Sunday, September 30, 2012

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

The good: Alyssa's surgery is finally scheduled. While the scheduling department never actually called me back, I did manage to get hold of them myself. Her surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. Yes, this coming Wednesday.

I cleaned the fridge this weekend. I know, big deal. can be. Refrigerators, our as least, can get so dirty and the cleaning process is such a chore.

But yay, done.

Another good, Alyssa spent the day with a friend yesterday. She was there from about 12:30 until 8pm. Nice long day with a friend.

The bad: After I got Alyssa home last night, she felt warm to the touch. A minute spent with the thermometer in her mouth told me she had a fever of 101.1. Boo.

She's asleep on the couch right now (it's about 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. Most nine year olds I know don't nap in the middle of a beautiful, sunny fall day.)

We did make a trip to Urgent Care this morning to be sure she doesn't have strep again. No. 'Just' a virus. The doctor who saw her this morning thinks they'll still do the surgery on Wednesday.

We'll see. I'm going to call the clinic tomorrow and see.

So you take the good, you take the bad and there you have the facts of life.

Friday, September 28, 2012


We use the word ‘smart’ a lot in our house. It’s always used as praise. When Alyssa brings home a perfect spelling test, she’s praised with, “You’re so smart!”

Olivia hears this often too. When she tells me the letters on a page of the book we’re reading or counts the correct number of items, I declared, “You’re so smart, such a smarty pants!”

Last night when I got to my mom’s I told Olivia I’d received an email from her teacher. I hugged Olivia and told her that her teacher was so excited to tell me that Olivia has talked to her yesterday, that Olivia was warming up to her and giving her grins and giggles and WORDS.

Ohh, the joy in reading that message from Mrs. H.

Olivia grinned at me and nodded, acknowledging that she’d done well. She then took me to Gram’s fridge where O had taped her school work for all the see.

This paper was full of letters with the instructions to circle every M on the page. Then, after circling the Ms, the students were to count them and write the number of Ms.

Olivia had done it perfectly and as a result, she got a sticker and a smiley face on her work. She was so proud of that sticker and smiley face. She was proud to be smart.

I hugged her in response to the school work and the report from her teacher. Then I told her how smart she is.

I went on to tell her that when she doesn’t talk to her teacher, Mrs. H can’t know how smart Olivia is, she doesn’t know all that Olivia knows. But when Olivia TALKS to her, she’s showing Mrs. H just how much she knows, how very, very smart she is.

I know that Olivia has challenges. We all do.

She works so hard to overcome those challenges. I’m so proud of how well she’s doing so far and I know that she’ll continue to surprise the hell out of everyone who meets her.

Yes, her processing is slower than that of her typical peers. We’re learning that if we give her more than two choices of something, it stresses her out. So for now, were sticking with two choices. That works for her. It gives her a bit of control without making things too hard.

And we’ll continue to tell her how smart she is, how proud we are of her, how amazing she keeps proving herself to be.

Not to be outdone, when Alyssa saw O's worksheet hanging on her Gram's fridge, A reminded us all that she has not yet had to take the final spelling test given each Friday. Her teacher has made it a rule that if any student manages to get every word correct on the 'practice' test on Thursdays, they don't have to take the final test on Friday. A hasn't missed a spelling word yet.

I love that my girls take pride in being smarties.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Due to recurrent strep infections, I took Alyssa to see and ENT specialist on Tuesday. Upon examination, he declared her to be a good candidate for a tonsillectomy and went so far as to say while she was under, why don’t we go ahead and remove her adenoids too.

Sure, I declared, sign us up.

Except…they don’t schedule appointments from the clinic. See, the doctor drives up to our very small town every Tuesday to meet patients but he does his surgeries in the larger city about an hour south of here.

Okay, no problem, right?

Except those who do schedule the surgery won’t answer the damned phone.

Seriously, I spent what felt like hours on the phone yesterday, pushing 1 to hold only to hear the stupid phone ring three times and repeat the message over and freaking over again.

This morning, I actually got a real person on the line the first time I called. Wheee and away we go, let’s get this thing schedule.

But wait, the doctor we saw was Dr. W? Ohh, his surgeries are scheduled by the other girl, who is on another line. Can we take your number and have her call you back?

That was six hours ago.

I just love to hurry up and wait.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Olivia has discovered the fun of being irritating for the sake of being irritating.

You know the type, the person who will put their hand an eighth of an inch from your face and say, “I’m not touching you.”

Yeah, that’s her. Except, she’s figured out that Alyssa really hates it when she (Olivia) breathes on her. This means that Olivia will breathe on or near Alyssa every chance she gets, which leads to Alyssa constantly screeching, “Stop breathing on me!”

Talk about annoyances.

I know this is just sibling rivalry at its finest. I know this is a stage they will both outgrow, but I feel really stupid each time I have to tell Olivia to stop breathing on her sister or when I have to tell Alyssa, “She’s not breathing ON you, she’s breathing AT you.”

