Friday, November 30, 2012

So Much Better

Somehow in the past month or so, I’ve come to a place of acceptance. I’ve grown more comfortable in my own skin.

Just this morning, Olivia announced to everyone in the bathroom, “Mom, you have big bosoms.”

Why yes, I do have to shower and dress with an audience. Doesn’t every mother?

I just smiled and thanked her for noticing.

She wasn’t done, though. She also noted, “You have a big belly too.”

Again, thank you for noticing and letting me know, just in case I wasn’t aware.

Which I am, by the way. I know how big my bosom and belly are. But you know what? I’m not all that worried about it these days. Yes, I hate being heavy but I also know what needs to be done to fix it and if I’m not at a point where I can do the things that need to be done, well, so be it.

And let me tell you…this acceptance, this self-forgiveness? It’s gone a long way toward making me a better mother and wife. I don’t take every single thing Tom says and analyze the shit out of it. I don’t wonder why he said something with just the exact words he did. I don’t wonder about any hidden meanings. I figure if he has something to say, he’ll say it. He’s a guy. They usually don’t hint around.

My mothering has come so far in such a short time. Yes, I still get irritable. I still get grouchy. But when it happens, I apologize, I hug the girls and I let it go. I’m grateful that they do too.

My patience seems to be stronger and lasts longer.

You know the old saying, “If mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.” I think it’s very, very true. I’m grateful that these days I’m pretty happy which makes my entire family happy. I’m still learning that my own happiness starts with me but I’m getting there and that’s all I can ask of myself.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Basking in Her Affection

I’m part of a couple of groups on Facebook that were created by and for parents/family members of children with 5p- syndrome.

I love the perspective these groups give me. I love that parents and caregivers can share celebrations and concerns about our kids, get advice or just virtual hugs (though, honestly? Someone typing ‘hugs’ is just short of irritating, just saying) when things are tough.

One parent recently asked about affection. This parent’s child refuses hugs and kisses. The parent wanted to know if any other parents dealt with this.

We definitely do not have this problem with Olivia. She’s one of the most affectionate kids I’ve ever met. In fact, there are times when I have heard myself yell, “Stop kissing your sister!”

I know. Such a stupid thing to have to yell but there you have it. However, I don’t think Olivia is kissing her sister to be affectionate so much as she’s doing it to annoy her sister.

But aside from that, Olivia loves snuggles, hugs, kisses, back rubs, arm scratches. Touch is definitely one of her languages of love.

Another thing I’ve learned by being a part of these groups is that autism is often an added ‘bonus’ to kids with 5p-. Bummer, huh? I mean, talk about adding up the challenges. 5p- already challenges an individual’s ability to communicate. Add in a touch of autism and damn.

So far, Olivia doesn’t show any signs of autism. We do have it on her IEP because it gets her better services. Being aware of the possibility is part of the battle, though.

We shower Olivia with affection and she gives it back just as much. Sometimes, if you ask Alyssa, Olivia is too affectionate. I realize, though, how lucky we are that she is able to show us how much she loves us in so many ways. Not everyone is that lucky and that makes me very sad.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Age Am I Going To Be Tomorrow?

That was Olivia’s question last night after dinner, after she’d blown out yet another candle on a cupcake.

We’ve made a pretty big deal about six this past week or so. Her actual party was over a week ago and so this birthday thing has been a long, drawn out event for her. So it makes sense that she’d wonder about something like that.

We explained that she’ll be six for quite some time now and told her to enjoy having to use two hands to show her age now.

I was lucky enough to be able to take a half day off work yesterday and take cupcakes to Olivia’s class to help celebrate her birthday.

I can tell whenever I walk into her classroom that her little mind is blown by the fact that her two worlds are colliding and she isn’t sure how to react to such an event. She goes a little crazy for a few minutes with the glee of having MOM right there in the same space at her school friends, her teachers, her routine.

After snack, I was able to sit with Olivia at one of the classroom computers and watch her play one of the games on She did so well. She knows every letter of the alphabet, upper and lower cases.

Over the weekend, Olivia was counting. She got to 49. When she stopped at 49, I looked at her and asked what came next. She gave me a mischievous grin and said, “Fifty ten!”

Six just might be the year of mischief. And you know? That would be great. Olivia has an amazing sense of humor and she has so much energy.

The problem with all that energy? If it isn’t channeled well, it can turn fairly quickly into naughtiness. She’s maturing, growing, proving doctors wrong every single day as far as what can be expected from a child with 5p- syndrome.

Olivia seems to think that turning six means it time to wear mascara and lipstick to school. I disagree and thankfully, I’m taller than she is and can put the makeup away high enough that she can’t get to it.

It’s tough to be six but I have a feeling there are more fun times than tough times. I hope so, anyway.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Six Years Ago: A Birth Story

On this day six years ago, I was 41 weeks, 2 days pregnant. Even though the doctor who’d performed the level II ultrasound all those weeks early when I was 22 weeks pregnant had moved the due date to November 29th due to the small size of the baby, I knew my dates. I knew the due date was November 18th.

But my ob/gyn wasn’t so sure and so he ordered a stress test. It was scheduled for the Monday after Thanksgiving, November 27th.

Tom, Alyssa and I all made the drive from our home to the town where I worked. It had been decided that it was easier for me to go to doctor appointments near work rather than near home.

I had the first appointment of the day and so didn’t have to wait when we got to the doctor’s office. I was seated in a comfy recliner, given a device with a button and told to press the button each time the baby moved. I also had a monitor strapped to my stomach, which was keeping track of the baby’s heart rate.

Tom and Alyssa sat in a less comfy chair across from me. The room was darkened and we all relaxed and waited for the baby to move, for time to pass.

When our half hour was up, we were taken to another room and told to wait for the doctor. He didn’t make us wait long. He came into the room and asked, “How would you like to have a baby today?”

The results of the stress test weren’t what he’d like to have seen. The baby was moving just fine. Her heart was beating just fine. But when she moved, they wanted to see her heart rate increase as a result of the movement. Our girl’s heart was just beating away at a steady pace, not increasing when she moved, not decreasing when she didn’t move.

We were sent to the hospital, told not to pass go, not to stop for food (I was starving!). We were allowed to stop by and let my boss know what was going one and give him the paperwork that would start my maternity leave but only because it was right on the way.

The maternity ward at the hospital was expecting us.

I was gowned and monitored. I let the nurse know that when I’d had Alyssa I’d had to pee. Like, a lot. She assured me this was fine, it was normal, she’d seen it all. Ha!

The inserted the Cervidil at 11:00, hoping to soften my cervix, which was currently very much closed and not interested in doing much else. After a few hours, they said, they’d see how the Cervidil was doing and then start the Pitocin. I assured them that my previous delivery had worked just fine with just Pitocin.

I asked for food.

