Monday, October 31, 2011

I Kind of Wish I Hadn't Given Them Any Warning

I hesitate to mention our plans for the evening for fear they’ll fall through.

But, if they do fall through, the girls will probably be thrilled.

See, the plans start with a visit to the dentist for the cleaning of little teeth.

And then, because we’re all about keeping our dentist in business, we’re heading out to trick or treat. Again.

I am hoping we can recapture the magic of Saturday night when Olivia walked the entire way on her own two feet.

But this time? I’m wearing way more comfortable shoes so I probably won’t complain much if she asks to be cared.

Here’s to a non-adventurous visit to the dentist followed by a race through the neighborhood collecting yummy, cavity-inducing sweets. Yes, we do live on the wild side around here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Treat

It only took five Halloweens, five years of costumes (I think she might have been a fairy two years in a row,) five trick or treating trips to get to the point where Olivia walked the entire way.

I expected her to ask me to carry her half way through the evening. But, in hopes of saving my own feet and back, I made her wear her tennis shoes rather than the sparkly black flats I bought her to go with her "mean" witch costume. Alyssa has been asking Olivia for weeks if she was going to be a nice witch. Each time Olivia chirped, "No, I'm going to be a MEAN witch." It might have been more convincing if she didn't have such a sweet, high voice.

And the tennies worked. She walked. She walked for an hour. All the moms out there with late walkers will get why this is such a big deal. They understand why this is something that needs to be recorded.

Olivia walked from house to house to house for an hour. She held my hand and she often said to me with a smile, "Let's run and catch up to Lyssie."

And we ran. We ran and caught up with Lyssie and her friend and then we walked some more.

I'm not quite ready to give up our stroller but I'm one step closer than I was last week when she rode in it across the soccer field to watch Alyssa play her last game of the season.

My little witch really is getting stronger and I couldn't be prouder.

I'm also very proud of Alyssa, who went as Simba this year from the Lion King. How awesome is this girl? She's all about the coolness of a tough lion than is she about being girly and glittery. I hope I can keep her this innocent and awesome for years to come.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Best Laid Plans

As I left work yesterday, the plans were simple. I'd come home, feed my family, make cookies to be taken to the school today for Alyssa's class Halloween party, put the girls in bed, pack the gift bags that would also be taken to Alyssa's class party and then go to bed.

Great, huh? Yes, yes it was. And that's just what happened.

Yes, there was that little wrinkle where Alyssa woke up fifteen minutes after I left the room and came downstairs to find me and I ordered her to lay on the couch while I finished the bags of candy so I wouldn't have to go up and lay with her for another fifteen minutes, losing that time that I could be cramming chocolate into orange and black bags.

The plans this morning were also quite simple.

We'd get up at 6:00, get ready for school, I'd have the girls on the bus by 7:40. Olivia's costume was already in the car. Alyssa took hers to school herself.

By 8:45 I was on my way to the school for O's class party. No gift bags necessary because the high school home economics class was hosting the party. Yay.

The plan was to attend O's party at 9:00 until 10:30. After the party, I'd take her home, get the box stuffed with the bingo game I made, the drinks and cups I bought, the napkins, the cookies and the bags of candy and head back to the school for Alyssa's party, which started at 1:00.

Ten minutes into Olivia's class party, the receptionist from the office came to find me.

"You're Alyssa's mom, right?" she asked.

Yes, yes I am.

Alyssa was in the clinic, complaining of a headache. She's complained of a headache the last three mornings but a dose of ibuprophen has taken care of it.

I went down to the clinic to check on her. She was in tears. I gave her some medicine and told her to rest and that I'd be back soon, that I needed to go back to Livie's party.

A half hour more of Olivia's party and I went back to the clinic to see of Lyssie was ready to go back to class.

No. No she was not.

Back to O's party for fifteen more minutes and it was time to go home. I went back to the office, signed Alyssa out of school and took my girls home. As Alyssa gathered up her stuff in her classroom, the substitute teacher stopped to talk to me. I told her I was supposed to help with the class party. She said not to worry about it. I said I'd bring all the stuff I'd prepared for the party. She thanked me and said I could leave the stuff at the office.

On the way home, I called our doctor's office. But he was out today. I called my mom to ask her if Olivia could come spend some time with her and Jaxon whiel I took Alyssa to Urgent Care.

I know. It's a headache. I get them a lot.

But she's never really had any headachy issues before and I wanted to rule out the possibility of a sinus infection.

Before taking Olivia to my mom's, we stopped at home where I transferred the cookies I'd made last night into a container that I didn't care about getting back. I moved the call tags of the bingo game from the bucket I'd planned to use into a baggie. I then put the box in my car, took it to the school and left it at the office with a note on it with Alyssa's teacher's name.

Then we dropped Olivia off with her buddy Jaxon and headed to town.

On the way, I asked Alyssa if she'd been having any trouble with her eyes.

She assured me she hasn't.

The doctor didn't find any sign of infection but he did note that she sounds congested. Just not infection congestion. He recommended Zertek. He also agreed with me that we might need to see and ENT and look at her adnoids. Alyssa's a mouth breather at night. She also snores a little. These are signs that she's not sleeping nearly as deeply as she should and that could be the cause of the headaches.

He asked about stress...she said no.

He asked me about the possibility of puberty. Uhh, no, thank heaven, not yet. But yes, headaches can be a hormonal problem.

He asked her if she ever wakes up at night from the pain. No.

We're trying the allergy medicine for a few days and will see what happens. He stressed that if doesn't get better in a matter of days, we should follow up with our family doctor soon.

Plans schmlans.

I'm all for spontaneity but wow, I'm ready for sickness to sto derailing my weekend plans.

Alas, I realize that life is what happens while we're busy making plans.

Alyssa thanked me this evening for coming to see her when I heard she was in the clinic. I hugged that girl tight and told her that nothing could have kept me away from that clinic the minute I heard she wasn't feeling well.

I really, really hope the allergy medicine does the job.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I can often be found complaining about how much I hate being a work outside the home mom. And I often go on and on about how much better a parent I’d be if I were at home instead of in the workforce.

But I have to take a moment and admit that as far as working parents go, I have it pretty good. I have a very flexible boss who grants vacations pretty much without question.

I have a flexible vacation policy so I can take a day here and another day there. I also have sick/personal time that I can use if I only want/need to be away for a couple of hours.

All this is to say that tomorrow I get to go to my girls’ school Halloween parties. I’m just attending Olivia’s but I’m helping out at Alyssa’s.

I love doing things like this. I love seeing the girls in their school world, a world that doesn’t usually involve me. I love seeing them with their peers and their teachers.

And I love that, at least for now, they both still like having me around. I want to take advantage of this for as long as it lasts. It’s a little like the whole rocking thing. I know they aren’t going to want me to rock them to sleep forever and so I want to enjoy it while it lasts.

So on those mornings when I’m dragging my butt out of bed after too little sleep that held too many interruptions (really, Olivia? What’s up with the three and four waking a night these last few nights?) I try and remind myself that if I have to be a working mom, I’m lucky to work where I do so I can do things like Halloween parties and Christmas parties and Valentine’s Day parties, things that some moms just can’t do because of the nature of their jobs.

