Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Each Monday evening Tom gives me a rundown of how his day with the girls went.

Yesterday, he told me that soon after I left for work, he was on the floor, finishing up his workout. Alyssa was still upstairs in the shower.

Olivia walked over to him, looked down at what he was doing, tilted her head and asked, “Are you going to do that all day long?”

He said distain dripped from her words.

My five and a half year old, ladies and gentleman. She of the attitude that would do a fifteen year old proud.

She’s still in the “What are you going to do about it?” stage too.

Last night as I was trying to get her to sleep, she announced she was sweaty.

Because she requires a response, I said, “Okay.”


“What are you going to do about it?”

I reached over and tugged the blanket off her legs.

I think she was hoping I’d blow on her to cool her off. Seriously. She sometimes expects that.

I think we’ve created a monster.

Monday, July 30, 2012


I had a moment this weekend, while at the baby shower, where I realized I’m a curmudgeon.

I found myself thinking, “What is it with the young women in the younger generation…”

See, we were talking babies and one of the shower guests, who is pregnant with her second daughter, said she and her husband will have as many babies as it takes to have a son. Apparently, her husband is the last of male of this family so he has very specific orders from his father to pass on the family name.

Whatever. Ahem. Anyway, this young woman went on to say that she hopes she only has to have two more babies before at least one of them is a boy because she’d rather not have more than four.

Four!?! I managed to stifle my gasp of dismay. I cannot even begin to imagine having four kids.

When I was pregnant with Olivia, I felt selfish for even wanting a second child, let alone more than that. I felt like we got so, so lucky with Alyssa. She’s healthy, she’s beautiful, she’s smart, she’s sweet. She was everything I ever imagined in a child and I wondered if I was tempting fate by even trying for a second.

How could we ever get as lucky a second time as we did the first?

And yet…chromosomes not counting…we did get as lucky the second time. Olivia is sweet, she’s smart, she’s beautiful.

But I only have two hands and so a third child would outnumber my arms, my hands.

In the months before Olivia was born, I worried incessantly about Alyssa losing attention, about being able to adequately mother two children.

And here are these young women wanting four, five and possibly even six children.

The guest of honor, S, is pregnant with her second child too. This will be her second son. She said she’d like to have at least two more. Her partner, my step-son, has stated he wants six children.

I can’t help but wonder how they’re afford all these wonderful babies. All of these women work. So that involved day care unless you have family around to help.

Maybe if I’d had children at a younger age, such as in my mid-twenties, I’d feel much the same way.

The hostess of the party, K, my other step-sons wife, has three children. D is four, G is three and I is three and a half months old. She admitted she’d like at least one more baby, maybe two.

Again, I was stunned.

I can see who S and her pregnant friend think they want more as they’re on the verge of their second children. They don’t have a clue right now how hard it is to go from one child to two.

But you know what? Maybe it was just me. Maybe I’m the only one who had a tough time with the transition from one to two. Maybe my own emotional reserves lacking and these young women have bottomless reserves.

More power to them.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shower and Salsa

It's been one of those weekends where we all feel like we didn't actually get a break in the week.

Saturday was typical, laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping, library. I added in sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor because, yuck, it had been too long since I'd done those things. I know, the shame.

On the schedule today was a baby shower for my step son D's girlfriend. Their baby is due September 13 but she's being induced on September 6.

So yes, the shower.

I got the invitation two weeks ago. It was a given, as far as Tom was concerned, that I'd go. It didn't matter that it involved an hour and a half drive there, at least two hours with people I didn't know well and an hour and a half drive home.

I did the right thing and called to RSVP. I left a v-mail, asking my step-daughter-in-law (how convoluted is that, let's just call her K) to get back to me with either an address or directions to the location of the shower.

I also sent her a facebook message asking the same.

Over a week passed and I'd heard nothing.

I told Tom that I honestly didn't want to go. He took it personally and asked if I'd done enough to contact K. I told him I'd tried to contact her twice. He said, "I didn't know you'd called her twice."

I replied a little pissily, "I called once. I left a message for her on Facebook."

See, I think Facebook is a valid form of communication these days. So there. We agreed to disagree on that one.

So I called her again. This time we actually talked and she gave me directions and so today, I made the drive.

As I was getting ready to leave, Tom was gathering tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers to make salsa.

He wasn't looking forward to it.

I offered to trade. He could go to the baby shower and spend two hours with his ex-wife and I'd stay home and make the salsa.

He didn't take me up on my offer. It's 8:02pm. I've been home almost two hours. He's STILL in the kitchen working on the salsa.

I think I got the better end of this deal. Afterall, there's not bad blood between me and his ex-wife. I think she's a perfectly lovely woman. He, on the other hand, would rather chop onions and peppers from here to eternity than have to be cordial to her for a couple of hours.

We all have our niche, is what I'm saying.

Updated to add: For the record, the girls stayed home with Tom while I went to the shower. For what it's worth.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Speaking of Resolutions

So I mentioned in my post about revisiting my resolutions that I've given to families adopting orphans over the past year.

Well, there's a family who needs help.

They're trying to adopt three little boys with special needs. They want to bring these boys home and give the love, the medical attention, the family they need.

You can go here, click on the button at the top right of the page and give. Every single dollar helps. If enough of us give even just $10, that will add up anfd bring these babies home to people who will lavish them with love.

Doesn't every child deserve that?


Friday, July 27, 2012

Better, Sort of...

Olivia and I both slept better last night. Which…whew, right?

About a half hour after we laid down to go to sleep, I was rubbing her head, running my hands through her dirty hair (she had a bath this morning during which I washed her hair, so I don’t feel too bad admitting that last night her hair was indeed quite dirty.)

Anyway, all that to say that as I ran my fingers through her dirty hair, I came across what I knew was a tick. The field around my mom’s house is wild grass. The owners are paid by the government not to farm the fields and so it’s just gone to weed over the decades. And in that wild grass? The ticks and mosquitoes thrive.


