Friday, September 30, 2011

September Wrap-Up

Okay, so this was supposed to be the month I moved more. Well…hmmm…

I can say that I didn’t move less in September than I did in August. That’s something right? I went for exactly one walk in both August and September. I’m calling good and letting it go. Can’t change it now, huh? Okay, so if I went home want walked this evening, it would be a win, but come on, we all know that’s not going to happen. It’s flipping cold outside and raining and yes, I’m lazy. It’s a Friday and I really don’t think I’ll feel like walking this evening. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy.


What I did accomplish in September:

I got the girls’ room painted. It’s lovely.

I painted wooden letters and put them above the girls’ closets spelling out their names. So cute!

I picked up comforters on clearance at WalMart (I know!) in the blue Alyssa loves and the red Olivia loves and they’re sitting so lovely in linen closet (wheee, I have a linen closet!) waiting for that twin mattress I keep reminding Tom that we need to go on the bunk beds so we can move those sweet, lovely, kicky girls into their own room.

I’ve started crocheting afghans for the girls in, you guessed it, blue and red. They’ll be Christmas presents if I manage to finish them by late December. It could happen.

I have all the pants I’ve outgrown (ungrown? Definitely not ingrown, ick!) in the last two months laid out on my bedroom floor waiting to be cut up so I can make my “Fat Girl” quilt. See, if I cut up those pants they won’t sit in my closet, waiting for me to regain the weight and fit into them again. Yes, I will use whatever I can to control my sweet tooth. If I know I have to go out and buy new size (ha, you thought I’d slip that in there, didn’t you?) fat girl pants, I might be more likely to control my eating. Again, it could happen!

I lost another 10 pounds in September, bringing my total weight loss for the two month period to 26.5 pounds. Which led to me being able to wear my wedding ring again. Did I not mention that? No? See, about two years ago, I took off my wedding ring/engagement ring because, well, my fingers were fat and the rings were pinching them. Once they were off, they wouldn’t go back on. So sad. I wore a cheap ring I had laying around that used to fit my middle finger and called it good. Then I came across this really pretty ring at Kohl’s that I wore instead.

But a couple of a weeks ago, I though, hey, I’ve lost some weight. Let’s see if my wedding ring fits. And it does! Go me.

Tom and I canned fourteen jars of tomatoes. It was our first adventure with something so domestic and homey. It wasn’t fun. Not at all. I was ready to smash the lid of the canner over his head. He’s perhaps the most ‘by the book’ person I’ve ever met. I am not so much. I don’t think we should do this sort of thing together very often. It might take months for us to recover from this first experience. But when I use one of those jars of tomatoes to make chili or something savory and comforting on a cold winter day, I hope I’ll do so with fondness and warm memories flooding me rather than a dark desire to beat him senseless with the canning book my mom let us borrow. (Must return that book to her before it becomes a weapon.)

Overall, September was a good month. The girls continue to love school, the bus and all things fall. Tomorrow we’re going to find some fun Halloween decorations to put around the house. We already have an awesome spider we tie to the handrail at our front steps. It makes for a fun surprise for any visitors silly enough to come calling. We also have a creepy green skull I’ll find a place for. So much fun coming in the next month. What new, perhaps attainable goal will I set for myself in October? We’ll see, we’ll see…

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Boss

We watch The Middle every Wednesday night and Alyssa laughs through most of it. Last night, it was about who is in charge and who gets ignored and it made me think.

I know, an ABC sitcom made me think. What is happening in this world?

But the gist was that Frankie (the mom) and Mike (the dad) were discussing who was really in charge of the family. The kids tended to look to Mike for direction. Frankie gave orders, the kids looked at their dad, he nodded and they followed their mom’s orders.

Frankie was annoyed that the kids and Mike seemed to think he was the boss. Mike pointed out that it was her own fault because she’d pulled the “Dad Card” one time too many.

Tom and I decided not to even bother discussing how this is in our house.

Because…well, in some things, I’m the boss. In others, he is.

When it comes to homework, Alyssa looks to me for help. When she needs one of her horses fixed because it broke a leg and she can’t bring herself to shoot it (throw it in the garbage), she looks to Tom and his superglue.

I’m the boss of bedtime and bath. He likes to think he’s the boss of dinner and MILK. Ick. He can have the milk issue. I’m over it.

But last night it occurred to me that I do sometimes play the “Dad Card” myself. I blame him for things I don’t want to fight about.

Alyssa wants a cat/dog/horse? Sorry, Sweetie, Daddy doesn’t like animals in the house or barn or heck, even the yard. If he could figure out how to get the birds out of the trees, he’d probably do it.

Olivia wants frosting for dinner? Okay, that is something I’d put a stop to without calling Tom into the discussion. There are some things that are just a given. Frosting for dinner is an obvious no-no. At least for four-year-olds. When you’re forty? You’ve probably earned the right to have frosting for dinner at least once a month. But don’t tell the kids.

The real problem with playing the Who’s the Boss game is when Alyssa thinks that because she’s older, she gets to be the boss of Olivia. Olivia strenuously disagrees with this logic and there ensues quite a battle of wills. While Alyssa’s way stronger, physically, than Olivia, Olivia has a will of iron. She can outlast anyone is the prize is worth her time.

I’m constantly reminding Alyssa that she’s not the boss of her sister. You know how mature that sounds? Yeah, not so much with the maturity.

But this is how it goes. The older sibling always thinks they should be the boss and the younger sibling sets up to prove her big sister wrong each and every time.

And the older spouse thinks, because he’s old, he gets to be the boss of the younger spouse and the younger spouse sets out to prove him wrong each and every time.

Maturity abounds in our house.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pajama Day...Everyday?

Okay, when did it become socially acceptable to go out in public in pajamas if you’re over three years old?

I mean, seriously. What is up with people, ADULT people going to places like Walmart, Meijer, the drug store, etc. in their pajamas?

I realize I probably sound like an old school marm but for goodness sake, at least put on a damn a bra! And real shoes. Slippers in public? Really?

Yes, my girls wore their slippers at school yesterday, but it was a special occasion and they wore actual shoes to and from school, changing into the slippers while actually inside the building.

Is this the slippery slope we started down way back in the sixties and seventies when women stopped curling their hair before going out in public? Is this some sort of branch of women’s lib that says we don’t have to wear make-up, or hell, actual clothes to go about our daily business?

I don’t get the laziness of it all, quite honestly. I don’t understand sitting around the house on a Wednesday afternoon thinking, “Huh. I need to go buy some groceries. Ohh, but the chore of getting dressed is just so bothersome. I think I’ll just go in these Tinkerbell pajamas I slept in last night. Who cares that I haven’t bothered to brush my teeth or hair? I won’t see anyone important anyway.”


Even yesterday, an actual Pajama Day at my girls’ school, they didn’t roll out of bed and wear the same jammies to school that they’d worn the night before to bed. No, I made them get up, change out of the jammies they were wearing and into clean, fresh jammies. It’s just how you start the day, for Pete Sakes!

I work with a woman who has had to tell her twenty-two year old step-daughter not to come visit her at work if she can’t be bothered to get dressed before doing so. Just today, that same young woman (the step-daughter, not the co-worker) called from the parking lot. She was in her pajamas and wanted to know if her step-mom wanted her to wait in the car rather than come in and see her.

When the co-worker/step-mom got back in from going out to see what the pajama’ed young woman wanted, she declared that her step-daughter had just come from buying groceries.

Yes, I’m old. Yes, I’m not hip and ‘with it’ like the young people of today. No, I do not understand why these people can’t be bothered to get dressed before going out in public. I don’t understand why some of them wear their pants so low that you can see six inches of butt crack peaking out behind their stupid, pointless thong underwear. I do not understand how a pair of slippers can keep a person’s feet warm and dry in the middle of winter.

I know. I have young girls who will soon be teenage girls and we’ll be having this fight daily. I can just hear myself now calling out, “Go back up those stairs and put on a bra. And while you’re at it, put on actual clothes, you are not going out in those pajamas that you’ve worn for the past four nights.”

I wonder if the mothers of the sixties and seventies went through this state of not understanding why their daughters couldn’t be bothered to put on a little lipstick and perhaps poof up their hair just a little.

Probably. I supposed the generation gap is one constant we can always count on.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pajama Day

One thing I like about my girls’ school is that it’s a small rural school where kids attend from preschool to their senior year of high school.