I’m absolutely one of the lucky ones, even on those days when I’m growly and snarly because I’m tired and don’t wanna go to work.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Weigh In

So I haven’t actually used Wednesdays in the past as a weigh-in day. And I might not do so in the future.

In fact, I stand on the scale every single day, so I guess I should really have daily weigh-ins. Alas, with the weight loss slowing down significantly, I don’t really want to talk about it every day.

Yes, I still work at it every day and I celebrate every small milestone, I don’t feel the need to record every pound I lose like I did back in August.

I struggled a little more these days than in the first few weeks/months but really, I think I’m still doing well.

As of today, I’m 32.5 pounds down from when I started. That’s with just under three months of working at it. I’m calling that good.

What is really good is how much better I feel these days. I’m down a full pant size, which, yay. You’d think, if you read and believe the stupid magazines out there, I’d be down two sizes, but no, with my build, it takes a full 20 pounds to get down one size. So I’m in a loose version of the next size down from where I started.

And I’m good with that too.

I feel like when I’m eating crap like I was before August, I’m not getting nearly the nutrition that I need. I’m one of those fat people who is actually malnourished. But when I work at the whole weight-loss thing, my health benefits because suddenly, I’m not eating empty calories. I want every calorie to count for something.

But exercise…the bane of my existence. It’s still not happening. I just can’t make the time. I know, I know. I’d feel even better if I’d move. But I don’t want to yet. Maybe someday. Maybe when I’m smaller and feel like people out there who might see me exercising won’t think, “Damn, she NEEDS to be running.” I know people don’t think that. I do. And yet, I can’t help but think that they do when I’m out there walking or attempting to jog.

So for now, my food intake has to be what works toward weight loss.

And it’s working. This month. I’m still taking things on a month by month basis. I’m not making any major goals or plans. Come November if I want a peppermint patty, I’m SO having one. Then again, I might decide that I can do this for another month. I might. I’m not making any promises either way.

It just feels really good to finally be doing something instead of bitching about it all the time. It feels good to know that I’m being good to my body. It feels good to prove to myself again that I can do this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Her Own Pace

Olivia has this baby Rapunzel doll that she got for her birthday last year. Maybe it was for Christmas. I don’t remember.

Anyway, this doll…she’s liked it all along. In the beginning (last year in November/December) she’d pick up the doll, hold it for a bit, put it down and go about her day.

These days, though, that doll is a constant. The minute we get home, she goes off in search of Rapunzel. She finds Rappie, grabs a spoon out of the utensil drawer and settles in to watch whatever Alyssa has put on the television, Rapunzel settled comfortably in her lap, Olivia pretending to feed the baby doll with her spoon.

She also has a tiny tea cup she uses to pretend to give Rapunzel drinks.

During meals, Rapunzel lays across Olivia’s lap. After meals, Olivia and Rapunzel race off to the next adventure, always with the tea cup or the spoon at the ready in case Olivia’s baby gets hungry or thirsty.

This is normal play. I know that. It normal play for a typical two year old. And yes, Olivia will be five in a month.

But this is huge for my girl. My child, who had always preferred other people to toys, who would rather dangle from my hands than pretend to be some silly doll’s mommy, is playing. Her imagination is blossoming and I love watching it. I love that she falls asleep with Baby Rapunzel cradled in her arms. I love that the instant she wakes up she wants to know where Rapunzel is.

I don’t care that it’s taken her longer than other children to get to this place where she plays with her doll, mimicking the care she sees people give to babies. I don’t care that she isn’t completely potty trained yet. I’m as proud of her for playing like this as I am of Alyssa for winning that race on Saturday. Both are big deals in our little lives.

She’s getting there. And she’s doing it all at her own pace. Delayed is okay. It lets me baby her just a little longer and it makes me appreciate that much more when she does reach those new milestones. It gives me a whole new outlook on life and the joy of playing with dolls.

My sweet girl is setting her own pace and I couldn’t be prouder of her each and every day that she learns something new or imagines a whole new world for her doll. So she still hates cutting and tracing…she’ll get there. At her own pace, just like she always has.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bonus Weekend

Since I was supposed to be out of town this past weekend, I realized that my time with the girls was bonus time.

While spending a couple of hours at my mom’s so that Olivia could get her wiggles out with Jaxon before we headed home to the sick house, I thought about what the girls and I might do with our bonus weekend.

I decided to check the local listings and see if there were any movies we might like to see that Friday night. I figured that the longer we could give Tom to sleep his illness away in a quiet house, the better.

I found a theater about forty minutes away that was playing Dolphin Tale at 4:35. Perfect timing! I could pick Alyssa up at school, head toward the town where the movie was playing, feed the girls and early dinner and make the movie before Olivia got too tired to even enjoy it.

It was one of those fabulous, spontaneous evenings that happen so rarely because we’re always so busy doing everything else.

Most of the laundry was done, the dishwasher had been emptied, the floors were swept. Time was ours.

Saturday morning dawned cold and frosty. I’d signed Alyssa up for a race that had been postponed for 9am that morning. She was nervous but excited. She’d never actually run in a race before and so this was something new.

She won!! She came in first of all the girls in her grade. We cheered and yelled as she pulled away from the pack and made her way to the finish line. She got a pumpkin and a ribbon just for showing up and a First Place Plaque for being an awesome runner. I am so, so glad I got to be there to see that.

After A’s race, the three of us headed to Walmart and the library. We didn’t actually need much as Walmart, but I was looking for an excuse to stay out of the house a little longer. Tom was still in the resting phase of his flu or whatever it was that knocked him off his feet.

Once back home, the frost had melted and the sun was shining. It was one of those amazing fall days that you have to spend a portion of outside. Alyssa rode her bike around the driveway and Olivia climbed up and down the front porch stairs. She managed to exhaust herself quite thoroughly.

After three bowls of potato soup, Olivia was ready for pajamas and rocking by 7pm. By 8:30, Alyssa had replaced Olivia on my lap and she, too, was sound asleep.

Sunday was another frosty morning that warmed up to a glorious day. It was the perfect day for Alyssa’s last soccer game of the season.

And yes, of course her team won that game. That’s just how the weekend was going for us.

This morning Tom apologized to me for ruining my weekend.

I looked him and said, “You didn’t ruin my weekend. It might not have been the weekend I’d planned to have but it was a great one anyway. It was a bonus weekend for me and the girls. I was right where I was supposed to be.”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Making the Best of It

When Alyssa first heard that I planned to be away for a weekend, she covered her dismay with a a brave, "Well, at least you always bring back presents."

And she's right. I try and bring back presents. Of course, I'm only ever gone one weekend a year. And this year? Not at all.

On Friday night, she was snuggled on my lap, Olivia was asleep on the couch beside Tom and Alyssa whispered to me, "You're way better than presents."

Now that's what I call making the best of something.

I wanted to go to ShareUnion. I did. I wanted to visit with women I only see once a year. I wanted to hug these women to whom I often give virtual hugs. I wanted to laugh and cry and just be with these people.

But I didn't get to. Instead, I got to stay at home, spend bonus time with the girls as Tom laid on the couch and moaned in pain.

Poor fella.

But in the end, I think we've made the best of it all. We're together. In the end, that's the very best of any situation.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Grounded I am. At home.

Why, you ask? Well...

