it feels different. It's probably just my perspective as a mother instead of as the kid, when I thought I was invincible.

But now, I know what can happen. And instead of thinking, "Why me?" I can't help but think, "Why not me?"

Kids get hurt. People do things to kids. I know I'm not all that special as to be able to believe that it couldn't happen to MY kid. There are mothers out there tonight, worried sick about their missing or sick or hurt kids.

I'm so incredibly lucky, so very blessed that my two happy, healthy little girls are asleep upstairs right now.

I want that to be true tomorrow night.

And it probaby will be...but I worry. I can't help it.

I know I have to let her grow up. But that worries me too. All I can do is arm her and love her and then...let her go play at her friend's house, praying the entire time that they stay safe.

See...over-indulgent and over protective all at the same time.

It's an art.

The Good Mom

Late last week, I was reading one of the many blogs I follow and the writer, a mother of three, was lamenting that she'd had some bad days while caring for her children. They were just driving her crazy.

Whooo-boy could I relate.

But then, she went on to say that her husband stepped in and gave her a break because he knows she's a great mom and that if she's having a tough time, there must be a reason for it.

And the relatability went right out the window.

I've given this a lot of thought over the past few days and come to the conclusion that if I thought that Tom believes I'm even just a good mom, a lot of the things he says and does would roll right off my back.

What it comes down to is that I'm not sure how he feels about my parenting skills.

I think he wishes I were stricter. I know he wishes I'd make the girls eat healthier more often. I try. I wish that Alyssa weren't such a picky eater. I wish that mealtimes weren't such a battle. I think that Tom feels like I give in more often than not and that's why we have the battle.

Who knows? Wait, he does. And I'm going to talk to him, I am. Soon.

Because I have enough mommy-guilt and uncertainty on my own. I don't need my partner, the person who is supposed to be by my side, supporting me and my decisions to be the one telling me not-so-subtly that I'm not doing a good job.

And sometimes that's what it feels like he's doing.

Take yesterday, for instance: I was upstairs in the sweltering heat, painting the guest room. Olivia was in the next room over playing.

I called over, "Livie, do you have to pee?"

She called back, "No."

I went back to painting and she went back to playing. I planned on asking her again in about ten minutes or just taking her because it had been awhile.

Five minutes later, Tom walked into the room where O was playing. He said, "Come on, Olivia. Let's go potty."

And so they did. Afterward, he brought her back up stairs, saying, "Let's get you some clean undies, it's not your fault you went a little in your underwear, we need to know to just take you potty instead of asking you."

It's comments like that that undermine my confidence. Did he ask me why I'd asked rather than just take? No. If he had, I'd have explained that I want to Olivia to learn what it feels like to have to go pee. I want her to come to us and TELL us when she has to go rather than just getting used to a timer or a parent telling her when it's time to go. She needs to learn what the sensation feels like and the only way for her to do that is to ask her and make her think about what she's feeling.

But he didn't seem to want to know that. He believes there is a right way and a wrong way to do most everything and I get the feeling that he believes that my way, if it's different from his, is wrong.

I want to be a good parent. I want others to see me as a good mom. Most important, I want the girls to feel I'm a good mom.

I do know how to love my children even if I am not always as patient as I'd like to be. I know how to spend time with them, time that's not about telling them what to do and how to do it but rather just time letting them be themselves.

I feed them. Sure, they get some junk sometimes, but mostly, I feel like they eat well. I hold them and tell them how loved they are. I show them love by comforting them when they're hurt or sad. I listen to them tell me stories and sing me songs. I laugh at their jokes and watch them whenever they call out, "Mommy, watch me!"

I want some sort of acknowledgement that the things I do well are noticed instead of every other thing that I might not do well.

I hate conflict. But I think I'm going to have to suck it up and deal with potential conflict just to get this out of the way. It's festering and that's never a good thing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heat Wave

Our area is under a heat index advisory, which basically means: It's hotter than hell, stay inside or go swimming.

So...I stayed inside this morning and primed and primed and primed some more. I had a ceiling fan running as I worked to cover the Sunkist Orange and hot pink walls that were once some pre-teen or teenage girl's little place of privacy in a house full of annoying siblings.

Now? It's a white room waiting for some paint and furniture to become a welcoming guest room.

When I was finally done I was sweaty, grouchy, hungry and tired. I showered, grabbed Olivia and we headed to my mom's with just a quick stop at Burger King for chicken fries, onion rings and a frozen Coke.

Once there, we visited with aunts and long-lost cousins and finally, we swam.

We swam and swam and swam and it make all the priming so worth it. Knowing I was coming home to a job well done make me happy.

It really is amazing what a difference a year makes. Last year, Olivia was willing to get in the water, but she needed to be touching me at all time. She wouldn't put her face in the water for anything at all and she cried every time Alyssa spashed her. Yes, she was a delight.