I like the sense of community, of belonging that this gives them. It’s a comfort too, for them and for me, knowing they’ll be here, in this building for years to come.

I love that during homecoming week, the entire school gets involved, all the way down to the preschoolers.

This week they’re having a Spirit Week. Yesterday’s theme was Jungle. Alyssa wore a shirt that has a leopard print. Since the preschoolers don’t have school on Mondays, O didn’t get to participate in jungle day. But…

Today is pajama day. The excitement that roared through our house this morning when we took off last night’s pajamas and put on fresh, new ‘school’ pajamas was a stunning thing.

Olivia looked at the green stripped jammies I was about to put on her and put out her hands in amazement. She cried out, “What? I’m going to wear jammies to school?!?”

I told that yes, indeed, she was going to wear jammies to school and so was everyone else.

Her eyes got huge and she decided to go on a hunt for slippers to complete her outfit.

Alyssa donned her purple jammies, found her monkey slippers and joined Olivia in the hunt for slippers in O’s size. They drafted Tom into their slipper-hunting army and eventually found a pair in a box in the closet under the basement stairs. I know. Yes, actually, I did give them some hints as to where they might look.

Tomorrow is class color day. Alyssa, much to her delight, gets to wear blue and Olivia gets to wear yellow. They’re so excited about the fun that this week is bringing.

I’m just glad their school keeps things fun and makes learning something they look forward to. I want them to find joy in school. I mean, they have to go, right? Why not make it something they want to do rather than something they dread?

This week is Olivia’s turn to provide the snacks for her preschool class. Okay, let me rephrase that. It’s my and Tom’s turn to provide the snacks. I stopped after work and got eight servings of bananas, applesauce, Teddy Grahams, grapes and Nutter butters as well as a gallon of milk. Tom, being the champ he is, took the snacks to school for Olivia today. We kind of figured that amount off food would be a bit much for even Alyssa to manage on the bus, let alone Olivia.

These are the kinds of things that make me feel like we’re really home. We’re making a place for ourselves in this community. Our girls are building relationships, memories.

It’s so, so good to be home.

Monday, September 26, 2011


September has been an especially gray month. I don’t remember September being this gray in years past.

I admit, though, to having a selective memory. I tend to remember the good stuff more than the bad. My dad can attest to this. He tries every so often to probe my memory for some of the more negatives parts of my childhood (aka my parents’ divorce and the years that led up to it) but I have no memories of the worst of it. All I really remember is the relief that came when it was finally over, when my dad moved out and my mom’s mood was lighter, less stressed than it had been in years.

Ahh, memories.

I was talking to Tom the other day about Olivia’s birth.

I remember that right after her birth, she was moved to a table to my left, almost beyond my sight, several feet away and just behind my shoulder. I had to strain to even see the nurses working on her. There were three nurses over there, all surrounding the warming bed, all of them were huddled there together, working on my baby.

I realize now that they were situated the way they were so that I couldn’t see what they were doing, how hard they were working to get Olivia to breathe.

Tom, though, he remembers more because he could see more. His angle was better, he could move around (his feet weren’t in stirrups) and he could see past the nurses to Olivia.

I mentioned something during this conversation about her color, how we were lucky the nurses worked fast and she’d never lost much color as the nurses worked to help her breathe.

Tom looked at me like I was crazy and said, “She lost a lot of color. She was gray.”

Huh. I think I’m lucky I never saw that. I don’t have that memory hovering in my subconscious, reminding me that we got lucky. I’m lucky that by the time I was able to really see Olivia, they had her lung inflated and she was in some sort of mist, helping her breathe that much better. And she was mad. Her color was much better because she was pissed off.

Don’t we all tend to get a little red when we’re angry?

Olivia was pretty angry for the next six months or so. Who can blame her? She was warm and comfy in that cozy place called the Mama. And suddenly, she was evicted (I was induced because she was nine days overdue and failed the stress-test.) She was thrust into this loud, cold, bright world where people made her do things she didn’t want to do, like breathe on her own, and eat and even sleep without the comfort of mom’s heartbeat. It was a tough beginning but we got lucky.

She got better. She continues to get stronger and how lucky am I that my biggest worry these days is what to take to her school this week for snacks?

Incredibly lucky, that’s how lucky I am.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I didn't grow up in a household that went to church regularly. My cousins and I attended the local Bible School each summer and learned all the sweet little Sunday School songs.

We also grew up with a grandmother who is deeply spiritual. Grandma Dorothy is the one who read Bible stories to us, told us of the strength of Jesus' name to ward off evil. She also taught us to pray. She reminded us that sometimes you just have to fall to your knees and ask God to help you accept His will.

These days, my family is still not a church-going family. We sleep in on Sundays, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and go on about the business of preparing for the coming week.

But I'm trying to continue Grandma Dorothy's teachings. I'm trying to instill spirituality in my girls as my mom and grandma did for me and my brothers. While I don't get much from organized religion, I do get a lot from God Himself and I hope to teach that to my girls.

I want them to know that God is always there for them. That He is always in control, even when they feel out of control.

I want them to know that they are never truly alone. A strong relationship with God will help them with that.

We pray, we talk about God and Jesus and how They sacrificed for us. We talk about heaven and how amazing it is that God loves us so much.

I hope that through our discussions and through living a good life, God and Tom and I will have more influence on the girls as they grow than will their friends, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.

There are a lot of less than good things in this world but there is also a lot of really, really good out there. I want to prepare my children for both, with a strong sense of self and family and God to help them through anything that might come their way.

To me, this is more important than getting up early every Sunday morning and attending a church service where some man tells us how he interprets the word of God. It's better that we learn to interpret it ourselves, that we listen with our hearts to what God is telling us. Because if Grandma Dorothy taught me anything, it's that God is always talking to us, always telling us which way to go, we just have to listen carefully, live quietly enough to hear Him.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I wish I were one of those people who decorate my house according to the season. I’ve always wanted to do that sort of thing.

But honestly, who has time? I barely find the time to vacuum my carpets twice a week. I know. Just give me a bit of warning before stopping by and I’ll race around doing just that.

With today being the official start of autumn I really want to go home and make my house all warm and cozy and, well, autumny. I want to light pumpkin spice candles and hang a string of leaves along the front of our entertainment center (we don’t have a fireplace, so we have no mantle from which to hang this sort of thing.)

I want to make chili and pumpkin bread (which I wouldn’t eat, even if I weren’t ‘eating healthy’ because, yuck!! But my family would love it.)

I want to go through my girls’ closets and purge the tank tops and shorts and replace them with sweaters and tights. Actually, I probably will do that this weekend, leaving just a few short sleeved shirts/tank tops for the occasional unseasonably warm days that are sure to come in the next couple of months.

I want to consciously change seasons, inside and out. I’m ready to start raking leaves and putting bales of hay on our porch for fat pumpkins to sit on, celebrating the harvest.

I’d love to be one of those moms who already has her children’s Halloween costumes hand-sewn and ready to wear in just over a month. Alas, I’m not. My mom, though, she’s one of those grandmas. O has decided she wants to be a butterfly (big surprise) and A’s still in decision mode. She’ll get there soon, though.

I want to buy candy corn and have it sitting in a pretty candy dish on the kitchen table but I fear that would be too much temptation for me and so I haven’t done it yet. Though, I have to confess that I did eat a single kernel of candy corn yesterday. It was soooo good. But I refrained from having a second. I know. Go me, learning moderation and all.

I wish I liked warm apple cider because it would be lovely to have some simmering on the stove, because it gives off the most delightful aroma, filling the house with warmth, comfort.

But no, I’m not a warm beverage drinker. Unfortunately, I’m more like Amy Farrah Fowler in that I prefer tepid drinks to hot or cold, so it would just go to waste. Which would be sad and so I won’t do it. But I want to. I want to welcome the coming coolness in the air and the crunchiness of fallen leaves on the ground.

While I’m not a big fan of winter with its accompanying cold and snow and ice, yuck, ice, I do so love fall and spring. When I grow up, I want to be one of those homemakers who manage to keep their houses seasonal, warm and inviting in the fall and winter, bright and cool in the spring and summer.

Yes, that’s what I’m going to do when I grow up.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Olivia has picked up a new word. It’s got it very on inflection and everything.

These days, no matter the situation, when we’re having an interaction, she’ll almost always respond to a question, suggestion or even instruction with, “Whaaat?” and following that question, she’ll repeat what was just said, to prove her incredulity that you actually said that.