Last night, the girls and I arrived home to find Tom on the couch, writhing in pain. His stomach hurt and he was miserable.

I took one look at him and said, "I'm not going tomorrow."

He moaned, "Yes you are, I'll be fine."

About a half hour later, I saw Alyssa taping a sign to the downstairs bathroom door. It read: Beware! Stink Hazard. Use upstairs bathrooms if you have to go.

Heeee, I love that girl so much.

Anyway, the girls and I went about our evening routine. I packed in case he was better this morning, just in case I would actually be able to go on my trip. I didn't want to wake up this morning to find that he was fine and I had nothing done in preparation for leaving.

So I prepared.

And this morning, I got up, got the girls off to school, continued about my preprations. I unloaded the dishwasher, I did a few loads of laundry, I showered, I dumped and rinsed out Tom's puke bucket (I probably should have done those last two steps in reverse order, ewww,) I finished packing, I put air in my car's tires. At 8:45am I woke Tom and asked him how he was feeling.

He said he felt better. He got up and checked the coolant in my car. He said that he thought that after a few hours of sleep, he'd feel better still.

I was ambivilant. I reminded him that my mom is going out of town this weekend and I went on this trip, there wouldn't be anyone nearby if he relapsed.

He assured me that he felt so much better as compared to last night that if he continued to feel better at the same rate, by the time the girls got home he'd be fine to care for them.

I headed to Toledo. But before I left, I told him that my plane left at 12:05. I also told him that I would be boarding the plane at 11:35. I said that if he started to feel worse, he should call me and I'd come home.

And off I went. I got there by 10:00. I breezed through security. I didn't check my bag even though I thought I might have to at the gate. It was squishy and would probably have fit beneath the seat.

I sat down, called my mom and let her know that Tom would be there to pick up the girls at 5:00 and that he'd been sick the night before but he assured me he was on the mend this morning.

I started reading one of the books I'd taken with me. At 10:35, my phone rang. It was Tom.

He apologized for calling but wanted me to know that he was feeling awful again. He was chilled.

I didn't wait for him to suggest it. I said, "I'm coming home."

He apologized again and I told him it was okay. I wanted to come home. I didn't want to leave him with the girls when he was out of commission. It wasn't fair to any of us. The girls deserve to becared for by a healthy parent, he deserves to rest and I knew I wouldn't be able to have fun if I knew he was sick and they all three needed me.

So I left the airport and came home.

And now it feels like I have a bonus weekend with the girls. I know, I spend every weekend with them. But I wasn't supposed to be here this weekend and so it feels special, spontaneous even.

The laundry is already almost all done, the dishwasher has been run and unloaded. I hope we can pack as much fun into this bonus weekend as possible.

It's what I was going to do in DC with all my lovely MOD friends. Since I can't be with them, I'll make the best of this bonus time with my girls. They deserve it. I deserve it.

Here's to bonus weekends.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I leave tomorrow morning at 9am to drive to the Toledo airport to hop on a plane that will take me to Chicago, where I will get on another plane that will take me back east to Washington, D.C.

This will be my fourth time to attend this amazing conference held by the March of Dimes. I love going, I love seeing the amazing people and laughing my fool head off and spending time with Julie and Lauren and Jackie and Katie and Laura and so many more people that I can’t even name them all.

But leaving is hard. It’s hard for me to leave Tom and the girls, even for just two nights and three days.

And I know it’s hard on the girls. Alyssa got sad last night at the very mention of me leaving. But I also know that this is good for them. It’s good for Tom and the girls to get to spend some uninterrupted time together, time when neither of the girls can run to me on a whim.

But they’re both so mommy-centric. I am their go-to person. I’m the one who bathes them, dresses them, feeds them (most of the time, Tom’s taken over week day breakfast duties, yay!) I always do bedtime so that’s probably the biggest challenge Tom is going to face this weekend. Though, knowing them they way I do, he’ll let the girls fall asleep downstairs and then just carry them to bed. I do that myself sometimes on Friday and Saturday nights, knowing that we don’t have to get up for school the next day and so being lax on bedtimes.

In years past, it was almost always all Mommy-Girls time. When we were commuting, I was there constant. I was the one who was always there, whether we were at home or at my mom’s house, I was there to care for them.

Now, they’re having to learn to accept Daddy’s help once in awhile and I’m not sure they appreciate his presence as much as I do. They will though. In time, they’ll get used to having him around full time and they’ll learn to love it.

So I’m glad they get this time together and I’m glad for the time away.

And the best part of leaving is always the coming home, so there’s that to which I can look forward.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Car

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Tom if we were going to wait until next spring to look into getting a different car for me to drive.

He asked why I was asking.

I casually told him we have two dance marathons coming up in November which will necessitate me driving with the girls three hours away one weekend and about five hours away another weekend. Then I said that I don’t trust my current car, the one with 315780 miles on it, to get us there safely.

He nodded wisely and said, “Okay, I’ll start looking.”

Last night, he brought home a car. It’s another Grand Prix. We feel like this model has proven itself to us, see above the over three hundred thousand miles on the current Grand Prix we own. The new car has less than half the miles my current car has and it is four years newer.

So yay, new vehicle.

Except, Tom and his brother John have spent about ten hours so far replacing the breaks on the new car. Which is frustrating for them. But they’ve got a lot of experience with the brakes on this model because they’ve replaced the brakes on my 1999 Grand Prix (Alyssa calls it Sylvie) many times and so they’re old pros.

Tom knew the breaks needed replaced when he decided to buy the car, so it’s not as if we were misled.

Sylvie is tired. Sylvie needs a nice long rest. Tom’s not sure he wants to get rid of Sylvie, though. Sylvie has proven to be reliable, when given decent care.

It occurred to me last night as I was drifting off to sleep, that Tom’s really, really good to me.

When we first moved in together, I hated the house he was living in. It was old, it was tiny, the stairs were creepy (I fell down those damned stairs twice while pregnant with Alyssa and then once while carrying Alyssa when she was about three weeks old.)

I also hated the bed we shared. It was a twin and what two adults can share a twin freaking bed comfortably?

He bought us a new bed at my request.

Just before we got married, we bought a house that was so very much nicer than the first one. The stairs weren’t scary, the rooms were bigger, there was more light.

He did this for me. He was actually perfectly comfortable in the previous house. Of course, he'd never fallen down the stairs nor did he have an 80 mile one-way commute to work each day. So yeah, comfortable.

Sure, it took me another eight years to bitch and moan him into agreeing to move closer to family and work but he finally did. And yes, I had to do all the work to get us into our new house, but he never fought me on it.

It appears, upon reflection, that I get my way a whole lot more often than I might have let on. Let the record show that I admit to this even though I don’t intend to stop getting my way. Yes, my life is pretty darned good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bad Fairy

Alyssa lost a tooth yesterday at school. Wait, let me rephrase that. She pulled a loose tooth out yesterday while she was at school. It had been bothering her for weeks, interfering with her eating, just annoying her so she was glad to have it out.

Last night, we did the usual night-time routine, such as it is. Olivia fell asleep on me at about 7:45 and then at 8:30, after she ate a bedtime cookie, Alyssa brushed the teeth she has left and then we went upstairs where she put her tooth in it’s lovely jewelry case under her pillow, I tucked her in and she went to sleep.