This year? She 'swims'. She holds her breath and goes underwater. She tells me to go to the other side of the pool because she doesn't need my help. She spends most of the time on her knees, which brings the water level to her neck.

She's a little fish, is what I'm saying.

And I love it because it's just not as much fun swimming with a clingy, whiny kid as it swimming with a child who is squealing with glee, crying out, "Wathc me, Mommy. I'm swimming."

We're weathering this heat wave with as much charm as possible.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Costumes, Overnighters and Expecting the Worse

This afternoon, when Olivia and I got back from buying groceries, she hung out with me in the kitchen for about twenty minutes while I put groceries away and started white beans and ham for dinner. By the time I was about the mix the cornbread batter she asked if she could watch something on tv.

Since it was just me and her in the house (Alyssa's already left for the rodeo with her Gram and cousin Julie) I said yes. She asked for Barbie's Fairytopia.

I put it in and went back to he cornbread.

A few minutes into the movie, she asked, "Can you find me an Elina costume?"

Well, of course I can!! Alyssa's been into 'being' characters from the movies she's watching since she was all of two years old.

Olivia and I made our way to the dress-up bin and found the perfect fairy costume for her.

The costume has a pair of wings that can be velcroed to the back of the bodice but Olivia declared, "Elina doesn't have wings, I don't want those wings on my fairy costume."

So off they came.

I love watching her do these things. I know, it's television and it's BARBIE for Pete Sakes (heee, that makes me smile everytime) but it still opens her imagination, makes her think, lets her pretend.

She told me, "Elina wears shoes because she doesn't have wings. She has to walk."

How clever is my girl? So, so clever, right?

Right before my mom got her, Alyssa ran frantically about the house, working herself into a tizzy because we hadn't packed an overnight bag.

I tried to remind her that she wouldn't be all that far away and if she forgot anything, I could bring it to her in less than ten minutes.

Gram's house is the only place she's ever spent away from me and Tom. I'm okay with that. But it's still funny to watch her pack for a single night away. We were just zipping her bag, full of outfits and pajamas and several pairs of underwear, just in case she doesn't like the way one pair feels in the morning, she'll have a spare.

I'm trying not like to imagine what the teenage years are going to be like.

The priming wasn't nearly so bad this morning. Yes, I got sweaty and yes, it was boring, but...I guess expecting the worse and just getting blah makes for a nice surprise, right? How's that for a flip.

While I was upstairs, Olivia discovered the bathtub in the second bathroom, the one I was going to be priming. It's as if she hadn't noticed it in the eleven months we've lived here. She asked if she could take a bath. Why not? I was right there, priming the hall and then the very room in which she was bathing. After she soaked for a while, she announced with glee, "This bathtub has a shower in it!!"

So amazing, huh? After that, she wanted to shower.

Alyssa informed Olivia about fifteen minutes later, "You cannot possibly get any cleaner."

I'm thinking that's not a bad state to be in.

Of course, it's now been six plus hours after the bath/shower and she's noticed that Elina is wearing purple eye shadow and lipstick. At this point, I do believe that little miss O could very well be cleaner.

But isn't messiness part of being a kid? I could probably remind myself of that a little more often.

Just like how things more often than not are not nearly as bad as I expect them to be. But I wouldn't want to go little miss sunshine on anyone. Where's the fun in that?

Friday, July 15, 2011


I'm irritable today.

I'm looking down the barrel of a weekend filled with unpleasant tasks. Yes, the tasks have to be done (priming/painting, ugh!!) so that the fun stuff, the decorating, the personalizing, can happen.

But gosh do I hate priming and painting. I just really, really do.

On top of the anticipation of the work ahead, I had another drive-by today from the very same idiot who did it a few weeks ago. This guy, on his way in from his own lunch outside the building, stops in my office JUST to say, "Oooh, something smells so healthy in here."

Then he proceeds to actually TOUCH the bag in which my Mcd's food is in. Hands off my lunch, asshole! He's just so annoying.

I glared at him and said nothing. He chortled (again, just last time) and walked away. One of these day...pow, to the moon!

Or maybe not. Maybe I'll just sit and stew as I stuff fries into my gaping mouth.

On top of the lunch-judge and the looming painting job, I snapped at the girls last night.

Granted, they were both asleep and don't remember it at all but still, I was yelling at sleeping children.

In news that is not new, I didn't sleep well last night. Even though I started out in the twin bed and the girls were in my big bed, I was 'called' to the big bed by Olivia around 1:00am. I nudged her over to give myself a bit more than three inches on the edge of the bed and then started to fall asleep.

I was jolted from my slumber by Olivia whimpering in her sleep and Alyssa pushing at my feet with hers.