But whatever. I couldn’t leave that tick on O’s head, right? So I did what I learned to do in the first aid class offered by work. I went and got the tweezers, I pulled that sucker off her head, tugging gently so that it would open its mouth and release her rather than pulling fast and hard which causes you to pull the tick’s body right off its head and leaves the head under the skin.

Again, ick. And ewww.

Once it had released, I knew it was intact because that little creep tried to escape up the tweezers. I made my way to the bathroom where I lit a match and held the flame to the tick, baking the little bastard until his legs curled up and he stopped moving. Then he was washed down the drain.

Ticks don’t stand a chance when facing this mom wielding a pair of tweezers.

But caterpillars? Ohh, they get the best of me every time.

Earlier in the evening I was out in the garden, picking cherry tomatoes. I started to grasp one and found that it was half eaten. Right next to it was a caterpillar, looking all plump and squishy, no doubt full of delicious cherry tomato and the accompanying juice.

Have I said ick yet? And ewww?


I called to Tom, who was on the deck with Olivia. He wasn’t wearing shoes.

I told him about the caterpillar.

He suggested I flick it off.

I shuddered and called back, “I don’t think I can.”

He sighed, went in and put on his shoes and came out to rescue our tomatoes from the evil caterpillar.

I think if that caterpillar had been on one of the girls, I could have flicked it away but since it was only a danger to the tomatoes and not to my offspring, there was no way I was touching it, not even for the fraction of the second it would take to flick it away. No way, nuh uh, not going to happen.

Given the option of flicking a caterpillar or singeing the life out of a tick? I’ll take the tick every single time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Internal Dialog

Last night between the hours of midnight and 3am, Olivia tossed and turned and fussed and cried.

We moms, we know the difference between a hurt cry, a sick cry and a mad cry.

O’s cries were mostly mad, though, admittedly there were couple in there that were hurt, as in hurt feelings not hurting butt because I’d spanked her.

No, I never actually did that. Honestly, it never crossed my mind to spank her. So I have that going for me, I guess.

But I was tired. Last night was the fourth night since Olivia’s arm/shoulder/wing were hurt. And so, in the previous three nights, she got used to having me next to her to soothe her cries of physical pain (again not from spanking but from her rolling wrong and hurting her wing all over again.)

She liked having me next to her, to rub her hair back from her face and snuggle her back to sleep. Alas, doing all that was not doing much for my rest.

And we all know I turn into a raving bitch when sleep deprived. Well, that and I eat. I eat to stay awake and then I hate myself because I eat junk that is so bad for me and I feel like crap and I’m not only full of food that has negative nutritional value but I’m also wallowing in a pit of self-hatred.


So girlfriend needs to let Mama sleep, is what I’m saying.

But last night was not to be the night. She woke up at midnight and cried out because I was not lying next to her in the twin bed she’s taken over. I stumbled to her side, gently laid her back down, mindful of her injury and laid next to her, slipping back into sleep almost immediately.

A while later, I rolled to my side, which meant my back was to her.

She whimpered.

My sleepiness was slowly being replaced by a seething anger.

I rolled back and asked in a whimper what was wrong. She took hold of my arm and moved it beneath her head. Did you read that? She moved my arm and put it beneath her head. She was awake enough and aware enough to know exactly how she wanted to be comforted.

Ugh! But I let it go. I laid there for a bit, hoping she’d fall asleep quickly and I could either escape to the other bed again or just move my arm and roll over.

Oh no. She moved, she wiggled, she tossed and turned. She jammed her knees into my side and dug her curly little head into my arm.

I was losing my mind. I was so flipping tired of being touched by that point that every single move she made irritated my already frayed nerves.

My internal dialog was already going a mile a minute. I told myself to be patient, she’d go to sleep soon. My mean self, let’s call her Jean said Olivia was playing me for the fool I am and that she was never, ever going to sleep and this was one of the levels of hell.

My sweet self reminded Jean that Olivia is only five years old. She’s hurt. She wants her mommy.

Jean didn’t care. Jean was tired and wanted to go to sleep and not be touched anymore.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore (Jean won) and rolled away from O again. This time, she didn’t bother with the whimper. She wailed as if being presented with my back was causing her intense agony.

She sobbed and sniffled and rubbed at her eyes.

Jean told me to just lay there. The kind part of me told me to roll over and comfort Olivia, that tomorrow I’d hate myself if I didn’t. That I was being a horrible mom for letting her cry like that.

Again, Jean didn’t care. Jean said we all needed to just go to sleep.

But we couldn’t.

I got O a tissue, rolled back toward her but kept my arm from beneath her head, telling her that it was hurting me to lay that way. I brushed the hair from her face and kissed her tear-stained cheeks. I told I was sorry I was being mean but that I was so, so tired. I begged her to go to sleep.

Jean decided I was a hopeless sap and refused to speak to me the rest of the night. I was grateful that someone was ignoring me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Mean Patient

Okay, I know she’s hurting. I know that pain can make even the sweetest person a little testy.

But damn, Olivia’s a mean patient.

She’s growly, she’s whiny, she’s impatient.

Yesterday when I got to my mom’s she informed me that Olivia had been a little, ummm, ouchy that day. We all agree that her arm/shoulder hurt. But does that give her the right to snap orders like she’s Gordon Ramsay? I think not.

A few minutes after I got there, O informed me she had to pee. I said okay. And, apparently, I didn’t move nearly fast enough for her because she put her right hand on her hip, tilted her head and hissed, “Come on!”

Ohh my, rudeness abounds, Little Miss!

But then again, maybe my patience level is a bit low due to the fact that the rude miss hasn’t been sleeping well for the last three nights which means, you guessed it, mama hasn’t slept well either.

She wants to sleep in the twin bed, with my arm under her, with her face in my neck and my arm hand rubbing her hair or her face or her arm.

And you know what? That might help HER sleep but it doesn’t do much toward letting me have a restful night.

I know, wah wah wah, suck it up, your child is injured. I know it won’t last.

The kicker last night, though, was when I woke from a lousy hour of sleep to find her laying sideways on the twin bed with her feet pressed flat against the wall and her head jammed between my shoulder blades. I rolled off the bed and she rolled over, flinging her left arm over her head and nary a whimper came from her slumbering body.