And example:

Last weekend after dinner, I was taking Olivia upstairs to change her clothes. She’d made a mess with her spaghetti and needed a wardrobe change. It was near seven in the evening so I was going to put pajamas on her. Tom announced that he needed to go outside for something. As is typical, if one of the adults is going outside for even thirty seconds, the kids want to go to.

So when Tom said he was going outside, Alyssa declared she was going too. And Olivia followed suit, demanding that I wait to change her clothes so she could go outside with the fun people.

I refused and made Tom and Alyssa wait for Olivia. When we got upstairs, I started to put her pajamas on her and she said, “What? I’m going to go outside in pajamas?”

I laughed and said, “It’s just our backyard. You’ll be warmer.”

She willing put on her pjs and a pair of shoes and happily joined her dad and sister in the cooling evening air outside.

I don’t know where she heard someone say what like this but it’s flipping cute. This kid is just so amazing. She listens to everything going on around her, paying close attention to the social interactions. Her teacher mentioned being worried that O doesn’t seem to play with the kids in her class yet. I assured her that O’s just taking it all in, trying to figure out the dynamics. She’ll get there, she always does. She just does it in her own time. We can’t judge her based on some generic timetable. It doesn’t work that way for my O.

I think that two months from turning five is my new favorite age.

Well, except for eight. Even with all the attitude that seems to have accompanied eight, I still find it’s one of my very favorites yet.

I kind of can’t wait to see what nine brings for Alyssa. Eight brought her an amazing sense of independence. She’s more vocal about what clothes she wants to wear, she’s very clear about what she wants to watch on tv and listen to on the radio. She is old enough and mature enough to do most of her homework without help.

She can (and often does!!) take her dishes to the sink after eating. And!! She rinses them and puts them in the dishwasher. It’s seriously awesome.

She knows where her dirty clothes are supposed to go and they actually make it there 90% of the time. She loves to read these days and often finds the books she’s reading so funny that she feels the need to read them out loud to us so we can join in her mirth. I seriously love that. She adds just the right amount of inflection to her reading that it’s just that much funnier.

Like Olivia, Alyssa takes a bit of time to warm up to new people and new situations. But she wants to be involved, she wants to be part of the group. She loves school these days and soccer and just being a kid. She finds joy and fun in almost everything she does. She might not be one of those kids who introduces herself to every single person she meets but she takes it all in and figures it out and finds the right place for her in the grand scheme of things.

Oh yes, right now eight and four are my very favorite ages. Ask me again in about six months and I’ll probably declare that nine and five are the best ages EVER. I reserve the right to change my mind every year or so.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Truth

You know all those mf-ing magazine articles that have a woman on the cover, standing just right to show off her stupid flat stomach and a pair of giant pants with the caption, “Ashley lost 80 pounds!! And you can too! Turn to page 79 to find out her secret!”

Yeah, those. She did it because she wanted to. She dug deep and decided that enough was enough and she stopped eating so much and she probably even moved more, though I’m still in denial about that.

Weight loss is almost always 90 percent mental and 10 percent will power.

It just is.

You (I) have to be in the right frame of mind to do it. You can’t will yourself to do it. If you (I)are (am) not ready, it probably won’t happen.

Unless you opt for surgery. Which…sorry, I think that’s cheating. But I also realize that sometimes, it’s the only option. But even that comes with drawbacks. There’s the pain associated with any surgery, there’s the recovery time. And often, those who have the surgery lose weight so fast they end up with saggy, baggy skin that has to be surgically removed. Ugh!! Another painful procedure from which one has to recover. There’s also the addiction part of it. You take food away from a food addict, and they’ll probably find another vice on which to obsess.

But the old-fashioned way of losing weight, the one where you eat less and move more? That one, for me at least, is truly a mental, emotional thing. I have to be ready to make the changes necessary to do it. Yes, this time I think I psyched myself out by doing it a month at a time, but hey, if it works, I’m going with it.

I think I faked it until I made it. (Thanks, Lauren!!!) I told myself it wasn’t a permanent change. And I hope, at some point, I learn a bit of moderation so that I can add a few foods back into my daily/weekly/monthly eating plan so that I’m not in constant deprivation mode for the rest of my life. Because that? Would really, totally, completely suck.

I do want to find some form of exercise that I actually enjoy so that it won’t feel like such a chore. I already do enough ‘chores’ to make my head cave in from sheer boredom. I don’t want another chore. But I do want something that feels like I’m taking time for myself. Walking is good, as long as I have music. Weight lifting is sooooo out. Not going to do it, no matter how many people tell me how good it is to build strength. All I hear is, blah, blah, blah. It’s not going to happen.

Joining is gym is a waste of money. We live too far outside of town to make it feasible. Tom purchased a stationary bike a few months ago. He loves it. I hate it. It’s ugly, it’s awkward, it’s loud. I hate it. Period.

Okay, let’s face it. I’m lazy. In fact, I’m ultra lazy. I accept that. I will never be model thin. Who wants to be that thin anyway? Those girls must be hungry all the damned time. I couldn’t life like that.

I guess what I’m saying is anyone out there reading this and thinking, “I’m such a loser, I can’t even motivate myself to change my eating.” Don’t. Don’t think that. It’s not about motivation. It’s about being in the right space, the right time for you. I’m not there yet for exercise. And I’m coming to a place of acceptance for that.

I’m so, so lucky I was able to trick my brain into this healthy eating plan. I admit that it’s really not that much work right now to walk past the cookies, the candy (my freaking dad brings candy bars to the house at least three times a week because he knows I’m not eating that stuff, he’s evil like that. Seriously.) I eat a salad every single day for lunch and I weep with despair when it’s gone, it’s that good. I have turkey, tomato and lettuce wraps each night for dinner and when they’re gone I want to lick the plate. But I don’t struggle right now because I’m in the zone. I’m in that place where I don’t fight the urge to eat that peppermint patty (mmmm, pepper mint patties…) I don’t know how long it will last but I’m hoping I can continue to take it one month at a time.

I can do anything for a month. But I won’t tell you that you can too. That’s where the stupid magazines lie to us in every article. It’s not a one size fits all world. What works for me might not work for you. But there’s something out there that will. Let’s just be kind to ourselves as we continue to search for that key, that magic pill, the zone, the thing that works for each of us, even thought those things will be different. We’re all different and that’s what makes this world so beautiful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Project "Move More"

Yeah, so how’s that going? Ha!

Okay, so I went for one, that’s ONE single walk in all of August, so I’m sort of ahead of that already, since I’ve already managed to go on one walk in September. And!!! There are still like ten whole days left in September, so I can totally do it.

If I want to. Which, yeah, I’m not sure I do. See, yes I love results but I really hate actually having to work for them.

And so far, the ‘healthy eating’ plan I’m on is still getting results and yay! That totally works for me. As of September 20th, I’m down 23.5 pounds from when I started on August 1st. I’m pretty happy with that sort of progress.

In fact, I’d really hate to screw that up by mixing exercise into the schedule. I mean, what if I start to build muscle which, they say, weighs more than fat and THEN? I’d gain weight and I’d be all frustrated and annoyed and we all know that I’m not pleasant when I’m frustrated and annoyed.


Yeah, there’s always an except. Except my back hurts. Pretty much every night. No matter what position I attempt to sleep in, my lower back aches. If I try and lie on my right side, then my lower back aches and my right hip aches. If I roll over to my left side, then my left hips aches along with my lower back.

There is no way I can sleep in my back because that position causes my back to feel like it’s breaking. Lying on my stomach is just not at all comfortable either.

Over the weekend, Tom asked me at one point why I seem so tired all the darned time. I told him my sleep struggles and asked him how much more weight he thinks I need to lose before my back stops hurting so much. He stood for a moment, thinking.

Then he said he was trying to figure out what exercises might strengthen the lower back.

I rolled my eyes. That man is always trying to get me to exercise. For the love of Pete, enough with the exercise, I thought. He really can't seem to accept that he married an extraordinarily lazy woman.

Alas, he’s probably right. I probably do need to strengthen my lower back as well as loosen up the muscles which might actually help with the achiness.

And then, as if the fates are out to get me, yesterday morning at work we had a safety training session with a physical therapist/sports trainer who talked about stretching and exercise (for the love of…) and how moving around is so much better than sitting on your big, fat butt all day. Okay, so he didn’t use those words but he did say that sitting for long periods of time is worse for your back than unloading heavy boxes from a truck.

