Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Way Better

Tom called yesterday afternoon to report that drop off at my mom’s house went fairly well. It was a little rough because they (the bus driver and her helper) were trying to teach Olivia how to watch the driver for her signal that it’s safe to cross the road.

Olivia didn’t want to pay attention to the driver, she wanted to get across that road to her daddy. She was in tears once she was allowed to go to Tom.

My mom said she plans to already be across the street and will help Olivia learn to watch the driver herself. We don’t actually plan for O to have to cross the street by herself at any point this year or probably even next. She’s LITTLE for Pete Sakes!

But when I got to my mom’s yesterday afternoon Olivia told me that she liked the bus. She was a little busy playing with Alyssa and Jaxon in the dirt and on Pawp’s boat, so she didn’t have a lot of time for conversation.

When we settled in to rock at 7:30 (she’s exhausted by then. I think if I sat down with her at 7:00 she’d be asleep by 7:30, as it is, we’re finishing eating by 7:00, then we need to wash faces and hands, brush teeth and put jammies on, 7:30 really is the best I can do for settling down) she laid across my lap, cuddling with a pink-haired Barbie that had turquoise legs.

I rubbed her back and scratched her hands. She loves having her hands and arms gently scratched. I HATE scratching her hands. But I do it without complaint because I know she loves it. It’s just so annoying because she constantly moves her hand around, trying to find the perfect spot for the scratching.

Anyway, this is not about whether or not I like scratching hands. It’s about the fact that she didn’t suck her thumb as she fell asleep. She drifted off, her thumb most definitely NOT in her mouth, which means her hair was spared the pulling it usually gets when she sucks her thumb. I say this isn’t a big deal but when she doesn’t do it, I realize how much I want to hair pulling and thumb sucking to be over. I want her to be in a place of calm and peace where she doesn’t need those forms of self-comfort.

She woke up this morning at 5:45, cheerful and ready to go.

When the bus pulled up, she was ready. I put her on the first step and she climbed up the others, not bothering to look back until she was sitting next to Alyssa. They both smiled and waved. Olivia looked at me like she’s been doing this forever. As if to say, “What’s the big deal, Mom?”

That’s my girl.

Now…how to break it to Tom that even though August was a good month for eating healthy, September just might not turn into my exercise month…?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


She cried when I put her on the bus this morning. She was so excited all morning, bouncing around, giggling as I chased her around the house trying to wet her hair down in the back.

We went out to wait for the bus and she was still so excited. She had her pink backpack on and her off-white sweater was buttoned up against the early morning chill. Her silver shoes sparkled in the morning sun. She grinned as she and her sister posed for pictures.

Then that big yellow bus pulled up to the driveway. She looked at me with huge eyes as her sister bounded up the stairs. I took her hand, led her to the bus and put her on the first step. I helped her climb the other three steps.
The bus driver, Mindy, chirped, “Good morning, Olivia. You have the most beautiful blue eyes.”

She turned toward me with tears in those beautiful blue eyes.

Mindy said cheerfully, “You can sit right up front with Kallie. She’s in your class.”

The tears fell and became sobs. I climbed the steps and hugged her tight. I heard Mindy call, “Alyssa, will you come up and sit with your sister?”

Alyssa moved from her assigned seat five rows back to the empty seat behind the driver. I put Olivia in Alyssa’s lap and I walked off that bus, calling to the girls, “I love you.”

To the bus driver, I muttered, “It’ll get better.”

And it will. The first day is always the hardest.

Tomorrow there might still be tears or even sobs, but it will get better. For her and for me.

I did not cry. Not this time. She’s growing up, starting a chapter of her life that doesn’t include me in every moment. And that’s good, it’s life.

Tom called me to report that his recon mission of following the bus to the school to watch her get off the bus went well. She was fine. She had stopped crying by the time the bus got to the school. Her teacher was right there to meet her and Kassie as they climbed off the bus (or to help her get off the bus, as is the case with Olivia.)

Sure, she sucked her thumb last night as she fell asleep but I expected that, remember? She stopped once, she’ll stop again when she’s ready, when she’s comfortable, when things feel ‘normal’ to her again. Once she realizes that each day, she’ll get on that bus, go to school, get back on it and be taken to Grammy’s house, she’ll be fine. Right now she’s unsure of what’s happening when. She’s figure it out. She’s a smart girl like that.

Until then? I’ll rock my baby to sleep as she sucks her thumb, telling her how proud I am of her and how smart and brave she is.

And she is. She’s brave and smart and funny and sweet. Just like her big sister, who gives love and comfort instinctively (though she’s secretly relieved that Olivia doesn’t ride the same bus home. This gives Alyssa a chance to sit back in her regular seat with her classmates and be just like everyone else.) They’re lucky to have each other.

And I’m so very, very lucky to have them.

Monday, August 29, 2011


We’re putting Olivia on a bus tomorrow.

I’m sort of losing my mind with anxiety over this seemingly small act.

See, Olivia isn’t the strongest kid in her preschool class. She might very well be the cutest (because, duh, I’m her mom and so yes, she’s the cutest) but she is not the strongest nor is she probably the most coordinated.

But we’re putting her on a bus and hoping the teacher is out there to help her off when the bus arrives at school.

I have visions of her tripping and tumbling down those stairs and onto the paved parking lot. It gives me the shudders just thinking about it and yet I can’t seem to think about anything else.

I know. I know she’ll probably be fine.

I know the teacher will more than likely be there, waiting for her.

Even so, I’ve convinced Tom to follow the bus to school and make sure someone is there to help Olivia off the bus.

I even know that kids get on buses every single day. Heck, kids with special needs get on buses every day. But not my kid. Not my kid with special needs. This is a big deal. To me, to her. So yes, I’m stressed and

And yes, Alyssa will be on the same bus but she’s reported that the bus driver always lets the kindergarteners and preschoolers off first, which means that Alyssa won’t be there to help her sister off the bus. Heck, I don’t even want to put that chore on her eight-year-old shoulders.

But what if the teacher is busy helping another kid off another bus when O’s bus releases the littlest kids? What if the kid behind her is in a hurry and gives her a shove? I can’t stand the thought.

I sincerely hope that I can come here tomorrow and write sheepishly about how great her first bus ride was. That I can say that she loved it and that I’m stupid for being so worried. I’d love to make that confession.

But for now, I guess I’ll just sit and quietly lose my mind with worry.

Does worry and anxiety burn calories? Hey, I’m looking for any positive I can find in this situation.

And let the record show that after four weeks of eating healthy, I’ve lost 16.5 pounds. Two more days left in August. We’ll see what the monthly total ends up being. If I survive the stress of the next twenty four hours.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dams and Mud Pies

It's been one of those weekends where we don't do much and yet it feels like a lot got done.

The laundry seemed to be less intense than most weekends. It's done.

The girls had their moments but now they're both bathed and jammied, with clean hair and toes.

Tom and I were mostly in sinc, especially as I experimented with my new soft-spoken side. Wheee!!

I picked twelve green peppers from the garden, chopped them, bagged them and put them in the freezer. Our tomatoes are FINALLY starting to ripen.

I spackled the twelve hundred nail holes in the girls' room in preparation for painting next weekend. Yes, more painting. I know. It feels never ending. Alas, it has to be done and I know that once it is done, I'll feel so much better.

The girls and I walked to my mom's house today. Well, okay, I walked, pushing a double stroller that held 100+ pounds of kid. It was a tough walk but I feel good that we did it. Alyssa did walk occasionally, so there's that.

And when we got home, we headed to the backyard where the girls played in a gentle sprinkling of water, building a dam and making mud pies.

Now that's what I call an excellent way to end a nice weekend. Now it's time for dinner, books and bed. Back to school and work tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Soft Spoken

I've never really been all that soft-spoken. I'm not so much rowdy as I'm just...not soft-spoken. Yes, that makes so much sense.