Around noon, they brought me lunch. I’d taken three bites of broccoli when the nurse came in and took the food away, saying that the doctor didn’t like the way the baby was reacting to the Cervidil. Her heart rate was decreasing at regular intervals. The doctor was sure that Pitocin alone wasn’t going to do the job and so didn’t want me to eat in case a c-section was in my near future.

This doctor was not the one who’d delivered Alyssa, he didn’t know my history with Pitocin. I again assured that nurse that the Pitocin would do the job and we’d have this baby vaginally. She nodded as if she believed me but told me she had to follow the doctor’s orders. So…no food for me.

They started the Pitocin at 1:00.

At 1:30, I threw up the little bit of broccoli I’d eaten. Ick! As the nurse held the bowl for me, I whispered an apology. I told her I’d peed as I’d puked. Gross.

She told me it was no big deal and helped clean up the bed for me. There was blood along with the pee, she said. That was a good sign.

By 2:00, the contractions were very regular. Olivia didn’t like the contractions at all. Each one caused her heart rate to decrease so the nurse asked me to lay on my left side.

Tom took Alyssa for a walk. I was managing the pain pretty well, not wanting to scare her.

My mom and step dad arrived at the hospital around 3:00 and took Alyssa with them. They took her to eat and then to Walmart, giving Tom some time to just stand beside me and hold my hand. My left hip was starting to ache from laying on it. Though it did get a little respite every fifteen minutes when I had to get up to pee. The nurse finally admitted that I really did have to pee more often than any other laboring mother she’d ever had. Huh, something to be proud of, I guess.

I did try to move to my right side every so often but the baby’s heart rate would dip each time so back to my left we went.

My doctor came to check on me at about 5:45, after his office had closed for the day.

He was surprised to find me already dilated to 6.

I wanted to say I told you so but, well, the contractions were pretty much right on top of each other at that point and talking wasn’t all that high on my list of priorities.

At 6:00, the doctor decided to break the water to see if we could move this along. I think he was ready to go home and have dinner.

After what felt like extended probing, the nurse mentioned that when I’d thrown up earlier in the day, my water had probably broken then, when I’d thought I’d peed. Interesting, I thought vaguely, sort of relieved to know that I hadn’t peed myself.

When the doctor finally stopped trying to break a water that had already broken, he checked my progress again. Still a six. I had a major contraction at that point and the doctor decided to check me one more time before he went to have dinner. That one contraction had taken me from 6 to 9.

My mom and Lyle got back with Alyssa. Tom met them at the door, letting them know that we were on the verge of pushing. My mom said she had food for Tom when it was all over and took Alyssa to wait.

As with Alyssa’s birth, I felt pressure and told the nurse that I was trying not to push but I couldn’t help it. She called for the doctor and he arrived just in time to tell me we were ready and to go ahead and push. Yeah, I though, I could tell.

Three pushes later and our girl was out at 6:27pm.

They took Olivia immediately to a warming table and three nurses surrounded her. I couldn’t get much of a glimpse as they worked on her but I could see her struggling to breathe. Her ribs were visible with each breath she tried to take. Tom stood by my side, also blocking my view of Olivia.

After the doctor was finished cleaning me up and the nurses had Olivia stable enough to take her to the nursery where they put her under a cylinder that misted oxygen over her, I threw up one more time, because apparently that’s what I do when I’ve just given birth.

Except, unlike when I had Alyssa, I didn’t stop throwing up. The nurse finally gave me something to stop the nausea, which also made me quite high.

Once the puking stopped, I was able to get up and go see Olivia, who was still being bathed in oxygen.

I finally realized how drugged I really was when the father of another baby born at the exact same time Olivia was born asked me who our doctor was. I told him Dr. Miller. That is not the name of the doctor who delivered Olivia. It is, though, the name of the doctor who’d delivered this guy’s baby. Weird.

I realized I should probably sit down. My mom sat with me when our family doctor came in to talk about Olivia. He’d examined her and had determined that she needed to be in a bigger hospital. He wanted to know which one they should call for transfer.

I blinked at him and mumbled something like, “Oh, it doesn’t matter, wherever you think is best.”

My mom stepped in and told him to send her to the hospital that was twenty minutes from our home. She’s the best, my mom. Especially when I’m high and she isn’t.

She's also really good at taking care of Alyssa when I couldn't.

The pediatrician arrived from Bigger Hospital. They bundled three-hour old Olivia into a travel incubator, put that incubator into an ambulance and off they went with Tom in hot pursuit.

My mom and Lyle took Alyssa home with them and I realized I was so tired I couldn’t see straight.

But after about five hours of sleep, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I managed to stay in bed until just after 6 the next morning. After I showered, I made myself wait until 7am to call Julie and let her know that Olivia was here but that she had been admitted to the NICU at a larger hospital. I realize now, six years later, how hard that phone call must have been for Julie given her own history with an infant and an extended NICU stay.

By 10 I was losing my mind. I needed to get out of there. The doctor finally showed up a little after 10 and told me Olivia had very low APGAR scores. I didn’t care. He also told me it appeared she’d stopped growing around 35 weeks gestation. We know now that her low birth weight of 5lbs 2oz wasn’t due to intrauterine growth retardation but rather a symptom of 5p- syndrome.

He also told me if we hadn’t induced and delivered the day before, Olivia might not have made it another couple of days.

Again, with time we’ve come to realize we’re actually lucky she was nine days overdue. She needed those extra nine days to cook.

By 10:30, I was released. My mom came to get me and take me to my baby. She also brought my bigger baby to me and the relief at seeing Alyssa, hugging her, holding her made everything so much better.

As I left, the nurse commented that I’d had a drive-thru delivery. I was leaving the hospital 24 hours after being admitted, 16 hours after giving birth.

It didn’t matter. It was no longer about me. I had a baby I needed to see. And six years later, I often find myself leaving work with just two things one my mind. Alyssa and Olivia, the two brightest points of light in my life.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mother Knows Best

Those dresses we bought yesterday? They are very pretty. I plan to make the girls put them on and take a picture (or ten) of them in front of the Christmas tree. If we find one we like well enough, I’ll include them in Christmas cards to family this year. I’m so on top of things, wouldn’t you say?

While at Kohl’s I came across the rack of dresses and found one I presented to Alyssa. She glanced at it, made a bit of a face and turned away to browse another rack of dresses.

In the end, we took three dresses into the dressing room for her to try. One was the first one I picked up and the other two were in styles she thought were more fitting to her status as a preteenager.

She tried her two picks first. They were fine. They were short sleeved, hit her just above the knee and hung straight from her shoulders down with a bit of gathering her and there.

When she tried on the one I’d picked, she looked in the mirror and smiled at me. “I like this one,” she mused, spinning a couple of times so the flared skirt would flip up.

This dress was long sleeved, with a bodice made of a velvety material that hit just below her natural waist. The white skirt flared out and, like the other two, hit just above her knees. It was just girlier than the other two.