I snapped, "For Pete's sake! Olivia, if you wouldn't insist on sleeping sideways your sister wouldn't squish you. And Alyssa, stop trying to sleep diagonal!"

Though they were alseep, they both complied with my stern admonition and moved accordingly, although by the time I moved back to the twin bed a couple of hours later, Oliva had her head down at the foot of the bed and Alyssa was diagonal again. Whatever, I no longer had to be touched by either of them.

Gosh I'm tired of being touched.

Yes, yes, we need new sleeping arrangements. I've been saying that for months (years?) Which is why I'm going to be doing the drudge work this weekend in preparation for the fun of making their room their own and making them WANT to be in there. It will happen. Please don't tell me it won't even if you think it might not.

In happier news, I promised the girls that I'd only paint for four hours tomorrow morning and then I'd take them to the pool in the afternoon. In the evening, my mom is taking Alyssa and her cousin Juiliet (no, that's not a typo, her mother spelled her name that way) to the Rodeo that is in town for the weekend. They're ever so excited.

Once again, I'm thankful to be living close enough to my mom that she can do things like this with my big girl. I'm so glad that Alyssa and my mom are so close. I'm thrilled that she gets to do things that don't include her little sister. The little sister, on the other hand, isn't offended at all to get Mommy to herself all evening. So it's win-win.

Now, if only I can ignore the over-full feeling in my stomach. I don't want to acknowledge that I feel gross after eating my lunch because I feel like doing so makes the idiot who can't keep his mouth shut right. I HATE it when he's right.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Most of the therapists and doctors we've met through the years have told us that Alyssa will always be the best therapist/teacher Olivia will ever know.

I agree. I think having a big sister who can do everything effortlessly has shown Olivia that there are a lot of things she, too, can do, if she tries.

But something the therapists never told us is that Alyssa will learn from Olivia too.

Olivia is teaching her sister patience. She's teaching her to take a minute and slow down. Alyssa's always on the go, always moving, always on to the next project even when the remains of the last project are strewn across the floor.

Olivia is dreamier, slower, more inclined to step back and take things in. Alyssa's learning to do that a little too. Not too much, my busy, busy girl. But enough to see the merits of that kind of thing.

Alyssa has also learned to conquer some of her shyness by watching Olivia around family we don't see often. At the reunion last weekend, Alyssa was velcroed to my side while Olivia was right in there, getting her face painted, being hugged, talking to aunts she sees twice a year. I could tell Alyssa wanted to be there too. And, without any prompting from me, there she went to stand by her more outgoing sister, to take in the hugs and the face painting and the chatting. It was lovely to see.

It's nice that the little sister can be a teacher too, even as she learns from her big sister.

I'm so, so glad they have each other. I'm so glad they can learn from each other over the years, taking in the good things and working through the bad. It's what siblings are for and I hope to continue to foster a strong, loving, teaching/learning relationship between them. But I'm learing from them too and seeing that I don't have much to do with their sisterhood. They're figuring this out for themselve and I am just so lucky to be along for the ride, to get to watch them grow as sisters, into strong, loving women.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Preschool Evaluation

It's weird how at evaluations such as the one Olivia had over a month ago, I'm torn between wanting them to say, "Huh, we're not sure why you're here, your daugther is perfectly normal in very way." to "Well obviously, she qualifies for services, look at her, she's still weak, her voice is very quiet, she needs help pottying, climbing stairs, can't draw a circle let alone write her name. Let's sign her up."

I know that Olivia is very high functioning but I also know going into evaluations like the one we had that I am very unlikely to hear the first comment.

She does need help. I'm okay with that.

Yet...I want her to NOT need help.

Don't we all want that for our kids? We all want our kids to be perfectly normal, just like their peers, right up there with all the other kids in the mainstream classroom.

And I'm often spoiled by Olivia.

When we're out and about, just doing everyday things, no one can tell that she needs extra help zipping her jacket or pouring milk into a cup.

No one knows unless we tell them.

No one, that is, except her educators, those people who are paid to teacher her to be an independent thinker. These people look past the pretty face and the sweet little voice and see a child who needs help.

And they're offering it. Something for which I'm eternally grateful. These people will help my girl reach her fullest potential. Which is what I want.

But it's hard sitting in a room with the evaluators a week later, Olivia safely at home with Daddy, coloring...No. Let's be straight here, scribbling on a piece of paper, dripping milk onto the table as she eats her cereal, being taken to the potty ever hour on the hour in hopes of teaching her the habit of going pee on the toilet (let's not discuss pooping yet, egads!!)

It's hard to sit in there and listen to them discuss her weakness, her lack of physical skills like catching a ball, walking along a straithg line, using scissors.

I know all these things are true but in my day to day life with Miss Livie, I can fool myself. I can live in a bit of denial, believing she's right up there with her peers in a lot of areas.