Anyway! Last night, I was a bit of a jerk to Tom. He called from the kitchen and asked if I was done with a bowl I'd put in the sink.

I went immediately on the defensive and snapped, "Yes!" See, in my defense, I thought I heard a bit of a snap in his voice too, as if he were saying, "Hey, if you were done with this bowl, why didn't you put it in the dishwasher instead of in the sink?"

But that wasn't what he said. He just asked if I was done with it. And then he put it in the sink. And then I felt bad for snapping and his feelings were hurt and ugh...

So this morning was fine, as it usually is even after one of us has been a jerk the day before.

On my way to the grocery store with the girls, Tom called to suggest I get two pounds of turkey instead of just one because we're going through quite a lot these days as we both attempt to eat healthier.

I answered the phone softly, "Hello?"

I knew it was him, of course. Doesn't everyone have caller id these days? But sometimes, I just like to keep him on his toes. I have been known to answer his calls with, "Hola?" Or "Guten Abend!"

Today, I was soft-spoken. And I continued the entire conversation that way.

He finally asked, "Are you okay?"

I said gently, "Of course. Why do you ask?"

He replied, "You sound really...relaxed."

And you know what? I was. Speaking softly and gently made me feel gentle. It made me feel mellow.

For the rest of our trip to town, I tried the soft-spoken approach with the girls and it worked. I was more relaxed. I was gentler. They were quicker to respond to my suggestions and questions than they usually are when I'm just louder and yes, sadly, sometimes harsher.

So this is the start of an attempt to be a softer spoken wife and mother. Maybe just a softer-spoken person all the way around. It can't hurt.

Doesn't the saying go that you ger more flies with honey than with vinegar? I'm tired of being sour and quick tempered. I'm ready for a softer outlook on life.

My daughters and husband deserve this as much as I do. I'm hoping that Alyssa can learn from me that being gentler with her sister will get her the results she wants much faster than being harsh and loud. I know she learned her current outbursts from me and that makes me sad.

This is not to say that I don't think my girls should stand up for themselves and others but there are often more ways than one to get what you want from the world.

It's worth a try anyway.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Truth About Pickles

The stress of the week is getting to us. Not only has school started, which began a major change in Olivia’s life, Alyssa headed off to third grade as if she owned the school. She came home to my mom’s every day full of joy and excitement. She watched a little television, at a few snacks (seriously, a few, not just one, not just two, but several snacks) then she headed outside to play with Pickles, the stray cat that took up residence in my mom’s backyard.

No matter how often Prissy, my mom’s big house cat, tried to run him off, Pickles appeared here to stay.

Until Wednesday, when Papa drove off with Pickles toward his (Papa’s, not the cat’s) brother’s house. There, Pickles found his forever home. He will grow up with another kitten for a brother, a border collie for a friend and all the cows a cat can want to avoid.

Alyssa was devastated. She cried all evening. Even after being promised a visit to Pickles this weekend, she couldn’t make the tears stop.

She sobbed, “It’s not fair! First my fish dies and then Pickles is taken away from me.”

She blamed Papa for taking Pickles away. She blamed Gram for letting Papa take Pickles away. She blamed Tom for not letting Pickles come live with us. The only one she didn’t blame was me because she sort of knew that if it were completely up to me, I’d have caved and let Pickles come home with us. I think pets are good for kids. Do I WANT a pet? Not really, but I know how much she wants one and so I’d have let her have him.

But I also know that Tom is adamant against pets, especially inside pets, and so I stand by him, even if I don’t really feel as strongly as he does about not having a pet. Plus, I plan to work on him in the coming years and hope to convince him to go for getting her a pet for her tenth birthday. It could happen.

So I hugged her often last night. I patted her back and agreed that it’s not fair. I brushed her hair out of face and gave her tissues. I promised her that we’d see Pickles often and reminded her that he’s now at a home where he won’t get beaten up by Prissy, nor is he at risk of getting hit by a car as he would have been at our house.
I told her that at his new house, he gets to go inside to get away from the rain, he gets to eat yummy kitten food instead of Prissy’s cat food. He’ll be loved and cared for and he’ll still be close enough to visit.

I assured her that he won’t forget her.

Just before we left my mom’s with Alyssa in tears, my mom asked her, “Would you rather I lied to you and just said that he disappeared?”

Alyssa sobbed, “No, I’m glad you told me the truth. But I miss him.”

Oh Sweetie, life can be so hard. The truth is often so very, very hard.
But then it gets better. My mom took Alyssa to see Pickles the day after he was taken to his new home. When Alyssa got back from her visit with the kitten, she was bounding with joy.

“He remembered me!” she gasped with joy. “He even gave me high five, just like I taught him to do.”

My mom reported that when they got to Fred’s (the brother-in-law who adopted Pickles) house, Pickles was on the porch with his new little brother. When he saw Alyssa and she called out to him, he bounded off the porch and ran to her, letting her hold him and snuggle him.

This morning, after a good night’s sleep, Alyssa said wistfully, “Pickles seems really happy at Fred’s house. At least now he’s not being beaten up by Prissy. He and his little brother just play together instead of fighting.”

My girl is growing up. She’s learning that sometimes, you have to let go even when you don’t want to because it’s best for the other creature that you do let go.

Obviously I could learn a lot from my sweet, sweet eight year old daughter.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Third Grader

Third grade, three days in, has been better for us than any other year so far. The night before the first day of school, Alyssa had a little trouble falling asleep. She was nervous, she confessed. But it didn’t take her nearly as long to go to sleep as it had in years past.

She rode the bus the first morning and has each day since, without a fuss. I walk her to the end of the driveway, she crosses the street at the driver’s signal and that’s it, she’s on her way to school with minimal help from me.

Tom has dropped Olivia off at school the last couple of days. He reports that she gets a little pouty when he starts to leave and he gives on last hug and kiss and then walks away. He’s a better man than I am.

He wants Olivia to start riding the bus. I’m hesitant. The last two days that Tom has dropped Olivia off, her teacher has already headed to the class room, which means he’s walked O to her room.

I don’t want to burden Alyssa with the job of getting her sister to her classroom. I don’t want Alyssa to have to be the one to soothe O’s fears/tears/poutiness.

Alyssa is eight years old. She’s in third grade. I want her to be a kid.

I know that having a special-needs siblings makes kids grow up faster. I know this. But I also know that we can choose how much responsibility Alyssa has for her sister. And this feels like too much. She should be able to go to school on the bus and get to her own class without having to worry so much about her little sister.

Tom is going to ask the teacher tomorrow if there will be someone actually meeting Olivia at the outside at the bus in the mornings, someone who can take her to her classroom, someone other than Alyssa.

I love that Alyssa doesn’t see her sister as a special-needs kid. She sees Olivia as a typical, annoying little sister. And I want that for both of them. I want sibling rivalry, I want bickering (even though it can drive me NUTS.) I want them to be there for each other, be kind and loving but also challenge each other. Right now they do that. I’m so grateful that they have each other and I don’t want Alyssa to ever see Olivia as a burden, a chore.

If anyone is going to be inconvenienced by Olivia’s ‘special’ needs, it should be me and Tom. We are her parents, it is up to us to see that her needs are met. If, in adulthood, she needs extra help, sure, I hope her sister chooses to be there for her, not because it’s required of her but because she loves her sister and wants to help her.

As it is, none of us are really all that inconvenienced by Olivia or her needs. She’s four. She needs a little extra help here and there. We do it because it needs to be done, often not even thinking about it. Even Alyssa realizes that due to her size and age, Olivia can’t do everything that she, Alyssa, can do. That’s normal.