See! She’s feeling better. Yay and all that but what it really means is that she doesn’t NEED me to sleep next to her, she just wants that and she’s milking this sore arm thing for all it’s worth.

Gotta give the kid kudos on that one.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Resolutions Revisited

So we’re over halfway through the year.

Most years by the time I’m halfway through January, I’ve failed every single one of my resolutions.

This year I made the decision to make resolutions that weren’t about me. And what do you know?

Here we are in the middle of July and I’m still reading three books a day to Olivia six out of seven days a week, sometimes we read all seven days a week. But there have been a few misses here and there so I’ll give myself a nine on a scale of one to ten on how this resolution is going.

The other resolution I made was to donate to special needs orphans in Eastern Europe who are waiting to be adopted. This is done either through Reece’s Rainbow or through other blogs that mention a family or child in need.

And I’ve managed to do this once a month, which is sort of what I budgeted so, hey, go me on remaining resolved to do what I can. I admitted back when I made this resolution that I just don’t have the financial, emotional or physical reserves to adopt a child myself but I admire families who do have these reserves and just need a little financial help. If a lot of strangers pitch in a little, we can make big differences in the lives of the sweet babies (and toddlers and preschoolers and school-aged children and beyond) who are desperate for a home, a mom, a dad…a family.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have been born in a place and an era where special needs are not something that we feel need to be shut away in institutions and ignored. Therapies and schooling are available to children born with needs beyond typical kids. Those who weren’t so lucky need our help, even if it’s just a little here and there. There are places than can make a little go a long way.

So yes, this is me patting myself for doing what I should have been doing for years. But we have to start somewhere to get anywhere, right?

Monday, July 23, 2012


I walked into my mom's house one day last week and found Alyssa sprawled on the ottoman, covered in a towel. Her eyes were closed but there was a ghost of a smile on her lips.

I kissed her forehead and asked if she'd had a good day.

She didn't open her eyes as she whispered, "Shhh, I'm a mushroom."


A few seconds later, Olivia and Jaxon bounded into the room, announcing that they'd turned Alyssa into a mushroom because she was a mean witch and they were good witches and they were trying to stop her from casting mean spells on the rest of the house.

Alyssa giggled even as she continued to keep her eyes closed.

My girl was a most excellent mushroom.

Olivia has an injured wing. Poor baby. She fell off the couch yesterday with a little help from her sister, the former mushroom. Alyssa nudged her and Olivia fell, hard.

I ended up taking her to Urgent Care only to be told nothing is broken (whew) and that she probably fell hard and wrenched her arm/neck.

She whimpered in her sleep last night and cried out in pain this evening as I put on her pajamas.

Alyssa felt awful when the 'nudge' happened.

But that's what happens sometimes.

Sometimes siblings adore each other so much they turn one and other into mushrooms. Other times, they need a little space and nudge the other away, often to detrimental effects.

I try not to intervene, though I realize that when one is going to hurt the other, I have to. I didn't see the nudge happen yesterday so I didn't have a chance to intervene.

But I know that they love each other. I see Alyssa share her horses with Olivia and I watch Olivia follow Alyssa from room to room. She adores her big sister, wants to be just like her. And Alyssa's protective nature kicks in when we're around others, she's holds Olivia, cares for her, helps her up and down stairs, etc.

But she's also nine and sometimes, she forgets how much stronger she is than O. And those are the teachable moments, the times when I can remind her that walking away is always better when you're angry or irritated.

We're trying to learn from every moment. If we don't, why bother? Might as well just be a mushroom.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Prayers in WalMart

Last Friday I was in WalMart after work picking up a pizza for dinner.

While in the book section (because who goes to WalMart and doesn't check out the books even if they're in there just for pizza?) I was approached by two young men.

By young, I'm thinking they were in their early 20s. As a woman in her early 40s, I'm rarely approached by anyone unless it's a man in his 70s asking if I've ever tried the single serving frozen pies in the freezer section.

These two young men were very well groomed and seemed harmless.

They asked me if they could pray for me. They asked if there was anything in my life that I needed to ask God for help.

I told them that I'm actually pretty blessed and started to suggest they find someone more deserving of prayer.

They interrupted me and said I didn't have to tell them specifics but that they were just out praying for strangers.

Now...a few months ago, I might have thought they were crazy, no matter how well groomed and made my way away from them.

But I read an article in a magazine awhile ago that talked about a woman who'd made a resolution to pray for strangers every day for a year. She went up the these strangers and asked if she could pray for them.

I kind of thought that's what these guys were doing.

So I agreed. I have admitted here before that I'm not really into religion so much as I consider myself spiritual. I've talked about my grandma and the amazing gift she gave me years and years ago when she taught me how to pray and how to ask for acceptance of God's will more than anything else.

These young men asked God to bless me and walk with me through my journey in this life. They asked that my family be blessed and that my hands be healing hands.

It was nice. It was a few gentle moments in the book section at WalMart.

I felt blessed to have strangers praying for me.

I took it at face value because I think that's what God would want me to do. He wants us to see good in this world. I believe He's a good, loving God who wants us to see the good things as blessings and so that's what I did. I didn't look for underlying motives. I don't think there could have been. These guys didn't ask for anything in return. They just prayed for me.

I consider that a priceless gift.

Friday, July 20, 2012


This is what Olivia looks like first thing in the morning these days.

That hair? It looked like this on the first day of preschool not quite a year ago:

Still beautiful, but not quite the way she wanted it.

Obviously, in the year or so, give or take a couple of months since Olivia stopped pulling her hair out, her hair has grown and grown and wow, grown.

I love her whole head first thing in the morning after she’s had a bath the night before.

She loves her hair these days, though she can be found telling me to stop brushing it because it hurts. When I ask her if she wants to go back to super short hair to avoid the brushing, she assures me that the brushing doesn’t hurt that much.

I’m so glad for her that she stopped pulling. I’m grateful for whatever it was that got her to the point where the pulling was no longer a compulsion.