I kind of love that in the end, after trying them all on, she chose the one I liked to begin with. I tried not to rub it in. But…I’m human and it’s lovely to prove every once in a while that mother really does sometimes know best.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blueberry Pancakes

Last Tuesday, Olivia saw blueberry pancakes on either a commercial or a show she was watching and she declared that she needed blueberry pancakes right that second.

Well, that didn't happen. But I did promise to make her blueberr pancakes on Thursday since we weren't having our Thanksgiving dinner until Saturday.

Except too bad for her, I forgot to make them. It doesn't help that I forgot to buy blueberries too.

So when we went to the store to get more lights for the tree on Friday, I bought blueberries, planning to make pancakes for Olivia on Saturday.

I found Alyssa devouring the blueberries just about an hour after we got home that afternoon.

We were lucky, I was able to save just enough blueberries to make those pancakes the next morning.

Olivia loved them. She was fascinated by them. She ate four.

This morning when I got up, I heard Olivia yelling at Tom, telling him he couldn't eat her blueberry pancakes. He does that a lot, says things to her to make her argue with him. He claims it's his way of helping her vocalize. I think it's his way of making her argumentative. Tomato, tomahto.

But then he admitted that he'd been telling her all morning I would make her some blueberry pancakes when I got up. He didn't realize I'd made them yesterday and we didn't have any more blueberries.

Mama to the rescue! I happened to have some frozen blueberries.

Olivia got her blueberry pancakes two days in a row.

This is probably the reason she seems quite used to getting her way.

She likes to ask me each evening what we're going to do the next day. When I told her we were going to the grocery store she asked me which grocery store we were going to. I told her we'd probably end up at Walmart.

She gave it a little thought and then reminded me that the 'real' grocery store (our local, family owned store) has gumballs.

I smiled and agreed that the store in Edon has gumballs.

She gave it just a little more thought and declared, "Yes. We're probably going to go to Edon tomorrow."

Ha. We didn't.

But she did suggest we go to Kohl's today. When I asked her why we should go there, she told me because the store is pretty.

She's right. It is pretty. And we did go. The girls both got new Christmas dresses.

For now, she's at 50/50. Not bad odds considering she's six.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Due to scheduling conflicts, my mom hosted our family Thanksgiving dinner today instead of Thursday.

It was a fairly small gathering of nine adults and five kids.

As we adults were sitting around thinking about loosening our belts (I kid, I wasn't even wearing a belt) I marveled at the fact that none of the kids were in the kitchen, pestering their parents for attention, needing to potty, wanting something to drink.

Instead, Alyssa and Julie were in my mom's back bedroom, exercising. My mom has a treadmill and an eliptical and the girls were taking turns using each machine. They're so cute when they're nine.

The little kids were going back and forth from the middle bedroom to the living room. They were playing pirate and princesses. Jaxon declared that there was no way he was going to be a princess, hence the pirate part of the game.

It's taken almost six whole years for us to get to the point where the kids will run off and entertain themselves but it's so lovely.

Yes, we still get requests for help with something but none of us is at that stage of parenthood where the kids need constant supervision and attention.

Those moments when I sort of mourne the fact that my childbearing days are over? They're fading quickly and are helped along by days like this, when the kids are kids, running around, laughing, playing, not needing us quite so much.

Though I do confess that it was lovely to be needed as Olivia fell asleep with her head in my lap, her hand clasping mine. I do still enjoy taking care of my kidlets. I'm just glad the diaper days are in the past.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Ahh, the holidays. The glow of the lights on the tree, the movies, the music. The wonder on the children's faces as the tree goes up and the lights go on. The giggles as they find the perfect spot for each ornament.

Ha. Ahhahahaha.

And then there is reality. The irritation of plugging in a strand of lights that worked just fine last year but only light up half way this year.

There's the frustration when your child is rummaging through the boxes of ornmanents as you fight with the lights. She takes one out, oooohs and ahhhs over it and then, rather than putting it down, she hands it to you so she can take another one out.

I asked Olivia nicely to stop handing me things when she was perfectly capable of putting them down. She didn't listen. The third time she handed me an ornament after looking at it for a half a second, I snapped.

Then I felt awful because this is supposed to be fun, it's supposed to be joyous. It's supposed to be when we make memories and create traditions.

Instead, my shoulders hurt from stringing lights and hanging ornments on the top half of the tree. My ankles hurt from climbing up and down on a chair to reach the top of the tree.

I'm tired and I am so ready for my darling children to go to sleep. Instead, I just spent twenty minutes scratching various parts of Olivia's body while Alyssa held my other hand, constantly pressing in on the veins that are fairly prominent. She loves to do that. It drives me insane. But I try not to say anything because...she loves to do it.

But for now, the tree is up. And it's pretty and the girls always seem to forget that putting up the Christmas tree turns mommy into a raging lunatic.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Does something that has happened twice count as traditional?

Who cares, right?

We're having Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday at my mom's so today was just Thursday.

Except we didn't have work or school so the house is cleaner this evening than it is most Thursdays.

A couple of years ago, my mom, the girls and I went to a movie on Thanksgiving day. It was fun.

I decided this year, Alyssa and I would do the same. We went and saw Breaking Dawn part 2.

Yes, I took my nine year old to see this movie. And really? It was okay. There was a bit more smooching than necessary and Alyssa dealt with it just fine.

We saw a preview for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, to be released on November 22, 2013. We're probably going to see that one on Thanksgiving next year.

So...a tradition is born.

Fun stuff, that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The No Cavity Club

The girls had their teeth cleaned today. Alyssa complained, asking why I always schedule the cleanings around holidays.

I reminded her that the last one was in April and nowhere near a holiday. She reminded me that the one before that was on Halloween. Whatever, kid.

I made the appointment for today because it meant that the girls wouldn’t have to miss any school.

So when did schools start being closed on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving? I know it’s been for as long as Alyssa’s been in school but back in my day (for the record, I know how old I sound when I write/say that) we went to school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during the week of Thanksgiving and had Thursday and Friday off along with the rest of the country.

Anyway!!! Alyssa is once again a member of the No Cavity Club. Go her.

Olivia…is not. Poor kid needs two fillings. One is actually not because of a cavity but rather because of a deformity in one of her newest molars, a crevice that will allow food (or debris, as the dentist said, which…makes it sounds like she stands outside during a tornado with her mouth open) to get trapped in there and cause decay. So they want to put some filling material in the crevice to protect the tooth.

The problem? Olivia is great during cleanings but actual fillings or other procedures don’t go so well. Her last encounter with the pediatric dentist who crowned one tooth and fixed another damaged tooth was horrible. She was a mess for hours after.

And this is the dentist our current dentist wants me to take her to for the procedure. Our current dentist is just a regular old dentist. He isn’t classified as a pediatric dentist. But his office is perfect for cleanings and check ups. But he doesn’t feel comfortable trying to fill O’s teeth given her history. He thinks she needs to be gently sedated.