Normal…it’s what we all strive for, isn’t it. Just a little slice of ordinary.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today...We Cried

Tom dropped Olivia off at school this morning. I had to work. When I called him a little after I knew drop-off would take place he reported, “It’s a good thing you weren’t here. She cried. I had to hold her a little bit. But then her teacher offered her a second bracelet and off she went.”

My mom said that when she picked Olivia up, she was told that there were fewer tears today than there were yesterday. So that’s good. Olivia was working on her second serving of mashed potatoes when I talked to my mom this afternoon.

I think this is harder for me than it is for Olivia. Okay, she might disagree with that but I think the guilt is getting to me. The feeling that I could have somehow made this transition easier for her. If I’d put her in programs or something, anything, that gave her a little time away from me, my mom and Tom, this might not be so hard for her. She might not feel quite so abandoned.

And heck, I don’t even know that she does feel abandoned. After all, we’ve picked her up each day so far, which tells her that school isn’t a forever thing, it ends, she comes home, and we’re together again.

This guilt, this stress I’m feeling over Olivia heading off to preschool is so self-indulgent. I know that. I also know that I’m transferring these feelings into frustration and self-loathing about my weight-loss. Poor Tom is bearing the brunt of that frustration. Now that he’s reached is goal weight, he’s taken to working out even harder than ever because he wants to ‘shift things around.’ All I know is that he looks great.

And I’m mad that I don’t. Which is so stupid. His success does not negate my own success. Just because he got there first doesn’t mean I won’t get there.

But when he starts talking about the benefits of exercise and then giving me meaningful looks I just want to smack him. I know that exercise is beneficial. Duh! Of course it is. And someday, when I feel less gross even going outside, I might actually want to walk for exercise, or heck, even jog. But right now? I need to lose some of this weight with diet alone just so I’ll be comfortable going out and being seen exercising.

But then he gets started on the benefits of weight-bearing exercises. And how great it is at our age (he’s ten years older than I am, by the way) to build muscle to promote weight loss and health.

I finally snitted at him, “I do not want to lift weights. I am not going to lift weights. You can’t make me lift weights. I do not want to build muscle. I want to be thin. Leave me alone about freaking weights!”

He started to tell me that if I were to lift weights properly, I wouldn’t build bulk but I do the equivalent of putting my fingers in my ears and going, “Lalalalala, can’t hear you.”

See, way back in college, I worked out. I lifted weights. And I built muscle. A lot of muscle. It’s gross how big my arms are. And they’re not all fat. The friend I was working out with swore that the way we were exercising wasn’t going to build bulk. He was wrong. I haven’t worn a tank top since 1995 because that was when my arms bulked up. I hate, seriously, truly hate, my arms.

But this funk isn’t even about my stupid arms. And I know that. It’s just easy for me to slide into self-pity when I’m anxious, or worried. And I am. I worry about my Livie. I worry that her teachers won’t understand her, they won’t give her time to formulate her words, they won’t know to help her on the playground when she gets less confident. She CAN play on the playground but when she’s unsure of herself, she suddenly gets ‘scared.’

I know these teachers do this every year. They’re good at their jobs. Olivia is in good hands.

She just isn’t in my hands. And that’s what’s bothering me. I hope that by acknowledging it, I can work through it and get past this funk, this stupid, stupid bout of self-pity. I need to. The girls need me to be happy and totally there.

One positive thing: At the height of my funkiness yesterday, I tearfully asked Tom, “Is there anything at all that you think I do well?”

By this point he was exasperated with me. He responded, “Well, obviously, I know you’re a great mom. You do the mom thing very well. If you didn’t, the girls wouldn’t be so happy.”

That is, quite possibly, the nicest thing he’s ever said to me. I hold that close to my heart and know that in the end, he’s right. I must be doing something right.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day

School in this area started back to day. Milestones were reached.

Alyssa started third grade, riding the bus to school with a couple of neighbor kids, stepping away from me with nary a tear. It was awesome. She's not the new girl this year, she knows what to expect and that's a good feeling for both her and me.

This was Olivia's first day of preschool. She was a bit pensive.

But also excited.

There were no tears from here at drop-off either. She's either braver than her sister was at that age or just more stoic. I'm going for the second option.

When I picked her up three hours after dropping her off, she was wearing a new green bracelet. Her teacher said it was because they had a rough start when they all returned to the classroom that morning. She said that Olivia got a little teary but never actually cried. Mrs. Fackler told me she wasn't sure how sensory Olivia is (not really all that much) and wasn't sure if she needed the bracelet to chew on, suck on or just play with.

Olivia stuck with wearing it because it was pretty and she's all about accessorizing and not so much about biting. Which is all good. Obviously O is Mrs. Fackler's first experience with a 5p- kid. I appreciate her effort to understand my girl.

From school, I took Olivia to lunch. It was her choice since she's done so well at her first day of school.

She chose...Chinese. We shared some Hot and Sour soup. Seriously. Olivia loves that stuff. I'm sort of afraid to step on the scale tomorrow morning. But whatever the outcome, it was worth it to share the afternoon with my preschooler.

We had to run to the doctor after lunch for her preschool physical. Her doctor was thrilled that she's in preschool. He thinks that so far, we seem to be doing everything right. Yay, go us! He also recommended we keep O (and A, for that matter) on whole milk. I mentioned to him that we were still giving it to them on the recommendation of Liv's developmental pediatrician back when she was two and tiny. He said there is no reason at this time to switch them. Neither of them have any sort of weight problem and the extra fat in the milk is good for their growing brains.

And then it was time to go meet Alyssa as she got off the bus.

She announced she'd had a GREAT first day, which is always nice to hear. She also told me gleefully that she didn't have any homework. But, she continued with even more mischief in her voice, I did have homework. So I got to work and filled out several forms that need to be returned to school asap and then...

We came home and flew kites. Olivia's been eyeing a kite that's hangs in our garage for weeks, asking several times a week if she can fly it. We keep telling her that it has to be windy. Today? It was windy. So we flew those kites. And it was a great way to end the start of what we're hoping is a great school year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The "D" Word

Okay, so it has to be said. As much as I’ve tried to reframe this whole thing as a “healthy eating plan” we all know I’m on a diet. Might as well call it like it is.
And really, it’s not all that bad. The eating, that is. I’m always surprised when I stop eating junk and start eating things that are actually good for my body by how much I actually LIKE the good things.

Cucumbers, for example, are so, so yummy. And tomatoes, especially fresh from the garden. And yes, even salad.

But when I’m on a carb high, the only thing that I want is more carbs. Once I’ve had a single peppermint patty, I want more, more, more.
I’m an all or nothing girl. It sort of sucks, because I want to indulge at some point in my life, but I don’t want to get out of control again. See, I hate that I let myself go this far. I hate that to get to even the high end of my ideal weight range, I need to lose 50 more pounds. This is after already losing 13 pounds in the last three weeks.

Talk about lack of self-control.

But I don’t want this to turn into a wah, wah, wah post.

I am dieting. Because I need to. And that’s okay. No, I’m not exercising yet, but that’s because I’m too self-conscious to get out there and just do it, even in front of my own family. I still feel gross even 13 pounds lighter than I was three weeks ago. But that’s okay, because September will be a new month, a new goal/project and that might be my exercise month. It could happen. And at that point, I’ll suck it up, get over myself and get out there to walk, bike, run…move.

Because in the end, losing weight and getting healthy is all about eating less and moving more. That’s it. There is no big secret. It comes down to wanting to be healthy (or in my case, thin) more than wanting to eat those carbs/that candy/those chips/that extra helping of pie or mashed potatoes.

I realized this past weekend, though, that my decision to start eating healthy came on the heels of my month of gratitude. My month of finding something to be grateful for every single day. My month of not dwelling constantly on something I didn’t like about myself. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think switching my mental processing did something, shifted something. It gave me the will, the confidence to make a change about something I didn’t like about myself.