Mostly, I’m grateful for her. Her big hair is just a bonus.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bad Mom

We are finally getting some rain in our area. The hour of rainfall we got last night was more rain than we’d had in our area in the past six weeks.

All this is to preface that along with the rain we’re finally getting, there is also a bit of lightning and thunder.

And the thunder brings me to my point, which is not the drought that this are of the country is currently suffering but the fact that every single time the thunder rolls across the sky, Alyssa jumps and looks around, all big-eyed and fearful.

Each time she does this I roll my eyes and say, “Really?”

Because see, here’s the thing. I don’t think she’s actually afraid of the thunder. I think she thinks she’s supposed to be afraid of the thunder and so she fakes the jumps and the running to my side and the wide eyes.

And so my response to her fake fear is less than sympathetic.

Which is not so very maternal, is it? I mean, what if she really is scared and her reactions are sincere and just because I read them as fake, I’m not giving her the comfort she might actually need.

I tried to be all warm and comforting last night but come on, it was just a little bit of rolling thunder. There were no big claps or booms going on out there. It was actually quite comforting to hear the thunder and see the distant lightening.

To me. Maybe not so much to her, though, right?

So tonight I’ll go home and try to explain what thunder and lightning really are and explain how, as long as she stays inside, the storms are nothing to fear. I’ll remind her that we’ll always take care of her and that even at school, she’s safe.

And I’ll tell her that if she’d faking the fear, she needs to cut it out because it’s not nearly as cute as she might think it is.

Oh yes, I’ve got this mothering thing down.

I think I have a hard time believing this kid right here is truly afraid of a little thunder. She looks so tough, doesn't she?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shameful Confession

So there’s something I should admit. It’s not pretty.

I don’t enjoy being around other people’s children.

Let me clarify a little here. If you are someone I know personally, like a friend or a relative, I’m obviously not talking about your children. I adore your children.

It is the children of strangers who annoy me so much.

How about a little background on this realization?

During my last two days off work ,the girls and I hit the community pool for hours each day. It was too hot to do anything but submerge ourselves in highly-chlorinated water.

Because I usually work during the weekdays, I didn’t realize that a local preschool brings their wards to the pool from 1:00 to 3:00 each day.

This is a lovely thing and I’m not complaining about this at all. If my kids were in daycare, I’d love for them to go to one that took them to the pool daily. What a great adventure for these kids.

Except…here it comes…there are some very gregarious children who simply cannot bring themselves to let me just swim with my own two children without interjecting their own thoughts into the conversation.

I realize these kids are probably lonely or craving maternal attention, or something. Or they’re just very friendly and that’s nice for them.

But I don’t want to talk to these strange children. I want to interact with my own children. Hello, that’s why I took time off work. I did not take the time off to spend it talking to strangers kids at the pool.

I am never unkind to these kids. I never actually come out and tell them to go away. I don’t roll my eyes at their questions and I never fail respond to their conversational overtures, but I don’t enjoy doing these things. My smiles are forced, though I do hope they’d don’t realize it.

I guess I wish these children were in the care of adults who were aware of them enough to realize that they might actually be bothering that lady over there who had a nine year old hanging from her back and a five year old who keeps leaping across three feet of water, always trusting that her mom is going to catch her before she goes under the second time. If the adults who are in charge of these kids were just a little more aware, I might not have to keep trying to politely find new, less crowded corners of the pool, corners that are hopefully too deep for these children to follow me but not so deep that Alyssa can’t find her way onto my back after I’ve pushed her off for the forty-seventh time.

Yes, I do blame the adults and not the outgoing, lovely children who just see a mom interacting with her children and probably hope for a bit of the same.

Damn, this is a judgy post, isn’t it? I was hoping for a little more humor and a little less judgment but there you have it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Think I'll Try

That's Olivia's new line.

She says it each time she needs to use the bathroom. As in, every time she needs to poop.

I have never claimed to be an expert on 5p-. I have, though, claimed to be an expert on my own child.

And, at the risk of jinxing her, I will say that, as an Olivia expert, I do believe that she is 99% potty trained, both for urination and bowel movements.

For awhile there, she was doing really, really well with me. I'd see her, something in her expression would make me ask her if she had to poop and she'd declare that yes, yes indeed, she did have to poop. And off we'd go to the bathroom where miracles happen.

But with my mom and Tom, there were still more poopy pants than amazing events taking place in the bathroom.

Sunday morning, though, I came downstairs to hear Tom and Olivia in the bathroom. He came out to tell me that he'd found her in there, attempting to wipe herself with a wet wipe after having gone poop in the toilet.

She hadn't bothered to tell him that she had to go. She'd just gone in, done her business and was trying to finish the whole thing when he found her.

Can I get a wow? She's not supposed to be able to do this.

And yet today, while in the water at the pool and she declared, "I think I will try to poop."

We made our way to the bathroom and I turned away from her, telling her I wouldn't watch. Neither of my girls like to have anyone watch while they go. I don't blame them. I do wish, though, that they'd extend the same courtesy to me. Huh.

Anyway, this summer my mom has informed me several times that Olivia hasn't been able to let her know she needed to do while in the pool. Which, ick! And thank goodness for chemicals, because, yeah, ewww.

There is something about swimming that relaxes her and makes bowel movements a bit easier. O's very regular but she has to work at the evacuation situation. I know, probably TMI but there are people out there reading this who have kids with 5p- who are younger and I'm hoping to give an accurate picture of my girl and her challenges.

So here we are. She's five and a half and is telling me consistently when she had to poop. She goes pee on the toilet all by herself. Which is awesome because we can now buy a new couch. We'd been putting it off until there was no longer anyone who was peeing on the furniture on a consistent basis.

This is such a big deal and I'm so proud of her. It's something she's worked so hard on. We've never shamed her when it comes to potty issues. That's not how we do things. But we've tried to be consistent and it's working. There could very well be a glitch in all this as we make our way toward six and beyond but she's proving that she can do it. She can communicate these needs to us and take care of them herself.