And in some areas, she is. But a lot? She's not. She's a funny, sweet, loving little girl who needs a little help learning some things in life.

That's okay. It might hurt the mama a little, but that's okay too. I'm tough. I can take it, as long as I can continue to find the places, the people who will work with my girl, encourage her to thrive and work toward goals, encourage her to go outside her comfort zone and try a little harder at those things she isn't good at yet.

Because I have no doubt that if this girl works hard, she can be good at anything she wants to be good at. And as the mama, I'm going to keep pushing her, and finding other people who will push too.

And yes, I'll probably still continue to live a little bit in denial because well, that's sort of a mom's job too, right? As long as it doesn't get in the way of getting things done, it's okay for me believe, even just once in awhile, that she's fine, she's great. Because in the end, she is. She's perfect just the way she is. It's just that she has the potential to be even more perfect and I want her to know that and work toward that.

The same, obviously, goes for her sister. I just don't have to push that one quite as hard to try to be a little better, a little stronger.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mean Girl

Well, that last post came across as all judgy, didn't it? I'm sorry for that. I was more envious than judgemental but I don't think that's how I sounded.

Tom's side of the family had a reunion on Sunday. It was lovely.

Except, he has a few cousins and a sister, all of whom are at least five years older than I am, who are aging delightfully. They all look lovely with their unlined faces, their size 8 or small bodies and there I was, lumbering around, all huge and taller than everyone else and just ugh, big!

And I hate it. Jealousy and envy are ugly things, and they turn me into a mean girl.

Yet, that's no excuse to come off that I'm making fun of or judging other women in an effort to make myself feel better. I'm a grown up, I should be above things like that. I should be teaching my daughters to be above it.

Did I feel better after writing that yesterday? No.

I went home last night and at 7:30, informed Tom that I was going to bed. He was a bit surprised but didn't say much.

The girls stayed downstairs with him and at 10:00, they all stomped up the stairs. Of course this woke me up which was the point.

Olivia climbed into bed next to me and implored me to scratch her back. Alyssa climbed in beside Olivia and promptly took my hand, which is how she falls asleep.

I mumbled to O that I didn't feel like scratching, they'd just woken me up and I was still tired.

Tom snapped, "Leave your mother alone, she's tired."

And the way he said it told me that he thought I'd been selfish for going to bed so early and that he was annoyed that he'd had to pick up the slack with the girls.

Which made me realize something.

It is the partners of the women I mentioned yesterday that I envy. I envy knowing that if I'm having a bad day, week or even month that my partner will step up and not make me feel bad that he has to do so.

Men are so dumb sometimes.

This morning Tom suggested that I take a walk tonight. Don't guys know they can't suggest something like that? Don't they know that what we're (I'm) going to hear is, "Hey, fatty, you should get some exercise, why don't you go for a walk?"

That suggestion on top of his snarky comment last night has left me feeling low, weak and vulnerable.

My girls, on the other hand, have already forgiven me for my need of a few extra hours of sleep. This morning they were all smiles as I got ready for work. They hugged me when I promised that I won't be heading to bed early tonight.

So I guess my grateful moment if the forgiveness of kids. I could learn a thing or two from them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm Doing Something Wrong

I have an aunt and several cousins who have never held down a job. Sure, they've worked for a couple of weeks here and there, but never once have they worked 40 hours a week for any extended period of time.

My nephew's mother takes no responsibility for her son whatsoever. She 'babysits' her own son once a week, if that. Sometimes she'll call him and say that she hasn't had two days off in a row in a while and so needs to not care for her son because she just needs to either sleep or shop or party.

On Saturday the girls and I were invited to go to a friends house to play for a couple of hours. The mom of the girls' friends said to call after 10:00 Saturday morning because they weren't likely to be out of bed before then.

I can't imagine. I'm lucky if my girls let me stay in bed until 8:00. But each family is different and I embrace that.

I called at 11:30 and left them a message.

I called again at 1:30, saying that I assumed something came up and that we'd catch up with them some other time.

Then I started getting the girls ready to go to the pool.

When the mom finally called at about 1:45, it was obvious she hadn't heard the messages I'd left.

Her husband had decided that she was in need of extra rest and so had let her sleep. Until 1:00!

I am obviously doing something wrong.
When I got off the phone I asked Tom why he never lets me sleep until 1:00. He shrugged and said, "Because you aren't crazy."

And...okay, so I'm not. I'm fairly sane and actually pretty even keeled, even though Tom would tell you differently if he had a forum such as this in which to air his opinions/grievances.

But he doesn't (that I know of...) and so HA!

Anyway!!! I will admit to being a bit jealous of the aunts/cousins/friends/acquaintances who either shirk (and not all of the women referenced do this, please note that!!) their responsibilities or are lucky enough to have partners who are willing to pick up the slack more often than mine does.