That’s pretty awesome, I think. I’m taking a chance, making a change. And I’m taking credit for it. I am doing this. No one else can do it for me. No one else could make the decision to change my eating but me. And I’m doing it. So yeah, this is a great big “GO ME!” post. Sometimes, a girl’s got to pat herself on the back, even if just for a minute, wouldn’t want to strain my shoulder or anything. I’m sure by tomorrow, I’ll be back to feeling sorry for myself about something, so I hope you’ll all forgive a bit of self-congratulations for just today.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Girls Night Out

Yesterday afternoon, my mom called and invited me to go see the movie The Help with her and her sisters.

I'd been in town with the girls for hours, finishing up last minute school supply shopping (the wipes, why so many wipes?) and we were just about tired of each other.

I said that I'd love to go and got the details of when and where.

When the girls and I got home, I informed Tom of the plans for the evening. Me going to a movie and him and the girls staying home.

This has happened, oh, twice in the last eight years. I don't count my one weekend away each October when I go to a conference held by the March of Dimes where I get to meet the amazing women of Share Your Story, laugh until I cry and sleep in a bed ALONE for two whole nights in a row.

He seemed okay with the plan. I asked him later if he minded the plans for the night. He responded, "I don't really have a choice, do I?"

Of course I took it wrong and well, decided that no, he hadn't had a choice.

But after a little discussion, he made it clear that he really didn't mind and it was all good.

And it was good. The movie was so good, funny in parts and so, so sad in others. The perfect movie for a bunch of women.

There were five of us who went. My mom and three of her sisters and me. I felt so blessed to be included in their evening out. These are amazing women, strong, kind. The perfect people to see a movie like The Help with. This movie made me want to be a better person, a better mother. As always, I still have a lot of work to do.

I didn't get home until almost 2am. It was a late movie and we had to drive about forty-five minutes to get to the theater.

Tom was asleep in the recliner with Olivia sprawled out on top of him, Alyssa was on the couch.

As much as I enjoyed being out and seing a movie some of the most amazing women I know, I was so happy to get home to my family.

Maybe we'll do something like this again next year.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Daddy Day

For, oh say, eight years, we’ve had what we call “Daddy Day” in our family. It started way back when Alyssa was about eight months old. She’d been cared for by mom from the time she was twelve weeks old, when I had to go back to work. My mom had to go back to work and so A was going to start daycare. I was riddled with guilt at leaving my super special snowflake in the care of strangers. The only thing that eased my guilt even a little was the fact that Tom was going to care for her two days a week.

At that time, Tom was still working as a manager at that big blue store. He was working third shift, ten hours a day, Sunday through Wednesday nights. Thursdays were hard for him, coming him to a baby and no sleep. But he came through.
Thankfully, that schedule only lasted a few months. My mom’s work let up again and she was able and willing to take care of Alyssa for us again. But by then, we realized that we liked giving Tom and Alyssa that time together. And my mom liked the idea of a longer weekend. So Daddy Day continued. It just became one day a week, which was good for Tom, he could rest up on Thursday and be ready to give Alyssa all the attention she needed on Friday.

Along came Olivia, and by the time she was born, Tom was no longer working at that store, he’d quit and was self-employed. Which was a good thing since he ended up being the one home for two of Olivia’s four therapies that began when she was a year old.

I always wanted Daddy Day to be either Monday or Friday so that the girls had a longer weekend at home. With our commute, I hated to drag them to my mom’s, home and then back again too often each week.

Since our move last August, Daddy Day seemed to be a thing of the past, especially the first five months while Tom was still trying to sell our old house. My mom was carrying for the girls five days a week while I worked. She seemed okay with it, though because at the end of the day, we actually LEFT. Ahh, peace and quiet.
Then summer arrived and I suggested we resume Daddy Day. At first he was less than enthusiastic. He’s gotten quite used to having Monday through Friday free to work as he pleased.

My mom, on the other hand, was tired. So back to Daddy Day we went. This summer, Wednesdays worked best. It was the only day my mom was guaranteed not to have my nephew, thus giving her a whole day without a children in her house.
School starts next Tuesday. This week Tom realized that it was the last Daddy Day of the summer. He also realized that he hadn’t really made the most of the Daddy Days gone by.

So he made up for that. He packed up the girls and headed to the beach. He went late enough in the afternoon that I was able to join them there after work.
What a great way to end a work day!! The welcome I received was so sweet. The water was on the verge of being chilly but we swam anyway.

It was one last Hurrah to summer. Yes, we will probably have more hot weather for another month or so before fall hits with a vengeance but school and homework and activities are going to fill our days, evenings and weekends.

I know I’ve complained (often bitterly) about my guy in the past, but he really is one of the good ones. We’re lucky to have him.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Two Steps Forward...

We've turned a corner somehow. I don't take any of the credit, though. This is all Olivia. These days, it appears that she's dropped the thumb sucking habit like someone else might drop smoking. Cold turkey, is what I'm saying.

And with that, she's stopped pulling her hair out. I know, right? Big time YAY!!!

On top of those wonderful steps in developments, she's gotten to the point that she's going pee on the toilet 98% of the time, which means she's only peeing in her pants 2% of the time. Sadly, those two percent happen at my mom's... And of that 98% that she's using the toilet, about half the time she goes by herself, as in:

1. She announces she has to pee.
2. She goes to the bathroom.
3. She pulls down her pants.
4. She climbs onto the toilet.
5. She pees.
6. She wipes.
7. She climbs off the toilet.
8. She pulls up her pants.
9. She flushes.

All of the above? She does by herself, without assistance.

The only thing she consistently needs help/reminding is washing her hands.

So all this is good, right? Yes, yes it is.

And in a week, she starts preschool.

The Negative Nellie in my expects that the start of preschool will cause her to lose ground in all of the above developments.

See, preschool will be three hours a day, four days a week. And during this time, she will be in the school with her teacher and classmates, without me or my mom or Tom. This will be the first time Olivia has spend any significant time away from any one of us. It's going to be tough on her. Heck, it's going to be tough on all of us. I really do expect the thumb-sucking and hair-pulling to return with a vengence. These are self-soothing activities for Olivia. I hope that it'll only be a month or so until she's comfortable with school and finds self-soothing unnecessary.

And hey!! She might surprise us all and just take to school right from the start.

But I'd rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.

So she'll be wearing Pull-Ups the first month of school (or longer, if necessary) and we'll just not talk about the thumb or the hair.

She's growing up, my little girl. And there are alwyas growing pains, for her and for me. We'll get through it, it just might take a little time and patience, from all of us.

The good news is that she's been placed in the morning preschool class. I requested this but was told that it would be determined by transportation.

Olivia is a morning person (much to my dismay, as I am most assuredly NOT a morning person.) Her class will be from 8:00am until 11:00am, which is perfect for her. She's at her most energetic and alert during these hours of the day. She'll be home in time for lunch and a restful afternoon. She's in class Tuesday through Friday.

This is going to be a good thing. I know it. Sure, she's my baybeeee, but I do know how much she's going to grow in the coming year. I know she's going to benefit so much from the setting and the classmates. But yes, I'm worried about the beginning, the transition. But we'll get through it. It's all we can do.

Monday, August 15, 2011


When we got home this evening, I came into the house first to plug in my beeping phone. Alyssa was outside, enjoying a drive on the mower with Tom.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was the fish, Lily, floating in her bowl.

This is the fish that Alyssa won at the county fair last year. She was almost a year old. I know, almost unheard of in county-fair fish, right?

I was saddened by her death, not because I was attached to Miss Fish but because I knew that Alyssa was going to be sad.

We wrapped Lily in a paper towel, Alyssa carried her outside and we buried her in our rock garden. Tom made a little stick cross to mark her 'grave.'