Then I went downstairs to finish watching Dancing with the Stars and promptly forgot about the tooth that was lying innocently beneath her pillow.

I forgot about it until about noon today.
Oooh how I hope she forgot about it too and didn’t bother to look under her pillow this morning. I feel so very awful that I forgot to exchange that tooth for cash.

I have an appointment right after work to get my car worked on (just a routine flush of the coolant system, she says as if she knows what she’s talking about) and then I’m going to go home before going to pick up the girls and put the money under her pillow with a note from the tooth fairy, explaining that she was running late last night/this morning and got to our house after Alyssa was awake and while she was waiting for the bus.

Then I’ll go get the girls and we’ll go home. When we get home I’ll act all surprised that we forgot to check under Alyssa’s pillow this morning and suggest we do that right then.

I hope I can salvage my image as a good fairy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Manic Monday

I kind of hate Mondays. I know, it's the start of the week, I should think of them as the beginning of a week that might bring wonderful things.

Today is the start of the week that will end with me in D.C. with some of the most amazing women I've ever met.

On Friday I will board a plane in Toledo, ride it over to Chicago and then board another plane that will take me BACK over Toledo and on south to Washington, D.C. I will get to share a room with the amazing Julie and her husband and daughter.

Now, before anyone thinks, hmm, that's weird, sharing a room with a woman and her family, this is Julie we're talking about. She's the one who got married one June and the very next September invited me to stay with her and her new husband for a couple of weeks as I tried to find a place to live.

I was the maid of honor in Julie's wedding. She was the matron of honor in my wedding. I was the last person she slept with before she got married and she was the last person I slept with before I got married.

And before you all go and get those filthy thoughts in your heads, we shared a bed the night before our weddings because the houses we were sleeping in were packed. So yeah, sharing a hotel room with her and her husband and daughter isn't a big deal at all in the grand scheme of things.

But not only to I get the joy of spending time with Julie and her family, I get to spend time with some wonderful women who happen to be changing the world one baby at time.

So this Monday is the start of something great, even though I need to pack and finish folding laundry, and my kids are both hungry and need baths.

I'll probably always hate Mondays, if only because I have to get up early after two days of sleeping in (if you call 7am sleeping in, thank you very much, Olivia!)

I'm a sleeper, even if I don't get nearly as much sleep as I'd like these days. And so to me, Monday is the sign that my sleep is to be limited for another five days. Ohh, Mondays, you are so, so cruel with your taking away of sleep even as you bring greater things to come.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Play Date

Do eight year olds still call having their friends over a "play date?"

If so, that's what we did yesterday. Alyssa's best friend came over at 10:00, we carved pumpkins, at 11:15, I fed all three girls and at noon, my mom picked us up and took us to a corn maze.

Back up there a bit. Before S arrived, Tom asked why there were four pumpkins on our front porch.

I explained that since S was coming over, we had to have a pumpkin for her too. And obviously, I need one to carve, so with A and O and me and S, four pumpkins.

He didn't understand why we were providing a pumpkin for S.

I patiently explained to him that when one invites a child over for an activity, one provides the materials for that activity.

He thought that was ridiculous and was quite adamant that he'd never heard such a thing.

I told him that if asked any mother out there if they would provide a pumpkin for a child they'd invited to their house to carve pumpkins, every single one of them would say yes, you make sure every child has a pumpkin.

I don't think I ever convinced him that this is common practice, though, so I finally gave up and told him to leave the logistics of having friends over to me. I think he is happy to do so.

And yes, we let S take her pumpkin home with her at the end of the playdate.

The corn maze was really fun. Except that Olivia, who fluctuates between 35 pounds nad 337 pounds, refused to take more than five steps at a time and insisted on being carried the rest of the time. My arms are sore today from all that carrying. We were in the maze for about an hour, that's an hour of me carrying O from one end of the maze to the other.

My mom mentioned today that maybe it wasn't laziness and being spoiled rotten that made O want to be carried. On the way to the maze we talked about the couple recently in the news for getting lost in a corn maze for four hours with a five year old and a newborn.

Olivia listens to everything. She might have been scared. That makes sense considering the way that she put her head down must of the time we were in the maze. For all we know, she thought we were in the very maze that those people got lost in. And she is small, from her vantage point the few times I put her on her feet, all she could see was corn, corn and more corn.

I guess a little muscle soreness is worth reassuring my child that she's safe.

Alyssa and S had a ball in the maze. They were always at least ten paces ahead of me and my mom and Olivia. They led the way the entire time and were a constant source of amusement.

I'd say we managed to make yesterday a play date to remember.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Marriage is a lot of work. I know there are some fairy tale marriages out there where everything falls together, the fates are on the couple’s side and they never get on each other’s nerves or do anything that pisses the other off the point of wanting to beat their spouse over the head with a frying pan.

Alas, that is not my marriage.

We’ve had our ups and downs. We don’t really fight, so much as we make obnoxious comments to each other then glare for a bit and then leave the room to sit and stew in indignation for a little longer and then we kiss and make up.

Every baby shower I attend, when the guests are asked to give advice to the new mother, I always write, “Don’t make any decisions about your relationship with your child’s father during the first year after the baby is born.”

I write this because there are times in the first year that a child is born that the mother is probably going to hate the father. Now, this isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true for a lot of us and I think that new moms need to know this so that they know they’re not alone if they do feel this. Sure, it’s also nice if they can gloat when they don’t hate their child’s father but come on, misery loves company and I think it’s important for us all to know that we’re not alone, especially when we’re miserable.

Okay, lots of back story, there, huh?

260 words to get to the point. The point being a conversation that was had over the weekend. It started between me and Alyssa. She’s been asking for weeks to invite her friend S over for a few hours on the weekend. Each weekend before we’ve been busy and I’ve put her off.

This coming weekend, we’re finally free and so I suggested we have S over, get some pumpkins and carve them.

Tom overheard and immediately said, “No, don’t carve pumpkins so early. They’ll just sit outside and wither and rot.”

I shrugged and walked away. I hate it when he does that. When he steps in and, right in front of A and/or O and says that some idea I’ve had is stupid or lacks forethought. I just hate it. I think it’s demeaning and it undermines my authority as a parent in our household.

Anyway, I let it go because, yes, I’m passive aggressive. And I know that he hates it when I correct him or his thinking in front of the girls and so I try to avoid doing such a thing.

Yesterday, I decided that while I understand and respect his opinion, I don’t agree with it and I think that carving pumpkins with the girls this coming weekend is an excellent, seasonally appropriate activity. It’s supposed to cool down around here anyway, so the pumpkins aren’t as likely to rot in the coming two weeks before Halloween as they’d be if the weather were supposed to stay nice and warm.

Rather than just go about my business and buy pumpkins and carve them even though he expressed his wish that we not do this (it’s something I’ve done in the past, just ignored his opinions, I know, I know, so passive aggressive!) I sent him in email today that said this:

“About those pumpkins…

I know that you said you think two weeks before Halloween is too early to carve pumpkins but I took an informal poll and all the people I talked to (five of them) don’t think it’s necessarily too early. One even pointed out that we want to display the pumpkins before Halloween in all their carved glory.

And isn’t it supposed to be cooler the next couple of weeks, as in 50s or so? That seems cool enough that they won’t rot so very quickly that we can’t enjoy them.