Like that somehow makes the act less irritating.

I’ve been in Alyssa’s shoes. His name is Aaron and he’s my cousin who is two years younger than I am. When my parents divorced, he and his mom moved in with us because my mom and dad had recently divorced.

Aaron liked to sit across from me at the table in the mornings and stare. His stare was intense, like irritatingly intense. I could often be heard hissing, “Stop looking at me!”

My mom or my aunt would inevitably put a cereal box between us so Aaron couldn’t stare and/or I couldn’t see him staring. My poor brother Jason just tried to stay out of the way when it came to Aaron and his stares and me and my hisses.

We were really annoying kids and I realize that I’m just getting back what I gave to my mom and aunt.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Olivia has what she calls a ‘secret stash.’ It’s a shelf on our entertainment center where she puts any toy she thinks she might want to play with again later that day, tomorrow, next month.

Yeah, it’s not so secret since everything is right there where everyone and their cat can see.

But she loves that that shelf is her place to put things she wants to keep safe and accessible.

O has declared that Alyssa’s secret stash is the shelf above her own. Huh. I just thought that was a place where clutter has been accumulating.

On our drive to Huntington on Sunday, it came up that I had a secret stash too, but it happens to be the closet in the guest room. Except, I don’t stash my own stuff there, I stash Olivia’s off-season clothes. Clothes she’ll be able to wear next spring and summer.

Alyssa lamented that my area for my secret stash is so much bigger than hers and Olivia’s.

I replied that it was all relative. As compared to a couple of shelves, yes a closet seems large. But when you compare it to a detached garage and a small barn, it’s pretty dinky.

She asked what I was talking about.

I explained that while my secret stash is the closet in the guest room, Tom’s secret stash is in the detached garage and the barn.

“Oh…” she said, taking it in.

And that got me to thinking…with all this stashing of secret things, are we on the verge of a starring role on “Hoarders”?

I shudder at the thought even as I plot ways of getting rid of some of the clutter in our home.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Back in July, I attended the baby shower for my stepson D and his girlfriend S. While at the baby shower, S said that D wanted at least six kids.

She was pregnant with her second, his first.

Now that the baby we were ‘showering’ with love back in July is here, D has decided that maybe two kids are plenty.

I laugh but only because I get it.

Once upon a time, when I was young and inexperienced in the whole parenting thing, I thought I’d like at least three kids, maybe four. Of course, I also thought I’d have enough money to be able to by a stay at home mom and be able to get out and take the kids places and have a grand old time just raising my brood.


Then reality hit. I married a man who already had three kids who were teenagers when we got married.

I turned 32 and then Alyssa was born.

Almost four years later, Olivia was born and I was 36 years old. And Olivia was such a hard baby. She didn’t mean to be, she just hurt so much and there was nothing we could do to help her except comfort her and allow time to pass so she could outgrow the reflux and low muscle tone and the immobility.

We were the lucky ones.

I asked S yesterday if adding a second child had been easy. Before she answered, I told her a woman I worked with told me that the second child just eases right into the family and no adjustments have to be made and it’s just so easy.

And I decided after Olivia was born that my co-worker is either a liar or she just didn’t remember how hard the infant stage is.

S admitted that while having a second baby hasn’t been as hard as she’d expected, she absolutely wouldn’t say it’s been easy.

Noah appears to be a pretty easy baby, though, so there is that.

D did tell me that he’d like to be done having kids by the time he’s 26. He turned 24 in July, so there you go.

He admitted with an eye roll that his sister-in-law, who was also at the shower I attended back in July and who has three kids already, hopes to have two more before she’s 30. She’ll be 26 in November.

I relayed (gossiped?) that news to Tom and he shared D’s eye roll. He also suggested that J and K (the older stepson and his wife) have time to realize that three kids really is a great number and to stop.

I probably sound judgey here. I don’t mean to.

Those with large families have my utmost respect. I think if you can manage it both financially and emotionally, good for you.

I just know I don’t have it in me, not now at this stage in my life. I’m very, very happy with my two girls. The reality of them is enough, sometimes it can even feel like too much.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

We Finally Saw the Baby

Tom, the girls and I finally made the trip south to visith with Tom's youngest son and see his (the son's) new baby.

D's and S's baby will be five weeks old on Thursday.

He's beautiful.


He was one of the snuggliest babies I've ever held. At almost five weeks old, Noah is still only about 7lbs, 6oz, so he's a little bitty guy.

He was born three weeks early but when you've been a part of an online community hosted by the March of Dimes, three weeks doesn't seem like a big deal.

Heck, even three weeks early, this little guy was bigger than both of my girls when they were born.

But still, holding a baby who is five weeks old who still wears newborn sized clothes was pretty amazing.

And the hair...oh dear Lord does that boy have a lot of hair. It is adorable.