But I don’t wanna exercise. I know. I should want to do it. I should do it because it makes me feel better even if I don’t wanna do it.

Of course, I didn’t race home and tell Tom about the training yesterday, wouldn’t want him to think he’s right or anything. That might upset the fragile balance in our household.

But I’m thinking about it. Really I am. And I’ll get out there and start walking/jogging/moving soon. Honest.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I hate that I’m passive. I hate that I’m passive-aggressive. I hate that I’m teaching this to my children. I hate that I’m so very much like my dad in this manner.

There are a lot of things that bother me these days and yet, I just sit and seethe over them instead of speaking up. Instead of opening my mouth and saying, “No. Different is not wrong.”

I need to do this, if not for myself but for my girls. They need to hear me speak up for myself and for them. They need to learn that it’s okay to speak up when you feel like someone is stepping all over your rights, your opinions, your thoughts.

I want to stop being passive.

Now…this doesn’t mean I want to become aggressive. I’d like to figure out house to lose the passive-aggressive part of my personality without it becoming just plain aggressive. I want to assert myself with kindness, with love.

See, I don’t like confrontation. At all. I just don’t. It makes me uncomfortable, it makes me cry. And damn, I HATE it when I cry because that just proves the other person ‘right’ or lets them get away with saying obnoxious things like, “Let’s discuss this later when you’re not so emotional.” Yeah, because we all know that ‘later’ will never arrive.

I’ve always wanted to make everyone happy. I’m an oldest child, I’m the one who fixes everything for everyone else.

Except, who’s going to fix it for me? Who’s going to stand up for me? I guess I’m going to have to do that.

So…here goes. One day at a time. One conversation at a time. I’m going to try very hard to stop just letting things go, stop just keeping the peace. I’m going to try and model strong, assertive behavior to my girls. All I can do is try.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Holy Crap, I'm a Soccer Mom

Alyssa's playing soccer again this fall. This is the third league she's been on since she was six turning seven. She loves it. She loves everything about soccer, the running, the team play, the competition, did I mention the running? When she's old enough we're definitely encouraging her to go out for track and cross country. When she was two, my uncle, who has been a track coach for the local high school for years watched her run across the yard. He declared that when she's twelve, he'd love to be able to coach her. She's a natural runner.

Today was her second game of this 'season.' I like this league because it's just Sunday afternoon. No weekday practices, just an hour on Sunday for seven Sundays. We all get outside and she gets to run to her heart's content.

So I'm a soccer mom. And Tom? He's that dad. During the twenty minute practice the kids were doing with their coaches from the local university, we watched. And we realized that one particular kid was being quite obnoxious. Not only was he being arrogant and obnoxious toward his coaches (he'd kick the ball toward the goal, make it go way past the goal and expect one of the coaches to go get it. Then, when it was tossed back to him, he'd kick it again, even though the kids were supposed to kick the ball into the goal one time and move to the back of the line.)

Ugh!! I can't stand kids like that. They ruin it for everyone. And of course, his stupid dad was right there along the field, watching, probably thinking his kid is awesome, better than all the rest, teaching his peers how it's really done.

But then the kid moved from just being obnoxious to his coaches to bullying his teammates.

When he'd move back in the line, he'd try to kick the other kids' soccer balls away from them.

One little girl had her ball kicked away from her three times. She missed her turn at the goal at least twice. Tom had had enough. He went to the coaches and told them what we'd observed. I was so proud of him. I wish I were more like that. If he hadn't been there, I'm not sure I'd have said anything.

Tom told them that it wasn't his kid being affected by the bully but he was sure that child's parents were on the side, watching, wondering when the hell those coaches were going to do something about it.

At that point, practice ended and the game started so we weren't able to see if the coaches were actually going to do something about it. But I am so glad Tom spoke up.

I may be a soccer mom, but he's an awesome soccer dad.

This doesn't deserve its own post because, well, it's a watermelon, but it's a watermelon that we picked from our own garden, a melon that we didn't plan on. The plants came up voluntarily from scraps we threw into the garden last fall. This watermelon weighed 40 pounds. That's FIVE more pounds that Olivia weighs for Pete Sakes. And amazingly, it was delicious. In fact, we're STILL eating it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Chat with the PT

I met with the physical therapist at O's school yesterday. She was lovely.

Anyone whom I'm meeting for the first time who introduces herself and says, "Let me say first that you have such a beautiful, sweet little girl. Olivia is just wonderful." That person right there? She's my kind of lady.

Of course I smiled and said, "Thank you. We like her a lot. We're going to keep her."

She laughed and replied, "If you weren't, I'd be more than willing to take that girl home with me."

Oh yes, my mother's heart melted into a puddle of goo.

But enough about our witty repartee.

The gist of the meeting was the discuss O's need for physical therapy.

The non-surprising part? She does need it. The therapist first noted O's low muscle tone. I confirmed that she does indeed have universal low muscle tone, which means that it's inside and out, large muscles and small.

The therapist went on to say that O surprised her, though. She was able to do three sit-ups unassisted as well as the 'airplane' move, which involves lying on her stomach and lifting her arms, legs and head off the ground for eight seconds. The therapist was thrilled by these things, saying that it proves that O's already got a sturdy, strong core.

Gymnastics, I'm telling you. It had to be the gymnastics.

But...we do have a few things to work on. And to be honest with you, I think some of those things have to do mostly with O's confidence.

She's one of those kids who doesn't want to do anything she isn't sure she's going to do well, especially in front of people she doesn't know well.

The therapist has only seen her once and that was to evaulate her. Olivia wouldn't jump off a step, she wouldn't run consistently for the therapist, she wouldn't even try to jump over a jumprope that was two inches off the ground and she wouldn't climb the steps of the slide on the playground and then go down the slide.

These are things I know she can do. But she was with someone new, someone she'd never seen before and there are some things she won't try just because she knows she might fall and get hurt.

The therapist did comment that Olivia was very cooperative and willing to try most things.

Her preschool teacher was present for the meeting. She is lovely too. She said that she hasn't really pushed Olivia much yet because, in her words, "She's so tiny and cute and fragile-looking, I hate that I might make her cry."

Awww, and yet...lady, she's playing the heck out of you!! I laughed and said, "Yeah, she's got this look that tells you, 'Sure, I know you want me to try this but I'm really not going to so...' Don't be afraid to push her. She's got a strong sense of self-preservation but her feelings really don't get hurt all that easily."

I then told them a couple of stories to help them get to know the Olivia I know and adore. A few weekends ago, the girls and I were in town and it was lunch time. We were going to go through the drive-thru at Wendy's but decided the line was too long so instead we went to McD's. The line was long there too and so we were heading out to hit DQ. As we exited McD's parking lot, Olivia muttered, "Oh, come on!" The girl was hungry!

I also told them that one of her favorite things to say to her daddy is, "Whatever!"

They both laughed and her teacher, Mrs. F. said she wants to know that side of Olivia.

I said it might take a little time but I'm sure by next March, she'll be showing her sassy side.

Mrs. F. asked if kids with 5p- tend to have social issues. I said that what I've read they're mostly friendly and kind. She's a bit worried because Olivia is stand-offish with her classmates. Some of them have approached her and tried to play with her and O will just shrug, walk away and find a quiet corner in which to lay/sit.

I said that she does seem to be comfortable in her own company but that she will probably just need a little more time to get used to school, all the new kids, the schedule, etc. I gave them a few anecdotes about how O and Jaxon will play togethr in an effort to show that Olivia will and does interact with her peers, she just has to know them very well.

She was rated by the therapist as -2.4 in gross motor skills. All I really know about that is that it qualifies her to receive services. I'm okay with that. Of course I wish for a day to come when some therapist, any therapist will say to me, "Your kid is fine. She doesn't need anything I can offer."

But we're nowhere near that and I'm realistic enough to know that. So she'll receive 20 minutes of therapy one day a week while at school.

She'll be working on a tall kneel, standing up from a tall kneel using her hands on her knee. Jumping off a curb and climbing the ladder of the slide.

The best part of the meeting? Finding out that her therapist already works with two other kids with 5p-. Who'd have thought that? This is the first therapist we've met/worked with who has had any sort of experience with other 5p- kids. I'm thrilled that Olivia will be able to teach her a bit more about the syndrome while also benefitting from her experience with those other kids.