I think she needs to be knocked out. But I’m sure the pediatric dentist won’t agree.

And so…I hesitate. I know she needs the fillings. I know this. But I also don’t want to put her through another experience like the one she had two years ago. Then again, I remind myself that she’s older, more mature and then I laugh at myself because, duh, she’s still only six (or will be when we do actually make it to the pediatric dentist.)

I know, I know. Suck it up, Mom. Deal. And Olivia will deal too. But neither of us is going to like it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Up All Night

Olivia woke up with the sniffles yesterday morning.

Nothing major, no fever, but a little sinus congestion and some annoying snottiness.

I gave her a dose of medicine before taking her to my mom’s yesterday morning and she got another dose from my mom when she got off the bus. I gave her one more dose right before bed last night.

She woke up at 3 this morning, ready to rock. She was still sniffly but she was also wide awake.

I was not so much wide awake. But I did get up and take her to the bathroom, I too her wet pull up off of her and tucked her into my bed. I laid next to her, my back to her and tried to go back to sleep.

She tossed and turned and sniffed and rubbed at her nose. She asked for a tissue, repeatedly, insisting on handing me the used tissue every single time.

She asked me to hold her, which I did. She asked me to rub her back. Again, I did as she requested. Then, I told her I was tired and was done scratching.

I rolled away from her again.

She twisted back and forth. I told her if she didn’t stop moving around and go to sleep I was going to leave her in that bed and go to another.

She laid there for a few seconds before asking, “Mommy? Are you sorry for being so grouchy with me?”

Huh. Yeah, but no, not really. By this time it was 5am. My stupid alarm was going to go off in a half hour. I was so flipping tired. I just muttered, “You need to go to sleep.” (I usually apologize for any grouchiness in the middle of the night. I might get a little snippy but then I’ll tell her I’m sorry but I’m just really, really tired.)

She asked, “Can I snuggle with you?”

I rolled back toward her, put my arm under her shoulders, pulled her close and kissed her head. She asked me to rub her hair. I did.

She fell asleep ten minutes before the alarm went off.

Guess who was still sleeping when I left for work at 7:30 this morning?

Monday, November 19, 2012


This morning Olivia woke at her usual 5:30 and requested that I go downstairs and get her Dream Lite for her. I told her it was at the end of her bed and rolled over. She found the light and proceeded to ooh and ahh over it for the next half hour.

At one point, she declared, “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s just so beautiful.”

Okay. Cool. Now, shhhh, momma’s sleeping.

As I stepped out of the shower, I saw Olivia pick the pinkest of nail polish out of the drawer and put it on the counter. She saw my look and said, “Maybe we’ll just do this color on both hands.”

I glanced at the clock and told her I wasn’t sure we’d have time this morning because I had to take her to Grams. Tom has jury duty and so my mom is stepping in to do morning Olivia care.

O raised her eyebrows at me and declared, “It will only take a minute.”

She was right.

During the birthday party celebrating Olivia, Sabella and Jaxon, Alyssa watched in wonder and joy as the littler kids opened their presents. She loved helping Jaxon and Olivia figure out their Dream Lites (that spelling still bothers me) and their Stompees (ugh, another stupid spelling.)

Jason, my brother, mentioned later that he was really impressed with Alyssa’s lack of jealousy at not having any gifts herself.

I reminded him that it was actually NOT her birthday so she knew she wouldn’t be getting anything. Sort of like, duh.

Except…over the years my aunts, lovely women all, have gotten into the habit of getting small things for every child who will be at a party, whether they’re the birthday girl/boy or not.

And I find this irritating. Why do all the kids need presents just because the birthday child is getting one? Where did this come from? I feel like it just feeds into that sense of entitlement. I’ve worked hard over the years to remind my girls that some days are for others. That sometimes, we’re celebrating them and other times, we’re celebrating other people. And just because one person gets a gift doesn’t mean everyone gets one.

What do you know? It’s worked. Alyssa loved watching the other open their presents. She loved seeing the joy on their faces as they got the very things they wanted.

I think a lot of nine year olds can have this sort of generosity, if we teach it to them. But then again, maybe she’s just a really good kid with an amazing mom. Yeah, that’s got to be it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Party

For the last five years, we've had Olivia's birthday party over a week before her actual party.

This is because my cousin's daughter, Sabella's birthday is November 17 and my nephew Jaxon's birthday is November 19. The three kids were born almost exactly one year after the other times three.

Sabella turned seven yesterday. Jaxon will be five tomorrow and if Olivia had been born on her due date, she'd have turned six today.

But instead, her actual birthday is still nine days away.

We celebrate the three birthdays together's fun and easy. It's cheaper too to rent a room when there are three familes sharing the bill.

My mom offered to have the party at her house today, so the only cost was food and, of course, presents.

The best present of the day?

Dream Lites, courtesy of Gram. Olivia got the purple butterfly, Sabella got the rainbow unicorn and Jaxon got the brown dog. They love them so, so much.

At one point in the party, all four kids (Alyssa was there, of course) disappeared. Jason came to report that he'd found them and was yelled at by Jaxon. He was told to close the door, the kids were trying to sleep with their Dream Lites (can I tell you how much it annoys me to have to type lights that way?)

It was a fun afternoon. I know that at some point these kids are going to want to have parties of their own but for now, they love being together, celebrating their days in one big ol' party.

Olivia's theme? Pink. Of course.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Yesterday I sent Tom an email to let him know that I needed to got buy some unmentionables (bras, how's that for mentioning it?) and it would be lovely if I could do this task without the company of children.

He was cool with that.

However, this morning while doing our usual Saturday morning laundry and breakfasting, Alyssa asked when we were going to leave for Walmart and the library.

Now, I've admitted to being the meanest of moms but even I can't deny a child's request to visit hte library. Reading takes priority in this house.

So off we went.

Let me state that the library and Walmart are an 18 miles drive from home. Which meant that if I wanted to shop for bras alone I'd have to bring the girls home from town and then go back.

So...we went to the library. I fed them a nutrionally empty meal at McD's and we went to Meijer to pick up things for the S/O/J birthday party tomorrow. Guess what the O stands for?

We also bought a new coat for Alyssa and new boots for both girls. They're so happy with their winter outerwear.

Since they were so good at Meijer, I decided to tempt fate and took them to Kohl's with me to buy some new bras. I was down to my very last decent bra since the second to the last one blew a wire a few days ago while I was at work. You know how much that sucks? I spent several hours attempting to subtly adjust the two ends of the wire that were jabbing me in the left breast.

Yes, yes, blogging is absolutely the epitomy of too much information. Whatever.

But you know what else? They were pretty good at Kohl's and I got three new bras. Yay for me.