Sadly, while Tom did take the camera, it stayed in the car (we're losers) and so I have no pictures. Though, I kind of think I wouldn't post them anyway, he's not my baby, I wouldn't feel right about posting pictures of him without his parents' permission.

His big brother, who turned two a couple of weeks ago, was so flipping sweet too.

All in all, it was great to finally see the baby.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

You Were Warned

So we did it. We crafted.

Go us.

And it turned out fine. Good even. Alyssa loved doing the actual tracing and cutting. She also enjoyed stringing the felt 'leaves' on twine.

She helped me tied it to our banister.


The cutting.

The results from all that cutting.

Add the twine.

Then we displayed it in all it's autumn glory.

This might have been the easiest craft ever crafted but it's ours and so...yeah, go us.

Friday, September 21, 2012

How I Know It's Worth the Work

I know that people who are good at marriage know that working on their relationship is worth it. They know this intuitively.

But those who aren’t naturally good at relationships might wonder how I know that it is worth the work I put into my own.

I know that this marriage is worth the work because when it is good, the good is so much better than the bad is ever bad.

That probably doesn’t make sense.

Let’s see. How about on a scale of one to ten with one being not so good and ten being great, when things are good, they’re a ten.

But if you use the same scale and reverse it for the bad times, the one is irritating and the ten is verging on packing up and getting out, I’d say we’ve only ever hit a six, max.

So the good is so worth slogging through the not-so-good times.

And everyone has their cycles, their moods, their seasons of joy versus their seasons of pain.

Working through those seasons together makes the joyful seasons so much more joyful and the painful seasons endurable.

If I ever get to the point where the bad is so much worse than the good can ever be good? Then I’ll reevaluate whether it’s worth the effort. But this far in, I haven’t reached that point.

I’m grateful for that and know that I’m incredibly blessed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Fancy Shoe Gene

I’ve been shopping for new work shoes for several weeks. I wanted full-coverage shoes (ie, not sandals) in dark brown that would serve my feet well in the coming winter months.

The girls and I went to Kohl’s, to Famous Footwear (two different stores) and to Goody’s. Nothing worked for me.

Either the fit was weird, or the shoes were ugly or something just wasn’t right.

I almost caved at one point and got a pair that I thought I could make work for one season. Alyssa talked me out of them, reminding me that I really shouldn’t spend $30 on a pair of shoes I don’t even like.

So I stopped looking. Except not really because I was still going online to Zappos and even I found a few pairs of clog-type shoes that would work but they cost up to $140. I have never, ever spend that much money on a pair of shoes. Ever.

I realize that probably tells you quite a bit about my budget, but to me that’s way too much money to spend on a pair of shoes, even shoes I’ll wear three days a week to work. No. It’s outrageous.

So the shoe shopping was stalled.

And can I take a moment here to admit that I loathe shopping for shoes for myself when my children are present? There is simply no way to really consider the choices when I’m worried about what they’re up to. And these are two fairly well-behaved children. I don’t know how parents of kids who don’t behave in public manage it. But the few times I took them with me, was awful. I couldn’t stand to be in the store for more than fifteen minutes before I decided it was time to leave, no shoes having been purchased.

About a week ago, I was at our local Meijer store and happened to wander past their shoe department. I saw a pair of Sketchers that were pretty much what I wanted but…they were $55. I know, reasonable when you consider the Danskos at Zappos were $140.

So I dithered about it. I thought about it for the past week.

And yesterday, I bought the damned shoes.

I wore them today and wow, the comfort level is worth every single one of those $55.

The problem? Alyssa and Olivia are both very disappointed in my taste in shoes. They do not understand why I won’t wear five inch heals with pointy toes that make a nice clacking sound when I walk. They are disgusted by how serviceable my shoes are, how comfortable they look and how much like ‘work’ shoes they are.

My mom has lamented my lack of style for years. She’s often told me my shoes are ‘clodhoppers.’

It must be a generational thing. The fancy-shoe gene skipped me and honestly, I’m okay with that. I hate it when my feet hurt and will not deliberately put them into shoes that will cause more pain than my poor bunioned feet already suffer. I love to look at pretty shoes that are probably torture to wear but I don't like to wear them. No thank you.

So yes, my girls will learn to accept their comfortable, less-than-fashionable mom just as their grandmother learned to accept her comfortable, less-than-fashionable daughter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Working At It

I remember a few years ago, while at Julie’s house for her annual Thanksgiving party, there was a young pregnant woman there. She was probably about six months along and was a bit nervous about motherhood.

She was asking all the veteran moms there if parenting had come naturally to them or if they’d found it challenging.

These questions led to a discussion among us wives/mothers about whether we found motherhood more difficult than marriage.

I was one of the few who admitted that for me, being a mom was/is easier than being a wife.

There is the very distinct possibility that every other woman in that room that night had been a wife for some time before they became a mother.