Knowing this, we can weather the setbacks as they come just because we'll know that's all they are, setbacks. We'll just work through them and get her back to where she is today. And where she is today is just plain awesome.

Monday, July 16, 2012


There's something to be said for taking a couple of vacation days just because. That's what I've done. I'm off work today and tomorrow, just because.

Just because I want to spend a little more of this glorious (if dry and so freaking hot) summer with my daughters.

Just because I like the simplicity of a day at the pool followed by a dinner of a sliced tomato fresh from our garden.

I don't get to take many Mondays off work due to responsibilities that have to happen every Monday (think payroll, since that's the actual reason.)

Last week I got a call on Wednesday asking if I could get timecards/hours to the HR specialist on Friday.

I was obviously willing to do this and then, just a couple of minutes after replying that it was no problem to do as she'd asked, it occured to me that this was a rare event.

I requested Monday off and it's been lovely.

The simplicity of waking on a Saturday morning know that there are three more such mornings to follow.

The wonder of waking on Sunday to my husband offering me the opportunity to sleep in that morning, Monday morning and Tuesday morning if I was willing to do him a favor on Monday afternoon.

I immediately agreed to his suggestion and headed back to bed.

There is something pretty wonderful about waking up a couple of hours later and find Olivia waiting for me (she heard my ankle click its way down the stairs.) The smile on her face at my arrival is precious. Knowing she craves my company, my presence, it makes me feel incredibly special, probably the way all moms feel when they're faced with the simplicity of their children's love, such an all encompassing love, unconditional and sometimes not exactly deserved.

I work hard in the hope that I do deserve the love these little girls bestow upon me.

These little days in the middle of summer, the hours at the pool, swimming with Alyssa on my back and catching Olivia as she pushes from the side over and over.

The simplest things are often the most important.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Things She Says

A couple of days ago, about three minutes after she woke up, Olivia told me she was cold.

I murmured something I thought was conforting.

She responded to my kind words by putting her hands on her hips, cocking her head to one side and asking pointedly, "What are you going to do about it?"

I laughed. I couldn't help it. It was funny. I then asked her, "Do you want me to get your purple blankie and a pillow?"

She nodded and then shivered for good measure. Obviously, she's got me well trained.

Later that day, my mom told me that Olivia informed her, "Mommy puts her giant butt on Lyssie's swing."

My first response to that was, "How rude!" And then, "How true. I do put my giant butt on Lyssie's swing."

This girl. She blows me away on so many levels.

Most of them are good.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Grammar Tutorial #3. If these things bore/annoy you, please feel free to skip this post. I write them down if only to get the irritation out of my own grammatically terrorized head.

So in a work meeting a couple of weeks ago, the word ‘irregardless’ was bandied about at least three times by two of my co-workers.

They were not using this word ironically, either. They were using it in everyday conversation as if it were an actual word.

After the third person spewed this ‘word’ into the conversation, I turned to the woman sitting next to me and hissed, “Irregardless is NOT a word!”

I said it quietly enough that those who were using it as if it were an actual word didn’t hear me because I don’t feel right about actually correcting people to their faces. Sure, I’m more than willing to come here and bitch about them quasi-anonymously but I feel like it would be rude to correct them in front of others.

But…damnit, it really, truly isn’t a word.

The prefix ir- make the resulting word the opposite of the root word. For example, irreparable, which means not repairable. Or irrefutable as in, not refutable. But people who use irregardless are using it as a synonym to regardless. They use these words interchangeably. Even though irregardless isn’t actually a word.

I obviously can’t say/write that often enough. IT IS NOT A WORD. The correct word to use in a conversation is regardless. That’s all.


Regardless of how silly this pet peeve is, it’s mine and so here I am, owning it. (Ha, see what I did there, what with the using of the word regardless properly and all. Yeah, I own it alright.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Attack of the Killer Tomato Worms

Tom has taken our garden very seriously this year. Even with the oppressive heat and drought, he’s worked hard to coax the tomatoes, beans, peppers, zucchini, corn and cucumbers to fruition, watering them regularly, weeding the rows so that the weeks aren’t taking precious water from the vegetable plants. The raspberries and strawberries also take quite a bit of his time as he works hard to get them established so they’ll provide sweet treats for years to come.

He’s also been faithfully caring for the twenty-two trees (twenty willows, an apple and a maple) we planted back in May. He even drags the hose around to the front of the house to shower the petunias, morning glories and begonias with water and love.

He’s not sure he cares much about the little peppermint plant I put in a triangle of soil between the retaining wall and the morning glory trellis but he’s watered that too just because he’s sweet like that.

Last Saturday he came in looking both disgusted and frustrated all at once. He declared that between Friday afternoon when he’d watered the tomatoes and Saturday evening, tomato worms had managed to organize an attack. They’d eaten the tops off almost all of our Roma tomato plants.

Let me stop right here to say, “Ewww.” And, “Ick!” Because anything having to do with worms, be they tomato worms (don’t google them, they’re that gross. Seriously, just don’t.) or earth worms just squicks me right out.

Tom suggested that we all go out and hunt the worms down. He explained that the girls and I have better eyes than he does and so we could spot them and he’d pick them off and squish them.

After shuddering violently for several minutes, I replied, “Uh, no. Not going to happen.” See that paragraph above where I cannot deal with anything wormy. Seriously, it is grosser than I can even explain.

I just can’t even look at the nasty beasts. They’re just…grody. Ugh!! Tom was slightly disgusted by my response until I reminded him that I once had a panic attack because an earth worm touched my toe. It was my big toe on my right foot. It was horrible.

In the end, he went out by himself and picked off and squished about fifteen worms by the time we left for a family reunion on Sunday morning. As we reunited with family that day, Tom was recounting his battle with the tomato worms to his brother and nephews. The nephews suggested that Tom save the worms for fish bait. Again, ick and eww and shudder.

So began the harvesting of tomato worms into a bucket to be fed to fish.

It’s all so disgusting and nasty and…well, I guess ‘country.’