Friday, September 16, 2011

That Guy

Tom's had a good summer. Back in May, he decided he needed to lose a few pounds and like most guys (at least the ones I know) just, well, did it. He stopped using creamer in his coffee, he changed his diet to almost vegan and lost weight. I don't think he ever really struggled. Or perhaps he's just not as whiny and needy of reassurance as I am and so when he struggled he kept it to himself.

Whatever. He's lost 30 pounds over the last four months. Yes, I'm way jealous even though I've lost 21.5 pounds over the last six weeks. And this is because while he's at his goal weight (or perhaps under it, which...grrrr!) I'm nowhere near my goal weight even being down 21.5 pounds (how many times can I slip that in, I wonder?)

Anyway, this isn't about the fact that I've lost 21.5 pounds (HA! I did it again.) it's about the fact that he's done very well for himself his summer. Not only did he change his diet drastically, he's been working out. And when he's not pedaling backward on the stationary bike (it works muscles differently, so he says) he's down in the basement lifting weights. And when he's not doing either of those things, he's in the yard, doing physical work, such as fixing the roof, sealing the deck, mowing, weeding the garden...yeah, you get the picture.

And so, with all this outside work and with the fact that he's pretty happy with his physique, he's been doing more and more of said work shirtless. I know. But yes, he does look good enough for it to not be embarrassing to have him be that guy who does yard work without a shirt.

It was a very warm summer. With lots of sun.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. Tom's of dark German heritage. He tans easily. Just a few hours in the sun and he's darker, bronzer. It's just mean that he shows off that ability in front of his paler than pale wife who is of Scottish heritage, that of the pale blonds who don't tan even in tanning beds. I step into the sun, burn bright red and then, a few days/weeks later, I'm pale again. It never actually turns a lovely brown. I should probably take out stock in one of the sun screen manufacturers.

Yesterday, Alyssa got off the bus and said that one of her bus-mates told her that each time she (the bus-mate) and her mom pass our house, the mom says, "Why is that guy so tan?"

When she told us that, Tom and I both laughed hard enough to bring tears to our eyes. Maybe you had to be there, but it was really funny at the time. He's that tan and that buff. And yes, to those of us here in the midwest, that kind of tan just doesn't usually happen just by being outside doing yard work. This is the kind of tan one has to work at. At least, some people have to work at.

Not our guy. Nope, he's That Guy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Alyssa likes rules. I’ve watched her in teaching/coaching situations. She listens to the teacher/coach attentively, making eye contact, nodding when she understands, asking questions when she doesn’t. She likes knowing what is expected of her and meeting those expectations. She really hates it when she doesn’t understand instructions. She has an almost irrational fear of ‘getting in trouble’ for something that might not even be in her control. She’s a lot like me in that way.

There were many nights when I was a kid that I’d lie awake, worrying about getting into trouble for something or other.

Last night was one of those nights for Alyssa. It took her an hour to fall asleep. She was worried about her reading log and her math log. We hadn’t had time for her to do 15 minutes of math last night because she did her homework and then did 40 minutes of reading.

I kept assuring her that I’d wake her up early the next morning and we’d get those 15 minutes of math done. I also assured her that I’d write the work she’d done on her logs and sign them. It would be fine, I told her five hundred thousand times.

And she’d sigh and say, “I know.” Then she’d toss and turn and whisper, “I just can’t fall asleep.”

Then we’d talk some MORE about the reading log and the math log and I‘d reassure her again that it was fine. I’d tell her there was no way she’d get in trouble because there was nothing for her to be in trouble for.

I finally asked her what else was bothering her.

“Nothing,” she mumbled. “I’m just worried that we’ll forget to do math tomorrow morning.”

OMG!! GO TO SLEEP! Of course, I didn’t say this but I sure did think it. I assured her we’d do the math. I told her there was no way we’d forget, because it SUCH a big deal and I wouldn’t let her down by forgetting to do something so important.

Finally, I told her I needed to go to the bathroom. I told her I’d be right back and that she needn’t follow me to the bathroom in five minutes to see what was taking me so long.

Ten minutes later, I emerged from the bathroom to find her sound asleep. Yes, I do think that perhaps my presence in that room was disturbing her sleep as much as the concern about math. Even though she whispered earlier in the night, “I just feel better when you’re in the room with me.”

I wonder if she could somehow sense that I wanted her to go sleep so I could slip downstairs and watch the season premiere of “America’s Next Top Model”?

Yes, I know that my child’s mental well-being is more important than a stupid reality show that highlights the psychotic self-centeredness of Tyra Banks but it’s FUN and I think that by 9:00pm, I should be allowed to have a little fun. My children should be asleep and I should be able to indulge in some trashy tv is that’s what I want to do with my time.

I need to figure out how to filter out my own impatience when I’m trying to get them to go to sleep. Perhaps that will somehow throw off their own psychic ability to know when I most want them to go to sleep. It’s worth a try. I’m sure we’ll all be happier for it.

And yes, I did call my mom this morning and apologize for the many nights like last night that I put her through when my own worries kept me awake, needing reassurance.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good Night John Boy

Our bedtime routine is pretty good. Usually.

Most nights, Olivia and I sit down to rock around 7:30 and she’s asleep by 7:45. School has worn her out these past few weeks and she’s whining by 7:00 and full on clinging to me by 7:30.

Then, at 8:30, Alyssa and I head upstairs, where I tuck her and O into bed and then lay in the other bed in the same room as A and I whisper “I love yous” back and forth.

After ten or so minutes, she tells me she’s going to close her eyes and try to sleep now and three minutes later, she’s asleep.


Last night I was irritable. I was tired. I didn’t want the bedtime routine to take forever.

And what happened? It took freaking forever! Olivia didn’t fall asleep like she usually does. Instead, at 8:30, the three of us headed upstairs. Olivia wanted her back scratched. Alyssa wanted to hold my hand. It’s hard to lay in bed, scratching one back and holding a hand and still be comfortable.

Olivia kept twisting and turning and fidgeting and just being annoying. It’s REALLY hard to scratch a wriggly back.

Alyssa whispered, “I love you.” She whispered this at least twenty times. Then, after the ‘I love you’ came the ‘See you in the morning.’ Which is always followed by ‘sweet dreams’.

Yes, it’s all lovely and good. Except that it requires interaction from me and sometimes I just don’t want to interact. Sometimes I just want to go to sleep. But sleep must be delayed as I have to return the ‘I love you’ and the ‘see you in the morning’ and the ‘sweet dreams.’ And I do love them and I’m glad I’ll see them in the morning and I do hope they have sweet dreams.

But on some nights, I just want them to go to sleep. I long for those times when I can tuck them into bed and LEAVE THE ROOM. We’ve never had that. And I know it’s my fault and I should stop bitching about a situation I created but, GR ARG, there are some nights when it’s so frustrating. Yes, most nights I’m not tired and grouchy and I’m glad to have these moments.

Which is why I don’t really want them to go away. Which is also why I reserve the right to cling to these routines one day, basking in our closeness and then bitch and moan about them the next when I’m tired and annoyed by life itself.

I try not to let my frustration show because I don’t want them to think they’re bothering me. Because they’re not. It’s not them. It’s me, being a grouchy-gus. And I need to work on that, on me, rather than work on changing the habits I helped my girls create.

Nights like last night make me wonder if Mama and Daddy Walton ever got frustrated with the “Good night John Boy, good night Sue Ellen, good night, Elizabeth, good night Jim Bob…” routine. Ahh, probably not, I think they were better parents than I am. I take comfort that fictional parents are probably better than most of us real parents anyway.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Back to your regular programming...

Yes, I've managed to get some things done around the house. I took a vacation day today because the girls had the day off school to go to the county fair. We rode the giant strawberry ride, the ferris wheel, looked a horses, pigs, donkeys, cows, sheep and goats. Olivia at donuts and Alyssa ate cotton candy.

In all, it was a good day.

And I finally made progress in my almost constant attempt to capture photographic evidence that I'm getting closer still to having the girls' room ready for them to sleep in there.

I've thought for months that I wanted to get wooden letters, paint them in A's blue and O's red and put them on the wall above each girls' closet. I deliberately made the letters a little askew so I wouldn't have to be all anal about them being straight. I know, laziness. What can I say? Without further ado... Ta da!!!


Well, crap. My computer decided that one picture was enough. More tomorrow (I hope) on the development of the cutest bedroom EVER (at least, the cutest one in this house ever.)