I’m just thinking that since I’m out of town the weekend after this coming weekend, I’d like to do something fun with the girls and Alyssa’s been asking to have Samantha over for weeks now and this is so very seasonally appropriate. So…I guess I’m saying that I hear your concerns, I respect them but I don’t really think two weeks before Halloween is too early and I hope you aren’t mad at me if I buy three pumpkins and let the girls carve them this weekend.”

So communicative, so respectful! And his response was pretty much what I’d expected.

“Ok...pumpkins are is supposed to be cold for at least the next week.”

Such a guy response to my wordy memo about how I want to respect him but still have my way.

After all these years, I think I’m finally starting to understand how to talk to my husband. He wants to be heard, he wants to be respected. Just like me, he wants a voice in the day to day workings of our family. We’ll get there, as long as we keep talking to (or emailing) each other.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Alyssa’s a good kid. She really is. She is kind and thoughtful and very loving.

Except when she’s not.

I know it’s hard to be the oldest child with a younger sibling who comes across to everyone who meets her as a frail, delicate little flower.

Alyssa’s trying hard to figure out her place in the hierarchy of our family. She knows she’s not the boss of me or Tom. She’s pretty sure she’s the boss of herself except when she’s reminded that, no, she actually isn’t. That’s always a fun little scene.

That leaves Olivia for her to boss around. But Olivia doesn’t react well to bossing and eventually, we are at the whole might makes right scenario and it can turn ugly quite fast.

Now, Alyssa is rarely aggressive or even deliberately mean. She often thinks she’s helping either me or Tom when she does something physical with/to Olivia. But it never ends well.

This morning, for example, as we were waiting for the bus, I was trying to get thins one clump of O’s hair to lay down. I’d given up on making it behave on its own and was trying to put a bobby pin in her hair even as she tried to get away because that’s what four year old do. It’s fun.

Alyssa stepped in, being the bossy big sister that she is, and tried to hold Olivia still. O got away from me and started to pull away from A. Alyssa used the fact that she’s bigger and stronger than Olivia to fling O back toward me, ending up with O on the ground at my feet.

Of course Tom and I reacted. We both snapped at Alyssa that such a thing wasn’t necessary and in fact, it was uncalled for. Alyssa walked away and sulked for a bit but I realized as I comforted Olivia, wiping mud off her hand and kissing the barely-there scrap on her palm that Alyssa hadn’t meant to hurt her sister.

She wants to help. She wants to be an equal to me and Tom. Of course, this can’t happen but we need to let her know this gently, kindly. We need to model the behavior we want her to show to her sister. When we react angrily to something she didn’t even mean to do, we’re showing her that anger is an appropriate reaction.

We don’t want that. We want to show her forgiveness and gentleness.

We also want her to remember how much stronger she is than her sister and lighten up on her a bit. We’re not a family who uses physical punishment. We just don’t. We don’t hit, we don’t slap, we don’t push each other around.

In the end, once Olivia was sufficiently comforted, I went to Alyssa and hugged her. I told her I love her and that I know she didn’t mean to hurt her sister. I reminded her that sometimes, we don’t even realize that what we’re doing is mean or can have unkind consequences until too late, which is why we need to learn to think about what we’re doing before we do it.

All’s well that ends well. They were great friends by the time the bus pulled up.

But it reminds me that I need to model better, kinder, gentler behavior so that Alyssa can learn what’s expected of her by watching me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Thing

Back before I had kids, I just knew I would be a great mom. I’d be so patient and always kind and loving. I’d do all kinds of awesome things with my kids, like decorating for each season/holiday with homemade crafts we’d done right at our own kitchen table.

Motherhood would transform me into an incredible cook, someone who can think of amazing things for each meal, things that kids love but that are so very, very good for them. My kids wouldn’t have fish sticks and Kraft macaroni and cheese for dinner. No way. They’d grow up eating things that are good for them like vegetables and whole grains and would have this wonderful relationship with food.

The television would be viewed sparingly (ha, this from the woman who can think of something to watch every single of the night of the week and we don’t even have cable/dish/satellite). My kids would read or play board games or puzzles. They’d enjoy quiet time and wouldn’t be whiny or demanding because their needs would be met even as I gently taught them that they can’t always get exactly what they want right when they want it.

All this was before I had kids.

Now? I yell. And I threaten, and I cook fish sticks and mac and cheese once a week.

And the television? It’s on. A lot. I’m not proud of this.

But I’m so very human. And I get tired and sometimes, I just want to cook those fish sticks and that macaroni and cheese in peace, without someone standing right behind me literally kissing my butt. So I turn on the television to get five minutes of alone time in the kitchen while I make a sub-par meal and pray that it’s all good enough, at least for today.

Back when I was imagining those sweet, soft-spoken, polite kids with their perfect mother, I never once imagined myself working outside the home as I gently raised these amazing children.

And that’s what gets me most of the time. The fact that I have to leave the house each morning as they’re leaving for school. The fact that my time with the girls is also the only time I have to keep the house livable, keep the laundry washed, dried and put away. It’s the only time I have to buy groceries and heck, it’s the only time I have to spend with my husband.

So I’m pulled in all these directions and it leaves me tired and cranky and so far removed from that patient, loving mom I imagined myself to be back before I had kids.

I’m not playing the pain/stress Olympics here. I’m not saying that I think stay-at-home moms have it easier. Nor am I saying that stay-at-home mothers are better parents. I know that neither of those statements are necessarily true. We all have our stresses, our pains. We all have our crosses to bear.

But I do believe that I would be a better mother if I were able to stay home. I’d be a better wife, I’d be a better homemaker. It’s a matter of time. If I didn’t have to be away from home for forty plus hours a week, I’d get so much more done.

The lovely Tiffany did a post a week or so titled, “Ten Things I’d Do If I Didn’t Work.” She came up with some awesome things.

There’s just one for me. I’d be a better mother.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Confession

I love Dancing with the Stars. I just do. I’ve watched every single season since the first. I was actually upset the first season when Kelly beat John for the coveted mirror ball trophy and was so happy when they got to have a dance-off a couple of seasons (or was it the very next season?) later.

So, yes, I love DwtS. I even vote each week for my favorite dancers.

Now, let me be honest. I don’t necessarily vote for the star so much as for the pro. See, no matter who is dancing with creepy Mark Ballas, I don’t vote for them because I can’t stand him and the sooner he’s off my tv, the better. Though, since this is a confessional, back when Shaun Johnson, that adorable Olympic gymnast was dancing with creepy Mark, I did vote for her. Her cuteness managed to outrank his creepiness. But yeah, poor Shaun had to dance with creepy Mark.

Another thing I must confess is that I don’t always vote for those who show the most dancing ability. No way. That’s no fun at all. Instead, I vote for entertainment value. Last year, I voted for Kirstie Alley quite often because she was fun. She really enjoyed herself and she made me like Maks, which wasn’t all that tough because his season with Mel B really went far in making me like him. Before that season? He was just an ass. Mel B really seemed to tame his arrogance. She was seriously awesome and was robbed of the mirror ball.

This year, I have to say that I’m one of the voters who continues to support Chas Bono. I don’t remember hearing much about Chas back when he was Chastity. I think back then, she stayed out of the limelight. All I know is now that he’s Chas, he seems happy. Really, really happy. He’s comfortable with himself in a way that we should all strive to be.