Though let me say right here that I don't know all that goes on in any of the lives of these women. Quite honestly, I wouldn't trade with them. I'm incredibly blessed to have good physical and mental health, I know this and I cherish it for what it's worth.

And admittedly, Tom would have a really, really hard time keeping the girls away from the bedroom to let me sleep that long. He'd have to tie them up or take them away from the house to get it to happen. I'm the primary parent in our household. It's just the way it is.

Honestly, I'm glad for it. I like being the one who can soothe hurt feelings with a hug or bumped noggins with a kiss. I like being the one who snuggles them at night, though I'm to the point where I need the to snuggle for ten minutes and GO TO SLEEP already. It's past time for that.

I'm grateful for glimpses into how others live and for my own life, even when I'm wading in a pool of envy as I drive to work each day, leaving my girls at home knowing that there are other moms who get to stay home with their kids every single day. The last week was such a lovely glimpse into what it would be like to be home with them. I think we could find lots of ways to have fun given enough time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Local Attractions

There's something about coming home. I grew up in this area, moved away to go to IU, moved to Indianapolis for a year after college then on to Chicago for four years.

I loved living in the city. I loved the liveliness that exists in the cities. I made some amazing friends and some enduring memories.

But when I was thirty, I realized I needed to come home. I moved back in with my mom, got a job in this area, met Tom, moved an hour and a half away and started my family and my commute.

The commute, it sucked so very much.

The family? Awesome.

And now I've come home.

The fun about coming home is discovering the great things right here in our own area that I remember as a kid as well as the wonderful things I didn't even know about back then.

I only worked Wednesday this past week. I had two holidays from work and took two vacation days. On Thursday, the girls and I made our way into the next town over (only eight miles from our house) and found the community pool. For only two dollars each, Alyssa and I were able to swim for hours. Olivia got in free because she's under six. Not only is there a large pool with a water slide for Alyssa to enjoy, there's also a baby pool for Olivia. She loved the baby pool. It's only a foot deep but it's fairly big so she was able to 'swim' all she wanted.

Though O and I did make our way into the big pool to play with Alyssa a few times. Olivia enjoyed dangling from the edge, kicking her feet and climbing out only to jump back into my arms.

On Friday, we headed back into Indiana so we could swim in one of the many lakes in the area. This was something from my own memories. And the best part of the day? Tom joined us! It was so nice having a second adult there. One of us could stay in the shallow water with Olivia and the other could go deeper with Alyssa.

Family time is pretty awesome.

There are several miniature golf places around here too and we're going to make our way there soon.

Today, we're heading to a state park in Indiana to a family reunion for Tom's side of the family. We do this every year and it's always nice to see everyone. There's a lake there, too so we'll have our fourth day in a row of swimming.

But the best local attaction? Family. My mom, my dad, my brothers, several aunts and uncles and cousins live around here. It's just so nice to know there are so many people here who love us, who will always be there for us.

Today, I'm thankful for home and all that means.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Same, Except Not...

My aunt has hosted the 4th of July family gathering for about four years now. She moved up to this area about five years ago from Memphis to be nearer to her surviving siblings and her mother.

A couple of years ago my brother invited one of his friends to come to the party. The friend did so and brought his three children. No big deal, right? Right. My aunts all went a litte nuts over these little girls. They were about 6 months old, two years old and four years old. Their father was separated from their mother and he was caring for them. They were started for female attention and so just loved all the attention they got from the aunts and female cousins.

This year, that same friend, who has since patched things up with his wife ran into my mom about a week before the the 4th. He asked if my aunt was having her annual party.

My mom answered in the affirmative.

The friend then asked, "Do you think she'd mind if I came over with my kids?"

My mom, ever polite, was taken aback. We don't invite ourselves to parties held by others. She also didn't feel she was in the position to tell him that he could bring his kids since it wasn't her party. She told him she didn't know if it was her place to tell him yes.

He showed up anyway.

I get that this guy doesn't have a lot of extended family in the area and I feel for him and his wife, who is a long way from family.

It wasn't really that big a deal to have five more people at a gathering that hosted up to 50 people at one point. There was plenty of food and even gift bags for all the kids that did show up.

At one point, Tom and I were sitting at a table feeling our girls. The friend, let's call him Chad, sat down next to me and called his wife and girls over. Tom was trying to get Olivia to eat and she was having nothing to do with it.

Chad asked, "Is her name Olivia or Alivia?" He pronounced the O and the A as long vowels to get his point across.

I answered, "Olivia."

He nodded. "Our's is Alivia. The same name."

??? Okay.'s not. Olivia and Alivia are NOT the same name. Sure, a lot of people will pronounce them pretty much the same, more like Uhlivia but no, it's not the same. It's as if they decided the loved the name Olivia but wanted to go with something less popular.