Also coming up: Olivia dancing in front of a mirror. That girl does adore her reflection. So much cutness I can't even stand it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Moment of Silence

For all my frivolousness (is that even a word?) I do remember what I was doing when I first heard that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

And because this is such a big piece of history right in our own time, I feel like I need to take a moment, a day if you will and not go on and on about painting, decorating, whining, bragging.

This is a moment to remember those who lost their lives, the innocent, the brave. And those who have fought to keep our country safe since that dreadful day ten years ago. A moment to remember how very lucky I am to be here, free to be frivolous and silly and self-centered.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shopping Spree

This morning started with the typical early waking of Olivia. Okay, wait. She actually slept later than usual. She slept until 6:30ish instead of 5:45ish.

She and Alyssa finally managed to wheedle me out of bed at 7:10.

I told them that at some point, we had to go to town. Just for a few things from the grocery store.

We made our way through the morning, Olivia making a mess with lip gloss, Alyssa watching a movie featuring horses and replaying the action with her Barbies and Breyer horses.

I did load after load of laundry, cleaned three toilets and two entire bathrooms (the guest room didn't actually need to be cleaned, though the toilet did get scrubbed because once I'm cleaning toilets, I just want to get them all done on the same day so I won't have to spend even one other day cleaning even a single toilet.)

Byt 11:00, the girls were in the tub and I was hanging a curtain rod. Yes, yes, I STILL haven't hung those curtains in the master bedroom. But I did get a single rod hung today, so I'm calling that progress. Go me.

I called my mom and mentioned that my reward to myself for losing 20 pounds was to get my hair trimmed and wondered outloud whether I was brave enough to take both girls with me to do so. Oh yes, did I mention that I've managed to lose 20 pounds? Yes, yes I have. 20.5 to be exact. Again, go me.

My mom called back about a half hour later, as I was making the girls lunch plates (black olives, turkey, strawberries and Ramen noodles, yes we go all out at our house.) She said that if I wanted her to go to town with us so she could take the girls while I got my hair trimmed she was more than willing to do so. But she also mentioned that she didn't really think my hair needs trimmed. It's currently longer than it's been since Alyssa was about a year old. It's also been over a year since I had it cut/trimmed. But...moms do tend to know these things.

I took her up on her offer to go to town with us, mentioning that we didn't really have anywhere to go, nor did we need all that much even from the grocery store.

The girls and I were heading to her house a half hour later.

On the drive, Alyssa mentioned she was hungry. Hello, she'd had her lunch plate less than 45 minutes ago. We stalled her by heading to the highway and going two towns over where there's a consignment store that specializes in kids' clothes.

Yes! I spent just less than $20 for pajamas for Alyssa, a tank top each and a shirt for Alyssa. Oh yes, I also bought Alyssa a Junie B. book. She freaking loves those books. They make her laugh out loud, which amuses me to no end.

From there, we went to the Salvation Army, where I bought myself a book and Alyssa got a compass. I don't know why, she just wants to always know which way is north.

By this time, Olivia was chanting, "Lyssie and I are hungry." Yes, she does always use the proper pronoun when speaking. She is my kid, after all.

We went to McD's and fed the girls. And what do you know, they really were hungry. They both ate more of their happy meals than they usually do.

Finally, we made it to Walmart. And the girls and I followed my mom to the clearance aisle. I found sheets for the girls bunkbeds (I really can't wait until Tom gets mattresses!), curtains for their room, candles that smell just delightful, a blue shirt for Alyssa that we're going to paint to make her a Bombers shirt for Fridays at school. I also got those thingies you put in the toilet tank in hopes of stalling the next episode of toilet cleaning. Alyssa got some face paint, Olivia got a white shirt that we're going to paint so she can also have a Bombers shirt on Fridays.

And!! We bought the groceries we had on our list. A final extra was some gum that tastes like apple pie. After seeing Olivia's face when she tried it, I'm not nearly brave enough to try it myself. She spit that stuff out so fast I had to chase the pieces down in order to throw them away.

We didn't roll into our garage until after 7:00 this evening. It was a long afternoon but absolutely worth it.

Once I get those curtains hung in the girls' room and the other curtain rod and curtains hung in the master bedroom I'll take pictures to show how far we've come. The girls' room is still a work in progress but at least we are making progress.

For now, though, I have to take two sleeping girls to bed. They're both crashed out on the couch, which means I have to carry them both to bed. Good thing I'm getting to better shape, they're both getting bigger. I'm going to have to say that we definitely shopped till they dropped.

Friday, September 9, 2011


The other day I wore a pair of red shoes to work. They were so comfortable. It was like wearing slippers. I got several compliments and comments on my lovely red shoes.

Near the end of the day one of my co-workers mention that my red shoes reminded him of a song by Don Henley. I think.

I gave him a blank look.

He was quick to assure me that there was nothing bad about the song.

I nodded and said, “Yeah, I’m a big dork. I have no idea who that is.”

He looked at me like I’d said I’d never heard of Ben and Jerry’s.

I told him, “I was a big nerd in high school. I listened to music by Barry Manilow and Air Supply.”

He stood there for a minute, just looking at me, as if waiting for the punch line. Then he said, “You serious?”

Oh yes, I’m serious. A very serious dork in comfy red shoes. I own my dorkdom.
Not quite related but funny none the less.

After school yesterday, she and Jaxon were sitting my mom’s kitchen table, eating lemons. Yes, the children in our family like to eat lemons the way other people eat oranges.

Jaxon was so glad to have Olivia home he was beside himself as he sat there with her. When he got to my mom’s house earlier that day, he asked of Livia was there. My mom told him that Olivia was at school but the bus would be bringing her home soon.

His eyes got huge and he asked in awe, “Is Livia big?” (I kind of love that he calls her Livia.)

As he and Olivia continued to enjoy their lemons he took a moment to declare, “Me and Livia are eating womens!”

Olivia looked at him, put her lemon down, placed her hands on her hips and informed him, “No. We are NOT eating ladies.”

Ha!! The fact that she was correcting his very age-appropriate speech impediment is funny. But the best part was her association of the worlds ‘womens’ and ‘ladies.’ She made the jump from one word to one its synonyms correctly. My girl is proving so many doctors wrong. She is seriously awesome, especially as she becomes the grammar geek of the preschool set.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I find it amusingly ironic that Tom and I had to move closer to my family in order to gain more independence from them. Well, okay, independence from my mom.

Not that she’s tried to maintain any control over our lives. I’ve just needed a lot of help from her over the past eight plus years.

In the beginning it was our commute that made me need as much help from my mom as she was willing to give. She not only babysat Alyssa for the first five months after I went back to work, Alyssa and I started staying at my mom’s house a night or two a week once Alyssa was in daycare.

When it became apparent that Olivia was going to need therapies, my mom retired and began caring for my girls full-time. That was over three years ago.

Once Alyssa started school, she couldn’t ride the bus so I dropped her off at school and my mom picked her up. This was our routine for two years.

Even last year, after we moved, my mom continued to pick Alyssa up from school for the first semester. Once she was riding the bus, she was picked up and dropped off at my mom’s house.

This year, though, there’s something different.

This year, Tom’s here. Full-time. We’re all in the same house every single day, every night for the first time in over eight years. It’s wonderful. It’s, well, it’s like coming home.

And now, we’ve taken a step toward being less dependent upon my mom. The route of the bus the girls ride to school goes by both our house and my mom’s. Which is nice because we have the girls get on the bus at home and then off at my mom’s house each day. This gives my mom her mornings back, lets me get the girls on the bus (with Tom’s help) and frees up his afternoons.

Next year, once Olivia is in school all day every day, we’ll probably have the girls get off at home. I’m excited for my mom to get her time back, her house, her freedom.

She’s always been amazing. So generous of her time, her space, her love. But I know that she’s ready for this. Just as we are. I know that most families out there do this sort of thing all the time, raise their children on their own.

I also know how lucky we’ve been to have so much help. And the girls have benefitted so much from having all this time with their Gram. They have such an amazing relationship with my mom and step-dad. When we walk into their house, the girls act like they’ve walked into their own home, that’s how comfortable they are.

Being three miles away is giving us our independence as a family of four but it’s also allowing us to maintain this amazing multi-generational relationship. I never want to take that away from the girls.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why Not Me?