No, he’s not the best dancer out there on the floor, but he might very well be one of the ones who is trying the hardest. And let me say here, his partner, Lacey isn’t one of my favorite female partners. She’s nowhere near as annoying and ick-inspiring as Creepy Mark but she’s no Cheryl Burke or Julianne Hough either. For that matter, she’s no Anna or Kym. But she’s not quite as self-involved as Karina, who is probably my least favorite female pro.

And yet, speaking of Karina, she’s dancing with my other favorite star of the season, J.R. Martinez. He’s a veteran who suffered severe burns after driving over an incendiary device. He’s also an actor and he’s proving to be an amazing dancer. He’s such an inspiring person he manages to make me overlook Karina’s crappy teaching/choreography. She usually choreographs in such a way as to make herself the star of the dance rather than the actual stars, her partners but J.R.’s so much more awesome than she is sucky. Yay!

I know, I think way too much about this stuff but it’s my brain, my time being sucked away for two hours on Monday nights. Tom totally makes fun of me for watching this show and I don’t care even a little. Obviously, I’m not alone since this production pulls in millions of viewers. Sometimes, I’m okay with being a sheep.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I always worry that if I mention that O had a good potty week that we’re doomed to have accidents daily for the next month.

Or if I say that the girls are sleeping well, in their own bed (ha!) that suddenly, they’ll both need me right next to them in my bed, which would put me in the middle and I detest being in the middle for at least a week, which is too long these days for sleep issues.

Then there’s the thumb-sucking/hair pulling issue. If I mention that O seems to have stopped either or both habits, she’ll pick them both back up with a vengeance.

So I try not to mention any of the above, especially if we’re having a good run on any, some or all of them.

Yet, I want to celebrate the girls’ accomplishments. I want to shout it from the roof tops if either of them goes more than a few nights without drenching their pull-ups. I don’t want this blog to be all bitching, all the time.

And honestly, I know the superstition thing is silly. It’s just the law of averages. If we’ve had a good week or even month, by the time I realize that and say something about it, we’re probably due for a rough patch because that’s the way of childhood.

My nephew has had a sleepy few weeks. He’ll sleep for up to 14 hours a night. My mom mentioned that he’s probably going through a growth spurt.

I scowled. Why are his parents lucky enough to have a child who sleeps BETTER when he’s going through a growth spurt and I ended up with kids who have horrible sleep interruptions when they grow or have a developmental spurt?

Now, I realize the experts would probably say that it’s my fault that we have these issues. They’d say that I respond to my girls’ cries for attention too quickly. I haven’t taught them to comfort themselves.

To that, I say whatever. I honestly don’t think you can spoil a child by responding to their needs. Sure, it’s good for them to learn to comfort themselves but that’ll come with age and maturity. I do not think either one of my girls will still be crying out for me when they’re 18 years old and away at college.

Ha! Now that I’ve written that out for all of Karma to see, I’ll get a call at 3am in about ten years from Alyssa, who will be away at college. She’ll be calling because she had a nightmare and needs my comfort. See how it is with superstition? I should probably go delete that paragraph about them not needing me so much when they’re older. But I’m not going to because I like to live on the edge.

But let me stop here and say that for those parents who don’t respond to their children’s need right away, that’s not wrong either. It works for those parents and their children. It just doesn’t work for me. Yes, if my girls had different parents it might work for them too. But they’re stuck with me and I’m a responder. I can’t help it.

So I won’t stop responding but I also won’t stop bitching about how needy my kids are. I fully accept that their neediness is mostly my fault even as I reserve the right to resent that very neediness. I know. I probably need help.

But I also reserve the right to retain my superstitions even as I flip them the bird and write all about the girls’ successes. But again, I will probably continue to complain when we backslide because of my bragging.

The thing that has bitten my butt this week (rather than kissing it, thank you very much Olivia) is the thumb sucking and the hair pulling. She’d been doing so well for about four months. I kind of expected it to come back once school started but it hadn’t so much and we’re almost six weeks into school and so I thought, ahhh, we’ve managed to avoid that one.

Except we haven’t. Just this week, the thumb has made its way back into her mouth and the left hand is rising back to her hair. As of right now, she’s just rubbing her hair but I don’t think it’ll be long before it starts to yank again. And that saddens me more than I’d anticipated. The left side of O’s hair is actually longer than the right these days because I gave her a trim right around the time she stopped pulling and the right isn’t growing as fast as the left. There are these sweet curls around her left ear and I want them to stay. But I know this isn’t in my control and so I’m trying to let it go. I’m trying not to say anything when I see her thumb corked in her mouth and the hand at her head. I know she can’t help it and thus, I know I can’t either. But I’m so sad about it. Just so sad.

And while I admit that the sadness is partially about me, because I love her hair, I’m also very sad for Olivia herself. I know how badly she wants long hair. She wants it to be long enough to put into a pony tail, into pig tails, long enough for her to whine about tangles. She wants what her sister has, long girlie locks she can flip and curl and play with. But she can’t help the pulling and that just makes me sad, for both of us.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Parties, Purging and Soccer

Yesterday morning was filled with cupcakes, frosting, a bit of yelling and finally a party to celebrate my cousin's marriage. She got married back on 9/10/11 but put off the party until yesterday.

Months ago, my aunt (the mother of the bride) asked me if I'd make cupcakes for the party. They wanted the cupcakes to look like sunflowers.

No problem, I said.'s really hard to decorate five thousand (okay, there was only about a hundred) cupcakes while my two children raced around like maniacs all morning.

At one point, I made Olivia cry. See, I'd asked her, told her and threatened her with bodily harm if she didn't stop kissing my butt, Olivia did it one time too many. Now, before calling CPS, I didn't resort to bodily harm over this infraction but I did raise my voice quite high and her feelings did get quite hurt.

But damn it! That is so annoying. You wouldn't think that the kissing of one's butt would be so irritating but after it happens over and over and over again, yes, I just want it to stop.

I know she's showing affection but please, stop with the butt kissing. Before I had children, I never considered the possibility that the kissing of my butt would be something I had to tell someone not to do.

Finally, at 2:00, the cupcakes were done and we were out the door at 2:10.

This morning, I woke up with a need to first, clean up the cupcake mess I left in the kitchen from the day before. I realize that the very thought of dishes in the sink may leave others in a fit of tremors, but...ehh, whatever.

After the frosting-coated bowls/knives/cups were clean, I headed up to the girls' room to go through their closet and purge the out-grown clothes.

This is SUCH a job. But it has to be done. And now, it is. Well, half done. Alyssa's closet is done. Olivia's? Not so much. And now, it has to wait while we go to Alyssa's soccer game.

She loves soccer so much. She loves the running, the kicking, the comraderie. It's so much fun to see how far she's come out of her shyness. She's growing up, becoming her own person.

It's thrilling and terrifying all at once.

When we get back from soccer (after buying groceries) I'll be back at Olivia's closet, sorting the clothes into wearable right now, wearable next spring, donate/throw away. So much fun to be had.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Accentuate the Positive

I’m trying. Heaven knows, I’m trying to think about the good stuff and let the negative stuff wash away. A long time ago, my mom advised me to never point out my faults. She said that most people probably don’t even notice them until I point them out. She’s so smart, my mom.