Alyssa was quite composed for about a half hour after the burial. Then she let herself be sad. I hugged her and told her it was okay to be sad. That I understood that she'd miss her fish and reminded her of the fun times she had with Lily. She enjoyed feeding Lily each day, waiting for Lils to come up and wait for the food flakes. She loved showing Lily off to her friends that visited.

I feel like this is a rite of passage. I also feel lucky that her first experience with death is that of a fish. It could be so much worse.

But when you're eight it's hard to lose anything you love, even a goldfish. So I let her cry. I held her and listened when she said she'd miss her fish.

There's a stray kitten that has shown up at my mom's house. He's gray and skinny and Alyssa adores him. She's asked every single day if we can bring him home. She's gone so far as to name him Pickles.

Tom and I agree that we really don't want a furry creature in the house.

This afternoon, on separate occasions, we reminded Alyssa that we live on a very busy road and that if Pickles were to live here, he'd very likely get hit by a car and killed.

She realized after we buried Lily that the death of a bigger, furrier pet would hurt even more than that of a fish. She's already bonded with that kitten. He purrs, he interacts with her. He returns the love she gives him, yes, the loss would be greater.

Pickles will remain at my mom's for the time being. If he can avoid Prissy, the queen cat at my mom's house. Prissy is supposedly Alyssa's cat too. She just lives at Gram's and Pawp's house. She's a big, brown, mean-to-other-cats cat. She loves Alyssa though.

So tomorrow, Alyssa may wake up sad again about the loss of Lily. But then she'll go to her gram's house and pet Prissy and Pickles and be soothed.

Mortality is a tough thing to accept. Even that of a goldfish.

Supplying School

It's that time of year again. Yes, it's time to buy school clothes, shoes and supplies.

Olivia is all about the shoes, by the way. She could not possibly care less about disinfecting wipes and Kleenex but shoes? We're going shoe shopping? Wait while she grabs her lip gloss!

After three hours, walked away from the store with two pairs of shoes for each girl, one particularly impractical pair of black dress shoes that once on her feet, were not coming off of Olivia's lovely tootsies. She wores those shoes to the next three stores and couldn't be bothered to try another pair, declaring before any others were even close to her feet, "Those hurt my toes." Or, "These fit perfectly, I don't need other shoes."

She found every mirror in the five-mile radius and pranced, tapped and bowed to her imaginary audience.

But my goodness it's expensive to outfit two little girls for school. What those of you with more kids do, I just don't know.

The supplies! Good heavens! We had to get Alyssa five pocket folders (thankfully, only twenty cents a piece), three spiral pads of paper with 70 sheets. She wanted the ones that were $1.67 each. I wanted to get her the ones that were $.15 each. Guess who won?

Yes, she did. I'm such a sucker.

Then you have the Kleenex, the Clorox wips, the multiplication and division flash cards, the wooden ruler (yay, on a dime!) And in the end, it adds up. We have more pencils than we can ever use so that was scratched from the list before we even got to the store. But the rest? Yikes!!

In other news, we still don't know which class (am or pm) that Olivia will be in this year. The school is saying it will all come down to transportation. But come on! They've known the bus routes since, well, forever. School starts NEXT WEEK!!

And for anyone keeping track (just me? Okay, then.), week two weigh-in put me at exactly 10 pounds lost. So far, August is being good to me, if I don't think about the money I'm spending on school supplies, clothes and shoes.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

One Year

Last year on this day, August 13th, after months of negotiations and frustrations, tears and fervent prayers, I drove to Bryan, Ohio to sign the papers that meant the closing of the sale of our house.

Even the afternoon before the closing, I worried that the sale might not go through. My realtor really was useless.

One year ago, when I walked into the realtor's office, ready to sign away the next thirty years of my life to a mortage, the gentleman from the titling company, asked me where my husband was.

D'oh!! Another flipping hurdle. Tom drove an hour to get there. Thankfully, in that hour, I was able to get all of my own signing done and at last, we were the official owners of this house.

And the anti-climax cam when I asked my realtor for the keys.

He shrugged and said, "In the lockbox on the front door. You know how to get in."

But that's in the past. A whole year in the past!! We've made this place our home.

After hours of whining, bitching and moaning about it, eight rooms and three closets have been painted, which leaves only two rooms (if you don't count any of the rooms in the basement, which I'm not because, yay, the basement is Tom's domain) and four closets that still need to be painted.

It will happen. One project at a time.

Today we cleaned like maniacs in anticipation of a visit from Tom's sister and brother-in-law, who haven't been to visit in the year we've lived here. They live about four hours away but are passing through and we were happy to show off our home.

There was clutter, which is a given with two small children in the house, but it wasn't bad. Definitely not anywhere near the houses shown in episodes of "Hoarders: Buried Alive." Every carpeted room needed vacuumed and the bathrooms needed cleaned but again, it wasn't all that bad. We're more about clutter than filth, thank heaven.

Our house isn't always guest ready. But it doesn't take much to make it so.

And in the end, Tom and I are both so much happier in a tidy house. We really should have company more often.

Yay for a year in our home. How very blessed we are.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Again for the First Time

Last weekend was another one of those "Family Weekends" where nothing gets done. No laundry, no vacuuming, no dishes. It's great at the time, all that togetherness, but at some point, someone has to do laundry. Those clothes aren't going to put themselves into the washing machine and the number of pairs of underwear each member of the family owns is not infinite.

But the family time was lovely.

We spent a few hours at the lake on Sunday. The place was almost vacant when we got there due to a pop-up rain storm. We only had to spend fifteen minutes in the car before the rain let up and we descented upon the lonely stretch of sand.

Alyssa immediately plunged into the lake. She knows our swimming days are numbered as autum and school draw ever closer.

Olivia was equally brave, quickly making her way into the water up to her neck.

Watching the girls from the beach, I decided to strip down to my swimsuit in case I was needed to rescue an overly-brave child.

As soon as the girls saw me in my suit, they both implored me to join them in the water. It didn't take them long to convince me an soon I was standing beside Olivia as she bobbed up and down, declaring confidently, "I'm swimming!!"

I looked back at the shore and saw that Tom had taken off his shirt and was walking along the water line.

This man is three (3!!!) pounds away from his goal weight.

I am...sixty, that's a six and a zero, pounds from my own goal.

I sort of hate him.

Okay, not really occured to me as I watched him walk that lonely stretch of sand that if we weren't already married, if we were strangers that day, there is no way I'd ever consider approaching him romantically.

I'm working on changing the fact that my weight affects my confidence so much. But I've learned over the past few years that as my weight goes up, my confidence in all other areas of my life goes down. Logially, I know that being heavy doesn't make me a worse mother/wife/daughter/friend/person than I am when I'm thinner. But I've never claimed to be logical. A Vulcan, I am not.

My problem on Sunday was that I realized that my husband is dreamy. And I'm not. I look like a frumy mom who doesn't take care of herself. And I hate that. Of course, I'm also working on that, the frumpiness/not taking care of myself part. So why even write about it if I'm already working on it?

Because I want to record my journey here, my journey toward healthiness, toward confidence, my journey to reclaiming myself.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I almost feel sorry for my husband. Here is an actual email I sent him this morning:

"Good morning,

I wanted to actually get a message to you when it was actually still morning.

I wanted to thank you for all the work you’re doing around the house. I know there is still so much to be done and if feels like the evenings go by so quickly, what with the dinner prep, the eating, the cleaning up of the dinner remnants, and by then, Liv wants to be held and rocked and then she’s asleep and I’m tired and Alyssa wants some Mom-time and, well, the evening is shot.

So the laundry isn’t getting folded and put away, the bathroom floors (upstairs) aren’t getting swept and mopped, the girls’ rooms aren’t getting cleaned/organized and there is just so much I want to do and there never seems to be time to do it. And I want to get the clocks hung in the guest room and the bathroom and I would like to find something to use as a night stand by the bed in that room and I’m going to make the bed on Friday even if no one sleeps in it (it will be so pretty all made up.) And wow, that was quite the run-on sentence, huh?