Though on the bright side, I can still say that I have yet to actually have to see one of the horrible things. I know where the bucket is and I avoid it like I’d avoid anything that contains worms.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On the Other Hand

After that woe-is-me post from yesterday we need some cheer around here.

How about this:

Fun from the 4th, playing, fully clothed in a lake. I realized a long time ago, say almost nine years ago, when Alyssa started walking at 10ish months old, that if you don’t want a child to get wet, don’t take them anywhere near water. Seriously, don’t let them near a lake, a pond, a pool, a mud puddle, or heck, don’t even give them a sippy cup with two drops of liquid in it because that child will manage to turn those two drops of liquid into enough fluid to drench themselves.


So while at my aunt’s last week, we were very near a lake. As in, Lorry’s back door opens up and you’re standing on her sea wall, with about six feet of cement between you and the lake. I realize I’m usually the queen of hyperbole, but this time, I am not even slightly exaggerating.

And a half a block from her front door, there is a private beach that is available to my aunt and her neighbors to enjoy. We, as my aunt’s guests were welcome to frolick as well. It was fun. And hot. So, so hot. That water that O is dashing about in? Felt like a slightly warmed hot bath. Not refreshing in the least.

But even fully clothed, I couldn’t bring myself to care that she got soaked. It’s one of the few things I’m zen about. If you take a child near water, they’re going to get wet. No reason to get all bothered by it. Just plan to have dry clothes nearby or, well, don’t and let them drip dry. That’s what we did. She probably felt better than the rest of us, who were almost as wet, but it was because of stinky sweat rather than stinky lake water.

When my negativity quiets down every so often, I realize that at the end of most days, I’m doing pretty well at this whole mom thing. I say yes more often than I say no. I believe I’m saying yes to the right things and when I do say no, it’s because they’ve asked for or to do something either inappropriate for their ages or there just isn’t time/money/resources to do what they’ve asked to do.

And saying no is okay. It’s necessary.

Though saying no to a child asking to play fully clothed in a lake or even a puddle just seems mean and if there’s no good reason (as in you’re on your way to a fancy dress party or church or some other place where muddy clothes might seem disrespectful) then let the mud fly. I do believe my kids will look back on those times fondly, remembering that there were moments when Mom was pretty darned fun to be around.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I am good at projecting my own guilt onto others. Tom will sometimes say something completely innocent, with no ulterior motive behind it whatsoever and there I go, putting my own spin on his words and suffering from hurt feelings over some imagined insult.

Or, he’ll ask a question, nothing big, nothing worrisome and suddenly, I’m defensive as hell, mad at him for questioning me about something and he’s wondering what happened to his mild-mannered wife and who this madwoman is.

These days I am very uncomfortable about my weight. I hate that I am where I am in my battle with pudginess (that’s putting it nicely, this is a family blog.) It doesn’t help that Tom is at what he considers his ideal weight. And yes, he works hard to maintain this weight, blah, blah, blah.

It still makes me uncomfortable. And because of this, he’s not allowed to talk to me about food. Like at all. I know, unfair yet whenever the subject comes up, I get defensive, frustrated and sad all at once.

I deal with quite a bit of self-hatred in this area. I’ve always hated my body, even when I was a tiny 120 in high school, I felt like my body was ugly and there was always room for improvement.

The defensiveness isn’t just about my weight, though. I also get very defensive if I feel like my parenting choices are being questioned. This is because I so often doubt my own abilities as a mother. I fear I’m too lenient, but sometimes too strict. I’m not affectionate enough, I yell too much, I coddle them both too much, I don’t give either of them enough individual attention, I let them walk all over me, or I might be too bossy, the list goes on and on.

So whenever Tom or my mom mentions, even casually, something about my parenting, my defenses immediately go up. I have tried to explain to Tom that this isn’t his problem, it’s mine. I already have so many doubts about my own ability to be a good mother that anything he might say is going to make me feel like he criticizing me. I know this is wrong and we’re a team. I know that I need to be open to his thoughts and feelings about how we parent our girls.

And yet, I’m so careful not to ever come across like I’m criticizing him and I’d like the same courtesy.

I imagine it’s hard to be my husband (or my mother/brother/friend.) And I’m sorry to everyone who have to tiptoe around my defenses and the voices in my own head that tell me I’m not good enough. I’m working on all this, I promise. I try to look at the good things I do and remind myself that we’re all human, we all have bad days and probably my worst days aren’t much worse than most people’s bad days.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes…it doesn’t.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Potty Progress

We last saw Olivia’s developmental pediatrician back in May of 2011. We’re not scheduled to go back and see her again until May 2013.

During that last appointment, one of my biggest questions was concerning potty training. At that time, Olivia was four and a half and she was kinda, sorta potty trained. As in, sometimes she’d sometimes tell us when she had to pee, sometimes not. The pooping issue was something we were working on with minimal success.

O’s doctor had some good advice. She suggested that whenever Olivia did actually tell us she had to pee, we should remind her to clench her muscles to keep the pee from coming out until we were in the bathroom.

So each time Olivia mentioned having to go potty, I’d say, “Don’t come out, Livie’s pee pee, don’t come out yet.”

And what do you know? It worked. Last summer my mom, Tom and I all had great success with Olivia and peeing on the potty. Again, we were waiting to get the peeing under control before tackling the messiness that is poop.

Last fall, with the start of preschool, I sent her to the three hours of preschool in Pull-Ups because I wasn’t sure how well she’d do with teachers she didn’t know.

But by the time January rolled around I realized that Pull-Ups are from the devil and that they in no way help with potty training. Olivia had figured out that it was much easier to just pee in the Pull-Up than to actually talk to her teachers.

So January brought the no Pull-Ups during the day rule. She still wears them at night but that’s mostly because bedwetting runs in both sides of her gene pool and why set the kid up for a wet bed every single night? And, because let’s be honest here, I just don’t want to have to change the sheets on the bed every night. Once a week is plenty often as far as I’m concerned. And those of you who do it more often, please don’t tell me it’s because some scientific test found that it’s more hygienic to do so more often. Why? Because I don’t care.