After that, we still had to go to Walmart and buy groceries. Ugh.

But now we're home and they're burning off energy in their usual ways. All's well that ends well and when I end up with three new bras with as little aggravation as possible, I'm calling it ending well.

Friday, November 16, 2012


As mentioned several times before, I try to read to Olivia every night. It was one of my resolutions last January and it’s one of the few (the only?) I’ve ever managed to keep.

The reason I made this resolution was because Olivia, at just over five years old was finally, finally willing and able to sit still and listen to an entire book in one sitting. We currently read three books each night and if I pause after the second book, she’ll ask when I’m going to start the third. I love that she’s aware of how many stories we’re reading and that she reminds me if we haven’t read the required amount.

We got to the library every single week and check out twenty-one books each week.

Last weekend the librarian who checked us out looked at our check-out history and asked if I was a homeschooler because of the enormous amount of books we check out each week.

I explained our routine and then mentioned that Olivia is one of the very few kids in this world who doesn’t like to hear the same stories over and over. She likes new adventures.

This morning, though, as I was gathering my things to leave for work, Olivia brought Tom a book we’d read the night before. She wanted to hear it again. I love that. I love that she’s getting to a stage where she wants to hear the same stories over and over. I know this is a phase that most kids hit around two or three years old but as always, Olivia is on her own schedule. And that’s okay. Today, that’s okay.

She has heard the book Pinkalicious a few times and it has yet to get old for her. In fact, when I read it to her this past Thursday, she giggled and then asked if we had any green olives. We didn’t, but we do not and she’s already eaten almost half the jar. Ahem, yeah, that’s a lot of salt for a 44 pounder.

Oh, did I mention that our visit to the doctor on Wednesday let me know that Olivia now weighs 44 pounds? That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? I mean, that’s right there with typical six year olds. Wheee!

And this is starting to veer off on a few too many tangents…

Where was I?

Oh yes, reading and repetition. She loves hearing stories. She loves to look at the books after I’ve read them and trace the letters with her finger. She likes to tell me all the letters in the words. We’re pre-reading, is what I’m saying. And I couldn’t be prouder of my sweet, super-special snowflake.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Olivia’s teacher has had to send me an email every single day this week. Some days she’s sent more than one.

Yesterday, she sent two emails and called me fifteen minutes before school let out. Olivia had had her third accident of the day and had no more spare clothes. Mrs. H didn’t want to put O on a cold bus in wet clothes.

I called Tom and he took clean clothes for Olivia and took her with him for the day.

When I got off work, I went home, picked up Olivia and took her directly to the doctor to check for a bladder infection.

These accidents are not normal for her. At least, not anymore. Yes, last year there were accidents aplenty but she’s a year old and has been doing so well and she even had two accidents at my mom’s between the time Tom dropped her off and the time I got there, which was all of 45 minutes.


Bladder infection it is. And don’t I feel terrible about not taking her sooner? Except, well, let’s remember she had 5p- syndrome and thus, accidents are going to happen and if I run her off to the doctor at the first drop of pee in her underwear, well, let’s just say our flexible spending account would be dry before the first thaw each year.

Along with antibiotics to make her feel better, I sent a brand new tube of peppermint chapstick (‘tis the season) for her teacher to use as bribery, um, I mean a reward for each time Olivia uses the toilet at school instead of staying right there in her seat and peeing in her pants.

The last resort will be to send a pull up along with the three pairs of clean pants/underwear and having her teacher put that on her after the first accident of the day. I hate to do that, though because it feels so much like a step back.

These are the times I hate 5p- syndrome. I hate that I have to wonder if these accidents are the result of an illness or if her muscles are just too weak to hold the urine or if it’s a behavioral issues stemming from the missing part of her chromosome.

It is in moments like this that I am reminded that I would give her back that missing DNA in a heartbeat if that were an option.

I love Olivia more than York peppermint patties. I adore this child so very, very much. I think she’s amazing just the way she is.

But unlike other parents out there (who are NOT wrong, let me say that right here) who wouldn’t change their child even a little, I would absolutely give her back that part of her fifth chromosome.

Damnit, life is challenging enough without the added pressure of ‘special’ challenges. I hate that she’s going to deal with every day challenges while also taking on the world with less DNA than the rest of us.

It sucks and I know nothing can be done except to give her the tools she needs to work around this.

I would like to think it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway; I would not trade Olivia for all the chromosomally typical kids in the world. I think she’s amazing just the way she is. But for her, for her own peace, if given the opportunity, I’d give her back her health. I’d take away her syndrome because 5p- does not define my child. Olivia would still be funny and sassy and girly and sweet even with all her chromosomes intact. She’d still dance and sing and do amazing forward rolls. She’d run and skip and maybe even ride a bike. She’d still be Olivia but without the challenges that 5p- brings with it.

Alas, there is no way to give her back what 5p- had taken away. So instead, I’ll continue to love her, to advocate for her, to fight for her to get all the help she needs to reach her greatest potential. And I’ll take her to the doctor and figure out what’s going on since she can’t always articulate what’s happening in her own body.

That’s what we do, we moms of typical and special needs kids. We love our kids to the tips of our toes and we do everything we can to make life just a little easier, a little better for our little loves.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I know You

When Alyssa was little, okay, littler, I remember looking at her and thinking, “I know you. I’ve known you forever.”

I felt like her soul and mine had been acquainted for lifetimes, as in plural. I felt like she was so much wiser than I was, as if she knew more about the entire universe than I ever would.

I looked in her eyes when she was an infant and I marveled that I was her mother, I wondered if I would ever be worthy of that title.

The same thing happened when Olivia was born. I looked at her and knew her. I held her in my arms and she fit so perfectly against me. Her cat-like cry was familiar to me in a way I couldn’t explain. Even her dimples reminded me of something that I couldn’t put my finger on.

As I child I often looked at my mom and felt like we belonged together. I was so very grateful that she’d been the one to whom I’d been born.

Over the years, I’ve wondered about our souls. Do we have just this one life or have we been travelling for lifetimes, centuries even, coming in and out of this world, searching each other out?

I feel like there must have been a time when Alyssa was the parent and I was the child. She often seems so much wiser than I am, so much more mature and her laughter tugs at something inside me, reminding me of another place, another time when we sat and laughed together, maybe not in our current life but in another, maybe not even so long ago.

All I know for sure is that I feel so very lucky to have these two souls here, now, in this lifetime with me, to nurture, to love, to shower with affection and adoration. That they found me is a miracle, one for which I will forever be grateful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sign Here

As the girls get older, they get busier. Every parent of kids over four knows this.

And if your kids got to school (as opposed to being homeschooled) you know that the higher their grade level, the more things they need you to sign.

Alyssa has a spelling list each week. She has to write it out three times on Monday evenings and I have to sign the page on which she’s written the words.