Which is all to say that I appreciate all that you’re getting done and I’m sort of jealous even as I feel bad that you are doing it while I’m not. I feel bad and very much like a slacker. So I’m sorry that I’m a slacker…

And then there is the school shopping the girls and I need to do. Alyssa and I need to go through the brown paper bag in her closet and figure out what she already has for school supplies and then compare those to the list we got from Walmart for Edon third-graders (she’s a THIRD GRADER!!!) and then get what she doesn’t need. And I need her to try on her clothes for the fall and see how many pairs of pants she might need. I think she needs new socks too. So much to do and never, ever enough time. But we do have another weekend after this one.

Both girls need new shoes, Alyssa needs gym shoes and maybe a nice pair of dress shoes to wear with leggings/dresses. Olivia needs new tennies and a pair of dressier shoes too. She’s a hard one to buy shoes for because we never quite know if something is going to rub wrong.

We’re still waiting for the letter from the school about O’s schedule too. I’m hoping we’ll get a list of supplies for her too.

I’m rambling, but this is what’s going on in my head even as I sit and rock one or the other girl. Just wanted you to know that I may be an actual slacker but in my head, I’m so, so busy."

Poor guy. Not many thoughts go through my head that don't come out of my mouth. Evidently, not many go through my head that don't get spewed into a lengthy email message or blog post. Lucky him and lucky you, huh? I have to admit, I do so amuse myself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bed Hopping

Ugh!! Another post on sleep. Or rather, the lack of sleep. Seriously, when one's children are eight and four, one thinks sleep issues are a thing of the past. One is an idiot.

There are two beds in our master bedroom. A queen and a twin. The twin is still there from the early months when the girls and I were living there alone, with occasional visits from Tom, who was still in Huntington working on selling our old hours. I admit to being over-protective and I liked having the girls near me when it was just the three of us in the house.

So yes, these issues are all my fault. I admit to that. But even admitting it, I reserve the right to bitch about it too.

These days, the girls sleep in the queen bed and I am in the twin. It's actually pretty nice, except that poor Tom tends to fall asleep in the couch. But other than that, I like the fact that I am alone in that small bed and the girls have each other to snuggle up to.

Except for last night...

We went to bed early because we were all over-tired and cranky. The girls were in their usual spot and I was comfy in my little bed. And hour after we went to bed, Olivia woke up to find that it was Alyssa she was cuddled up against. This was unacceptable and so she joined me in the twin bed.

I made do with sharing the tiny bed for about an hour but then I gave in and moved to the queen just to have a little more room. This left Olivia to the luxurious space that was the twin bed.

An hour after I vacated the space next to her, Olivia woke again and moved her little self back to the queen, taking her place between me and Alyssa.

Yet another your later, I woke to the pressure of Olivia pushing against my back with all her 35 pound might. I snapped into the still darkness of the room, "For Pete's sake, Olivia, stop that!"

Then I moved, AGAIN, to the other bed, stretched and enjoyed for a moment the lavish space of a twin bed with no one next to me and went back to sleep for a few hours left until the alarm went off.

We have the frame for bunkbeds set up in the girls' room but there are no mattresses on the frame. Why? Because we haven't bought mattresses yet. Obviously, we need to do this and soon. Once we get mattresses on that bunkbed, we need to start putting the girls to bed there. And when they wake and try to worm their way back into our bed, we need to walk them back down the hall to their own room.

And we need to do this consistently until the day comes that they no longer even try to come down to our bed.

Will this be painful? Yes, for awhile.

Will it be hard? Yes, but only at the start.

Will there be tears? Probably, from several different characters in this farce.

Will I be tempted to just pull them into bed with me in an effort to get even ten minutes of extra sleep? Of course. Because I'm lazy. BUT!!! I know that in the long run, the above plan will yield the results we want (MORE SLEEP FOR EVERYONE!) much faster than anythign I've done so far. Laziness only gets you so far. I need to learn that and try something different before someone gently reminds me just how insane I am for putting up with this any longer. Bitching about it all is obviously not the solution or things would have been fixed years ago.

So I'm on the hunt for twin mattress to get this party started. Oh yes, and I need to paint the girls' room before moving them in there.

So much to do on so little sleep...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Fat Cousin

I have two cousins who are older than I am. T is three years older and A is a year older. Growing up, they were the glamorous, thin older cousins I looked up to. And I could never quite compete.

I never really tried all that hard. We were very different. They were both smoking cigarettes by 13 years old and were hard partiers early in life.

I was studious, serious, all about the rules.

Except...I envied their thinness. I hated my body when I looked at theirs and compared my curvier body to their very thin, tall figures.

I'm the shortest of the three of us at five feet six and a half inches. That half inch is very important.

A is five seven and T is five eight. You wouldn't think that half in that A has on me would be that big a deal but when a girl/woman is five feet seven inches tall and a size 0, she gets noticed. At the time A was a size 0, I was probably a size 4, which, seriously? Not big. At all.

I know that now. But when I was thirteen years old and five six and a half and weighing 117 pounds, I felt huge standing next to my cousins who were taller but probably weighed somewhere aroun 103.

Now? I know they were unhealthy. And I know that I'm lucky I wasn't doing the things that helped them maintain that unhealthy weight.

But back then? It was the start of my very own problems with body image.

So with my 'healthy eating program' I'm trying to get to the root of the problem. I'm trying to accept myself at any weight, whether it is what I am now, or what I was last week or what I'll be next week.

I know that the number isn't the issue. It's my own attitude, it's how I see myself.

And I have to stop looking at others and comparing. I need to look inside and realize that I'm so very lucky to be healthy, to be strong.

This body birthed two beautiful little girls. It gets me to and from work every day and lets me take care of my family.

There will probably always be something I'd like to change about my body, even if I ever get to my goal weight and manage to maintain it. But even knowing that, I need to come to a place of peace with who I am, physically.

I need to get rid of the picture in my head of the fat cousin. She no longer exists. I wouldn't trade lives with T or A for anything in the world, not even for the chance to be thin.

I need to remember that each time I get down on my body. I need to remember what it's done for me and my family and celebrate it instead of hate it.

And hey, weight loss for week one is seven pounds. I'm calling that a victory over the fat cousin.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bite Me

Alyssa's two front teeth are finally coming in. I say finally because, well, it's been forever since she lost them.

We had to have the right one pulled back in March of 2010 due to an abcess. She hurt it when she was three while at daycare and it was slowly just disappearing.

The right front tooth was pulled out while she was in a bounce house at the Indiana University Dance Marathon back in November of 2010. Those two front teeth finally started coming in about a month ago.

They're so cute. Except...they are beginnin to look like my two front teeth.

Aww, right?

No. Not awww.

I hate my teeth. I've always hated my teeth. I hated them so much that when I was 27 years old I paid for my own braces in an effor to change them. Yes, now they're straighter but still, I hate them. I hate their shape, I hate the fact that even after braces they're still just slightly crooked.

I don't want that for her.

Yes, she's way prettier than I am or ever was and so maybe she'll be able to pull these teeth off better than I ever could. And yes, we WILL be getting braces for her in her late pre-teens or early teens in the hopes of staving off major crookedness, but...if I could change this for her, I would.

She got so much from Tom in the genetic draw. Why couldn't she have gotten his teeth too?

I know this is such a stupid, minor thing to worry about. And I'm not really worried so much. Obviously, I can't change the shape of her teeth so what am I even going on about, right?

I guess I just wanted to log my apology to her for passing these teeth on. I do think she's going to be able to make them beautiful. With her witty humor, her sense of style and her charm, she's going to be just fine, even if she did inherit her mother's teeth.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Okay, so we've been working on potty training Olivia for over a year. Last fall, we went through a period where she seemed to be completely trained. Well, except for needing help with every element of going pee/poop.