Throughout my pregnancy with Olivia, I wondered if I was being selfish. I already has the most wonderful little girl I could imagine. She was healthy, she was smart, she was beautiful. I loved that child more than I’d thought possible.

I honestly wondered if I would be able to love another child as much as I adored Alyssa. She was my whole world for those first few years.

On top of my love for Alyssa I had friends who were struggling with infertility, a friend who had a really, really hard pregnancy that ended in an extremely premature birth. Was I being selfish to want another hassle-free pregnancy and a healthy full-term baby?

Maybe, but that’s what I wanted and so we went for it.

And I got that hassle-free pregnancy. My second pregnancy was actually easier than my first. I didn’t throw up nearly as long during my pregnancy with Olivia (every day for 10 weeks) as I did while I was pregnant with Alyssa (every day for twelve weeks.) I didn’t gain as much weight during my second pregnancy (fifteen pounds) as I did during my first (twenty pounds.)

I was had gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy but not during my second.

The only bump we encountered was around 20 weeks, when the doctor announced that I’d ‘failed’ my triple screen test, the test that looks for high risk for Down Syndrome. We had to wait two weeks for a perinatalogist to get us in for an ultrasound to check the fetus for soft markers for DS.

During those two weeks, I looked at Alyssa and wondered again if I’d been selfish in hoping for just one more healthy, happy baby. My cousin and his wife have three sons. Their second was diagnosed with autism around 18 months. I wondered if perhaps I should have been content with my one perfectly average and yet perfectly perfect child.

But she was already growing and I was already so in love with the child we were waiting to get a look at.

At the ultrasound, the doctor did a full scan. He checked her bone length, her heart, her kidneys, he was the one to tell us we were expecting another little girl.

When he got to her head, several times he murmured, “What a beautiful brain.”

He found no soft markers for Down Syndrome. We chose not to do any other testing. We were going to go on faith that this baby was just fine.

And when she was born nine days overdue, at only five pounds two ounces, having great difficulty breathing, I wondered again if I’d tempted the fates by wanting another baby when I’d gotten so lucky with the first.

During Olivia’s eleven days in the NICU, I never asked, “Why us?” I saw so many babies in that hospital who were so much sicker than my baby. Sure, she had the most distinctive cry in the entire NICU but she was already kicking her blankets off her legs and causing a fuss whenever her nurses needed to change her IV. I knew she was going to be just fine.

And she was so beautiful. She had these amazing dimples, this beautiful dark silky hair. She was feisty and vocal and perfect. She was absolutely perfect.

We took that perfect baby home and she cried and cried and cried.

I came close to losing my mind. We drove to my mom’s many weekends during my twelve weeks off for maternity leave. I needed to get out of our house, to a place where I knew there were people to help me care for this screamy baby. Tom was great but he was working and quite honestly, perhaps losing his mind a little too.

My mom once said of Olivia, “It’s a good thing she was born to older, more mature parents because honestly, I can understand shaken baby syndrome.”

It was that tough dealing with a crying Olivia. But even in those first months, when she was either crying or in the bath (I gave that baby three baths a day on some days because in the bath she actually stopped crying) I never asked myself, “Why me?”

Why not me? It never occurred to me that I deserved anything different than what I had. Sure, my baby hadn’t stopped crying in four months but she was mine and I loved her and I wouldn’t have traded her for all the cherubic, non-crying babies in the world.

Let me interject right here that any mom out there who did think, “Why me?” , especially in the beginning, I’m not saying I’m a better person by not thinking this. Not at all. Our circumstances were so different. We didn’t get Olivia’s diagnosis until so much later, until I’d already gotten to know HER, as she was. I didn’t have some imaginary baby in my head I was expecting to come in and complete our family. I had Olivia. I had this tiny, screamy baby I thought was perfect. And by the time I got the news that her genes weren’t what science considers perfect, well, in my eyes, in my heart, SHE was perfect, my child, my love. It didn’t matter by then what her chromosomes looked like. She already fit my idea of the perfect addition to our family.

I knew, though, early on that she wasn’t developing quite the way she should have been. I tried to tell her doctor from about the time she was four months old that something was up with her. I was patted on the head and told I was being a worrisome mommy.

In the end, though, I was right. My ‘worrisome mommy’ instincts were right.

I know that I’m still in the early years of raising a child with 5p-. I know that things might get so much tougher in the years to come. But I also know that I’m lucky to have this child. I’m lucky to get to mother her. I have a dear friend who would give anything to have her sweet 5p- child back. This friend would have been an amazing mother to her daughter. She’s an amazing mother to her daughter’s little brother. She’d have never asked, “Why me?” had she been able to bring her child home and parent her.

My Olivia drives her sister crazy. She wears silly glasses to make everyone laugh. She’s been called one of the sweetest kids every by her teacher, who has known her for two weeks. She rides the bus like a big girl and she snuggles in deep at night as she falls asleep.

And my Alyssa asks for help with her homework, she talks to me in the darkness of our bedroom after Olivia’s asleep, sharing confidences, confiding fears. She is kind and loving and yes, sometimes very, very bossy to her little sister but she’s mine and I am so, so lucky that she sometimes still wants to sit on my lap and cuddle after her sister is asleep.

These days I do sometimes ask, “Why me? Why did I get so lucky to have two such amazing, beautiful, perfectly perfect kids?”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Oldest

Alyssa is feeling very put-upon these days. She’s frustrated because suddenly, with less than three months of still being four years old, Olivia has discovered the fun of messing with Alyssa’ stuff.

And as far as Alyssa is concerned, everything in the house that has even the potential of being fun or cool is hers. Everything.

That means that everything that Olivia touches is Alyssa. At least in Alyssa’s eyes that is the case.

Last night, for example, after bath, Olivia grabbed a small Miss Piggy toy to take with her from the bath to the rocking chair.

Alyssa had a fit. She was playing with that!

I asked her where she’d been playing with it. She said, “In the bath.”

I told her bath was over and asked if she planned to continue to play with it after bath.

No, she was not going to play with it after bath but she planned to play with it during the next bath and so Olivia needed to put it back RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Olivia is usually pretty good about just ignoring her sister’s tirades. She just doesn’t care. She doesn’t do what Alyssa insists she do but she also doesn’t fight about it. She just pretends that Alyssa isn’t talking to her at all. It’s pretty funny, actually. Though recently, Olivia’s been known to say to me or Tom, “Lyssie’s being mean to me.” So maybe the ignoring is getting old to her and she’s ready to fight back. Or at least tattle.

But as far as Miss Piggy last night, I told Alyssa that if she was done playing with it, she couldn’t very well dictate that her sister couldn’t play with it.

She declared, “But she always loses everything she plays with.”

I patiently informed her that we were going straight to the living room and once there we’d be sitting in the rocking chair. I told her that once O was asleep, Miss Piggy would take up residence on the table beside the couch.

She huffed, “She always gets her way!” Then she flounced out of the room.

Yes, she flounced. She’s such a tween!

Just a half hour later, Olivia abandoned Miss Piggy to her place on the table beside the couch and went in search of other contraband. Specifically, a pair of pink and blue glasses that sort of have the ability to turn paintings done with a special marker into 3-D drawings.

The instant Alyssa saw her wearing those glasses she shouted, “Olivia! Put those glasses back RIGHT NOW!”

Olivia once again ignored her sister, snuggling deeper into Tom’s arm, laughing at something he said to her.

Alyssa said to me, “Mooom!! Those are mine. She always breaks the thingy off the frame. Make her take them off!”

Now…there are some things in our house that are exclusively Alyssa’s. Bubby the dog, Pickles the stuffed cat that looks just like the one that was adopted by Fred, her Orbees (gosh those things are annoying!) These things and a few others are off-limits to Olivia.

But some of the crap we having laying around our house is just crap. And those glasses are among the crap. They’re cheap plastic things that are not that special. I told Alyssa that as long as the glasses stayed on O’s face, they were fine.

Again, she was disgusted that Olivia always gets her way.

I’m the oldest child in my family. I get that it can be frustrating to be the one who always has to give in. I have two younger brothers who were quite annoying when we were growing up. So I get it. But I also think that being the oldest is something special and I tried to explain that to Alyssa after Olivia was asleep.

I reminded her how much Olivia wants to be just like her. She tries to do everything that Alyssa does. She watches her sister and imitates her all the time. Alyssa said this is annoying.

I told her she should be flattered because it shows how much her sister looks up to her, how much she loves her.