And it drives me nuts when people decided to change the spelling of a popular name to make it different. Own the name you love. If you love Isabella, go for it, love it, name your child that name. But don't decide to spell is Izabellah just to make it different because it's STILL Isabella.

In the end, Olivia and Alivia will still answer to the other's name. Just like Hailey and Haylee will hear the same thing. In the end, one of them will just live most of their lives correcting the spelling of their name.

Though I have to say that the absolute worst creative spelling I've ever come across was Eighmee. Yeah, Eighmee is still Amy no matter how much you screw up the spelling, right?

So sure, it's just exactly the same. Right? No, not exactly.

Today, I'm thankful for diversity, for differences, even when I don't understand them. Because differences make life so much more interesting. Sometimes annoying, yes, but also interesting.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just One of the Kids

Olivia has had a busy week filled with lots of activity and late nights.

Of course, we all have but it's been a little harder on her.

Her busyness started on Monday, the Fourth. We went to the parade where she stood for the entire thing, watching the cars, the police cars, the fire trucks, the band. She loved it. I think this was the first year she actually got what was happening. I took the stroller in case she got tired on the walk to and from the car but she was a trooper and walked the entire three blocks herself.

That evening we headed to my aunt's house for food and fireworks.

I always pack pajamas for O because every year before, she'll fallen asleep before the fireworks start.

Not this year. This year, she ran up and down the steep slope that is my aunt's backyard. Twice, she walked with Tom and Alyssa to the school park that is directly behing my aunt's house. She ran with all the other kids wearing glow sticks and just being kids.

She didn't eat enough because she was too busy playing and what she did eat wasn't all that good for her. Just like her sister and every other kid there.

And this year? She stayed awake for the fireworks. Go O!! She was in awe. She loved the colors, the booms. She loved being one of the kids.

Of course, she fell asleep in her carseat before we were even out of traffic on our way home.

Unfortunately the next morning we had to get up fairly early to go to the DMV and so she didn't sleep nearly as long as she might have and that led to a late afternoon nap which lasted until 7:30. And that meant another late night, which has started a vicious circle.

I informed her this morning that she's not allowed anymore late naps because it means she's awake until 10 or later and that's just mean.

I'm so grateful that my girl can be one of the kids, running, rolling down hills, wearing a glow stick as a crown, eating just the frosting off cupcakes, playing on the playground. I'm grateful that I know how amazing it is that she's doing these things. Heck, I'm even grateful for a screwed up sleep schedule just because it means she's having the best summer yet!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strange Kindness

Today, I'm grateful for the kindness of strangers.

This is not to say that the kindness of friends and family is not greatly appreciated. My mom took a couple of hours out of her vacation week to take care of the girls and Jaxon on Tuesday so Tom and I could make a quick trip to the DMV to get our Ohio drivers' licenses and our license plates.

And this is where the kindness of strangers comes in.

At the DMV, the state police office overseeing the office where the written tests are given (which we had to take in order to obtain an Ohio license since we moved here from Indiana) took our documents and, upon seeing that our birth certificates didn't have gender on them, informed us that he could use these documents and let us take the test the ladies in the DMV wouldn't be able to use the birth certificates and we'd have 60 days to get new ones with gender indicated and then come back to get our licenses.


Okay, we decided since we were there and Tom had stayed up most of the night reading the book to study up for the test, we'd just take the test and go from there.

We both passed but I have to admit to a bit of glee at the fact that I only missed 5 while Tom missed 7. Heeee!! On these tests, you have to get 30 out of the 40 questions correct.

On to the DMV where, even though we couldn't get our licenses, we'd get our plates.

Once there, the lady who worked with us was so, so nice. She said that because we weren't using our birth certificates as official identification, but rather as proof of U.S. citizenship, she could us them. We could get our licenses!! Wheeee.....

We filled out papers, we proved our residency (thanks to a bank statement I just happened to have in my purse with both our names on it) we proved that we're married, we went to the office next door and had the titles changed for both our vehicles, we went back to the DMV where we had our pictures taken and then, voila, we left the office with new licenses, new plates and a sense of actually belonging where we are.

And it all only took two hours!

How lucky were we to get to work with she manager of the office who understood the rules completely? We were SO lucky that she was so kind and patient.

It feels good to park in our driveway with plates representing the appropriate state now.

The way that nice woman treated us that day makes me want to go out and be kind to strangers today, just to pay it forward.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sir Thomas

Today is Tom's birthday. He's a hard person to figure out sometimes. I don't know if he wants me to make a big deal out of his birthday or just let it be another day.

He's impossible to buy presents for. I hate trying to second guess him and on birthdays/Christmas, he's not good at giving hints. Father's Day? He'll come out and tell me what he wants. But these other days? He says he thinks presents are silly.

I think he's weird.