I think it’s common knowledge that Tom and I got married when Alyssa was nine months old. If it wasn’t, it is now.

Anyway, I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

I was a mother before I became a wife.

Yes, obviously, Tom and I were couple before Alyssa was born. We’d lived together for more than two years by the time we got married.

But for us, for me, marriage changed things. In a lot of ways it made things better, more solid, more real. I know this is not true for everyone so please, don’t take this as my saying that if you don’t think marriage makes a difference you’re wrong. No, for some, it doesn’t matter. For me, it does.

But still, even before we were married, our relationship took work.

And now, over ten years in, it still takes work.

I’m not saying that motherhood isn’t work. Ohh, good God, is it work. But so many aspects of motherhood feel so much more natural to me, so much less ‘work’ than marriage.

I truly believe I’m a better mother than I am a wife. I think my husband would agree.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not working on that. I know that even the best of marriages take work. I know that even those to whom it comes naturally have to work at it to keep it going.

All this is just to say that I’m working on it. Every single day. I work on my own attitude, my own communication skills (or lack of.)

I pray for patience and I guidance when I feel like my work isn’t being appreciated.

It takes work. But I know, I really, truly know, that it is worth the work put into it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A couple of weeks ago at gymnastics, Olivia and I witnessed a meltdown of grand proportions. This little girl had just finished her own gymnastics class and was told that they had to stay and wait for her sister’s class to end, which was at least an hour from being over.

This little six year old, let’s call her Zelda, was exhausted. That much was obvious. She’d had a full day of kindergarten, a 40 minute gymnastics class and she was done.

I don’t know what set her off but Zelda quickly lost her little mind to the point that she was stomping her feet, screaming in that frustrated, exhausted tone, not saying actual words but just so agitated that she had to get it out.

Olivia looked me, the expression on her face saying, “What the hell?”

See, neither of my kids has ever had a tantrum or a meltdown.

Wait!!! Before you think this is a post about me congratulating myself for being an amazing mother who had never given her children a reason for a meltdown, no.

No, no, no, that is not where this is going.

The fact that neither A nor O has ever thrown a tantrum has nothing at all to do with me and my parenting skills.

It has everything to do with luck. I am lucky to have never encountered a tantrummy child that is my own.

I felt awful for Zelda’s mom. I could tell she was tired too. She was also frustrated with Zoe’s inability to communicate the reasons for her frustration. But when you’re six and exhausted, sometimes you don’t need a reason to meltdown other than the fact that your six and your exhausted.

I tried to give Zelda’s mom a sympathetic smile. I hope it didn’t come off as condescending. It absolutely wasn’t meant that way. It was meant as a shared moment, from mom to mom, to let her know that we all know that a child throwing a tantrum sometimes can’t be helped. There is no fault, no need for embarrassment.

While I can’t say I know from experience that it is embarrassing, I can imagine that having your child stand in the middle of a hot room filled with waiting parents, throwing herself on the floor and wailing as if someone is poking her with a sharp stick isn’t the most pleasant experience.

And we all know, even though my kids have not yet bothered to throw a tantrum…it could still happen at some point. The busier we get, the more hectic our lives get, the more likely I’ll be out and about with a tired, hungry child who can only express her frustration by throwing herself against a wall and screaming her frustration for all the world to hear. And won’t I feel smug then?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Snippets from a Weekend

Alyssa’s feeling much better. Well enough to complain about the nasty taste of the antibiotics I force her to take twice a day.

She was even well enough to take a bike ride yesterday. It was the first time we’d ridden since school let out back in May. Our summer was unbearably hot, so no bike rides for us.

Olivia wrote her name a lot this weekend. It amazes me how much farther along she is this year even as compared to May when preschool let out. I don’t know if it’s maturity on her part, a connection with her teachers this year or a combination of both. All I know is that I’m grateful for how hard she’s willing to work these days to achieve the skills she needs for school.

When the girls and I got home from the grocery store on Saturday, Tom was rummaging through the cupboards. Finally, he asked me, “What did you buy that’s fattening?”

I just looked at him.

He explained, “I weighed myself this morning and I was 156. I need something fattening.”

I offered to make chocolate chip cookies.

And I silently sent him vibes of hate. Seriously. Ugh!

And as of today, I think I’ve eaten more of those damned cookies than he has. Figures.

I mopped our kitchen floor this weekend too. Tom was impressed with how good the floor can look when it’s clean. Ummm, yeah. I’m not proud to admit that I probably only mop ever two or three weeks. I know, we’re so slovenly.

Oh, and I'm pretending that I don't now have a sore throat and deliberately ignoring the fact that I ate after Alyssa on Wednesday, just a bit before she told me her throat hurt. No, I will not have strep too. Not going to happen.

Just another weekend in the life of us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Faced with Strep

Alyssa’s home from school today.