We could take her anywhere, the grocery store, gymnastics class, to a party, anywhere, and she'd hold it and/or tell us when she had to go. We were pretty much out of Pull-Ups except for at night. (At this point, I'm not sure we'll EVER be out of Pull-Ups at night, for either of them, ugh!!)

But then winter and spring we took a major hit and she back slid to the point that she was back in Pull-Ups almost full time. It wasn't pretty.

My mom was getting so frustrated. She understands that this isn't something we can punish Olivia for. We have no idea how her muscles work, how she feels when she has to go, how much is actually in her control.

But since my nephew, who is a full year younger than Olivia has been trained for about six months, my mom was just about tired of Pull-Ups and cleaning a butt that had poop squished in a Pull-Up for even five minutes.

Hey, I get it. I'm tired of it too. It's gross. And Olivia hates it. She despises having to lay down so we can clean her up after an especially big poop has been squished into a Pull-Up and her butt.

Thankfully, I can report that the last couple of months have been good. She's been doing really well at telling us when she has to pee. When she has a Daddy Day (Tom cares for the girls one week-day each week so my mom gets a break from all kids, all the time.) he takes her to the bathroom every half hour on the dot. My mom and I don't like this method so much because we don't want Olivia to rely on the clock. We want her to learn her own body, to know how it feels when she has to go.

Today...she pooped on the potty. She tried to hide under the table and when I saw her under there, I knew what she was doing. She declared that she had to go and I put her on the toilet. Thank goodness I had an outdated Star Magazine for her to peruse while she did her business (she's a toilet reader, I have no idea where she gets it*) and when she was done she called me in to clean her up.

The clean up is just so much better this way. It just is.

We're learning her signs (you'd think, after four and a half years, we'd have them down, but she's good at changing things the minutes we think we have her figured out) and she's learning her body. Last weekend, she TOLD me when she had to poop. She didn't try to hide, she didn't just go off by herself, she came to me and said, "I have to poop."


Now that we have a step-stool in the bathroom as well as her Cushy-Tushy on which to sit, she might be well on the way to being independent as far as her bathroom needs go.

Yes, I know that fall and winter are coming and we may hit another road block but we're getting there. And the older she gets, the stronger and more aware she gets. She's getting there and I couldn't be prouder.

I know, it's sort of sick that I'm so proud of poop in the toilet, isn't it? But when doctors tell you that your child might never be completely toilet trained, it's one of the nicer things to prove wrong. Just saying.

*I SO know where she gets this, but I'm not telling.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Zoo Zee Zoo

Every year since Olivia was about 18 months old, we've gone to the Fort Wayne Childrens' Zoo in August. We get free passes provided by the Lutheran Hospital of Fort Wayne, where Olivia was a 'guest' for eleven days after her birth.

Alyssa looks forward to this zoo trip from the moment we get home from the last one. This is the only time she ever gets to ride horses and she so loves the horses. She rode Chief, a beautiful brown horse, twice today before we dragged her away to see the actual zoo.

Olivia just likes getting out and spending the day with her favorite people. She goes along gamely where ever Alyssa leads us.

This year was special, though. This year, Tom went with us. For those who know us I just want to say, I KNOW, right?

For our past visits to the NICU party/zoo we were joined by my mom. She's as good as sport as Olivia, letting Alyssa lead the way from one attraction/animal to the next.

We debated whether or not to take the stroller this year. Last year, my mom brought my nephew, who was two and a half. With him and Olivia, we knew we'd need a strolelr at some point so we rented one there at the zoo.

This year, we decided to be safe and ended up taking our own. It ended up carrying our snacks and the backpack that held the extra clothes, my purse and my dead phone. Oh yes, did I mention that we didn't get any picture today because my phone battery was dying and so it wouldn't let me take pictures? Bummer, huh?

But back to the stroller, with Tom coming along, he's all about being prepared and he knows that Olivia tends to get tired. He also knows that when she's tired she wants me to carry her. And when I'm hot and tired and my back hurts from carrying her, I get cranky.

So in an effort to avoid crankiness on my part, he suggested we take the stroller.

It wasn't until the very end, after over four hours of keeping up with the rest of us that Olivia asked to be carried.

My girl is getting stronger, is what I'm saying.

Having Tom along was such a novelty for all of us. Alyssa was the tour-guide, talking a mile a minute, saying repeated, "Don't worry, Daddy, I know where we're going. Don't waorry, Daddy, you'll like this next place. Don't worry, Daddy, this next ride is really relaxing."

I enjoyed him being there because it was nice to share the parenting. My mom is great but I always feel like I have to be hyper-vigilant so that she isn't having to 'parent' my girls.

This is two Saturdays in a row that he's spend the entire day with us, not just around the house but actually going somewhere, spending real time, building memories.

This move was absolutely the best thing we've done.

And for the record, Alyssa can't wait for next year's visit to the zoo.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Little Blue People

Obviously, the title is referring to the Smurfs.

I took the girls to see the movie last week. It was adorable. Seriously. There were parts that Alyssa found so funny she was gasping for breath through her laughter.

One thing I lamented often when we lived so far away from here is that the girls and I neverhad time to actually do anything. We weren't a part of any sort of community, not the community in which we lived and certainly not the community where we worked/went to school.

Now? There's often time to burn, except that I still feel like I'm barely keeping up with housework and I never get enough sleep.

But we make time for things like going to the movie, or to the pool. And it's easier now. We're closer to home and we have family and friends here.

Last night we went into town and attended a local pagent for young girls. Alyssa was fascinated because one of her friends from school was actually a contestant. I think that Alyssa wishes she wants to do that sort of thing. If that makes sense. She's an introvert who wishes she were an extrovert.

It was fun. It was also nice that we were all of four miles from home. When it was time to go home, we were practically already there. No time for anyone to fall asleep in the car, or get bored.

I want my girls to look back on their childhood and see that I made time to be with them. That we did fun things and managed to enjoy each other even as we got our work done.

Balance. In the end, it's all about balance, isn't it? Whether it's food and exercise and balancing your intake with your output or making time for the fun stuff while still getting enough of the work done.

I'm trying to show them balance, teach them that life isn't all work but it also can't be all play. Each day, I try to balance it all. Some days are harder than others. But I try to soak in the easier days in hope of getting ahead so that when the bad days hit, I've got a bit in reserve.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Questions of the day: Why do the foods that are good for our bodies taste so bland? Why are the ones that are so bad for us so very, very yummy? Why can't tuna taste like peppermint?

I need to learn moderation. If I were able to practice a little moderation, I wouldn't have had to start this latest 'healthy eating plan.'

I wasn't a heavy child. When I started college at 19, I weighed about 125. By the start of my second year of college, I was 135. And so on and so forth. I like what I like and I like LOTS of it.

As I take this one month, one week, one day at a time, I can't help but look foward to the day when I actually reach a weight at which I'm comfortable. At that point, I'm going to have to figure out how to moderate my eatin.

I don't want to be fat. But I also don't want to deprive myself for the rest of my life.

So...a bit of moderation must be learned, right?

I have to learn to eat one cookie instead of the entire package.

I need to have one peppermint pattie instead of four.

I know, I'm worrying about something that is months and months away. But if I don't start figuring it out now, I'll be a mess when the time comes.

So...moderation. Does it come naturally to most people and I missed out on it in the genetic draw of straws?

It can be learned, right? If not, I'm sooo screwed.

Edited to add: For my own records, in case I get to the point that I need some motivation toward moderation, as of today, day four of my 'healthy eating' program, I am down 5 1/2 pounds. Yay. Only about 60 more to go. But we're not thinking that far ahead, are we?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Bad Guy

One morning this week, I was in the bathroom, finishing up getting ready for work. I was just about to go into the bedroom and wake the girls when I saw Tom go past the bathroom door. I realized he'd come up to wake them.