Alas, I haven’t ever learned to take her advice, instead I’m famous for putting a negative spin on something as it applies to me but putting a positive spin on it when applying it to someone else. Okay, famous in my own mind. But whatever.

Take last weekend. My step dad was driving to Toledo to pick up a part for his boat. My mom had plans for the day to continue working at her sister’s house and so was unavailable to go with him. Well, after her left, her plans changed and so she called him and said if he wasn’t too far along in his trip, he could come back and get her.

He was already an hour away but he turned around and went back. They then turned back around and began the trip again, which took them to the far side of Toledo, a good two hours from their home. Over four hours later, my mom was seriously annoyed by the time this trip took.

My positive spin on that? He likes her so much he really, really wants to spend as much time as he can with her.

The negative way to take this is that he wanted to drain her time as much as he could so that when they got back, she wouldn’t have nearly as much time to give her sister.

Because I can make every single thing in this world about me if I put my mind to it, I immediately thought that there is no flipping way Tom would have turned around and come back for me.

Heck, we rarely go anywhere together.

Now, because this is about me, my first instinct is to be negative. I think, “Yeah, he just doesn’t want to spend time with me at all, which is why he wouldn’t come back for me. Heck, he wouldn’t have bothered to ask me to go along in the first place.”

It doesn’t even matter that I wouldn’t have wanted to ride along. That’s not the point. The point, my brain says, is that he wouldn’t have wanted me along. And that makes me sad. The brain thinking that way and the fact that he might not have wanted me to go.

But I’m accentuating the positive these days so instead of thinking the way my brain wants to think, I’m making it think something like, “Tom knows how valuable my time is. He knows I wouldn’t want to spend four hours in the car no matter how much we enjoy each other’s company and so he wouldn’t ask me because he wouldn’t want to put me on the spot.”

And he doesn’t care how I spend my time when we’re not together. Wait, I mean that as a positive thing. It means he’s not jealous of my time. He doesn’t monitor where I go, when I come back, how much fun I have when we’re not together.

I know husbands who do this. I won’t name names in an effort to protect the jealous but they worry every single minute that their wife is having fun without them, not even in an adulterous sort of way, just in the fun way, such as with their siblings or their kids, or even by themselves.

Tom wants me to get away sometimes, he wants me to have fun because he knows it makes me more pleasant to be around when I do come home.

We’re independent people. We go our own way and then come home to the joys and wonders of our sweet little family.

See? I can accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Now, to figure out how to hold on to the affirmative and not mess with Mr. In Between.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On the Bright Side

Olivia is home sick again today. She’s with Tom today, lounging around, eating popsicles and watching “Tangled.” She has a Rapunzel doll she holds as she watches the movie. It’s cute. It’s also reassuring to see her play with a toy, a favored toy. Olivia has never really been all that into toys. She’d much prefer to snuggle into a corner holding a cup than play with your traditional toys.

Or, even better as far as she’s concerned, she’d rather be with people. Given her choice, she’d sit on me all day long, or be carried from place to place by me as I got about my business.

But if I’m not available, my mom or Tom will do. She likes the security of being around people.

This illness, this cold, whatever is, is already passing. Sure, we had a couple of rough nights, where she whimpered in her sleep if I moved to far from her.

But we’re getting through it.

It takes me back to her early days. Those first few months where she hurt so much. Where she cried all the time. Those few months were all about survival. We were just getting through them.

Each time we went out among people, I’d get such looks of pity as my baby cried and cried. I’d assure family members that it would get better. It had to get better.

And it did.

But when I think back on those days, just as when I look back on last night and the night before, I realize I’m good at this. I’m good during these times of high stress, these times when she needs the most patience, I’m there. I’m an awesome mom to a child with a cold. I willing, cheerfully get up countless times a night to get fresh water, to change the sheets when she throws up, to take her temperature, to change pajamas/pull ups/blankets. I hold, I snuggle, and I rub backs and hold hands.

Now, if I could channel that awesomeness to the everyday stressors.

But I’m not going to go all negative on this. I’m looking on the bright side. Yes, I want her to feel better. I want her to have color in her cheeks and a bounce in her step. But I also want to be there to provide comfort until that happens.

I do realize how lucky I am that this is just a cold. I don’t know how great I’d be at this whole mothering thing if she had a chronic condition. I pray I’ll never have to find out.

But I have those first few months of Olivia’s life to look back on and know I’d probably be okay. I was then. Maybe I was in denial. Maybe my reassurances that things would get better weren’t so much for everyone around me as they were for me. Maybe I was telling myself to just power through because it HAD to get better.

Whatever the case, it worked. I got through it and she did get better. She started sleeping and so did I. She stopped crying and so did I. She started looking at me when I talked to her and the instinctive love I felt for her developed into a real, deep, abiding love that comes with time and with getting to know each other.

I’m glad to be able to say that I am a patient, loving mom to my girls, especially when they’re sick. Yes, there’s work to be done in the day to day world as far as patience goes but love? There’s never a shortage of that in our house. Of that I am absolutely sure. And that’s definitely a bright side.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sick Kid

I hate having to wake a sick child. I really do. Especially when that sick child is only four years old and had a tough night, only to fall into a decent sleep around 5am. To have to wake that child at 7:15 just feels mean.

But I couldn’t leave her in the house this morning while I walked Alyssa to the bus stop and I couldn’t send Alyssa to the bus stop on her own.

Where was their other parent, you ask? Well, he’s had a trip to his brother’s for weeks and one can never depend on a child to get sick when it’s convenient for her parents.

So I woke O up this morning, much to my own hesitance and bundled her up in the car so we could drive Alyssa across the yard to the bus stop.

Then O and I went back in the house where I changed her into clean pajamas, called the school to let them know she’s out sick today and we settled in the rocking chair for the morning.

When I picked the girls up at my mom’s yesterday afternoon, my mom said that Olivia hasn’t eaten well that day. She’d also complained that her arm hurt. My mom gave her some children’s ibuprofen and O went about her day.

On our way home, both girls ate a piece of pizza (it was anniversary pizza, back to the ‘healthy eating’ plan today) and played outside for about a half hour once we got home.

When I called them in to eat more anniversary pizza, Olivia made her way to the couch, where she covered up with a blanket and ignored my attempts to get her to eat.

By 7:00, I was putting pajamas on her and realized she felt warm. I took her temp (only 98.8) and bundled her up to rock. By 7:30, her temperature was up to 99.9, so I gave her some Children’s Advil and we headed to bed.
She woke up at 9:00 to throw up and then tossed and turned for the rest of the night.

Which leads me to the guilt I felt this morning when I had to wake my FINALLY peacefully sleeping baby (hey, if you’re the last child born into a family, you’ll always be the baby, whether you’re three months old or thirty years old so…yeah!)

Tom is the parent in this household who runs to the doctor for everything.

I’m more “let’s wait and see.” It’s a fever. Kids get fevers all the time. Let’s see if her body will fight it off. If she’s still feverish through the night tonight and isn’t feeling any better tomorrow morning, I’ll call the doctor.