She complained of a sore throat on Wednesday night. Her temperature started rising about 9pm, I dosed her with Tylenol and told her to go to sleep.

The next morning, the fever was back, so she stayed home from school and I called the doctor. We don’t mess around with sore throats around here. With A’s history of strep, we head to the doctor at the first painful swallow.

The nurse took one look at Alyssa’s flushed cheeks and said, “Fever?”

I nodded and informed her that Tom had given A some medicine about forty-five minutes before. The nurse took her temp and it was still 101.4 even after meds.

Finally the doctor arrived, felt Alyssa’s neck and told her that her lymph nodes were impressive. He informed me that nodes of that size always indicate either ear infection or a throat infection.

After looking in her ears he declared, “Must be the throat.”

One look at her throat and he announced she has an impressive infection brewing in there. A swipe of the cotton swab and a two minute test later and we’re walking out with a prescription for an antibiotic to fight the strep and an appointment with an ENT.

So we finally made it home at about 7pm last night, after going to the pharmacy to pick up A’s antibiotics and then going to my mom’s to pick up O, who’d been there since the bus dropped her off at 3:45. Jaxon was there, which made for a nice afternoon for her.

Olivia had eaten dinner with my mom and stepdad but Alyssa was actually hungry when we got home. Tom was fixing his own dinner when we finally walked in the door. Olivia requested a Little Ponies movie and Alyssa was hopeful that some chicken and stars soup would feel okay to her throat.

By 7:45, the girls and I were sitting on the couch reading O’s requisite three books when Tom showed up with a bowl of pie and ice cream. He offered a bite to Olivia. She pointed to me, indicating that she wanted me to feed it to her.

I must have made a face because Tom stood up suddenly, stormed from the room and called to Olivia, telling her that if she wanted a bite, she needed to come to him.

She refused.

He called again.

She ignored him.

He finally came back, refused to even look at me, and fed her a few bites of the dessert. After about three bites she asked when she could be done and he left without a word.

Oh, dear Lord, the drama!

Okay, so I might have made a face of resignation. I was tired. And let me point out right here, that at no point did I mentioned having had dinner myself because I hadn’t. I’d been taking care of everyone else and by 8:00 decided it was just too late for dinner and I was too tired to figure out what to fix. Olivia was already sacked out on one side of me and Alyssa was wrapped in a blanket and almost asleep on the other side.

And you know what? Sometimes, I can’t help the faces I make. My emotions are pretty clear most of the time. From annoyance to joy, it’s written across my big fat face.

Deal with it, is what I’m saying.

We have a sick kid. Yes, it’s ‘just’ strep throat. Yes, she’ll get better and then we’ll see about surgery to remove adenoids and/or tonsils which will hopefully cure the strep thing for good. But for now, right that second? Pie and ice cream for the healthy six year old was pretty damned low on my list of priorities. And if she wasn’t willing to follow the pie and ice cream to the other room? I’m thinking it was pretty low on hers too.

Ehhh, it’s all fine now. She got her pie and ice cream, her dad got his sulk in and by the end of the evening, as I was leading the sick girl to bed, we kissed and made up.

All’s well that ends well.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wannabe Crafty

I’m not really all that crafty. I don’t own a hot glue gun. I think I got burned on one at my mom’s once and so they scare me to this day.

But we do have a craft bin in which there are a few water color paints, some sketch paper, some colored pencils.

Every so often, Alyssa announced the urge to paint and so we get out the craft bin and I let her and Olivia go to it at the kitchen table.

I claim I’m going to make a quilt at some point. I even have the pants I plan to cut into squares to do just that…but the squares have yet to be cut.

I have managed to crochet several blankets over the years. I currently have two in the works. But I don’t usually think of that as being a craft so much as something I do on a cold winter evening while watching television.

But in the past few days, I’ve felt the craft bug nibbling at me. I want to go buy some felt and yarn in fall colors and trace leaf patterns on them so the girls can cut them out and we can hang bannerish things about the house. I want to buy some new candles, in oranges and reds and browns and light them in every room so that the scents of cinnamon and pumpkin and sunflower (do sunflowers really smell?) can waft into the air.

I want to bring a warmth, a hominess to our house that I feel is missing right now. I want the girls to have memories of making things that we display proudly.

I want to be crafty though I fear I’m not. But we’re sure going to give it the old craft try. See if we don’t. And if we do manage to pull any of this off, there will be pictures. Oh yes, there will be pictures.

You’ve been warned.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Olivia’s drawing faces these days. Faces that are a circle with two eyes, a mouth and hair.

Last year one of the goals was to get her to draw stick people with five distinct body parts. She wouldn’t even try that at the time.

We’re on our way now, though. Or, wait, she’s on her way. I can’t take any of the credit for what she’s doing other than the fact that I often hand her a pen or pencil and a pad of paper while I’m cooking dinner so she’ll stay off the kitchen floor and out from under my feet.