She had a calendar in which she writes her assignments each day. Her teacher initials every student’s calendar every single day. I have to sign below the teacher’s initials each day.

She has to practice the recorder for at least an hour each week (she prefers to practice much more than that) and I have to sign her practice sheet. I guess that one is just to show that a parent knows she’s supposed to be practicing and that she is, indeed, as far as the parent knows, practicing.

Let’s not forget the report card envelopes, that need to be signed and returned asap, thank you very much.

I get that this is an attempt to get and keep parents involved. But damn, I write my name A LOT these days.

And it seems to have to happen five minutes before I need to walk out the door each morning for work. Alyssa will remember that this needs to be signed and that needs to be signed, oh, and one more piece of paper needs you to sign it, please. And all this is happening as I’m attempting to dry my hair while Olivia rummages through the drawers in the bathroom looking through the fingernail polish colors, probably hoping to find a color she hasn’t seen before, which never happens because I haven’t bought fingernail polish in, well, forever.

I suggested gently to Alyssa this morning that perhaps we can start trying to remember to sign everything in the evenings, when things aren’t quite so hectic. She shrugged, as if to say, “Yeah, whatever. We’ll see if that actually happens.”

Then I mentioned that her dad can sign too, even when I am in the house. She replied, “I know, but I like your signature better.”

Oh. Well. Okay, then.

I heard Tom snickering in the other room as she said this. I tell you, that man has it made.

Monday, November 12, 2012

So. Much. Energy.

This morning, Olivia slept until 5:45, which is late for her these days with Falling Back and all that jazz.

Over the weekend, as I futzed around the house, cleaning this room and vacuuming that one, I could often see or at least hear Olivia running in circles around the house. Our house is set up so that when you walk in the front door you see a coat closet in front of you, a hallway to the right of the closet, the living room is to the left of the closet and the stairs to the second floor are to the right. The hall way leads to the kitchen and there is a half bath down the hall. The kitchen also opens to the living room, which makes for a nice little circular track Olivia can run.

Alyssa prefers the long stretch of area between the far living room wall that leads through the kitchen, past the dining area and into the family room. She uses this as her runway for vaults and cartwheels as well as round-offs and handstands into bridges. She mastered the walkover this weekend. And begged me to go get grips for her sooner than Thursday. She thinks the schedule is still up for negotiation. It’s not. We’re getting them on Thursday, the day she might actually use them at class.


I wish I had as much energy as either one of my children. They’re always on the go, always running and flipping and jumping and just being insane.

Alyssa asks countless times to show me some not-new gymnastics move and Olivia shriek-chirps, “I have so much energy!” as she rounds the corner from the kitchen to the living room to make another lap.

She also claims Gram's glasses give her energy. I think she just likes them because everyone tells her how cute she is when she's wearing them.

Emotionally, I feel really good these days. I am in a really good place. I am hoping that this emotional energy will translate into physical energy soon because I need to do something about my slovenly physical body. And soon. But for now, I watch my girls enjoy life, enjoy a Sunday afternoon when we don’t have anywhere to be except right here, right where we are.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Feeding Frenzy

My kids have been going a little crazy today. It started before breakfast, when they asked for toast and berries as an appetizer to the eggs I was making.

Then, almost immediately following breakfast, Alyssa peeled two Cuties for herself.

Olivia made her way to candy central and helped herself to some chocolate.

Then it was time for an apple, another Cutie, lunch of soup and sandwiches.

Lunch required a bit of dessert, which consided of a bite sized Snickers for Olivia (left over from Halloween) and an ice cream bar for Alyssa.

Ten minutes later, Alyssa was having some bologna and Olivia wanted some Pringles, cheese-flavored if we have them (we do.)

Two more Cuties and a couple of popsicles later, and Alyssa just asked if she could eat a pickle.

I think they might both be going through a growth spurt. We're still two hours from dinner and I'm not sure the pantry can handle them.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Get a Grip

On Thursday, as I was paying for the coming month's tuition for Alyssa's gymnastics class, I asked the lady behind the couner where the girls were buying their grips.

Alyssa was thrilled to hear that they sold grips right there in the gym.

Oh, the joy, the wonder.

Wait, Mom didn't have an extra $16.01 on her right at that minute?

The horror, the cruelty. It was so very unfair.

And then, there was one girl (according to Alyssa) in the class who was totally flaunting her grips, waving them around, bragging that she had them.

Im not sure, but I think Alyssa might have been exaggerating. Her own enormous envy may have put a bit of bragginess where it might not have existed.

When I got to my mom's on Friday to pick up the girls, Alyssa was at the car before I could get my seatbelt off. Papa had given her $20. One reason he gave it to her was because she came home with a certificate for excellent behavior and academic record in school.

Another reason was so we could buy the damned grips and she could shut up about them. I know. I love my step-dad too.

She cuddled up to him for the rest of the time we spent there before coming home.

But all is not exactly well in Alyssa's world. See...her mom is so mean! She (Alyssa) thinks I should go to the gym right after work on Monday and get her the grips. I think she can wait until we go on Thursday. She isn't even going to see another bar until then so why get them early?

She wants them early because she wants them. She wants to wear them around the house and just have them.

I keep telling her that waiting for something you really, really want builds character.

She insists she has enough character. Hmmmm....

Friday, November 9, 2012


Yesterday morning Olivia asked me if she could take a bath with her big doll that wears makeup. I knew exactly which doll she was talking about. She asked me where we got that doll. I reminded her she’d gotten her at Goodwill. She’d found this doll with the nappy hair on a shelf and fallen in love with her to the point that I couldn’t justify not buying her. She was only $4.

I glanced at the clock as she asked again if she could please take just a quick hot bath with her doll that wears make up. It was 6:15. I needed to be in and out of the shower in the next half hour. But…she wanted that bath and honestly, it meant so much to her.

Baths are a language of love for Olivia. She loved to luxuriate in the warm/almost hot water, leaning back and soaking her entire body. Yes, we have a big tub and it was going to take a bit of time to fill it enough to make it worth her while but…it meant so much to her.

I’m happy to say that I allowed that bath yesterday.

I realize that I need to say yes to the little things a little more often.

I’m not a naturally patient person/mother. I’m sad to admit that because it makes me feel awful but there it is. I’m irritable, I’m easily frustrated and I’m so damned tired all the time.

But I’m trying.

I’m trying to remember that when Olivia finally falls asleep each night (we made it to 7:24 last night, wheee!!!) that Alyssa needs that hour or so next to me on the couch. Even if we’re just watching a show together, not talking much, she needs that contact, that connection.

One of Alyssa’s languages of love is touching. She needs to be touching me, leaning into me, having me rub her back, brush her hair. She also adores gifts but well…as big as our house is, we do have limited space.

So even though I’m done by the time Olivia is finally asleep, I’m not really. I can’t be because I have another sweet girl who needs me just as much as the sleeping child. Her needs may be a little different from the littler girl’s but they’re just as important and need to be met just as patiently, as lovingly, as gently.