So it went. Along with the telling of Olivia’s pee pee not to come out until she was on the toilet, I also got into the habit of saying, “Come on out, Livie’s pee pee, come on out.” This was said once she was actually sitting on the toilet. And again, it worked. It was her signal to relax and let urination happen.

After going Pull-Up free at school, Olivia did have a few accidents but not nearly as many as I’d feared.

These days, she can go pee all by herself, though she prefers company. She can take down her pants, climb onto the toilet, go, wipe and pull up her pants. She can flush and wash her hands. It’s amazing and wonderful and a relief.

And so we move on to pooping. I know, gross, and yet so very much a part of daily life (for most if us.) And yet, ewww.

Olivia HATES having to be cleaned up after pooping in her pants. And every single time she whines as I’m cleaning her butt, I remind her, “I don’t enjoy this any more than you do. If you’d poop on the potty, this wouldn’t take nearly as long or be as unpleasant.”

Yes, I’m a ray of sunshine as I clean my poor child’s butt. Whatever.

All this preamble is to say…the last four (4!!) times Olivia has gone poop, it has done directly into the toilet. Not because I’d dumped the contents of her underwear into the toilet but because the darling girl has been SITTING on the toilet at the time of the bowel movement. This is such a huge accomplishment that I want to dance in the streets, singing out, “My daughter pooped on the toilet!”

She has come to me, before pooping commenced and said, “I think I will try to poo.”

And off we go to the bathroom where she places her cushy tushy on the toilet, grabs the most recently purchased US magazine (or sometimes Star, she’s not picky about the trash she reads) and away she goes.

You guys, seriously, this is such a wonderful development. I realize that most don’t think a five and a half year old pooping, voluntarily, on the toilet is that big, but those with kids with 5p- or other developmental challenges will get it. They will understand my joy, my elation, my pride in my daughter as she accomplishes this feat.

And get this…it only takes one wet-wipe to clean her up when she goes directly into the toilet. As compared to five or six when the nasty stuff is mashed into her skin if she happens to poo in her pants.

This is not to say our days of poopy pants are over. Like the pee issue, this will take time. But I will say I think we’re on the right track. She’ll get there, I have no doubt.

Like every other kid out there, though, she’s on her own timetable and this had to happen when she was ready, not when I was ready, because damn, cleaning up smashed poop out of underwear and off butts is not one of my favorite pastimes.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Other Side

This is day four of my five day weekend. It started on Wednesday, the 4th. Even though I only had Wednesday off for the holiday, I took Thursday and Friday as vacation days to lengthen the holiday.

And you know what? I could get used to this.

Way back before I had kids, I truly thought I'd be a stay-at-home mom when I did get around to having kids.

The life happened. I got older than I'd thought I'd be when I had kids (Alyssa was born when I was 32) and I had a pretty good job when Tom and I met. It made no sense for me to quit a job with excellent benefits.

So when the girls were born, again, the benefits of insurance were important.

But these last fwe days...I've had a glimpse of what it would be like to be here, with them, taking care of them.

Can it be monotonous? Yes, of course. I realize that it gets old. But four days in? It's not old.

We haven't actually spent a lot of time at home, though, which might be part of the fun. We travelled two of these last four days and then yesterday and today we spent several hours at the local pool in an attempt to the beat the heat. Yep, we're smack in the middle of that heatwave that is attecting the midwest. It's miserable unless you're submerged in five feet of sparkling water.

But my house is currently cleaner than it's been in months, the girls have been better fed and happily exhausted at the end of each day.

I feel happy and fulfilled and yes, tired, at the end of each day. It makes me think there's something to be said for this 'stay-at-home' thing.

I wonder, though, if we always want what we don't have? I know there are moms out there who do stay at home with their kids who are exhausted, at the end of their patience and just wishing they could find a job that would pay enough to make working worth their time.

So yes, the grass is always greener. And yet, right here, on this side of the fence even if only for a few days, I see the green, green grace and I sort of like it here. It makes me sad that it is temporary. I could get used to this side.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Where I Pat Myself on the Back

The girls and I headed to Battle Creek, MI for the 4th. My aunt lives on a lake up there.

We were there with my mom, several cousins, some aunts and uncles and even a great grandma.

It was a nice time to visit. And the residents around the lake put on one of the best fireworks shows we've ever seen.

But it was hot, so, so hot outside. The lake is a small one and as such, it was warm enough to actually not be refreshing, rather, it felt like a luke warm bath. Not hot enough to relax sore muscles but not cool enough to actually make you feel better after swimming.

I know, wah, wah, wah.

But wait, there's more complaining to come. See, the lake is also mucky and weedy and ewwww!!

We swam the first night anyway. The girls didn't mind the muck and the weeds.

The next day, though, the 5th, was hotter still. Too hot for the beach in the middle of the day.

So instead, my cousin plunked her 6 year old in front of the television with an xbox. Alyssa watched it for a bit and Olivia...she was bored out of her little mind. She hates video games. So she followed me from room to room. We went outside to the deck that overlooks the lake a few times but it was too hot to be out there for long. The lake usually offers a cooling breeze but not this time.

Finally, Olivia lured me to the landing on my aunt's stairs. There we played 'Apartment'. Olivia described where every room was and we pretended she was cooking me food.

Every so often, we'd leave the apartment and visit areas of the house that Olivia designated the restaurant (the kitchen, duh,) the zoo (the front porch) and the grocery store (the room where the kids were playing the video games.)

We colored several pages in her Barbie coloring book and finally, at 5ish that afternoon, we escaped to the beach again, where Olivia made mudpies and I walked along the shallow water.

Alyssa eventually got bored with the video games and found us and she and Olivia played a little longer in the water.

But see, this is where I get all full of myself. I could have shoved O into the room with the other kids and made her watch the video games. I know she needs more, though. She needs interaction, she needs conversation, she needs to go outside every so often and she needs me.

My cousin is a good mother. But she lets that television babysit her daughter an awful lot. I realize that her daughter is very different from my two. My girls can both be very demanding of my time. They let me know what they need and how they want me to meet those needs.