Olivia loves drawing faces these days. Whenever we ask her to draw Alyssa, she writes and A and then puts the face in the little space above the line. Alyssa loves that her face is always in the shape of an A.

When O draws what she says is my mom, she draws a circle and then puts a line down the middle, claiming that Gram is now butt cheeks. I know, but what can you do?

This whole special needs thing, even almost six years in, is a learning curve. It is for all of us.

So often, I forget that Olivia has special needs. She’s just my second born daughter, my baby, my older daughter’s younger sister. She’s the girl who walked later than her peers and talked later than they did. But she’s walking and talking now just as well as those who did it a year before she did.

I think I’ve always downplayed her disability. In fact, this might be the first time I’ve ever even used that word. Basically that’s because I don’t think of Olivia as disabled. In my mind, she’s delayed but I’ve never really believed there is anything she won’t do if she decides she wants to do it. Obviously, this is within reason. I mean, hell, Alyssa might decide she wants to be an Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, but I’m honestly not sure she has the natural talent to make that happen no matter how hard she trains.

The same goes for Olivia. There might be things she wants to do but just doesn’t have the aptitude to do. I know that no matter how hard I worked, I will never be a concert pianist. I don’t have a musical talent for such grand dreams.

But I will always allow my girls to dream and pursue those dreams. Even as I gently attempt to keep them grounded in reality. It’s a tough line that I’m sure I won’t always be able to walk.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Moment

Eleven years ago, I was driving to work when I heard over the radio (I was listening to Bob & Tom) that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. There were a few jokes made about how the pilot could have possibly missed seeing that building.

Then, a bit later, at work, a co-worker came up and mentioned that another plane hit.

We were all glued to our computers for the rest of the day. There we sat, in Angola, Indiana, amazed, stunned, horrified by what was happening in New York, in D.C., in a field in Pennsylvania.

Our entire country was affected.

This is a part of our history, an event our kids will read about, learn about, do reports on in school.

We lived it and it is our duty not to forget.

So many lives tragically lost for what?

I don’t have the answer, I don’t think anyone does. So I’ll take this moment to remember, to mourn people I never knew, people I’ll never meet. People who were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles. Heroes.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Fair, a Fever and a Purge

Yesterday afternoon, just after I put ten peeled, cubed potatoes in a pot on the stove to boil into potato soup, Olivia came to find me. She looked at me with tired eyes and asked me if I would hold her on the couch.

Of course I dropped everything (afterall the water with the potatoes needed to come to a boil and then cook for fifteen minutes) and we headed for the couch where she climbed into my lap.

It was at this point that I realized she was a little warm. Not burning up, but definitely on the way to hosting a fever.

And I should have seen it coming. We're working our way toward week four of school (though we've only had one, that ONE, full week of school in all these four weeks, sooo...yes, enough with the parantheticals, right?) and with school usually comes fevers and colds and viruses, oh ugh!

We're all home today due to the county fair. Yes, kids get the day off to attend the fair around here. I know. It didn't happen in my school district either.

Because I knew the girls had the day off, I scheduled a vacation day so we could go to the fair together.

Except...guess who isn't going to the fair because she needs a fever reducer every six hours? That's right, Olivia gets to stay home with her Daddy while Alyssa and I take in the rides, the animals, the cotton candy.

Alyssa is, of course, looking forward to an afternoon with me all to herself. And if I'm honest, I am looking forward to spending time with her too. We don't get it often enough. And I know that in the coming years, she's going to be begging me to let her run around the fair with her friends, promising to meet me by the ferris wheel at a specific time. Let me just state for the record that this will not happen for at least another five years. Seriously.

I actually feel good about heading out with Alyssa today and leaving a slightly (very slightly) less cluttered house behind. I managed to cross one thing off my Want to Do list. The coat closet has been emptied, purged and restocked with coats, jackets, hats, mittens/gloves that are the right sizes for each member of the family.

One step at a time. Sort of like one dose of Children's Tylenol at a time right?


Friday, September 7, 2012

To Do

As the seasons change, I always think I’m going to get motivated and get things done around the house. There are so many things on my To Do list.

Wait, I really need to rename that list. It should be called my Want to Do list. I just know that having these things done as winter sets in would make life, I don’t know, easier? Simpler? Less hectic as we face cold and snow and ice and sleet.

I am hoping if I put this Want to Do List here I might actually get some of the things done and be able to cross them off the list.

Of course, none of my closets are painted yet, so we kind of know how well that works.

But still…

Want to Do List:
*Clean/organize the coat closet. I need to go through everything in there (oh dear Lord, the clutter!) and get rid of gloves/mittens that don’t have a mate, pass on the jackets and coats that O has outgrown. Get some kind of organizer for the gloves/mittens and hats that we want to keep so that when that first snowfall arrives, I’m not scurrying about trying to find weather-appropriate outdoor wear for the girls who are itching to get out there and play in snow that will probably melt within hours of falling.