I’m trying to learn to love more gently. Gentle loving is another thing that isn’t all that instinctive to me. But I’m getting there.

And I’m being more patient with myself when I fail. Because I do. I fail a lot. But when I do, I apologize, I hug and we move on, loving all over again, more gently, more patiently, more thoroughly for having made the mistake.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


This morning came too fast for me. Olivia was up and chirping by 5 as is her norm for this week. She wakes up, comes to my bed, declares in her most cheerful voice that her pull-up is soaked and asks me to take it off her. Then she strips off her perfectly dry pajamas, top and bottom, and climbs into my bed nude. She likes to snuggle up in the warmth created by my sleepy body and want to feel it with every inch of skin possible, hence the nudity.

Last night after their bath, I rubbed some cream into both A’s and O’s hair. My aunt Lorry gave it to me for my birthday. It’s supposed to bring out the natural curl.

After Olivia was asleep, I combed Alyssa’s hair out (after getting the comb untangled from it, which was a NIGHTMARE, egads!!) and wrapped her strands around foam curlers. She asked me how she was supposed to sleep in those things. I told her to lay down and see how it felt.

She was fine.

This morning, she woke up excited to see how her hair looked.

I took the curlers out and she gasped as each curl boinged around her head. She loved it.

Olivia couldn’t stand not being in on the fun. I showed her her own hair, which was quite curly even without the help of curlers. She noted the curls with satisfaction and then twirled about the room in her sequined, tutued top.

Today is an early dismissal day from school. Because of this, Olivia doesn’t have school at all. She’s in the PM kinderkids class, so early dismissal days mean no school for her. Which meant she was going to Gram’s first thing this morning.

This just added to the excitement. She pranced about the house, showing off her conditioned curls, shaking them out and chapsticking her lips into waxy oblivion.

As I helped Alyssa shake out her own curls, Olivia once again joined us in the bathroom. This time, her little fingers were just a’wigglin’ as she suggested that since she was going to Gram’s this morning, perhaps she could just have a tiny little bit of mascara on her lashes.

Who am I to deny a child such a small request?

Once the curls were bouncy and the coats were donned, Olivia and I kissed Tom and Alyssa goodbye and hit the road.

During the 3-mile drive to Gram’s house, Olivia said to me, “At least my lashes are as pretty as the rest of me today.”

Ohhh, dear. That child. I think we’re going to be having the makeup fight so much sooner than I’d anticipated.

As for Alyssa, she was thrilled beyond measure by the bounciness of her curls this morning. And she never once mentioned the possibility of mascara or even chapstick. She’s already learned that a little bit of pretty goes a very long way.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 42.

Oh wait.

Yes, it’s my birthday. Yay me. We had pizza and cake last night. The night before my birthday. Weird? Not really. I like to celebrate my birthday WEEK and I’m lucky that Tom and the girls are all for a week of cake.

Tonight I’m picking up some hot and sour soup from the local Chinese restaurant. Wheee! Birthday week is so fun.

So far my 40s have been good to me. I think it helps that Tom’s over 10 years older than I am, so no matter what age I reach, I’ll always be his young wife. Way to spin that one, huh?

I feel like this year is already going to be better than last. I’ve made some pretty big discoveries into the source of my issues and hey, that’s the first step.

I hope to work on the inside and have it show up on the outside. Is that how it works? I’ll let you know in 365 days.

For today I’m going to eat Brach’s peppermint Christmas nougats. Tis the season, don’t you know?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When Ten Minutes Equals Fifteen

Daylight savings time, or the lack of it, is kicking Olivia’s butt. Poor child is so tired in the evenings she can barely eat dinner. She’s just hanging on long enough to sit through three books right after dinner but then she’s out. She hasn’t made it past 7:00 yet.

I know, it’s only been two days but it’s tough on her. Her little body thinks it’s later and she’s tired and hungry and just a little cranky.

I keep trying to get her to sleep a little later, but again, her brain is on Daylight Savings Time and so she’s awake at 5am, ready to start the day. She gets that morning stuff from her dad.

Anyway, this morning we got up ten minutes early because I was hoping to get out of the house a bit early so I could go vote. Every vote counts, don’t you know?!? Those ten minutes means Olivia only had to lay next to me, wide awake for about 45 minutes. I know. I’m not proud but I am tired so…

I usually have to go wake Alyssa up about twenty minutes after Olivia and I get up but this morning, she was awake and, get this, cheerful, about five minutes after O and I were. I don’t know either.

And what do you know? Those ten minutes of getting up early turned into fifteen minutes before the morning was over. We were all ready and I was able to leave to go vote fifteen minutes before I usually leave for the day.

Maybe this whole falling back thing isn’t so bad after all. I’ll let you know in a week when Olivia’s finally gotten the memo.

Speaking of voting, my husband informed me last weekend that my dad is a gossip. When he said that, I asked him to tell me something I don’t already know. But then I asked him to elaborate. How did HE know my dad is a gossip? Apparently, while at an auction the week before, Tom ran into one of our neighbors. This neighbor can often be found at the local mechanic’s garage, a place my dad also often frequents. Upon on such visit, my dad and the neighbor got to talking politics. My dad let the neighbor know how I was planning to vote. I asked Tom if Neighbor had told him (Tom) how I was going to vote because I’d like to know since my dad seems to know.

Now, let me say right here that I’m a horrible daughter. I know that politics are a touchy subject for my dad and so I often can be heard saying things I know will rile him. It’s mean, I know. So…he thinks he knows how I voted based on things I’ve said to him in the past. I think he’s probably wrong. And we’ll leave the political discussion alone now, thank you very much.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Old Friends

I love to read. I’ve loved to read since before I could read. Seriously, I loved books before I knew how to read them. I loved to look through them and pretend I was reading.

When I did finally figure out the whole code that is reading, I was amazed at the worlds that opened up to me.

There are so many books I’ve read more times than I can count. So many books feel like visiting old friends when I pick them up to read them again.

And when another book or movie or television show makes a reference to one of my favorite books, I’m thrilled beyond rational. (Example: NBC’s show Revolution mentioned Stu Redman and Fran one evening. I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. Tom looked at me like I was crazy but…Miles introduced himself as STU REDMAN! Do you know how cool that is?)

Okay, now that I’ve made it quite obvious what a dork I am…where was I?

Yes, books, old friends and all that jazz.

Alyssa can read at the seventh grade level. Her teacher confirmed that my decision to let Alyssa read The Hunger Games was a good one. Alyssa is mature enough to handle the topic as well as proficient enough to actually read the words and get the meanings.

But last weekend at the library, she checked out two Junie B. Jones books. And she read them both in the time it took us to drive from the library to our house. And she laughed and laughed the entire time, often stopping to read aloud particularly funny passages.