Seconds later, I heard Olivia yell, "No!"

I headed to the room to see what was happening.

When I got in there, I asked Tom what he did.

He said, "Nothing. I just rubbed her back."

The one in question, upon hearing my voice, was crawling toward the edge of the bed as fast as she could.

Poor guy.

Tom gets that from the girls all the time.

Now...I wonder if it's a remnant of our time as a commuter family, when the girls and I stayed away from home for three or more nights a week. We did this for eight years, all both girls' lives until this past year.

They got so used to coming to me for everything that even after eight months of us all living together the way normal families do, it's hard for them.

Of course, if you asked Tom, he'd say that it isn't so much our past of commuting as it is the fact that he has to be the bad guy. Or at least that's how he sees it.

He thinks I'm too lenient on most things, such as too much television/computer time, not enough reading, writing, math.

He's the milk nazi in our home. I think milk is disgusting and wouldn't make my worst enemy drink it if they didn't want to. He insists that both girls drink a glass with dinner. I don't contradict him on this. I just am not the one to pour the milk into glasses, take it to the table or sit there staring down a teary child as she chokes it down.

I am, however, the bedtime sheriff. I'm the one who makes sure they bathe regularly and that they are dressed in clean clothes (underwear included, thank you very much.) I'm also the one who makes them clean up their toys and take their dirty laundry to the hamper.

I think we're pretty even, to be honest.

He? Thinks that the girls think I'm the good guy and he's the bad guy.

So I'm trying. I'm trying to be more aware of the vegetables they eat and the television they watch.

I try not to contradict him in front of them, supporting his edicts so that they see that we're a united front.

I know that I wouldn't want to be the bad guy. Not all the time. So I try. It's all we can do, right?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stepping Up the Drama

Tom had been divorced from his first wife for five years when I met him.

I asked him right from the start if he was over her. He declared that he was very much over her. He said that their marriage ended badly and he'd moved beyond that point.

I pressed the issue a bit, asking him if he was still angry with his ex-wife. I wanted to know because I was not going to let him punish me for whatever crimes he believed she'd committed.

Again, he assured me that he was okay with his past.

And so far, he's never once treated me like he'd probably like to treat her.

But...there's always a but in situations like this.

Even now, eight years into our marriage (so 14+ years beyond their divorce) he doesn't like to actually speak to her. He'd rather I be the go-between.

Usually, this is no big deal, because now that J, J and D are grown, we have no real reason to actually speak with their mother.

Except that with Obama-care, we're (I am, since I carry the insurance!) required cover the younger two until their 26 years old. J is 24. D is 23. Now, if I'm perfectly honest, this isn't that big a deal since we're already paying for famlily coverage. I don't have to pay more for two more 'dependents' than I would if I were just covering myself, Tom and the girls.

Where this is an issue, though, is when J gets herself into trouble.

She's very, very good at getting herself into trouble. And she always expects us (me, Tom, her mom and step-dad) to get her out of that trouble.

As the person who carries the insurance that covers her, I get to communicate with her mom a lot.

I have nothing against Tom's ex-wife. I came into his life years after their marriage was over. I don't mind talking to her about her kids and getting them the help they need.

The problem is that she dislikes my husband very, very much. And every single time we speak, she can't resist saying something nasty or negative about him.

And it drives me nuts. I get it. She was married to the man, she divorced him, she doesn't like him. I get that. Heck, some days he drives me nuts too but...I'm still married to him. I still love him. She claims he was not a good father to the three children they had together.

I wasn't there. I don't know. But I do know that he's a good dad now. And that's what counts to me. It counts to my children.

About six years ago, Tom's ex sent me one of the nastiest emails I've ever received. It took my breath away with its venom, the hatred was palpable. I sent it to Tom and then replied to her with a cc to him, saying, "I am done being the go-between. I was not there during your marriage, I wasn't there during your divorce and I do not have to put up with the anger that flows between the two of you. If you have something to say to each other, do so, but leave me out of it."

And I left it at that.

A year later, she apologized to me for that email and things have been cordial since.

But now...with J's latest issues, the anger is rising again on both sides.

J is costing her mother a lot of money and a lot of heartache. She also calls Tom every other day, begging him to send her money. Her mother has asked strenuously that we NOT send her daughter any money. I've shared that sentiment with Tom. He's torn. He wants to help J. He wants her to get the help she needs. But it's hard for him to say no to her.'s hard for him to take orders from her mother and this feels like an order to him.

I sent him an email last week that I got from J's mom. In it, she mentioned that I'd told her that J had asked Tom for money.

He started to get angry with me for sharing that information with his ex-wife.

I stopped him. I suggested that if there were things he didn't want her to know that he be the one to communicate with her because not only can I not read his mind, but I am also NOT going to keep secrets from her as she struggles to get her daughter the help she so desperately needs. She's trying to keep her daughter alive, damn it!

I asked him if defying his ex-wife is more important than his daughter's health.

He backtracked quickly, saying he wasn't mad at me or anything.

I snapped, "You better not be, because you have no reason to be."

Again, he tried to placate me. "I just hate to have her know our business."

"This isn't OUR business," I informed him. "This is J's business. And right now, her business is her mother's business. But again, if you don't like what I'm telling her, YOU talk to her."

He let it go.

Tonight, we're having another talk about J. The trouble she's in, the help she needs, is expensive. And it's costing her mother quite a bit. She's asking us to help. Not necessarily go in halves with her, but to help as much as we can.

Yes, we're already helping by providing the health insurance that is getting her the housing she needs and the medication. But she has fines and other expenses and I know this is hard.

So we'll talk. And I'll be the voice of reason should the old anger rise. And if it rises too far too fast, I'll remind him that he's welcome to discuss this with his ex-wife and leave me out of it.

That always works to calm him right down.

I'm tired of drama. I want J well because I want things to calm down and perhaps, at some point, our interaction with her mother will be non-existent. A second wife can dream...

Monday, August 1, 2011

31 Days

I can do anything for 31 days, right?

I can give up caffeine and peppermint patties for 31 days. Right?

Sure I can.

See, I've done this before. Back in 2008, I lost about 50 pounds over a six month or so period. I did it before, I can do it again.

And this time I'm hoping to actually keep it off.

But I'm taking it one month at a time this time. If, come September 1st, I want a peppermint patty, damn it, I'm going to have one.

Knowing that I'm giving myself that permission, I can do this for a month.

On Saturday morning, I told Tom that I was going to be starting some sort of healthy eating plan come Monday morning. I had to tell him because how else am I going to hold myself accountable?

He asked me if I want him to police me.

I told him no. I said that would just make me mad and we don't want that.

I did tell him that he can support me. He can help me take a little time a few days a week to get out and move, either by going for a power walk or by riding the bike. He can support me by keeping the girls while I do these things. Because walking with A and O? Is not power walking. It's strolling. And while strolling can be delightful, it isn't what my body needs right now.

Day one is going well. I'm staying strong. I'm praying it continues. I can do this. I can do anything for 31 days. One that 32nd day? We'll see. I hope that the results I see this month will be so great, to inspiring that I won't want a peppermint patty come September 1st. We'll see.

I want to be healthy. I want to feel good.

Last night Tom and I had one last binge. Ugh! I ate so much I felt awful for hours after. I felt awful when I went to bed and I felt just as gross when I woke up this morning.

The fresh vegetables I've had today have actually been good to my stomach, they've made me feel better. That's a good start. I want the food I eat to make me feel good, not bloated, gassy, groggy.

I'm so glad that last binge is behind me. Let's see how long that feeling lasts.

31 days. I can do this for 31 days.