We’re lucky, though. Olivia is a fairly cheerful patient. As long as she has a warm body to lounge upon and an endless supply of water to drink as “Tangled” runs on a continuous loop, she’s all pales smiles and weak laughs.

Though at one point last night, she rolled over and said pathetically to me, “I’m so, so sick.”

Milk it, Sweetie. Milk it for all it’s worth.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Day

This morning Tom greeted me with, “Good morning, happy anniversary.”

I’d known it was coming up. Last weekend, I knew that Tuesday was our anniversary, but…this morning, as I was getting the girls dressed and showering and just going about the morning routine, it didn’t occur to me what day it was.

Had he not said something, I’d have gone on to work and realized at some later point what was important about this day.

I would have emailed him, wishing him a happy day.

We’re not big on gifts for days like this. You could say we’re more about living each day like it’s special rather than just one day out of the year. But…well, really we’re just both lazy and cheap and we don’t want to spend money on something that would probably sit around and collect dust.

Our wedding day was another of those events where family was the most important thing. My entire family pitched in. My cousin Spencer played the piano (he was 13 years old), my brother manned the cd player. My mom and aunts did all the kitchen work. Tom’s sons were up there by his side and his daughter stood with me. My dear friend Julie and her sweet Riley were up there too. Everyone there managed to make this day one of the best of my life. I was so relaxed and had so much fun. Every bride’s wedding day should be like that.

Tom likes to sing a silly little diddy that goes something like this, “Mommy and daddy got married. Because mommy has too many aunts.” Sometimes, he’s sweet and switches it up with Mommy and daddy got married because mommy and daddy are in love. But it’s usually the one about too many aunts.

I always laugh because, well, I do have an awful lot of aunts. And they’re almost all pushy.

But that’s what’s great about family. You deal with the pushy ones because you love them. Pushiness and all. It think it was their very pushiness, their bossiness that made our day so special. They pushed and they bossed and they made it perfect. For us. And that’s what every wedding should be, perfect for the couple standing up there before God and friends and family, vowing to stand by each other even when things are tough.

Tom’s hard work this past weekend cemented his place with my extended family. Not only did he work alongside my cousin who suffered a closed head wound fifteen years ago (which had made him very hard to work with) Tom did this with a smile on his face and a laugh in his voice. He let my aunts know that he’s as hard-working as they are, he’s as willing to get down and dirty to get the job done.

And in the end, over the years, he’s made me glad that eight years ago, I made that long walk down the aisle to him.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pitching In

One of my aunts has been having some pretty serious health issues. She’s been in and out of the hospital several times over the last few months.

Most of her issues come down to breathing. She’s got OCPD, emphysema, asthma, allergies and she was a smoker for about twenty years. She quit smoking twenty years ago but the damage was done.

On top of all that, she’s overweight and carries the bulk of her weight in her upper body, so her heart is working overtime.

The last time she was in the hospital, her doctor advised her to replace the carpet from her bedroom with laminate flooring or linoleum.

Well, obviously, the poor woman can’t do all that herself, she can barely breathe.

So my mom put out the call. All able-bodied people should show up at my aunt’s house on Saturday to help clean, tear up carpet, etc.

I talked to Tom about it and he agreed to be home with the girls while I went over and did what I could to make my aunt’s home friendlier to her health.

As I was arriving, my aunt and her husband were leaving to go buy new flooring. My mom already had most of the carpeting and the under padding pulled from the floor and we got to work cleaning. We dusted, we degreased, we vacuumed.

My cousin and her daughter showed up and my mom put them to work cleaning my aunt’s van.

We’d been at work for about three hours when my aunt and her husband arrived with the flooring. They’d been told at the store where they purchased the flooring that laminate would have to be glued down and due to the fumes of the glue, my aunt wouldn’t be able to sleep in that room for two weeks.

So they went with laminate flooring. Except…no one knew how to lay the stuff. No one had put down flooring like that.

No one except one of my other aunt’s husband. And he’s 71 years old. Well, no one but the uncle and…Tom. Yes, he’d laid that kind of flooring in three rooms in the house we sold last January.

So at 5pm on Saturday evening, I called him. He and the girls were only four miles away. I told him I’d come home and take over with the girls if he’d come see what he could do.

He told me to give him a few minutes to gather his stuff (tools, a saw, etc) and he’d call me.

Fifteen minutes later, he pulled into my aunt’s driveway. The girls were thrilled to be there. They love gatherings. Alyssa immediately found work for herself and Olivia was quick to avoid the two dogs that rule my aunt’s house.

We were there until after 10:00 that night. Tom and my cousin Aaron worked hard and got the floor done. Olivia fell asleep in my arms as I stood watching Tom and Aaron work.

One thing I’ll say about this family of mine, we sure can come together and get things done. When one of our own is in need, we step up and pitch in. I hope most (dare I hope all?) families are like this, rallying around and making things happen when someone needs them.

Bonus? Alyssa earned $1.85 from my step-dad for all her hard work. She was desperate to go back the next day and see if she could earn more. I'm not sure what lesson she learned in the end, though. Give you shall receive? Or Papa is always good for a buck and change?

Sunday, October 2, 2011


When I think of October and think orange, Halloween, fallen leaves, a chill in the air and yes, the harvest.

I think of black cats and witches, of trick or treating and laughter.

I want to give my kids those same warm (chilled?) feelings in the years to come as we build memories and create traditions. I want our house to have a candy dish full of candy corn as the center piece on the kitchen table and to remember smelling crispy leaves on the ground as they walk to the bus.

I want them to cherish memories of us carving pumpkins, the cold goo that's inside the pumpkins sliming their hands.

I want to harvest all these things and hold them close as we enter this coming month.

I want to throw away all the negativity that I sometimes let bog me down. I want to build my confidence using the last two months' work and continue building upon it in the coming months. I want to harvest all those good feelings I've created within myself and weed out the bad that I've been tending for so many years.

I want to stop being so hard on myself and reap the benefits of being good to myself.

I want to dress in orange and black the entire week before Halloween and roast pumpkin shaped marshmallows over a fire. I want to admire the carved out jack-o-lanterns each night before bed, glowing from within from the light of candles.

Today, we hung a bat from our tree and a ghostly ghoul from our porch. We strung a spider on the rail that leads up the front steps. We bought some mini pumpkins and put them around our rock garden and some glow in the dark skulls that are scattered around our tree stumps.

And I stopped myself from saying something negative to Tom, something that made me look and sound bad. Yes, I thought it, but I didn't say it out loud and that's a start.

It will take a good long time before the negatives thoughts go away completely. In fact, they may never go away completely but the more I push them away, the farther they'll go and even if they're always there, in the periphery, I can continue to ignore them, to not give them power.

I can continue to harvest the good. That's the important thing. That's what this October is going to be about for me. Reaping the rewards of the hard work I've put in during August and September.

I can be good to myself for another month. I can think about how great it feels to be 28 pounds down from where I started on August 1st without thinking about how awful it is that I let myself get to that starting point. The starting point isn't the important part, it's just the start. The important part is now, the journey from the start.

And I want to concenrate on that, the journey, rather than where I started. I'm not even thinking about the end point yet. No. This is going to take some time, for the physical changes as well as the emotional. But if I'm kind to myself even as I take one month at a time, I can make those changes.

Remember, I can do anything, absolutely anything, for a month.