She can read at a seventh grade level but the antics of a first grader tickle her to no end. I love that. I love that she can revisit Junie B. and still get a kick out of that silly little girl. I want that kind of relationship with books for her.

Books can be a great escape, a moment away from the trials of real life or yes, even the boredom of real life.

Books open worlds and introduce friends that are always there, between the pages. I’m so glad she revisited Junie B. this weekend, a short trip to see an old friend, one who reminded that laughter really is the best medicine.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


After much thought, it came to me. The moment I think I broke.

I don't want to talk about it yet, not to anyone. But acknowledging that moment, taking ownership of it, knowing that it's over 20 years in the helps.

It helps me to move beyond it even though I didn't even realize I needed to move beyond it.

I think I was more present this weekend with my whole family than I have been in quite some time.

That's progress too.

Live is a work in progress. That's something I'm trying to remember. And past mistakes don't have to define who we are today.

That's pretty good progress, I think.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Having a Day

The distain of a preteen is probably surpassed only by that of an actual teenager.

Alyssa was having a day today. A no good, very bad day.

She was irritable, grouchy, touchy and just plain disgusted by every single thing this world has to offer.

She didn't want to wear socks. I made her wear them anyway. It is November and it's cold outside. So...she was mad.

She needed to brush her hair. She didn't want to. It hurt. It made her mad.

We went to two different sports shops in town and were told at both that they didn't carry grips for the uneven bars. That was beyond disappointing.

Olivia kept breathing in her general direction. That was supremely annoying.

Finally, as she pouted in the backseat, her head buried against the door under her coat, I told Olivia that Alyssa was having a day and we needed to just let her.

Sometimes, we need to just have our bad days. Nothing anyone can say can make it better. We just have to get through it and plan for tomorrow to be a better day.

Already, things are better. She's doing gymnastics in the family room while watching Bewitched. When you're nine, that makes for a most excellent evening.

And I'm going to make some macaroni and cheese for her for dinner. Comfort food don't you know?

Can you even imagine this girl having a bad attitude?

Yeah, me neither.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Good Kids

I never worried when my mom headed to the school to conference with my teachers. I was one of the good kids, I knew the teachers liked me, I worked hard in school (okay, maybe not. I didn’t actually have to work hard to get good grades in elementary or even high school. The hard work came when I got to college.)

Anyway, the same has been true for Alyssa. She always knows she’s going to be given a glowing report on her classroom behavior. She always has. She’s one of the good kids.

Her teacher started our conference by saying that the surgery to remove Alyssa’s tonsils and adenoids was the best decision I could have made. She said that Alyssa has seemed like a different kid since the surgery. She’s got more energy, she’s more animated, she’s happier.

Hey, she feels better! It’s easy to be energetic and happy when you feel good. So yeah, there goes the last vestiges of guilt. Ahhh….

Alyssa is doing well in every subject, even the ones she doesn’t especially enjoy. That’s a great thing to hear. To know that even when she encounters something that isn’t exactly easy, she’s willing to do the work to learn it. That’s my girl.

She’s reading at a seventh grade level. I’m pretty proud of that.

She hasn’t actually finished a book report project that was due while she was out after her surgery. Ahem. Her teacher said that each time she mentions the project to Alyssa, Alyssa will say, “But I was absent.”

Which, well, is not excuse. So I told Mrs. K that Alyssa needs a date. She, Mrs. K, needs to tell Alyssa what day the project is to be done (it’s an oral book report, which probably terrifies Alyssa) and we’ll get it done. If Alyssa has an open ended timeline, that project is never going to get done. But if she’s given a specific deadline, she’ll get it done. I’ll make sure it (she says ominously.)

Olivia…oh, sweet, sweet Olivia. I was a little worried about this conference. Olivia can be…challenging. She’s got her own agenda, her own timeline and her own ideas on how to spend her day.

She also seems to have a sudden and frustrating aversion to bathroom at school. Which is ridiculous because it’s RIGHT THERE in the classroom! But she had accidents on Monday and Tuesday this week. Wednesday, Tom informed her she was NOT ALLOWED TO PEE IN HER PANTS WHILE AT SCHOOL. And what do you know? She didn’t.

So. Her teacher actually laughed that off. She said it might even be her and her aides fault because they’re used to children who have been potty trained for several years. She said she has to remind herself that O’s only really been fully trained for just over a year. So she’s taken to reminding Olivia that the bathroom is available to her at any time during the day. The kids don’t have to ask to use the restroom, they can just get up and go whenever they need to do so.

Then…Mrs. H said something that will forever endear her to me. She said, “I just love that girl.”

Olivia is a very charming child, when you get past the passive defiance and the occasional stench of pee.

Mrs. H said, “I’ll ask Olivia to do something at the board and she’ll grin at me and sashay right up there. She’s got some great hip action.”

I just love that Olivia is showing her teachers and her peers some of her sparkling personality. I want that for her. She’s laughing and smiling and TALKING at school these days.

And academically? She’s counting to 31. She recognized 24 out of the 26 uppercase letters and 18 out of the 26 lowercase letters. She’s interacting with her peers, she participates in group time.

Do you know how much different this is than her entire experience last year? This is so big.

I want her to enjoy learning and socializing. I want her to be liked and to be happy.

Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?

So today I’m grateful for good teachers who see the good in my kids.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


This past Monday afternoon I received an email from Tom suggesting that I not try to use that evening catch up with everything that had gone undone over the weekend. He said we should all just have a quiet evening at home. That things would get done eventually and there was no reason to knock ourselves out trying to get it all done in one night.

That evening I managed to get two loads of laundry watched and dried and that’s it. But it was enough. It felt like more than enough actually because I’d set the standards quite low.

And maybe that’s the answer.

By lowering my standards, I will probably come across much more success and happy surprises than I do when I expect too much and then don’t manage to get it all done.

This week has been full of busyness. Things that are still waiting to be put away, dishes (clean, at least) in the dishwasher, clothes in the dryer, gift bags on the floor by the backdoor.

But in the midst of the busyness, things got done here and there. The girls were bathed (always a plus in my book,) laundry was slowly folded and put away. The floors still need vacuumed but again, no pressure.

Last night’s trick or treating was awesome and necessary. We have to make time for frivolity and fun. If we don’t, what’s the point?

Tonight I have parent teacher conferences with A’s and O’s teachers. I then head to my mom’s to pick up those very same girls and head back to town for A’s gymnastics class. We’ll get home in time for the girls to eat a small dinner and for Alyssa to shower. Then it’s off to bed, another day done.

Busyness isn’t all bad. It makes otherwise boring times pass faster. But sometimes, I’d like to stop and take it all in. To look at my little girls who are both not quite so little anymore. To laugh with my husband, something we don’t do nearly often enough anymore. To sit back and realize yes, we have a good life. A very good life. And I’m so, so thankful for it.