And I try. I try to keep them active (though, yes, Alyssa did play about an hour's worth of video games yesterday, probably too much) and I try to interact with them.

After the boredom of yesterday, I promised to take them to the pool today. We're going to spend the day there, swimming, slathering on sunscreen and just being together, outside, away from electronics.

The best gift I can ever give to my children is my time, my attention, my love. I try so hard to give all of that freely to them as much as I can while maintaining just enough of myself to retain my sanity. It's a tough balance.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Art of Not Caring

I mentioned to my mom my worries that Olivia is high functioning enough to be aware that she’s different from her peers. I explained that I want her to be as high functioning as possible and yet, I wish to protect her from disappointment.

My mom gave me a little dose of reality that day.

She said, “The thing is, I don’t think Olivia is going to care that she’s different even if she knows it.”

And you know? She’s right.

Olivia, at five years old, has already perfected the art of not caring. At school, she doesn’t care what her classmates and teachers are doing. If they’re doing something that interests her, yay, she’ll participate, but don’t expect her to actually speak to any of them.

At home, if her sister or cousin are doing things that interest her, she loves to play with them, not alongside them these days but WITH them. She interacts, she takes turns, she shares and she sometimes insists on her own way. But she often cooperates and plays. But other times, she’s not at all interested in what they are doing and so she goes quietly her own way, not bothered in the least that they’re doing something that doesn’t include her.

While this is lovely in a lot of ways, in that Olivia rarely feels left out in a crowd, it can be a problem in more structured settings, like school.

At school, we need her to want to participate and we need her to want to do the work. We need her to care. And sometimes she does while other times, not so much.

So we’re working on that, even as we’re fostering her independence and confidence. I’m trying to teacher her that sometimes, such as while in school, we have to do things that aren’t interesting to us just because those are the rules. Alyssa LOVES rules, Olivia? She just doesn’t care. She never blatantly ignores rules, she just…goes her own way, passively.

Another thing that contributes to Olivia’s state of not caring is things that are hard for her. She doesn’t like to do things that are difficult. Do any of us? Not so much, right?

Writing and cutting are hard for Olivia. She doesn’t like to do these things and yet, they’re important for school. So we’re working on them this summer. We color a lot, which gives her a chance to practice color in the lines and hold the crayons properly.

Before we got O’s diagnosis of 5p-, we were seeing therapists and a chiropractor. I don’t know if the chiropractor actually helped her but she loved him so I know his treatments didn’t hurt her. She was such a happy girl when we were in his office.

I was lamenting the fact that crawling and walking were coming along slowly for O and he gave me a great example of what it was probably like for her as she learned these skills.

He told me to think back to when I first started learning to drive. How difficult it was do remember everything that had to be done, from adjusting the mirrors and seats to not overcorrecting the steering wheel, to knowing just how much pressure to put on the brake pedal.

He said that just sitting up was like that for Olivia. She had to think about contracting her stomach muscles, her legs muscles, her back. None of these movements came naturally to her, she had to learn everything. She was able to remember how to do it once she learned but it was so involved in the beginning that, as the chiropractor said, it was mentally and physically exhausting for her to just sit up, let alone crawl and walk.

And yet, here we are, five years later, and Olivia progressed from crawling to walking to running and these days she swims. She runs, she jumps. She doesn’t have to think hard about these activities, she just does them.

So I know that writing and cutting will come too, we just have to be patient with her and get her to care enough to work on it. Because it’s going to take work, we know it and she knows it, which is one of the reasons she’s fights it. The older she gets, the less she wants to work on the things that are more difficult, so the adults in her life have to continually come up with ways to make these things fun. But we continue to have amazing people on Olivia’s team and I have no doubt that together, we’ll get this girl to her fullest potential, whether she cares about that or not.

Monday, July 2, 2012


While at the public pool this weekend, the girls and I headed to the picnic tables during the 15 minute ‘adult swim’ time with our bag of snacks. Yes, yes, I’m that mom, the one who brings snacks from home instead of paying a dollar for a candy bar or even a quarter for a popsicle.

We settled ourselves in at a table and they ate cookies and drank water and we waited until it was time to swim again.

A few minutes after we sat down a man and two kids came over and asked to share our table.

I politely allowed their presence at our table. Ha! I honestly can’t imagine telling someone no in an instance like that.

Anyway, the man sat facing away from me and yet attempted to engage me in a conversation. I was busy handing out snacks to the girls and made only the most minimum of effort to reply to his comments and questions.

He said he was there with his two grandkids, who were right there with him. They were visiting from a town several hours’ drive away. They’d passed by the pool, saw the waterslide and his grandson requested they stop.

Anyway, enough backstory, right?

As the whistle sounded, letting us know we could go back into the pool, the man asked me if my girls were my grandchildren.


I just smiled and said, “No, they’re my kids.”

Later I asked Tom if I look so old that the girls must be my grandkids. He assured me this is not the case.

I did the math and if I’d had a child at 16 and that child had a child at 16 then Alyssa could be my grandchild.

Honestly, I wasn’t really all that offended. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. This guy didn’t look much older than Tom, who has children who are 28, 25 and 24 (as of today, the younger son, D , 24!)

And those three children have made Tom a grandfather four times (the fifth, D’s son, is due in September.)

So…it’s not really unreasonable that this man thought I’d had children quite young and they, too, had had children very young.

That’s the story I’m choosing to believe. You can’t shake me from it either.

On a side note about the pool: What is up with other people’s children asking for the snacks I bring for my own children? I cannot imagine my kids asking a stranger for a cookie or a cup of Mandarin oranges.

This one kid, not either of the grandchildren mentioned above, sat with us during another break and each thing I offered to the girls, he offered to take himself. I gently told him I didn’t bring enough for every child there, I only brought enough for my children.

He was not to be deterred.

I was relieved when the break was over so I could get away from the little beggar. His mom, by the way, was busy with her infant and this boy’s other two brothers. The child asking for food was probably five, his siblings were all younger.

It was just weird.