But I'm also so very glad he was born and so want to celebrate this day in some way.

I've been known to complain bitterly about my poor husband. But in truth, he's a good guy. He really is.

He's got a great sense of humor. He makes me and the girls laugh all the time. He's very much a people person and when we're out in public, he's great at putting people at ease with his humor.

He's a wonder daddy to our little girls. From the start he's been hands on, never turning away from changing a diaper, wet or worse. He can be both soft and stern whichever is needed by the situation.

I love him for that.

He takes excellent care of us in all the ways that count. He keeps air in the tires of my car and in Alyssa's bike tires. He mows the lawn with almost obsessive regularity. He's always right there with me checking Alyssa's homework and when Olivia was little and in home therapies, he was the one at home greeting the speech and physical therapists each week.

He makes life fun.

Today, I'm thankful for the man I get to call my husband. Here's to making his birthday a great one.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tattle Tale

Because I'm lucky/blessed enough to work for a company that provides excellent benefits and holidays, I had today off as well as yesterday, the actual holiday.

I'm working tomorrow but used vacation days for the rest of the week.

Most other businesses were back at work, including my brother's place of employment. This is all to day that I'm babysitting for my nephew today.

This boy is sweet. He's smart, he's curious and he's talkative.

Oh dear Lord, the talking.

He's a year younger than Olivia, putting him at three and a half right now. And he's like most three and a half year olds out there. He's all over the place, into everything, asking question after question after question. He also repeats something infinitely until someone replies to him, letting him know he's been heard.

But all of this is just noise.

What gets me is the tattling. It drives me nuts.

It's a constant stream of:

"Tommie, Livia is spitting water."

"Tommie, Sissy won't let me watch Barney."

"Tommie, Livia is sucking her thumb."

And on and on.

I try to be patient. I do.

It's days like that that give me such respect for all your parents out there with more than two kids.

I honestly do not think I'd have the patience, time, energy for one more kid in our house, no matter how wistfully I might sometimes wonder what that third little person would be like.

I know that Jaxon is no my child. I know that a third wouldn't be exactly like these days when he's here, talking and tattling and turning your face toward him to be sure you're listening.

I know that a third would probably fit right in.'s days like this that really confirm what Tom and I know.

Two is plenty for us. Our hearts are full. Our time is taken. Our family is complete.

How lucky we are to know that, to have these two little girls and the occasional nephew to fill our hours, our hearts, our home.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Photographic Evidence

Each Fourth of July for the past several years, the girls and I go to a parade with my mom and then Tom joins us for a celebration at my aunt's house in town where we can see the fireworks from her backyard.

Even when we lived 65 plus miles away, the girls and I made the drive early and then usually spent the night with my mom so we didn't have to drive home so late after the fireworks. Poor Tom always drove back home.

This year, thanks to our lovely new home and the location of said home, we were able to go to the parade, come back home for the afternoon and go back to the party in town later.

This morning Alyssa helped me make cupcakes that look, sort of, like fireworks. They are actually pretty cute, I must say. Here's proof of our hard work.

And since I'm uploading I thought I'd provide photographic evidence of the closets. See, I know that I could say anything I want about painting them but the proof is in the pictures. closet and red closet.

And another angle of both, just to get the full impact of these colors. And for the record, the blue went on in one smooth coat, covering beautifully. The red? Not so much. Of course in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that Olivia 'helped' paint her red closet, so take that for what it's worth. Alyssa also helped paint her blue closet, butr let's remember that there are almost four years separating them in age, strength and maturity.

And in case Alyssa ever tries to tell me I'm the meanest mom EVER, I have evidence that I'm actually a pretty cool mom. We dyed her hair a couple of nights ago. We used Splat brand semi-permanent hair color in Aqua. She is now known at Merlyssa.

Today, I'm thankful for this amazing country of ours and those who fought and died keeping us free to live wonderful, thankful lives.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Today, I am grateful for long, hot, lazy days in which I have nothing more important to do than drive three miles to my mother's house, swim in her pool with my girls, get out, feed them lunch at Mom's Diner, visit with out-of-town guests, and then swim again.

Of course, there are always chores to be done. There's always a load of laundry waiting to be folded or a dishwasher full of clean dishes that aren't going to put themselves away. There are also carpets to be vacuumed and floors to be swept and mopped but I've found that when I leave the house with my girls on a mission of fun, I can forget the things that are laying around the house, waiting to be put away. I can focus on my girls. That's something they deserve to happen more often than it does. But when it finally does I'm so grateful that I decided the chores could wait and the fun couldn't. Because when we go out to have fun, I'm reminded of how great my kids really are.

Alyssa is such a fish. She's very confident in the water and moves like a mermaid. Her natural grace magnifies in the water. She's fun too.