I reminded her that there are things that we don’t let Olivia touch and that those things are special. But I also gently told her that sometimes, we just have to share. We all live there together in that house. Some things have to be community property. She doesn’t have a claim on every single item in the house, no matter how cool she might think it is.

I hope I made an impression. I know that it’s tough when you think you’re annoying little sister gets everything she wants. But sometimes appearances can be deceiving. I pointed out that she gets to stay up later than Olivia, that all of Alyssa’s clothes are new, she never gets hand-me-downs, she is usually the one who gets to pick out something new if they’re getting a toy (mostly because Olivia just doesn’t care enough to pick it out) but that those new things need to be shared.

We’ll see. I’m sure that this is just a preview of the pre-teen and teen years to come. There’s sure to be some major drama.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Baby's First Text

A Cautionary Tale.

Olivia loves to play with my newish cell phone. It has a camera and she loves that she can go around the house snapping pictures of her feet, her fingers, a sliver of my elbow.

She giggles hysterically as she shows me her picture, proud of her photographic abilities.

However, the camera can get a little boring after the fifteen or so picture.

And then all those awesome buttons seem that much more attractive.

Then, before you know it, your phone is dinging, signalling an incoming text message.

That message was from Julie, the only person I ever actually messages from/send messages to.

The message read: "??"

Yes. Olivia had managed to send Julie a picture of her (Olivia's) feet. The picture wasn't even in focus.

So, note to this mama. Cell phones are not toys.

I so hate it when Tom is right. Again.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Holiday Weekend

All you moms who work outside the home know that a four-day weekend doesn't usually mean you actually get to take a holiday. It actually means that you'll be able to catch up on all those things you've been wanting to do for months but haven't gotten to.

Actually, I'm betting my stay-at-home mom friends feel the same way.

We've spend this weekend doing some pretty mundane stuff. But it's important too. I painted the girls' room, the three of us (me and the girls) painted letters that spell out each girl's name and put them over their closets.

We sat around with colored pencils and drew sea horses. Tomorrow, we're going to experiment with watercolors, again painting sea horses. See, I want to decorate the girls' bathroom with sea horses and I figured the best art comes from right here in our house.

Of course, it isn't always sunshine and sea horses.

Yesterday, as I was getting ready to paint the girls' room, Alyssa decided to 'help.' Now...we all know that as good a painter as an eight-year-old thinks she is...she isn't. The 'help' was more frustrating than anything.

Before we even got started, I was trying to figure out where to let her 'help.' I had the dropcloth laid out, the paint was poured and she showed up, asking where she should start.

I looked at the wall I was starting with. It had the smallest actual painting surface because the door to the hall was there as well as Alyssa's double closet.

The only decent sized surface was beyong the dropcloth. I took the brush she'd decided to use and measured a bit of wall between her closet doors, deciding it was better to let her paint there than to set her loose with a dripping brush over unprotected carpet.

Yes, I detest the rose-colored carpet in their room but that doesn't mean I want it to be covered in drips of light blue paint.

Tom came in to see how the set up was going and lost his shit at the idea of Alyssa painting the area I'd assigned her.

I didn't want to fight about it. I'd had qualms about that area myself, but I'm lazy and didn't want to move the dropcloth until I'd finished the area by the door.

He was seriously annoyed at me for evening considering letting me paint there. I left the room and he followed, demanding, "Think about it!"

I declared that I'd move the freaking cloth.

He stormed down the stairs.

Alyssa, meanwhile, had left the room completely and joined Olivia down the hall in the our bedroom. I called her back to her room and she said cheerfully, "Well! That was unpleasant."

Yes, yes it was. I told her I was sorry and showed her where she'd paint.

Tom returned five minutes later to kiss and make up. He apologized to both of us and I confessed to him my dilemma and it was fine. was the first time either of the girls had ever had to witness such a strenuous confrontation. I don't like that being something they have to see/hear.

Anyway, today has been much better.

There has been much playing outside, lots of fresh air and sunshine. Of course, laundry is still calling my name but I'm really good at ignoring it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sans Kids

Today something unusual happened.

I had the day off and the kids...didn't. They had school, which meant that from 7:30ish until just after 11:00, I didn't have to work nor did I have a child in in my care. This hasn't happened in almost nine years. Or, since Alyssa was born.

Every day I have off work, one or both of the girls has always been with me.

So what did I do with my three and a half hours with no kids? Laundry.

So flipping boring, huh? But I relished the quiet, the emptiness of our house. I put the laundry away without anyone yelling up the stairs, "Mommy?"

I never once had to call out, "I'm up/down here!"

But I missed them too. Those two little girls who suck the life out of me at times. I missed them.

I ended up picking Olivia up at school and going to town where we had lunch together and went to JoAnn Fabrics. We bought wooden letters that will spell out each girl's name above their closets.

It'll be cool. I hope to post pictures. I'm not that good at that sort of thing these days.

We got home just in time to greet Alyssa and her friend fresh from the bus.

Speaking of the bus. This morning, I offered to drive the girls to school since I was home and, well, that's what moms who are home do, right? Neither of them took me up on the offer. They both chose the bus.

How freaking awesome is that? Seriously! I love that they're both loving this new life we're building here. Olivia is adapting to school so well, though she won't talk about it. Whenever we ask her about school she answers with, "Poop."

I know. What are you going to do?

To all you 5p- moms out there with older kids: Her preschool teacher asked me about something to which I had no answer.

When Olivia is coloring on a page, she more often that not, ends up coloring on the table. Is this a symptom of the syndrome or her just getting bored and being sort of naughty. Her teacher wasn't sure Olivia even understands that she's only supposed to color on the page not the table. I think she knows. I think she's bored with coloring on paper and moves on to something more interesting.

The teacher also told me that they'd ordered a couple of books on 5p- in an effort to better understand Olivia so that they can better teach her. While I appreciate this so very much, I do wonder what they'll find in the books. I haven't read up much on 5p-. Our pediatrician, at the time of O's diagnosis, told us not to do too much research because it's all so outdated. So I wonder...

I guess I'll be able to ask at parent/teacher conferences. That'll be interesting, huh?

Anyway, I think I wasted my first few hours of being kid-free but with school in session and years of school to come, there'll be more hours to fill. I did miss them, though. Which surprises me at the moment since Alyssa just yelled out, "Moooom, she dumped my water out!"

Better go clean up the mess.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


August is over. I proved to myself that I can, indeed, do anything for a month.

I ate healthy every single day. I even realized that I actually like salads and fresh foods. Once I eliminated the junk, I came to enjoy the fruits and vegetables I was eating.

In 31 days, I lost 16.5 pounds. I even managed to start September a pound lighter than I ended August, putting me at a total of 17.5 pounds lost so far.

So, with results like that, how can I not decide to do the same in September? Remember, I can do anything for a month. I’m taking this one month at a time. No numbers are being set as hard and fast goals. Just continue as I’ve gone for another month. And come October 1, I’ll decide where I want to do, what I want to do.

New goals for September? Okay, fine. I’ll try to exercise just a little more than I did in August, which, quite honestly, won’t be all that hard, considering I walked ONE time in August. But I’m not going to set an exact amount of time to exercise. I will do what I can and call it a bonus.

Sure, I’d love to have lost 30 pounds by the end of September but if I only lost another 8 pounds in this coming month and hit 25 instead? That’s okay. It’s all a learning curve. It’s all in the name of health and feeling better. Oh who am I kidding? I do want to be thin. I’m vain like that.

But more than that, I want to feel better. I want my back to stop hurting every single night for hours on end. I want to be able to chase after Olivia in the evenings when she’s so full of energy and wanting to RUN. I want to be comfortable in my clothes.

After losing 17.5 pounds, I am not yet in the next size smaller clothes. Yes, my current size is getting baggy, but the next size is still tight and uncomfortable. So I’ll stick with loose and baggy for a couple more weeks before trying on the smaller size. I realize there are people out there who go down a size with every ten pounds lost. That’s not how my body works. I’ve known it for years so this is no big surprise for me. Heck, I know that even if I lose 50 more pounds, I’ll only be down three sizes from where I am now. But again, I’m okay with that. I’m trying to be realistic.

Results tend to yield more results. Doing this ‘healthy eating’ plan for a month has inspired me to do it for another month. Stepping on that scale each day and seeing even the smallest loss makes the rest of the day’s eating plan doable.

So here’s to September, the month I continue to eat smarter and hopefully move more.