*Clean the refrigerator. This is one of my most loathed chores. But, alas, no one else is going to do it. So here goes nothing. I try and remind myself that I am always so happy when it’s done. But the process of getting there…ugh.

*Organize the pantry. This hasn’t been done since we moved in to our house two years, one month ago. It needs to be done. There are things in there that were put on those shelves at the time of move in. They need to go.

*Clean out the candy drawer. Yes, we have a candy drawer in our kitchen. Doesn’t everyone? No? Huh. Anyway, it needs to be cleaned. There are some items that have been in there since Halloween 2010. Time to go.

*Clean the kid drawer. Yet another drawer in our kitchen where I put stuff I think I should keep but that I don’t know where else to put the stuff. Most of it is homework from the girls, pictures, notes from school. I need to go through and be merciless about what to keep and what to toss. And perhaps, move the ‘keep’ stuff somewhere else, like out of the kitchen so that will free up the drawer for something more, um, kitchen-y. Yes.

*Organize “Gift Wrap Central” There is a closet at the top of our stairs that currently holds all our gift wrap supplies. I know. I live in a closet paradise. I earned this, let me tell you. Our old house? Had one closet. Okay, two if you count the one Tom built by putting up walls and hanging a rod. Our current house has ten closets. And that’s not counting the two in the bedroom s that were built in the basement by the previous owner. I know how indulgent that is. Anyway, the one that holds the gift wrap supplies was meant to house the washer and dryer but I like them better in the basement, on a cement floor. So that opened up a completely self-indulgent “Gift Wrap Central.” I want to get some organizers for the rolls of wrapping paper (I’m thinking umbrella stands or something like that) and some hooks from which to hang the gift bags. I will just feel so much better when the clutter is organized.

*Clean/Purge the toy room. Again, yes, we have a toy room. And again, yes, I know how indulgent that is. But please know that this room is the bane of my existence. It is in a constant state of chaos. Part of the problem is that there are just too many toys in there. We need to purge. I did this a couple of months ago with the books. We donated five boxes of children’s books and it was wonderful. Now I need to go through and really, truly get rid of toys. Ohh, the toys!

That might be enough to sustain me through fall. We’ll see. It’s my hope that by downsizing the clutter in our house, I can downsize the clutter in my brain. One can only hope.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Library

As I was falling asleep last night and trying (and failing) to come up with the fourth wing of Read Center at IU’s Bloomington campus (Curry was the one I couldn’t figure out. I had Beck, Clark and Landis but Curry was eluding me) I found myself mapping the residence hall in my mind.

And it occurred me that there was a library housed on the main floor of Clark.

I think I only ever went into that library twice in my two years of living in Read Center.

I know I was busy, I had a full load of classes, I had my friends, I had my job as a residence assistant. Yes, but…it was a library, in the same building where I lived! I imagine that now and it makes me sweat with excitement.

These days, the library is a big thing for me and the girls. We go to our local library every single week, checking out at least 18 if not 21 books to be read over the course of the week.

When Alyssa was about two years old, we ventured into our city library for the first time. It was winter and I was trying to figure out what we could do, where we could go that didn’t include fast food or buying a new toy somewhere.

The library opened up a whole new world for us. The children’s section had toys in one corner, books lining every wall and shelf. There was a puppet show every other Saturday and some weekends, service animals were brought in for kids who needed someone to whom they could read.

When we moved back into this area one of the first things we did was get a library card.

We have plenty of books at home but Olivia is one of the few kids I know who doesn’t want to hear certain books over and over. She likes to hear new books every day. So yay for the library, right?

I think given how much we enjoy libraries these days, it surprised me to remember that library back at Read Center in Bloomington and how seldom I took advantage of it.

Of course, all our lives change as we grow. Our needs change, our priorities change.

These days, I make the library a priority because I want the girls to know and appreciate how wonderful reading is. I love that Alyssa already know how to use the computer search system to find books based on subject, author or title. I love that she can actually write down the location and then FIND it all by herself. Even though she did once use this system to find a book about leeches, which had an actual leech on the cover. And it was as gross as you might imagine. And worse yet? The books next to the leech book? Were about earth worms. With worms on the cover. Oh, hell no. We do not go into that section anymore. Ever.

But really how amazing it is that we have a place where they actually let you walk in, pick out twenty books, takes those books home with you and it’s all FREE. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Growing up, my mom often told each of us (me and my two younger brothers) that we were her favorite. She did this with a smile, as she knew the one she was talking to knew she’d just said the same thing to a sibling or two.

Last night, Olivia didn’t go to sleep in the rocking chair like she usually does, so at bedtime, we headed up, all three of us awake unlike most nights when I carry a sleeping Livs up and tuck a sleepy Lyss into bed.