Olivia is almost as confident. But when I'm near, she'd rather be holding my hands, 'swimming' to me from arm length away and then letting me push her back only to swim back.

I just like the feeling of the cool water and the sound of my children's laughter.

And the tired you get from a day of swimming doesn't hurt either. Those two little gilrs are going to sleep well tonight.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bathing Suit Season

Tom and his siblings and cousins have a reunion every July. The past few years they've held it at a state park where there is swimming.

All you parents out there just KNOW there is no way you can take two kids to something like this and expect them not to swim.

And because this is Tom's family, I'm the one who leave the gathering and heads down to the lake with the girls.

For the past couple of years, I've packed a swim suit and a very large T-shirt. And I've held Olivia in the water while watching Alyssa swim. I never took off that T-shirt.

This summer my mom bought one of those awesome inflatable pools that get to about 40 inches high and are about fifteen feet wide.

It's wonderful. I am often found after work frolicking with the girls in the pool.

And get this...I'm in there in just a swim suit. No T-shirt.

Today was a big day for us. It was our first visit to the lake (not because of the family reunion, that's not until next week.) We not only painted both girls' closets, Alyssa's a vibrant blue and Olivia's candy apple red. The paint color of O's really is 'candy apple red.'

I'll try to get pictures of the beautiful closets today.

Tom, in a fit of brilliance, didn't complain about the colors even once. His only comment was, "Well, if one closet is blue and the other is red, we can paint the room white and call it patriotic."

Okay...whatever. At least he didn't rain on their joy at picking beautiful, bright colors for their closet make-overs. I'll give him thatl.

But after painting Alyssa's closet and sweating the entire time, I stepped outside to clean the rollers and brush and realized how hot it was out there. No wonder a closet UPSTAIRS in our unairconditioned house had been sweltering.

I declared, "This would be a great day to be at the lake."

Alyssa latched on to that and I knew there would be no getting out of it.

So I showered the sheen of sweat off my body, put on my swim suit, put a pair of capris and a shirt over it. We then packed up towels, pails and shovels, sprayed on sun screen and off we went.

And when we got there? I went swimming without a T-shirt. I swam in a swim suit and that's it.

It was liberating. I've realized that no one is watching me. No one cares about that chubby mom swimming with her kids. No one is more worried about my flabby stomach than I am. In fact, no one worries about it at all. Everyone there has their own worries, their own joys.

I realized that I was drawing more attention to myself with my stupid over-sized T-shirt than I ever will with just a swim suit that fits.

So today, I'm thankful for blue and red closets and revelations that it's okay to swim with my children while wearing a bathing suit, on that isn't covered by a T-shirt. Go me. It's going to be a great summer yet.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I have so many things I want to get done around our house. While the downstairs is painted and actually company-ready most of the time (unless Alyssa's been in the horse bin and dragged out every single toy horse she owns, which is A LOT) but the closets, the basement (Tom's domain) and the upstairs all need some work.

Other than the master bathroom, I haven't painted a single room upstairs. The master bedroom is a dirty white, with scuff marks and nail holes in the walls. It needs to be painted and those pretty, pretty curtains need to be hung. The closet in the master bedroom also needs to be decluttered and painted.

The room in which the girls' clothes hang (I can't bring myself to call it their bedroom as they have yet to actually sleep in there) needs a new coat of paint to cover the mint green that is currently in there. And because I've been inspired by the hot pink closet that Statia over at Failure to Nap (her link has been added to my sidebar too) painted I have decided to let the girls pick out a brilliant, bright color that I'd never paint an entire room and paint their closets.

Alyssa's already decided on the most oceany blue she can find.

Olivia said, "Umm, probably red."

And once we get those closets painted and organized the rest of the room will be painted. Not sure what color yet, but if Tom has his way, it'll be white. I'm pretty sure we aren't going to give him his way this time. Poor guy. He's so often outnumbered.

Then there's the guest room, which is currently hot pink on two walls and orange on the other two walls. The previous occupant HAD to have been a preteen girl, right? That entire rooms needs a major overhaul. It needs a new light fixture hung, the ceiling has a stain where the roof once leaked. It might have to be the last room of the house to get done. We'll see.

The 'toy room', which Tom HATES just because we have so many toys that they actually need a room of their own, is lavender. It needs to be painted too. This room will probably get a coat of Tom's favorite white. It's small, with two closets and a south facing window, white is good. Maybe we'll paint the closets in there fun colors too.

I'm on a roll.

So there's lots to do and I often feel like I'm never going to get it done.

But...I'm turning that around and calling it a blessing. How lucky am I that I have a home I can work on as time allows? How lucky am I that I can afford a few gallons of paint and the time/effort it will take to make our house a home?

Today I am thankful for the blessing of homeownership, the fact that I was so very lucky to be able to buy this house and that we are all together, under one roof every single night.