So we laid there, all three of us. Olivia had a wand with a purple light that I told her she could continue to have for five minutes before she had to turn it over to me.

Alyssa had her Bubby, a stuffed dog she’s had since she was two.

I scratched O’s arm with my right hand and my left hand was clasped in Alyssa’s right.

When I was Alyssa’s age, I had to sleep next to the wall or hold my mom’s hand as I fell asleep because if neither of those things happened I had the frog-men dream. It was creepy and I’d do anything to avoid it.

As I laid there, waiting for them both to fall asleep, with Alyssa rubbing her thumb across my hand and Olivia offering different parts of her arm and hand for scratching, I realized that we’ve come full circle.

I’m the hand that needs to be held. I’m the one who scratches and soothes.

How lucky am I that I am their favorite?

Even if they told their daddy just a half hour before that he’s their favorite because he was the one who scooped the ice cream, it didn’t matter because in that moment, I was the favorite.

A mom friend of mine was accused one day of having a favorite daughter. She found this amusing because the people (yes, plural) couldn’t even agree which of her daughters (she has two) was the favorite.

I laughed with her and told her that I have a favorite but it changed from moment to moment. There are days when Olivia, with her curly Farah Faucet hair and her sparking eyes does something adorable and suddenly she’s my favorite. But then, a few minutes later Alyssa will giggle over something stupid on Seinfeld and she’s my favorite because that giggle is so contagious.

Each moment brings the chance to create a new memory, a new favorite.

At 8:30 each night, I have two favorite daughters, one who needs to hold my hand for a bit before falling asleep and one who needs me to scratch the web between her finger and thumb. And in those moments, I am the favorite to both of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I am the optimist in our family. Tom is the, well, he’s not really all that optimistic nor is he pessimistic. I can’t even say he’s all that into realism. He just sort of goes with the flow. Though one afternoon when Olivia was about four months old and still screaming as she had from the moment she came home from the hospital at eleven days old, Tom did say with a bit of frustration, “We should be able to put her down for ten minutes without having her scream like that.”

Yeah, you think?

But really, he’s more about the here and now. How are things going right this second? Don’t worry about tomorrow or next week, let’s get through this moment and see where we are in the next one. Yes, that’s Tom. There is no word for that, though.

My mom is our realist.

Back when O was still reaching for those milestones like sitting independently and crawling and walking, I would often say something like, “Oh, I think sitting/crawling/walking is right around the corner for her.”

And my mom would sort of raise her eyebrows at me and say, “We’ll see.”

She was never unkind, she was just trying to get me to stop getting my hopes up.

But it really wasn’t about getting my hopes it. It was more about the anticipation of Olivia reaching one of those significant achievements, knowing she would, just not knowing when.

This weekend, I said something similar.

Let’s remember that O’s been in school for two weeks. Make that nine days total. She’s had one report from her teacher and that was a glowing report. For me, the eternal optimist, it meant, “I think, at this rate, she’s going to be ready for kindergarten next year.”

I know. Way to jump the gun, huh? But still, she COULD be ready for kindergarten by next year. She’s so much further ahead right now, just two weeks in, than she was last May when preschool ended.

She wrote her name over the weekend. All by herself, without something to trace or even someone else writing it for her first and her copying the letters underneath. Let me repeat: She wrote her name.

You guys, that is significant improvement over last year when she wouldn’t even try to write anything beyond the O.

So yes, I stand by my statement that she might be ready for kindergarten next year.

My mom can continue to be the realist and say, “Yes, she might be.” And she will emphasize the word ‘might’ to remind me not to be disappointed if she isn’t ready.

But I won’t be. Truly. I want the best for Olivia and if that includes a second year of kinderkids, so be it. But I won’t be the one to tell O she isn’t ready. I will let her own achievements tell us and her where she needs to be.

Obviously we’ll take each year as it comes and deal with whatever challenges lie ahead of us. But the optimist in me can’t help but see these first two weeks as wonderful progress in the right direction.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Two Words

New sofa.

Okay, anyone who has ever ready anything written here knows I can't just limit myself to two words.

But yes, we got a new couch this weekend. And I love it. This is the first, ever, brand new couch I've ever owned.

The last two were items Tom found at auctions for under $100.

I've been campaigning for a new sofa for over six months. When I realized that Olivia had been peeing consistently in the toilet for months, I new it was time. We were waiting until we could be reasonably sure there wouldn't be any accidents before getting anything new.

But here we are! When we left yesterday to go couch shopping, Tom insisted we weren't actually going to buy anything. Maybe he didn't want to be a cliche by buying furniture during Labor Day weekend but I managed to convince him otherwise.

I didn't expect to choose gray but once we sat on it and then after we saw the price...we couldn't not get it.

So here we are. New sofa.

And one more picture, justifiable because the arm of the couch is in there beside Olivia, practicing for her audition to be on America's Top Model, season 30.